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Title: The Student's Life of Washington; Condensed from the Larger Work of Washington Irving - For Young Persons and for the Use of Schools
Author: Irving, Washington, 1783-1859
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Student's Life of Washington; Condensed from the Larger Work of Washington Irving - For Young Persons and for the Use of Schools" ***



_History of the American Revolution_.





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.


In condensing into one compact volume Mr. Irving's elaborate Life of
Washington, care has been taken to retain, not only all the important
facts connected with Washington's career, but also those circumstances
and incidents which may be supposed to contribute to a full estimate
of his character in all its aspects. Nor have any portion of the great
events connected with the era in which he filled so grand and
controlling a part been unduly neglected or subordinated. The work, in
its present abbreviated form, still presents a continuous and complete
record of American history during the period of Washington's official
life. Mr. Irving's language, as a rule, has been retained; but in
cases where a variation from his sentences has been necessary, in
order to secure the requisite brevity, the paragraphs are enclosed in


      I. Birth of Washington.--His Boyhood, . . . . . . . . . . .    1

     II. Washington's Youth.--First Surveying Expedition, . . . .    5

    III. Rival Claims of the English and the French.--Preparations
           for Hostilities, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   10

     IV. Washington's Mission to the French Commander,  . . . . .   19

      V. Military Expedition to the Frontier, . . . . . . . . . .   30

     VI. Misfortunes.--Capitulation of Fort Necessity,  . . . . .   39

    VII. A Campaign under General Braddock, . . . . . . . . . . .   48

   VIII. Braddock's Advance.--His Defeat, . . . . . . . . . . . .   57

     IX. Washington in Command.--Panics on the Frontier,  . . . .   68

      X. Frontier Service,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   80

     XI. Operations against the French.--Washington's Marriage, .   85

    XII. Campaigns in the North.--Washington at Mount Vernon, . .   94

   XIII. Colonial Discontents,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  101

    XIV. Expedition to the Ohio.--Tea Tax,  . . . . . . . . . . .  112

     XV. The First General Congress,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  119

    XVI. Military Measures.--Affairs at Lexington,  . . . . . . .  125

   XVII. Capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point.--Washington
           appointed Commander-in-Chief,  . . . . . . . . . . . .  133

  XVIII. Battle of Bunker Hill, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  138

    XIX. Washington on his Way to the Camp, . . . . . . . . . . .  148

     XX. Siege of Boston, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  152

    XXI. Projects for the Invasion of Canada, . . . . . . . . . .  158

   XXII. War along the Coast.--Progress of the Siege, . . . . . .  168

  XXIII. Affairs in Canada, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  173

   XXIV. Incidents of the Camp.--Arnold before Quebec,  . . . . .  177

    XXV. Washington's Perplexities.--New York in Danger,  . . . .  183

   XXVI. Attack on Quebec.--Affairs in New York,  . . . . . . . .  188

  XXVII. Movements before Boston.--Its Evacuation,  . . . . . . .  196

 XXVIII. Reverses in Canada.--The Highlands.--Close of the
           Invasion of Canada,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  206

   XXIX. The Army in New York,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  215

    XXX. Proceedings of Lord Howe.--Gates and Schuyler, . . . . .  222

   XXXI. The War in the South.--Affairs in the Highlands, . . . .  229

  XXXII. Battle of Long Island.--Retreat, . . . . . . . . . . . .  235

 XXXIII. Retreat from New York Island,  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  249

  XXXIV. Retreat through Westchester County.--Battle of White
           Plains,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  261

   XXXV. Washington at Peekskill.--The Northern Army, . . . . . .  271

  XXXVI. Capture of Fort Washington and Garrison.--Retreat
           through New Jersey,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  276

 XXXVII. Retreat across the Delaware.--Battle of Trenton, . . . .  286

XXXVIII. Washington recrosses the Delaware.--Battle of Princeton,  297

  XXXIX. The Army at Morristown.--Attack on Peekskill,  . . . . .  308

     XL. The Northern Army.--British Expedition to Connecticut, .  316

    XLI. The Highlands.--Movements of the Army, . . . . . . . . .  327

   XLII. Invasion from Canada,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  334

  XLIII. Exploits and Movements.--Howe in the Chesapeake, . . . .  345

   XLIV. Advance of Burgoyne.--Battle of Oriskany.--Battle of
           Bennington,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  354

    XLV. Battle of the Brandywine.--Fall of Philadelphia, . . . .  368

   XLVI. The Northern Invasion.--Fall of the Highland
           Forts.--Defeat and Surrender of Burgoyne,  . . . . . .  380

  XLVII. Battle of Germantown.--Hostilities on the Delaware,  . .  399

 XLVIII. The Army on the Schuylkill.--At Valley Forge.--The
           Conway Cabal,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  414

   XLIX. Exploits of Lee and Lafayette.--British Commissioners, .  426

      L. Evacuation of Philadelphia.--Battle of Monmouth
           Court House, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  438

     LI. Arrival of a French Fleet.--Massacre at Wyoming
           Valley.--Capture of Savannah,  . . . . . . . . . . . .  450

    LII. Washington in Philadelphia.--Indian Warfare.--Capture of
           Stony Point.--Ravages in Connecticut.--Repulse at
           Savannah,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  464

   LIII. Army at Morristown.--Arnold in Philadelphia.--Charleston
           Besieged,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  477

    LIV. Discontents in the Army.--Fall of Charleston,  . . . . .  489

     LV. Marauds in the Jerseys.--The French Fleet at Newport,  .  499

    LVI. Battle of Camden,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  507

   LVII. The Treason of Arnold.--Trial and Execution of André,  .  515

  LVIII. Plan to entrap Arnold.--Projects against New York, . . .  535

    LIX. The War in the South.--Battle of King's Mountain,  . . .  540

     LX. Hostilities in the South.--Mutiny, . . . . . . . . . . .  550

    LXI. Battle of the Cowpens.--Battle of Guilford Court-house,   557

   LXII. The War in Virginia.--Demonstrations against New York, .  576

  LXIII. Ravages in Virginia.--Operations in Carolina.--Attack on
           New London,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  586

   LXIV. Operations before Yorktown.--Greene in the South,  . . .  602

    LXV. Siege and Surrender of Yorktown, . . . . . . . . . . . .  610

   LXVI. Dissolution of the Combined Armies.--Discontents in the
           Army,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  615

  LXVII. News of Peace.--Washington's Farewell to the Army, and
           Resignation of his Commission, . . . . . . . . . . . .  621

 LXVIII. Washington at Mount Vernon,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  629

   LXIX. The Constitutional Convention.--Washington elected
           President, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  634

    LXX. Organization of the New Government,  . . . . . . . . . .  643

   LXXI. Financial Difficulties.--Party Jealousies.--Operations
           against the Indians, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  651

  LXXII. Tour Southward.--Defeat of St. Clair.--Dissensions in
           the Cabinet, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  662

 LXXIII. Washington's Second Term.--Difficulties with the French
           Ambassador,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  673

  LXXIV. Neutrality.--Whiskey Insurrection.--Wayne's Success
           against the Indians, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  684

   LXXV. Jay's Treaty.--Party Claims.--Difficulties with
           France.--Farewell Address, . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  693

  LXXVI. Washington's Retirement and Death, . . . . . . . . . . .  708



The Washington family is of an ancient English stock, the genealogy of
which has been traced up to the century immediately succeeding the
Conquest. Among the knights and barons who served under the Count
Palatine, Bishop of Durham, to whom William the Conqueror had granted
that important See, was WILLIAM DE HERTBURN. At that period surnames
were commonly derived from castles or estates; and de Hertburn, in
1183, in exchanging the village of Hertburn for the manor of
Wessyngton, assumed the name of DE WESSYNGTON. From this period the
family has been traced through successive generations, until the name,
first dropping the _de_, varied from Wessyngton to Wassington,
Wasshington, and finally to Washington. The head of the family to
which our Washington immediately belongs sprang from Lawrence
Washington, Esq., of Gray's Inn. He was mayor of Northampton, and
received a grant of the manor of Sulgrave from Henry VIII. [Sir
William Washington of Packington, was his direct descendant. The
Washingtons were attached to the Stuart dynasty. Lieut.-Col. James
Washington perished in defence of that cause. Sir Henry Washington,
son of Sir William, distinguished himself under Prince Rupert, in
1643, at the storming of Bristol; and still more, in 1646, in the
defence of Worcester against the arms of Fairfax. We hear little of
the Washingtons after the death of Charles I. England, during the
protectorate, was an uncomfortable residence for those who had adhered
to the Stuarts, and many sought refuge in other lands. Among many who
emigrated to the western wilds were John and Andrew Washington,
great-grandsons of the grantee of Sulgrave.]

The brothers arrived in Virginia in 1657, and purchased lands in
Westmoreland County, on the northern neck, between the Potomac and
Rappahannock rivers. John married a Miss Anna Pope, of the same
county, and took up his residence on Bridges Creek, near where it
falls into the Potomac. He became an extensive planter, and, in
process of time, a magistrate and member of the House of Burgesses.
Having a spark of the old military fire of the family, we find him, as
Colonel Washington, leading the Virginia forces, in co-operation with
those of Maryland, against a band of Seneca Indians, who were ravaging
the settlements along the Potomac.

The estate continued in the family. His grandson Augustine, the father
of our Washington, was born there in 1694. He was twice married; first
(April 20th, 1715), to Jane, daughter of Caleb Butler, Esq., of
Westmoreland County, by whom he had four children, of whom only two,
Lawrence and Augustine, survived the years of childhood; their mother
died November 24th, 1728, and was buried in the family vault. On the
6th of March, 1730, he married in second nuptials, Mary, the daughter
of Colonel Ball, a young and beautiful girl, said to be the belle of
the northern neck. By her he had four sons, George, Samuel, John
Augustine, and Charles; and two daughters, Elizabeth, or Betty, as she
was commonly called, and Mildred, who died in infancy.

George, the eldest, the subject of this biography, was born on the 22d
of February (11th, O. S.), 1732, in the homestead on Bridges Creek.
This house commanded a view over many miles of the Potomac, and the
opposite shore of Maryland. Not a vestige of it remains. Two or three
decayed fig trees, with shrubs and vines, linger about the place, and
here and there a flower grown wild serves "to mark where a garden has
been." Such at least, was the case a few years since; but these may
have likewise passed away. A stone marks the site of the house, and an
inscription denotes its being the birthplace of Washington.

Not long after the birth of George, his father removed to an estate in
Stafford County, opposite Fredericksburg. The house stood on a rising
ground overlooking a meadow which bordered the Rappahannock. This was
the home of George's boyhood; but this, like that in which he was
born, has disappeared.

In those days the means of instruction in Virginia were limited, and
it was the custom among the wealthy planters to send their sons to
England to complete their education. This was done by Augustine
Washington with his eldest son Lawrence. George, as his intellect
dawned, received the rudiments of education in the best establishment
for the purpose that the neighborhood afforded. It was what was
called, in popular parlance, an "old field school-house;" humble
enough in its pretensions, and kept by one of his father's tenants
named Hobby. The instruction doled out by him must have been the
simplest kind, reading, writing, and ciphering, perhaps; but George
had the benefit of mental and moral culture at home, from an excellent
father. When he was about seven or eight years old his brother
Lawrence returned from England, a well-educated and accomplished
youth. There was a difference of fourteen years in their ages, which
may have been one cause of the strong attachment which took place
between them. Lawrence looked down with a protecting eye upon the boy
whose dawning intelligence and perfect rectitude won his regard; while
George looked up to his manly and cultivated brother as a model in
mind and manners.

Lawrence Washington had something of the old military spirit of the
family, and circumstances soon called it into action. Spanish
depredations on British commerce had recently provoked reprisals.
Admiral Vernon, commander-in-chief in the West Indies, had accordingly
captured Porto Bello, on the Isthmus of Darien. The Spaniards were
preparing to revenge the blow; the French were fitting out ships to
aid them. Troops were embarked in England for another campaign in the
West Indies; a regiment of four battalions was to be raised in the
colonies and sent to join them at Jamaica. There was a sudden outbreak
of military ardor in the province. Lawrence Washington, now twenty-two
years of age, caught the infection. He obtained a captain's commission
in the newly-raised regiment, and embarked with it for the West Indies
in 1740. He served in the joint expeditions of Admiral Vernon and
General Wentworth, and acquired the friendship and confidence of both
of those officers. We have here the secret of that martial spirit so
often cited of George in his boyish days. He had seen his brother
fitted out for the wars. He had heard by letter and otherwise of the
warlike scenes in which he was mingling. All his amusements took a
military turn. He made soldiers of his school-mates; they had their
mimic parades, reviews, and sham fights.

Lawrence Washington returned home in the autumn of 1742. He formed an
attachment to Anne, the eldest daughter of the Honorable William
Fairfax, of Fairfax Comity; his addresses were well received, and they
became engaged. Their nuptials were delayed by the sudden and untimely
death of his father, which took place on the 12th of April, 1743,
after a short but severe attack of gout in the stomach, and when but
forty-nine years of age. George had been absent from home on a visit
during his father's illness, and just returned in time to receive a
parting look of affection.

Augustine Washington left large possessions, distributed by will among
his children. To Lawrence, the estate on the banks of the Potomac,
with other real property, and several shares in iron-works. To
Augustine, the second son by the first marriage, the old homestead and
estate in Westmoreland. The children by the second marriage were
severally well provided for, and George, when he became of age, was to
have the house and lands on the Rappahannock.

In the month of July the marriage of Lawrence with Miss Fairfax took
place. He now settled himself on his estate on the banks of the
Potomac, to which he gave the name of MOUNT VERNON, in honor of the
admiral. Augustine took up his abode at the homestead on Bridges
Creek, and married Anne, daughter and co-heiress of William Aylett,
Esq., of Westmoreland County.

George, now eleven years of age, and the other children of the second
marriage, had been left under the guardianship of their mother, to
whom was intrusted the proceeds of all their property until they
should severally come of age. She proved herself worthy of the trust.
Endowed with plain, direct good sense, thorough conscientiousness, and
prompt decision, she governed her family strictly, but kindly,
exacting deference while she inspired affection. George being her
eldest son, was thought to be her favorite, yet she never gave him
undue preference, and the implicit deference exacted from him in
childhood continued to be habitually observed by him to the day of her
death. He inherited from her a high temper and a spirit of command,
but her early precepts and example taught him to restrain and govern
that temper, and to square his conduct on the exact principles of
equity and justice.

Having no longer the benefit of a father's instructions at home, and
the scope of tuition of Hobby being too limited for the growing wants
of his pupil, George was now sent to reside with Augustine Washington,
at Bridges Creek, and enjoy the benefit of a superior school in that
neighborhood, kept by a Mr. Williams. His education, however, was
plain and practical. He never attempted the learned languages, nor
manifested any inclination for rhetoric or belles-lettres. His object,
or the object of his friends, seems to have been confined to fitting
him for ordinary business. His manuscript school-books still exist,
and are models of neatness and accuracy. Before he was thirteen years
of age he had copied into a volume forms for all kinds of mercantile
and legal papers; bills of exchange, notes of hand, deeds, bonds, and
the like. This early self-tuition gave him throughout life a lawyer's
skill in drafting documents, and a merchant's exactness in keeping
accounts. He was a self-disciplinarian in physical as well as mental
matters, and practised himself in all kinds of athletic exercises,
such as running, leaping, wrestling, pitching quoits, and tossing
bars. His frame, even in infancy, had been large and powerful, and he
now excelled most of his playmates in contests of agility and
strength. Above all, his inherent probity and the principles of
justice on which he regulated all his conduct, even at this early
period of life, were soon appreciated by his school-mates; he was
referred to as an umpire in their disputes, and his decisions were
never reversed. As he had formerly been military chieftain, he was now
legislator of the school; thus displaying in boyhood a type of the
future man.


The attachment of Lawrence Washington to his brother George seems to
have acquired additional strength and tenderness on their father's
death; he now took a truly paternal interest in his concerns, and had
him as frequently as possible a guest at Mount Vernon. Lawrence had
deservedly become a popular and leading personage in the country. He
was a member of the House of Burgesses, and adjutant-general of the
district, with the rank of major, and a regular salary. A frequent
sojourn with him brought George into familiar intercourse with the
family of his father-in-law, the Hon. William Fairfax, who resided at
a beautiful seat called Belvoir, a few miles below Mount Vernon, and
on the same woody ridge bordering the Potomac.

William Fairfax was a man of liberal education and intrinsic worth. Of
an ancient English family in Yorkshire, he had entered the army at the
age of twenty-one; had served with honor both in the East and West
Indies, and officiated as governor of New Providence, after having
aided in rescuing it from pirates. For some years past he had resided
in Virginia, to manage the immense landed estates of his cousin, Lord
Fairfax, and lived at Belvoir, in the style of an English country
gentleman, surrounded by an intelligent and cultivated family of sons
and daughters. An intimacy with a family like this, in which the
frankness and simplicity of rural and colonial life were united with
European refinement, could not but have a beneficial effect in
moulding the character and manners of a somewhat home-bred school-boy.

Other influences were brought to bear on George during his visit at
Mount Vernon. His brother Lawrence still retained some of his military
inclinations, fostered, no doubt, by his post of adjutant-general.
William Fairfax, as we have shown, had been a soldier, and in many
trying scenes. Some of Lawrence's comrades of the provincial regiment,
who had served with him in the West Indies, were occasional visitors
at Mount Vernon; or a ship of war, possibly one of Vernon's old fleet,
would anchor in the Potomac, and its officers be welcome guests at the
tables of Lawrence and his father-in-law. Thus military scenes on sea
and shore would become the topics of conversation. We can picture to
ourselves George, a grave and earnest boy, with an expanding
intellect, and a deep-seated passion for enterprise, listening to such
conversations with a kindling spirit and a growing desire for military
life. In this way most probably was produced that desire to enter the
navy which he evinced when about fourteen years of age. The great
difficulty was to procure the assent of his mother. She was brought,
however, to acquiesce; a midshipman's warrant was obtained; but at the
eleventh hour the mother's heart faltered. This was her eldest born. A
son, whose strong and steadfast character promised to be a support to
herself and a protection to her other children. The thought of his
being completely severed from her, and exposed to the hardships and
perils of a boisterous profession, overcame even her resolute mind,
and at her urgent remonstrances the nautical scheme was given up.

To school, therefore, George returned, and continued his studies for
nearly two years longer, devoting himself especially to mathematics,
and accomplishing himself in those branches calculated to fit him
either for civil or military service. Among these, one of the most
important in the actual state of the country was land surveying. In
this he schooled himself thoroughly, using the highest processes of
the art; making surveys about the neighborhood, and keeping regular
field books, some of which we have examined, in which the boundaries
and measurements of the fields surveyed were carefully entered, and
diagrams made, with a neatness and exactness as if the whole related
to important land transactions instead of being mere school exercises.
Thus, in his earliest days, there was perseverance and completeness in
all his undertakings. Nothing was left half done, or done in a hurried
and slovenly manner. The habit of mind thus cultivated continued
throughout life. He took a final leave of school in the autumn of
1747, and went to reside with his brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon.
Here he continued his mathematical studies and his practice in
surveying. Being a favorite of Sir William Fairfax, he was now an
occasional inmate of Belvoir. Among the persons at present residing
there was Thomas, Lord Fairfax, cousin of William Fairfax, and of
whose immense landed property the latter was the agent. Another inmate
was George William Fairfax, about twenty-two years of age, the eldest
son of the proprietor. He had been educated in England, and since his
return had married a daughter of Colonel Carey, of Hampton, on James
River. He had recently brought home his bride and her sister to his
father's house.

The merits of Washington were known and appreciated by the Fairfax
family. Though not quite sixteen years of age, he no longer seemed a
boy, nor was he treated as such. Tall, athletic, and manly for his
years, his early self-training, and the code of conduct he had
devised, gave a gravity and decision to his conduct; his frankness and
modesty inspired cordial regard. Lord Fairfax was a staunch
fox-hunter, and kept horses and hounds in the English style. The
hunting season had arrived. The neighborhood abounded with sport; but
fox-hunting in Virginia required bold and skilful horsemanship. He
found Washington as bold as himself in the saddle, and as eager to
follow the hounds. He forthwith took him into peculiar favor; made him
his hunting companion; and it was probably under the tuition of this
hard-riding old nobleman that the youth imbibed that fondness for the
chase for which he was afterwards remarked.

This fox-hunting intercourse was attended with important results. His
lordship's possessions beyond the Blue Ridge had never been regularly
settled nor surveyed. Lawless intruders--squatters, as they were
called--were planting themselves along the finest streams and in the
richest valleys, and virtually taking possession of the country. It
was the anxious desire of Lord Fairfax to have these lands examined,
surveyed, and portioned out into lots, preparatory to ejecting these
interlopers or bringing them to reasonable terms. In Washington,
notwithstanding his youth, he beheld one fit for the task. The
proposition had only to be offered to Washington to be eagerly
accepted. It was the very kind of occupation for which he had been
diligently training himself. All the preparations required by one of
his simple habits were soon made, and in the month of March, 1748,
just after he had completed his sixteenth year, Washington set out on
horseback, in company with George William Fairfax.

Their route lay by Ashley's Gap, a pass through the Blue Ridge, that
beautiful line of mountains which, as yet, almost formed the western
frontier of inhabited Virginia. They entered the great valley of
Virginia, where it is about twenty-five miles wide; a lovely and
temperate region, diversified by gentle swells and slopes, admirably
adapted to cultivation. The Blue Ridge bounds it on one side, the
North Mountain, a ridge of the Alleghanies, on the other; while
through it flows that bright and abounding river, which, on account of
its surpassing beauty, was named by the Indians the Shenandoah--that
is to say, "the daughter of the stars."

The first station of the travellers was at a kind of lodge in the
wilderness, where the steward or land-bailiff of Lord Halifax resided,
with such negroes as were required for farming purposes, and which
Washington terms "his lordship's quarter." It was situated not far
from the Shenandoah, and about twelve miles from the site of the
present town of Winchester. In a diary kept with his usual minuteness,
Washington speaks with delight of the beauty of the trees and the
richness of the land in the neighborhood, and of his riding through a
noble grove of sugar maples on the banks of the Shenandoah; and, at
the present day, the magnificence of the forests which still exist in
this favored region justifies his eulogium.

His surveys commenced in the lower part of the valley some distance
above the junction of the Shenandoah with the Potomac, and extended
for many miles along the former river. Here and there partial
"clearings" had been made by squatters and hardy pioneers, and their
rude husbandry had produced abundant crops of grain, hemp, and
tobacco. More than two weeks were passed by them in the wild
mountainous regions of Frederick County, and about the south branch of
the Potomac, surveying lands and laying out lots, camped out the
greater part of the time, and subsisting on wild turkeys and other
game. Having completed his surveys, Washington set forth from the
south branch of the Potomac on his return homeward; crossed the
mountains to the great Cacapehon; traversed the Shenandoah valley;
passed through the Blue Ridge, and on the 12th of April found himself
once more at Mount Vernon. For his services he received, according to
his note-book, a doubloon per day when actively employed.

The manner in which he had acquitted himself in this arduous
expedition, and his accounts of the country surveyed, gave great
satisfaction to Lord Fairfax, who shortly afterwards moved across the
Blue Ridge, and took up his residence at the place heretofore noted as
his "quarters." Here he laid out a manor, containing ten thousand
acres of arable grazing lands, vast meadows, and noble forests, and
projected a spacious manor house, giving to the place the name of
Greenway Court.

It was probably through the influence of Lord Fairfax that Washington
received the appointment of public surveyor. This conferred authority
on his surveys, and entitled them to be recorded in the county
offices, and so invariably correct have these surveys been found that
to this day, wherever any of them stand on record, they receive
implicit credit. For three years he continued in this occupation,
which proved extremely profitable, from the vast extent of country to
be surveyed and the very limited number of public surveyors. It made
him acquainted, also, with the country, the nature of the soil in
various parts, and the value of localities; all which proved
advantageous to him in his purchases in after years.

While thus employed for months at a time surveying the lands beyond
the Blue Ridge, he was often an inmate of Greenway Court. The
projected manor house was never even commenced. On a green knoll
overshadowed by trees was a long stone building one story in height,
with dormer-windows, two wooden belfries, chimneys studded with
swallow and martin coops, and a roof sloping down in the old Virginia
fashion, into low projecting eaves that formed a verandah the whole
length of the house. It was probably the house originally occupied by
his steward or land agent, but was now devoted to hospitable purposes
and the reception of guests.

Here Washington had full opportunity, in the proper seasons, of
indulging his fondness for field sports, and once more accompanying
his lordship in the chase. The conversation of Lord Fairfax, too, was
full of interest and instruction to an inexperienced youth, from his
cultivated talents, his literary taste, and his past intercourse with
the best society of Europe, and its most distinguished authors. He had
brought books, too, with him into the wilderness, and from
Washington's diary we find that during his sojourn here he was
diligently reading the history of England, and the essays of the
"Spectator." Three or four years were thus passed by Washington, the
greater part of the time beyond the Blue Ridge, but occasionally with
his brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon.


During the time of Washington's surveying campaigns among the
mountains, a grand colonizing scheme had been set on foot, destined to
enlist him in hardy enterprises, and in some degree to shape the
course of his future fortunes. The treaty of peace concluded at
Aix-la-Chapelle, which had put an end to the general war of Europe,
had left undefined the boundaries between the British and French
possessions in America. Immense regions were still claimed by both
nations, and each was now eager to forestall the other by getting
possession of them, and strengthening its claim by occupancy.

The most desirable of these regions lay west of the Alleghany
Mountains, extending from the lakes to the Ohio, and embracing the
valley of that river and its tributary streams. The French claimed all
this country quite to the Alleghany Mountains by the right of
discovery. In 1673, Padre Marquette, with his companion, Joliet, of
Quebec, both subjects of the crown of France, had passed down the
Mississippi in a canoe quite to the Arkansas, thereby, according to an
alleged maxim in the law of nations, establishing the right of their
sovereign, not merely to the river so discovered and its adjacent
lands, but to all the country drained by its tributary streams, of
which the Ohio was one; a claim, the ramifications of which might be
spread, like the meshes of a web, over half the continent.

To this illimitable claim the English opposed a right derived, at
second hand, from a traditionary Indian conquest. A treaty, they said,
had been made at Lancaster, in 1744, between commissioners from
Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, and the Iroquois, or Six Nations,
whereby the latter, for four hundred pounds, gave up all right and
title to the land west of the Alleghany Mountains, even to the
Mississippi, which land, _according to their traditions_, had been
conquered by their forefathers. It is undoubtedly true that such a
treaty was made, and such a pretended transfer of title did take
place, under the influence of spirituous liquors; but it is equally
true that the Indians in question did not, at the time, possess an
acre of the land conveyed; and that the tribes actually in possession
scoffed at their pretensions, and claimed the country as their own
from time immemorial.

Such were the shadowy foundations of claims which the two nations were
determined to maintain to the uttermost, and which ripened into a
series of wars, ending in a loss to England of a great part of her
American possessions, and to France of the whole.

As yet in the region in question there was not a single white
settlement. Mixed Iroquois tribes of Delawares, Shawnees, and Mingoes,
had migrated into it early in the century from the French settlements
in Canada, and taken up their abodes about the Ohio and its branches.
The French pretended to hold them under their protection; but their
allegiance, if ever acknowledged, had been sapped of late years by the
influx of fur traders from Pennsylvania. These were often rough,
lawless men, generally in the employ of some trader, who, at the head
of his retainers and a string of pack-horses, would make his way over
mountains and through forests to the banks of the Ohio, establish his
head-quarters in some Indian town, and disperse his followers to
traffic among the hamlets, hunting-camps, and wigwams, exchanging
blankets, gaudy colored cloth, trinketry, powder, shot, and rum, for
valuable furs and peltry. In this way a lucrative trade with these
western tribes was springing up and becoming monopolized by the

To secure a participation in this trade, and to gain a foothold in
this desirable region, became now the wish of some of the most
intelligent and enterprising men of Virginia and Maryland, among whom
were Lawrence and Augustine Washington. With these views they
projected a scheme, in connection with John Hanbury, a wealthy London
merchant, to obtain a grant of land from the British government, for
the purpose of forming settlements or colonies beyond the Alleghanies.
Government readily countenanced a scheme by which French encroachments
might be forestalled, and prompt and quiet possession secured of the
great Ohio valley. An association was accordingly chartered in 1749,
by the name of "the Ohio Company," and five hundred thousand acres of
land was granted to it west of the Alleghanies; between the
Monongahela and Kanawha rivers; though part of the land might be taken
up north of the Ohio, should it be deemed expedient. The company were
to pay no quit-rent for ten years; but they were to select two-fifths
of their lands immediately; to settle one hundred families upon them
within seven years; to build a fort at their own expense, and maintain
a sufficient garrison in it for defence against the Indians. Mr.
Thomas Lee, president of the council of Virginia, took the lead in the
concerns of the company at the outset, and by many has been considered
its founder. On his death, which soon took place, Lawrence Washington
had the chief management. His enlightened mind and liberal spirit
shone forth in his earliest arrangements.

Before the company had received its charter, the French were in the
field. Early in 1749, the Marquis de la Galisionniere, governor of
Canada, despatched Celeron de Bienville, an intelligent officer, at
the head of three hundred men, to the banks of the Ohio, to make
peace, as he said, between the tribes that had become embroiled with
each other during the late war, and to renew the French possession of
the country. Celeron de Bienville distributed presents among the
Indians, made speeches reminding them of former friendship, and warned
them not to trade with the English. He furthermore nailed leaden
plates to trees, and buried others in the earth, at the confluence of
the Ohio and its tributaries, bearing inscriptions purporting that all
the lands on both sides of the rivers to their sources appertained, as
in foregone times, to the crown of France. The Indians gazed at these
mysterious plates with wondering eyes, but surmised their purport.
"They mean to steal our country from us," murmured they; and they
determined to seek protection from the English.

Celeron finding some traders from Pennsylvania trafficking among the
Indians, he summoned them to depart, and wrote by them to James
Hamilton, governor of Pennsylvania, telling him the object of his
errand to those parts, and his surprise at meeting with English
traders in a country to which England had no pretensions; intimating
that, in future, any intruders of the kind would be rigorously dealt
with. His letter, and a report of his proceedings on the Ohio, roused
the solicitude of the governor and council of Pennsylvania, for the
protection of their Indian trade. Shortly afterwards, one Hugh
Crawford, who had been trading with the Miami tribes on the Wabash,
brought a message from them, speaking of the promises and threats with
which the French were endeavoring to shake their faith, but assuring
the governor that their friendship for the English "would last while
the sun and moon ran round the world."

Governor Hamilton knew the value of Indian friendship, and suggested
to the assembly that it would be better to clinch it with presents,
and that as soon as possible. An envoy accordingly was sent off early
in October, who was supposed to have great influence among the western
tribes. This was one George Croghan, a veteran trader, shrewd and
sagacious, who had been frequently to the Ohio country with
pack-horses and followers, and made himself popular among the Indians
by dispensing presents with a lavish hand. He was accompanied by
Andrew Montour, a Canadian of half Indian descent, who was to act as
interpreter. They were provided with a small present for the
emergency; but were to convoke a meeting of all the tribes at
Logstown, on the Ohio, early in the ensuing spring, to receive an
ample present which would be provided by the assembly.

It was some time later in the same autumn that the Ohio company
brought their plans into operation, and despatched an agent to explore
the lands upon the Ohio and its branches as low as the Great Falls.
The man chosen for the purpose was Christopher Gist, a hardy pioneer,
experienced in woodcraft and Indian life. He was allowed a woodsman or
two for the service of the expedition. He set out on the 31st of
October, crossed the ridges of the Alleghany, arrived at Shannopin, a
Delaware village on the Alleghany, swam his horses across that river,
and descending along its valley arrived at Logstown, an important
Indian village a little below the site of the present city of
Pittsburg. Here usually resided Tanacharisson, a Seneca chief of great
note, being head sachem of the mixed tribes which had migrated to the
Ohio and its branches. He was generally surnamed the half-king, being
subordinate to the Iroquois confederacy. The chief was absent at this
time, as were most of his people, it being the hunting season. George
Croghan, the envoy from Pennsylvania, with Montour his interpreter,
had passed through Logstown a week previously, on his way to the
Twightwees and other tribes, on the Miami branch of the Ohio. Scarce
any one was to be seen about the village but some of Croghan's rough
people, whom he had left behind--"reprobate Indian traders," as Gist
terms them. He took his departure from Logstown, and at Beaver Creek,
a few miles below the village, he left the river and struck into the
interior of the present State of Ohio. Here he overtook George Croghan
at Muskingum, a town of Wyandots and Mingoes. He had ordered all the
traders in his employ who were scattered among the Indian villages, to
rally at this town, where he had hoisted the English flag over his
residence, and over that of the sachem. This was in consequence of the
hostility of the French, who had recently captured, in the
neighborhood, three white men in the employ of Frazier, an Indian
trader, and had carried them away prisoners to Canada.

Gist was well received by the people of Muskingum. They were indignant
at the French violation of their territories, and the capture of their
"English brothers." They had not forgotten the conduct of Celeron de
Bienville in the previous year, and the mysterious plates which he had
nailed against trees and sunk in the ground. A council of the nation
was now held, in which Gist invited them, in the name of the governor
of Virginia, to visit that province, where a large present of goods
awaited them, sent by their father, the great king, over the water to
his Ohio children. The invitation was graciously received, but no
answer could be given until a grand council of the western tribes had
been held, which was to take place at Logstown in the ensuing spring.

Similar results attended visits made by Gist and Croghan to the
Delawares and the Shawnees at their villages about the Scioto River;
all promised to be at the gathering at Logstown. From the Shawnee
village, near the mouth of the Scioto, the two emissaries shaped their
course north two hundred miles, crossed the Great Moneami, or Miami
River, on a raft, swimming their horses; and, on the 17th of February,
arrived at Piqua, the principal town of the Twightwees or Miamis; the
most powerful confederacy of the West, combining four tribes, and
extending its influence even beyond the Mississippi. A king or sachem
of one or other of the different tribes presided over the whole. The
head chief at present was the king of the Piankeshas. At this town
Croghan formed a treaty of alliance in the name of the governor of
Pennsylvania with two of the Miami tribes. And Gist was promised by
the king of the Piankeshas that the chiefs of the various tribes would
attend the meeting at Logstown to make a treaty with Virginia. [In the
height of these demonstrations of friendship, two envoys from the
French governor of Canada entered the council-house and sought a
renewal of the ancient alliance. But the Piankesha chief turned his
back upon the ambassadors, and left the council-house.]

When Gist returned to the Shawnee town, near the mouth of the Scioto,
and reported to his Indian friends there the alliance he had formed
with the Miami confederacy, there was great feasting and
speech-making, and firing of guns. He had now happily accomplished the
chief object of his mission--nothing remained but to descend the Ohio
to the Great Falls. This, however, he was cautioned not to do. A large
party of Indians, allies of the French, were hunting in that
neighborhood, who might kill or capture him. He crossed the river
attended only by a lad as a travelling companion and aide, and
proceeded cautiously down the east side until within fifteen miles of
the Falls. Here he came upon traps newly set, and Indian footprints
not a day old; and heard the distant report of guns. The story of
Indian hunters then was true. Abandoning all idea, therefore, of
visiting the Falls, and contenting himself with the information
concerning them which he had received from others, he shaped his
course homeward.

While Gist had been making his painful way homeward, the two Ottawa
ambassadors had returned to Fort Sandusky, bringing word to the French
that their friendship had been rejected and their hostility defied by
the Miamis. They informed them also of the gathering of the western
tribes that was to take place at Logstown, to conclude a treaty with
the Virginians.

It was a great object with the French to prevent this treaty, and to
spirit up the Ohio Indians against the English. This they hoped to
effect through the agency of one Captain Joncaire, a veteran of the
wilderness, who had grown gray in Indian diplomacy, and was now sent
to maintain French sovereignty over the valley of the Ohio. He
appeared at Logstown accompanied by another Frenchman, and forty
Iroquois warriors. He found an assemblage of the western tribes,
feasting and rejoicing, and firing off guns, for George Croghan, and
Montour, the interpreter, were there, and had been distributing
presents on behalf of the governor of Pennsylvania.

Joncaire was said to have the wit of a Frenchman, and the eloquence of
an Iroquois. He made an animated speech to the chiefs in their own
tongue, the gist of which was that their father Onontio (that is to
say, the governor of Canada) desired his children of the Ohio to turn
away the Indian traders, and never to deal with them again on pain of
his displeasure; so saying, he laid down a wampum belt of uncommon
size, by way of emphasis to his message. For once his eloquence was of
no avail; a chief rose indignantly, shook his finger in his face, and
stamping on the ground, "This is our land," said he. "What right has
Onontio here? The English are our brothers. They shall live among us
as long as one of us is alive. We will trade with them, and not with
you;" and, so saying, he rejected the belt of wampum.

Joncaire returned to an advanced post recently established on the
upper part of the river, whence he wrote to the governor of
Pennsylvania: "The Marquis de la Jonquiere, governor of New France,
having ordered me to watch that the English make no treaty in the Ohio
country, I have signified to the traders of your government to retire.
You are not ignorant that all these lands belong to the King of
France, and that the English have no right to trade in them." He
concluded by reiterating the threat made two years previously by
Celeron de Bienville against all intruding fur traders. In the
meantime, in the face of all these protests and menaces, Mr. Gist,
under sanction of the Virginia Legislature, proceeded in the same year
to survey the lands within the grant of the Ohio company, lying on the
south side of the Ohio river, as far down as the great Kanawha.

The French now prepared for hostile contingencies. They launched an
armed vessel of unusual size on Lake Ontario; fortified their
trading-house at Niagara; strengthened their outposts, and advanced
others on the upper waters of the Ohio. A stir of warlike preparation
was likewise to be observed among the British colonies. It was evident
that the adverse claims to the disputed territories, if pushed home,
could only be settled by the stern arbitrament of the sword.

In Virginia, especially, the war spirit was manifest. The province was
divided into military districts, each having an adjutant-general, with
the rank of major, and the pay of one hundred and fifty pounds a year,
whose duty was to attend to the organization and equipment of the
militia. Such an appointment was sought by Lawrence Washington for his
brother George, who set about preparing himself, with his usual method
and assiduity, for his new duties. Virginia had among its floating
population some military relics of the late Spanish war. Among these
was a certain Adjutant Muse, a Westmoreland volunteer, who had served
with Lawrence Washington in the campaigns in the West Indies. He now
undertook to instruct his brother George in the art of war; lent him
treatises on military tactics; put him through the manual exercise,
and gave him some idea of evolutions in the field. Another of
Lawrence's campaigning comrades was Jacob Van Braam, a Dutchman by
birth, who had been in the British army, but was now out of service,
and, professing to be a complete master of fence, recruited his
slender purse in this time of military excitement, by giving the
Virginian youth lessons in the sword exercise. Under the instructions
of these veterans Mount Vernon, from being a quiet rural retreat, was
suddenly transformed into a school of arms.

Washington's martial studies, however, were interrupted for a time by
the critical state of his brother's health. The constitution of
Lawrence had always been delicate, and he had been obliged repeatedly
to travel for a change of air. There were now pulmonary symptoms of a
threatening nature, and, by advice of his physicians, he determined to
pass a winter in the West Indies, taking with him his favorite brother
George as a companion. They accordingly sailed for Barbadoes on the
28th of September, 1751. George kept a journal of the voyage with
log-book brevity, recording the wind and weather, but no events worth
citation. They landed at Barbadoes on the 3d of November. The resident
physician of the place gave a favorable report of Lawrence's case, and
held out hopes of a cure.

The brothers had scarcely been a fortnight at the island when George
was taken down by a severe attack of small-pox. Skilful medical
treatment, with the kind attentions of friends, and especially of his
brother, restored him to health in about three weeks; but his face
always remained slightly marked.

The residence at Barbadoes failed to have the anticipated effect on
the health of Lawrence, and he determined to seek the sweet climate of
Bermuda in the spring. He felt the absence from his wife, and it was
arranged that George should return to Virginia, and bring her out to
meet him at that island. Accordingly, on the 22d of December, George
set sail in the "Industry," bound to Virginia, where he arrived on the
1st of February, 1752, after five weeks of stormy winter seafaring.

Lawrence remained through the winter at Barbadoes; but the very
mildness of the climate relaxed and enervated him. He felt the want of
the bracing winter weather to which he had been accustomed. Even the
invariable beauty of the climate, the perpetual summer, wearied the
restless invalid. Still some of the worst symptoms of his disorder had
disappeared, and he seemed to be slowly recovering; but the nervous
restlessness and desire of change, often incidental to his malady, had
taken hold of him, and early in March he hastened to Bermuda. He had
come too soon. The keen air of early spring brought on an aggravated
return of his worst symptoms. He was now afflicted with painful
indecision, and his letters perplexed his family, leaving them
uncertain as to his movements, and at a loss how to act. At one time
he talked of remaining at Bermuda, the next letter, written shortly
afterwards, in a moment of despondency, talks of the possibility of
"hurrying home to his grave!" The last was no empty foreboding. He did
indeed hasten back, and just reached Mount Vernon in time to die under
his own roof. His death took place on the 26th of July, 1752, when but
thirty-four years of age.

Lawrence left a wife and an infant daughter to inherit his ample
estates. In case his daughter should die without issue, the estate of
Mount Vernon, and other lands specified in his will, were to be
enjoyed by her mother during her lifetime, and at her death to be
inherited by his brother George. The latter was appointed one of the
executors of the will; but such was the implicit confidence reposed in
his judgment and integrity, that, although he was but twenty years of
age, the management of the affairs of the deceased was soon devolved
upon him almost entirely.


The meeting of the Ohio tribes, Delawares, Shawnees, and Mingoes, to
form a treaty of alliance with Virginia, took place at Logstown, at
the appointed time. The chiefs of the Six Nations declined to attend.
Colonel Fry and two other commissioners from Virginia concluded a
treaty with the tribes above named; by which the latter engaged not to
molest any English settlers south of the Ohio. Tanacharisson, the
half-king, now advised that his brothers of Virginia should build a
strong house at the fork of the Monongahela, to resist the designs of
the French. Mr. Gist was accordingly instructed to lay out a town and
build a fort at Chartier's Creek, on the east side of the Ohio, a
little below the site of the present city of Pittsburg. He commenced a
settlement, also, in a valley just beyond Laurel Hill, not far from
the Youghiogeny, and prevailed on eleven families to join him. The
Ohio Company, about the same time, established a trading-post, well
stocked with English goods, at Wills' Creek (now the town of

The Ohio tribes were greatly incensed at the aggressions of the
French, who were erecting posts within their territories, and sent
deputations to remonstrate, but without effect. There were reports
that the French were ascending the Mississippi from Louisiana. France,
it was said, intended to connect Louisiana and Canada by a chain of
military posts, and hem the English within the Alleghany Mountains.

The Ohio company complained loudly to the lieutenant-governor of
Virginia, the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, of the hostile conduct of the
French and their Indian allies. They found in Dinwiddie a ready
listener; he was a stockholder in the company. A commissioner, Captain
William Trent, was sent to expostulate with the French commander on
the Ohio for his aggressions on the territory of his Brittanic
majesty; he bore presents also of guns, powder, shot, and clothing for
the friendly Indians. Trent was not a man of the true spirit for a
mission to the frontier. He stopped a short time at Logstown, though
the French were one hundred and fifty miles further up the river, and
directed his course to Piqua, the great town of the Twightwees, where
Gist and Croghan had been so well received by the Miamis. All now was
reversed. The place had been attacked by the French and Indians; the
Miamis defeated with great loss; the English traders taken prisoners;
the Piankesha chief, who had so proudly turned his back upon the
Ottawa ambassadors, had been sacrificed by the hostile savages, and
the French flag hoisted in triumph on the ruins of the town. The whole
aspect of affairs was so threatening on the frontier that Trent lost
heart, and returned home without accomplishing his errand.

Governor Dinwiddie now looked round for a person more fitted to fulfil
a mission which required physical strength and moral energy; a courage
to cope with savages, and a sagacity to negotiate with white men.
Washington was pointed out as possessed of those requisites. It is
true he was not yet twenty-two years of age, but public confidence in
his judgment and abilities had been manifested, by renewing his
appointment of adjutant-general, and assigning him the northern
division. He was accordingly chosen for the expedition.

By his letter of instructions he was directed to repair to Logstown,
and hold a communication with Tanacharisson, Monacatoocha, alias
Scarooyadi, the next in command, and the other sachems of the mixed
tribes friendly to the English; inform them of the purport of his
errand, and request an escort to the head-quarters of the French
commander. To that commander he was to deliver his credentials, and
the letter of Governor Dinwiddie, and demand an answer in the name of
his Brittanic majesty; but not to wait for it beyond a week. On
receiving it, he was to request a sufficient escort to protect him on
his return. He was, moreover, to acquaint himself with the numbers and
force of the French stationed on the Ohio and in its vicinity; their
capability of being reinforced from Canada; the forts they had
erected; where situated, how garrisoned; the object of their advancing
into those parts, and how they were likely to be supported. Washington
set off from Williamsburg on the 30th of October, 1753, the very day
on which he received his credentials. At Fredericksburg he engaged his
old "master of fence," Jacob Van Braam, to accompany him as

Having provided himself at Alexandria with necessaries for the
journey, he proceeded to Winchester, then on the frontier, where he
procured horses, tents, and other travelling equipments, and then
pushed on by a road newly opened to Wills' Creek, where he arrived on
the 14th of November. Here he met with Mr. Gist, the intrepid pioneer,
whom he engaged to accompany and pilot him in the present expedition.
He secured the services also of one John Davidson as Indian
interpreter, and of four frontiersmen. With this little band, he set
forth on the 15th of November through a wild country, rendered almost
impassable by recent storms of rain and snow.

As the rivers were all swollen so that the horses had to swim them,
Washington sent all the baggage down the Monongahela in a canoe under
care of two of the men, who had orders to meet him at the confluence
of that river with the Alleghany, where their united waters form the
Ohio. "As I got down before the canoe," writes he in his journal, "I
spent some time in viewing the rivers, and the land at the fork, which
I think extremely well situated for a fort, as it has the absolute
command of both rivers." The Ohio company had intended to build a fort
about two miles from this place, on the south-east side of the river;
but Washington gave the fork the decided preference. French engineers
of experience proved the accuracy of his military eye, by subsequently
choosing it for the site of Fort Duquesne, noted in frontier history.

In this neighborhood lived Shingiss, the king, or chief sachem, of the
Delawares. Washington visited him at his village, to invite him to the
council at Logstown. He was one of the greatest warriors of his tribe,
and subsequently took up the hatchet at various times against the
English, though now he seemed favorably disposed, and readily accepted
the invitation.

They arrived at Logstown after sunset on the 24th of November. The
half-king was absent at his hunting-lodge on Beaver Creek, about
fifteen miles distant; but Washington had runners sent out to invite
him and all the other chiefs to a grand talk on the following day.
About three o'clock the half-king arrived. Washington had a private
conversation with him in his tent, through Davidson, the interpreter.
He found him intelligent, patriotic, and proudly tenacious of his
territorial rights. He stated that the French had built two forts,
differing in size, but on the same model, a plan of which he gave, of
his own drawing. The largest was on Lake Erie, the other on French
Creek, fifteen miles apart, with a wagon road between them. The
nearest and levellest way to them was now impassable, lying through
large and miry savannas; they would have, therefore, to go by Venango,
and it would take five or six sleeps (or days) of good travelling to
reach the nearest fort.

On the following morning at nine o'clock, the chiefs assembled at the
council-house; where Washington, according to his instructions,
informed them that he was sent by their brother, the governor of
Virginia, to deliver to the French commandant a letter of great
importance, both to their brothers, the English, and to themselves;
and that he was to ask their advice and assistance, and some of their
young men to accompany and provide for him on the way, and be his
safeguard against the "French Indians" who had taken up the hatchet.
He concluded by presenting the indispensable document in Indian
diplomacy, a string of wampum.

The chiefs according to etiquette, sat for some moments silent after
he had concluded, as if ruminating on what had been said, or to give
him time for further remark. The half-king then rose and spoke in
behalf of the tribes, assuring him that they considered the English
and themselves brothers, and one people; and that they intended to
return the French the "speech-belts," or wampums, which the latter had
sent them. This, in Indian diplomacy, is a renunciation of all
friendly relations. An escort would be furnished to Washington
composed of Mingoes, Shannoahs, and Delawares, in token of the love
and loyalty of those several tribes; but three days would be required
to prepare for the journey.

Washington remonstrated against such delay; but was informed that an
affair of such moment, where three speech-belts were to be given up,
was not to be entered into without due consideration. Besides, the
young men who were to form the escort were absent hunting, and the
half-king could not suffer the party to go without sufficient
protection. His own French speech-belt, also, was at his
hunting-lodge, whither he must go in quest of it. Moreover, the
Shannoah chiefs were yet absent and must be waited for. Washington
soon found that to urge a more speedy departure would be offensive to
Indian dignity and decorum so he was fain to await the gathering
together of the different chiefs with their speech-belts.

In fact there was some reason for all this caution. Tidings had
reached the sachems that Captain Joncaire had called a meeting at
Venango, of the Mingoes, Delawares, and other tribes, and made them a
speech, informing them that the French, for the present, had gone into
winter-quarters, but intended to descend the river in great force, and
fight the English in the spring. He had advised them, therefore, to
stand aloof, for should they interfere, the French and English would
join, cut them all off, and divide their land between them.

With these rumors preying on their minds, the half-king and three
other chiefs waited on Washington in his tent in the evening, and
after representing that they had complied with all the requisitions of
the governor of Virginia, endeavored to draw from the youthful
ambassador the true purport of his mission to the French commandant.
Washington had anticipated an inquiry of the kind, knowing how natural
it was that these poor people should regard with anxiety and distrust
every movement of two formidable powers thus pressing upon them from
opposite sides; he managed, however, to answer them in such a manner
as to allay their solicitude without transcending the bounds of
diplomatic secrecy.

After a day or two more of delay and further consultations in the
council-house, the chiefs determined that but three of their number
should accompany the mission, as a greater number might awaken the
suspicions of the French. Accordingly, on the 30th of November,
Washington set out for the French post, having his usual party
augmented by an Indian hunter, and being accompanied by the half-king,
an old Shannoah sachem named Jeskakake, and another chief, sometimes
called Belt of Wampum, from being the keeper of the speech-belts, but
generally bearing the sounding appellation of White Thunder.

Although the distance to Venango, by the route taken, was not above
seventy miles, yet such was the inclemency of the weather and the
difficulty of travelling, that Washington and his party did not arrive
there until the 4th of December. The French colors were flying at a
house to which Washington repaired, and inquired of three French
officers whom he saw there where the commandant resided. One of them
promptly replied that he "had the command of the Ohio." It was, in
fact, the redoubtable Captain Joncaire, the veteran intriguer of the
frontier. On being apprised, however, of the nature of Washington's
errand, he informed him that there was a general officer at the next
fort, where he advised him to apply for an answer to the letter of
which he was the bearer.

In the meantime, he invited Washington and his party to a supper at
head-quarters. It proved a jovial one. Joncaire and his brother
officers pushed the bottle briskly. "The wine," says Washington, "as
they dosed themselves pretty plentifully with it, soon banished the
restraint which at first appeared in their conversation, and gave a
license to their tongues to reveal their sentiments more freely."
Washington retained his sobriety and his composure throughout the
bacchanalian outbreak. He took careful note, however, of all their
revelations, and collected a variety of information concerning the
French forces; how and where they were distributed; the situations and
distances of their forts, and their means and mode of obtaining
supplies. If the veteran diplomatist of the wilderness had intended
this revel for a snare, he was completely foiled by his youthful

On the following day there was no travelling on account of excessive
rain. Joncaire, in the meantime, having discovered that the half-king
was with the mission, expressed his surprise that he had not
accompanied it to his quarters on the preceding day. Washington, in
truth, had feared to trust the sachem within the reach of the politic
Frenchman. Nothing would do now but Joncaire must have the sachems at
head-quarters. Here his diplomacy was triumphant. He received them
with open arms. He was enraptured to see them. His Indian brothers!
How could they be so near without coming to visit him? He made them
presents; but, above all, plied them so potently with liquor, that the
poor half-king, Jeskakake, and White Thunder forgot all about their
wrongs, their speeches, their speech-belts, and all the business they
had come upon; paid no heed to the repeated cautions of their English
friends, and were soon in a complete state of frantic extravagance or
drunken oblivion.

All that day and the next was the party kept at Venango by the
stratagems of Joncaire and his emissaries to detain and seduce the
sachems. It was not until twelve o'clock on the 7th of December, that
Washington was able to extricate them out of their clutches and
commence his journey. A French commissary by the name of La Force, and
three soldiers, set off in company with him. La Force went as if on
ordinary business, but he proved one of the most active, daring, and
mischief-making of those anomalous agents employed by the French among
the Indian tribes. It is probable that he was at the bottom of many of
the perplexities experienced by Washington at Venango, and now
travelled with him for the prosecution of his wiles. He will be found,
hereafter, acting a more prominent part, and ultimately reaping the
fruit of his evil doings.

After four days of weary travel the party reached the fort. It was
situated on a kind of island on the west fork of French Creek, about
fifteen miles south of Lake Erie. On the death of the late general,
the fort had remained in charge of one Captain Reparti until within a
week past, when the Chevalier Legardeur de St. Pierre had arrived, and
taken command.

The reception of Washington at the fort was very different from the
unceremonious one experienced at the outpost of Joncaire and his
convivial messmates. When he presented himself at the gate,
accompanied by his interpreter, Van Braam, he was met by the officer
second in command and conducted in due military form to his
superior--an ancient and silver-haired chevalier of the military order
of St. Louis, courteous but ceremonious, mingling the polish of the
French gentleman of the old school with the precision of the soldier.
Having announced his errand, Washington offered his credentials and
the letter of Governor Dinwiddie, and was disposed to proceed at once
to business with the prompt frankness of a young man unhackneyed in
diplomacy. The chevalier, however, politely requested him to retain
the documents in his possession until his predecessor, Captain
Reparti, should arrive, who was hourly expected from the next post.

At two o'clock the captain arrived. The letter and its accompanying
documents were then offered again, and received in due form, and the
chevalier and his officers retired with them into a private apartment.
In this letter Dinwiddie complained of the intrusion of French forces
into the Ohio country, erecting forts and making settlements in the
western parts of the colony of Virginia, so notoriously known to be
the property of the crown of Great Britain. He inquired by whose
authority and instructions the French commander-general had marched
this force from Canada, and made this invasion; intimating that his
own action would be regulated by the answer he should receive, and the
tenor of the commission with which he was honored. At the same time he
required of the commandant his peaceable departure.

The two following days were consumed in councils of the chevalier and
his officers over the letter and the necessary reply. Washington
occupied himself in the meantime in observing and taking notes of the
plan, dimensions, and strength of the fort, and of every thing about
it. He gave orders to his people, also, to take an exact account of
the canoes in readiness, and others in the process of construction,
for the conveyance of troops down the river in the ensuing spring. As
the weather continued stormy, with much snow, and the horses were
daily losing strength, he sent them down, unladen, to Venango, to
await his return by water. In the meantime, he discovered that busy
intrigues were going on to induce the half-king and the other sachems
to abandon him, and renounce all friendship with the English. Upon
learning this, he urged the chiefs to deliver up their "speech-belts"
immediately, as they had promised, thereby shaking off all dependence
upon the French. They accordingly pressed for an audience that very
evening. A private one was at length granted them by the commander, in
presence of one or two of his officers. The half-king reported the
result of it to Washington. The venerable but astute chevalier
cautiously evaded the acceptance of the proffered wampum; made many
professions of love and friendship, and said he wished to live in
peace and trade amicably with the tribes of the Ohio, in proof of
which he would send down some goods immediately for them to Logstown.

On the evening of the 14th, the chevalier delivered to Washington his
sealed reply to the letter of Governor Dinwiddie. The purport of
previous conversations with the chevalier, and the whole complexion of
affairs on the frontier, left no doubt of the nature of that reply.
The business of his mission being accomplished, Washington prepared on
the 15th to return by water to Venango; but a secret influence was at
work which retarded every movement. "The commandant," writes he,
"ordered a plentiful store of liquor and provisions to be put on board
our canoes, and appeared to be extremely complaisant, though he was
exerting every artifice which he could invent to set our Indians at
variance with us, to prevent their going until after our departure;
presents, rewards, and every thing which could be suggested by him or
his officers.... He had promised them a present of guns if they would
wait until the morning. As I was very much pressed by the Indians to
wait this day for them, I consented, on the promise that nothing
should hinder them in the morning."

The next morning (16th) the French, in fulfilment of their promise,
had to give the present of guns. They then endeavored to detain the
sachems with liquor, but Washington reminded the half-king that his
royal word was pledged to depart, and urged it upon him so closely
that, exerting unwonted resolution and self-denial, he turned his back
upon the liquor and embarked.

It was rough and laborious navigation. French Creek was swollen and
turbulent, and full of floating ice. The frail canoes were several
times in danger of being staved to pieces against rocks. It was not
until the 22d that they reached Venango. Here Washington was obliged,
most unwillingly, to part company with the sachems. White Thunder had
hurt himself and was ill and unable to walk, and the others determined
to remain at Venango for a day or two and convey him down the river in
a canoe.

On the 25th of December Washington and his little party set out by
land from Venango on their route homeward. They had a long, winter's
journey before them, through a wilderness beset with dangers and
difficulties. The pack-horses, laden with tents, baggage, and
provisions, were completely jaded; it was feared they would give out.
Washington dismounted, gave up his saddle-horse to aid in transporting
the baggage, and requested his companions to do the same. None but the
drivers remained in the saddle.

The cold increased. There was deep snow that froze as it fell. The
horses grew less and less capable of travelling. For three days they
toiled on slowly and wearily. Washington was impatient to accomplish
his journey, and make his report to the governor; he determined,
therefore, to hasten some distance in advance of the party, and then
strike for the fork of the Ohio by the nearest course directly through
the woods. He accordingly put the cavalcade under the command of Van
Braam, then disencumbering himself of all superfluous clothing,
buckling himself up in a watch-coat, strapping his pack on his
shoulders, containing his papers and provisions, and taking gun in
hand struck manfully ahead, accompanied only by Mr. Gist, who had
equipped himself in like manner.

At night they lit a fire, and "camped" by it in the woods. At two
o'clock in the morning they were again on foot, and pressed forward
until they struck the south-east fork of Beaver Creek, at a place
bearing the sinister name of Murdering Town. Here Washington, in
planning his route, had intended to leave the regular path, and strike
through the woods for Shannopins Town, two or three miles above the
fork of the Ohio, where he hoped to be able to cross the Alleghany
River on the ice.

At Murdering Town he found a party of Indians, who appeared to have
known of his coming, and to have been waiting for him. One of them
accosted Mr. Gist, and expressed great joy at seeing him. The wary
woodsman regarded him narrowly, and thought he had seen him at
Joncaire's. If so, he and his comrades were in the French interest,
and their lying in wait boded no good. The Indian was very curious in
his inquiries as to when they had left Venango; how they came to be
travelling on foot, etc., these questions increased the distrust of
Gist, and rendered him extremely cautious in reply.

The route hence to Shannopins Town lay through a trackless wild, of
which the travellers knew nothing; it was deemed, therefore, expedient
to engage one of the Indians as a guide. He entered upon his duties
with alacrity, took Washington's pack upon his back, and led the way
by what he said was the most direct course. After travelling briskly
for eight or ten miles, Washington became fatigued, and his feet were
chafed; he thought, too, they were taking a direction too much to the
north-east; he came to a halt, therefore, and determined to light a
fire, make a shelter of the bark and branches of trees, and encamp
there for the night. The Indian demurred; he offered, as Washington
was fatigued, to carry his gun, but the latter was too wary to part
with his weapon. The Indian now grew churlish. Mr. Gist's suspicions
increased but he said nothing. Washington's also were awakened. They
proceeded some distance further: the guide paused and listened. He had
heard, he said, the report of a gun towards the north; must be from
his cabin; he accordingly turned his steps in that direction.

They went on two miles farther, when Washington signified his
determination to encamp at the first water they should find. The guide
said nothing, but kept doggedly on. After a little while they arrived
at an opening in the woods, when the Indian, who was about fifteen
paces ahead, suddenly turned, levelled his gun, and fired. Washington
was startled for an instant, but, feeling that he was not wounded,
demanded quickly of Mr. Gist if he was shot. The latter answered in
the negative. The Indian in the meantime had run forward, and screened
himself behind a large white oak, where he was re-loading his gun.
They overtook, and seized him. Gist would have put him to death on the
spot, but Washington humanely prevented him.

Arriving at a small stream they ordered the Indian to make a fire, and
took turns to watch over the guns. While he was thus occupied, Gist
observed to Washington that, since he would not suffer the Indian to
be killed, they must manage to get him out of the way, and then decamp
with all speed, and travel all night to leave this perfidious
neighborhood behind them; but first it was necessary to blind the
guide as to their intentions. He accordingly addressed him in a
friendly tone, and adverting to the late circumstance, pretended to
suppose he had lost his way, and fired his gun merely as a signal. The
Indian, whether deceived or not, readily chimed in with the
explanation. He said he now knew the way to his cabin, which was at no
great distance.

"Well then," replied Gist, "you can go home, and as we are tired we
will remain here for the night and follow your track at daylight."

Whatever might have been the original designs of the savage, he was
evidently glad to get off. Gist followed him cautiously for a
distance, and listened until the sound of his footsteps died away;
returning then to Washington, they proceeded about half a mile, made
another fire, set their compass and fixed their course by the light of
it, then leaving it burning, pushed forward, and travelled as fast as
possible all night. Continuing on the next day they never relaxed
their speed until nightfall, when they arrived on the banks of the
Alleghany River, about two miles above Shannopins Town.

Washington had expected to find the river frozen completely over; it
was so only for about fifty yards from each shore, while great
quantities of broken ice were driving down the main channel. Trusting
that he had out-travelled pursuit, he encamped on the border of the
river; still it was an anxious night, and he was up at daybreak to
devise some means of reaching the opposite bank. No other mode
presented itself than by a raft, and to construct this they had but
one poor hatchet. With this they set resolutely to work and labored
all day, but the sun went down before their raft was finished. They
launched it, however, and getting on board, endeavored to propel it
across with setting poles. Before they were half way over the raft
became jammed between cakes of ice, and they were in imminent peril.
Washington planted his pole on the bottom of the stream, and leaned
against it with all his might, to stay the raft until the ice should
pass by. The rapid current forced the ice against the pole with such
violence that he was jerked into the water, where it was at least ten
feet deep, and only saved himself from being swept away and drowned by
catching hold of one of the raft logs.

It was now impossible with all their exertions to get to either shore;
abandoning the raft therefore, they got upon an island, near which
they were drifting. Here they passed the night exposed to intense
cold, by which the hands and feet of Mr. Gist were frozen. In the
morning they found the drift ice wedged so closely together, that they
succeeded in getting from the island to the opposite side of the
river; and before night were in comfortable quarters at the house of
Frazier, an Indian trader, at the mouth of Turtle Creek, on the

Leaving Frazier's on the 1st of January, where they had been detained
two or three days endeavoring to procure horses, they arrived on the
2d at Gist's residence, sixteen miles from the Monongahela. Here they
separated, and Washington, having purchased a horse, continued his
homeward course. He reached Williamsburg on the 16th of January, where
he delivered to Governor Dinwiddie the letter of the French
commandant, and made him a full report of the events of his mission.

We have been minute in our account of this expedition as it was an
early test and development of the various talents and characteristics
of Washington. The prudence, sagacity, resolution, firmness, and
self-devotion manifested by him throughout, pointed him out, not
merely to the governor, but to the public at large, as one eminently
fitted, notwithstanding his youth, for important trusts involving
civil as well as military duties. It is an expedition that may be
considered the foundation of his fortunes. From that moment he was the
rising hope of Virginia.


The reply of the Chevalier de St. Pierre was such as might have been
expected from that courteous, but wary commander. He should transmit,
he said, the letter of Governor Dinwiddie to his general, the Marquis
du Quesne, "to whom," observed he, "it better belongs than to me to
set forth the evidence and reality of the rights of the king, my
master, upon the lands situated along the river Ohio, and to contest
the pretensions of the King of Great Britain thereto. His answer shall
be a law to me."

This was considered evasive, and only intended to gain time. The
information given by Washington of what he had observed on the
frontier convinced Governor Dinwiddie and his council that the French
were preparing to descend the Ohio in the spring, and take military
possession of the country. Washington's journal was printed, and
widely promulgated throughout the colonies and England, and awakened
the nation to a sense of the impending danger and the necessity of
prompt measures to anticipate the French movements.

Captain Trent was dispatched to the frontier, commissioned to raise a
company of one hundred men, march with all speed to the fork of the
Ohio, and finish as soon as possible the fort commenced there by the
Ohio Company. He was enjoined to act only on the defensive, but to
capture or destroy whoever should oppose the construction of the
works, or disturb the settlements. The choice of Captain Trent for
this service, notwithstanding his late inefficient expedition, was
probably owing to his being brother-in-law to George Croghan, who had
grown to be quite a personage of consequence on the frontier, where he
had an establishment, or trading-house, and was supposed to have great
influence among the western tribes, so as to be able at any time to
persuade many of them to take up the hatchet. Washington was empowered
to raise a company of like force at Alexandria; to procure and forward
munitions and supplies for the projected fort at the fork, and
ultimately to have command of both companies.

Governor Dinwiddie in the meantime called upon the governors of the
other provinces to make common cause against the foe; he endeavored,
also, to effect alliances with the Indian tribes of the south, the
Catawbas and Cherokees, by way of counter-balancing the Chippewas and
Ottawas, who were devoted to the French. The colonies, however, felt
as yet too much like isolated territories; the spirit of union was
wanting. Some pleaded a want of military funds; some questioned the
justice of the cause; some declined taking any hostile step that might
involve them in a war, unless they should have direct orders from the

Dinwiddie convened the House of Burgesses to devise measures for the
public security. Here his high idea of prerogative and of
gubernatorial dignity met with a grievous countercheck from the
dawning spirit of independence. When he propounded his scheme of
operations on the Ohio, some of the burgesses had the hardihood to
doubt the claims of the king to the disputed territory; a doubt which
the governor reprobated as savoring strongly of a most disloyal French
spirit. Others demurred to any grant of means for military purposes
which might be construed into an act of hostility. To meet this
scruple it was suggested that the grant might be made for the purpose
of encouraging and protecting all settlers on the waters of the
Mississippi. And under this specious plea ten thousand pounds were
grudgingly voted.

Ways and means being provided, Governor Dinwiddie augmented the number
of troops to be enlisted to three hundred, divided into six companies.
The command of the whole, as before, was offered to Washington, but he
shrank from it, as a charge too great for his youth and inexperience.
It was given, therefore, to Colonel Joshua Fry, an English gentleman
of worth and education, and Washington was made second in command,
with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. The recruiting, at first, went on
slowly. Governor Dinwiddie proclaimed a bounty of two hundred thousand
acres of land on the Ohio River, to be divided among the officers and
soldiers who should engage in this expedition; one thousand to be laid
off contiguous to the fort at the fork, for the use of the garrison.
This was a tempting bait to the sons of farmers, who readily enlisted
in the hope of having, at the end of a short campaign, a snug farm of
their own in this land of promise.

It was a more difficult matter to get officers than soldiers. Very few
of those appointed made their appearance; one of the captains had been
promoted; two declined; Washington found himself left, almost alone,
to manage a number of self-willed, undisciplined recruits. Happily he
had with him, in the rank of lieutenant, that soldier of fortune,
Jacob Van Braam, his old "master of fence," and travelling
interpreter. In his emergency he forthwith nominated him captain, and
wrote to the governor to confirm the appointment. On the 2d of April
Washington set off from Alexandria for the new fort, at the fork of
the Ohio. He had but two companies with him, amounting to about one
hundred and fifty men; the remainder of the regiment was to follow
under Colonel Fry with the artillery, which was to be conveyed up the
Potomac. While on the march he was joined by a detachment under
Captain Adam Stephen, an officer destined to serve with him at distant
periods of his military career. At Winchester he found it impossible
to obtain conveyances by gentle means, and was obliged reluctantly to
avail himself of the militia law of Virginia, and impress horses and
wagons for service; giving the owners orders on government for their
appraised value. Even then, out of a great number impressed, he
obtained but ten, after waiting a week. Thus slenderly fitted out,
Washington and his little force made their way toilfully across the
mountains, having to prepare the roads as they went for the
transportation of the cannon, which were to follow on with the other
division under Colonel Fry. They cheered themselves with the thoughts
that this hard work would cease when they should arrive at the
company's trading-post and store-house at Wills' Creek, where Captain
Trent was to have pack-horses in readiness, with which they might make
the rest of the way by light stages. Before arriving there they were
startled by a rumor that Trent and all his men had been captured by
the French. With regard to Trent the news soon proved to be false, for
they found him at Wills' Creek on the 20th of April. With regard to
his men there was still an uncertainty. He had recently left them at
the fork of the Ohio, busily at work on the fort, under the command of
his lieutenant, Frazier. Washington was eager to press forward and
ascertain the truth, but it was impossible. Trent, inefficient as
usual, had failed to provide pack-horses. It was necessary to send to
Winchester, sixty miles distant, for baggage wagons, and await their
arrival. All uncertainty as to the fate of the men, however, was
brought to a close by their arrival, on the 25th, conducted by an
ensign, and bringing with them their working implements. The French
might well boast that they had again been too quick for the English.
Captain Contrecoeur, an alert officer, had embarked about a thousand
men with field-pieces, in a fleet of sixty bateaux and three hundred
canoes, dropped down the river from Venango, and suddenly made his
appearance before the fort, on which the men were working, and which
was not half completed. Landing, drawing up his men, and planting his
artillery, he summoned the fort to surrender, allowing one hour for a
written reply. All that the ensign could obtain was permission to
depart with his men, taking with them their working tools.

Such was the ensign's story. He was accompanied by two Indian
warriors, sent by the half-king to ascertain where the detachment was,
what was its strength, and when it might be expected at the Ohio. They
bore a speech from that sachem to Washington, and another, with a belt
of wampum for the governor of Virginia. In these he plighted his
steadfast faith to the English, and claimed assistance from his
brothers of Virginia and Pennsylvania. One of these warriors
Washington forwarded on with the speech and wampum to Governor
Dinwiddie. The other he prevailed on to return to the half-king
bearing a speech from him, addressed to the "Sachems, warriors of the
Six United Nations, Shannoahs and Delawares, our friends and
brethren." In this he informed them that he was on the advance with a
part of the army, to clear the road for a greater force coming with
guns, ammunition, and provisions; and he invited the half-king and
another sachem to meet him on the road, as soon as possible, to hold a

In fact, his situation was arduous in the extreme. Regarding the
conduct of the French in the recent occurrence an overt act of war, he
found himself thrown with a handful of raw recruits far on a hostile
frontier, in the midst of a wilderness, with an enemy at hand greatly
superior in number and discipline; provided with artillery, and all
the munitions of war, and within reach of constant supplies and
reinforcements. Besides the French that had come from Venango, he had
received credible accounts of another party ascending the Ohio; and of
six hundred Chippewas and Ottawas marching down Scioto Creek to join
the hostile camp. Still, notwithstanding the accumulating danger, it
would not do to fall back, nor show signs of apprehension. His Indian
allies in such case might desert him. The soldiery, too, might grow
restless and dissatisfied.

In this dilemma he called a council of war, in which it was determined
to proceed to the Ohio Company store-house, at the mouth of Redstone
Creek; fortify themselves there, and wait for reinforcements. Here
they might keep up a vigilant watch upon the enemy, and get notice of
any hostile movement in time for defence, or retreat; and should they
be reinforced sufficiently to enable them to attack the fort, they
could easily drop down the river with their artillery.

With these alternatives in view, Washington detached sixty men in
advance to make a road; and at the same time wrote to Governor
Dinwiddie for mortars and grenadoes, and cannon of heavy metal. Aware
that the Assembly of Pennsylvania was in session and that the Maryland
Assembly would also meet in the course of a few days, he wrote
directly to the governors of those provinces, acquainting them with
the hostile acts of the French, and with his perilous situation; and
endeavoring to rouse them to co-operation in the common cause.

Before setting off for Redstone Creek, he discharged Trent's men [who,
having enlisted as volunteers, considered themselves exempt from the
rigor of martial law, and had become refractory] from his detachment,
ordering them to await Colonel Fry's commands; they, however, in the
true spirit of volunteers from the backwoods, dispersed to their

On the 29th of April Washington set out from Wills' Creek at the head
of one hundred and sixty men. He soon overtook those sent in advance
to work the road; they had made but little progress. It was a
difficult task to break a road through the wilderness sufficient for
the artillery coming on with Colonel Fry's division. All hands were
now set to work, but with all their labor they could not accomplish
more than four miles a day. On the 9th of May they were not further
than twenty miles from Wills' Creek, at a place called the Little

Every day came gloomy accounts from the Ohio; brought chiefly by
traders, who, with pack-horses bearing their effects, were retreating
to the more settled parts of the country. Some exaggerated the number
of the French, as if strongly reinforced. All represented them as
diligently at work constructing a fort. By their account Washington
perceived the French had chosen the very place which he had noted in
his journal as best fitted for the purpose. One of the traders gave
information concerning La Force, the French emissary, who had beset
Washington when on his mission to the frontier, and acted, as he
thought, the part of a spy. He had been at Gist's new settlement
beyond Laurel Hill, and was prowling about the country with four
soldiers at his heels on a pretended hunt after deserters. Washington
suspected him to be on a reconnoitering expedition. It was reported,
moreover, that the French were lavishing presents on the Indians about
the lower part of the river, to draw them to their standard. Among all
these flying reports and alarms Washington was gratified to learn that
the half-king was on his way to meet him at the head of fifty

After infinite toil through swamps and forests, and over rugged
mountains, the detachment arrived at the Youghiogeny River, where they
were detained some days constructing a bridge to cross it. This gave
Washington leisure to correspond with Governor Dinwiddie concerning
matters which had deeply annoyed him. By an ill-judged economy of the
Virginia government at this critical juncture, its provincial officers
received less pay than that allowed in the regular army. It is true,
the regular officers were obliged to furnish their own table, but
their superior pay enabled them to do it luxuriously; whereas the
provincials were obliged to do hard duty on salt provisions and water.
The provincial officers resented this inferiority of pay as an
indignity, and declared that nothing prevented them from throwing up
their commissions but unwillingness to recede from approaching danger.

Other instances of false economy were pointed out by Washington,
forming so many drags upon the expedition that he quite despaired of
success. "Be the consequence what it will, however," adds he, "I am
determined not to leave the regiment, but to be among the last men
that leave the Ohio; even if I serve as a private volunteer, which I
greatly prefer to the establishment we are upon.... I have a
constitution hardy enough to encounter and undergo the most severe
trials, and I flatter myself resolution to face what any man dares, as
shall be proved when it comes to the test."

While the bridge over the Youghiogeny was in the course of
construction, the Indians assured Washington he would never be able to
open a wagon-road across the mountain to Redstone Creek; he embarked
therefore in a canoe with a lieutenant, three soldiers, and an Indian
guide, to try whether it was possible to descend the river. The river
was bordered by mountains and obstructed by rocks and rapids. Indians
might thread such a labyrinth in their light canoes, but it would
never admit the transportation of troops and military stores.
Washington kept on for thirty miles, until he came to a place where
the river fell nearly forty feet in the space of fifty yards. There he
ceased to explore, and returned to camp, resolving to continue forward
by land.

On the 23d Indian scouts brought word that the French were not above
eight hundred strong, and that about half their number had been
detached at night on a secret expedition. Close upon this report came
a message from the half-king. "It is reported," said he, "that the
French army is coming to meet Major Washington. Be on your guard
against them, my brethren, for they intend to strike the first English
they shall see."

In the evening Washington was told that the French were crossing the
ford of the Youghiogeny about eighteen miles distant. He now hastened
to take a position in a place called the Great Meadows, where he
caused the bushes to be cleared away, made an intrenchment, and
prepared what he termed, "a charming field for an encounter." A party
of scouts were mounted on wagon-horses, and sent out to reconnoitre.
They returned without having seen an enemy.

On the 25th Mr. Gist arrived from his place, about fifteen miles
distant. La Force had been there at noon on the previous day, with a
detachment of fifty men, and Gist had since come upon their track
within five miles of the camp. Washington detached seventy-five men in
pursuit of him and his prowling band. About nine o'clock at night came
an Indian messenger from the half-king, who was encamped with several
of his people about six miles off. The chief had seen tracks of two
Frenchmen, and was convinced their whole body must be in ambush near
by. Washington considered this the force which had been hovering about
him for several days, and determined to forestall their hostile
designs. Leaving a guard with the baggage and ammunition, he set out
before ten o'clock, with forty men, to join his Indian ally. They
groped their way in single file, by footpaths through the woods, in a
heavy rain and murky darkness. It was near sunrise when they reached
the camp of the half-king.

The chieftain received the youthful commander with great
demonstrations of friendship, and engaged to go hand in hand with him
against the lurking enemy. He set out accordingly, accompanied by a
few of his warriors and his associate sachem Scarooyadi or
Monacatoocha, and conducted Washington to the tracks which he had
discovered. Upon these he put two of his Indians. They followed them
up like hounds, and brought back word that they had traced them to a
low bottom surrounded by rocks and trees, where the French were
encamped, having built a few cabins for shelter from the rain.

A plan was now concerted to come upon them by surprise; Washington
with his men on the right; the half-king with his warriors on the
left; all as silently as possible. Washington was the first upon the
ground. As he advanced from among the rocks and trees at the head of
his men, the French caught sight of him and ran to their arms. A sharp
firing instantly took place, and was kept up on both sides for about
fifteen minutes. Washington and his party were most exposed and
received all the enemy's fire. The French at length, having lost
several of their number, gave way and ran. They were soon overtaken;
twenty-one were captured, and but one escaped, a Canadian, who carried
the tidings of the affair to the fort on the Ohio. The Indians would
have massacred the prisoners had not Washington prevented them. Ten of
the French had fallen in the skirmish, and one been wounded.
Washington's loss was one killed and three wounded. He had been in the
hottest fire, and, having for the first time heard balls whistle about
him, considered his escape miraculous. Jumonville, the French leader,
had been shot through the head at the first fire.

Of the twenty-one prisoners the two most important were an officer of
some consequence named Drouillon, and the subtle and redoubtable La
Force. As Washington considered the latter an arch mischief-maker, he
was rejoiced to have him is his power. The prisoners were conducted to
the camp at the Great Meadows, and sent on the following day (29th),
under a strong escort to Governor Dinwiddie, then at Winchester.
Washington had treated them with great courtesy; had furnished
Drouillon and La Force with clothing from his own scanty stock, and,
at their request, given them letters to the governor, bespeaking for
them "the respect and favor due to their character and personal

The situation of Washington was now extremely perilous. Contrecoeur,
it was said, had nearly a thousand men with him at the fort, beside
Indian allies; and reinforcements were on the way to join him. The
messengers sent by Jumonville, previous to the late affair, must have
apprised him of the weakness of the encampment on the Great Meadows.
Washington hastened to strengthen it. He wrote by express also to
Colonel Fry, who lay ill at Wills' Creek, urging instant

The half-king was full of fight. He sent the scalps of the Frenchmen
slain in the late skirmish, accompanied by black wampum and hatchets,
to all his allies, summoning them to take up arms and join him at
Redstone Creek, "for their brothers, the English, had now begun in
earnest." He went off for his home, promising to send down the river
for all the Mingoes and Shawnees, and to be back at the camp on the
30th, with thirty or forty warriors, accompanied by their wives and
children. To assist him in the transportation of his people and their
effects thirty men were detached and twenty horses.

"I shall expect every hour to be attacked," writes Washington to
Governor Dinwiddie, on the 26th, "and by unequal numbers, which I must
withstand, if there are five to one, for I fear the consequence will
be that we shall lose the Indians if we suffer ourselves to be driven
back. Your honor may depend I will not be surprised, let them come at
what hour they will, and this is as much as I can promise; but my best
endeavors shall not be wanting to effect more."


Scarcity began to prevail in the camp. Contracts had been made with
George Croghan for flour, of which he had large quantities at his
frontier establishment; for he was now trading with the army as well
as with the Indians. None, however, made its appearance. At one time
the troops were six days without flour. In this time of scarcity the
half-king, his fellow sachem, Scarooyadi, and thirty or forty
warriors, arrived, bringing with them their wives and children--so
many more hungry mouths to be supplied.

News came of the death of Colonel Fry at Wills' Creek, and that he was
to be succeeded in the command of the expedition by Colonel Innes of
North Carolina, who was actually at Winchester with three hundred and
fifty North Carolina troops. The colonel, however, never came to the
camp, nor did the North Carolina troops render any service in the
campaign--the fortunes of which might otherwise have been very
different. By the death of Fry, the command of the regiment devolved
on Washington.

The palisaded fort was now completed, and was named Fort Necessity,
from the pinching famine that had prevailed during its construction.
The scanty force in camp was augmented to three hundred by the arrival
from Wills' Creek of the men who had been under Colonel Fry. With them
came the surgeon of the regiment, Dr. James Craik, a Scotchman by
birth, and one destined to become a faithful and confidential friend
of Washington for the remainder of his life.

A letter from Governor Dinwiddie announced, however, that Captain
Mackay would soon arrive with an independent company of one hundred
men, from South Carolina. The title of independent company had a sound
ominous of trouble. Troops of the kind, raised in the colonies, under
direction of the governors, were paid by the crown, and the officers
had king's commissions; such, doubtless, had Captain Mackay. "I should
have been particularly obliged," writes Washington to Governor
Dinwiddie, "if you had declared whether he was under my command or
independent of it. I hope he will have more sense than to insist upon
any unreasonable distinction, because he and his officers have
commissions from his majesty."

On the 9th arrived Washington's early instructor in military tactics,
Adjutant Muse, recently appointed a major in the regiment. He was
accompanied by Montour, the Indian interpreter, now a provincial
captain, and brought with him nine swivels, and a small supply of
powder and ball. Fifty or sixty horses were forthwith sent to Wills'
Creek, to bring on further supplies, and Mr. Gist was urged to hasten
forward the artillery. Major Muse was likewise the bearer of a belt of
wampum and a speech, from Governor Dinwiddie to the half-king; with
medals for the chiefs, and goods for presents among the friendly
Indians, a measure which had been suggested by Washington. They were
distributed with that grand ceremonial so dear to the red man.

On the 10th there was agitation in the camp. Scouts hurried in with
word, as Washington understood them, that a party of ninety Frenchmen
were approaching. The report of the scouts had been either exaggerated
or misunderstood. The ninety Frenchmen in military array dwindled down
into nine French deserters. According to their account, the fort at
the fork was completed, and named Duquesne, in honor of the governor
of Canada. It was proof against all attack, excepting with bombs, on
the land side. The garrison did not exceed five hundred, but two
hundred more were hourly expected, and nine hundred in the course of a

On the same day Captain Mackay arrived, with his independent company
of South Carolinians. The cross purposes which Washington had
apprehended, soon manifested themselves. The captain was civil and
well disposed, but full of formalities and points of etiquette.
Holding a commission direct from the king, he could not bring himself
to acknowledge a provincial officer as his superior. He encamped
separately, kept separate guards, would not agree that Washington
should assign any rallying place for his men in case of alarm, and
objected to receive from him the parole and countersign, though
necessary for their common safety. Washington conducted himself with
circumspection, avoiding everything that might call up a question of
command, and reasoning calmly whenever such question occurred; but he
urged the governor by letter, to prescribe their relative rank and

On the 11th of June, Washington resumed the laborious march for
Redstone Creek. As Captain Mackay could not oblige his men to work on
the road unless they were allowed a shilling sterling a day; and as
Washington did not choose to pay this, nor to suffer them to march at
their ease while his own faithful soldiers were laboriously employed;
he left the captain and his independent company as a guard at Fort
Necessity, and undertook to complete the military road with his own
men. Accordingly, he and his Virginia troops toiled forward through
the narrow defiles of the mountains, working on the road as they went.

At Gist's establishment, about thirteen miles from Fort Necessity,
Washington received certain intelligence that ample reinforcements had
arrived at Fort Duquesne, and a large force would instantly be
detached against him. Coming to a halt, he began to throw up
intrenchments, calling in two foraging parties, and sending word to
Captain Mackay to join him with all speed. The captain and his company
arrived in the evening; the foraging parties the next morning. A
council of war was held, in which the idea of awaiting the enemy at
this place was unanimously abandoned.

A rapid and toilsome retreat ensued. There was a deficiency of horses.
Washington gave up his own to aid in transporting the military
munitions, leaving his baggage to be brought on by soldiers, whom he
paid liberally. The other officers followed his example. The weather
was sultry; the roads were rough; provisions were scanty, and the men
dispirited by hunger. On the 1st of July they reached the Great
Meadows. Here the Virginians, exhausted by fatigue, hunger, and
vexation, declared they would carry the baggage and drag the swivels
no further. Contrary to his original intentions, therefore, Washington
determined to halt here for the present, and fortify, sending off
expresses to hasten supplies and reinforcements from Wills' Creek,
where he had reason to believe that two independent companies from New
York were by this time arrived.

The retreat to the Great Meadows had not been in the least too
precipitate. Captain de Villiers, a brother-in-law of Jumonville, had
actually sallied forth from Fort Duquesne at the head of upwards of
five hundred French, and several hundred Indians, eager to avenge the
death of his relative. Arriving about dawn of day at Gist's
plantation, he surrounded the works which Washington had hastily
thrown up there, and fired into them. Finding them deserted, he
concluded that those of whom he came in search had made good their
retreat to the settlements, and it was too late to pursue them. He was
on the point of returning to Fort Duquesne, when a deserter arrived,
who gave word that Washington had come to a halt in the Great Meadows,
where his troops were in a starving condition. De Villiers ordered the
fellow into confinement; to be rewarded if his words proved true,
otherwise to be hanged. He then pushed forward for the Great Meadows.

In the meantime Washington had exerted himself to enlarge and
strengthen Fort Necessity, nothing of which had been done by Captain
Mackay and his men, while encamped there. The fort was about a hundred
feet square, protected by trenches and palisades. It stood on the
margin of a small stream, nearly in the centre of the Great Meadows,
which is a grassy plain, perfectly level, surrounded by wooded hills
of a moderate height, and at that place about two hundred and fifty
yards wide. Washington asked no assistance from the South Carolina
troops, but set to work with his Virginians, animating them by word
and example; sharing in the labor of felling trees, hewing off the
branches, and rolling up the trunks to form a breastwork.

At this critical juncture he was deserted by his Indian allies. They
were disheartened at the scanty preparations for defence against a
superior force, and offended at being subjected to military command.
The half-king thought he had not been sufficiently consulted, and that
his advice had not been sufficiently followed; such, at least, were
some of the reasons which he subsequently gave for abandoning the
youthful commander on the approach of danger. Most of his warriors
followed his example.

Early in the morning of the 3d, while Washington and his men were
working on the fort, a sentinel came in wounded and bleeding, having
been fired upon. Scouts brought word shortly afterwards that the
French were in force about four miles off. Washington drew up his men
on level ground outside of the works to await their attack. About
eleven o'clock there was a firing of musketry from among trees on
rising ground, but so distant as to do no harm; suspecting this to be
a stratagem designed to draw his men into the woods, he ordered them
to keep quiet, and refrain from firing until the foe should show
themselves, and draw near. The firing was kept up, but still under
cover. He now fell back with his men into the trenches, ordering them
to fire whenever they could get sight of an enemy. In this way there
was skirmishing throughout the day; the French and Indians advancing
as near as the covert of the woods would permit. In the meantime the
rain fell in torrents; the harassed and jaded troops were half drowned
in their trenches and many of their muskets were rendered unfit for

About eight at night the French requested a parley. Washington
hesitated. It might be a stratagem to gain admittance for a spy into
the fort. The request was repeated, with the addition that an officer
might be sent to treat with them, under their parole for his safety.
Unfortunately the Chevalier de Peyrouney, engineer of the regiment,
and the only one that could speak French correctly, was wounded and
disabled. Washington had to send, therefore, his ancient swordsman and
interpreter, Jacob Van Braam. The captain returned twice with separate
terms, in which the garrison was required to surrender; both were
rejected. He returned a third time, with written articles of
capitulation. They were in French. As no implements for writing were
at hand, Van Braam undertook to translate them by word of mouth. A
candle was brought, and held close to the paper while he read. The
rain fell in torrents; it was difficult to keep the light from being
extinguished. The captain rendered the capitulation, article by
article, in mongrel English, while Washington and his officers stood
listening, endeavoring to disentangle the meaning. One article
stipulated that on surrendering the fort they should leave all their
military stores, munitions, and artillery in possession of the French.
This was objected to, and was readily modified.

The main articles, as Washington and his officers understood them,
were, that they should be allowed to return to the settlements without
molestation from French or Indians. That they should march out of the
fort with the honors of war, drums beating and colors flying, and with
all their effects and military stores excepting the artillery, which
should be destroyed. That they should be allowed to deposit their
effects in some secret place, and leave a guard to protect them until
they could send horses to bring them away; their horses having been
nearly all killed or lost during the action. That they should give
their word of honor not to attempt any buildings or improvements on
the lands of his most Christian Majesty for the space of a year. That
the prisoners taken in the skirmish of Jumonville should be restored,
and until their delivery Captain Van Braam and Captain Stobo should
remain with the French as hostages.

The next morning, accordingly, Washington and his men marched out of
their forlorn fortress with the honors of war, bearing with them their
regimental colors, but leaving behind a large flag, too cumbrous to be
transported. Scarcely had they begun their march, however, when, in
defiance of the terms of capitulation, they were beset by a large body
of Indians, allies of the French, who began plundering the baggage,
and committing other irregularities. Seeing that the French did not,
or could not, prevent them, and that all the baggage which could not
be transported on the shoulders of his troops would fall into the
hands of these savages, Washington ordered it to be destroyed, as well
as the artillery, gunpowder, and other military stores. All this
detained him until ten o'clock, when he set out on his melancholy
march, and continued on until three miles from Fort Necessity, where
he encamped for the night.

In the following days' march the troops seemed jaded and disheartened;
they were encumbered and delayed by the wounded; provisions were
scanty, and they had seventy weary miles to accomplish before they
could meet with supplies. Washington, however, encouraged them by his
own steadfast and cheerful demeanor, and by sharing all their toils
and privations; and at length conducted them in safety to Wills'
Creek, where they found ample provisions in the military magazines.
Leaving them here to recover their strength, he proceeded with Captain
Mackay to Williamsburg, to make his military report to the governor.

A copy of the capitulation was subsequently laid before the Virginia
House of Burgesses, with explanations. Notwithstanding the unfortunate
result of the campaign, the conduct of Washington and his officers was
properly appreciated, and they received a vote of thanks for their
bravery, and gallant defence of their country. From the vote of
thanks, two officers were excepted; Major Stobo, who was charged with
cowardice, and Washington's unfortunate master of fence and blundering
interpreter, Jacob Van Braam, who was accused of treachery, in
purposely misinterpreting the articles of capitulation.

We will here anticipate dates to record the fortunes of the half-king
after his withdrawal from the camp. He and several of his warriors,
with their wives and children, retreated to Aughquick, in the back
part of Pennsylvania, where George Croghan had an agency, and was
allowed money from time to time for the maintenance of Indian allies.
The half-king expressed himself perfectly disgusted with the white
man's mode of warfare. The French, he said, were cowards; the English,
fools. Washington was a good man, but wanted experience; he would not
take advice of the Indians, and was always driving them to fight
according to his own notions. For this reason he (the half-king) had
carried off his wife and children to a place of safety. After a time
the chieftain fell dangerously ill, and on his death, which took place
shortly afterwards, there was great lamentation.

Early in August Washington rejoined his regiment, which had arrived at
Alexandria by the way of Winchester. Letters from Governor Dinwiddie
urged him to recruit it to the former number of three hundred men, and
join Colonel Innes at Wills' Creek, where that officer was stationed
with Mackay's independent company of South Carolinians, and two
independent companies from New York; and had been employed in erecting
a work to serve as a frontier post and rally point; which work
received the name of Fort Cumberland, in honor of the Duke of
Cumberland, captain-general of the British army.

In the meantime the French, elated by their recent triumph, and
thinking no danger at hand, relaxed their vigilance at Fort Duquesne.
Stobo, who was a kind of prisoner at large there, found means to send
a letter secretly by an Indian, dated July 28, and directed to the
commander of the English troops. It was accompanied by a plan of the
fort. "There are two hundred men here," writes he, "and two hundred
expected; the rest have gone off in detachments to the amount of one
thousand, besides Indians. None lodge in the fort but Contrecoeur and
the guard, consisting of forty men and five officers; the rest lodge
in bark cabins around the fort. The Indians have access day and night,
and come and go when they please. If one hundred trusty Shawnees,
Mingoes, and Delawares were picked out, they might surprise the fort,
lodging themselves under the palisades by day, and at night secure the
guard with their tomahawks, shut the sally-gate, and the fort is

The Indian messenger carried the letter to Aughquick and delivered it
into the hands of George Croghan. The Indian chiefs who were with him
insisted upon his opening it. He did so, but on finding the tenor of
it, transmitted it to the governor of Pennsylvania. The secret
information communicated by Stobo may have been the cause of a project
suddenly conceived by Governor Dinwiddie, of a detachment which, by a
forced march across the mountains, might descend upon the French and
take Fort Duquesne at a single blow; or, failing that, might build a
rival fort in its vicinity. He accordingly wrote to Washington to
march forthwith for Wills' Creek, with such companies as were
complete, leaving orders with the officers to follow as soon as they
should have enlisted men sufficient to make up their companies.

The ignorance of Dinwiddie in military affairs and his want of
forecast, led him perpetually into blunders. Washington saw the
rashness of an attempt to dispossess the French with a force so
inferior that it could be harassed and driven from place to place at
their pleasure. Before the troops could be collected, and munitions of
war provided, the season would be too far advanced. There would be no
forage for the horses; the streams would be swollen and unfordable;
the mountains rendered impassable by snow, and frost, and slippery

Such are a few of the cogent reasons urged by Washington in a letter
to his friend William Fairfax, then in the House of Burgesses, which
no doubt was shown to Governor Dinwiddie, and probably had an effect
in causing the rash project to be abandoned.

In the month of October the House of Burgesses made a grant of twenty
thousand pounds for the public service; and ten thousand more were
sent out from England, beside a supply of fire-arms. The governor now
applied himself to military matters with renewed spirit; increased the
actual force to ten companies; and as there had been difficulties
among the different kinds of troops with regard to precedence, he
reduced them all to independent companies; so that there would be no
officer in a Virginia regiment above the rank of captain. This shrewd
measure, upon which Dinwiddie secretly prided himself as calculated to
put an end to the difficulties in question, immediately drove
Washington out of the service; considering it derogatory to his
character to accept a lower commission than that under which his
conduct had gained him a vote of thanks from the Legislature.

Governor Sharpe, of Maryland, appointed by the king commander-in-chief
of all the forces engaged against the French, sought to secure his
valuable services, and authorized Colonel Fitzhugh, whom he had placed
in temporary command of the army, to write to him to that effect. The
reply of Washington (15th Nov.) is full of dignity and spirit, and
shows how deeply he felt his military degradation. "You make mention,"
says he, "of my continuing in the service and retaining my colonel's
commission. This idea has filled me with surprise; for if you think me
capable of holding a commission that has neither rank nor emolument
annexed to it, you must maintain a very contemptible opinion of my
weakness, and believe me more empty than the commission itself. I
herewith inclose Governor Sharpe's letter which I beg you will return
to him with my acknowledgements for the favor he intended me."

Even had Washington hesitated to take this step, it would have been
forced upon him by a further regulation of government, in the course
of the ensuing winter, settling the rank of officers of his majesty's
forces when joined or serving with the provincial forces in North
America, "which directed that all such as were commissioned by the
king, or by his general commander-in-chief in North America, should
take rank of all officers commissioned by the governors of the
respective provinces. And further, that the general and field officers
of the provincial troops should have no rank when serving with the
general and field officers commissioned by the crown; but that all
captains and other inferior officers of the royal troops should take
rank over provincial officers of the same grade, having older
commissions." These regulations, originating in that supercilious
assumption of superiority which sometimes overruns and degrades true
British pride, would have been spurned by Washington, as insulting to
the character and conduct of his high-minded brethren of the colonies.
Another cause of vexation to Washington was the refusal of Governor
Dinwiddie to give up the French prisoners, taken in the affair of De
Jumonville, in fulfillment of the articles of capitulation. His plea
was, that since the capitulation, the French had taken several British
subjects, and sent them prisoners to Canada, he considered himself
justifiable in detaining those Frenchmen which he had in his custody.
Washington felt deeply mortified by this obtuseness of the governor on
a point of military punctilio and honorable faith, but his
remonstrances were unavailing. La Force not having acted in a military
capacity, and having offended against the peace and security of the
frontier, by his intrigues among the Indians, was kept in close

The refusal of Governor Dinwiddie to fulfill the article of the
capitulation respecting the prisoners, and the rigorous treatment of
La Force, operated hardly upon the hostages, Stobo and Van Braam, who,
in retaliation, were confined in prison in Quebec.


Having resigned his commission, and disengaged himself from public
affairs, Washington's first care was to visit his mother, inquire into
the state of domestic concerns, and attend to the welfare of his
brothers and sisters. In these matters he was ever his mother's
adjunct and counsellor, discharging faithfully the duties of an eldest
son, who should consider himself a second father to the family. He now
took up his abode at Mount Vernon, and prepared to engage in those
agricultural pursuits, for which, even in his youthful days, he had as
keen a relish as for the profession of arms. Scarcely had he entered
upon his rural occupations, however, when the service of his country
once more called him to the field.

The disastrous affair at the Great Meadows, and the other acts of
French hostility on the Ohio, had roused the attention of the British
ministry, who now prepared for military operations in America; none of
them professedly aggressive, but rather to resist and counteract
aggressions. A plan of campaign was devised for 1755, having four
objects: To eject the French from lands which they held unjustly, in
the province of Nova Scotia; to dislodge them from a fortress which
they had erected at Crown Point, on Lake Champlain, within what was
claimed as British territory; to dispossess them of the fort which
they had constructed at Niagara, between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie;
to drive them from the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and
recover the valley of the Ohio. The Duke of Cumberland,
captain-general of the British army, had the organization of this
campaign; and through his patronage, Major-general Edward Braddock was
intrusted with the execution of it, being appointed generalissimo of
all the forces in the colonies.

Braddock was a veteran in service, and had been upwards of forty years
in the guards, that school of exact discipline and technical
punctilio. He was a brave and experienced officer; but his experience
was that of routine, and rendered him pragmatical and obstinate,
impatient of novel expedients, and his military precision, which would
have been brilliant on parade, was a constant obstacle to alert action
in the wilderness. He was to lead in person the grand enterprise of
the campaign, that destined for the frontiers of Virginia and
Pennsylvania; it was the enterprise in which Washington became
enlisted, and, therefore, claims our especial attention.

Prior to the arrival of Braddock, came out from England
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John St. Clair, deputy quartermaster-general,
eager to make himself acquainted with the field of operations. He made
a tour of inspection, in company with Governor Sharpe, of Maryland,
and appears to have been dismayed at sight of the impracticable
wilderness, the region of Washington's campaign. From Fort Cumberland,
he wrote in February to Governor Morris, of Pennsylvania, to have the
road cut, or repaired, toward the head of the river Youghiogeny, and
another opened from Philadelphia for the transportation of supplies.
Unfortunately the governor of Pennsylvania had no money at his
command, and was obliged, for expenses, to apply to his Assembly, "a
set of men," writes he, "quite unacquainted with every kind of
military service and exceedingly unwilling to part with money on any
terms." However, by dint of exertions, he procured the appointment of
commissioners to explore the country, and survey and lay out the roads
required. At the head of the commission was George Croghan, the Indian
trader, whose mission to the Twightwees we have already spoken of.

When Sir John St. Clair had finished his tour of inspection he
descended Wills' Creek and the Potomac for two hundred miles in a
canoe to Alexandria, and repaired to Virginia to meet General
Braddock. The latter had landed on the 20th of February, at Hampton,
in Virginia, and proceeded to Williamsburg to consult with Governor
Dinwiddie. Shortly afterwards he was joined there by Commodore Keppel,
whose squadron of two ships-of-war, and several transports, had
anchored in the Chesapeake. On board of these ships were two prime
regiments of about five hundred men each--one commanded by Sir Peter
Halket, the other by Colonel Dunbar; together with a train of
artillery, and the necessary munitions of war. The regiments were to
be augmented to seven hundred men, each by men selected by Sir John
St. Clair from Virginia companies recently raised. Alexandria was
fixed upon as the place where the troops should disembark and encamp.
The ships were accordingly ordered up to that place, and the levies
directed to repair thither.

