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Title: The American Revolution
Author: Fiske, John, 1842-1901
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The American Revolution" ***

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Transcriber's Note

The text version of this volume cannot reproduce the many illustrations
it contains. Please see the Note at the end of this text for a brief
discussion of the conventions adopted. All illustrations can be seen by

Very few corrections were made, and were due to obvious printer's errors,
and are cataloged in a note at the end of this text. A few instances of
missing punctuation have been silently added, where space for it can be
seen on the printed page.

Footnotes have been re-numbered sequentially and moved to the end of
their respective chapters.

All sidenotes (paragraph descriptions) have been gathered at the
beginning of each paragraph, and can be considered as an outline.

Italics are rendered using the '_' character as _italics_. Text printed
in a bold font is rendered using the '=' character as =bold=. The oe
ligatures in the original text have been replaced by the separate
letters oe in this version, e.g. manoeuvres. Superscripts have been
denoted as, for example, B^{ar}.

   [Illustration: WASHINGTON AT TRENTON By John Trumbull]

                           AMERICAN REVOLUTION

                                JOHN FISKE

                        _With Many Illustrations_

                            TWO VOLUMES IN ONE

                            [Publisher's Logo]

                             _Published for_
                          THE EDUCATIONAL PRESS
                         HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

                      COPYRIGHT, 1891, BY JOHN FISKE


                     COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY ABBY M. FISKE


                          MRS. MARY HEMENWAY

                      HISTORY AND THE PRINCIPLES OF
                           GOOD CITIZENSHIP

                       _I DEDICATE THIS BOOK_



                              CHAPTER I

                           THE BEGINNINGS


  Relations between the American colonies and the British government
    in the first half of the eighteenth century                        1

  The Lords of Trade                                                   2

  The governors' salaries                                              3

  Sir Robert Walpole                                                   4

  Views of the Lords of Trade as to the need for a union of the
    colonies                                                           5

  Weakness of the sentiment of union                                   6

  The Albany Congress                                                  6

  Franklin's plan for a federal union (1754)                        7, 8

  Rejection of Franklin's plan                                         9

  Shirley recommends a stamp act                                      10

  The writs of assistance                                             11

  The chief justice of New York                                       12

  Otis's "Vindication"                                                13

  Expenses of the French War                                          14

  Grenville's resolves                                                15

  Reply of the colonies                                               16

  Passage of the Stamp Act                                            17

  Patrick Henry and the Parsons' Cause                                18

  Resolutions of Virginia concerning the Stamp Act                19, 20

  The Stamp Act Congress                                           20-22

  Declaration of the Massachusetts assembly                           22

  Resistance to the Stamp Act in Boston                               23

  And in New York                                                     24

  Debate in the House of Commons                                  25, 26

  Repeal of the Stamp Act                                         26, 27

  The Duke of Grafton's ministry                                      28

  Charles Townshend and his revenue acts                           29-31

  Attack upon the New York assembly                                   32

  Parliament did not properly represent the British people        32, 33

  Difficulty of the problem                                           34

  Representation of Americans in Parliament                           35

  Mr. Gladstone and the Boers                                         36

  Death of Townshend                                                  37

  His political legacy to George III.                                 37

  Character of George III.                                        38, 39

  English parties between 1760 and 1784                           40, 41

  George III. as a politician                                         42

  His chief reason for quarrelling with the Americans             42, 43

                              CHAPTER II

                              THE CRISIS

  Character of Lord North                                             44

  John Dickinson and the "Farmer's Letters"                           45

  The Massachusetts circular letter                               46, 47

  Lord Hillsborough's instructions to Bernard                         48

  The "Illustrious Ninety-Two"                                        48

  Impressment of citizens                                             49

  Affair of the sloop Liberty                                      49-51

  Statute of Henry VIII. concerning "treason committed abroad"        52

  Samuel Adams makes up his mind (1768)                            53-56

  Arrival of troops in Boston                                     56, 57

  Letters of "Vindex"                                                 58

  Debate in Parliament                                            59, 60

  All the Townshend acts, except the one imposing a duty upon tea,
    to be repealed                                                    61

  Recall of Governor Bernard                                          61

  Character of Thomas Hutchinson                                  61, 62

  Resolutions of Virginia concerning the Townshend acts               63

  Conduct of the troops in Boston                                     64

  Assault on James Otis                                               64

  The "Boston Massacre"                                            65-68

  Some of its lessons                                              69-72

  Lord North becomes prime minister                                   72

  Action of the New York merchants                                    73

  Assemblies convened in strange places                               74

  Taxes in Maryland                                                   74

  The "Regulators" in North Carolina                                  74

  Affair of the schooner Gaspee                                   75, 76

  The salaries of the Massachusetts judges                            76

  Jonathan Mayhew's suggestion (1766)                                 77

  The committees of correspondence in Massachusetts                   78

  Intercolonial committees of correspondence                          79

  Revival of the question of taxation                                 80

  The king's ingenious scheme for tricking the Americans into
    buying the East India Company's tea                               81

  How Boston became the battle-ground                                 82

  Advice solemnly sought and given by the Massachusetts towns      82-84

  Arrival of the tea; meeting at the Old South                    84, 85

  The tea-ships placed under guard                                    85

  Rotch's dilatory man[oe]uvres                                       86

  Great town meeting at the Old South                             87, 88

  The tea thrown into the harbour                                 88, 89

  Moral grandeur of the scene                                     90, 91

  How Parliament received the news                                 91-93

  The Boston Port Bill                                                93

  The Regulating Act                                               93-95

  Act relating to the shooting of citizens                            96

  The quartering of troops in towns                                   96

  The Quebec Act                                                      96

  General Gage sent to Boston                                     97, 98

                              CHAPTER III

                       THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS

  Protest of the Whig Lords                                           99

  Belief that the Americans would not fight                          100

  Belief that Massachusetts would not be supported by the other
    colonies                                                         101

  News of the Port Bill                                         101, 102

  Samuel Adams at Salem                                         103, 104

  Massachusetts nullifies the Regulating Act                         105

  John Hancock and Joseph Warren                                106, 107

  The Suffolk County Resolves                                        108

  Provincial Congress in Massachusetts                               109

  First meeting of the Continental Congress (September 5,
  1774)                                                         110, 111

  Debates in Parliament                                         112, 113

  William Howe appointed commander-in-chief of the forces in
    America                                                          113

  Richard, Lord Howe, appointed admiral of the fleet                 114

  Franklin returns to America                                        115

  State of feeling in the middle colonies                            116

  Lord North's mistaken hopes of securing New York                   117

  Affairs in Massachusetts                                           118

  Dr. Warren's oration at the Old South                              119

  Attempt to corrupt Samuel Adams                                    120

  Orders to arrest Adams and Hancock                                 121

  Paul Revere's ride                                            122, 123

  Pitcairn fires upon the yeomanry at Lexington                 124, 125

  The troops repulsed at Concord; their dangerous situation     126, 127

  The retreating troops rescued by Lord Percy                        128

  Retreat continued from Lexington to Charlestown                    129

  Rising of the country; the British besieged in Boston              130

  Effects of the news in England and in America                  130-133

  Mecklenburg County Resolves                                        133

  Legend of the Mecklenburg "Declaration of Independence"        133-135

  Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen                                    135

  Capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point                         136-140

  Second meeting of the Continental Congress                         141

  Appointment of George Washington to command the Continental
    army                                                         142-144

  The siege of Boston                                                145

  Gage's proclamation                                                145

  The Americans occupy Bunker's and Breed's hills                    146

  Arrival of Putnam, Stark, and Warren                               147

  Gage decides to try an assault                                148, 149

  First assault repulsed                                             149

  Second assault repulsed                                            150

  Prescott's powder gives out                                        150

  Third assault succeeds; the British take the hill                  151

  British and American losses                                   151, 152

  Excessive slaughter; significance of the battle                    153

  Its moral effects                                                  154

                              CHAPTER IV


  Washington's arrival in Cambridge                                  155

  Continental officers: Daniel Morgan                                156

  Benedict Arnold, John Stark, John Sullivan                         157

  Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox                                       158

  Israel Putnam                                                      159

  Horatio Gates and Charles Lee                                      160

  Lee's personal peculiarities                                  161, 162

  Dr. Benjamin Church                                                163

  Difficult work for Washington                                      164

  Absence of governmental organization                               165

  New government of Massachusetts (July, 1775)                       166

  Congress sends a last petition to the king                         167

  The king issues a proclamation, and tries to hire troops
    from Russia                                                  168-170

  Catherine refuses; the king hires German troops                    170

  Indignation in Germany                                             171

  Burning of Falmouth (Portland)                                     171

  Effects of all this upon Congress                             172, 173

  Montgomery's invasion of Canada and capture of Montreal       174, 175

  Arnold's march through the wilderness of Maine                     176

  Assault upon Quebec (December 31, 1775)                            177

  Total failure of the attempt upon Canada                           178

  The siege of Boston                                                179

  Washington seizes Dorchester Heights (March 4, 1776)          180, 181

  The British troops evacuate Boston (March 17)                 182, 183

  Movement toward independence; a provisional flag (January 1,
    1776)                                                            184

  Effect of the hiring of "myrmidons"                                185

  Thomas Paine                                                       185

  His pamphlet entitled "Common Sense"                          186, 187

  Fulminations and counter-fulminations                              188

  The Scots in North Carolina                                        188

  Sir Henry Clinton sails for the Carolinas                          189

  The fight at Moore's Creek; North Carolina declares for
    independence                                                     189

  Action of South Carolina and Georgia                               190

  Affairs in Virginia; Lord Dunmore's proclamation                   190

  Skirmish at the Great Bridge, and burning of Norfolk               191

  Virginia declares for independence                                 192

  Action of Rhode Island and Massachusetts                           192

  Resolution adopted in Congress May 15                              193

  Instructions from the Boston town meeting                          194

  Richard Henry Lee's motion in Congress                             194

  Debate on Lee's                                               195, 196

  Action of the other colonies; Connecticut and New Hampshire        196

  New Jersey                                                         197

  Pennsylvania and Delaware                                      197-199

  Maryland                                                           199

  The situation in New York                                          200

  The Tryon plot                                                     201

  Final debate on Lee's motion                                       202

  Vote on Lee's motion                                               203

  Form of the Declaration of Independence                            204

  Thomas Jefferson                                              204, 205

  The declaration was a deliberate expression of the sober
    thought of the American people                              206, 207

                              CHAPTER V

                      FIRST BLOW AT THE CENTRE

  Lord Cornwallis arrives upon the scene                             208

  Battle of Fort Moultrie (June 28, 1776)                        209-211

  British plan for conquering the valley of the Hudson, and
    cutting the United Colonies in twain                             212

  Lord Howe's futile attempt to negotiate with Washington
    unofficially                                                213, 214

  The military problem at New York                               214-216

  Importance of Brooklyn Heights                                     217

  Battle of Long Island (August 27, 1776)                        218-220

  Howe prepares to besiege the Heights                               220

  But Washington slips away with his army                            221

  And robs the British of the most golden opportunity ever
   offered them                                                  221-223

  The conference at Staten Island                               223, 224

  General Howe takes the city of New York September 15               224

  But Mrs. Lindley Murray saves the garrison                         225

  Attack upon Harlem Heights                                         225

  The new problem before Howe                                   225, 226

  He moves upon Throg's Neck, but Washington changes base            227

  Baffled at White Plans, Howe tries a new plan                      228

  Washington's orders in view of the emergency                       228

  Congress meddles with the situation and muddles it                 229

  Howe takes Fort Washington by storm (November 16)                  230

  Washington and Greene                                              231

  Outrageous conduct of Charles Lee                             231, 232

  Greene barely escapes from Fort Lee (November 20)                  233

  Lee intrigues against Washington                              233, 234

  Washington retreats into Pennsylvania                              234

  Reinforcements come from Schuyler                                  235

  Fortunately for the Americans, the British capture Charles Lee
    (December 13)                                                235-238

  The times that tried men's souls                              238, 239

  Washington prepares to strike back                                 239

  He crosses the Delaware, and pierces the British centre at
    Trenton (December 26)                                       240, 241

  Cornwallis comes up to retrieve the disaster                       242
  And thinks he has run down the "old fox" at the Assunpink
    (January 2, 1777)                                                242

  But Washington prepares a checkmate                                243

  And again severs the British line at Princeton (January 3)         244

  General retreat of the British upon New York                       245

  The tables completely turned                                       246

  Washington's superb generalship                                    247

  Effects in England                                                 248

  And in France                                                      249

  Franklin's arrival in France                                       250

  Secret aid from France                                             251

  Lafayette goes to America                                          252

  Efforts toward remodelling the Continental army                252-255

  Services of Robert Morris                                          255

  Ill feeling between the states                                     256

  Extraordinary powers conferred upon Washington                 257-258

                              CHAPTER VI

                      SECOND BLOW AT THE CENTRE

  Invasion of New York by Sir Guy Carleton                           259

  Arnold's preparations                                              260

  Battle of Valcour Island (October 11, 1776)                    260-262

  Congress promotes five junior brigadiers over Arnold (February
    19, 1777)                                                        262

  Character of Philip Schuyler                                       263

  Horatio Gates                                                      264

  Gates intrigues against Schuyler                                   265

  His unseemly behaviour before Congress                             266

  Charges against Arnold                                        267, 268

  Arnold defeats Tryon at Ridgefield (April 27, 1777)                269

  Preparations for the summer campaign                               269

  The military centre of the United States was the state of New
    York                                                             270

  A second blow was to be struck at the centre; the plan of
    campaign                                                         271

  The plan was unsound; it separated the British forces too
    widely, and gave the Americans the advantage of interior
    lines                                                        272-274

  Germain's fatal error; he overestimated the strength of the
    Tories                                                           274

  Too many unknown quantities                                        275

  Danger from New England ignored                                    276

  Germain's negligence; the dispatch that was never sent             277

  Burgoyne advances upon Ticonderoga                            277, 278

  Phillips seizes Mount Defiance                                     279

  Evacuation of Ticonderoga                                          279

  Battle of Hubbardton (July 7)                                      280

  One swallow does not make a summer                             280-282

  The king's glee; wrath of John Adams                               282

  Gates was chiefly to blame                                         282

  Burgoyne's difficulties beginning                                  283

  Schuyler wisely evacuates Fort Edward                              284

  Enemies gathering in Burgoyne's rear                               285

  Use of Indian auxiliaries                                          285

  Burgoyne's address to the chiefs                                   286

  Burke ridicules the address                                        286

  The story of Jane McCrea                                      287, 288

  The Indians desert Burgoyne                                        289

  Importance of Bennington; Burgoyne sends a German force
    against it                                                       290

  Stark prepares to receive the Germans                              291

  Battle of Bennington (August 16); nearly the whole German
    army captured on the field                                  292, 293

  Effect of the news; Burgoyne's enemies multiply                    294

  Advance of St. Leger upon Fort Stanwix                        294, 295

  Herkimer marches against him; Herkimer's plan                      296

  Failure of the plan                                                297

  Thayendanegea prepares an ambuscade                                298

  Battle of Oriskany (August 6)                                  298-300

  Colonel Willett's sortie; first hoisting of the stars and
    stripes                                                      300-301

  Death of Herkimer                                                  301

  Arnold arrives at Schuyler's camp                                  302

  And volunteers to retrieve Fort Stanwix                            303

  Yan Yost Cuyler and his stratagem                                  304

  Flight of St. Leger (August 22)                                    305

  Burgoyne's dangerous situation                                     306

  Schuyler superseded by Gates                                       306

  Position of the two armies (August 19-September 12)                307

                              CHAPTER VII


  Why Sir William Howe went to Chesapeake Bay                        308

  Charles Lee in captivity                                       308-310

  Treason of Charles Lee                                         311-314

  Folly of moving upon Philadelphia as the "rebel capital"      314, 315

  Effect of Lee's advice                                             315

  Washington's masterly campaign in New Jersey (June, 1777)     316, 317

  Uncertainty as to Howe's next movements                       317, 318

  Howe's letter to Burgoyne                                          318

  Comments of Washington and Greene                             319, 320

  Howe's alleged reason trumped up and worthless                     320

  Burgoyne's fate was practically decided when Howe arrived at
    Elkton                                                           321

  Washington's reasons for offering battle                           321

  He chooses a very strong position                                  322

  Battle of the Brandywine (September 11)                        322-326

  Washington's skill in detaining the enemy                          326

  The British enter Philadelphia (September 26)                      326

  Significance of Forts Mercer and Mifflin                           327

  The situation at Germantown                                   327, 328

  Washington's audacious plan                                        328

  Battle of Germantown (October 4)                               329-332

  Howe captures Forts Mercer and Mifflin                             333

  Burgoyne recognizes the fatal error of Germain                     333

  Nevertheless he crosses the Hudson River                           334

  First battle at Freeman's Farm (September 19)                      335

  Quarrel between Gates and Arnold                               336-337

  Burgoyne's supplies cut off                                        338

  Second battle at Freeman's Farm (October 7); the British
    totally defeated by Arnold                                   338-340

  The British army is surrounded                                     341

  Sir Henry Clinton comes up the river, but it is too late           342

  The silver bullet                                                  343

  Burgoyne surrenders (October 17)                              343, 344

  Schuyler's magnanimity                                             345

  Bad faith of Congress                                          346-349

  The behaviour of Congress was simply inexcusable                   350

  What became of the captured army                              350, 351

                       THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

                              CHAPTER I

                           THE BEGINNINGS

  [Sidenote: The Lords of Trade]

  [Sidenote: The governor's salary]

During the seventy years which elapsed between the overthrow of the
Stuart dynasty and the victory of Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham, the
relations between the American colonies and the British government were,
on the whole, peaceful; and the history of the colonies, except for the
great and romantic struggle with New France, would have been almost
destitute of striking incidents. In view of the perpetual menace from
France, it was clearly unwise for the British government to irritate the
colonies, or do anything to weaken their loyalty; and they were
accordingly left very much to themselves. Still, they were not likely to
be treated with any great liberality,--for such was not then, as it is
hardly even yet, the way of governments,--and if their attachment to
England still continued strong, it was in spite of the general demeanour
of the mother-country. Since 1675 the general supervision of the
colonies had been in the hands of a standing committee of the Privy
Council, styled the "Lords of the Committee of Trade and Plantations,"
and familiarly known as the "Lords of Trade." To this board the
governors sent frequent and full reports of the proceedings in the
colonial legislatures, of the state of agriculture and trade, of the
revenues of the colonies, and of the way in which the public money was
spent. In private letters, too, the governors poured forth their
complaints into the ears of the Lords of Trade, and these complaints
were many and loud. Except in Pennsylvania and Maryland, which were like
hereditary monarchies, and in Connecticut and Rhode Island, where the
governors were elected by the people, the colonial governors were now
invariably appointed by the Crown. In most cases they were inclined to
take high views regarding the royal prerogative, and in nearly all cases
they were unable to understand the political attitude of the colonists,
who on the one hand gloried in their connection with England, and on the
other hand, precisely because they were Englishmen, were unwilling to
yield on any occasion whatsoever one jot or tittle of their ancient
liberties. Moreover, through the ubiquity of the popular assemblies and
the directness of their control over the administration of public
affairs, the political life of America was both really and ostensibly
freer than that of England was at that time; and the ancient liberties
of Englishmen, if not better preserved, were at least more conspicuously
asserted. As a natural consequence, the royal governors were continually
trying to do things which the people would not let them do, they were in
a chronic state of angry warfare with their assemblies, and they were
incessant in their complaints to the Lords of Trade. They represented
the Americans as a factious and turbulent people, with their heads
turned by queer political crotchets, unwilling to obey the laws and
eager to break off their connection with the British Empire. In this way
they did much to arouse an unfriendly feeling toward the colonies,
although eminent Englishmen were not wanting who understood American
affairs too well to let their opinions be thus lightly influenced. Upon
the Lords of Trade these misrepresentations wrought with so much effect
that now and then they would send out instructions to suspend the writ
of _habeas corpus_, or to abridge the freedom of the press. Sometimes
their acts were absurdly arbitrary. In New Hampshire, the people
maintained that as free-born Englishmen they had the right to choose
their representatives; but the governor held, on the contrary, that
this was no right, but only a privilege, which the Crown might withhold,
or grant, or revoke, all at its own good pleasure. To uphold the royal
prerogative, the governor was instructed to issue writs for elections to
some of the towns, while withholding them from others; but the
resistance of the people to this piece of tyranny was so determined that
the Lords of Trade thought it best to yield. In Massachusetts, for more
than thirty years, there went on an unceasing controversy between the
General Court and the successive royal governors, Shute, Burnet, and
Belcher, with reference to the governor's salary. The Lords of Trade
insisted that the governor should be paid a fixed salary; but lest this
should make the governor too independent, the General Court obstinately
refused to establish a salary, but made grants to the governor from year
to year, in imitation of the time-honoured usage of Parliament. This
method was, no doubt, inconvenient for the governors; but the colonists
rightly valued it as one of the safeguards of popular liberty, and to
their persistent refusal the Crown was obliged to give way. Similar
controversies, in New York and South Carolina, were attended with
similar results; while in Virginia the assembly more than once refused
to vote supplies, on the ground that the liberties of the colony were in


  [Sidenote: Sir Robert Walpole]

Such grievances as these, reported year by year to the Lords of Trade,
and losing nothing in the manner in which they were told, went far to
create in England an opinion that America was a lawless country, and
sorely in need of a strong government. From time to time various schemes
were proposed for limiting the powers of the colonial assemblies, for
increasing the power of the governors, for introducing a titled
nobility, for taxing the colonists by act of Parliament, or for
weakening the feeling of local independence by uniting several colonies
into one. Until after the French troubles had been disposed of, little
came of any of these schemes. A plan for taxing the colonies was once
proposed to Sir Robert Walpole, but the sagacious old statesman
dismissed it with a laugh. "What!" said he. "I have half of Old England
set against me already, and do you think I will have all New England
likewise?" From time to time the liberal charters of Rhode Island and
Connecticut were threatened, but nothing came of this. But in one
direction the Lords of Trade were more active. One of their most
cherished plans was to bring about a union of all the colonies under a
single head; but this was not to be a union of the kind which the
Americans, with consummate statesmanship, afterward wrought out for
themselves. It was not to be a union based upon the idea of the
sacredness of local self-government, but it was a union to be achieved,
as far as possible, at the expense of local self-government. To bring
all the colonies together under a single viceroy would, it was thought,
diminish seriously the power of each local assembly, while at the same
time such a union would no doubt make the military strength of the
colonies much more available in case of war. In 1764, Francis Bernard,
Governor of Massachusetts, wrote that "to settle the American
governments to the greatest possible advantage, it will be necessary to
reduce the number of them; in some places to unite and consolidate; in
others to separate and transfer; and in general to divide by natural
boundaries instead of imaginary lines. If there should be but one form
of government established for the North American provinces, it would
greatly facilitate the reformation of them." As long ago as 1701, Robert
Livingston of New York had made similar suggestions; and in 1752,
Dinwiddie of Virginia recommended that the Northern and Southern
colonies be united respectively into two great confederacies.

  [Signature: R Walpole]

  [Sidenote: Weakness of the sentiment of union]

The desirableness of bringing about a union of the colonies was also
recognized by all the most liberal-minded American statesmen, though
from a very different point of view. They agreed with the royal
governors and with the Lords of Trade as to the urgent need for
concentrating the military strength of the colonies, and they thought
that this end could best be subserved by some kind of federal union. But
at the same time they held that the integrity of the local
self-government of each colony was of the first importance, and that no
system of federation would be practicable which should in any degree
essentially impair that integrity. To bring about a federal union on
such terms was no easy matter; it was a task fitted to tax the greatest
of statesmen at any time. At that time it was undoubtedly a hopeless
task. The need for union was not generally felt by the people. The
sympathies between the different colonies were weak and liable to be
overborne by prejudices arising from rivalry or from differences in
social structure. To the merchant of Boston, the Virginian planter was
still almost a foreigner, though both the one and the other were
pure-blooded Englishmen. Commercial jealousies were very keen. Disputes
about boundaries were not uncommon. In 1756, Georgia and South Carolina
actually came to blows over the navigation of the Savannah river.
Jeremiah Dummer, in his famous "Defence of the New England Charters,"
said that it was impossible that the colonies should ever be brought to
unite; and Burnaby thought that if the hand of Great Britain were once
taken off, there would be chronic civil war all the way from Maine to

  [Sidenote: The Albany Congress]

In 1754, the prospect of immediate war with the French led several of
the royal governors to call for a congress of all the colonies, to be
held at Albany. The primary purpose of the meeting was to make sure of
the friendship of the Six Nations, and to organize a general scheme of
operations against the French. The secondary purpose was to prepare some
plan of confederation which all the colonies might be persuaded to
adopt. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New
York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland--only seven colonies of the
thirteen--sent commissioners to this congress. The people showed little
interest in the movement. It does not appear that any public meetings
were held in favour of it. Among the newspapers, the only one which
warmly approved of it seems to have been the "Pennsylvania Gazette,"
edited by Benjamin Franklin, which appeared with a union device and the
motto "Unite or Die!"

[Illustration: Unite or Die]

  [Sidenote: Franklin's plan of union, 1754]

The circumstances of Franklin's life, no less than the wide sweep of his
intelligence, had fitted him for sounder views of the political needs of
the time than were taken by most of his contemporaries. As a native of
Massachusetts who dwelt in Pennsylvania, he may be said to have belonged
to two very different colonies; and he had spent time enough in London
to become well acquainted with British ideas. During the session of the
Albany Congress, a first attempt was made to establish a permanent union
of the thirteen colonies. It was to Franklin that the plan was chiefly
due. The legislative assembly of each colony was to choose, once in
three years, representatives to attend a federal Grand Council; which
was to meet every year at Philadelphia, a town which could be reached by
a twenty days' journey either from South Carolina or from New Hampshire.
This Grand Council was to choose its own speaker, and could neither be
dissolved nor prorogued, nor kept sitting longer than six weeks at any
one time, except by its own consent or by especial order of the Crown.
The Grand Council was to make treaties with the Indians and to regulate
the Indian trade; and it was to have sole power of legislation on all
matters concerning the colonies as a whole. To these ends, it could levy
taxes, enlist soldiers, build forts, and nominate all civil officers.
Its laws were to be submitted to the king for approval, and the royal
veto, in order to be of effect, must be exercised within three years.

To this Grand Council each colony was to send a number of
representatives, proportioned to its contributions to the continental
military service; yet no colony was to send less than two or more than
seven representatives. With the exception of such matters of general
concern as were to be managed by the Grand Council, each colony was to
retain its powers of legislation intact. On an emergency, any colony
might singly defend itself against foreign attack, and the federal
government was prohibited from impressing soldiers or seamen without the
consent of the local legislature.

The supreme executive power was to be vested in a president or
governor-general, appointed and paid by the Crown. He was to nominate
all military officers, subject to the approval of the Grand Council,
and was to have a veto on all the acts of the Grand Council. No money
could be issued save by joint order of the governor-general and the

This plan, said Franklin, "is not altogether to my mind, but it is as I
could get it." It should be observed, to the credit of its author, that
this scheme, long afterward known as the "Albany Plan," contemplated the
formation of a self-sustaining federal government, and not of a mere
league. As Frothingham well says, "It designed to confer on the
representatives of the people the power of making laws acting directly
on individuals, and appointing officers to execute them, and yet not to
interfere with the execution of the laws operating on the same
individuals by the local officers." It would have erected "a public
authority as obligatory in its sphere as the local governments were in
their spheres." In this respect it was much more complete than the
scheme of confederation agreed on in Congress in 1777, and it afforded a
valuable precedent for the more elaborate and perfect Federal
Constitution of 1787. It was in its main features a noble scheme, and
the great statesman who devised it was already looking forward to the
immense growth of the American Union, though he had not yet foreseen the
separation of the colonies from the mother-country. In less than a
century, he said, the great country behind the Alleghanies must become
"a populous and powerful dominion;" and he recommended that two new
colonies should at once be founded in the West,--the one on Lake Erie,
the other in the valley of the Ohio,--with free chartered governments
like those of Rhode Island and Connecticut.

  [Portrait: W Shirley]

  [Sidenote: Rejection of the plan]

  [Sidenote: Shirley recommends a stamp act]

But public opinion was not yet ripe for the adoption of Franklin's bold
and comprehensive ideas. Of the royal governors who were anxious to see
the colonies united on any terms, none opposed the plan except Delancey
of New York, who wished to reserve to the governors a veto upon all
elections of representatives to the Grand Council. To this it was
rightly objected that such a veto power would virtually destroy the
freedom of elections, and make the Grand Council an assembly of
creatures of the governors. On the popular side the objections were
many. The New England delegates, on the whole, were the least
disinclined to union; yet Connecticut urged that the veto power of the
governor-general might prove ruinous to the whole scheme; that the
concentration of all the military forces in his hands would be fraught
with dangers to liberty; and that even the power of taxation, lodged in
the hands of an assembly so remote from local interests, was hardly
compatible with the preservation of the ancient rights of Englishmen.
After long debate, the assembly at Albany decided to adopt Franklin's
plan, and copies of it were sent to all the colonies for their
consideration. But nowhere did it meet with approval. The mere fact that
the royal governors were all in favour of it--though their advocacy was
at present, no doubt, determined mainly by sound military reasons--was
quite enough to create an insuperable prejudice against it on the part
of the people. The Massachusetts legislature seems to have been the only
one which gave it a respectful consideration, albeit a large town
meeting in Boston denounced it as subversive of liberty. Pennsylvania
rejected it without a word of discussion. None of the assemblies
favoured it. On the other hand, when sent over to England to be
inspected by the Lords of Trade, it only irritated and disgusted them.
As they truly said, it was a scheme of union "complete in itself;" and
ever since the days of the New England confederacy the Crown had looked
with extreme jealousy upon all attempts at concerted action among the
colonies which did not originate with itself. Besides this, the Lords of
Trade were now considering a plan of their own for remodelling the
governments of the colonies, establishing a standing army, enforcing the
navigation acts, and levying taxes by authority of Parliament.
Accordingly little heed was paid to Franklin's ideas. Though the royal
governors had approved the Albany plan, in default of any scheme of
union more to their minds, they had no real sympathy with it. In 1756,
Shirley wrote to the Lords of Trade, urging upon them the paramount
necessity for a union of the American colonies, in order to withstand
the French; while at the same time he disparaged Franklin's scheme, as
containing principles of government unfit even for a single colony like
Rhode Island, and much more unfit for a great American confederacy. The
union, he urged, should be effected by act of Parliament, and by the
same authority a general fund should be raised to meet the expenses of
the war,--an end which Shirley thought might be most speedily and
quietly attained by means of a "stamp duty." As Shirley had been for
fifteen years governor of Massachusetts, and was now commander-in-chief
of all the troops in America, his opinion had great weight with the
Lords of Trade; and the same views being reiterated by Dinwiddie of
Virginia, Sharpe of Maryland, Hardy of New York, and other governors,
the notion that Parliament must tax the Americans became deeply rooted
in the British official mind.

  [Sidenote: Writs of assistance]

Nothing was done, however, until the work of the French war had been
accomplished. In 1761, it was decided to enforce the Navigation Act, and
one of the revenue officers at Boston applied to the superior court for
a "writ of assistance," or general search-warrant, to enable him to
enter private houses and search for smuggled goods, but without
specifying either houses or goods. Such general warrants had been
allowed by a statute of the bad reign of Charles II., and a statute of
William III., in general terms, had granted to revenue officers in
America like powers to those they possessed in England. But James Otis
showed that the issue of such writs was contrary to the whole spirit of
the British constitution. To issue such universal warrants allowing the
menials of the custom house, on mere suspicion, and perhaps from motives
of personal enmity, to invade the home of any citizen, without being
held responsible for any rudeness they might commit there,--such, he
said, was "a kind of power, the exercise of which cost one king of
England his head and another his throne;" and he plainly declared that
even an act of Parliament which should sanction so gross an infringement
of the immemorial rights of Englishmen would be treated as null and
void. Chief Justice Hutchinson granted the writs of assistance, and as
an interpreter of the law he was doubtless right in so doing; but Otis's
argument suggested the question whether Americans were bound to obey
laws which they had no share in making, and his passionate eloquence
made so great an impression upon the people that this scene in the court
room has been since remembered--and not unjustly--as the opening scene
of the American Revolution.

  [Portrait: James Otis]

  [Sidenote: The chief justice of New York]

In the same year the arbitrary temper of the government was exhibited in
New York. Down to this time the chief justice of the colony had held
office only during good behaviour, and had been liable to dismissal at
the hands of the colonial assembly. The chief justice was now made
removable only by the Crown, a measure which struck directly at the
independent administration of justice in the colony. The assembly tried
to protect itself by refusing to assign a fixed salary to the chief
justice, whereupon the king ordered that the salary should be paid out
of the quit-rents for the public lands. At the same time instructions
were sent to all the royal governors to grant no judicial commissions
for any other period than "during the king's pleasure;" and to show that
this was meant in earnest, the governor of New Jersey was next year
peremptorily dismissed for commissioning a judge "during good

  [Sidenote: Otis's "Vindication"]

In 1762, a question distinctly involving the right of the people to
control the expenditure of their own money came up in Massachusetts.
Governor Bernard, without authority from the assembly, had sent a couple
of ships to the northward, to protect the fisheries against French
privateers, and an expense of some £400 had been thus incurred. The
assembly was now ordered to pay this sum, but it refused to do so. "It
would be of little consequence to the people," said Otis, in the debate
on the question, "whether they were subject to George or Louis, the king
of Great Britain or the French king, if both were arbitrary, as both
would be, if both could levy taxes without Parliament." A cry of
"Treason!" from one of the less clear-headed members greeted this bold
statement; and Otis, being afterward taken to task for his language,
published a "Vindication," in which he maintained that the rights of a
colonial assembly, as regarded the expenditure of public money, were as
sacred as the rights of the House of Commons.

  [Portrait: George Grenville]

  [Sidenote: Expenses of the French war]

  [Sidenote: Grenville's Resolves]

In April, 1763, just three years after the accession of George III.,
George Grenville became Prime Minister of England, while at the same
time Charles Townshend was First Lord of Trade. Townshend had paid
considerable attention to American affairs, and was supposed to know
more about them than any other man in England. But his studies had led
him to the conclusion that the colonies ought to be deprived of their
self-government, and that a standing army ought to be maintained in
America by means of taxes arbitrarily assessed upon the people by
Parliament. Grenville was far from approving of such extreme measures
as these, but he thought that a tax ought to be imposed upon the
colonies, in order to help defray the expenses of the French war. Yet in
point of fact, as Franklin truly said, the colonies had "raised, paid,
and clothed nearly twenty-five thousand men during the last war,--a
number equal to those sent from Great Britain, and far beyond their
proportion. They went deeply into debt in doing this; and all their
estates and taxes are mortgaged for many years to come for discharging
that debt." That the colonies had contributed more than an equitable
share toward the expenses of the war, that their contributions had even
been in excess of their ability, had been freely acknowledged by
Parliament, which, on several occasions between 1756 and 1763, had voted
large sums to be paid over to the colonies, in partial compensation for
their excessive outlay. Parliament was therefore clearly estopped from
making the defrayal of the war debt the occasion for imposing upon the
colonies a tax of a new and strange character, and under circumstances
which made the payment of such a tax seem equivalent to a surrender of
their rights as free English communities. In March, 1764, Grenville
introduced in the House of Commons a series of Declaratory Resolves,
announcing the intention of the government to raise a revenue in America
by requiring various commercial and legal documents, newspapers, etc.,
to bear stamps, varying in price from threepence to ten pounds. A year
was to elapse, however, before these resolutions should take effect in a
formal enactment.

It marks the inferiority of the mother-country to the colonies in
political development, at that time, that the only solicitude as yet
entertained by the British official mind, with regard to this measure,
seems to have been concerned with the question how far the Americans
would be willing to part with their money. With the Americans it was as
far as possible from being a question of pounds, shillings, and pence;
but this was by no means correctly understood in England. The good
Shirley, although he had lived so long in Massachusetts, had thought
that a revenue might be most easily and quietly raised by means of a
stamp duty. Of all kinds of direct tax, none, perhaps, is less annoying.
But the position taken by the Americans had little to do with mere
convenience; it rested from the outset upon the deepest foundations of
political justice, and from this foothold neither threatening nor
coaxing could stir it.

[Illustration: A Stamp]

  [Sidenote: Reply of the colonies]

The first deliberate action with reference to the proposed Stamp Act was
taken in the Boston town meeting in May, 1764. In this memorable town
meeting Samuel Adams drew up a series of resolutions, which contained
the first formal and public denial of the right of Parliament to tax
the colonies without their consent; and while these resolutions were
adopted by the Massachusetts assembly, a circular letter was at the same
time sent to all the other colonies, setting forth the need for
concerted and harmonious action in respect of so grave a matter. In
response, the assemblies of Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, and South Carolina joined with Massachusetts in remonstrating
against the proposed Stamp Act. All these memorials were remarkable for
clearness of argument and simple dignity of language. They all took
their stand on the principle that, as free-born Englishmen, they could
not rightfully be taxed by the House of Commons unless they were
represented in that body. But the proviso was added, that if a letter
from the secretary of state, coming in the king's name, should be
presented to the colonial assemblies, asking them to contribute
something from their general resources to the needs of the British
Empire, they would cheerfully, as heretofore, grant liberal sums of
money, in token of their loyalty and of their interest in all that
concerned the welfare of the mighty empire to which they belonged. These
able and temperate memorials were sent to England; and in order to
reinforce them by personal tact and address, Franklin went over to
London as agent for the colony of Pennsylvania.

  [Portrait: Cha Thomson]

  [Sidenote: The Stamp Act]

The alternative proposed by the colonies was virtually the same as the
system of requisitions already in use, and the inefficiency of which, in
securing a revenue, had been abundantly proved by the French war.
Parliament therefore rejected it, and early in 1765 the Stamp Act was
passed. It is worthy of remark that the idea that the Americans would
resist its execution did not at once occur to Franklin. Acquiescence
seemed to him, for the present, the only safe policy. In writing to his
friend Charles Thomson, he said that he could no more have hindered the
passing of the Stamp Act than he could have hindered the sun's setting.
"That," he says, "we could not do. But since it is down, my friend, and
it may be long before it rises again, let us make as good a night of it
as we can. We may still light candles. Frugality and industry will go a
great way towards indemnifying us." But Thomson, in his answer, with
truer foresight, observed, "I much fear, instead of the candles you
mentioned being lighted, you will hear of the works of darkness!" The
news of the passage of the Stamp Act was greeted in America with a burst
of indignation. In New York, the act was reprinted with a death's-head
upon it in place of the royal arms, and it was hawked about the streets
under the title of "The Folly of England and the Ruin of America." In
Boston, the church-bells were tolled, and the flags on the shipping put
at half-mast.


  [Sidenote: The Parson's Cause]

But formal defiance came first from Virginia. A year and a half before,
a famous lawsuit, known as the "Parsons' Cause," had brought into public
notice a young man who was destined to take high rank among modern
orators. The lawsuit which made Patrick Henry's reputation was one of
the straws which showed how the stream of tendency in America was then
strongly setting toward independence. Tobacco had not yet ceased to be a
legal currency in Virginia, and by virtue of an old statute each
clergyman of the Established Church was entitled to sixteen thousand
pounds of tobacco as his yearly salary. In 1755 and 1758, under the
severe pressure of the French war, the assembly had passed relief acts,
allowing all public dues, including the salaries of the clergy, to be
paid either in kind or in money, at a fixed rate of twopence for a pound
of tobacco. The policy of these acts was thoroughly unsound, as they
involved a partial repudiation of debts; but the extreme distress of the
community was pleaded in excuse, and every one, clergy as well as
laymen, at first acquiesced in them. But in 1759 tobacco was worth
sixpence per pound, and the clergy became dissatisfied. Their complaints
reached the ears of Sherlock, the Bishop of London, and the act of 1758
was summarily vetoed by the king in council. The clergy brought suits to
recover the unpaid portions of their salaries; in the test case of Rev.
James Maury, the court decided the point of the law in their favour, on
the ground of the royal veto, and nothing remained but to settle before
a jury the amount of the damages. On this occasion, Henry appeared for
the first time in court, and after a few timid and awkward sentences
burst forth with an eloquent speech, in which he asserted the
indefeasible right of Virginia to make laws for herself, and declared
that in annulling a salutary ordinance at the request of a favoured
class in the community "a king, from being the father of his people,
degenerates into a tyrant, and forfeits all right to obedience." Cries
of "Treason!" were heard in the court room, but the jury immediately
returned a verdict of one penny in damages, and Henry became the popular
idol of Virginia. The clergy tried in vain to have him indicted for
treason, alleging that his crime was hardly less heinous than that which
had brought old Lord Lovat to the block. But the people of Louisa county
replied, in 1765, by choosing him to represent them in the colonial


  [Sidenote: Patrick Henry's resolutions]

Hardly had Henry taken his seat in the assembly when the news of the
Stamp Act arrived. In a committee of the whole house, he drew up a
series of resolutions, declaring that the colonists were entitled to all
the liberties and privileges of natural-born subjects, and that "the
taxation of the people by themselves, or by persons chosen by themselves
to represent them, ... is the distinguishing characteristic of British
freedom, without which the ancient constitution cannot exist." It was
further declared that any attempt to vest the power of taxation in any
other body than the colonial assembly was a menace to British no less
than to American freedom; that the people of Virginia were not bound to
obey any law enacted in disregard of these fundamental principles; and
that any one who should maintain the contrary should be regarded as a
public enemy. It was in the lively debate which ensued upon these
resolutions, that Henry uttered those memorable words commending the
example of Tarquin and Cæsar and Charles I. to the attention of George
III. Before the vote had been taken upon all the resolutions, Governor
Fauquier dissolved the assembly; but the resolutions were printed in the
newspapers, and hailed with approval all over the country.


                _Lincoln's-Inn_, 1765.



  Of the Prices of Parchment and Paper for the Service of _America_.


         Skins 18 Inch by 13, at Fourpence      }
               22 ---- by 16, at Six-pence      }
               26 ---- by 20, at Eight-pence    } each.
               28 ---- by 23, at Ten-pence      }
               31 ---- by 26, at Thirteen-pence }


         Horn at Seven-pence                    }
         Fools Cap at Nine-pence                }
         D^o with printed Notices } at          }
           for Indentures         } 1 s.        }
         Folio Post at One Shilling             } each Quire.
         Demy  ---- at Two Shillings            }
         Medium     at Three Shillings          }
         Royal ---- at Four Shillings           }
         Super Royal at Six Shillings           }

                  Paper for Printing


         Double Crown at 14s. } each Ream
         Double Demy at 19s.  }


         Book--Crown Paper at 10s. 6d. }
         Book----Fools Cap at 6s. 6d.  } each Ream.
         Pocket----Folio Post at 20s.  }
         Sheet----Demy at 13s.         }

  [Sidenote: The Stamp Act Congress]

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts legislature, at the suggestion of Otis, had
issued a circular letter to all the colonies, calling for a general
congress, in order to concert measures of resistance to the Stamp Act.
The first cordial response came from South Carolina, at the instance of
Christopher Gadsden, a wealthy merchant of Charleston and a scholar
learned in Oriental languages, a man of rare sagacity and most liberal
spirit. On the 7th of October, the proposed congress assembled at New
York, comprising delegates from Massachusetts, South Carolina,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey,
and New York, in all nine colonies, which are here mentioned in the
order of the dates at which they chose their delegates. In Virginia, the
governor succeeded in preventing the meeting of the legislature, so that
this great colony did not send delegates; and, for various reasons, New
Hampshire, North Carolina, and Georgia were likewise unrepresented at
the congress. But the sentiment of all the thirteen colonies was none
the less unanimous, and those which did not attend lost no time in
declaring their full concurrence with what was done at New York. At this
memorable meeting, held under the very guns of the British fleet and
hard by the headquarters of General Gage, the commander-in-chief of the
regular forces in America, a series of resolutions were adopted, echoing
the spirit of Patrick Henry's resolves, though couched in language
somewhat more conciliatory, and memorials were addressed to the king and
to both Houses of Parliament. Of all the delegates present, Gadsden took
the broadest ground, in behalf both of liberty and of united action
among the colonies. He objected to sending petitions to Parliament, lest
thereby its paramount authority should implicitly and unwittingly be
acknowledged. "A confirmation of our essential and common rights as
Englishmen," said he, "may be pleaded from charters safely enough; but
any further dependence on them may be fatal. We should stand upon the
broad common ground of those natural rights that we all feel and know as
men and as descendants of Englishmen. I wish the charters may not
ensnare us at last, by drawing different colonies to act differently in
this great cause. Whenever that is the case, all will be over with the
whole. There ought to be no New England man, no New Yorker, known on the
continent; but all of us Americans." So thought and said this
broad-minded South Carolinian.

  [Sidenote: Declaration of the Massachusetts assembly]

While these things were going on at New York, the Massachusetts
assembly, under the lead of Samuel Adams, who had just taken his seat in
it, drew up a very able state paper, in which it was declared, among
other things, that "the Stamp Act wholly cancels the very conditions
upon which our ancestors, with much toil and blood and at their sole
expense, settled this country and enlarged his majesty's dominions. It
tends to destroy that mutual confidence and affection, as well as that
equality, which ought ever to subsist among all his majesty's subjects
in this wide and extended empire; and what is the worst of all evils, if
his majesty's American subjects are not to be governed according to the
known and stated rules of the constitution, their minds may in time
become disaffected." This moderate and dignified statement was applauded
by many in England and by others derided as the "raving of a parcel of
wild enthusiasts," but from the position here taken Massachusetts never
afterward receded.

[Illustration: Stamp]

  [Sidenote: Resistance to the Stamp Act in Boston]

  [Sidenote: and in New York]

But it was not only in these formal and decorous proceedings that the
spirit of resistance was exhibited. The first announcement of the Stamp
Act had called into existence a group of secret societies of workingmen
known as "Sons of Liberty," in allusion to a famous phrase in one of
Colonel Barré's speeches. These societies were solemnly pledged to
resist the execution of the obnoxious law. On the 14th of August, the
quiet town of Boston witnessed some extraordinary proceedings. At
daybreak, the effigy of the stamp officer, Oliver, was seen hanging from
a great elm-tree, while near it was suspended a boot, to represent the
late prime minister, Lord Bute; and from the top of the boot-leg there
issued a grotesque head, garnished with horns, to represent the devil.
At nightfall the Sons of Liberty cut down these figures, and bore them
on a bier through the streets until they reached King Street, where they
demolished the frame of a house which was supposed to be erecting for a
stamp office. Thence, carrying the beams of this frame to Fort Hill,
where Oliver lived, they made a bonfire of them in front of his house,
and in the bonfire they burned up the effigies. Twelve days after, a mob
sacked the splendid house of Chief Justice Hutchinson, threw his plate
into the street, and destroyed the valuable library which he had been
thirty years in collecting, and which contained many manuscripts, the
loss of which was quite irreparable. As usual with mobs, the vengeance
fell in the wrong place, for Hutchinson had done his best to prevent the
passage of the Stamp Act. In most of the colonies, the stamp officers
were compelled to resign their posts. Boxes of stamps arriving by ship
were burned or thrown into the sea. Leading merchants agreed to import
no more goods from England, and wealthy citizens set the example of
dressing in homespun garments. Lawyers agreed to overlook the absence of
the stamp on legal documents, while editors derisively issued their
newspapers with a death's-head in the place where the stamp was required
to be put. In New York, the presence of the troops for a moment
encouraged the lieutenant-governor, Colden, to take a bold stand in
behalf of the law. He talked of firing upon the people, but was warned
that if he did so he would be speedily hanged on a lamp-post, like
Captain Porteous of Edinburgh. A torchlight procession, carrying images
of Colden and of the devil, broke into the governor's coach-house, and,
seizing his best chariot, paraded it about town with the images upon it,
and finally burned up chariot and images on the Bowling Green, in full
sight of Colden and the garrison, who looked on from the Battery,
speechless with rage, but afraid to interfere. Gage did not dare to have
the troops used, for fear of bringing on a civil war; and the next day
the discomfited Colden was obliged to surrender all the stamps to the
common council of New York, by whom they were at once locked up in the
City Hall.

  [Sidenote: Debate in the House of Commons]

  [Sidenote: Repeal of the Stamp Act]

Nothing more was needed to prove the impossibility of carrying the Stamp
Act into effect. An act which could be thus rudely defied under the very
eyes of the commander-in-chief plainly could never be enforced without a
war. But nobody wanted a war, and the matter began to be reconsidered in
England. In July, the Grenville ministry had gone out of office, and the
Marquis of Rockingham was now prime minister, while Conway, who had been
one of the most energetic opponents of the Stamp Act, was secretary of
state for the colonies. The new ministry would perhaps have been glad to
let the question of taxing America remain in abeyance, but that was no
longer possible. The debate on the proposed repeal of the Stamp Act was
one of the keenest that has ever been heard in the House of Commons.
Grenville and his friends, now in opposition, maintained in all
sincerity that no demand could ever be more just, or more honourably
intended, than that which had lately been made upon the Americans. Of
the honest conviction of Grenville and his supporters that they were
entirely in the right, and that the Americans were governed by purely
sordid and vulgar motives in resisting the Stamp Act, there cannot be
the slightest doubt. To refute this gross misconception of the American
position, Pitt hastened from a sick-bed to the House of Commons, and
delivered those speeches in which he avowed that he rejoiced in the
resistance of the Americans, and declared that, had they submitted
tamely to the measures of Grenville, they would have shown themselves
only fit to be slaves. He pointed out distinctly that the Americans were
upholding those eternal principles of political justice which should be
to all Englishmen most dear, and that a victory over the colonies would
be of ill-omen for English liberty, whether in the Old World or in the
New. Beware, he said, how you persist in this ill-considered policy. "In
such a cause your success would be hazardous. America, if she fell,
would fall like the strong man with his arms around the pillars of the
Constitution." There could be no sounder political philosophy than was
contained in these burning sentences of Pitt. From all the history of
the European world since the later days of the Roman Republic, there is
no more important lesson to be learned than this,--that it is impossible
for a free people to govern a dependent people despotically without
endangering its own freedom. Pitt therefore urged that the Stamp Act
should instantly be repealed, and that the reason for the repeal should
be explicitly stated to be because the act "was founded on an erroneous
principle." At the same time he recommended the passage of a Declaratory
Act, in which the sovereign authority of Parliament over the colonies
should be strongly asserted with respect to everything except direct
taxation. Similar views were set forth in the House of Lords, with great
learning and ability, by Lord Camden; but he was vehemently opposed by
Lord Mansfield, and when the question came to a decision, the only peers
who supported Camden were Lords Shelburne, Cornwallis, Paulet, and
Torrington. The result finally reached was the unconditional repeal of
the Stamp Act, and the simultaneous passage of a Declaratory Act, in
which the views of Pitt and Camden were ignored and Parliament asserted
its right to make laws binding on the colonies "in all cases
whatsoever." By the people of London the repeal was received with
enthusiastic delight, and Pitt and Conway, as they appeared on the
street, were loudly cheered, while Grenville was greeted with a storm of
hisses. In America the effect of the news was electric. There were
bonfires in every town, while addresses of thanks to the king were voted
in all the legislatures. Little heed was paid to the Declaratory Act,
which was regarded merely as an artifice for saving the pride of the
British government. There was a unanimous outburst of loyalty all over
the country, and never did the people seem less in a mood for rebellion
than at that moment.

The quarrel had now been made up. On the question of principle, the
British had the last word. The government had got out of its dilemma
remarkably well, and the plain and obvious course for British
statesmanship was not to allow another such direct issue to come up
between the colonies and the mother-country. To force on another such
issue while the memory of this one was fresh in everybody's mind was
sheer madness. To raise the question wantonly, as Charles Townshend did
in the course of the very next year, was one of those blunders that are
worse than crimes.


  [Signature: Grafton]

  [Portrait: CTownshend]

  [Sidenote: The Duke of Grafton's ministry]

  [Sidenote: The Townshend Acts]

In July, 1766,--less than six months after the repeal of the Stamp
Act,--the Rockingham ministry fell, and the formation of a new ministry
was entrusted to Pitt, the man who best appreciated the value of the
American colonies. But the state of Pitt's health was not such as to
warrant his taking upon himself the arduous duties of prime minister. He
took the great seal, and, accepting the earldom of Chatham, passed into
the House of Lords. The Duke of Grafton became prime minister, under
Pitt's guidance; Conway and Lord Shelburne were secretaries of state,
and Camden became Lord Chancellor,--all three of them warm friends of
America, and adopting the extreme American view of the constitutional
questions lately at issue; and along with these was Charles Townshend,
the evil spirit of the administration, as chancellor of the exchequer.
From such a ministry, it might at first sight seem strange that a fresh
quarrel with America should have proceeded. But Chatham's illness soon
overpowered him, so that he was kept at home suffering excruciating
pain, and could neither guide nor even pay due attention to the
proceedings of his colleagues. Of the rest of the ministry, only Conway
and Townshend were in the House of Commons, where the real direction of
affairs rested; and when Lord Chatham was out of the way, as the Duke of
Grafton counted for nothing, the strongest man in the cabinet was
unquestionably Townshend. Now when an act for raising an American
revenue was proposed by Townshend, a prejudice against it was sure to be
excited at once, simply because every American knew well what
Townshend's views were. It would have been difficult for such a man even
to assume a conciliatory attitude without having his motives suspected;
and if the question with Great Britain had been simply that of raising a
revenue on statesmanlike principles, it would have been well to entrust
the business to some one like Lord Shelburne, in whom the Americans had
confidence. In 1767, Townshend ventured to do what in any English
ministry of the present day would be impossible. In flat opposition to
the policy of Chatham and the rest of his colleagues, trusting in the
favour of the king and in his own ability to coax or browbeat the House
of Commons, he brought in a series of new measures for taxing America.
"I expect to be dismissed for my pains," he said in the House, with
flippant defiance; and indeed he came very near it. As soon as he heard
what was going on, Chatham mustered up strength enough to go to London
and insist upon Townshend's dismissal. But Lord North was the only
person that could be thought of to take Townshend's place, and Lord
North, who never liked to offend the king, declined the appointment.
Before Chatham could devise a way out of his quandary, his malady again
laid him prostrate, and Townshend was not only not turned out, but was
left practically supreme in the cabinet. The new measures for taxing
America were soon passed. In the debates on the Stamp Act, it had been
argued that while Parliament had no right to impose a direct tax upon
the Americans, it might still properly regulate American trade by port
duties. The distinction had been insisted upon by Pitt, and had been
virtually acknowledged by the Americans; who had from time to time
submitted to acts of Parliament imposing duties upon merchandise
imported into the colonies. Nay, more, when charged with inconsistency
for submitting to such acts while resisting the Stamp Act, several
leading Americans had explicitly adopted the distinction between
internal and external taxation, and declared themselves ready to submit
to the latter while determined to resist the former. Townshend was now
ready, as he declared, to take them at their word. By way of doing so,
he began by laughing to scorn the distinction between internal and
external taxation, and declaring that Parliament possessed the undoubted
right of taxing the Americans without their own consent; but since
objections had been raised to a direct tax, he was willing to resort to
port duties,--a measure to which the Americans were logically bound to
assent. Duties were accordingly imposed on wine, oil, and fruits, if
carried directly to America from Spain or Portugal; on glass, paper,
lead, and painters' colours; and lastly on tea. The revenue to be
derived from these duties was to be devoted to paying a fixed salary to
the royal governors and to the justices appointed at the king's
pleasure. The Crown was also empowered to create a general civil list in
every colony, and to grant salaries and pensions at its arbitrary will.
A board of revenue commissioners for the whole country was to be
established at Boston, armed with extraordinary powers; and general
writs of assistance were expressly legalized and permitted.