The plan of the campaign included the use of Indian allies. Governor
Dinwiddie had already sent Christopher Gist to engage the Cherokees
and Catawbas, the bravest of the Southern tribes, who he had no doubt
would take up the hatchet for the English, peace being first
concluded, through the mediation of his government, between them and
the Six Nations; and he gave Braddock reason to expect at least four
hundred Indians to join him at Fort Cumberland. General Braddock
apprehended difficulty in procuring wagons and horses sufficient to
attend him in his march. Sir John St. Clair, in the course of his tour
of inspection, had met with two Dutch settlers, at the foot of the
Blue Ridge, who engaged to furnish two hundred wagons and fifteen
hundred carrying horses, to be at Fort Cumberland early in May.
Governor Sharpe was to furnish above a hundred wagons for the
transportation of stores, on the Maryland side of the Potomac. Keppel
furnished four cannons from his ships, for the attack on Fort
Duquesne, and thirty picked seamen to assist in dragging them over the
mountains. They were to aid also in passing the troops and artillery
on floats or in boats, across the rivers, and were under the command
of a midshipman and lieutenant.

Trusting to these arrangements, Braddock proceeded to Alexandria. The
troops had all been disembarked before his arrival, and the Virginia
levies, selected by Sir John St. Clair to join the regiments of
regulars, were arrived. There were beside two companies of hatchet
men, or carpenters, six of rangers, and one troop of light horse. The
levies, having been clothed, were ordered to march immediately for
Winchester to be armed. The light horse were retained by the general
as his escort and body guard.

The din and stir of warlike preparation disturbed the quiet of Mount
Vernon. Washington looked down from his rural retreat upon the ships
of war and transports as they passed up the Potomac, with the array of
arms gleaming along their decks. The booming of cannon echoed among
his groves. Alexandria was but a few miles distant. Occasionally he
mounted his horse, and rode to that place; it was like a garrisoned
town, teeming with troops, and resounding with the drum and fife. A
brilliant campaign was about to open under the auspices of an
experienced general, and with all the means and appurtenances of
European warfare. How different from the starveling expeditions he had
hitherto been doomed to conduct! What an opportunity to efface the
memory of his recent disaster! All his thoughts of rural life were put
to flight. The military part of his character was again in the
ascendant; his great desire was to join the expedition as a volunteer.
It was reported to General Braddock. The latter was apprised by
Governor Dinwiddie, and others, of Washington's personal merits, his
knowledge of the country, and his experience in frontier service. The
consequence was a letter from Captain Robert Orme, one of Braddock's
aides-de-camp, written by the general's order, inviting Washington to
join his staff.

A volunteer situation on the staff of General Braddock offered no
emolument nor command, and would be attended with considerable
expense, still he did not hesitate a moment to accept the invitation.
In the position offered to him, all the questions of military rank
which had hitherto annoyed him would be obviated, and he could indulge
his passion for arms without any sacrifice of dignity. His arrival at
head-quarters was hailed by his young associates, Captains Orme and
Morris, the general's aides-de-camp, who at once received him into
frank companionship, and a cordial intimacy commenced between them
that continued throughout the campaign. He experienced a courteous
reception from the general, who expressed in flattering terms the
impression he had received of his merits.

There were at that time four governors, beside Dinwiddie, assembled at
Alexandria, at Braddock's request, to concert a plan of military
operations--Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts; Lieutenant-Governor
Delancey, of New York; Lieutenant-Governor Sharpe, of Maryland;
Lieutenant-Governor Morris, of Pennsylvania. Washington was presented
to them in a manner that showed how well his merits were already

A grand council was held on the 14th of April, composed of General
Braddock, Commodore Keppel, and the governors. In discussing the
campaign, the governors were of opinion that New York should be made
the centre of operations, as it afforded easy access by water to the
heart of the French possessions in Canada. Braddock, however, did not
feel at liberty to depart from his instructions, which specified the
recent establishments of the French on the Ohio as the objects of his

Niagara and Crown Point were to be attacked about the same time with
Fort Duquesne, the former by Governor Shirley, with his own and Sir
William Pepperell's regiments, and some New York companies; the latter
by Colonel William Johnson, sole manager and director of Indian
affairs--a personage worthy of especial note. He was a native of
Ireland, and had come out to this country in 1734 to manage the landed
estates owned by his uncle, Commodore Sir Peter Warren, in the Mohawk
country. By his agency and his dealings with the native tribes, he had
acquired great wealth, and become a kind of potentate in the Indian
country. His influence over the Six Nations was said to be unbounded.

The business of the Congress being finished, General Braddock would
have set out for Fredericktown, in Maryland, but few wagons or teams
had yet come to remove the artillery. Washington had looked with
wonder and dismay at the huge paraphernalia of war and the world of
superfluities to be transported across the mountains, recollecting the
difficulties he had experienced in getting over them with his nine
swivels and scanty supplies. "If our march is to be regulated by the
slow movements of the train," said he, "it will be tedious, very
tedious indeed."

In the meanwhile, Sir John St. Clair, who had returned to the
frontier, was storming at the camp at Fort Cumberland. The road
required of the Pennsylvania government had not been commenced. George
Croghan and the other commissioners were but just arrived in camp. Sir
John, according to Croghan, received them in a very disagreeable
manner, would not look at their draughts, nor suffer any
representations to be made to him in regard to the province, "but
stormed like a lion rampant;" declaring that the want of the road and
of the provisions promised by Pennsylvania had retarded the expedition
and might cost them their lives from the fresh numbers of French that
might be poured into the country, and that if the French defeated
them, by the delays of Pennsylvania, he would, with his sword drawn,
pass through the province and treat the inhabitants as a parcel of
traitors to his master. The explosive wrath of Sir John, which was not
to be appeased, shook the souls of the commissioners, and they wrote
to Governor Morris, urging that people might be set at work upon the
road. In reply, Mr. Richard Peters, Governor Morris's secretary, wrote
in his name: "Get a number of hands immediately, and further the work
by all possible methods."

A commission, of a different kind, was intrusted to George Croghan.
Governor Morris, by letter, requested him to convene at Aughquick, in
Pennsylvania, as many warriors as possible of the mixed tribes of the
Ohio, distribute among them wampum belts sent for the purpose, and
engage them to meet General Braddock when on the march and render him
all the assistance in their power. In reply, Croghan engaged to enlist
a strong body of Indians, being sure of the influence of Scarooyadi,
successor to the half-king, and of his adjunct, White Thunder, keeper
of the speech-belts. At the instance of Governor Morris, Croghan
secured the services of another kind of force. This was a band of
hunters, resolute men, well acquainted with the country and inured to
hardships. They were under the command of Captain Jack, one of the
most remarkable characters of Pennsylvania; a complete hero of the
wilderness. He had been for many years a captive among the Indians;
and, having learnt their ways, had formed this association for the
protection of the settlements. The band had become famous for its
exploits, and was a terror to the Indians.

General Braddock set out from Alexandria on the 20th of April.
Washington remained behind a few days to arrange his affairs, and then
rejoined him at Fredericktown, in Maryland, where, on the 10th of May,
he was proclaimed one of the general's aides-de-camp. The troubles of
Braddock had already commenced. The Virginian contractors failed to
fulfil their engagements; of all the immense means of transportation
so confidently promised, but fifteen wagons and a hundred
draught-horses had arrived, and there was no prospect of more. There
was equal disappointment in provisions, both as to quantity and
quality, and he had to send round the country to buy cattle for the
subsistence of the troops.

Fortunately, while the general was venting his spleen in anathemas
against army contractors, Benjamin Franklin arrived at Fredericktown.
That eminent man, then about forty-nine years of age, had been for
many years member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, and was now
postmaster-general for America. The Assembly understood that Braddock
was incensed against them, supposing them adverse to the service of
the war. They had procured Franklin to wait upon him, not as if sent
by them, but as if he came in his capacity of postmaster-general, to
arrange for the sure and speedy transmission of dispatches between the
commander-in-chief and the governors of the provinces.

He was well received, and became a daily guest at the general's table.
As the whole delay of the army was caused by the want of conveyances,
Franklin observed one day to the general that it was a pity the troops
had not been landed in Pennsylvania, where almost every farmer had his
wagon. "Then, sir," replied Braddock, "you who are a man of interest
there can probably procure them for me, and I beg you will." Franklin
consented. An instrument in writing was drawn up, empowering him to
contract for one hundred and fifty wagons, with four horses to each
wagon, and fifteen hundred saddle or pack-horses for the service of
his majesty's forces, to be at Wills' Creek on or before the 20th of
May, and he promptly departed for Lancaster to execute the commission.

After his departure, Braddock, attended by his staff, and his guard of
light horse, set off for Wills' Creek by the way of Winchester, the
road along the north side of the Potomac not being yet made. "This
gave him," writes Washington, "a good opportunity to see the absurdity
of the route, and of damning it very heartily." Three of Washington's
horses were knocked up before they reached Winchester, and he had to
purchase others. The discomforts of the rough road were increased with
the general, by his travelling with some degree of state in a chariot
which he had purchased of Governor Sharpe. In this he arrived at Fort
Cumberland, amid a thundering salute of seventeen guns. By this time
the general discovered that he was not in a region fitted for such
display, and his travelling chariot was abandoned.

By the 19th of May, the forces were assembled at Fort Cumberland. The
two royal regiments, originally one thousand strong, now increased to
fourteen hundred, by men chosen from the Maryland and Virginia levies;
two provincial companies of carpenters, or pioneers, thirty men each,
with subalterns and captains; a company of guides, composed of a
captain, two aids, and ten men; the troop of Virginia light horse,
commanded by Captain Stewart; the detachment of thirty sailors with
their officers, and the remnants of two independent companies from New
York, one of which was commanded by Captain Horatio Gates, of whom we
shall have to speak much hereafter in course of this biography.
Another person in camp, of subsequent notoriety, and who became a warm
friend of Washington, was Dr. Hugh Mercer, a Scotchman, about
thirty-three years of age. Another was Dr. James Craik, who had become
strongly attached to Washington, being about the same age, and having
been with him in the affair of the Great Meadows, serving as surgeon
in the Virginia regiment, to which he still belonged.

Braddock's camp was a complete study for Washington during the halt at
Fort Cumberland, where he had an opportunity of seeing military
routine in its strictest forms. He had a specimen, too, of convivial
life in the camp, which the general endeavored to maintain, even in
the wilderness, keeping a hospitable table; for he is said to have
been somewhat of a _bon vivant_.

There was great detention at the fort, caused by the want of forage
and supplies, the road not having been finished from Philadelphia. Mr.
Richard Peters, the secretary of Governor Morris, was in camp, to
attend to the matter. He had to bear the brunt of Braddock's
complaints. The general declared he would not stir from Wills' Creek
until he had the governor's assurance that the road would be opened in
time. Braddock was also completely chagrined and disappointed about
the Indians. The Cherokees and Catawbas, whom Dinwiddie had given him
reason to expect in such numbers, never arrived. George Croghan
reached the camp with but about fifty warriors, whom he had brought
from Aughquick. At the general's request he sent a messenger to invite
the Delawares and Shawnees from the Ohio, who returned with two chiefs
of the former tribe. Among the sachems thus assembled were some of
Washington's former allies--Scarooyadi, alias Monacatoocha, successor
to the half-king; White Thunder, the keeper of the speech-belts, and
Silver-heels, so called, probably, from being swift of foot.

Notwithstanding his secret contempt for the Indians, Braddock,
agreeably to his instructions, treated them with great ceremony. A
grand council was held in his tent, where all his officers attended.
The chiefs, and all the warriors, came painted and decorated for war.
They were received with military honors, the guards resting on their
fire-arms. The general made them a speech through his interpreter,
expressing the grief of their father, the great king of England, at
the death of the half-king, and made them presents to console them.
They in return promised their aid as guides and scouts, and declared
eternal enmity to the French, following the declaration with the war
song, "making a terrible noise."

For a time all went well. The Indians had their separate camp, where
they passed half the night singing, dancing and howling. The British
were amused by their strange ceremonies, their savage antics, and
savage decorations. The Indians, on the other hand, loitered by day
about the English camp, fiercely painted and arrayed, gazing with
silent admiration at the parade of the troops, their marchings and
evolutions; and delighted with the horse-races, with which the young
officers recreated themselves. Unluckily the warriors had brought
their families with them to Wills' Creek, and the women were even
fonder than the men of loitering about the British camp. The jealousy
of the warriors was aroused. To prevent discord, the squaws were
forbidden to come into the British camp. This did not prevent their
being sought elsewhere. It was ultimately found necessary, for the
sake of quiet, to send the women and children back to Aughquick. White
Thunder, and several of the warriors, accompanied them for their
protection. As to the three Delaware chiefs, they returned to the
Ohio, promising the general they would collect their warriors together
and meet him on his march. They never kept their word.

During the halt of the troops at Wills' Creek, Washington had been
sent to Williamsburg to bring on four thousand pounds for the military
chest. He returned after a fortnight's absence. He found the general
out of all patience and temper at the delays and disappointments in
regard to horses, wagons, and forage, making no allowances for the
difficulties incident to a new country, and to the novel and great
demands upon its scanty and scattered resources. He accused the army
contractors of want of faith, honor and honesty; and in his moments of
passion, which were many, extended the stigma to the whole country.
This stung the patriotic sensibility of Washington, and overcame his
usual self-command, and the proud and passionate commander was
occasionally surprised by a well-merited rebuke from his aid-de-camp.

The same pertinacity was maintained with respect to the Indians.
George Croghan informed Washington that the sachems considered
themselves treated with slight, in never being consulted in war
matters; that he himself had repeatedly offered the services of the
warriors under his command as scouts and outguards, but his offers had
been rejected. Washington ventured to interfere, and to urge their
importance for such purposes, especially now when they were
approaching the stronghold of the enemy. As usual, the general
remained bigoted in his belief of the all-sufficiency of
well-disciplined troops. Either from disgust thus caused, or from
being actually dismissed, the warriors began to disappear from the
camp. Before Braddock recommenced his march, none remained to
accompany him but Scarooyadi, and eight of his warriors.

Seeing the general's impatience at the non-arrival of conveyances,
Washington again represented to him the difficulties he would
encounter in attempting to traverse the mountains with such a train of
wheel-carriages, assuring him it would be the most arduous part of the
campaign; and recommended, from his own experience, the substitution,
as much as possible, of pack-horses. Braddock, however, had not been
sufficiently harassed by frontier campaigning to depart from his
European modes, or to be swayed in his military operations by so green
a counsellor. At length the general was relieved from present
perplexities by the arrival of the horses and wagons which Franklin
had undertaken to procure.


On the 10th of June, Braddock set off from Fort Cumberland with his
aides-de-camp, and others of his staff, and his body guard of light
horse. Sir Peter Halket, with his brigade, had marched three days
previously; and a detachment of six hundred men, under the command of
Colonel Chapman and the supervision of Sir John St. Clair, had been
employed upwards of ten days in cutting down trees, removing rocks,
and opening a road. The march over the mountains proved, as Washington
had foretold, a "tremendous undertaking." It was with difficulty the
heavily laden wagons could be dragged up the steep and rugged roads,
newly made, or imperfectly repaired. Often they extended for three or
four miles in a straggling and broken line, with the soldiers so
dispersed, in guarding them, that an attack on any side would have
thrown the whole in confusion.

By the time the advanced corps had struggled over two mountains, and
through the intervening forest, and reached (16th June) the Little
Meadows, where Sir John St. Clair had made a temporary camp, General
Braddock had become aware of the difference between campaigning in a
new country, or on the old well-beaten battle-grounds of Europe. He
now, of his own accord, turned to Washington for advice. Thus
unexpectedly called on, Washington gave his counsel with becoming
modesty, but with his accustomed clearness. There was just now an
opportunity to strike an effective blow at Fort Duquesne, but it might
be lost by delay. The garrison, according to credible reports, was
weak; large reinforcements and supplies, which were on their way,
would be detained by the drought, which rendered the river by which
they must come low and unnavigable. The blow must be struck before
they could arrive. He advised the general, therefore, to divide his
forces; leave one part to come on with the stores and baggage, and all
the cumbrous appurtenances of an army, and to throw himself in the
advance with the other part, composed of his choicest troops,
lightened of every thing superfluous that might impede a rapid march.

His advice was adopted. Twelve hundred men, selected out of all the
companies, and furnished with ten field-pieces, were to form the first
division, their provisions, and necessaries, to be carried on
pack-horses. The second division, with all the stores, munitions, and
heavy baggage, was to be brought on by Colonel Dunbar. The least
practicable part of the arrangement was with regard to the officers of
the advance. Washington had urged a retrenchment of their baggage and
camp equipage, that as many of their horses as possible might be used
as pack-horses. Here was the difficulty. Brought up, many of them, in
fashionable and luxurious life, or the loitering indulgence of country
quarters, they were so encumbered with what they considered
indispensable necessaries, that out of two hundred and twelve horses
generally appropriated to their use, not more than a dozen could be
spared by them for the public service.

During the halt at the Little Meadows, Captain Jack and his band of
forest rangers, whom Croghan had engaged at Governor Morris's
suggestion, made their appearance in the camp. The captain asked an
interview with the general, by whom, it would seem, he was not
expected. Braddock received him in his tent, in his usual stiff and
stately manner. The "Black Rifle" spoke of himself and his followers
as men inured to hardships, and accustomed to deal with Indians, who
preferred stealth and stratagem to open warfare. He requested his
company should be employed as a reconnoitring party, to beat up the
Indians in their lurking-places and ambuscades. Braddock, who had a
sovereign contempt for the chivalry of the woods, and despised their
boasted strategy, replied to the hero of the Pennsylvania settlements
in a manner to which he had not been accustomed. "There was time
enough," he said, "for making arrangements; and he had experienced
troops, on whom he could completely rely for all purposes." Captain
Jack withdrew, indignant at so haughty a reception, and informed his
leathern-clad followers of his rebuff. They forthwith shouldered their
rifles and turned their backs upon the camp.

On the 19th of June, Braddock's first division set out, with less than
thirty carriages, including those that transported ammunition for the
artillery, all strongly horsed. The Indians marched with the advanced
party. In the course of the day, Scarooyadi and his son being at a
small distance from the line of march, was surrounded and taken by
some French and Indians. His son escaped, and brought intelligence to
his warriors; they hastened to rescue or revenge him, but found him
tied to a tree. The French had been disposed to shoot him, but their
savage allies declared they would abandon them should they do so;
having some tie of friendship or kindred with the chieftain, who thus
rejoined the troops unharmed.

For several days Washington had suffered from fever, accompanied by
intense headache, and his illness increased in violence to such a
degree that he was unable to ride, and had to be conveyed for a part
of the time in a covered wagon. He was unable to bear the jolting of
the wagon, but it needed an interposition of the kindly-intended
authority of General Braddock to bring him to a halt at the great
crossings of the Youghiogeny. There the general assigned him a guard,
provided him with necessaries, and requested him to remain, under care
of his physician, Dr. Craik, until the arrival of Colonel Dunbar's
detachment, which was two days' march in the rear; giving him his word
of honor that he should, at all events, be enabled to rejoin the main
division before it reached the French fort.

[The march of the army, after leaving Washington, was excessively
slow. In the course of the first day, (June 24th) they came to a
deserted Indian camp, the trees about it being stripped and painted
with threats and scurrilous taunts written in the French language,
showing that white men were with the savages. On the next day, Indians
were seen hovering in the woods. In crossing a mountain the carriages
had to be lowered with the assistance of the sailors, by means of
tackle. On the 26th there was a laborious march of but four miles. In
the evening they came to a deserted camp, the fires of which were yet
burning. The march continued to be toilful and difficult. On one day
it did not exceed two miles, having to cut a passage over a mountain.
On July 4th they encamped at Thicketty Run. The general now supposed
himself to be within thirty miles of Fort Duquesne. Two Indians
consented to reconnoitre it. They returned on the 6th, having been
close to the fort. But few men were to be seen, and few tracks, if
any. Gist, who had also reconnoitred the fort, returned and
corroborated their story. He had, however, observed a smoke between
the camp and the fort, made probably by some scouting party.]

On the same day, during the march, three or four men, loitering in the
rear of the grenadiers, were killed and scalped. Several of the
grenadiers set off to take revenge. They came upon a party of Indians,
who held up boughs and grounded their arms--the concerted sign of
amity. Not perceiving or understanding it, the grenadiers fired upon
them and one fell. It proved to be the son of Scarooyadi. Aware too
late of their error, the grenadiers brought the body to the camp. The
conduct of Braddock was admirable on the occasion. He sent for the
father and the other Indians, and condoled with them on the lamentable
occurrence; making them the customary presents of expiation. But what
was more to the point, he caused the youth to be buried with the
honors of war; at his request the officers attended the funeral, and a
volley was fired over the grave. These soldier-like tributes of
respect to the deceased, and sympathy with the survivors, soothed the
feelings and gratified the pride of the father, and attached him more
firmly to the service.

We will return now to Washington in his sick encampment on the banks
of the Youghiogeny, where he was left repining at the departure of the
troops without him. He now considered himself sufficiently recovered
to rejoin the troops, and his only anxiety was that he should not be
able to do it in time for the great blow. He was rejoiced, therefore,
on the 3d of July, by the arrival of an advanced party of one hundred
men convoying provisions. Being still too weak to mount his horse, he
set off with the escort in a covered wagon; and after a most fatiguing
journey, over mountain and through forest, reached Braddock's camp on
the 8th of July. It was on the east side of the Monongahela, about two
miles from the river, and about fifteen miles from Fort Duquesne.

Washington was warmly received on his arrival, especially by his
fellow aides-de-camp, Morris and Orme. He was just in time, for the
attack upon Fort Duquesne was to be made on the following day. The
neighboring country had been reconnoitred to determine upon a plan of
attack. The fort stood on the same side of the Monongahela with the
camp, but there was a narrow pass between them of about two miles,
with the river on the left and a very high mountain on the right, and
in its present state quite impassable for carriages. The route
determined on was to cross the Monongahela by a ford immediately
opposite to the camp; proceed along the west bank of the river, for
about five miles, then recross by another ford to the eastern side,
and push on to the fort. The river at these fords was shallow, and the
banks were not steep.

According to the plan of arrangement, Lieutenant-Colonel Gage, with
the advance, was to cross the river before daybreak, march to the
second ford, and recrossing there, take post to secure the passage of
the main force. The advance was to be composed of two companies of
grenadiers, one hundred and sixty infantry, the independent company of
Captain Horatio Gates, and two six-pounders. Washington, who had
already seen enough of regular troops to doubt their infallibility in
wild bush-fighting, and who knew the dangerous nature of the ground
they were to traverse, ventured to suggest that the Virginia rangers,
being accustomed to the country and to Indian warfare, might be thrown
in the advance. The proposition drew an angry reply from the general,
indignant, very probably, that a young provincial officer should
presume to school a veteran like himself.

Early next morning (July 9th), before daylight, Colonel Gage crossed
with the advance. He was followed, at some distance, by Sir John St.
Clair, with a working party of two hundred and fifty men, to make
roads for the artillery and baggage. They had with them their wagons
of tools, and two six-pounders. By sunrise, the main body turned out
in full uniform. All looked as if arrayed for a fête, rather than a
battle. As it was supposed the enemy would be on the watch for the
crossing of the troops, it had been agreed that they should do it in
the greatest order, with bayonets fixed, colors flying, and drums and
fifes beating and playing. They accordingly made a gallant appearance
as they forded the Monongahela and wound along its banks and through
the open forests. About noon they reached the second ford. Gage, with
the advance, was on the opposite side of the Monongahela, posted
according to orders; but the river bank had not been sufficiently
sloped. The artillery and baggage drew up along the beach and halted
until one, when the second crossing took place. When all had passed,
there was again a halt close by a small stream called Frazier's Run,
until the general arranged the order of march.

First went the advance, under Gage, preceded by the engineers and
guides, and six light horsemen. Then, Sir John St. Clair and the
working party, with their wagons and the two six-pounders. On each
side were thrown out four flanking parties. Then, at some distance,
the general was to follow with the main body, the artillery and
baggage preceded and flanked by light horse and squads of infantry;
while the Virginian, and other provincial troops, were to form the
rear guard.

The ground before them was level until about half a mile from the
river, where a rising ground, covered with long grass, low bushes, and
scattered trees, sloped gently up to a range of hills. The whole
country, generally speaking, was a forest, with no clear opening but
the road, which was about twelve feet wide, and flanked by two
ravines, concealed by trees and thickets. Had Braddock been schooled
in the warfare of the woods, he would have thrown out Indian scouts or
Virginia rangers in the advance, and on the flanks, to beat up the
woods and ravines; but he suffered his troops to march forward through
the centre of the plain, with merely their usual guides and flanking

It was now near two o'clock. The advanced party and the working party
had crossed the plain and were ascending the rising ground. Braddock
was about to follow with the main body and had given the word to
march, when he heard an excessively quick and heavy firing in front.
Washington, who was with the general, surmised that the evil he had
apprehended had come to pass. For want of scouting parties ahead, the
advance parties were suddenly and warmly attacked. Braddock ordered
Lieutenant-Colonel Burton to hasten to their assistance with the
vanguard of the main body, eight hundred strong. The residue, four
hundred, were halted, and posted to protect the artillery and baggage.
The firing continued, with fearful yelling. There was a terrible
uproar. By the general's orders an aide-de-camp spurred forward to
bring him an account of the nature of the attack. Without waiting for
his return the general himself, finding the turmoil increase, moved
forward, leaving Sir Peter Halket with the command of the baggage.

The van of the advance had indeed been taken by surprise. It was
composed of two companies of carpenters or pioneers to cut the road,
and two flank companies of grenadiers to protect them. Suddenly the
engineer who preceded them to mark out the road gave the alarm,
"French and Indians!" A body of them was approaching rapidly. There
was sharp firing on both sides at first. Several of the enemy fell;
among them their leader; but a murderous fire broke out from among
trees and a ravine on the right, and the woods resounded with
unearthly whoops and yellings. The Indian rifle was at work, levelled
by unseen hands. Most of the grenadiers and many of the pioneers were
shot down. The survivors were driven in on the advance.

Gage ordered his men to fix bayonets and form in order of battle. They
did so in hurry and trepidation. He would have scaled a hill on the
right, whence there was the severest firing. Not a platoon would quit
the line of march. They were more dismayed by the yells than by the
rifles of the unseen savages. The latter extended themselves along the
hill and in the ravines; but their whereabouts was only known by their
demoniac cries and the puffs of smoke from their rifles. The soldiers
fired wherever they saw the smoke. The officers tried in vain to
restrain them until they should see their foe. All orders were
unheeded; in their fright they shot at random, killing some of their
own flanking parties, and of the vanguard, as they came running in.
The covert fire grew more intense. In a short time most of the
officers and many of the men of the advance were killed or wounded.
Colonel Gage himself received a wound. The advance fell back in dismay
upon Sir John St. Clair's corps, which was equally dismayed. The
cannon belonging to it were deserted.

Colonel Burton had come up with the reinforcement, and was forming his
men to face the rising ground on the right, when both of the advanced
detachments fell back upon him, and all now was confusion. By this
time the general was upon the ground. He tried to rally the men. The
colors were advanced in different places to separate the men of the
two regiments. The general ordered the officers to form the men, tell
them off into small divisions, and advance with them; but the soldiers
could not be prevailed upon either by threats or entreaties. The
Virginia troops, accustomed to the Indian mode of fighting, scattered
themselves, and took post behind trees, whence they could pick off the
lurking foe. In this way they, in some degree, protected the regulars.
Washington advised General Braddock to adopt the same plan with the
regulars; but he persisted in forming them into platoons; consequently
they were cut down from behind logs and trees as fast as they could
advance. Several attempted to take to the trees, without orders, but
the general stormed at them, called them cowards, and even struck them
with the flat of his sword. Several of the Virginians, who had taken
post and were doing good service in this manner, were slain by the
fire of the regulars, directed wherever a smoke appeared among the

The officers behaved with consummate bravery; and Washington beheld
with admiration those who, in camp or on the march, had appeared to
him to have an almost effeminate regard for personal ease and
convenience, now exposing themselves to imminent death, with a courage
that kindled with the thickening horrors. In the vain hope of
inspiriting the men to drive off the enemy from the flanks and regain
the cannon, they would dash forward singly or in groups. They were
invariably shot down; for the Indians aimed at every one who appeared
to have command. Some were killed by random shot of their own men,
who, crowded in masses, fired with affrighted rapidity, but without
aim. Soldiers in the front ranks were killed by those in the rear.
Between friend and foe, the slaughter of the officers was terrible.

Throughout this disastrous day, Washington distinguished himself by
his courage and presence of mind. His brother aids, Orme and Morris,
were wounded and disabled early in the action, and the whole duty of
carrying the orders of the general devolved on him. His danger was
imminent and incessant. He was in every part of the field, a
conspicuous mark for the murderous rifle. Two horses were shot under
him. Four bullets passed through his coat. His escape without a wound
was almost miraculous. At one time he was sent to the main body to
bring the artillery into action. All there was likewise in confusion;
for the Indians had extended themselves along the ravine so as to
flank the reserve and carry slaughter into the ranks. Sir Peter Halket
had been shot down at the head of his regiment. The men who should
have served the guns were paralyzed. Had they raked the ravines with
grapeshot the day might have been saved. In his ardor, Washington
sprang from his horse, wheeled and pointed a brass field-piece with
his own hand, and directed an effective discharge into the woods; but
neither his efforts nor example were of avail. The men could not be
kept to the guns.

Braddock still remained in the centre of the field, in the desperate
hope of retrieving the fortunes of the day. His secretary, Shirley,
had fallen by his side. Five horses had been killed under him; still
he kept his ground, vainly endeavoring to check the flight of his men,
or at least to effect their retreat in good order. At length a bullet
passed through his right arm, and lodged itself in his lungs. He fell
from his horse, but was caught by Captain Stewart, of the Virginia
guards, who, with the assistance of another American and a servant,
placed him in a tumbril. It was with much difficulty they got him out
of the field--in his despair he desired to be left there.

The rout now became complete. Baggage, stores, artillery, everything
was abandoned. The wagoners took each a horse out of his team and
fled. The officers were swept off with the men in this headlong
flight. It was rendered more precipitate by the shouts and yells of
the savages, numbers of whom rushed forth from their coverts and
pursued the fugitives to the river side. Fortunately for the latter,
the victors gave up the pursuit in their eagerness to collect the
spoil. The shattered army continued its flight after it had crossed
the Monongahela, a wretched wreck of the brilliant little force that
had recently gleamed along its banks, confident of victory. Out of
eighty-six officers, twenty-six had been killed, and thirty-six
wounded. The number of rank and file killed and wounded was upwards of
seven hundred.

About a hundred men were brought to a halt about a quarter of a mile
from the ford of the river. Here was Braddock, with his wounded
aides-de-camp and some of his officers. Braddock was still able to
give orders, and had a faint hope of being able to keep possession of
the ground until reinforced. Most of the men were stationed in a very
advantageous spot about two hundred yards from the road; and
Lieutenant-Colonel Burton posted out small parties and sentinels.
Before an hour had elapsed most of the men had stolen off. Being thus
deserted, Braddock and his officers continued their retreat; he would
have mounted his horse but was unable, and had to be carried by
soldiers. Orme and Morris were placed on litters borne by horses. They
were subsequently joined by Colonel Gage with eighty men whom he had

Washington, in the meantime, notwithstanding his weak state, being
found most efficient in frontier service, was sent to Colonel Dunbar's
camp, forty miles distant, with orders for him to hurry forward
provisions, hospital stores, and wagons for the wounded, under the
escort of two grenadier companies. It was a hard and a melancholy ride
throughout the night and the following day. The tidings of the defeat
preceded him, borne by the wagoners who had mounted their horses, on
Braddock's fall, and fled from the field of battle.

Washington arrived at the camp in the evening. The orders which he
brought were executed during the night and he was in the saddle early
in the morning accompanying the convoy of supplies. At Gist's
plantation, about thirteen miles off, he met Gage and his scanty force
escorting Braddock and his wounded officers. Captain Stewart, and a
sad remnant of the Virginia light horse, still accompanied the general
as his guard. The Captain had been unremitting in his attentions to
him during the retreat. There was a halt of one day at Dunbar's camp
for the repose and relief of the wounded. On the 13th they resumed
their melancholy march, and that night reached the Great Meadows.

The proud spirit of Braddock was broken by his defeat. He remained
silent the first evening after the battle, only ejaculating at night,
"Who would have thought it!" He was equally silent the following day;
yet hope still seemed to linger in his breast, from another
ejaculation: "We shall better know how to deal with them another
time!" He was grateful for the attentions paid to him by Captain
Stewart and Washington, and more than once, it is said, expressed his
admiration of the gallantry displayed by the Virginians in the action.
He died on the night of the 13th, at the Great Meadows, the place of
Washington's discomfiture in the previous year. His obsequies were
performed before break of day. The chaplain having been wounded,
Washington read the funeral service.

Reproach spared him not, even when in his grave. The failure of the
expedition was attributed both in England and America to his
obstinacy, his technical pedantry, and his military conceit. He had
been continually warned to be on his guard against ambush and
surprise, but without avail. Had he taken the advice urged on him by
Washington and others, to employ scouting parties of Indians and
rangers, he would never have been so signally surprised and defeated.
Still his dauntless conduct on the field of battle shows him to have
been a man of fearless spirit; and he was universally allowed to be an
accomplished disciplinarian.

The obsequies of the unfortunate Braddock being finished, the escort
continued its retreat with the sick and wounded. On the 17th, the sad
cavalcade reached the fort, and were relieved from the incessant
apprehension of pursuit. Here, too, flying reports had preceded them,
brought by fugitives from the battle, who, with the disposition usual
in such cases to exaggerate, had represented the whole army as
massacred. Dunbar arrived shortly afterward with the remainder of the

The true reason why the enemy did not pursue the retreating army was
not known until some time afterwards, and added to the disgrace of the
defeat. They were not the main force of the French, but a mere
detachment of 72 regulars, 146 Canadians, and 637 Indians--855 in all,
led by Captain de Beaujeu. De Contrecoeur, the commander of Fort
Duquesne, had received information, through his scouts, that the
English, three thousand strong, were within six leagues of his fort.
Despairing of making an effectual defence against such a superior
force, he was balancing in his mind whether to abandon his fort
without awaiting their arrival, or to capitulate on honorable terms.
In this dilemma, Beaujeu prevailed on him to let him sally forth with
a detachment to form an ambush and give check to the enemy. De Beaujeu
was to have taken post at the river, and disputed the passage at the
ford. For that purpose he was hurrying forward when discovered by the
pioneers of Gage's advance party. He was a gallant officer, and fell
at the beginning of the fight. The whole number of killed and wounded
of French and Indians did not exceed seventy.

The affair of Braddock remains a memorable event in American history,
and has been characterized as "the most extraordinary victory ever
obtained, and the farthest flight ever made." It struck a fatal blow
to the deference for British prowess, which once amounted almost to
bigotry, throughout the provinces.


Washington arrived at Mount Vernon on the 26th of July, still in
feeble condition from his long illness. His campaigning, thus far, had
trenched upon his private fortune, and impaired one of the best of
constitutions. His connection with the army ceased at the death of
Braddock, but his military duties continued as adjutant-general of the
northern division of the province, and he immediately issued orders
for the county lieutenants to hold the militia in readiness for parade
and exercise, foreseeing that, in the present defenceless state of the
frontier, there would be need of their services.

Tidings of the rout and retreat of the army had circulated far and
near, and spread consternation throughout the country. Immediate
incursions both of French and Indians were apprehended; and volunteer
companies began to form, for the purpose of marching across the
mountains to the scene of danger.

On the 4th of August, Governor Dinwiddie convened the Assembly to
devise measures for the public safety. The sense of danger had
quickened the slow patriotism of the burgesses; they no longer held
back supplies; forty thousand pounds were promptly voted, and orders
issued for the raising of a regiment of one thousand men.

Washington's friends urged him to present himself at Williamsburg as a
candidate for the command; they were confident of his success,
notwithstanding that strong interest was making for the governor's
favorite, Colonel Innes. With mingled modesty and pride, Washington
declined to be a solicitor. The only terms, he said, on which he would
accept a command were a certainty as to rank and emoluments, a right
to appoint his field officers, and the supply of a sufficient military
chest; but to solicit the command, and, at the same time, to make
stipulations, would be a little incongruous, and carry with it the
face of self-sufficiency.

While this was in agitation, he received letters from his mother,
again imploring him not to risk himself in these frontier wars. His
answer was characteristic: "Honored Madam--If it is in my power to
avoid going to the Ohio again, I shall; but if the command is pressed
upon me by the general voice of the country, and offered upon such
terms as cannot be objected against, it would reflect dishonor on me
to refuse it; and that, I am sure, must, and ought, to give you
greater uneasiness than my going in an honorable command. Upon no
other terms will I accept it."

On the very day that this letter was despatched (Aug. 14), he received
intelligence of his appointment to the command on the terms specified
in his letters to his friends. His commission nominated him
commander-in-chief of all the forces raised, or to be raised in the
colony. The Assembly also voted three hundred pounds to him, and
proportionate sums to the other officers and to the privates of the
Virginia companies, in consideration of their gallant conduct and
their losses in the late battle. The officers next in command under
him were Lieutenant-Colonel Adam Stephens and Major Andrew Lewis.

The appointment of Washington to his present station was the more
gratifying and honorable from being a popular one, made in deference
to public sentiment; to which Governor Dinwiddie was obliged to
sacrifice his strong inclination in favor of Colonel Innes. It is
thought that the governor never afterwards regarded Washington with a
friendly eye. His conduct towards him subsequently was on various
occasions cold and ungracious.

Having held a conference with Governor Dinwiddie at Williamsburg, and
received his instructions, Washington repaired on the 14th of
September to Winchester, where he fixed his head-quarters. It was a
place as yet of trifling magnitude, but important from its position;
being a central point where the main roads met, leading from north to
south and east to west, and commanding the channels of traffic and
communication between some of the most important colonies and a great
extent of frontier.

Here he was brought into frequent and cordial communication with his
old friend, Lord Fairfax. The stir of war had revived a spark of that
military fire which animated the veteran nobleman in the days of his
youth, when an officer in the cavalry regiment of the Blues. He was
lord-lieutenant of the county. Greenway Court was his head-quarters.
He had organized a troop of horse, which occasionally was exercised
about the lawn of his domain, and he was now as prompt to mount his
steed for a cavalry parade as he ever was for a fox-chase.

His services were soon put in requisition. Washington, having visited
the frontier posts, established recruiting places and taken other
measures of security, had set off for Williamsburg on military
business, when an express arrived at Winchester from Colonel Stephens,
who commanded at Fort Cumberland, giving the alarm that a body of
Indians were ravaging the country, burning the houses and slaughtering
the inhabitants. The express was instantly forwarded after Washington;
in the meantime, Lord Fairfax sent out orders for the militia of
Fairfax and Prince William counties to arm and hasten to the defence
of Winchester, where all was confusion and affright. One fearful
account followed another. The whole country beyond it was said to be
at the mercy of the savages. They had blockaded the rangers in the
little fortresses or outposts provided for the protection of
neighborhoods. They were advancing upon Winchester with fire, tomahawk
and scalping-knife. The country people were flocking into the town for
safety--the townspeople were moving off to the settlements beyond the
Blue Ridge. The beautiful valley of the Shenandoah was likely to
become a scene of savage desolation.

In the height of the confusion, Washington rode into the town. He had
been overtaken by Colonel Stephens' express. His presence inspired
some degree of confidence, and he succeeded in stopping most of the

Expresses were sent off to hurry up the militia ordered out by Lord
Fairfax. Scouts were ordered out to discover the number of the foe,
and convey assurances of succor to the rangers said to be blocked up
in the fortresses, though Washington suspected the latter to be "more
encompassed by fear than by the enemy." Smiths were set to work to
furbish up and repair such firearms as were in the place, and wagons
were sent off for musket balls, flints, and provisions. Instead,
however, of animated co-operation, Washington was encountered by
difficulties at every step. The wagons in question had to be
impressed, and the wagoners compelled by force to assist. "No orders,"
writes he, "are obeyed, but such as a party of soldiers or my own
drawn sword enforces. Without this, not a single horse, for the most
earnest occasion, can be had."

In the meantime the panic and confusion increased. On Sunday an
express hurried into town, breathless with haste and terror. The
Indians, he said, were but twelve miles off; they had attacked the
house of Isaac Julian; the inhabitants were flying for their lives.
Washington immediately ordered the town guards to be strengthened;
armed some recruits who had just arrived, and sent out two scouts to
reconnoitre the enemy. It was a sleepless night in Winchester. Horror
increased with the dawn; before the men could be paraded, a second
express arrived, ten times more terrified than the former. The Indians
were within four miles of the town, killing and destroying all before
them. He had heard the constant firing of the savages and the shrieks
of their victims.

The terror of Winchester now passed all bounds. Washington put himself
at the head of about forty men, militia and recruits, and pushed for
the scene of carnage. The result is almost too ludicrous for record.
The whole cause of the alarm proved to be three drunken troopers,
carousing, hallooing, and ever and anon firing off their pistols.
Washington interrupted them in the midst of their revel and blasphemy
and conducted them prisoners to town. The alarm thus originating had
spread throughout the country. A captain, who arrived with recruits
from Alexandria, reported that he had found the road across the Blue
Ridge obstructed by crowds of people flying for their lives, whom he
endeavored in vain to stop. They declared that Winchester was in

At length the band of Indians, whose ravages had produced this
consternation throughout the land, and whose numbers did not exceed
one hundred and fifty, being satiated with carnage, conflagration and
plunder, retreated, bearing off spoils and captives. Intelligent
scouts sent out by Washington followed their traces, and brought back
certain intelligence that they had recrossed the Alleghany Mountains
and returned to their homes on the Ohio. This report allayed the
public panic and restored temporary quiet to the harassed frontier.
Most of the Indians engaged in these ravages were Delawares and
Shawnees, who, since Braddock's defeat, had been gained over by the
French. Scarooyadi, successor to the half-king, remained true to the
English, and vindicated his people to the governor and council of
Pennsylvania from the charge of having had any share in the late

[Washington now learned the fate of the other enterprises included in
the plan of military operations. The defeat of Braddock paralyzed the
expedition against Niagara. The troops assembled at Albany were struck
with consternation, and deserted. By the end of August, Shirley was in
force at Oswego. But storms, sickness, and other impediments caused
the completion of the enterprise to be deferred until the following

Gen. Wm. Johnson, it will be recollected, had the command of the
expedition against Crown Point, on Lake Champlain. A fort was erected
at the carrying-place on the Hudson, between that river and Lake
George, subsequently called Fort Edward. Part of the force were left
to garrison it; the main body advanced to Lake George. Meanwhile there
was great consternation in Canada. Three thousand troops, under Baron
de Dieskaw, had arrived at Quebec. Yielding to public importunities,
he advanced to Crown Point for its defence. His force was augmented by
eight hundred Canadians and seven hundred Indians, the latter under
command of the Chevalier St. Pierre.

In the meantime, Johnson remained encamped on the south end of Lake
George. On September 7th, news was received that the French had been
seen within four miles of the carrying-place. A detachment was sent to
intercept them, which was attacked and driven back. A panic seized
upon the camp as the French emerged from the forest in battle array,
led by Dieskaw. But the Canadians and Indians held back. The camp
recovered from its panic, artillery and musketry opened on the
assailants, whose fire began to slacken. Johnson's men and the Indians
leaped over the breastworks and a medley fight ensued, that ended in
the slaughter, rout, or capture of the enemy. Dieskaw was mortally
wounded; St. Pierre was slain in the attack on the detachment. The
baron had intended the surprise of Fort Edward, but the Indians and
Canadians refused to attack it, fearful of the cannon: he here changed
his plan therefor, and attempted to surprise the camp. Johnson, having
erected a stockaded fort, which received the name of William Henry,
garrisoned it, and returned to Albany. In reward for his services he
received five thousand pounds and a baronetcy.]

Mortifying experience had convinced Washington of the inefficiency of
the militia laws, and he now set about effecting a reformation.
Through his great and persevering efforts, an act was passed in the
Virginia Legislature giving prompt operation to court-martial;
punishing insubordination, mutiny and desertion with adequate
severity; strengthening the authority of a commander, so as to enable
him to enforce order and discipline among officers as well as
privates; and to avail himself, in time of emergency and for the
common safety, of the means and services of individuals. In
disciplining his men, they were instructed not merely in ordinary and
regular tactics, but in all the strategy of Indian warfare, and what
is called "bush-fighting"--a knowledge indispensable in the wild wars
of the wilderness. Stockaded forts, too, were constructed at various
points, as places of refuge and defence, in exposed neighborhoods.

His exertions, however, were impeded by one of those questions of
precedence which had so often annoyed him, arising from the difference
between crown and provincial commissions. Maryland, having by a scanty
appropriation raised a small militia force, stationed Captain
Dagworthy, with a company of thirty men, at Fort Cumberland, which
stood within the boundaries of that province. Dagworthy had served in
Canada in the preceding war, and had received a king's commission.
This he had since commuted for half-pay, and, of course, had virtually
parted with its privileges. He was nothing more, therefore, than a
Maryland provincial captain, at the head of thirty men. He now,
however, assumed to act under his royal commission, and refused to
obey the orders of any officer, however high his rank, who merely held
his commission from a governor. Nay, when Governor, or rather Colonel
Innes, who commanded at the fort, was called away to North Carolina by
his private affairs, the captain took upon himself the command and
insisted upon it as his right.

Parties instantly arose, and quarrels ensued among the inferior
officers; grave questions were agitated between the Governors of
Maryland and Virginia as to the fort itself; the former claiming it as
within his province, the latter insisting that, as it had been built
according to orders sent by the king, it was the king's fort, and
could not be subject to the authority of Maryland.

Washington refrained from mingling in this dispute; but intimated that
if the commander-in-chief of the forces of Virginia must yield
precedence to a Maryland captain of thirty men, he should have to
resign his commission, as he had been compelled to do before, by a
question of military rank.

So difficult was it, however, to settle these disputes of precedence,
especially where the claims of two governors came in collision, that
it was determined to refer the matter to Major-general Shirley, who
had succeeded Braddock in the general command of the colonies. For
this purpose Washington was to go to Boston, obtain a decision from
Shirley of the point in dispute, and a general regulation by which
these difficulties could be prevented in future. It was thought, also,
that in a conference with the commander-in-chief he might inform
himself of the military measures in contemplation.

Accordingly, on the 4th of February (1756), leaving Colonel Adam
Stephens in command of the troops, Washington set out on his mission,
accompanied by his aide-de-camp, Captain George Mercer, of Virginia,
and Captain Stewart, of the Virginia light horse. The party travelled
in Virginia style, on horseback, attended by their black servants in
livery. In this way they accomplished a journey of five hundred miles
in the depth of winter; stopping for some days at Philadelphia and New
York. Those cities were then comparatively small, and the arrival of a
party of young Southern officers attracted attention. The late
disastrous battle was still the theme of every tongue, and the
honorable way in which these young officers had acquitted themselves
in it made them objects of universal interest. Washington's fame,
especially, had gone before him; having been spread by the officers
who had served with him and by the public honors decreed him by the
Virginia Legislature.

The mission to General Shirley was entirely successful as to the
question of rank. A written order from the commander-in-chief
determined that Dagworthy was entitled to the rank of a provincial
captain only, and of course, must on all occasions give precedence to
Colonel Washington as a provincial field officer. The latter was
disappointed, however, in the hope of getting himself and his officers
put upon the regular establishment, with commissions from the king,
and had to remain subjected to mortifying questions of rank and
etiquette when serving in company with regular troops.

From General Shirley he learnt that the main objects of the ensuing
campaign would be the reduction of Fort Niagara, so as to cut off the
communication between Canada and Louisiana, the capture of Ticonderoga
and Crown Point, as a measure of safety for New York, the besieging of
Fort Duquesne, and the menacing of Quebec by a body of troops which
were to advance by the Kennebec River.

The official career of General Shirley was drawing to a close. He was
recalled to England, and was to be superseded by General Abercrombie.
The general command in America, however, was to be held by the Earl of
Loudoun, who was invested with powers almost equal to those of a
viceroy, being placed above all the colonial governors. Beside his
general command he was to be governor of Virginia and colonel of a
royal American regiment of four battalions, to be raised in the
colonies, but furnished with officers who, like himself, had seen
foreign service. The campaign would open on his arrival, which it was
expected would be early in the spring; and brilliant results were

Washington remained ten days in Boston, receiving the most hospitable
attentions from the polite and intelligent society of the place, after
which he returned to New York. Tradition gives very different motives
from those of business for his sojourns in the latter city. He found
there an early friend and school-mate, Beverly Robinson, son of John
Robinson, speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses. He was living
happily and prosperously with a young and wealthy bride, having
married one of the nieces and heiresses of Mr. Adolphus Philipse, a
rich landholder. At the house of Mr. Beverly Robinson, Washington met
Miss Mary Philipse, sister of Mrs. Robinson, a young lady whose
personal attractions are said to have rivalled her reputed wealth. A
life of constant activity and care, passed for the most part in the
wilderness and on the frontier, far from female society, had left
Washington little mood or leisure for the indulgence of the tender
sentiment; but made him more sensible, in the present brief interval
of gay and social life, to the attractions of an elegant woman,
brought up in the polite circle of New York. That he was an open
admirer of Miss Philipse is an historical fact; that he sought her
hand, but was refused, is traditional. The most probable version of
the story is, that he was called away by his public duties before he
had made sufficient approaches in his siege of the lady's heart to
warrant a summons to surrender. In the latter part of March we find
him at Williamsburg attending the opening of the Legislature of
Virginia, eager to promote measures for the protection of the frontier
and the capture of Fort Duquesne--the leading object of his ambition.
While thus engaged, he received a letter from a friend and confidant
in New York, warning him to hasten back to that city before it was too
late, as Captain Morris, who had been his fellow aide-de-camp under
Braddock, was laying close siege to Miss Philipse. Sterner alarms,
however, summoned him in another direction. Expresses from Winchester
brought word that the French had made another sortie from Fort
Duquesne, accompanied by a band of savages, and were spreading terror
and desolation through the country. In this moment of exigency all
softer claims were forgotten; Washington repaired in all haste to his
post at Winchester, and Captain Morris was left to urge his suit
unrivalled and carry off the prize.

Report had not exaggerated the troubles of the frontier. It was
marauded by merciless bands of savages, led, in some instances, by
Frenchmen. Travellers were murdered, farm houses burnt down, families
butchered, and even stockaded forts, or houses of refuge, attacked in
open day. The marauders had crossed the mountains and penetrated the
valley of the Shenandoah. Washington, on his arrival at Winchester,
found the inhabitants in great dismay. He resolved immediately to
organize a force, composed partly of troops from Fort Cumberland,
partly of militia from Winchester and its vicinity, to put himself at
its head, and "scour the woods and suspected places in all the
mountains and valleys of this part of the frontier, in quest of the
Indians and their more cruel associates."

He accordingly despatched an express to Fort Cumberland with orders
for a detachment from the garrison; "but how," said he, "are men to be
raised at Winchester, since orders are no longer regarded in the
county?" Lord Fairfax, and other militia officers with whom he
consulted, advised that each captain should call a private muster of
his men, and read before them an address, or "exhortation" as it was
called, being an appeal to their patriotism and fears, and a summons
to assemble on the 15th of April to enroll themselves for the
projected mountain foray. This measure was adopted; the private
musterings occurred; the exhortation was read; the time and place of
assemblage appointed; but, when the day of enrollment arrived, not
more than fifteen men appeared upon the ground. In the meantime the
express returned with sad accounts from Fort Cumberland. No troops
could be furnished from that quarter. The garrison was scarcely strong
enough for self-defence, having sent out detachments in different

Horrors accumulated at Winchester. Every hour brought its tale of
terror, true or false, of houses burnt, families massacred, or
beleaguered and famishing in stockaded forts. The danger approached. A
scouting party had been attacked in the Warm Spring Mountain, about
twenty miles distant, by a large body of French and Indians, mostly on
horseback. The captain of the scouting party and several of his men
had been slain, and the rest put to flight. An attack was apprehended,
and the terrors of the people rose to agony. They now turned to
Washington as their main hope. The women surrounded him, holding up
their children and imploring him with tears and cries to save them
from the savages. The youthful commander looked round on the suppliant
crowd with a countenance beaming with pity and a heart wrung with
anguish. A letter to Governor Dinwiddie drew from him an instant order
for a militia force from the upper counties to his assistance; but the
Virginia newspapers, in descanting on the frontier troubles, threw
discredit on the army and its officers, and attached blame to its
commander. Stung to the quick by this injustice, Washington publicly
declared that nothing but the imminent danger of the times prevented
him from instantly resigning a command from which he could never reap
either honor or benefit. His sensitiveness called forth strong letters
from his friends, assuring him of the high sense entertained at the
seat of government, and elsewhere, of his merits and services.

In fact, the situation and services of the youthful commander, shut up
in a frontier town, destitute of forces, surrounded by savage foes,
gallantly, though despairingly, devoting himself to the safety of a
suffering people, were properly understood throughout the country, and
excited a glow of enthusiasm in his favor. The Legislature, too, began
at length to act, but timidly and inefficiently. Its measure of relief
was an additional appropriation of twenty thousand pounds, and an
increase of the provincial force to fifteen hundred men. With this, it
was proposed to erect and garrison a chain of frontier forts,
extending through the ranges of the Alleghany Mountains, from the
Potomac to the borders of North Carolina; a distance of between three
and four hundred miles. This was one of the inconsiderate projects
devised by Governor Dinwiddie.

Washington, in letters to the governor and to the speaker of the House
of Burgesses, urged the impolicy of such a plan, with their actual
force and means. The forts, he observed, ought to be within fifteen or
eighteen miles of each other, that their spies might be able to keep
watch over the intervening country, otherwise the Indians would pass
between them unperceived, effect their ravages, and escape to the
mountains, swamps and ravines before the troops from the forts could
be assembled to pursue them. They ought each to be garrisoned with
eighty or a hundred men, so as to afford detachments of sufficient
strength, without leaving the garrison too weak. It was evident,
therefore, observed he, that to garrison properly such a line of forts
would require at least two thousand men. And even then, a line of such
extent might be broken through at one end before the other end could
yield assistance. His idea of a defensive plan was to build a strong
fort at Winchester, the central point, where all the main roads met of
a wide range of scattered settlements, where tidings could soonest be
collected from every quarter, and whence reinforcements and supplies
could most readily be forwarded. It was to be a grand deposit of
military stores, a residence for commanding officers, a place of
refuge for the women and children in time of alarm, when the men had
suddenly to take the field; in a word, it was to be the citadel of the
frontier. Beside this, he would have three or four large fortresses
erected at convenient distances upon the frontiers, with powerful
garrisons, so as to be able to throw out, in constant succession,
strong scouting parties to range the country. Fort Cumberland he
condemned as being out of the province and out of the track of Indian

His representations with respect to military laws and regulations were
equally cogent. In the late act of the Assembly for raising a regiment
it was provided that, in cases of emergency, if recruits should not
offer in sufficient number, the militia might be drafted to supply the
deficiencies, but only to serve until December, and not to be marched
out of the province. In this case, said he, before they have entered
upon service, or got the least smattering of duty, they will claim a
discharge; if they are pursuing an enemy who has committed the most
unheard-of cruelties, he has only to step across the Potomac and he is
safe. Then as to the limits of service, they might just as easily have
been enlisted for seventeen months as seven.

Then as to punishments: death, it was true, had been decreed for
mutiny and desertion; but there was no punishment for cowardice; for
holding correspondence with the enemy; for quitting, or sleeping on
one's post; all capital offences, according to the military codes of
Europe. Neither were there provisions for quartering or billeting
soldiers, or impressing wagons and other conveyances, in times of
exigency. To crown all, no court-martial could sit out of Virginia; a
most embarrassing regulation, when troops were fifty or a hundred
miles beyond the frontier. He earnestly suggested amendments on all
these points, as well as with regard to the soldiers' pay; which was
less than that of the regular troops, or the troops of most of the
other provinces.

All these suggestions, showing at this youthful age that forethought
and circumspection which distinguished him throughout life, were
repeatedly and eloquently urged upon Governor Dinwiddie, with very
little effect. The plan of a frontier line of twenty-three forts was
persisted in. Fort Cumberland was pertinaciously kept up at a great
and useless expense of men and money, and the militia laws remained
lax and inefficient. It was decreed, however, that the great central
fort at Winchester, recommended by Washington, should be erected.

In the height of the alarm a company of one hundred gentlemen, mounted
and equipped, volunteered their services to repair to the frontier.
They were headed by Peyton Randolph. No doubt they would have
conducted themselves gallantly had they been put to the test; but
before they arrived near the scene of danger the alarm was over. About
the beginning of May, scouts brought in word that the tracks of the
marauding savages tended toward Fort Duquesne, as if on the return. In
a little while it was ascertained that they had recrossed the
Alleghany Mountain to the Ohio in such numbers as to leave a beaten
track, equal to that made in the preceding year by the army of

The repeated inroads of the savages called for an effectual and
permanent check. The idea of being constantly subject to the
irruptions of a deadly foe, that moved with stealth and mystery, and
was only to be traced by its ravages and counted by its footprints,
discouraged all settlement of the country. The beautiful valley of the
Shenandoah was fast becoming a deserted and a silent place. Her
people, for the most part, had fled to the older settlements south of
the mountains, and the Blue Ridge was likely soon to become virtually
the frontier line of the province.


Throughout the summer of 1756, Washington exerted himself diligently
in carrying out measures determined upon for frontier security. The
great fortress at Winchester was commenced, and the work urged forward
as expeditiously as the delays and perplexities incident to a badly
organized service would permit. It received the name of Fort Loudoun,
in honor of the commander-in-chief, whose arrival in Virginia was
hopefully anticipated.

As to the sites of the frontier posts, they were decided upon by
Washington and his officers, after frequent and long consultations;
parties were sent out to work on them, and men recruited and militia
drafted to garrison them. Washington visited occasionally such as were
in progress, and near at hand. In the autumn, he made a tour of
inspection along the whole line, accompanied by his friend, Captain
Hugh Mercer. This tour furnished repeated proofs of the inefficiency
of the militia system. In one place he attempted to raise a force with
which to scour a region infested by roving bands of savages. After
waiting several days, but five men answered to his summons. In another
place, where three companies had been ordered to the relief of a fort
attacked by the Indians, all that could be mustered were a captain, a
lieutenant, and seven or eight men. When the militia were drafted, and
appeared under arms, the case was not much better. It was now late in
the autumn: their term of service, by the act of the Legislature,
expired in December,--half of the time, therefore, was lost in
marching out and home. Their waste of provisions was enormous. To be
put on allowance, like other soldiers, they considered an indignity.
For want of proper military laws, they were obstinate, self-willed and
perverse. The garrisons were weak for want of men, but more so from
indolence and irregularity. Not one was in a posture of defence; few
but might be surprised with the greatest ease. At one fort the Indians
rushed from their lurking-place, pounced upon several children playing
under the walls, and bore them off before they were discovered.
Another fort was surprised, and many of the people massacred in the
same manner.

What rendered this year's service peculiarly irksome and embarrassing
to Washington, was the nature of his correspondence with Governor
Dinwiddie. That gentleman, either from the natural hurry and confusion
of his mind, or from a real disposition to perplex, was extremely
ambiguous and unsatisfactory in most of his orders and replies. In
nothing was this disposition to perplex more apparent than in the
governor's replies respecting Fort Cumberland. Washington had
repeatedly urged the abandonment of this fort as a place of frontier
deposit, being within the bounds of another province and out of the
track of Indian incursion; so that often the alarm would not reach
there until after the mischief had been effected. He applied, at
length, for particular and positive directions from the governor on
this head. "The following," says he, "is an exact copy of his answer:
'Fort Cumberland is a _king's_ fort, and built chiefly at the charge
of the colony, therefore properly under our direction until a new
governor is appointed.' Now, whether I am to understand this aye or no
to the plain simple question asked, Is the fort to be continued or
removed? I know not. But in all important matters I am directed in
this ambiguous and uncertain way."

Governor Dinwiddie subsequently made himself explicit on this point.
Taking offence at some of Washington's comments on the military
affairs on the frontier, he made the stand of a self-willed and
obstinate man, in the case of Fort Cumberland; and represented it in
such a light to Lord Loudoun as to draw from his lordship an order
that it should be kept up, and an implied censure of the conduct of
Washington in slighting a post of such paramount importance. Thus
powerfully supported, Dinwiddie went so far as to order that the
garrisons should be withdrawn from the stockades and small frontier
forts, and most of the troops from Winchester, to strengthen Fort
Cumberland, which was now to become head-quarters. By these meddlesome
moves all previous arrangements were reversed, everything was thrown
into confusion, and enormous losses and expenses were incurred.
Governor Dinwiddie had never recovered from the pique caused by the
popular elevation of Washington to the command in preference to his
favorite, Colonel Innes. His irritation was kept alive by a little
Scottish faction, who were desirous of disgusting Washington with the
service, so as to induce him to resign and make way for his rival.
They might have carried their point during the panic at Winchester,
had not his patriotism and his sympathy with the public distress been
more powerful than his self-love. He determined, he said, to bear up
under these embarrassments in the hope of better regulations when Lord
Loudoun should arrive; to whom he looked for the future fate of

[While these events were occurring on the Virginia frontier, military
events went on tardily and heavily at the north. The campaign against
Canada hung fire. The armament coming out for the purpose under Lord
Loudoun was delayed. Gen. Abercrombie reached Albany June 25th, with
two regiments. July 12th word was received that the forts Ontario and
Oswego were menaced by the French. Relief was delayed until the
arrival of Lord Loudoun, which took place on the 29th of July. After
some delays Gen. Webb left Albany, August 12th, for the relief of
Oswego. But while the British commanders had debated, Field-marshal
the Marquis de Montcalm had acted.] He was a different kind of soldier
from Abercrombie or Loudoun. A capacious mind and enterprising spirit
animated a small, but active and untiring frame. Quick in thought,
quick in speech, quicker still in action, he comprehended every thing
at a glance, and moved from point to point of the province with a
celerity and secrecy that completely baffled his slow and pondering
antagonists. Crown Point and Ticonderoga were visited, and steps taken
to strengthen their works; then, hastening to Montreal, he put himself
at the head of a force of regulars, Canadians, and Indians; ascended
the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario; blocked up the mouth of the Oswego
by his vessels, landed his guns, and besieged the two forts; drove the
garrison out of one into the other; killed the commander, Colonel
Mercer, and compelled the garrisons to surrender prisoners of war. His
blow achieved, Montcalm returned in triumph to Montreal.

The season was now too far advanced for Lord Loudoun to enter upon any
great military enterprise; he postponed, therefore, the great northern
campaign, so much talked of and debated, until the following year.

Circumstances had led Washington to think that Lord Loudoun "had
received impressions to his prejudice by false representations of
facts," and that a wrong idea prevailed at head-quarters respecting
the state of military affairs in Virginia. He was anxious, therefore,
for an opportunity of placing all these matters in a proper light;
and, understanding that there was to be a meeting in Philadelphia in
the month of March, between Lord Loudoun and the southern governors,
to consult about measures of defence for their respective provinces,
he wrote to Governor Dinwiddie for permission to attend it. "I cannot
conceive," writes Dinwiddie in reply, "what service you can be of in
going there, as the plan concerted will, in course, be communicated to
you and the other officers. However, as you seem so earnest to go, I
now give you leave."

This ungracious reply seemed to warrant the suspicions entertained by
some of Washington's friends, that it was the busy pen of Governor
Dinwiddie which had given the "false representation of facts" to Lord
Loudoun. About a month, therefore, before the time of the meeting,
Washington addressed a long letter to his lordship, explanatory of
military affairs in the quarter where he had commanded. In this he set
forth the various defects in the militia laws of Virginia; the errors
in its system of defence, and the inevitable confusion which had
thence resulted.

The manner in which Washington was received by Lord Loudoun on
arriving in Philadelphia, showed him at once that his long,
explanatory letter had produced the desired effect, and that his
character and conduct were justly appreciated. During his sojourn in
Philadelphia he was frequently consulted on points of frontier
service, and his advice was generally adopted. On one point it failed.
He advised that an attack should be made on Fort Duquesne,
simultaneous with the attempts on Canada. At such time a great part of
the garrison would be drawn away to aid in the defence of that
province, and a blow might be struck more likely to insure the peace
and safety of the southern frontier than all its forts and defences.
Lord Loudoun, however, was not to be convinced, or at least persuaded.
According to his plan, the middle and southern provinces were to
maintain a merely defensive warfare.

Washington was also disappointed a second time in the hope of having
his regiment placed on the same footing as the regular army and of
obtaining a king's commission; the latter he was destined never to
hold. His representations with respect to Fort Cumberland had the
desired effect in counteracting the mischievous intermeddling of
Dinwiddie. The Virginia troops and stores were ordered to be again
removed to Fort Loudoun, at Winchester, which once more became
head-quarters, while Fort Cumberland was left to be occupied by a
Maryland garrison.

The great plan of operations at the north was again doomed to failure.
The reduction of Crown Point, on Lake Champlain, which had long been
meditated, was laid aside, and the capture of Louisburg substituted,
as an acquisition of far greater importance. This was a place of great
consequence, situated on the isle of Cape Breton, and strongly
fortified. It commanded the fisheries of Newfoundland, overawed New
England, and was a main bulwark to Acadia. [In July, Loudoun set sail
for Halifax, with nearly six thousand men, to join with Admiral
Holbourne, who had arrived at that port with eleven ships of the line,
and transports having on board six thousand men. With this united
force Lord Loudoun anticipated the certain capture of Louisburg. But
the French were again too quick for him. Admiral de Bois de la Mothe
had arrived at Louisburg with seventeen ships of the line and three
frigates. The place was ascertained to be well fortified and
garrisoned. Lord Loudoun, aware of the probability of defeat and the
ruin it would bring upon British arms in America, wisely, though
ingloriously, returned to New York.

Scarce had the tidings of his lordship's departure for Louisburg
reached Canada, when Montcalm took the fort. Fort William Henry, on
the southern shore of Lake George, was now his object. Colonel Munro,
with five hundred men, formed the garrison. With eight thousand men
Montcalm invested the fort, and after an obstinate resistance the
brave Colonel Munro surrendered, but not until most of his cannon were
burst and his ammunition expended. He obtained honorable terms.
Montcalm demolished the fort, and returned to Canada.]

During these unfortunate operations to the north, Washington was
stationed at Winchester, shorn of part of his force by a detachment to
South Carolina, and left with seven hundred men to defend a frontier
of more than three hundred and fifty miles in extent. The capture and
demolition of Oswego by Montcalm had produced a disastrous effect. The
whole country of the five nations was abandoned to the French. The
frontiers of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia were harassed by
repeated inroads of French and Indians, and Washington had the
mortification to see the noble valley of the Shenandoah almost
deserted by its inhabitants and fast relapsing into a wilderness.

The year wore away on his part in the harassing service of defending a
wide frontier with an insufficient and badly organized force, and the
vexations he experienced were heightened by continual misunderstandings
with Governor Dinwiddie, who was evidently actuated by the petty pique
of a narrow and illiberal mind, impatient of contradiction, even when
in error. He took advantage of his official station to vent his spleen
and gratify his petulance in a variety of ways incompatible with the
courtesy of a gentleman. It may excite a grave smile at the present day
to find Washington charged by this very small-minded man with looseness
in his way of writing to him: with remissness in his duty towards him;
and even with impertinence in the able and eloquent representations
which he felt compelled to make of disastrous mismanagement in military

The multiplied vexations which Washington experienced from this man
had preyed upon his spirits, and contributed, with his incessant toils
and anxieties, to undermine his health. For some time he struggled
with repeated attacks of dysentery and fever, and continued in the
exercise of his duties; but the increased violence of his malady, and
the urgent advice of his friend, Dr. Craik, the army surgeon, induced
him to relinquish his post towards the end of the year and retire to
Mount Vernon. The administration of Dinwiddie, however, was now at an
end. He set sail for England in January, 1758.


For several months Washington was afflicted by returns of his malady,
accompanied by symptoms indicative, as he thought, of a decline. A
gradual improvement in his health and a change in his prospects
encouraged him to continue in what really was his favorite career, and
at the beginning of April he was again in command at Fort Loudoun. Mr.
Francis Fauquier had been appointed successor to Dinwiddie, and, until
he should arrive, Mr. John Blair, president of the council, had, from
his office, charge of the government. In the latter Washington had a
friend who appreciated his character and services, and was disposed to
carry out his plans.

The general aspect of affairs, also, was more animating. Under the
able and intrepid administration of William Pitt, who had control of
the British cabinet, an effort was made to retrieve the disgraces of
the late American campaign, and to carry on the war with greater
vigor. The instructions for a common fund were discontinued; there was
no more talk of taxation by Parliament. Lord Loudoun, from whom so
much had been anticipated, had disappointed by his inactivity, and
been relieved from a command in which he had attempted much and done
so little.

On the return of his lordship to England, the general command in
America devolved on Major-general Abercrombie, and the forces were
divided into three detached bodies; one, under Major-general Amherst,
was to operate in the north with the fleet under Boscawen, for the
reduction of Louisburg and the island of Cape Breton; another, under
Abercrombie himself, was to proceed against Ticonderoga and Crown
Point on Lake Champlain; and the third, under Brigadier-general
Forbes, who had the charge of the middle and southern colonies, was to
undertake the reduction of Fort Duquesne. The colonial troops were to
be supplied, like the regulars, with arms, ammunition, tents and
provisions at the expense of the government, but clothed and paid by
the colonies; for which the king would recommend to Parliament a
proper compensation. The provincial officers appointed by the
governors, and of no higher rank than colonel, were to be equal in
command, when united in service with those who held direct from the
king, according to the date of their commissions. By these wise
provisions of Mr. Pitt a fertile cause of heartburnings and
dissensions was removed.

It was with the greatest satisfaction Washington saw his favorite
measure at last adopted, the reduction of Fort Duquesne; and he
resolved to continue in the service until that object was
accomplished. He had the satisfaction subsequently of enjoying the
fullest confidence of General Forbes (who was to command the
expedition), who knew too well the sound judgment and practical
ability evinced by him in the unfortunate campaign of Braddock not to
be desirous of availing himself of his counsels. Washington still was
commander-in-chief of the Virginia troops, now augmented, by an act of
the Assembly, to two regiments of one thousand men each; one led by
himself, the other by Colonel Byrd; the whole destined to make a part
of the army of General Forbes in the expedition against Fort Duquesne.

Before we proceed to narrate the expedition against Fort Duquesne,
however, we will briefly notice the conduct of the two other
expeditions, which formed important parts in the plan of military
operations for the year. And first, of that against Louisburg and the
Island of Cape Breton. [Major-general Amherst embarked in May with
nearly twelve thousand men from Halifax in the fleet of Admiral
Boscawen. With him went Brigadier-general Wolfe, who was destined to
gain an almost romantic celebrity. On the 2d of June, the fleet
arrived at the bay of Gabarus, seven miles from Louisburg. Boisterous
weather prevented the landing until the 8th of June. Three divisions,
under Brigadiers Wolfe, Whetmore and Laurens, attempted the landing
west of the harbor at a place feebly secured. The boats forced their
way through a high surf, and under a heavy fire from the batteries.
Wolfe sprang into the water when the boats grounded, dashed through
the surf with his men, stormed the enemy's breastworks and batteries,
and drove them from the shore. By the side of Wolfe was an Irish
youth, twenty-one years of age, whom, for his gallantry, Wolfe
promoted to a lieutenancy. His name was Richard Montgomery. The other
divisions effected a landing, and Louisburg was formally invested. The
weather continued boisterous, and the siege advanced slowly. Chevalier
Drucour, who commanded at Louisburg, made a brave defence. His ships
were at last all either fired or captured, his cannon dismounted, and
being threatened with a general assault he capitulated at the earnest
entreaty of the inhabitants.

The second expedition was against the French forts on Lakes George and
Champlain. Early in July, Abercrombie was on Lake George with seven
thousand regulars and nine thousand provincials. Major Israel Putnam,
who had served under Johnson, was present, and with a scouting party
reconnoitred the neighborhood. Upon his return, Abercrombie proceeded
against Ticonderoga. The force embarked on the 5th of July, in a vast
flotilla of whaleboats, rafts, bateaux, etc. With Abercrombie went
Lord Howe, a young nobleman who had greatly endeared himself to the
army and the people. They landed at the entrance of the strait leading
to Lake Champlain, formed into three columns and pushed forward. The
van of the centre column under Lord Howe encountered a detachment of
the foe; a severe conflict ensued; the enemy were routed, and Lord
Howe was killed. With him expired the master-spirit of the enterprise.
Abercrombie fell back to the landing-place; sent out detachments to
secure a saw-mill, within two miles of the fort: this done he advanced
with his whole force and took post at the mill. Montcalm was strongly
posted behind deep intrenchments, with an abatis of felled trees in
front of his lines. The strength of his position was underrated, and
an assault was ordered, which was repulsed with dreadful havoc. After
four hours of desperate and fruitless fighting, Abercrombie retreated
to the landing-place, and, dismayed at the failure of the rash
assault, which had been made against the advice of his most judicious
officers, he embarked his troops and returned across the lake. While
stationed here, planning fortifications, Colonel Bradstreet was
permitted to undertake an expedition against Fort Frontenac, on the
south side of Lake Ontario, which was entirely successful.]

Operations went on slowly in that part of the year's campaign in which
Washington was immediately engaged--the expedition against Fort
Duquesne. Brigadier-general Forbes, who was commander-in-chief, was
detained at Philadelphia by those delays and cross-purposes incident
to military affairs in a new country. Colonel Bouquet, who was to
command the advanced division, took his station, with a corps of
regulars, at Raystown, in the centre of Pennsylvania. There slowly
assembled troops from various parts. Three thousand Pennsylvanians,
twelve hundred and fifty South Carolinians, and a few hundred men from

Washington, in the meantime, gathered together his scattered regiment
at Winchester, some from a distance of two hundred miles, and
diligently disciplined his recruits. He had two Virginia regiments
under him, amounting, when complete, to about nineteen hundred men.
Seven hundred Indian warriors, also, came lagging into his camp, lured
by the prospect of a successful campaign.

The force thus assembling was in want of arms, tents, field-equipage,
and almost every requisite. Washington had made repeated
representations, by letter, of the destitute state of the Virginia
troops, but without avail; he was now ordered by Sir John St. Clair,
the quartermaster-general of the forces under General Forbes, to
repair to Williamsburg and lay the state of the case before the
council. He set off promptly on horseback, attended by Bishop, the
well-trained military servant who had served the late General
Braddock. It proved an eventful journey, though not in a military
point of view. In crossing a ferry of the Pamunkey, a branch of York
River, he fell in company with a Mr. Chamberlayne, who lived in the
neighborhood, and who, in the spirit of Virginian hospitality, claimed
him as a guest. It was with difficulty Washington could be prevailed
on to halt for dinner, so impatient was he to arrive at Williamsburg
and accomplish his mission.

Among the guests at Mr. Chamberlayne's was a young and blooming widow,
Mrs. Martha Custis, daughter of Mr. John Dandridge, both patrician
names in the province. Her husband, John Parke Custis, had been dead
about three years, leaving her with two young children, and a large
fortune. She is represented as being rather below the middle size, but
extremely well shaped, with an agreeable countenance, dark hazel eyes
and hair, and those frank, engaging manners, so captivating in
Southern women. Washington's heart appears to have been taken by
surprise. The dinner, which in those days was an earlier meal than at
present, seemed all too short. The afternoon passed away like a dream.
Bishop was punctual to the orders he had received on halting; the
horses pawed at the door; but for once Washington loitered in the path
of duty. The horses were countermanded, and it was not until the next
morning that he was again in the saddle, spurring for Williamsburg.
Happily the White House, the residence of Mrs. Custis, was in New Kent
County, at no great distance from that city, so that he had
opportunities of visiting her in the intervals of business. His time
for courtship, however, was brief. Military duties called him back
almost immediately to Winchester; but he feared, should he leave the
matter in suspense, some more enterprising rival might supplant him
during his absence, as in the case of Miss Philipse, at New York. He
improved, therefore, his brief opportunity to the utmost. In a word,
before they separated, they had mutually plighted their faith, and the
marriage was to take place as soon as the campaign against Fort
Duquesne was at an end.

On arriving at Winchester, he found his troops restless and
discontented from prolonged inaction; the inhabitants impatient of the
burdens imposed on them, and of the disturbances of an idle camp;
while the Indians, as he apprehended, had deserted outright. It was a
great relief, therefore, when he received orders from the
commander-in-chief to repair to Fort Cumberland. He arrived there on
the 2d of July, and proceeded to open a road between that post and
head-quarters at Raystown, thirty miles distant, where Colonel Bouquet
was stationed. His troops were scantily supplied with regimental
clothing. The weather was oppressively warm. He now conceived the idea
of equipping them in the light Indian hunting garb, and even of
adopting it himself. Two companies were accordingly equipped in this
style, and sent under the command of Major Lewis to head-quarters. The
experiment was successful.

The array was now annoyed by scouting parties of Indians hovering
about the neighborhood. Expresses passing between the posts were fired
upon; a wagoner was shot down. Washington sent out counter-parties of
Cherokees. Colonel Bouquet required that each party should be
accompanied by an officer and a number of white men. Washington
complied with the order, though he considered them an encumbrance
rather than an advantage. On the other hand, he earnestly
discountenanced a proposition of Colonel Bouquet, to make an irruption
into the enemy's country with a strong party of regulars. Such a
detachment, he observed, could not be sent without a cumbersome train
of supplies, which would discover it to the enemy, who must at that
time be collecting his whole force at Fort Duquesne; the enterprise,
therefore, would be likely to terminate in a miscarriage, if not in
the destruction of the party. We shall see that his opinion was

As Washington intended to retire from military life at the close of
this campaign, he had proposed himself to the electors of Frederick
County as their representative in the House of Burgesses. The election
was coming on at Winchester; his friends pressed him to attend it, and
Colonel Bouquet gave him leave of absence; but he declined to absent
himself from his post for the promotion of his political interests.
There were three competitors in the field, yet so high was the public
opinion of his merit, that, though Winchester had been his
head-quarters for two or three years past, and he had occasionally
enforced martial law with a rigorous hand, he was elected by a large

On the 21st of July arrived tidings of the brilliant success of that
part of the scheme of the year's campaign conducted by General Amherst
and Admiral Boscawen. This intelligence increased Washington's
impatience at the delays of the expedition with which he was
connected. He wished to rival these successes by a brilliant blow in
the south. Understanding that the commander-in-chief had some thoughts
of throwing a body of light troops in the advance, he wrote to Colonel
Bouquet, earnestly soliciting his influence to have himself and his
Virginia regiment included in the detachment.

He soon learnt to his surprise that the road to which his men were
accustomed, and which had been worked by Braddock's troops in his
campaign, was not to be taken in the present expedition, but a new one
opened through the heart of Pennsylvania, from Raystown to Fort
Duquesne, on the track generally taken by the northern traders. He
instantly commenced long and repeated remonstrances on the subject;
but the officers of the regular service had received a fearful idea of
Braddock's road from his own despatches, wherein he had described it
as lying "across mountains and rocks of an excessive height, vastly
steep, and divided by torrents and rivers," whereas the Pennsylvania
traders, who were anxious for the opening of the new road through
their province, described the country through which it would pass as
less difficult; above all, it was a direct line, and fifty miles
nearer. This route, therefore, to the great regret of Washington, was
definitely adopted, and sixteen hundred men were immediately thrown in
the advance from Raystown to work upon it.

The first of September found Washington still encamped at Fort
Cumberland, his troops sickly and dispirited, and the brilliant
expedition which he had anticipated, dwindling down into a tedious
operation of road-making. At length, in the month of September, he
received orders from General Forbes to join him with his troops at
Raystown, where he had just arrived, having been detained by severe
illness. He was received by the general with the highest marks of
respect. On all occasions, both in private and at councils of war,
that commander treated his opinions with the greatest deference. He,
moreover, adopted a plan drawn out by Washington for the march of the
army, and an order of battle which still exists, furnishing a proof of
his skill in frontier warfare.

It was now the middle of September; yet the great body of men engaged
in opening the new military road, after incredible toil, had not
advanced above forty-five miles, to a place called Loyal Hannan, a
little beyond Laurel Hill. Colonel Bouquet, who commanded the division
of nearly two thousand men sent forward to open this road, had halted
at Loyal Hannan to establish a military post and deposit. He was
upwards of fifty miles from Fort Duquesne, and was tempted to adopt
the measure, so strongly discountenanced by Washington, of sending a
party on a foray into the enemy's country. He accordingly detached
Major Grant with eight hundred picked men, some of them Highlanders,
others in Indian garb, the part of Washington's Virginian regiment
sent forward by him from Cumberland under command of Major Lewis. [The
enterprise proved a disastrous one. Major Grant conducted it with
foolhardy bravado; suffered himself to be led into an ambuscade; and a
scene ensued similar to that at the defeat of Braddock. The whole
detachment was put to rout with dreadful carnage. Captain Bullitt,
with fifty Virginians, who were in charge of the baggage, formed a
barricade with the wagons, rallied some of the fugitives, succeeded in
checking the enemy for a time, and, collecting the wounded, effected a
rapid retreat. Lewis, when surrounded by Indians, saved his life by
surrendering to a French officer. Grant surrendered himself in like

Washington, who was at Raystown when the disastrous news arrived, was
publicly complimented by General Forbes on the gallant conduct of his
Virginian troops, and Bullitt's behavior was "a matter of great
admiration." The latter was soon after rewarded with a major's
commission. As a further mark of the high opinion now entertained of
provincial troops for frontier service, Washington was given the
command of a division, partly composed of his own men, to keep in the
advance of the main body, clear the roads, throw out scouting parties,
and repel Indian attacks.

It was the 5th of November before the whole army assembled at Loyal
Hannan. Winter was now at hand, and upwards of fifty miles of
wilderness were yet to be traversed, by a road not yet formed, before
they could reach Fort Duquesne. Again, Washington's predictions seemed
likely to be verified, and the expedition to be defeated by delay; for
in a council of war it was determined to be impracticable to advance
further with the army that season. Three prisoners, however, who were
brought in gave such an account of the weak state of the garrison at
Fort Duquesne, its want of provisions and the defection of the
Indians, that it was determined to push forward. The march was
accordingly resumed, but without tents or baggage, and with only a
light train of artillery.

Washington still kept the advance. After leaving Loyal Hannan, the
road presented traces of the late defeat of Grant; being strewed with
human bones. At length the army arrived in sight of Fort Duquesne,
advancing with great precaution, and expecting a vigorous defence; but
that formidable fortress, the terror and scourge of the frontier and
the object of such warlike enterprise, fell without a blow. The recent
successes of the English forces in Canada, particularly the capture
and destruction of Fort Frontenac, had left the garrison without hope
of reinforcements and supplies. The whole force, at the time, did not
exceed five hundred men, and the provisions were nearly exhausted. The
commander, therefore, waited only until the English army was within
one day's march, when he embarked his troops at night in bateaux, blew
up his magazines, set fire to the fort, and retreated down the Ohio by
the light of the flames. On the 25th of November, Washington, with the
advanced guard, marched in, and planted the British flag on the yet
smoking ruins.

The ruins of the fortress were now put in a defensible state, and
garrisoned by two hundred men from Washington's regiment; the name was
changed to that of Fort Pitt, in honor of the illustrious British
minister; it has since been modified into Pittsburg, and designates
one of the most busy and populous cities of the interior. The
reduction of Fort Duquesne terminated, as Washington had foreseen, the
troubles and dangers of the southern frontier. The French domination
of the Ohio was at an end; the Indians, as usual, paid homage to the
conquering power, and a treaty of peace was concluded with all the
tribes between the Ohio and the lakes.

With this campaign ended, for the present, the military career of
Washington. His great object was attained, the restoration of quiet
and security to his native province; and, having abandoned all hope of
attaining rank in the regular army, and his health being much
impaired, he gave up his commission at the close of the year, and
retired from the service, followed by the applause of his
fellow-soldiers and the gratitude and admiration of all his

His marriage with Mrs. Custis took place shortly after his return. It
was celebrated on the 6th of January, 1759, at the White House, the
residence of the bride, in the good old hospitable style of Virginia,
amid a joyous assemblage of relatives and friends.


[Before following Washington into the retirement of domestic life, we
think it proper to notice the events which closed the great struggle
between England and France for empire in America. Abercrombie had been
superseded in command by Major-general Amherst. According to the plan
of operations for 1759, General Wolfe was to ascend the St. Lawrence
in a fleet of ships of war with eight thousand men, and lay siege to
Quebec. General Amherst, in the meantime, was to advance against
Ticonderoga and Crown Point, reduce them, and push on to the St.
Lawrence to co-operate with Wolfe. A third expedition, under
Brigadier-general Prideaux, aided by Sir William Johnson, was to
attack Fort Niagara. Having reduced this fort he was to proceed
against Montreal.

The last mentioned expedition was the first executed. The fort was
invested by General Prideaux, early in July. The garrison, six hundred
strong, made a resolute defence. Prideaux was killed on the 20th of
July while visiting his trenches, and General Gage was sent to succeed
him in command. Meantime the siege was pressed with vigor by Sir
William Johnson. Learning that twelve hundred regular troops were
hastening to the rescue of the besieged, he despatched a force to
intercept them. They met within distant view of the fort, and after a
sharp conflict the French were routed and pursued through the woods.
The garrison, having now no alternative, surrendered, the terms
offered being honorable.

Meanwhile, General Amherst with twelve thousand men had descended Lake
George. On the 23d they debarked, and proceeded toward Ticonderoga.
Montcalm was absent for the protection of Quebec. The garrison did not
exceed four hundred men. A defence against Amherst's overwhelming
force would have been madness; and Bourlamarque, who was in command,
consequently dismantled the fortifications, as he did likewise those
of Crown Point, and retreated down the lake. Instead of following him
up and hastening to co-operate with Wolfe, General Amherst proceeded
to repair the forts, though neither was in present danger of being
attacked. His delay enabled the enemy to rally their forces at Isle
Aux Noix, and deprive Wolfe of the aid essential to the general
success of the campaign.

Wolfe ascended the St. Lawrence in June. With him were Colonel Guy
Carlton, and Lieutenant-Colonel William Howe, both destined to achieve
celebrity in the annals of the American Revolution. The troops
debarked on the Isle of Orleans, a little below Quebec. Quebec is
built around the point of a rocky promontory, and flanked by
precipices. The St. Lawrence sweeps by it on the right, and the St.
Charles on the left. The place was not then, as now, rendered
impregnable by fortifications. Montcalm commanded the post. His forces
were drawn out along the northern shore below the city, from the St.
Charles to the Falls of Montmorency, and their position was secured by
intrenchments. Wolfe established batteries at the west point of the
Isle of Orleans, and at Point Levi, on the south bank of the St.
Lawrence, within cannon range of the city. From Point Levi the city
was cannonaded; the lower town was reduced to rubbish, and many houses
in the upper town were fired. Anxious for a decisive action, Wolfe, on
the 9th of July crossed to the north bank of the St. Lawrence, and
encamped below the Montmorency. He determined to attack Montcalm in
his camp, however difficult to be approached, and however strongly
posted. The plan of attack was complicated; orders were misunderstood;
confusion ensued; and the attack proved a disastrous failure. News was
now received of the capture of Fort Niagara, Ticonderoga, and Crown
Point. Their successes fired the sensitive commander, and he declared
he would never return without success. He made a reconnoitering
expedition above Quebec. Rugged cliffs rose from the water's edge;
above them was a plain called the Plains of Abraham, by which the
upper town might be approached on its weakest side. It was determined
to attempt reaching the Plains by scaling the cliffs at night. On the
13th of September, in flat-bottomed boats the troops passed the town
undetected; landed in a cove called Cape Diamond; scrambled and
struggled with difficulty up a cragged path; put to flight a
sergeant's guard at the summit, and by break of day were in possession
of the Plains.

Montcalm was thunderstruck when intelligence of the fact was brought
to him. He hastened to the defence of the approaches to the city; a
desperate battle ensued on the fated Plains. Wolfe, who was in front
of the English line, was wounded in the wrist. A second ball struck
him in the breast. He was borne to the rear. "It is all over with me,"
said he, and desired those about him to lay him down. Presently they
cried, "They run! they run! see how they run!" "Who runs?" asked Wolfe
eagerly, rousing from a lethargy into which he had fallen. "The enemy,
sir: they give way everywhere." "Now, God be praised, I will die in
peace," exclaimed the dying hero, and, turning upon his side, expired.
The English had indeed obtained a complete victory; and among the
enemy's losses was that of their gallant leader, Montcalm. The
English, now in strong position on the Plains, hastened to fortify.
Preparations were now made for the attack by both army and fleet on
the upper and lower town, but the spirit of the garrison was broken,
and they capitulated on the 17th of September.

Had Amherst followed up his successors, the year's campaign would have
ended in the subjugation of Canada. His delay gave De Levi, the
successor of Montcalm, time to rally and struggle for the salvation of
the province. He laid siege to Quebec in the spring, and was on the
eve of success, when the arrival of a British fleet reversed the
scene. The besieging army retreated, and made a last stand at
Montreal; but being invested with an overwhelming force, defence was
hopeless. On the 8th of September, Montreal, and with it all Canada,
surrendered, and the contest between France and England for dominion
in America was ended.]

For three months after his marriage, Washington resided with his bride
at the White House. During his sojourn there, he repaired to
Williamsburg, to take his seat in the House of Burgesses. By a vote of
the House it had been determined to greet his installation by a signal
testimonial of respect. Accordingly, as soon as he took his seat, Mr.
Robinson, the Speaker, in eloquent language, dictated by the warmth of
private friendship, returned thanks, on behalf of the colony, for the
distinguished military services he had rendered to his country.
Washington rose to reply; blushed--stammered--trembled, and could not
utter a word. "Sit down, Mr. Washington," said the Speaker, with a
smile, "your modesty equals your valor, and that surpasses the power
of any language I possess." Such was Washington's first launch into
civil life, in which he was to be distinguished by the same judgment,
devotion, courage, and magnanimity exhibited in his military career.
He attended the House frequently during the remainder of the session,
after which he conducted his bride to his favorite abode of Mount
Vernon. "I am now, I believe," he writes, "fixed in this seat, with an
agreeable partner for life, and I hope to find more happiness in
retirement than I ever experienced in the wide and bustling world."

Mount Vernon was his harbor of repose, where he repeatedly furled his
sail, and fancied himself anchored for life. No impulse of ambition
tempted him thence; nothing but the call of his country and his
devotion to the public good. The place was endeared to him by the
remembrance of his brother Lawrence, and of the happy days he had
passed here with that brother in the days of boyhood: but it was a
delightful place in itself, and well calculated to inspire the rural
feeling. The mansion was beautifully situated on a swelling height,
crowned with wood, and commanding a magnificent view up and down the
Potomac. The grounds immediately about it were laid out somewhat in
the English taste. The estate was apportioned into separate farms,
devoted to different kinds of culture, each having its allotted
laborers. Much, however, was still covered with wild woods, seamed
with deep dells and runs of water, and indented with inlets; haunts of
deer, and lurking-places of foxes.

These were, as yet, the aristocratical days of Virginia. The estates
were large, and continued in the same families by entails. Many of the
wealthy planters were connected with old families in England. The
young men, especially the elder sons, were often sent to finish their
education there, and on their return brought out the tastes and habits
of the mother country. The governors of Virginia were from the higher
ranks of society, and maintained a corresponding state. A style of
living prevailed that has long since faded away. The houses were
spacious, commodious, liberal in all their appointments, and fitted to
cope with the free-handed, open hearted hospitality of the owners.
Nothing was more common than to see handsome services of plate,
elegant equipages, and superb carriage-horses--all imported from

Washington, by his marriage, had added above one hundred thousand
dollars to his already considerable fortune, and was enabled to live
in ample and dignified style. His intimacy with the Fairfaxes, and his
intercourse with British officers of rank, had perhaps had their
influence on his mode of living. He had his chariot and four, with
black postilions in livery, for the use of Mrs. Washington and her
lady visitors. As for himself, he always appeared on horseback. His
stable was well filled and admirably regulated. His stud was
thoroughbred and in excellent order.

A large Virginia estate, in those days, was a little empire. The
mansion-house was the seat of government, with its numerous
dependencies, such as kitchens, smoke-house, workshops and stables. In
this mansion the planter ruled supreme; his steward or overseer was
his prime minister and executive officer; he had his legion of house
negroes for domestic service, and his host of field negroes for the
culture of tobacco, Indian corn, and other crops, and for other
out-of-door labor. Their quarter formed a kind of hamlet apart,
composed of various huts, with little gardens and poultry yards, all
well stocked, and swarms of little negroes gambolling in the sunshine.
Then there were large wooden edifices for curing tobacco, the staple
and most profitable production, and mills for grinding wheat and
Indian corn, of which large fields were cultivated for the supply of
the family and the maintenance of the negroes.

Washington carried into his rural affairs the same method, activity
and circumspection that had distinguished him in military life. He
kept his own accounts, posted up his books and balanced them with
mercantile exactness. The products of his estate became so noted for
the faithfulness, as to quality and quantity, with which they were put
up, that it is said any barrel of flour that bore the brand of George
Washington, Mount Vernon, was exempted from the customary inspection
in the West India ports.

He was an early riser, often before daybreak in the winter when the
nights were long. He breakfasted at seven in summer, at eight in
winter. Two small cups of tea and three or four cakes of Indian meal
(called hoe cakes), formed his frugal repast. Immediately after
breakfast he mounted his horse and visited those parts of the estate
where any work was going on, seeing to every thing with his own eyes,
and often aiding with his own hand. Dinner was served at two o'clock.
He ate heartily, but was no epicure, nor critical about his food. His
beverage was small beer or cider, and two glasses of old Madeira. He
took tea, of which he was very fond, early in the evening, and retired
for the night about nine o'clock.

{Illustration: MOUNT VERNON. Vol. I}

Washington delighted in the chase. In the hunting season, when he rode
out early in the morning to visit distant parts of the estate where
work was going on, he often took some of the dogs with him for the
chance of starting a fox, which he occasionally did, though he was not
always successful in killing him. He was a bold rider and an admirable
horseman, though he never claimed the merit of being an accomplished
fox-hunter. In the height of the season, however, he would be out with
the fox-hounds two or three times a week, accompanied by his guests at
Mount Vernon and the gentlemen of the neighborhood, especially the
Fairfaxes of Belvoir, of which estate his friend George William
Fairfax was now the proprietor. On such occasions there would be a
hunting dinner at one or other of those establishments, at which
convivial repasts Washington is said to have enjoyed himself with
unwonted hilarity.

The waters of the Potomac also afforded occasional amusement in
fishing and shooting. The fishing was sometimes on a grand scale, when
the herrings came up the river in shoals, and the negroes of Mount
Vernon were marshalled forth to draw the seine, which was generally
done with great success. Canvas-back ducks abounded at the proper
season, and the shooting of them was one of Washington's favorite
recreations. The river border of his domain, however, was somewhat
subject to invasion. An oysterman once anchored his craft at the
landing-place, and disturbed the quiet of the neighborhood by the
insolent and disorderly conduct of himself and crew. It took a
campaign of three days to expel these invaders from the premises. A
more summary course was pursued with another interloper. This was a
vagabond who infested the creeks and inlets which bordered the estate,
lurking in a canoe among the reeds and bushes, and making great havoc
among the canvas-back ducks. He had been warned off repeatedly, but
without effect. As Washington was one day riding about the estate he
heard the report of a gun from the margin of the river. Spurring in
that direction he dashed through the bushes and came upon the culprit
just as he was pushing his canoe from shore. The latter raised his gun
with a menacing look; but Washington rode into the stream, seized the
painter of the canoe, drew it to shore, sprang from his horse, wrested
the gun from the hands of the astonished delinquent, and inflicted on
him a lesson in "Lynch law" that effectually cured him of all
inclination to trespass again on these forbidden shores.

Occasionally he and Mrs. Washington would pay a visit to Annapolis, at
that time the seat of government of Maryland, and partake of the
gayeties which prevailed during the session of the legislature.
Dinners and balls abounded, and there were occasional attempts at
theatricals. The latter was an amusement for which Washington always
had a relish, though he never had an opportunity of gratifying it
effectually. Neither was he disinclined to mingle in the dance, and we
remember to have heard venerable ladies, who had been belles in his
day, pride themselves on having had him for a partner, though, they
added, he was apt to be a ceremonious and grave one.

In this round of rural occupation, rural amusements and social
intercourse, Washington passed several tranquil years, the halcyon
season of his life. His marriage was unblessed with children; but
those of Mrs. Washington experienced from him parental care and
affection, and the formation of their minds and manners was one of the
dearest objects of his attention. His domestic concerns and social
enjoyments, however, were not permitted to interfere with his public
duties. He was active by nature, and eminently a man of business by
habit. As judge of the county court, and member of the House of
Burgesses, he had numerous calls upon his time and thoughts, and was
often drawn from home; for whatever trust he undertook, he was sure to
fulfil with scrupulous exactness.

About this time we find him engaged, with other men of enterprise, in
a project to drain the great Dismal Swamp, and render it capable of
cultivation. This vast morass was about thirty miles long, and ten
miles wide, and its interior but little known. With his usual zeal and
hardihood he explored it on horseback and on foot. In many parts it
was covered with dark and gloomy woods of cedar, cypress, and hemlock,
or deciduous trees, the branches of which were hung with long,
drooping moss. Other parts were almost inaccessible, from the density
of brakes and thickets, entangled with vines, briers and creeping
plants, and intersected by creeks and standing pools. In the centre of
the morass he came to a great piece of water, six miles long, and
three broad, called Drummond's Pond, but more poetically celebrated as
the Lake of the Dismal Swamp. It was more elevated than any other part
of the swamp, and capable of feeding canals, by which the whole might
be traversed. Having made the circuit of it and noted all its
characteristics, he encamped for the night upon the firm land which
bordered it, and finished his explorations on the following day. In
the ensuing session of the Virginia Legislature, the association in
behalf of which he had acted was chartered under the name of the
Dismal Swamp Company; and to his observations and forecast may be
traced the subsequent improvement and prosperity of that once desolate


Tidings of peace gladdened the colonies in the spring of 1763. The
definite treaty between England and France had been signed at
Fontainbleau. Now, it was trusted, there would be an end to these
horrid ravages that had desolated the interior of the country. The
month of May proved the fallacy of such hopes. In that month the
famous insurrection of the Indian tribes broke out, which, from the
name of the chief who was its prime mover and master-spirit, is
commonly called Pontiac's war. The Delawares and Shawnees, and other
of those emigrant tribes of the Ohio, among whom Washington had
mingled, were foremost in this conspiracy. Some of the chiefs who had
been his allies had now taken up the hatchet against the English. The
plot was deep laid, and conducted with Indian craft and secrecy. At a
concerted time an attack was made upon all the posts from Detroit to
Fort Pitt (late Fort Duquesne). Several of the small stockaded forts,
the places of refuge of woodland neighborhoods, were surprised and
sacked with remorseless butchery. The frontiers of Pennsylvania,
Maryland and Virginia were laid waste; and a considerable time elapsed
before the frontier was restored to tolerable tranquility.

Fortunately, Washington's retirement from the army prevented his being
entangled in this savage war, which raged throughout the regions he
had repeatedly visited, or rather his active spirit had been diverted
into a more peaceful channel, for he was at this time occupied in the
enterprise just noticed, for draining the great Dismal Swamp.

Public events were now taking a tendency which, without any political
aspirations or forethought of his own, was destined gradually to bear
him away from his quiet home and individual pursuits, and launch him
upon a grander and wider sphere of action than any in which he had
hitherto been engaged.

Whatever might be the natural affection of the colonies for the mother
country--and there are abundant evidences to prove that it was
deep-rooted and strong--it had never been properly reciprocated. They
yearned to be considered as children; they were treated by her as
changelings. Her navigation laws had shut their ports against foreign
vessels; obliged them to export their productions only to countries
belonging to the British crown; to import European goods solely from
England, and in English ships; and had subjected the trade between the
colonies to duties. All manufactures, too, in the colonies that might
interfere with those of the mother country had been either totally
prohibited or subjected to intolerable restraints. The acts of
Parliament imposing these prohibitions and restrictions had at various
times produced sore discontent and opposition on the part of the
colonies. There was nothing, however, to which the jealous
sensibilities of the colonies were more alive than to any attempt of
the mother country to draw a revenue from them by taxation. From the
earliest period of their existence they had maintained the principle
that they could only be taxed by a Legislature in which they were

In 1760 there was an attempt in Boston to collect duties on foreign
sugar and molasses imported into the colonies. Writs of assistance
were applied for by the custom-house officers, authorizing them to
break open ships, stores and private dwellings, in quest of articles
that had paid no duty; and to call the assistance of others in the
discharge of their odious task. The merchants opposed the execution of
the writ on constitutional grounds. The question was argued in court,
where James Otis spoke so eloquently in vindication of American rights
that all his hearers went away ready to take arms against writs of
assistance. Another ministerial measure was to instruct the provincial
governors to commission judges. Not as theretofore "during good
behavior," but "during the king's pleasure." New York was the first to
resent this blow at the independence of the judiciary. The lawyers
appealed to the public through the press against an act which
subjected the halls of justice to the prerogative. Their appeals were
felt beyond the bounds of the province, and awakened a general spirit
of resistance.