[Illustration: HOUSE OF COMMONS]

  [Sidenote: Attack on the New York assembly]

Such was the way in which Townshend proceeded to take the Americans at
their word. His course was a distinct warning to the Americans that, if
they yielded now, they might expect some new Stamp Act or other measures
of direct taxation to follow; and so it simply invited resistance. That
no doubt might be left on this point, the purpose for which the revenue
was to be used showed clearly that the object of the legislation was not
to regulate trade, but to assert British supremacy over the colonies at
the expense of their political freedom. By providing for a civil list
in each colony, to be responsible only to the Crown, it aimed at
American self-government even a more deadly blow than had been aimed at
it by the Stamp Act. It meddled with the "internal police" of every
colony, and would thus have introduced a most vexatious form of tyranny
as soon as it had taken effect. A special act by which the Townshend
revenue acts were accompanied still further revealed the temper and
purposes of the British government. The colony of New York had been
required to provide certain supplies for the regular troops quartered in
the city, under command of General Gage; and the colonial assembly had
insisted upon providing these supplies in its own way, and in disregard
of special instructions from England. For this offence, Parliament now
passed an act suspending the New York assembly from its legislative
functions until it should have complied with the instructions regarding
the supplies to the army. It need not be said that the precedent
involved in this act, if once admitted, would have virtually annulled
the legislative independence of every one of the colonial assemblies.

[Illustration: HOUSE OF LORDS]

  [Sidenote: Parliament did not properly represent the British people]

  [Sidenote: Difficulty of the problem]

We may perhaps wonder that a British Parliament should have been
prevailed on to pass such audacious acts as these, and by large
majorities. But we must remember that in those days the English system
of representation was so imperfect, and had come to be so overgrown with
abuses, that an act of Parliament was by no means sure to represent the
average judgment of the people. The House of Commons was so far under
the corrupt influence of the aristocracy, and was so inadequately
controlled by popular opinion, that at almost any time it was possible
for an eloquent, determined, and unscrupulous minister to carry measures
through it such as could never have been carried through any of the
reformed Parliaments since 1832. It is not easy, perhaps, to say with
confidence what the popular feeling in England was in 1767 with
reference to the policy of Charles Townshend. The rural population was
much more ignorant than it is to-day, and its political opinions were
strongly influenced by the country squires,--a worthy set of men, but
not generally distinguished for the flexibility of their minds or the
breadth of their views. But as a sample of the most intelligent popular
feeling in England at that time, it will probably not be unfair to cite
that of the city of London, which was usually found arrayed on the side
of free government. No wiser advice was heard in Parliament, on the
subject of the New York dispute, than was given by Alderman Beckford,
father of the illustrious author of Vathek, when he said, "Do like the
best of physicians, and heal the disease by doing nothing." On many
other important occasions in the course of this unfortunate quarrel, the
city of London gave expression to opinions which the king and Parliament
would have done well to heed. But even if the House of Commons had
reflected popular feeling in 1767 as clearly as it has done since 1832,
it is by no means sure that it would have known how to deal successfully
with the American question. The problem was really a new one in
political history; and there was no adequate precedent to guide the
statesmen in dealing with the peculiar combination of considerations it
involved. As far as concerned the relations of Englishmen in England to
the Crown and to Parliament, the British Constitution had at last
reached a point where it worked quite smoothly. All contingencies likely
to arise seemed to have been provided for. But when it came to the
relations of Englishmen in America to the Crown and to Parliament, the
case was very different. The case had its peculiar conditions, which the
British Constitution in skilful hands would no doubt have proved elastic
enough to satisfy; but just at this time the British Constitution
happened to be in very unskilful hands, and wholly failed to meet the
exigencies of the occasion. The chief difficulty lay in the fact that
while on the one hand the American principle of no taxation without
representation was unquestionably sound and just, on the other hand the
exemption of any part of the British Empire from the jurisdiction of
Parliament seemed equivalent to destroying the political unity of the
empire. This could not but seem to any English statesman a most
lamentable result, and no English statesman felt this more strongly than
Lord Chatham.

  [Sidenote: Representation of Americans in Parliament]

  [Sidenote: Mr. Gladstone and the Boers]

There were only two possible ways in which the difference could be
accommodated. Either the American colonies must elect representatives to
the Parliament at Westminster; or else the right of levying taxes must
be left where it already resided, in their own legislative bodies. The
first alternative was seriously considered by eminent political
thinkers, both in England and America. In England it was favourably
regarded by Adam Smith, and in America by Benjamin Franklin and James
Otis. In 1774, some of the loyalists in the first Continental Congress
recommended such a scheme. In 1778, after the overthrow of Burgoyne, the
king himself began to think favourably of such a way out of the quarrel.
But this alternative was doubtless from the first quite visionary and
unpractical. The difficulties in the way of securing anything like
equality of representation would probably have been insuperable; and
the difficulty in dividing jurisdiction fairly between the local
colonial legislature and the American contingent in the Parliament at
Westminster would far have exceeded any of the difficulties that have
arisen in the attempt to adjust the relations of the several States to
the general government in our Federal Union. Mere distance, too, which
even to-day would go far toward rendering such a scheme impracticable,
would have been a still more fatal obstacle in the days of Chatham and
Townshend. If, even with the vast enlargement of the political horizon
which our hundred years' experience of federalism has effected, the
difficulty of such a union still seems so great, we may be sure it would
have proved quite insuperable then. The only practicable solution would
have been the frank and cordial admission, by the British government, of
the essential soundness of the American position, that, in accordance
with the entire spirit of the English Constitution, the right of levying
taxes in America resided only in the colonial legislatures, in which
alone could American freemen be adequately represented. Nor was there
really any reason to fear that such a step would imperil the unity of
the empire. How mistaken this fear was, on the part of English
statesmen, is best shown by the fact that, in her liberal and
enlightened dealings with her colonies at the present day, England has
consistently adopted the very course of action which alone would have
conciliated such men as Samuel Adams in the days of the Stamp Act. By
pursuing such a policy, the British government has to-day a genuine hold
upon the affections of its pioneers in Australia and New Zealand and
Africa. If such a statesman as Gladstone could have dealt freely with
the American question during the twelve years following the Peace of
Paris, the history of that time need not have been the pitiable story of
a blind and obstinate effort to enforce submission to an ill-considered
and arbitrary policy on the part of the king and his ministers. The
feeling by which the king's party was guided, in the treatment of the
American question, was very much the same as the feeling which lately
inspired the Tory criticisms upon Gladstone's policy in South Africa.
Lord Beaconsfield, a man in some respects not unlike Charles Townshend,
bequeathed to his successor a miserable quarrel with the Dutch farmers
of the Transvaal; and Mr. Gladstone, after examining the case on its
merits, had the moral courage to acknowledge that England was wrong, and
to concede the demands of the Boers, even after serious military defeat
at their hands. Perhaps no other public act of England in the nineteenth
century has done her greater honour than this. But said the Jingoes, All
the world will now laugh at Englishmen, and call them cowards. In order
to vindicate the military prestige of England, the true policy would be,
forsooth, to prolong the war until the Boers had been once thoroughly
defeated, and then acknowledge the soundness of their position. Just as
if the whole world did not know, as well as it can possibly know
anything, that whatever qualities the English nation may lack, it
certainly does not lack courage, or the ability to win victories in a
good cause! All honour to the Christian statesman who dares to leave
England's military prestige to be vindicated by the glorious records of
a thousand years, and even in the hour of well-merited defeat sets a
higher value on political justice than on a reputation for dealing hard
blows! Such incidents as this are big with hope for the future. They
show us what sort of political morality our children's children may
expect to see, when mankind shall have come somewhat nearer toward being
truly civilized.

  [Sidenote: Death of Townshend]

In the eighteenth century, no such exhibition of good sense and good
feeling, in the interest of political justice, could have been expected
from any European statesman, unless from a Turgot or a Chatham. But
Charles Townshend was not even called upon to exercise any such
self-control. Had he simply taken Alderman Beckford's advice, and done
nothing, all would have been well; but his meddling had now put the
government into a position which it was ruinous to maintain, but from
which it was difficult to retreat. American tradition rightly lays the
chief blame for the troubles which brought on the Revolutionary War to
George III.; but, in fairness, it is well to remember that he did not
suggest Townshend's measures, though he zealously adopted and cherished
them when once propounded. The blame for wantonly throwing the apple of
discord belongs to Townshend more than to any one else. After doing
this, within three months from the time his bill had passed the House of
Commons, Townshend was seized with a fever and died at the age of
forty-one. A man of extraordinary gifts, but without a trace of earnest
moral conviction, he had entered upon a splendid career; but his
insincere nature, which turned everything into jest, had stamped itself
upon his work. He bequeathed to his country nothing but the quarrel
which was soon to deprive her of the grandest part of that empire upon
which the sun shall never set.

[Illustration: George III]

  [Signature: George R]

  [Sidenote: His political legacy to George III.]

  [Sidenote: Character of George III.]

If Townshend's immediate object in originating these measures was to
curry favour with George III., and get the lion's share in the disposal
of the king's ample corruption-fund, he had doubtless gone to work in
the right way. The king was delighted with Townshend's measures, and
after the sudden death of his minister he made them his own, and staked
his whole political career as a monarch upon their success. These
measures were the fatal legacy which the brighter political charlatan
left to the duller political fanatic. The fierce persistency with which
George now sought to force Townshend's measures upon the Americans
partook of the nature of fanaticism, and we shall not understand it
unless we bear in mind the state of political parties in England between
1760 and 1784. When George III. came to the throne, in 1760, England had
been governed for more than half a century by the great Whig families
which had been brought into the foreground by the revolution of 1688.
The Tories had been utterly discredited and cast out of political life
by reason of their willingness to conspire with the Stuart pretenders
in disturbing the peace of the country. Cabinet government, in its
modern form, had begun to grow up during the long and prosperous
administration of Sir Robert Walpole, who was the first English prime
minister in the full sense. Under Walpole's wise and powerful sway, the
first two Georges had possessed scarcely more than the shadow of
sovereignty. It was the third George's ambition to become a real king,
like the king of France or the king of Spain. From earliest babyhood,
his mother had forever been impressing upon him the precept, "George, be
king!" and this simple lesson had constituted pretty much the whole of
his education. Popular tradition regards him as the most ignorant king
that ever sat upon the English throne; and so far as general culture is
concerned, this opinion is undoubtedly correct. He used to wonder what
people could find to admire in such a wretched driveller as
Shakespeare, and he never was capable of understanding any problem which
required the slightest trace of imagination or of generalizing power.
Nevertheless, the popular American tradition undoubtedly errs in
exaggerating his stupidity and laying too little stress upon the worst
side of his character. George III. was not destitute of a certain kind
of ability, which often gets highly rated in this not too clear-sighted
world. He could see an immediate end very distinctly, and acquired
considerable power from the dogged industry with which he pursued it. In
an age when some of the noblest English statesmen drank their gallon of
strong wine daily, or sat late at the gambling-table, or lived in
scarcely hidden concubinage, George III. was decorous in personal habits
and pure in domestic relations, and no banker's clerk in London applied
himself to the details of business more industriously than he. He had a
genuine talent for administration, and he devoted this talent most
assiduously to selfish ends. Scantily endowed with human sympathy, and
almost boorishly stiff in his ordinary unstudied manner, he could be
smooth as oil whenever he liked. He was an adept in gaining men's
confidence by a show of interest, and securing their aid by dint of fair
promises; and when he found them of no further use, he could turn them
adrift with wanton insult. Any one who dared to disagree with him upon
even the slightest point of policy he straightway regarded as a natural
enemy, and pursued him ever afterward with vindictive hatred. As a
natural consequence, he surrounded himself with weak and short-sighted
advisers, and toward all statesmen of broad views and independent
character he nursed the bitterest rancour. He had little faith in human
honour or rectitude, and in pursuing an end he was seldom deterred by

  [Sidenote: English parties between 1760 and 1784]

Such was the man who, on coming to the throne in 1760, had it for his
first and chiefest thought to break down the growing system of cabinet
government in England. For the moment circumstances seemed to favour
him. The ascendancy of the great Whig families was endangered on two
sides. On the one hand, the Tory party had outlived that idle, romantic
love for the Stuarts upon which it found it impossible to thrive. The
Tories began coming to court again, and they gave the new king all the
benefit of their superstitious theories of high prerogative and divine
right. On the other hand, a strong popular feeling was beginning to grow
up against parliamentary government as conducted by the old Whig
families. The House of Commons no longer fairly represented the people.
Ancient boroughs, which possessed but a handful of population, or, like
Old Sarum, had no inhabitants at all, still sent their representatives
to Parliament, while great cities of recent growth, such as Birmingham
and Leeds, were unrepresented. To a great extent, it was the most
progressive parts of the kingdom which were thus excluded from a share
in the government, while the rotten boroughs were disposed of by secret
lobbying, or even by open bargain and sale. A few Whig families, the
heads of which sat in the House of Lords, thus virtually owned a
considerable part of the House of Commons; and, under such
circumstances, it was not at all strange that Parliament should
sometimes, as in the Wilkes case, array itself in flat opposition to the
will of the people. The only wonder is that there were not more such
scandals. The party of "Old Whigs," numbering in its ranks some of the
ablest and most patriotic men in England, was contented with this state
of things, upon which it had thrived for two generations, and could not
be made to understand the iniquity of it,--any more than an old
cut-and-dried American politician in our time can be made to understand
the iniquity of the "spoils system." Of this party the Marquis of
Rockingham was the political leader, and Edmund Burke was the great
representative statesman. In strong opposition to the Old Whig policy
there had grown up the party of New Whigs, bent upon bringing about some
measure of parliamentary reform, whereby the House of Commons might
truly represent the people of Great Britain. In Parliament this party
was small in numbers, but weighty in character, and at its head was the
greatest Englishman of the eighteenth century, the elder William Pitt,
under whose guidance England had won her Indian empire and established
her dominion over the seas, while she had driven the French from
America, and enabled Frederick the Great to lay the foundations of
modern Germany.

  [Portrait: Edmund Burke.]

  [Sidenote: George III. as a politician]

Now when George III. came to the throne, he took advantage of this
division in the two parties in order to break down the power of the Old
Whig families, which so long had ruled the country. To this end he used
the revived Tory party with great effect, and bid against the Old Whigs
for the rotten boroughs; and in playing off one set of prejudices and
interests against another, he displayed in the highest degree the
cunning and craft of a self-seeking politician. His ordinary methods
would have aroused the envy of Tammany. While engaged in such work, he
had sense enough to see that the party from which he had most to fear
was that of the New Whigs, whose scheme of parliamentary reform, if ever
successful, would deprive him of the machinery of corruption upon which
he relied. Much as he hated the Old Whig families, he hated Pitt and his
followers still more heartily. He was perpetually denouncing Pitt as a
"trumpeter of sedition," and often vehemently declared in public, and in
the most offensive manner, that he wished that great man were dead. Such
had been his eagerness to cast discredit upon Pitt's policy that he had
utterly lost sight of the imperial interests of England, which indeed
his narrow intelligence was incapable of comprehending. One of the first
acts of his reign had been to throw away Cuba and the Philippine
Islands, which Pitt had just conquered from Spain; while at the same
time, by leaving Prussia in the lurch before the Seven Years' War had
fairly closed, he converted the great Frederick from one of England's
warmest friends into one of her bitterest enemies.

  [Sidenote: His chief reason for quarrelling with the Americans]

This political attitude of George III. toward the Whigs in general, and
toward Pitt in particular, explains the fierce obstinacy with which he
took up and carried on Townshend's quarrel with the American colonies.
For if the American position, that there should be no taxation without
representation, were once to be granted, then it would straightway
become necessary to admit the principles of parliamentary reform. The
same principle that applied to such commonwealths as Massachusetts and
Virginia would be forthwith applied to such towns as Birmingham and
Leeds. The system of rotten boroughs would be swept away; the chief
engine of kingly corruption would thus be destroyed; a reformed House of
Commons, with the people at its back, would curb forever the pretensions
of the Crown; and the detested Lord Chatham would become the real ruler
of a renovated England, in which George III. would be a personage of
very little political importance.

In these considerations we find the explanation of the acts of George
III. which brought on the American Revolution, and we see why it is
historically correct to regard him as the person chiefly responsible for
the quarrel. The obstinacy with which he refused to listen to a word of
reason from America was largely due to the exigencies of the political
situation in which he found himself. For him, as well as for the
colonies, it was a desperate struggle for political existence. He was
glad to force on the issue in America rather than in England, because it
would be comparatively easy to enlist British local feeling against the
Americans as a remote set of "rebels," with whom Englishmen had no
interests in common, and thus obscure the real nature of the issue.
Herein he showed himself a cunning politician, though an ignoble
statesman. By playing off against each other the two sections of the
Whig party, he continued for a while to carry his point; and had he
succeeded in overcoming the American resistance and calling into England
a well-trained army of victorious mercenaries, the political quarrel
there could hardly have failed to develop into a civil war. A new
rebellion would perhaps have overthrown George III. as James II. had
been overthrown a century before. As it was, the victory of the
Americans put an end to the personal government of the king in 1784, so
quietly that the people scarcely realized the change.[1] A peaceful
election accomplished what otherwise could hardly have been effected
without bloodshed. So while George III. lost the fairest portion of the
British Empire, it was the sturdy Americans who, fighting the battle of
freedom at once for the Old World and for the New, ended by overwhelming
his paltry schemes for personal aggrandizement in hopeless ruin, leaving
him for posterity to contemplate as one of the most instructive examples
of short-sighted folly that modern history affords.


  [1] See my _Critical Period of American History_, chap. i.

                              CHAPTER II

                              THE CRISIS

[Illustration: LORD NORTH]

Townshend was succeeded in the exchequer by Lord North, eldest son of
the Earl of Guildford, a young man of sound judgment, wide knowledge,
and rare sweetness of temper, but wholly lacking in sympathy with
popular government. As leader of the House of Commons, he was
sufficiently able in debate to hold his ground against the fiercest
attacks of Burke and Fox, but he had no strength of will. His lazy
good-nature and his Tory principles made him a great favourite with the
king, who, through his influence over Lord North, began now to exercise
the power of a cabinet minister, and to take a more important part than
hitherto in the direction of affairs. Soon after North entered the
cabinet, colonial affairs were taken from Lord Shelburne and put in
charge of Lord Hillsborough, a man after the king's own heart. Conway
was dismissed from the cabinet, and his place was taken by Lord
Weymouth, who had voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act. The Earl of
Sandwich, who never spoke of the Americans but in terms of abuse, was
at the same time made postmaster-general; and in the following year Lord
Chatham resigned the privy seal.

  [Signature: North]

  [Sidenote: John Dickinson]

While the ministry, by these important changes, was becoming more and
more hostile to the just claims of the Americans, those claims were
powerfully urged in America, both in popular literature and in
well-considered state papers. John Dickinson, at once a devoted friend
of England and an ardent American patriot, published his celebrated
Farmer's Letters, which were greatly admired in both countries for their
temperateness of tone and elegance of expression. In these letters,
Dickinson held a position quite similar to that occupied by Burke.
Recognizing that the constitutional relations of the colonies to the
mother-country had always been extremely vague and ill-defined, he urged
that the same state of things be kept up forever through a genuine
English feeling of compromise, which should refrain from pushing any
abstract theory of sovereignty to its extreme logical conclusions. At
the same time, he declared that the Townshend revenue acts were "a most
dangerous innovation" upon the liberties of the people, and
significantly hinted, that, should the ministry persevere in its
tyrannical policy, "English history affords examples of resistance by

  [Portrait: John Dickinson]

  [Sidenote: The Massachusetts circular letter]

While Dickinson was publishing these letters, Samuel Adams wrote for the
Massachusetts assembly a series of addresses to the ministry, a petition
to the king, and a circular letter to the assemblies of the other
colonies. In these very able state papers, Adams declared that a proper
representation of American interests in the British Parliament was
impracticable, and that, in accordance with the spirit of the English
Constitution, no taxes could be levied in America except by the colonial
legislatures. He argued that the Townshend acts were unconstitutional,
and asked that they should be repealed, and that the colonies should
resume the position which they had occupied before the beginning of the
present troubles. The petition to the king was couched in beautiful and
touching language, but the author seems to have understood very well how
little effect it was likely to produce. His daughter, Mrs. Wells, used
to tell how one evening, as her father had just finished writing this
petition, and had taken up his hat to go out, she observed that the
paper would soon be touched by the royal hand. "More likely, my dear,"
he replied, "it will be spurned by the royal foot!" Adams rightly
expected much more from the circular letter to the other colonies, in
which he invited them to coöperate with Massachusetts in resisting the
Townshend acts, and in petitioning for their repeal. The assembly,
having adopted all these papers by a large majority, was forthwith
prorogued by Governor Bernard, who, in a violent speech, called them
demagogues to whose happiness "everlasting contention was necessary."
But the work was done. The circular letter brought encouraging replies
from the other colonies. The condemnation of the Townshend acts was
unanimous, and leading merchants in most of the towns entered into
agreements not to import any more English goods until the acts should be
repealed. Ladies formed associations, under the name of Daughters of
Liberty, pledging themselves to wear homespun clothes and to abstain
from drinking tea. The feeling of the country was thus plainly enough
expressed, but nowhere as yet was there any riot or disorder, and no one
as yet, except, perhaps, Samuel Adams, had begun to think of a
political separation from England. Even he did not look upon such a
course as desirable, but the treatment of his remonstrances by the king
and the ministry soon led him to change his opinion.

[Illustration: A List of Names of _those_ who AUDACIOUSLY continue
to counteract the UNITED SENTIMENTS of the BODY of Merchants thro' out
NORTH-AMERICA; by importing British Goods contrary to the Agreement.]

  [Sidenote: Lord Hillsborough's instructions to Bernard]

The petition of the Massachusetts assembly was received by the king with
silent contempt, but the circular letter threw him into a rage. In
cabinet meeting, it was pronounced to be little better than an overt act
of rebellion, and the ministers were encouraged in this opinion by
letters from Bernard, who represented the whole affair as the wicked
attempt of a few vile demagogues to sow the seeds of dissension
broadcast over the continent. We have before had occasion to observe the
extreme jealousy with which the Crown had always regarded any attempt at
concerted action among the colonies which did not originate with itself.
But here was an attempt at concerted action in flagrant opposition to
the royal will. Lord Hillsborough instructed Bernard to command the
assembly to rescind their circular letter, and, in case of their
refusal, to send them home about their business. This was to be repeated
year after year, so that, until Massachusetts should see fit to declare
herself humbled and penitent, she must go without a legislature. At the
same time, Hillsborough ordered the assemblies in all the other colonies
to treat the Massachusetts circular with contempt,--and this, too, under
penalty of instant dissolution. From a constitutional point of view,
these arrogant orders deserve to be ranked among the curiosities of
political history. They serve to mark the rapid progress the ministry
was making in the art of misgovernment. A year before, Townshend had
suspended the New York legislature by an act of Parliament. Now, a
secretary of state, by a simple royal order, threatened to suspend all
the legislative bodies of America unless they should vote according to
his dictation.

  [Sidenote: The "Illustrious Ninety-Two"]

When Hillsborough's orders were laid before the Massachusetts assembly,
they were greeted with scorn. "We are asked to rescind," said Otis. "Let
Britain rescind her measures, or the colonies are lost to her forever."
Nevertheless, it was only after nine days of discussion that the
question was put, when the assembly decided, by a vote of ninety-two to
seventeen, that it would not rescind its circular letter. Bernard
immediately dissolved the assembly, but its vote was hailed with delight
throughout the country, and the "Illustrious Ninety-Two" became the
favourite toast on all convivial occasions. Nor were the other colonial
assemblies at all readier than that of Massachusetts to yield to the
secretary's dictation. They all expressed the most cordial sympathy
with the recommendations of the circular letter; and in several
instances they were dissolved by the governors, according to
Hillsborough's instructions.


  [Sidenote: Impressment of citizens]

While these fruitless remonstrances against the Townshend acts had been
preparing, the commissioners of the customs, in enforcing the acts, had
not taken sufficient pains to avoid irritating the people. In the spring
of 1768, the fifty-gun frigate Romney had been sent to mount guard in
the harbour of Boston, and while she lay there several of the citizens
were seized and impressed as seamen,--a lawless practice long afterward
common in the British navy, but already stigmatized as barbarous by
public opinion in America. As long ago as 1747, when the relations
between the colonies and the home government were quite harmonious,
resistance to the press-gang had resulted in a riot in the streets of
Boston. Now while the town was very indignant over this lawless
kidnapping of its citizens, on the 10th of June, 1768, John Hancock's
sloop Liberty was seized at the wharf by a boat's crew from the Romney,
for an alleged violation of the revenue laws, though without official
warrant. Insults and recriminations ensued between the officers and the
citizens assembled on the wharf, until after a while the excitement grew
into a mild form of riot, in which a few windows were broken, some of
the officers were pelted, and finally a pleasure boat, belonging to the
collector, was pulled up out of the water, carried to the Common, and
burned there, when Hancock and Adams, arriving upon the scene, put a
stop to the commotion. A few days afterward, a town meeting was held in
Faneuil Hall; but as the crowd was too great to be contained in the
building, it was adjourned to the Old South Meeting-House, where Otis
addressed the people from the pulpit. A petition to the governor was
prepared, in which it was set forth that the impressment of peaceful
citizens was an illegal act, and that the state of the town was as if
war had been declared against it; and the governor was requested to
order the instant removal of the frigate from the harbour. A committee
of twenty-one leading citizens was appointed to deliver this petition to
the governor at his house in Jamaica Plain. In his letters to the
secretary of state Bernard professed to live in constant fear of
assassination, and was always begging for troops to protect him against
the incendiary and blackguard mob of Boston. Yet as he looked down the
beautiful road from his open window, that summer afternoon, what he saw
was not a ragged mob, armed with knives and bludgeons, shouting
"Liberty, or death!" and bearing the head of a revenue collector aloft
on the point of a pike, but a quiet procession of eleven chaises, from
which there alighted at his door twenty-one gentlemen, as sedate and
stately in demeanour as those old Roman senators at whom the Gaulish
chief so marvelled. There followed a very affable interview, during
which wine was passed around. The next day the governor's answer was
read in town meeting, declining to remove the frigate, but promising
that in future there should be no impressment of Massachusetts citizens;
and with this compromise the wrath of the people was for a moment

  [Portrait: Fra. Bernard]

Affairs of this sort, reported with gross exaggeration by the governor
and revenue commissioners to the ministry, produced in England the
impression that Boston was a lawless and riotous town, full of
cutthroats and blacklegs, whose violence could be held in check only by
martial law. Of all the misconceptions of America by England which
brought about the American Revolution, perhaps this notion of the
turbulence of Boston was the most ludicrous. During the ten years of
excitement which preceded the War of Independence there was one
disgraceful riot in Boston,--that in which Hutchinson's house was
sacked; but in all this time not a drop of blood was shed by the people,
nor was anybody's life for a moment in danger at their hands. The
episode of the sloop Liberty, as here described, was a fair sample of
the disorders which occurred at Boston at periods of extreme excitement;
and in any European town in the eighteenth century it would hardly have
been deemed worthy of mention.