Thus matters stood at the conclusion of the war. One of the first
measures of ministers, on the return of peace, was to enjoin on all
naval officers stationed on the coasts of the American colonies the
performance, under oath, of the duties of custom-house officers, for
the suppression of smuggling. This fell ruinously upon a clandestine
trade which had long been connived at between the English and Spanish
colonies, profitable to both, but especially to the former, and
beneficial to the mother country, opening a market to her
manufactures. As a measure of retaliation the colonists resolved not
to purchase British fabrics, but to clothe themselves as much as
possible in home manufactures. The demand for British goods in Boston
alone was diminished upwards of 10,000 pounds sterling in the course
of a year.

In 1764 George Grenville, now at the head of government, ventured upon
the policy from which Walpole [his predecessor] had wisely abstained.
Early in March the eventful question was debated, "whether they had a
right to tax America." It was decided in the affirmative. Next
followed a resolution, declaring it proper to charge certain stamp
duties in the colonies and plantations, but no immediate step was
taken to carry it into effect. Mr. Grenville, however, gave notice to
the American agents in London that he should introduce such a measure
on the ensuing session of Parliament. In the meantime Parliament
perpetuated certain duties on sugar and molasses--heretofore subjects
of complaint and opposition--now reduced and modified so as to
discourage smuggling, and thereby to render them more productive.
Duties, also, were imposed on other articles of foreign produce or
manufacture imported into the colonies. To reconcile the latter to
these impositions, it was stated that the revenue thus raised was to
be appropriated to their protection and security; in other words, to
the support of a standing army, intended to be quartered upon them. We
have here briefly stated but a part of what Burke terms an "infinite
variety of paper chains," extending through no less than twenty-nine
acts of Parliament, from 1660 to 1764, by which the colonies had been
held in thraldom.

The New Englanders were the first to take the field against the
project of taxation. They denounced it as a violation of their rights
as freemen; of their chartered rights, by which they were to tax
themselves for their support and defence; of their rights as British
subjects, who ought not to be taxed but by themselves or their
representatives. They sent petitions and remonstrances on the subject
to the king, the lords and the commons, in which they were seconded by
New York and Virginia. All was in vain. In March, 1765, the act was
passed, according to which all instruments in writing were to be
executed on stamped paper, to be purchased from the agents of the
British government. What was more, all offences against the act could
be tried in any royal, marine or admiralty court throughout the
colonies, however distant from the place where the offence had been
committed; thus interfering with that most inestimable right, a trial
by jury.

It was an ominous sign that the first burst of opposition to this act
should take place in Virginia. That colony had hitherto been slow to
accord with the republican spirit of New England. Founded at an
earlier period of the reign of James I., before kingly prerogative and
ecclesiastical supremacy had been made matters of doubt and fierce
dispute, it had grown up in loyal attachment to king, church, and
constitution; was aristocratical in its tastes and habits, and had
been remarked above all the other colonies for its sympathies with the
mother country. Moreover, it had not so many pecuniary interests
involved in these questions as had the people of New England, being an
agricultural rather than a commercial province; but the Virginians are
of a quick and generous spirit, readily aroused on all points of
honorable pride, and they resented the stamp act as an outrage on
their rights.

Washington occupied his seat in the House of Burgesses, when, on the
29th of May, the stamp act became a subject of discussion. Among the
Burgesses sat Patrick Henry, a young lawyer who had recently
distinguished himself by pleading against the exercise of the royal
prerogative in church matters, and who was now for the first time a
member of the House. Rising in his place, he introduced his celebrated
resolutions, declaring that the General Assembly of Virginia had the
exclusive right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the
inhabitants, and that whoever maintained the contrary should be deemed
an enemy to the colony. The speaker, Mr. Robinson, objected to the
resolutions, as inflammatory. Henry vindicated them, as justified by
the nature of the case; went into an able and constitutional
discussion of colonial rights, and an eloquent exposition of the
manner in which they had been assailed.

The resolutions were modified, to accommodate them to the scruples of
the speaker and some of the members, but their spirit was retained.
The Lieutenant-governor (Fauquier), startled by this patriotic
outbreak, dissolved the Assembly, and issued writs for a new election;
but the clarion had sounded.

Washington returned to Mount Vernon full of anxious thoughts inspired
by the political events of the day, and the legislative scene which he
witnessed. His recent letters had spoken of the state of peaceful
tranquillity in which he was living; those now written from his rural
home show that he fully participated in the popular feeling, and that
while he had a presentiment of an arduous struggle, his patriotic mind
was revolving means of coping with it. In the meantime, from his quiet
abode at Mount Vernon, he seemed to hear the patriotic voice of
Patrick Henry, which had startled the House of Burgesses, echoing
throughout the land, and rousing one legislative body after another to
follow the example of that of Virginia. At the instigation of the
General Court or Assembly of Massachusetts, a Congress was held in New
York in October, composed of delegates from Massachusetts, Rhode
Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware,
Maryland, and South Carolina. In this they denounced the acts of
Parliament imposing taxes on them without their consent, and extending
the jurisdiction of the courts of admiralty, as violations of their
rights and liberties as natural born subjects of Great Britain, and
prepared an address to the king, and a petition to both Houses of
Parliament, praying for redress. Similar petitions were forwarded to
England by the colonies not represented in the Congress.

The very preparations for enforcing the stamp act called forth popular
tumults in various places. In Boston the stamp distributor was hanged
in effigy; his windows were broken; a house intended for a stamp
office was pulled down, and the effigy burnt in a bonfire made of the
fragments. In Virginia, Mr. George Mercer had been appointed
distributor of stamps, but on his arrival at Williamsburg publicly
declined officiating. It was a fresh triumph to the popular cause. The
bells were rung for joy; the town was illuminated, and Mercer was
hailed with acclamations of the people. The 1st of November, the day
when the act was to go into operation, was ushered in with portentous
solemnities. There was great tolling of bells and burning of effigies
in the New England colonies. At Boston the ships displayed their
colors but half-mast high. Many shops were shut; funeral knells
resounded from the steeples, and there was a grand auto-da-fe, in
which the promoters of the act were paraded, and suffered martyrdom in
effigy. At New York the printed act was carried about the streets on a
pole, surmounted by a death's head, with a scroll bearing the
inscription, "The folly of England and ruin of America."

These are specimens of the marks of popular reprobation with which the
stamp act was universally nullified. No one would venture to carry it
into execution. In fact no stamped paper was to be seen; all had been
either destroyed or concealed. All transactions which required stamps
to give them validity were suspended, or were executed by private
compact. The courts of justice were closed, until at length some
conducted their business without stamps. Union was becoming the
watch-word. The merchants of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and such
other colonies as had ventured publicly to oppose the stamp act,
agreed to import no more British manufactures after the 1st of January
unless it should be repealed. So passed away the year 1765.

The dismissal of Mr. Grenville from the cabinet gave a temporary
change to public affairs. The stamp act was repealed on the 18th of
March, 1766, to the great joy of the sincere friends of both
countries, still, there was a fatal clause in the repeal, which
declared that the king, with the consent of Parliament, had power and
authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity
to "bind the colonies, and people of America, in all cases
whatsoever." As the people of America were contending for principles,
not mere pecuniary interests, this reserved power of the crown and
Parliament left the dispute still open, and chilled the feeling of
gratitude which the repeal might otherwise have inspired. Further
aliment for public discontent was furnished by other acts of
Parliament. One imposed duties on glass, pasteboard, white and red
lead, painters' colors, and tea; the duties to be collected on the
arrival of the articles in the colonies; another empowered naval
officers to enforce the acts of trade and navigation. Another wounded
to the quick the pride and sensibilities of New York. The mutiny act
had recently been extended to America, with an additional clause,
requiring the provincial Assemblies to provide the troops sent out
with quarters, and to furnish them with fire, beds, candles, and other
necessaries, at the expense of the colonies. The Governor and Assembly
of New York refused to comply with this requisition as to stationary
forces, insisting that it applied only to troops on a march. An act of
Parliament now suspended the powers of the governor and Assembly until
they should comply.

Boston continued to be the focus of what the ministerialists termed
sedition. The General Court of Massachusetts, not content with
petitioning the king for relief against the recent measures of
Parliament, especially those imposing taxes as a means of revenue,
drew up a circular, calling on the other colonial Legislatures to join
with them in suitable efforts to obtain redress. In the ensuing
session, Governor Sir Francis Bernard called upon them to rescind the
resolution on which the circular was founded,--they refused to comply,
and the General Court was consequently dissolved. The governors of
other colonies required of their Legislatures an assurance that they
would not reply to the Massachusetts circular--these Legislatures
likewise refused compliance, and were dissolved. All this added to the
growing excitement.

Nothing, however, produced a more powerful effect upon the public
sensibilities throughout the country than certain military
demonstrations at Boston. [In consequence of repeated collisions
between the people of that place and the commissioners of customs, two
regiments of troops were sent from Halifax to overawe the disaffected
citizens. It was resolved in a town meeting that the king had no right
to send troops thither without the consent of the Assembly. The
selectmen accordingly refused to find quarters for the soldiers, and
while some encamped on the common, others were quartered, to the great
indignation of the public, in Faneuil Hall.]

Throughout these public agitations, Washington endeavored to preserve
his equanimity. Still he was too true a patriot not to sympathize in
the struggle for colonial rights which now agitated the whole country,
and we find him gradually carried more and more into the current of
political affairs. A letter written on the 5th of April, 1769, to his
friend, George Mason, shows the important stand he was disposed to
take. In the previous year the merchants and traders of Boston, Salem,
Connecticut and New York, had agreed to suspend for a time the
importation of all articles subject to taxation. Similar resolutions
had recently been adopted by the merchants of Philadelphia.
Washington's letter is emphatic in support of the measure. "At a
time," writes he, "when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be
satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom,
it seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the
stroke, and maintain the liberty which we have derived from our

Mason, in his reply, concurred with him in opinion. "Our all is at
stake," said he, "and the little conveniences and comforts of life,
when set in competition with our liberty, ought to be rejected, not
with reluctance but with pleasure." The result of the correspondence
was the draft by the latter of a plan of association, the members of
which were to pledge themselves not to import or use any articles of
British merchandise or manufacture subject to duty. This paper
Washington was to submit to the consideration of the House of
Burgesses, at the approaching session in the month of May.

The Legislature of Virginia opened on this occasion with a brilliant
pageant. While military force was arrayed to overawe the republican
Puritans of the east, it was thought to dazzle the aristocratical
descendants of the cavaliers by the reflex of regal splendor. Lord
Botetourt, one of the king's lords of the bed-chamber, had recently
come out as governor of the province. Junius described him as "a
cringing, bowing, fawning, sword-bearing courtier." The words of
political satirists, however, are always to be taken with great
distrust. However his lordship may have bowed in presence of royalty,
he elsewhere conducted himself with dignity, and won general favor by
his endearing manners.

He had come out, however, with a wrong idea of the Americans. They had
been represented to him as factious, immoral, and prone to sedition;
but vain and luxurious, and easily captivated by parade and splendor.
The latter foibles were aimed at in his appointment and fitting out.
It was supposed that his titled rank would have its effect. Then to
prepare him for occasions of ceremony, a coach of state was presented
to him by the king. His opening of the session was in the style of the
royal opening of Parliament. He proceeded in due parade from his
dwelling to the capitol, in his state coach, drawn by six milk-white
horses. Having delivered his speech according to royal form, he
returned home with the same pomp and circumstance.

The time had gone by, however, for such display to have the
anticipated effect. The Virginian legislators penetrated the intention
of this pompous ceremonial, and regarded it with a depreciating smile.
Sterner matters occupied their thoughts; they had come prepared to
battle for their rights, and their proceedings soon showed Lord
Botetourt how much he had mistaken them. Spirited resolutions were
passed, denouncing the recent act of Parliament imposing taxes; the
power to do which, on the inhabitants of this colony, "was legally and
constitutionally vested in the House of Burgesses, with consent of the
council and of the king, or of his governor, for the time being."
Copies of these resolutions were ordered to be forwarded by the
speaker to the Legislatures of the other colonies, with a request for
their concurrence.

Other proceedings of the Burgesses showed their sympathy with their
fellow-patriots of New England. A joint address of both Houses of
Parliament had recently been made to the king, assuring him of their
support in any further measures for the due execution of the laws in
Massachusetts, and beseeching him that all persons charged with
treason, or misprision of treason, committed within that colony since
the 30th of December, 1767, might be sent to Great Britain for trial.
As Massachusetts had no General Assembly at this time, having been
dissolved by government, the Legislature of Virginia generously took
up the cause. An address to the king was resolved on, stating, that
all trials for treason, or misprision of treason, or for any crime
whatever committed by any person residing in a colony, ought to be in
and before his majesty's courts within said colony; and beseeching the
king to avert from his royal subjects those dangers and miseries which
would ensue from seizing and carrying beyond sea any person residing
in America suspected of any crime whatever, thereby depriving them of
the inestimable privilege of being tried by a jury from the vicinage,
as well as the liberty of producing witnesses on such trial.

Lord Botetourt was astonished and dismayed when he heard of these
high-toned proceedings. Repairing to the capitol on the following day
at noon, he summoned the speaker and members to the council chamber,
and addressed them in the following words: "Mr. Speaker, and gentlemen
of the House of Burgesses, I have heard of your resolves, and augur
ill of their effects. You have made it my duty to dissolve you, and
you are dissolved accordingly."

The spirit conjured up by late decrees of Parliament was not so easily
allayed. The Burgesses adjourned to a private house. Peyton Randolph,
their late speaker, was elected moderator. Washington now brought
forward a draft of the articles of association, concerted between him
and George Mason. They formed the groundwork of an instrument signed
by all present, pledging themselves neither to import, nor use any
goods, merchandise, or manufactures taxed by Parliament to raise a
revenue in America. This instrument was sent throughout the country
for signature, and the scheme of non-importation, hitherto confined to
a few northern colonies, was soon universally adopted.

The popular ferment in Virginia was gradually allayed by the amiable
and conciliatory conduct of Lord Botetourt, His lordship soon became
aware of the erroneous notions with which he had entered upon office.
His semi-royal equipage and state were laid aside. He examined into
public grievances; became a strenuous advocate for the repeal of
taxes; and, authorized by his despatches from the ministry, assured
the public that such repeal would speedily take place. His assurance
was received with implicit faith, and for a while Virginia was

[In the month of May the General Court of Massachusetts, hitherto
prorogued met according to charter. A committee immediately waited on
the governor declaring that it was impossible to do business with
dignity and freedom while the town was invested by sea and land, and a
military guard was stationed at the state-house; and they requested
the governor as his] majesty's representative, to have such forces
removed out of the port and gates of the city during the session of
the Assembly. The governor replied that he had no authority over
either the ships or troops. The court persisted in refusing to
transact business while so circumstanced, and the governor was obliged
to transfer the session to Cambridge. There he addressed a message to
that body in July, requiring funds for the payment of the troops, and
quarters for their accommodation. The Assembly, after ample discussion
of past grievances, resolved, that the establishment of a standing
army in the colony in a time of peace was an invasion of natural
rights; that a standing army was not known as a part of the British
constitution, and that the sending an armed force to aid the civil
authority was unprecedented, and highly dangerous to the people.

After waiting some days without receiving an answer to his message,
the governor sent to know whether the Assembly would, or would not,
make provision for the troops. In their reply, they followed the
example of the Legislature of New York, by declining to furnish funds
for the purposes specified, "being incompatible with their own honor
and interest, and their duty to their constituents." They were in
consequence again prorogued, to meet in Boston on the 10th of January.

So stood affairs in Massachusetts. In the meantime, the
non-importation associations, being generally observed throughout the
colonies, produced the effect on British commerce which Washington had
anticipated, and Parliament was incessantly importuned by petitions
from British merchants imploring its intervention to save them from

Early in 1770, an important change took place in the British cabinet.
The Duke of Grafton suddenly resigned, and the reins of government
passed into the hands of Lord North. He was a man of limited capacity,
but a favorite of the king, and subservient to his narrow colonial
policy. His administration, so eventful to America, commenced with an
error. In the month of March an act was passed, revoking all the
duties laid in 1767, _excepting that on tea_. This single tax was
continued, as he observed, "to maintain the parliamentary right of
taxation,"--the very right which was the grand object of contest. Here
was the stumbling-block at the threshold of Lord North's
administration. In vain the members of the opposition urged that this
single exception, while it would produce no revenue, would keep alive
the whole cause of contention; that so long as a single external duty
was enforced, the colonies would consider their rights invaded, and
would remain unappeased. Lord North was not to be convinced. On the
very day in which this ominous bill was passed in Parliament, a
sinister occurrence took place in Boston. Some of the young men of the
place insulted the military while under arms; the latter resented it;
the young men, after a scuffle, were put to flight, and pursued. The
alarm bells rang, a mob assembled; the custom-house was threatened;
the troops, in protecting it, were assailed with clubs and stones, and
obliged to use their fire-arms before the tumult could be quelled.
Four of the populace were killed, and several wounded. The troops were
now removed from the town, which remained in the highest state of
exasperation; and this untoward occurrence received the opprobrious
and somewhat extravagant name of "the Boston massacre."

In Virginia the public discontents, which had been allayed by the
conciliatory conduct of Lord Botetourt, and by his assurances, made on
the strength of letters received from the ministry, that the
grievances complained of would be speedily redressed, now broke out
with more violence than ever. The Virginians spurned the mock-remedy
which left the real cause of complaint untouched. His lordship also
felt deeply wounded by the disingenuousness of ministers which had led
him into such a predicament, and wrote home demanding his discharge.
Before it arrived, an attack of bilious fever, acting upon a delicate
and sensitive frame, enfeebled by anxiety and chagrin, laid him in his
grave. He left behind him a name endeared to the Virginians by his
amiable manners, his liberal patronage of the arts, and, above all, by
his zealous intercession for their rights.


In the midst of these popular turmoils, Washington was induced, by
public as well as private considerations, to make another expedition
to the Ohio. He was one of the Virginia Board of Commissioners,
appointed at the close of the late war to settle the military accounts
of the colony. Among the claims which came before the board were those
of the officers and soldiers who had engaged to serve until peace,
under the proclamation of Governor Dinwiddie, holding forth a bounty
of two hundred thousand acres of land, to be apportioned among them
according to rank. Those claims were yet unsatisfied. Washington
became the champion of those claims, and an opportunity now presented
itself for their liquidation. The Six Nations, by a treaty in 1768,
had ceded to the British crown, in consideration of a sum of money,
all the lands possessed by them south of the Ohio. Land offices would
soon be opened for the sale of them. Washington determined at once to
visit the lands thus ceded; affix his mark on such tracts as he should
select, and apply for a grant from government in behalf of the
"soldiers' claim."

Washington had for a companion in this expedition his friend and
neighbor, Dr. Craik. They set out on the 5th of October with three
negro attendants, two belonging to Washington, and one to the doctor.
The whole party was mounted, and there was a led horse for the
baggage. After twelve days' travelling they arrived at Fort Pitt (late
Fort Duquesne). It was garrisoned by two companies of royal Irish,
commanded by a Captain Edmonson. A hamlet of about twenty log-houses,
inhabited by Indian traders, had sprung up within three hundred yards
of the fort, and was called "the town." It was the embryo city of
Pittsburg, now so populous. At one of the houses, a tolerable frontier
inn, they took up their quarters; but during their brief sojourn they
were entertained with great hospitality at the fort. Here at dinner
Washington met his old acquaintance, George Croghan, who had figured
in so many capacities and experienced so many vicissitudes on the
frontier. He was now Colonel Croghan, deputy-agent to Sir William

On the day following the repast at the fort, Washington visited
Croghan at his abode on the Alleghany River, where he found several of
the chiefs of the Six Nations assembled. One of them, the White Mingo
by name, made him a speech, accompanied, as usual, by a belt of

At Pittsburg the travellers left their horses, and embarked in a large
canoe, to make a voyage down the Ohio as far as the Great Kanawha.
Colonel Croghan engaged two Indians for their service, and an
interpreter named John Nicholson. The colonel and some of the officers
of the garrison accompanied them as far as Logstown, the scene of
Washington's early diplomacy, and his first interview with the
half-king. Here they breakfasted together; after which they separated,
the colonel and his companions cheering the voyagers from the shore,
as the canoe was borne off by the current of the beautiful Ohio.

Washington's propensities as a sportsman had here full play. Deer were
continually to be seen coming down to the water's edge to drink, or
browsing along the shore; there were innumerable flocks of wild
turkeys, and streaming flights of ducks and geese; so that as the
voyagers floated along, they were enabled to load their canoe with
game. At night they encamped on the river bank, lit their fire and
made a sumptuous hunter's repast. About seventy-five miles below
Pittsburg the voyagers landed at a Mingo town, which they found in a
stir of warlike preparation--sixty of the warriors being about to set
off on a foray into the Cherokee country against the Catawbas.

On the 24th, about three o'clock in the afternoon, they arrived at
Captema Creek, and two days more of voyaging brought them to an Indian
hunting camp, near the mouth of the Muskingum. Here it was necessary
to land and make a ceremonious visit, for the chief of the hunting
party was Kiashuta, a Seneca sachem, the head of the river tribes. He
was noted to have been among the first to raise the hatchet in
Pontiac's conspiracy, and almost equally vindictive with that potent
warrior. As Washington approached the chieftain, he recognized him for
one of the Indians who had accompanied him on his mission to the
French in 1753. Kiashuta retained a perfect recollection of the
youthful ambassador, though seventeen years had matured him into
thoughtful manhood. With hunter's hospitality he gave him a quarter of
a fine buffalo just slain, but insisted that they should encamp
together for the night.

At the mouth of the Great Kanawha the voyagers encamped for a day or
two to examine the lands in the neighborhood, and Washington set up
his mark upon such as he intended to claim on behalf of the soldiers'
grant. Here Washington was visited by an old sachem, who approached
him with great reverence, at the head of several of his tribe, and
addressed him through Nicholson, the interpreter. He had heard, he
said, of his being in that part of the country, and had come from a
great distance to see him. On further discourse, the sachem made known
that he was one of the warriors in the service of the French, who lay
in ambush on the banks of the Monongahela and wrought such havoc in
Braddock's army. He declared that he and his young men had singled out
Washington, as he made himself conspicuous riding about the field of
battle with the general's orders, and had fired at him repeatedly, but
without success; whence they had concluded that he was under the
protection of the Great Spirit, had a charmed life, and could not be
slain in battle. At the Great Kanawha Washington's expedition down the
Ohio terminated; having visited all the points he wished to examine.
His return to Fort Pitt, and thence homeward, affords no incident
worthy of note.

The discontents of Virginia, which had been partially soothed by the
amiable administration of Lord Botetourt, were irritated anew under
his successor, the Earl of Dunmore. This nobleman had for a short time
held the government of New York. When appointed to that of Virginia,
he lingered for several months at his former post. In the meantime he
sent his military secretary, Captain Foy, to attend to the despatch of
business until his arrival; awarding to him a salary and fees to be
paid by the colony. The pride of the Virginians was piqued at his
lingering at New York, as if he preferred its gayety and luxury to the
comparative quiet and simplicity of Williamsburg. The first measure of
the Assembly, at its opening, was to demand by what right he had
awarded a salary and fees to his secretary without consulting it; and
to question whether it was authorized by the crown. His lordship had
the good policy to rescind the unauthorized act, and in so doing
mitigated the ire of the Assembly: but he lost no time in proroguing a
body which, from various symptoms, appeared to be too independent, and
disposed to be untractable.

He continued to prorogue it from time to time, seeking in the interim
to conciliate the Virginians, and soothe their irritated pride. At
length, after repeated prorogations he was compelled by circumstances
to convene it on the 1st of March, 1773. Washington was prompt in his
attendance on the occasion, and foremost among the patriotic members
who eagerly availed themselves of this long wished for opportunity to
legislate upon the general affairs of the colonies. One of their most
important measures was the appointment of a committee of eleven
persons, "whose business it should be to obtain the most clear and
authentic intelligence of all such acts and resolutions of the British
Parliament, or proceedings of administration, as may relate to or
affect the British colonies, and to maintain with their sister
colonies a correspondence and communication." The plan thus proposed
by their "noble, patriotic sister colony of Virginia" was promptly
adopted by the people of Massachusetts, and soon met with general
concurrence. These corresponding committees, in effect, became the
executive power of the patriot party, producing the happiest concert
of design and action throughout the colonies.

Notwithstanding the decided part taken by Washington in the popular
movement, very friendly relations existed between him and Lord
Dunmore. The latter appreciated his character, and sought to avail
himself of his experience in the affairs of the province. It was even
concerted that Washington should accompany his lordship on an
extensive tour, which the latter intended to make in the course of the
summer along the western frontier. A melancholy circumstance occurred
to defeat this arrangement.

We have spoken of Washington's paternal conduct towards the two
children of Mrs. Washington. The daughter, Miss Custis had long been
an object of extreme solicitude. She was of a fragile constitution,
and for some time past had been in very declining health. Early in the
present summer, symptoms indicated a rapid change for the worse.
Washington was absent from home at the time. On his return to Mount
Vernon he found her in the last stage of consumption. Though not a man
given to bursts of sensibility, he is said on the present occasion to
have evinced the deepest affliction; kneeling by her bedside, and
pouring out earnest prayers for her recovery. She expired on the 19th
of June, in the seventeenth year of her age. This, of course put an
end to Washington's intention of accompanying Lord Dunmore to the
frontier: he remained at home to console Mrs. Washington in her
affliction--furnishing his lordship, however, with travelling hints
and directions, and recommending proper guides.

The general covenant throughout the colonies against the use of taxed
tea had operated disastrously against the interests of the East India
Company, and produced an immense accumulation of the proscribed
article in their warehouses. To remedy this Lord North brought in a
bill (1773), by which the company were allowed to export their teas
from England to any part whatever, without paying export duty. This,
by enabling them to offer their teas at a low price in the colonies
would, he supposed, tempt the Americans to purchase large quantities,
thus relieving the company, and at the same time benefiting the
revenue by the impost duty. Confiding in the wisdom of this policy,
the company disgorged their warehouses, freighted several ships with
tea, and sent them to various parts of the colonies. This brought
matters to a crisis. One sentiment, one determination, pervaded the
whole continent. Taxation was to receive its definitive blow. Whoever
submitted to it was an enemy to his country. From New York and
Philadelphia the ships were sent back, unladen, to London. In
Charleston the tea was unloaded, and stored away in cellars and other
places, where it perished. At Boston the action was still more
decisive. The ships anchored in the harbor. Some small parcels of tea
were brought on shore, but the sale of them was prohibited.

To settle the matter completely, and prove that on a point of
principle they were not to be trifled with, a number of inhabitants,
disguised as Indians, boarded the ships in the night (18th December),
broke open all the chests of tea, and emptied the contents into the
sea. The general opposition of the colonies to the principle of
taxation had given great annoyance to government, but this individual
act concentrated all its wrath upon Boston. A bill was forthwith
passed in Parliament (commonly called the Boston port bill), by which
all lading and unlading of goods, wares, and merchandise, were to
cease in that town and harbor on and after the 4th of June, and the
officers of the customs to be transferred to Salem.

Another law, passed soon after, altered the charter of the province,
decreeing that all counsellors, judges, and magistrates, should be
appointed by the crown, and hold office during the royal pleasure.
This was followed by a third, intended for the suppression of riots;
and providing that any person indicted for murder, or other capital
offence, committed in aiding the magistracy, might be sent by the
governor to some other colony, or to Great Britain, for trial.

Such was the bolt of Parliamentary wrath fulminated against the
devoted town of Boston. Before it fell there was a session in May of
the Virginia House of Burgesses. The social position of Lord Dunmore
had been strengthened in the province by the arrival of his lady, and
a numerous family of sons and daughters. The House of Burgesses was
opened in form, and one of its first measures was an address of
congratulation to the governor on the arrival of his lady. It was
followed up by an agreement among the members to give her ladyship a
splendid ball, on the 27th of the month.

All things were going on smoothly and smilingly, when a letter,
received through the corresponding committee, brought intelligence of
the vindictive measure of Parliament, by which the port of Boston was
to be closed on the approaching 1st of June. The letter was read in
the House of Burgesses, and produced a general burst of indignation.
All other business was thrown aside, and this became the sole subject
of discussion. A protest against this and other recent acts of
Parliament was entered upon the journal of the House, and a resolution
was adopted, on the 24th of May, setting apart the 1st of June as a
day of fasting, prayer, and humiliation. On the following morning the
Burgesses were summoned to attend Lord Dunmore in the council chamber,
where he made them the following laconic speech: "Mr. Speaker, and
Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses: I have in my hand a paper,
published by order of your House, conceived in such terms as reflect
highly upon his majesty, and the Parliament of Great Britain, which
makes it necessary for me to dissolve you, and you are dissolved

As on a former occasion, the Assembly, though dissolved was not
dispersed. The members adjourned to the long room of the old Raleigh
tavern, and passed resolutions denouncing the Boston port bill as a
most dangerous attempt to destroy the constitutional liberty and
rights of all North America; recommending their countrymen to desist
from the use, not merely of tea, but of all kinds of East Indian
commodities; pronouncing an attack on one of the colonies, to enforce
arbitrary taxes, an attack on all; and ordering the committee of
correspondence to communicate with the other corresponding committees
on the expediency of appointing deputies from the several colonies of
British America to meet annually in GENERAL CONGRESS, at such place as
might be deemed expedient, to deliberate on such measures as the
united interests of the colonies might require.

This was the first recommendation of a General Congress by any public
assembly, though it had been previously proposed in town meetings at
New York and Boston. A resolution to the same effect was passed in the
Assembly of Massachusetts before it was aware of the proceedings of
the Virginia Legislature. The measure recommended met with prompt and
general concurrence throughout the colonies, and the fifth day of
September next ensuing was fixed upon for the meeting of the first
Congress, which was to be held at Philadelphia.

On the 29th, letters arrived from Boston giving the proceedings of a
town meeting, recommending that a general league should be formed
throughout the colonies suspending all trade with Great Britain. But
twenty-five members of the late House of Burgesses, including
Washington, were at that time remaining in Williamsburg. They held a
meeting on the following day, at which Peyton Randolph presided as
moderator. After some discussion it was determined to issue a printed
circular, bearing their signatures, and calling a meeting of all the
members of the late House of Burgesses, on the 1st of August, to take
into consideration this measure of a general league. The circular
recommended them, also, to collect, in the meantime, the sense of
their respective counties.

In the meantime the Boston port bill had been carried into effect. On
the 1st of June the harbor of Boston was closed at noon, and all
business ceased. The two other parliamentary acts altering the charter
of Massachusetts were to be enforced. No public meetings, excepting
the annual town meetings in March and May, were to be held without
permission of the governor.

General Thomas Gage had recently been appointed to the military
command of Massachusetts, and the carrying out of these offensive
acts. As lieutenant-colonel, he had led the advance guard on the field
of Braddock's defeat. Fortune had since gone well with him. Rising in
the service, he had been governor of Montreal, and had succeeded
Amherst in the command of the British forces on this continent. He was
linked to the country also by domestic ties, having married into one
of the most respectable families of New Jersey. In the various
situations in which he had hitherto been placed he had won esteem, and
rendered himself popular. But with all his experience in America he
had formed a most erroneous opinion of the character of the people.
"The Americans," said he to the king, "will be lions only as long as
the English are lambs;" and he engaged, with five regiments, to keep
Boston quiet!

The manner in which his attempts to enforce the recent acts of
Parliament were resented, showed how egregiously he was in error. At
the suggestion of the Assembly, a paper was circulated through the
province by the committee of correspondence, entitled "a solemn league
and covenant," the subscribers to which bound themselves to break off
all intercourse with Great Britain from the 1st of August, until the
colony should be restored to the enjoyment of its chartered rights;
and to renounce all dealings with those who should refuse to enter
into this compact.

The very title of league and covenant had an ominous sound, and
startled General Gage. He issued a proclamation, denouncing it as
illegal and traitorous. Furthermore, he encamped a force of infantry
and artillery on Boston Common, as if prepared to enact the lion. An
alarm spread through the adjacent country. "Boston is to be blockaded!
Boston is to be reduced to obedience by force or famine!" The spirit
of the yeomanry was aroused. They sent in word to the inhabitants
promising to come to their aid if necessary; and urging them to stand
fast to the faith.


Shortly after Washington's return to Mount Vernon, in the latter part
of June, he presided as moderator at a meeting of the inhabitants of
Fairfax County, wherein, after the recent acts of Parliament had been
discussed, a committee was appointed, with himself as chairman, to
draw up resolutions expressive of the sentiments of the present
meeting, and to report the same at a general meeting of the county, to
be held in the court-house on the 18th of July.

The committee met according to appointment, with Washington as
chairman. The resolutions framed at the meeting insisted, as usual, on
the right of self-government, and the principle that taxation and
representation were in their nature inseparable: that the various acts
of Parliament for raising revenue, taking away trials by jury,
ordering that persons might be tried in a different country from that
in which the cause of accusation originated, closing the port of
Boston, abrogating the charter of Massachusetts Bay, etc., etc., were
all part of a premeditated design and system to introduce arbitrary
government into the colonies; that the sudden and repeated
dissolutions of Assemblies whenever they presumed to examine the
illegality of ministerial mandates, or deliberated on the violated
rights of their constituents, were part of the same system, and
calculated and intended to drive the people of the colonies to a state
of desperation, and to dissolve the compact by which their ancestors
bound themselves and their posterity to remain dependent on the
British crown. The resolutions, furthermore, recommended the most
perfect union and co-operation among the colonies; solemn covenants
with respect to non-importation and non-intercourse, and a
renunciation of all dealings with any colony, town, or province that
should refuse to agree to the plan adopted by the General Congress.
They also recommended a dutiful petition and remonstrance from the
Congress to the king, asserting their constitutional rights and
privileges; lamenting the necessity of entering into measures that
might be displeasing; declaring their attachment to his person,
family, and government, and their desire to continue in dependence
upon Great Britain; beseeching him not to reduce his faithful subjects
of America to desperation, and to reflect that _from our sovereign
there can be but one appeal_.

The resolutions reported by the committee were adopted, and Washington
was chosen a delegate to represent the county at the General
Convention of the province, to be held at Williamsburg on the 1st of
August. [On the date appointed the convention assembled.] Washington
appeared on behalf of Fairfax County, and presented the resolutions,
already cited, as the sense of his constituents. He is said, by one
who was present, to have spoken in support of them in a strain of
uncommon eloquence. The Convention was six days in session.
Resolutions, in the same spirit with those passed in Fairfax County,
were adopted, and Peyton Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, George
Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, and
Edmund Pendleton, were appointed delegates, to represent the people of
Virginia in the General Congress.

General Gage from the time of taking command at Boston, had been
perplexed how to manage its inhabitants. Had they been hot-headed,
impulsive, and prone to paroxysm, his task would have been
comparatively easy; but it was the cool, shrewd common sense, by which
all their movements were regulated, that confounded him. There was no
uproar, no riots; everything was awfully systematic and according to
rule. Town meetings were held, in which public rights and public
measures were eloquently discussed by John Adams, Josiah Quincy, and
other eminent men. Over these meetings Samuel Adams presided as
moderator; a man clear in judgment, calm in conduct, inflexible in
resolution, deeply grounded in civil and political history, and
infallible on all points of constitutional law.

Gage was at a loss how to act. It would not do to disperse these
assemblages by force of arms; for the people who composed them mingled
the soldier with the polemic; and like their prototypes, the
covenanters of yore, if prone to argue, were as ready to fight. So the
meetings continued to be held pertinaciously. Faneuil Hall was at
times unable to hold them, and they swarmed from that revolutionary
hive into old South Church. The liberty tree became a rallying place
for any popular movement, and a flag hoisted on it was saluted by all
processions as the emblem of the popular cause.

When the time approached for the meeting of the General Congress at
Philadelphia, Washington was joined at Mount Vernon by Patrick Henry
and Edmund Pendleton, and they performed the journey together on
horseback. It was a noble companionship. Henry was then in the
youthful vigor and elasticity of his bounding genius, ardent, acute,
fanciful, eloquent; Pendleton, schooled in public life, a veteran in
council, with native force of intellect, and habits of deep
reflection; Washington, in the meridian of his days, mature in wisdom,
comprehensive in mind, sagacious in foresight. Such were the apostles
of liberty, repairing on their august pilgrimage to Philadelphia from
all parts of the land, to lay the foundations of a mighty empire.

Congress assembled on Monday, the 5th of September, in a large room in
Carpenter's Hall. There were fifty-one delegates, representing all the
colonies excepting Georgia. The meeting has been described as "awfully
solemn." The most eminent men of the various colonies were now for the
first time brought together; they were known to each other by fame,
but were, personally, strangers. The object which had called them
together was of incalculable magnitude. The liberties of no less than
three millions of people, with that of all their posterity, were
staked on the wisdom and energy of their councils.

There being an inequality in the number of delegates from the
different colonies, a question arose as to the mode of voting; whether
by colonies, by the poll, or by interests. After some debate, it was
determined that each colony should have but one vote, whatever might
be the number of its delegates. The deliberations of the House were to
be with closed doors, and nothing but the resolves promulgated, unless
by order of the majority. To give proper dignity and solemnity to the
proceedings, it was moved on the following day that each morning the
session should be opened by prayer. In the course of the day, a rumor
reached Philadelphia that Boston had been cannonaded by the British.
It produced a strong sensation; and when Congress met on the following
morning (7th), the effect was visible in every countenance. The
delegates from the east were greeted with a warmer grasp of the hand
by their associates from the south. [The rumor proved to be

Owing to closed doors, and the want of reporters, no record exists of
the discussions and speeches made in the first Congress. The first
public measure was a resolution declaratory of their feelings with
regard to the recent acts of Parliament, violating the rights of the
people of Massachusetts, and of their determination to combine in
resisting any force that might attempt to carry those acts into

A committee of two from each province reported a series of
resolutions, which were adopted and promulgated by Congress, as a
"declaration of colonial rights." In this were enumerated their
natural rights to the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property; and
their rights as British subjects. Among the latter was participation
in legislative councils. This they could not exercise through
representatives in Parliament; they claimed, therefore, the power of
legislating in their provincial assemblies; consenting, however, to
such acts of Parliament as might be essential to the regulation of
trade; but excluding all taxation, internal or external, for raising
revenue in America. The common law of England was claimed as a
birthright, including the right of trial by a jury of the vicinage; of
holding public meetings to consider grievances; and of petitioning the
king. The benefits of all such statutes as existed at the time of the
colonization were likewise claimed; together with the immunities and
privileges granted by royal charters, or secured by provincial laws.
The maintenance of a standing army in any colony in time of peace,
without the consent of its legislature, was pronounced contrary to
law. The exercise of the legislative power in the colonies by a
council appointed during pleasure by the crown, was declared to be
unconstitutional, and destructive to the freedom of American
legislation. Then followed a specification of the acts of Parliament,
passed during the reign of George III., infringing and violating these
rights. These were--the sugar act; the stamp act; the two acts for
quartering troops; the tea act; the act suspending the New York
legislature; the two acts for the trial in Great Britain of offences
committed in America; the Boston port bill; the act for regulating the
government of Massachusetts, and the Quebec act.

"To these grievous acts and measures," it was added, "Americans cannot
submit; but in hopes their fellow subjects in Great Britain will, on a
revision of them, restore us to that state in which both countries
found happiness and prosperity, we have for the present, only resolved
to pursue the following peaceable measures: 1st. To enter into a
non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement, or
association. 2d. To prepare an address to the people of Great Britain,
and a memorial to the inhabitants of British America. 3d. To prepare a
loyal address to his majesty." The above-mentioned association was
accordingly formed, and committees were to be appointed in every
county, city and town to maintain it vigilantly and strictly.

Masterly state papers were issued by Congress in conformity to the
resolutions: viz, a petition to the king, drafted by Mr. Dickinson, of
Philadelphia; an address to the people of Canada by the same hand,
inviting them to join the league of the colonies; another to the
people of Great Britain, drafted by John Jay, of New York; and a
memorial to the inhabitants of the British colonies by Richard Henry
Lee, of Virginia.

The Congress remained in session fifty-one days. Every subject,
according to Adams, was discussed "with a moderation, an acuteness,
and a minuteness equal to that of Queen Elizabeth's privy council."
The papers issued by it have deservedly been pronounced masterpieces
of practical talent and political wisdom. From the secrecy that
enveloped its discussions, we are ignorant of the part taken by
Washington in the debates; the similarity of the resolutions, however,
in spirit and substance to those of the Fairfax County meeting, in
which he presided, and the coincidence of the measures adopted with
those therein recommended, show that he had a powerful agency in the
whole proceedings of this eventful assembly. Patrick Henry, being
asked, on his return home, whom he considered the greatest man in
Congress, replied: "If you speak of eloquence, Mr. Rutledge, of South
Carolina, is by far the greatest orator; but if you speak of solid
information and sound judgment, Colonel Washington is unquestionably
the greatest man on that floor."

On the breaking up of Congress, Washington hastened back to Mount
Vernon, where his presence was more than usually important to the
happiness of Mrs. Washington, from the loneliness caused by the recent
death of her daughter and the absence of her son. The cheerfulness of
the neighborhood had been diminished of late by the departure of
George William Fairfax for England, to take possession of estates
which had devolved to him in that kingdom. His estate of Belvoir, so
closely allied with that of Mount Vernon by family ties and reciprocal
hospitality, was left in charge of a steward, or overseer. Through
some accident the house took fire, and was burnt to the ground. It was
never rebuilt. The course of political events which swept Washington
from his quiet home into the current of public and military life,
prevented William Fairfax, who was a royalist, though a liberal one,
from returning to his once happy abode, and the hospitable
intercommunion of Mount Vernon and Belvoir was at an end for ever.


The rumor, at the opening of Congress, of the cannonading of Boston
had been caused by measures of Governor Gage. The public mind in
Boston and its vicinity had been rendered excessively jealous and
sensitive by the landing and encamping of artillery upon the Common
and Welsh Fusiliers on Fort Hill, and by the planting of four large
field-pieces on Boston Neck, the only entrance to the town by land.
The country people were arming and disciplining themselves in every
direction, and collecting and depositing arms and ammunition in places
where they would be at hand in case of emergency. Gage, on the other
hand, issued orders that the munitions of war in all the public
magazines should be brought to Boston. One of these magazines was the
arsenal in the north-west part of Charlestown, between Medford and
Cambridge. Two companies of the king's troops passed silently in boats
up Mystic River in the night; took possession of a large quantity of
gunpowder deposited there, and conveyed it to Castle Williams.
Intelligence of this sacking of the arsenal flew with lightning speed
through the neighborhood. In the morning several thousands of patriots
were assembled at Cambridge, weapon in hand, and were with difficulty
prevented from marching upon Boston to compel a restitution of the
powder. In the confusion and agitation, a rumor stole out into the
country that Boston was to be attacked; followed by another that the
ships were cannonading the town, and the soldiers shooting down the
inhabitants. The whole country was forthwith in arms. Numerous bodies
of the Connecticut people had made some marches before the report was

Gage, on the 1st of September, before this popular agitation, had
issued writs for an election of an assembly to meet at Salem in
October; seeing, however, the irritated state of the public mind, he
now countermanded the same by proclamation. The people, disregarding
the countermand, carried the election, and ninety of the new members
thus elected met at the appointed time. They waited a whole day for
the governor to attend, administer the oaths, and open the session;
but as he did not make his appearance, they voted themselves a
provincial Congress, and chose for president of it John Hancock,--a
man of great wealth, popular, and somewhat showy talents, and ardent
patriotism; and eminent from his social position. This
self-constituted body adjourned to Concord, about twenty miles from
Boston; quietly assumed supreme authority, and issued a remonstrance
to the governor, virtually calling him to account for his military
operations in fortifying Boston Neck, and collecting warlike stores
about him, thereby alarming the fears of the whole province and
menacing the lives and property of the Bostonians.

General Gage, overlooking the irregularity of its organization,
entered into explanations with the Assembly, but failed to give
satisfaction. As winter approached, he found his situation more and
more critical. Boston was the only place in Massachusetts that now
contained British forces, and it had become the refuge of all the
"_tories_" of the province; that is to say, of all those devoted to
the British government. There was animosity between them and the
principal inhabitants, among whom revolutionary principles prevailed.
The town itself, almost insulated by nature, and surrounded by a
hostile country, was like a place besieged.

The provincial Congress conducted its affairs with the order and
system so formidable to General Gage. Having adopted a plan for
organizing the militia, it had nominated general officers, two of
whom, Artemas Ward and Seth Pomeroy, had accepted. The executive
powers were vested in a committee of safety. This was to determine
when the services of the militia were necessary; was to call them
forth,--to nominate their officers to the Congress,--to commission
them, and direct the operations of the army. Another committee was
appointed to furnish supplies to the forces when called out; hence,
named the Committee of Supplies. Under such auspices, the militia went
on arming and disciplining itself in every direction.

Arrangements had been made for keeping up an active correspondence
between different parts of the country, and spreading an alarm in case
of any threatening danger. Under the direction of the committees just
mentioned, large quantities of military stores had been collected and
deposited at Concord and Worcester.

This semi-belligerent state of affairs in Massachusetts produced a
general restlessness throughout the land. The weak-hearted apprehended
coming troubles; the resolute prepared to brave them. Military
measures, hitherto confined to New England, extended to the middle and
southern provinces, and the roll of the drum resounded through the
villages. Virginia was among the first to buckle on its armor. It had
long been a custom among its inhabitants to form themselves into
independent companies, equipped at their own expense, having their own
peculiar uniform, and electing their own officers, though holding
themselves subject to militia law. They had hitherto been
self-disciplined; but now they continually resorted to Washington for
instruction and advice; considering him the highest authority on
military affairs. He was frequently called from home, therefore, in
the course of the winter and spring, to different parts of the country
to review independent companies; all of which were anxious to put
themselves under his command as field-officer.

Mount Vernon, therefore, again assumed a military tone as in former
days, when he took his first lessons there in the art of war. Two
occasional and important guests in this momentous crisis, were General
Charles Lee,{1} and Major Horatio Gates.{2} To Washington the visits
of these gentlemen were extremely welcome at this juncture, from their
military knowledge and experience, especially as much of it had been
acquired in America, in the same kind of warfare, if not the very same
campaigns in which he himself had mingled. Both were interested in the
popular cause. Lee was full of plans for the organization and
disciplining of the militia, and occasionally accompanied Washington
in his attendance on provincial reviews. He was subsequently very
efficient at Annapolis in promoting and superintending the
organization of the Maryland militia.

{Footnote 1: [General Charles Lee was an Englishman by birth, and a
highly cultivated production of European warfare. He was born in 1731,
and may almost be said to have been cradled in the army, for he
received a commission by the time he was eleven years of age. He
served in the French war of America; in 1762 obtained a colonel's
commission, and went with Burgoyne to Portugal. Having a caustic pen
he undertook to write on colonial questions, and thereby lost the
favor of the ministry. He then went to Poland; won the favor of King
Stanislaus; in 1769 obtained the rank of major-general in the Polish
army, and served in a campaign against the Turks. Leaving the Polish
army he led a restless life about Europe, and in 1773, coming to
America, openly espoused the colonial cause. He was a man of eccentric
habits, caustic humor, extensive military experience, and was
considered a prodigious acquisition to the patriot cause.]}

{Footnote 2: [Major Horatio Gates was an Englishman by birth. When
twenty he served as a volunteer under Cornwallis, governor of Halifax;
next as captain under Braddock; accompanied General Monckton as
aide-de-camp to the West Indies, gained credit at the capture of
Martinico, and was promoted to the rank of major. His promotion did
not equal his expectations, and went to England, and failing to attain
his desires, came to Virginia in 1772, and purchased an estate in
Berkeley County, where he settled. He was now forty-six years of

In the month of March the second Virginia convention was held at
Richmond. Washington attended as delegate from Fairfax County. In this
assembly, Patrick Henry, with his usual ardor and eloquence, advocated
measures for embodying, arming and disciplining a militia force, and
providing for the defence of the colony. Washington joined him in the
conviction, and was one of a committee that reported a plan for
carrying those measures into effect. He was not an impulsive man to
raise the battle cry, but the executive man to marshal the troops into
the field and carry on the war.

While the spirit of revolt was daily gaining strength and
determination in America, a strange infatuation reigned in the British
councils. While the wisdom and eloquence of Chatham were exerted in
vain in behalf of American rights, an empty braggadocio, elevated to a
seat in Parliament, was able to captivate the attention of the members
and influence their votes by gross misrepresentations of the Americans
and their cause. This was no other than Colonel Grant, the same
shallow soldier who had been guilty of a foolhardy bravado before the
walls of Fort Duquesne, which brought slaughter and defeat upon his
troops. We are told that he entertained Parliament, especially the
ministerial side of the House, with ludicrous stories of the cowardice
of Americans. This taunting and braggart speech was made in the face
of the conciliatory bill of the venerable Chatham, devised with a view
to redress the wrongs of America. The councils of the arrogant and
scornful prevailed; and instead of the proposed bill, further measures
of a stringent nature were adopted, coercive of some of the middle and
southern colonies, but ruinous to the trade and fisheries of New

At length the bolt, so long suspended, fell! The troops at Boston had
been augmented to about four thousand men. Goaded on by the
instigations of the tories, and alarmed by the energetic measures of
the whigs, General Gage now resolved to deal the latter a crippling
blow. This was to surprise and destroy their magazine of military
stores at Concord, about twenty miles from Boston. It was to be
effected on the night of the 18th of April by a force detached for the
purpose. Preparations were made with great secrecy. Boats for the
transportation of troops were launched, and moored under the sterns of
the men-of-war. Grenadiers and light infantry were relieved from duty
and held in readiness. On the 18th, officers were stationed on the
roads leading from Boston to prevent any intelligence of the
expedition getting into the country. At night orders were issued by
General Gage that no person should leave the town. About ten o'clock
from eight to nine hundred men, grenadiers, light infantry and
marines, commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Smith, embarked in the boats
at the foot of Boston Common and crossed to Lechmere Point, in
Cambridge, whence they were to march silently and without beat of drum
to the place of destination.

The measures of General Gage had not been shrouded in all the secrecy
he imagined. Dr. Joseph Warren, one of the committee of safety, had
observed the preparatory disposition of the boats and troops, and
surmised some sinister intention. He sent notice of these movements to
John Hancock and Samuel Adams, both members of the provincial
Congress, but at that time privately sojourning with a friend at
Lexington. A design on the magazine at Concord was suspected, and the
committee of safety ordered that the cannon collected there should be
secreted and part of the stores removed. On the night of the 18th, Dr.
Warren sent off two messengers by different routes to give the alarm
that the king's troops were actually sallying forth. The messengers
got out of Boston just before the order of General Gage went into
effect, to prevent any one from leaving the town. About the same time
a lantern was hung out of an upper window of the north church, in the
direction of Charlestown. This was a preconcerted signal to the
patriots of that place who instantly despatched swift messengers to
rouse the country.

In the meantime, Colonel Smith set out on his nocturnal march from
Lechmere Point by an unfrequented path across marshes, where at times
the troops had to wade through water. He had proceeded but a few miles
when alarm guns, booming through the night air, and the clang of
village bells, showed that the news of his approach was travelling
before him, and the people were rising. He now sent back to General
Gage for a reinforcement, while Major Pitcairn was detached with six
companies to press forward and secure the bridges at Concord.

Pitcairn advanced rapidly, capturing every one that he met or
overtook. Within a mile and a half of Lexington, however, a horseman
was too quick on the spur for him, and galloping to the village, gave
the alarm that the redcoats were coming. Drums were beaten; guns
fired. By the time that Pitcairn entered the village about seventy or
eighty of the yeomanry, in military array, were mustered on the green
near the church. The sound of drum, and the array of men in arms,
indicated a hostile determination. Pitcairn halted his men within a
short distance of the church, and ordered them to prime and load. They
then advanced at double quick time. The major, riding forward ordered
the rebels, as he termed them, to disperse. The order was disregarded.
A scene of confusion ensued, with firing on both sides; which party
commenced it has been a matter of dispute. The firing of the Americans
was irregular and without much effect; that of the British was more
fatal. Eight of the patriots were killed and ten wounded, and the
whole put to flight. Colonel Smith soon arrived with the residue of
the detachment, and they all marched on towards Concord, about six
miles distant.

The alarm had reached that place in the dead hour of the preceding
night. The church bell roused the inhabitants. They gathered together
in anxious consultation. The militia and minute men seized their arms
and repaired to the parade ground near the church. Exertions were now
made to remove and conceal the military stores. A scout, who had been
sent out for intelligence, brought word that the British had fired
upon the people at Lexington and were advancing upon Concord. There
was great excitement and indignation. Part of the militia marched down
the Lexington road to meet them, but returned, reporting their force
to be three times that of the Americans. The whole of the militia now
retired to an eminence about a mile from the centre of the town, and
formed themselves into two battalions.

About seven o'clock the British came in sight. They entered in two
divisions by different roads. Concord is traversed by a river of the
same name, having two bridges, the north and the south. The grenadiers
and light infantry took post in the centre of the town, while strong
parties of light troops were detached to secure the bridges, and
destroy the military stores. Two hours were expended in the work of
destruction without much success, so much of the stores having been
removed, or concealed. During all this time the yeomanry from the
neighboring towns were hurrying in with such weapons as were at hand,
and joining the militia on the height, until the little cloud of war
gathering there numbered about four hundred and fifty. About ten
o'clock, a body of three hundred undertook to dislodge the British
from the north bridge. As they approached, the latter fired upon them,
killing two, and wounding a third. The patriots returned the fire with
spirit and effect. The British retreated to the main body, the
Americans pursuing them across the bridge.

By this time all the military stores which could be found had been
destroyed; Colonel Smith, therefore, made preparations for a retreat.
About noon he commenced his retrograde march for Boston. It was high
time. His troops were jaded by the night march and the morning's toils
and skirmishings.

The country was thoroughly alarmed. The yeomanry were hurrying from
every quarter to the scene of action. As the British began their
retreat, the Americans began the work of sore and galling retaliation.
Along the open road the former were harassed incessantly by rustic
marksmen, who took deliberate aim from behind trees or over stone
fences. It was in vain they threw out flankers and endeavored to
dislodge their assailants; each pause gave time for other pursuers to
come within reach and open attacks from different quarters. For
several miles they urged their way along woody defiles, or roads
skirted with fences and stone walls, the retreat growing more and more
disastrous. Before reaching Lexington, Colonel Smith received a severe
wound in the leg, and the situation of the retreating troops was
becoming extremely critical, when, about two o'clock, they were met by
Lord Percy, with a brigade of one thousand men and two field-pieces.
Opening his brigade to the right and left, he received the retreating
troops into a hollow square; where, fainting and exhausted, they threw
themselves on the ground to rest. His lordship showed no disposition
to advance upon their assailants, but contented himself with keeping
them at bay with his field-pieces, which opened a vigorous fire from
an eminence.

Hitherto the Provincials, being hasty levies, without a leader, had
acted from individual impulse, without much concert; but now General
Heath was upon the ground. He was one of those authorized to take
command when the minute men should be called out. Dr. Warren also
arrived on horseback, having spurred from Boston on receiving news of
the skirmishing. In the subsequent part of the day he was one of the
most active and efficient men in the field. His presence, like that of
General Heath, regulated the infuriated ardor of the militia and
brought it into system.

Lord Percy, having allowed the troops a short interval for repose and
refreshment, continued the retreat toward Boston. As soon as he got
under march, the galling assault by the pursuing yeomanry was
recommenced in flank and rear. The British soldiery, irritated in
turn, acted as if in an enemy's country. Houses and shops were burnt
down in Lexington; private dwellings along the road were plundered,
and their inhabitants maltreated. Their march became more and more
impeded by the number of their wounded. Lord Percy narrowly escaped
death from a musket-ball, which struck off a button of his waistcoat.
The provincials pressed upon him in rear, others were advancing from
Roxbury, Dorchester, and Milton; Colonel Pickering, with the Essex
militia, seven hundred strong, was at hand; there was danger of being
intercepted in the retreat to Charlestown. The field-pieces were again
brought into play to check the ardor of the pursuit; but they were no
longer objects of terror. The pursuit terminated a little after sunset
at Charlestown Common, where General Heath brought the minute men to a

In this memorable affair the British loss was seventy-three killed,
one hundred and seventy-four wounded and twenty-six missing. Among the
slain were eighteen officers. The loss of the Americans was forty-nine
killed, thirty-nine wounded, and five missing. This was the first
blood shed in the revolutionary struggle. The cry went through the
land. None felt the appeal more than the old soldiers of the French
war. It roused John Stark, of New Hampshire--a trapper and hunter in
his youth, a veteran in Indian warfare, a campaigner under Abercrombie
and Amherst. Within ten minutes after receiving the alarm, he was
spurring towards the sea-coast. Equally alert was his old comrade in
frontier exploits, Colonel Israel Putnam.{3} A man on horseback, with
a drum, passed through his neighborhood in Connecticut, proclaiming
British violence at Lexington. Putnam was in the field ploughing,
assisted by his son. In an instant the team was unyoked; the plough
left in the furrow; the lad sent home to give word of his father's
departure; and Putnam, on horseback in his working garb, urging with
all speed to the camp.

{Footnote 3: [Israel Putnam was a soldier of native growth. He had
served at Louisburg, Fort Duquesne, and Crown Point; had signalized
himself in Indian warfare: been captured by the savages, tortured, and
rescued from the stake at the eleventh hour. Since the peace he had
resided on his farm at Pomfret, in Connecticut.]}

The news reached Virginia at a critical moment. Lord Dunmore, obeying
a general order issued by the ministry to all the provincial
governors, had seized upon the military munitions of the province.
Here was a similar measure to that of Gage. The cry went forth that
the subjugation of the colonies was to be attempted. All Virginia was
in combustion. The standard of liberty was reared in every county;
there was a general cry to arms. Washington was looked to from various
quarters to take command. His old comrade in arms, Hugh Mercer, was
about marching down to Williamsburg at the head of a body of resolute
men, seven hundred strong, entitled "The friends of constitutional
liberty and America," whom he had organized and drilled in
Fredericksburg, and nothing but a timely concession of Lord Dunmore,
with respect to some powder which he had seized, prevented his being
beset in his palace.


At the eastward, the march of the Revolution went on with accelerated
speed. Thirty thousand men had been deemed necessary for the defence
of the country. The provincial Congress of Massachusetts resolved to
raise thirteen thousand six hundred, as its quota. Circular letters
also were issued by the committee of safety, urging the towns to
enlist troops with all speed, and calling for military aid from the
other New England provinces.

Their appeals were promptly answered. Bodies of militia and parties of
volunteers from New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut hastened
to join the minute men of Massachusetts in forming a camp in the
neighborhood of Boston. The command of the camp was given to General
Artemas Ward, already mentioned. He was a native of Shrewsbury, in
Massachusetts, and a veteran of the seven years' war--having served as
lieutenant-colonel under Abercrombie.

As affairs were now drawing to a crisis and war was considered
inevitable, some bold spirits in Connecticut conceived a project for
the outset. This was the surprisal of the old forts of Ticonderoga and
Crown Point, already famous in the French war. Their situation on Lake
Champlain gave them the command of the main route to Canada; so that
the possession of them would be all-important in case of hostilities.
They were feebly garrisoned and negligently guarded, and abundantly
furnished with artillery and military stores, so much needed by the
patriot army. This scheme was set on foot in the purlieus, as it were,
of the provincial Legislature of Connecticut, then in session. It was
not openly sanctioned by that body, but secretly favored, and money
lent from the treasury to those engaged in it. Sixteen men were thus
enlisted in Connecticut, a greater number in Massachusetts, but the
greatest accession of force was from what was called the "New
Hampshire Grants." This was a region forming the present State of
Vermont. It had long been a disputed territory, claimed by New York
and New Hampshire. The settlers had resisted the attempts of New York
to eject them, and formed themselves into an association called "The
Green Mountain Boys," with Ethan Allen at their head. He and his
lieutenants, Seth Warner and Remember Baker, were outlawed by the
Legislature of New York, and Allen was becoming a kind of Robin Hood
among the mountains when the present crisis changed the relative
position of things as if by magic. Boundary feuds were forgotten amid
the great questions of colonial rights. Ethan Allen at once stepped
forward, a patriot, and volunteered with his Green Mountain Boys to
serve in the popular cause. Thus reinforced, the party, now two
hundred and seventy strong, pushed forward to Castleton, a place
within a few miles of the head of Lake Champlain. Here a council of
war was held on the 2d of May. Ethan Allen was placed at the head of
the expedition. [At this juncture Benedict Arnold, afterwards so sadly
renowned, arrived at Castleton. He too had conceived the project of
surprising Ticonderoga and Crown Point; his plan had been approved by
the Massachusetts committee of safety, and he had received a colonel's
commission. He claimed the right to command the expedition, but the
Green Mountain Boys would follow no leader but Allen. Arnold was fain
to acquiesce. The party arrived at Shoreham, opposite Ticonderoga, on
the night of the 9th of May. The boats were few, and by day-break a
part of the force only had crossed. Allen announced his intention to
make a dash at the fort at once, before the garrison should wake.]

They mounted the hill briskly but in silence, guided by a boy from the
neighborhood. The day dawned as Allen arrived at a sally port. A
sentry pulled trigger on him, but his piece missed fire. He retreated
through a covered way. Allen and his men followed. Another sentry was
struck down by Allen, and begged for quarter. It was granted on
condition of his leading the way instantly to the quarters of the
commandant, Captain Delaplace, who was yet in bed. Being arrived
there, Allen thundered at the door, and demanded a surrender of the
fort. By this time his followers had formed into two lines on the
parade-ground, and given three hearty cheers. The commandant appeared
at his door half-dressed. He gazed at Allen in bewildered
astonishment. "By whose authority do you act?" exclaimed he. "In the
name of the great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress!" replied
Allen with a flourish of his sword and an oath which we do not care to
subjoin. There was no disputing the point. The garrison, like the
commander, had been startled from sleep, and made prisoners as they
rushed forth in their confusion. A surrender accordingly took place. A
great supply of military and naval stores, so important in the present
crisis, was found in the fortress.

Colonel Seth Warner was now sent with a detachment against Crown
Point, which surrendered on the 12th of May without firing a gun; the
whole garrison being a sergeant and twelve men. Here were taken upward
of a hundred cannon. [A plan was also concerted to surprise St. John's
on the Sorel River, the frontier post of Canada. It was led by Arnold
and was eminently successful; a king's sloop of seventy tons, with two
brass six-pounders, four bateaux, and many valuable stores were
captured. The approach of troops from Montreal rendered it necessary
to abandon the post.]

Thus a partisan band, unpractised in the art of war, had, by a series
of daring exploits and almost without the loss of a man, won for the
patriots the command of Lakes George and Champlain, and thrown open
the great highway to Canada.

The second General Congress assembled at Philadelphia on the 10th of
May. Peyton Randolph was again elected as president; but being obliged
to return and occupy his place as speaker of the Virginia Assembly,
John Hancock, of Massachusetts, was elevated to the chair.

A lingering feeling of attachment to the mother country, struggling
with the growing spirit of self-government, was manifested in the
proceedings of this remarkable body. Many of those most active in
vindicating colonial rights, and Washington among the number, still
indulged the hope of an eventual reconciliation, while few
entertained, or at least avowed the idea of complete independence. A
second "humble and dutiful" petition to the king was moved, but met
with strong opposition. John Adams condemned it as an imbecile
measure, calculated to embarrass the proceedings of Congress. He was
for prompt and vigorous action. Other members concurred with him.

A federal union was formed, leaving to each colony the right of
regulating its internal affairs according to its own individual
constitution, but vesting in Congress the power of making peace or
war; of entering into treaties and alliances; of regulating general
commerce; in a word, of legislating on all such matters as regarded
the security and welfare of the whole community. The executive power
was to be vested in a council of twelve, chosen by Congress from among
its own members, and to hold office for a limited time. Such colonies
as had not sent delegates to Congress might yet become members of the
confederacy by agreeing to its conditions. Georgia, which had hitherto
hesitated, soon joined the league, which thus extended from Nova
Scotia to Florida.

Congress lost no time in exercising their federated powers. In virtue
of them, they ordered the enlistment of troops, the construction of
forts in various parts of the colonies, the provision of arms,
ammunition, and military stores; while to defray the expense of these,
and other measures, avowedly of self-defence, they authorized the
emission of notes to the amount of three millions of dollars, bearing
the inscription of "The United Colonies;" the faith of the confederacy
being pledged for their redemption.

The public sense of Washington's military talents and experience, was
evinced in his being chairman of all the committees appointed for
military affairs. Most of the rules and regulations for the army, and
the measures for defence, were devised by him.

The situation of the New England army, actually besieging Boston,
became an early and absorbing consideration. It was without munitions
of war, without arms, clothing, or pay; in fact, without legislative
countenance or encouragement. Unless sanctioned and assisted by
Congress, there was danger of its dissolution. All this was the
subject of much discussion out of doors. The disposition to uphold the
army was general; but the difficult question was, who should be
commander-in-chief? [There was a southern party in Congress who were
urgent for the appointment of a southern general to command, and "so
many of our stanchest men," says Adams, "were in the plan, that we
could carry nothing without it." On the other hand Hancock himself had
an ambition to be appointed to the command. The opinion, however,
evidently inclined in favor of Washington. Adams, rising in his place
one day, urged upon Congress that they should adopt the army at
Cambridge, and appoint a general. He then proceeded to advance the
name of Washington. The subject was postponed to a future day. On the
15th of June, the army was regularly adopted by Congress, and the pay
of the commander-in-chief fixed at five hundred dollars a month.]

In this stage of the business Mr. Johnson, of Maryland, rose and
nominated Washington for the station of commander-in-chief. The
election was by ballot, and was unanimous. It was formally announced
to him by the president on the following day, when he had taken his
seat in Congress. Rising in his place, he briefly expressed his high
and grateful sense of the honor conferred on him and his sincere
devotion to the cause. "But," added he, "lest some unlucky event
should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered
by every gentleman in the room, that I this day declare with the
utmost sincerity I do not think myself equal the command I am honored
with. As to pay, I beg leave to assure the Congress that, as no
pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to accept this arduous
employment, at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not
wish to make any profit of it. I will keep an exact account of my
expenses. Those, I doubt not, they will discharge, and that is all I

Four major-generals were to be appointed. General Ward was elected the
second in command, and Lee the third. The other two major-generals
were Philip Schuyler, of New York, and Israel Putnam, of Connecticut.
Eight brigadier-generals were likewise appointed; Seth Pomeroy,
Richard Montgomery, David Wooster, William Heath, Joseph Spencer, John
Thomas, John Sullivan, and Nathaniel Greene.

At Washington's express request, his old friend, Major Horatio Gates,
then absent at his estate in Virginia, was appointed adjutant-general,
with the rank of brigadier.

In this momentous change in his condition, which suddenly altered all
his course of life, and called him immediately to the camp,
Washington's thoughts recurred to Mount Vernon and its rural delights,
so dear to his heart, whence he was to be again exiled. His chief
concern, however, was on account of the distress it might cause to his
wife. His letter to her on the subject is written in a tone of manly
tenderness. "You may believe me," writes he, "when I assure you, in
the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment, I
have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it, not only from my
unwillingness to part with you and the family, but from a
consciousness of its being a trust too great for my capacity; and I
should enjoy more real happiness in one month with you at home than I
have the most distant prospect of finding abroad if my stay were to be
seven times seven years. But as it has been a kind of destiny that has
thrown me upon this service, I shall hope that my undertaking it is
designed to answer some good purpose...."

On the 20th of June he received his commission from the president of
Congress. The following day was fixed upon for his departure for the
army. He reviewed previously, at the request of their officers,
several militia companies of horse and foot. Every one was anxious to
see the new commander, and rarely has the public _beau ideal_ of a
commander been so fully answered. He was now in the vigor of his days,
forty-three years of age, stately in person, noble in his demeanor,
calm and dignified in his deportment; as he sat his horse, with manly
grace, his military presence delighted every eye, and wherever he went
the air rang with acclamations.


While Congress had been deliberating on the adoption of the army and
the nomination of a commander-in-chief, events had been thickening and
drawing to a crisis in the excited region about Boston. The provincial
troops which blockaded the town prevented supplies by land, the
neighboring country refused to furnish them by water; fresh provisions
and vegetables were no longer to be procured, and Boston began to
experience the privations of a besieged city.

On the 25th of May arrived ships of war and transports from England,
bringing large reinforcements, under Generals Howe, Burgoyne, and
Henry Clinton, commanders of high reputation. Inspirited by these
reinforcements, General Gage determined to take the field. Previously,
however, he issued a proclamation (12th June), putting the province
under martial law, threatening to treat as rebels and traitors all
malcontents who should continue under arms, together with their aiders
and abettors; but offering pardon to all who should lay down their
arms and return to their allegiance. From this proffered amnesty,
however, John Hancock and Samuel Adams were especially excepted.

This proclamation only served to put the patriots on the alert against
such measures as might be expected to follow, and of which their
friends in Boston stood ready to apprise them. The besieging force, in
the meantime, was daily augmented by recruits and volunteers, and now
amounted to about fifteen thousand men, distributed at various points.
About ten thousand belonged to Massachusetts, and were under the
command of General Artemas Ward, whose head-quarters were at
Cambridge. Another body of troops, under Colonel John Stark, already
mentioned, came from New Hampshire. Rhode Island furnished a third,
under the command of General Nathaniel Greene. A fourth was from
Connecticut, under the veteran Putnam. These bodies of troops, being
from different colonies, were independent of each other, and had their
several commanders. Those from New Hampshire were instructed to obey
General Ward as commander-in-chief; with the rest it was a voluntary
act, rendered in consideration of his being military chief of
Massachusetts, the province which, as allies, they came to defend.
There was, in fact, but little organization in the army. Nothing kept
it together and gave it unity of action but a common feeling of
exasperated patriotism.

The troops knew but little of military discipline. Almost all were
familiar with the use of fire-arms in hunting and fowling, but the
greater part were without military dress or accoutrements; most of
them were hasty levies of yeomanry, some of whom had seized their
rifles and fowling-pieces and turned out in their working clothes and
homespun country garbs. Such was the army spread over an extent of ten
or twelve miles, and keeping watch upon the town of Boston, containing
at that time a population of seventeen thousand souls, and garrisoned
with more than ten thousand British troops, disciplined and
experienced in the wars of Europe.

In the disposition of these forces, General Ward had stationed himself
at Cambridge, with the main body of about nine thousand men and four
companies of artillery. Lieutenant-general Thomas, second in command,
was posted, with five thousand Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode
Island troops, and three or four companies of artillery, at Roxbury
and Dorchester, forming the right wing of the army; while the left,
composed in a great measure of New Hampshire troops, stretched through
Medford to the hills of Chelsea.

We have already mentioned the peninsula of Charlestown (called from a
village of the same name), which lies opposite to the north side of
Boston. The heights which swell up in rear of the village overlook the
town and shipping. The project was conceived in the besieging camp to
seize and occupy those heights. A council of war was held upon the
subject. General Putnam was one of the most strenuous in favor of the
measure. Some of the more wary and judicious, among whom were General
Ward and Dr. Warren, doubted the expediency of intrenching themselves
on those heights and the possibility of maintaining so exposed a post.
Putnam made light of the danger. He was seconded by General Pomeroy, a
leader of like stamp, and another veteran of the French war. The
daring councils of such men are always captivating to the
inexperienced; but in the present instance they were sanctioned by one
whose opinion in such matters, and in this vicinity, possessed
peculiar weight. This was Colonel William Prescott, of Pepperell, who
commanded a regiment of minute men. He, too, had seen service in the
French war, and acquired reputation as a lieutenant of infantry at the
capture of Cape Breton. This was sufficient to constitute him an
oracle in the present instance. He was now about fifty years of age,
tall and commanding in his appearance, and retaining the port of a
soldier. His opinion, probably, settled the question; and it was
determined to seize on and fortify Bunker's Hill and Dorchester

Secret intelligence hurried forward the project. General Gage, it was
said, intended to take possession of Dorchester Heights on the night
of the 18th of June. These heights lay on the opposite side of Boston,
and the committee were ignorant of their localities. Those on
Charlestown Neck, being near at hand, had some time before been
reconnoitered by Colonel Richard Gridley, and other of the engineers.
It was determined to seize and fortify these heights on the night of
Friday, the 16th of June, in anticipation of the movement of General
Gage. Troops were drafted for the purpose, and Colonel Prescott, from
his experience in military matters was chosen by General Ward to
conduct the enterprise. His written orders were to fortify Bunker's
Hill, and defend the works until he should be relieved. Colonel
Richard Gridley, the chief engineer, was to accompany him and plan the
fortifications. The detachment left Cambridge about nine o'clock,
Colonel Prescott taking the lead. At Charlestown Neck they were joined
by Major Brooks, of Bridges' regiment, and General Putnam; and here
were the wagons laden with intrenching tools, which first gave the men
an indication of the nature of the enterprise.

Charlestown Neck is a narrow isthmus, connecting the peninsula with
the main land; having the Mystic River, about half a mile wide, on the
north, and a large embayment of Charles River on the south or right
side. It was now necessary to proceed with the utmost caution, for
they were coming on ground over which the British kept jealous watch.
They had erected a battery at Boston on Copp's Hill, immediately
opposite to Charlestown. Five of their vessels of war were stationed
so as to bear upon the peninsula from different directions, and the
guns of one of them swept the isthmus or narrow neck just mentioned.

Across this isthmus, Colonel Prescott conducted the detachment
undiscovered, and up the ascent of Bunker's Hill. This commences at
the Neck, and slopes up for about three hundred yards to its summit,
which is about one hundred and twelve feet high. It then declines
toward the south, and is connected by a ridge with Breed's Hill, about
sixty or seventy feet high. The crests of the two hills are about
seven hundred yards apart. On attaining the heights, a question rose
which of the two they should proceed to fortify. Bunker's Hill was
specified in the written orders given to Colonel Prescott by General
Ward, but Breed's Hill was much nearer to Boston, and had a better
command of the town and shipping. Bunker's Hill, also, being on the
upper and narrower part of the peninsula, was itself commanded by the
same ship which raked the Neck. Putnam was clear for commencing at
Breed's Hill, and making the principal work there, while a minor work
might be thrown up at Bunker's Hill, as a protection in the rear, and
a rallying point, in case of being driven out of the main work. Others
concurred with this opinion. Gridley marked out the lines for the
fortifications; the men stacked their guns; threw off their packs;
seized their trenching tools, and set to work with great spirit. So
spiritedly, though silently, was the labor carried on, that by morning
a strong redoubt was thrown up as a main work, flanked on the left by
a breastwork, partly cannon-proof, extending down the crest of Breed's
Hill to a piece of marshy ground called the Slough. To support the
right of the redoubt, some troops were thrown into the village of
Charlestown, at the southern foot of the hill.

At dawn of day, the Americans at work were espied by the sailors on
board of the ships of war, and the alarm was given. The captain of the
Lively, the nearest ship, without waiting for orders, put a spring
upon her cable, and bringing her guns to bear, opened a fire upon the
hill. The other ships and a floating battery followed his example.
Their shot did no mischief to the works. The cannonading roused the
town of Boston. General Gage could scarcely believe his eyes when he
beheld on the opposite hill a fortification full of men, which had
sprung up in the course of the night. He called a council of war. The
Americans might intend to cannonade Boston from this new
fortification; it was unanimously resolved to dislodge them. How was
this to be done? A majority of the council, including Clinton and
Grant, advised that a force should be landed on Charlestown Neck,
under the protection of their batteries, so as to attack the Americans
in rear and cut off their retreat. General Gage objected that it would
place his troops between two armies; one at Cambridge, superior in
numbers, the other on the heights, strongly fortified. He was for
landing in front of the works, and pushing directly up the hill; a
plan adopted through a confidence that raw militia would never stand
their ground against the assault of veteran troops.

The sound of drum and trumpet, the clatter of hoofs, the rattling of
gun-carriages, and all the other military din and bustle in the
streets of Boston, soon apprised the Americans on their rudely
fortified height of an impending attack. They were ill-fitted to
withstand it, being jaded by the night's labor, and want of sleep;
hungry and thirsty, having brought but scanty supplies, and oppressed
by the heat of the weather. Prescott sent repeated messages to General
Ward, asking reinforcements and provisions. Ward issued orders for
Colonels Stark and Read, then at Medford, to march to the relief of
Prescott with their New Hampshire regiments.

In the meantime, the Americans on Breed's Hill were sustaining the
fire from the ships, and from the battery on Copp's Hill, which opened
upon them about ten o'clock. They returned an occasional shot from one
corner of the redoubt, without much harm to the enemy, and continued
strengthening their position until about eleven o'clock, when they
ceased to work, piled their intrenching tools in the rear, and looked
out anxiously and impatiently for the anticipated reinforcements and
supplies. The tools were ultimately carried to Bunker's Hill, and a
breastwork commenced by order of General Putnam. The importance of
such a work was afterwards made apparent.

About noon the Americans descried twenty-eight barges crossing from
Boston in parallel lines. They contained a large detachment of
grenadiers, rangers, and light infantry, admirably equipped, and
commanded by Major-general Howe. A heavy fire from the ships and
batteries covered their advance, but no attempt was made to oppose
them, and they landed about one o'clock at Moulton's Point, a little
to the north of Breed's Hill. Here General Howe made a pause. On
reconnoitering the works from this point, the Americans appeared to be
much more strongly posted than he had imagined, and he immediately
sent over to General Gage for more forces. While awaiting their
arrival, refreshments were served out to the troops. The Americans
meanwhile took advantage of the delay to strengthen their position.
The breastwork on the left of the redoubt extended to what was called
the Slough, but beyond this, the ridge of the hill, and the slope
toward Mystic River, were undefended, leaving a pass by which the
enemy might turn the left flank of the position, and seize upon
Bunker's Hill. Putnam ordered his chosen officer, Captain Knowlton, to
cover this pass with the Connecticut troops under his command. A novel
kind of rampart, savoring of rural device was suggested by the rustic
general. About six hundred feet in the rear of the redoubt, and about
one hundred feet to the left of the breastwork, was a post and
rail-fence, set in a low foot-wall of stone, and extending down to
Mystic River. The posts and rails of another fence were hastily pulled
up, and set a few feet in behind this, and the intermediate space was
filled up with new mown hay from the adjacent meadows. This double
fence, it will be found, proved an important protection to the
redoubt, although there still remained an unprotected interval of
about seven hundred feet.

While Knowlton and his men were putting up this fence, Putnam
proceeded with other of his troops to throw up the work on Bunker's
Hill, despatching his son, Captain Putnam, on horseback, to hurry up
the remainder of his men from Cambridge. By this time Stark made his
appearance with the New Hampshire troops, five hundred strong. Putnam
detained some of Stark's men to aid in throwing up the works on
Bunker's Hill, and directed him to reinforce Knowlton with the rest.
About two o'clock, Warren arrived on the heights, ready to engage in
their perilous defence, although he had opposed the scheme of their
occupation. He had recently been elected a major-general, but had not
received his commission. Putnam offered him the command at the fence;
he declined it, and merely asked where he could be of most service as
a volunteer.

The British now prepared for a general assault. An easy victory was
anticipated; the main thought was, how to make it most effectual. The
left wing, commanded by General Pigot, was to mount the hill and force
the redoubt, while General Howe, with the right wing, was to push on
between the fort and Mystic River, turn the left flank of the
Americans, and cut off their retreat. General Pigot, accordingly
advanced up the hill under cover of a fire from field-pieces and
howitzers planted on a small height near the landing-place on
Moulton's Point. His troops commenced a discharge of musketry while
yet at a long distance from the redoubts. The Americans within the
works, obedient to strict command, retained their fire until the enemy
were within thirty or forty paces, when they opened upon them with a
tremendous volley. Being all marksmen, accustomed to take deliberate
aim, the slaughter was immense, and especially fatal to officers. The
assailants fell back in some confusion; but, rallied on by their
officers, advanced within pistol shot. Another volley, more effective
than the first, made them again recoil. To add to their confusion,
they were galled by a flanking fire from the handful of Provincials
posted in Charlestown. Shocked at the carnage and seeing the confusion
of his troops, General Pigot was urged to give the word for a retreat.

In the meantime, General Howe, with the right wing, advanced along
Mystic River toward the fence where Stark, Read, and Knowlton were
stationed, thinking to carry this slight breastwork with ease, and so
get in the rear of the fortress. His artillery proved of little avail,
being stopped by a swampy piece of ground, while his columns suffered
from two or three field-pieces with which Putnam had fortified the
fence. Howe's men kept up a fire of musketry as they advanced; but not
taking aim, their shot passed over the heads of the Americans. The
latter had received the same orders with those in the redoubt, not to
fire until the enemy should be within thirty paces. When the British
arrived within the stated distance a sheeted fire opened upon them
from rifles, muskets, and fowling-pieces, all levelled with deadly
aim. The carnage, as in the other instance, was horrible. The British
were thrown into confusion and fell back; some even retreated to the

There was a general pause on the part of the British. The American
officers availed themselves of it to prepare for another attack, which
must soon be made. Prescott mingled among his men in the redoubt, who
were all in high spirits at the severe check they had given "the
regulars." He praised them for their steadfastness in maintaining
their post, and their good conduct in reserving their fire until the
word of command, and exhorted them to do the same in the next attack.
Putnam rode about Bunker's Hill and its skirts, to rally and bring on
reinforcements which had been checked or scattered in crossing
Charlestown Neck by the raking fire from the ships and batteries.
Before many could be brought to the scene of action the British had
commenced their second attack. They again ascended the hill to storm
the redoubt; their advance was covered as before by discharges of
artillery. Charlestown, which had annoyed them on their first attack
by a flanking fire, was in flames, by shells thrown from Copp's Hill,
and by marines from the ships. The thunder of artillery from batteries
and ships, the bursting of bomb-shells; the sharp discharges of
musketry; the shouts and yells of the combatants; the crash of burning
buildings, arid the dense volumes of smoke, which obscured the summer
sun, all formed a tremendous spectacle.

The American troops, although unused to war, stood undismayed amidst a
scene where it was bursting upon them with all its horrors. Reserving
their fire, as before, until the enemy was close at hand, they again
poured forth repeated volleys with the fatal aim of sharpshooters. The
British stood the first shock, and continued to advance; but the
incessant stream of fire staggered them. Their officers remonstrated,
threatened, and even attempted to goad them on with their swords, but
the havoc was too deadly; whole ranks were mowed down; many of the
officers were either slain or wounded, and among them several of the
staff of General Howe. The troops again gave way and retreated down
the hill.

A third attack was now determined on, though some of Howe's officers
remonstrated, declaring it would be downright butchery. A different
plan was adopted. Instead of advancing in front of the redoubt, it was
to be taken in flank on the left, where the open space between the
breastwork and the fortified fence presented a weak point. It having
been accidentally discovered that the ammunition of the Americans was
nearly expended, preparations were made to carry the works at the
point of the bayonet. General Howe, with the main body, now made a
feint of attacking the fortified fence; but, while a part of his force
was thus engaged, the rest brought some of the field-pieces to
enfilade the breastwork on the left of the redoubt. A raking fire soon
drove the Americans out of this exposed place into the enclosure. The
troops were now led on to assail the works. The Americans again
reserved their fire until their assailants were close at hand, and
then made a murderous volley, by which several officers were laid low,
and General Howe himself was wounded in the foot. The British soldiery
this time likewise reserved their fire and rushed on with fixed
bayonet. Clinton and Pigot had reached the southern and eastern sides
of the redoubt, and it was now assailed on three sides at once.
Prescott ordered those who had no bayonets to retire to the back part
of the redoubt and fire on the enemy as they showed themselves on the
parapet. The Americans, however, had fired their last round, their
ammunition was exhausted; and now succeeded a desperate and deadly
struggle, hand to hand, with bayonets, stones, and the stocks of their
muskets. At length, as the British continued to pour in, Prescott gave
the order to retreat. His men had to cut their way through two
divisions of the enemy who were getting in rear of the redoubt, and
they received a destructive volley from those who had formed on the
captured works. By that volley fell the patriot Warren, who had
distinguished himself throughout the action.

While the Americans were thus slowly dislodged from the redoubt,
Stark, Read and Knowlton maintained their ground at the fortified
fence; which, indeed, had been nobly defended throughout the action.
The resistance at this hastily constructed work was kept up after the
troops in the redoubt had given way, and until Colonel Prescott had
left the hill; thus defeating General Howe's design of cutting off the
retreat of the main body; which would have produced a scene of direful
confusion and slaughter. Having effected their purpose, the brave
associates at the fence abandoned their weak outpost, retiring slowly,
and disputing the ground inch by inch, with a regularity remarkable in
troops many of whom had never before been in action.

The main retreat was across Bunker's Hill, where Putnam had endeavored
to throw up a breastwork. The veteran, sword in hand, rode to the rear
of the retreating troops, regardless of the balls whistling about him.
His only thought was to rally them at the unfinished works. It was
impossible, however, to bring the troops to a stand. They continued on
down the hill to the Neck and across it to Cambridge, exposed to a
raking fire from the ships and batteries, and only protected by a
single piece of ordnance. The British were too exhausted to pursue
them; they contented themselves with taking possession of Bunker's
Hill, were reinforced from Boston, and threw up additional works
during the night.

Thus ended the first regular battle between the British and the
Americans, and most eventful in its consequences. The former had
gained the ground for which they contended; but, if a victory, it was
more disastrous and humiliating to them than an ordinary defeat.
According to their own returns, their killed and wounded, out of a
detachment of two thousand men, amounted to one thousand and
fifty-four, and a large proportion of them officers. The loss of the
Americans did not exceed four hundred and fifty.

To the latter this defeat, if defeat it might be called, had the
effect of a triumph. It gave them confidence in themselves and
consequence in the eyes of their enemies. They had proved to
themselves and to others that they could measure weapons with the
disciplined soldiers of Europe, and inflict the most harm in the

Among the British officers slain was Major Pitcairn, who, at
Lexington, had shed the first blood in the Revolutionary war. In the
death of Warren the Americans had to lament the loss of a
distinguished patriot and a most estimable man. It was deplored as a
public calamity. He was one of the first who fell in the glorious
cause of his country, and his name has become consecrated in its


In a preceding chapter we left Washington preparing to depart from
Philadelphia for the army before Boston. He set out on horseback on
the 21st of June, having for military companions of his journey
Major-generals Lee and Schuyler, and being accompanied for a distance
by several private friends. As an escort he had a "gentleman troop" of
Philadelphia, commanded by Captain Markoe; the whole formed a
brilliant cavalcade.

General Schuyler was a man eminently calculated to sympathize with
Washington in all his patriotic views and feelings, and became one of
his most faithful coadjutors. Sprung from one of the earliest and most
respectable Dutch families which colonized New York, all his interests
and affections were identified with the country. He had received a
good education; applied himself at an early age to the exact sciences,
and became versed in finance, military engineering, and political
economy. He was one of those native born soldiers who had acquired
experience in that American school of arms, the old French war. Since
the close of the French war he had served his country in various civil
stations, and been one of the most zealous and eloquent vindicators of
colonial rights.

They had scarcely proceeded twenty miles from Philadelphia when they
were met by a courier, spurring with all speed, bearing despatches
from the army to Congress, communicating tidings of the battle of
Bunker's Hill. Washington eagerly inquired particulars; above all, how
acted the militia? When told that they stood their ground bravely,
sustained the enemy's fire--reserved their own until at close
quarters, and then delivered it with deadly effect, it seemed as if a
weight of doubt and solicitude were lifted from his heart. "The
liberties of the country are safe!" exclaimed he.

The news of the battle of Bunker's Hill had startled the whole
country; and this clattering cavalcade, escorting the commander-in-chief
to the army, was the gaze and wonder of every town and village.

The journey may be said to have been a continual council of war
between Washington and the two generals. One of the most frequent
subjects of conversation was the province of New York. Its power and
position rendered it the great link of the confederacy; what measures
were necessary for its defence, and most calculated to secure its
adherence to the cause? The population of New York was more varied in
its elements than that of almost any other of the provinces, and had
to be cautiously studied. The New Yorkers were of a mixed origin, and
stamped with the peculiarities of their respective ancestors. The
descendants of the old Dutch and Huguenot families, the earliest
settlers, were still among the soundest and best of the population.
They inherited the love of liberty, civil and religious, of their
forefathers, and were those who stood foremost in the present struggle
for popular rights. A great proportion of the more modern families,
dating from the downfall of the Dutch government in 1664, were English
and Scotch, and among these were many loyal adherents to the crown.

There was a power, too, of a formidable kind within the interior of
the province, which was an object of much solicitude. This was the
"Johnson Family." We have repeatedly had occasion to speak of Sir
William Johnson, his majesty's general agent for Indian affairs, of
his great wealth, and his almost sovereign sway over the Six Nations.
In the recent difficulties between the crown and colonies, Sir William
had naturally been in favor of the government which had enriched and
honored him, but he had viewed with deep concern the acts of
Parliament which were goading the colonists to armed resistance. In
the height of his solicitude, he received despatches ordering him, in
case of hostilities, to enlist the Indians in the cause of government.
To the agitation of feelings produced by these orders many have
attributed a stroke of apoplexy, of which he died, on the 11th of
July, 1774, about a year before the time of which we are treating. His
son and heir, Sir John Johnson, and his sons-in-law, Colonel Guy
Johnson and Colonel Claus felt none of the reluctance of Sir William
to use harsh measures in support of royalty. They lived in a degree of
rude feudal style in stone mansions capable of defence, situated on
the Mohawk River and in its vicinity; they had many Scottish
Highlanders for tenants; and among their adherents were violent men,
such as the Butlers of Tryon County, and Brant, the Mohawk sachem,
since famous in Indian warfare. They had recently gone about with
armed retainers, overawing and breaking up patriotic assemblages, and
it was known they could at any time bring a force of warriors in the

Tryon, the governor of New York, was at present absent in England,
having been called home by the ministry to give an account of the
affairs of the province, and to receive instructions for its
management. He was a tory in heart, and had been a zealous opponent of
all colonial movements, and his talents and address gave him great
influence over an important part of the community. Should he return
with hostile instructions, and should he and the Johnsons co-operate,
the one controlling the bay and harbor of New York and the waters of
the Hudson by means of ships and land forces; the others overrunning
the valley of the Mohawk and the regions beyond Albany with savage
hordes, this great central province might be wrested from the
confederacy, and all intercourse broken off between the eastern and
southern colonies. All these circumstances and considerations, many of
which came under discussion in the course of this military journey,
rendered the command of New York a post of especial trust and
importance, and determined Washington to confide it to General
Schuyler. He was peculiarly fitted for it by his military talents, his
intimate knowledge of the province and its concerns, especially what
related to the upper parts of it, and his experience in Indian

At Newark, in the Jerseys, Washington was met on the 25th by a
committee of the provincial Congress, sent to conduct him to the city.
The Congress was in a perplexity. It had in a manner usurped and
exercised the powers of Governor Tryon during his absence, while at
the same time it professed allegiance to the crown which had appointed
him. He was now in the harbor, just arrived from England, and hourly
expected to land. Washington, too, was approaching. How were these
double claims to ceremonious respect happening at the same time to be

In this dilemma a regiment of militia was turned out, and the colonel
instructed to pay military honors to whichever of the distinguished
functionaries should first arrive. Washington was earlier than the
governor by several hours, and received those honors. The landing of
Governor Tryon took place about eight o'clock in the evening. The
military honors were repeated; he was received with great respect by
the mayor and common council, and transports of loyalty by those
devoted to the crown. It was unknown what instructions he had received
from the ministry, but it was rumored that a large force would soon
arrive from England, subject to his directions. At this very moment a
ship of war, the Asia, lay anchored opposite the city; its grim
batteries bearing upon it, greatly to the disquiet of the
faint-hearted among its inhabitants. In this situation of affairs
Washington was happy to leave such an efficient person as General
Schuyler in command of the place.

In the meantime the provincial Congress of Massachusetts, then in
session at Watertown, had made arrangements for the expected arrival
of Washington. It sent on a deputation which met Washington at
Springfield, on the frontiers of the province, and provided escorts
and accommodations for him along the road. Thus honorably attended
from town to town, and escorted by volunteer companies and cavalcades
of gentlemen, he arrived at Watertown on the 2d of July, where he was
greeted by Congress with a congratulatory address, in which, however,
was frankly stated the undisciplined state of the army he was summoned
to command. An address of cordial welcome was likewise made to General

The ceremony over, Washington was again in the saddle, and escorted by
a troop of light horse and a cavalcade of citizens, proceeded to the
head-quarters provided for him at Cambridge, three miles distant. As
he entered the confines of the camp, the shouts of the multitude and
the thundering of artillery gave note to the enemy beleaguered in
Boston of his arrival.

His military reputation had preceded him and excited great
expectations. They were not disappointed. His personal appearance,
notwithstanding the dust of travel, was calculated to captivate the
public eye. As he rode through the camp, amidst a throng of officers,
he was the admiration of the soldiery and of a curious throng
collected from the surrounding country. Happy was the countryman who
could get a full view of him to carry home an account of it to his

With Washington, modest at all times, there was no false excitement on
the present occasion; nothing to call forth emotions of
self-glorification. The honors and congratulations with which he was
received, the acclamations of the public, the cheerings of the army,
only told him how much was expected from him; and when he looked round
upon the raw and rustic levies he was to command, "a mixed multitude
of people, under very little discipline, order, or government,"
scattered in rough encampments about hill and dale, beleaguering a
city garrisoned by veteran troops, with ships of war anchored about
its harbor, and strong outposts guarding it, he felt the awful
responsibility of his situation, and the complicated and stupendous
task before him. He spoke of it, however, not despondingly nor
boastfully and with defiance; but with that solemn and sedate
resolution, and that hopeful reliance on Supreme Goodness, which
belonged to his magnanimous nature.


On the 3d of July, the morning after his arrival at Cambridge,
Washington took formal command of the army. Accompanied by General
Lee, on whose military judgment he had great reliance, he visited the
different American posts, and rode to the heights commanding views
over Boston and its environs, being anxious to make himself acquainted
with the strength and relative position of both armies.

In visiting the different posts, Washington halted for a time at
Prospect Hill, which, as its name denotes, commanded a wide view over
Boston and the surrounding country. Here Putnam had taken his position
after the battle of Bunker's Hill, fortifying himself with works which
he deemed impregnable; and here the veteran was enabled to point out
to the commander-in-chief, and to Lee, the main features of the
belligerent region, which lay spread out like a map before them.
Bunker's Hill was but a mile distant to the west; the British standard
floating as if in triumph on its summit. The main force under General
Howe was intrenching itself strongly about half a mile beyond the
place of the recent battle. Howe's sentries extended a hundred and
fifty yards beyond the neck or isthmus, over which the Americans
retreated after the battle. A large force was intrenched south of the
town on the neck leading to Roxbury--the only entrance to Boston by
land. The troops were irregularly distributed in a kind of semicircle,
eight or nine miles in extent; the left resting on Winter Hill, the
most northern post, the right extending on the south to Roxbury and
Dorchester Neck.

Washington reconnoitred the British posts from various points of view.
Everything about them was in admirable order. The works appeared to be
constructed with military science, the troops to be in a high state of
discipline. The American camp, on the contrary, disappointed him. He
had expected to find eighteen or twenty thousand men under arms; there
were not much more than fourteen thousand. He had expected to find
some degree of system and discipline; whereas all were raw militia. He
had expected to find works scientifically constructed, and proofs of
knowledge and skill in engineering; whereas, what he saw of the latter
was very imperfect, and confined to the mere manual exercise of

In riding throughout the camp, Washington observed that nine thousand
of the troops belonged to Massachusetts; the rest were from other
provinces. They were encamped in separate bodies, each with its own
regulations, and officers of its own appointment. Some had tents,
others were in barracks, and others sheltered themselves as best they
might. Many were sadly in want of clothing, and all, said Washington,
were strongly imbued with the spirit of insubordination, which they
mistook for independence.

One of the encampments, however, was in striking contrast with the
rest, and might vie with those of the British for order and exactness.
Here were tents and marquees pitched in the English style; soldiers
well drilled and well equipped; everything had an air of discipline
and subordination. It was a body of Rhode Island troops, which had
been raised, drilled, and brought to the camp by Brigadier-general
Greene,{1} of that province.

{Footnote 1: [Nathaniel Greene was born in Rhode Island in May, 1742;
was the son of Quaker parents; in his boyhood aided his father on a
farm and in a mill, but having a thirst for knowledge applied himself
sedulously to various studies. Public affairs had aroused his martial
spirit and he had applied himself to military studies. In the month of
May he had been elected commander of the Rhode Island contingent.]}

Having taken his survey of the army, Washington wrote to the President
of Congress, representing its various deficiencies, and, among other
things, urging the appointment of a commissary-general, a
quartermaster-general, a commissary of musters, and a commissary of
artillery. Above all things, he requested a supply of money as soon as
possible. "I find myself already much embarrassed for want of a
military chest." In one of his recommendations we have an instance of
frontier expediency, learnt in his early campaigns. Speaking of the
ragged condition of the army, and the difficulty of procuring the
requisite kind of clothing, he advises that a number of
hunting-shirts, not less than ten thousand, should be provided; as
being the cheapest and quickest mode of supplying this necessity.

The justice and impartiality of Washington were called into exercise
as soon as he entered upon his command in allaying discontents among
his general officers, caused by the recent appointments and promotions
made by the Continental Congress. General Spencer was so offended that
Putnam should be promoted over his head that he left the army without
visiting the commander-in-chief; but was subsequently induced to
return. General Thomas felt aggrieved by being outranked by the
veteran Pomeroy; the latter however declining to serve, he found
himself senior brigadier, and was appeased.

The Congress of Massachusetts manifested considerate liberality with
respect to head-quarters. According to their minutes, a committee was
charged to procure a steward, a housekeeper, and two or three women
cooks. The wishes of Washington were to be consulted in regard to the
supply of his table. This his station, as commander-in-chief, required
should be kept up in ample and hospitable style. Every day a number of
his officers dined with him. As he was in the neighborhood of the seat
of the Provincial Government, he would occasionally have members of
Congress and other functionaries at his board. Though social, however,
he was not convivial in his habits. He received his guests with
courtesy; but his mind and time were too much occupied by grave and
anxious concerns to permit him the genial indulgence of the table. He
would retire early from the board, leaving an aide-de-camp or one of
his officers to take his place. Colonel Mifflin was the first person
who officiated as aide-de-camp. He was a Philadelphia gentleman of
high respectability, who had accompanied him from that city, and
received his appointment shortly after their arrival at Cambridge. The
second aide-de-camp was John Trumbull,{2} son of the governor of
Connecticut. Trumbull was young, and unaccustomed to society, and soon
found himself, he says, unequal to the elegant duties of his
situation; he gladly exchanged it, therefore, for that of major of

{Footnote 2: In after years distinguished as a historical painter.}

The member of Washington's family most deserving of mention at
present, was his secretary, Mr. Joseph Reed. With this gentleman he
had formed an intimacy in the course of his visits to Philadelphia, to
attend the sessions of the Continental Congress. Mr. Reed was an
accomplished man, had studied law in America, and at the Temple in
London, and had gained a high reputation at the Philadelphia bar. He
had since been highly instrumental in rousing the Philadelphians to
co-operate with the patriots of Boston. A sympathy of views and
feelings had attached him to Washington, and induced him to accompany
him to the camp.

The arrival of Gates in camp was heartily welcomed by the
commander-in-chief, who had received a letter from that officer,
gratefully acknowledging his friendly influence in procuring him the
appointment of adjutant-general. Washington may have promised himself
much cordial co-operation from him, recollecting the warm friendship
professed by him when he visited at Mount Vernon, and they talked
together over their early companionship in arms; but of that kind of
friendship there was no further manifestation. Gates was certainly of
great service, from his practical knowledge and military experience at
this juncture, when the whole army had in a manner to be organized;
but from the familiar intimacy of Washington he gradually estranged
himself. A contemporary has accounted for this by alleging that he was
secretly chagrined at not having received the appointment of
major-general, to which he considered himself well fitted by his
military knowledge and experience and which he thought Washington
might have obtained for him had he used his influence with Congress.

The hazardous position of the army from the great extent and weakness
of its lines, was what most pressed on the immediate attention of
Washington; and he summoned a council of war, to take the matter into
consideration. In this it was urged that, to abandon the line of
works, after the great labor and expense of their construction, would
be dispiriting to the troops and encouraging to the enemy, while it
would expose a wide extent of the surrounding country to maraud and
ravage. Beside, no safer position presented itself, on which to fall
back. This being generally admitted, it was determined to hold on to
the works, and defend them as long as possible; and, in the meantime,
to augment the army to at least twenty thousand men.

Washington now hastened to improve the defences of the camp,
strengthen the weak parts of the line, and throw up additional works
around the main forts. The army was distributed into three grand
divisions. One, forming the right wing, was stationed on the heights
of Roxbury. It was commanded by Major-general Ward, who had under him
Brigadier-generals Spencer and Thomas. Another, forming the left wing,
under Major-general Lee, having with him Brigadier-generals Sullivan
and Greene, was stationed on Winter and Prospect Hills; while the
centre, under Major-general Putnam and Brigadier-general Heath, was
stationed at Cambridge. At Washington's recommendation, Joseph
Trumbull, the eldest son of the governor, received on the 24th of July
the appointment of commissary-general of the continental army. He had
already officiated with talent in that capacity in the Connecticut

Nothing excited more gaze and wonder among the rustic visitors to the
camp than the arrival of several rifle companies, fourteen hundred men
in all, from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia; such stalwart
fellows as Washington had known in his early campaigns. Stark hunters
and bush fighters; many of them upwards of six feet high, and of
vigorous frame; dressed in fringed frocks, or rifle shirts, and round
hats. Their displays of sharp shooting were soon among the marvels of
the camp. One of these companies was commanded by Captain Daniel
Morgan, a native of New Jersey, whose first experience in war had been
to accompany Braddock's army as a wagoner. He had since carried arms
on the frontier and obtained a command. He and his riflemen in coming
to the camp had marched six hundred miles in three weeks.

While all his forces were required for the investment of Boston,
Washington was importuned by the Legislature of Massachusetts and the
Governor of Connecticut, to detach troops for the protection of
different points of the sea-coast, where depredations by armed vessels
were apprehended. The case of New London was specified by Governor
Trumbull, where Captain Wallace of the Rose frigate, with two other
ships of war, had entered the harbor, landed men, spiked the cannon,
and gone off threatening future visits.

Washington referred to his instructions, and consulted with his
general officers and such members of the Continental Congress as
happened to be in camp, before he replied to these requests; he then
respectfully declined compliance. In his reply he stated frankly and
explicitly the policy and system on which the war was to be conducted.
"It has been debated in Congress and settled," writes he, "that the
militia, or other internal strength of each province, is to be applied
for defence against those small and particular depredations, which
were to be expected, and to which they were supposed to be competent.
This will appear the more proper, when it is considered that every
town, and indeed every part of our sea-coast, which is exposed to
these depredations, would have an equal claim upon this army. The
great advantage the enemy have of transporting troops, by being
masters of the sea, will enable them to harass us by diversions of
this kind; and should we be tempted to pursue them, upon every alarm,
the army must either be so weakened as to expose it to destruction, or
a great part of the coast be still left unprotected.... I wish I could
extend protection to all, but the numerous detachments necessary to
remedy the evil would amount to a dissolution of the army, or make the
most important operations of the campaign depend upon the piratical
expeditions of two or three men-of-war and transports."

His refusal to grant the required detachments gave much
dissatisfaction in some quarters, until sanctioned and enforced by the
Continental Congress. All at length saw and acquiesced in the justice
and wisdom of his decision. It was in fact a vital question, involving
the whole character and fortune of the war; and it was acknowledged
that he met it with a forecast and determination befitting a

The great object of Washington at present was to force the enemy to
come out of Boston and try a decisive action. His lines had for some
time cut off all communication of the town with the country, and he
had caused the live stock within a considerable distance of the place
to be driven back from the coast, out of reach of the men-of-war's
boats. At this critical juncture, when endeavoring to provoke a
general action, a startling fact came to light; the whole amount of
powder in the camp would not furnish more than nine cartridges to a

A gross error had been made by the committee of supplies when
Washington, on taking command, had required a return of the
ammunition. They had returned the whole amount of powder collected by
the province, upwards of three hundred barrels; without stating what
had been expended. The blunder was detected on an order being issued
for a new supply of cartridges. It was found that there were but
thirty-two barrels of powder in store. This was an astounding
discovery. Washington instantly despatched letters and expresses to
Rhode Island, the Jerseys, Ticonderoga and elsewhere, urging immediate
supplies of powder and lead; no quantity, however small, to be
considered beneath notice.

A correspondence of an important character now took place between
Washington and General Gage. It was one intended to put the hostile
services on a proper footing. A strong disposition had been manifested
among the British officers to regard those engaged in the patriot
cause as malefactors, outlawed from the courtesies of chivalric
warfare. Washington was determined to have a full understanding on
this point. He was peculiarly sensitive with regard to Gage. They had
been companions in arms in their early days; but Gage might now affect
to look down upon him as the chief of a rebel army. Washington took an
early opportunity to let him know that he claimed to be the commander
of a legitimate force, engaged in a legitimate cause, and that both
himself and his army were to be treated on a footing of perfect


We must interrupt our narrative of the siege of Boston to give an
account of events in other quarters, requiring the superintending care
of Washington as commander-in-chief. Letters from General Schuyler,
received in the course of July, had awakened apprehensions of danger
from the interior. The Johnsons were said to be stirring up the
Indians in the western parts of New York to hostility, and preparing
to join the British forces in Canada.

Great rivalry, since the exploits of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold,
at Ticonderoga and on Lake Champlain, had arisen between these doughty
leaders. Allen claimed command at Ticonderoga, on the authority of the
committee from the Connecticut Assembly, which had originated the
enterprise. Arnold claimed it on the strength of his instructions from
the Massachusetts committee of safety. The public bodies themselves
seemed perplexed what to do with the prize, so bravely seized upon by
these bold men. The Continental Congress at length legitimated the
exploit, and as it were accepted the captured fortress. [The custody
of it was committed to New York, with the power to call on the New
England colonies for aid. The call was made, and one thousand troops
under Colonel Hinman were sent forward by the governor of

It had been the idea of the Continental Congress to have those posts
dismantled, and the cannon and stores removed to the south end of Lake
George, where a strong post was to be established. But both Allen and
Arnold exclaimed against such a measure; vaunting, and with reason,
the importance of those forts. Both were ambitious of further laurels.
Both were anxious to lead an expedition into Canada; and Ticonderoga
and Crown Point would open the way to it. "The Key is ours," writes
Allen to the New York Congress. "If the colonies would suddenly push
an army of two or three thousand men into Canada, they might make an
easy conquest of all that would oppose them in the extensive province
of Quebec, except a reinforcement from England should prevent it. Such
a diversion would weaken Gage and insure us Canada."

A letter to the same purport was written by Allen to Trumbull, the
governor of Connecticut. Arnold urged the same project upon the
attention of the Continental Congress. His letter was dated from Crown
Point, where he had a little squadron, composed of the sloop captured
at St. Johns, a schooner, and a flotilla of bateaux. All these he had
equipped, armed, maimed, and officered; and his crews were devoted to

Within a few days after the date of this letter, Colonel Hinman with
the Connecticut troops arrived. The greater part of the Green Mountain
Boys now returned home, their term of enlistment having expired. Ethan
Allen and his brother in arms, Seth Warner, repaired to Congress to
get pay for their men, and authority to raise a new regiment. They
were received with distinguished honor by that body. As to Arnold,
difficulties instantly took place between him and Colonel Hinman.
Arnold refused to give up to him the command of either post, claiming
on the strength of his instructions from the committee of safety of
Massachusetts, a right to the command of all the posts and fortresses
at the south end of Lake Champlain and Lake George. At this juncture
arrived a committee of three members of the Congress of Massachusetts,
sent by that body to inquire into the manner in which he had executed
his instructions; complaints having been made of his arrogant and
undue assumption of command. Arnold, thunderstruck at being subjected
to inquiry, when he had expected an ovation, disbanded his men and
threw up his commission. Quite a scene ensued. His men became
turbulent; some refused to serve under any other leader; others
clamored for their pay, which was in arrears. The storm was allayed by
the interference of several of the officers, and the assurances of the
committee that every man should be paid.

The project of an invasion of Canada had at first met with no favor
with the Continental Congress. Intelligence subsequently received
induced it to change its plans. Sir Guy Carleton was said to be
strengthening the fortifications and garrison at St. Johns, and
preparing to launch vessels on the lake wherewith to regain command of
it, and retake the captured posts. Powerful reinforcements were coming
from England and elsewhere. Guy Johnson was holding councils with the
fierce Cayugas and Senecas, and stirring up the Six Nations to
hostility. On the other hand, Canada was full of religious and
political dissensions. The late exploits of the Americans on Lake
Champlain, had produced a favorable effect on the Canadians, who would
flock to the patriot standard if unfurled among them by an imposing
force. Now was the time to strike a blow to paralyze all hostility
from this quarter; now, while Carleton's regular force was weak, and
before the arrival of additional troops. Influenced by these
considerations, Congress now determined to extend the revolution into
Canada, but it was an enterprise too important to be entrusted to any
but discreet hands. General Schuyler, then in New York, was
accordingly ordered, on the 27th of June, to proceed to Ticonderoga,
and "should he find it practicable, and not disagreeable to the
Canadians, immediately to take possession of St. Johns and Montreal,
and pursue such other measures in Canada as might have a tendency to
promote the peace and security of these provinces."

Schuyler arrived at Ticonderoga on the 18th of July. Colonel Hinman,
it will be recollected, was in temporary command at Ticonderoga. The
garrison was about twelve hundred strong; the greater part Connecticut
men, brought by himself; some were New York troops, and some few Green
Mountain Boys. Schuyler, on taking command, despatched a confidential
agent into Canada, Major John Brown, an American, who resided on the
Sorel River, and was popular among the Canadians. He was to collect
information as to the British forces and fortifications, and to
ascertain how an invasion and an attack on St. Johns would be
considered by the people of the province; in the meantime, Schuyler
set diligently to work to build boats and prepare for the enterprise,
should it ultimately be ordered by Congress.

Schuyler was excessively annoyed by the confusion and negligence
prevalent around him, and the difficulties and delays thereby
occasioned. He chafed in spirit at the disregard of discipline among
his yeoman soldiery, and their opposition to all system and
regularity. This was especially the case with the troops from
Connecticut, officered generally by their own neighbors and familiar
companions, and unwilling to acknowledge the authority of a commander
from a different province.

He had calculated on being joined by this time by the regiment of
Green Mountain Boys which Ethan Allen and Seth Warner had undertaken
to raise in the New Hampshire Grants. Unfortunately a quarrel had
arisen between those brothers in arms, which filled the Green
Mountains with discord and party feuds. The election of officers took
place on the 27th of July. It was made by committees from the
different townships. Ethan Allen was entirely passed by, and Seth
Warner nominated as Lieutenant-colonel of the regiment. Allen was
thunderstruck at finding himself thus suddenly dismounted. His
patriotism and love of adventure, however, were not quelled: and he
forthwith repaired to the army at Ticonderoga to offer himself as a

Schuyler was on the alert with respect to the expedition against
Canada. From his agent, Major Brown, and from other sources, he had
learnt that there were about seven hundred king's troops in that
province; three hundred of them at St. Johns, about fifty at Quebec,
the remainder at Montreal, Chamblee, and the upper posts. Colonel Guy
Johnson was at Montreal with three hundred men, mostly his tenants,
and with a number of Indians. Two batteries had been finished at St.
Johns, mounting nine guns each: other works were intrenched and
picketed. Two large row galleys were on the stocks, and would soon be
finished. Now was the time, according to his informants, to carry
Canada. It might be done with great ease and little cost. The
Canadians were disaffected to British rule, and would join the
Americans, and so would many of the Indians. "I am prepared," writes
he to Washington, "to move against the enemy, unless your Excellency
and Congress should direct otherwise."

While awaiting orders on this head, he repaired to Albany, to hold a
conference and negotiate a treaty with the Caughnawagas, and the
warriors of the Six Nations, whom, as one of the commissioners of
Indian affairs, he had invited to meet him at that place. General
Richard Montgomery was to remain in command at Ticonderoga, during his
absence, and to urge forward the military preparations. The subsequent
fortunes of this gallant officer are inseparably connected with the
Canadian campaign, and have endeared his name to Americans.{1}

{Footnote 1: [Richard Montgomery was born in the north of Ireland in
1736. He entered the army at eighteen years of age; served in the
French war with gallantry; afterward returned to England. About three
years before the Revolution he sold his commission and emigrated to
New York, where he married a daughter of Judge Robert R. Livingston.]}

While these things were occurring at Ticonderoga, several Indian
chiefs made their appearance in the camp at Cambridge. They came in
savage state and costume, as ambassadors from their respective tribes,
to have a talk about the impending invasion of Canada. One was chief
of the Caughnawaga tribe, whose residence was on the banks of the St.
Lawrence, six miles above Montreal. Others were from St. Francis,
about forty-five leagues above Quebec, and were of a warlike tribe,
from which hostilities had been especially apprehended. Washington,
accustomed to deal with the red warriors of the wilderness, received
them with great ceremonial. They dined at head-quarters among his
officers, and it is observed that to some of the latter they might
have served as models; such was their grave dignity and decorum.

A council fire was held. The sachems all offered, on behalf of their
tribes, to take up the hatchet for the Americans, should the latter
invade Canada. The offer was embarrassing. Congress had publicly
resolved to seek nothing but neutrality from the Indian nations,
unless the ministerial agents should make an offensive alliance with
them. The chief of the St. Francis tribe declared that Governor
Carleton had endeavored to persuade him to take up the hatchet against
the Americans, but in vain.

Washington wished to be certain of the conduct of the enemy, before he
gave a reply to these Indian overtures. He wrote by express,
therefore, to General Schuyler, requesting him to ascertain the
intentions of the British governor with respect to the native tribes.
By the same express, he communicated a plan which had occupied his
thoughts for several days. As the contemplated movement of Schuyler
would probably cause all the British force in Canada to be
concentrated in the neighborhood of Montreal and St. Johns, he
proposed to send off an expedition of ten or twelve hundred men, to
penetrate to Quebec by the way of the Kennebec River.

The express found Schuyler in Albany, where he had been attending the
conference with the Six Nations. He had just received intelligence
which convinced him of the propriety of an expedition into Canada; had
sent word to General Montgomery to get everything ready for it, and
was on the point of departing for Ticonderoga to carry it into effect.
In reply to Washington, he declared his conviction, from various
accounts which he had received, that Carleton and his agents were
exciting the Indian tribes to hostility. "I should, therefore, not
hesitate one moment," adds he, "to employ any savages that might be
willing to join us." He expressed himself delighted with Washington's
project of sending off an expedition to Quebec, regretting only that
it had not been thought of earlier.

Having sent off these despatches, Schuyler hastened back to
Ticonderoga. Before he reached there, Montgomery had received
intelligence that Carleton had completed his armed vessels at St.
Johns, and was about to send them into Lake Champlain by the Sorel
River. No time, therefore, was to be lost in getting possession of the
Isle aux Noix, which commanded the entrance to that river. Montgomery
hastened, therefore, to embark with about a thousand men, which were
as many as the boats now ready could hold, taking with him two pieces
of artillery; with this force he set off down the lake. A letter to
General Schuyler explained the cause of his sudden departure, and
entreated him to follow on in a whale-boat, leaving the residue of the
artillery to come on as soon as conveyances could be procured.

Schuyler arrived at Ticonderoga on the night of the 30th of August,
but too ill of a bilious fever to push on in a whale-boat. He caused,
however, a bed to be prepared for him in a covered bateau, and, ill as
he was, continued forward on the following day. On the 4th of
September he overtook Montgomery at the Isle la Motte, where he had
been detained by contrary weather, and assuming command of the little
army, kept on the same day to the Isle aux Noix, about twelve miles
south of St. Johns.

The siege of Boston had been kept up for several weeks without any
remarkable occurrence. The British remained within their lines,
diligently strengthening them; the besiegers having received further
supplies of ammunition, were growing impatient of a state of
inactivity. Towards the latter part of August there were rumors from
Boston that the enemy were preparing for a sortie. Washington was
resolved to provoke it by a kind of challenge. He accordingly detached
fourteen hundred men to seize at night upon a height within musket
shot of the enemy's line on Charlestown Neck, presuming that the
latter would sally forth on the following day to dispute possession of
it, and thus be drawn into a general battle. The task was executed
with silence and celerity, and by daybreak the hill presented to the
astonished foe the aspect of a fortified post.

The challenge was not accepted. The British opened a heavy cannonade
from Bunker's Hill, but kept within their works. The Americans, scant
of ammunition, could only reply with a single nine-pounder; this
however sank one of the floating batteries which guarded the neck. The
evident unwillingness of the British to come forth was perplexing.
Perhaps they persuaded themselves that the American army, composed of
crude, half-disciplined levies from different and distant quarters,
would gradually fall asunder and disperse, or that its means of
subsistence would be exhausted.

In the meantime as it was evident the enemy did not intend to come
out, but were only strengthening their defences and preparing for
winter, Washington was enabled to turn his attention to the expedition
to be sent into Canada by the way of the Kennebec River. A detachment
of about eleven hundred men, chosen for the purpose, was soon encamped
on Cambridge Common. The proposed expedition was wild and perilous,
and required a hardy, skilful and intrepid leader. Such a one was at
hand. Benedict Arnold was at Cambridge, occupied in settling his
accounts with the Massachusetts committee of safety. Whatever faults
may have been found with his conduct in some particulars, his exploits
on Lake Champlain had atoned for them, for valor in time of war covers
a multitude of sins.

Washington had given him an honorable reception at head-quarters, and
now considered him the very man for the present enterprise. As he
would be intrusted with dangerous powers, Washington, beside a general
letter of instructions, addressed a special one to him individually,
full of cautious and considerate advice. He was furnished with
handbills for distribution in Canada, setting forth the friendly
objects of the present expedition, as well as of that under General
Schuyler; and calling on the Canadians to furnish necessaries and
accommodations of every kind; for which they were assured ample

On the 13th of September, Arnold struck his tents and set out in high
spirits. Washington enjoined upon him to push forward, as rapidly as
possible, success depending upon celerity; and counted the days as
they elapsed after his departure, impatient to receive tidings of his
progress up the Kennebec, and expecting that the expedition would
reach Quebec about the middle of October. In the interim came letters
from General Schuyler, giving particulars of the main expedition.

In a preceding chapter we left the general and his little army at the
Isle aux Noix, near the Sorel River, the outlet of the lake. Thence,
on the 5th of September, he sent Colonel Ethan Allen and Major Brown
to reconnoitre the country between that river and the St. Lawrence, to
distribute friendly addresses among the people and ascertain their
feelings. This done, and having landed his baggage and provisions, the
general proceeded along the Sorel River the next day with his boats,
until within two miles of St. Johns, when a cannonade was opened from
the fort.

In the night the camp was visited secretly by a person who informed
General Schuyler of the state of the fort. The works were completed,
and furnished with cannon. A vessel pierced for sixteen guns was
launched, and would be ready to sail in three or four days. It was not
probable that any Canadians would join the army, being disposed to
remain neutral. This intelligence being discussed in a council of war
in the morning, it was determined that they had neither men nor
artillery sufficient to undertake a siege. They returned, therefore,
to the Isle aux Noix, cast up fortifications, and threw a boom across
the channel of the river to prevent the passage of the enemy's vessels
into the lake, and awaited the arrival of artillery and reinforcements
from Ticonderoga. In the course of a few days the expected
reinforcements arrived, and with them a small train of artillery.
Ethan Allen also returned from his reconnoitring expedition, of which
he made a most encouraging report.

Preparations were now made for the investment of St. Johns, by land
and water. Major Brown, who had already acted as a scout, was sent
with one hundred Americans and about thirty Canadians towards
Chamblee, to make friends in that quarter, and to join the army as
soon as it should arrive at St. Johns. To quiet the restless activity
of Ethan Allen, who had no command in the army, he was sent with an
escort of thirty men to retrace his steps, penetrate to La Prairie,
and beat up for recruits among the people whom he had recently

For some time past, General Schuyler had been struggling with a
complication of maladies, but exerting himself to the utmost in the
harassing business of the camp. When everything was nearly ready, he
was attacked in the night by a severe access of his disorder, which
confined him to his bed, and compelled him to surrender the conduct of
the expedition to General Montgomery. Since he could be of no further
use, therefore, in this quarter, he caused his bed, as before, to be
placed on board a covered bateau, and set off for Ticonderoga, to
hasten forward reinforcements and supplies.

On the 16th of September, the day after Schuyler's departure,
Montgomery proceeded to carry out the plans which had been concerted
between them. Landing on the 17th at the place where they had formerly
encamped, within a mile and a half of the fort, he detached a force of
five hundred men to take a position at the junction of two roads
leading to Montreal and Chamblee, so as to intercept relief from those
points. He now proceeded to invest St. Johns, which had a garrison of
five or six hundred regulars and two hundred Canadian militia. Its
commander, Major Preston, made a brave resistance. Montgomery had not
proper battering cannon; his mortars were defective; his artillerists
unpractised, and the engineer ignorant. The siege went on slowly,
until the arrival of an artillery company under Captain Lamb. Lamb,
who was an able officer, immediately bedded a thirteen-inch mortar,
and commenced a fire of shot and shells upon the fort. The distance,
however, was too great, and the positions of the batteries were ill

A flourishing letter was received by the general from Colonel Ethan
Allen, giving hope of further reinforcement. "I am now," writes he,
"at the Parish of St. Ours, four leagues from Sorel to the south. I
have two hundred and fifty Canadians under arms. As I march, they
gather fast. You may rely on it that I shall join you in about three
days, with five hundred or more Canadian volunteers."

But when on his way towards St. Johns, when between Longueil and La
Prairie, Allen met Colonel Brown with his party of Americans and
Canadians. A conversation took place between them. Brown assured him
that the garrison at Montreal did not exceed thirty men, and might
easily be surprised. Allen's partisan spirit was instantly excited.
Here was a chance for another bold stroke equal to that at
Ticonderoga. A plan was forthwith agreed upon. Allen was to return to
Longueil, which is nearly opposite Montreal, and cross the St.
Lawrence in canoes in the night, so as to land a little below the
town. Brown, with two hundred men, was to cross above, and Montreal
was to be attacked simultaneously at opposite points.

All this was arranged and put in action without the consent or
knowledge of General Montgomery. Allen was again the partisan leader,
acting from individual impulse. The whole force with which he
undertook his part of this inconsiderate enterprise was thirty
Americans and eighty Canadians. With these he crossed the river on the
night of the 24th of September. Guards were stationed on the roads to
prevent any one passing and giving the alarm in Montreal. Day dawned,
but there was no signal of Major Brown having performed his part of
the scheme. The day advanced, but still no signal; it was evident
Major Brown had not crossed. Allen would gladly have recrossed the
river, but it was too late. An alarm had been given to the town, and
he soon found himself encountered by about forty regular soldiers and
a hasty levy of Canadians and Indians. A smart action ensued; most of
Allen's Canadian recruits gave way and fled, a number of Americans
were slain, and he at length surrendered. This reckless dash at
Montreal was viewed with concern by the American commander. "I am
apprehensive of disagreeable consequences arising from Mr. Allen's
imprudence," writes General Schuyler. The conduct of Allen was also
severely censured by Washington. "His misfortune," said he, "will, I
hope, teach a lesson of prudence and subordination to others."

Washington, who was full of solicitude about the fate of Arnold,
received a despatch from him, dated October 13th, from the great
portage or carrying-place between the Kennebec and Dead Rivers. The
toils of the expedition up the Kennebec River had been excessive. Part
of the men of each division managed the boats--part marched along the
banks. Those on board had to labor against swift currents; to unload
at rapids; transport the cargoes, and sometimes the boats themselves,
for some distance on their shoulders, and then to reload. Those on
land had to scramble over rocks and precipices, to struggle through
swamps and fenny streams; or cut their way through tangled thickets,
which reduced their clothes to rags. With all their efforts, their
progress was but from four to ten miles a day.

By the time they arrived at the place whence the letter was written,
fatigue, swamp fevers and desertion had reduced their numbers to about
nine hundred and fifty effective men. Arnold, however, wrote in good
heart. "The last division," said he, "is just arrived; three divisions
are over the first carrying-place, and as the men are in high spirits,
I make no doubt of reaching the river Chaudiere in eight or ten days,
the greatest difficulty being, I hope, already past."


While the two expeditions were threatening Canada from different
quarters, the war was going on along the seaboard. The British in
Boston, cut off from supplies by land, fitted out small armed vessels
to seek them along the coast of New England. The inhabitants drove
their cattle into the interior, or boldly resisted the aggressors.
Parties landing to forage were often repulsed by hasty levies of the
yeomanry. Scenes of ravage and violence occurred. Stonington was
cannonaded, and further measures of vengeance were threatened by
Captain Wallace of the Rose man-of-war, a naval officer, who had
acquired an almost piratical reputation along the coast, and had his
rendezvous in the harbor of Newport: domineering over the waters of
Rhode Island.

To check these maraudings, and to capture the enemy's transports laden
with supplies, the provinces of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and
Connecticut fitted out two armed vessels each, at their own expense,
without seeking the sanction or aid of Congress. Washington, also, on
his own responsibility ordered several to be equipped for like

Among the sturdy little New England seaports, which had become
obnoxious to punishment by resistance to nautical exactions, was
Falmouth (now Portland), in Maine. On the evening of the 11th of
October, Lieutenant Mowat, of the royal navy, appeared before it with
several armed vessels, and sent a letter on shore, apprising the
inhabitants that he was come to execute a just punishment on them for
their "premeditated attacks on the legal prerogatives of the best of
sovereigns." Two hours were given them, "to remove the human species
out of the town." With much difficulty, and on the surrendering of
some arms, a respite was obtained until nine o'clock the next morning,
and the inhabitants employed the interval in removing their families
and effects. About half-past nine o'clock the signal gun was fired,
and within five minutes several houses were in flames. The
inhabitants, standing on the heights, were spectators of the
conflagration. All the vessels in the harbor were destroyed or carried
away as prizes, and the town left a smoking ruin.

The conflagration of Falmouth was as a bale of fire throughout the
country. [Lieutenant Mowat had declared to the people of Falmouth that
he had orders from Admiral Graves to set fire to all the seaport towns
between Boston and Halifax. Washington supposed such to be the case.]
General Sullivan was sent to Portsmouth, where there was a
fortification of some strength, to give the inhabitants his advice and
assistance in warding off the menaced blow. Newport, also, was put on
the alert, and recommended to fortify itself. Under the feeling roused
by these reports, the General Court of Massachusetts, exercising a
sovereign power, passed an act for encouraging the fitting out of
armed vessels to defend the sea-coast of America, and for erecting a
court to try and condemn all vessels that should be found infesting
the same. This act, granting letters of marque and reprisal,
anticipated any measure of the kind on the part of the General

The British ministry have, in later days, been exculpated from the
charge of issuing such a desolating order as that said to have been
reported by Lieutenant Mowat. The orders under which that officer
acted, we are told, emanated from General Gage and Admiral Graves.
Whatever part General Gage may have had in this most ill-advised and
discreditable measure, it was the last of his military government, and
he did not remain long enough in the country to see it carried into
effect. He sailed for England on the 10th of October, not absolutely
superseded, but called home, "in order," as it was considerately said,
"to give his majesty exact information of everything, and suggest such
matters as his knowledge and experience of the service might enable
him to furnish." During his absence, Major-general Howe would act as
commander-in-chief. He never returned to America.

On the 15th of October a committee from Congress arrived in camp, sent
to hold a conference with Washington, and with delegates from the
governments of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New
Hampshire, on the subject of a new organization of the army. The
committee consisted of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Lynch of Carolina,
and Colonel Harrison of Virginia. Washington was president of the
board of conference, and Mr. Joseph Reed secretary. The committee
brought an intimation from Congress that an attack upon Boston was
much desired, if practicable. Washington called a council of war of
his generals on the subject; they were unanimously of the opinion that
an attack would not be prudent at present.

The board of conference was repeatedly in session for three or four
days. The report of its deliberations rendered by the committee,
produced a resolution of Congress that a new army of twenty-two
thousand two hundred and seventy-two men and officers should be
formed, to be recruited as much as possible from the troops actually
in service. Unfortunately the term for which they were to be enlisted
was to be _but for one year_. It formed a precedent which became a
recurring cause of embarrassment throughout the war.

Washington's secretary, Mr. Reed, had, after the close of the
conference, signified to him his intention to return to Philadelphia,
where his private concerns required his presence. His departure was
deeply regretted. On the departure of Mr. Reed, his place as secretary
was temporarily supplied by Mr. Robert Harrison of Maryland, and
subsequently by Colonel Mifflin; neither, however, attained to the
affectionate confidence reposed in their predecessor.

The measures which General Howe had adopted after taking command in
Boston, rejoiced the royalists, seeming to justify their
anticipations. He proceeded to strengthen the works on Bunker's Hill
and Boston Neck, and to clear away houses and throw up redoubts on
eminences within the town. The patriot inhabitants were shocked by the
desecration of the Old South Church, which was converted into a
riding-school. The North Church was entirely demolished and used for

About the last of October, Howe issued three proclamations. The first
forbade all persons to leave Boston without his permission under pain
of military execution; the second forbade any one, so permitted, to
take with him more than five pounds sterling, under pain of forfeiting
all the money found upon his person and being subject to fine and
imprisonment; the third called upon the inhabitants to arm themselves
for the preservation of order within the town; they to be commanded by
officers of his appointment.

Washington had recently been incensed by the conflagration of
Falmouth; the conduct of Governor Dunmore who had proclaimed martial
law in Virginia and threatened ruin to the patriots, had added to his
provocation; the measures of General Howe seemed of the same harsh
character, and he determined to retaliate. "Would it not be prudent,"
writes he to Governor Trumbull of Connecticut, "to seize those tories
who have been, are, and we know will be active against us? Why should
persons who are preying upon the vitals of their country, be suffered
to stalk at large, whilst we know they will do us every mischief in
their power?"

In this spirit he ordered General Sullivan, who was fortifying
Portsmouth, "to seize upon such persons as held commissions under the
crown, and were acting as open and avowed enemies to their country,
and hold them as hostages for the security of the town." Still he was
moderate in his retaliation, and stopped short of private individuals.

The season was fast approaching when the bay between the camp and
Boston would be frozen over, and military operations might be
conducted upon the ice. General Howe, if reinforced, would then very
probably "endeavor to relieve himself from the disgraceful confinement
in which the ministerial troops had been all summer." Washington felt
the necessity, therefore, of guarding the camps wherever they were
most assailable: and of throwing up batteries for the purpose. He had
been embarrassed throughout the siege by the want of artillery and
ordnance stores; but never more so than at the present moment. In this
juncture, Mr. Henry Knox stepped forward, and offered to proceed to
the frontier forts on Champlain in quest of a supply. Knox was one of
the patriots who had fought on Bunker's Hill, since when he had aided
in planning the defences of the camp before Boston. The aptness and
talent here displayed by him as an artillerist, had recently induced
Washington to recommend him to Congress for the command of a regiment
of artillery. Congress had not yet acted on that recommendation; in
the meantime Washington availed himself of the offered services of
Knox in the present instance. He was instructed to take an account of
the cannon, mortars, shells, lead and ammunition that were wanting. He
was to hasten to New York, procure and forward all that could be had
there; and thence proceed to the head-quarters of General Schuyler,
who was requested by letter to aid him in obtaining what further
supplies of the kind were wanting from the forts at Ticonderoga, Crown
Point, St. Johns, and even Quebec, should it be in the hands of the
Americans. Knox set off on his errand with promptness and alacrity.

The re-enlistment of troops actually in service was now attempted, and
proved a fruitful source of perplexity. In a letter to the President
of Congress, Washington observes that half of the officers of the rank
of captain were inclined to retire; and it was probable their example
would influence their men. Of those who were disposed to remain, the
officers of one colony were unwilling to mix in the same regiment with
those of another. Many sent in their names, to serve in expectation of
promotion; others stood aloof, to see what advantages they could make
for themselves; while those who had declined sent in their names again
to serve. The difficulties were greater, if possible, with the
soldiers than with the officers. They would not enlist unless they
knew their colonel, lieutenant-colonel and captain; Connecticut men
being unwilling to serve under officers from Massachusetts, and
Massachusetts men under officers from Rhode Island: so that it was
necessary to appoint the officers first.

Twenty days later he again writes to the President of Congress: "I am
sorry to be necessitated to mention to you the egregious want of
public spirit which prevails here. Instead of pressing to be engaged
in the cause of their country, which I vainly flattered myself would
be the case, I find we are likely to be deserted in a most critical
time.... Our situation is truly alarming, and of this General Howe is
well apprised. No doubt when he is reinforced he will avail himself of
the information." In a letter to Reed he disburdened his heart more
completely. "Such dearth of public spirit, and such want of virtue;
such stock-jobbing, and fertility in all the low arts to obtain
advantage of one kind or another in this great change of military
arrangement, I never saw before, and I pray God's mercy that I may
never be witness to again."


[Despatches from Schuyler, dated October 26th, gave Washington another
chapter of the Canada expedition. Chamblee, an inferior fort within
five miles of St. Johns, had been captured. Montgomery now pressed the
siege of St. Johns with vigor. Major Preston, although suffering for
want of provisions, still held out manfully, hoping for relief from
General Carleton. Colonel Maclean, a brave and veteran Scot, had
enlisted three hundred of his countrymen at Quebec, and was to land at
the mouth of the Sorel, where it empties into the St. Lawrence, and
proceeding along the latter river join Carleton at St. Johns, who
would repair thither by the way of Longueil.

On September 31st, Carleton embarked his force at Montreal in
thirty-four boats, to cross the St. Lawrence, and land at Longueil. As
the boats approached the shore, a terrible fire of artillery and
musketry opened upon them from a detachment of Green Mountain Boys and
New York troops stationed there under the command of Colonel Seth
Warner. The boats were thrown into confusion; some were disabled,
others were driven on shore on an island, and Carleton retreated with
the rest to Montreal. This disorder led to the surrender of St. Johns,
the garrison of which consisted of five hundred regulars and one
hundred Canadians. Colonel Maclean, who was to have co-operated with
Carleton, met with no better fortune than that commander.] While in
full march for St. Johns he encountered Majors Brown and Livingston,
who pressed him back to the mouth of the Sorel, where, hearing of the
repulse of Carleton, and being deserted by his Canadian recruits, he
embarked the residue of his troops, and set off down the St. Lawrence
to Quebec. The Americans now took post at the mouth of the Sorel,
where they erected batteries so as to command the St. Lawrence, and
prevent the descent of any armed vessels from Montreal.

[Arnold, meanwhile, was advancing with severe toil and difficulty. His
troops and effects were transported across the carrying-point between
the Kennebec and Dead Rivers. On the latter river they landed their
boats, and navigated its sluggish waters to the foot of snow crowned
mountains. Here they experienced heavy rains; some of their boats were
overturned by torrents from the mountains, and many of their
provisions lost. The sick list increased, and the spirits of the army
gave way. But the energy of Arnold was unabated. He pushed on, and at
Lake Megantic, the source of the Chaudiere, he met an emissary whom he
had sent forward to sound the feelings of the French yeomanry. His
report being favorable, Arnold divided his provisions among his
troops, and with a light foraging party pushed rapidly ahead to
procure and send back supplies. Chaudiere is little better than a
mountain torrent, full of rocks and rapids. Arnold embarked upon it
with his little party in five bateaux and a birch canoe. Three of the
boats were dashed to pieces, the cargoes lost, and the crews saved
with difficulty.] At length they reached Sertigan, the first French
settlement, where they were cordially received. Here Arnold bought
provisions, which he sent back by the Canadians and Indians to his
troops. The latter were in a state of starvation.

Arnold halted for a short time in the hospitable valley of Chaudiere
to give his troops repose, and distributed among the inhabitants the
printed manifesto with which he had been furnished by Washington. Here
he was joined by about forty Norridgewock Indians. On the 9th of
November, the little army emerged from the woods at Point Levi, on the
St. Lawrence, opposite to Quebec.

Leaving Arnold in full sight of Quebec, we turn to narrate the events
of the upper expedition into Canada. Montgomery appeared before
Montreal on the 12th of November. General Carleton had embarked with
his little garrison and several of the civil officers of the place, on
board of a flotilla of ten or eleven small vessels, and made sail in
the night. The town capitulated, of course; and Montgomery took quiet
possession. His urbanity and kindness soon won the good will of the
inhabitants, both English and French, and made the Canadians sensible
that he really came to secure their rights, not to molest them.
Intercepted letters acquainted him with Arnold's arrival in the
neighborhood of Quebec.

His great immediate object was the capture of Carleton; which would
form a triumphal close to the enterprise, and might decide the fate of
Canada. The flotilla in which the general was embarked had made
repeated attempts to escape down the St. Lawrence; but had as often
been driven back by the batteries thrown up by the Americans at the
mouth of the Sorel. It now lay anchored about fifteen miles above the
river; and Montgomery prepared to attack it with bateaux and light
artillery, so as to force it down upon the batteries. Carleton saw his
imminent peril. Disguising himself as a Canadian voyager, he set off
on a dark night accompanied by six peasants, in a boat with muffled
oars, which he assisted to pull; slipped quietly and silently past all
the batteries and guard-boats, and effected his escape to Three
Rivers, where he embarked in a vessel for Quebec. After his departure
the flotilla surrendered.

Montgomery now placed garrisons in Montreal, St. Johns and Chamblee,
and made final preparations for descending the St. Lawrence, and
co-operating with Arnold against Quebec. To his disappointment and
deep chagrin, he found but a handful of his troops disposed to
accompany him. Some pleaded ill health; the term of enlistment of many
had expired, and they were bent on returning home; and others, who had
no such excuses to make became exceedingly turbulent, and mutinous.
Nothing but a sense of public duty and gratitude to Congress for an
unsought commission, had induced Montgomery to engage in the service;
wearied by the continual vexations which beset it, he avowed, in a
letter to Schuyler, his determination to retire as soon as the
intended expedition against Quebec was finished.

[General Montgomery had been thwarted continually in his efforts by
the want of subordination and discipline among his troops, "who," said
he, "carry the spirit of freedom into the camp and think for
themselves." Accustomed as he had been, in his former military
experience, to the implicit obedience of European troops, the
insubordination of these yeoman soldiery was intolerable to him.]

The tidings of the capture of Montreal gave Washington the liveliest
satisfaction. He now looked forward to equal success in the expedition
against Quebec. Certain passages of Schuyler's letters, however, gave
him deep concern, wherein that general complained of the
embarrassments and annoyances he had experienced from the
insubordination of the army. "Habituated to order," said he, "I cannot
without pain see that disregard of discipline, confusion and
inattention which reign so generally in this quarter, and I am
determined to retire. Of this resolution I have advised Congress."

He had indeed done so. In communicating to the President of Congress
the complaints of General Montgomery, and his intention to retire, "my
sentiments," said he, "exactly coincide with his. I shall, with him,
do everything in my power to put a finishing stroke to the campaign,
and make the best arrangement in my power, in order to insure success
to the next. This done, I must beg leave to retire." Congress,
however, was too well aware of his value, readily to dispense with his
services. His letter produced a prompt resolution expressive of their
high sense of his attention and perseverance, "which merited the
thanks of the United Colonies."

What, however, produced a greater effect upon Schuyler than any
encomium or entreaty on the part of Congress, were the expostulations
of Washington, inspired by strong friendship and kindred sympathies.
"I am exceedingly sorry," writes the latter, "that you and General
Montgomery incline to quit the service. Let me ask you, sir, when is
the time for brave men to exert themselves in the cause of liberty and
their country, if this is not? Should any difficulties that they may
have to encounter at this important crisis deter them? God knows there
is not a difficulty that you both very justly complain of, that I have
not in an eminent degree experienced, that I am not every day
experiencing; but we must bear up against them, and make the best of
mankind, as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish. Let me
therefore conjure you, and Mr. Montgomery, to lay aside such
thoughts--as thoughts injurious to yourselves and extremely so to your
country, which calls aloud for gentlemen of your ability."

This noble appeal went straight to the heart of Schuyler, and brought
out a magnanimous reply. "I do not hesitate," writes he, "to answer my
dear general's question in the affirmative, by declaring that now or
never is the time for every virtuous American to exert himself in the
cause of liberty and his country; and that it is become a duty
cheerfully to sacrifice the sweets of domestic felicity to attain the
honest and glorious end America has in view."

[The true cause of Schuyler's wish to retire from official station was
the annoyance he had suffered through the campaign from sectional
prejudices. The eastern troops persistently declared that the general
commanding in that quarter ought to be of the colony whence the
majority of the troops came. His liberal treatment of British and
Canadian prisoners was also a cause of offence, and rendered him


The forming even of the skeleton of an army under the new regulations,
had been a work of infinite difficulty; to fill it up was still more
difficult. The first burst of revolutionary zeal had passed away;
enthusiasm had been chilled by the inaction and monotony of a long
encampment; an encampment, moreover, destitute of those comforts
which, in experienced warfare, are provided by a well-regulated
commissariat. The troops had suffered privations of every kind, want
of fuel, clothing, provisions. They looked forward with dismay to the
rigors of winter, and longed for their rustic homes and their family

[The Connecticut troops, whose time was expiring, were urged to remain
until December 10th, when their place would be supplied by new levies.
They refused, and withdrew on the 1st, thereby greatly weakening the
lines. This conduct excited great indignation, and the homeward-bound
warriors met with a reception on their arrival at home which prompted
many to return again to camp.]

On the very day after the departure homeward of these troops, and
while it was feared their example would be contagious, a long,
lumbering train of wagons, laden with ordnance and military stores,
and decorated with flags, came wheeling into the camp escorted by
continental troops and country militia. They were part of the cargo of
a large brigantine laden with munitions of war, captured and sent in
to Cape Ann by the schooner Lee, Captain Manly, one of the cruisers
sent out by Washington. Beside the ordnance captured, there were two
thousand stand of arms, one hundred thousand flints, thirty thousand
round shot, and thirty-two tons of musket balls.

It was a cheering incident, and was eagerly turned to account. Among
the ordnance was a huge brass mortar of a new construction, weighing
near three thousand pounds. It was considered a glorious trophy, and
there was a resolve to christen it. Mifflin, Washington's secretary,
suggested the name. The mortar was fixed in a bed; old Putnam mounted
it, dashed on it a bottle of rum, and gave it the name of "Congress."

With Washington, this transient gleam of nautical success was soon
overshadowed by the conduct of the cruisers he had sent to the St.
Lawrence. Failing to intercept the brigantines, the objects of their
cruise, they landed on the Island of St. Johns, plundered the house of
the governor and several private dwellings, and brought off three of
the principal inhabitants prisoners; one of whom, Mr. Callbeck, was
president of the council, and acted as governor. These gentlemen made
a memorial to Washington of this scandalous maraud. He instantly
ordered the restoration of the effects which had been pillaged.

Shortly after the foregoing occurrence, information was received of
the indignities which had been heaped upon Colonel Ethan Allen, [who
was loaded with chains and thrown into prison,] when captured at
Montreal by General Prescott, who himself was now a prisoner in the
hands of the Americans. It touched Washington on a point on which he
was most sensitive and tenacious, the treatment of American officers
when captured.

[A correspondence ensued between Washington and General Howe, in which
the former threatened as retaliation to inflict upon General Prescott
the same treatment and fate which Colonel Allen should experience. In
reply, Howe asserted that his command did not extend to Canada and
that he had no knowledge of Allen or his fate. General Carleton, he
assumed, would not in this case forfeit his past pretensions to
decency and humanity. The measure of retaliation threatened by
Washington was actually meted out by Congress on the arrival of
General Prescott in Philadelphia. He was ordered into close
confinement in jail, though not put in irons; but subsequently, on
account of his health, he was released.]

At the time of this correspondence with Howe, Washington was earnestly
occupied preparing works for the bombardment of Boston, should that
measure be resolved upon by Congress. General Putnam, in the preceding
month, had taken possession in the night of Cobble Hill without
molestation from the enemy, though a commanding eminence; and in two
days had constructed a work, which, from its strength, was named
Putnam's impregnable fortress. He was now engaged on another work on
Lechmere Point, to be connected with the works at Cobble Hill by a
bridge thrown across Willis's Creek, and a covered way. Lechmere Point
is immediately opposite the north part of Boston; and the Scarborough
ship-of-war was anchored near it. Putnam availed himself of a dark and
foggy day (Dec. 17), to commence operations, and broke ground with
four hundred men, at ten o'clock in the morning, on a hill at the
Point. "The mist," says a contemporary account, "was so great as to
prevent the enemy from discovering what he was about until near twelve
o'clock, when it cleared up, and opened to their view our whole party
at the Point, and another at the causeway throwing a bridge over the
creek. The Scarborough, anchored off the Point, poured in a broadside.
The enemy from Boston threw shells. The garrison at Cobble Hill
returned fire. Our men were obliged to decamp from the Point, but the
work was resumed by the brave old general at night."

On the next morning, General Heath was detached with a party of men to
carry on the work which Putnam had commenced. It was to consist of two
redoubts, on one of which was to be a mortar battery. There was, as
yet, a deficiency of ordnance; but the prize mortar was to be mounted
which Putnam had recently christened, "The Congress." For several days
the labor at the works was continued; the redoubts were thrown up, and
a covered way was constructed leading down to the bridge. All this was
done notwithstanding the continual fire of the enemy. Putnam
anticipated great effects from this work, and especially from his
grand mortar. Shells there were in abundance for a bombardment; the
only thing wanting was a supply of powder.

Amid the various concerns of the war, and the multiplied perplexities
of the camp, the thoughts of Washington continually reverted to his
home on the banks of the Potomac. A constant correspondence was kept
up between him and his agent, Mr. Lund Washington, who had charge of
his various estates. The general gave clear and minute directions as
to their management, and the agent rendered as clear and minute
returns of everything that had been done in consequence. According to
recent accounts, Mount Vernon had been considered in danger. Lord
Dunmore was exercising martial law in the Ancient Dominion, and it was
feared that the favorite abode of the "rebel commander-in-chief" would
be marked out for hostility, and that the enemy might land from their
ships in the Potomac and lay it waste. Washington's brother, John
Augustine, had entreated Mrs. Washington to leave it. The people of
Loudoun had advised her to seek refuge beyond the Blue Ridge, and had
offered to send a guard to escort her. She had declined the offer, not
considering herself in danger. Lund Washington was equally free from
apprehensions on the subject. Though alive to everything concerning
Mount Vernon, Washington agreed with them in deeming it in no present
danger of molestation by the enemy. Still he felt for the loneliness
of Mrs. Washington's situation, heightened as it must be by anxiety on
his own account. He wrote to her, therefore, by express, in November,
inviting her to join him at the camp. He at the same time wrote to
Lund Washington, engaging his continued services as an agent. This
person, though bearing the same name, and probably of the same stock,
does not appear to have been in any near degree of relationship.

Mrs. Washington came on with her own carriage and horses, accompanied
by her son, Mr. Custis, and his wife. Escorts and guards of honor
attended her from place to place, and she was detained some time at
Philadelphia by the devoted attention of the inhabitants. Her arrival
at Cambridge was a glad event in the army.

[Mrs. Washington presided at head-quarters with dignity and
affability. Some questions of ceremony had arisen, and jealousies had
been excited in reference to invitations to head-quarters. The
presence of Mrs. Washington relieved the general from numerous
perplexities of this character. After her arrival the camp assumed a
more convivial tone than before, and parties became common.]

While giving these familiar scenes and occurrences we are tempted to
subjoin one furnished from the manuscript memoir of an eye witness. A
large party of Virginia riflemen, who had recently arrived in camp,
were strolling about Cambridge, and viewing the collegiate buildings,
now turned into barracks. Their half-Indian equipments, and fringed
and ruffled hunting garbs, provoked the merriment of some troops from
Marblehead, chiefly fishermen and sailors, who thought nothing equal
to the round jacket and trowsers. A bantering ensued between them.
There was snow upon the ground, and snowballs began to fly when jokes
were wanting. The parties waxed warm with the contest. They closed,
and came to blows; both sides were reinforced, and in a little while
at least a thousand were at fisticuffs, and there was a tumult in the
camp worthy of the days of Homer. "At this juncture," writes our
informant, "Washington made his appearance, whether by accident or
design, I never knew. I saw none of his aides with him; his black
servant was just behind him mounted. He threw the bridle of his own
horse into his servant's hands, sprang from his seat, rushed into the
thickest of the melée, seized two tall brawny riflemen by the throat,
keeping them at arm's-length, talking to and shaking them."

As they were from his own province, he may have felt peculiarly
responsible for their good conduct; they were engaged, too, in one of
those sectional brawls which were his especial abhorrence; his
reprimand must, therefore, have been a vehement one. He was commanding
in his serenest moments, but irresistible in his bursts of
indignation. On the present occasion, we are told, his appearance and
strong-handed rebuke put an instant end to the tumult. The combatants
dispersed in all directions, and in less than three minutes none
remained on the ground but the two he had collared.

The invasion of Canada still shared the anxious thoughts of
Washington. His last accounts of the movements of Arnold, left him at
Point Levi, opposite to Quebec. It was his intention to cross the
river immediately. At Point Levi, however, he was brought to a stand;
not a boat was to be found there. Letters to Generals Schuyler and
Montgomery had been carried by his faithless messengers, to Caramhé,
the lieutenant-governor, who, had caused all the boats of Point Levi
to be either removed or destroyed.

Arnold was not a man to be disheartened by difficulties. With great
exertions he procured about forty birch canoes, but stormy winds
arose, and for some days the river was too boisterous for such frail
craft. In the meantime the garrison at Quebec was gaining strength.
The veteran Maclean arrived down the river with his corps of Royal
Highland Emigrants, and threw himself into the place. The Lizard
frigate, the Hornet sloop-of-war, and two armed schooners were
stationed in the river, and guard-boats patrolled at night.

On the 13th of November, Arnold received intelligence that Montgomery
had captured St. Johns. He was instantly roused to emulation. His men,
too, were inspirited by the news. The wind had abated: he determined
to cross the river that very night. At a late hour in the evening he
embarked with the first division. By four o'clock in the morning a
large part of his force had crossed without being perceived, and
landed about a mile and a half above Cape Diamond, at Wolfe's Cove, so
called from being the landing-place of that gallant commander. Just
then a guard-boat, belonging to the Lizard, came slowly along shore
and discovered them. They hailed it, and ordered it to land. Not
complying, it was fired into and three men were killed. The boat
instantly pulled for the frigate, giving vociferous alarm.

Without waiting the arrival of the residue of his men, for whom the
canoes had been despatched, Arnold led those who had landed to the
foot of the cragged defile, once scaled by the intrepid Wolfe, and
scrambled up it in all haste. By daylight he had planted his daring
flag on the far-famed Heights of Abraham. Here the main difficulty
stared him in the face. A strong line of walls and bastions traversed
the promontory from one of its precipitous sides to the other;
enclosing the upper and lower towns. On the right, the great bastion
of Cape Diamond crowned the rocky height of that name. On the left was
the bastion of La Potasse, close by the gate of St. Johns, opening
upon the barracks.

A council of war was now held. Arnold, who had some knowledge of the
place, was for dashing forward at once and storming the gate of St.
Johns. Had they done so, they might have been successful. The gate was
open and unguarded. Through some blunder and delay, a message from the
commander of the Lizard to the lieutenant-governor had not yet been
delivered, and no alarm had reached the fortress. The formidable
aspect of the place, however, awed Arnold's associates. Cautious
counsel is often fatal to a daring enterprise. While the counsel of
war deliberated, the favorable moment passed away. The
lieutenant-governor received the tardy message. He hastily assembled
the merchants, officers of militia, and captains of merchant vessels.
All promised to stand by him, and the walls looking upon the heights
were soon manned by the military. Arnold paraded his men within a
hundred yards of the walls, and caused them to give three hearty
cheers; hoping to excite a revolt in the place, or to provoke the
scanty garrison to a sally. There was some firing on the part of the
Americans, but merely as an additional taunt; they were too far off
for their musketry to have effect. A large cannon on the ramparts was
brought to bear on them, and a few shots obliged the Americans to
retire and encamp.

In the evening Arnold sent a flag, demanding in the name of the United
Colonies the surrender of the place. Some of the disaffected and the
faint-hearted were inclined to open the gates, but were held in check
by the mastiff loyalty of Maclean. The inhabitants gradually recovered
from their alarm, and armed themselves to defend their property. The
sailors and marines proved a valuable addition to the garrison, which
now really meditated a sortie. Arnold received information of all this
from friends within the walls; he heard about the same time of the
capture of Montreal, and that General Carleton, having escaped from
that place, was on his way down to Quebec. He thought at present,
therefore, to draw off on the 19th to _Point aux Trembles_ (Aspen-tree
Point), twenty miles above Quebec, there to await the arrival of
General Montgomery with troops and artillery. As his little army
wended its way along the high bank of the river towards its destined
encampment, a vessel passed below, which had just touched at Point aux
Trembles. On board of it was General Carleton, hurrying on to Quebec.


In the month of December a vessel had been captured, bearing supplies
from Lord Dunmore to the army at Boston. A letter on board, from his
lordship to General Howe, invited him to transfer the war to the
southern colonies; or, at all events, to send reinforcements thither;
intimating at the same time his plan of proclaiming liberty to
indentured servants, negroes, and others appertaining to rebels, and
inviting them to join his majesty's troops. In a word, to inflict upon
Virginia the horrors of a servile war. "If this man is not crushed
before spring," writes Washington, "he will become the most formidable
enemy America has. His strength will increase as a snowball."

General Lee took the occasion to set forth his own system of policy.
"Had my opinion been thought worthy of attention," would he say, "Lord
Dunmore would have been disarmed of his teeth and claws." He would
seize Tryon too, "and every governor, government man, placeman, tory
and enemy to liberty on the continent, and confiscate their estates,
or at least lay them under heavy contributions for the public. Their
persons should be secured, in some of the interior towns, as hostages
for the treatment of those of our party whom the fortune of war shall
throw into their hands; they should be allowed a reasonable pension
out of their fortunes for their maintenance."

Such was the policy advocated by Lee in his letters and conversation,
and he soon had an opportunity of carrying it partly into operation.
[Newport being threatened by a naval armament from Boston, General Lee
was despatched, at the request of the governor, to put the island in a
state of defence. Lee set out with alacrity. Having laid out works,
and given directions for fortifications, he summoned before him a
number of persons who had been in the habit of supplying the enemy,
and compelled them all to take an oath of fidelity to the continental
claim. Those who refused were put under guard and sent to Providence.
Congress was disposed to consider these measures too highhanded, but
Washington approved of them.]

December had been throughout a month of severe trial to Washington;
during which he saw his army dropping away piece-meal before his eyes.
Homeward every face was turned as soon as the term of enlistment was
at an end. Scarce could the disbanding troops be kept a few days in
camp until militia could be procured to supply their place. Washington
made repeated and animated appeals to their patriotism; they were
almost unheeded. He caused popular and patriotic songs to be sung
about the camp. They passed by like the idle wind. Home! home! home!
throbbed in every heart. "The desire of retiring into a
chimney-corner," says Washington reproachfully, "seized the troops as
soon as their terms expired."

Greene, throughout this trying month, was continually by Washington's
side. His letters expressing the same cares and apprehensions, and
occasionally in the same language with those of the commander-in-chief,
show how completely he was in his councils. The 31st of December
arrived, the crisis of the army; for with that month expired the last
of the old terms of enlistment. "We never have been so weak," writes
Greene, "as we shall be to-morrow, when we dismiss the old troops." On
this day Washington received cheering intelligence from Canada. A
junction had taken place, a month previously, between Arnold and
Montgomery at Point aux Trembles. They were about two thousand strong,
and were making every preparation for attacking Quebec.

On the following morning (January 1st, 1776,) his army did not amount
to ten thousand men, and was composed of but half-filled regiments.
Even in raising this inadequate force, it had been necessary to
indulge many of the men with furloughs, that they might visit their
families and friends. The detachments of militia from the neighboring
provinces which replaced the disbanding troops, remained but for brief
periods; so that, in despite of every effort, the lines were often but
feebly manned, and might easily have been forced.

The anxiety of Washington in this critical state of the army, may be
judged from his correspondence with Reed. "It is easier to conceive
than to describe the situation of my mind for some time past, and my
feelings under our present circumstances," writes he, on the 4th of
January. "Search the volumes of history through, and I much question
whether a case similar to ours is to be found; namely, to maintain a
post against the power of the British troops for six months together,
without powder, and then to have one army disbanded and another raised
within the same distance (musket shot) of a reinforced enemy. What may
be the issue of the last manoeuvre, time only can unfold. I wish this
month were well over our head."

In the midst of his discouragements, Washington received letters from
Knox, showing the spirit and energy with which he was executing his
mission, in quest of cannon and ordnance stores. He had struggled
manfully and successfully with all kinds of difficulties from the
advanced season, and head winds, in getting them from Ticonderoga to
the head of Lake George. "Three days ago," writes he, on the 17th of
December, "it was very uncertain whether we could get them over until
next spring; but now, please God, they shall go. I have made forty-two
exceedingly strong sleds, and have provided eighty yoke of oxen to
drag them as far as Springfield, where I shall get fresh cattle to
take them to camp."

Early in the month of January, there was a great stir of preparation
in Boston harbor. A fleet of transports were taking in supplies, and
making arrangements for the embarkation of troops. Bomb-ketches and
flat-bottomed boats were getting ready for sea, as were two
sloops-of-war, which were to convey the armament. Its destination was
kept secret; but was confidently surmised by Washington.

In the preceding month of October, a letter had been laid before
Congress, written by some person in London of high credibility, and
revealing a secret plan of operations said to have been sent out by
ministers to the commanders in Boston. The following is the purport:
Possession was to be gained of New York and Albany, through the
assistance of Governor Tryon, on whose influence with the tory part of
the population, much reliance was placed. These cities were to be very
strongly garrisoned. All who did not join the king's forces were to be
declared rebels. The Hudson River, and the East River or Sound, were
to be commanded by a number of small men-of-war and cutters, stationed
in different parts, so as wholly to cut off all communication by water
between New York and the provinces to the northward of it; and between
New York and Albany, except for the king's service; and to prevent,
also, all communication between the city of New York and the provinces
of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and those to the southward of them. "By
these means," said the letter, "the administration and their friends
fancy they shall soon either starve out or retake the garrisons of
Crown Point and Ticonderoga, and open and maintain a safe intercourse
and correspondence between Quebec, Albany, and New York; and thereby
offer the fairest opportunity to their soldiery and the Canadians, in
conjunction with the Indians to be procured by Guy Johnson, to make
continual irruptions into New Hampshire, Massachusetts and
Connecticut, and so distract and divide the Provincial forces, as to
render it easy for the British army at Boston to defeat them, break
the spirits of the Massachusetts people, depopulate their country, and
compel an absolute subjection to Great Britain."

This information had already excited solicitude respecting the Hudson,
and led to measures for its protection. It was now surmised that the
expedition preparing to sail from Boston, and which was to be
conducted by Sir Henry Clinton, might be destined to seize upon New
York. How was the apprehended blow to be parried? General Lee, who was
just returned from his energetic visit to Rhode Island, offered his
advice and services in the matter. In a letter to Washington, he urged
him to act at once, and on his own responsibility, without awaiting
the tardy and doubtful sanction of Congress, for which, in military
matters, Lee had but small regard.

"New York must be secured," writes he, "but it will never, I am
afraid, be secured by due order of the Congress, for obvious reasons.
They find themselves awkwardly situated on this head. You must step in
to their relief. I am sensible no man can be spared from the lines
under present circumstances; but I would propose that you should
detach me into Connecticut, and lend your name for collecting a body
of volunteers. I am assured that I shall find no difficulty in
assembling a sufficient number for the purposes wanted. This body in
conjunction (if there should appear occasion to summon them) with the
Jersey regiment under the command of Lord Stirling, now at
Elizabethtown, will effect the security of New York, and the expulsion
or suppression of that dangerous banditti of tories who have appeared
on Long Island with the professed intention of acting against the
authority of Congress."

Washington, while he approved of Lee's military suggestions, was
cautious in exercising the powers vested in him, and fearful of
transcending them. John Adams was at that time in the vicinity of the
camp, and he asked his opinion as to the practicability and expediency
of the plan, and whether it "might not be regarded as beyond his
line." Adams, resolute of spirit, thought the enterprise might easily
be accomplished by the friends of liberty in New York, in connection
with the Connecticut people, "who are very ready," said he, "upon such

Thus fortified, as it were, by congressional sanction, through one of
its most important members, who pronounced New York as much within his
command as Massachusetts; he gave Lee authority to carry out his
plans. He was to raise volunteers in Connecticut; march at their head
to New York; call in military aid from New Jersey; put the city and
the post on the Hudson in a posture of security against surprise;
disarm all persons on Long Island and elsewhere, inimical to the views
of Congress, or secure them in some other manner if necessary; and
seize upon all medicines, shirts and blankets, and send them on for
the use of the American army.

Lee departed on his mission on the 8th of January. The people of New
York were thrown into a panic on hearing that Lee was in Connecticut,
on his way to take military possession of the city. They apprehended
his appearance there would provoke an attack from the ships in the
harbor. Some, who thought the war about to be brought to their own
doors, packed up their effects, and made off into the country with
their wives and children. Others beleaguered the committee of safety
with entreaties against the deprecated protection of General Lee. The
committee, through Pierre Van Cortlandt, their chairman, addressed a
letter to Lee, inquiring into the motives of his coming with an army
to New York, and stating the incapacity of the city to act hostilely
against the ships of war in port, from deficiency of powder, and a
want of military works.

Lee, in reply, dated Stamford, January 23d, disclaimed all intention
of commencing actual hostilities against the men-of-war in the harbor;
his instructions from the commander-in-chief being solely to prevent
the enemy from taking post in the city, or lodging themselves on Long
Island. Some subordinate purposes were likewise to be executed, which
were much more proper to be communicated by word of mouth than by
writing. In compliance with the wishes of the committee, he promised
to carry with him into the town just troops enough to secure it
against any present designs of the enemy, leaving his main force on
the western border of Connecticut. How he conducted himself on his
arrival in the city, we shall relate in a future chapter.


From amid surrounding perplexities, Washington still turned a hopeful
eye to Canada. He expected daily to receive tidings that Montgomery
and Arnold were within the walls of Quebec. On the 18th of January
came dispatches to him from General Schuyler, containing withering
tidings. The following is the purport. Montgomery, on the 2d of
December, the day after his arrival at Point aux Trembles, set off in
face of a driving snow-storm for Quebec, and arrived before it on the
5th. The works, from their great extent, appeared to him incapable of
being defended by the actual garrison; made up, as he said, of
"Maclean's banditti," the sailors from the frigates and other vessels,
together with the citizens obliged to take up arms.

On the day of his arrival, he sent a flag with a summons to surrender.
It was fired upon, and obliged to retire. Exasperated at this outrage,
Montgomery wrote an indignant letter to Carleton, reiterating the
demand, magnifying the number of his troops, and warning him against
the consequences of an assault. Finding it was rejected from the
walls, he prepared for an attack. The ground was frozen to a great
depth, and covered with snow. By dint of excessive labor a breastwork
was thrown up, four hundred yards distant from the walls and opposite
to the gate of St. Louis, which is nearly in the centre. It was formed
of gabions, ranged side by side, and filled with snow, over which
water was thrown until thoroughly frozen. Here Captain Lamb mounted
five light pieces and a howitzer. Several mortars were placed in the
suburbs of St. Roque, which extends on the left of the promontory,
below the heights, and nearly on a level with the river.

From the "Ice Battery" Captain Lamb opened a well-sustained and
well-directed fire upon the walls, but his field-pieces were too light
to be effective. With his howitzer he threw shells into the town and
set it on fire in several places.

On the evening of the fifth day, Montgomery paid a visit to the ice
battery. The heavy artillery from the wall had repaid its ineffectual
fire with ample usury. The brittle ramparts had been shivered like
glass; several of the guns had been rendered useless. The general saw
the insufficiency of the battery, and, on retiring, gave Captain Lamb
permission to leave it whenever he thought proper. The veteran waited
until after dark, when, securing all the guns, he abandoned the ruined

Nearly three weeks had been consumed in these futile operations. The
army, ill-clothed, and ill-provided, was becoming impatient of the
rigors of a Canadian winter; the term for which part of the troops had
enlisted would expire with the year, and they already talked of
returning home. Montgomery was sadly conscious of the insufficiency of
his means; still he could not endure the thoughts of retiring from
before the place without striking a blow. He determined, therefore, to
attempt to carry the place by _escalade_. Colonel Livingston was to
make a false attack on the gate of St. Johns and set fire to it; Major
Brown, with another detachment, was to menace the bastion of Cape
Diamond. Arnold with three hundred and fifty of the hardy fellows who
had followed him through the wilderness, strengthened by Captain Lamb
and forty of his company, was to assault the suburbs and batteries of
St. Roque; while Montgomery, with the residue of his forces, was to
pass below the bastion at Cape Diamond, defile along the river, carry
the defences at Drummond's Wharf, and thus enter the lower town on one
side, while Arnold forced his way into it on the other. These
movements were all to be made at the same time, on the discharge of
signal rockets, thus distracting the enemy, and calling their
attention to four several points.

On the 31st of December, at two o'clock in the morning, the troops
repaired to their several destinations, under cover of a violent
snow-storm. By some mistake the signal rockets were let off before the
lower divisions had time to get to their fighting ground. They were
descried by one of Maclean's Highland officers, who gave the alarm.
Livingston also failed to make the false attack on the gate of St.
Johns, which was to have caused a diversion favorable to Arnold's
attack on the suburb below.

The feint by Major Brown, on the bastion of Cape Diamond, was
successful, and concealed the march of General Montgomery. That
gallant commander descended from the heights to Wolfe's Cove, and led
his division along the shore of the St. Lawrence, round the beetling
promontory of Cape Diamond. The narrow approach to the lower town in
that direction was traversed by a picket or stockade, defended by
Canadian militia; beyond which was a second defence, a kind of
block-house. The aim of Montgomery was to come upon these barriers by
surprise. The pass which they defended is formidable at all times,
having a swift river on one side, and overhanging precipices on the
other; but at this time was rendered peculiarly difficult by drifting
snow, and by great masses of ice piled on each other at the foot of
the cliffs.

The troops made their way painfully, in extended and straggling files,
along the narrow footway, and over the slippery piles of ice. Among
the foremost, were some of the first New York regiment, led on by
Captain Cheeseman. Montgomery, in his eagerness, threw himself far in
the advance with his pioneers and a few officers, and made a dash at
the first barrier. The Canadians stationed there, taken by surprise,
made a few random shots, then threw down their muskets and fled.
Montgomery sprang forward, aided with his own hand to pluck down the
pickets, which the pioneers were sawing, and having made a breach
sufficiently wide to admit three or four men abreast, entered sword in
hand. The Canadians had fled from the picket to the battery or
block-house. Montgomery again dashed forward, but when within forty
paces of the battery, a discharge of grape-shot from a single cannon
made deadly havoc. Montgomery, and McPherson, one of his aides, were
killed on the spot. Captain Cheeseman received a canister shot through
the body; with him fell his orderly sergeant and several of his men.
This fearful slaughter, and the death of their general, threw
everything in confusion. Colonel Campbell, quarter-master general,
took the command and ordered a retreat.

While all this was occurring on the side of Cape Diamond, Arnold led
his division against the opposite side of the lower town along the
suburb and street of St. Roque. Like Montgomery, he took the advance
at the head of a forlorn hope of twenty-five men. Captain Lamb and his
artillery company came next, with a field-piece mounted on a sledge.
Then came a company with ladders and scaling implements, followed by
Morgan and his riflemen. In the rear of all these came the main body.
A battery on a wharf commanded the narrow pass by which they had to
advance. This was to be attacked with the field-piece, and then scaled
with ladders by the forlorn hope; while Captain Morgan, with his
riflemen, was to pass round the wharf on the ice.

The false attack which was to have been made by Livingston on the gate
of St. Johns, by way of diversion, had not taken place; there was
nothing, therefore, to call off the attention of the enemy in this
quarter from the detachment. The troops, as they straggled along in
lengthened file through the drifting snow were sadly galled by a
flanking fire on the right, from walls and pickets. The field-piece at
length became so deeply embedded in a snow-drift that it could not be
moved. Lamb sent word to Arnold of the impediment; in the meantime, he
and his artillery company were brought to a halt. The company with the
scaling ladders would have halted also, having been told to keep in
the rear of the artillery; but they were urged on by Morgan with a
thundering oath, who pushed on after them with his riflemen, the
artillery company opening to the right and left to let them pass.

They arrived in the advance, just as Arnold was leading on his forlorn
hope to attack the barrier. Before he reached it a severe wound in the
right leg with a musket ball completely disabled him, and he had to be
borne from the field. Morgan instantly took the command. Just then
Lamb came up with his company, armed with muskets and bayonets, having
received orders to abandon the field-piece, and support the advance.
Oswald joined him with the forlorn hope. The battery which commanded
the defile mounted two pieces of cannon. There was a discharge of
grape-shot when the assailants were close under the muzzles of the
guns, yet but one man was killed. Before there could be a second
discharge, the battery was carried by assault, some firing in to the
embrasures; others scaling the walls. The captain and thirty of his
men were taken prisoners.

The day was just dawning as Morgan led on to attack the second
barrier, and his men had to advance under a fire from the town walls
on their right, which incessantly thinned their ranks. The second
barrier was reached; they applied their scaling ladders to storm it.
The defence was brave and obstinate, but the defenders were at length
driven from their guns, and the battery was gained. At the last moment
one of the gunners ran back, linstock in hand, to give one more shot.
Captain Lamb snapped a fusee at him. It missed fire. The cannon was
discharged, and a grape-shot wounded Lamb in the head, carrying away
part of the cheek-bone. He was borne off senseless to a neighboring

The two barriers being now taken, the way on this side into the lower
town seemed open. Morgan prepared to enter it with the victorious
vanguard; first stationing Captain Dearborn and some provincials at
Palace Gate, which opened down into the defile from the upper town. By
this time, however, the death of Montgomery and retreat of Campbell
had enabled the enemy to turn all their attention in this direction. A
large detachment sent by General Carleton, sallied out of Palace Gate
after Morgan had passed it, surprised and captured Dearborn and the
guard, and completely cut off the advanced party. The main body,
informed of the death of Montgomery, and giving up the game as lost,
retreated to the camp, leaving behind the field-piece which Lamb's
company had abandoned, and the mortars in the battery of St. Roque.
Morgan and his men were now hemmed in on all sides, and obliged to
take refuge in a stone house from the inveterate fire which assailed
them. From the windows of this house they kept up a desperate defence,
until cannon were brought to bear upon it. Then, hearing of the death
of Montgomery, and seeing that there was no prospect of relief, Morgan
and his gallant handful of followers were compelled to surrender
themselves prisoners of war.

Thus foiled at every point, the wrecks of the little army abandoned
their camp, and retreated about three miles from the town; where they
hastily fortified themselves, apprehending a pursuit by the garrison.
General Carleton, however, contented himself with having secured the
safety of the place, and remained cautiously passive until he should
be properly reinforced.

The remains of the gallant Montgomery received a soldier's grave
within the fortifications of Quebec, by the care of Cramahé, the
lieutenant-governor, who had formerly known him.

Arnold took temporary command of the shattered army, until General
Wooster should arrive from Montreal, to whom he sent an express,
urging him to bring on succor. "On this occasion," says a contemporary
writer, "he discovered the utmost vigor of a determined mind, and a
genius full of resources. Defeated and wounded as he was, he put his
troops into such a situation as to keep them still formidable." With a
mere handful of men, at one time not exceeding five hundred, he
maintained a blockade of the strong fortress from which he had just
been repulsed.

General Schuyler, who was now in Albany, urged the necessity of an
immediate reinforcement of three thousand men for the army in Canada.
Washington had not a man to spare from the army before Boston. He
applied, therefore, on his own responsibility, to Massachusetts, New
Hampshire and Connecticut, for three regiments which were granted. His
prompt measure received the approbation of Congress, and further
reinforcements were ordered from the same quarters.

Solicitude was awakened about the interior of the province of New
York. Arms and ammunition were said to be concealed in Tryon County,
and numbers of the tories in that neighborhood preparing for
hostilities. Sir John Johnson had fortified Johnson Hall, gathered
about him his Scotch Highland tenants and Indian allies, and it was
rumored he intended to carry fire and sword along the valley of the

Schuyler, in consequence, received orders from Congress to take
measures for securing the military stores, disarming the disaffected,
and apprehending their chiefs. He forthwith hastened from Albany, at
the head of a body of soldiers; was joined by Colonel Herkimer, with
the militia of Tryon County marshalled forth on the frozen bosom of
the Mohawk River, and appeared before Sir John's stronghold, near
Johnstown, on the 19th of January. Thus beleaguered, Sir John, after
much negotiation, capitulated. He was to surrender all weapons of war
and military stores in his possession, and to give his parole not to
take arms against America.

The recent reverses in Canada had heightened the solicitude of
Washington about the province of New York. That province was the
central and all-important link in the confederacy; but he feared it
might prove a brittle one. We have already mentioned the adverse
influences in operation there. A large number of friends to the crown,
among the official and commercial classes; rank tories, (as they were
called,) in the city and about the neighboring country; particularly
on Long and Staten Islands; king's ships at anchor in the bay and
harbor, keeping up a suspicious intercourse with the citizens; while
Governor Tryon, castled, as it were, on board one of these ships,
carried on intrigues with those disaffected to the popular cause, in
all parts of the neighborhood.

Lee arrived at New York on the 4th of February, his caustic humors
sharpened by a severe attack of the gout, which had rendered it
necessary, while on the march, to carry him for a considerable part of
the way in a litter. By a singular coincidence, on the very day of his
arrival, Sir Henry Clinton, with the squadron which had sailed so
mysteriously from Boston, looked into the harbor. "Though it was
Sabbath," says a letter-writer of the day, "it threw the whole city
into such a convulsion as it never knew before. Many of the
inhabitants hastened to move their effects into the country, expecting
an immediate conflict."

Clinton sent for the mayor, and expressed much surprise and concern at
the distress caused by his arrival; which was merely, he said, on a
short visit to his friend Tryon, and to see how matters stood. He
professed a juvenile love for the place, and desired that the
inhabitants might be informed of the purport of his visit, and that he
would go away as soon as possible. For this time, the inhabitants of
New York were let off for their fears. Clinton, after a brief visit,
continued his mysterious cruise, openly avowing his destination to be
North Carolina--which nobody believed, simply because he avowed it.

The necessity of conferring with committees at every step was a hard
restraint upon a man of Lee's ardent and impatient temper, who had a
soldierlike contempt for the men of peace around him; yet at the
outset he bore it better than might have been expected. "The Congress
committees, a certain number of the committees of safety, and your
humble servant," writes he to Washington, "have had two conferences.
The result is such as will agreeably surprise you. It is in the first
place agreed, and justly, that to fortify the town against shipping is
impracticable; but we are to fortify lodgements on some commanding
part of the city for two thousand men. We are to erect enclosed
batteries on both sides of the water, near Hell Gate, which will
answer the double purpose of securing the town against piracies
through the Sound, and secure our communication with Long Island, now
become a more important point than ever; as it is determined to form a
strong fortified camp of three thousand men, on the Island,
immediately opposite to New York. The pass in the Highlands is to be
made as respectable as possible, and guarded by a battalion. In short,
I think the plan judicious and complete."

The pass in the Highlands above alluded to, is that grand defile of
the Hudson where, for upwards of fifteen miles, it wends its deep
channel between stern, forest-clad mountains and rocky promontories.
Two forts, about six miles distant from each other, and commanding
narrow parts of the river at its bends through these Highlands, had
been commenced in the preceding autumn, by order of the Continental
Congress; but they were said to be insufficient for the security of
that important pass, and were to be extended and strengthened.

Washington had charged Lee, in his instructions, to keep a stern eye
upon the tories, who were active in New York. "You can seize upon the
persons of the principals," said he; "they must be so notoriously
known, that there will be little danger of committing mistakes." Lee
acted up to the letter of these instructions, and weeded out with a
vigorous hand some of the rankest of the growth.

In the exercise of his military functions, Lee set Governor Tryon and
the captain of the Asia at defiance. "They had threatened perdition to
the town," writes he to Washington, "if the cannon were removed from
the batteries and wharves, but I ever considered their threats as a
_brutum fulmen_, and even persuaded the town to be of the same way of
thinking. We accordingly conveyed them to a place of safety in the
middle of the day, and no cannonade ensued."

Lee now proceeded with his plan of defences. A strong redoubt, capable
of holding three hundred men, was commenced at Horen's Hook,
commanding the pass at Hell Gate, so as to block up from the enemy's
ships the passage between the mainland and Long Island. A regiment was
stationed on the island, making fascines, and preparing other
materials for constructing the works for an intrenched camp, which Lee
hoped would render it impossible for the enemy to get a footing there.
"What to do with this city," writes he, "I own, puzzles me. It is so
encircled with deep navigable water, that whoever commands the sea
must command the town. To-morrow I shall begin to dismantle that part
of the fort next to the town, to prevent its being converted into a
citadel. I shall barrier the principal streets, and, at least, if I
cannot make it a continental garrison, it shall be a disputable field
of battle." Batteries were to be erected on an eminence behind Trinity
Church, to keep the enemy's ships at so great a distance as not to
injure the town.

King's Bridge, at the upper end of Manhattan or New York Island,
linking it with the mainland, was pronounced by Lee "a most important
pass, without which the city could have no communication with
Connecticut." It was, therefore, to be made as strong as possible.
Heavy cannon were to be sent up to the forts in the Highlands; which
were to be enlarged and strengthened.

In the midst of his schemes, Lee received orders from Congress to the
command in Canada, vacant by the death of Montgomery. He bewailed the
defenceless condition of the city; the Continental Congress, as he
said, not having, as yet, taken the least step for its security. "The
instant I leave it," said he, "I conclude the Provincial Congress, and
inhabitants in general, will relapse into their former hysterics. The
men-of-war and Mr. Tryon will return to their old station at the
wharves, and the first regiments who arrive from England will take
quiet possession of the town and Long Island."


The siege of Boston continued through the winter without any striking
incident to enliven its monotony. The British remained within their
works, leaving the beleaguering army slowly to augment its forces. The
country was dissatisfied with the inaction of the latter. Even
Congress was anxious for some successful blow that might revive
popular enthusiasm. Washington shared this anxiety, and had
repeatedly, in councils of war, suggested an attack upon the town, but
had found a majority of his general officers opposed to it. He had
hoped some favorable opportunity would present itself, when, the
harbor being frozen, the troops might approach the town upon the ice.
The winter, however, though severe at first, proved a mild one, and
the bay continued open. General Putnam, in the meantime, having
completed the new works at Lechmere Point, and being desirous of
keeping up the spirit of his men, resolved to treat them to an
exploit. Accordingly, from his "impregnable fortress" of Cobble Hill,
he detached a party of about two hundred, under his favorite officer,
Major Knowlton, to surprise and capture a British guard stationed at
Charlestown. It was a daring enterprise, and executed with spirit. As
Charlestown Neck was completely protected, Knowlton led his men across
the mill-dam, round the base of the hill, and immediately below the
fort; set fire to the guard-house and some buildings in its vicinity;
made several prisoners, and retired without loss; although thundered
upon by the cannon of the fort.

Meanwhile, Washington was incessantly goaded by the impatient murmurs
of the public, as we may judge by his letters to Mr. Reed. "I know the
integrity of my own heart," writes he, on the 10th of February, "but
to declare it, unless to a friend, may be an argument of vanity. I
know the unhappy predicament I stand in; I know that much is expected
of me; I know that, without men, without arms, without ammunition,
without anything fit for the accommodation of a soldier, little is to
be done; and, what is mortifying, I know that I cannot stand justified
to the world without exposing my own weakness, and injuring the cause,
by declaring my wants; which I am determined not to do, further than
unavoidable necessity brings every man acquainted with them."

He still adhered to his opinion in favor of an attempt upon the town.
He was aware that it would be attended with considerable loss, but
believed it would be successful if the men should behave well. Within
a few days after the date of this letter, the bay became sufficiently
frozen for the transportation of troops. "This," writes he to Reed, "I
thought, knowing the ice would not last, a favorable opportunity to
make an assault upon the troops in town. I proposed it in council; but
behold, though we had been waiting all the year for this favorable
event, the enterprise was thought too dangerous."

At length the camp was rejoiced by the arrival of Colonel Knox, with
his long train of sledges drawn by oxen, bringing more than fifty
cannon, mortars, howitzers, beside supplies of lead and flints. The
zeal and perseverance which he had displayed in his wintry expedition
across frozen lakes and snowy wastes, and the intelligence with which
he had fulfilled his instructions, won him the entire confidence of
Washington. His conduct in this enterprise was but an earnest of that
energy and ability which he displayed throughout the war.

Further ammunition being received from the royal arsenal at New York,
and other quarters, and a reinforcement of ten regiments of militia,
Washington no longer met with opposition to his warlike measures.
Lechmere Point, which Putnam had fortified, was immediately to be
supplied with mortars and heavy cannon, so as to command Boston on the
north; and Dorchester Heights, on the south of the town, were
forthwith to be taken possession of. Their possession would enable him
to push his works to Nook's Hill, and other points opposite Boston,
whence a cannonade and bombardment must drive the enemy from the city.

The council of Massachusetts, at his request, ordered the militia of
the towns contiguous to Dorchester and Roxbury to hold themselves in
readiness to repair to the lines at those places with arms, ammunition
and accoutrements, on receiving a preconcerted signal.

Washington felt painfully aware how much depended upon the success of
this attempt. There was a cloud of gloom and distrust lowering upon
the public mind. Danger threatened on the north and on the south.
Montgomery had fallen before the walls of Quebec. The army in Canada
was shattered. Tryon and the tories were plotting mischief in New
York. Dunmore was harassing the lower part of Virginia, and Clinton
and his fleet were prowling along the coast on a secret errand of

In the general plan it was concerted that, should the enemy detach a
large force to dislodge our men from Dorchester Heights, as had been
done in the affair of Bunker's Hill, an attack upon the opposite side
of the town should forthwith be made by General Putnam. For this
purpose he was to have four thousand picked men in readiness, in two
divisions, under Generals Sullivan and Greene. At a concerted signal
from Roxbury, they were to embark in boats near the mouth of Charles
River, cross under cover of the fire of three floating batteries, land
in two places in Boston, secure its strong posts, force the gates and
works at the Neck, and let in the Roxbury troops.

The evening of Monday, the 4th of March, was fixed upon for the
occupation of Dorchester Heights. The ground was frozen too hard to be
easily intrenched; fascines, therefore, and gabions, and bundles of
screwed hay, were collected during the two preceding nights, with
which to form breastworks and redoubts. During these two busy nights
the enemy's batteries were cannonaded and bombarded from opposite
points, to occupy their attention, and prevent their noticing these
preparations. They replied with spirit, and the incessant roar of
artillery thus kept up, covered completely the rumbling of wagons and

As soon as the firing commenced, the detachment under General Thomas
set out on its cautious and secret march from the lines of Roxbury and
Dorchester. Everything was conducted as regularly and quietly as
possible. A covering party of eight hundred men preceded the carts
with the intrenching tools; then came General Thomas with the working
party, twelve hundred strong, followed by a train of three hundred
wagons, laden with fascines, gabions, and hay screwed into bundles of
seven or eight hundred weight. A great number of such bundles were
ranged in a line along Dorchester Neck on the side next the enemy, to
protect the troops, while passing, from being raked by the fire of the
enemy. Fortunately, although the moon, as Washington writes, was
shining in its full lustre, the flash and roar of cannonry from
opposite points, and the bursting of bombshells high in the air, so
engaged and diverted the attention of the enemy, that the detachment
reached the heights about eight o'clock without being heard or
perceived. The covering party then divided; one half proceeded to the
point nearest Boston, the other to the one nearest to Castle Williams.
The working party commenced to fortify, under the directions of
Gridley, the veteran engineer, who had planned the works on Bunker's
Hill. It was severe labor, for the earth was frozen eighteen inches
deep; but the men worked with more than their usual spirit; for the
eye of the commander-in-chief was upon them. Though not called there
by his duties, Washington could not be absent from this eventful

The labors of the night were carried on with activity and address.
When a relief party arrived at four o'clock in the morning, two forts
were in sufficient forwardness to furnish protection against
small-arms and grape-shot; and such use was made of the fascines and
bundles of screwed hay, that, at dawn, a formidable-looking fortress
frowned along the height. Howe gazed at the mushroom fortress with
astonishment, as it loomed indistinctly, but grandly, through a
morning fog. "The rebels," exclaimed he, "have done more work in one
night than my whole army would have done in one month."

Washington had watched with intense anxiety the effect of the
revelation at daybreak. An American, who was on Dorchester Heights,
gives a picture of the scene. A tremendous cannonade was commenced
from the forts in Boston and the shipping in the harbor. "Cannon
shot," writes he, "are continually rolling and rebounding over the
hill, and it is astonishing to observe how little our soldiers are
terrified by them. The royal troops are perceived to be in motion, as
if embarking to pass the harbor and land on Dorchester shore, to
attack our works. The hills and elevations in this vicinity are
covered with spectators, to witness deeds of horror in the expected

General Thomas was reinforced with two thousand men. Old Putnam stood
ready to make a descent upon the north side of the town, with his four
thousand picked men, as soon as the heights on the south should be
assailed. As Washington rode about the heights, he reminded the troops
that it was the 5th of March, the anniversary of the Boston massacre,
and called on them to revenge the slaughter of their brethren. They
answered him with shouts.

Howe, in the meantime, was perplexed between his pride and the hazards
of his position. In his letters to the ministry, he had scouted the
idea of "being in danger from the rebels." He had "hoped they would
attack him." Apparently, they were about to fulfil his hopes, and with
formidable advantages of position. He must dislodge them from
Dorchester Heights, or evacuate Boston. The latter was an alternative
too mortifying to be readily adopted. He resolved on an attack, but it
was to be a night one.

In the evening the British began to move. Lord Percy was to lead the
attack. Twenty-five hundred men were embarked in transports, which
were to convey them to the rendezvous at Castle William. A violent
storm set in from the east. The transports could not reach their place
of destination. The men-of-war could not cover and support them. A
furious surf beat on the shore where the boats would have to land. The
attack was consequently postponed until the following day. That day
was equally unpropitious. The storm continued, with torrents of rain.
The attack was again postponed. In the meantime, the Americans went on
strengthening their works; by the time the storm subsided, General
Howe deemed them too strong to be easily carried; the attempt,
therefore, was relinquished altogether.

What was to be done? The shells thrown from the heights into the town
proved that it was no longer tenable. The fleet was equally exposed.
Admiral Shuldham, the successor to Graves, assured Howe that if the
Americans maintained possession of the heights, his ships could not
remain in the harbor. It was determined, therefore, in a council of
war, to evacuate the place as soon as possible. But now came on a
humiliating perplexity. The troops, in embarking, would be exposed to
a destructive fire. How was this to be prevented? General Howe's pride
would not suffer him to make capitulations; he endeavored to work on
the fears of the Bostonians, by hinting that if his troops were
molested while embarking, he might be obliged to cover their retreat
by setting fire to the town.

The hint had its effect. Several of the principal inhabitants
communicated with him through the medium of General Robertson. The
result of the negotiation was that a paper was concocted and signed by
several of the "select men" of Boston, stating the fears they had
entertained of the destruction of the place, but that those fears had
been quieted by General Howe's declaration that it should remain
uninjured, provided his troops were unmolested while embarking; the
select men, therefore, begged "some assurance that so dreadful a
calamity might not be brought on, by any measures from without."

This paper was sent out from Boston, on the evening of the 8th, with a
flag of truce, which bore it to the American lines at Roxbury. There
it was received by Colonel Learned, and carried by him to
head-quarters. Washington consulted with such of the general officers
as he could immediately assemble. The paper was not addressed to him,
nor to any one else. It was not authenticated by the signature of
General Howe; nor was there any other act obliging that commander to
fulfil the promise asserted to have been made by him. It was deemed
proper, therefore, that Washington should give no answer to the paper;
but that Colonel Learned should signify in a letter his having laid it
before the commander-in-chief, and the reasons assigned for not
answering it. With this uncompromising letter, the flag returned to
Boston. The Americans suspended their fire, but continued to fortify
their positions.

Daily preparations were now made by the enemy for departure. By
proclamation, the inhabitants were ordered to deliver up all linen and
woollen goods, and all other goods that, in possession of the rebels,
would aid them in carrying on the war. For some days the embarkation
of the troops was delayed by adverse winds. Washington, who was
imperfectly informed of affairs in Boston, feared that the movements
there might be a feint. Determined to bring things to a crisis, he
detached a force to Nook's Hill on Saturday, the 16th, which threw up
a breastwork in the night regardless of the cannonading of the enemy.
This commanded Boston Neck, and the south part of the town, and a
deserter brought a false report to the British that a general assault
was intended. The embarkation, so long delayed, began with hurry and
confusion at four o'clock in the morning. The harbor of Boston soon
presented a striking and tumultuous scene. There were seventy-eight
ships and transports casting loose for sea, and eleven or twelve
thousand men, soldiers, sailors, and refugees, hurrying to embark;
many, especially of the latter, with their families and personal
effects. The refugees, in fact, labored under greater disadvantages
than the king's troops, being obliged to man their own vessels, as
sufficient seamen could not be spared from the king's transports.

While this tumultuous embarkation was going on, the Americans looked
on in silence from their batteries on Dorchester Heights, without
firing a shot. At an early hour of the morning, the troops stationed
at Cambridge and Roxbury had paraded, and several regiments under
Putnam had embarked in boats, and dropped down Charles River, to
Sewall's Point, to watch the movements of the enemy by land and water.
About nine o'clock a large body of troops was seen marching down
Bunker's Hill, while boats full of soldiers were putting off for the
shipping. Two scouts were sent from the camp to reconnoitre. The works
appeared still to be occupied, for sentries were posted about them
with shouldered muskets. Observing them to be motionless, the scouts
made nearer scrutiny, and discovered them to be mere effigies, set up
to delay the advance of the Americans. Pushing on, they found the
works deserted, and gave signal of the fact; whereupon, a detachment
was sent from the camp to take possession.

Part of Putnam's troops were now sent back to Cambridge; a part were
ordered forward to occupy Boston. General Ward, too, with five hundred
men, made his way from Roxbury, across the neck, about which the enemy
had scattered caltrops or crows' feet,{1} to impede invasion. The
gates were unbarred and thrown open, and the Americans entered in
triumph, with drums beating and colors flying.

{Footnote 1: Iron balls, with four sharp points, to wound the feet of
men or horses.}

By ten o'clock the enemy were all embarked and under way: Putnam had
taken command of the city, and occupied the important points, and the
flag of thirteen stripes, the standard of the Union, floated above all
the forts. On the following day, Washington himself entered the town
where he was joyfully welcomed.

The eminent services of Washington throughout this arduous siege, his
admirable management, by which, "in the course of a few months, _an
undisciplined band of husbandmen_ became soldiers, and were enabled to
invest, for nearly a year, and finally to expel a brave army of
veterans, commanded by the most experienced generals," drew forth the
enthusiastic applause of the nation. On motion of John Adams, who had
first moved his nomination as commander-in-chief, a unanimous vote of
thanks to him was passed in Congress; and it was ordered that a gold
medal be struck, commemorating the evacuation of Boston, bearing the
effigy of Washington as its deliverer.

The British fleet bearing the army from Boston, had disappeared from
the coast. "Whither they are bound, and where they next will pitch
their tents," writes Washington, "I know not." He conjectured their
destination to be New York, and made his arrangements accordingly; but
he was mistaken. General Howe had steered for Halifax, there to await
the arrival of strong reinforcements from England, and the fleet of
his brother, Admiral Lord Howe; who was to be commander-in-chief of
the naval forces on the North American station.

It was presumed the enemy, in the ensuing campaign, would direct their
operations against the Middle and Southern colonies. Congress divided
the colonies into two departments; one, comprehending New York, New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, was to be under the
command of a major-general, and two brigadier-generals; the other,
comprising Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia, to be under the
command of a major-general and four brigadiers. In this new
arrangement, the orders destining General Lee to Canada were
superseded, and he was appointed to the command of the Southern
department, where he was to keep watch upon the movements of Sir Henry
Clinton. The command in Canada was given to General Thomas, who had
distinguished himself at Roxbury and was promoted to the rank of
major-general. It would have been given to Schuyler, but for the
infirm state of his health; still Congress expressed a reliance on his
efforts to complete the work "so conspicuously begun and well
conducted" under his orders, in the last campaign; and, as not merely
the success but the very existence of the army in Canada would depend
on supplies sent from these colonies across the lakes, he was
required, until further orders, to fix his head-quarters at Albany,
where, without being exposed to the fatigue of the camp until his
health was perfectly restored, he would be in a situation to forward
supplies; to superintend the operations necessary for the defence of
New York and the Hudson River, and the affairs of the whole middle

Lee set out for the South on the 7th of March, carrying with him his
bold spirit, his shrewd sagacity, and his whimsical and splenetic
humors. Brigadier-general Lord Stirling remained in temporary command
at New York. Washington, presuming that the British fleet had steered
for that port with the force which had evacuated Boston, hastened
detachments thither under Generals Heath and Sullivan, and wrote for
three thousand additional men to be furnished by Connecticut. The
command of the whole he gave to General Putnam, who was ordered to
fortify the city and the passes of the Hudson according to the plans
of General Lee. In the meantime, Washington delayed to come on
himself, until he should have pushed forward the main body of his army
by divisions.

Lee's anticipations that laxity and confusion would prevail after his
departure, were not realized. The veteran Putnam, on taking command,
put the city under rigorous military rule. All communication between
the "ministerial fleet" and shore was stopped; the ships were no
longer to be furnished with provisions. Any person taken in the act of
holding communication with them would be considered an enemy, and
treated accordingly.

Washington came on by the way of Providence, Norwich and New London,
expediting the embarkation of troops from these posts, and arrived at
New York on the 13th of April. Many of the works which Lee had
commenced were by this time finished; others were in progress. It was
apprehended the principal operations of the enemy would be on Long
Island, the high grounds of which, in the neighborhood of Brooklyn,
commanded the city. Washington saw that an able and efficient officer
was needed at that place. Greene was accordingly stationed there, with
a division of the army. He immediately proceeded to complete the
fortifications of that important post, and to make himself acquainted
with the topography and the defensive points of the surrounding

The aggregate force distributed at several extensive posts in New York
and its environs, and on Long Island, Staten Island and elsewhere,
amounted to little more than ten thousand men; some of those were on
the sick list, others absent on command, or on furlough; there were
but about eight thousand available and fit for duty. These, too, were
without pay; those recently enlisted without arms, and no one could
say where arms were to be procured. Washington saw the inadequacy of
the force to the purposes required and was full of solicitude about
the security of a place, the central point of the Confederacy, and the
grand deposit of ordnance and military stores. The process of
fortifying the place had induced the ships of war to fall down into
the outer bay, within the Hook, upwards of twenty miles from the city;
but Governor Tryon was still on board of one of them, keeping up an
active correspondence with the tories on Staten and Long Islands, and
in other parts of the neighborhood.

In addition to his cares about the security of New York, Washington
had to provide for the perilous exigencies of the army in Canada.
Since his arrival in the city, four regiments of troops, a company of
riflemen and another of artificers had been detached under the command
of Brigadier-general Thompson, and a further corps of six regiments
under Brigadier-general Sullivan, with orders to join General Thomas
as soon as possible.

Still Congress inquired of him whether further reinforcements to the
army in Canada would not be necessary, and whether they could be
spared from the army in New York. His reply shows the peculiar
perplexities of his situation and the tormenting uncertainty in which
he was kept, as to where the next storm of war would break. "With
respect to sending more troops to that country, I am really at a loss
what to advise, as it is impossible, at present, to know the designs
of the enemy. Should they send the whole force under General Howe up
the river St. Lawrence, to relieve Quebec and recover Canada, the
troops gone and now going will be insufficient to stop their progress;
and, should they think proper to send that, or an equal force, this
way from Great Britain, for the purpose of possessing this city and
securing the navigation of Hudson's River, the troops left here will
not be sufficient to oppose them; and yet, for anything we know, I
think it not improbable they may attempt both; both being of the
greatest importance to them, if they have men. I could wish, indeed,
that the army in Canada should be more powerfully reinforced; at the
same time, I am conscious that the trusting of this important post,
which is now become the grand magazine of America, to the handful of
men remaining here, is running too great a risk."

Washington at that time was not aware of the extraordinary expedients
England had recently resorted to against the next campaign. The Duke
of Brunswick, the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, and the Hereditary Prince
of Cassel, Count of Hanau, had been subsidized to furnish troops to
assist in the subjugation of her colonies. Four thousand three hundred
Brunswick troops, and nearly thirteen thousand Hessians, had entered
the British service. Beside the subsidy exacted by the German princes,
they were to be paid seven pounds four shillings and four pence
sterling for every soldier furnished by them, and as much more for
every one slain.


We left Arnold before the walls of Quebec, wounded, crippled, almost
disabled, yet not disheartened, blockading that "proud town" with a
force inferior, by half, in number to that of the garrison. For his
gallant services, Congress promoted him in January to the rank of
brigadier-general. Throughout the winter he kept up the blockade with
his shattered army; though had Carleton ventured upon a sortie, he
might have been forced to decamp.

Arnold had difficulties of all kinds to contend with. His military
chest was exhausted; his troops were in want of necessaries; sickness
thinned his ranks. At one time, his force was reduced to five hundred
men, and for two months, with all his recruitments of raw militia, did
not exceed seven hundred. The failure of the attack on Quebec had
weakened the cause among the Canadians; the peasantry had been
displeased by the conduct of the American troops; they had once
welcomed them as deliverers; they now began to regard them as

Notwithstanding all these discouragements, Arnold still kept up a bold
face: cut off supplies occasionally, and harassed the place with
alarms. Having repaired his batteries, he opened a fire upon the town,
but with little effect; the best part of the artillerists, with Lamb,
their capable commander, were prisoners within the walls. On the 1st
day of April, General Wooster arrived from Montreal, with
reinforcements, and took the command. The day after his arrival,
Arnold, by the falling of his horse, again received an injury on the
leg recently wounded, and was disabled for upwards of a week.
Considering himself slighted by General Wooster, who did not consult
him in military affairs, he obtained leave of absence until he should
be recovered from his lameness, and repaired to Montreal, where he
took command.

General Thomas arrived at the camp in the course of April, and found
the army in a forlorn condition, scattered at different posts, and on
the island of Orleans. It was numerically increased to upwards of two
thousand men, but several hundred were unfit for service. The
small-pox had made great ravages. They had inoculated each other. In
their sick and debilitated state they were without barracks, and
almost without medicine. A portion, whose term of enlistment had
expired, refused to do duty, and clamored for their discharge. The
winter was over, the river was breaking up, reinforcements to the
garrison might immediately be expected, and then the case would be
desperate. Observing that the river about Quebec was clear of ice,
General Thomas determined on a bold effort. It was to send up a
fire-ship with the flood, and, while the ships in the harbor were in
flames, and the town in confusion, to scale the walls.

Accordingly, on the 3d of May the troops turned out with scaling
ladders; the fire-ship came up the river under easy sail, and arrived
near the shipping before it was discovered. It was fired into. The
crew applied a slow match to the train and pulled off. The ship was
soon in a blaze, but the flames caught and consumed the sails; her way
was checked, and she drifted off harmlessly with the ebbing tide. The
rest of the plan was, of course, abandoned.

Nothing now remained but to retreat before the enemy should be
reinforced. Preparations were made in all haste to embark the sick and
the military stores. While this was taking place, five ships made
their way into the harbor, on the 6th of May, and began to land
troops. Thus reinforced, General Carleton sallied forth with eight
hundred or a thousand men. The Americans were in no condition to
withstand the attack. They had no intrenchments, and could not muster
three hundred men at any point. A precipitate retreat was the
consequence, in which baggage, artillery, everything was abandoned.
Even the sick were left behind; many of whom crawled away from the
camp hospitals, and took refuge in the woods, or among the Canadian

General Thomas came to a halt at point Deschambault, about sixty miles
above Quebec, and called a council of war to consider what was to be
done. The enemy's ships were hastening up the St. Lawrence; some were
already but two or three leagues distant. The camp was without cannon;
powder, forwarded by General Schuyler, had fallen into the enemy's
hands; there were not provisions enough to subsist the army for more
than two or three days; the men-of-war, too, might run up the river,
intercept all their resources, and reduce them to the same extremity
they had experienced before Quebec. It was resolved, therefore, to
ascend the river still further. General Thomas, however, determined to
send forward the invalids, but to remain at Point Deschambault, with
about five hundred men, until he should receive orders from Montreal
and learn whether such supplies could be forwarded immediately as
would enable him to defend his position.