  [Sidenote: Statute of Henry VIII. concerning "treason committed abroad"]

Even before the affair of the Liberty, the government had made up its
mind to send troops to Boston, in order to overawe the popular party and
show them that the king and Lord Hillsborough were in earnest. The news
of the Liberty affair, however, served to remove any hesitation that
might hitherto have been felt. Vengeance was denounced against the
insolent town of Boston. The most seditious spirits, such as Otis and
Adams, must be made an example of, and thus the others might be
frightened into submission. With such intent, Lord Hillsborough sent
over to inquire "if any person had committed any acts which, under the
statutes of Henry VIII. against treason committed abroad, might justify
their being brought to England for trial." This raking-up of an obsolete
statute, enacted at one of the worst periods of English history, and
before England had any colonies at all, was extremely injudicious. But
besides all this, continued Hillsborough, the town meeting, that nursery
of sedition, must be put down or overawed; and in pursuance of this
scheme, two regiments of soldiers and a frigate were to be sent over to
Boston at the ministry's earliest convenience. To make an example of
Boston, it was thought, would have a wholesome effect upon the temper of
the Americans.



  [Sidenote: Samuel Adams makes up his mind, 1768]

It was now, in the summer of 1768, that Samuel Adams made up his mind
that there was no hope of redress from the British government, and that
the only remedy was to be found in the assertion of political
independence by the American colonies. The courteous petitions and
temperate remonstrances of the American assemblies had been met, not by
rational arguments, but by insulting and illegal royal orders; and now
at last an army was on the way from England to enforce the tyrannical
measures of government, and to terrify the people into submission.
Accordingly, Adams came to the conclusion that the only proper course
for the colonies was to declare themselves independent of Great Britain,
to unite together in a permanent confederation, and to invite European
alliances. We have his own word for the fact that from this moment until
the Declaration of Independence, in 1776, he consecrated all his
energies, with burning enthusiasm, upon the attainment of that great
object. Yet in 1768 no one knew better than Samuel Adams that the time
had not yet come when his bold policy could be safely adopted, and that
any premature attempt at armed resistance on the part of Massachusetts
might prove fatal. At this time, probably no other American statesman
had thought the matter out so far as to reach Adams's conclusions. No
American had as yet felt any desire to terminate the political
connection with England. Even those who most thoroughly condemned the
measures of the government did not consider the case hopeless, but
believed that in one way or another a peaceful solution was still
attainable. For a long time this attitude was sincerely and patiently
maintained. Even Washington, when he came to take command of the army at
Cambridge, after the battle of Bunker Hill, had not made up his mind
that the object of the war was to be the independence of the colonies.
In the same month of July, 1775, Jefferson said expressly, "We have not
raised armies with designs of separating from Great Britain and
establishing independent states. Necessity has not yet driven us into
that desperate measure." The Declaration of Independence was at last
brought about only with difficulty and after prolonged discussion. Our
great-great-grandfathers looked upon themselves as Englishmen, and felt
proud of their connection with England. Their determination to resist
arbitrary measures was at first in no way associated in their minds with
disaffection toward the mother-country. Besides this, the task of
effecting a separation by military measures seemed to most persons quite
hopeless. It was not until after Bunker Hill had shown that American
soldiers were a match for British soldiers in the field, and after
Washington's capture of Boston had shown that the enemy really could be
dislodged from a whole section of the country, that the more hopeful
patriots began to feel confident of the ultimate success of a war for
independence. It is hard for us now to realize how terrible the
difficulties seemed to the men who surmounted them. Throughout the war,
beside the Tories who openly sympathized with the enemy, there were many
worthy people who thought we were "going too far," and who magnified our
losses and depreciated our gains,--quite like the people who, in the War
of Secession, used to be called "croakers." The depression of even the
boldest, after such defeats as that of Long Island, was dreadful. How
inadequate was the general sense of our real strength, how dim the
general comprehension of the great events that were happening, may best
be seen in the satirical writings of some of the loyalists. At the time
of the French alliance, there were many who predicted that the result of
this step would be to undo the work of the Seven Years' War, to
reinstate the French in America with full control over the thirteen
colonies, and to establish despotism and popery all over the continent.
A satirical pamphlet, published in 1779, just ten years before the
Bastille was torn down in Paris, drew an imaginary picture of a Bastille
which ten years later was to stand in New York, and, with still further
license of fantasy, portrayed Samuel Adams in the garb of a Dominican
friar. Such nonsense is of course no index to the sentiments or the
beliefs of the patriotic American people, but the mere fact that it
could occur to anybody shows how hard it was for people to realize how
competent America was to take care of herself. The more we reflect upon
the slowness with which the country came to the full consciousness of
its power and importance, the more fully we bring ourselves to realize
how unwilling America was to tear herself asunder from England, and how
the Declaration of Independence was only at last resorted to when it had
become evident that no other course was compatible with the preservation
of our self-respect; the more thoroughly we realize all this, the nearer
we shall come toward duly estimating the fact that in 1768, seven years
before the battle of Lexington, the master mind of Samuel Adams had
fully grasped the conception of a confederation of American states
independent of British control. The clearness with which he saw this, as
the inevitable outcome of the political conditions of the time, gave to
his views and his acts, in every emergency that arose, a commanding
influence throughout the land.

  [Sidenote: Arrival of troops in Boston]

In September, 1768, it was announced in Boston that the troops were on
their way, and would soon be landed. There happened to be a legal
obstacle, unforeseen by the ministry, to their being quartered in the
town. In accordance with the general act of Parliament for quartering
troops, the regular barracks at Castle William in the harbour would have
to be filled before the town could be required to find quarters for any
troops. Another clause of the act provided that if any military officer
should take upon himself to quarter soldiers in any of his Majesty's
dominions otherwise than as allowed by the act, he should be straightway
dismissed the service. At the news that the troops were about to arrive,
the governor was asked to convene the assembly, that it might be decided
how to receive them. On Bernard's refusal, the selectmen of Boston
issued a circular, inviting all the towns of Massachusetts to send
delegates to a general convention, in order that deliberate action might
be taken upon this important matter. In answer to the circular,
delegates from ninety-six towns assembled in Faneuil Hall, and, laughing
at the governor's order to "disperse," proceeded to show how, in the
exercise of the undoubted right of public meeting, the colony could
virtually legislate for itself, in the absence of its regular
legislature. The convention, finding that nothing was necessary for
Boston to do but insist upon strict compliance with the letter of the
law, adjourned. In October, two regiments arrived, and were allowed to
land without opposition, but no lodging was provided for them. Bernard,
in fear of an affray, had gone out into the country; but nothing could
have been farther from the thoughts of the people. The commander,
Colonel Dalrymple, requested shelter for his men, but was told that he
must quarter them in the barracks at Castle William. As the night was
frosty, however, the Sons of Liberty allowed them to sleep in Faneuil
Hall. Next day, the governor, finding everything quiet, came back, and
heard Dalrymple's complaint. But in vain did he apply in turn to the
council, to the selectmen, and to the justices of the peace, to grant
quarters for the troops; he was told that the law was plain, and that
the Castle must first be occupied. The governor then tried to get
possession of an old dilapidated building which belonged to the colony;
but the tenants had taken legal advice, and told him to turn them out if
he dared. Nothing could be more provoking. General Gage was obliged to
come on from his headquarters at New York; but not even he, the
commander-in-chief of his Majesty's forces in America, could quarter the
troops in violation of the statute without running the risk of being
cashiered, on conviction before two justices of the peace. So the
soldiers stayed at night in tents on the Common, until the weather grew
so cold that Dalrymple was obliged to hire some buildings for them at
exorbitant rates, and at the expense of the Crown. By way of insult to
the people, two cannon were planted on King Street, with their muzzles
pointing toward the Town House. But as the troops could do nothing
without a requisition from a civil magistrate, and as the usual strict
decorum was preserved throughout the town, there was nothing in the
world for them to do. In case of an insurrection, the force was too
small to be of any use; and so far as the policy of overawing the town
was concerned, no doubt the soldiers were more afraid of the people than
the people of the soldiers.

  [Sidenote: Letters of "Vindex"]

No sooner were the soldiers thus established in Boston than Samuel Adams
published a series of letters signed "Vindex," in which he argued that
to keep up "a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, without
the consent of Parliament, was against the law; that the consent of
Parliament necessarily implied the consent of the people, who were
always present in Parliament, either by themselves or by their
representatives; and that the Americans, as they were not and could not
be represented in Parliament, were therefore suffering under military
tyranny over which they were allowed to exercise no control." The only
notice taken of this argument by Bernard and Hillsborough was an attempt
to collect evidence upon the strength of which its author might be
indicted for treason, and sent over to London to be tried; but Adams had
been so wary in all his proceedings that it was impossible to charge him
with any technical offence, and to have seized him otherwise than by due
process of law would have been to precipitate rebellion in


  [Portrait: Isaac Barré]

  [Sidenote: Debate in Parliament]

  [Sidenote: Colonel Barré's speech]

In Parliament, the proposal to extend the act of Henry VIII. to America
was bitterly opposed by Burke, Barré, Pownall, and Dowdeswell, as well
as by Grenville, who characterized it as sheer madness; but the measure
was carried, nevertheless. Burke further maintained, in an eloquent
speech, that the royal order requiring Massachusetts to rescind her
circular letter was unconstitutional; and here again Grenville agreed
with him. The attention of Parliament, during the spring of 1769, was
occupied chiefly with American affairs. Pownall moved that the Townshend
acts should be repealed, and in this he was earnestly seconded by a
petition of the London merchants; for the non-importation policy of
Americans had begun to bear hard upon business in London. After much
debate, Lord North proposed a compromise, repealing all the Townshend
acts except that which laid duty on tea. The more clear-headed members
saw that such a compromise, which yielded nothing in the matter of
principle, would do no good. Beckford pointed out the fact that the
tea-duty did not bring in £300 to the government; and Lord Beauchamp
pertinently asked whether it were worth while, for such a paltry
revenue, to make enemies of three millions of people. Grafton, Camden,
Conway, Burke, Barré, and Dowdeswell wished to have the tea-duty
repealed also, and the whole principle of parliamentary taxation given
up; and Lord North agreed with them in his secret heart, but could not
bring himself to act contrary to the king's wishes. "America must fear
you before she can love you," said Lord North.... "I am against
repealing the last act of Parliament, securing to us a revenue out of
America; I will never think of repealing it until I see America
prostrate at my feet." "To effect this," said Barré, "is not so easy as
some imagine; the Americans are a numerous, a respectable, a hardy, a
free people. But were it ever so easy, does any friend to his country
really wish to see America thus humbled? In such a situation, she would
serve only as a monument of your arrogance and your folly. For my part,
the America I wish to see is America increasing and prosperous, raising
her head in graceful dignity, with freedom and firmness asserting her
rights at your bar, vindicating her liberties, pleading her services,
and conscious of her merit. This is the America that will have spirit to
fight your battles, to sustain you when hard pushed by some prevailing
foe, and by her industry will be able to consume your manufactures,
support your trade, and pour wealth and splendour into your towns and
cities. If we do not change our conduct towards her, America will be
torn from our side.... Unless you repeal this law, you run the risk of
losing America." But the ministers were deaf to Barré's sweet
reasonableness. "We shall grant nothing to the Americans," said Lord
Hillsborough, "except what they may ask with a halter round their
necks." "They are a race of convicted felons," echoed poor old Dr.
Johnson,--who had probably been reading Moll Flanders,--"and they ought
to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging."

  [Portrait: Thos. Hutchinson]

  [Sidenote: Thomas Hutchinson]

As the result of the discussion, Lord North's so-called compromise was
adopted, and a circular was sent to America, promising that all the
obnoxious acts, except the tea duty, should be repealed. At the same
time, Bernard was recalled from Massachusetts to appease the indignation
of the people, and made a baronet to show that the ministry approved of
his conduct as governor. His place was filled by the
lieutenant-governor, Thomas Hutchinson, a man of great learning and
brilliant talent, whose "History of Massachusetts Bay" entitles him to a
high rank among the worthies of early American literature. The next year
Hutchinson was appointed governor. As a native of Massachusetts, it was
supposed by Lord North that he would be less likely to irritate the
people than his somewhat arrogant predecessor. But in this the
government turned out to be mistaken. As to Hutchinson's sincere
patriotism there can now be no doubt whatever. There was something
pathetic in the intensity of his love for New England, which to him was
the goodliest of all lands, the paradise of this world. He had been
greatly admired for his learning and accomplishments, and the people of
Massachusetts had elected him to one office after another, and shown him
every mark of esteem until the evil days of the Stamp Act. It then began
to appear that he was a Tory on principle, and a thorough believer in
the British doctrine of the absolute supremacy of Parliament, and
popular feeling presently turned against him. He was called a turncoat
and traitor, and a thankless dog withal, whose ruling passion was
avarice. His conduct and his motives were alike misjudged. He had tried
to dissuade the Grenville ministry from passing the Stamp Act; but when
once the obnoxious measure had become law, he thought it his duty to
enforce it like other laws. For this he was charged with being recreant
to his own convictions, and in the shameful riot of August, 1765, he was
the worst sufferer. No public man in America has ever been the object of
more virulent hatred. None has been more grossly misrepresented by
historians. His appointment as governor, however well meant, turned out
to be anything but a wise measure.


  [Sidenote: Virginia resolutions, 1769]

While these things were going on, a strong word of sympathy came from
Virginia. When Hillsborough made up his mind to browbeat Boston, he
thought it worth while to cajole the Virginians, and try to win them
from the cause which Massachusetts was so boldly defending. So Lord
Botetourt, a genial and conciliatory man, was sent over to be governor
of Virginia, to beguile the people with his affable manner and sweet
discourse. But between a quarrelsome Bernard and a gracious Botetourt
the practical difference was little, where grave questions of
constitutional right were involved. In May, 1769, the House of Burgesses
assembled at Williamsburgh. Among its members were Patrick Henry,
Washington, and Jefferson. The assembly condemned the Townshend acts,
asserted that the people of Virginia could be taxed only by their own
representatives, declared that it was both lawful and expedient for all
the colonies to join in a protest against any violation of the rights of
Americans, and especially warned the king of the dangers that might
ensue if any American citizen were to be carried beyond sea for trial.
Finally, it sent copies of these resolutions to all the other colonial
assemblies, inviting their concurrence. At this point Lord Botetourt
dissolved the assembly; but the members straightway met again in
convention at the famous Apollo room of the Raleigh tavern, and adopted
a series of resolutions prepared by Washington, in which they pledged
themselves to continue the policy of non-importation until all the
obnoxious acts of 1767 should be repealed. These resolutions were
adopted by all the southern colonies.



  [Sidenote: Assault on James Otis]

All through the year 1769, the British troops remained quartered in
Boston at the king's expense. According to Samuel Adams, their principal
employment seemed to be to parade in the streets, and by their
merry-andrew tricks to excite the contempt of women and children. But
the soldiers did much to annoy the people, to whom their very presence
was an insult. They led brawling, riotous lives, and made the quiet
streets hideous by night with their drunken shouts. Scores of loose
women, who had followed the regiments across the ocean, came to
scandalize the town for a while, and then to encumber the almshouse. On
Sundays the soldiers would race horses on the Common, or play Yankee
Doodle just outside the church-doors during the services. Now and then
oaths, or fisticuffs, or blows with sticks, were exchanged between
soldiers and citizens, and once or twice a more serious affair occurred.
One evening in September, a dastardly assault was made upon James Otis,
in the British Coffee House, by one Robinson, a commissioner of customs,
assisted by half a dozen army officers. It reminds one of the assault
upon Charles Sumner by Brooks of South Carolina, shortly before the War
of Secession. Otis was savagely beaten, and received a blow on the head
with a sword, from the effects of which he never recovered, but finally
lost his reason. The popular wrath at this outrage was intense, but
there was no disturbance. Otis brought suit against Robinson, and
recovered £2,000 in damages, but refused to accept a penny of it when
Robinson confessed himself in the wrong, and humbly asked pardon for
his irreparable offence.


                 (_Used in the trial of the soldiers_)]

  [Sidenote: The "Boston Massacre"]

On the 22d of February, 1770, an informer named Richardson, being pelted
by a party of schoolboys, withdrew into his house, opened a window, and
fired at random into the crowd, killing one little boy and severely
wounding another. He was found guilty of murder, but was pardoned. At
last, on the 2d of March, an angry quarrel occurred between a party of
soldiers and some of the workmen at a ropewalk, and for two or three
days there was considerable excitement in the town, and people talked
together, standing about the streets in groups; but Hutchinson did not
even take the precaution of ordering the soldiers to be kept within
their barracks, for he did not believe that the people intended a riot,
nor that the troops would dare to fire on the citizens without express
permission from himself. On the evening of March 5th, at about eight
o'clock, a large crowd collected near the barracks, on Brattle Street,
and from bandying abusive epithets with the soldiers began pelting them
with snow-balls and striking at them with sticks, while the soldiers now
and then dealt blows with their muskets. Presently Captain Goldfinch,
coming along, ordered the men into their barracks for the night, and
thus stopped the affray. But meanwhile some one had got into the Old
Brick Meeting-House, opposite the head of King Street, and rung the
bell; and this, being interpreted as an alarm of fire, brought out many
people into the moonlit streets. It was now a little past nine. The
sentinel who was pacing in front of the Custom House had a few minutes
before knocked down a barber's boy for calling names at the captain, as
he went up to stop the affray on Brattle Street. The crowd in King
Street now began to pelt the sentinel, and some shouted, "Kill him!"
when Captain Preston and seven privates from the twenty-ninth regiment
crossed the street to his aid: and thus the file of nine soldiers
confronted an angry crowd of fifty or sixty unarmed men, who pressed up
to the very muzzles of their guns, threw snow at their faces, and dared
them to fire. All at once, but quite unexpectedly and probably without
orders from Preston, seven of the levelled pieces were discharged,
instantly killing four men and wounding seven others, of whom two
afterwards died. Immediately the alarm was spread through the town, and
it might have gone hard with the soldiery, had not Hutchinson presently
arrived on the scene, and quieted the people by ordering the arrest of
Preston and his men. Next morning the council advised the removal of one
of the regiments, but in the afternoon an immense town meeting, called
at Faneuil Hall, adjourned to the Old South Meeting-House; and as they
passed by the Town House (or what we now call the Old State House), the
lieutenant-governor, looking out upon their march, judged "their spirit
to be as high as was the spirit of their ancestors when they imprisoned
Andros, while they were four times as numerous." All the way from the
church to the Town House the street was crowded with the people, while a
committee, headed by Samuel Adams, waited upon the governor, and
received his assurance that one regiment should be removed. As the
committee came out from the Town House, to carry the governor's reply to
the meeting in the church, the people pressed back on either side to let
them pass; and Adams, leading the way with uncovered head through the
lane thus formed, and bowing first to one side and then to the other,
passed along the watchword, "Both regiments, or none!" When, in the
church, the question was put to vote, three thousand voices shouted,
"Both regiments, or none!" and armed with this ultimatum the committee
returned to the Town House, where the governor was seated with Colonel
Dalrymple and the members of the council. Then Adams, in quiet but
earnest tones, stretching forth his arm and pointing his finger at
Hutchinson, said that if as acting governor of the province he had the
power to remove one regiment he had equally the power to remove both,
that the voice of three thousand freemen demanded that all soldiery be
forthwith removed from the town, and that if he failed to heed their
just demand, he did so at his peril. "I observed his knees to tremble,"
said the old hero afterward, "I saw his face grow pale,--and I enjoyed
the sight!" That Hutchinson was agitated we may well believe; not from
fear, but from a sudden sickening sense of the odium of his position as
king's representative at such a moment. He was a man of invincible
courage, and surely would never have yielded to Adams, had he not known
that the law was on the side of the people and that the soldiers were
illegal trespassers in Boston. Before sundown the order had gone forth
for the removal of both regiments to Castle William, and not until then
did the meeting in the church break up. From that day forth the
fourteenth and twenty-ninth regiments were known in Parliament as "the
Sam Adams regiments."


  [Sidenote: Some lessons of the "Massacre"]

Such was the famous Boston Massacre. All the mildness of New England
civilization is brought most strikingly before us in that truculent
phrase. The careless shooting of half a dozen townsmen is described by a
word which historians apply to such events as Cawnpore or the Sicilian
Vespers. Lord Sherbrooke, better known as Robert Lowe, declared a few
years ago, in a speech on the uses of a classical education, that the
battle of Marathon was really of less account than a modern colliery
explosion, because only one hundred and ninety-two of the Greek army
lost their lives! From such a point of view, one might argue that the
Boston Massacre was an event of far less importance than an ordinary
free fight among Colorado gamblers. It is needless to say that this is
not the historical point of view. Historical events are not to be
measured with a foot-rule. This story of the Boston Massacre is a very
trite one, but it has its lessons. It furnishes an instructive
illustration of the high state of civilization reached by the people
among whom it happened,--by the oppressors as well as those whom it was
sought to oppress. The quartering of troops in a peaceful town is
something that has in most ages been regarded with horror. Under the
senatorial government of Rome, it used to be said that the quartering of
troops, even upon a friendly province and for the purpose of protecting
it, was a visitation only less to be dreaded than an inroad of hostile
barbarians. When we reflect that the British regiments were encamped in
Boston during seventeen months, among a population to whom they were
thoroughly odious, the fact that only half a dozen persons lost their
lives, while otherwise no really grave crimes seem to have been
committed, is a fact quite as creditable to the discipline of the
soldiers as to the moderation of the people. In most ages and countries,
the shooting of half a dozen citizens under such circumstances would
either have produced but a slight impression, or, on the other hand,
would perhaps have resulted on the spot in a wholesale slaughter of the
offending soldiers. The fact that so profound an impression was made in
Boston and throughout the country, while at the same time the guilty
parties were left to be dealt with in the ordinary course of law, is a
striking commentary upon the general peacefulness and decorum of
American life, and it shows how high and severe was the standard by
which our forefathers judged all lawless proceedings. And here it may
not be irrelevant to add that, throughout the constitutional struggles
which led to the Revolution, the American standard of political right
and wrong was so high that contemporary European politicians found it
sometimes difficult to understand it. And for a like reason, even the
most fair-minded English historians sometimes fail to see why the
Americans should have been so quick to take offence at acts of the
British government which doubtless were not meant to be oppressive. If
George III. had been a bloodthirsty despot, like Philip II. of Spain; if
General Gage had been another Duke of Alva; if American citizens by the
hundred had been burned alive or broken on the wheel in New York and
Boston; if whole towns had been given up to the cruelty and lust of a
beastly soldiery, then no one--not even Dr. Johnson--would have found it
hard to understand why the Americans should have exhibited a rebellious
temper. But it is one signal characteristic of the progress of political
civilization that the part played by sheer brute force in a barbarous
age is fully equalled by the part played by a mere covert threat of
injustice in a more advanced age. The effect which a blow in the face
would produce upon a barbarian will be wrought upon a civilized man by
an assertion of some far-reaching legal principle, which only in a
subtle and ultimate analysis includes the possibility of a blow in the
face. From this point of view, the quickness with which such acts as
those of Charles Townshend were comprehended in their remotest bearings
is the must striking proof one could wish of the high grade of political
culture which our forefathers had reached through their system of
perpetual free discussion in town meeting. They had, moreover, reached a
point where any manifestation of brute force in the course of a
political dispute was exceedingly disgusting and shocking to them. To
their minds, the careless slaughter of six citizens conveyed as much
meaning as a St. Bartholomew massacre would have conveyed to the minds
of men in a lower stage of political development. It was not strange,
therefore, that Samuel Adams and his friends should have been ready to
make the Boston Massacre the occasion of a moral lesson to their
contemporaries. As far as the poor soldiers were concerned, the most
significant fact is that there was no attempt to wreak a paltry
vengeance on them. Brought to trial on a charge of murder, after a
judicious delay of seven months, they were ably defended by John Adams
and Josiah Quincy, and all were acquitted save two, who were convicted
of manslaughter, and let off with slight punishment. There were some
hotheads who grumbled at the verdict, but the people of Boston generally
acquiesced in it, as they showed by immediately choosing John Adams for
their representative in the assembly--a fact which Mr. Lecky calls very
remarkable. Such an event as the Boston Massacre could not fail for a
long time to point a moral among a people so unused to violence and
bloodshed. One of the earliest of American engravers, Paul Revere,
published a quaint coloured engraving of the scene in King Street, which
for a long time was widely circulated, though it has now become very
scarce. At the same time, it was decided that the fatal Fifth of March
should be solemnly commemorated each year by an oration to be delivered
in the Old South Meeting-House; and this custom was kept up until the
recognition of American independence in 1783, when the day for the
oration was changed to the Fourth of July.

  [Sidenote: Lord North's ministry]

  [Sidenote: The merchants of New York]

Five weeks before the Boston Massacre the Duke of Grafton had resigned,
and Lord North had become prime minister of England. The colonies were
kept under Hillsborough, and that great friend of arbitrary government,
Lord Thurlow, as solicitor-general, became the king's chief legal
adviser. George III was now, to all intents and purposes, his own prime
minister, and remained so until after the overthrow at Yorktown. The
colonial policy of the government soon became more vexatious than ever.
The promised repeal of all the Townshend acts, except the act imposing
the tea-duty, was carried through Parliament in April, and its first
effect in America, as Lord North had foreseen, was to weaken the spirit
of opposition, and to divide the more complaisant colonies from those
that were most staunch. The policy of non-importation had pressed with
special severity upon the commerce of New York, and the merchants there
complained that the fire-eating planters of Virginia and farmers of
Massachusetts were growing rich at the expense of their neighbours. In
July, the New York merchants broke the non-importation agreement, and
sent orders to England for all sorts of merchandise except tea. Such a
measure, on the part of so great a seaport, virtually overthrew the
non-importation policy, upon which the patriots mainly relied to force
the repeal of the Tea Act. The wrath of the other colonies was intense.
At the Boston town meeting the letter of the New York merchants was torn
in pieces. In New Jersey, the students of Princeton College, James
Madison being one of the number, assembled on the green in their black
gowns and solemnly burned the letter, while the church-bells were
tolled. The offending merchants were stigmatized as "Revolters," and in
Charleston their conduct was vehemently denounced. "You had better send
us your old liberty-pole," said Philadelphia to New York, with bitter
sarcasm, "for you clearly have no further use for it."

  [Sidenote: Assemblies convened at strange places]

  [Sidenote: Taxes in Maryland]

  [Sidenote: The North Carolina "Regulators"]

This breaking of the non-importation agreement by New York left no
general issue upon which the colonies could be sure to unite unless the
ministry should proceed to force an issue upon the Tea Act. For the
present, Lord North saw the advantage he had gained, and was not
inclined to take any such step. Nevertheless, as just observed, the
policy of the government soon became more vexatious than ever. In the
summer of 1770, the king entered upon a series of local quarrels with
the different colonies, taking care not to raise any general issue.
Royal instructions were sent over to the different governments,
enjoining courses of action which were unconstitutional and sure to
offend the people. The assemblies were either dissolved, or convened at
strange places, as at Beaufort in South Carolina, more than seventy
miles from the capital, or at Cambridge in Massachusetts. The local
governments were as far as possible ignored, and local officers were
appointed, with salaries to be paid by the Crown. In Massachusetts,
these officers were illegally exempted from the payment of taxes. In
Maryland, where the charter had expressly provided that no taxes could
ever be levied by the British Crown, the governor was ordered to levy
taxes indirectly by reviving a law regulating officers' fees, which had
expired by lapse of time. In North Carolina, excessive fees were
extorted, and the sheriffs in many cases collected taxes of which they
rendered no account. The upper counties of both the Carolinas were
peopled by a hardy set of small farmers and herdsmen, Presbyterians, of
Scotch-Irish pedigree, who were known by the name of "Regulators,"
because, under the exigencies of their rough frontier life, they formed
voluntary associations for the regulation of their own police and the
condign punishment of horse-thieves and other criminals. In 1771, the
North Carolina Regulators, goaded by repeated acts of extortion and of
unlawful imprisonment, rose in rebellion. A battle was fought at
Alamance, near the headwaters of the Cape Fear river, in which the
Regulators were totally defeated by Governor Tryon, leaving more than a
hundred of their number dead and wounded upon the field: and six of
their leaders, taken prisoners, were summarily hanged for treason. After
this achievement Tryon was promoted to the governorship of New York,
where he left his name for a time upon the vaguely defined wilderness
beyond Schenectady, known in the literature of the Revolutionary War as
Tryon County.