The despatches of General Thomas, setting forth the disastrous state
of affairs, had a disheartening effect on Schuyler, who feared the
army would be obliged to abandon Canada. Washington, on the contrary,
spoke cheeringly on the subject. He regretted that the troops had not
been able to make a stand at Point Deschambault, but hoped they would
maintain a post as far down the river as possible.

[The reverses in Canada, which spread consternation through the New
England frontier, now laid open to invasion, strengthened the ill-will
and prejudice that prevailed in the Eastern States against General
Schuyler. He was stigmatized as the cause of the late reverses, and
was even accused of being untrue to his country. Committees, which the
alarming state of affairs had caused to be organized in various
counties, addressed Washington on the subject, which, reviling
Schuyler, he at once demanded a court of inquiry. It is proper to add
that the committees in question, after investigating the evidence,
acknowledged to Washington that their suspicions had been wholly

As the reverses in Canada would affect the fortunes of the Revolution
elsewhere, Washington sent General Gates to lay the despatches
concerning them before Congress. Scarce had Gates departed on his
mission (May 19th), when Washington himself received a summons to
Philadelphia, to advise with Congress concerning the opening campaign.
He was informed also that Gates, on the 16th of May, had been promoted
to the rank of major-general, and Mifflen to that of brigadier-general,
and a wish was intimated that they might take the command of Boston.

Washington prepared to proceed to Philadelphia. In his parting
instructions to Putnam, who, as the oldest major-general in the city,
would have the command during his absence, Washington informed him of
the intention of the Provincial Congress of New York to seize the
principal tories and disaffected persons in the city and the
surrounding country, especially on Long Island, and authorized him to
afford military aid, if required, to carry the same into execution. He
was also to send Lord Stirling, Colonel Putnam the engineer, and
Colonel Knox, if he could be spared, up to the Highlands, to examine
the state of the forts and garrisons, and report what was necessary to
put them in a posture of defence.

The general, accompanied by Mrs. Washington, departed from New York on
the 21st of May, and they were invited by Mr. Hancock, the President
of Congress, to be his guests during their sojourn at Philadelphia.

Washington, in his conferences with Congress, roundly expressed his
conviction that no accommodation could be effected with Great Britain
on acceptable terms. Ministerialists had declared in Parliament that,
the sword being drawn, the most coercive measures would be persevered
in until there was complete submission. The recent subsidizing of
foreign troops was a part of this policy, and indicated unsparing
hostility. A protracted war, therefore, was inevitable; but it would
be impossible to carry it on successfully with the scanty force
actually embodied, and with transient enlistments of militia.

In consequence of his representations, resolutions were passed in
Congress that soldiers should be enlisted for three years, with a
bounty of ten dollars for each recruit; that the army at New York
should be reinforced until the 1st of December with thirteen thousand
eight hundred militia; that gondolas and fire-rafts should be built to
prevent the men-of-war and enemy's ships from coming into New York
Bay, or the Narrows; and that a flying camp of ten thousand militia,
furnished by Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, and likewise engaged
until the 1st of December, should be stationed in the Jerseys for the
defence of the Middle colonies. Washington was, moreover, empowered,
in case of emergency, to call on the neighboring colonies for
temporary aid with their militia.

Another important result of his conferences with Congress was the
establishment of a war office. Military affairs had hitherto been
referred in Congress to committees casually appointed, and had
consequently been subject to great irregularity and neglect.
Henceforth a permanent committee, entitled the Board of War and
Ordnance, was to take cognizance of them. The first board was composed
of five members--John Adams, Colonel Benjamin Harrison, Roger Sherman,
James Wilson, and Edward Rutledge; with Richard Peters as secretary.
It went into operation on the 12th of June.

While at Philadelphia, Washington had frequent consultations with
George Clinton, one of the delegates from New York, concerning the
interior defences of that province, especially those connected with
the security of the Highlands of the Hudson, where part of the
regiment of Colonel James Clinton, the brother of the delegate, was
stationed. He was gratified, also, by procuring the appointment of his
late secretary, Joseph Reed, to the post of adjutant-general, vacated
by the promotion of General Gates, thus placing him once more by his

[Despatches from Canada continued to be disastrous. A post stationed
at the Cedars, forty miles above Montreal consisting of about four
hundred men, had been intimidated into a surrender by a body of
Canadians and Indians. A force of one hundred men, sent to the relief
of the post, was also captured. The enemy was pursued by Arnold, and
overtaken near St. Anns, above the rapids of the St. Lawrence. The
prisoners captured at the Cedars were threatened with massacre if
Arnold should attack; and this led to negotiations which resulted in
their exchange. While these events were occurring mischief was brewing
in another quarter.

Colonel Guy Johnson, with Brant and the Butlers, had been holding
councils with the Indians, and were threatening a maraud on the Mohawk
country. A correspondence was carried on between Guy Johnson and his
cousin, Sir John Johnson, who was said to be preparing to co-operate
with his Scotch dependents. Schuyler considered this a breach of Sir
John's parole, and sent Colonel Dayton to apprehend him. Sir John,
with a number of his tenants, retreated for refuge among the Indians.
Shortly after this came intelligence that Sir John, with his Scotch
warriors and Indian allies, was actually coming down the valley of the
Mohawk, bent on revenge, and prepared to lay everything to waste.
Schuyler immediately collected a force at Albany to oppose him;
letters from Washington directed Schuyler to detach Colonel Dayton
with his regiment on that service, with instructions for him to secure
a post upon the old site of Fort Stanwix. Washington also authorized
Schuyler to hold a conference with the Six Nations, and secure their
active services, without waiting further directions from
Congress--that body having recently resolved to employ Indian allies.]

Lord Stirling, who, by Washington's orders, had visited and inspected
the defences in the Highlands, rendered a report of their condition,
of which we give the purport. Fort Montgomery, at the lower part of
the Highlands, was on the west bank of the river, north of Dunderberg
(or Thunder Hill). It was situated on a bank one hundred feet high.
The river at that place was about half a mile wide. Opposite the fort
was the promontory of Anthony's Nose, many hundred feet high,
accessible only to goats, or men expert in climbing. A body of
riflemen stationed here might command the decks of vessels. Fort
Montgomery appeared to Lord Stirling the proper place for a guard
post. Fort Constitution was about six miles higher up the river, on a
rocky island of the same name, at a narrow strait where the Hudson,
shouldered by precipices, makes a sudden bend round West Point. A
redoubt, in the opinion of Lord Stirling, would be needed on the
point, not only for the preservation of Fort Constitution, but for its
own importance.

The garrison of that fort consisted of two companies of Colonel James
Clinton's regiment, and Captain Wisner's company of minute men, in all
one hundred and sixty rank and file. Fort Montgomery was garrisoned by
three companies of the same regiment, about two hundred rank and file.
Both garrisons were miserably armed. The direction of the works of
both forts was in the hands of commissioners appointed by the
Provincial Congress of New York. The general command of the posts
required to be adjusted.

In view of all these circumstances, Washington, on the 14th of June,
ordered Colonel James Clinton to take command of both posts, and of
all the troops stationed at them. He seemed a fit custodian for them,
having been a soldier from his youth; brought up on a frontier subject
to Indian alarms and incursions, and acquainted with the strong points
and fastnesses of the Highlands.

King's Bridge, and the heights adjacent, considered by General Lee of
the utmost importance to the communication between New York and the
mainland, and to the security of the Hudson, were reconnoitred by
Washington on horseback, about the middle of the month; ordering where
works should be laid out. Breastworks were to be thrown up for the
defence of the bridge, and an advanced work (subsequently called Fort
Independence) was to be built beyond it, on a hill commanding Spyt den
Duivel Creek, as that inlet of the Hudson is called, which links it
with the Harlem River. A strong work, intended as a kind of citadel,
was to crown a rocky height between two and three miles south of the
bridge, commanding the channel of the Hudson, and below it were to be
redoubts on the banks of the river at Jeffrey's Point. In honor of the
general, the citadel received the name of Fort Washington. While these
preparations were made for the protection of the Hudson, the works
about Brooklyn on Long Island were carried on with great activity,
under the superintendence of General Greene. In a word, the utmost
exertions were made at every point, to put the city, its environs, and
the Hudson River, in a state of defence, before the arrival of another
hostile armament.

Operations in Canada were now drawing to a disastrous close. General
Thomas, finding it impossible to make a stand at Point Deschambault,
had continued his retreat to the mouth of the Sorel, where he found
General Thompson with part of the troops detached by Washington, from
New York, who were making some preparations for defence. Shortly after
his arrival, he was taken ill with the small-pox, and removed to
Chamblee. He had prohibited inoculation among his troops, because it
put too many of their scanty number on the sick list; he probably fell
a victim to his own prohibition, as he died of that malady on the 2d
of June.

On his death, General Sullivan, who had recently arrived with the main
detachment of troops from New York, succeeded to the command; General
Wooster having been recalled. He advanced immediately with his brigade
to the mouth of the Sorel, where he found General Thompson with but
very few troops to defend that post, having detached Colonel St.
Clair, with six or seven hundred men, to Three Rivers, about fifty
miles down the St. Lawrence, to give check to an advanced corps of the
enemy of about eight hundred regulars and Canadians, under the veteran
Scot, Colonel Maclean. Sullivan proceeded forthwith to complete the
works on the Sorel; in the meantime he detached General Thompson with
additional troops to overtake St. Clair and assume command of the
whole party, which would then amount to two thousand men. He was by no
means to attack the encampment at Three Rivers, unless there was great
prospect of success, as his defeat might prove the total loss of

Sullivan was aiming at the command in Canada; and Washington soberly
weighed his merits for the appointment, in a letter to the President
of Congress. "He is active, spirited, and zealously attached to the
cause. He has his wants and he has his foibles.... He wants experience
to move upon a grand scale; for the limited and contracted knowledge,
which any of us have in military matters, stands in very little
stead." Scarce had Washington despatched this letter, when he received
one from the President of Congress, dated the 18th of June, informing
him that Major-general Gates had been appointed to command the forces
in Canada, and requesting him to expedite his departure as soon as
possible. The appointment of Gates has been attributed to the
influence of the Eastern delegates, with whom he was a favorite;
indeed, during his station at Boston, he had been highly successful in
cultivating the good graces of the New England people. He departed for
his command on the 26th of June, vested with extraordinary powers for
the regulation of affairs in that "distant, dangerous, and shifting

The actual force of the enemy in Canada had recently been augmented to
about 13,000 men; several regiments having arrived from Ireland, one
from England, another from General Howe, and a body of Brunswick
troops under the Baron Reidesel. Of these, the greater part were on
the way up from Quebec in divisions, by land and water, with Generals
Carleton, Burgoyne, Philips and Reidesel; while a considerable number
under General Frazer had arrived at Three Rivers, and others, under
General Nesbit, lay near them on board of transports.

General Thompson coasted in bateaux along the right bank of the river
at that expanse called Lake St. Pierre, and arrived at Nicolete, where
he found St. Clair and his detachment. He crossed the river in the
night, and landed a few miles above Three Rivers, intending to
surprise the enemy before daylight; he was not aware at the time that
additional troops had arrived under General Burgoyne. After landing,
he marched with rapidity toward Three Rivers, but was led by
treacherous guides into a morass, and obliged to return back nearly
two miles. Day broke, and he was discovered from the ships. A
cannonade was opened upon his men as they made their way slowly for an
hour and a half through a swamp. At length they arrived in sight of
Three Rivers, but it was to find a large force drawn up in battle
array, under General Frazer, by whom they were warmly attacked, and
after a brief stand thrown in confusion. Thompson attempted to rally
his troops, and partly succeeded, until a fire was opened upon them in
rear by Nesbit, who had landed from his ships. Their rout now was
complete. General Thompson, Colonel Irvine, and about two hundred men
were captured, twenty-five were slain, and the rest pursued for
several miles through a deep swamp. After great fatigues and
sufferings, they were able to get on board of their boats, which had
been kept from falling into the hands of the enemy. In these they made
their way back to the Sorel, bringing General Sullivan the alarming
intelligence of the overpowering force that was coming up the river.

Sullivan made the desperate resolve to defend the mouth of the Sorel,
but was induced to abandon it by the unanimous opinion of his
officers, and the evident unwillingness of his troops. Dismantling his
batteries, therefore, he retreated with his artillery and stores just
before the arrival of the enemy, and was followed, step by step along
the Sorel, by a strong column under General Burgoyne. On the 18th of
June he was joined by General Arnold with three hundred men, the
garrison of Montreal, who had crossed at Longueil just in time to
escape a large detachment of the enemy. Thus reinforced, and the
evacuation of Canada being determined on in a council of war, Sullivan
succeeded in destroying everything at Chamblee and St. Johns that he
could not carry away, breaking down bridges, and leaving forts and
vessels in flames, and continued his retreat to the Isle aux Noix,
where he made a halt for some days, until he should receive positive
orders from Washington or General Schuyler. The low, unhealthy
situation of the Isle aux Noix obliged him soon to remove his camp to
the Isle la Motte, whence, on receiving orders to that effect from
General Schuyler, he ultimately embarked with his forces, sick and
well, for Crown Point.

Thus ended this famous invasion; an enterprise bold in its
conceptions, daring and hardy in its execution; full of ingenious
expedients, and hazardous exploits; and which, had not unforeseen
circumstances counteracted its well-devised plans, might have added
all Canada to the American confederacy.


The great aim of the British, at present, was to get possession of New
York and the Hudson, and make them the basis of military operations.
This they hoped to effect on the arrival of a powerful armament,
hourly expected, and designed for operations on the seaboard.

At this critical juncture there was an alarm of a conspiracy among the
tories in the city and on Long Island, suddenly to take up arms and
co-operate with the British troops on their arrival. The wildest
reports were in circulation concerning it. Some of the tories were to
break down King's Bridge, others were to blow up the magazines, spike
the guns, and massacre all the field-officers. Washington was to be
killed or delivered up to the enemy. Some of his own body-guard were
said to be in the plot. Several publicans of the city were pointed out
as having aided or abetted it.

One of the most noted was Corbie, whose tavern was said to be "to the
south-east of General Washington's house, to the westward of Bayard's
Woods, and north of Lispenard's Meadows," from which it would appear
that, at that time, the general was quartered at what was formerly
called Richmond Hill; a mansion surrounded by trees, at a short
distance from the city, in rather an isolated situation.

Vol. II.}

A committee of the New York Congress traced the plot up to Governor
Tryon, who, from his safe retreat on shipboard, acted through agents
on shore. The most important of these was David Matthews, the tory
mayor of the city. He was accused of disbursing money to enlist men,
purchase arms, and corrupt the soldiery. Washington was authorized and
requested by the committee to cause the mayor to be apprehended, and
all his papers secured. Matthews was at that time residing at Flatbush
on Long Island, at no great distance from General Greene's encampment.
Washington transmitted the warrant of the committee to the general on
the 21st, with directions that it should "be executed with precision,
and exactly by one o'clock of the ensuing morning, by a careful
officer." Precisely at the hour of one, a detachment from Greene's
brigade surrounded the house of the mayor, and secured his person; but
no papers were found, though diligent search was made.

Numerous other arrests took place, and among the number, some of
Washington's body-guard. A great dismay fell upon the tories. Some of
those on Long Island who had proceeded to arm themselves, finding the
plot discovered, sought refuge in woods and morasses. Washington
directed that those arrested, who belonged to the army, should be
tried by a court-martial, and the rest handed over to the secular

According to statements made before the committee, five guineas bounty
was offered by Governor Tryon to each man who should enter the king's
service; with a promise of two hundred acres of land for himself, one
hundred for his wife, and fifty for each child. The men thus recruited
were to act on shore, in co-operation with the king's troops when they
came. Corbie's tavern, near Washington's quarters, was a kind of
rendezvous of the conspirators. From this house a correspondence was
kept up with Governor Tryon on shipboard, through a mulatto. At this
tavern it was supposed Washington's body-guards were tampered with.
Thomas Hickey, one of the guards, was said not only to be enlisted,
but to have aided in corrupting his comrades.

Much of the evidence given was of a dubious kind. It was certain that
persons had secretly been enlisted and sworn to hostile operations,
but Washington did not think that any regular plan had been digested
by the conspirators. According to the mayor's admission before the
committee, he had been cognizant of attempts to enlist tories and
corrupt Washington's guards, though he declared that he had
discountenanced them. He, with a number of others, were detained in
prison to await a trial. Thomas Hickey, the individual of Washington's
guard, was tried before a court-martial. He was an Irishman, and had
been a deserter from the British army. The court-martial found him
guilty of mutiny and sedition, and treacherous correspondence with the
enemy, and sentenced him to be hanged. The sentence was approved by
Washington, and was carried promptly into effect June 28th.

While the city was still brooding over this event, four ships-of-war,
portentous visitants, appeared off the Hook, stood quietly in at the
Narrows, and dropped anchor in the bay. On the 29th of June an express
from the look-out on Staten Island, announced that forty sail were in
sight. They were, in fact, ships from Halifax, bringing between nine
and ten thousand of the troops recently expelled from Boston; together
with six transports filled with Highland troops, which had joined the
fleet at sea. At sight of this formidable armament standing into the
harbor, Washington instantly sent notice of its arrival to Colonel
James Clinton, who had command of the posts in the Highlands, and
urged all possible preparations to give the enemy a warm reception
should they push their frigates up the river. Other arrivals swelled
the number of ships in the bay of New York to one hundred and thirty
men-of-war and transports. They made no movement to ascend the Hudson,
but anchored off Staten Island, where they landed their troops, and
the hill sides were soon whitened with their tents.

Washington beheld the gathering storm with an anxious eye, aware that
General Howe only awaited the arrival of his brother, the admiral, to
commence hostile operations. He wrote to the President of Congress,
urging a call on the Massachusetts government for its quota of
continental troops; and the formation of a flying camp of ten thousand
men, to be stationed in the Jerseys as a central force, ready to act
in any direction as circumstances might require. On the 2d of July he
issued a general order, calling upon the troops to prepare for a
momentous conflict which was to decide their liberties and fortunes.
Those who should signalize themselves by acts of bravery would be
noticed and rewarded; those who proved craven would be exposed and

About this time, we have the first appearance in the military ranks of
the Revolution of one destined to take an active and distinguished
part in public affairs; and to leave the impress of his genius on the
institutions of the country. As General Greene one day, on his way to
Washington's head-quarters, was passing through a field--then on the
outskirts of the city, now in the heart of its busiest quarter, and
known as "the Park,"--he paused to notice a provincial company of
artillery, and was struck with its able performances, and with the
tact and talent of its commander. He was a mere youth, apparently
about twenty years of age; small in person and stature, but remarkable
for his alert and manly bearing. It was Alexander Hamilton.{1}

{Footnote 1: [Hamilton was a native of the island of Nevis, in the
West Indies. At an early age he was put in a counting house, but his
nature was aspiring, and he devoted his leisure hours to study. Some
early achievements of his pen gave such proof of talent that it was
determined to give him the advantage of a regular education, and he
was sent to King's (now Columbia) College at New York.]}

Greene was an able tactician, and quick to appreciate any display of
military science; a little conversation sufficed to convince him that
the youth before him had a mind of no ordinary grasp and quickness. He
invited him to his quarters, and from that time cultivated his
friendship. Further acquaintance heightened the general's opinion of
his extraordinary merits, and he took an early occasion to introduce
him to the commander-in-chief, by whom we shall soon find him properly

A valuable accession to the army, at this anxious time, was
Washington's neighbor, and former companion in arms, Hugh Mercer. His
military spirit was alert as ever; the talent he had shown in
organizing the Virginia militia, and his zeal and efficiency as a
member of the committee of safety, had been properly appreciated by
Congress, and on the 5th of June he had received the commission of
brigadier-general. He was greeted by Washington with the right hand of
fellowship. The flying camp was about forming. Washington had the
nomination of some continental officer to the command. He gave it to
Mercer, and sent him over to Paulus Hook, in the Jerseys, to make
arrangements for the militia as they should come in; recommending him
to Brigadier-general William Livingston, as an officer on whose
experience and judgment great confidence might be reposed. Livingston
was a man inexperienced in arms, but of education, talent, sagacity
and ready wit. Mercer and he were to consult together, and concert
plans to repel invasions; the New Jersey militia, however, were
distinct from the flying camp, and only called out for local defence.

While danger was gathering round New York, the General Congress at
Philadelphia was discussing, with closed doors, what John Adams
pronounced--"The greatest question ever debated in America, and as
great as ever was or will be debated among men." The result was, a
resolution passed unanimously, on the 2d of July, "that these United
Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."
"The 2d of July," adds the same patriotic statesman, "will be the most
memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it
will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary
festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by
solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God. It ought to be solemnized
with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires
and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from
this time forth for evermore."

The glorious event has, indeed, given rise to an annual jubilee, but
not on the day designated by Adams. The 4th of July is the day of
national rejoicing, for on that day the "Declaration of Independence,"
that solemn and sublime document, was adopted. Washington hailed the
declaration with joy. It is true, it was but a formal recognition of a
state of things which had long existed, but it put an end to all those
temporizing hopes of reconciliation which had clogged the military
action of the country.

On the 9th of July he caused it to be read at six o'clock in the
evening, at the head of each brigade of the army. "The general hopes,"
said he in his orders, "that this important event will serve as a
fresh incentive to every officer and soldier to act with fidelity and
courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of his country
depend, under God, solely on the success of our arms; and that he is
now in the service of a state, possessed of sufficient power to reward
his merit and advance him to the highest honors of a free country."

The excitable populace of New York were not content with the ringing
of bells to proclaim their joy. There was a leaden statue of George
III. in the Bowling Green, in front of the fort. Since kingly rule is
at an end, why retain its effigy? On the same evening, therefore, the
statue was pulled down amid the shouts of the multitude, and broken up
to be run into bullets "to be used in the cause of independence."

The exultation of the patriots of New York, caused by the Declaration
of Independence, was soon overclouded. On the 12th of July several
ships stood in from sea, and joined the naval force below. Every
nautical movement was now a matter of speculation and alarm. Two
ships-of-war were observed getting under way, and standing toward the
city. One was the Phoenix, of forty guns; the other the Rose, of
twenty guns, commanded by Captain Wallace. The troops were immediately
at their alarm posts. It was about half-past three o'clock in the
afternoon as the ships and three tenders came sweeping up the bay with
the advantage of wind and tide, and shaped their course up the Hudson.
The batteries of the city and of Paulus Hook, on the opposite Jersey
shore, opened a fire upon them. They answered it with broadsides, but
continued their course up the Hudson. They had merely fired upon the
batteries as they passed; and on their own part had sustained but
little damage, their decks having ramparts of sand-bags. The ships
below remained in sullen quiet at their anchors, and showed no
intention of following them. The firing ceased. The fear of a general
attack upon the city died away, and the agitated citizens breathed
more freely.

Washington, however, apprehended this movement of the ships might be
with a different object. They might be sent to land troops and seize
upon the passes of the Highlands. Forts Montgomery and Constitution
were far from complete, and were scantily manned. A small force might
be sufficient to surprise them. Thus thinking, he sent off an express
to put General Mifflin on the alert, who was stationed with his
Philadelphia troops at Fort Washington and King's Bridge. The same
express carried a letter from him to the New York Convention, at that
time holding its sessions at White Plains in Westchester County,
apprising it of the impending danger.

Fortunately George Clinton, the patriotic legislator, had recently
been appointed brigadier-general of the militia of Ulster and Orange
counties. Called to his native State by his military duties in this
time of danger, he had only remained in Congress to vote for the
declaration of independence, and then hastened home. He was now at New
Windsor, in Ulster County, just above the Highlands. Washington wrote
to him on the afternoon of the 12th, urging him to collect as great a
force as possible of the New York militia, for the protection of the
Highlands against this hostile irruption. Long before the receipt of
Washington's letter, Clinton had been put on the alert. About nine
o'clock in the morning of the 13th, two river sloops came to anchor
above the Highlands, before the general's residence. Their captains
informed him that New York had been attacked on the preceding
afternoon. They had seen the cannonade from a distance, and judged
from the subsequent firing, that the enemy's ships were up the river
as far as King's Bridge. Clinton was as prompt a soldier as he had
been an intrepid legislator. The neighboring militia were forthwith
put in motion. Three regiments were ordered out; one was to repair to
Fort Montgomery; another to Fort Constitution; the third to rendezvous
at Newburgh, just above the Highlands, ready to hasten to the
assistance of Fort Constitution, should another signal be given.

Another of his sagacious measures was to send expresses to all the
owners of sloops and boats twenty miles up the west side of the river,
to haul them off so as to prevent their grounding. Part of them were
to be ready to carry over the militia to the forts; the rest were
ordered down to Fort Constitution, where a chain of them might be
drawn across the narrowest part of the river, to be set on fire,
should the enemy's ships attempt to pass. Having made these prompt
arrangements, he proceeded to Fort Montgomery, where he fixed his
head-quarters. Here, on the following day (July 14th,) he received
Washington's letter, written two days previously; but by this time he
had anticipated its orders, and stirred up the whole country.

While the vigilant Clinton was preparing to defend the passes of the
Highlands, danger was growing more imminent at the mouth of the
Hudson. The agitation into which New York was thrown on the afternoon
of the 12th of July, by the broadsides of the Phoenix and the Rose,
was almost immediately followed by another. On the same evening there
was a great booming of cannon, with clouds of smoke, from the shipping
at anchor at Staten Island. Every spy-glass was again in requisition.
The British fleet were saluting a ship of the line, just arrived from
sea. She advanced grandly, every man-of-war thundering a salute as she
passed. At her foretop masthead she bore St. George's flag. "It is the
admiral's ship!" cried the nautical men on the look-out at the
Battery. "It is the admiral's ship!" was echoed from mouth to mouth,
and the word soon flew throughout the city, "Lord Howe is come!"


Lord Howe was indeed come, and affairs now appeared to be approaching
a crisis. In consequence of the recent conspiracy, the Convention of
New York, seated at White Plains in Westchester County, had a secret
committee stationed in New York for the purpose of taking cognizance
of traitorous machinations. To this committee Washington addressed a
letter the day after his lordship's arrival, suggesting the policy of
removing from the city and its environs, "all persons of known
disaffection and enmity to the cause of America;" especially those
confined in jail for treasonable offences; who might become extremely
dangerous in case of an attack and alarm. He took this step with great
reluctance; but felt compelled to it by circumstances. In consequence
of his suggestion, thirteen persons in confinement for traitorous
offences, were removed to the jail of Litchfield in Connecticut. Among
the number was the late mayor; but as his offence was not of so deep a
dye as those whereof the rest stood charged, it was recommended by the
president of the Convention that he should be treated with indulgence.

The proceedings of Lord Howe soon showed the policy of these
precautions. His lordship had prepared a declaration, addressed to the
people at large, informing them of the powers vested in his brother
and himself as commissioners for restoring peace. He sent a flag on
shore, bearing a circular letter, written in his civil and military
capacity, to the colonial governor, requesting him to publish his
address to the people as widely as possible.

The British officers, considering the Americans in arms rebels without
valid commissions, were in the habit of denying them all military
title. Washington's general officers had urged him not to submit to
this tacit indignity, but to reject all letters directed to him
without a specification of his official rank. An occasion now
presented itself for the adjustment of this matter. Within a day or
two an officer of the British navy, Lieutenant Brown, came with a flag
from Lord Howe, seeking a conference with Washington. Colonel Reed,
the adjutant-general, embarked in a barge, and met him half way
between Governor's and Staten Islands. The lieutenant informed him
that he was the bearer of a letter from Lord Howe to _Mr._ Washington.
Colonel Reed replied that he knew no such person in the American army.
The lieutenant produced and offered the letter. It was addressed to
George Washington, Esquire. He was informed that it could not be
received with such a direction. The lieutenant expressed much concern,
while Reed maintained his coolness, politely declining to receive the
letter, as inconsistent with his duty.

On the 19th an aide-de-camp of General Howe came with a flag, and
requested to know, as there appeared to be an obstacle to a
correspondence between the two generals, whether Colonel Patterson,
the British adjutant-general, could be admitted to an interview with
General Washington. Colonel Reed, who met the flag, consented in the
name of the general, and pledged his honor for the safety of the
adjutant-general during the interview, which was fixed for the
following morning.

At the appointed time, Colonel Reed and Colonel Webb, one of
Washington's aides, met the flag in the harbor, took Colonel Patterson
into their barge and escorted him to town, passing in front of the
grand battery. Washington received the adjutant-general at
head-quarters with much form and ceremony, in full military array,
with his officers and guards about him. Colonel Patterson, addressing
him by the title of _your excellency_, produced, but did not offer, a
letter addressed to George Washington, Esquire, etc., etc., hoping
that the et ceteras, which implied everything, would remove all
impediments. Washington replied that it was true the et ceteras
implied everything, but they also implied anything. A letter, he
added, addressed to a person acting in a public character should have
some inscriptions to designate it from a mere private letter; and he
should absolutely decline any letter addressed to himself as a private
person, when it related to his public station.

Colonel Patterson, finding the letter would not be received,
endeavored, as far as he could recollect, to communicate the scope of
it in the course of a somewhat desultory conversation. What he chiefly
dwelt upon was that Lord Howe and his brother had been specially
nominated commissioners for the promotion of peace, which was esteemed
a mark of favor and regard to America; that they had great powers, and
would derive the highest pleasure from effecting an accommodation; and
he concluded by adding, that he wished his visit to be considered as
making the first advance toward that desirable object. Washington
replied that, by what had appeared (alluding, no doubt, to Lord Howe's
circular), their powers, it would seem, were only to grant pardons.
Now those who had committed no fault needed no pardon; and such was
the case with the Americans, who were only defending what they
considered their indisputable rights.

Colonel Patterson avoided a discussion of this matter, which, he
observed, would open a very wide field; so here the conference, which
had been conducted on both sides with great courtesy, terminated.
Washington received the applause of Congress and of the public for
sustaining the dignity of his station. His conduct in this particular
was recommended as a model to all American officers in corresponding
with the enemy.

In the meantime, the irruption of the Phoenix and the Rose into the
waters of the Hudson had roused a belligerent spirit along its
borders. The lower part of that noble river is commanded on the
eastern side by the bold woody heights of Manhattan Island and
Westchester County, and on the western side by the rocky cliffs of the
Palisades. Beyond those cliffs, the river expands into a succession of
what may almost be termed lakes; first the Tappan Sea, then Haverstraw
Bay, then the Bay of Peekskill; separated from each other by long
stretching points, or high beetling promontories, but affording ample
sea room and safe anchorage. Then come the redoubtable Highlands, that
strait, fifteen miles in length, where the river bends its course,
narrow and deep, between rocky, forest-clad mountains.

The New York Convention, aware of the impending danger, despatched
military envoys to stir up the yeomanry along the river, and order out
militia. Powder and ball were sent to Tarrytown, before which the
hostile ships were anchored, and yeoman troops were stationed there
and along the neighboring shores of the Tappan Sea. In a little while
the militia of Dutchess County and Cortlandt's Manor were hastening,
rudely armed, to protect the public stores at Peekskill, and mount
guard at the entrance of the Highlands.

The ships-of-war which caused this alarm and turmoil, lay quietly
anchored in the broad expanses of the Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay;
shifting their ground occasionally, while their boats were out taking
soundings quite up to the Highlands, evidently preparing for further
operations. At night, too, their barges were heard rowing up and down
the river on mysterious errands.

The ships, now acquainted with the channel, moved up within six miles
of Fort Montgomery. General Clinton apprehended they might mean to
take advantage of a dark night, and slip by him in the deep shadows of
the mountains. To prevent this, he stationed a guard at night on the
furthest point in view, about two miles and a half below the fort,
prepared to kindle a blazing fire should the ships appear in sight.
Large piles of dry brushwood mixed with combustibles were prepared at
various places up and down the shore opposite to the fort, and men
stationed to set fire to them as soon as a signal should be given from
the lower point. The fort, therefore, while it remained in darkness,
would have a fair chance with its batteries as the ships passed
between it and these conflagrations.

A private committee sent up by the New York Convention, had a
conference with the general, to devise further means of obstructing
the passage of ships up the river. Fire rafts were to be brought from
Poughkeepsie and kept at hand ready for action. These were to be
lashed two together, with chains, between old sloops filled with
combustibles, and sent down with a strong wind and tide, to drive upon
the ships. An iron chain, also, was to be stretched obliquely across
the river from Fort Montgomery to the foot of Anthony's Nose, thus, as
it were, chaining up the gate of the Highlands. For a protection below
the Highlands, it was proposed to station whale-boats about the coves
and promontories of Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay; to reconnoitre the
enemy, cruise about at night, carry intelligence from post to post,
seize any river craft that might bring the ships supplies, and cut off
their boats when attempting to land. Galleys, also, were prepared,
with nine-pounders mounted at the bows.

While the security of the Hudson from invading ships was claiming the
attention of Washington, he was equally anxious to prevent an
irruption of the enemy from Canada. He was grieved, therefore, to find
there was a clashing of authorities between the generals who had
charge of the Northern frontier. Gates, on his way to take command of
the army in Canada, had heard with surprise in Albany of its retreat
across the New York frontier. He still considered it under his orders,
and was proceeding to act accordingly, when General Schuyler observed
that the resolution of Congress, and the instructions of Washington,
applied to the army only while in Canada; the moment it retreated
within the limits of New York, it came within his (Schuyler's)

That there might be no delay in the service at this critical juncture
the two generals agreed to refer the question of command to Congress,
and in the meantime to act in concert. They accordingly departed
together for Lake Champlain, to prepare against an anticipated
invasion by Sir Guy Carleton. They arrived at Crown Point on the 6th
of July, and found there the wrecks of the army recently driven out of
Canada. They had been harassed in their retreat by land; their
transportation on the lake had been in leaky boats, without awnings,
where the sick, suffering from small-pox, lay on straw, exposed to a
burning July sun; no food but salt pork, often rancid, hard biscuit or
unbaked flour, and scarcely any medicine. Not more than six thousand
men had reached Crown Point, and half of those were on the sick list;
the shattered remains of twelve or fifteen very fine battalions. In a
council of war it was determined that, under present circumstances,
the post of Crown Point was not tenable; and that, therefore, it was
expedient to fall back, and take a strong position at Ticonderoga.

General Sullivan had been deeply hurt that Gates, his former inferior
in rank, should have been appointed over him to the command of the
army in Canada; considering it a tacit intimation that Congress did
not esteem him competent to the trust which had devolved upon him. He
now, therefore, requested leave of absence, in order to wait on the
commander-in-chief. It was granted with reluctance.

On the 9th of July, Schuyler and Gates returned to Ticonderoga,
accompanied by Arnold. Instant arrangements were made to encamp the
troops, and land the artillery and stores as fast as they should
arrive. Great exertions, also, were made to strengthen the defences of
the place. Colonel John Trumbull, who was to have accompanied Gates to
Canada, as adjutant-general, had been reconnoitring the neighborhood
of Ticonderoga, and had pitched upon a place for a fortification on
the eastern side of the lake, directly opposite the east point of
Ticonderoga, where Fort Independence was subsequently built. He also
advised the erection of a work on a lofty eminence, the termination of
a mountain ridge, which separates Lake George from Lake Champlain. His
advice was unfortunately disregarded. Preparations were made, also, to
augment the naval force on the lakes. Ship carpenters from the Eastern
States were employed at Skenesborough to build the hulls of galleys
and boats, which, when launched, were to be sent down to Ticonderoga
for equipment and armament, under the superintendence of General

Schuyler soon returned to Albany, to superintend the general concerns
of the Northern department. He was indefatigable in procuring and
forwarding the necessary materials and artillery for the fortification
of Ticonderoga. The question of command between him and Gates was
apparently at rest. A letter from the President of Congress, dated
July 8th, informed General Gates that, according to the resolution of
that body under which he had been appointed, his command was totally
independent of General Schuyler, _while the army was in Canada_, but
no longer. Gates professed himself entirely satisfied with the
explanation he had received, and perfectly disposed to obey the
commands of Schuyler.

As to General Sullivan, who repaired to Philadelphia and tendered his
resignation, the question of rank which had aggrieved him was
explained in a manner that induced him to continue in service. It was
universally allowed that his retreat had been ably conducted through
all kinds of difficulties and disasters.

A greater source of solicitude to Washington than this jealousy
between commanders, was the sectional jealousy springing up among the
troops. In a letter to Schuyler (July 17th), he says, "I must entreat
your attention to do away the unhappy and pernicious distinctions and
jealousies between the troops of different governments. Enjoin this
upon the officers, and let them inculcate and press home to the
soldiery, the necessity of order and harmony among those who are
embarked in one common cause, and mutually contending for all that
freemen hold dear." Nowhere were these sectional jealousies more
prevalent than in the motley army assembled from distant quarters
under Washington's own command. Reed, the adjutant-general, speaking
on this subject, observes: "The Southern troops, comprising the
regiments south of the Delaware, looked with very unkind feelings on
those of New England; especially those from Connecticut, whose
peculiarities of deportment made them the objects of ill-disguised
derision among their fellow soldiers."

Among the troops thus designated as Southern, were some from Virginia
under a Major Leitch; others from Maryland, under Colonel Smallwood;
others from Delaware, led by Colonel Haslet. There were four
Continental battalions from Pennsylvania commanded by Colonels Shee,
St. Clair, Wayne, and Magaw; and provincial battalions, two of which
were severally commanded by Colonels Miles and Atlee. The Continental
battalion under Colonel Shee was chiefly from the city of
Philadelphia, especially the officers; among whom were Lambert
Cadwalader and William Allen, members of two of the principal and most
aristocratic families, and Alexander Graydon, to whose memoirs we are
indebted for some graphic pictures of the times. These Pennsylvania
troops were under the command of Brigadier-general Mifflin, who, in
the preceding year, had acted as Washington's aide-de-camp, and
afterwards as quartermaster-general.

Smallwood's Maryland battalion was one of the brightest in point of
equipment. The scarlet and buff uniforms of those Southerners
contrasted vividly with the rustic attire of the yeoman battalions
from the East. Their officers, too, looked down upon their Connecticut
compeers, who could only be distinguished from their men by wearing a
cockade. "There were none," says Graydon, "by whom an unofficer-like
appearance and deportment could be tolerated less than by a city-bred
Marylander; who, at this time, was distinguished by the most
fashionable cut coat, the most _macaroni_ cocked-hat, and hottest
blood in the Union." In the same sectional spirit, he speaks of the
Connecticut light-horse: "Old-fashioned men, truly irregulars; whether
their clothing, equipments, or caparisons were regarded, it would have
been difficult to have discovered any circumstance of uniformity.
Instead of carbines and sabres, they generally carried fowling-pieces,
some of them very long, such as in Pennsylvania are used for shooting
ducks. Here and there one appeared in a dingy regimental of scarlet,
with a triangular, tarnished, laced hat. These singular dragoons were
volunteers, who came to make a tender of their services to the

The troops thus satirized were a body of between four and five hundred
Connecticut light-horse, under Colonel Thomas Seymour. On an appeal
for aid to the governor of their State, they had voluntarily hastened
on in advance of the militia, to render the most speedy succor.
Washington speaks of them as being for the most part, if not all, men
of reputation and property. They were, in fact, mostly farmers. The
Connecticut infantry which had been furnished by Governor Trumbull in
the present emergency, likewise were substantial farmers, whose
business would require their return, when the necessity of their
further stay in the army should be over. They were all men of simple
rural manners, from an agricultural State, where great equality of
condition prevailed; the officers were elected by the men out of their
own ranks, they were their own neighbors, and every way their equals.
All this, as yet, was but little understood or appreciated by the
troops from the South, among whom military rank was more defined and
tenaciously observed, and where the officers were men of the cities,
and of more aristocratic habits.


Letters from General Lee gave Washington intelligence of the fate of
Sir Henry Clinton's expedition to the South; that expedition which had
been the subject of so much surmise and perplexity.

Within a year past, Charleston had been fortified at various points.
Fort Johnson, on James Island, three miles from the city, and
commanding the breadth of the channel, was garrisoned by a regiment of
South Carolina regulars under Colonel Gadsden. A strong fort had
recently been constructed nearly opposite, on the south-west point of
Sullivan's Island, about six miles below the city. It was mounted with
twenty-six guns, and garrisoned by three hundred and seventy-five
regulars and a few militia, and commanded by Colonel William Moultrie,
of South Carolina, who had constructed it. This fort, in connection
with that on James Island, was considered the key of the harbor.
Cannon had also been mounted on Haddrell's Point on the mainland, to
the north-west of Sullivan's Island, and along the bay in front of the

The arrival of General Lee gave great joy to the people of Charleston,
from his high reputation for military skill and experience. According
to his own account in a letter to Washington, the town on his arrival
was "utterly defenceless." He was rejoiced, therefore, when the enemy,
instead of immediately attacking it, directed his whole force against
the fort on Sullivan's Island.

The British ships, in fact, having passed the bar with some
difficulty, landed their troops on Long Island, situated to the east
of Sullivan's Island, and separated from it by a small creek called
the Breach. Sir Henry Clinton meditated a combined attack with his
land and naval forces on the fort commanded by Moultrie; the capture
of which, he thought, would insure the reduction of Charleston. The
Americans immediately threw up works on the north-eastern extremity of
Sullivan's Island, to prevent the passage of the enemy over the
Breach, stationing a force of regulars and militia there, under
Colonel Thompson. General Lee encamped on Haddrell's Point, on the
mainland, to the north of the island, whence he intended to keep up a
communication by a bridge of boats, so as to be ready at any moment to
aid either Moultrie or Thompson.

Sir Henry Clinton, on the other hand, had to construct batteries on
Long Island, to oppose those of Thompson, and cover the passage of his
troops by boats or by the ford. Thus time was consumed, and the enemy
were, from the 1st to the 28th of June, preparing for the attack.

At length on the 28th of June, the Thunder Bomb commenced the attack,
throwing shells at the fort as the fleet, under Sir Peter Parker,
advanced. About eleven o'clock the ships dropped their anchors
directly before the front battery. ["They commenced," says Lee, "the
most furious fire I ever saw." The garrison, however, according to
British authority, stuck with the greatest constancy and firmness to
their guns; fired deliberately and slow, and took a cool, effective
aim. The ships suffered accordingly, they were torn almost to pieces,
and the slaughter was dreadful. The fire from the ships did not
produce the expected effect.] The fortifications were low, composed of
earth and palmetto wood, which is soft, and makes no splinters, and
the merlons were extremely thick. At one time there was a considerable
pause in the American fire, and the enemy thought the fort was
abandoned. It was only because the powder was exhausted. As soon as a
supply could be forwarded from the mainland by General Lee, the fort
resumed its fire with still more deadly effect. Through unskilful
pilotage, several of the ships ran aground, where one, the frigate
Actæon, remained; the rest were extricated with difficulty. Those
which bore the brunt of the action were much cut up. One hundred and
seventy-five men were killed, and nearly as many wounded. Sir Henry
Clinton, with two thousand troops and five or six hundred seamen,
attempted repeatedly to cross from Long Island, and co-operate in the
attack upon the fort, but was as often foiled by Colonel Thompson,
with his battery of two cannons, and a body of South Carolina rangers
and North Carolina regulars.

The combat slackened before sunset, and ceased before ten o'clock. Sir
Peter Parker, who had received a severe contusion in the engagement,
then slipped his cables, and drew off his shattered ships to Five
Fathom Hole. The Actæon remained aground. On the following morning Sir
Henry Clinton made another attempt to cross from Long Island to
Sullivan's Island; but was again repulsed, and obliged to take shelter
behind his breastworks. Sir Peter Parker, too, giving up all hope of
reducing the fort in the shattered condition of his ships, ordered
that the Actæon should be set on fire and abandoned. Within a few days
the troops were re-embarked from Long Island: the attempt upon
Charleston was for the present abandoned, and the fleet once more put
to sea.

In this action, one of the severest in the whole course of the war,
the loss of the Americans in killed and wounded was but thirty-five
men. Colonel Moultrie derived the greatest glory from the defence of
Sullivan's Island; though the thanks of Congress were voted as well to
General Lee, Colonel Thompson and those under their command.

The tidings of this signal repulse of the enemy came most opportunely
to Washington, when he was apprehending an attack upon New York.

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

General Putnam, beside his bravery in the field, was somewhat of a
mechanical projector. The batteries at Fort Washington had proved
ineffectual in opposing the passage of hostile ships up the Hudson. He
was now engaged on a plan for obstructing the channel opposite the
fort, so as to prevent the passing of any more ships. A letter from
him to General Gales (July 26th) explains his project. "We are
preparing chevaux-de-frise, at which we make great despatch by the
help of ships, which are to be sunk. The two ships' sterns lie towards
each other, about seventy feet apart. Three large logs, which reach
from ship to ship, are fastened to them. The two ships and logs stop
the river two hundred and eighty feet. The ships are to be sunk, and
when hauled down on one side, the pricks will be raised to a proper
height, and they must inevitably stop the river, if the enemy will let
us sink them."

It so happened that one Ephraim Anderson, adjutant to the second
Jersey battalion, had recently submitted a project to Congress for
destroying the enemy's fleet in the harbor of New York. He had
attempted an enterprise of the kind against the British ships in the
harbor of Quebec during the siege, and, according to his own account,
would have succeeded, had not the enemy discovered his intentions, and
stretched a cable across the mouth of the harbor, and had he not
accidentally been much burnt. His scheme was favorably entertained by
Congress, and Washington, by a letter dated July 10th, was instructed
to aid him in carrying it into effect. Anderson, accordingly, was soon
at work at New York constructing fire-ships, with which the fleet was
to be attacked. Simultaneous with the attack, a descent was to be made
on the British camp on Staten Island, from the nearest point of the
Jersey shore, by troops from Mercer's flying camp, and by others
stationed at Bergen under Major Knowlton, Putnam's favorite officer
for daring enterprises. Projectors are subject to disappointments. It
was impossible to construct a sufficient number of fire-ships and
galleys in time. The flying camp, too, recruited but slowly, and
scarcely exceeded three thousand men; the combined attack by fire and
sword had therefore to be given up.

In the course of a few days arrived a hundred sail, with large
reinforcements, among which were one thousand Hessians, and as many
more were reported to be on the way. The troops were disembarked on
Staten Island, and fortifications thrown up on some of the most
commanding hills. All projects of attack upon the enemy were now out
of the question. Indeed, some of Washington's ablest advisers
questioned the policy of remaining in New York, where they might be
entrapped as the British had been in Boston.

During the latter part of July, and the early part of August, ships of
war with their tenders continued to arrive, and Scotch Highlanders,
Hessians, and other troops to be landed on Staten Island. At the
beginning of August, the squadron with Sir Henry Clinton, recently
repulsed at Charleston, anchored in the bay.

In the meantime, Putnam's contrivances for obstructing the channel had
reached their destined place. A letter, dated Fort Washington, August
3d, says: "Four ships, chained and boomed, with a number of amazing
large chevaux-de-frise, were sunk close by the fort under command of
General Mifflin, which fort mounts thirty-two pieces of heavy cannon.
We are thoroughly sanguine that they (the ships up the river) never
will be able to join the British fleet, nor assistance from the fleet
be afforded to them." Another letter, written at the same date from
Tarrytown, on the borders of the Tappan Sea, gives an account of an
attack made by six row galleys upon the Phoenix and the Rose. They
fought bravely for two hours, hulling the ships repeatedly, but
sustaining great damage in return; until their commodore, Colonel
Tupper, gave the signal to draw off.

The force of the enemy collected in the neighborhood of New York was
about thirty thousand men; that of the Americans a little more than
seventeen thousand, but was subsequently increased to twenty thousand,
for the most part, raw and undisciplined. One-fourth were on the sick
list with bilious and putrid fevers and dysentery; others were absent
on furlough or command; the rest had to be distributed over posts and
stations fifteen miles apart.

Washington kept the most watchful eye upon the movements of the enemy.
Beside their great superiority in point of numbers as well as
discipline, to his own crude and scanty legions, they possessed a vast
advantage in their fleet. "They would not be half the enemy they are,"
observed Colonel Reed, "if they were once separated from their ships."
Every arrival and departure of these, therefore, was a subject of
speculation and conjecture. Aaron Burr, at that time in New York,
aide-de-camp to General Putnam, speaks in a letter to an uncle, of
thirty transports, which, under convoy of three frigates, had put to
sea on the 7th of August, with the intention of sailing round Long
Island and coming through the Sound, and thus investing the city by
the North and East Rivers. "They are then to land on both sides of the
island," writes he, "join their forces, and draw a line across, which
will hem us in, and totally cut off all communication; after which,
they will have their own fun."

In this emergency, Washington wrote to General Mercer for 2,000 men
from the flying camp. Colonel Smallwood's battalion was immediately
furnished, as a part of them. The Convention of the State ordered out
hasty levies of country militia, to form temporary camps on the shore
of the Sound, and on that of the Hudson above King's Bridge, to annoy
the enemy, should they attempt to land from their ships on either of
these waters. Others were sent to reinforce the posts on Long Island.
Many of the yeomen of the country, thus hastily summoned from the
plough, were destitute of arms, in lieu of which they were ordered to
bring with them a shovel, spade, or pickaxe, or a scythe straightened
and fastened to a pole. This rustic array may have provoked the
thoughtless sneers of city scoffers, such as those cited by Graydon;
but it was in truth one of the glorious features of the Revolution, to
be thus aided in its emergencies by "hasty levies of husbandmen."

By the authority of the New York Convention, Washington had appointed
General George Clinton to the command of the levies on both sides of
the Hudson. He now ordered him to hasten down with them to the fort
just erected on the north side of King's Bridge; leaving two hundred
men under the command of a brave and alert officer to throw up works
at the pass of Anthony's Nose, where the main road to Albany crosses
that mountain. Troops of horse also were to be posted by him along the
river to watch the motions of the enemy.

Accounts of deserters, and other intelligence, informed Washington, on
the 17th, that a great many of the enemy's troops had gone on board of
the transports; that three days' provisions had been cooked, and other
steps taken indicating an intention of leaving Staten Island. Putnam,
also, came up from below with word that at least one-fourth of the
fleet had sailed. There were many conjectures at head-quarters as to
whither they were bound, or whether they had not merely shifted their
station. Everything indicated, however, that affairs were tending to a

A gallant little exploit at this juncture, gave a fillip to the
spirits of the community. Two of the fire-ships recently constructed,
went up the Hudson to attempt the destruction of the ships which had
so long been domineering over its waters. One succeeded in grappling
the Phoenix, and would soon have set her in flames, but in the
darkness got to leeward, and was cast loose without effecting any
damage. The other, in making for the Rose, fell foul of one of the
tenders, grappled and burnt her. The enterprise was conducted with
spirit, and though it failed of its main object, had an important
effect. The commanders of the ships determined to abandon those
waters, where their boats were fired upon by the very yeomanry
whenever they attempted to land; and where their ships were in danger
from midnight incendiaries, while riding at anchor. Taking advantage
of a brisk wind and favoring tide, they made all sail early on the
morning of the 18th of August, and stood down the river, keeping close
under the eastern shore, where they supposed the guns from Mount
Washington could not be brought to bear upon them. Notwithstanding
this precaution, the Phoenix was thrice hulled by shots from the fort,
and one of the tenders once. The Rose, also, was hulled once by a shot
from Burdett's Ferry. The men on board were kept close, to avoid being
picked off by a party of riflemen posted on the river bank. The ships
fired grape-shot as they passed, but without effecting any injury.
Unfortunately, a passage had been left open in the obstructions on
which General Putnam had calculated so sanguinely; it was to have been
closed in the course of a day or two. Through this they made their
way, guided by a deserter.


The movements of the British fleet, and of the camp on Staten Island,
gave signs of a meditated attack; but as the nature of that attack was
uncertain, Washington was obliged to retain the greater part of his
troops in the city for its defence, holding them ready, however, to be
transferred to any point in the vicinity. General Mifflin, with about
five hundred of the Pennsylvania troops, of Colonels Shee and Magaw's
regiments, were at King's Bridge, ready to aid at a moment's notice.
General George Clinton was at that post, with about fourteen hundred
of his yeomanry of the Hudson.

Reports from different quarters gave Washington reason to apprehend
that the design of the enemy might be to land part of their force on
Long Island, and endeavor to get possession of the heights of
Brooklyn, which overlooked New York; while another part should land
above the city. Thus, various disconnected points, distant from each
other, and a great extent of intervening country, had to be defended
by raw troops, against a superior force well disciplined, and
possessed of every facility for operating by land and water.

General Greene, with a considerable force, was stationed at Brooklyn.
He had acquainted himself with all the localities of the island, from
Hell Gate to the Narrows, and made his plan of defence accordingly.
His troops were diligently occupied in works which he laid out, about
a mile beyond the village of Brooklyn, and facing the interior of the
island, whence a land attack might be attempted. Brooklyn was
immediately opposite to New York. The Sound, commonly called the East
River, in that place about three quarters of a mile in width, swept
its rapid tides between them. The village stood on a kind of
peninsula, formed by the deep inlets of Wallabout Bay on the north,
and Gowanus Cove on the south. A line of intrenchments and strong
redoubts extended across the neck of the peninsula, from the bay to a
swamp and creek emptying into the cove. To protect the rear of the
works from the enemy's ships, a battery was erected at Red Hook, the
south-west corner of the peninsula, and a fort on Governor's Island,
nearly opposite.

About two miles and a half in front of the line of intrenchments and
redoubts, a range of hills, densely wooded, extended from south-west
to north-east, forming a natural barrier across the island. It was
traversed by three roads. One, on the left of the works, stretched
eastwardly to Bedford, and then by a pass through the Bedford Hills to
the village of Jamaica; another, central and direct, led through the
woody heights to Flatbush; a third, on the right of the lines, passed
by Gowanus Cove to the Narrows and Gravesend Bay. The occupation of
this range of hills, and the protection of its passes, had been
designed by General Greene; but unfortunately, in the midst of his
arduous toils, he was taken down by a raging fever, which confined him
to his bed; and General Sullivan, just returned from Lake Champlain,
had the temporary command.

On the 21st came a letter, written in all haste by Brigadier-general
William Livingston, of New Jersey. Movements of the enemy on Staten
Island had been seen from his camp. He had sent over a spy at
midnight, who brought back the following intelligence. Twenty thousand
men had embarked to make an attack on Long Island, and up the Hudson.
Fifteen thousand remained on Staten Island, to attack Bergen Point,
Elizabethtown Point, and Amboy.

Washington sent a copy of the letter to the New York Convention. On
the following morning (August 22d) the enemy appeared to be carrying
their plans into execution. The reports of cannon and musketry were
heard from Long Island, and columns of smoke were descried rising
above the groves and orchards at a distance. The city, as usual, was
alarmed, and had reason to be so; for word soon came that several
thousand men, with artillery and light-horse, were landed at
Gravesend; and that Colonel Hand, stationed there with the
Pennsylvania rifle regiment, had retreated to the lines, setting fire
to stacks of wheat, and other articles, to keep them from falling into
the enemy's hands. Washington apprehended an attempt of the foe by a
forced march, to surprise the lines at Brooklyn. He immediately sent
over a reinforcement of six battalions. It was all that he could
spare, as with the next tide the ships might bring up the residue of
the army, and attack the city. Five battalions more, however, were
ordered to be ready as a reinforcement, if required.

Nine thousand of the enemy had landed, with forty pieces of cannon.
Sir Henry Clinton had the chief command, and led the first division.
His associate officers were the Earls of Cornwallis and Percy, General
Grant, and General Sir William Erskine. As their boats approached the
shore, Colonel Hand, stationed, as has been said, in the neighborhood
with his rifle regiment, retreated to the chain of wooded hills, and
took post on a height commanding the central road leading from
Flatbush. The enemy having landed without opposition, Lord Cornwallis
was detached with the reserve to Flatbush, while the rest of the army
extended itself from the ferry at the Narrows through Utrecht and
Gravesend, to the village of Flatland. Cornwallis, with two battalions
of light-infantry, Colonel Donop's corps of Hessians, and six
field-pieces, advanced rapidly to seize upon the central pass through
the hills. He found Hand and his riflemen ready to make a vigorous
defence. This brought him to a halt, having been ordered not to risk
an attack should the pass be occupied. He took post for the night,
therefore, in the village of Flatbush.

On the 24th Washington crossed over to Brooklyn, to inspect the lines
and reconnoitre the neighborhood. In this visit he felt sensibly the
want of General Greene's presence, to explain his plans and point out
the localities. The American advanced posts were in the wooded hills.
Colonel Hand, with his riflemen, kept watch over the central road, and
a strong redoubt had been thrown up in front of the pass, to check any
advance of the enemy from Flatbush. Another road leading from Flatbush
to Bedford, by which the enemy might get round to the left of the
works at Brooklyn, was guarded by two regiments, one under Colonel
Williams, posted on the north side of the ridge, the other by a
Pennsylvanian rifle regiment, under Colonel Miles, posted on the south
side. The enemy were stretched along the country beyond the chain of

As yet nothing had taken place but skirmishing and irregular firing
between the outposts. It was with deep concern Washington noticed a
prevalent disorder and confusion in the camp. There was a want of
system among the officers and co-operation among the troops, each
corps seeming to act independently of the rest. Few of the men had any
military experience, except, perchance, in bush-fighting with the
Indians. Unaccustomed to discipline and the restraint of camps, they
sallied forth whenever they pleased, singly or in squads, prowling
about and firing upon the enemy, like hunters after game. Much of this
was no doubt owing to the protracted illness of General Greene. On
returning to the city, therefore, Washington gave the command on Long
Island to General Putnam, warning him, however, in his letter of
instructions, to summon the officers together, and enjoin them to put
a stop to the irregularities which he had observed among the troops.
In the meantime, the enemy were augmenting their forces on the island.
Two brigades of Hessians, under Lieutenant-general De Heister, were
transferred from the camp on Staten Island on the 25th. This movement
did not escape the vigilant eye of Washington. He now concluded that
the enemy were about to make a push with their main force for the
possession of Brooklyn Heights. He accordingly sent over additional
reinforcements, and among them Colonel John Haslet's well equipped and
well disciplined Delaware regiment; which was joined to Lord
Stirling's brigade, chiefly composed of Southern troops, and stationed
outside of the lines.

On the 26th he crossed over to Brooklyn, accompanied by Reed, the
adjutant-general. There was much movement among the enemy's troops,
and their number was evidently augmented. In fact. General De Heister
had reached Flatbush with his Hessians, and taken command of the
centre; whereupon Sir Henry Clinton, with the right wing, drew off to
Flatlands, in a diagonal line to the right of De Heister, while the
left wing, commanded by General Grant, extended to the place of
landing on Gravesend Bay.

Washington remained all day, aiding General Putnam with his counsels,
who, new to the command, had not been able to make himself well
acquainted with the fortified posts beyond the lines. In the evening,
Washington returned to the city, full of anxious thought. A general
attack was evidently at hand. Where would it be made? How would his
inexperienced troops stand the encounter? What would be the defence of
the city if assailed by the ships? It was a night of intense
solicitude, and well might it be; for during that night a plan was
carried into effect, fraught with disaster to the Americans.

The plan to which we allude was concerted by General Howe, the
commander-in-chief. Sir Henry Clinton with the vanguard, composed of
the choicest troops, was, by a circuitous march in the night to throw
himself into the road leading from Jamaica to Bedford, seize upon a
pass through the Bedford Hills, within three miles of that village,
and thus turn the left of the American advanced posts. To divert the
attention of the Americans from this stealthy march on their left,
General Grant was to menace their right flank toward Gravesend before
daybreak, and General De Heister to cannonade their centre, where
Colonel Hand was stationed. Neither, however, was to press an attack
until the guns of Sir Henry Clinton should give notice that he had
effected his purpose, and turned the left flank of the Americans; then
the latter were to be assailed at all points with the utmost vigor.

About nine o'clock in the evening of the 26th, Sir Henry Clinton began
his march from Flatlands with the vanguard, composed of light
infantry. Lord Percy followed with the grenadiers, artillery, and
light dragoons, forming the centre. Lord Cornwallis brought up the
rear-guard with the heavy ordnance. General Howe accompanied this
division. It was a silent march, without beat of drum or sound of
trumpet, under guidance of a Long Island tory, along by-roads
traversing a swamp by a narrow causeway, and so across the country to
the Jamaica road. About two hours before daybreak, they arrived within
half a mile of the pass through the Bedford Hills, and halted to
prepare for an attack. At this juncture they captured an American
patrol, and learnt, to their surprise, that the Bedford pass was
unoccupied. In fact, the whole road beyond Bedford, leading to
Jamaica, had been left unguarded, excepting by some light volunteer
troops. Colonels Williams and Miles, who were stationed to the left of
Colonel Hand, among the wooded hills, had been instructed to send out
parties occasionally to patrol the road, but no troops had been
stationed at the Bedford pass. The road and pass may not have been
included in General Greene's plan of defence, or may have been thought
too far out of the way to need special precaution. The neglect of
them, however, proved fatal.

Sir Henry Clinton immediately detached a battalion of light infantry
to secure the pass; and, advancing with his corps at the first break
of day, possessed himself of the heights. He was now within three
miles of Bedford, and his march had been undiscovered. Having passed
the heights, therefore, he halted his division for the soldiers to
take some refreshment, preparatory to the morning's hostilities. There
we will leave them, while we note how the other divisions performed
their part of the plan.

About midnight General Grant moved from Gravesend Bay, with the left
wing, composed of two brigades and a regiment of regulars, a battalion
of New York loyalists, and ten field-pieces. He proceeded along the
road leading past the Narrows and Gowanus Cove, toward the right of
the American works. A picket guard of Pennsylvanian and New York
militia, under Colonel Atlee, retired before him fighting to a
position on the skirts of the wooded hills. In the meantime, scouts
had brought in word to the American lines that the enemy were
approaching in force upon the right. General Putnam instantly ordered
Lord Stirling to hasten with the two regiments nearest at hand, and
hold them in check. These were Haslet's Delaware, and Smallwood's
Maryland regiments; the latter the _macaronis_, in scarlet and buff,
who had outshone, in camp, their yeoman fellow-soldiers in home-spun.
They turned out with great alacrity, and Stirling pushed forward with
them on the road to the Narrows. By the time he had passed Gowanus
Cove, daylight began to appear. Here, on a rising ground he met
Colonel Atlee with his Pennsylvania Provincials, and learned that the
enemy were near. Indeed their front began to appear in the uncertain
twilight. Stirling ordered Atlee to place himself in ambush in an
orchard on the left of the road, and await their coming up, while he
formed the Delaware and Maryland regiments along a ridge from the
road, up to a piece of woods on the top of the hill.

Atlee gave the enemy two or three volleys as they approached, and then
retreated and formed in the wood on Lord Stirling's left. By this time
his lordship was reinforced by Kichline's riflemen, part of whom he
placed along a hedge at the foot of the hill, and part in front of the
wood. General Grant threw his light troops in the advance, and posted
them in an orchard and behind hedges, extending in front of the
Americans, and about one hundred and fifty yards distant.

It was now broad daylight. A rattling fire commenced between the
British light troops and the American riflemen, which continued for
about two hours, when the former retired to their main body. In the
meantime, Stirling's position had been strengthened by the arrival of
Captain Carpenter with two field-pieces. These were placed on the side
of the hill, so as to command the road and the approach for some
hundred yards. General Grant, likewise, brought up his artillery
within three hundred yards, and formed his brigades on opposite hills,
about six hundred yards distant. There was occasional cannonading on
both sides, but neither party sought a general action. Lord Stirling's
object was merely to hold the enemy in check; and the instructions of
General Grant, as we have shown, were not to press an attack until
aware that Sir Henry Clinton was on the left flank of the Americans.

During this time, De Heister had commenced his part of the plan by
opening a cannonade from his camp at Flatbush upon the redoubt, at the
pass of the wooded hills, where Hand and his riflemen were stationed.
On hearing this, General Sullivan, who was within the lines, rode
forth to Colonel Hand's post to reconnoitre. De Heister, however,
according to the plan of operations, did not advance from Flatbush,
but kept up a brisk fire from his artillery on the redoubt in front of
the pass, which replied as briskly. At the same time, a cannonade from
a British ship upon the battery at Red Hook, contributed to distract
the attention of the Americans.

In the meantime terror reigned in New York. The volleying of musketry
and the booming of cannon at early dawn, had told of the fighting that
had commenced. As the morning advanced, and platoon firing and the
occasional discharge of a field-piece were heard in different
directions, the terror increased. Washington was still in doubt
whether this was but a part of a general attack, in which the city was
to be included. Five ships of the line were endeavoring to beat up the
bay. Were they to cannonade the city, or to land troops above it?
Fortunately, a strong head-wind baffled their efforts; but one vessel
of inferior force got up far enough to open the fire already mentioned
upon the fort at Red Hook. Seeing no likelihood of an immediate attack
upon the city, Washington hastened over to Brooklyn in his barge, and
galloped up to the works. He arrived there in time to witness the
catastrophe for which all the movements of the enemy had been

The thundering of artillery in the direction of Bedford, had given
notice that Sir Henry had turned the left of the Americans. De Heister
immediately ordered Colonel Count Donop to advance with his Hessian
regiment, and storm the redoubt, while he followed with his whole
division. Sullivan did not remain to defend the redoubt. Sir Henry's
cannon had apprised him of the fatal truth, that his flank was turned,
and he in danger of being surrounded. He ordered a retreat to the
lines, but it was already too late. Scarce had he descended from the
height, and emerged into the plain, when he was met by the British
light infantry, and dragoons, and driven back into the woods. By this
time De Heister and his Hessians had come up, and now commenced a
scene of confusion, consternation, and slaughter, in which the troops
under Williams and Miles were involved. Hemmed in and entrapped
between the British and Hessians, and driven from one to the other,
the Americans fought for a time bravely, or rather desperately. Some
were cut down and trampled by the cavalry, others bayoneted without
mercy by the Hessians. Some rallied in groups, and made a brief stand
with their rifles from rocks or behind trees. The whole pass was a
scene of carnage, resounding with the clash of arms, the tramp of
horses, the volleying of fire-arms and the cries of the combatants,
with now and then the dreary braying of the trumpet. At length some of
the Americans, by a desperate effort, cut their way through the host
of foes, and effected a retreat to the lines, fighting as they went.
Others took refuge among the woods and fastnesses of the hills, but a
great part were either killed or taken prisoners. Among the latter was
General Sullivan.

Washington, as we have observed, arrived in time to witness this
catastrophe, but was unable to prevent it. He had heard the din of the
battle in the woods, and seen the smoke rising from among the trees;
but a deep column of the enemy was descending from the hills on the
left; his choicest troops were all in action, and he had none but
militia to man the works. His solicitude was now awakened for the
safety of Lord Stirling and his corps, who had been all the morning
exchanging cannonades with General Grant. He saw the danger to which
these brave fellows were exposed, though they could not. Stationed on
a hill within the lines, he commanded, with his telescope, a view of
the whole field, and saw the enemy's reserve, under Cornwallis,
marching down by a cross-road to get in their rear, and thus place
them between two fires. With breathless anxiety he watched the result.

The sound of Sir Henry Clinton's cannon apprised Stirling that the
enemy was between him and the lines. General Grant, too, aware that
the time had come for earnest action, was closing up, and had already
taken Colonel Atlee prisoner. His lordship now thought to effect a
circuitous retreat to the lines, by crossing the creek which empties
into Gowanus Cove, near what was called the Yellow Mills. There was a
bridge and mill-dam, and the creek might be forded at low water, but
no time was to be lost, for the tide was rising. Leaving part of his
men to keep face toward General Grant, he advanced with the rest to
pass the creek, but was suddenly checked by the appearance of
Cornwallis and his grenadiers.

Washington, and some of his officers on the hill, who watched every
movement, had supposed that Stirling and his troops, finding the case
desperate, would surrender in a body without firing. On the contrary,
his lordship boldly attacked Cornwallis with half of Smallwood's
battalion, while the rest of his troops retreated across the creek.
Washington wrung his hands in agony at the sight. "Good God!" cried
he, "what brave fellows I must this day lose!"

It was, indeed, a desperate fight; and now Smallwood's _macaronis_
showed their game spirit. They were repeatedly broken, but as often
rallied and renewed the fight. "We were on the point of driving Lord
Cornwallis from his station," writes Lord Stirling, "but large
reinforcements arriving, rendered it impossible to do more than
provide for safety." "Being thus surrounded, and no probability of a
reinforcement," writes a Maryland officer, "his lordship ordered me to
retreat with the remaining part of our men, and force our way to our

Only five companies of Smallwood's battalion were now in action. There
was a warm and close engagement for nearly ten minutes. The struggle
became desperate on the part of the Americans. Broken and disordered,
they rallied in a piece of woods, and made a second attack. They were
again overpowered with numbers. Some were surrounded and bayoneted in
a field of Indian corn; others joined their comrades who were
retreating across the marsh. Lord Stirling had encouraged and animated
his young soldiers by his voice and example, but when all was lost he
sought out General De Heister, and surrendered himself as his
prisoner. More than two hundred and fifty brave fellows perished in
this deadly struggle, within sight of the lines of Brooklyn. That part
of the Delaware troops who had first crossed the creek and swamp, made
good their retreat to the lines with a trifling loss.

The enemy now concentrated their forces within a few hundred yards of
the redoubts. The grenadiers were within musket shot. Washington
expected they would storm the works, and prepared for a desperate
defence. The discharge of a cannon and volleys of musketry from the
part of the lines nearest to them, seemed to bring them to a pause. It
was, in truth, the forbearance of the British commander that prevented
a bloody conflict. His troops, heated with action and flushed with
success, were eager to storm the works; but he was unwilling to risk
the loss of life that must attend an assault, when the object might be
attained at a cheaper rate, by regular approaches. Checking the ardor
of his men, therefore, though with some difficulty, he drew them off
to a hollow way in front of the lines, but out of reach of the
musketry, and encamped there for the night.

The loss of the Americans in this disastrous battle has been variously
stated, but is thought in killed, wounded and prisoners, to have been
nearly two thousand; a large number, considering that not above five
thousand were engaged. The enemy acknowledged a loss of 380 killed and
wounded. The success of the enemy was attributed, in some measure, to
the doubt in which Washington was kept as to the nature of the
intended attack, and at what point it would chiefly be made. This
obliged him to keep a great part of his forces in New York, and to
distribute those at Brooklyn over a wide extent of country, and at
widely distant places. Much of the day's disaster has been attributed,
also, to a confusion in the command, caused by the illness of General
Greene. Putnam, who had supplied his place in the emergency after the
enemy had landed, had not time to make himself acquainted with the
post and the surrounding country. The fatal error, however, and one
probably arising from all these causes, consisted in leaving the
passes through the wooded hills too weakly fortified and guarded; and
especially in neglecting the eastern road, by which Sir Henry Clinton
got in the rear of the advanced troops, cut them off from the lines,
and subjected them to a cross fire of his own men and De Heister's

The night after the battle was a weary, yet almost sleepless one to
the Americans. Fatigued, dispirited, many of them sick and wounded,
yet they were for the most part without tent or other shelter. To
Washington it was a night of anxious vigil. Everything boded a close
and deadly conflict. The enemy had pitched a number of tents about a
mile distant. Their sentries were but a quarter of a mile off, and
close to the American sentries. The morning broke lowering and dreary.
Large encampments were gradually descried; to appearance, the enemy
were twenty thousand strong. As the day advanced, their ordnance began
to play upon the works. They were proceeding to intrench themselves,
but were driven into their tents by a drenching rain.

Early in the morning General Mifflin arrived in camp with part of the
troops which had been stationed at Fort Washington and King's Bridge.
He brought with him Shee's prime Philadelphia regiment, and Magaw's
Pennsylvania regiment, both well disciplined and officered, and
accustomed to act together. They were so much reduced in number,
however, by sickness, that they did not amount in the whole to more
than eight hundred men. With Mifflin came also Colonel Glover's
Massachusetts regiment, composed chiefly of Marblehead fishermen and
sailors, hardy, adroit, and weather-proof; trimly clad in blue jackets
and trousers. The detachment numbered, in the whole, about thirteen
hundred men, all fresh and full of spirits. They were posted at the
left extremity of the intrenchments towards the Wallabout.

There were skirmishes throughout the day between the riflemen on the
advanced posts and the British "irregulars," which at times were quite
severe; but no decided attack was attempted. The main body of the
enemy kept within their tents until the latter part of the day; when
they began to break ground at about five hundred yards distance from
the works, as if preparing to carry them by regular approaches.

On the 29th there was a dense fog over the island, that wrapped
everything in mystery. In the course of the morning, General Mifflin,
with Adjutant-general Reed, and Colonel Grayson of Virginia, one of
Washington's aides-de-camp, rode to the western outposts, in the
neighborhood of Red Hook. While they were there, a light breeze lifted
the fog from a part of the New York Bay, and revealed the British
ships at their anchorage opposite Staten Island. There appeared to be
an unusual bustle among them. Boats were passing to and from the
admiral's ship, as if seeking or carrying orders. Some movement was
apparently in agitation. The idea occurred to the reconnoitring party
that the fleet was preparing, should the wind hold and the fog clear
away, to come up the bay at the turn of the tide, silence the feeble
batteries at Red Hook and the city, and anchor in the East River. In
that case the army on Long Island would be completely surrounded and

Alarmed at this perilous probability, they spurred back to
head-quarters, to urge the immediate withdrawal of the army. As this
might not be acceptable advice, Reed, emboldened by his intimacy with
the commander-in-chief, undertook to give it. Washington instantly
summoned a council of war. The difficulty was already apparent of
guarding such extensive works with troops fatigued and dispirited, and
exposed to the inclemencies of the weather. Other dangers now
presented themselves. Their communication with New York might be cut
off by the fleet from below. Other ships had passed round Long Island,
and were at Flushing Bay on the Sound. These might land troops on the
east side of Harlem River, and make themselves masters of King's
Bridge; that key of Manhattan Island. Taking all these things into
consideration, it was resolved to cross with the troops to the city
that very night.

Never did retreat require greater secrecy and circumspection. Nine
thousand men, with all the munitions of war, were to be withdrawn from
before a victorious army, encamped so near that every stroke of spade
and pickaxe from their trenches could be heard. The retreating troops,
moreover, were to be embarked and conveyed across a strait
three-quarters of a mile wide, swept by rapid tides. The least alarm
of their movement would bring the enemy upon them, and produce a
terrible scene of confusion and carnage at the place of embarkation.
Washington made the preparatory arrangements with great alertness, yet
profound secrecy. Verbal orders were sent to Colonel Hughes, who acted
as quartermaster-general, to impress all water craft, largo and small,
from Spyt den Duivel on the Hudson round to Hell Gate on the Sound,
and have them on the east side of the city by evening. The order was
issued at noon, and so promptly executed that, although some of the
vessels had to be brought a distance of fifteen miles, they were all
at Brooklyn at eight o'clock in the evening, and put under the
management of Colonel Glover's amphibious Marblehead regiment.

To prepare the army for a general movement without betraying the
object, orders were issued for the troops to hold themselves in
readiness for a night attack upon the enemy. To keep the enemy from
discovering the withdrawal of the Americans until their main body
should have embarked in the boats and pushed off from the shore,
General Mifflin was to remain at the lines with his Pennsylvania
troops, and the gallant remains of Haslet, Smallwood and Hand's
regiments, with guards posted and sentinels alert, as if nothing
extraordinary was taking place; when the main embarkation was
effected, they were themselves to move off quietly, march briskly to
the ferry, and embark.

It was late in the evening when the troops began to retire from the
breastworks. As one regiment quietly withdrew from their station on
guard, the troops on the right and left moved up and filled the
vacancy. There was a stifled murmur in the camp, unavoidable in a
movement of the kind; but it gradually died away in the direction of
the river, as the main body moved on in silence and order. The
youthful Hamilton, whose military merits had won the favor of General
Greene, and who had lost his baggage and a field-piece in the battle,
brought up the rear of the retreating party.

The embarkation went on with all possible despatch, under the vigilant
eye of Washington, who stationed himself at the ferry, superintending
every movement. In his anxiety for despatch, he sent back Colonel
Scammel, one of his aides-de-camp, to hasten forward all the troops
that were on the march. Scammel blundered in executing his errand, and
gave the order to Mifflin likewise. The general instantly called in
his pickets and sentinels, and set off for the ferry.

By this time the tide had turned; there was a strong wind from the
north-east; the boats with oars were insufficient to convey the
troops; those with sails could not make headway against wind and tide.
There was some confusion at the ferry, and in the midst of it, General
Mifflin came down with the whole covering party; adding to the
embarrassment and uproar. "Good God! General Mifflin!" cried
Washington, "I am afraid you have ruined us by so unseasonably
withdrawing the troops from the lines." "I did so by your order,"
replied Mifflin with some warmth. "It cannot be!" exclaimed
Washington. "By G--, I did!" was the blunt rejoinder. "Did Scammel act
as aide-de-camp for the day, or did he not?" "He did." "Then," said
Mifflin, "I had orders through him." "It is a dreadful mistake,"
rejoined Washington, "and unless the troops can regain the lines
before their absence is discovered by the enemy, the most disastrous
consequences are to be apprehended." Mifflin led back his men to the
lines, which had been completely deserted for three-quarters of an
hour. Fortunately, the dense fog had prevented the enemy from
discovering that they were unoccupied. The men resumed their former
posts, and remained at them until called off to cross the ferry.

The fog which prevailed all this time, seemed almost providential.
While it hung over Long Island, and concealed the movements of the
Americans, the atmosphere was clear on the New York side of the river.
The adverse wind, too, died away, the river became so smooth that the
row-boats could be laden almost to the gunwale; and a favoring breeze
sprang up for the sail-boats. The whole embarkation of troops,
artillery, ammunition, provisions, cattle, horses and carts, was
happily effected, and by daybreak the greater part had safely reached
the city, thanks to the aid of Glover's Marblehead men. Scarce
anything was abandoned to the enemy, excepting a few heavy pieces of
artillery. At a proper time, Mifflin with his covering party left the
lines, and effected a silent retreat to the ferry. Washington, though
repeatedly entreated, refused to enter a boat until all the troops
were embarked; and crossed the river with the last.

This extraordinary retreat, which, in its silence and celerity,
equalled the midnight fortifying of Bunker's Hill, was one of the most
signal achievements of the war, and redounded greatly to the
reputation of Washington, who, we are told, for forty-eight hours
preceding the safe extricating of his army from their perilous
situation, scarce closed his eyes, and was the greater part of the
time on horseback.


The enemy had now possession of Long Island. British and Hessian
troops garrisoned the works at Brooklyn, or were distributed at
Bushwick, Newtown, Hell Gate and Flushing. Admiral Howe came up with
the main body of the fleet, and anchored close to Governor's Island,
within cannon shot of the city.

"Our situation is truly distressing," writes Washington to the
President of Congress, on the 2d of September. "The check our
detachment sustained on the 27th ultimo, has dispirited too great a
proportion of our troops, and filled their minds with apprehension and
despair. The militia, instead of calling forth their utmost efforts to
a brave and manly opposition in order to repair our losses, are
dismayed, intractable, and impatient to return. Great numbers of them
have gone off; in some instances, almost by whole regiments, by half
ones, and by companies, at a time.... With the deepest concern, I am
obliged to confess my want of confidence in the generality of the
troops.... Our number of men at present fit for duty is under twenty
thousand. I have ordered General Mercer to send the men intended for
the flying camp to this place, about a thousand in number, and to try
with the militia, if practicable, to make a diversion upon Staten
Island. Till of late, I had no doubt in my own mind of defending this
place; nor should I have yet, if the men would do their duty, but this
I despair of. If we should be obliged to abandon the town, ought it to
stand as winter quarters for the enemy? They would derive great
conveniences from it, on the one hand, and much property would be
destroyed on the other. It is an important question, but will admit of
but little time for deliberation. At present I daresay the enemy mean
to preserve it if they can. If Congress, therefore, should resolve
upon the destruction of it, the resolution should be a profound
secret, as the knowledge will make a capital change in their plans."

On the night of Monday (Sept. 2d) a forty gun ship, taking advantage
of a favorable wind and tide, passed between Governor's Island and
Long Island, swept unharmed by the batteries which opened upon her,
and anchored in Turtle Bay, above the city. In the morning, Washington
despatched Major Crane of the artillery, with two twelve pounders and
a howitzer to annoy her from the New York shore. They hulled her
several times, and obliged her to take shelter behind Blackwell's
Island. Several other ships-of-war, with transports and store-ships
had made their appearance in the upper part of the Sound, having gone
round Long Island.

As the city might speedily be attacked, Washington caused all the sick
and wounded to be conveyed to Orangetown, in the Jerseys, and such
military stores and baggage as were not immediately needed, to be
removed, as fast as conveyances could be procured, to a post partially
fortified at Dobbs' Ferry, on the eastern bank of the Hudson, about
twenty-two miles above the city.

The thousand men ordered from the flying camp were furnished by
General Mercer. They were Maryland troops under Colonels Griffith and
Richardson, and were a seasonable addition to the effective forces;
but the ammunition carried off by the disbanding militia was a serious
loss at this critical juncture.

A work had been commenced on the Jersey shore, opposite Fort
Washington, to aid in protecting Putnam's chevaux-de-frise which had
sunk between them. This work had received the name of Fort
Constitution (a name already borne by one of the forts in the
Highlands). Troops were drawn from the flying camp to make a strong
encampment in the vicinity of the fort, with an able officer to
command it and a skilful engineer to strengthen the works. It was
hoped, by the co-operation of these opposite forts and the
chevaux-de-frise, to command the Hudson, and prevent the passing and
repassing of hostile ships.

The British, in the meantime, forbore to press further hostilities.
Lord Howe was really desirous of a peaceful adjustment of the strife
between the colonies and the mother country, and supposed this a
propitious moment for a new attempt at pacification. He accordingly
sent off General Sullivan on parole, charged with an overture to
Congress. In this he declared himself empowered and disposed to
compromise the dispute between Great Britain and America, on the most
favorable terms, and though he could not treat with Congress as a
legally organized body, he was desirous of a conference with some of
its members. These, for the time, he should consider only as private
gentlemen, but if in the conference any probable scheme of
accommodation should be agreed upon, the authority of Congress would
afterwards be acknowledged to render the compact complete.

The message caused some embarrassment in Congress. To accede to the
interview might seem to waive the question of independence; to decline
it was to shut the door on all hope of conciliation, and might
alienate the co-operation of some worthy whigs who still clung to that
hope. After much debate, Congress, on the 5th September, replied that,
being the representatives of the free and independent States of
America, they could not send any members to confer with his lordship
in their private characters, but that, ever desirous of establishing
peace on reasonable terms, they would send a committee of their body
to ascertain what authority he had to treat with persons authorized by
Congress, and what propositions he had to offer. A committee was
chosen on the 6th of September, composed of John Adams, Edward
Rutledge, and Doctor Franklin.

The proposed conference was to take place on the 11th, at a house on
Staten Island, opposite to Amboy; at which latter place the veteran
Mercer was stationed with his flying camp. At Amboy, the committee
found Lord Howe's barge waiting to receive them. The admiral met them
on their landing, and conducted them through his guards to his house.

On opening the conference, his lordship again intimated that he could
not treat with them as a committee of Congress, but only confer with
them as private gentlemen of influence in the colonies, on the means
of restoring peace between the two countries. The commissioners
replied that as their business was to hear, he might consider them in
what light he pleased; but that they should consider themselves in no
other character than that in which they were placed by order of
Congress. Lord Howe then entered into a discourse of considerable
length, but made no explicit proposition of peace, nor promise of
redress of grievances, excepting on condition that the colonies should
return to their allegiance. This, the commissioners replied, was not
now to be expected. Their repeated humble petitions to the king and
parliament having been treated with contempt, and answered by
additional injuries, and war having been declared against them, the
colonies had declared their independence, and it was not in the power
of Congress to agree for them that they should return to their former
dependent state. His lordship expressed his sorrow that no
accommodation was likely to take place; and the conference broke up.

The result of this conference had a beneficial effect. It showed that
his lordship had no power but what was given by the act of Parliament;
and put an end to the popular notion that he was vested with secret
powers to negotiate an adjustment of grievances.

Since the retreat from Brooklyn, Washington had narrowly watched the
movements of the enemy to discover their further plans. Their whole
force, excepting about four thousand men, had been transferred from
Staten to Long Island. A great part was encamped on the peninsula
between Newtown Inlet and Flushing Bay. A battery had been thrown up
near the extremity of the peninsula, to check an American battery at
Horen's Hook opposite, and to command the mouth of Harlem River.
Troops were subsequently stationed on the islands about Hell Gate. "It
is evident," writes Washington, "the enemy mean to enclose us on the
island of New York, by taking post in our rear, while the shipping
secures the front, and thus, by cutting off our communication with the
country, oblige us to fight them on their own terms, or surrender at

The question was, how could their plans be most successfully opposed?
On every side, he saw a choice of difficulties; every measure was to
be formed with some apprehension that all the troops would not do
their duty. In a council of war, held on the 7th of September, the
question was discussed, whether the city should be defended or
evacuated. All admitted that it would not be tenable, should it be
cannonaded and bombarded. Several of the council, among whom was
General Putnam, were for a total and immediate removal from the city;
urging that one part of the army might be cut off before the other
could support it; the extremities being at least sixteen miles apart,
and the whole, when collected, being inferior to the enemy. By
removing, they would deprive the enemy of the advantage of their
ships; they would keep them at bay; put nothing at hazard; keep the
army together to be recruited another year, and preserve the unspent
stores and the heavy artillery. Washington himself inclined to this
opinion. Others, however, were unwilling to abandon a place which had
been fortified with great cost and labor, and seemed defensible, and
which, by some, had been considered the key to the northern country.

After much discussion a middle course was adopted. Putnam, with five
thousand men, was to be stationed in the city. Heath, with nine
thousand, was to keep guard on the upper part of the Island, and
oppose any attempt of the enemy to land. His troops, among whom were
Magaw's, Shee's, Hand's, and Miles's Pennsylvanian battalions, and
Haslet's Delaware regiment, were posted about King's Bridge and its

The third division, composed principally of militia, was under the
command of Generals Greene and Spencer, the former of whom, however,
was still unwell. It was stationed about the centre of the island,
chiefly along Turtle Bay and Kip's Bay, where strong works had been
thrown up, to guard against any landing of troops from the ships or
from the encampments on Long Island. It was also to hold itself ready
to support either of the other divisions. Washington himself had his
head-quarters at a short distance from the city. A resolution of
Congress, passed the 10th of September, left the occupation or
abandonment of the city entirely at Washington's discretion.

Convinced of the propriety of evacuation, Washington prepared for it
by ordering the removal of all stores, excepting such as were
indispensable for the subsistence of the troops while they remained. A
letter from a Rhode Island officer, on a visit to New York, gives an
idea of its agitations. "On the 13th of September, just after dinner,
three frigates and a forty-gun ship sailed up the East River with a
gentle breeze, toward Hell Gate, and kept up an incessant fire,
assisted by the cannon at Governor's Island."

On the 14th, Washington's baggage was removed to King's Bridge,
whither head-quarters were to be transferred the same evening; it
being clear that the enemy were preparing to encompass him on the
island. About sunset of the same day, six more ships, two of them
men-of-war, passed up the Sound and joined those above. Within half an
hour came expresses spurring to head-quarters, one from Mifflin at
King's Bridge, the other from Colonel Sargent at Horen's Hook. Three
or four thousand of the enemy were crossing at Hell Gate to the
islands at the mouth of Harlem River, where numbers were already
encamped. An immediate landing at Harlem, or Morrisania, was
apprehended. Washington was instantly in the saddle, spurring to
Harlem Heights. The night, however, passed away quietly. In the
morning the enemy commenced operations. Three ships of war stood up
the Hudson, and anchored opposite Bloomingdale, a few miles above the
city, and put a stop to the removal by water of stores and provisions
to Dobbs' Ferry. About eleven o'clock, the ships in the East River
commenced a heavy cannonade upon the breastworks between Turtle Bay
and the city. At the same time two divisions of the troops encamped on
Long Island, one British, under Sir Henry Clinton, the other Hessian,
under Colonel Donop, emerged in boats from the deep, woody recesses of
Newtown Inlet, and under cover of the fire from the ships, began to
land at two points between Turtle and Kip's Bays. The breastworks were
manned by militia who had recently served at Brooklyn. Disheartened by
their late defeat, they fled at the first advance of the enemy. Two
brigades of Putnam's Connecticut troops, which had been sent that
morning to support them, caught the panic, and regardless of the
commands and entreaties of their officers, joined in the general

At this moment Washington, who had mounted his horse at the first
sound of the cannonade, came galloping to the scene of confusion;
riding in among the fugitives, he endeavored to rally and restore them
to order. All in vain. At the first appearance of sixty or seventy
redcoats, they broke again without firing a shot, and fled in headlong
terror. Losing all self-command at the sight of such dastardly
conduct, he dashed his hat upon the ground in a transport of rage.
"Are these the men," exclaimed he, "with whom I am to defend America!"
In a paroxysm of passion and despair he snapped his pistols at some of
them, threatened others with his sword, and was so heedless of his own
danger that he might have fallen into the hands of the enemy, who were
not eighty yards distant, had not an aide-de-camp seized the bridle of
his horse, and absolutely hurried him away.

It was one of the rare moments of his life, when the vehement element
of his nature was stirred up from its deep recesses. He soon recovered
his self-possession, and took measures against the general peril. The
enemy might land another force about Hell Gate, seize upon Harlem
Heights, the strong central portion of the island, cut off all retreat
of the lower divisions, and effectually sever his army. In all haste,
therefore, he sent off an express to the forces encamped above,
directing them to secure that position immediately; while another
express to Putnam, ordered an immediate retreat from the city to those

It was indeed a perilous moment. Had the enemy followed up their
advantage, and seized upon the heights, before thus occupied, or had
they extended themselves across the island, from the place where they
had effected a landing, the result might have been most disastrous to
the Americans. Fortunately, they contented themselves for the present
with sending a strong detachment down the road along the East River,
leading to the city, while the main body, British and Hessians, rested
on their arms.

In the meantime, Putnam, on receiving Washington's express, called in
his pickets and guards, and abandoned the city in all haste, leaving
behind him a large quantity of provisions and military stores, and
most of the heavy cannon. To avoid the enemy he took the Bloomingdale
road, though this exposed him to be raked by the enemy's ships
anchored in the Hudson. It was a forced march, on a sultry day, under
a burning sun and amid clouds of dust. His army was encumbered with
women and children, and all kinds of baggage. Many were overcome by
fatigue and thirst, some perished by hastily drinking cold water; but
Putnam rode backward and forward, hurrying every one on. All the loss
sustained by him in his perilous retreat, was fifteen killed, and
about three hundred taken prisoners.

The fortified camp, where the main body of the army was now assembled,
was upon that neck of land several miles long, and for the most part
not above a mile wide, which forms the upper part of Manhattan or New
York Island. It forms a chain of rocky heights, and is separated from
the mainland by Harlem River, a narrow strait, extending from Hell
Gate on the Sound, to Spyt den Duivel, a creek or inlet of the Hudson.
Fort Washington occupied the crest of one of the rocky heights above
mentioned, overlooking the Hudson, and about two miles north of it was
King's Bridge, crossing Spyt den Duivel Creek, and forming at that
time the only pass from Manhattan Island to the mainland. About a mile
and a half south of the fort, a double row of lines extended across
the neck from Harlem River to the Hudson. They faced south towards New
York, were about a quarter of a mile apart, and were defended by

There were strong advanced posts about two miles south of the outer
line; one on the left of Harlem, commanded by General Spencer, the
other on the right, at what was called McGowan's Pass, commanded by
General Putnam. About a mile and a half beyond these posts the British
lines extended across the island from Horen's Hook to the Hudson,
being a continuous encampment, two miles in length, with both flanks
covered by shipping. An open plain intervened between the hostile

While thus posted, Washington was incessantly occupied in fortifying
the approaches to his camp by redoubts, _abatis_, and deep
intrenchments. In the course of his rounds of inspection, he was
struck with the skill and science displayed in the construction of
some of the works, which were thrown up under the direction of a
youthful captain of artillery. It proved to be the same young officer,
Alexander Hamilton, whom Greene had recommended to his notice. After
some conversation with him, Washington invited him to his marquee, and
thus commenced that intercourse which has indissolubly linked their
memories together.

On the morning of the 16th, word was brought to head-quarters that the
enemy were advancing in three large columns. There had been so many
false reports, that Reed, the adjutant-general, obtained leave to
sally out and ascertain the truth. Washington himself soon mounted his
horse and rode towards the advanced posts. On arriving there he heard
a brisk firing. It was kept up for a time with great spirit. There was
evidently a sharp conflict. At length Reed came galloping back with
information. A strong detachment of the enemy had attacked the most
advanced post, which was situated on a hill skirted by a wood. It had
been bravely defended by Lieutenant-colonel Knowlton. After
skirmishing for a time, the party had been overpowered by numbers and
driven in, and the outpost was taken possession of by the enemy.

Reed urged that troops should be sent to support the brave fellows who
had behaved so well. While he was talking with Washington, "the
enemy," he says, "appeared in open view, and sounded their bugles in
the most insulting manner, as usual after a fox-chase. I never," adds
he, "felt such a sensation before; it seemed to crown our disgrace."

Washington, too, was stung by the taunting note of derision; it
recalled the easy triumph of the enemy at Kip's Bay. Resolved that
something should be done to wipe out that disgrace, and rouse the
spirits of the army, he ordered out three companies from Colonel
Weedon's regiment just arrived from Virginia, and sent them under
Major Leitch, to join Knowlton's rangers. The troops thus united were
to get in the rear of the enemy, while a feigned attack was made upon
them in front.

The plan was partially successful. As the force advanced to make the
false attack, the enemy ran down the hill, and took what they
considered an advantageous position behind some fences and bushes
which skirted it. A firing commenced between them and the advancing
party, but at too great distance to do much harm on either side. In
the meantime, Knowlton and Leitch, ignorant of this change in the
enemy's position, having made a circuit, came upon them in flank
instead of in rear. They were sharply received. A vivid contest took
place, in which Connecticut vied with Virginia in bravery. In a little
while Major Leitch received three bullets in his side, and was borne
off the field. Shortly afterward, a wound in the head from a musket
ball, brought Knowlton to the ground. Colonel Reed placed him on his
horse, and conveyed him to a distant redoubt. The men, undismayed by
the fall of their leaders, fought with unflinching resolution under
the command of their captains. The enemy were reinforced by a
battalion of Hessians and a company of chasseurs. Washington likewise
sent reinforcements of New England and Maryland troops. The action
waxed hotter and hotter; the enemy were driven from the wood into the
plain, and pushed for some distance; the Americans were pursuing them
with ardor, when Washington, having effected the object of this casual
encounter, and being unwilling to risk a general action, ordered a
retreat to be sounded.

Colonel Knowlton did not long survive the action. "When gasping in the
agonies of death," says Colonel Reed, "all his inquiry was whether he
had driven in the enemy." The brave Leitch died of his wounds on the
1st of October.

In the dead of the night, on the 20th September, a great light was
beheld by the picket guards, looming up from behind the hills in the
direction of the city. It continued throughout the night, and was at
times so strong that the heavens in that direction appeared to them,
they said, as if in flames. At daybreak huge columns of smoke were
still rising. It was evident there had been a great conflagration in
New York. In the course of the morning Captain Montresor, aide-de-camp
to General Howe, came out with a flag, bearing a letter to Washington
on the subject of an exchange of prisoners. According to Montresor's
account a great part of the city had been burnt down, and as the night
was extremely windy, the whole might have been so, but for the
exertions of the officers and men of the British army. The enemy were
now bringing up their heavy cannon, preparatory to an attack upon the
American camp by the troops and by the ships. What was the state of
Washington's army? The terms of engagement of many of his men would
soon be at an end, most of them would terminate with the year, nor did
Congress hold out offers to encourage re-enlistments. "We are now, as
it were, upon the eve of another dissolution of the army," writes he,
"and unless some speedy and effectual measures are adopted by
Congress, our cause will be lost." Under these gloomy apprehensions,
he borrowed, as he said, "a few moments from the hours allotted to
sleep," and on the night of the 24th of September, penned an admirable
letter to the President of Congress, setting forth the total
inefficiency of the existing military system, the total
insubordination, waste, confusion, and discontent produced by it among
the men, and the harassing cares and vexations to which it subjected
the commanders. Nor did he content himself with complaining, but, in
his full, clear, and sagacious manner, pointed out the remedies. To
the achievements of his indefatigable pen, we may trace the most
fortunate turns in the current of our revolutionary affairs. In the
present instance his representations, illustrated by sad experience,
produced at length a reorganization of the army, and the establishment
of it on a permanent footing. It was decreed that eighty-eight
battalions should be furnished in quotas, by the different States,
according to their abilities. The pay of the officers was raised. The
troops which engaged to serve throughout the war were to receive a
bounty of twenty dollars and one hundred acres of land, besides a
yearly suit of clothes while in service. Those who enlisted but for
three years received no bounty in land. The bounty to officers was on
a higher ratio. The States were to send commissioners to the army, to
arrange with the commander-in-chief as to the appointment of officers
in their quotas; but, as they might occasionally be slow in complying
with this regulation, Washington was empowered to fill up all

All this was a great relief to his mind. He was gratified, also, by
effecting, after a long correspondence with the British commander, an
exchange of prisoners, in which those captured in Canada were
included. Among those restored to the service were Lord Stirling and
Captain Daniel Morgan. The latter, in reward of his good conduct in
the expedition with Arnold, and of "his intrepid behavior in the
assault upon Quebec where the brave Montgomery fell," was recommended
to Congress by Washington for the command of a rifle regiment about to
be raised. We shall see how eminently he proved himself worthy of this

Nothing perplexed Washington at this juncture more than the conduct of
the enemy. He beheld before him a hostile army, armed and equipped at
all points, superior in numbers, thoroughly disciplined, flushed with
success, and abounding in the means of pushing a vigorous campaign,
yet suffering day after day to elapse unimproved. What could be the
reason of this supineness on the part of Sir William Howe? He must
know the depressed and disorganized state of the American camp; the
absolute chaos that reigned there. Did he meditate an irruption into
the Jerseys? A movement towards Philadelphia? Did he intend to detach
a part of his forces for a winter's campaign against the South?

In this uncertainty, Washington wrote to General Mercer, of the flying
camp, to keep a vigilant watch from the Jersey shore on the movements
of the enemy, by sea and land, and to station videttes on the
Neversink Heights, to give immediate intelligence should any of the
British fleet put to sea. At the same time he himself practised
unceasing vigilance, visiting the different parts of his camp on
horseback. Occasionally he crossed over to Fort Constitution, on the
Jersey shore, of which General Greene had charge, and, accompanied by
him, extended his reconnoitrings down to Paulus Hook, to observe what
was going on in the city and among the enemy's ships. Greene had
recently been promoted to the rank of major-general, and now had
command of all the troops in the Jerseys. He had liberty to shift his
quarters to Baskingridge or Bergen, as circumstances might require;
but was enjoined to keep up a communication with the main army, east
of the Hudson, so as to secure a retreat in case of necessity.

The security of the Hudson was at this time an object of great
solicitude with Congress, and much reliance was placed on Putnam's
obstructions at Fort Washington. Four galleys, mounted with heavy guns
and swivels, were stationed at the chevaux-de-frise, and two new ships
were at hand, which, filled with stones, were to be sunk where they
would block up the channel. A sloop was also at anchor, having on
board a machine, invented by a Mr. Bushnell, for submarine explosion,
with which to blow up the men-of-war; a favorite scheme with General
Putnam. The obstructions were so commanded by batteries on each shore,
that it was thought no hostile ship would be able to pass. On the 9th
of October, however, the Roebuck and Phoenix, each of forty-four guns,
and the Tartar of twenty guns, which had been lying for some time
opposite Bloomingdale, got under way with their three tenders, at
eight o'clock in the morning, and came standing up the river with an
easy southern breeze. At their approach, the galleys and the two ships
intended to be sunk, got under way with all haste, as did a schooner
laden with rum, sugar and other supplies for the American army, and
the sloop with Bushnell's submarine machine.

The Roebuck, Phoenix and Tartar broke through the vaunted barriers as
through a cobweb. Seven batteries kept up a constant fire upon them,
yet a gentleman was observed walking the deck of the second ship as
coolly as if nothing were the matter. The hostile ships kept on their
course, the American vessels scudding before them. The schooner was
overhauled and captured; a well-aimed shot sent the sloop and
Bushnell's submarine engine to the bottom of the river. The two new
ships would have taken refuge in Spyt den Duivel Creek, but fearing
there might not be water enough, they kept on and drove ashore at
Philips' Mills at Yonkers. Two of the galleys got into a place of
safety, where they were protected from the shore; the other two
trusted to outsail their pursuers. The breeze freshened, and the
frigates gained on them fast; at eleven o'clock began to fire on them
with their bow-chasers, and at twelve o'clock overreached them, which
caused them to bear in shore; at half-past one the galleys ran aground
just above Dobbs' Ferry, and lay exposed to a shower of grape-shot.
The crews, without stopping to burn or bilge them, swam on shore, and
the enemy took possession of the two galleys.

One express after another brought Washington word of these
occurrences. First, he sent off a party of rifle and artillery men,
with two twelve-pounders, to secure the new ships which had run
aground at Yonkers. Next, he ordered Colonel Sargent to march up along
the eastern shore with five hundred infantry, a troop of light-horse,
and a detachment of artillery, to prevent the landing of the enemy.
Before the troops arrived at Dobbs' Ferry, the ships' boats had
plundered a store there and set it on fire.

To prevent, if possible, the men-of-war already up the river from
coming down, or others from below joining them, Washington gave orders
to complete the obstructions. Two hulks which lay in Spyt den Duivel
Creek, were hastily ballasted by men from General Heath's division,
and men were sent up to get off the ships which had run aground at
Philips' Mills, that they might be brought down and sunk immediately.

[This new irruption of hostile ships caused great excitement and
alarm. It was rumored that bodies of disaffected citizens were
organizing in order to assist the enemy, and it was feared that these
ships were carrying arms and ammunition for these bodies of men, and
also concealed troops to co-operate with them in overpowering the
well-affected, and in seizing upon such passes as would cut off the
communication between the army and the upper counties.]

Fugitive river crafts carried the news up to the Highlands that the
frigates were already before Tarrytown in the Tappan Sea. Word was
instantly despatched to Peter R. Livingston, president of the
Provincial Congress, and startled that deliberative body, which was
then seated at Fishkill, just above the Highlands. Washington ordered
up part of the militia from Massachusetts, under General Lincoln. As a
further precaution, an express was sent off to Colonel Tash, who, with
a regiment of New Hampshire militia, was on his way from Hartford to
the camp, ordering him to repair with all possible dispatch to
Fishkill, and there hold himself at the disposition of the committee
of safety.

James Clinton, also, who had charge of the posts in the Highlands, was
put on the alert. That trusty officer was now a brigadier-general,
having been promoted by Congress, on the 8th of August. He was charged
to have all boats passing up and down the river rigidly searched, and
the passengers examined. Beside the usual sentries, a barge, well
manned, was to patrol the river opposite to each fort every night; all
barges, row-boats, and other small craft, between the forts in the
Highlands and the army, were to be secured in a place of safety, to
prevent their falling into the enemy's hands and giving intelligence.
Moreover, a French engineer was sent up to aid in strengthening and
securing the passes.


On the morning of the 12th of October, Washington received
intelligence by express from General Heath, stationed above King's
Bridge, that the enemy were landing with artillery on Throg's Neck in
the Sound, about nine miles from the camp. Washington surmised that
Howe was pursuing his original plan of getting into the rear of the
American army, cutting off its supplies, which were chiefly derived
from the East, and interrupting its communication with the main
country. Officers were ordered to their alarm posts, and the troops to
be ready, under arms, to act as occasion might require. Word, at the
same time, was sent to General Heath to dispose of the troops on his
side of King's Bridge, and of two militia regiments posted on the
banks of Harlem River opposite the camp, in such manner as he should
think necessary. Having made all his arrangements as promptly as
possible, Washington mounted his horse, and rode over towards Throg's
Neck to reconnoitre.

Throg's Neck is a peninsula in Westchester County, stretching upwards
of two miles into the Sound. It was separated from the mainland by a
narrow creek and a marsh, and was surrounded by water every high tide.
A bridge across a creek connecting with a ruined causeway across the
marsh, led to the mainland, and the upper end of the creek was
fordable at low water. Early in the morning, eighty or ninety boats
full of men had stood up the Sound from Montresor's Island, and Long
Island, and had landed troops to the number of four thousand on
Throg's Point, the extremity of the neck. Thence their advance pushed
forward toward the causeway and bridge, to secure that pass to the
mainland. General Heath had been too rapid for them. Colonel Hand and
his Philadelphia riflemen had taken up the planks of the bridge, and
posted themselves opposite the end of the causeway, whence they
commenced firing with their rifles. They were soon reinforced by
Colonel Prescott, of Bunker's Hill renown, with his regiment, and
Lieutenant Bryant of the artillery, with a three-pounder. Checked at
this pass, the British moved toward the head of the creek; here they
found the Americans in possession of the ford, where they were
reinforced by Colonel Graham of the New York line, with his regiment,
and Lieutenant Jackson of the artillery, with a six-pounder. These
skilful dispositions of his troops by General Heath had brought the
enemy to a stand.

Having surveyed the ground, Washington ordered works to be thrown up
at the passes from the neck to the mainland. The British also threw up
a work at the end of the causeway. In the afternoon nine ships, with a
great number of schooners, sloops, and flat-bottomed boats full of
men, passed through Hell Gate, towards Throg's Point; and information
received from two deserters, gave Washington reason to believe that
the greater part of the enemy's forces were gathering in that quarter.
General McDougall's brigade, in which were Colonel Smallwood and the
independent companies, was sent in the evening to strengthen Heath's
division at King's Bridge, and to throw up works opposite the ford of
Harlem River. Greene, who had heard of the landing of the enemy at
Throg's Neck, wrote over to Washington, from Fort Constitution,
informing him that he had three brigades ready to join him if

[On the 14th, General Lee, whose return from the south had been
anxiously expected, arrived in camp. The success of Lee at the south
was contrasted by many with the defeat on Long Island and evacuation
of New York, and they began to consider him the main hope of the army.
His appearance was welcomed as the harbinger of good luck.] No one
gave him a sincerer greeting than the commander-in-chief; who,
diffident of his own military knowledge, had a high opinion of that of
Lee. He immediately gave him command of the troops above King's
Bridge, now the greatest part of the army, but desired that he would
not exercise it for a day or two, until he had time to acquaint
himself with the localities and arrangements of the post. Heath, in
the interim, held the command.

In the meantime, Congress, on the 11th of October, having heard of the
ingress of the Phoenix, Roebuck and Tartar, passed a resolution that
General Washington be desired, if it be practicable, by every art, and
at whatever expensive, to obstruct effectually the navigation of the
North River between Fort Washington and Mount Constitution, as well to
prevent the regress of the enemy's vessels lately gone up as to hinder
them from receiving succors.

Washington held a council of war on the 16th, at Lee's head-quarters,
at which all the major-generals were present excepting Greene, and all
the brigadiers, as well as Colonel Knox, who commanded the artillery.
Letters from the Convention and from individual members of it were
read, concerning the turbulence of the disaffected in the upper parts
of the State; intelligence gained from deserters was likewise stated,
showing the intention of the enemy to surround the camp. The policy
was then discussed of remaining in their present position on Manhattan
Island, and awaiting there the menaced attack.

"After much consideration and debate," says the record of the council,
"the following question was stated: Whether (it having appeared that
the obstructions in the North River have proved insufficient, and that
the enemy's whole force is now in our rear on Frog Point) it is now
deemed possible, in our situation, to prevent the enemy from cutting
off the communication with the country, and compelling us to fight
them at all disadvantages or surrender prisoners at discretion?" All
agreed, with but one dissenting voice,{1} that it was not possible to
prevent the communication from being cut off, and that one of the
consequences mentioned in the question must follow.

{Footnote 1: That of General George Clinton.}

As the resolve of Congress seemed imperative with regard to Fort
Washington, that post, it was agreed, should be "retained as long as
possible." A strong garrison was accordingly placed in it, composed
chiefly of troops from Magaw's and Shee's Pennsylvania regiments, the
latter under Lieutenant-colonel Lambert Cadwalader, of Philadelphia.
Shee having obtained leave of absence, Colonel Magaw was put in
command of the post, and solemnly charged by Washington to defend it
to the last extremity. The name of the opposite post on the Jersey
shore, where Greene was stationed, was changed from Fort Constitution
to Fort Lee, in honor of the general. Lee, in fact, was the military
idol of the day.

Previous to decamping from Manhattan Island, Washington formed four
divisions of the army, which were respectively assigned to Generals
Lee, Heath, Sullivan (recently obtained in exchange for General
Prescott), and Lincoln. Lee was stationed on Valentine's Hill, on the
mainland immediately opposite King's Bridge, to cover the
transportation across it of the military stores and heavy baggage. The
other divisions were to form a chain of fortified posts, extending
about thirteen miles along a ridge of hills on the west side of the
Bronx, from Lee's camp up to the village of White Plains.

Washington's head-quarters continued to be on Harlem Heights for
several days. By his skilful disposition of the army it was protected
in its whole length by the Bronx, a narrow but deep stream, fringed
with trees, which ran along the foot of the ridge; at the same time
his troops faced and outflanked the enemy, and covered the roads along
which the stores and baggage had to be transported. On the 21st, he
shifted his head-quarters to Valentine's Hill, and on the 23d to White
Plains, where he stationed himself in a fortified camp.

While he was thus incessantly in action, General, now Sir William
Howe, remained for six days passive in his camp on Throg's Point,
awaiting the arrival of supplies and reinforcements, instead of
pushing across to the Hudson, and throwing himself between
Washington's army and the upper country. His inaction lost him a
golden opportunity. By the time his supplies arrived, the Americans
had broken up the causeway leading to the mainland, and taken
positions too strong to be easily forced. Finding himself headed in
this direction, Sir William re-embarked part of his troops in flat
boats on the 18th, crossed Eastchester Bay, and landed on Pell's
Point, at the mouth of Hutchinson's River. Here he was joined in a few
hours by the main body, with the baggage and artillery, and proceeded
through the manor of Pelham towards New Rochelle; still with a view to
get above Washington's army.

In their march, the British were waylaid and harassed by Colonel
Glover of Massachusetts, with his own, Reed's and Shepard's regiments
of infantry. Twice the British advance guard were thrown into
confusion and driven back with severe loss, by a sharp fire from
behind stone fences. A third time they advanced in solid columns. The
Americans gave them repeated volleys, and then retreated with the loss
of eight killed and thirteen wounded, among whom was Colonel Shepard.

On the 21st, General Howe was encamped about two miles north of New
Rochelle, with his outposts extending to Mamaroneck on the Sound.
While in this neighborhood, he was reinforced by a second division of
Hessians under General Knyphausen, and a regiment of Waldeckers, both
of which had recently arrived in New York. He was joined, also, by the
whole of the seventeenth light-dragoons, and a part of the sixteenth,
which had arrived on the 3d instant from Ireland, with
Lieutenant-colonel (afterwards Earl) Harcourt. Some of their horses
had been brought with them across the sea, others had been procured
since their arrival.

The Americans at first regarded these troopers with great dread.
Washington, therefore, took pains to convince them, that in a rough,
broken country, like the present, full of stone fences, no troops were
so inefficient as cavalry. They could be waylaid and picked off by
sharp-shooters from behind walls and thickets, while they could not
leave the road to pursue their covert foe. Further to inspirit them
against this new enemy, he proclaimed, in general orders, a reward of
one hundred dollars for every trooper brought in with his horse and
accoutrements, and so on, in proportion to the completeness of the

On the 25th, about two o'clock in the afternoon, intelligence was
brought to head-quarters that three or four detachments of the enemy
were on the march, within four miles of the camp, and the main army
following in columns. The drums beat to arms; the men were ordered to
their posts; an attack was expected. The day passed away, however,
without any demonstration of the enemy. Howe detached none of his
force on lateral expeditions, evidently meditating a general
engagement. To prepare for it, Washington drew all his troops from the
posts along the Bronx into the fortified camp at White Plains. Here
everything remained quiet but expectant, throughout the 26th. In the
morning of the 27th, which was Sunday, the heavy booming of cannon was
heard from a distance seemingly in the direction of Fort Washington.
Scouts galloped off to gain intelligence. We will anticipate their

Two of the British frigates, at seven o'clock in the morning, had
moved up the Hudson, and come to anchor near Bourdett's Ferry, below
the Morris House, Washington's old head-quarters, apparently with the
intention of stopping the ferry, and cutting off the communication
between Fort Lee and Fort Washington. At the same time, troops made
their appearance on Harlem Plains, where Lord Percy held command.
Colonel Morgan immediately manned the lines with troops from the
garrison of Fort Washington. The ships opened a fire to enfilade and
dislodge them. A barbette battery on the cliffs of the Jersey shore,
left of the ferry, fired down upon the frigate, but with little
effect. Colonel Magaw got down an eighteen-pounder to the lines near
the Morris House, and fired fifty or sixty rounds, two balls at a
time. Two eighteen-pounders were likewise brought down from Fort Lee,
and planted opposite the ships. By the fire from both shores they were
hulled repeatedly.

It was the thundering of these cannonades which had reached
Washington's camp at White Plains. The ships soon hoisted all sail.
The foremost slipped her cable, and appeared to be in the greatest
confusion. She could make no way, though towed by two boats. The other
ship seeing her distress sent two barges to her assistance, and by the
four boats she was dragged out of reach of the American fire, her
pumps going all the time. At the time that the fire from the ships
began, Lord Percy brought up his field-pieces and mortars, and made an
attack upon the lines. He was resolutely answered by the troops sent
down from Fort Washington, and several Hessians were killed. An
occasional firing was kept up until evening, when the ships fell down
the river, and the troops which had advanced on Harlem Plains drew
within their lines again.

While these things were passing at Fort Washington, Lee had struck his
tents, and with the rear division, eight thousand strong, the baggage
and artillery, and a train of wagons four miles long, laden with
stores and ammunition, was lumbering along the rough country roads to
join the main army. It was not until Monday morning, after being on
the road all night, that he arrived at White Plains.

Washington's camp was situated on high ground, facing the east. The
right wing stretched towards the south along a rocky hill, at the foot
of which the Bronx, making an elbow, protected it in flank and rear.
The left wing rested on a small, deep lake among the hills. The camp
was strongly intrenched in front. About a quarter of a mile to the
right of the camp, and separated from the height on which it stood by
the Bronx and a marshy interval, was a corresponding height called
Chatterton's Hill. As this partly commanded the right flank, and as
the intervening bend of the Bronx was easily passable, Washington had
stationed on its summit a militia regiment.

The whole encampment was a temporary one, to be changed as soon as the
military stores collected there could be removed; and now that General
Lee was arrived, Washington rode out with him, and other general
officers who were off duty, to reconnoitre a height which appeared
more eligible. When arrived at it, Lee pointed to another on the
north, still more commanding. "Yonder," said he "is the ground we
ought to occupy." "Let us go, then, and view it," replied Washington.
They were gently riding in that direction, when a trooper came
spurring up his panting horse. "The British are in the camp, sir!"
cried he. "Then, gentlemen," said Washington, "we have other business
to attend to than reconnoitring." Putting spurs to his horse, he set
off for the camp at full gallop, the others spurring after him.

Arrived at head-quarters, he was informed by Adjutant-general Reed,
that the picket guards had all been driven in, and the enemy were
advancing; but that the whole American army was posted in order of
battle. Apprehensive that the enemy might attempt to get possession of
Chatterton's Hill, he detached Colonel Haslet with his Delaware
regiment, to reinforce the militia posted there. To these he soon
added General McDougall's brigade, composed of Smallwood's
Marylanders, Ritzema's New Yorkers, and two other regiments. General
McDougall had command of the whole force upon the hill, which did not
exceed 1,600 men.

These dispositions were scarcely made, when the enemy appeared
glistening on the high grounds beyond the village of White Plains.
They advanced in two columns, the right commanded by Sir Henry
Clinton, the left by the Hessian general, De Heister. There was also a
troop of horse; so formidable in the inexperienced eyes of the
Americans. For a time they halted in a wheat field, behind a rising
ground, and the general officers rode up in the centre to hold a
consultation. Washington supposed they were preparing to attack him in
front, and such indeed was their intention; but the commanding height
of Chatterton's Hill had caught Sir William's eye, and he determined
first to get possession of it. Colonel Rahl was accordingly detached
with a brigade of Hessians to make a circuit southwardly round a piece
of wood, cross the Bronx about a quarter of a mile below, and ascend
the south side of the hill; while General Leslie, with a large force,
British and Hessian, should advance directly in front, throw a bridge
across the stream, and charge up the hill.

A furious cannonade was now opened by the British from fifteen or
twenty pieces of artillery, placed on high ground opposite the hill;
under cover of which, the troops of General Leslie hastened to
construct the bridge. In so doing, they were severely galled by two
field-pieces, planted on a ledge of rock on Chatterton's Hill, and in
charge of Alexander Hamilton. Smallwood's Maryland battalion also kept
up a sharp fire of small arms. As soon as the bridge was finished, the
British and Hessians under Leslie rushed over it, formed, and charged
up the hill to take Hamilton's two field-pieces. Three times the two
field-pieces were discharged, ploughing the ascending columns from
hill-top to river, while Smallwood's "blue and buff" Marylanders kept
up their volleys of musketry.

In the meantime, Rahl and his Hessian brigade forded the Bronx lower
down, pushed up the south side of the hill, and endeavored to turn
McDougall's right flank. The militia gave the general but little
support. They had been dismayed at the opening of the engagement by a
shot from a British cannon, which wounded one of them in the thigh,
and nearly put the whole to flight. It was with the utmost difficulty
McDougall had rallied them and posted them behind a stone wall. Here
they did some service, until a troop of British cavalry, having gained
the crest of the hill, came on, brandishing their sabres. At their
first charge the militia gave a random, scattering fire, then broke,
and fled in complete confusion.

A brave stand was made on the summit of the hill by Haslet, Ritzema,
and Smallwood, with their troops. Twice they repulsed horse and foot,
British and Hessians, until, cramped for room and greatly outnumbered,
they slowly and sullenly retreated down the north side of the hill,
where there was a bridge across the Bronx. The loss on both sides, in
this short but severe action, was nearly equal. That of the Americans
was between three and four hundred men, killed, wounded, and taken

The British army now rested with their left wing on the hill they had
just taken, and which they were busy intrenching. They were extending
their right wing to the left of the American lines, so that their two
wings and centre formed nearly a semicircle. It was evidently their
design to outflank the American camp, and get in the rear of it. The
day, however, being far advanced, was suffered to pass without any
further attack; but the morrow was looked forward to for a deadly

During this anxious night, Washington was assiduously occupied
throwing back his right wing to stronger ground; doubling his
intrenchments and constructing three redoubts, with a line in front,
on the summit of his post. These works were principally intended for
defence against small arms, and were thrown up with a rapidity that to
the enemy must have savored of magic. They were, in fact, made of the
stalks of Indian corn or maize taken from a neighboring corn-field,
and pulled up with the earth clinging in masses to the large roots.
"The roots of the stalks," says Heath, "and earth on them placed in
the face of the works, answered the purpose of sods and fascines. The
tops being placed inwards, as the loose earth was thrown upon them,
became as so many trees to the work, which was carried up with a
despatch scarcely conceivable."

On the morning of the 29th, when Howe beheld how greatly Washington
had improved his position and strengthened it, by what appeared to be
solidly constructed works, he postponed his meditated assault, ordered
up Lord Percy from Harlem with the fourth brigade and two battalions
of the sixth, and proceeded to throw up lines and redoubts in front of
the American camp, as if preparing to cannonade it. As the enemy were
endeavoring to outflank him, especially on his right wing, Washington
apprehended one of their objects might be to advance a part of their
force and seize on Pine's Bridge over Croton River, which would cut
off his communication with the upper country. General Beall, with
three Maryland regiments, was sent off with all expedition to secure
that pass. It was Washington's idea that, having possession of Croton
River and the passes in the Highlands, his army would be safe from
further pursuit, and have time to repose after its late excessive
fatigue, and would be fresh and ready to harass the enemy should they
think fit to winter up the country.

On the night of the 31st, Washington shifted his whole position, set
fire to the barns and out-houses containing forage and stores, which
there was no time to remove, and leaving a strong rear-guard on the
heights, and in the neighboring woods, retired with his main army a
distance of five miles, among the high, rocky hills about Northcastle.
Here he immediately set to work to intrench and fortify himself.
General Howe did not attempt to dislodge him from this fastness. He at
one time ordered an attack on the rear-guard, but a violent rain
prevented it, and for two or three days he remained seemingly
inactive. During the night of the 4th, this quiet was interrupted. A
mysterious sound was heard in the direction of the British camp, like
the rumbling of wagons and artillery. At daybreak the meaning of it
was discovered. The enemy were decamping. Long trains were observed
defiling across the hilly country, along the roads leading to Dobbs'
Ferry on the Hudson. The movement continued for three successive days,
until their whole force, British and Hessians, disappeared from White


Various were the speculations at head-quarters on the sudden movement
of the enemy. Washington writes to General William Livingston (now
governor of the Jerseys): "They have gone towards the North River and
King's Bridge. Some suppose they are going into winter quarters, and
will sit down in New York without doing more than investing Fort
Washington. I cannot subscribe wholly to this opinion myself. That
they will invest Fort Washington, is a matter of which there can be no
doubt; and I think there is a strong probability that General Howe
will detach a part of his force to make an incursion into the Jerseys,
provided he is going to New York. He must attempt something on account
of his reputation, for what has he done as yet with his great army?"

In the same letter he expressed his determination, as soon as it
should appear that the present manoeuvre was a real retreat, and not a
feint, to throw over a body of troops into the Jerseys to assist in
checking Howe's progress. In a letter of the same date, he charged
General Greene, should Howe invest Fort Washington with part of his
force, to give the garrison all possible assistance. On the following
day (Nov. 8), Colonel Tilghman, writes to General Greene from
head-quarters: "The enemy are at Dobbs' Ferry with a great number of
boats, ready to go into Jersey, _or proceed up the river_." Greene
doubted any intention of the enemy to cross the river; it might only
be a feint to mislead; still, as a precaution, he had ordered troops
up from the flying camp and was posting them opposite Dobbs' Ferry,
and at other passes where a landing might be attempted; the whole
being under the command of General Mercer.

Affairs at Fort Washington soon settled the question of the enemy's
intention with regard to it. Lord Percy took his station with a body
of troops before the lines to the south. Knyphausen advanced on the
north. The Americans had previously abandoned Fort Independence, burnt
its barracks, and removed the stores and cannon. Crossing King's
Bridge, Knyphausen took a position between it and Fort Washington. The
approach to the fort, on this side, was exceedingly steep and rocky;
as, indeed, were all its approaches excepting that on the south, where
the country was more open, and the ascent gradual. The fort could not
hold within its walls above one thousand men; the rest of the troops
were distributed about the lines and outworks. While the fort was thus
menaced, the chevaux-de-frise had again proved inefficient. On the
night of the 5th, a frigate and two transports, bound up to Dobbs'
Ferry with supplies for Howe's army, had broken through; though,
according to Greene's account, not without being considerably
shattered by the batteries.

Informed of these facts, Washington wrote to Greene on the 8th: "If we
cannot prevent vessels from passing up the river, and the enemy are
possessed of all the surrounding country, what valuable purpose can it
answer to hold a post from which the expected benefit cannot be had? I
am, therefore, inclined to think, that it will not be prudent to
hazard the men and stores at Mount Washington; but, as you are on the
spot, I leave it to you to give such orders as to evacuating Mount
Washington as you may judge best, and so far revoking the orders given
to Colonel Magaw, to defend it to the last."

Accounts had been received at head-quarters of a considerable movement
on the preceding evening (Nov. 7th) among the enemy's boats at Dobbs'
Ferry, with the intention, it was said, of penetrating the Jerseys,
and falling down upon Fort Lee. Washington, therefore, in the same
letter directed Greene to have all the stores not necessary to the
defence removed immediately. Greene, in reply, (Nov. 9th) adhered with
tenacity to the policy of maintaining Fort Washington. "The enemy,"
said he, "must invest it with double the number of men required for
its defence. They must keep troops at King's Bridge, to cut off all
communication with the country, and in considerable force for fear of
an attack."

It is doubtful when or where Washington received this letter, as he
left the camp at Northcastle at eleven o'clock on the following
morning. There being still considerable uncertainty as to the
intentions of the enemy, all his arrangements were made accordingly.
All the troops belonging to the States west of the Hudson were to be
stationed in the Jerseys, under command of General Putnam. Lord
Stirling had already been sent forward with the Maryland and Virginia
troops to Peekskill, to cross the river at King's Ferry. Another
division, composed of Connecticut and Massachusetts troops, under
General Heath, was to co-operate with the brigade of New York militia,
under General George Clinton, in securing the Highland posts on both
sides of the river. The troops which would remain at Northcastle after
the departure of Heath and his division, were to be commanded by Lee.

On the 10th of November, Washington left the camp at Northcastle, at
11 o'clock, and arrived at Peekskill at sunset, whither General Heath
with his division had preceded him by a few hours. Lord Stirling was
there likewise, having effected the transportation of the Maryland and
Virginia troops across the river, and landed them at the ferry south
of Stony Point; though a better landing was subsequently found north
of the point. His lordship had thrown out a scouting party in the
advance, and a hundred men to take possession of a gap in the
mountain, through which a road passed toward the Jerseys. Washington
was now at the entrance of the Highlands, that grand defile of the
Hudson, the object of so much precaution and solicitude. On the
following morning, accompanied by Generals Heath, Stirling, James and
George Clinton, Mifflin, and others, he made a military visit in boats
to the Highland posts. Fort Montgomery was in a considerable state of
forwardness, and a work in the vicinity was projected to co-operate
with it. Fort Constitution commanded a sudden bend of the river, but
Lord Stirling, in his report of inspection, had intimated that the
fort itself was commanded by West Point opposite. A glance of the eye,
without going on shore, was sufficient to convince Washington of the
fact. A fortress subsequently erected on that point, has been
considered the Key of the Highlands.

On the morning of the 12th, at an early hour, Washington rode out with
General Heath to reconnoitre the east side of the Hudson, at the gorge
of the Highlands. Henry Wisner, in a report to the New York
Convention, had mentioned a hill to the north of Peekskill, so
situated, with the road winding along the side of it, that ten men on
the top, by rolling down stones, might prevent ten thousand from
passing. Near Robinson's Bridge, in this vicinity, about two miles
from Peekskill, Washington chose a place where troops should be
stationed to cover the south entrance into the mountains; and here,
afterwards, was established an important military depot called
Continental Village. Having made all these surveys and arrangements,
he placed Heath in the general command of the Highlands, with written
instructions to fortify the passes with all possible despatch, and
directions how the troops were to be distributed on both sides of the

During his brief and busy sojourn at Peekskill, Washington received
important intelligence from the Northern army; especially that part of
it on Lake Champlain, under the command of General Gates. The
preparations for the defence of Ticonderoga, and the nautical service
on the lake, had met with difficulties at every step. At length, by
the middle of August, a small flotilla was completed, and the command
given by Gates to Arnold, in compliance with the advice of Washington.

Sir Guy Carleton, in the meantime, was straining every nerve for the
approaching conflict. Vessels were brought from England in pieces and
put together at St. Johns, boats of various kinds and sizes were
transported over land, or dragged up the rapids of the Sorel. In
despite of every exertion, three months elapsed before his armament
was completed. By the month of October, between twenty and thirty sail
were afloat and ready for action. The flag-ship (the Inflexible)
mounted eighteen twelve-pounders; the rest were gunboats, a gondola
and a flat-bottomed vessel called a radeau, and named the _Thunderer_;
carrying a battery of six twenty-four and twelve six-pounders, besides
howitzers. The gunboats mounted brass field-pieces and howitzers.
Captain Pringle conducted the armament, but Sir Guy Carleton was too
full of zeal, and too anxious for the event, not to head the
enterprise; he accordingly took his station on the deck of the
flag-ship. They made sail early in October, in quest of the American
squadron, which was said to be abroad upon the lake. [Arnold had taken
his post under cover of Valcour Island, in the channel between that
island and the mainland. The British discovered Arnold's flotilla on
the morning of the 11th, and attempted to beat up into the channel.
The wind did not permit the largest of them to enter. About twelve
o'clock a brisk fire was opened on the American vessels, and the
action soon became severe and sanguinary. The enemy landed Indians on
the island, who kept up a galling fire upon the Americans. The
Congress, on board of which was Arnold, was hulled several times, and
many of her crew were killed or wounded. The ardor of Arnold increased
with the danger. He cheered on his men by voice and example, often
pointing the guns with his own hands. At night the contest was still
undecided, and the enemy drew off, anchoring their whole squadron in a
line to prevent the escape of the Americans. But Arnold, aware that
with his crippled and inferior force further resistance could not be
maintained, took advantage of a dark, cloudy night and a strong north
wind to slip silently through the enemy's line without being
discovered. The next day Arnold's galley, the Congress, the Washington
galley and four gondolas, which had suffered severely in the fight,
fell astern; and on the following morning, as a fog, which had covered
the lake, lifted, the enemy were discerned within a few miles of them
in full chase. By noon the Washington was overtaken and captured.
Arnold meanwhile maintained a desperate running fight with the
advanced vessels of the enemy's fleet, until finding resistance in
vain, the crippled vessels were run on shore, fired, and the crews set
off through the woods to Crown Point.] Two schooners, two galleys, one
sloop and one gondola, the remnant which had escaped of this squadron,
were at anchor at the Point, and General Waterbury and most of his men
[who had been captured in the Washington galley] arrived there the
next day on parole. Seeing that the place must soon fall into the
hands of the enemy, they set fire to the houses, destroyed everything
they could not carry away, and embarking in the vessels made sail for
Ticonderoga. The loss of the Americans in these two actions is said to
have been between eighty and ninety men; that of the British about
forty. The conduct of Arnold in these naval affairs gained him new

Sir Guy Carleton took possession of the ruined works at Crown Point,
where he was soon joined by the army. He made several movements by
land and water, as if meditating an attack upon Ticonderoga. General
Gates, in the meantime, strengthened his works with incessant
assiduity, and made every preparation for an obstinate defence. A
strong easterly wind prevented the enemy's ships from advancing to
attack the lines, and gave time for the arrival of reinforcements of
militia to the garrison. It also afforded time for Sir Guy Carleton to
cool in ardor, and calculate the chances and the value of success. The
post, from its strength, could not be taken without great loss of
life. If taken, the season was now too far advanced to think of
passing Lake George, and exposing the army to the perils of a winter
campaign in the inhospitable and impracticable wilds to the southward.
Ticonderoga, too, could not be kept during the winter, so that the
only result of the capture would be the reduction of the works and the
taking of some cannon; all which damage the Americans could remedy
before the opening of the summer campaign. If, however, the defence
should be obstinate, the British army, even if successful, might
sustain a loss sufficient to cripple its operations in the coming
year. These, and other prudential reasons, induced Carleton to give up
all attempt upon the fortress at present; wherefore, re-embarking his
troops, he returned to St. Johns, and cantoned them in Canada for the


On the morning of the 12th of November, Washington crossed the Hudson
to the ferry below Stony Point, with the residue of the troops
destined for the Jerseys. Far below were to be descried the Phoenix,
the Roebuck, and the Tartar, at anchor in the broad waters of
Haverstraw Bay and the Tappan Sea, guarding the lower ferries. The
army, thus shut out from the nearer passes, was slowly winding its way
by a circuitous route through the gap in the mountains, which Lord
Stirling had secured. Leaving the troops which had just landed to
pursue the same route to the Hackensack, Washington, accompanied by
Colonel Reed, struck a direct course for Fort Lee, being anxious about
affairs at Fort Washington. He arrived there on the following day, and
found, to his disappointment, that General Greene had taken no
measures for the evacuation of that fortress; but on the contrary had
reinforced it with a part of Colonel Durkee's regiment and the
regiment of Colonel Rawlings, so that its garrison now numbered
upwards of two thousand men; a great part, however, were militia.
Washington's orders for its evacuation had, in fact, been
discretionary, leaving the execution of them to Greene's judgment, "as
being on the spot." The latter had differed in opinion as to the
policy of such a measure; and Colonel Magaw, who had charge of the
fortress, was likewise confident it might be maintained. The fort was
now invested on all sides but one; and the troops under Howe, which
had been encamped at Dobbs' Ferry, were said to be moving down toward


Washington was much perplexed. The main object of Howe was still a
matter of doubt with him. He could not think that Sir William was
moving his whole force upon that fortress, to invest which, a part
would be sufficient. He suspected an ulterior object, probably a
Southern expedition, as he was told a large number of ships were
taking in wood and water at New York. He resolved, therefore, to
continue a few days in this neighborhood, during which he trusted the
designs of the enemy would be more apparent; in the meantime he would
distribute troops at Brunswick, Amboy, Elizabethtown and Fort Lee, so
as to be ready at these various points to check any incursions into
the Jerseys.

Washington was mistaken in his conjecture as to Sir William Howe's
design. The capture of Fort Washington was, at present, his main
object; and he was encamped on Fordham Heights, not far from King's
Bridge, until preliminary steps should be taken. In the night of the
14th, thirty flat-bottomed boats stole quietly up the Hudson, passed
the American forts undiscovered, and made their way through Spyt den
Duivel Creek into Harlem River. The means were thus provided for
crossing that river and landing before unprotected parts of the
American works.

Apprised by Colonel Magaw of his peril, General Greene sent over
reinforcements, with an exhortation to him to persist in his defence;
and despatched an express to Washington, who was at Hackensack, where
the troops which had crossed from Peekskill were encamped. It was
nightfall when Washington arrived at Fort Lee. Greene and Putnam were
over at the besieged fortress. He threw himself into a boat, and had
partly crossed the river, when he met those generals returning. They
informed him of the garrison's having been reinforced, and assured him
that it was in high spirits and capable of making a good defence. It
was with difficulty, however, they could prevail on him to return with
them to the Jersey shore, for he was excessively excited.

Early the next morning (16th), Magaw made his dispositions for the
expected attack. His forces, with the recent addition, amounted to
nearly three thousand men. As the fort could not contain above a third
of that number, most of them were stationed about the outworks.
Colonel Lambert Cadwalader, with eight hundred Pennsylvanians, was
posted in the outer lines, about two miles and a half south of the
fort, the side menaced by Lord Percy with sixteen hundred men. Colonel
Rawlings, of Maryland, with a body of troops, many of them riflemen,
was stationed by a three-gun battery, on a rocky, precipitous hill,
north of the fort, and between it and Spyt den Duivel Creek. Colonel
Baxter, of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his regiment of militia,
was posted east of the fort, on rough, woody heights bordering the
Harlem River, to watch the motions of the enemy, who had thrown up
redoubts on high and commanding ground on the opposite side of the
river, apparently to cover the crossing and landing of troops.

Sir William Howe had planned four simultaneous attacks; one on the
north by Knyphausen, who was encamped on the York side of King's
Bridge, within cannon shot of Fort Washington, but separated from it
by high and rough hills, covered with almost impenetrable woods. He
was to advance in two columns, formed by detachments made from the
Hessians of his corps, the brigade of Rahl, and the regiment of
Waldeckers. The second attack was to be by two battalions of light
infantry and two battalions of guards, under Brigadier-general Mathew,
who was to cross Harlem River in flat-boats, under cover of the
redoubts above mentioned, and to land on the right of the fort. This
attack was to be supported by the first and second grenadiers, and a
regiment of light infantry under command of Lord Cornwallis. The third
attack, intended as a feint to distract the attention of the
Americans, was to be by Colonel Sterling, with the 42d regiment, who
was to drop down the Harlem River in bateaux to the left of the
American lines, facing New York. The fourth attack was to be on the
south, by Lord Percy, with the English and Hessian troops under his
command, on the right flank of the American intrenchments.

About noon, a heavy cannonade thundering along the rocky hills, and
sharp volleys of musketry, proclaimed that the action was commenced.
Knyphausen's division was pushing on from the north in two columns, as
had been arranged. The right was led by Colonel Rahl, the left by
himself. Rahl essayed to mount a steep, broken height called Cock
Hill, which rises from Spyt den Duivel Creek, and was covered with
woods. Knyphausen undertook a hill rising from the King's Bridge road,
but soon found himself entangled in a woody defile, difficult to
penetrate, and where his Hessians were exposed to the fire of the
three-gun battery, and Rawlings' riflemen.

While this was going on at the north of the fort, General Mathew, with
his light infantry and guards, crossed the Harlem River in the
flat-boats, under cover of a heavy fire from the redoubts. He made
good his landing, after being severely handled by Baxter and his men,
from behind rocks and trees, and the breastworks thrown up on the
steep river bank. A short contest ensued. Baxter, while bravely
encouraging his men, was killed by a British officer. His troops,
overpowered by numbers, retreated to the fort. General Mathew now
pushed on with his guards and light infantry to cut off Cadwalader.
That officer had gallantly defended the lines against the attack of
Lord Percy, until informed that Colonel Sterling was dropping down
Harlem River in bateaux to flank the lines and take him in the rear.
He sent off a detachment to oppose his landing. They did it manfully.
About ninety of Sterling's men were killed or wounded in their boats,
but he persevered, landed, and forced his way up a steep height, which
was well defended, gained the summit, forced a redoubt, and took
nearly two hundred prisoners. Thus doubly assailed, Cadwalader was
obliged to retreat to the fort. He was closely pursued by Percy with
his English troops and Hessians, but turned repeatedly on his
pursuers. Thus he fought his way to the fort, with the loss of several
killed and more taken prisoners; but marking his track by the number
of Hessians slain.

The defence on the north side of the fort was equally obstinate and
unsuccessful. Rawlings with his Maryland riflemen and the aid of the
three-gun battery, had for some time kept the left column of Hessians
and Waldeckers under Knyphausen at bay. At length Colonel Rahl, with
the right column of the division, having forced his way directly up
the north side of the steep hill at Spyt den Duivel Creek, came upon
Rawlings' men, whose rifles, from frequent discharges, had become foul
and almost useless, drove them from their strong post, and followed
them until within a hundred yards of the fort, where he was joined by
Knyphausen, who had slowly made his way through dense forest and over
felled trees. Here they took post behind a large stone house, and sent
in a flag with a summons to surrender.

[Washington had been an anxious spectator of the battle from the
opposite side of the Hudson. The action about the lines to the south
lay open to him. When he saw Cadwalader assailed in flank, the line
broken, and his troops overpowered by numbers, he gave up the game as
lost. Seeing the flag from Knyphausen's division go into the fort, he
wrote a note to Magaw, telling him that if he could hold out until
evening and the place could not be maintained, he would endeavor to
bring off the garrison. Captain Gooch offered to be the bearer of the
note. He crossed in a small boat, landed on the bank, ran up to the
fort and delivered the message. It came too late.] "The fort was so
crowded by the garrison and the troops which had retreated into it
that it was difficult to move about. The enemy, too, were in
possession of the little redoubts around, and could have poured in
showers of shells and ricochet balls that would have made dreadful
slaughter." It was no longer possible for Magaw to get his troops to
man the lines: he was compelled, therefore, to yield himself and his
garrison prisoners of war. The only terms granted them were that the
men should retain their baggage and the officers their swords.

The sight of the American flag hauled down, and the British flag
waving in its place, told Washington of the surrender. His instant
care was for the safety of the upper country, now that the lower
defences of the Hudson were at an end. Before he knew anything about
the terms of capitulation, he wrote to General Lee, informing him of
the surrender, and calling his attention to the passes of the
Highlands and those which lay east of the river; begging him to have
such measures adopted for their defence as his judgment should suggest
to be necessary. Lee, in reply, objected to removing from his actual
encampment at Northcastle. "It would give us," said he, "the air of
being frightened; it would expose a fine, fertile country to their
ravages; and I must add, that we are as secure as we could be in any
position whatever." After stating that he should deposit his stores,
etc., in a place fully as safe, and more central than Peekskill, he
adds: "As to ourselves, light as we are, several retreats present
themselves. In short, if we keep a good look-out, we are in no danger;
but I must entreat your Excellency to enjoin the officers posted at
Fort Lee, to give us the quickest intelligence, if they observe any
embarkation on the North River." As to the affair of Fort Washington,
all that Lee observed on the subject was: "Oh, general, why would you
be over-persuaded by men of inferior judgment to your own? It was a
cursed affair."{1}

{Footnote 1: [Colonel Reed, in a letter to General Lee, at this
juncture had allowed himself, notwithstanding the devotion he had
hitherto manifested for the commander-in-chief, to express himself
with great critical freedom on the loss of Fort Lee. After alluding to
the fact that Washington's own judgment was averse to the attempt of
holding the fort, but that Greene's advice to the contrary had kept
his mind in a state of suspense, he exclaims, "Oh, general! an
indecisive mind is one of the greatest misfortunes that can befall an
army; how often have I lamented it this campaign." Some days later a
letter from General Lee came to head-quarters addressed to Colonel
Reed, who at the time was absent. Washington supposing it to be on
official business, opened it, as he was in the habit of doing on like
occasions. To his surprise he discovered it to be a private note, the
tenor of which indicated that he was the subject of critical
correspondence between a member of his military family and one of his
generals. He immediately enclosed the letter to Colonel Reed,
explaining how it had been opened, but without further comment. Reed
endeavored to explain away the remarks in Lee's letter; but
Washington's affectionate confidence in him as a sympathizing friend
had received a severe wound. Reed deeply grieved over the error he had
committed, and his earnest appeals to Washington at a later date,
restored, in a great measure, their relations of friendly

With the capture of Fort Washington, the project of obstructing the
navigation of the Hudson, at that point, was at an end. Fort Lee,
consequently, became useless, and Washington ordered all the
ammunition and stores to be removed, preparatory to its abandonment.
This was effected with the whole of the ammunition and a part of the
stores, and every exertion was making to hurry off the remainder,
when, early in the morning of the 20th, intelligence was brought that
the enemy, with two hundred boats, had crossed the river and landed a
few miles above. General Greene immediately ordered the garrison under
arms, sent out troops to hold the enemy in check, and sent off an
express to Washington, at Hackensack.

The enemy had crossed the Hudson, on a very rainy night, in two
divisions, one diagonally upward from King's Bridge, landing on the
west side, about eight o'clock; the other marched up the east bank,
three or four miles, and then crossed to the opposite shore. The whole
corps, six thousand strong, and under the command of Lord Cornwallis,
were landed, with their cannon, by ten o'clock, at a place called
Closter Dock, five or six miles above Fort Lee, and under that line of
lofty and perpendicular cliffs known as the Palisades. "The seamen,"
says Sir William Howe, "distinguished themselves remarkably on this
occasion, by their readiness to drag the cannon up a very narrow road
for nearly half a mile to the top of a precipice, which bounds the
shore for some miles on the west side."

Washington arrived at the fort in three quarters of an hour. Being
told that the enemy were extending themselves across the country, he
at once saw that they intended to form a line from the Hudson to the
Hackensack, and hem the whole garrison in between the two rivers.
Nothing would save it but a prompt retreat to secure the bridge over
the Hackensack. No time was to be lost. The troops sent out to check
the enemy were recalled. The retreat commenced in all haste. There was
a want of horses and wagons; a great quantity of baggage, stores and
provisions, therefore, was abandoned. So was all the artillery
excepting two twelve-pounders. Even the tents were left standing, and
camp-kettles on the fire. With all their speed they did not reach the
Hackensack River before the vanguard of the enemy was close upon them.
Expecting a brush, the greater part hurried over the bridge, others
crossed at the ferry and some higher up. The enemy, however, did not
dispute the passage of the river.

From Hackensack, Colonel Grayson, one of Washington's aides-de-camp,
wrote instantly, by his orders, to General Lee; informing him that the
enemy had crossed into the Jerseys, and, as was reported, _in great
numbers_. "His Excellency," adds Grayson, "thinks it would be
advisable in you to remove the troops under your command on this side
of the North River, and there wait for further commands."

At Hackensack the army did not exceed three thousand men, and they
were dispirited by ill success, and the loss of tents and baggage.
They were without intrenching tools, in a flat country, where there
were no natural fastnesses. Washington resolved, therefore, to avoid
any attack from the enemy, though, by so doing, he must leave a fine
and fertile region open to their ravages; or a plentiful store-house,
from which they would draw voluntary supplies. A second move was
necessary, again to avoid the danger of being enclosed between two
rivers. Leaving three regiments, therefore, to guard the passes of the
Hackensack, and serve as covering parties, he again decamped, and
threw himself on the west bank of the Passaic, in the neighborhood of

His army, small as it was, would soon be less. The term of enlistment
of those under General Mercer, from the flying camp, was nearly
expired; and it was not probable that, disheartened as they were by
defeats and losses, exposed to inclement weather, and unaccustomed to
military hardships they would longer forego the comforts of their
homes, to drag out the residue of a ruinous campaign. In addition,
too, to the superiority of the force that was following him, the
rivers gave the enemy facilities, by means of their shipping, to throw
troops in his rear. In this extremity he cast about in every direction
for assistance. Colonel Reed was despatched to Burlington with a
letter to Governor William Livingston, describing his hazardous
situation, and entreating him to call out a portion of the New Jersey
militia; and General Mifflin was sent to Philadelphia to implore
immediate aid from Congress and the local authorities.

His main reliance for prompt assistance, however, was upon Lee. On the
24th came a letter from that general, addressed to Colonel Reed.
Washington opened it, as he was accustomed to do, in the absence of
that officer, with letters addressed to him on the business of the
army. Lee was at his old encampment at Northcastle. He had no means,
he said, of crossing at Dobbs' Ferry, and the round by King's Ferry
would be so great that he could not get there in time to answer any
purpose. "I have therefore," added he, "ordered General Heath, who is
close to the only ferry which can be passed, to detach two thousand
men to apprise his Excellency, and await his further orders; a mode
which I flatter myself will answer better what I conceive to be the
spirit of the orders than should I move the corps from hence.
Withdrawing our troops from hence would be attended with some very
serious consequences, which at present would be tedious to enumerate;
as to myself," adds he, "I hope to set out to-morrow."

On the following day he writes to Washington: "I have received your
orders, and shall endeavor to put them in execution, but question
whether I shall be able to carry with me any considerable number; not
so much from a want of zeal in the men as from their wretched
condition, with respect to shoes, stockings, and blankets, which the
present bad weather renders more intolerable. I sent Heath orders to
transport two thousand men across the river, apprise the general, and
wait for further orders; but that great man (as I might have expected)
intrenched himself within the letter of his instructions, and refused
to part with a single file, though I undertook to replace them with a
part of my own."

Scarce had Lee sent this letter when he received one from Washington,
informing him that he had mistaken his views in regard to the troops
required to cross the Hudson; it was his (Lee's) division that he
wanted to have over. The force under Heath must remain to guard the
posts and passes through the Highlands, the importance of which was so
infinitely great that there should not be the least possible risk of
losing them. Lee's reply explained that his idea of detaching troops
from Heath's division was merely for expedition's sake, intending to
replace them from his own. The want of carriages and other causes had
delayed him. From the force of the enemy remaining in Westchester
County, he did not conceive the number of them in the Jerseys to be
near so great as Washington was taught to believe. He had been making
a sweep of the country to clear it of the tories. Part of his army had
now moved on, and he would set out on the following day.

The situation of the little army was daily becoming more perilous. In
a council of war, several of the members urged a move to Morristown,
to form a junction with the troops expected from the Northern army.
Washington, however, still cherished the idea of making a stand at
Brunswick on the Raritan, or, at all events, of disputing the passage
of the Delaware; and in this intrepid resolution he was warmly
seconded by Greene. Breaking up his camp once more, therefore, he
continued his retreat towards New Brunswick; but so close was
Cornwallis upon him that his advance entered one end of Newark just as
the American rear-guard had left the other.

From Brunswick, Washington wrote on the 29th to William Livingston,
governor of the Jerseys, requesting him to have all boats and river
craft, for seventy miles along the Delaware, removed to the western
bank out of the reach of the enemy, and put under guard. He was
disappointed in his hope of making a stand on the banks of the
Raritan. All the force he could muster at Brunswick, including the New
Jersey militia, did not exceed four thousand men. Colonel Reed had
failed in procuring aid from the New Jersey legislature. That body,
shifting from place to place, was on the eve of dissolution. The term
of the Maryland and New Jersey troops in the flying camp had expired.
General Mercer endeavored to detain them, representing the disgrace of
turning their back upon the cause when the enemy was at hand; his
remonstrances were fruitless. As to the Pennsylvania levies, they
deserted in such numbers that guards were stationed on the roads and
ferries to intercept them.

Washington lingered at Brunswick until the 1st of December in the vain
hope of being reinforced. The enemy, in the meantime, advanced through
the country, impressing wagons and horses, and collecting cattle and
sheep, as if for a distant march. At length their vanguard appeared on
the opposite side of the Raritan. Washington immediately broke down
the end of the bridge next the village, and after nightfall resumed
his retreat. At Princeton, Washington left twelve hundred men in two
brigades, under Lord Stirling and General Adam Stephen, to cover the
country, and watch the motions of the enemy. Stephen was the same
officer that had served as a colonel under Washington in the French
war, as second in command of the Virginia troops, and had charge of
Fort Cumberland.

The harassed army reached Trenton on the 2d of December. Washington
immediately proceeded to remove his baggage and stores across the
Delaware. In his letters from this place to the President of Congress,
he gives his reasons for his continued retreat: "Nothing but necessity
obliged me to retire before the enemy, and leave so much of the
Jerseys unprotected. Sorry am I to observe that the frequent calls
upon the militia of this State, the want of exertion in the principal
gentlemen of the country, and a fatal supineness and insensibility of
danger, till it is too late to prevent an evil that was not only
foreseen but foretold, have been the causes of our late disgraces."

In excuse for the people of New Jersey, it may be observed that they
inhabited an open, agricultural country, where the sound of war had
never been heard. Many of them looked upon the Revolution as
rebellion; others thought it a ruined enterprise; the armies engaged
in it had been defeated and broken up. They beheld the
commander-in-chief retreating through their country with a handful of
men, weary, wayworn, and dispirited; without tents, without clothing,
many of them barefooted, exposed to wintry weather, and driven from
post to post by a well-clad, well-fed, triumphant force, tricked out
in all the glittering bravery of war. Could it be wondered at that
peaceful husbandmen, seeing their quiet fields thus suddenly overrun
by adverse hosts, and their very hearthstones threatened with outrage,
should, instead of flying to arms, seek for the safety of their wives
and little ones, and the protection of their humble means, from the
desolation which too often marks the course even of friendly armies?

Lord Howe and his brother sought to profit by this dismay and
despondency. A proclamation, dated 30th of November, commanded all
persons in arms against his majesty's government to disband and return
home, and all Congresses to desist from treasonable acts: offering a
free pardon to all who should comply within fifty days. Many who had
been prominent in the cause, hastened to take advantage of this
proclamation. Those who had most property to lose were the first to
submit. The middle ranks remained generally steadfast in this time of

In this dark day of peril to the cause, and to himself, Washington
remained firm and undaunted. In casting about for some stronghold
where he might make a desperate stand for the liberties of his
country, his thoughts reverted to the mountain regions of his early
campaigns. General Mercer was at hand, who had shared his perils among
these mountains, and his presence may have contributed to bring them
to his mind. "What think you," said Washington, "if we should retreat
to the back parts of Pennsylvania, would the Pennsylvanians support
us?" "If the lower counties give up, the back counties will do the
same," was the discouraging reply.

"We must then retire to Augusta County in Virginia," said Washington.
"Numbers will repair to us for safety, and we will try a predatory
war. If overpowered, we must cross the Alleghanies." Such was the
indomitable spirit, rising under difficulties, and buoyant in the
darkest moment, that kept our tempest-tost cause from foundering.


Notwithstanding the repeated and pressing orders and entreaties of the
commander-in-chief, Lee did not reach Peekskill until the 30th of
November. In a letter of that date to Washington, who had complained
of his delay, he simply alleged difficulties which he would explain
_when both had leisure_. It was not until the 4th of December that Lee
crossed the Hudson and began a laggard march, though aware of the
imminent peril of Washington and his army--how different from the
celerity of his movements in his expedition to the South! [Lee
evidently considered Washington's star in the decline, and his own in
the ascendant. The loss of Fort Washington had been made a text by him
to comment in his letters about the "indecision of the
commander-in-chief." Instead now of heartily co-operating with
Washington he was devising side-plans of his own, and meditating, no
doubt, on his chances of promotion to the head of the American

In the meantime, Washington, who was at Trenton, had profited by a
delay of the enemy at Brunswick, and removed most of the stores and
baggage of the army across the Delaware; and, being reinforced by
fifteen hundred of the Pennsylvania militia, procured by Mifflin,
prepared to face about, and march back to Princeton with such of his
troops as were fit for service, there to be governed by circumstances
and the movements of General Lee. Accordingly, on the 5th of December,
he sent about twelve hundred men in the advance to reinforce Lord
Stirling, and the next day set off himself with the residue. While on
the march, Washington received a letter from Greene, who was at
Princeton, informing him of a report that Lee was "at the heels of the
enemy." "I should think," adds Greene, "he had better keep on the
flanks than the rear, unless it were possible to concert an attack at
the same instant of time in front and rear.... I think General Lee
must be confined within the lines of some general plan, or else his
operations will be independent of yours." Lee had no idea of
conforming to a general plan; he had an independent plan of his own,
and was at that moment at Pompton, indulging speculations on military
greatness, and the lamentable want of it in his American

While Lee was thus loitering and speculating, Cornwallis, knowing how
far he was in the rear, and how weak was the situation of Washington's
army, and being himself strongly reinforced, made a forced march from
Brunswick, and was within two miles from Princeton. Stirling, to avoid
being surrounded, immediately set out with two brigades for Trenton.
Washington, too, receiving intelligence by express of these movements,
hastened back to that place, and caused boats to be collected from all
quarters, and the stores and troops transported across the Delaware.
He himself crossed with the rear-guard on Sunday morning, and took up
his quarters about a mile from the river; causing the boats to be
destroyed, and troops to be posted opposite the fords.

The rear-guard, says an American account, had barely crossed the
river, when Lord Cornwallis "came marching down with all the pomp of
war, in great expectation of getting boats, and immediately pursuing."
Not one was to be had there or elsewhere; for Washington had caused
the boats, for an extent of seventy miles up and down the river, to be
secured on the right bank. His lordship was effectually brought to a
stand. He made some moves with two columns, as if he would cross the
Delaware above and below, either to push on to Philadelphia, or to
entrap Washington in the acute angle made by the bend of the river
opposite Bordentown. An able disposition of American troops along the
upper part of the river, and of a number of galleys below, discouraged
any attempt of the kind. Cornwallis, therefore, gave up the pursuit,
distributed the German troops in cantonments along the left bank of
the river, and stationed his main force at Brunswick, trusting to be
able before long to cross the Delaware on the ice.

On the 8th, Washington wrote to the President of Congress: "There is
not a moment's time to be lost in assembling such a force as can be
collected, as the object of the enemy cannot now be doubted in the
smallest degree. Indeed, I shall be out in my conjecture, for it is
only conjecture, if the late embarkation at New York is not for
Delaware River, to co-operate with the army under General Howe, who, I
am informed from good authority, is with the British troops, and his
whole force upon this route."

In further letters to Lee, Washington urged the peril of Philadelphia.
"Do come on," writes he; "your arrival may be fortunate, and, if it
can be effected without delay, it may be the means of preserving a
city, whose loss must prove of the most fatal consequence to the cause
of America." Putnam was now detached to take command of Philadelphia,
and put it in a state of defence, and General Mifflin to have charge
of the munitions of war deposited there. By their advice Congress
hastily adjourned on the 12th of December, to meet again on the 20th
at Baltimore.

Washington's whole force at this time was about five thousand five
hundred men. Gates, however, he was informed, was coming on with seven
regiments detached by Schuyler from the Northern department;
reinforced by these and the troops under Lee, he hoped to be able to
attempt a stroke upon the enemy's forces, which lay a good deal
scattered, and to all appearances, in a state of security.

While cheering himself with these hopes, and trusting to speedy aid
from Lee, that wayward commander, though nearly three weeks had
elapsed since he had received Washington's orders and entreaties to
join him with all possible despatch, was no farther on his march than
Morristown, in the Jerseys; where with militia recruits, his force was
about four thousand men. [Lee was secretly planning an independent
attack on the enemy. Hearing that three regiments detached under Gates
from the Northern army had arrived at Peekskill, he sent orders for
them to join him at Morristown. "I am in hopes," he writes, "to
reconquer the Jerseys." In the meantime Washington wrote urging his
speedy junction with him. Boats were gathered at Tinicum to facilitate
his passage across the Delaware. "I have so frequently," wrote
Washington, "mentioned our situation and the necessity of your aid,
that it is painful for me to add a word on the subject." On the 12th,
Lee moved from Morristown, but marched no further than Vealtown, eight
miles distant. There he left Sullivan with his troops, while he took
up his quarters three miles off, at a tavern at Baskingridge.
Intelligence of his exposed and insecure position reached the enemy, a
body of dragoons were detached, and guided by a tory, came upon Lee in
his quarters without warning. The few guards about the house were soon
dispersed, and Lee, bare-headed and in his slippers, was compelled in
haste to mount a horse and accompany his captors. This capture gave
great exultation to the enemy; for they considered Lee the most
scientific and experienced of the rebel generals. General Sullivan now
being in command, immediately pressed forward with the troops to join
the commander-in-chief.]

The loss of Lee was a severe shock to the Americans, many of whom, as
we have shown, looked to him as the man who was to rescue them from
their critical and well-nigh desperate situation. General Wilkinson,
in his memoirs, [who was at that time brigade-major under General
Gates,] points out what he considers the true secret of Lee's conduct.
His military reputation, originally very high, had been enhanced of
late by its being generally known that he had been opposed to the
occupation of Fort Washington; while the fall of that fortress and
other misfortunes of the campaign, though beyond the control of the
commander-in-chief, had quickened the discontent which, according to
Wilkinson, had been generated against him at Cambridge, and raised a
party against him in Congress. "It was confidently asserted at the
time," adds he, "but is not worthy of credit, that a motion had been
made in that body tending to supersede him in the command of the army.
In this temper of the times, if General Lee had anticipated General
Washington in cutting the cordon of the enemy between New York and the
Delaware, the commander-in-chief would probably have been superseded.
In this case, Lee would have succeeded him."

What an unfortunate change would it have been for the country! Lee was
undoubtedly a man of brilliant talents, shrewd sagacity, and much
knowledge and experience in the art of war; but he was wilful and
uncertain in his temper, self-indulgent in his habits, and an egoist
in warfare; boldly dashing for a soldier's glory rather than warily
acting for a country's good. He wanted those great moral qualities
which, in addition to military capacity, inspired such universal
confidence in the wisdom, rectitude and patriotism of Washington,
enabling him to direct and control legislative bodies as well as
armies; to harmonize the jarring passions and jealousies of a wide and
imperfect confederacy, and to cope with the varied exigencies of the

Congress, prior to their adjournment, had resolved that "until they
should otherwise order, General Washington should be possessed of all
power to order and direct all things relative to the department and to
the operations of war." Thus empowered, he proceeded immediately to
recruit three battalions of artillery. To those whose terms were
expiring he promised an augmentation of twenty-five per cent. upon
their pay, and a bounty of ten dollars to the men for six weeks'
service. "It was no time," he said, "to stand upon expense; nor in
matters of self-evident exigency to refer to Congress at the distance
of a hundred and thirty or forty miles. If any good officers will
offer to raise men upon continental pay and establishment in this
quarter, I shall encourage them to do so, and regiment them when they
have done it."

The promise of increased pay and bounties had kept together for a time
the dissolving army. The local militia began to turn out freely.
Colonel John Cadwalader, a gentleman of gallant spirit, and cultivated
mind and manners, brought a large volunteer detachment, well equipped,
and composed principally of Philadelphia troops. Washington, who held
Cadwalader in high esteem, assigned him an important station at
Bristol, with Colonel Reed, who was his intimate friend, as an
associate. They had it in charge to keep a watchful eye upon Count
Donop's Hessians, who were cantoned along the opposite shore from
Bordentown to the Black Horse.

On the 20th of December arrived General Sullivan in camp, with the
troops recently commanded by the unlucky Lee. They were in a miserable
plight; destitute of almost everything; many of them fit only for the
hospital, and those whose terms were nearly out, thinking of nothing
but their discharge. On the same day arrived General Gates, with the
remnants of four regiments from the Northern army.

The time seemed now propitious for the _coup de main_ which Washington
had of late been meditating. Everything showed careless confidence on
the part of the enemy. Howe was in winter quarters at New York. His
troops were loosely cantoned about the Jerseys, from the Delaware to
Brunswick, so that they could not readily be brought to act in concert
on a sudden alarm. The Hessians were in the advance, stationed along
the Delaware, facing the American lines, which were along the west
bank. Cornwallis, thinking his work accomplished, had obtained leave
of absence, and was likewise at New York, preparing to embark for
England. Washington had now between five and six thousand men fit for
service; with these he meditated to cross the river at night, at
different points, and make simultaneous attacks upon the Hessian
advance posts.

He calculated upon the eager support of his troops, who were burning
to revenge the outrages on their homes and families, committed by
these foreign mercenaries. They considered the Hessians mere
hirelings; slaves to a petty despot, fighting for sordid pay, and
actuated by no sentiment of patriotism or honor. They had rendered
themselves the horror of the Jerseys, by rapine, brutality, and
heartlessness. At first, their military discipline had inspired awe,
but of late they had become careless and unguarded, knowing the broken
and dispirited state of the Americans, and considering them incapable
of any offensive enterprise. A brigade of three Hessian regiments,
those of Rahl, Lossberg, and Knyphausen, was stationed at Trenton.
Colonel Rahl had the command of the post at his own solicitation, and
in consequence of the laurels he had gained at White Plains and Fort
Washington. We have before us journals of two Hessian lieutenants and
a corporal, which give graphic particulars of the colonel and his
post. According to their representations, he, with all his bravery,
was little fitted for such an important command. He lacked the
necessary vigilance and forecast. One of the lieutenants speaks of him
in a sarcastic vein, and evidently with some degree of prejudice.
According to his account, there was more bustle than business at the
post. He was a boon companion; made merry until a late hour in the
night, and then lay in bed until nine o'clock in the morning. And then
he took no precautions against the possibility of being attacked. A
veteran officer, Major Von Dechow, proposed that some works should be
thrown up, where the cannon might be placed ready against any assault.
The colonel made merry with the very idea. "An assault by the rebels!
Let them come! We'll at them with the bayonet."

Such was the posture of affairs at Trenton at the time the _coup de
main_ was meditated. Whatever was to be done, however, must be done
quickly, before the river was frozen. An intercepted letter had
convinced Washington of what he had before suspected, that Howe was
only waiting for that event to resume active operations, cross the
river on the ice, and push on triumphantly to Philadelphia. He
communicated his project to Gates, and wished him to go to Bristol,
take command there, and co-operate from that quarter. Gates, however,
pleaded ill health, and requested leave to proceed to Philadelphia.

The request may have surprised Washington, considering the spirited
enterprise that was on foot; but Gates, as has before been observed,
had a disinclination to serve immediately under the commander-in-chief;
like Lee, he had a disparaging opinion of him, or rather an impatience
of his supremacy. He had, moreover, an ulterior object in view. Having
been disappointed and chagrined in finding himself subordinate to
General Schuyler in the Northern campaign, he was now intent on making
interest among the members of Congress for an independent command.
Washington urged that on his way to Philadelphia he would at least stop
for a day or two at Bristol to concert a plan of operations with Reed
and Cadwalader, and adjust any little questions of etiquette and
command that might arise between the continental colonels who had gone
thither with Lee's troops and the volunteer officers stationed there.
He does not appear to have complied even with this request. According
to Wilkinson's account, he took quarters at Newtown, and set out thence
for Baltimore on the 24th of December, the very day before that of the
intended _coup de main_. The projected attack upon the Hessian posts
was to be threefold: 1st. Washington was to cross the Delaware with a
considerable force, at McKonkey's Ferry (now Taylorsville), about nine
miles above Trenton, and march down upon that place, where Rahl's
cantonment comprised a brigade of fifteen hundred Hessians, a troop of
British light-horse, and a number of chasseurs. 2d. General Ewing, with
a body of Pennsylvania militia, was to cross at a ferry about a mile
below Trenton; secure the bridge over the Assunpink creek, a stream
flowing along the south side of the town, and cut off any retreat of
the enemy in that direction. 3d. General Putnam, with the troops
occupied in fortifying Philadelphia, and those under General
Cadwalader, was to cross below Burlington and attack the lower posts
under Count Donop. The several divisions were to cross the Delaware at
night, so as to be ready for simultaneous action by five o'clock in the

Seldom is a combined plan carried into full operation. Symptoms of an
insurrection in Philadelphia obliged Putnam to remain with some force
in that city; but he detached five or six hundred of the Pennsylvania
militia under Colonel Griffin, his adjutant-general, who threw himself
into the Jerseys, to be at hand to co-operate with Cadwalader.

Early on the eventful evening (Dec. 25th), the troops destined for
Washington's part of the attack, about two thousand four hundred
strong, with a train of twenty small pieces, were paraded near
McKonkey's Ferry, ready to pass as soon as it grew dark, in the hope
of being all on the other side by twelve o'clock. Washington repaired
to the ground accompanied by Generals Greene, Sullivan, Mercer,
Stephen, and Lord Stirling. Greene was full of ardor for the
enterprise; eager, no doubt, to wipe out the recollection of Fort
Washington. It was, indeed, an anxious moment for all.

Boats being in readiness, the troops began to cross about sunset. The
weather was intensely cold, the wind was high, the current strong, and
the river full of floating ice. Colonel Glover, with his amphibious
regiment of Marblehead fishermen, was in advance. They were men
accustomed to battle with the elements, yet with all their skill and
experience the crossing was difficult and perilous. The night was dark
and tempestuous, the drifting ice drove the boats out of their course,
and threatened them with destruction. It was three o'clock before the
artillery was landed, and nearly four before the troops took up their
line of march. Trenton was nine miles distant; and not to be reached
before daylight. To surprise it, therefore, was out of the question.
There was no making a retreat without being discovered and harassed in
repassing the river. Beside, the troops from the other points might
have crossed, and co-operation was essential to their safety.
Washington resolved to push forward and trust to Providence. He formed
the troops into two columns. The first he led himself, accompanied by
Greene, Stirling, Mercer, and Stephen; it was to make a circuit by the
upper or Pennington road, to the north of Trenton. The other, led by
Sullivan, and including the brigade of St. Clair, was to take the
lower river leading to the west end of the town. Sullivan's column was
to halt a few moments at a cross-road leading to Howland's Ferry to
give Washington's column time to effect its circuit, so that the
attack might be simultaneous. On arriving at Trenton they were to
force the outer guards and push directly into the town before the
enemy had time to form.

It began to hail and snow as the troops commenced their march, and
increased in violence as they advanced, the storm driving the sleet in
their faces. So bitter was the cold that two of the men were frozen to
death that night. The day dawned by the time Sullivan halted at the
cross-road. It was discovered that the storm had rendered many of the
muskets wet and useless. "What is to be done?" inquired Sullivan of
St. Clair. "You have nothing for it but to push on and use the
bayonet," was the reply. While some of the soldiers were endeavoring
to clear their muskets, and squibbing off priming, Sullivan despatched
an officer to apprise the commander-in-chief of the condition of their
arms. He came back half dismayed by an indignant burst of Washington,
who ordered him to return instantly and tell General Sullivan to
"advance and charge."

It was about eight o'clock when Washington's column arrived in the
vicinity of the village. The storm which had rendered the march
intolerable, had kept every one within doors, and the snow had
deadened the tread of the troops and the rumbling of the artillery. As
they approached the village, Washington, who was in front, came to a
man that was chopping wood by the roadside, and inquired, "Which way
is the Hessian picket?" "I don't know," was the surly reply. "You may
tell," said Captain Forest of the artillery, "for that is General
Washington." The aspect of the man changed in an instant. Raising his
hands to heaven, "God bless and prosper you!" cried he. "The picket is
in that house, and the sentry stands near that tree."

The advance guard was led by a brave young officer, Captain William A.
Washington, seconded by Lieutenant James Monroe (in after years
president of the United States). They received orders to dislodge the
picket. Here happened to be stationed the very lieutenant whose
censures of the negligence of Colonel Rahl we have referred to. By his
own account, he was very near being entrapped in the guard-house. His
sentries, he says, were not alert enough; and had he not stepped out
of the picket-house himself and discovered the enemy, they would have
been upon him before his men could scramble to their arms. "Der feind!
der feind! heraus! heraus!" (the enemy! the enemy! turn out! turn
out!) was now the cry. By this time the American artillery was
unlimbered; Washington kept beside it and the column proceeded. The
report of fire-arms told that Sullivan was at the lower end of the
town. Colonel Stark led his advance guard, and did it in gallant
style. The attacks, as concerted, were simultaneous. The outposts were
driven in; they retreated, firing from behind houses. The Hessian
drums beat to arms; the trumpets of the light-horse sounded the alarm;
the whole place was in an uproar. Some of the enemy made a wild and
undirected fire from the windows of their quarters; others rushed
forth in disorder and attempted to form in the main street, while
dragoons, hastily mounted and galloping about, added to the confusion.
Washington advanced with his column to the head of King Street, riding
beside Captain Forest of the artillery. When Forest's battery of six
guns was opened the general kept on the left and advanced with it,
giving directions to the fire. His position was an exposed one, and he
was repeatedly entreated to fall back; but all such entreaties were
useless when once he became heated in action.

The enemy were training a couple of cannon in the main street to form
a battery, which might have given the Americans a serious check; but
Captain Washington and Lieutenant Monroe, with a part of the advance
guard rushed forward, drove the artillerists from their guns, and took
the two pieces when on the point of being fired. Both of these
officers were wounded; the captain in the wrist, the lieutenant in the

While Washington advanced on the north of the town, Sullivan
approached on the west, and detached Stark to press on the lower or
south end of the town. The British light-horse, and about five hundred
Hessians and chasseurs, had been quartered in the lower part of the
town. Seeing Washington's column pressing in front, and hearing Stark
thundering in their rear, they took headlong flight by the bridge
across the Assunpink, and so along the banks of the Delaware towards
Count Donop's encampment at Bordentown. Had Washington's plan been
carried into full effect, their retreat would have been cut off by
General Ewing; but that officer had been prevented from crossing the
river by the ice.

Colonel Rahl, according to the account of the lieutenant who had
commanded the picket, completely lost his head in the confusion of the
surprise. The latter, when driven in by the American advance, found
the colonel on horseback, endeavoring to rally his panic-stricken and
disordered men, but himself sorely bewildered. With some difficulty he
succeeded in extricating his troops from the town, and leading them
into an adjacent orchard. A rapid retreat by the Princeton road was
apparently in his thoughts; but he lacked decision. The idea of flying
before the rebels was intolerable. Some one, too, exclaimed at the
ruinous loss of leaving all their baggage to be plundered by the
enemy. Changing his mind he made a rash resolve. "All who are my
grenadiers, forward!" cried he, and led his grenadiers bravely but
rashly on, when, in the midst of his career, he received a fatal wound
from a musket ball and fell from his horse. His men, left without
their chief, were struck with dismay; heedless of the orders of the
second in command, they retreated by the right up the banks of the
Assunpink, intending to escape to Princeton. Washington saw their
design, and threw Colonel Hand's corps of Pennsylvania riflemen in
their way; while a body of Virginia troops gained their left. Brought
to a stand, and perfectly bewildered, they grounded their arms and
surrendered at discretion.

The number of prisoners taken in this affair was nearly one thousand,
of which thirty-two were officers. Washington's triumph, however, was
impaired by the failure of the two simultaneous attacks. General
Ewing, who was to have crossed before day at Trenton Ferry, and taken
possession of the bridge leading out of the town, over which the
light-horse and Hessians retreated, was prevented by the quantity of
ice in the river. Cadwalader was hindered by the same obstacle. He got
part of his troops over, but found it impossible to embark his cannon,
and was obliged, therefore, to return to the Pennsylvania side of the
river. Had he and Ewing crossed, Donop's quarters would have been
beaten up, and the fugitives from Trenton intercepted.

By the failure of this part of his plan, Washington had been exposed
to the most imminent hazard. The force with which he had crossed,
twenty-four hundred men, raw troops, was not enough to cope with the
veteran garrison, had it been properly on its guard; and then there
were the troops under Donop at hand to co-operate with it. Nothing
saved him but the utter panic of the enemy, their want of proper alarm
places, and their exaggerated idea of his forces. Even now that the
place was in his possession he dared not linger in it. There was a
superior force under Donop below him, and a strong battalion of
infantry at Princeton. His own troops were exhausted by the operations
of the night and morning in cold, rain, snow and storm. They had to
guard about a thousand prisoners, taken in action or found concealed
in houses; there was little prospect of succor, owing to the season
and the state of the river. Washington gave up, therefore, all idea of
immediately pursuing the enemy or keeping possession of Trenton, and
determined to recross the Delaware with his prisoners and captured


There was a kind of episode in the affair at Trenton. Colonel Griffin,
who had thrown himself previously into the Jerseys with his detachment
of Pennsylvania militia, found himself, through indisposition and the
scanty number of his troops, unable to render efficient service in the
proposed attack. He sent word to Cadwalader, therefore, that he should
probably render him more real aid by making a demonstration in front
of Donop, and drawing him off so far into the interior as to be out of
the way of rendering support to Colonel Rahl. He accordingly presented
himself in sight of Donop's cantonment on the 25th of December, and
succeeded in drawing him out with nearly his whole force of two
thousand men. He then retired slowly before him, skirmishing, but
avoiding anything like an action, until he had lured him as far as
Mount Holly, when he left him to find his way back to his post at his

The cannonade of Washington's attack in Trenton on the morning of the
26th was distinctly heard at Cadwalader's camp at Bristol. Imperfect
tidings of the result reached there about eleven o'clock, and produced
the highest exultation and excitement. Cadwalader made another attempt
to cross the river and join Washington, whom he supposed to be still
in the Jerseys, following up the blow he had struck. He could not
effect the passage of the river with the most of the troops, until
mid-day of the 27th, when he received from Washington a detailed
account of his success, and of his having recrossed into Pennsylvania.

Cadwalader was now in a dilemma. Donop, he presumed, was still at
Mount Holly, whither Griffin had decoyed him; but he might soon march
back. His forces were equal if not superior in number to his own, and
veterans instead of raw militia. But then there was the glory of
rivalling the exploit at Trenton, and the importance of following out
the effort for the relief of the Jerseys and the salvation of
Philadelphia. Beside, Washington, in all probability, after disposing
of his prisoners, had again crossed into the Jerseys and might be
acting offensively. Reed relieved Cadwalader from his dilemma by
proposing that they should push on to Burlington, and there determine,
according to intelligence, whether to proceed to Bordentown or Mount
Holly. The plan was adopted, and Cadwalader took up his line of march.

Reed and two companions spurred on to reconnoitre the enemy's
outposts, about four miles from Burlington, but pulled up at the place
where the picket was usually stationed. There was no smoke, nor any
sign of a human being. They rode up and found the place deserted. From
the country people in the neighborhood they received an explanation.
Count Donop had returned to his post from the pursuit of Griffin, only
in time to hear of the disaster at Trenton. He immediately began a
retreat in the utmost panic and confusion, calling in his guards and
parties as he hurried forward. The troops in the neighborhood of
Burlington had decamped precipitately the preceding evening.

Colonel Reed sent back intelligence of this to Cadwalader, and still
pushed on with his companions. Arrived at Bordentown not an enemy was
to be seen; the fugitives from Trenton had spread a panic on the 26th,
and the Hessians and their refugee adherents had fled in confusion,
leaving their sick behind them. One of Reed's companions returned to
Cadwalader, who had halted at Burlington, and advised him to proceed.
Cadwalader wrote in the night to Washington, informing him of his
whereabouts, and that he should march for Bordentown in the morning.
"If you should think proper to cross over," added he, "it may easily
be effected at the place where we passed; a pursuit would keep up the
panic. They went off with great precipitation, and pressed all the
wagons in their reach; I am told many of them are gone to South

Washington needed no prompting of the kind. Bent upon following up his
blow, he had barely allowed his troops a day or two to recover from
recent exposure and fatigue, that they might have strength and spirit
to pursue the retreating enemy, beat up other of their quarters, and
entirely reverse affairs in the Jerseys. In this spirit he had written
to Generals McDougall and Maxwell at Morristown, to collect as large a
body of militia as possible, and harass the enemy in flank and rear.
Men of influence also were despatched by him into different parts of
the Jerseys, to spirit up the militia to revenge the oppression, the
ravage, and insults they had experienced from the enemy, especially
from the Hessians.

On the 29th, his troops began to cross the river. It would be a slow
and difficult operation, owing to the ice; two parties of light troops
therefore were detached in advance, whom Colonel Reed was to send in
pursuit of the enemy. They marched into Trenton about two o'clock, and
were immediately put on the traces of Donop, to hang on his rear and
harass him until other troops should come up. Cadwalader also detached
a party of riflemen from Bordentown with like orders. Donop, in
retreating, had divided his force, sending one part by a cross road to
Princeton, and hurrying on with the remainder to Brunswick. While this
was going on, Washington was effecting the passage of his main force
to Trenton. He himself had crossed on the 29th of December, but it
took two days more to get the troops and artillery over the icy river,
and that with great labor and difficulty.

At this critical moment, Washington received a letter from a committee
of Congress, transmitting him resolves of that body dated the 27th of
December, investing him with military powers quite dictatorial. "Happy
is it for this country," write the committee, "that the general of
their forces can safely be intrusted with the most unlimited power,
and neither personal security, liberty or property, be in the least
degree endangered thereby." Washington's acknowledgement of this great
mark of confidence was noble and characteristic. "I find Congress have
done me the honor to intrust me with powers, in my military capacity,
of the highest nature and almost unlimited extent. Instead of thinking
myself freed from all _civil_ obligations by this mark of their
confidence, I shall constantly bear in mind that, as the sword was the
last resort for the preservation of our liberties, so it ought to be
the first thing laid aside when those liberties are firmly

General Howe was taking his ease in winter quarters at New York,
waiting for the freezing of the Delaware to pursue his triumphant
march to Philadelphia, when tidings were brought him of the surprise
and capture of the Hessians at Trenton. He instantly stopped Lord
Cornwallis, who was on the point of embarking for England, and sent
him back in all haste to resume the command in the Jerseys.

The ice in the Delaware impeded the crossing of the American troops,
and gave the British time to draw in their scattered cantonments and
assemble their whole force at Princeton. Information was obtained that
Lord Cornwallis had joined General Grant with a reinforcement of
chosen troops. They had now seven or eight thousand men, and were
pressing wagons for a march upon Trenton. Word, too, was brought that
General Howe was on the march with a thousand light troops, with which
he had landed at Amboy.

The situation of Washington was growing critical. The enemy were
beginning to advance their large pickets towards Trenton. Everything
indicated an approaching attack. The force with him was small; to
retreat across the river would destroy the dawn of hope awakened in
the bosoms of the Jersey militia by the late exploit, but to make a
stand without reinforcements was impossible. In this emergency he
called to his aid General Cadwalader from Crosswicks, and General
Mifflin from Bordentown, with their collective forces amounting to
about three thousand six hundred men. They promptly answered to his
call, and marching in the night, joined him on the 1st of January.

Washington chose a position for his main body on the east side of the
Assunpink. There was a narrow stone bridge across it, where the water
was very deep; the same bridge over which part of Rahl's brigade had
escaped in the recent affair. He planted his artillery so as to
command the bridge and the fords. His advance guard was stationed
about three miles off in a wood, having in front a stream called
Shabbakong Creek. Early on the morning of the 2d, came certain word
that Cornwallis was approaching with all his force. Strong parties
were sent out under General Greene, who skirmished with the enemy and
harassed them in their advance. By twelve o'clock they reached
Shabbakong, and halted for a time on its northern bank. Then crossing
it, and moving forward with rapidity, they drove the advance guard out
of the woods, and pushed on until they reached a high ground near the
town. Here Hand's corps of several battalions was drawn up and held
them for a time in check. All the parties in advance ultimately
retreated to the main body, on the east side of the Assunpink.

From all these checks and delays it was nearly sunset before
Cornwallis, with the head of his army, entered Trenton. His rear-guard
under General Leslie rested at Maiden Head, about six miles distant,
and nearly half way between Trenton and Princeton. Forming his troops
into columns, he now made repeated attempts to cross the Assunpink at
the bridge and the fords, but was as often repulsed by the artillery.
For a part of the time Washington, mounted on a white horse, stationed
himself at the south end of the bridge, issuing his orders. Each time
the enemy was repulsed there was a shout along the American lines. At
length they drew off, came to a halt, and lighted their camp fires.
The Americans did the same, using the neighboring fences for the

A cannonade was kept up on both sides until dark; but with little
damage to the Americans. When night closed in, the two camps lay in
sight of each other's fires, ruminating the bloody action of the
following day. It was the most gloomy and anxious night that had yet
closed in on the American army throughout its series of perils and
disasters; for there was no concealing the impending danger. But what
must have been the feelings of the commander-in-chief as he anxiously
patrolled his camp and considered his desperate position? A small
stream, fordable in several places, was all that separated his raw,
inexperienced army from an enemy vastly superior in numbers and
discipline, and stung to action by the mortification of a late defeat.
In this darkest of moments a gleam of hope flashed upon his mind: a
bold expedient suggested itself. Almost the whole of the enemy's force
must by this time be drawn out of Princeton and advancing by
detachments toward Trenton, while their baggage and principal stores
must remain weakly guarded at Brunswick. Was it not possible by a
rapid night-march along the Quaker road, a different road from that on
which General Leslie with the rear-guard was resting, to get past that
force undiscovered, come by surprise upon those left at Princeton,
capture or destroy what stores were left there, and then push on to
Brunswick? This would save the army from being cut off; would avoid
the appearance of a defeat; and might draw the enemy away from
Trenton, while some fortunate stroke might give additional reputation
to the American arms.

Such was the plan which Washington revolved in his mind on the gloomy
banks of the Assunpink, and which he laid before his officers in a
council of war, held after nightfall, at the quarters of General
Mercer. It met with instant concurrence. One formidable difficulty
presented itself. The weather was unusually mild; there was a thaw, by
which the roads might be rendered deep and miry, and almost
impassable. Fortunately, the wind veered to the north in the course of
the evening; the weather became intensely cold, and in two hours the
roads were once more hard and frost-bound. In the meantime, the
baggage of the army was silently removed to Burlington, and every
other preparation was made for a rapid march. To deceive the enemy,
men were employed to dig trenches near the bridge within hearing of
the British sentries, with orders to continue noisily at work until
daybreak; others were to go the rounds, relieve guards at the bridge
and fords, keep up the camp fires, and maintain all the appearance of
a regular encampment. At daybreak they were to hasten after the army.

In the dead of the night the army drew quietly out of the encampment
and began its march. General Mercer was in the advance with the
remnant of his flying camp, now but about three hundred and fifty men.
The Quaker road was a complete roundabout, joining the main road about
two miles from Princeton, where Washington expected to arrive before
daybreak. The road, however, was new and rugged; cut through woods,
where the stumps of trees broke the wheels of some of the baggage
trains and retarded the march of the troops; so that it was near
sunrise of a bright, frosty morning when Washington reached the bridge
over Stony Brook, about three miles from Princeton. After crossing the
bridge he led his troops along the bank of the brook to the edge of a
wood, where a by-road led off on the right through low grounds, and
was said by the guides to be a short cut to Princeton and less exposed
to view. By this road Washington defiled with the main body, ordering
Mercer to continue along the brook with his brigade until he should
arrive at the main road, where he was to secure, and if possible
destroy a bridge over which it passes, so as to intercept any
fugitives from Princeton, and check any retrograde movements of the
British troops which might have advanced towards Trenton.

Hitherto the movements of the Americans had been undiscovered by the
enemy. Three regiments of the latter, the 17th, 40th, and 55th, with
three troops of dragoons, had been quartered all night in Princeton,
under marching orders to join Lord Cornwallis in the morning. The 17th
regiment, under Colonel Mawhood, was already on the march; the 55th
regiment was preparing to follow. Mawhood had crossed the bridge by
which the old or main road to Trenton passes over Stony Brook, and was
proceeding through a wood beyond when, as he attained the summit of a
hill about sunrise, the glittering of arms betrayed to him the
movement of Mercer's troops to the left, who were filing along the
Quaker road to secure the bridge, as they had been ordered. The woods
prevented him from seeing their number. He supposed them to be some
broken portion of the American army flying before Lord Cornwallis.
With this idea, he faced about and made a retrograde movement to
intercept them or hold them in check; while messengers spurred off at
all speed to hasten forward the regiments still lingering at
Princeton, so as completely to surround them.

The woods concealed him until he had recrossed the bridge of Stony
Brook, when he came in full sight of the van of Mercer's brigade. Both
parties pushed to get possession of a rising ground on the right near
the house of a Mr. Clark. The Americans being nearest, reached it
first, and formed behind a hedge fence which extended along a slope in
front of the house; whence, being chiefly armed with rifles, they
opened a destructive fire. It was returned with great spirit by the
enemy. At the first discharge Mercer was dismounted. One of his
colonels, also, was mortally wounded and carried to the rear. Availing
themselves of the confusion thus occasioned, the British charged with
the bayonet; the American riflemen having no weapon of the kind were
thrown into disorder and retreated. Mercer, who was on foot,
endeavored to rally them, when a blow from the butt end of a musket
felled him to the ground. He rose and defended himself with his sword,
but was surrounded, bayoneted repeatedly, and left for dead. Mawhood
pursued the broken and retreating troops to the brow of the rising
ground, on which Clark's house was situated, when he beheld a large
force emerging from a wood and advancing to the rescue. It was a body
of Pennsylvania militia, which Washington, on hearing the firing, had
detached to the support of Mercer. Mawhood instantly ceased pursuit,
drew up his artillery, and by a heavy discharge brought the militia to
a stand.

At this moment Washington himself arrived at the scene of action,
having galloped from the by-road in advance of his troops. From a
rising ground he beheld Mercer's troops retreating in confusion, and
the detachment of militia checked by Mawhood's artillery. Everything
was at peril. Putting spurs to his horse he dashed past the hesitating
militia, waving his hat and cheering them on. His commanding figure
and white horse made him a conspicuous object for the enemy's
marksmen; but he heeded it not. Galloping forward under the fire of
Mawhood's battery, he called upon Mercer's broken brigade. The
Pennsylvanians rallied at the sound of his voice, and caught fire from
his example. At the same time the 7th Virginia regiment emerged from
the wood, and moved forward with loud cheers, while a fire of
grapeshot was opened by Captain Moulder of the American artillery from
the brow of a ridge to the south.

Colonel Mawhood, who a moment before had thought his triumph secure,
found himself assailed on every side and separated from the other
British regiments. He fought, however, with great bravery, and for a
short time the action was desperate. Washington was in the midst of
it; equally endangered by the random fire of his own men and the
artillery and musketry of the enemy. Mawhood by this time had forced
his way at the point of the bayonet through gathering foes, though
with heavy loss, back to the main road, and was in full retreat
towards Trenton to join Cornwallis. Washington detached Major Kelly
with a party of Pennsylvania troops to destroy the bridge at Stony
Brook, over which Mawhood had retreated, so as to impede the advance
of General Leslie from Maiden Head.

In the meantime the 55th regiment, which had been on the left and
nearer Princeton, had been encountered by the American advance-guard
under General St. Clair, and after some sharp fighting in a ravine had
given way and was retreating across fields and along a by-road to
Brunswick. The remaining regiment, the 40th, had not been able to come
up in time for the action; a part of it fled toward Brunswick; the
residue took refuge in the college at Princeton, recently occupied by
them as barracks. Artillery was now brought to bear on the college,
and a few shot compelled those within to surrender.

In this brief but brilliant action about one hundred of the British
were left dead on the field, and nearly three hundred taken prisoners,
fourteen of whom were officers. The loss of the Americans was about
twenty-five or thirty men and several officers. Among the latter was
Colonel Haslet, who had distinguished himself throughout the campaign
by being among the foremost in services of danger. A greater loss was
that of General Mercer. He was said to be either dead or dying in the
house of Mr. Clark, whither he had been conveyed by his aide-de-camp,
Major Armstrong. Washington would have ridden back from Princeton to
visit him and have him conveyed to a place of greater security, but
was assured that, if alive, he was too desperately wounded to bear

Under these circumstances Washington felt compelled to leave his old
companion in arms to his fate. Indeed, he was called away by the
exigencies of his command, having to pursue the routed regiments which
were making a headlong retreat to Brunswick. In this pursuit he took
the lead at the head of a detachment of cavalry. At Kingston, however,
three miles to the northeast of Princeton, he pulled up, restrained
his ardor, and held a council of war on horseback. Should he keep on
to Brunswick or not? The capture of the British stores and baggage
would make his triumph complete; but, on the other hand, his troops
were excessively fatigued by their rapid march all night and hard
fight in the morning. All of them had been one night without sleep,
and some of them two, and many were half-starved. They were without
blankets, thinly clad, some of them barefooted, and this in freezing
weather. Cornwallis would be upon them before they could reach
Brunswick. His rear-guard, under General Leslie, had been quartered
but six miles from Princeton, and the retreating troops must have
roused them. Under these considerations, it was determined to
discontinue the pursuit and push for Morristown. There they would be
in a mountainous country, heavily wooded, in an abundant neighborhood,
and on the flank of the enemy, with various defiles by which they
might change their position according to his movements. Filing off to
the left, therefore, from Kingston, and breaking down the bridges
behind him, Washington took the narrow road by Rocky Hill to

His lordship had retired to rest at Trenton with the sportsman's vaunt
that he would "bag the fox in the morning." Nothing could surpass his
surprise and chagrin when at daybreak the expiring watchfires and
deserted camp of the Americans told him that the prize had once more
evaded his grasp; that the general whose military skill he had decried
had outgeneralled him. For a time he could not learn whither the army,
which had stolen away so silently, had directed its stealthy march. By
sunrise, however, there was the booming of cannon, like the rumbling
of distant thunder, in the direction of Princeton. The idea flashed
upon him that Washington had not merely escaped but was about to make
a dash at the British magazines at Brunswick. Alarmed for the safety
of his military stores, his lordship forthwith broke up his camp and
made a rapid march towards Princeton. As he arrived in sight of the
bridge over Stony Brook, he beheld Major Kelly and his party busy in
its destruction. A distant discharge of round shot from his
field-pieces drove them away, but the bridge was already broken. It
would take time to repair it for the passage of the artillery, so
Cornwallis in his impatience urged his troops breast-high through the
turbulent and icy stream, and again pushed forward.

Without further delay he hurried forward, eager to save his magazines.
Crossing the bridge at Kingston, he kept on along the Brunswick road,
supposing Washington still before him. The latter had got far in the
advance during the delays caused by the broken bridge at Stony Brook,
and the alteration of his course at Kingston had carried him
completely out of the way of Cornwallis. His lordship reached
Brunswick towards evening, and endeavored to console himself by the
safety of the military stores for being so completely foiled and

Washington in the meantime was all on the alert; the lion part of his
nature was aroused; and while his weary troops were resting at
Pluckamin, he was despatching missives and calling out aid to enable
him to follow up his successes. In a letter to Putnam, he says: "The
enemy appear to be panic-struck. I am in hopes of driving them out of
the Jerseys. March the troops under your command to Crosswicks, and
keep a strict watch upon the enemy in this quarter." To General Heath,
also, who was stationed in the Highlands of the Hudson, he wrote at
the same harried moment: "The enemy are in great consternation; and as
the panic affords us a favorable opportunity to drive them out of the
Jerseys, it has been determined in council that you should move down
towards New York with a considerable force, as if you had a design
upon the city. That being an object of great importance, the enemy
will be reduced to the necessity of withdrawing a considerable part of
their force from the Jerseys, if not the whole, to secure the city."

These letters despatched, he continued forward to Morristown, where at
length he came to a halt from his incessant and harassing marchings.
There he learnt that General Mercer was still alive. He immediately
sent his nephew, Major George Lewis, under the protection of a flag to
attend upon him. Lewis found him languishing in great pain; he had
been treated with respect by the enemy and great tenderness by the
benevolent family who had sheltered him. He expired on the 12th of
January, in the fifty-sixth year of his age.

From Morristown, Washington again wrote to General Heath, repeating
his former orders. To Major-general Lincoln, also, who was just
arrived at Peekskill, and had command of the Massachusetts militia, he
writes on the 7th: "General Heath will communicate mine of this date
to you, by which you will find that the greater part of your troops
are to move down towards New York to draw the attention of the enemy
to that quarter." Colonel Reed was ordered to send out rangers and
bodies of militia to scour the country, waylay foraging parties, cut
off supplies and keep the cantonments of the enemy in a state of

The expedition under General Heath towards New York, from which much
had been anticipated by Washington, proved a failure. It moved in
three divisions, by different routes, but all arriving nearly at the
same time at the enemy's outposts at King's Bridge. There was some
skirmishing, but the great feature of the expedition was a pompous and
peremptory summons of Fort Independence to surrender. "Twenty minutes
only can be allowed," said Heath, "for the garrison to give their
answer, and, should it be in the negative, they must abide the
consequences." The garrison made no answer but an occasional
cannonade. Heath failed to follow up his summons by corresponding
deeds. He hovered and skirmished for some days about the outposts and
Spyt den Duivel Creek, and then retired before a threatened snow-storm
and the report of an enemy's fleet from Rhode Island, with troops
under Lord Percy, who might land in Westchester and take the besieging
force in rear.

But though disappointed in this part of his plan, Washington, having
received reinforcements of militia, continued with his scanty army to
carry on his system of annoyance. The situation of Cornwallis who but
a short time before traversed the Jerseys so triumphantly, became
daily more and more irksome. Spies were in his camp to give notice of
every movement, and foes without to take advantage of it; so that not
a foraging party could sally forth without being waylaid. By degrees
he drew in his troops which were posted about the country, and
collected them at New Brunswick and Amboy, so as to have a
communication by water with New York, whence he was now compelled to
draw nearly all his supplies. In fact the recent operations in the
Jerseys had suddenly changed the whole aspect of the war, and given a
triumphant close to what had been a disastrous campaign. The troops,
which for months had been driven from post to post, apparently an
undisciplined rabble, had all at once turned upon their pursuers and
astounded them by brilliant stratagems and daring exploits. The
commander, whose cautious policy had been sneered at by enemies and
regarded with impatience by misjudging friends, had all at once shown
that he possessed enterprise as well as circumspection, energy as well
as endurance, and that beneath his wary coldness lurked a fire to
break forth at the proper moment. This year's campaign, the most
critical one of the war, and especially the part of it which occurred
in the Jerseys, was the ordeal that made his great qualities fully
appreciated by his countrymen, and gained for him from the statesmen
and generals of Europe the appellation of the AMERICAN FABIUS.


The Howes learned to their mortification that "the mere running
through a province is not subduing it." The British commanders had
been outgeneralled, attacked and defeated. They had nearly been driven
out of the Jerseys, and were now hemmed in and held in check by
Washington and his handful of men castled among the heights of
Morristown. So far from holding possession of the territory they had
so recently overrun, they were fain to ask safe conduct across it for
a convoy to their soldiers captured in battle. It must have been a
severe trial to the pride of Cornwallis when he had to inquire by
letter of Washington whether money and stores could be sent to the
Hessians captured at Trenton and a surgeon and medicines to the
wounded at Princeton; and Washington's reply must have conveyed a
reproof still more mortifying. No molestation, he assured his
lordship, would be offered to the convoy by any part of the regular
army under his command; but _"he could not answer for the militia, who
were resorting to arms in most parts of the State, and were
excessively exasperated at the treatment they had met with from both
Hessian and British troops."_

In fact, the conduct of the enemy had roused the whole country against
them. The proclamations and printed protections of the British
commanders, on the faith of which the inhabitants in general had
stayed at home and forbore to take up arms, had proved of no avail.
The Hessians could not or would not understand them, but plundered
friend and foe alike. The British soldiery often followed their
example, and the plunderings of both were at times attended by those
brutal outrages on the weaker sex which inflame the dullest spirits to
revenge. The whole State was thus roused against its invaders. In
Washington's retreat of more than a hundred miles through the Jerseys,
he had never been joined by more than one hundred of its inhabitants;
now sufferers of both parties rose as one man to avenge their personal
injuries. The late quiet yeomanry armed themselves and scoured the
country in small parties to seize on stragglers, and the militia began
to signalize themselves in voluntary skirmishes with regular troops.

Morristown, where the main army was encamped, had not been chosen by
Washington as a permanent post, but merely as a halting-place where
his troops might repose after their excessive fatigues and their
sufferings from the inclement season. Further considerations persuaded
him that it was well situated for the system of petty warfare which he
meditated, and induced him to remain there. It was protected by
forests and rugged heights. It was nearly equidistant from Amboy,
Newark, and Brunswick, the principal posts of the enemy; so that any
movement made from them could be met by a counter movement on his
part, while the forays and skirmishes by which he might harass them
would school and season his own troops. He had three faithful generals
with him: Greene, Sullivan, and Knox.

Washington's military family at this time was composed of his
aides-de-camp, Colonels Meade and Tench Tilghman of Philadelphia; and
his secretary, Colonel Robert H. Harrison of Maryland. His
head-quarters at first were in what was called the Freemason's Tavern,
on the north side of the village green. His troops were encamped about
the vicinity of the village, at first in tents, until they could build
log huts for shelter against the winter's cold. The main encampment
was near Bottle Hill, in a sheltered valley which was thickly wooded
and had abundant springs.

The enemy being now concentrated at New Brunswick and Amboy, General
Putnam was ordered by Washington to move from Crosswicks to Princeton,
with the troops under his command. He was instructed to draw his
forage as much as possible from the neighborhood of Brunswick, about
eighteen miles off, thereby contributing to distress the enemy; to
have good scouting parties continually on the look-out; to keep
nothing with him but what could be moved off at a moment's warning,
and, if compelled to leave Princeton, to retreat towards the mountains
so as to form a junction with the forces at Morristown. Putnam had
with him but a few hundred men. "You will give out your strength to be
twice as great as it is," writes Washington; a common expedient with
him in those times of scanty means.

Cantonments were gradually formed between Princeton and the Highlands
of the Hudson, which made the left flank of Washington's position, and
where General Heath had command. General Philemon Dickinson, who
commanded the New Jersey militia, was stationed on the west side of
Millstone River, near Somerset court-house, one of the nearest posts
to the enemy's camp at Brunswick. A British foraging party of five or
six hundred strong, sent out by Cornwallis, with forty wagons and
upward of a hundred draught horses, mostly of the English breed,
having collected sheep and cattle about the country, were sacking a
mill on the opposite side of the river where a large quantity of flour
was deposited. While thus employed, Dickinson set upon them with a
force equal in number but composed of raw militia and fifty
Philadelphia riflemen. He dashed through the river, waist deep, with
his men, and charged the enemy so suddenly and vigorously that, though
supported by three field-pieces, they gave way, left their convoy, and
retreated so precipitately that he made only nine prisoners. A number
of killed and wounded were carried off by the fugitives on light

{Illustration: COL. MORRIS' HOUSE. Vol. II.}

To counteract the proclamation of the British commissioners, promising
amnesty to all in rebellion who should, in a given time, return to
their allegiance, Washington now issued a counter proclamation (Jan.
25th), commanding every person who had subscribed a declaration of
fidelity to Great Britain, or taken an oath of allegiance, to repair
within thirty days to head-quarters, or the quarters of the nearest
general officer of the Continental army or of the militia, and there
take the oath of allegiance to the United States of America, and give
up any protection, certificate or passport he might have received from
the enemy; at the same time granting full liberty to all such as
preferred the interest and protection of Great Britain to the freedom
and happiness of their country, forthwith to withdraw themselves and
families within the enemy's lines. All who should neglect or refuse to
comply with this order were to be considered adherents to the crown
and treated as common enemies.

A cartel for the exchange of prisoners had been a subject of
negotiation previous to the affair of Trenton, without being adjusted.
The British commanders were slow to recognize the claims to equality
of those they considered rebels; Washington was tenacious in holding
them up as patriots ennobled by their cause. Among the cases which
came up for attention was that of Ethan Allen, the brave but eccentric
captor of Ticonderoga. His daring attempts in the "path of renown" had
cost him a world of hardships;--thrown into irons as a felon;
threatened with a halter; carried to England to be tried for treason;
confined in Pendennis Castle; retransported to Halifax, and now a
prisoner in New York. Washington had been instructed, considering his
long imprisonment, to urge his exchange. This had scarce been urged,
when tidings of the capture of General Lee presented a case of still
greater importance to be provided for. Lee was reported to be in
rigorous confinement in New York, and treated with harshness and
indignity. The British professed to consider him a deserter, he having
been a lieutenant-colonel in their service, although he alleged that
he had resigned his commission before joining the American army.

On the 13th of January, Washington addressed the following letter to
Sir William Howe: "I am directed by Congress to propose an exchange of
five of the Hessian field-officers taken at Trenton for Major-general
Lee; or, if this proposal should not be accepted, to demand his
liberty upon parole, within certain bounds, as has ever been granted
to your officers in our custody. I am informed, upon good authority,
that your reason for keeping him hitherto in stricter confinement than
usual is that you do not look upon him in the light of a common
prisoner of war but as a deserter from the British service, as his
resignation has never been accepted, and that you intend to try him as
such by a court-martial. I will not undertake to determine how far
this doctrine may be justifiable among yourselves, but I must give you
warning that Major-general Lee is looked upon as an officer belonging
to, and under the protection of the United Independent States of
America, and that any violence you may commit upon his life and
liberty will be severely retaliated upon the lives or liberties of the
British officers, or those of their foreign allies in our hands."