  [Signature: Wm Tryon]

  [Portrait: Step Hopkins]

  [Sidenote: Affair of the Gaspee]

In Rhode Island, the eight-gun schooner Gaspee, commanded by Lieutenant
Duddington, was commissioned to enforce the revenue acts along the
coasts of Narragansett Bay, and she set about the work with reckless and
indiscriminating zeal. "Thorough" was Duddington's motto, as it was Lord
Stafford's. He not only stopped and searched every vessel that entered
the bay, and seized whatever goods he pleased, whether there was any
evidence of their being contraband or not, but, besides this, he stole
the sheep and hogs of the farmers near the coast, cut down their trees,
fired upon market-boats, and behaved in general with unbearable
insolence. In March, 1772, the people of Rhode Island complained of
these outrages. The matter was referred to Rear-Admiral Montagu,
commanding the little fleet in Boston harbour. Montagu declared that the
lieutenant was only doing his duty, and threatened the Rhode Island
people in case they should presume to interfere. For three months longer
the Gaspee kept up her irritating behaviour, until one evening in June,
while chasing a swift American ship, she ran aground. The following
night she was attacked by a party of men in eight boats, and captured
after a short skirmish, in which Duddington was severely wounded. The
crew was set on shore, and the schooner was burned to the water's edge.
This act of reprisal was not relished by the government, and large
rewards were offered for the arrest of the men concerned in it; but
although probably everybody knew who they were, it was impossible to
obtain any evidence against them. By a royal order in council, the Rhode
Island government was commanded to arrest the offenders and deliver them
to Rear-Admiral Montagu, to be taken over to England for trial; but
Stephen Hopkins, the venerable chief justice of Rhode Island, flatly
refused to take cognizance of any such arrest if made within the colony.

  [Portrait: Jonathan Mayhew]

  [Sidenote: The salaries of the judges]

  [Sidenote: Jonathan Mayhew's suggestion]

  [Sidenote: The committees of correspondence in Massachusetts]

The black thunder clouds of war now gathered quickly. In August, 1772,
the king ventured upon an act which went further than anything that had
yet occurred toward hastening on the crisis. It was ordered that all the
Massachusetts judges, holding their places during the king's pleasure,
should henceforth have their salaries paid by the Crown, and not by the
colony. This act, which aimed directly at the independence of the
judiciary, aroused intense indignation. The people of Massachusetts were
furious, and Samuel Adams now took a step which contributed more than
anything that had yet been done toward organizing the opposition to the
king throughout the whole country. The idea of establishing committees
of correspondence was not wholly new. The great preacher Jonathan Mayhew
had recommended such a step to James Otis in 1766, and he was led to it
through his experience of church matters. Writing in haste, on a Sunday
morning, he said, "To a good man all time is holy enough; and none is
too holy to do good, or to think upon it. Cultivating a good
understanding and hearty friendship between these colonies appears to me
so necessary a part of prudence and good policy that no favourable
opportunity for that purpose should be omitted.... You have heard of the
_communion of churches_: ... while I was thinking of this in my bed, the
great use and importance of a _communion of colonies_ appeared to me in
a strong light, which led me immediately to set down these hints to
transmit to you." The plan which Mayhew had in mind was the
establishment of a regular system of correspondence whereby the colonies
could take combined action in defence of their liberties. In the grand
crisis of 1772, Samuel Adams saw how much might be effected through
committees of correspondence that could not well be effected through
the ordinary governmental machinery of the colonies. At the October town
meeting in Boston, a committee was appointed to ask the governor whether
the judges' salaries were to be paid in conformity to the royal order;
and he was furthermore requested to convoke the assembly, in order that
the people might have a chance to express their views on so important a
matter. But Hutchinson told the committee to mind its own business: he
refused to say what would be done about the salaries, and denied the
right of the town to petition for a meeting of the assembly.
Massachusetts was thus virtually without a general government at a
moment when the public mind was agitated by a question of supreme
importance. Samuel Adams thereupon in town meeting moved the appointment
of a committee of correspondence, "to consist of twenty-one persons, to
state the rights of the colonists and of this province in particular, as
men and Christians and as subjects; and to communicate and publish the
same to the several towns and to the world as the sense of this town,
with the infringements and violations thereof that have been, or from
time to time may be, made." The adoption of this measure at first
excited the scorn of Hutchinson, who described the committee as composed
of "deacons," "atheists," and "black-hearted fellows," whom one would
not care to meet in the dark. He predicted that they would only make
themselves ridiculous, but he soon found reason to change his mind. The
response to the statements of the Boston committee was prompt and
unanimous, and before the end of the year more than eighty towns had
already organized their committees of correspondence. Here was a new
legislative body, springing directly from the people, and competent, as
events soon showed, to manage great affairs. Its influence reached into
every remotest corner of Massachusetts, it was always virtually in
session, and no governor could dissolve or prorogue it. Though unknown
to the law, the creation of it involved no violation of law. The right
of the towns of Massachusetts to ask one another's advice could no more
be disputed than the right of the freemen of any single town to hold a
town meeting. The power thus created was omnipresent, but intangible.
"This," said Daniel Leonard, the great Tory pamphleteer, two years
afterwards, "is the foulest, subtlest, and most venomous serpent ever
issued from the egg of sedition. It is the source of the rebellion. I
saw the small seed when it was planted: it was a grain of mustard. I
have watched the plant until it has become a great tree. The vilest
reptiles that crawl upon the earth are concealed at the root; the
foulest birds of the air rest upon its branches. I would now induce you
to go to work immediately with axes and hatchets and cut it down, for a
twofold reason,--because it is a pest to society, and lest it be felled
suddenly by a stronger arm, and crush its thousands in its fall."

  [Signature: Danl Leonard]

  [Sidenote: Intercolonial committees of correspondence]

The system of committees of correspondence did indeed grow into a mighty
tree; for it was nothing less than the beginning of the American Union.
Adams himself by no means intended to confine his plan to Massachusetts,
for in the following April he wrote to Richard Henry Lee of Virginia
urging the establishment of similar committees in every colony. But
Virginia had already acted in the matter. When its assembly met in
March, 1773, the news of the refusal of Hopkins to obey the royal order,
of the attack upon the Massachusetts judiciary, and of the organization
of the committees of correspondence was the all-exciting subject of
conversation. The motion to establish a system of intercolonial
committees of correspondence was made by the youthful Dabney Carr, and
eloquently supported by Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee. It was
unanimously adopted, and very soon several other colonies elected
committees, in response to the invitation from Virginia.

  [Sidenote: The question of taxation revived]

This was the most decided step toward revolution that had yet been taken
by the Americans. It only remained for the various intercolonial
committees to assemble together, and there would be a Congress speaking
in the name of the continent. To bring about such an act of union,
nothing more was needed than some fresh course of aggression on the part
of the British government which should raise a general issue in all the
colonies; and, with the rare genius for blundering which had possessed
it ever since the accession of George III., the government now went on
to provide such an issue. It was preëminently a moment when the question
of taxation should have been let alone. Throughout the American world
there was a strong feeling of irritation, which might still have been
allayed had the ministry shown a yielding temper. The grounds of
complaint had come to be different in the different colonies, and in
some cases, in which we can clearly see the good sense of Lord North
prevailing over the obstinacy of the king, the ministry had gained a
point by yielding. In the Rhode Island case, they had seized a
convenient opportunity and let the matter drop, to the manifest
advantage of their position. In Massachusetts, the discontent had come
to be alarming, and it was skilfully organized. The assembly had offered
the judges their salaries in the usual form, and had threatened to
impeach them if they should dare to accept a penny from the Crown. The
recent action of Virginia had shown that these two most powerful of the
colonies were in strong sympathy with one another. It was just this
moment that George III. chose for reviving the question of taxation,
upon which all the colonies would be sure to act as a unit, and sure to
withstand him to his face. The duty on tea had been retained simply as a
matter of principle. It did not bring three hundred pounds a year into
the British exchequer. But the king thought this a favourable time for
asserting the obnoxious principle which the tax involved.

  [Signature: Dartmouth]

  [Sidenote: The king's ingenious scheme]

Thus, as in Mrs. Gamp's case, a teapot became the cause or occasion of a
division between friends. The measures now taken by the government
brought matters at once to a crisis. None of the colonies would take
tea on its terms. Lord Hillsborough had lately been superseded as
colonial secretary by Lord Dartmouth, an amiable man like the prime
minister, but like him wholly under the influence of the king. Lord
Dartmouth's appointment was made the occasion of introducing a series of
new measures. The affairs of the East India Company were in a bad
condition, and it was thought that the trouble was partly due to the
loss of the American trade in tea. The Americans would not buy tea
shipped from England, but they smuggled it freely from Holland, and the
smuggling could not be stopped by mere force. The best way to obviate
the difficulty, it was thought, would be to make English tea cheaper in
America than foreign tea, while still retaining the duty of threepence
on a pound. If this could be achieved, it was supposed that the
Americans would be sure to buy English tea by reason of its cheapness,
and would thus be ensnared into admitting the principle involved in the
duty. This ingenious scheme shows how unable the king and his ministers
were to imagine that the Americans could take a higher view of the
matter than that of pounds, shillings, and pence. In order to enable the
East India Company to sell its tea cheap in America, a drawback was
allowed of all the duties which such tea had been wont to pay on
entering England on its way from China. In this way, the Americans would
now find it actually cheaper to buy the English tea with the duty on it
than to smuggle their tea from Holland. To this scheme, Lord North said,
it was of no use for any one to offer objections, for the king would
have it so. "The king meant to try the question with America." In
accordance with this policy, several ships loaded with tea set sail in
the autumn of 1773 for the four principal ports, Boston, New York,
Philadelphia, and Charleston. Agents or consignees of the East India
Company were appointed by letter to receive the tea in these four towns.

  [Sidenote: How Boston became the battle-ground]

As soon as the details of this scheme were known in America, the whole
country was in a blaze, from Maine to Georgia. Nevertheless, only legal
measures of resistance were contemplated. In Philadelphia, a great
meeting was held in October at the State House, and it was voted that
whosoever should lend countenance to the receiving or unloading of the
tea would be regarded as an enemy to his country. The consignees were
then requested to resign their commissions, and did so. In New York and
Charleston, also, the consignees threw up their commissions. In Boston,
a similar demand was made, but the consignees doggedly refused to
resign; and thus the eyes of the whole country were directed toward
Boston as the battlefield on which the great issue was to be tried.


  [Sidenote: The five towns ask advice]

During the month of November many town meetings were held in Faneuil
Hall. On the 17th, authentic intelligence was brought that the tea-ships
would soon arrive. The next day, a committee, headed by Samuel Adams,
waited upon the consignees, and again asked them to resign. Upon their
refusal, the town meeting instantly dissolved itself, without a word of
comment or debate; and at this ominous silence the consignees and the
governor were filled with a vague sense of alarm, as if some storm were
brewing whereof none could foresee the results. All felt that the
decision now rested with the committees of correspondence. Four days
afterward, the committees of Cambridge, Brookline, Roxbury, and
Dorchester met the Boston committee at Faneuil Hall, and it was
unanimously resolved that on no account should the tea be landed. The
five towns also sent a letter to all the other towns in the colony,
saying, "Brethren, we are reduced to this dilemma: either to sit down
quiet under this and every other burden that our enemies shall see fit
to lay upon us, or to rise up and resist this and every plan laid for
our destruction, as becomes wise freemen. In this extremity we
earnestly request your advice." There was nothing weak or doubtful in
the response. From Petersham and Lenox perched on their lofty hilltops,
from the valleys of the Connecticut and the Merrimack, from Chatham on
the bleak peninsula of Cape Cod, there came but one message,--to give up
life and all that makes life dear, rather than submit like slaves to
this great wrong. Similar words of encouragement came from other
colonies. In Philadelphia, at the news of the bold stand Massachusetts
was about to take, the church-bells were rung, and there was general
rejoicing about the streets. A letter from the men of Philadelphia to
the men of Boston said, "Our only fear is lest you may shrink. May God
give you virtue enough to save the liberties of your country."

  [Sidenote: Arrival of the tea; meeting at the Old South]

On Sunday, the 28th, the Dartmouth, first of the tea-ships, arrived in
the harbour. The urgency of the business in hand overcame the
sabbatarian scruples of the people. The committee of correspondence met
at once, and obtained from Francis Rotch, the owner of the vessel, a
promise that the ship should not be entered before Tuesday. Samuel Adams
then invited the committees of the five towns, to which Charlestown was
now added, to hold a mass-meeting the next morning at Faneuil Hall. More
than five thousand people assembled, but as the Cradle of Liberty could
not hold so many, the meeting was adjourned to the Old South
Meeting-House. It was voted, without a single dissenting voice, that the
tea should be sent back to England in the ship which had brought it.
Rotch was forbidden to enter the ship at the Custom House, and Captain
Hall, the ship's master, was notified that "it was at his peril if he
suffered any of the tea brought by him to be landed." A night-watch of
twenty-five citizens was set to guard the vessel, and so the meeting
adjourned till next day, when it was understood that the consignees
would be ready to make some proposals in the matter. Next day, the
message was brought from the consignees that it was out of their power
to send back the tea; but if it should be landed, they declared
themselves willing to store it, and not expose any of it for sale until
word could be had from England. Before action could be taken upon this
message, the sheriff of Suffolk county entered the church and read a
proclamation from the governor, warning the people to disperse and
"surcease all further unlawful proceedings at their utmost peril." A
storm of hisses was the only reply, and the business of the meeting went
on. The proposal of the consignees was rejected, and Rotch and Hall,
being present, were made to promise that the tea should go back to
England in the Dartmouth, without being landed or paying duty.
Resolutions were then passed, forbidding all owners or masters of ships
to bring any tea from Great Britain to any part of Massachusetts, so
long as the act imposing a duty on it remained unrepealed. Whoever
should disregard this injunction would be treated as an enemy to his
country, his ships would be prevented from landing--by force, if
necessary--and his tea would be sent back to the place whence it came.
It was further voted that the citizens of Boston and the other towns
here assembled would see that these resolutions were carried into
effect, "at the risk of their lives and property." Notice of these
resolutions was sent to the owners of the other ships, now daily
expected. And, to crown all, a committee, of which Adams was chairman,
was appointed to send a printed copy of these proceedings to New York
and Philadelphia, to every seaport in Massachusetts, and to the British

  [Sidenote: The tea-ships placed under guard]

Two or three days after this meeting, the other two ships arrived, and,
under orders from the committee of correspondence, were anchored by the
side of the Dartmouth, at Griffin's Wharf, near the foot of Pearl
Street. A military watch was kept at the wharf day and night, sentinels
were placed in the church belfries, chosen post-riders, with horses
saddled and bridled, were ready to alarm the neighbouring towns,
beacon-fires were piled all ready for lighting upon every hilltop, and
any attempt to land the tea forcibly would have been the signal for an
instant uprising throughout at least four counties. Now, in accordance
with the laws providing for the entry and clearance of shipping at
custom houses, it was necessary that every ship should land its cargo
within twenty days from its arrival. In case this was not done, the
revenue officers were authorized to seize the ship and land its cargo
themselves. In the case of the Dartmouth, the captain had promised to
take her back to England without unloading; but still, before she could
legally start, she must obtain a clearance from the collector of
customs, or, in default of this, a pass from the governor. At sunrise of
Friday, the 17th of December, the twenty days would have expired.


On Saturday, the 11th, Rotch was summoned before the committee of
correspondence, and Samuel Adams asked him why he had not kept his
promise, and started his ship off for England. He sought to excuse
himself on the ground that he had not the power to do so, whereupon he
was told that he must apply to the collector for a clearance. Hearing of
these things, the governor gave strict orders at the Castle to fire upon
any vessel trying to get out to sea without a proper permit; and two
ships from Montagu's fleet, which had been laid up for the winter, were
stationed at the entrance of the harbour, to make sure against the
Dartmouth's going out. Tuesday came, and Rotch, having done nothing, was
summoned before the town meeting, and peremptorily ordered to apply for
a clearance. Samuel Adams and nine other gentlemen accompanied him to
the Custom House to witness the proceedings, but the collector refused
to give an answer until the next day. The meeting then adjourned till
Thursday, the last of the twenty days. On Wednesday morning, Rotch was
again escorted to the Custom House, and the collector refused to give a
clearance unless the tea should first be landed.


  [Sidenote: Town meeting at the Old South]

  [Sidenote: The tea thrown into the harbour]

On the morning of Thursday, December 16th, the assembly which was
gathered in the Old South Meeting-House, and in the streets about it,
numbered more than seven thousand people. It was to be one of the most
momentous days in the history of the world. The clearance having been
refused, nothing now remained but to order Rotch to request a pass for
his ship from the governor. But the wary Hutchinson, well knowing what
was about to be required of him, had gone out to his country house at
Milton, so as to foil the proceedings by his absence. But the meeting
was not to be so trifled with. Rotch was enjoined, on his peril, to
repair to the governor at Milton, and ask for his pass; and while he was
gone, the meeting considered what was to be done in case of a refusal.
Without a pass it would be impossible for the ship to clear the harbour
under the guns of the Castle; and by sunrise, next morning, the revenue
officers would be empowered to seize the ship, and save by a violent
assault upon them it would be impossible to prevent the landing of the
tea. "Who knows," said John Rowe, "how tea will mingle with salt water?"
And great applause followed the suggestion. Yet the plan which was to
serve as a last resort had unquestionably been adopted in secret
committee long before this. It appears to have been worked out in detail
in a little back room at the office of the "Boston Gazette," and there
is no doubt that Samuel Adams, with some others of the popular leaders,
had a share in devising it. But among the thousands present at the town
meeting, it is probable that very few knew just what it was designed to
do. At five in the afternoon, it was unanimously voted that, come what
would, the tea should not be landed. It had now grown dark, and the
church was dimly lighted with candles. Determined not to act until the
last legal method of relief should have been tried and found wanting,
the great assembly was still waiting quietly in and about the church
when, an hour after nightfall, Rotch returned from Milton with the
governor's refusal. Then, amid profound stillness, Samuel Adams arose
and said, quietly but distinctly, "This meeting can do nothing more to
save the country." It was the declaration of war; the law had shown
itself unequal to the occasion, and nothing now remained but a direct
appeal to force. Scarcely had the watchword left his mouth when a
war-whoop answered from outside the door, and fifty men in the guise of
Mohawk Indians passed quickly by the entrance, and hastened to Griffin's
Wharf. Before the nine o'clock bell rang, the three hundred and
forty-two chests of tea laden upon the three ships had been cut open,
and their contents emptied into the sea. Not a person was harmed; no
other property was injured; and the vast crowd, looking upon the scene
from the wharf in the clear frosty moonlight, was so still that the
click of the hatchets could be distinctly heard. Next morning, the
salted tea, as driven by wind and wave, lay in long rows on Dorchester
beach, while Paul Revere, booted and spurred, was riding post-haste to
Philadelphia, with the glorious news that Boston had at last thrown down
the gauntlet for the king of England to pick up.

  [Portrait: John Adams]

This heroic action of Boston was greeted with public rejoicing
throughout all the thirteen colonies, and the other principal seaports
were not slow to follow the example. A ship laden with two hundred and
fifty-seven chests of tea had arrived at Charleston on the 2d of
December; but the consignees had resigned, and after twenty days the
ship's cargo was seized and landed; and so, as there was no one to
receive it, or pay the duty, it was thrown into a damp cellar, where it
spoiled. In Philadelphia, on the 25th, a ship arrived with tea; but a
meeting of five thousand men forced the consignees to resign, and the
captain straightway set sail for England, the ship having been stopped
before it had come within the jurisdiction of the custom house.

  [Sidenote: Grandeur of the Boston Tea Party]

In Massachusetts, the exultation knew no bounds. "This," said John
Adams, "is the most magnificent movement of all. There is a dignity, a
majesty, a sublimity, in this last effort of the patriots that I greatly
admire." Indeed, often as it has been cited and described, the Boston
Tea Party was an event so great that even American historians have
generally failed to do it justice. This supreme assertion by a New
England town meeting of the most fundamental principle of political
freedom has been curiously misunderstood by British writers, of whatever
party. The most recent Tory historian, Mr. Lecky,[2] speaks of "the
Tea-riot at Boston," and characterizes it as an "outrage." The most
recent Liberal historian, Mr. Green, alludes to it as "a trivial riot."
Such expressions betray most profound misapprehension alike of the
significance of this noble scene and of the political conditions in
which it originated. There is no difficulty in defining a riot. The
pages of history teem with accounts of popular tumults, wherein passion
breaks loose and wreaks its fell purpose, unguided and unrestrained by
reason. No definition could be further from describing the colossal
event which occurred in Boston on the 16th of December, 1773. Here
passion was guided and curbed by sound reason at every step, down to the
last moment, in the dim candle-light of the old church, when the noble
Puritan statesman quietly told his hearers that the moment for using
force had at last, and through no fault of theirs, arrived. They had
reached a point where the written law had failed them; and in their
effort to defend the eternal principles of natural justice, they were
now most reluctantly compelled to fall back upon the paramount law of
self-preservation. It was the one supreme moment in a controversy
supremely important to mankind, and in which the common-sense of the
world has since acknowledged that they were wholly in the right. It was
the one moment of all that troubled time in which no compromise was
possible. "Had the tea been landed," says the contemporary historian,
William Gordon, "the union of the colonies in opposing the ministerial
scheme would have been dissolved; and it would have been extremely
difficult ever after to have restored it." In view of the stupendous
issues at stake, the patience of the men of Boston was far more
remarkable than their boldness. For the quiet sublimity of reasonable
but dauntless moral purpose, the heroic annals of Greece and Rome can
show us no greater scene than that which the Old South Meeting-House
witnessed on the day when the tea was destroyed.

  [Portrait: Geo. Germain]

  [Sidenote: How Parliament received the news]

When the news of this affair reached England, it was quite naturally
pronounced by Lord North a fitting culmination to years of riot and
lawlessness. This, said Lord George Germain, is what comes of their
wretched old town meetings. The Americans have really no government.
These "are the proceedings of a tumultuous and riotous rabble, who
ought, if they had the least prudence, to follow their mercantile
employments, and not trouble themselves with politics and government,
which they do not understand. Some gentlemen say, 'Oh, don't break their
charter; don't take away rights granted them by the predecessors of the
Crown.' Whoever wishes to preserve such charters, I wish him no worse
than to govern such subjects." "These remarks," said Lord North, "are
worthy of a great mind." "If we take a determined stand now," said Lord
Mansfield, "Boston will submit, and all will end in victory without
carnage." "The town of Boston," said Mr. Venn, "ought to be knocked
about their ears and destroyed. You will never meet with proper
obedience to the laws of this country until you have destroyed that
nest of locusts." General Gage, who had just come home on a visit,
assured the king that the other colonies might speak fair words to
Massachusetts, but would do nothing to help her; and he offered with
four regiments to make a speedy end of the whole matter. "They will be
lions," said Gage, "while we are lambs; but if we take the resolute
part, they will prove very meek, I promise you." It was in this spirit
and under the influence of these ideas that the ministry took up the
business of dealing with the refractory colony of Massachusetts. Lord
North proposed a series of five measures, which from the king's point of
view would serve, not only to heal the wounded pride of Great Britain,
but also to prevent any more riotous outbreaks among this lawless
American people. Just at this moment, the opposition ventured upon a
bold stroke. Fox said truly that no plan for pacifying the colonies
would be worth a rush unless the unconditional repeal of the Tea Act
should form part of it. A bill for the repealing of the Tea Act was
brought in by Fuller, and a lively debate ensued, in the course of which
Edmund Burke made one of the weightiest speeches ever heard in the House
of Commons; setting forth in all the wealth of his knowledge the extreme
danger of the course upon which the ministry had entered, and showing
how little good fruit was to be expected from a coercive policy, even if
successful. Burke was ably supported by Fox, Conway, Barré, Savile,
Dowdeswell, Pownall, and Dunning. But the current had set too strongly
against conciliation. Lord North sounded the keynote of the whole
British policy when he said, "To repeal the tea-duty would stamp us with
timidity." Come what might, it would never do for the Americans to get
it into their heads that the government was not all-powerful. They must
be humbled first, that they might be reasoned with afterwards. The
tea-duty, accordingly, was not repealed, but Lord North's five acts for
the better regulation of American affairs were all passed by Parliament.

  [Sidenote: The Boston Port Bill]

By the first act, known as the Boston Port Bill, no ships were to be
allowed to enter or clear the port of Boston until the rebellious town
should have indemnified the East India Company for the loss of its tea,
and should otherwise have made it appear to the king that it would
hereafter show a spirit of submission. Marblehead was made a port of
entry instead of Boston, and Salem was made the seat of government.

  [Sidenote: The Regulating Act]

By the second act, known as the Regulating Act, the charter of
Massachusetts was annulled without preliminary notice, and her free
government was destroyed. Under the charter, the members of the council
for each year were chosen in a convention consisting of the council of
the preceding year and the assembly. Each councillor held office for a
year, and was paid out of an appropriation made by the assembly. Now,
hereafter, the members of the council were to be appointed by the
governor on a royal writ of _mandamus_, their salaries were to be paid
by the Crown, and they could be removed from office at the king's
pleasure. The governor was empowered to appoint all judges and officers
of courts, and all such officers were to be paid by the king and to hold
office during his pleasure. The governor and his dependent council could
appoint sheriffs and remove them without assigning any reason, and these
dependent sheriffs were to have the sole right of returning juries. But,
worse than all, the town-meeting system of local self-government was
ruthlessly swept away. Town meetings could indeed be held twice a year
for the election of town officers, but no other business could be
transacted in them. The effect of all these changes would, of course, be
to concentrate all power in the hands of the governor, leaving no check
whatever upon his arbitrary will. It would, in short, transform the
commonwealth of Massachusetts into an absolute despotism, such as no
Englishman had ever lived under in any age. And this tremendous act was
to go into operation on the first day of the following June.

 [Illustration: VIRTUAL REPRESENTATION. _1775._

             April 1 1775      Price 6.^{d}

          1. One String Jack. Deliver your Property.
          2. Began Just so in France } Accomplices
          3. Te Deum                 }
          4. I Give you that man's money for my use
          5. I will not be Robbed
          6. I shall be wounded with you
          7. I am Blinded
          8. The French Roman Cathlick Town of Quebeck
          9. The English Protestant Town of Boston

     The king's friends were fond of asserting that the Americans were
     "virtually represented" in Parliament, through their British
     friends in that body. On the back of the copy of this broadside,
     "Virtual Representation," in the possession of the Massachusetts
     Historical Society, is the following explanation, in the
     handwriting of the time:--

     "A full explanation of the within print.--No. 1 intends the K--g of
     G. B., to whom the House of Commons (4) gives the Americans' money
     for the use of that very H. of C., and which he is endeavouring to
     take away with the power of cannon. No. 2, by a Frenchman signifies
     the tyranny that is intended for America. No. 3, the figure of a
     Roman Catholic priest with his crucifix and gibbet, assisting
     George in enforcing his tyrannical system of civil and religious
     government. Nos. 5 and 6 are honest American yeomen, who oppose an
     oaken staff to G----'s cannon, and determine they will not be
     robbed. No. 7 is poor Britannia blindfolded, falling into the
     bottomless pit which her infamous rulers have prepared for the
     Americans. Nos. 8, 9 represent Boston in flames and Quebec
     triumphant, to show the probable consequence of submission to the
     present wicked ministerial system, that popery and tyranny will
     triumph over true religion, virtue, and liberty."]