In this letter he likewise adverted to the treatment of American
prisoners in New York; several who had recently been released having
given the most shocking account of the barbarities they had

Sir William, in reply, proposed to send an officer of rank to
Washington to confer upon a mode of exchange and subsistence of
prisoners. This proposal led to the appointment of two officers for
the purpose, Colonel Walcott by General Howe, and Colonel Harrison,
"the old secretary," by Washington.

Lee's actual treatment was not so harsh as had been represented. He
was in close confinement it is true, but three rooms had been fitted
up for his reception in the Old City Hall of New York, having nothing
of the look of a prison excepting that they were secured by bolts and
bars. Congress, in the meantime, had resorted to their threatened
measure of retaliation. On the 20th of February they had resolved that
the Board of War be directed immediately to order the five Hessian
field-officers and Lieutenant-colonel Campbell into safe and close
custody, "it being the unalterable resolution of Congress to retaliate
on them the same punishment as may be inflicted on the person of
General Lee."

In a letter to the President of Congress, Washington gives his
moderating counsels on the whole subject of retaliation. "Though I
sincerely commiserate," writes he, "the misfortunes of General Lee,
and feel much for his present unhappy situation, yet with all possible
deference to the opinion of Congress, I fear that these resolutions
will not have the desired effect, are founded on impolicy, and will,
if adhered to, produce consequences of an extensive and melancholy
nature.... The balance of prisoners is greatly against us, and a
general regard to the happiness of the whole should mark our conduct.
Can we imagine that our enemies will not mete the same punishments,
the same indignities, the same cruelties, to those belonging to us in
their possession that we impose on theirs in our power? Why should we
suppose them to possess more humanity than we have ourselves? Or why
should an ineffectual attempt to relieve the distresses of one brave,
unfortunate man, involve many more in the same calamities?"

Washington was not always successful in instilling his wise moderation
into public councils. Congress adhered to their vindictive policy,
merely directing that no other hardships should be inflicted on the
captive officers than such confinement as was necessary to carry their
resolve into effect. There were other circumstances besides the
treatment of General Lee to produce this indignant sensibility on the
part of Congress. Accounts were rife at this juncture of the cruelties
and indignities almost invariably experienced by American prisoners at
New York; and an active correspondence on the subject was going on
between Washington and the British commanders, at the same time with
that regarding General Lee.

The captive Americans who had been in the naval service were said to
be confined, officers and men, in prison-ships which, from their
loathsome condition and the horrors and sufferings of all kinds
experienced on board of them, had acquired the appellation of
_floating hells_. Those who had been in the land service were crowded
into jails and dungeons like the vilest malefactors; and were
represented as pining in cold, in filth, in hunger and nakedness. [In
the correspondence between Lord Howe and Washington on this subject,
the British commander denied the charges of undue severity in the
treatment of prisoners, and pronounced the tales current on the
subject as idle and unnatural reports. But the evidence of the truth
of that statement is too complete to admit of doubt.] The _Jersey
Prison-ship_ is proverbial in our revolutionary history; and the bones
of the unfortunate patriots who perished on board, form a monument on
the Long Island shore. The horrors of the _Sugar House_, converted
into a prison, are traditional in New York; and the brutal tyranny of
Cunningham, the provost marshal, over men of worth confined in the
common jail for the sin of patriotism, has been handed down from
generation to generation. That Lord Howe and Sir William were ignorant
of the extent of these atrocities we really believe, but it was their
duty to be well informed.

The difficulties arising out of the case of General Lee interrupted
the operations with regard to the exchange of prisoners; and gallant
men, on both sides, suffered prolonged detention in consequence; and
among the number the brave, but ill-starred Ethan Allen.

The early part of the year brought the annual embarrassments caused by
short enlistments. The brief terms of service for which the
Continental soldiery had enlisted, a few months perhaps, at most a
year, were expiring, and the men, glad to be released from camp duty,
were hastening to their rustic homes. Militia had to be the dependence
until a new army could be raised and organized, and Washington called
on the council of safety of Pennsylvania speedily to furnish temporary
reinforcements of the kind. All his officers that could be spared were
ordered away, some to recruit, some to collect the scattered men of
the different regiments, who were dispersed, he said, almost over the
continent. General Knox was sent off to Massachusetts to expedite the
raising of a battalion of artillery. Different States were urged to
levy and equip their quotas for the Continental army.

While anxiously exerting himself to strengthen his own precarious
army, the security of the northern department was urged upon his
attention. Schuyler represented it as in need of reinforcements and
supplies of all kinds. He apprehended that Carleton might make an
attack upon Ticonderoga as soon as he could cross Lake Champlain on
the ice. That important fortress was under the command of a brave
officer, Colonel Anthony Wayne, but its garrison had dwindled down to
six or seven hundred men, chiefly New England militia. In the present
destitute situation of his department as to troops, Schuyler feared
that Carleton might not only succeed in an attempt on Ticonderoga, but
might push his way to Albany. Although Washington considered a winter
attack of the kind specified by Schuyler too difficult and dangerous
to be very probable, he urged reinforcements from Massachusetts and
New Hampshire, whence they could be furnished most speedily.
Massachusetts, in fact, had already determined to send four regiments
to Schuyler's aid as soon as possible.

Notwithstanding all Washington's exertions in behalf of the army under
his immediate command, it continued to be deplorably in want of
reinforcements, and it was necessary to maintain the utmost vigilance
at all his posts to prevent his camp from being surprised. The
operations of the enemy might be delayed by the bad condition of the
roads, and the want of horses to move their artillery, but he
anticipated an attack as soon as the roads were passable, and
apprehended a disastrous result unless speedily reinforced.

The designs of the enemy being mere matter of conjecture, measures
varied accordingly. As the season advanced, Washington was led to
believe that Philadelphia would be their first object at the opening
of the campaign, and that they would bring round all their troops from
Canada by water to aid in the enterprise. Under this persuasion he
wrote to General Heath, ordering him to send eight Massachusetts
battalions to Peekskill. At Peekskill, he observed, "they would be
well placed to give support to any of the Eastern or Middle States; or
to oppose the enemy, should they design to penetrate the country up
the Hudson; or to cover New England, should they invade it."

On the 18th of March he despatched General Greene to Philadelphia, to
lay before Congress such matters as he could not venture to
communicate by letter. Greene had scarce departed when the enemy began
to give signs of life. The delay in the arrival of artillery, more
than his natural indolence, had kept General Howe from formally taking
the field; he now made preparations for the next campaign by detaching
troops to destroy the American deposits of military stores. One of the
chief of these was at Peekskill, the very place whither Washington had
directed Heath to send troops from Massachusetts, and which he thought
of making a central point of assemblage. Brigadier-general McDougall
had the command of it in the absence of General Heath, but his force
did not exceed two hundred and fifty men.

As soon as the Hudson was clear of ice, a squadron of vessels of war
and transports, with five hundred troops under Colonel Bird ascended
the river. McDougall had intelligence of the intended attack, and
while the ships were making their way across the Tappan Sea and
Haverstraw Bay, exerted himself to remove as much as possible of the
provisions and stores to Forts Montgomery and Constitution in the
Highlands. On the morning of the 23d the whole squadron came to anchor
in Peekskill Bay, and five hundred men landed in Lent's Cove, on the
south side of the bay, whence they pushed forward with four light
field-pieces drawn by sailors. On their approach, McDougall set fire
to the barracks and principal storehouses, and retreated about two
miles to a strong post, commanding the entrance to the Highlands and
the road to Continental Village, the place of the deposits. It was the
post which had been noted by Washington in the preceding year where a
small force could make a stand and hurl down masses of rock on their
assailants. Hence, McDougall sent an express to Lieutenant-colonel
Marinus Willet, who had charge of Fort Constitution, to hasten to his

The British, finding the wharf in flames where they had intended to
embark their spoils, completed the conflagration, besides destroying
several small craft laden with provisions. They kept possession of the
place until the following day, when a scouting party, which had
advanced towards the entrance of the Highlands, was encountered by
Colonel Marinus Willet with a detachment from Fort Constitution, and
driven back to the main body after a sharp skirmish in which nine of
the marauders were killed. Four more were slain on the banks of
Canopas Creek as they were setting fire to some boats. The enemy were
disappointed in the hope of carrying off a great deal of booty, and
finding the country around was getting under arms they contented
themselves with the mischief they had done and re-embarked in the
evening by moonlight, when the whole squadron swept down the Hudson.


We have now to enter upon a tissue of circumstances connected with the
Northern department which will be found materially to influence the
course of affairs in that quarter throughout the current year, and
ultimately to be fruitful of annoyance to Washington himself. To make
these more clear to the reader, it is necessary to revert to events in
the preceding year.

The question of command between Schuyler and Gates, when settled as we
have shown by Congress, had caused no interruption to the harmony of
intercourse between these generals. Schuyler directed the affairs of
the department with energy and activity from his head-quarters at
Albany, where they had been fixed by Congress, while Gates,
subordinate to him, commanded the post of Ticonderoga.

The disappointment of an independent command, however, still rankled
in the mind of the latter, and was kept alive by the officious
suggestions of meddling friends. In the course of the autumn, his
hopes in this respect revived. Schuyler was again disgusted with the
service. In the discharge of his various and harassing duties he had
been annoyed by sectional jealousies and ill will. His motives and
measures had been maligned. The failures in Canada had been attributed
to him, and he had repeatedly entreated Congress to order an inquiry
into the many charges made against him, "that he might not any longer
be insulted."

On the 14th of September he actually offered his resignation of his
commission as major-general, and of every other office and
appointment; still claiming a court of inquiry on his conduct, and
expressing his determination to fulfil the duties of a good citizen
and promote the weal of his native country, but in some other
capacity. The hopes of Gates, inspired by this proffered resignation,
were doomed to be overclouded. Schuyler was informed by President
Hancock "that Congress, during the present state of affairs, could not
consent to accept of his resignation; ... that they would at an early
day appoint a committee to inquire fully into his conduct, which they
trusted would establish his reputation in the opinion of all good

Schuyler received the resolve of Congress with grim acquiescence, but
showed in his reply that he was but half soothed. "At this very
critical juncture," writes he, October 16, "I shall continue to act
some time longer, but Congress must prepare to put the care of this
department into other hands." He had remained at his post, therefore,
discharging the various duties of his department with his usual zeal
and activity; and Gates, at the end of the campaign, had repaired, as
we have shown, to the vicinity of Congress to attend the fluctuation
of events.

Circumstances in the course of the winter had put the worthy Schuyler
again on points of punctilio with Congress. Among some letters
intercepted by the enemy and retaken by the Americans was one from
Colonel Joseph Trumbull, the commissary-general, insinuating that
General Schuyler had secreted or suppressed a commission sent for his
brother, Colonel John Trumbull, as deputy adjutant-general. The
purport of the letter was reported to Schuyler. He spurned at the
insinuation. "If it be true that he has asserted such a thing," writes
he to the president, "I shall expect from Congress that justice which
is due to me.... Until Mr. Trumbull and I are upon a footing, I cannot
do what the laws of honor and a regard to my own reputation render
indispensably necessary. Congress can put us on a par by dismissing
one or the other from the service."

Congress failed to comply with the general's request. They added also
to his chagrin by dismissing from the service an army physician in
whose appointment he had particularly interested himself. Schuyler was
a proud-spirited man, and at times somewhat irascible. In a letter to
Congress, on the 8th of February, he observed: "As Dr. Stringer had my
recommendation to the office he has sustained, perhaps it was a
compliment due to me that I should have been advised of the reason of
his dismission." And again: "I was in hopes some notice would have
been taken of the odious suspicion contained in Mr. Commissary
Trumbull's intercepted letter. I really feel myself deeply chagrined
on the occasion. I am incapable of the meanness he suspects me of, and
I confidently expected that Congress would have done me that justice
which it was in their power to give, and which I humbly conceive they
ought to have done." This letter gave great umbrage to Congress, but
no immediate answer was made to it.

About this time the office of adjutant-general, which had remained
vacant ever since the resignation of Colonel Reed, to the great
detriment of the service, especially now when a new army was to be
formed, was offered to General Gates, who had formerly filled it with
ability; and President Hancock informed him, by letter, of the earnest
desire of Congress that he should resume it, retaining his present
rank and pay. Gates almost resented the proposal. He had a higher
object in view. A letter from Schuyler to Congress had informed that
body that he should set out for Philadelphia about the 21st of March,
and should immediately on his arrival require the promised inquiry
into his conduct. Gates, of course, was acquainted with this
circumstance. He knew Schuyler had given offence to Congress; he knew
that he had been offended on his own part, and had repeatedly talked
of resigning. He had active friends in Congress ready to push his
interests. On the 15th of March the letter of General Schuyler of the
3d of February, which had given such offence, was brought before the
House, and it was resolved that his suggestion concerning the
dismission of Dr. Stringer was highly derogatory to the honor of
Congress, and that it was expected his letters in future would be
written in a style suitable to the dignity of the representative body
of these free and independent States and to his own character as their
officer. His expressions, too, respecting the intercepted letter, that
he had expected Congress would have done him all the justice in their
power, were pronounced, "to say the least, ill-advised and highly

While Schuyler was thus in partial eclipse, the House proceeded to
appoint a general officer for the Northern department, of which he had
stated it to be in need. On the 25th of March, Gates received the
following note from President Hancock: "I have it in charge to direct
that you repair to Ticonderoga immediately and take command of the
army stationed in that department." Gates obeyed with alacrity. Again
the vision of an independent command floated before his mind, and he
was on his way to Albany at the time that Schuyler, ignorant of this
new arrangement, was journeying to Philadelphia. He arrived in the
second week in April, and found himself superseded in effect by
General Gates in the Northern department. He enclosed to the committee
of Albany the recent resolutions of Congress, passed before his
arrival. "By these," writes he, "you will readily perceive that I
shall not return a general. Under what influence it has been brought
about I am not at liberty now to mention. On my return to Albany I
shall give the committee the fullest information."

Taking his seat in Congress as a delegate from New York, he demanded
the promised investigation of his conduct during the time he had held
a command in the army. It was his intention, when the scrutiny had
taken place, to resign his commission and retire from the service. On
the 18th a committee of inquiry was appointed, as at his request,
composed of a member from each State. In the meantime, as second
major-general of the United States (Lee being the first), he held
active command at Philadelphia, forming a camp on the western side of
the Delaware, completing the works on Fort Island, throwing up works
on Red Bank, and accelerating the despatch of troops and provisions to
the commander-in-chief. During his sojourn at Philadelphia, also, he
contributed essentially to re-organize the commissary department;
digesting rules for its regulation, which were mainly adopted by

The fame of the American struggle for independence was bringing
foreign officers as candidates for admission into the patriot army,
and causing great embarrassment to the commander-in-chief. Congress
determined that no foreign officers should receive commissions who
were not well acquainted with the English language and did not bring
strong testimonials of their abilities. Still there was embarrassment.
Some came with brevet commissions from the French government, and had
been assured by Mr. Deane, American commissioner at Paris, that they
would have the same rank in the American army. This would put them
above American officers of merit and hard service, whose commissions
were of more recent date. One Monsieur Ducoudray, on the strength of
an agreement with Mr. Deane, expected to have the rank of
major-general and to be put at the head of the artillery. Washington
deprecated the idea of intrusting a department on which the very
salvation of the army might depend to a foreigner, who had no other
tie to bind him to the interests of the country than honor.

Among the foreign candidates for appointments was one Colonel Conway,
a native of Ireland, but who, according to his own account, had been
thirty years in the service of France, and claimed to be a chevalier
of the order of St. Louis, of which he wore the decoration. Mr. Deane
had recommended him to Washington as an officer of merit, and had
written to Congress that he considered him well qualified for the
office of adjutant or brigadier-general. Colonel Conway pushed for
that of brigadier-general. It had been conferred some time before by
Congress on two French officers, De Fermois and Deborre, who, he had
observed, had been inferior to him in the French service, and it would
be mortifying now to hold rank below them. Conway accordingly received
the rank of brigadier-general, of which he subsequently proved himself
unworthy. He was boastful and presumptuous, and became noted for his
intrigues and for a despicable cabal against the commander-in-chief,
which went by his name, and of which we shall have to speak hereafter.

A candidate of a different stamp had presented himself in the
preceding year, the gallant, generous-spirited, Thaddeus Kosciuszko.
He was a Pole, of an ancient and noble family of Lithuania, and had
been educated for the profession of arms at the military school at
Warsaw, and subsequently in France. Disappointed in a love affair with
a beautiful lady of rank with whom he had attempted to elope, he had
emigrated to this country, and came provided with a letter of
introduction from Dr. Franklin to Washington.

"What do you seek here?" inquired the commander-in-chief. "To fight
for American independence." "What can you do?" "Try me."

Washington was pleased with the curt yet comprehensive reply and with
his chivalrous air and spirit, and at once received him into his
family as an aide-de-camp. Congress shortly afterwards appointed him
an engineer, with the rank of colonel. He proved a valuable officer
throughout the Revolution, and won an honorable and lasting name in
our country.

Questions of rank among his generals were, as we have repeatedly
shown, perpetual sources of perplexity to Washington, and too often
caused by what the sarcastic Lee termed "the stumblings of Congress;"
such was the case at present. In recent army promotions, Congress had
advanced Stirling, Mifflin, St. Clair, Stephen and Lincoln to the rank
of major-general, while Arnold, their senior in service, and
distinguished by so many brilliant exploits, was passed over and left
to remain a brigadier. Washington was surprised at not seeing his name
on the list, but supposing it might have been omitted through mistake,
he wrote to Arnold, who was at Providence in Rhode Island, advising
him not to take any hasty step in consequence, but to allow time for
recollection, promising his own endeavors to remedy any error that
might have been made. He wrote also to Henry Lee in Congress,
inquiring whether the omission was owing to accident or design.

Arnold was, in truth, deeply wounded by the omission, but intimated
that he should avoid any hasty step and should remain at his post
until he could leave it without any damage to the public interest. The
principle upon which Congress had proceeded in their recent promotions
was explained to Washington. The number of general officers promoted
from each State was proportioned to the number of men furnished by it.
Connecticut (Arnold's State) had already two major-generals, which was
its full share. An opportunity occurred before long for Arnold again
to signalize himself.

The amount of stores destroyed at Peekskill had fallen far short of
General Howe's expectations. Something more must be done to cripple
the Americans before the opening of the campaign. Accordingly another
expedition was set on foot against a still larger deposit at Danbury,
within the borders of Connecticut, and between twenty and thirty miles
from Peekskill. Ex-governor Tryon, recently commissioned major-general
of provincials, conducted it, accompanied by Brigadier-general Agnew
and Sir William Erskine. He had a force two thousand strong, and made
his appearance on the Sound in the latter part of April with a fleet
of twenty-six sail. On the 25th, towards evening, he landed his troops
on the beach at the foot of Canepo Hill, near the mouth of the
Saugatuck River, and set off for Danbury, about twenty-three miles
distant. They were in a patriotic neighborhood. General Silliman, of
the Connecticut militia, who resided at Fairfield, a few miles
distant, sent out expresses to rouse the country. It so happened that
General Arnold was at New Haven, between twenty and thirty miles off,
on his way to Philadelphia for the purpose of settling his accounts.
At the alarm of a British inroad he forgot his injuries and
irritation, mounted his horse, and accompanied by General Wooster
hastened to join General Silliman. As they spurred forward every farm
house sent out its warrior, until upwards of a hundred were pressing
on with them, full of the fighting spirit. Lieutenant Oswald, Arnold's
secretary in the Canada campaign, was at this time at New Haven
enlisting men for Lamb's regiment of artillery. He, too, heard the
note of alarm, and mustering his recruits marched off with three
field-pieces for the scene of action.

In the meanwhile the British, marching all night with short haltings,
reached Danbury about two o'clock in the afternoon of the 26th. There
were but fifty Continental soldiers and one hundred militia in the
place. These retreated, as did most of the inhabitants, excepting such
as remained to take care of the sick and aged. Four men, intoxicated,
as it was said, fired upon the troops from the windows of a large
house. The soldiers rushed in, drove them into the cellar, set fire to
the house, and left them to perish in the flames. There was a great
quantity of stores of all kinds in the village, and no vehicles to
convey them to the ships. The work of destruction commenced. The
soldiers made free with the liquors found in abundance; and throughout
the greater part of the night there was revel, drunkenness, blasphemy,
and devastation. Tryon, full of anxiety, and aware that the country
was rising, ordered a retreat before daylight, setting fire to the
magazines to complete the destruction of the stores. The flames spread
to the other edifices, and almost the whole village was soon in a

While these scenes had been transacted at Danbury, the Connecticut
yeomanry had been gathering. Fairfield and the adjacent counties had
poured out their minute men. General Silliman had advanced at the head
of five hundred. Generals Wooster and Arnold joined him with their
chance followers, as did a few more militia. A heavy rain retarded
their march; it was near midnight when they reached Bethel, within
four miles of Danbury. Here they halted to take a little repose and
put their arms in order, rendered almost unserviceable by the rain.
They were now about six hundred strong. Wooster took the command, as
first major-general of the militia of the State. Though in the
sixty-eighth year of his age he was full of ardor, with almost
youthful fire and daring. At dawn of day Wooster detached Arnold with
four hundred men to push across the country and take post at
Ridgefield, by which the British must pass; while he with two hundred
remained to hang on and harass them in flank and rear.

The British began their retreat early in the morning, conducting it in
regular style with flanking parties and a rear-guard well furnished
with artillery. As soon as they had passed his position, Wooster
attacked the rear-guard with great spirit and effect; there was sharp
skirmishing until within two miles of Ridgefield, when, as the veteran
was cheering on his men who began to waver, a musket ball brought him
down from his horse and finished his gallant career. On his fall his
men retreated in disorder.

The delay which his attack had occasioned to the enemy had given
Arnold time to throw up a kind of breastwork or barricade across the
road at the north end of Ridgefield, where he took his stand with his
little force now increased to about five hundred men. About eleven
o'clock the enemy advanced in column, with artillery and flanking
parties. They were kept at bay for a time, and received several
volleys from the barricade, until it was outflanked and carried.
Arnold ordered a retreat, and was bringing off the rear guard when his
horse was shot under him and came down upon his knees. Arnold remained
seated in the saddle, with one foot entangled in the stirrups. A tory
soldier seeing his plight, rushed towards him with fixed bayonet. He
had just time to draw a pistol from the holster. "You're my prisoner,"
cried the tory. "Not yet!" exclaimed Arnold, and shot him dead. Then
extricating his foot from the stirrup, he threw himself into the
thickets of a neighboring swamp, and escaped unharmed by the bullets
that whistled after him and joined his retreating troops.

General Tryon intrenched for the night in Ridgefield, his troops
having suffered greatly in their harassed retreat. The next morning,
after having set fire to four houses he continued his march for the
ships. The militia hung on the rear of the enemy as soon as they were
in motion. Arnold was again in the field with his rallied forces,
strengthened by Lieutenant-colonel Oswald with two companies of Lamb's
artillery regiment and three field-pieces. With these he again posted
himself on the enemy's route. Difficulties and annoyances had
multiplied upon the latter at every step. When they came in sight of
the position where Arnold was waiting for them, they changed their
route, wheeled to the left, and made for a ford of Saugatuck River.
Arnold hastened to cross the bridge and take them in flank, but they
were too quick for him. Colonel Lamb had now reached the scene of
action, as had about two hundred volunteers. Leaving to Oswald the
charge of the artillery, he put himself at the head of the volunteers
and led them up to Arnold's assistance. The enemy finding themselves
hard pressed, pushed for Canepo Hill. They reached it in the evening
without a round of ammunition in their cartridge-boxes. As they were
now within cannon shot of their ships, the Americans ceased the

In this inroad the enemy destroyed a considerable amount of military
stores, and seventeen hundred tents prepared for the use of
Washington's army in the ensuing campaign. The loss of General Wooster
was deeply deplored. As to Arnold, his gallantry in this affair gained
him fresh laurels, and Congress, to remedy their late error, promoted
him to the rank of major-general. Still this promotion did not restore
him to his proper position. He was at the bottom of the list of
major-generals, with four officers above him, his juniors in service.
As an additional balm to his wounded pride, Congress a few days
afterwards voted that a horse, properly caparisoned, should be
presented to him in their name as a token of their approbation of his
gallant conduct in the late action.

The destructive expeditions against the American depots of military
stores, were retaliated in kind by Colonel Meigs, a spirited officer
who had accompanied Arnold in his expedition through the wilderness
against Quebec. Having received intelligence that the British
commissaries had collected a great amount of grain, forage, and other
supplies at Sag Harbor, a small port in the deep bay which forks the
east end of Long Island, he crossed the Sound on the 23d of May from
Guilford in Connecticut, with about one hundred and seventy men in
whale-boats convoyed by two armed sloops; landed on the island near
Southold; carried the boats a distance of fifteen miles across the
north fork of the bay, launched them into the latter, crossed it,
landed within four miles of Sag Harbor, and before daybreak carried
the place, which was guarded by a company of foot. A furious fire of
round and grape shot was opened upon the Americans from an armed
schooner, anchored about one hundred and fifty yards from shore, and
stout defence was made by the crews of a dozen brigs and sloops lying
at the wharf to take in freight; but Meigs succeeded in burning these
vessels, destroying everything on shore, and carrying off ninety
prisoners; among whom were the officers of the company of foot, the
commissaries, and the captains of most of the small vessels.
Washington was so highly pleased with the spirit and success of this
enterprise, that he publicly returned thanks to Colonel Meigs and the
officers and men engaged in it.

[The committee of inquiry on General Schuyler's conduct had now made
their report to Congress, in which they placed the character of that
officer higher than ever as an able and active commander and a zealous
and disinterested patriot. Schuyler made a memorial to Congress
explaining away or apologizing for the expressions in his letter of
the 4th of February which had given offence to the House, which was so
far satisfactory that Congress informed him that their sentiments
concerning him were now the same as those entertained before the
reception of his objectionable letter. Some warm discussions now
ensued in Congress relative to the northern command, in which it was
stated that General Gates misapprehended his position, and that in
sending him to Ticonderoga it was not the intention of Congress to
give him the same command formerly held by Schuyler. The friends of
Gates, on the other hand, pronounced it an absurdity that an officer
holding so important a post as Ticonderoga should be under the order
of another a hundred miles distant. The discussion terminated by
declaring Ticonderoga, Fort Stanwix, and their defenders to be the
Northern department, over which Schuyler was to have supreme command.]

Schuyler was received with open arms at Albany on the 3d of June. "I
had the satisfaction," writes he, "to experience the finest feelings
which my country expressed on my arrival and re-appointment. The day
after my arrival, the whole county committee did me the honor, in
form, to congratulate me." Gates was still in Albany, delaying to
proceed with General Fermois to Ticonderoga until the garrison should
be sufficiently strengthened. Although the resolve of Congress did but
define his position, which had been misunderstood, he persisted in
considering himself degraded, declined serving under General Schuyler,
who would have given him the post at Ticonderoga in his absence, and
obtaining permission to leave the department, set out on the 9th for
Philadelphia to demand redress of Congress.

General St. Clair was sent to take command of the troops at
Ticonderoga, accompanied by General De Fermois. As the whole force in
the Northern department would not be sufficient to command the
extensive works there on both sides of the lake, St. Clair was
instructed to bestow his first attention in fortifying Mount
Independence on the east side, Schuyler considering it much the most
defensible, and that it might be made capable of sustaining a long and
vigorous siege. It would be imprudent, he thought, to station the
greater part of the forces at Fort Ticonderoga, as, should the enemy
be able to invest it, and cut off the communication with the country
on the east side, it might experience a disaster similar to that at
Fort Washington.

While Schuyler was thus providing for the security of Ticonderoga,
Gates was wending his way to Philadelphia, his bosom swelling with
imaginary wrongs. He arrived there on the 18th. The next day at noon,
Mr. Roger Sherman, an Eastern delegate, informed Congress that General
Gates was waiting at the door and wished admittance. Gates was
accordingly ushered in, took his seat, and proceeded to give some news
concerning the Indians; he then opened upon the real object of his
visit, stating in a flurried and disjointed manner how that some time
in March he had been appointed to a command in the Northern
department, but that a few days ago, without having given any cause of
offence, without accusation, without trial, without hearing, without
notice, he had received a resolution by which he was, in a most
disgraceful manner, superseded in his command. Here his irritated
feelings got the better of his judgment, and he indulged in angry
reproaches of Congress. His conduct was pronounced disrespectful, and
it was moved and seconded that he be requested to withdraw. It was
then determined that he should not again be admitted on the floor; but
should be informed that Congress were ready and willing to hear, by
way of memorial, any grievances of which he might have to complain.


The Highland passes of the Hudson, always objects of anxious thought
to Washington, were especially so at this juncture. General McDougall
still commanded at Peekskill, and General George Clinton, who resided
at New Windsor, had command of the Highland forts. The latter, at the
earnest request of the New York Convention, had received from Congress
the command of brigadier-general in the Continental army. When the
"unhappy affair of Peekskill" had alarmed the Convention of New York
for the safety of the forts on the Highlands, Clinton, authorized by
that body, had ordered out part of the militia of Orange, Dutchess,
and Westchester counties, without waiting for Washington's approbation
of the measure. He had strengthened, also, with anchors and cables,
the chain drawn across the river at Fort Montgomery. A few days later
came word that several transports were anchored at Dobbs' Ferry in the
Tappan Sea. It might be intended to divert attention from a movement
towards the Delaware, or to make incursions into the country back of
Morristown, seize on the passes through the mountains, and cut off the
communication between the army and the Hudson. To frustrate such a
design, Washington ordered Clinton to post as good a number of troops
from his garrison as he could spare on the mountains west of the

On the 12th of May, General Greene received instructions from
Washington to proceed to the Highlands and examine the state and
condition of the forts, especially Fort Montgomery; the probability of
an attack by water, the practicability of an approach by land; where
and how this could be effected, and the eminences whence the forts
could be annoyed. This done, and the opinions of the general officers
present having been consulted, he was to give such orders and make
such disposition of the troops as might appear necessary for the
greater security of the passes by land and water. When reconnoitring
the Highlands in the preceding year, Washington had remarked a wild
and rugged pass on the western side of the Hudson round Bull Hill, a
rocky, forest-clad mountain, forming an advance rampart at the
entrance to Peekskill Bay. "This pass," he observed, "should also be
attended to, _lest the enemy by a coup de main should possess
themselves of it before a sufficient force could be assembled to
oppose them_." Subsequent events will illustrate, though
unfortunately, the sagacity and foresight of this particular

General Knox was associated with General Greene in this visit of
inspection. They examined the river and the passes of the Highlands in
company with Generals McDougall, George Clinton, and Anthony Wayne.
The latter, recently promoted to the rank of brigadier, had just
returned from Ticonderoga. The five generals made a joint report to
Washington, in which they recommended the completion of the
obstructions in the river already commenced. These consisted of a
boom, or heavy iron chain, across the river from Fort Montgomery to
Anthony's Nose, with cables stretched in front to break the force of
any ship under way, before she could strike it. The boom was to be
protected by the guns of two ships and two row galleys stationed just
above it, and by batteries on shore. This, it was deemed, would be
sufficient to prevent the enemy's ships from ascending the river. If
these obstructions could be rendered effective, they did not think the
enemy would attempt to operate by land; "the passes through the
Highlands being so exceedingly difficult."

{Illustration: VIEW FROM FORT MONTGOMERY. Vol. I.}

The general command of the Hudson was offered by Washington to Arnold;
intending thus publicly to manifest his opinion of his deserts, and
hoping, by giving him so important a post, to appease his irritated
feelings. Arnold, however, declined to accept it. In an interview with
Washington at Morristown he alleged his anxiety to proceed to
Philadelphia and settle his public accounts, which were of
considerable amount; especially as reports had been circulated
injurious to his character as a man of integrity. He intended,
therefore, to wait on Congress and request a committee of inquiry into
his conduct. Beside, he did not consider the promotion conferred on
him by Congress sufficient to obviate their previous neglect. With
these considerations he proceeded to Philadelphia, bearing a letter
from Washington to the President of Congress countenancing his
complaints and testifying to the excellence of his military character.
We may here add that the accusations against him were pronounced false
and slanderous by the Board of War.

The important command of the Hudson being declined by Arnold was now
given to Putnam, who repaired forthwith to Peekskill. He set about
promptly to carry into effect the measures of security which Greene
and Knox had recommended; especially the boom and chain at Fort
Montgomery, about which General George Clinton had busied himself. A
large part of the New York and New England troops were stationed at
this post, not merely to guard the Hudson, but to render aid either to
the Eastern or Middle States in case of exigency.

About this time, Washington had the satisfaction of drawing near to
him his old friend and travelling companion, Dr. James Craik, the same
who had served with him in Braddock's campaign and had voyaged with
him down the Ohio; for whom he now procured the appointment of
assistant director-general of the Hospital department of the middle
district, which included the States between the Hudson and the

Towards the end of May, Washington broke up his cantonments at
Morristown, and shifted his camp to Middlebrook, within ten miles of
Brunswick. His whole force fit for duty was now about seven thousand
three hundred men, all from the States south of the Hudson. There were
forty-three regiments, forming ten brigades, commanded by Brigadiers
Muhlenberg, Weedon, Woodford, Scott, Smallwood, Deborre, Wayne,
Dehaas, Conway, and Maxwell. These were apportioned into five
divisions of two brigades each, under Major-generals Greene, Stephen,
Sullivan, Lincoln and Stirling. The artillery was commanded by Knox.
Sullivan, with his division, was stationed on the right at Princeton.
With the rest of his force, Washington fortified himself in a position
naturally strong, among hills, in the rear of the village of
Middlebrook. His camp was, on all sides, difficult of approach, and he
rendered it still more so by intrenchments. The high grounds about it
commanded a wide view of the country around Brunswick, the road to
Philadelphia, and the course of the Raritan, so that the enemy could
make no important movement on land without his perceiving it.

On the 31st of May, reports were brought to camp that a fleet of a
hundred sail had left New York and stood out to sea. Whither bound and
how freighted was unknown. If they carried troops, their destination
might be Delaware Bay. Eighteen transports also had arrived at New
York, with troops in foreign uniforms, which proved to be Anspachers,
and other German mercenaries; there were British reinforcements also;
and, what was particularly needed, a supply of tents and camp
equipage. Sir William Howe had been waiting for the latter, and
likewise until the ground should be covered with grass. The country
was now in full verdure, affording "green forage" in abundance, and
all things seemed to Sir William propitious for the opening of the
campaign. Early in June, therefore, he gave up ease and gayety and
luxurious life at New York, and crossing into the Jerseys set up his
head-quarters at Brunswick.

As soon as Washington ascertained that Sir William's attention was
completely turned to this quarter, he determined to strengthen his
position with all the force that could be spared from other parts, so
as to be able, in case a favorable opportunity presented, to make an
attack upon the enemy; in the meantime, he would harass them with his
light militia troops, aided by a few Continentals, so as to weaken
their numbers by continual skirmishes. With this view he ordered
General Putnam to send down most of the Continental troops from
Peekskill, leaving only a number sufficient, in conjunction with the
militia, to guard that post against surprise.

Arnold, in this critical juncture, had been put in command of
Philadelphia, a post which he had been induced to accept, although the
question of rank had not been adjusted to his satisfaction. His
command embraced the western bank of the Delaware with all its fords
and passes, and he took up his station there with a strong body of
militia, supported by a few Continentals, to oppose any attempt of the
enemy to cross the river. He was instructed by Washington to give him
notice by expresses, posted on the road, if any fleet should appear in
Delaware Bay; and to endeavor to concert signals with the camp of
Sullivan at Princeton, by alarm fires upon the hills.

On the night of the 13th of June, General Howe sallied forth in great
force from Brunswick, as if pushing directly for the Delaware, but his
advanced guard halted at Somerset court-house, about eight or nine
miles distant. Apprised of this movement, Washington at daybreak
reconnoitred the enemy from the heights before the camp. He observed
their front halting at the court-house, but a few miles distant, while
troops and artillery were grouped here and there along the road and
the rear-guard was still at Brunswick. It was a question with
Washington and his generals, as they reconnoitred the enemy with their
glasses, whether this was a real move toward Philadelphia, or merely a
lure to tempt them down from their strong position. In this
uncertainty, Washington drew out his army in battle array along the
heights, but kept quiet. In the present state of his forces it was his
plan not to risk a general action, but should the enemy really march
toward the Delaware, to hang heavily upon their rear.

The British took up a strong position, having Millstone Creek on their
left, the Raritan all along their front, and their right resting on
Brunswick, and proceeded to fortify themselves with bastions.

The American and British armies, strongly posted, remained four days
grimly regarding each other; both waiting to be attacked. The Jersey
militia which now turned out with alacrity, repaired, some to
Washington's camp, others to that of Sullivan. The latter had fallen
back from Princeton, and taken a position behind the Sourland Hills.

Howe pushed out detachments and made several feints, as if to pass by
the American camp and march to the Delaware, but Washington was not to
be deceived. Baffled in these attempts to draw his cautious adversary
into a general action, Howe, on the 19th, suddenly broke up his camp,
and pretended to return with some precipitation to Brunswick, burning
as he went several valuable dwelling houses. Washington's light troops
hovered round the enemy as far as the Raritan and Millstone, which
secured their flanks, would permit; but the main army kept to its
stronghold on the heights.

On the next day came warlike news from the North. Amesbury, a British
spy, had been seized and examined by Schuyler. Burgoyne was stated as
being arrived at Quebec to command the forces in an invasion from
Canada. While he advanced with his main force by Lake Champlain, a
detachment of British troops, Canadians and Indians, led by Sir John
Johnson, was to penetrate by Oswego to the Mohawk River, and place
itself between Fort Stanwix and Fort Edward. If this information was
correct, Ticonderoga would soon be attacked. The force there might be
sufficient for its defence, but Schuyler would have no troops to
oppose the inroad of Sir John Johnson, and he urged a reinforcement.
Washington forthwith sent orders to Putnam to procure sloops, and hold
four Massachusetts regiments in readiness to go up the river at a
moment's warning.

On the 22d, Sir William again marched out of Brunswick, but this time
proceeded towards Amboy, again burning several houses on the way;
hoping, perhaps, that the sight of columns of smoke rising from a
ravaged country would irritate the Americans and provoke an attack.
Washington sent out three brigades under General Greene to fall upon
the rear of the enemy, while Morgan hung upon their skirts with his
riflemen. At the same time the army remained paraded on the heights
ready to yield support if necessary. Finding that Howe had actually
sent his heavy baggage and part of his troops over to Staten Island,
Washington, on the 24th, left the heights and descended to Quibbletown
(now New Market), six or seven miles on the road to Amboy, to be
nearer at hand for the protection of his advanced parties.

General Howe now thought he had gained his point. Recalling those who
had crossed, he formed his troops into two columns, the right led by
Cornwallis, the left by himself, and marched back rapidly by different
routes from Amboy. He had three objects in view: to cut off the
principal advanced parties of the Americans; to come up with and bring
the main body into an engagement near Quibbletown; or that Lord
Cornwallis, making a considerable circuit to the right, should turn
the left of Washington's position, get to the heights, take possession
of the passes, and oblige him to abandon that stronghold where he had
hitherto been so secure. Washington, however, had timely notice of his
movements, and penetrating his design, regained his fortified camp at
Middlebrook, and secured the passes of the mountains. He then detached
a body of light troops under Brigadier-general Scott, together with
Morgan's riflemen, to hang on the flank of the enemy and watch their

Cornwallis, in his circuitous march, dispersed the light parties of
the advance, but fell in with Lord Stirling's division, strongly
posted in a woody country, and well covered by artillery judiciously
disposed. A sharp skirmish ensued, when the Americans gave way and
retreated to the hills with the loss of a few men and three
field-pieces; while the British halted at Westfield, disappointed in
the main objects of their enterprise.

Perceiving that every scheme of bringing the Americans to a general
action, or at least of withdrawing them from their strongholds, was
rendered abortive by the caution and prudence of Washington, and aware
of the madness of attempting to march to the Delaware, through a
hostile country, with such a force in his rear, Sir William Howe broke
up his head-quarters at Amboy on the last of June and crossed over to
Staten Island on the floating bridge, and it was soon apparent that at
length the enemy had really evacuated the Jerseys.

The question now was, what would be their next move? A great stir
among the shipping seemed to indicate an expedition by water. But
whither? Circumstances occurred to perplex the question.

Scarce had the last tent been struck, and the last transport
disappeared from before Amboy, when intelligence arrived from General
St. Clair announcing the appearance of a hostile fleet on Lake
Champlain, and that General Burgoyne with the whole Canada army was
approaching Ticonderoga. The judgment and circumspection of Washington
were never more severely put to the proof. Was this merely a diversion
with a small force of light troops and Indians, intended to occupy the
attention of the American forces in that quarter, while the main body
of the army in Canada should come round by sea and form a junction
with the army under Howe? But General Burgoyne, in Washington's
opinion, was a man of too much spirit and enterprise to return from
England merely to execute a plan from which no honor was to be
derived. Did he really intend to break through by the way of
Ticonderoga? In that case it must be Howe's plan to co-operate with
him. His next move, in such case, would be to ascend the Hudson, seize
on the Highland passes before Washington could form a union with the
troops stationed there, and thus open the way for the junction with
Burgoyne. Should Washington, however, on such a presumption, hasten
with his troops to Peekskill, leaving General Howe on Staten Island,
what would prevent the latter from pushing to Philadelphia by South
Amboy or any other route?

Such were the perplexities and difficulties presenting themselves
under every aspect of the case. In this dilemma Washington sent
Generals Parsons and Varnum with a couple of brigades in all haste to
Peekskill, and wrote to Generals George Clinton and Putnam--the former
to call out the New York militia from Orange and Ulster counties, the
latter to summon the militia from Connecticut; and as soon as such
reinforcements should be at hand, to despatch four of the strongest
Massachusetts regiments to the aid of Ticonderoga. General Sullivan,
moreover, was ordered to advance with his division towards the
Highlands as far as Pompton, while Washington moved his own camp back
to Morristown, to be ready either to push on to the Highlands or fall
back upon his recent position at Middlebrook, according to the
movements of the enemy.

Deserters from Staten Island and New York soon brought word to the
camp that transports were being fitted up with berths for horses, and
taking in three weeks' supply of water and provender. All this
indicated some other destination than that of the Hudson. Lest an
attempt on the Eastern States should be intended, Washington sent a
circular to their governors to put them on their guard.

In the midst of his various cares, his yeoman soldiery, the Jersey
militia, were not forgotten. It was their harvest time, and the State
being evacuated there was no immediate call for their services; he
dismissed, therefore, almost the whole of them to their homes.


The armament advancing against Ticonderoga, of which General St. Clair
had given intelligence, was not a mere diversion but a regular
invasion; the plan of which had been devised by the king, Lord George
Germain, and General Burgoyne, the latter having returned to England
from Canada in the preceding year. The junction of the two
armies,--that in Canada and that under General Howe in New York,--was
considered the speediest mode of quelling the rebellion; and as the
security and good government of Canada required the presence of
Governor Sir Guy Carleton, three thousand men were to remain there
with him; the residue of the army was to be employed upon two
expeditions--the one under General Burgoyne, who was to force his way
to Albany, the other under Lieutenant-colonel St. Leger, who was to
make a diversion on the Mohawk River.

The invading army was composed of three thousand seven hundred and
twenty-four British rank and file, three thousand sixteen Germans,
mostly Brunswickers, two hundred and fifty Canadians, and four hundred
Indians; beside these there were four hundred and seventy-three
artillery men, in all nearly eight thousand men. The army was
admirably appointed. Its brass train of artillery was extolled as
perhaps the finest ever allotted to an army of the size. General
Phillips, who commanded the artillery, had gained great reputation in
the wars in Germany. Brigadiers-general Fraser, Powel, and Hamilton
were also officers of distinguished merit. So was Major-general the
Baron Riedesel, a Brunswicker, who commanded the German troops.

While Burgoyne with the main force proceeded from St. Johns, Colonel
St. Leger, with a detachment of regulars and Canadians about seven
hundred strong, was to land at Oswego, and, guided by Sir John Johnson
at the head of his loyalist volunteers, tory refugees from his former
neighborhood, and a body of Indians, was to enter the Mohawk country,
draw the attention of General Schuyler in that direction, attack Fort
Stanwix, and, having ravaged the valley of the Mohawk, rejoin Burgoyne
at Albany, where it was expected they would make a triumphant junction
with the army of Sir William Howe.

Schuyler was uncertain as to the plans and force of the enemy. If
information gathered from scouts and a captured spy might be relied
on, Ticonderoga would soon be attacked. This information he
transmitted to Washington from Fort Edward on the 16th, the very day
that Burgoyne embarked at St. Johns. On the following day Schuyler was
at Ticonderoga. The works were not in such a state of forwardness as
he had anticipated, owing to the tardy arrival of troops and the want
of a sufficient number of artificers. The works in question related
chiefly to Mount Independence, a high circular hill on the east side
of the lake, immediately opposite to the old fort, and considered the
most defensible. A star fort with pickets crowned the summit of the
hill, which was table land; half way down the side of a hill was a
battery, and at its foot were strongly intrenched works well mounted
with cannon. Here the French general, De Fermois, who had charge of
this fort, was posted.

As this part of Lake Champlain is narrow, a connection was kept up
between the two forts by a floating bridge, supported on twenty-two
sunken piers in caissons, formed of very strong timber. Between the
piers were separate floats, fifty feet long and twelve feet wide,
strongly connected by iron chains and rivets. On the north side of the
bridge was a boom, composed of large pieces of timber, secured by
riveted bolts, and beside this was a double iron chain with links an
inch and a half square. The bridge, boom, and chain were four hundred
yards in length. This immense work, the labor of months, on which no
expense had been spared, was intended, while it afforded a
communication between the two forts, to protect the upper part of the
lake, presenting, under cover of their guns, a barrier which it was
presumed no hostile ship would be able to break through.

{Illustration: RUINS OF FORT TICONDEROGA. Vol. I.}

Having noted the state of affairs and the wants of the garrison,
Schuyler hastened to Fort George, whence he sent on provisions for
upwards of sixty days; and from the banks of the Hudson, additional
carpenters and working cattle. In the meantime, Burgoyne, with his
amphibious and semi-barbarous armament, was advancing up the lake. By
the 24th, scouts began to bring in word of the approaching foe. Bark
canoes had been seen filled with white men and savages. Then three
vessels under sail, and one at anchor above Split Rock, and behind it
the radeau, Thunderer. Anon came word of encampments sufficient for a
large body of troops on both sides of Gilliland's Creek, with bateaux
plying about its waters and painted warriors gliding about in canoes.
St. Clair wrote word of all this to Schuyler, and that it was supposed
the enemy were waiting the arrival of more force. Schuyler urged
Washington for reinforcements as soon as possible, and hastened to
Albany to bring up the militia.

While there he received word from St. Clair that the enemy's fleet and
army were arrived at Crown Point, and had sent off detachments, one up
Otter Creek to cut off the communication by Skenesborough, and another
on the west side of the lake to cut off Fort George. Claims for
assistance came hurrying on from other quarters. A large force (St.
Leger's) was said to be arrived at Oswego, and Sir John Johnson with
his myrmidons on his way to attack Fort Schuyler, the garrison of
which was weak and poorly supplied with cannon.

Schuyler bestirs himself with his usual zeal amid the thickening
alarms. He writes urgent letters to the committee of safety of New
York, to General Putnam at Peekskill, to the Governor of Connecticut,
to the President of Massachusetts, to the committee of Berkshire, and
lastly to Washington, stating the impending dangers and imploring
reinforcements. He exhorts General Herkimer to keep the militia of
Tryon County in readiness to protect the western frontier and to check
the inroad of Sir John Johnson, and he assures St. Clair that he will
move to his aid with the militia of New York as soon as he can collect

Dangers accumulate at Ticonderoga according to advices from St. Clair
(28th). Seven of the enemy's vessels are lying at Crown Point; the
rest of their fleet is probably but a little lower down. Morning guns
are heard distinctly at various places. Some troops have debarked and
encamped at Chimney Point. There is no prospect, he says, of being
able to defend Ticonderoga unless militia come in, and he has thought
of calling in those from Berkshire. "Should the enemy invest and
blockade us," writes he, "we are infallibly ruined; we shall be
obliged to abandon this side (of the lake), and then they will soon
force the other from us, nor do I see that a retreat will in any shape
be practicable."

The enemy came advancing up the lake on the 30th, their main body
under Burgoyne on the west side, the German reserve under Baron
Riedesel on the east; communication being maintained by frigates and
gunboats, which, in a manner, kept pace between them. On the 1st of
July, Burgoyne encamped four miles north of Ticonderoga, and began to
intrench and to throw a boom across the lake. His advanced guard under
General Fraser took post at Three Mile Point, and the ships anchored
just out of gunshot of the fort.

General St. Clair was a gallant Scotchman who had seen service in the
old French war as well as in this, and beheld the force arrayed
against him without dismay. It is true his garrison was not numerous,
not exceeding three thousand five hundred men, of whom nine hundred
were militia. They were badly equipped also, and few had bayonets; yet
they were in good heart. Schuyler at this time was at Albany, sending
up reinforcements of Continental troops and militia, and awaiting the
arrival of further reinforcements, for which sloops had been sent down
to Peekskill. He was endeavoring also to provide for the security of
the department in other quarters. The savages had been scalping in the
neighborhood of Fort Schuyler; a set of renegade Indians were
harassing the settlements on the Susquehanna; and the threatenings of
Brant, the famous Indian chief, and the prospect of a British inroad
by the way of Oswego, had spread terror through Tryon County, the
inhabitants of which called upon him for support.

Such was the state of affairs in the north, of which Washington from
time to time had been informed. An attack on Ticonderoga appeared to
be impending; but as the garrison was in good heart, the commander
resolute, and troops were on the way to reinforce him a spirited and
perhaps successful resistance was anticipated by Washington. His
surprise may therefore be imagined on receiving a letter from
Schuyler, dated July 7th, conveying the astounding intelligence that
Ticonderoga was evacuated!

Schuyler had just received the news at Stillwater on the Hudson when
on his way with reinforcements for the fortress. The first account was
so vague that Washington hoped it might prove incorrect. It was
confirmed by another letter from Schuyler, dated on the 9th at Fort
Edward. A part of the garrison had been pursued by a detachment of the
enemy as far as Fort Anne in that neighborhood, where the latter had
been repulsed; as to St. Clair himself and the main part of his
forces, they had thrown themselves into the forest, and nothing was
known what had become of them! "I am here," writes Schuyler, "at the
head of a handful of men, not above fifteen hundred, with little
ammunition, not above five rounds to a man, having neither balls nor
lead to make any. The country is in the deepest consternation; no
carriages to remove the stores from Fort George, which I expect every
moment to hear is attacked; and what adds to my distress is that a
report prevails that I had given orders for the evacuation of

Washington's first attention was to supply the wants of General
Schuyler. An express was sent to Springfield for musket cartridges,
gunpowder, lead, and cartridge papers. Ten pieces of artillery with
harness and proper officers were to be forwarded from Peekskill, as
well as intrenching tools. Of tents he had none to furnish, neither
could heavy cannon be spared from the defence of the Highlands. Six
hundred recruits, on their march from Massachusetts to Peekskill, were
ordered to repair to his aid--this was all the force that Washington
could venture at this moment to send; but this addition to his troops,
supposing those under St. Clair should have come in, and any number of
militia have turned out, would probably form an army equal, if not
superior, to that said to be under Burgoyne. Beside, it was
Washington's idea that the latter would suspend his operations until
General Howe should make a movement in concert. Supposing that
movement would be an immediate attempt against the Highlands, he
ordered Sullivan with his division to Peekskill to reinforce General
Putnam. At the same time he advanced with his main army to Pompton,
and thence to the Clove, a rugged defile through the Highlands on the
west side of the Hudson. We will leave Washington at his encampment in
the Clove, anxiously watching the movements of the fleet and the lower
army, while we turn to the north to explain the mysterious retreat of
General St. Clair.

In the accounts given of the approach of Burgoyne to Ticonderoga, it
was stated that he had encamped four miles north of the fortress and
intrenched himself. On the 2d of July, Indian scouts made their
appearance in the vicinity of a blockhouse and some outworks about the
strait or channel leading to Lake George. As General St. Clair did not
think the garrison sufficient to defend all the outposts, these works
with some adjacent saw-mills were set on fire and abandoned. The
extreme left of Ticonderoga was weak, and might easily be turned; a
post had therefore been established in the preceding year, nearly half
a mile in advance of the old French lines, on an eminence to the north
of them. General St. Clair, through singular remissness, had neglected
to secure it. Burgoyne soon discovered this neglect, and hastened to
detach General Phillips and Fraser with a body of infantry and light
artillery to take possession of this post. They did so without
opposition. Heavy guns were mounted upon it; Fraser's whole corps was
stationed there; the post commanded the communication by land and
water with Lake George, so as to cut off all supplies from that
quarter. In fact, such were the advantages expected from this post,
thus neglected by St. Clair, that the British gave it the significant
name of Mount Hope.

The enemy now proceeded gradually to invest Ticonderoga. A line of
troops was drawn from the western part of Mount Hope round to Three
Mile Point, where General Fraser was posted with the advance guard,
while General Riedesel encamped with the German reserve in a parallel
line on the opposite side of Lake Champlain, at the foot of Mount
Independence. For two days the enemy occupied themselves in making
their advances and securing these positions, regardless of a cannonade
kept up by the American batteries.

With all the pains and expense lavished by the Americans to render
these works impregnable, they had strangely neglected the master key
by which they were all commanded. This was Sugar Hill, a rugged
height, the termination of a mountain ridge which separates Lake
Champlain from Lake George. It stood to the south of Ticonderoga,
beyond the narrow channel which connected the two lakes, and rose
precipitously from the waters of Champlain to the height of six
hundred feet. It had been pronounced by the Americans too distant to
be dangerous. Colonel Trumbull, some time an aide-de-camp to
Washington, had proved the contrary in the preceding year by throwing
a shot from a six-pounder in the fort nearly to the summit. It was
then pronounced inaccessible to an enemy. This Trumbull had likewise
proved to be an error, by clambering with Arnold and Wayne to the top,
whence they perceived that a practicable road for artillery might
easily and readily be made. Trumbull had insisted that this was the
true point for the fort, commanding the neighboring heights, the
narrow parts of both lakes, and the communication between. His
suggestions were disregarded; their wisdom was now to be proved.

The British general, Phillips, on taking his position, had regarded
the hill with a practised eye. He caused it to be reconnoitred by a
skilful engineer. The report was that it overlooked and had the entire
command of Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Independence--being about
fourteen hundred yards from the former, and fifteen hundred from the
latter; that the ground could be levelled for cannon, and a road cut
up the defiles of the mountain in four and twenty hours. Measures were
instantly taken to plant a battery on that height. While the American
garrisons were entirely engaged in a different direction, cannonading
Mount Hope and the British lines without material effect, and without
provoking a reply, the British troops were busy throughout the day and
night cutting a road through rocks and trees and up rugged defiles.
Guns, ammunition and stores, all were carried up the hill in the
night; the cannon were hauled up from tree to tree, and before morning
the ground was levelled for the battery on which they were to be
mounted. To this work, thus achieved by a _coup de main_, they gave
the name of Fort Defiance.

On the 5th of July, to their astonishment and consternation, the
garrison beheld a legion of red-coats on the summit of this hill,
constructing works which must soon lay the fortress at their mercy. In
this appalling emergency, General St. Clair called a council of war.
What was to be done? The batteries from this new fort would probably
be open the next day: by that time Ticonderoga might be completely
invested, and the whole garrison exposed to capture. They had not
force sufficient for one half the works, and General Schuyler,
supposed to be at Albany, could afford them no relief. The danger was
imminent; delay might prove fatal. It was unanimously determined to
evacuate both Ticonderoga and Mount Independence that very night, and
to retreat to Skenesborough (now Whitehall), at the upper part of the
lake, about thirty miles distant, where there was a stockaded fort.
The main body of the army, led by General St. Clair, were to cross to
Mount Independence and push for Skenesborough by land, taking a
circuitous route through the woods on the east side of the lake, by
the way of Castleton.

The cannon, stores and provisions, together with the wounded and the
women, were to be embarked on board of two hundred bateaux and
conducted to the upper extremity of the lake by Colonel Long with six
hundred men, two hundred of whom, in five armed galleys, were to form
a rear-guard.

It was now three o'clock in the afternoon; yet all the preparations
were to be made for the coming night, and that with as little bustle
and movement as possible, for they were overlooked by Fort Defiance,
and their intentions might be suspected. Everything, therefore, was
done quietly, but alertly; in the meantime, to amuse the enemy a
cannonade was kept up every half hour toward the new battery on the
hill. As soon as the evening closed, and their movements could not be
discovered, they began in all haste to load the boats. Such of the
cannon as could not be taken were ordered to be spiked. Everything was
conducted with such silence and address that, although it was a
moonlight night, the flotilla departed undiscovered, and was soon
under the shadows of mountains and overhanging forests.

The retreat by land was not conducted with equal discretion and
mystery. General St. Clair had crossed over the bridge to the Vermont
side of the lake by three o'clock in the morning, and set forward with
his advance through the woods toward Hubbardton; but, before the
rear-guard under Colonel Francis got in motion, the house at Fort
Independence, which had been occupied by the French general, De
Fermois, was set on fire--by his orders, it is said, though we are
loth to charge him with such indiscretion, such gross and wanton
violation of the plan of retreat. The consequences were disastrous.
The British sentries at Mount Hope were astonished by a conflagration
suddenly lighting up Mount Independence and revealing the American
troops in full retreat; for the rear-guard, disconcerted by this
sudden exposure, pressed forward for the woods in the utmost haste and

The drums beat to arms in the British camp. Alarm guns were fired from
Mount Hope; General Fraser dashed into Ticonderoga with his pickets,
giving orders for his brigade to arm in all haste and follow. By
daybreak he had hoisted the British flag over the deserted fortress;
before sunrise he had passed the bridge and was in full pursuit of the
American rear-guard.

Burgoyne's measures were prompt. General Riedesel was ordered to
follow and support Fraser with a part of the German troops; garrisons
were thrown into Ticonderoga and Mount Independence; the main part of
the army was embarked on board of the frigates and gunboats; the
floating bridge with its boom and chain, which had cost months to
construct, was broken through by nine o'clock; when Burgoyne set out
with his squadron in pursuit of the flotilla.

We left the latter making its retreat on the preceding evening towards
Skenesborough. The lake above Ticonderoga becomes so narrow that, in
those times, it was frequently called South River. The bateaux, deeply
laden, made their way slowly in a lengthened line. The rear-guard of
armed galleys followed at wary distance. No immediate pursuit,
however, was apprehended. The floating bridge was considered an
effectual impediment to the enemy's fleet.

About three o'clock in the afternoon of the succeeding day, the
heavily laden bateaux arrived at Skenesborough. The disembarkation had
scarcely commenced when the thundering of artillery was heard from
below. Could the enemy be at hand? It was even so. The British
gunboats, having pushed on in advance of the frigates, had overtaken
and were firing upon the galleys. The latter defended themselves for a
while, but at length two struck and three were blown up. The fugitives
from them brought word that the British ships not being able to come
up, troops and Indians were landing from them and scrambling up the
hills, intending to get in the rear of the fort and cut off all

All now was consternation and confusion. The bateaux, the storehouses,
the fort, the mill were all set on fire, and a general flight took
place toward Fort Anne, about twelve miles distant. Some made their
way in boats up Wood Creek, a winding stream. The main body under
Colonel Long retreated by a narrow defile cut through the woods,
harassed all night by alarms that the Indians were close in pursuit.
Both parties reached Fort Anne by daybreak. It was a small picketed
fort, near the junction of Wood Creek and East Creek, about sixteen
miles from Fort Edward. General Schuyler arrived at the latter place
on the following day. The number of troops with him was
inconsiderable, but hearing of Colonel Long's situation, he
immediately sent him a small reinforcement, with provisions and
ammunition, and urged him to maintain his post resolutely. On the same
day Colonel Long's scouts brought in word that there were British
red-coats approaching. They were in fact a regiment under
Lieutenant-colonel Hill, detached from Skenesborough by Burgoyne in
pursuit of the fugitives. Long sallied forth to meet them, posting
himself at a rocky defile. As the enemy advanced he opened a heavy
fire upon them in front; the British took post upon a high hill to
their right, where they were warmly besieged for nearly two hours, and
would certainly have been forced had not some of their Indian allies
arrived. This changed the fortune of the day. The Americans had nearly
expended their ammunition, and had not enough left to cope with this
new enemy. They retreated, therefore, to Fort Anne, carrying with them
a number of prisoners. Supposing the troops under Colonel Hill an
advance guard of Burgoyne's army, they set fire to the fort and pushed
on to Fort Edward.

St. Clair's retreat through the woods from Mount Independence
continued the first day until night, when he arrived at Castleton,
thirty miles from Ticonderoga. His rear-guard halted about six miles
short, at Hubbardton, to await the arrival of stragglers. It was
composed of three regiments, under Colonels Seth Warner, Francis and
Hale; in all about thirteen hundred men. Early the next morning, a
sultry morning of July, while they were taking their breakfast, they
were startled by the report of fire-arms. Their sentries had
discharged their muskets, and came running in with word that the enemy
were at hand.

It was General Fraser, with his advance of eight hundred and fifty
men, who had pressed forward in the latter part of the night, and now
attacked the Americans with great spirit, notwithstanding their
superiority in numbers; in fact he expected to be promptly reinforced
by Riedesel and his Germans. The Americans met the British with great
spirit; but at the very commencement of the action, Colonel Hale, with
a detachment placed under his command to protect the rear, gave way,
leaving Warner and Francis with but seven hundred men to bear the
brunt of the battle. These posted themselves behind logs and trees in
'backwood' style, whence they kept up a destructive fire, and were
evidently gaining the advantage, when General Riedesel came pressing
into the action with his German troops; drums beating and colors
flying. There was now an impetuous charge with the bayonet. Colonel
Francis was among the first who fell, gallantly fighting at the head
of his men. The Americans, thinking the whole German force upon them,
gave way and fled, leaving the ground covered with their dead and
wounded. Many others who had been wounded perished in the woods, where
they had taken refuge. Their whole loss in killed, wounded and taken,
was upwards of three hundred; that of the enemy one hundred and

The noise of the firing when the action commenced had reached General
St. Clair at Castleton. He immediately sent orders to two militia
regiments which were in his rear, and within two miles of the
battle-ground to hasten to the assistance of his rear-guard. They
refused to obey and hurried forward to Castleton. At this juncture St.
Clair received information of Burgoyne's arrival at Skenesborough, and
the destruction of the American works there: fearing to be intercepted
at Fort Anne, he immediately changed his route, struck into the woods
on his left, and directed his march to Rutland, leaving word for
Warner to follow him. The latter overtook him two days afterwards,
with his shattered force reduced to ninety men. As to Colonel Hale,
who had pressed towards Castleton at the beginning of the action, he
and his men were overtaken the same day by the enemy, and the whole
party captured without making any fight. It has been alleged in his
excuse, with apparent justice, that he and a large portion of his men
were in feeble health and unfit for action; for his own part he died
while yet a prisoner, and never had the opportunity which he sought to
vindicate himself before a court-martial.

On the 12th St. Clair reached Fort Edward, his troops haggard and
exhausted by their long retreat through the woods. Such is the story
of the catastrophe at Fort Ticonderoga which caused so much surprise
and concern to Washington, and of the seven days' mysterious
disappearance of St. Clair which kept every one in the most painful
suspense. The loss of artillery, ammunition, provisions and stores, in
consequence of the evacuation of these northern posts was prodigious,
but the worst effect was the consternation spread throughout the
country. A panic prevailed at Albany, the people running about as if
distracted, sending off their goods and furniture. The great barriers
of the North it was said were broken through, and there was nothing to
check the triumphant career of the enemy.


A spirited exploit to the eastward was performed during the prevalence
of adverse news from the North. General Prescott had command of the
British forces in Rhode Island. His harsh treatment of Colonel Ethan
Allen, and his haughty and arrogant conduct on various occasions had
rendered him peculiarly odious to the Americans. Lieutenant-colonel
Barton, who was stationed with a force of Rhode Island militia on the
mainland, received word that Prescott was quartered at a country house
near the western shore of the island, about four miles from Newport,
totally unconscious of danger though in a very exposed situation. He
determined, if possible, to surprise and capture him. Forty resolute
men joined him in the enterprise. Embarking at night in two boats at
Warwick Neck, they pulled quietly across the bay with muffled oars,
undiscovered by the ships of war and guard-boats; landed in silence;
eluded the vigilance of the guard stationed near the house; captured
the sentry at the door, and surprised the general in his bed. His
aide-de-camp leaped from the window, but was likewise taken. Colonel
Barton returned with equal silence and address, and arrived safe at
Warwick with his prisoners. A sword was voted to him by Congress and
he received a colonel's commission in the regular army.

Washington hailed the capture of Prescott as a peculiarly fortunate
circumstance, furnishing him with an equivalent for General Lee. He
accordingly wrote to Sir William Howe, proposing the exchange. No
immediate reply was received to this letter, Sir William Howe being at
sea; in the meantime Prescott remained in durance.

Washington continued his anxious exertions to counteract the
operations of the enemy; forwarding artillery and ammunition to
Schuyler, with all the camp furniture that could be spared from his
own encampment and from Peekskill. A part of Nixon's brigade was all
the reinforcement he could afford in his present situation. Schuyler
had earnestly desired the assistance of an active officer well
acquainted with the country. Washington sent him Arnold. The question
of rank about which Arnold was so tenacious was yet unsettled, and
though, had his promotion been regular, he would have been superior in
command to General St. Clair, he assured Washington that on the
present occasion his claim should create no dispute.

Schuyler in the meantime, aided by Kosciuszko the Pole, who was
engineer in his department, had selected two positions on Moses Creek,
four miles below Fort Edward, where the troops which had retreated
from Ticonderoga, and part of the militia were throwing up works. To
impede the advance of the enemy he had caused trees to be felled into
Wood Creek, so as to render it unnavigable, and the roads between Fort
Edward and Fort Anne to be broken up; the cattle in that direction to
be brought away, and the forage destroyed. He had drawn off the
garrison from Fort George, and left the buildings in flames.

Washington cheered on his faithful coadjutor. His letters to Schuyler
were full of that confident hope, founded on sagacious forecast, with
which he was prone to animate his generals in times of doubt and
difficulty. "Though our affairs for some days past have worn a dark
and gloomy aspect, I yet look forward to a fortunate and happy change.
I trust General Burgoyne's army will meet sooner or later an effectual
check, and, as I suggested before, that the success he has had will
precipitate his ruin." [He pointed out that Burgoyne in acting in
detachment was pursuing the plan most favorable to the American cause.
If some of his detachments could be cut off, it would have, he said, a
most inspiriting effect. He also addressed circulars to the
brigadier-generals of militia in the western portions of the Eastern
States, urging reinforcements for Schuyler. The evacuation of
Ticonderoga, he showed them, had opened the door for the invasion of
their district, and that Burgoyne, if not vigorously opposed, would be
enabled to form a junction with General Howe, and thereby sever the
communication between the Eastern and Northern States.]

Washington now ordered that all the vessels and river craft, not
required at Albany, should be sent down to New Windsor and Fishkill,
and kept in readiness; for he knew not how soon the movements of
General Howe might render it suddenly necessary to transport part of
his forces up the Hudson.

Further letters from Schuyler urged the increasing exigencies of his
situation. It was harvest time. The militia, impatient at being
detained from their rural labors, were leaving him in great numbers.
In a council of general officers it had been thought advisable to give
leave of absence to half, lest the whole should depart. He feared
those who remained would do so but a few days. The enemy were steadily
employed cutting a road toward him from Skenesborough. In this
position of affairs, he urged to be reinforced as speedily as
possible. Washington, in reply, informed him that he had ordered a
further reinforcement of General Glover's brigade, which was all he
could possibly furnish in his own exigencies. He trusted affairs with
Schuyler would soon wear a more smiling aspect, that the Eastern
States, who were so deeply concerned in the matter, would exert
themselves by effectual succors to enable him to check the progress of
the enemy and repel a danger by which they were immediately
threatened. "I have directed General Lincoln to repair to you as
speedily as the state of his health, which is not very perfect, will
permit; this gentleman has always supported the character of a
judicious, brave, active officer, and he is exceedingly popular in the
State of Massachusetts, to which he belongs; he will have a degree of
influence over the militia which cannot fail of being highly

Washington highly approved of a measure suggested by Schuyler, of
stationing a body of troops somewhere about the Hampshire Grants
(Vermont,) so as to be in the rear or on the flank of Burgoyne, should
he advance. It would make the latter, he said, very circumspect in his
advances, if it did not entirely prevent them. It would keep him in
continual anxiety for his rear, and oblige him to leave the posts
behind him much stronger than he would otherwise do. He advised that
General Lincoln should have the command of the corps thus posted, "as
no person could be more proper for it."

But now the attention of the commander-in-chief is called to the
sea-board. On the 23d of July the fleet, so long the object of
watchful solicitude, actually put to sea. Its destination was still a
matter of conjecture. Just after it had sailed a young man presented
himself at one of General Putnam's outposts. He had been a prisoner in
New York, he said, but had received his liberty and a large reward on
undertaking to be the bearer of a letter from General Howe to
Burgoyne. This letter his feelings of patriotism prompted him to
deliver up to General Putnam. The letter was immediately transmitted
by the general to Washington. It was in the handwriting of Howe and
bore his signature. In it he informed Burgoyne that, instead of any
designs up the Hudson, he was bound to the east against Boston.
Washington at once pronounced the letter a feint. "No stronger proof
could be given," said he, "that Howe is not going to the eastward. The
letter was evidently intended to fall into our hands.... I am
persuaded more than ever that Philadelphia is the place of

He now set out with his army for the Delaware, ordering Sullivan and
Stirling with their divisions to cross the Hudson from Peekskill and
proceed towards Philadelphia. On the 30th he writes from Coryell's
Ferry, about thirty miles from Philadelphia, to General Gates, who was
in that city: "As we are yet uncertain as to the real destination of
the enemy, though the Delaware seems the most probable, I have thought
it prudent to halt the army at this place, Howell's Ferry, and
Trenton, at least till the fleet actually enters the bay and puts the
matter beyond a doubt. From hence we can be on the proper ground to
oppose them before they can possibly make their arrangements and
dispositions for an attack.... As I shall pay no regard to any flying
reports of the appearance of the fleet, I shall expect an account of
it from you the moment you have ascertained it to your satisfaction."

On the 31st he was informed that the enemy's fleet of two hundred and
twenty-eight sail had arrived the day previous at the Capes of
Delaware. He instantly wrote to Putnam to hurry on two brigades which
had crossed the river, and to let Schuyler and the commanders in the
Eastern States know that they had nothing to fear from Howe, and might
bend all their forces, continental and militia, against Burgoyne. In
the meantime he moved his camp to Germantown, about six miles from
Philadelphia, to be at hand for the defence of that city. The very
next day came word by express that the fleet had again sailed out of
the Capes and apparently shaped its course eastward. "This surprising
event gives me the greatest anxiety," writes he to Putnam (Aug. 1).
"The probability of his (Howe) going to the eastward is exceedingly
small, and the ill effects that might attend such a step
inconsiderable in comparison with those that would inevitably attend a
successful stroke on the Highlands."

Under this impression Washington sent orders to Sullivan to hasten
back with his division and the two brigades which had recently left
Peekskill and to recross the Hudson to that post as speedily as
possible, intending to forward the rest of the army with all the
expedition in his power. He wrote also to General George Clinton, to
reinforce Putnam with as many of the New York militia as could be
collected. Clinton, be it observed, had just been installed governor
of the State of New York; the first person elevated to that office
under the Constitution. He still continued in actual command of the
militia of the State. Washington, moreover, requested Putnam to send
an express to Governor Trumbull, urging assistance from the militia of
his State without a moment's loss of time.

We have cited in a preceding page a letter from Washington to Gates at
Philadelphia, requiring his vigilant attention to the movements of the
enemy's fleet; that ambitious officer, however, was engrossed at the
time by matters more important to his individual interests. The
command of the Northern department seemed again within his reach. The
evacuation of Ticonderoga had been imputed by many either to cowardice
or treachery on the part of General St. Clair, and the enemies of
Schuyler had for some time past been endeavoring to involve him in the
disgrace of the transaction. In the eagerness to excite popular
feeling against him, old slanders were revived, and the failure of the
invasion of Canada, and all the subsequent disasters in that quarter,
were again laid to his charge as commanding-general of the Northern

These charges, which for some time existed merely in popular clamor,
had recently been taken up in Congress, and a strong demonstration had
been made against him by some of the New England delegates. "Your
enemies in this quarter," writes his friend, the Hon. William Duer
(July 29th), "are leaving no means unessayed to blast your
character.... Be not surprised if you should be desired to attend
Congress to give an account of the loss of Ticonderoga. With respect
to the result of the inquiry I am under no apprehensions. Like gold
tried in the fire, I trust that you, my dear friend, will be found
more pure and bright than ever."

[Schuyler, in reply, expressed his eagerness to have his conduct
subjected to official investigation, but hoped the scrutiny would be
postponed until after the engagement with the enemy which was now
imminent. Schuyler's enemies were determined, however, that he should
be deprived of this chance of distinguishing himself, and pushed the
business so urgently in Congress that a resolution was passed
summoning both Schuyler and St. Clair to head-quarters to account for
the misfortunes in the north. Schuyler's unpopularity with the Eastern
troops was used as a powerful argument for this step, it being
asserted that the Eastern militia were refusing to serve under him.
The nomination of his successor was left to Washington, who excused
himself from the duty. The appointment, therefore, was made by
Congress, the Eastern influence prevailed, and Gates received the

About this time took effect a measure of Congress, making a complete
change in the commissariat. This important and complicated department
had hitherto been under the management of one commissary-general,
Colonel Joseph Trumbull of Connecticut. By the new arrangement there
were to be two commissaries-general, one of purchases, the other of
issues; each to be appointed by Congress. They were to have several
deputy commissaries under them, but accountable to Congress, and to be
appointed and removed by that body. These and many subordinate
arrangements had been adopted in opposition to the opinion of
Washington, and, most unfortunately, were brought into operation in
the midst of this perplexed and critical campaign. Their first effect
was to cause the resignation of Colonel Trumbull, who had been
nominated commissary of purchases; and the entrance into office of a
number of inexperienced men. The ultimate effect was to paralyze the
organization of this vital department; to cause delay and confusion in
furnishing and forwarding supplies, and to retard and embarrass the
operations of the different armies throughout the year. Washington had
many dangers and difficulties to harass and perplex him throughout
this complicated campaign, and not among the least may be classed the
"stumblings of Congress."

For several days Washington remained at Germantown in painful
uncertainty about the British fleet; whether gone to the south or to
the east. The intense heat of the weather made him unwilling again to
move his army, already excessively harassed by marchings and
countermarchings. Concluding, at length, that the fleet had actually
gone to the east, he was once more on the way to recross the Delaware,
when an express overtook him on the 10th of August, with tidings that
three days before it had been seen off Sinepuxent Inlet, about sixteen
leagues south of the Capes of Delaware.

Again he came to a halt, and waited for further intelligence. Danger
suggested itself from a different quarter. Might it not be Howe's
plan, by thus appearing with his ships at different places, to lure
the army after him, and thereby leave the country open for Sir Henry
Clinton with the troops at New York to form a junction with Burgoyne?
With this idea Washington wrote forthwith to the veteran Putnam to be
on the alert; collect all the force he could to strengthen his post at
Peekskill, and send down spies to ascertain whether Sir Henry Clinton
was actually at New York, and what troops he had there.

The old general, whose boast it was that he never slept but with one
eye, was already on the alert. A circumstance had given him proof
positive that Sir Henry was in New York, and had roused his military
ire. A spy, sent by that commander, had been detected furtively
collecting information of the force and condition of the post at
Peekskill, and had undergone a military trial. A vessel of war came up
the Hudson in all haste, and landed a flag of truce at Verplanck's
Point, by which a message was transmitted to Putnam from Sir Henry
Clinton, claiming Edmund Palmer as a lieutenant in the British
service. The reply of the old general was brief but emphatic:

"HEAD-QUARTERS, 7th Aug., 1777.

"Edmund Palmer, an officer in the enemy's service, was taken as a spy
lurking within our lines; he has been tried as a spy, condemned as a
spy, and shall be executed as a spy; and the flag is ordered to depart


"P. S.--He has, accordingly, been executed."

Governor Clinton, the other guardian of the Highlands, and actually at
his post at Fort Montgomery, was equally on the alert. He had
faithfully followed Washington's directions in ordering out militia
from different counties to reinforce his own garrison and the army
under Schuyler.

One measure more was taken by Washington, during this interval, in aid
of the Northern department. The Indians who accompanied Burgoyne were
objects of great dread to the American troops, especially the militia.
As a counterpoise to them, he now sent up Colonel Morgan with five
hundred riflemen, to fight them in their own way. "They are all chosen
men," said he, "selected from the army at large, and well acquainted
with the use of rifles and with that mode of fighting. I expect the
most eminent services from them, and I shall be mistaken if their
presence does not go far towards producing a general desertion among
the savages."

During his encampment in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, Washington
was repeatedly at that city, making himself acquainted with the
military capabilities of the place and its surrounding country, and
directing the construction of fortifications on the river. In one of
these visits he became acquainted with the young Marquis de Lafayette,
who had recently arrived from France, in company with a number of
French, Polish, and German officers, among whom was the Baron de Kalb.
The marquis was not quite twenty years of age, yet had already been
married nearly three years to a lady of rank and fortune. Full of the
romance of liberty, he had torn himself from his youthful bride,
turned his back upon the gayeties and splendors of a court, and in
defiance of impediments and difficulties multiplied in his path, had
made his way to America to join its hazardous fortunes.

It was at a public dinner, where a number of members of Congress were
present, that Lafayette first saw Washington. He immediately knew him,
he said, from the officers who surrounded him, by his commanding air
and person. When the party was breaking up, Washington took him aside,
complimented him in a gracious manner on his disinterested zeal and
the generosity of his conduct, and invited him to make head-quarters
his home.

Many days had now elapsed without further tidings of the fleet, when
the tormenting uncertainties concerning it were brought to an end by
intelligence that it had actually entered the Chesapeake and anchored
at Swan Point, at least two hundred miles within the capes. "By
General Howe's coming so far up the Chesapeake," writes Washington,
"he must mean to reach Philadelphia by that route, though to be sure
it is a strange one." The mystery of these various appearances and
vanishings which had caused so much wonder and perplexity is easily
explained. Shortly before putting to sea with the ships of war, Howe
had sent a number of transports and a ship cut down as a floating
battery up the Hudson, which had induced Washington to despatch troops
to the Highlands. After putting to sea, the fleet was a week in
reaching the Capes of Delaware. When there, the commanders were
deterred from entering the river by reports of measures taken to
obstruct its navigation. It was then determined to make for Chesapeake
Bay, and approach in that way as near as possible to Philadelphia.
Contrary winds, however, kept them for a long time from getting into
the bay.

Lafayette in his memoirs describes a review of Washington's army which
he witnessed about this time. "Eleven thousand men, but tolerably
armed and still worse clad, presented," he said, "a singular
spectacle; in this parti-colored and often naked state, the best
dresses were hunting shirts of brown linen. Their tactics were equally
irregular. They were arranged without regard to size, excepting that
the smallest men were the front rank: with all this there were
good-looking soldiers conducted by zealous officers." The several
divisions of the army had been summoned to the immediate neighborhood
of Philadelphia, and the militia of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the
northern parts of Virginia were called out. Many of the militia, with
Colonel Proctor's corps of artillery, had been ordered to rendezvous
at Chester on the Delaware, about twelve miles below Philadelphia; and
by Washington's orders General Wayne left his brigade under the next
in command and repaired to Chester to arrange the troops assembling

As there had been much disaffection to the cause evinced in
Philadelphia, Washington, in order to encourage its friends and
dishearten its enemies, marched with the whole army through the city,
down Front and up Chestnut Street. Great pains were taken to make the
display as imposing as possible. All were charged to keep to their
ranks, carry their arms well, and step in time to the music of the
drums and fifes, collected in the centre of each brigade. Washington
rode at the head of the troops attended by his numerous staff, with
the Marquis Lafayette by his side. The long column of the army, broken
into divisions and brigades, the pioneers with their axes, the
squadrons of horse, the extended trains of artillery, the tramp of
steed, the bray of trumpet, and the spirit-stirring sound of drum and
fife, all had an imposing effect on a peaceful city unused to the
sight of marshalled armies. Having marched through Philadelphia, the
army continued on to Wilmington at the confluence of Christiana Creek
and the Brandywine, where Washington set up his head-quarters, his
troops being encamped on the neighboring heights.


In a preceding chapter we left Burgoyne, early in July, at
Skenesborough, of which he had just gained possession. He remained
there nearly three weeks, awaiting the arrival of the residue of his
troops, with tents, baggage and provisions, and preparing for his
grand move towards the Hudson River. The progress of the army towards
the Hudson was slow and difficult, in consequence of the impediments
which Schuyler had multiplied in his way during his long halt at
Skenesborough. Bridges broken down had to be rebuilt; great trees to
be removed which had been felled across the roads and into Wood Creek,
which stream was completely choked. It was not until the latter part
of July that Burgoyne reached Fort Anne. At his approach, General
Schuyler retired from Fort Edward and took post at Fort Miller, a few
miles lower down the Hudson.

The Indian allies who had hitherto accompanied the British army, had
been more troublesome than useful. They were of the tribes of Lower
Canada, corrupted and debased by intercourse with white men. It had
been found difficult to draw them from the plunder of Ticonderoga, or
to restrain their murderous propensities. A party had recently arrived
of a different stamp--braves of the Ottawa and other tribes from the
upper country, painted and decorated with savage magnificence, and
bearing trophies of former triumphs. They were under the conduct of
two French leaders; one named Langlade, the other named St. Luc, is
described by Burgoyne as a Canadian gentleman of honor and abilities,
and one of the best partisans of the French in the war of 1756.
Burgoyne trusted to his newly-arrived Indians to give a check to the
operations of Schuyler, knowing the terror they inspired throughout
the country. He was naturally a humane man, and disliked Indian
allies, but these had hitherto served in company with civilized
troops, and he trusted to the influence possessed over them by St. Luc
and Langlade to keep them within the usages of war. A circumstance
occurred, however, which showed how little the "wild honor" of these
warriors of the tomahawk is to be depended upon.

In General Fraser's division was a young officer, Lieutenant David
Jones, an American loyalist. His family had their home in the vicinity
of Fort Edward before the Revolution. A mutual attachment had taken
place between the youth and a beautiful girl named Jane McCrea, who
resided with her brother on the banks of the Hudson, a few miles below
Fort Edward. The lovers were engaged to be married, when the breaking
out of the war severed families and disturbed all the relations of
life. The Joneses were royalists; the brother of Miss McCrea was a
stanch whig. The former removed to Canada, where he joined the royal
standard, and received a lieutenant's commission. The attachment
between the lovers continued, and it is probable that a correspondence
was kept up between them. Lieutenant Jones was now in Fraser's camp;
in his old neighborhood. Miss McCrea was on a visit to a widow lady,
Mrs. O'Niel, residing at Fort Edward. The approach of Burgoyne's army
had spread an alarm through the country; the inhabitants were flying
from their homes. The brother of Miss McCrea determined to remove to
Albany, and sent for his sister to return home and make ready to
accompany him. She prepared, reluctantly, to obey, and was to embark
in a large bateaux which was to convey several families down the
river. The very morning when the embarkation was to take place the
neighborhood was a scene of terror. A marauding party of Indians, sent
out by Burgoyne to annoy General Schuyler, were harassing the country.
Several of them burst into the house of Mrs. O'Niel, sacked and
plundered it, and carried off her and Miss McCrea prisoners. In her
fright the latter promised the savages a large reward if they would
spare her life and take her in safety to the British camp. It was a
fatal promise. Halting at a spring, a quarrel arose among the savages,
inflamed most probably with drink, as to whose prize she was, and who
was entitled to the reward. The dispute became furious, and one, in a
paroxysm of rage, killed her on the spot. He completed the savage act
by bearing off her scalp as a trophy.

General Burgoyne was struck with horror when he heard of this bloody
deed. He summoned a council of the Indian chiefs, in which he insisted
that the murderer of Miss McCrea should be given up to receive the
reward of his crime. The demand produced a violent agitation. The
culprit was a great warrior, a chief, and the "wild honor" of his
brother sachems was roused in his behalf. St. Luc took Burgoyne aside
and entreated him not to push the matter to extremities, assuring him
that from what was passing among the chiefs, he was sure they and
their warriors would all abandon the army should the delinquent be
executed. Burgoyne was thus reluctantly brought to spare the offender,
but thenceforth made it a rule that no party of Indians should be
permitted to go forth on a foray unless under the conduct of a British
officer, or some other competent person who should be responsible for
their behavior.{1}

{Footnote 1: [These restrictions led to ill-humor among the Indians
who soon announced their intention of returning home, unless the
restraints imposed by Burgoyne were withdrawn. Burgoyne was greatly
embarrassed. The Indian force was valuable and obtained at an immense
expense. But to his great credit he refused their demands, and the
result was that the greater part of his Indian allies deserted him.]}

The mischief to the British cause, however, had been effected. The
murder of Miss McCrea resounded throughout the land, counteracting all
the benefit anticipated from the terror of Indian hostilities. Those
people of the frontiers who had hitherto remained quiet, now flew to
arms to defend their families and firesides. In their exasperation
they looked beyond the savages to their employers. They abhorred an
army which, professing to be civilized, could league itself with such
barbarians; and they execrated a government which, pretending to
reclaim them as subjects, could let loose such fiends to desolate
their homes. The blood of this unfortunate girl, therefore, was not
shed in vain. Armies sprang up from it. Her name passed as a note of
alarm along the banks of the Hudson; it was a rallying word among the
Green Mountains of Vermont and brought down all their hardy yeomanry.

As Burgoyne advanced to Fort Edward, Schuyler fell still further back
and took post at Saratoga, or rather Stillwater, about thirty miles
from Albany. He had been joined by Major-general Lincoln, who,
according to Washington's directions, had hastened to his assistance.
In pursuance of Washington's plans, Lincoln proceeded to Manchester in
Vermont to take command of the militia forces collecting at that
point. His presence inspired new confidence in the country people, who
were abandoning their homes, leaving their crops ungathered, and
taking refuge with their families in the lower towns. He found about
five hundred militia assembled at Manchester, under Colonel Seth
Warner; others were coming on from New Hampshire and Massachusetts to
protect their uncovered frontier.

Burgoyne was now at Fort Edward where new difficulties beset him. The
horses which had been contracted for in Canada, for draught, burthen
and saddle, arrived slowly and scantily. Artillery and munitions, too,
of all kinds, had to be brought from Ticonderoga by the way of Lake
George. These, with a vast number of boats for freight, or to form
bridges, it was necessary to transport over the carrying places
between the lakes, and by land from Fort George to Fort Edward.
Unfortunately, the army had not the requisite supply of horses and
oxen. So far from being able to bring forward provisions for a march,
it was with difficulty enough could be furnished to feed the army from
day to day.

While thus situated, Burgoyne received intelligence that the part of
his army which he had detached from Canada under Colonel St. Leger, to
proceed by Lake Ontario and Oswego and make a diversion on the Mohawk,
had penetrated to that river, and were actually investing Fort
Stanwix, the stronghold of that part of the country.

To carry out the original plan of his campaign, it now behooved him to
make a rapid move down the Hudson, so as to be at hand to co-operate
with St. Leger on his approach to Albany. But how was he to do this,
deficient as he was in horses and vehicles for transportation? In this
dilemma he was informed that at Bennington, about twenty-four miles
east of the Hudson, the Americans had a great depot of horses,
carriages, and supplies of all kind, intended for their Northern army,
which might easily be surprised, being guarded by only a small militia
force. An expedition was immediately set on foot, not only to surprise
this place, but to scour the country, and bring off all horses fit for
the dragoons, or for battalion service, with as many saddles and
bridles as could be found.

Before relating the events of this expedition, we will turn to notice
those of the detachment under St. Leger, with which it was intended to
co-operate, and which was investing Fort Schuyler. This fort, built in
1756, on the site of an old French fortification, and formerly called
Fort Stanwix, from a British general of that name, was situated on the
right bank of the Mohawk River, at the head of its navigation, and
commanded the carrying-place between it and Wood Creek, whence the
boats passed to the Oneida Lake, the Oswego River, and Lake Ontario.
It was thus a key to the intercourse between Upper Canada and the
valley of the Mohawk. The fort was square, with four bastions, and was
originally a place of strength--having bombproof magazines, a deep
moat and drawbridge, a sally port and covered way. In the long
interval of peace subsequent to the French war, it had fallen to
decay. Recently it had been repaired by order of General Schuyler, and
had received his name. It was garrisoned by seven hundred and fifty
Continental troops from New York and Massachusetts, and was under the
command of Colonel Gansevoort of the New York line.

It was a motley force which appeared before it; British, Hessian,
Royalist, Canadian and Indian, about seventeen hundred in all. Among
them were St. Leger's rangers and Sir John Johnson's royalist corps,
called his greens. The Indians were led by the famous Brant. On the 3d
of August, St. Leger sent in a flag with a summons to surrender. It
was disregarded. He now set his troops to work to fortify his camp and
clear obstructions from Wood Creek and the roads for the
transportation of artillery and provisions, and sent out scouting
parties of Indians in all directions, to cut off all communication of
the garrison with the surrounding country.

On the 6th of August, three men made their way into the fort through a
swamp which the enemy had deemed impassable. They brought the cheering
intelligence that General Herkimer, the veteran commander of the
militia of Tryon County, was at Oriskany, about eight miles distant,
with upwards of eight hundred men. Herkimer requested Colonel
Gansevoort, through his two messengers, to fire three signal-guns on
receiving word of his vicinage, upon hearing which, he would endeavor
to force his way to the fort, depending upon the co-operation of the

The messengers had been despatched by Herkimer on the evening of the
5th, and he had calculated that they would reach the fort at a very
early hour in the morning. Through some delay, they did not reach it
until between ten and eleven o'clock. Gansevoort instantly complied
with the message. Three signal-guns were fired, and Colonel Willet, of
the New York Continentals, with two hundred and fifty men and an iron
three-pounder was detached to make a diversion by attacking that part
of the enemy's camp occupied by Johnson and his royalists. The delay
of the messengers in the night, however, disconcerted the plan of
Herkimer. He marshalled his troops by daybreak and waited for the
signal-guns. Hour after hour elapsed, but no gun was heard. His
officers became impatient of delay, and urged an immediate march.
Colonels Cox and Paris were particularly urgent for an advance. Paris
was a prominent man in Tryon County, and member of the committee of
safety, and in compliance with the wishes of that committee,
accompanied Herkimer as his volunteer aide. Losing his temper in the
dispute, he accused the latter of being either a tory or a coward.
"No," replied the brave old man, "I feel toward you all as a father,
and will not lead you into a scrape from which I cannot extricate
you." His discretion, however, was overpowered by repeated taunts, and
he at length, about nine o'clock, gave the word to march.

The march was rather dogged and irregular. There was ill-humor between
the general and his officers. About ten o'clock they came to a place
where the road was carried on a causeway of logs across a deep marshy
ravine, between high level banks. The main division descended into the
ravine, followed by the baggage-wagons. They had scarcely crossed it,
when the enemies suddenly sprang up in front and on each side with
deadly volleys of musketry and deafening yells and war-whoops. In
fact, St. Leger, apprised by his scouts of their intended approach,
had sent a force [of Johnson's greens, rangers, and Indians] to waylay
them. The rear-guard, which had not entered the ravine, retreated. The
main body, though thrown into confusion, defended themselves bravely.
One of those severe conflicts ensued, common in Indian warfare, where
the combatants take post with their rifles behind rock and tree, or
come to deadly struggle with knife and tomahawk.

The veteran Herkimer was wounded early in the action. A musket ball
shattered his leg just below the knee, killing his horse at the same
time. He made his men place him on his saddle at the foot of a large
beech tree, against the trunk of which he leaned, continuing to give
his orders. The regulars attempted to charge with the bayonet, but the
Americans formed themselves in circles back to back, and repelled
them. A heavy storm of thunder and rain caused a temporary lull to the
fight, during which the patriots changed their ground. Some of them
stationed themselves in pairs behind trees, so that when one had fired
the other could cover him until he had reloaded, for the savages were
apt to rush up with knife and tomahawk the moment a man had discharged
his piece.

A confusion reigns over the accounts of this fight, in which every one
saw little but what occurred in his immediate vicinity. The Indians at
length, having lost many of their bravest warriors, gave the
retreating cry, Oonah! Oonah! and fled to the woods. The greens and
rangers, hearing a firing in the direction of the fort, feared an
attack upon their camp, and hastened to its defence, carrying off with
them many prisoners. The Americans did not pursue them, but placing
their wounded on litters made of branches of trees, returned to
Oriskany. Both parties have claimed the victory, but it does not
appear that either was entitled to it. The Americans had two hundred
killed, and a number wounded. Several of these were officers. The loss
of the enemy is thought to have been equally great as to numbers. We
may add that those who had been most urgent with General Herkimer for
this movement, were among the first to suffer from it. Colonel Cox was
shot down at the first fire, so was a son of Colonel Paris; the
colonel himself was taken prisoner, and fell beneath the tomahawk of
the famous Red Jacket. As to General Herkimer, he was conveyed to his
residence on the Mohawk River, and died nine days after the battle,
not so much from his wound as from bad surgery, sinking gradually
through loss of blood from an unskilful amputation.

The sortie of Colonel Willett had been spirited and successful. He
attacked the encampments of Sir John Johnson and the Indians which
were contiguous, and strong detachments of which were absent on the
ambuscade. Sir John and his men were driven to the river; the Indians
fled to the woods. Willett sacked their camps; loaded wagons with camp
equipage, clothing, blankets, and stores of all kinds, seized the
baggage and papers of Sir John and of several of his officers, and
retreated safely to the fort, just as St. Leger was up with a powerful
reinforcement. Five colors, which he had brought away with him as
trophies, were displayed under the flag of the fort, while his men
gave three cheers from the ramparts.

St. Leger now endeavored to operate on the fears of the garrison. His
prisoners, it is said, were compelled to write a letter, giving dismal
accounts of the affair of Oriskany, and of the impossibility of
getting any succor to the garrison; of the probability that Burgoyne
and his army were then before Albany, and advising surrender to
prevent inevitable destruction.

St. Leger accompanied the letter with warnings that, should the
garrison persist in resistance, he would not be able to restrain the
fury of the savages, who threatened, if further provoked, to revenge
the deaths of their warriors and chiefs by slaughtering the garrison,
and laying waste the whole valley of the Mohawk. All this failing to
shake the resolution of Gansevoort, St. Leger began to lose heart. The
fort proved more capable of defence than he had anticipated. His
artillery was too light, and the ramparts, being of sod, were not
easily battered. He was obliged, reluctantly, to resort to the slow
process of sapping and mining, and began to make regular approaches.

Gansevoort, seeing the siege was likely to be protracted, resolved to
send to General Schuyler for succor. Colonel Willett volunteered to
undertake the perilous errand. He was accompanied by Lieutenant
Stockwell, an excellent woodsman, who served as a guide. They left the
fort on the 10th after dark, by a sally port, passed by the British
sentinels and close by the Indian camp without being discovered, and
made their way through bog and morass and pathless forests and all
kinds of risks and hardships until they reached the German Flats on
the Mohawk. Here Willett procured a couple of horses, and by dint of
hoof arrived at the camp of General Schuyler at Stillwater.

Schuyler was in Albany in the early part of August, making stirring
appeals in every direction for reinforcements. Burgoyne was advancing
upon him; he had received news of the disastrous affair of Oriskany,
and the death of General Herkimer, and Tryon County was crying to him
for assistance. One of his appeals was to the veteran John Stark. He
had his farm in the Hampshire Grants, and his name was a tower of
strength among the Green Mountain Boys. But Stark was soured with
government and had retired from service, his name having been omitted
in the list of promotions. Hearing that he was on a visit to Lincoln's
camp at Manchester, Schuyler wrote to that general: "Assure General
Stark that I have acquainted Congress of his situation, and that I
trust and entreat he will in the present alarming crisis waive his
right; the greater the sacrifice he makes to his feelings, the greater
will be the honor due to him for not having suffered any consideration
whatever to come in competition with the weal of his country."

Schuyler had instant call to practise the very virtue he was
inculcating. He was about to mount his horse on the 10th to return to
the camp at Stillwater, when a despatch from Congress was put into his
hand containing the resolves which recalled him to attend a court of
inquiry about the affair of Ticonderoga.

Schuyler felt deeply the indignity of being thus recalled at a time
when an engagement was apparently at hand, but endeavored to console
himself with the certainty that a thorough investigation of his
conduct would prove how much he was entitled to the thanks of his
country. He intimated the same in his reply to Congress; in the
meantime he considered it his duty to remain at his post until his
successor should arrive, or some officer in the department be
nominated to the command. His first care was to send relief to
Gansevoort and his beleaguered garrison. Eight hundred men were all
that he could spare from his army in its present threatened state. A
spirited and effective officer was wanted to lead them. Arnold was in
camp; recently sent on as an efficient coadjutor by Washington. He
stepped promptly forward, and volunteered to lead the enterprise.

After the departure of this detachment, it was unanimously determined
in a council of war of Schuyler and his general officers, that the
post at Stillwater was altogether untenable with their actual force;
part of the army, therefore, retired to the islands at the fords on
the mouth of the Mohawk River, where it empties into the Hudson, and a
brigade was posted above the Falls of the Mohawk, called the Cohoes,
to prevent the enemy from crossing there. It was considered a strong
position, where they could not be attacked without great disadvantage
to the assailant.

We will now take a view of occurrences on the right and left of
Burgoyne, and show the effect of Schuyler's measures, poorly seconded
as they were in crippling and straitening the invading army. And first
we will treat of the expedition against Bennington. Generals Phillips
and Riedesel demurred strongly to the expedition, but their counsels
were outweighed by those of Colonel Skene [an influential and worthy
royalist, the founder of Skenesborough]. He knew, he said, all the
country thereabout. The inhabitants were as five to one in favor of
the royal cause, and would be prompt to turn out on the first
appearance of a protecting army. He was to accompany the expedition,
and much was expected from his personal influence and authority.
Lieutenant-colonel Baum was to command the detachment. He had under
him, according to Burgoyne, two hundred dismounted dragoons of the
regiment of Riedesel, Captain Fraser's marksmen, which were the only
British, all the Canadian volunteers, a party of the provincials who
perfectly knew the country, one hundred Indians, and two light pieces
of cannon. The whole detachment amounted to about five hundred men.

To be nearer at hand in case assistance should be required, Burgoyne
encamped on the east side of the Hudson, nearly opposite Saratoga,
throwing over a bridge of boats by which General Fraser, with the
advanced guard, crossed to that place. Colonel Baum set out from camp
at break of day on the 13th of August. He was too slow a man to take a
place by surprise. The people of Bennington heard of his approach and
were on the alert. The veteran Stark was there with eight or nine
hundred troops. During the late alarms the militia of the State had
been formed into two brigades, one to be commanded by General William
Whipple; Stark had with difficulty been prevailed upon to accept the
command of the other, upon the express condition that he should not be
obliged to join the main army but should be left to his own discretion
to make war in his own partisan style, hovering about the enemy in
their march through the country, and accountable to none but the
authorities of New Hampshire.

Having heard that Indians had appeared at Cambridge, twelve miles to
the north of Bennington, on the 13th, he sent out two hundred men
under Colonel Gregg in quest of them. In the course of the night he
learnt that they were mere scouts in advance of a force marching upon
Bennington. He immediately rallied his brigade, called out the militia
of the neighborhood, and sent off for Colonel Seth Warner and his
regiment of militia who were with General Lincoln at Manchester.
Lincoln instantly detached them, and Warner and his men marched all
night through drenching rain, arriving at Stark's camp in the morning,
dripping wet.