  [Sidenote: The shooting of citizens]

By the third act--a pet measure of George III., to which Lord North
assented with great reluctance--it was provided that if any magistrate,
soldier, or revenue officer in Massachusetts should be indicted for
murder, he should be tried, not in Massachusetts, but in Great Britain.
This measure--though doubtless unintentionally--served to encourage the
soldiery in shooting down peaceful citizens, and it led by a natural
sequence to the bloodshed on Lexington green. It was defended on the
ground that in case of any chance affray between soldiers and citizens,
it would not be possible for the soldiers to obtain a fair trial in
Massachusetts. Less than four years had elapsed since Preston's men had
been so readily acquitted of murder after the shooting in King Street,
but such facts were of no avail now. The momentous bill passed in the
House of Commons by a vote of more than four to one, in spite of Colonel
Barré's ominous warnings.

By the fourth act all legal obstacles to the quartering of troops in
Boston or any other town in Massachusetts were swept away.

  [Sidenote: The Quebec Act]

By the fifth act, known as the Quebec Act, the free exercise of the
Catholic religion was sanctioned throughout Canada,--a very judicious
measure of religious toleration, which concerned the other colonies but
little, however it might in some cases offend their prejudices. But this
act went on to extend the boundaries of Canada southward to the Ohio
river, in defiance of the territorial claims of Massachusetts,
Connecticut, New York, and Virginia. This extensive region, the part of
North America which was next to be colonized by men of English race, was
to be governed by a viceroy, with despotic powers; and such people as
should come to live there were to have neither popular meetings, nor
_habeas corpus_, nor freedom of the press. "This," said Lord Thurlow,
"is the only sort of constitution fit for a colony,"--and all the
American colonies, he significantly added, had better be reduced to this
condition as soon as possible.

  [Sidenote: Gage sent to Boston]

When all these acts had been passed, in April, 1774, General Gage was
commissioned to supersede Hutchinson temporarily as governor of
Massachusetts, and was sent over with as little delay as possible,
together with the four regiments which were to scare the people into
submission. On the first day of June, he was to close the port of Boston
and begin starving the town into good behaviour; he was to arrest the
leading patriots and send them to England for trial; and he was
expressly authorized to use his own discretion as to allowing the
soldiers to fire upon the people. All these measures for enslaving
peaceful and law-abiding Englishmen the king of England now
contemplated, as he himself declared, "with supreme satisfaction."

In recounting such measures as these, the historian is tempted to pause
for a moment, and ask whether it could really have been an _English_
government that planned and decreed such things. From the autocratic
mouth of an Artaxerxes or an Abderrahman one would naturally expect such
edicts to issue. From the misguided cabinets of Spain and France, in
evil times, measures in spirit like these had been known to proceed. But
our dear mother-country had for ages stood before the world as the
staunch defender of personal liberty and of local self-government; and
through the mighty strength which this spirit of freedom, and nothing
else, had given her, she had won the high privilege of spreading her
noble and beneficent political ideas over the best part of the habitable
globe. Yet in the five acts of this political tragedy of 1774 we find
England arrayed in hostility to every principle of public justice which
Englishmen had from time immemorial held sacred. Upon the great
continent which she had so lately won from the French champions of
despotism, we see her vainly seeking to establish a tyrannical _régime_
no better than that which but yesterday it had been her glory to
overthrow. Such was the strange, the humiliating, the self-contradictory
attitude into which England had at length been brought by the selfish
Tory policy of George III.!

But this policy was no less futile than it was unworthy of the noble,
freedom-loving English people. For after that fated 1st of June, the
sovereign authority of Great Britain, whether exerted through king or
through Parliament, was never more to be recognized by the men of


  [2] In his account of the American Revolution, Mr. Lecky inclines to
      the Tory side, but he is eminently fair and candid.

                              CHAPTER III

                       THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS

  [Portrait: Tho.' Gage]

                 (_A contemporary caricature_)]

  [Sidenote: Belief that the Americans would not fight]

The unfortunate measures of April, 1774, were not carried through
Parliament without earnest opposition. Lord Rockingham and his friends
entered a protest on the journal of the House of Lords, on the grounds
that the people of Massachusetts had not been heard in their own
defence, and that the lives and liberties of the citizens were put
absolutely into the hands of the governor and council, who were thus
invested with greater powers than it had ever been thought wise to
entrust to the king and his privy council in Great Britain. They
concluded, therefore, that the acts were unconstitutional. The Duke of
Richmond could not restrain his burning indignation. "I wish," said he
in the House of Lords,--"I wish from the bottom of my heart that the
Americans may resist, and get the better of the forces sent against
them." But that the Americans really would resist, very few people in
England believed. The conduct of the ministry was based throughout upon
the absurd idea that the Americans could be frightened into submission.
General Gage, as we have seen, thought that four regiments would be
enough to settle the whole business. Lord Sandwich said that the
Americans were a set of undisciplined cowards, who would take to their
heels at the first sound of a cannon. Even Hutchinson, who went over to
England about this time, and who ought to have known of what stuff the
men of Massachusetts were made, assured the king that they could hardly
be expected to resist a regular army. Such blunders, however, need not
surprise us when we recollect how, just before the war of secession, the
people of the southern and of the northern states made similar mistakes
with regard to each other. In 1860, it was commonly said by Southern
people that Northern people would submit to anything rather than fight;
and in support of this opinion, it was sometimes asked, "If the Northern
people are not arrant cowards, why do they never have duels?" On the
other hand, it was commonly said at the North that the Southern people,
however bravely they might bluster, would never enter upon a war of
secession, because it was really much more for their interest to remain
in the Federal Union than to secede from it,--an argument which lost
sight of one of the commonest facts in human life, that under the
influence of strong passion men are unable to take just views of what
concerns their own interests. Such examples show how hard it often is
for one group of men to understand another group, even when they are all
of the same blood and speech, and think alike about most matters that do
not touch the particular subject in dispute. Nothing could have been
surer, either in 1860, or in 1774, than that the one party to the
quarrel was as bold and brave as the other.

  [Sidenote: Belief that Massachusetts would not be supported by the other

Another fatal error under which the ministry laboured was the belief
that Massachusetts would not be supported by the other colonies. Their
mistake was not unlike that which ruined the plans of Napoleon III.,
when he declared war upon Prussia in 1870. There was no denying the fact
of strong jealousies among the American colonies in 1774, as there was
no denying the fact of strong jealousies between the northern and
southern German states in 1870. But the circumstances under which
Napoleon III. made war on Prussia happened to be such as to enlist all
the German states in the common cause with her. And so it was with the
war of George III. against Massachusetts. As soon as the charter of that
colony was annulled, all the other colonies felt that their liberties
were in jeopardy; and thence, as Fox truly said, "all were taught to
consider the town of Boston as suffering in the common cause."

  [Sidenote: News of the Port Bill]

News of the Boston Port Bill was received in America on the 10th of May.
On the 12th the committees of several Massachusetts towns held a
convention at Faneuil Hall, and adopted a circular letter, prepared by
Samuel Adams, to be sent to all the other colonies, asking for their
sympathy and coöperation. The response was prompt and emphatic. In the
course of the summer, conventions were held in nearly all the colonies,
declaring that Boston should be regarded as "suffering in the common
cause." The obnoxious acts of Parliament were printed on paper with deep
black borders, and in some towns were publicly burned by the common
hangman. Droves of cattle and flocks of sheep, cartloads of wheat and
maize, kitchen vegetables and fruit, barrels of sugar, quintals of dried
fish, provisions of every sort, were sent overland as free gifts to the
people of the devoted city, even the distant rice-swamps of South
Carolina contributing their share. The over-cautious Franklin had
written from London, suggesting that perhaps it might be best, after
all, for Massachusetts to indemnify the East India Company; but Gadsden,
with a sounder sense of the political position, sent word, "Don't pay
for an ounce of the damned tea." Throughout the greater part of the
country the 1st of June was kept as a day of fasting and prayer; bells
were muffled and tolled in the principal churches; ships in the harbours
put their flags at half-mast. Marblehead, which was appointed to
supersede Boston as port of entry, immediately invited the merchants of
Boston to use its wharfs and warehouses free of charge in shipping and
unshipping their goods. A policy of absolute non-importation was
advocated by many of the colonies, though Pennsylvania, under the
influence of Dickinson, still vainly cherishing hopes of reconciliation,
hung back, and advised that the tea should be paid for. As usual, the
warmest sympathy with New England came from Virginia. "If need be," said
Washington, "I will raise one thousand men, subsist them at my own
expense, and march myself at their head for the relief of Boston."

  [Portrait: John Hancock]

  [Sidenote: Samuel Adams at Salem]

To insure concerted action on the part of the whole country, something
more was required than these general expressions and acts of sympathy.
The proposal for a Continental Congress came first from the Sons of
Liberty in New York; it was immediately taken up by the members of the
Virginia House of Burgesses, sitting in convention at the Raleigh
tavern, after the governor had dissolved them as a legislature; and
Massachusetts was invited to appoint the time and place for the meeting
of the Congress. On the 7th of June the Massachusetts assembly was
convened at Salem by General Gage, in conformity with the provisions of
the Port Bill. Samuel Adams always preferred to use the ordinary means
of transacting public business so long as they were of avail, and he
naturally wished to have the act appointing a Continental Congress
passed by the assembly. But this was not easy to bring about, for upon
the first hint that any such business was to come up the governor would
be sure to dissolve the assembly. In such case it would be necessary for
the committees of correspondence throughout Massachusetts to hold a
convention for the purpose of appointing the time and place for the
Congress and of electing delegates to attend it. But Adams preferred to
have these matters decided in regular legislative session, and he
carried his point. Having talked privately with several of the members,
at last on the 17th of June--a day which a twelvemonth hence was to
become so famous--the favourable moment came. Having had the door
locked, he introduced his resolves, appointing five delegates to confer
with duly appointed delegates from the other colonies, in a Continental
Congress at Philadelphia on the 1st of September next. Some of the
members, astonished and frightened, sought to pass out; and as the
doorkeeper seemed uneasy at assuming so much responsibility, Samuel
Adams relieved him of it by taking the key from the door and putting it
into his own pocket, whereupon the business of the assembly went on.
Soon one of the Tory members pretended to be very sick, and being
allowed to go out, made all haste to Governor Gage, who instantly drew
up his writ dissolving the assembly, and sent his secretary with it.
When the secretary got there, he found the door locked, and as nobody
would let him in or pay any attention to him, he was obliged to content
himself with reading the writ, in a loud voice, to the crowd which had
assembled on the stairs. The assembly meanwhile passed the resolves by
117 to 12, elected Samuel and John Adams, Thomas Cushing, and Robert
Treat Paine as delegates, assessed the towns in the commonwealth for the
necessary expenses, passed measures for the relief of Boston, and
adjourned _sine die_. All the other colonies except Georgia, in the
course of the summer, accepted the invitation, and chose delegates,
either through their assemblies or through special conventions. Georgia
sent no delegates, but promised to adopt any course of action that
should be determined upon.

  [Sidenote: Massachusetts nullifies the Regulating Act]

Before the time appointed for the Congress, Massachusetts had set the
Regulating Act at defiance. On the 16th of August, when the court
assembled at Great Barrington, a vast multitude of farmers surrounded
the court house and forbade the judges to transact any business. Two or
three of the councillors newly appointed on the king's writ of
_mandamus_ yielded in advance to public opinion, and refused to take
their places. Those who accepted were forced to resign. At Worcester
2,000 men assembled on the common, and compelled Timothy Paine to make
his resignation in writing. The councillor appointed from Bridgewater
was a deacon; when he read the psalm the congregation refused to sing.
In Plymouth one of the most honoured citizens, George Watson, accepted a
place on the council; as he took his seat in church on the following
Sunday, the people got up and began to walk out of the house. Overcome
with shame, for a moment his venerable gray head sank upon the pew
before him; then he rose up and vowed that he would resign. In Boston
the justices and barristers took their accustomed places in the court
house, but no one could be found to serve as juror in a court that was
illegally constituted. Gage issued a proclamation warning all persons
against attending town meeting, but no one heeded him, and town meetings
were more fully attended than ever. He threatened to send an armed force
against Worcester, but the people there replied that he would do so at
his peril, and forthwith began to collect powder and ball. At Salem the
people walked to the town house under the governor's nose and in the
very presence of a line of soldiers. On the 1st of September a party of
soldiers seized two hundred kegs of powder at Charlestown and two
field-pieces at Cambridge, and carried them to Castle William. As the
news spread about the country, rumour added that the troops had fired
upon the people, and within forty-eight hours at least 20,000 men were
marching on Boston; but they turned back to their homes on receiving
word from the Boston committee that their aid was not yet needed.

  [Portrait: Jos Warren]

  [Sidenote: John Hancock and Joseph Warren]

During these stirring events, in the absence of Samuel Adams, who had
gone to attend the Congress at Philadelphia, the most active part in the
direction of affairs at Boston was taken by Dr. Joseph Warren. This
gentleman--one of a family which has produced three very eminent
physicians--was graduated at Harvard College in 1759. He had early
attracted the attention of Samuel Adams, had come to be one of his
dearest friends, and had been concerned with him in nearly all of his
public acts of the past seven years. He was a man of knightly bravery
and courtesy, and his energy and fertility of mind were equalled only by
his rare sweetness and modesty. With Adams and Hancock, he made up the
great Massachusetts triumvirate of Revolutionary leaders. The accession
of Hancock to the Revolutionary cause at an early period had been of
great help, by reason of his wealth and social influence. Hancock was
graduated at Harvard College in 1754. He was a gentleman of refinement
and grace, but neither for grasp of intelligence nor for strength of
character can he be compared with Adams or with Warren. His chief
weakness was personal vanity, but he was generous and loyal, and under
the influence of the iron-willed Adams was capable of good things. Upon
Warren, more than any one else, however, Adams relied as a lieutenant,
who, under any circumstances whatever, would be sure to prove equal to
the occasion.


                     =BOSTON=, September, 27, 1774-


     The committees of correspondence of this and several of the
     neighbouring towns, having taken into consideration the vast
     importance of withholding from the troops now here, labour, straw,
     timber, slitwork, boards, and in short every article excepting
     provisions necessary for their subsistance; and being under a
     necessity from their conduct of considering them as real enemies,
     we are fully satisfied that it is our bounden duty to withhold from
     them everything but what meer humanity requires; and therefore we
     must beg your close and serious attention to the inclosed resolves
     which were passed unanimously; and as unanimity in all our measures
     in this day of severe trial, is of the utmost consequence, we do
     earnestly recommend your co-operation in this measure, as conducive
     to the good of the whole.

          We are,
                Your Friends and Fellow Countrymen,
                    Signed by Order of the joint Committee,
                     William Cooper   Clerk.


  [Sidenote: The Suffolk County Resolves, Sept. 6, 1774]

On the 5th of September Gage began fortifying Boston Neck, so as to
close the only approach to the city by land. Next day the county assize
was to be held at Worcester; but 5,000 armed men, drawn up in regular
military array, lined each side of the main street, and the
unconstitutionally appointed judges were forbidden to take their seats.
On the same day a convention of the towns of Suffolk county was held at
Milton, and a series of resolutions, drawn up by Dr. Warren, were
adopted unanimously. The resolutions declared that a king who violates
the chartered rights of his people forfeits their allegiance; they
declared the Regulating Act null and void and ordered all the officers
appointed under it to resign their offices at once; they directed the
collectors of taxes to refuse to pay over money to Gage's treasurer;
they advised the towns to choose their own militia officers; and they
threatened the governor that, should he venture to arrest any one for
political reasons, they would retaliate by seizing upon the Crown
officers as hostages. A copy of these resolutions, which virtually
placed Massachusetts in an attitude of rebellion, was forwarded to the
Continental Congress, which enthusiastically indorsed them, and pledged
the faith of all the other colonies that they would aid Massachusetts in
case armed resistance should become inevitable, while at the same time
they urged that a policy of moderation should be preserved, and that
Great Britain should be left to fire the first shot.

  [Sidenote: Provincial Congress in Massachusetts]

On receiving these instructions from the Congress, the people of
Massachusetts at once proceeded to organize a provisional government in
accordance with the spirit of the Suffolk resolves. Gage had issued a
writ convening the assembly at Salem for the 1st of October, but before
the day arrived he changed his mind, and prorogued it. In disregard of
this order, however, the representatives met at Salem a week later,
organized themselves into a provincial congress, with John Hancock for
president, and adjourned to Concord. On the 27th they chose a committee
of safety, with Warren for chairman, and charged it with the duty of
collecting military stores. In December this Congress dissolved itself,
but a new one assembled at Cambridge on the 1st of February, and
proceeded to organize the militia and appoint general officers. A
special portion of the militia, known as "minute men," were set apart,
under orders to be ready to assemble at a moment's warning; and the
committee of safety were directed to call out this guard as soon as Gage
should venture to enforce the Regulating Act. Under these instructions
every village green in Massachusetts at once became the scene of active
drill. Nor was it a population unused to arms that thus began to marshal
itself into companies and regiments. During the French war one fifth of
all the able-bodied men of Massachusetts had been in the field, and in
1757 the proportion had risen to one third. There were plenty of men
who had learned how to stand under fire, and officers who had held
command on hard-fought fields; and all were practised marksmen. It is
quite incorrect to suppose that the men who first repulsed the British
regulars in 1775 were a band of farmers, utterly unused to fighting.
Their little army was indeed a militia, but it was made up of warlike

  [Portrait: Peyton Randolph]


  [Sidenote: Meeting of the Continental Congress, Sept. 5, 1774]

While these preparations were going on in Massachusetts, the Continental
Congress had assembled at the Hall of the Company of Carpenters, in
Philadelphia, on the 5th of September. Peyton Randolph, of Virginia, was
chosen president; and the Adamses, the Livingstons, the Rutledges,
Dickinson, Chase, Pendleton, Lee, Henry, and Washington took part in the
debates. One of their first acts was to dispatch Paul Revere to Boston
with their formal approval of the action of the Suffolk Convention.
After four weeks of deliberation they agreed upon a declaration of
rights, claiming for the American people "a free and exclusive power of
legislation in their provincial legislatures, where their rights of
legislation could alone be preserved in all cases of taxation and
internal polity." This paper also specified the rights of which they
would not suffer themselves to be deprived, and called for the repeal of
eleven acts of Parliament by which these rights had been infringed.
Besides this, they formed an association for insuring commercial
non-intercourse with Great Britain, and charged the committees of
correspondence with the duty of inspecting the entries at all custom
houses. Addresses were also prepared, to be sent to the king, to the
people of Great Britain, and to the inhabitants of British America. The
10th of May was appointed for a second Congress, in which the Canadian
colonies and the Floridas were invited to join; and on the 26th of
October the Congress dissolved itself.

  [Portrait: W. Howe]

  [Sidenote: Debates in Parliament]

  [Sidenote: William Howe]

The ability of the papers prepared by the first Continental Congress has
long been fully admitted in England as well as in America. Chatham
declared them unsurpassed by any state papers ever composed in any age
or country. But the king's manipulation of rotten boroughs in the
election of November, 1774, was only too successful, and the new
Parliament was not in the mood for listening to reason. Chatham,
Shelburne, and Camden urged in vain that the vindictive measures of the
last April should be repealed and the troops withdrawn from Boston. On
the 1st of February, Chatham introduced a bill which, could it have
passed, would no doubt have averted war, even at the eleventh hour.
Besides repealing its vindictive measures, Parliament was to renounce
forever the right of taxing the colonies, while retaining the right of
regulating the commerce of the whole empire; and the Americans were to
defray the expenses of their own governments by taxes voted in their
colonial assemblies. A few weeks later, in the House of Commons, Burke
argued that the abstract right of Parliament to tax the colonies was not
worth contending for, and he urged that on large grounds of expediency
it should be abandoned, and that the vindictive acts should be repealed.
But both Houses, by large majorities, refused to adopt any measures of
conciliation, and in a solemn joint address to the king declared
themselves ready to support him to the end in the policy upon which he
had entered. Massachusetts was declared to be in a state of rebellion,
and acts were passed closing all the ports of New England, and
prohibiting its fishermen from access to the Newfoundland fisheries. At
the same time it was voted to increase the army at Boston to 10,000 men,
and to supersede Gage, who had in all these months accomplished so
little with his four regiments. As people in England had utterly failed
to comprehend the magnitude of the task assigned to Gage, it was not
strange that they should seek to account for his inaction by doubting
his zeal and ability. No less a person than David Hume saw fit to speak
of him as a "lukewarm coward." William Howe, member of Parliament for
the liberal constituency of Nottingham, was chosen to supersede him. In
his speeches as candidate for election only four months ago, Howe had
declared himself opposed to the king's policy, had asserted that no army
that England could raise would be able to subdue the Americans, and, in
reply to a question, had promised that if offered a command in America
he would refuse it. When he now consented to take Gage's place as
commander-in-chief, the people of Nottingham scolded him roundly for
breaking his word.

  [Sidenote: Richard, Lord Howe]

It would be unfair, however, to charge Howe with conscious breach of
faith in this matter. His appointment was itself a curious symptom of
the element of vacillation that was apparent in the whole conduct of the
ministry, even when its attitude professed to be most obstinate and
determined. With all his obstinacy the king did not really wish for
war,--much less did Lord North; and the reason for Howe's appointment
was simply that he was a brother to the Lord Howe who had fallen at
Ticonderoga, and whose memory was idolized by the men of New England.
Lord North announced that, in dealing with his misguided American
brethren, his policy would be always to send the olive branch in company
with the sword; and no doubt Howe really felt that, by accepting a
command offered in such a spirit, he might more efficiently serve the
interests of humanity and justice than by leaving it open for some one
of cruel and despotic temper, whose zeal might outrun even the wishes of
the obdurate king. At the same time, his brother Richard, Lord Howe, a
seaman of great ability, was appointed admiral of the fleet for America,
and was expressly entrusted with the power of offering terms to the
colonies. Sir Henry Clinton and John Burgoyne, both of them in sympathy
with the king's policy, were appointed to accompany Howe as

  [Portrait: Howe]

  [Sidenote: Franklin returns to America]

The conduct of the ministry, during this most critical and trying time,
showed great uneasiness. When leave was asked for Franklin to present
the case for the Continental Congress, and to defend it before the House
of Commons, it was refused. Yet all through the winter the ministry
were continually appealing to Franklin, unofficially and in private, in
order to find out how the Americans might be appeased without making any
such concessions as would hurt the pride of that Tory party which was
now misgoverning England. Lord Howe was the most conspicuous agent in
these fruitless negotiations. How to conciliate the Americans without
giving up a single one of the false positions which the king had taken
was the problem, and no wonder that Franklin soon perceived it to be
insolvable, and made up his mind to go home. He had now stayed in
England for several years, as agent for Pennsylvania and for
Massachusetts. He had shown himself a consummate diplomatist, of that
rare school which deceives by telling unwelcome truths, and he had some
unpleasant encounters with the king and the king's friends. Now in
March, 1775, seeing clearly that he could be of no further use in
averting an armed struggle, he returned to America. Franklin's return
was not, in form, like that customary withdrawal of an ambassador which
heralds and proclaims a state of war. But practically it was the
snapping of the last diplomatic link between the colonies and the

  [Sidenote: The middle colonies]

  [Sidenote: Lord North's mistaken hopes of securing New York]

Still the ministry, with all its uneasiness, did not believe that war
was close at hand. It was thought that the middle colonies, and
especially New York, might be persuaded to support the government, and
that New England, thus isolated, would not venture upon armed resistance
to the overwhelming power of Great Britain. The hope was not wholly
unreasonable; for the great middle colonies, though conspicuous for
material prosperity, were somewhat lacking in force of political ideas.
In New York and Pennsylvania the non-English population was relatively
far more considerable than in Virginia or the New England colonies. A
considerable proportion of the population had come from the continent of
Europe, and the principles of constitutional government were not so
thoroughly inwrought into the innermost minds and hearts of the people,
the pulse of liberty did not beat so quickly here, as in the purely
English commonwealths of Virginia and Massachusetts. In Pennsylvania and
New Jersey the Quakers were naturally opposed to a course of action that
must end in war; and such very honourable motives certainly contributed
to weaken the resistance of these colonies to the measures of the
government. In New York there were further special reasons for the
existence of a strong loyalist feeling. The city of New York had for
many years been the headquarters of the army and the seat of the
principal royal government in America. It was not a town, like Boston,
governing itself in town meeting, but its municipal affairs were
administered by a mayor, appointed by the king. Unlike Boston and
Philadelphia, the interests of the city of New York were almost purely
commercial, and there was nothing to prevent the little court circle
there from giving the tone to public opinion. The Episcopal Church, too,
was in the ascendant, and there was a not unreasonable prejudice
against the Puritans of New England for their grim intolerance of
Episcopalians and their alleged antipathy to Dutchmen. The province of
New York, moreover, had a standing dispute with its eastern neighbours
over the ownership of the Green Mountain region. This beautiful country
had been settled by New England men, under grants from the royal
governors of New Hampshire; but it was claimed by the people of New
York, and the controversy sometimes waxed hot and gave rise to very hard
feelings. Under these circumstances, the labours of the ministry to
secure this central colony seemed at times likely to be crowned with
success. The assembly of New York refused to adopt the non-importation
policy enjoined by the Continental Congress, and it refused to choose
delegates to the second Congress which was to be held in May. The
ministry, in return, sought to corrupt New York by exempting it from the
commercial restrictions placed upon the neighbouring colonies, and by
promising to confirm its alleged title to the territory of Vermont. All
these hopes proved fallacious, however. In spite of appearances, the
majority of the people of New York were opposed to the king's measures,
and needed only an opportunity for organization. In April, under the
powerful leadership of Philip Schuyler and the Livingstons, a convention
was held, delegates were chosen to attend the Congress, and New York
fell into line with the other colonies. As for Pennsylvania, in spite of
its peaceful and moderate temper, it had never shown any signs of
willingness to detach itself from the nascent union.

News travelled with slow pace in those days, and as late as the middle
of May, Lord North, confident of the success of his schemes in New York,
and unable to believe that the yeomanry of Massachusetts would fight
against regular troops, declared cheerfully that this American business
was not so alarming as it seemed, and everything would no doubt be
speedily settled without bloodshed!


  [Sidenote: Affairs in Massachusetts]

  [Sidenote: Warren's oration at the Old South]

Great events had meanwhile happened in Massachusetts. All through the
winter the resistance to General Gage had been passive, for the lesson
had been thoroughly impressed upon the mind of every man, woman, and
child in the province that, in order to make sure of the entire sympathy
of the other colonies, Great Britain must be allowed to fire the first
shot. The Regulating Act had none the less been silently defied, and
neither councillors nor judges, neither sheriffs nor jurymen, could be
found to serve under the royal commission. It is striking proof of the
high state of civilization attained by this commonwealth, that although
for nine months the ordinary functions of government had been suspended,
yet the affairs of every-day life had gone on without friction or
disturbance Not a drop of blood had been shed, nor had any one's
property been injured. The companies of yeomen meeting at eventide to
drill on the village green, and now and then the cart laden with powder
and ball that dragged slowly over the steep roads on its way to Concord,
were the only outward signs of an unwonted state of things. Not so,
however, in Boston. There the blockade of the harbour had wrought great
hardship for the poorer people. Business was seriously interfered with,
many persons were thrown out of employment, and in spite of the generous
promptness with which provisions had been poured in from all parts of
the country, there was great suffering through scarcity of fuel and
food. Still there was but little complaint and no disorder. The leaders
were as resolute as ever, and the people were as resolute as their
leaders. As the 5th of March drew near, several British officers were
heard to declare that any one who should dare to address the people in
the Old South Church on this occasion would surely lose his life. As
soon as he heard of these threats, Joseph Warren solicited for himself
the dangerous honour, and at the usual hour delivered a stirring oration
upon "the baleful influence of standing armies in time of peace." The
concourse in the church was so great that when the orator arrived every
approach to the pulpit was blocked up; and rather than elbow his way
through the crowd, which might lead to some disturbance, he procured a
ladder, and climbed in through a large window at the back of the pulpit.
About forty British officers were present, some of whom sat on the
pulpit steps, and sought to annoy the speaker with groans and hisses,
but everything passed off quietly.