Stark left them at Bennington to dry and rest themselves and then to
follow on; in the meantime he pushed forward with his men to support
the party sent out the preceding day under Gregg, in quest of the
Indians. He met them about five miles off in full retreat, Baum and
his force a mile in their rear. He halted and prepared for action.
Baum also halted, posted himself on a high ground at a bend of the
little river Walloomscoick and began to intrench himself. Stark fell
back a mile to wait for reinforcements and draw down Baum from his
strong position. A skirmish took place between the advance guards;
thirty of Baum's men were killed and two Indian chiefs. An incessant
rain on the 15th prevented an attack on Baum's camp, but there was
continual skirmishing. The colonel strengthened his intrenchments, and
finding he had a larger force to contend with than he had anticipated,
sent off in all haste to Burgoyne for reinforcements. Colonel Breyman
marched off immediately with five hundred Hessian grenadiers and
infantry and two six-pounders, leaving behind him his tents, baggage,
and standards.

In the meantime the Americans had been mustering from all quarters to
Stark's assistance, with such weapons as they had at hand. During the
night of the 15th, Colonel Symonds arrived with a body of Berkshire
militia. On the following morning the sun shone bright, and Stark
prepared to attack Baum in his intrenchments; though he had no
artillery, and his men, for the most part, had only their ordinary
brown firelocks without bayonets. Two hundred of his men, under
Colonel Nichols, were detached to the rear of the enemy's left; three
hundred under Colonel Herrick, to the rear of his right; they were to
join their forces and attack him in the rear, while Colonels Hubbard
and Stickney, with two hundred men, diverted his attention in front.

At the first sound of fire-arms, Stark, who had remained with the main
body in camp, mounted his horse and gave the word, _forward!_ He had
promised his men the plunder of the British camp. The homely speech
made by him when in sight of the enemy, has often been cited. "Now, my
men! There are the red coats! Before night they must be ours, or Molly
Stark will be a widow!"

Baum soon found himself assailed on every side, but he defended his
works bravely. His two pieces of artillery, advantageously planted,
were very effective, and his troops, if slow in march, were steady in
action. Stark inspired his men with his own impetuosity. They drove
the royalist troops upon the Hessians, and pressing after them stormed
the works with irresistible fury. A Hessian eye-witness declares that
this time the rebels fought with desperation, pressing within eight
paces of the loaded cannon to take surer aim at the artillerists. The
latter were slain; the cannon captured. The royalists and Canadians
took to flight, and escaped to the woods. The Germans still kept their
ground and fought bravely, until there was not a cartridge left. Baum
and his dragoons then took to their broadswords, and the infantry to
their bayonets, and endeavored to cut their way to a road in the
woods, but in vain; many were killed, more wounded, Baum among the
number, and all who survived were taken prisoners.

The victors now dispersed, some to collect booty, some to attend to
the wounded, some to guard the prisoners, and some to seek
refreshment, being exhausted by hunger and fatigue. At this critical
juncture, Breyman's tardy reinforcement came, making its way heavily
and slowly to the scene of action, joined by many of the enemy who had
fled. Attempts were made to rally the militia; but they were in
complete confusion. Nothing would have saved them from defeat, had not
Colonel Seth Warner's corps fortunately arrived from Bennington, fresh
from repose, and advanced to meet the enemy, while the others regained
their ranks. It was four o'clock in the afternoon when this second
action commenced. It was fought from wood to wood and hill to hill,
for several miles, until sunset. The last stand of the enemy was at
Van Schaick's mill, where, having expended all their ammunition, of
which each man had forty rounds, they gave way, and retreated, under
favor of the night, leaving two field-pieces and all their baggage in
the hands of the Americans.

Four brass field-pieces, nine hundred dragoon swords, a thousand stand
of arms, and four ammunition wagons were the spoils of this victory.
Thirty-two officers, five hundred and sixty-four privates, including
Canadians and loyalists, were taken prisoners. The number of slain was
very considerable, but could not be ascertained; many having fallen in
the woods. The brave but unfortunate Baum did not long survive. The
Americans had one hundred killed and wounded.

Arnold's march to the relief of Fort Stanwix was slower than suited
his ardent and impatient spirit. He was detained in the valley of the
Mohawk by bad roads, by the necessity of waiting for baggage and
ammunition wagons, and for militia recruits who turned out
reluctantly. Conscious of the smallness of his force, he had resorted
to stratagem, sending emissaries ahead to spread exaggerated reports
of the number of his troops, so as to work on the fears of the enemy's
Indian allies and induce them to desert. The most important of these
emissaries was one Yan Yost Cuyler, an eccentric, half-witted fellow,
known throughout the country as a rank tory. He had been convicted as
a spy, and only spared from the halter on the condition that he would
go into St. Leger's camp, and spread alarming reports among the
Indians, by whom he was well known. To insure a faithful discharge of
his mission, Arnold detained his brother as a hostage.

On his way up the Mohawk Valley, Arnold was joined by a New York
regiment, under Colonel James Livingston, sent by Gates to reinforce
him. On arriving at the German Flats he received an express from
Colonel Gansevoort, informing him that he was still besieged, but in
high spirits and under no apprehensions.

All this while St. Leger was advancing his parallels and pressing the
siege; while provisions and ammunition were rapidly decreasing within
the fort. St Leger's Indian allies, however, were growing sullen and
intractable. This slow kind of warfare, this war with the spade, they
were unaccustomed to, and they by no means relished it. At this
juncture, scouts brought word that a force one thousand strong was
marching to the relief of the fort. Eager to put his savages in
action, St. Leger, in a council of war, offered to their chiefs to
place himself at their head, with three hundred of his best troops,
and meet the enemy as they advanced. It was agreed, and they sallied
forth together to choose a fighting ground. By this time rumors stole
into the camp doubling the number of the approaching enemy. Burgoyne's
whole army were said to have been defeated. Lastly came Yan Yost
Cuyler, with his coat full of bullet-holes, giving out that he had
escaped from the hands of the Americans, and had been fired upon by
them. His story was believed, for he was known to be a royalist.
Mingling among his old acquaintances, the Indians, he assured them
that the Americans were close at hand, and "numerous as the leaves on
the trees."

Arnold's stratagem succeeded. The Indians, fickle as the winds, began
to desert. Sir John Johnson and Colonels Claus and Butler endeavored
in vain to reassure and retain them. In a little while two hundred had
decamped, and the rest threatened to do so likewise, unless St. Leger
retreated. The unfortunate colonel found too late what little reliance
was to be placed upon Indian allies. He determined, on the 22d, to
send off his sick, his wounded, and his artillery by Wood Creek that
very night, and to protect them by the line of march. The Indians,
however, goaded on by Arnold's emissaries, insisted on instant
retreat. St. Leger still refused to depart before nightfall. The
savages now became ungovernable. They seized upon liquor of the
officers about to be embarked, and getting intoxicated behaved like
very fiends. In a word St. Leger was obliged to decamp about noon in
such hurry and confusion that he left his tents standing, and his
artillery, with most of his baggage, ammunition and stores, fell into
the hands of the Americans.

A detachment from the garrison pursued and harassed him for a time;
but his greatest annoyance was from his Indian allies, who plundered
the boats which conveyed such baggage as had been brought off;
murdered all stragglers who lagged in the rear, and amused themselves
by giving false alarms to keep up the panic of the soldiery, who would
throw away muskets, knapsacks, and everything that impeded their
flight. It was not until he reached Onondaga Falls, that St. Leger
discovered by a letter from Burgoyne, and floating reports brought by
the bearer, that he had been the dupe of a _ruse de guerre_, and that
at the time the advancing foe were reported to be close upon his
haunches, they were not within forty miles of him.

Such was the second blow to Burgoyne's invading army; but before the
news of it reached that doomed commander, he had already been half
paralyzed by the disaster at Bennington.

Means were now augmenting in Schuyler's hands. Colonels Livingston and
Pierre van Cortlandt, forwarded by Putnam, were arrived. Governor
Clinton was daily expected with New York militia from the Highlands.
The arrival of Arnold was anticipated with troops and artillery, and
Lincoln with the New England militia. At this propitious moment, when
everything was ready for the sickle to be put into the harvest,
General Gates arrived in the camp. Schuyler received him with the
noble courtesy to which he pledged himself. After acquainting him with
all the affairs of the department, the measures he had taken and those
he had projected, he informed him of his having signified to Congress
his intention to remain in that quarter for the present and render
every service in his power, and he entreated Gates to call upon him
for council and assistance whenever he thought proper.

Gates was in high spirits. His letters to Washington show how
completely he was aware that an easy path of victory had been opened
to him. But so far was he from responding to Schuyler's magnanimity,
and profiting by his nobly offered counsel and assistance, that he did
not even ask him to be present at his first council of war, although
he invited up General Ten Broeck of the militia from Albany to attend


On the 25th of August the British army under General Howe began to
land from the fleet in Elk River, at the bottom of Chesapeake Bay. The
place where they landed was about six miles below the Head of Elk (now
Elkton), a small town, the capital of Cecil County. This was seventy
miles from Philadelphia. Early in the evening Washington received
intelligence that the enemy were landing. There was a quantity of
public and private stores at the Head of Elk which he feared would
fall into their hands if they moved quickly. Every attempt was to be
made to check them. The divisions of Generals Greene and Stephen were
within a few miles of Wilmington; orders were sent for them to march
thither immediately. The two other divisions which had halted at
Chester to refresh were to hurry forward. Major-general Armstrong, who
now commanded the Pennsylvania militia, was urged to send down in the
cool of the night all the men he could muster, properly armed. General
Rodney, who commanded the Delaware militia, was ordered to throw out
scouts and patrols toward the enemy to watch their motions; and to
move near them with his troops as soon as he should be reinforced by
the Maryland militia. Light troops were sent out early in the morning
to hover about and harass the invaders.

The country was in a great state of alarm. The inhabitants were
hurrying off their most valuable effects, so that it was difficult to
procure cattle and vehicles to remove the public stores. The want of
horses, and the annoyances given by the American light troops,
however, kept Howe from advancing promptly, and gave time for the
greater part of the stores to be saved. To allay the public alarm,
Howe issued a proclamation on the 27th, promising the strictest
regularity and order on the part of his army; with security of person
and property to all who remained quietly at home, and pardon to those
under arms, who should promptly return to their obedience.

The divisions of Generals Greene and Stephen were now stationed
several miles in advance of Wilmington, behind White Clay Creek, about
ten miles from the Head of Elk. General Smallwood and Colonel Gist had
been directed by Congress to take command of the militia of Maryland,
who were gathering on the western shore, and Washington sent them
orders to co-operate with General Rodney and get in the rear of the

Washington now felt the want of Morgan and his riflemen, whom he had
sent to assist the Northern army; to supply their place, he formed a
corps of light troops, by drafting a hundred men from each brigade.
The command was given to Major-general Maxwell, who was to hover about
the enemy and give them continual annoyance.

The army about this time was increased by the arrival of General
Sullivan and his division of three thousand men. He had recently,
while encamped at Hanover in Jersey, made a gallant attempt to
surprise and capture a corps of one thousand provincials stationed on
Staten Island, at a distance from the fortified camp, and opposite the
Jersey shore. The attempt was partially successful; a number of the
provincials were captured; but the regulars came to the rescue.
Sullivan had not brought sufficient boats to secure a retreat. His
rear-guard was captured while waiting for the return of the boats, yet
not without a sharp resistance. There was loss on both sides, but the
Americans suffered most. Congress had directed Washington to appoint a
court of inquiry to investigate the matter; in the meantime, Sullivan,
whose gallantry remained undoubted, continued in command.

There were now in camp several of those officers and gentlemen from
various parts of Europe who had recently pressed into the service, and
the suitable employment of whom had been a source of much perplexity
to Washington. General Deborre, the French veteran of thirty years'
service, commanded a brigade in Sullivan's division. Brigadier-general
Conway, the Gallicized Hibernian, was in the division of Lord
Stirling. Beside these, there was Louis Fleury, a French gentleman of
noble descent, who had been educated as an engineer, and had come out
at the opening of the Revolution to offer his services. Washington had
obtained for him a captain's commission. Another officer of
distinguished merit, was the Count Pulaski, a Pole, recommended by Dr.
Franklin as an officer famous throughout Europe for his bravery and
conduct in defence of the liberties of his country against Russia,
Austria and Prussia.

At this time Henry Lee of Virginia, of military renown, makes his
first appearance. He was in the twenty-second year of his age, and in
the preceding year had commanded a company of Virginia volunteers. He
had recently signalized himself in scouting parties, harassing the
enemy's pickets. His adventurous exploits soon won him notoriety and
the popular appellation of "Light-horse Harry." He was favorably
noticed by Washington throughout the war.

Several days were now passed by the commander-in-chief almost
continually in the saddle, reconnoitring the roads and passes, and
making himself acquainted with the surrounding country, which was very
much intersected by rivers and small streams, running chiefly from
northwest to southeast. He had now made up his mind to risk a battle
in the open field. It is true his troops were inferior to those of the
enemy in number, equipments and discipline. Many of them were militia
or raw recruits, yet the divisions of the army had acquired a facility
at moving in large masses, and were considerably improved in military
tactics. At any rate, it would never do to let Philadelphia, at that
time the capital of the States, fall without a blow. Public impatience
called for a battle; it was expected even by Europe; his own valiant
spirit required it, though hitherto he had been held in check by
superior considerations of expediency and by the controlling
interference of Congress.

The British army having effected a landing, it was formed into two
divisions. One, under Sir William Howe, was stationed at Elkton, with
its advanced guard at Gray's Hill, about two miles off. The other
division, under General Knyphausen, was on the opposite side of the
ferry at Cecil Court House. On the 3d of September the enemy advanced
in considerable force, with three field-pieces, moving with great
caution, as the country was difficult, woody and not well known to
them. About three miles in front of White Clay Creek, their vanguard
was encountered by General Maxwell and his light troops, and a severe
skirmish took place. The fire of the American sharpshooters and
riflemen as usual, was very effective; but being inferior in number
and having no artillery, Maxwell was compelled to retreat across White
Clay Creek, with the loss of about forty killed and wounded. The loss
of the enemy was supposed to be much greater.

The main body of the American army was now encamped on the east side
of Red Clay Creek, on the road leading from Elkton to Philadelphia.
The light-infantry were in the advance, at White Clay Creek. The
armies were from eight to ten miles apart. In this position,
Washington determined to await the threatened attack. His numerical
force at this time was about fifteen thousand men, but from sickness
and other causes the effective force, militia included, did not exceed
eleven thousand, and most of these indifferently armed and equipped.
The strength of the British was computed at eighteen thousand men,
but, it is thought, not more than fifteen thousand were brought into

On the 8th, the enemy advanced in two columns--one appeared preparing
to attack the Americans in front, while the other extended its left up
the west side of the creek, halting at Milltown, somewhat to the right
of the American position. Washington now suspected an intention on the
part of Sir William Howe to march by his right, suddenly pass the
Brandywine, gain the heights north of that stream and cut him off from
Philadelphia. He summoned a council of war, therefore, that evening,
in which it was determined immediately to change their position, and
move to the river in question. By two o'clock in the morning, the army
was under march, and by the next evening was encamped on the high
grounds in the rear of the Brandywine. The enemy on the same evening
moved to Kennet Square, about seven miles from the American position.


The Brandywine Creek, as it is called, commences with two branches,
called the East and West branches, which unite in one stream, flowing
from west to east about twenty-two miles, and emptying itself into the
Delaware about twenty-five miles below Philadelphia. It has several
fords; one called Chadd's Ford, was at that time the most practicable,
and in the direct route from the enemy's camp to Philadelphia. As the
principal attack was expected here, Washington made it the centre of
his position, where he stationed the main body of his army, composed
of Wayne's, Weedon's, and Muhlenberg's brigades, with the
light-infantry under Maxwell. An eminence immediately above the ford
had been intrenched in the night, and was occupied by Wayne and
Proctor's artillery. Weedon's and Muhlenberg's brigades, which were
Virginian troops, and formed General Greene's division, were posted in
the rear on the heights as a reserve to aid either wing of the army.
With these Washington took his stand. Maxwell's light-infantry were
thrown in the advance, south of the Brandywine, and posted on high
ground each side of the road leading to the ford.

The right wing of the army commanded by Sullivan, and composed of his
division and those of Stephen and Stirling, extended up the Brandywine
two miles beyond Washington's position. Its light troops and videttes
were distributed quite up to the forks. The left wing, composed of the
Pennsylvania militia, under Major-general Armstrong, was stationed
about a mile and a half below the main body, to protect the lower
fords, where the least danger was apprehended.

Early on the morning of the 11th, a great column of troops was
descried advancing on the road leading to Chadd's Ford. A skirt of the
woods concealed its force, but it was supposed to be the main body of
the enemy; if so, a general conflict was at hand. The Americans were
immediately drawn out in order of battle. Washington rode along the
front of the ranks, and was everywhere received with acclamations. A
sharp firing of small arms soon told that Maxwell's light-infantry
were engaged with the vanguard of the enemy. The skirmishing was kept
up for some time with spirit, when Maxwell was driven across the
Brandywine below the ford. The enemy, who had advanced but slowly, did
not attempt to follow, but halted on commanding ground, and appeared
to reconnoitre the American position with a view to an attack. A heavy
cannonading commenced on both sides, about ten o'clock. The enemy made
repeated dispositions to force the ford, which brought on as frequent
skirmishes on both sides of the river, for detachments of the light
troops occasionally crossed over.

Towards noon came an express from Sullivan, with a note received from
a scouting party, reporting that General Howe, with a large body of
troops and a park of artillery, was pushing up the Lancaster road,
doubtless to cross at the upper fords and turn the right flank of the
American position.

Startled by the information, Washington instantly sent off Colonel
Theodoric Bland, with a party of horse, to reconnoitre above the forks
and ascertain the truth of the report. In the meantime he resolved to
cross the ford, attack the division in front of him with his whole
force, and rout it before the other could arrive. He gave orders for
both wings to co-operate, when, as Sullivan was preparing to cross,
Major Spicer of the militia rode up, just from the forks, and assured
him there was no enemy in that quarter. Sullivan instantly transmitted
the intelligence to Washington, whereupon the movement was suspended
until positive information could be obtained. After a time came a man
of the neighborhood, Thomas Cheyney by name, spurring in all haste,
the mare he rode in foam, and himself out of breath. Dashing up to the
commander-in-chief, he informed him that he must instantly move, or he
would be surrounded. He had come upon the enemy unawares; had been
pursued and fired upon, but the fleetness of his mare had saved him.
The main body of the British was coming down on the east side of the
stream, and was near at hand. Another despatch from Sullivan
corroborated the story. Colonel Bland, whom Washington had sent to
reconnoitre above the forks, had seen the enemy two miles in the rear
of Sullivan's right, marching down at a rapid rate, while a cloud of
dust showed that there were more troops behind them.

In fact, Knyphausen with a small division had engrossed the attention
of the Americans by a feigned attack at Chadd's Ford, kept up with
great noise and prolonged by skirmishes; while the main body of the
army under Cornwallis, led by experienced guides, had made a circuit
of seventeen miles, crossed the two forks of the Brandywine, and
arrived in the neighborhood of Birmingham meeting-house, two miles to
the right of Sullivan. It was a capital stratagem, secretly and
successfully conducted.

Finding that Cornwallis had thus gained the rear of the army,
Washington sent orders to Sullivan to oppose him with the whole right
wing, each brigade attacking as soon as it arrived upon the ground.
Wayne, in the meantime, was to keep Knyphausen at bay at the ford, and
Greene, with the reserve, to hold himself ready to give aid wherever
required. Lafayette, as a volunteer, had hitherto accompanied the
commander-in-chief, but now, seeing there was likely to be warm work
with the right wing, he obtained permission to join Sullivan, and
spurred off with his aide-de-camp to the scene of action.


Sullivan on receiving Washington's orders, advanced with his own,
Stephen's and Stirling's divisions, and began to form a line in front
of an open piece of wood. The time which had been expended in
transmitting intelligence, receiving orders, and marching, had enabled
Cornwallis to choose his ground and prepare for action. Still more
time was given him from the apprehension of the three generals, upon
consultation, of being out-flanked upon the right, and that the gap
between Sullivan's and Stephen's divisions was too wide, and should be
closed up. Orders were accordingly given for the whole line to move to
the right; and while in execution, Cornwallis advanced rapidly with
his troops in the finest order, and opened a brisk fire of musketry
and artillery. The Americans made an obstinate resistance, but being
taken at a disadvantage, the right and left wings were broken and
driven into the woods. The centre stood firm for a while, but being
exposed to the whole fire of the enemy, gave way at length also. The
British, in following up their advantage, got entangled in the wood.
Lafayette had thrown himself from his horse and was endeavoring to
rally the troops, when he was shot through the leg with a musket ball,
and had to be assisted into the saddle by his aide-de-camp.

The Americans rallied on a height to the north of Dilworth, and made a
still more spirited resistance than at first, but were again dislodged
and obliged to retreat with a heavy loss.

While this was occurring with the right wing, Knyphausen, as soon as
he learnt from the heavy firing that Cornwallis was engaged, made a
push to force his way across Chadd's Ford in earnest. He was
vigorously opposed by Wayne with Proctor's artillery, aided by Maxwell
and his infantry. Greene was preparing to second him with the reserve,
when he was summoned by Washington to the support of the right wing;
which the commander-in-chief had found in imminent peril.

Greene advanced to the relief with such celerity, that it is said, on
good authority, his division accomplished the march, or rather run, of
five miles in less than fifty minutes. He arrived too late to save the
battle, but in time to protect the broken masses of the left wing
which he met in full flight. Opening his ranks from time to time for
the fugitives and closing them the moment they had passed, he covered
their retreat by a sharp and well-directed fire from his field-pieces.
His grand stand was made at a place about a mile beyond Dilworth,
which in reconnoitring the neighborhood Washington had pointed out to
him, as well calculated for a second position, should the army be
driven out of the first. Weedon's brigade was drawn up in a narrow
defile, flanked on both sides by woods, and perfectly commanding the
road; while Greene, with Muhlenberg's brigade, passing to the right
took his station on the road. The British came on impetuously,
expecting but faint opposition. They met with a desperate resistance
and were repeatedly driven back. Weedon's brigade on the left
maintained its stand also with great obstinacy, and the check given to
the enemy by these two brigades allowed time for the broken troops to
retreat. Weedon was at length compelled by superior numbers to seek
the protection of the other brigade, which he did in good order, and
Greene gradually drew off the whole division in face of the enemy,
who, checked by this vigorous resistance, and seeing the day far
spent, gave up all further pursuit.

The brave stand made by these brigades had likewise been a great
protection to Wayne. He had for a long time withstood the attacks of
the enemy at Chadd's Ford, until the approach on the right of some of
the enemy's troops, who had been entangled in the woods, showed him
that the right wing had been routed. He now gave up the defence of his
post and retreated by the Chester road. Knyphausen's troops were too
fatigued to pursue him, and the others had been kept back, as we have
shown, by Greene's division. So ended the varied conflict of the day.

Lafayette gives an animated picture of the general retreat in which he
became entangled. All around him was headlong terror and confusion.
Chester road, the common retreat of the broken fragments of the army
from every quarter, was crowded with fugitives, with cannon, with
baggage cars, all hurrying forward pell-mell, and obstructing each
other. At Chester, twelve miles from the field of battle, there was a
deep stream with a bridge, over which the fugitives would have to
pass. Here Lafayette set a guard to prevent their further flight. The
commander-in-chief arriving soon after with Greene and his gallant
division, some degree of order was restored, and the whole army took
its post behind Chester for the night.

The scene of this battle, which decided the fate of Philadelphia, was
within six and twenty miles of that city, and each discharge of cannon
could be heard there. The two parties of the inhabitants, whig and
tory, were to be seen in separate groups in the squares and public
places, waiting the event in anxious silence. At length a courier
arrived. His tidings spread consternation among the friends of
liberty. Many left their homes; entire families abandoned everything
in terror and despair, and took refuge in the mountains. Congress,
that same evening determined to quit the city and repair to Lancaster,
whence they subsequently removed to Yorktown.

Notwithstanding the rout and precipitate retreat of the American army,
Sir William Howe did not press the pursuit, but passed the night on
the field of battle, and remained the two following days at Dilworth,
sending out detachments to take post at Concord and Chester, and seize
on Wilmington, whither the sick and wounded were conveyed.

Washington, as usual, profited by the inactivity of Howe; quietly
retreating through Derby (on the 12th) across the Schuylkill to
Germantown, within a short distance of Philadelphia, where he gave his
troops a day's repose. Finding them in good spirits and in nowise
disheartened by the recent affair, which they seemed to consider a
check rather than a defeat, he resolved to seek the enemy again and
give him battle. As preliminary measures, he left some of the
Pennsylvania militia in Philadelphia to guard the city; others, under
General Armstrong, were posted at the various passes of the
Schuylkill, with orders to throw up works; the floating bridge on the
lower road was to be unmoored, and the boats collected and taken
across the river.

Having taken these precautions against any hostile movement by the
lower road, Washington recrossed the Schuylkill on the 14th, and
advanced along the Lancaster road, with the intention of turning the
left flank of the enemy. Howe, apprised of his intention, made a
similar disposition to outflank him. The two armies came in sight of
each other near the Warren Tavern, twenty-three miles from
Philadelphia, and were on the point of engaging, but were prevented by
a violent storm of rain which lasted for four and twenty hours.

This inclement weather was particularly distressing to the Americans,
who were scantily clothed, most of them destitute of blankets, and
separated from their tents and baggage. The rain penetrated their
cartridge-boxes and the ill-fitted locks of their muskets, rendering
the latter useless, being deficient in bayonets. In this plight,
Washington gave up for the present all thought of attacking the enemy,
as their discipline in the use of the bayonet, with which they were
universally furnished, would give them a great superiority in action.

The only aim at present was to get to some dry and secure place where
the army might repose and refit. All day and for a great part of the
night they marched under a cold and pelting rain, and through deep and
miry roads to the Yellow Springs, thence to Warwick, on French Creek.
At Warwick furnace, ammunition and a few muskets were obtained, to aid
in disputing the passage of the Schuylkill, and the advance of the
enemy on Philadelphia. From French Creek, Wayne was detached with his
division to get in the rear of the enemy, form a junction with General
Smallwood and the Maryland militia, and, keeping themselves concealed,
watch for an opportunity to cut off Howe's baggage and hospital train;
in the meantime Washington crossed the Schuylkill at Parker's Ford and
took a position to defend that pass of the river.

Wayne set off in the night, and by a circuitous march got within three
miles of the left wing of the British encamped at Trydraffin, and
concealing himself in a wood, waited the arrival of Smallwood and his
militia. At daybreak he reconnoitred the camp where Howe, checked by
the severity of the weather, had contented himself with uniting his
columns, and remained under shelter. All day Wayne hovered about the
camp; there were no signs of marching; all kept quiet but lay too
compact to be attacked with prudence. He sent repeated messages to
Washington describing the situation of the enemy. "I believe he knows
nothing of my situation, as I have taken every precaution to prevent
any intelligence getting to him."

His motions, however, had not been so secret as he imagined. He was in
a part of the country full of the disaffected, and Sir William had
received accurate information of his force and where he was encamped.
General Gray, with a strong detachment, was sent to surprise him at
night in his lair. Late in the evening, when Wayne had set his pickets
and sentinels and thrown out his patrols, a countryman brought him
word of the meditated attack. He doubted the intelligence, but
strengthened his pickets and patrols, and ordered his troops to sleep
upon their arms. At eleven o'clock the pickets were driven in at the
point of the bayonet--the enemy were advancing in column. Wayne
instantly took post on the right of his position, to cover the retreat
of the left, led by Colonel Hampton, the second in command. The latter
was tardy, and incautiously paraded his troops in front of their fires
so as to be in full relief. The enemy rushed on without firing a gun;
all was the silent but deadly work of the bayonet and cutlass. Nearly
three hundred of Hampton's men were killed or wounded, and the rest
put to flight. Wayne gave the enemy some well-directed volleys, and
then retreating to a small distance, rallied his troops and prepared
for further defence. The British, however, contented themselves with
the blow they had given and retired with very little loss, taking with
them between seventy and eighty prisoners, several of them officers,
and eight baggage wagons, heavily laden.

General Smallwood, who was to have co-operated with Wayne, was within
a mile of him at the time of his attack, and would have hastened to
his assistance with his well-known intrepidity, but he had not the
corps under his command with which he had formerly distinguished
himself, and his raw militia fled in a panic at the first sight of a
return party of the enemy. Wayne was deeply mortified by the result of
this affair, and finding it severely criticised in the army, demanded
a court-martial, which pronounced his conduct everything that was to
be expected from an active, brave, and vigilant officer; whatever
blame there was in the matter fell upon his second in command.

On the 21st, Sir William Howe made a rapid march high up the
Schuylkill, on the road leading to Reading, as if he intended either
to capture the military stores deposited there, or to turn the right
of the American army. Washington kept pace with him on the opposite
side of the river up to Pott's Grove, about thirty miles from

The movement on the part of Howe was a mere feint. No sooner had he
drawn Washington so far up the river, than by a rapid countermarch on
the night of the 22d, he got to the ford below, threw his troops
across on the next morning and pushed forward for Philadelphia. By the
time Washington was apprised of this counter-movement, Howe was too
far on his way to be overtaken by harassed, barefooted troops, worn
out by constant marching. Feeling the necessity of immediate
reinforcements, he wrote on the same day to Putnam, at Peekskill: "I
desire that without a moment's loss of time, you will detach as many
effective rank and file, under proper generals and officers, as will
make the whole number, including those with General McDougall, amount
to twenty-five hundred privates and non-commissioned fit for duty. I
must urge you, by every motive, to send this detachment without the
least possible delay."

On the next day (24th) he wrote also to General Gates: "I request, if
circumstances will admit, that you will order Colonel Morgan to join
me again with his corps. I sent him up when I thought you materially
wanted him; and if his services can be dispensed with now, you will
direct his immediate return."

Having called a council of officers and taken their opinions, which
concurred with his own, Washington determined to remain some days at
Pott's Grove, to give repose to his troops and await the arrival of

Sir William Howe halted at Germantown, within a short distance of
Philadelphia, and encamped the main body of his army in and about that
village; detaching Lord Cornwallis with a large force and a number of
officers of distinction, to take formal possession of the city. That
general marched into Philadelphia on the 26th with a brilliant staff
and escort, and followed by splendid legions of British and Hessian
grenadiers, long trains of artillery and squadrons of light-dragoons,
the finest troops in the army all in their best array.


The checks which Burgoyne had received on right and left, and, in a
great measure, through the spontaneous rising of the country, had
opened his eyes to the difficulties of his situation, and the errors
as to public feeling into which he had been led by his tory
counsellors. He declared that had he any latitude in his orders, he
would remain where he was, or perhaps fall back to Fort Edward, where
his communication with Lake George would be secure, and wait for some
event that might assist his movement forward; his orders, however,
were positive to force a junction with Sir William Howe. He did not
feel at liberty, therefore, to remain inactive longer than would be
necessary to receive the reinforcements of the additional companies,
the German drafts and recruits actually on Lake Champlain, and to
collect provisions enough for twenty-five days. These reinforcements
were indispensable, because, from the hour he should pass the Hudson
River and proceed towards Albany, all safety of communication would

A feature of peculiar interest is given to this wild and rugged
expedition, by the presence of two ladies of rank and refinement,
involved in its perils and hardships. One was Lady Harriet Ackland,
daughter of the Earl of Ilchester, and wife of Major Ackland of the
grenadiers; the other was the Baroness De Riedesel, wife of the
Hessian major-general. Both of these ladies had been left behind in
Canada. Lady Harriet, however, on hearing that her husband was wounded
in the affair at Hubbardton, instantly set out to rejoin him,
regardless of danger, and of her being in a condition before long to
become a mother. Crossing the whole length of Lake Champlain, she
found him in a sick bed at Skenesborough. After his recovery she
refused to leave him, but had continued with the army ever since. Her
example had been imitated by the Baroness De Riedesel, who had joined
the army at Fort Edward, bringing with her her three small children.
The friendship and sympathy of these two ladies in all scenes of trial
and suffering, and their devoted attachment to their husbands, afford
touching episodes in the story of the campaign.

The American army had received various reinforcements. It was now
about ten thousand strong. Schuyler, finding himself and his proffered
services slighted by Gates, had returned to Albany. His patriotism was
superior to personal resentments. He still continued to promote the
success of the campaign, exerting his influence over the Indian tribes
to win them from the enemy. At Albany he held talks and war feasts
with deputations of Oneida, Tuscarora, and Onondaga warriors; and
procured scouting parties of them, which he sent to the camp, and
which proved of great service.

The dense forests which covered the country between the hostile armies
concealed their movements, and as Gates threw out no harassing
parties, his information concerning the enemy was vague. Burgoyne,
however, was diligently collecting all his forces from Skenesborough,
Fort Anne and Fort George, and collecting provisions. So stood matters
on the 11th of September, when a report was circulated in the American
camp that Burgoyne was in motion, and that he had made a speech to his
soldiers, telling them that the fleet had returned to Canada, and
their only safety was to fight their way to New York.

As General Gates was to _receive_ an attack, it was thought he ought
to choose the ground where to receive it. Arnold, therefore, in
company with Kosciuszko, the Polish engineer, reconnoitred the
neighborhood in quest of a good camping-ground, and at length fixed
upon a ridge of hills called Bemis's Heights, which Kosciuszko
proceeded to fortify. In the meantime Colonel Colburn was sent off
with a small party to ascend the high hills on the east side of the
Hudson, and watch the movements of the enemy with glasses from their
summits, or from the tops of the trees. For three days he kept thus on
the look-out, sending word from time to time to camp of all that he

On the 11th there were the first signs of movement among Burgoyne's
troops. On the 13th and 14th they slowly passed over a bridge of
boats, which they had thrown across the Hudson, and encamped near Fish
Creek. On the 15th, both English and Hessian camps struck their tents,
and loaded their baggage wagons. By twelve o'clock both began to
march. Colburn neglected to notice the route taken by the Hessians;
his attention was absorbed by the British, who made their way slowly
and laboriously down the western side of the river, along a wretched
road intersected by brooks and rivulets, the bridges over which
Schuyler had broken down. The division had with it eighty-five baggage
wagons and a great train of artillery; with two unwieldy
twenty-four-pounders, acting like drag anchors. Having seen the army
advance two miles on its march, Colburn descended from the heights,
and hastened to the American camp to make his report. A British
prisoner, brought in soon afterwards, stated that Burgoyne had come to
a halt about four miles distant.

On the following morning the army was under arms at daylight; the
enemy, however, remained encamped, repairing bridges in front, and
sending down guard-boats to reconnoitre. The Americans, therefore,
went on to fortify their position. The ridge of hills called Bemis's
Heights, rises abruptly from the narrow flat bordering the west side
of the river. Kosciuszko had fortified the camp with intrenchments
three-quarters of a mile in extent, having redoubts and batteries,
which commanded the valley and even the hills on the opposite side of
the river, for the Hudson, in this upper part, is comparatively a
narrow stream. From the foot of the height an intrenchment extended to
the river, ending with a battery at the water edge, commanding a
floating bridge.

The right wing of the army, under the immediate command of Gates, and
composed of Glover's, Nixon's, and Patterson's brigades, occupied the
brow of the hill nearest to the river, with the flats below. The left
wing, commanded by Arnold, was on the side of the camp farthest from
the river, and distant from the latter about three-quarters of a mile.
It was composed of the New Hampshire brigade of General Poor, Pierre
Van Courtlandt's and James Livingston's regiments of New York militia,
the Connecticut militia, Morgan's riflemen, and Dearborn's infantry.
The centre was composed of Massachusetts and New York troops.

Burgoyne gradually drew nearer to the camp, throwing out large parties
of pioneers and workmen. The Americans disputed every step. A Hessian
officer observes: "The enemy bristled up his hair, as we attempted to
repair more bridges. At last we had to do him the honor of sending out
whole regiments to protect our workmen."

Burgoyne now encamped about two miles from General Gates, disposing
his army in two lines; the left on the river, the right extending at
right angles to it, about six hundred yards across the low grounds to
a range of steep and rocky hills, occupied by the _élite_; a ravine
formed by a rivulet from the hills passed in front of the camp. The
low ground between the armies was cultivated; the hills were covered
with woods, excepting three or four small openings and deserted farms.
Beside the ravines which fronted each camp, there was a third one,
midway between them, also at right angles to the river.

On the morning of the 19th, General Gates received intelligence that
the enemy were advancing in great force on his left. It was in fact
their right wing, composed of the British line and led by Burgoyne in
person. It was covered by the grenadiers and light-infantry under
General Fraser and Colonel Breyman, who kept along the high grounds on
the right; while they, in turn, were covered in front and on the
flanks by Indians, provincial royalists and Canadians. The left wing
and artillery were advancing at the same time, under Major-general
Phillips and Riedesel, along the great road and meadows by the river
side, but they were retarded by the necessity of repairing broken
bridges. It was the plan of Burgoyne that the Canadians and Indians
should attack the central outposts of the Americans, and draw their
attention in that direction, while he and Fraser, making a circuit
through the woods, should join forces and fall upon the rear of the
American camp. As the dense forests hid them from each other, signal
guns were to regulate their movements. Three, fired in succession,
were to denote that all was ready, and be the signal for an attack in
front, flank and rear.

The American pickets, stationed along the ravine of Mill Creek, sent
repeated accounts to General Gates of the movements of the enemy; but
he remained quiet in his camp as if determined to await an attack. The
American officers grew impatient. Arnold especially, impetuous by
nature, urged repeatedly that a detachment should be sent forth to
check the enemy in their advance, and drive the Indians out of the
woods. At length he succeeded in getting permission, about noon, to
detach Morgan with his riflemen and Dearborn with his infantry from
his division. They soon fell in with the Canadians and Indians, which
formed the advance guard of the enemy's right, and attacking them with
spirit, drove them in, or rather dispersed them. Morgan's riflemen,
following up their advantage with too much eagerness, became likewise
scattered, and a strong reinforcement of royalists arriving on the
scene of action, the Americans, in their turn, were obliged to give

Other detachments now arrived from the American camp, led by Arnold,
who attacked Fraser on his right, to check his attempt to get in the
rear of the camp. Finding the position of Fraser too strong to be
forced, he sent to head-quarters for reinforcements, but they were
refused by Gates, who declared that no more should go. The reason he
gave was that it might be attacked by the enemy's left wing. Arnold
now made a rapid countermarch, and his movement being masked by the
woods, suddenly attempted to turn Fraser's left. Here he came in full
conflict with the British line, and threw himself upon it with a
boldness and impetuosity that for a time threatened to break it, and
cut the wings of the army asunder. The grenadiers and Breyman's
riflemen hastened to its support. General Phillips broke his way
through the woods with four pieces of artillery, and Riedesel came on
with his heavy dragoons. Reinforcements came likewise to Arnold's
assistance; his force, however, never exceeded three thousand men, and
with these, for nearly four hours, he kept up a conflict almost hand
to hand, with the whole right wing of the British army.

Night alone put an end to the conflict. Both parties claimed the
victory. But, though the British remained on the field of battle,
where they lay all night upon their arms, they had failed in their
object; they had been assailed instead of being the assailants, while
the American troops had accomplished the purpose for which they had
sallied forth, had checked the advance of the enemy, frustrated their
plan of attack, and returned exulting to their camp. Their loss, in
killed and wounded, was between three and four hundred, including
several officers; that of the enemy upwards of five hundred.

Burgoyne now strengthened his position with intrenchments and
batteries, part of them across the meadows which bordered the river,
part on the brow of the heights which commanded them. The Americans
likewise extended and strengthened their line of breastworks on the
left of the camp; the right was already unassailable. The camps were
within gunshot, but with ravines and woods between them.

The situation of Burgoyne was growing more and more critical. On the
21st he heard shouts in the American camp, and in a little while their
cannon thundered a _feu de joie_. News had been received from General
Lincoln, that a detachment of New England troops under Colonel Brown
had surprised the carrying-place, mills, and French lines at
Ticonderoga, captured an armed sloop, gunboats and bateaux, made three
hundred prisoners, beside releasing one hundred American captives, and
were laying siege to Fort Independence.

Fortunately for Burgoyne, while affairs were darkening in the North, a
ray of hope dawned from the South. While the shouts from the American
camp were yet ringing in his ears, came a letter in cipher from Sir
Henry Clinton, dated the 12th of September, announcing his intention
in about ten days to attack the forts in the Highlands of the Hudson.
Burgoyne sent back the messenger the same night, and despatched,
moreover, two officers in disguise, by different routes, all bearing
messages informing Sir Henry of his perilous situation. [Arnold had
been excessively indignant at Gates withholding the reinforcements he
had asked for in the recent action, which he attributed to pique or
jealousy. Gates, indeed, in the report to Congress made no mention of
Arnold. He also withdrew from Arnold's division Morgan's rifle corps
and Dearborn's light-infantry, its main reliance. Arnold called on
Gates to remonstrate. High words passed between them. Gates in his
heat told Arnold that General Lincoln would arrive in a day or two,
and then he would have no further occasion for him. Arnold returned to
his quarters in a rage, but he determined to remain in camp and abide
the anticipated battle.]

Lincoln, in the meantime, arrived in advance of his troops, which soon
followed to the amount of two thousand. Part of the troops, detached
by him under Colonel Brown, were besieging Ticonderoga and Fort
Independence. Colonel Brown himself, with part of his detachment, had
embarked on Lake George in an armed schooner and a squadron of
captured gunboats and bateaux, and was threatening the enemy's deposit
of baggage and heavy artillery at Diamond Island. The toils so
skilfully spread were encompassing Burgoyne more and more; the gates
of Canada were closing behind him.

We will now cast a look toward New York, and ascertain the cause of
Sir Henry's delay in the anxiously expected operations on the Hudson.

The expedition of Sir Henry Clinton had awaited the arrival of
reinforcements from Europe, which were slowly crossing the ocean in
Dutch bottoms. At length they arrived, after a three months' voyage,
and now there was a stir of warlike preparation at New York.

The defences of the Highlands, on which the security of the Hudson
depended, were at this time weakly garrisoned; some of the troops
having been sent off to reinforce the armies on the Delaware and in
the North. Putnam, who had the general command of the Highlands, had
but eleven hundred continental and four hundred militia troops with
him at Peekskill, his head-quarters. There was a feeble garrison at
Fort Independence, in the vicinity of Peekskill, to guard the public
stores and workshops at Continental Village. The Highland forts,
Clinton, Montgomery and Constitution, situated among the mountains and
forming their main defence, were no better garrisoned, and George
Clinton, who had the command of them, and who was in a manner the
champion of the Highlands, was absent from his post, attending the
State Legislature at Kingston (Esopus), in Ulster County, in his
capacity of governor.

There were patriot eyes in New York to watch the course of events, and
patriot boats on the river to act as swift messengers. [General Putnam
in September received intelligence on which he could depend of the
arrival of reinforcements in New York, and of preparations by the
enemy for a movement. Surmising his object to be the forts of the
Highlands, he wrote at once to Governor Clinton, conveying his
intelligence and asking for reinforcements of militia.] The governor
forthwith hastened to his post in the Highlands with such militia
force as he could collect. We have heretofore spoken of his Highland
citadel, Fort Montgomery, and of the obstructions of chain, boom, and
chevaux-de-frise between it and the opposite promontory of Anthony's
Nose, with which it had been hoped to barricade the Hudson. Fort
Clinton had subsequently been erected within rifle shot of Fort
Montgomery to occupy ground which commanded it. A deep ravine and
stream called Peploep's Kill intervened between the two forts, across
which there was a bridge. The governor had his head-quarters in Fort
Montgomery, which was the northern and largest fort, but its works
were unfinished. His brother James had charge of Fort Clinton, which
was complete. The whole force to garrison the associate forts did not
exceed six hundred men, chiefly militia, but they had the veteran,
Colonel Lamb of the artillery, with them, and a company of his
artillerists was distributed in the two forts.

The armament of Sir Henry Clinton, which had been waiting for a wind,
set sail in the course of a day or two and stood up the Hudson, dogged
by American swift-rowing whale-boats. Late at night of the 4th of
October came a barge across the river, from Peekskill to Fort
Montgomery, bearing a letter from Putnam to the governor. "This
morning," writes he, "we had information from our guard-boats that
there were two ships of war, three tenders, and a large number of
flatbottomed boats coming up the river. They proceeded up as far as
Tarrytown where they landed their men. This evening they were followed
by one large man-of-war, five topsail vessels, and a large number of
small craft."

The landing of troops at Tarrytown was a mere feint on the part of Sir
Henry to distract the attention of the Americans; after marching a few
miles into the country, they returned and re-embarked; the armament
continued across the Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay to Verplanck's
Point, where, on the 5th, Sir Henry landed with three thousand men,
about eight miles below Peekskill. Putnam drew back to the hills in
the rear of the village to prepare for the expected attack, and sent
off to Governor Clinton for all the troops he could spare. So far the
manoeuvres of Sir Henry Clinton had been successful. It was his plan
to threaten an attack on Peekskill and Fort Independence, and, when he
had drawn the attention of the American commanders to that quarter, to
land troops on the western shore of the Hudson, below the Dunderberg
(Thunder Hill), make a rapid march through the defiles behind that
mountain to the rear of Forts Montgomery and Clinton, come down on
them by surprise and carry them by a _coup de main_.

Accordingly at an early hour of the following morning taking advantage
of a thick fog, he crossed with two thousand men to Stony Point on the
west shore of the river, leaving about a thousand men, chiefly
royalists, at Verplanck's Point to keep up a threatening aspect
towards Peekskill. Three frigates, also, were to stand up what is
called the Devil's Horse Race into Peekskill Bay, and station
themselves within cannon shot of Fort Independence. Having
accomplished his landing, Sir Henry, conducted by a tory guide, set
out on a forced and circuitous march of several miles by rugged
defiles, round the western base of the Dunderberg. At the entrance of
the pass he left a small force to guard it and keep up his
communication with the ships. By eight o'clock in the morning he had
effected his march round the Dunderberg, and halted on the northern
side in a ravine, between it and a conical mount called Bear Hill. The
possibility of an enemy's approach by this pass had been noticed by
Washington in reconnoitring the Highlands, and he had mentioned it in
his instructions to Generals Greene and Knox, when they were sent to
make their military survey, but they considered it impracticable from
the extreme difficulty of the mountain passes.

In this ravine Sir Henry divided his forces. One division, nine
hundred strong, led by Lieutenant-colonel Campbell, was to make a
circuit through the forest round the western side of Bear Hill, so as
to gain the rear of Fort Montgomery. After Sir Henry had allowed
sufficient time for them to make the circuit, he was to proceed with
the other division down the ravine, towards the river, turn to the
left along a narrow strip of land between the Hudson and a small lake
called Sinipink Pond, which lay at the foot of Bear Hill, and advance
upon Fort Clinton. Both forts were to be attacked at the same time.

The detachment under Campbell set off in high spirits; it was composed
partly of royalists, led by Colonel Beverly Robinson of New York,
partly of Emerick's chasseurs, and partly of grenadiers, under Lord
Rawdon. With him went Count Gabrouski, a Polish nobleman, aide-de-camp
to Sir Henry Clinton. Everything thus far had been conducted with
celerity and apparent secrecy, and complete surprise of both forts was
anticipated. Sir Henry had indeed outwitted one of the guardians of
the Highlands, but the other was aware of his designs. Governor
Clinton, on receiving intelligence of ships of war coming up the
Hudson, had sent scouts beyond the Dunderberg to watch their
movements. Early on the present morning, word had been brought him
that forty boats were landing a large force at Stony Point. He now, in
his turn, apprehended an attack, and sent to Putnam for
reinforcements, preparing, in the meantime, to make such defence as
his scanty means afforded.

A lieutenant was sent out with thirty men from Fort Clinton, to
proceed along the river-road and reconnoitre. He fell in with the
advance guard of Sir Henry Clinton's division, and retreated
skirmishing to the fort. A larger detachment was sent out to check the
approach of the enemy on this side; while sixty men, afterwards
increased to a hundred, took post with a brass field-piece in the Bear
Hill defile, a narrow and rugged pass, bordered by shagged forests. As
Campbell and his division came pressing forward, they were checked by
the discharge of fire-arms and of the brass field-piece, which swept
the steep defile. The British troops then filed off on each side into
the woods, to surround the Americans. The latter, finding it
impossible to extricate their field-piece in the rugged pass, spiked
it, and retreated into the fort.

Sir Henry Clinton had met with equally obstinate opposition in his
approach to Fort Clinton; the narrow strip of land between Lake
Sinipink and the Hudson, along which he advanced, being fortified by
an abatis. By four o'clock the Americans were driven within their
works, and both forts were assailed. The defence was desperate; for
Governor Clinton was a hard fighter, and he was still in hopes of
reinforcements from Putnam; not knowing that the messenger he sent to
him had turned traitor, and deserted to the enemy.

About five o'clock, he was summoned to surrender in five minutes, to
prevent the effusion of blood: the reply was a refusal. About ten
minutes afterwards, there was a general attack upon both forts. It was
resisted with obstinate spirit. The action continued until dusk. The
ships under Commodore Hotham approached near enough to open an
irregular fire upon the forts, and upon the vessels anchored above the
chevaux-de-frise. The latter returned the fire, and the flash and roar
of their cannonry in the gathering darkness and among the echoes of
the mountains increased the terrors of the strife. The works, however,
were too extensive to be manned by the scanty garrisons; they were
entered by different places and carried at the point of the bayonet;
the Americans fought desperately from one redoubt to another--some
were slain, some taken prisoners, and some escaped under cover of the
night to the river or the mountains. "The garrison," writes Clinton,
significantly, "had to fight their way out as many as could, as we
determined not to surrender."

His brother James was saved from a deadly thrust of a bayonet by a
garrison orderly-book in his pocket; but he received a flesh wound in
the thigh. He slid down a precipice, one hundred feet high, into the
ravine between the forts, and escaped to the woods. The governor
leaped down the rocks to the river side, where a boat was putting off
with a number of the fugitives. The boat crossed the Hudson in safety,
and before midnight the governor was with Putnam, at Continental
Village, concerting further measures.

Putnam had been completely outmanoeuvred by Sir Henry Clinton. He had
continued until late in the morning in the belief that Peekskill and
Fort Independence were to be the objects of attack. In the course of
the morning he sallied forth with Brigadier-general Parsons, to
reconnoitre the ground near the enemy. After their return they were
alarmed, he says, by "a very heavy and hot firing both of small arms
and cannon, at Fort Montgomery." Aware of the real point of danger, he
immediately detached five hundred men to reinforce the garrison. They
had six miles to march along the eastern shore, and then to cross the
river; before they could do so the fate of the forts was decided.

British historians acknowledge that the valor and resolution displayed
by the Americans in the defence of these forts were in no instance
exceeded during the war; their loss in killed, wounded and missing,
was stated at two hundred and fifty, a large proportion of the number
engaged. [Colonel Campbell, who commanded the enemy's detachment,
Major Grant of the New York volunteers, and Count Gabrouski, Sir
Henry's Polish aide-de-camp, were slain in the assault; their fall
exasperated the assailants, who revenged their loss with considerable

On the capture of the forts, the American frigates and galleys
stationed for the protection of the chevaux-de-frise slipped their
cables, made all sail, and endeavored to escape up the river. The
wind, however, proved adverse; there was danger of their falling into
the hands of the enemy; the crews, therefore, set them on fire and
abandoned them. On the following morning, the chevaux-de-frise and
other obstructions between Fort Montgomery and Anthony's Nose were
cleared away: the Americans evacuated Forts Independence and
Constitution, and a free passage up the Hudson was open for the
British ships. Sir Henry Clinton proceeded no further in person, but
left the rest of the enterprise to be accomplished by Sir James
Wallace and General Vaughan, with a flying squadron of light frigates,
and a considerable detachment of troops.

Putnam had retreated to a pass in the mountains, on the east side of
the river, near Fishkill, having removed as much of the stores and
baggage as possible from the post he had abandoned. In a letter to
Washington (Oct. 8th), he writes: "Governor Clinton is exerting
himself in collecting the militia of this State. Brigadier-general
Parsons I have sent off to forward in the Connecticut militia, which
are now arriving in great numbers. I therefore hope and trust, that in
the course of a few days, I shall be able to oppose the progress of
the enemy."

He had concerted with Governor Clinton that they should move to the
northward with their forces along the opposite shores of the Hudson,
endeavoring to keep pace with the enemy's ships and cover the country
from their attacks. The enemy's light-armed vessels were now making
their way up the river; landing marauding parties occasionally to make

As soon as the governor could collect a little force, he pressed
forward to protect Kingston (Esopus), the seat of the State
Legislature. The enemy in the meantime landed from their ships, routed
about one hundred and fifty militia collected to oppose them, marched
to the village, set fire to it in every part, consuming great
quantities of stores collected there, and then retreated to their
ships. Having laid Kingston in ashes, the enemy proceeded in their
ravages, destroying the residences of conspicuous patriots at
Rhinebeck, Livingston, Manor, and elsewhere, and among others the
mansion of the widow of the brave General Montgomery--trusting to
close their desolating career by a triumphant junction with Burgoyne
at Albany.

While Sir Henry Clinton had been thundering in the Highlands, Burgoyne
and his army had been wearing out hope within their intrenchments,
vigilantly watched but unassailed by the Americans. On the 7th of
October Burgoyne determined to make a grand movement on the left of
the American camp, to discover whether he could force a passage should
it be necessary to advance, or dislodge it from its position should he
have to retreat. Another object was to cover a forage of the army
which was suffering from the great scarcity. For this purpose fifteen
hundred of his best troops, with two twelve-pounders, two howitzers
and six six-pounders, were to be led by himself, seconded by
Major-generals Phillips and Riedesel and Brigadier-general Fraser. On
leaving his camp he committed the guard of it on the high grounds to
Brigadier-generals Hamilton and Specht, and of the redoubts on the low
grounds near the river, to Brigadier-general Gall.

Forming his troops within three-quarters of a mile of the left of the
Americans, though covered from their sight by the forest, he sent out
a corps of rangers, provincials and Indians to skulk through the
woods, get in their rear, and give them an alarm at the time the
attack took place in front. The movement, though carried on behind the
screen of forests, was discovered. In the afternoon the advanced guard
of the American centre beat to arms; the alarm was repeated throughout
the line. Gates ordered his officers to their alarm posts, and sent
forth Wilkinson, the adjutant-general, to inquire the cause. From a
rising ground in an open place he descried the enemy in force.
Returning to the camp he reported the position and movements of the
enemy; that their front was open, their flanks rested on woods, under
cover of which they might be attacked, and their right was skirted by
a height; that they were reconnoitring the left, and he thought
offered battle.

A plan of attack was soon arranged. Morgan with his riflemen and a
body of infantry was sent to make a circuit through the woods and get
possession of the heights on the right of the enemy, while General
Poor with his brigade of New York and New Hampshire troops, and a part
of Leonard's brigade, were to advance against the enemy's left. Morgan
was to make an attack on the heights as soon as he should hear the
fire opened below.

Burgoyne now drew out his troops in battle array. The grenadiers,
under Major Ackland, with the artillery, under Major Williams, formed
his left, and were stationed on a rising ground, with a rivulet called
Mill Creek in front. Next to them were the Hessians, under Riedesel,
and British, under Phillips, forming the centre. The light-infantry,
under Lord Balcarras, formed the extreme right; having in the advance
a detachment of five hundred picked men, under General Fraser, ready
to flank the Americans as soon as they should be attacked in front.

He had scarce made these arrangements, when he was astonished and
confounded by a thundering of artillery on his left, and a rattling
fire of rifles on the woody heights on his right. The troops under
Poor advanced steadily up the ascent where Ackland's grenadiers and
Williams' artillery were stationed; received their fire and then
rushed forward. Ackland's grenadiers received the first brunt, but it
extended along the line as detachment after detachment arrived, and
was carried on with inconceivable fury. The artillery was repeatedly
taken and retaken, and at length remained in possession of the
Americans, who turned it upon its former owners. Major Ackland was
wounded in both legs, and taken prisoner. Major Williams of the
artillery was also captured. The headlong impetuosity of the attack
confounded the regular tacticians. Much of this has been ascribed to
the presence and example of Arnold. That daring officer, who had
lingered in the camp in expectation of a fight, was exasperated at
having no command assigned him. On hearing the din of battle, he could
restrain no longer his warlike impulse, but threw himself on his horse
and sallied forth. Putting spurs to his horse, he dashed into the
scene of action, and was received with acclamation. Being the superior
officer in the field his orders were obeyed of course. Putting himself
at the head of the troops of Learned's brigade, he attacked the
Hessians in the enemy's centre, and broke them with repeated charges.
Indeed, for a time his actions seemed to partake of frenzy; riding
hither and thither, brandishing his sword, and cheering on the men to
acts of desperation.

Morgan, in the meantime, was harassing the enemy's right wing with an
incessant fire of small-arms, and preventing it from sending any
assistance to the centre. General Fraser with his chosen corps, for
some time rendered great protection to this wing. Mounted on an
iron-gray charger, his uniform of a field officer made him a
conspicuous object for Morgan's sharpshooters. One bullet cut the
crupper of his horse, another grazed his mane. A moment afterwards he
was shot down by a marksman posted in a tree. Two grenadiers bore him
to the camp. His fall was as a deathblow to his corps. The arrival on
the field of a large reinforcement of New York troops under General
Ten Broeck, completed the confusion. Burgoyne saw that the field was
lost, and now only thought of saving his camp. The troops nearest to
the lines were ordered to throw themselves within them, while Generals
Phillips and Riedesel covered the retreat of the main body, which was
in danger of being cut off. The artillery was abandoned, all the
horses, and most of the men who had so bravely defended it having been
killed. The troops, though hard pressed, retired in good order.
Scarcely had they entered the camp when it was stormed with great
fury; the Americans, with Arnold at their head, rushing to the lines
under a severe discharge of grape-shot and small-arms. Lord Balcarras
defended the intrenchments bravely; the action was fierce, and well
sustained on both sides. After an ineffectual attempt to make his way
into the camp in this quarter at the point of the bayonet, Arnold
spurred his horse toward the right flank of the camp occupied by the
German reserve, where Lieutenant-colonel Brooks was making a general
attack with a Massachusetts regiment. Here, with a part of a platoon,
he forced his way into a sallyport, but a shot from the retreating
Hessians killed his horse, and wounded him in the same leg which had
received a wound before Quebec. He was borne off from the field, but
not until the victory was complete; for the Germans retreated from the
works, leaving on the field their brave defender, Lieutenant-colonel
Breyman, mortally wounded.

The night was now closing in. The victory of the Americans was
decisive. They had routed the enemy, killed and wounded a great
number, made many prisoners, taken their field-artillery and gained
possession of a part of their works which laid open the right and the
rear of their camp. They lay all night on their arms, within half a
mile of the scene of action, prepared to renew the assault upon the
camp in the morning. Affecting scenes had occurred in the enemy's camp
during this deadly conflict.

In the morning previous to the battle, the Baroness De Riedesel had
breakfasted with her husband in the camp. Generals Burgoyne, Phillips,
and Fraser were to dine with her husband and herself in a house in the
neighborhood, where she and her children were quartered. She observed
much movement in the camp, but was quieted by the assurance that it
was to be a mere reconnaissance. On her way home she met a number of
Indians, painted and decorated and armed with guns, and shouting war!
war! Her fears were awakened, and scarce had she reached home when she
heard the rattling of fire-arms and the thundering of artillery. About
one o'clock came one of the generals who were to have dined with
her--poor General Fraser--brought upon a handbarrow, mortally wounded.
The general said to the surgeon: 'Tell me the truth, is there no
hope?' There was none. Prayers were read, after which he desired that
General Burgoyne should be requested to have him buried on the next
day at six o'clock in the evening on a hill where a breastwork had
been constructed.

Lady Harriet Ackland was in a tent near by. News came to her that her
husband was mortally wounded and taken prisoner. She was in an agony
of distress.{1} The baroness divided the night between soothing
attentions to Lady Harriet, and watchful care of her children who were
asleep, but who she feared might disturb the poor dying general.
Towards morning, thinking his agony approaching, she wrapped them in
blankets and retired with them into the entrance hall. Courteous even
in death, the general sent her several messages to beg her pardon for
the trouble he thought he was giving her. At eight o'clock in the
morning he expired.

{Footnote 1: [Lady Ackland afterward applied to General Burgoyne for
permission to pass to the American camp, and obtain General Gates'
consent to join her husband. It was granted, and the American general,
according to Burgoyne, received her "with all the humanity and respect
that her rank, her merits, and her fortune deserved."]}

Burgoyne had shifted his position during the night to heights about a
mile to the north, close to the river, and covered in front by a
ravine. Early in the morning the Americans took possession of the camp
which he had abandoned. A random fire of artillery and small-arms was
kept up on both sides during the day. The British sharpshooters
stationed in the ravine did some execution, and General Lincoln was
wounded in the leg while reconnoitring. Gates, however, did not think
it advisable to force a desperate enemy when in a strong position, at
the expense of a prodigal waste of blood. He took all measures to cut
off his retreat and insure a surrender. General Fellows, with 1,400
men, had already been sent to occupy the high ground east of the
Hudson opposite Saratoga Ford. Other detachments were sent higher up
the river in the direction of Lake George.

Burgoyne saw that nothing was left for him but a prompt and rapid
retreat to Saratoga, yet in this he was delayed by a melancholy duty
of friendship; it was to attend the obsequies of the gallant Fraser,
who, according to his dying request, was to be interred at six o'clock
in the evening, within a redoubt which had been constructed on a hill.
Between sunset and dark, his body was borne to the appointed place by
grenadiers of his division, followed by the generals and their staffs.
The Americans seeing indistinctly what, in the twilight, appeared to
be a movement of troops up the hill and in the redoubt, pointed their
artillery in that direction. General Gates protested afterwards that
had he known what was going on, he would have stopped the fire

Preparations had been made to decamp immediately after the funeral,
and at nine o'clock at night the retreat commenced. Large fires had
been lighted, and many tents were left standing to conceal the
movement. It was a dismal retreat. The rain fell in torrents; the
roads were deep and broken, and the horses weak and half-starved from
want of forage. At daybreak there was a halt to refresh the troops and
give time for the bateaux laden with provisions to come abreast. In
three hours the march was resumed, but before long there was another
halt, to guard against an American reconnoitring party which appeared
in sight.

It rained terribly through the residue of the 9th, and in consequence
of repeated halts, they did not reach Saratoga until evening. A
detachment of Americans had arrived there before them, and were
throwing up intrenchments on a commanding height at Fishkill. They
abandoned their work, forded the Hudson, and joined a force under
General Fellows, posted on the hills east of the river. The bridge
over the Fishkill had been destroyed; the artillery could not cross
until the ford was examined. Exhausted by fatigue, the men for the
most part had not strength nor inclination to cut wood nor make fire,
but threw themselves upon the wet ground in their wet clothes, and
slept under the continuing rain.

At daylight on the 10th, the artillery and the last of the troops
passed the fords of the Fishkill, and took a position upon the
heights, and in the redoubts formerly constructed there. To protect
the troops from being attacked in passing the ford by the Americans,
who were approaching, Burgoyne ordered fire to be set to the
farm-houses and other buildings on the south side of the Fishkill.
Amongst the rest, the noble mansion of General Schuyler, with
store-houses, granaries, mills and the other appurtenances of a great
rural establishment, was entirely consumed. The measure was condemned
by friend as well as foe, but he justified it on the principles of

The force under General Fellows, posted on the opposite hills of the
Hudson, now opened a fire from a battery commanding the ford of that
river. Thus prevented from crossing, Burgoyne thought to retreat along
the west side as far as Fort George, on the way to Canada, and sent
out workmen under a strong escort to repair the bridges, and open the
road toward Fort Edward. The escort was soon recalled and the work
abandoned, for the Americans under Gates appeared in great force on
the heights south of the Fishkill, and seemed preparing to cross and
bring on an engagement. The opposite shores of the Hudson were now
lined with detachments of Americans. Bateaux laden with provisions,
which had attended the movements of the army, were fired upon, many
taken, some retaken with loss of life. It was necessary to land the
provisions from such as remained, and bring them up the hill into the
camp, which was done under a heavy fire from the American artillery.

Burgoyne called now a general council of war, in which it was
resolved, since the bridges could not be repaired, to abandon the
artillery and baggage, let the troops carry a supply of provisions
upon their backs, push forward in the night, and force their way
across the fords at or near Fort Edward. Before the plan could be put
into execution, scouts brought word that the Americans were intrenched
opposite those fords, and encamped in force with cannon on the high
ground between Fort Edward and Fort George. In fact by this time the
American army, augmented by militia and volunteers from all quarters,
had posted itself in strong positions on both sides of the Hudson, so
as to extend three-fourths of a circle round the enemy.

Giving up all further attempt at retreat, Burgoyne now fortified his
camp on the heights to the north of Fishkill, still hoping that succor
might arrive from Sir Henry Clinton, or that an attack upon his
trenches might give him some chance of cutting his way through. In
this situation his troops lay continually on their arms. His camp was
subjected to cannonading from Fellows' batteries on the opposite side
of the Hudson, Gates' batteries on the south of Fishkill, and a
galling fire from Morgan's riflemen, stationed on heights in the rear.

The Baroness De Riedesel and her helpless little ones were exposed to
the dangers and horrors of this long turmoil. On the morning when the
attack was opened, General De Riedesel sent them to take refuge in a
house in the vicinity. The baroness succeeded in getting to the house.
Some women and crippled soldiers had already taken refuge there. It
was mistaken for head-quarters and cannonaded. The baroness retreated
into the cellar, laid herself in a corner near the door with her
children's heads upon her knees, and passed a sleepless night of
mental anguish. In the morning the cannonade began anew. Cannon balls
passed through the house repeatedly with a tremendous noise. A poor
soldier who was about to have a leg amputated, lost the other by one
of these balls. The day was passed among such horrors. For six days,
she and her children remained in this dismal place of refuge.

Burgoyne was now reduced to despair. His forces were diminished by
losses, by the desertion of Canadians and royalists, and the total
defection of the Indians; and on inspection it was found that the
provisions on hand, even upon short allowance, would not suffice for
more than three days. A council of war, therefore, was called of all
the generals, field-officers and captains commanding troops. The
deliberations were brief. All concurred in the necessity of opening a
treaty with General Gates, for a surrender on honorable terms.

Negotiations were accordingly opened on the 13th, under sanction of a
flag. Lieutenant Kingston, Burgoyne's adjutant-general, was the bearer
of a note, proposing a cessation of hostilities until terms could be
adjusted. The first terms offered by Gates were that the enemy should
lay down their arms within their intrenchments, and surrender
themselves prisoners of war. These were indignantly rejected, with an
intimation that, if persisted in, hostilities must recommence.

Counter proposals were then made by General Burgoyne, and finally
accepted by General Gates. According to these the British troops were
to march out of the camp with artillery and all the honors of war, to
a fixed place, where they were to pile their arms at a word of command
from their own officers. They were to be allowed a free passage to
Europe upon condition of not serving again in America, during the
present war. The officers were to be on parole, and to wear their
side-arms. All private property to be sacred; no baggage to be
searched or molested. The capitulation was signed on the 17th of

The British army, at the time of the surrender, was reduced by
capture, death and desertion, from nine thousand to five thousand
seven hundred and fifty-two men. That of Gates, regulars and militia,
amounted to ten thousand five hundred and fifty-four men on duty;
between two and three thousand being on the sick list or absent on
furlough. By this capitulation, the Americans gained a fine train of
artillery, seven thousand stand of arms, and a great quantity of
clothing, tents, and military stores of all kinds.

When the British troops marched forth to deposit their arms at the
appointed place, Colonel Wilkinson, the adjutant-general, was the only
American soldier to be seen. Gates had ordered his troops to keep
rigidly within their lines, that they might not add by their presence
to the humiliation of a brave enemy. In fact, throughout all his
conduct during the campaign, British writers and Burgoyne himself give
him credit for acting with great humanity and forbearance.

The surrender of Burgoyne was soon followed by the evacuation of
Ticonderoga and Fort Independence, the garrisons retiring to the Isle
aux Noix and St. Johns. As to the armament on the Hudson, the
commanders whom Sir Henry Clinton had left in charge of it, received,
in the midst of their desolating career the astounding intelligence of
the capture of the army with which they had come to co-operate.
Nothing remained for them, therefore, but to drop down the river and
return to New York. The fortresses in the Highlands could not be
maintained, and were evacuated and destroyed.


Having given the catastrophe of the British invasion from the North,
we will revert to that part of the year's campaign which was passing
under the immediate eye of Washington. We left him encamped at Pott's
Grove towards the end of September, giving his troops a few days'
repose after their severe fatigues. Being rejoined by Wayne and
Smallwood with their brigades, and other troops being arrived from the
Jerseys, his force amounted to about eight thousand Continentals and
three thousand militia: with these he advanced on the 30th of
September to Skippack Creek, about fourteen miles from Germantown,
where the main body of the British army lay encamped; a detachment
under Cornwallis occupying Philadelphia.

Immediately after the battle of Brandywine, Admiral Lord Howe with
great exertions had succeeded in getting his ships of war and
transports round from the Chesapeake into the Delaware, and had
anchored them along the western shore from Reedy Island to Newcastle.
They were prevented from approaching nearer by obstructions which the
Americans had placed in the river. The lowest of these were at
Billingsport (Bylling's Point), where chevaux-de-frise in the channel
of the river were protected by a strong redoubt on the Jersey shore.
Higher up were Fort Mifflin on Mud (or Fort) Island, and Fort Mercer
on the Jersey shore; with chevaux-de-frise between them. Washington
had exerted himself to throw a garrison into Fort Mifflin, and keep up
the obstructions of the river. Sir William Howe had concerted
operations with his brother by land and water, to reduce the forts and
clear away the obstructions of the river. With this view he detached a
part of his force into the Jerseys to proceed, in the first instance,
against the fortifications at Billingsport.

Washington had been for some days anxiously on the lookout for some
opportunity to strike a blow of consequence, when two intercepted
letters gave him intelligence of this movement. He immediately
determined to make an attack upon the British camp at Germantown,
while weakened by the absence of this detachment. To understand the
plan of the attack, some description of the British place of
encampment is necessary.

Germantown, at that time, was little more than one continued street,
extending two miles north and south. Beyond the village, and about a
hundred yards east of the road, stood a spacious stone edifice, the
country-seat of Benjamin Chew, chief justice of Pennsylvania previous
to the Revolution. Four roads approached the village from above; that
is, from the north. The Skippack, which was the main road, led over
Chestnut Hill and Mount Airy down to and through the village towards
Philadelphia, forming the street of which we have just spoken. On its
right and nearly parallel was the Monatawny or Ridge road, passing
near the Schuylkill, and entering the main road below the village. On
the left of the Skippack or main road was the Limekiln road, running
nearly parallel to it for a time, and then turning towards it, almost
at right angles, so as to enter the village at the market-place. Still
further to the left or east, and outside of all, was the Old York
road, falling into the main road some distance below the village.

The main body of the British forces lay encamped across the lower part
of the village, divided into almost equal parts by the main street or
Skippack road. The right wing commanded by General Grant, was to the
east of the road, the left wing to the west. Each wing was covered by
strong detachments and guarded by cavalry. General Howe had his
head-quarters in the rear. The advance of the army, composed of the 2d
battalion of British light-infantry, with a train of artillery, was
more than two miles from the main body, on the west of the road, with
an outlying picket stationed with two six-pounders at Allen's house on
Mount Airy. About three-quarters of a mile in the rear of the
light-infantry, lay encamped in a field opposite "Chew's House," the
40th regiment of infantry, under Colonel Musgrave.

According to Washington's plan for the attack, Sullivan was to command
the right wing, composed of his own division, principally Maryland
troops, and the division of General Wayne. He was to be sustained by a
_corps de reserve_, under Lord Stirling, composed of Nash's North
Carolina and Maxwell's Virginia brigades, and to be flanked by the
brigade of General Conway. He was to march down the Skippack road and
attack the left wing; at the same time General Armstrong, with the
Pennsylvania militia, was to pass down the Monatawny or Ridge road,
and get upon the enemy's left and rear. Greene with the left wing,
composed of his own division and the division of General Stephen, and
flanked by McDougall's brigade, was to march down the Limekiln road,
so as to enter the village at the market-house. The two divisions were
to attack the enemy's right wing in front, McDougall with his brigade
to attack it in flank, while Smallwood's division of Maryland militia
and Forman's Jersey brigade, making a circuit by the Old York road,
were to attack it in the rear. Two-thirds of the forces were thus
directed against the enemy's right wing, under the idea that, if it
could be forced, the whole army must be pushed into the Schuylkill, or
compelled to surrender. The attack was to begin on all quarters at

About dusk, on the 3d of October, the army left its encampment at
Matuchen Hills, by its different routes. Washington accompanied the
right wing. It had fifteen miles of weary march to make over rough
roads, so that it was after daybreak when the troops emerged from the
woods on Chestnut Hill. The morning was dark with a heavy fog. A
detachment advanced to attack the enemy's out-picket, stationed at
Allen's House. The patrol was led by Captain Allen McLane. He fell in
with double sentries, whom he killed with the loss of one man. The
alarm, however, was given; the distant roll of a drum and the call to
arms resounded through the murky air. The picket guard, after
discharging their two six-pounders, were routed, and retreated down
the south side of Mount Airy to the battalion of light-infantry who
were forming in order of battle. As their pursuers descended into the
valley, the sun rose, but was soon obscured. Wayne led the attack upon
the light-infantry. They broke at first but soon formed again, when a
heavy and well-directed fire took place on both sides. They again gave
way, but being supported by the grenadiers, returned to the charge.
Sullivan's division and Conway's brigade formed on the west of the
road, and joined in the attack; the rest of the troops were too far to
the north to render any assistance. The infantry, after fighting
bravely for a time, broke and ran, leaving their artillery behind.
They were hotly pursued by Wayne. His troops remembered the bloody
20th of September, and the ruthless slaughter of their comrades. It
was a terrible melée. The fog, together with the smoke of the cannonry
and musketry, made it almost as dark as night; our people mistaking
one another for the enemy, frequently exchanged shots before they
discovered their error. The whole of the enemy's advance were driven
from their camping ground, leaving their tents standing, with all
their baggage. Colonel Musgrave, with six companies of the 40th
regiment, threw himself into Chew's House, barricaded the doors and
lower windows, and took post above stairs; the main torrent of the
retreat passed by pursued by Wayne into the village.

As the residue of this division of the army came up to join in the
pursuit, Musgrave and his men opened a fire of musketry upon them from
the upper windows of his citadel. This brought them to a halt. Some of
the officers were for pushing on; but General Knox stoutly objected,
insisting on the old military maxim, never to leave a garrisoned
castle in the rear. His objection unluckily prevailed. A flag sent
with a summons to surrender was fired upon. The house was now
cannonaded, but the artillery was too light to have the desired
effect. An attempt was made to set fire to the basement. He who
attempted it was shot dead from a grated cellar window. At length a
regiment was left to keep guard upon the mansion and hold its garrison
in check, and the rear division again pressed forward.

This half hour's delay, however, of nearly one-half of the army,
disconcerted the action. The divisions and brigades thus separated
from each other by the skirmishing attack upon Chew's House, could not
be re-united. The fog and smoke rendered all objects indistinct at
thirty yards' distance; the different parts of the army knew nothing
of the position or movements of each other, and the commander-in-chief
could take no view nor gain any information of the situation of the
whole. The original plan of attack was only effectively carried into
operation in the centre. Still the action, though disconnected,
irregular and partial, was animated in various quarters. Sullivan,
being reinforced by Nash's North Carolina troops and Conway's brigade,
pushed on a mile beyond Chew's House, where the left wing of the enemy
gave way before him.

Greene and Stephen, with their divisions, having had to make a
circuit, were late in coming into action, and became separated from
each other, part of Stephen's division being arrested by a heavy fire
from Chew's House and pausing to return it. Greene, however, with his
division, pressed rapidly forward, drove an advance regiment of
light-infantry before him, took a number of prisoners, and made his
way quite to the market-house in the centre of the village, where he
encountered the right wing of the British drawn up to receive him. The
impetuosity of his attack had an evident effect upon the enemy, who
began to waver. Forman and Smallwood, with the Jersey and Maryland
militia, were just showing themselves on the right flank of the enemy,
and our troops seemed on the point of carrying the whole encampment.
At this moment a singular panic seized our army. Various causes are
assigned for it. Sullivan alleges that his troops had expended all
their cartridges, and were alarmed by seeing the enemy gathering on
their left, and by the cry of a light-horseman, that the enemy were
getting round them. Wayne's division, which had pushed the enemy
nearly three miles, was alarmed by the approach of a large body of
American troops on its left flank, which it mistook for foes, and fell
back in defiance of every effort of its officers to rally it. In its
retreat it came upon Stephen's division and threw it into a panic,
being, in its turn, mistaken for the enemy; thus all fell into
confusion, and our army fled from their own victory.

In the meantime the enemy, having recovered from the first effects of
the surprise, advanced in their turn. General Grey brought up the left
wing, and pressed upon the American troops as they receded. Lord
Cornwallis, with a squadron of light-horse from Philadelphia, arrived
just in time to join in the pursuit. The retreat of the Americans was
attended with less loss than might have been expected, and they
carried off all their cannon and wounded. The retreat continued
through the day to Perkiomen Creek, a distance of twenty miles.

The loss of the enemy in this action is stated by them to be
seventy-one killed, four hundred and fifteen wounded, and fourteen
missing: among the killed was Brigadier-general Agnew. The American
loss was one hundred and fifty killed, five hundred and twenty-one
wounded, and about four hundred taken prisoners. Among the killed was
General Nash of North Carolina. Among the prisoners was Colonel
Mathews of Virginia.

The sudden retreat of the army gave Washington surprise, chagrin and
mortification. "Every account," said he subsequently, in a letter to
the President of Congress, "confirms the opinion I at first
entertained, that our troops retreated at the instant when victory was
declaring herself in our favor. The tumult, disorder, and even despair
which it seems had taken place in the British army, were scarcely to
be paralleled; and it is said, so strongly did the ideas of a retreat
prevail, that Chester was fixed on for their rendezvous. I can
discover no other cause for not improving this happy opportunity, than
the extreme haziness of the weather."

The plan of attack was too widely extended for strict concert, and too
complicated for precise co-operation, as it had to be conducted in the
night, and with a large proportion of undisciplined militia.

But although the Americans were balked of the victory, which seemed
within their grasp, the impression made by the audacity of this
attempt upon Germantown was greater we are told than that caused by
any single incident of the war after Lexington and Bunker's Hill.

Washington remained a few days at Perkiomen Creek, to give his army
time to rest and recover from the disorder incident to a retreat.
Having been reinforced by the arrival of twelve hundred Rhode Island
troops from Peekskill, under General Varnum, and nearly a thousand
Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania troops, he gradually drew nearer
to Philadelphia, and took a strong position at White Marsh, within
fourteen miles of that city. By a resolution of Congress, all persons
taken within thirty miles of any place occupied by British troops, in
the act of conveying supplies to them, were subjected to martial law.
Acting under the resolution, Washington detached large bodies of
militia to scour the roads above the city, and between the Schuylkill
and Chester, to intercept all supplies going to the enemy.

On the forts and obstructions in the river, Washington mainly counted
to complete the harassment of Philadelphia. These defences had been
materially impaired. The works at Billingsport had been attacked and
destroyed, and some of the enemy's ships had forced their way through
the chevaux-de-frise placed there. The American frigate Delaware,
stationed in the river between the upper forts and Philadelphia, had
run aground before a British battery and been captured.

It was now the great object of the Howes to reduce and destroy, and of
Washington to defend and maintain the remaining forts and
obstructions. Fort Mifflin, which we have already mentioned, was
erected on a low, green, reedy island in the Delaware, a few miles
below Philadelphia, and below the mouth of the Schuylkill. It
consisted of a strong redoubt with extensive outworks and batteries.
There was but a narrow channel between the island and the Pennsylvania
shore. The main channel, practicable for ships, was on the other side.
In this were sunk strong chevaux-de-frise, difficult either to be
weighed or cut through, and dangerous to any ships that might run
against them; subjected as they would be to the batteries of Fort
Mifflin on one side, and on the other to those of Fort Mercer, a
strong work at Red Bank on the Jersey shore.

Fort Mifflin was garrisoned by troops of the Maryland line, under
Lieutenant-colonel Samuel Smith of Baltimore; and had kept up a brave
defence against batteries erected by the enemy on the Pennsylvania
shore. A reinforcement of Virginia troops made the garrison between
three and four hundred strong. Floating batteries, galleys, and
fire-ships, commanded by Commodore Hazelwood, were stationed under the
forts and about the river.

Fort Mercer had hitherto been garrisoned by militia, but Washington
now replaced them by four hundred of General Varnum's Rhode Island
Continentals. Colonel Christopher Greene was put in command; a brave
officer who had accompanied Arnold in his rough expedition to Canada,
and fought valiantly under the walls of Quebec. Colonel Greene was
accompanied by Captain Mauduit Duplessis, who was to have the
direction of the artillery. He was a young French engineer of great
merit, who had volunteered in the American cause, and received a
commission from Congress. The chevaux-de-frise in the river had been
constructed under his superintendence.

Greene, aided by Duplessis, made all haste to put Fort Mercer in a
state of defence; but before the outworks were completed, he was
surprised (October 22) by the appearance of a large force emerging
from a wood within cannon shot of the fort. Their uniforms showed them
to be Hessians. They were, in fact, four battalions twelve hundred
strong of grenadiers, picked men, beside light-infantry and chasseurs,
all commanded by Count Donop, who had figured in the last year's
campaign. Colonel Greene, in nowise dismayed by the superiority of the
enemy forming in glistening array before the wood, prepared for a
stout resistance. In a little while an officer was descried, riding
slowly up with a flag, accompanied by a drummer. Greene ordered his
men to keep out of sight, that the fort might appear but slightly

When within proper distance the drummer sounded a parley, and the
officer summoned the garrison to surrender; with a threat of no
quarter in case of resistance. Greene's reply was that the post would
be defended to the last extremity. The flag rode back and made a
report. Forthwith the Hessians were seen at work throwing up a battery
within half a mile of the outworks. It was finished by four o'clock,
and opened a heavy cannonade, under cover of which the enemy were
preparing to approach.

As the American outworks were but half finished and were too extensive
to be manned by the garrison, it was determined by Greene and
Duplessis that the troops should make but a short stand there, to gall
the enemy in their approach, and then retire within the redoubt, which
was defended by a deep intrenchment, boarded and fraised.

Donop led on his troops in gallant style under cover of a heavy fire
from his battery. They advanced in two columns to attack the outworks
in two places. As they advanced they were excessively galled by a
flanking fire from the American galleys and batteries, and by sharp
volleys from the outworks. The latter, however, as had been concerted,
were quickly abandoned by the garrison. The enemy entered at two
places, and imagining the day their own, the two columns pushed on
with shouts to storm different parts of the redoubt. As yet no troops
were to be seen; but as one of the columns approached the redoubt on
the north side, a tremendous discharge of grape-shot and musketry
burst forth from the embrasures in front, and a half-masked battery on
the left. The slaughter was prodigious; the column was driven back in
confusion. Count Donop, with the other column, in attempting the south
side of the redoubt, had passed the abatis when a similar tempest of
artillery and musketry burst upon them. Some were killed on the spot,
many were wounded, and the rest were driven out. Donop himself
received a mortal wound; Lieutenant-colonel Mingerode, the second in
command, was also dangerously wounded. Several other of the best
officers were slain or disabled. The troops retreated in confusion,
hotly pursued, and were again cut up in their retreat by the flanking
fire from the galleys and floating batteries. The loss of the enemy in
killed and wounded, in this brief but severe action, was about four
hundred men; that of the Americans, eight killed and twenty-nine

According to the plan of the enemy, Fort Mifflin, opposite to Fort
Mercer, was to have been attacked at the same time by water. The force
employed was the Augusta of sixty-four guns, the Roebuck of
forty-four, two frigates, the Merlin sloop of eighteen guns, and a
galley. They forced their way through the lower line of
chevaux-de-frise; but the Augusta and Merlin ran aground below the
second line, and every effort to get them off proved fruitless. To
divert attention from their situation, the other vessels drew as near
to Fort Mifflin as they could, and opened a cannonade. They kept up a
fire upon the fort throughout the evening, and recommenced it early in
the morning, as did likewise the British batteries on the Pennsylvania
shore; hoping that under cover of it the ships might be got off. A
strong adverse wind, however, kept the tide from rising sufficiently
to float them.

The Americans discovered their situation, and sent down four
fire-ships to destroy them, but without effect. A heavy fire was now
opened upon them, from the galleys and floating batteries. It was
warmly returned. In the course of the action, a red-hot shot set the
Augusta on fire. It was impossible to check the flames. She blew up
while the second lieutenant, the chaplain, the gunner, and several of
the crew were yet on board, most of whom perished. The Merlin was now
set on fire and abandoned; the Roebuck and the other vessels dropped
down the river, and the attack on Fort Mifflin was given up.

These signal repulses of the enemy had an animating effect on the
public mind, and were promptly noticed by Congress. Colonel Greene,
who commanded at Fort Mercer, Lieutenant-colonel Smith of Maryland,
who commanded at Fort Mifflin, and Commodore Hazelwood, who commanded
the galleys, received the thanks of that body; and subsequently, a
sword was voted to each, as a testimonial of distinguished merit.

We have heretofore had occasion to advert to the annoyances and
perplexities occasioned to Washington by the claims and pretensions of
foreign officers who had entered into the service. Among the officers
who came out with Lafayette, was the Baron De Kalb, a German by birth,
but who had long been employed in the French service, and though a
silver-haired veteran, sixty years of age, was yet fresh and active
and vigorous. In the month of September, Congress had given him the
commission of major-general, to date with that of Lafayette.

This instantly produced a remonstrance from Brigadier-general Conway,
who considered himself slighted and forgot, in their giving a superior
rank to his own to a person who had not rendered the cause the least
service, and who had been his inferior in France. He claimed,
therefore, for himself the rank of major-general, and was supported in
his pretensions by persons both in and out of Congress; especially by
Mifflin, the quartermaster-general.

Washington had already been disgusted by the overweening presumption
of Conway, and was surprised to hear that his application was likely
to be successful. He wrote on the 17th of October to Richard Henry
Lee, then in Congress, warning him that such an appointment would be
as unfortunate a measure as ever was adopted. "I would ask," writes
he, "why the youngest brigadier in the service should be put over the
heads of the oldest, and thereby take rank and command of gentlemen
who but yesterday were his seniors?... This truth I am well assured of
that they will not serve under him. I leave you to guess, therefore,
at the situation this army would be in at so important a crisis, if
this event should take place."

This opposition to his presumptuous aspirations at once threw Conway
into a faction forming under the auspices of General Mifflin. This
gentleman had recently tendered his resignation of the commission of
major-general and quartermaster-general on the plea of ill health, but
was busily engaged in intrigues against the commander-in-chief,
towards whom he had long cherished a secret hostility. Conway now
joined with him heart and hand, and soon became so active and
prominent a member of the faction that it acquired the name of
_Conway's Cabal_. The object was to depreciate the military character
of Washington, in comparison with that of Gates, to whom was
attributed the whole success of the Northern campaign.

Gates was perfectly ready for such an elevation. In fact, in the
excitement of his vanity, he appears to have forgotten that there was
a commander-in-chief, to whom he was accountable. He neglected to send
him any despatch on the subject of the surrender of Burgoyne,
contenting himself with sending one to Congress, then sitting at
Yorktown. Washington was left to hear of the important event by casual
rumor, until he received a copy of the capitulation in a letter from
General Putnam.

Gates was equally neglectful to inform him of the disposition he
intended to make of the army under his command. He delayed even to
forward Morgan's rifle corps, though their services were no longer
needed in his camp, and were so much required in the South. It was
determined, therefore, in a council of war, that one of Washington's
staff should be sent to Gates to represent the critical state of
affairs. Colonel Alexander Hamilton, his youthful but intelligent
aide-de-camp, was charged with this mission. He bore a letter from
Washington to Gates, dated October 30th, of which the following is an
extract: "By this opportunity I do myself the pleasure to congratulate
you on the signal success of the army under your command.... At the
same time, I cannot but regret that a matter of such magnitude, and so
interesting to our general operations, should have reached me by
report only; or through the channel of letters not bearing that
authenticity which the importance of it required, and which it would
have received by a line under your signature stating the simple fact."
Such was the calm and dignified notice of an instance of official
disrespect, almost amounting to insubordination. It is doubtful
whether Gates, in his state of mental effervescence, felt the noble
severity of the rebuke.

A fortuitous circumstance, which we shall explain hereafter, apprised
Washington about this time that a correspondence, derogatory to his
military character and conduct was going on between General Conway and
General Gates. Washington conducted himself with dignified
forbearance, contenting himself with letting Conway know, by the
following brief note, dated November 9th, that his correspondence was

"SIR--A letter which I received last night contained the following
paragraph--'In a letter from General Conway to General Gates, he says:
_Heaven has determined to save your country, or a weak general and bad
counsellors would have ruined it._'"

"I am, sir, your humble servant,


The brevity of this note rendered it the more astounding. It was a
hand-grenade thrown into the midst of the cabal. The effect upon other
members we shall show hereafter: it seems, at first, to have
prostrated Conway. He immediately sent in his resignation. It was not,
however, accepted by Congress; on the contrary he was supported by the
cabal, and was advanced to further honors, which we shall specify
hereafter. In the meantime, the cabal went on to make invidious
comparisons between the achievements of the two armies, deeply
derogatory to that under Washington. Publicly, he took no notice of

The non-arrival of reinforcements from the Northern army continued to
embarrass Washington's operations. The enemy were making preparations
for further attempts upon Forts Mercer and Mifflin. General Howe was
constructing redoubts and batteries on Province Island, on the west
side of the Delaware, within five hundred yards of Fort Mifflin, and
mounting them with heavy cannon. Washington consulted with his general
officers what was to be done. Had the army received the expected
reinforcements from the North, it might have detached sufficient force
to the west side of the Schuylkill to dislodge the enemy from Province
Island; but at present it would require almost the whole of the army
for the purpose. This would leave the public stores at Easton,
Bethlehem and Allentown, uncovered, as well as several of the
hospitals. It would also leave the post at Red Bank unsupported,
through which Fort Mifflin was reinforced and supplied. It was
determined, therefore, to await the arrival of the expected
reinforcements from the North, before making any alteration in the
disposition of the army. In the meantime, the garrisons of Forts
Mercer and Mifflin were increased, and General Varnum was stationed at
Red Bank with his brigade, to be at hand to render reinforcements to
either of them as occasion might require.

On the 10th of November, General Howe commenced a heavy fire upon Fort
Mifflin from his batteries, which mounted eighteen, twenty-four, and
thirty-two pounders. Major Fleury acquitted himself with intelligence
and spirit as engineer; but an incessant cannonade and bombardment for
several days, defied all repairs. The block-houses were demolished,
the palisades beaten down, the guns dismounted, the barracks reduced
to ruins. Captain Treat, a young officer of great merit, who commanded
the artillery, was killed, as were several non-commissioned officers
and privates; and a number were wounded. The survivors, who were not
wounded, were exhausted by want of sleep, hard duty, and constant
exposure to the rain. Colonel Smith himself was disabled by severe
contusions, and obliged to retire to Red Bank.

The fort was in ruins; there was danger of its being carried by storm,
but the gallant Fleury thought it might yet be defended with the aid
of fresh troops. Such were furnished from Varnum's brigade:
Lieutenant-colonel Russell, of the Connecticut line, replaced Colonel
Smith. He in his turn was obliged to relinquish the command through
fatigue and ill health, and was succeeded by Major Thayer of Rhode
Island, aided by Captain (afterwards commodore) Talbot. On the fourth
day the enemy brought a large Indiaman, cut down to a floating
battery, to bear upon the works; but though it opened a terrible fire,
it was silenced before night. The next day several ships-of-war got
within gunshot. Two prepared to attack it in front; others brought
their guns to bear on Fort Mercer; while two made their way into the
narrow channel between Mud Island and the Pennsylvania shore, to
operate with the British batteries erected there.

At a concerted signal a cannonade was opened from all quarters. The
heroic little garrison stood the fire without flinching; the danger,
however, was growing imminent. The batteries on Province Island
enfiladed the works. The ships in the inner channel approached so near
as to throw hand-grenades into the fort, while marines stationed in
the round-tops stood ready to pick off any of the garrison that came
in sight. The scene now became awful; incessant firing from ships,
forts, gondolas and floating batteries, with clouds of sulphurous
smoke, and the deafening thunder of cannon. Before night there was
hardly a fortification to defend; palisades were shivered, guns
dismounted, the whole parapet levelled. There was terrible slaughter;
most of the company of artillery were destroyed; Fleury himself was
wounded. Captain Talbot received a wound in the wrist, but continued
bravely fighting until disabled by another wound in the hip.

To hold out longer was impossible. Colonel Thayer made preparations to
evacuate the fort in the night. Everything was removed in the evening
that could be conveyed away without too much exposure to the murderous
fire from the round-tops. The wounded were taken over to Red Bank,
accompanied by part of the garrison. Thayer remained with forty men
until eleven o'clock, when they set fire to what was combustible of
the fort they had so nobly defended, and crossed to Red Bank by the
light of its flames.

The loss of this fort was deeply regretted by Washington, though he
gave high praise to the officers and men of the garrison. Colonel
Smith was voted a sword by Congress, and Fleury received the
commission of lieutenant-colonel. Washington still hoped to keep
possession of Red Bank, and thereby prevent the enemy from weighing
the chevaux-de-frise before the frost obliged their ships to quit the
river. "I am anxiously waiting the arrival of the troops from the
northward," writes he, "who ought, from the time they have had my
orders to have been here before this. Colonel Hamilton, one of my
aides, is up the North River, doing all he can to push them forward,
but he writes me word that he finds many unaccountable delays thrown
in his way. The want of these troops has embarrassed all my measures

The delays in question will best be explained by a few particulars
concerning the mission of Colonel Hamilton. [Hamilton had expected to
find matters in such a train that he would have little to do but hurry
on ample reinforcements already on the march; but he soon discovered
that it was designed to retain the greater part of the Northern army
at Albany and in the Highlands, sparing only about four thousand men
to the commander-in-chief. Morgan and his riflemen had been tardily
detached, he having met them on the march near New Windsor on the
morning of November 2d. Putnam, he found, was busy with the project of
an attack on New York; and Gates was full of reasons why more troops
should not be despatched southward, claiming that there was no
certainty that Sir Henry Clinton had gone to join Howe, and that there
was a possibility of his returning up the river. If his army were
depleted, Albany would be exposed, New England left open to the
ravages of the enemy, and his own contemplated movement against
Ticonderoga abandoned. It was with the greatest difficulty that
Hamilton induced Gates to detach the brigades of Poor and Patterson to
the aid of the commander-in-chief. Washington would not have received
a man, he declared, if the whole could have been kept at Albany with
any decency. Governor Clinton, Hamilton found, was the only general
officer who appreciated Washington's position, and disposed to promote
the general good, independent of personal considerations. Putnam who,
unlike Gates, was innocent of intrigues against the commander-in-chief,
was still so bent upon his favorite scheme of an attack on New York,
that only Hamilton's positive orders, as from Washington, to send the
Continental troops under him southward, retaining the militia, brought
the bellicose veteran to a reluctant compliance. Washington, in a
letter to Putnam, reprimanded his tardiness, concluding with, "I could
wish that in future my orders may be immediately complied with, without
arguing upon the propriety of them." The intrigues in progress around
him made it necessary for Washington at this moment to assert his
superior command, although he acquitted Putnam of any part in them.]

In the meantime, Sir William Howe was following up the reduction of
Fort Mifflin by an expedition against Fort Mercer, which still impeded
the navigation of the Delaware. On the 17th of November, Lord
Cornwallis was detached with two thousand men to cross from Chester
into the Jerseys, where he would be joined by a force advancing from
New York. Apprised of this movement, Washington detached General
Huntington with a brigade, to join Varnum at Red Bank. General Greene
was also ordered to repair thither with his division, and an express
was sent off to General Glover who was on his way through the Jerseys
with his brigade, directing him to file off to the left towards the
same point. These troops, with such militia as could be collected,
Washington hoped would be sufficient to save the fort. Before they
could form a junction, however, and reach their destination,
Cornwallis appeared before it. A defence against such superior force
was hopeless. The works were abandoned; they were taken possession of
by the enemy who proceeded to destroy them. After the destruction had
been accomplished, the reinforcements from the North, so long and so
anxiously expected, and so shamefully delayed, made their appearance.
"Had they arrived but ten days sooner," writes Washington to his
brother, "it would, I think, have put it in my power to save Fort
Mifflin, which defended the chevaux-de-frise, and consequently have
rendered Philadelphia a very ineligible situation for the enemy this

The evil which Washington had so anxiously striven to prevent had now
been effected. The American vessels stationed in the river had lost
all protection. Some of the galleys escaped past the batteries of
Philadelphia in a fog, and took refuge in the upper part of the
Delaware; the rest were set on fire by their crews and abandoned.
Washington advised the navy board, now that the enemy had the command
of the river, to have all the American frigates scuttled and sunk
immediately. The board objected to sinking them, but said they should
be ballasted and plugged, ready to be sunk in case of attack.
Washington warned them that an attack would be sudden, so as to get
possession of them before they could be sunk or destroyed;--his advice
and warning were unheeded; the consequence will hereafter be shown.


On the evening of the 24th of November Washington reconnoitred,
carefully and thoughtfully, the lines and defences about Philadelphia,
from the opposite side of the Schuylkill. His army was now
considerably reinforced; the garrison was weakened by the absence of a
large body of troops under Lord Cornwallis in the Jerseys. Some of the
general officers thought this an advantageous moment for an attack
upon the city. Such was the opinion of Lord Stirling, and especially
of General Wayne, Mad Anthony, as he was familiarly called, always
eager for some daring enterprise. The recent victory at Saratoga had
dazzled the public mind and produced a general impatience for
something equally striking and effective in this quarter. With an
anxious eye Washington scrutinized the enemy's works. They appeared to
be exceeding strong. A chain of redoubts extended along the most
commanding ground from the Schuylkill to the Delaware. They were
framed, planked, and of great thickness, and were surrounded by a deep
ditch, enclosed and fraised. The intervals were filled with an abatis,
in constructing which all the apple trees of the neighborhood, beside
forest trees, had been sacrificed.

The idea of Lord Stirling and those in favor of an attack was, that it
should be at different points at daylight; the main body to attack the
lines to the north of the city, while Greene, embarking his men in
boats at Dunk's Ferry, and passing down the Delaware, and Potter, with
a body of Continentals and militia, moving down the west side of the
Schuylkill, should attack the eastern and western fronts. Washington
saw that there was an opportunity for a brilliant blow, that might
satisfy the impatience of the public, but he saw that it must be
struck at the expense of a fearful loss of life.

Returning to camp, he held a council of war of his principal officers,
in which the matter was debated at great length and with some warmth,
but without coming to a decision. At breaking up, Washington requested
that each member of the council would give his opinion the next
morning in writing, and he sent off a messenger in the night for the
written opinion of General Greene.

Only four members of the council, Stirling, Wayne, Scott and Woodford,
were in favor of an attack; of which Lord Stirling drew up the plan.
Eleven (including Greene) were against it, objecting, among other
things, that the enemy's lines were too strong and too well supported,
and their force too numerous, well disciplined and experienced, to be
assailed without great loss and the hazard of a failure. Had
Washington been actuated by mere personal ambition and a passion for
military fame, he might have disregarded the loss and hazarded the
failure; but his patriotism was superior to his ambition; he shrank
from a glory that must be achieved at such a cost, and the idea of an
attack was abandoned.

A letter from General Greene received about this time, gave Washington
some gratifying intelligence about his youthful friend, the Marquis de
Lafayette. Though not quite recovered from the wound received at the
battle of Brandywine, he had accompanied General Greene as a volunteer
in his expedition into the Jerseys, and had been indulged by him with
an opportunity of gratifying his belligerent humor, in a brush with
Cornwallis' outposts. "The marquis," writes Greene, "with about four
hundred militia and the rifle corps, attacked the enemy's picket last
evening killed about twenty, wounded many more, and took about twenty
prisoners. The marquis is charmed with the spirited behavior of the
militia and rifle corps.... The marquis is determined to be in the way
of danger."

Washington had repeatedly written to Congress in favor of giving the
marquis a command equal to his nominal rank. He availed himself of the
present occasion to support his former recommendations, by
transmitting to Congress an account of Lafayette's youthful exploit.
He received, in return, an intimation from that body, that it was
their pleasure he should appoint the marquis to the command of a
division in the Continental army. The division of General Stephen at
this time was vacant; that veteran officer, who had formerly won honor
for himself in the French war, having been dismissed for misconduct at
the battle of Germantown, the result of intemperate habits, into which
he unfortunately had fallen. Lafayette was forthwith appointed to the
command of that division.

At this juncture (November 27th), a modification took place in the
Board of War, indicative of the influence which was operating in
Congress. It was increased from three to five members: General
Mifflin, Joseph Trumbull, Richard Peters, Colonel Pickering, and last,
though certai