  [Sidenote: Attempt to corrupt Samuel Adams.]

The boldness of Adams and Hancock in attending this meeting was hardly
less admirable than that of Warren in delivering the address. It was no
secret that Gage had been instructed to watch his opportunity to arrest
Samuel Adams and "his willing and ready tool," that "terrible
desperado," John Hancock, and send them over to England to be tried for
treason. Here was an excellent opportunity for seizing all the patriot
leaders at once; and the meeting itself, moreover, was a town meeting,
such as Gage had come to Boston expressly to put down. Nothing more
calmly defiant can be imagined than the conduct of people and leaders
under these circumstances. But Gage had long since learned the temper of
the people so well that he was afraid to proceed too violently. At first
he had tried to corrupt Samuel Adams with offers of place or pelf; but
he found, as Hutchinson had already declared, that such was "the
obstinate and inflexible disposition of this man that he never would be
conciliated by any office or gift whatsoever." The dissolution of the
assembly, of which Adams was clerk, had put a stop to his salary, and he
had so little property laid by as hardly to be able to buy bread for his
family. Under these circumstances, it occurred to Gage that perhaps a
judicious mixture of threat with persuasion might prove effectual. So he
sent Colonel Fenton with a confidential message to Adams. The officer,
with great politeness, began by saying that "an adjustment of the
existing disputes was very desirable; that he was authorized by Governor
Gage to assure him that he had been empowered to confer upon him such
benefits as would be satisfactory, upon the condition that he would
engage to cease in his opposition to the measures of government, and
that it was the advice of Governor Gage to him not to incur the further
displeasure of his Majesty; that his conduct had been such as made him
liable to the penalties of an act of Henry VIII., by which persons could
be sent to England for trial, and, by changing his course, he would not
only receive great personal advantages, but would thereby make his peace
with the king." Adams listened with apparent interest to this recital
until the messenger had concluded. Then rising, he replied, glowing with
indignation: "Sir, I trust I have long since made my peace with the King
of kings. No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the
righteous cause of my country. Tell Governor Gage it is the advice of
Samuel Adams to him no longer to insult the feelings of an exasperated

  [Signature: F: Smith Lt Coln]

  [Illustration: REV. JONAS CLARK'S HOUSE]

  [Sidenote: Orders to arrest Adams and Hancock]

  [Sidenote: Paul Revere's ride.]

Toward the end of the winter Gage received peremptory orders to arrest
Adams and Hancock, and send them to England for trial. One of the London
papers gayly observed that in all probability Temple Bar "will soon be
decorated with some of the patriotic noddles of the Boston saints." The
provincial congress met at Concord on the 22d of March, and after its
adjournment, on the 15th of April, Adams and Hancock stayed a few days
at Lexington, at the house of their friend, the Rev. Jonas Clark. It
would doubtless be easier to seize them there than in Boston, and,
accordingly, on the night of the 18th Gage dispatched a force of 800
troops, under Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Smith, to march to Lexington,
and, after seizing the patriot leaders, to proceed to Concord, and
capture or destroy the military stores which had for some time been
collecting there. At ten in the evening the troops were rowed across
Charles river, and proceeded by a difficult and unfrequented route
through the marshes of East Cambridge, until, after four miles, they
struck into the highroad for Lexington. The greatest possible secrecy
was observed, and stringent orders were given that no one should be
allowed to leave Boston that night. But Warren divined the purpose of
the movement, and sent out Paul Revere by way of Charlestown, and
William Dawes by way of Roxbury, to give the alarm. At that time there
was no bridge across Charles river lower than the one which now connects
Cambridge with Allston. Crossing the broad river in a little boat, under
the very guns of the Somerset man-of-war, and waiting on the farther
bank until he learned, from a lantern suspended in the belfry of the
North Church, which way the troops had gone, Revere took horse and
galloped over the Medford road to Lexington, shouting the news at the
door of every house that he passed. Reaching Mr. Clark's a little after
midnight, he found the house guarded by eight minute-men, and the
sergeant warned him not to make a noise and disturb the inmates.
"Noise!" cried Revere. "You'll soon have noise enough; the regulars are
coming!" Hancock, recognizing the voice, threw up the window, and
ordered the guard to let him in. On learning the news, Hancock's first
impulse was to stay and take command of the militia; but it was
presently agreed that there was no good reason for his doing so, and
shortly before daybreak, in company with Adams, he left the village.

  [Portrait: Paul Revere]

  [Signature: John Parker]


  [Illustration: The Minute-Man[3]]

  [Sidenote: Pitcairn fires upon the yeomanry, April 19, 1775]

Meanwhile, the troops were marching along the main road; but swift and
silent as was their advance, frequent alarm-bells and signal-guns, and
lights twinkling on distant hilltops, showed but too plainly that the
secret was out. Colonel Smith then sent Major Pitcairn forward with six
companies of light infantry to make all possible haste in securing the
bridges over Concord river, while at the same time he prudently sent
back to Boston for reinforcements. When Pitcairn reached Lexington, just
as the rising sun was casting long shadows across the village green, he
found himself confronted by some fifty minute-men under command of
Captain John Parker,--grandfather of Theodore Parker,--a hardy veteran,
who, fifteen years before, had climbed the heights of Abraham by the
side of Wolfe. "Stand your ground," said Parker. "Don't fire unless
fired upon; but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."
"Disperse, ye villains!" shouted Pitcairn. "Damn you, why don't you
disperse?" And as they stood motionless he gave the order to fire. As
the soldiers hesitated to obey, he discharged his own pistol and
repeated the order, whereupon a deadly volley slew eight of the
minute-men and wounded ten. One of the victims, Jonathan Harrington, was
just able to stagger across the green to his own house (which is still
there), and to die in the arms of his wife, who was standing at the
door. At this moment the head of Smith's own column seems to have come
into sight, far down the road. The minute-men had begun to return the
fire, when Parker, seeing the folly of resistance, ordered them to
retire. While this was going on, Adams and Hancock were walking across
the fields toward Woburn; and as the crackle of distant musketry reached
their ears, the eager Adams--his soul aglow with the prophecy of the
coming deliverance of his country--exclaimed, "Oh, what a glorious
morning is this!" From Woburn the two friends went on their way to
Philadelphia, where the second Continental Congress was about to

  [Illustration: THE OLD MANSE AT CONCORD]

  [Portrait: Percy.]

  [Sidenote: The troops repulsed at Concord.]

  [Sidenote: Retreating troops rescued by Lord Percy]

Some precious minutes had been lost by the British at Lexington, and it
soon became clear that the day was to be one in which minutes could ill
be spared. By the time they reached Concord, about seven o'clock, the
greater part of the stores had been effectually hidden, and minute-men
were rapidly gathering from all quarters. After posting small forces to
guard the bridges, the troops set fire to the court-house, cut down the
liberty-pole, disabled a few cannon, staved in a few barrels of flour,
and hunted unsuccessfully for arms and ammunition, until an unexpected
incident put a stop to their proceedings. When the force of minute-men,
watching events from the hill beyond the river, had become increased to
more than 400, they suddenly advanced upon the North Bridge, which was
held by 200 regulars. After receiving and returning the British fire,
the militia, led by Major Buttrick, charged across the narrow bridge,
overcame the regulars by dint of weight and numbers, and drove them
back past the Old Manse into the village. They did not follow up the
attack, but rested on their arms, wondering, perhaps, at what they had
already accomplished, while their numbers were from moment to moment
increased by the minute-men from neighbouring villages. A little before
noon, though none of the objects of the expedition had been
accomplished, Colonel Smith began to realize the danger of his position,
and started on his retreat to Boston. His men were in no mood for fight.
They had marched eighteen miles, and had eaten little or nothing for
fourteen hours. But now, while companies of militia hovered upon both
their flanks, every clump of trees and every bit of rising ground by the
roadside gave shelter to hostile yeomen, whose aim was true and deadly.
Straggling combats ensued from time to time, and the retreating British
left nothing undone which brave men could do; but the incessant, galling
fire at length threw them into hopeless confusion. Leaving their
wounded scattered along the road, they had already passed by the village
green of Lexington in disorderly flight, when they were saved by Lord
Percy, who had marched out over Boston Neck and through Cambridge to
their assistance, with 1,200 men and two field-pieces. Forming his men
in a hollow square, Percy inclosed the fugitives, who, in dire
exhaustion, threw themselves upon the ground,--"their tongues hanging
out of their mouths," says Colonel Stedman, "like those of dogs after a
chase." Many had thrown away their muskets, and Pitcairn had lost his
horse, with the elegant pistols which fired the first shots of the War
of Independence, and which may be seen to-day, along with other
trophies, in the town library of Lexington.

  [Illustration: PITCAIRN'S PISTOLS]

  [Sidenote: Retreat continued from Lexington to Charlestown]

Percy's timely arrival checked the pursuit for an hour, and gave the
starved and weary men a chance for food and rest. A few houses were
pillaged and set on fire, but at three o'clock General Heath and Dr.
Warren arrived on the scene and took command of the militia, and the
irregular fight was renewed. When Percy reached Menotomy (now
Arlington), seven miles from Boston, his passage was disputed by a fresh
force of militia, while pursuers pressed hard on his rear, and it was
only after an obstinate fight that he succeeded in forcing his way. The
roadside now fairly swarmed with marksmen, insomuch that, as one of the
British officers observed, "they seemed to have dropped from the
clouds." It became impossible to keep order or to carry away the
wounded; and when, at sunset, the troops entered Charlestown, under the
welcome shelter of the fleet, it was upon the full run. They were not a
moment too soon, for Colonel Timothy Pickering, with 700 Essex militia,
on the way to intercept them, had already reached Winter Hill; and had
their road been blocked by this fresh force they must in all probability
have surrendered.

                    (_From a contemporary French print_)]

  [Sidenote: Rising of the country; the British besieged in Boston.]

On this eventful day the British lost 273 of their number, while the
Americans lost 93. The expedition had been a failure, the whole British
force had barely escaped capture, and it had been shown that the people
could not be frightened into submission. It had been shown, too, how
efficient the town system of organized militia might prove on a sudden
emergency. The most interesting feature of the day is the rapidity and
skill with which the different bodies of minute-men, marching from long
distances, were massed at those points on the road where they might most
effectually harass or impede the British retreat. The Danvers company
marched sixteen miles in four hours to strike Lord Percy at Menotomy.
The list of killed and wounded shows that contingents from at least
twenty-three towns had joined in the fight before sundown. But though
the pursuit was then ended, these men did not return to their homes, but
hour by hour their numbers increased. At noon of that day the alarm had
reached Worcester. Early next morning, Israel Putnam was ploughing a
field at Pomfret, in Connecticut, when the news arrived. Leaving orders
for the militia companies to follow, he jumped on his horse, and riding
a hundred miles in eighteen hours, arrived in Cambridge on the morning
of the 21st, just in time to meet John Stark with the first company from
New Hampshire. At midday of the 20th the college green at New Haven
swarmed with eager students and citizens, and Captain Benedict Arnold,
gathering sixty volunteers from among them, placed himself at their head
and marched for Cambridge, picking up recruits and allies at all the
villages on the way. And thus, from every hill and valley in New
England, on they came, till, by Saturday night, Gage found himself
besieged in Boston by a rustic army of 16,000 men.

  [Portrait: Israel Putnam]

  [Illustration: ST. JOHN'S CHURCH, RICHMOND[4]]

  [Sidenote: Effects of the news]

When the news of this affair reached England, five weeks later, it was
received at first with incredulity, then with astonishment and regret.
Slight as the contest had been, it remained undeniable that British
troops had been defeated by what in England was regarded as a crowd of
"peasants;" and it was felt besides that the chances for conciliation
had now been seriously diminished. Burke said that now that the
Americans had once gone so far as this, they could hardly help going
farther; and in spite of the condemnation that had been lavished upon
Gage for his inactivity, many people were now inclined to find fault
with him for having precipitated a conflict just at the time when it was
hoped that, with the aid of the New York loyalists, some sort of
accommodation might be effected. There is no doubt that the news from
Lexington thoroughly disconcerted the loyalists of New York for the
moment, and greatly strengthened the popular party there. In a manifesto
addressed to the city of London, the New York committee of
correspondence deplored the conduct of Gage as rash and violent, and
declared that all the horrors of civil war would never bring the
Americans to submit to the unjust acts of Parliament. When Hancock and
Adams arrived, on their way to the Congress, they were escorted through
the city with triumphal honours. In Pennsylvania steps were immediately
taken for the enlistment and training of a colonial militia, and every
colony to the south of it followed the example.

  [Sidenote: Mecklenburg County Resolves, May 31, 1775]

The Scotch-Irish patriots of Mecklenburg county, in North Carolina,
ventured upon a measure more decided than any that had yet been taken in
any part of the country. On May 31st, the county committee of
Mecklenburg affirmed that the joint address of the two Houses of
Parliament to the king, in February, had virtually "annulled and vacated
all civil and military commissions granted by the Crown, and suspended
the constitutions of the colonies;" and that consequently "the
provincial congress of each province, under the direction of the great
Continental Congress, is invested with all the legislative and executive
powers within their respective provinces, and that no other legislative
or executive power does or can exist at this time in any of these
colonies." In accordance with this state of things, rules were adopted
"for the choice of county officers, to exercise authority by virtue of
this choice and independently of the British Crown, until Parliament
should resign its arbitrary pretensions." These bold resolves were
entrusted to the North Carolina delegates to the Continental Congress,
but were not formally brought before that body, as the delegates thought
it best to wait for a while longer the course of events.


  [Sidenote: Legend of the Mecklenburg "Declaration of Independence"]

Some twenty years later they gave rise to the legend of the Mecklenburg
Declaration of Independence. The early writers of United States history
passed over the proceedings of May 31st in silence, and presently the
North Carolina patriots tried to supply an account of them from memory.
Their traditional account was not published until 1819, when it was
found to contain a spurious document, giving the substance of some of
the foregoing resolves, decorated with phrases borrowed from the
Declaration of Independence. This document purported to have been drawn
up and signed at a county meeting on the 20th of May. A fierce
controversy sprang up over the genuineness of the document, which was
promptly called in question. For a long time many people believed in it,
and were inclined to charge Jefferson with having plagiarized from it
in writing the Declaration of Independence. But a minute investigation
of all the newspapers of May, 1775, throughout the thirteen colonies,
has revealed no trace of any such meeting on the 20th, and it is clear
that no such document was made public. The story of the Mecklenburg
Declaration is simply a legend based upon the distorted recollection of
the real proceedings of May 31st.

  [Illustration:       PLAN
                   _of the FORT_
                    _the HEAD of_
                   Lake Champlain;

  [Illustration: Ethan Allen]

  [Sidenote: Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen]

  [Sidenote: Capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, May 10, 1775]

Meanwhile, in New England, the warlike feeling had become too strong to
be contented merely with defensive measures. No sooner had Benedict
Arnold reached Cambridge than he suggested to Dr. Warren that an
expedition ought to be sent without delay to capture Ticonderoga and
Crown Point. These fortresses commanded the northern approaches to the
Hudson river, the strategic centre of the whole country, and would be of
supreme importance either in preparing an invasion of Canada or in
warding off an invasion of New York. Besides this, they contained a vast
quantity of military stores, of which the newly gathered army stood in
sore need. The idea found favour at once. Arnold received a colonel's
commission from the Massachusetts Congress, and was instructed to raise
400 men among the Berkshire Hills, capture the fortresses, and
superintend the transfer of part of their armament to Cambridge. When
Arnold reached the wild hillsides of the Hoosac range, he found that he
had a rival in the enterprise. The capture of Ticonderoga had also been
secretly planned in Connecticut, and was entrusted to Ethan Allen, the
eccentric but sagacious author of that now-forgotten deistical book,
"The Oracles of Reason." Allen was a leading spirit among the "Green
Mountain Boys," an association of Vermont settlers formed for the
purpose of resisting the jurisdiction of New York, and his personal
popularity was great. On the 9th of May Arnold overtook Allen and his
men on their march toward Lake Champlain, and claimed the command of the
expedition on the strength of his commission from Massachusetts; but the
Green Mountain Boys were acting partly on their own account, partly
under the direction of Connecticut. They cared nothing for the authority
of Massachusetts, and knew nothing of Arnold; they had come out to fight
under their own trusted leader. But few of Arnold's own men had as yet
assembled, and his commission could not give him command of Vermonters,
so he joined the expedition as a volunteer. On reaching the lake that
night, they found there were not nearly enough row-boats to convey the
men across. But delay was not to be thought of. The garrison must not be
put on its guard. Accordingly, with only eighty-three men, Allen and
Arnold crossed the lake at daybreak of the 10th, and entered Ticonderoga
side by side. The little garrison, less than half as many in number, as
it turned out, was completely surprised, and the stronghold was taken
without a blow. As the commandant jumped out of bed, half awake, he
confusedly inquired of Allen by whose authority he was acting. "In the
name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" roared the
bellicose philosopher, and the commandant, seeing the fort already
taken, was fain to acquiesce. At the same time Crown Point surrendered
to another famous Green Mountain Boy, Seth Warner, and thus more than
two hundred cannon, with a large supply of powder and ball, were
obtained for the New England army. A few days later, as some of
Arnold's own men arrived from Berkshire, he sailed down Lake Champlain,
and captured St. John's with its garrison; but the British recovered it
in the course of the summer, and planted such a force there that in the
next autumn we shall see it able to sustain a siege of fifty days.

  [Illustration:        PLAN
                    _of the New_
                 _FORT AND REDOUBTS,_
                   NEW CROWN POINT

                 OF TICONDEROGA]

Neither Connecticut nor Massachusetts had any authority over these posts
save through right of conquest. As it was Connecticut that had set
Allen's expedition on foot, Massachusetts yielded the point as to the
disposal of the fortresses and their garrisons. Dr. Warren urged the
Connecticut government to appoint Arnold to the command, so that his
commission might be held of both colonies; but Connecticut preferred to
retain Allen, and in July Arnold returned to Cambridge to mature his
remarkable plan for invading Canada through the trackless wilderness of
Maine. His slight disagreement with Allen bore evil fruit. As is often
the case in such affairs, the men were more zealous than their
commanders; there were those who denounced Arnold as an interloper,
and he was destined to hear from them again and again.


  [Sidenote: Second meeting of the Continental Congress, May 10, 1775]

  [Sidenote: Appointment of Washington to command the Continental army]

On the same day[5] on which Ticonderoga surrendered, the Continental
Congress met at Philadelphia. The Adamses and the Livingstons, Jay,
Henry, Washington, and Lee were there, as also Franklin, just back from
his long service in England. Of all the number, John Adams and Franklin
had now, probably, come to agree with Samuel Adams that a political
separation from Great Britain was inevitable; but all were fully agreed
that any consideration of such a question was at present premature and
uncalled for. The Congress was a body which wielded no technical legal
authority; it was but a group of committees, assembled for the purpose
of advising with each other regarding the public weal. Yet something
very like a state of war existed in a part of the country, under
conditions which intimately concerned the whole, and in the absence of
any formally constituted government something must be done to provide
for such a crisis. The spirit of the assembly was well shown in its
choice of a president. Peyton Randolph being called back to Virginia to
preside over the colonial assembly, Thomas Jefferson was sent to the
Congress in his stead; and it also became necessary for Congress to
choose a president to succeed him. The proscribed John Hancock was at
once chosen, and Benjamin Harrison, in conducting him to the chair,
said, "We will show Great Britain how much we value her proscriptions."
To the garrisoning of Ticonderoga and Crown Point by Connecticut, the
Congress consented only after much hesitation, since the capture of
these posts had been an act of offensive warfare. But without any
serious opposition, in the name of the "United Colonies," the Congress
adopted the army of New England men besieging Boston as the
"Continental Army," and proceeded to appoint a commander-in-chief to
direct its operations. Practically, this was the most important step
taken in the whole course of the War of Independence. Nothing less than
the whole issue of the struggle, for ultimate defeat or for ultimate
victory, turned upon the selection to be made at this crisis. For
nothing can be clearer than that in any other hands than those of George
Washington the military result of the war must have been speedily
disastrous to the Americans. In appointing a Virginian to the command of
a New England army, the Congress showed rare wisdom. It would well have
accorded with local prejudices had a New England general been appointed.
John Hancock greatly desired the appointment, and seems to have been
chagrined at not receiving it. But it was wisely decided that the common
interest of all Americans could in no way be more thoroughly engaged in
the war than by putting the New England army in charge of a general who
represented in his own person the greatest of the Southern colonies.
Washington was now commander of the militia of Virginia, and sat in
Congress in his colonel's uniform. His services in saving the remnant of
Braddock's ill-fated army, and afterwards in the capture of Fort
Duquesne, had won for him a military reputation greater than that of any
other American. Besides this, there was that which, from his early
youth, had made it seem right to entrust him with commissions of
extraordinary importance. Nothing in Washington's whole career is more
remarkable than the fact that when a mere boy of twenty-one he should
have been selected by the governor of Virginia to take charge of that
most delicate and dangerous diplomatic mission to the Indian chiefs and
the French commander at Venango. Consummate knowledge of human nature as
well as of wood-craft, a courage that no threats could daunt and a clear
intelligence that no treachery could hoodwink, were the qualities
absolutely demanded by such an undertaking; yet the young man acquitted
himself of his perilous task not merely with credit, but with splendour.
As regards booklore, his education had been but meagre, yet he possessed
in the very highest degree the rare faculty of always discerning the
essential facts in every case, and interpreting them correctly. In the
Continental Congress there sat many who were superior to him in learning
and eloquence; but "if," said Patrick Henry, "you speak of solid
information and sound judgment, Colonel Washington is unquestionably the
greatest man upon that floor." Thus did that wonderful balance of
mind--so great that in his whole career it would be hard to point out a
single mistake--already impress his ablest contemporaries. Hand in hand
with this rare soundness of judgment there went a completeness of moral
self-control, which was all the more impressive inasmuch as Washington's
was by no means a tame or commonplace nature, such as ordinary power of
will would suffice to guide. He was a man of intense and fiery passions.
His anger, when once aroused, had in it something so terrible that
strong men were cowed by it like frightened children. This prodigious
animal nature was habitually curbed by a will of iron, and held in the
service of a sweet and tender soul, into which no mean or unworthy
thought had ever entered. Whole-souled devotion to public duty, an
incorruptible integrity which no appeal to ambition or vanity could for
a moment solicit,--these were attributes of Washington, as well marked
as his clearness of mind and his strength of purpose. And it was in no
unworthy temple that Nature had enshrined this great spirit. His lofty
stature (exceeding six feet), his grave and handsome face, his noble
bearing and courtly grace of manner, all proclaimed in Washington a king
of men.

The choice of Washington for commander-in-chief was suggested and
strongly urged by John Adams, and when, on the 15th of June, the
nomination was formally made by Thomas Johnson of Maryland, it was
unanimously confirmed. Then Washington, rising, said with great
earnestness: "Since the Congress desire, I will enter upon the momentous
duty, and exert every power I possess in their service and for the
support of the glorious cause. But 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 to the command I am honoured
with." He refused to take any pay for his services, but said he would
keep an accurate account of his personal expenses, which Congress might
reimburse, should it see fit, after the close of the war.

  [Portrait: Artemas Ward]

  [Signature: Wm Prescott]

  [Sidenote: Siege of Boston]

  [Sidenote: Gage's proclamation]

  [Sidenote: Americans occupy Bunker Hill]

While these things were going on at Philadelphia, the army of New
England men about Boston was busily pressing, to the best of its limited
ability, the siege of that town. The army extended in a great
semicircle of sixteen miles,--averaging about a thousand men to the
mile,--all the way from Jamaica Plain to Charlestown Neck. The
headquarters were at Cambridge, where some of the university buildings
were used for barracks, and the chief command had been entrusted to
General Artemas Ward, under the direction of the committee of safety.
Dr. Warren had succeeded Hancock as president of the provincial
congress, which was in session at Watertown. The army was excellent in
spirit, but poorly equipped and extremely deficient in discipline. Its
military object was to compel the British troops to evacuate Boston and
take to their ships, for as there was no American fleet, anything like
the destruction or capture of the British force was manifestly
impossible. The only way in which Boston could be made untenable for the
British was by seizing and fortifying some of the neighbouring hills
which commanded the town, of which the most important were those in
Charlestown on the north and in Dorchester on the southeast. To secure
these hills was indispensable to Gage, if he was to keep his foothold in
Boston; and as soon as Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne arrived, on the 25th
of May, with reinforcements which raised the British force to 10,000
men, a plan was laid for extending the lines so as to cover both
Charlestown and Dorchester. Feeling now confident of victory, Gage
issued a proclamation on June 12th, offering free pardon to all rebels
who should lay down their arms and return to their allegiance, saving
only those ring leaders, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, whose crimes
had been "too flagitious to be condoned." At the same time, all who
should be taken in arms were threatened with the gallows. In reply to
this manifesto, the committee of safety, having received intelligence of
Gage's scheme, ordered out a force of 1,200 men, to forestall the
governor, and take possession of Bunker Hill in Charlestown. At sunset
of the 16th this brigade was paraded on Cambridge Common, and after
prayer had been offered by Dr. Langdon, president of the university,
they set out on their enterprise, under command of Colonel Prescott of
Pepperell, a veteran of the French war, grandfather of one of the most
eminent of American historians. On reaching the grounds, a consultation
was held, and it was decided, in accordance with the general purpose, if
not in strict conformity to the letter of the order, to push on farther
and fortify the eminence known as Breed's Hill, which was connected by a
ridge with Bunker Hill, and might be regarded as part of the same
locality. The position of Breed's Hill was admirably fitted for annoying
the town and the ships in the harbour, and it was believed that, should
the Americans succeed in planting batteries there, the British would be
obliged to retire from Boston. There can be little doubt, however, that
in thus departing from the strict letter of his orders Prescott made a
mistake, which might have proved fatal, had not the enemy blundered
still more seriously. The advanced position on Breed's Hill was not only
exposed to attacks in the rear from an enemy who commanded the water,
but the line of retreat was ill secured, and, by seizing upon
Charlestown Neck, it would have been easy for the British, with little
or no loss, to have compelled Prescott to surrender. From such a
disaster the Americans were saved by the stupid contempt which the enemy
felt for them.

  [Sidenote: Arrival of Putnam, Stark, and Warren, June 17, 1775]

Reaching Breed's Hill about midnight, Colonel Prescott's men began
throwing up intrenchments. At daybreak they were discovered by the
sailors in the harbour, and a lively cannonade was kept up through the
forenoon by the enemy's ships; but it produced little effect, and the
strength of the American works increased visibly hour by hour. It was a
beautiful summer day, bathed in brightest sunshine, and through the
clear dry air every movement of the spadesmen on the hilltop and the
sailors on their decks could be distinctly seen from a great distance.
The roar of the cannon had called out everybody, far and near, to see
what was going on, and the windows and housetops in Boston were crowded
with anxious spectators. During the night General Putnam had come upon
the scene, and turned his attention to fortifying the crest of Bunker
Hill, in order to secure the line of retreat across Charlestown Neck. In
the course of the forenoon Colonel Stark arrived with reinforcements,
which were posted behind the rail fence on the extreme left, to ward off
any attempt of the British to turn their flank by a direct attack. At
the same time, Dr. Warren, now chief executive officer of Massachusetts,
and just appointed major-general, hastened to the battlefield; replying
to the prudent and affectionate remonstrance of his friend Elbridge
Gerry, "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." Arriving at the redoubt,
he refused the command expressly tendered him, saying that he should be
only too glad to serve as volunteer aid, and learn his first lesson
under so well tried a soldier as Prescott. This modest heroism was
typical of that memorable day, to the events of which one may well apply
the Frenchman's dictum, "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre!"
A glorious day it was in history, but characterized, on both the British
and the American sides, by heroism rather than by military skill or


  [Sidenote: Gage decides to try an assault]

  [Sidenote: First assault repulsed]

During the forenoon Gage was earnestly discussing with the three new
generals the best means of ousting the Americans from their position on
Breed's Hill. There was one sure and obvious method,--to go around by
sea and take possession of Charlestown Neck, thereby cutting off the
Americans from the mainland and starving them out. But it was thought
that time was too precious to admit of so slow a method. Should the
Americans succeed, in the course of the afternoon, in planting a battery
of siege guns on Breed's Hill, the British position in Boston would be
endangered. A direct assault was preferred, as likely to be more
speedily effective. It was unanimously agreed that these "peasants"
could not withstand the charge of 3,000 veteran soldiers, and it was
gravely doubted if they would stay and fight at all. Gage accordingly
watched the proceedings, buoyant with hope. In a few hours the disgrace
of Lexington would be wiped out, and this wicked rebellion would be
ended. At noonday the troops began crossing the river in boats, and at
three o'clock they prepared to storm the intrenchments. They advanced in
two parties, General Howe toward the rail-fence, and General Pigot
toward the redoubt, and the same fate awaited both. The Americans
reserved fire until the enemy had come within fifty yards, when all at
once they poured forth such a deadly volley that the whole front rank of
the British was mowed as if by the sudden sweep of a scythe. For a few
minutes the gallant veterans held their ground and returned the fire;
but presently an indescribable shudder ran through the line, and they
gave way and retreated down the hillside in disorder, while the
Americans raised an exultant shout, and were with difficulty restrained
by their officers from leaping over the breastworks and pursuing.

  [Sidenote: Second assault repulsed]

A pause now ensued, during which the village of Charlestown was set on
fire by shells from the fleet, and soon its four hundred wooden houses
were in a roaring blaze, while charred timbers strewed the lawns and
flower-beds, and the sky was blackened with huge clouds of smoke. If the
purpose of this wholesale destruction of property was, as some have
thought, to screen the second British advance, the object was not
attained, for a light breeze drove the smoke the wrong way. As the
bright red coats, such excellent targets for trained marksmen, were seen
the second time coming up the slope, the Americans, now cool and
confident, withheld their fire until the distance was less than thirty
yards. Then, with a quick succession of murderous discharges, such havoc
was wrought in the British lines as soon to prove unendurable. After a
short but obstinate struggle the lines were broken, and the gallant
troops retreated hastily, leaving the hillside covered with their dead
and wounded. All this time the Americans, in their sheltered position,
had suffered but little.

  [Sidenote: Prescott's powder gives out]

  [Sidenote: Third assault succeeds; the British take the hill]

So long a time now elapsed that many persons began to doubt if the
British would renew the assault. Had the organization of the American
army been better, such reinforcements of men and ammunition might by
this time have arrived from Cambridge that any further attack upon the
hill would be sure to prove fruitless. But all was confusion at
headquarters. General Ward was ill furnished with staff officers, and
wrong information was brought, while orders were misunderstood. And
besides, in his ignorance of the extent of Gage's plans, General Ward
was nervously afraid of weakening his centre at Cambridge. Three
regiments were sent over too late to be of any use, and meanwhile
Prescott, to his dismay, found that his stock of powder was nearly
exhausted. While he was making ready for a hand-to-hand fight, the
British officers were holding a council of war, and many declared that
to renew the attack would be simply useless butchery. On the other hand,
General Howe observed, "to be forced to give up Boston would be very
disagreeable to us all." The case was not so desperate as this, for the
alternative of an attack upon Charlestown Neck still remained open, and
every consideration of sound generalship now prescribed that it should
be tried. But Howe could not bear to acknowledge the defeat of his
attempts to storm, and accordingly, at five o'clock, with genuine
British persistency, a third attack was ordered. For a moment the
advancing columns were again shaken by the American fire, but the last
powder-horns were soon emptied, and by dint of bayonet charges the
Americans were slowly driven from their works and forced to retreat over
Charlestown Neck, while the whole disputed ground, including the summit
of Bunker Hill, passed into the hands of the British.

  [Sidenote: British and American losses]

In this battle, in which not more than one hour was spent in actual
fighting, the British loss in killed and wounded was 1,054, or more than
one third of the whole force engaged, including an unusually large
proportion of officers. The American loss, mainly incurred at the
rail-fence and during the final hand-to-hand struggle at the redoubt,
was 449, probably about one fourth of the whole force engaged. On the
British side, one company of grenadiers came out of the battle with only
five of its number left unhurt. Every officer on General Howe's staff
was cut down, and only one survived his wounds. The gallant Pitcairn,
who had fired the first shot of the war, fell while entering the
redoubt, and a few moments later the Americans met with an irreparable
loss in the death of General Warren, who was shot in the forehead as he
lingered with rash obstinacy on the scene, loath to join in the
inevitable retreat. Another volunteer aid, not less illustrious than
Warren, fought on Bunker Hill that day, and came away scatheless. Since
the brutal beating which he had received at the coffee-house nearly six
years before, the powerful mind of James Otis had suffered well-nigh
total wreck. He was living, harmlessly insane, at the house of his
sister, Mercy Warren, at Watertown, when he witnessed the excitement and
listened to the rumour of battle on the morning of the 17th of June.
With touching eagerness to strike a blow for the cause in which he had
already suffered so dreadful a martyrdom, Otis stole away from home,
borrowed a musket at some roadside farmhouse, and hastened to the
battlefield, where he fought manfully, and after all was over made his
way home, weary and faint, a little before midnight.

  [Portrait: M Warren]

  [Sidenote: Excessive slaughter; significance of the battle]

Though small in its dimensions, if compared with great European
battles, or with the giant contests of our own civil war, the struggle
at Bunker Hill is memorable and instructive, even from a purely military
point of view. Considering the numbers engaged and the short duration of
the fight, the destruction of life was enormous. Of all the
hardest-fought fields of modern times, there have been very few indeed
in which the number of killed and wounded has exceeded one fourth of the
whole force engaged. In its bloodiness and in the physical conditions of
the struggle, the battle of Bunker Hill resembles in miniature the
tremendous battles of Fredericksburg and Cold Harbor. To ascend a rising
ground and storm well-manned intrenchments has in all ages been a
difficult task; at the present day, with the range and precision of our
modern weapons, it has come to be almost impossible. It has become a
maxim of modern warfare that only the most extraordinary necessity can
justify a commander in resorting to so desperate a measure. He must
manoeuvre against such positions, cut them off by the rear, or deprive
them of their value by some flanking march; but he must not, save as a
forlorn hope, waste precious human lives in an effort to storm them that
is almost sure to prove fruitless. For our means of destroying life have
become so powerful and so accurate that, when skilfully wielded from
commanding positions, no human gallantry can hope to withstand them. As
civilization advances, warfare becomes less and less a question of mere
personal bravery, and more and more a question of the application of
resistless physical forces at the proper points; that is to say, it
becomes more and more a purely scientific problem of dynamics. Now at
Bunker Hill though the Americans had not our modern weapons of
precision, yet a similar effect was wrought by the remarkable accuracy
of their aim, due to the fact that they were all trained marksmen, who
waited coolly till they could fire at short range, and then wasted no
shots in random firing. Most of the British soldiers who fell in the two
disastrous charges of that day were doubtless picked off as partridges
are picked off by old sportsmen, and thus is explained the unprecedented
slaughter of officers. Probably nothing quite like this had yet been
seen in the history of war, though the principle had been similar in
those wonderful trials of the long-bow in such mediæval battles as Crécy
and Dupplin Moor. Against such odds even British pluck and endurance
could not prevail. Had the Americans been properly supplied with powder,
Howe could no more have taken Bunker Hill by storm than Burnside could
take the heights of Fredericksburg.

  [Sidenote: Its moral effect]

The moral effect of the battle of Bunker Hill, both in America and
Europe, was remarkable. It was for the British an important victory,
inasmuch as they not only gained the ground for which the battle was
fought, but by so doing they succeeded in keeping their hold upon Boston
for nine months longer. Nevertheless, the moral advantage was felt to be
quite on the side of the Americans. It was they who were elated by the
day's work, while it was the British who were dispirited. The belief
that Americans could not fight was that day dispelled forever. British
officers who remembered Fontenoy and Minden declared that the firing at
Bunker Hill was the hottest they had ever known, and, with an
exaggeration which was pardonable as a reaction from their former
ill-judged contempt, it was asserted that the regulars of France were
less formidable foes than the militia of New England. It was keenly felt
that if a conquest of a single strategic position had encountered such
stubborn resistance, the task of subjugating the United Colonies was
likely to prove a hard one. "I wish we could sell them another hill at
the same price," said General Greene. Vergennes, the French minister of
foreign affairs, exclaimed that with two more such victories England
would have no army left in America. Washington said there could now be
no doubt that the liberties of the people were secure. While Franklin,
taking extreme ground, declared that England had lost her colonies


  [3] On the pedestal of this statue, which stands in front of the
      North Bridge at Concord, is engraved the following quotation
      from Emerson's "Concord Hymn:"--

              By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
                Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
              Here once the embattled farmers stood,
                And fired the shot heard round the world.

       The poet's grandfather, Rev. William Emerson, watched the fight
       from a window of the Old Manse.

  [4] It was in this church on March 23, 1775, that Patrick Henry made
      the famous speech in which he said, "It is too late to retire
      from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and
      slavery. The war is inevitable, and let it come! The next gale
      that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of
      resounding arms! I know not what course others may take, but as
      for me, give me liberty or give me death."

  [5] In the letter, of which a facsimile is here given, Allen gives
      the date of the capture of Ticonderoga as the 11th, but a
      minute survey of the contemporary newspaper and other sources
      of information makes it clear that this must be a slip of the
      pen. In his personal "Narrative," Allen gives the date
      correctly as the 10th.

  [6] This sketch was made on the spot for Lord Rawdon, who was then
      on Gage's staff. The spire in the foreground is that of the Old
      West Church, where Jonathan Mayhew preached; it stood on the
      site since occupied by Dr. Bartol's church on Cambridge Street,
      now a branch of the Boston Public Library. Its position in the
      picture shows that the sketcher stood on Beacon Hill, 138 feet
      above the water. The first hill to the right of the spire, on
      the further side of the river, is Bunker Hill, 110 feet high.
      The summit of Breed's Hill, 62 feet high, where Prescott's
      redoubt stood, is nearly hidden by the flames of burning
      Charlestown. At a sale of the effects of the Marquis of
      Hastings, descendant of Lord Rawdon, this sketch was bought by
      my friend Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet.


                              CHAPTER IV


  [Sidenote: Washington arrives in Cambridge]

On the 2d of July, 1775, after a journey of eleven days, General
Washington arrived in Cambridge from Philadelphia, and on the following
day, under the shade of the great elm-tree which still stands hard by
the Common, he took command of the Continental army, which as yet was
composed entirely of New Englanders. Of the 16,000 men engaged in the
siege of Boston, Massachusetts furnished 11,500, Connecticut 2,300, New
Hampshire 1,200, Rhode Island 1,000. These contingents were arrayed
under their local commanders, and under the local flags of their
respective commonwealths, though Artemas Ward of Massachusetts had by
courtesy exercised the chief command until the arrival of Washington.
During the month of July, Congress gave a more continental complexion
to the army by sending a reinforcement of 3,000 men from Pennsylvania,
Maryland, and Virginia, including the famous Daniel Morgan, with his
sturdy band of sharpshooters each man of whom, it was said, while
marching at double-quick, could cleave with his rifle-ball a squirrel at
a distance of three hundred yards. The summer of 1775 thus brought
together in Cambridge many officers whose names were soon to become
household words throughout the length and breadth of the land, and a
moment may be fitly spent in introducing them before we proceed with the
narrative of events.

  [Sidenote: Daniel Morgan]

  [Sidenote: Benedict Arnold]

Daniel Morgan, who had just arrived from Virginia with his riflemen, was
a native of New Jersey, of Welsh descent. Moving to Virginia at an early
age, he had won a great reputation for bravery and readiness of resource
in the wild campaigns of the Seven Years' War. He was a man of gigantic
stature and strength, and incredible powers of endurance. In his youth,
it is said, he had received five hundred lashes by order of a tyrannical
British officer, and had come away alive and defiant. On another
occasion, in a fierce woodland fight with the Indians, in which nearly
all his comrades were slain, Morgan was shot through the neck by a
musket-ball. Almost fainting from the wound, which he believed to be
fatal, Morgan was resolved, nevertheless, not to leave his scalp in the
hands of a dirty Indian; and falling forward, with his arms tightly
clasped about the neck of his stalwart horse, though mists were
gathering before his eyes, he spurred away through the forest paths,
until his foremost Indian pursuer, unable to come up with him, hurled
his tomahawk after him with a yell of baffled rage, and gave up the
chase. With this unconquerable tenacity, Morgan was a man of gentle and
unselfish nature; a genuine diamond, though a rough one; uneducated, but
clear and strong in intelligence and faithful in every fibre. At
Cambridge began his long comradeship with a very different character,
Benedict Arnold, a young man of romantic and generous impulses, and for
personal bravery unsurpassed, but vain and self-seeking, and lacking in
moral robustness; in some respects a more polished man than Morgan, but
of a nature at once coarser and weaker. We shall see these two men
associated in some of the most brilliant achievements of the war; and we
shall see them persecuted and insulted by political enemies, until the
weaker nature sinks and is ruined, while the stronger endures to the


  [Illustration: NATHANAEL GREENE]

  [Sidenote: John Sullivan]

  [Sidenote: Nathanael Greene]

  [Sidenote: Henry Knox]

Along with Morgan and Arnold there might have been seen on Cambridge
Common a man who was destined to play no less conspicuous a part in the
great campaign which was to end in the first decisive overthrow of the
British. For native shrewdness, rough simplicity, and dauntless courage,
John Stark was much like Morgan. What the one name was in the great
woods of the Virginia frontier, that was the other among the rugged
hills of northern New England,--a symbol of patriotism and a guarantee
of victory. Great as was Stark's personal following in New Hampshire, he
had not, however, the chief command of the troops of that colony. The
commander of the New Hampshire contingent was John Sullivan, a wealthy
lawyer of Durham, who had sat in the first Continental Congress.
Sullivan was a gentleman of culture and fair ability as a statesman. As
a general, he was brave, intelligent, and faithful, but in no wise
brilliant. Closely associated with Sullivan for the next three years we
shall find Nathanael Greene, now in command of the Rhode Island
contingent. For intellectual calibre all the other officers here
mentioned are dwarfed in comparison with Greene, who comes out at the
end of the war with a military reputation scarcely, if at all, inferior
to that of Washington. Nor was Greene less notable for the sweetness and
purity of his character than for the scope of his intelligence.[7] He
had that rare genius which readily assimilates all kinds of knowledge
through an inborn correctness of method. Whatever he touched, it was
with a master hand, and his weight of sense soon won general
recognition. Such a man was not unnaturally an eager book-buyer, and in
this way he had some time ago been brought into pleasant relations with
the genial and intelligent Henry Knox, who from his bookshop in Boston
had come to join the army as a colonel of artillery, and soon became one
of Washington's most trusty followers.

  [Portrait: Knox]

  [Sidenote: Older officers]

  [Sidenote: Israel Putnam]

Of this group of officers, none have as yet reached very high rank in
the Continental army. Sullivan and Greene stand at the end of the list
of brigadier-generals; the rest are colonels. The senior major-general,
Artemas Ward, and the senior brigadiers, Pomeroy Heath, Thomas, Wooster,
and Spencer, will presently pass into the background, to make way for
these younger or more vigorous men. Major-General Israel Putnam, the
picturesque wolf-slayer, a brave and sterling patriot, but of slender
military capacity, will remain in the foreground for another year, and
will then become relegated mainly to garrison duty.

  [Sidenote: Horatio Gates and Charles Lee]

With the exception of Morgan, all the officers here noticed are New
England men, as is natural, since the seat of war is in Massachusetts,
and an army really continental in complexion is still to be formed. The
Southern colonies have as yet contributed only Morgan and the
commander-in-chief. New York is represented in the Continental army by
two of the noblest of American heroes,--Major-General Philip Schuyler
and Brigadier-General Richard Montgomery; but these able men are now
watching over Ticonderoga and the Indian frontier of New York. But among
the group which in 1775 met for consultation on Cambridge Common, or in
the noble Tory mansion now hallowed alike by memories of Washington and
of Longfellow, there were yet two other generals, closely associated
with each other for a time in ephemeral reputation won by false
pretences, and afterwards in lasting ignominy. It is with pleasure that
one recalls the fact that these men were not Americans, though both
possessed estates in Virginia; it is with regret that one is forced to
own them as Englishmen. Of Horatio Gates and his career of imbecility
and intrigue, we shall by and by see more than enough. At this time he
was present in Cambridge as adjutant-general of the army. But his
friend, Charles Lee, was for the moment a far more conspicuous
personage; and this eccentric creature, whose career was for a long time
one of the difficult problems in American history, needs something more
than a passing word of introduction.


  [Portrait: Charles Lee]

  [Signature: Benja Church Junr.]

  [Sidenote: Lee's personal peculiarities]

  [Sidenote: Benjamin Church]

Although Major-General Charles Lee happened to have acquired an estate
in Virginia, he had nothing in common with the illustrious family of
Virginian Lees beyond the accidental identity of name. He was born in
England, and had risen in the British army to the rank of
lieutenant-colonel. He had served in America in the Seven Years' War,
and afterward, as a soldier of fortune, he had wandered about Europe,
obtaining at one time a place on the staff of the king of Poland. A
restless adventurer, he had come over again to America as soon as he saw
that a war was brewing here. There is nothing to show that he cared a
rush for the Americans, or for the cause in which they were fighting,
but he sought the opportunity of making a name for himself. He was
received with enthusiasm by the Americans. His loud, pompous manner and
enormous self-confidence at first imposed upon everybody. He was tall,
lank, and hollow-cheeked, with a discontented expression of face. In
dress he was extremely slovenly. He was fond of dogs, and always had
three or four at his heels, but toward men and women his demeanour was
morose and insulting. He had a sharp, cynical wit, and was always making
severe remarks in a harsh, rough voice. But the trustful American
imagination endowed this unpleasant person with the qualities of a great
soldier. His reputation was part of the unconscious tribute which the
provincial mind of our countrymen was long wont to pay to the men and
things of Europe; and for some time his worst actions found a lenient
interpretation as the mere eccentricities of a wayward genius. He had
hoped to be made commander-in-chief of the army, and had already begun
to nourish a bitter grudge against Washington, by whom he regarded
himself as supplanted. In the following year we shall see him
endeavouring to thwart the plans of Washington at the most critical
moment of the war, but for the present he showed no signs of
insincerity, except perhaps in an undue readiness to parley with the
British commanders. As soon as it became clear that a war was beginning,
the hope of winning glory by effecting an accommodation with the enemy
offered a dangerous temptation to men of weak virtue in eminent
positions. In October, 1775, the American camp was thrown into great
consternation by the discovery that Dr. Benjamin Church, one of the
most conspicuous of the Boston leaders, had engaged in a secret
correspondence with the enemy. Dr. Church was thrown into jail, but as
the evidence of treasonable intent was not absolutely complete, he was
set free in the following spring, and allowed to visit the West Indies
for his health. The ship in which he sailed was never heard from again.
This kind of temptation, to which Church succumbed at the first outbreak
of the war, beset Lee with fatal effect after the Declaration of
Independence, and wrought the ruin of Arnold after the conclusion of the
French alliance.

  [Sidenote: Difficult work for Washington]

To such a man as Charles Lee, destitute of faith in the loftier human
virtues or in the strength of political ideas, it might easily have
seemed that more was to be hoped from negotiation than from an attempt
to resist Great Britain with such an army as that of which he now came
to command the left wing. It was fortunate that the British generals
were ignorant of the real state of things. Among the moral effects of
the battle of Bunker Hill there was one which proved for the moment to
be of inestimable value. It impressed upon General Howe, who now
succeeded to the chief command, the feeling that the Americans were more
formidable than had been supposed, and that much care and forethought
would be required for a successful attack upon them. In a man of his
easy-going disposition, such a feeling was enough to prevent decisive
action. It served to keep the British force idle in Boston for months,
and was thus of great service to the American cause. For in spite of the
zeal and valour it had shown, this army of New England minute-men was by
no means in a fit condition for carrying on such an arduous enterprise
as the siege of Boston. When Washington took command of the army on
Cambridge Common, he found that the first and most trying task before
him was out of this excellent but very raw material to create an army
upon which he could depend. The battle of Bunker Hill had just been
lost, under circumstances which were calculated to cheer the Americans
and make them hopeful of the future; but it would not do to risk another
battle, with an untrained staff and a scant supply of powder. All the
work of organizing an army was still to be done, and the circumstances
were not such as to make it an easy work. It was not merely that the
men, who were much better trained in the discipline of the town meeting
than in that of the camp, needed to be taught the all-important lesson
of military subordination: it was at first a serious question how they
were to be kept together at all. That the enthusiasm kindled on the day
of Lexington should have sufficed to bring together 16,000 men, and to
keep them for three months at their posts, was already remarkable; but
no army, however patriotic and self-sacrificing, can be supported on
enthusiasm alone. The army of which Washington took command was a motley
crowd, clad in every variety of rustic attire, armed with trusty muskets
and rifles, as their recent exploit had shown, but destitute of almost
everything else that belongs to a soldier's outfit. From the Common down
to the river, their rude tents were dotted about here and there, some
made of sail-cloth stretched over poles, some piled up of stones and
turf, some oddly wrought of twisted green boughs; while the more
fortunate ones found comparatively luxurious quarters in Massachusetts
Hall, or in the little Episcopal church, or in the houses of patriotic
citizens. These volunteers had enlisted for various periods, for the
most part short, under various contracts with various town or provincial
governments. It was not altogether clear how they were going to be paid,
nor was it easy to see how they were going to be fed. That this army
should have been already subsisted for three months, without any
commissariat, was in itself an extraordinary fact. Day by day the heavy
carts had rumbled into Cambridge, bringing from the highlands of
Berkshire and Worcester, and from the Merrimac and Connecticut valleys,
whatever could in any wise be spared of food, or clothing, or medicines,
for the patriot army; and the pleasant fields of Cambridge were a busy
scene of kindness and sympathy.

           A Westerly View of the Colledges in Cambridge New England
           Holden Chapel   Hollis   Harvard   Stoughton   Massachusetts

  [Sidenote: Absence of governmental organization]

  [Sidenote: New government of Massachusetts, July, 1775]

Such means as these, however, could not long be efficient. If war was to
be successfully conducted, there must be a commissariat, there must be
ammunition, and there must be money. And here Washington found himself
confronted with the difficulty which never ceased to vex his noble soul
and disturb his best laid schemes until the day when he swooped down
upon Cornwallis at Yorktown. He had to keep making the army, with which
he was often expected to fight battles ere it was half made; and in this
arduous work he could get but little systematic help from any quarter.
At present the difficulty was that there was nowhere any organized
government competent to support an army. On Washington's arrival, the
force surrounding Boston owed allegiance, as we have seen, to four
distinct commonwealths, of which two, indeed,--Connecticut and Rhode
Island,--preserving their ancient charters, with governors elected by
themselves, were still in their normal condition. In New Hampshire, on
the other hand, the royal governor, John Wentworth, whose personal
popularity was deservedly great, kept his place until August, while
Stark and his men had gone to Cambridge in spite of him. In
Massachusetts the revolutionary Provincial Congress still survived, but
with uncertain power; even the Continental Congress which adopted the
Cambridge army in the name of the United Colonies was simply an advisory
body, without the power to raise taxes or to beat up recruits. From this
administrative chaos, through which all the colonies, save Connecticut
and Rhode Island, were forced to pass in these trying times,
Massachusetts was the first to emerge, in July, 1775, by reverting to
the provisions of its old charter, and forming a government in which the
king's authority was virtually disallowed. A representative assembly was
chosen by the people in their town meetings, according to time-honoured
precedent; and this new legislature itself elected an annual council of
twenty-eight members, to sit as an upper house. James Bowdoin, as
president of the council, became chief executive officer of the
commonwealth, and John Adams was made chief justice. Forty thousand
pounds were raised by a direct tax on polls and on real estate, and
bills of credit were issued for 1,000 more. The commonwealth adopted a
new seal, and a proclamation, issued somewhat later by Chief Justice
Adams, enjoining it upon all people to give loyal obedience to the new
government, closed with the significant invocation "God save the
people," instead of the customary "God save the king."

  [Sidenote: Congress sends a petition to the king]

In taking this decisive step, Massachusetts was simply the first to act
upon the general recommendation of the Continental Congress, that the
several colonies should forthwith proceed to frame governments for
themselves, based upon the suffrages of the people. From such a
recommendation as this to a formal declaration of independence, the
distance to be traversed was not great. Samuel Adams urged that in
declaring the colonies independent Congress would be simply recognizing
a fact which in reality already existed, and that by thus looking facts
squarely in the face the inevitable war might be conducted with far
greater efficiency. But he was earnestly and ably opposed by John
Dickinson of Pennsylvania, whose arguments for the present prevailed in
the Congress. It was felt that the Congress, as a mere advisory body,
had no right to take a step of such supreme importance without first
receiving explicit instructions from every one of the colonies. Besides
this, the thought of separation was still a painful thought to most of
the delegates, and it was deemed well worth while to try the effect of
one more candid statement of grievances, to be set forth in a petition
to his majesty. For like reasons, the Congress did not venture to take
measures to increase its own authority; and when Franklin, still
thinking of union as he had been thinking for more than twenty years,
now brought forward a new scheme, somewhat similar to the Articles of
Confederation afterwards adopted, it was set aside as premature. The
king was known to be fiercely opposed to any dealings with the colonies
as a united body, and so considerate of his feelings were these honest
and peace-loving delegates that, after much discussion, they signed
their carefully worded petition severally, and not jointly. They signed
it as individuals speaking for the people of the American colonies, not
as members of an organic body representing the American people. To
emphasize still further their conciliatory mood, the delivery of the
petition was entrusted to Richard Penn, a descendant of the great Quaker
and joint-proprietary in the government of Pennsylvania, an excellent
man and an ardent loyalist. At the same time that this was done, an
issue of paper money was made, to be severally guaranteed by the
thirteen colonies, and half a million dollars were sent to Cambridge to
be used for the army.

Military operations, however, came for the time to a stand-still. While
Washington's energies were fully occupied in organizing and drilling his
troops, in providing them with powder and ball, in raising lines of
fortification, in making good the troublesome vacancies due to short
terms of enlistment, and above all in presenting unfailingly a bold
front to the enemy; while the encampments about Boston were the daily
scene of tedious works, without any immediate prospect of brilliant
achievement, the Congress and the people were patiently waiting to hear
the result of the last petition that was ever to be sent from these
colonies to the king of Great Britain.


                           By the KING,
                         =A PROCLAMATION=.

              For suppressing Rebellion and Sedition.

        _GEORGE_ R.

     Whereas many of Our Subjects in divers Parts of Our Colonies and
     Plantations in _North America_, misled by dangerous and
     ill-designing Men, and forgetting the Allegiance which they owe to
     the Power that has protected and sustained them, after various
     disorderly Acts committed in Disturbance of the Publick Peace, to
     the Obstruction of lawful Commerce, and to the Oppression of Our
     loyal Subjects carrying on the same, have at length proceeded to an
     open and avowed Rebellion, by arraying themselves in hostile Manner
     to withstand the Execution of the Law, and traitorously preparing,
     ordering, and levying War against Us. And whereas there is Reason
     to apprehend that such Rebellion hath been much promoted and
     encouraged by the traitorous Correspondence, Counsels, and Comfort
     of divers wicked and desperate Persons within this Realm: To the
     End therefore that none of Our Subjects may neglect or violate
     their Duty through Ignorance thereof, or through any Doubt of the
     Protection which the Law will afford to their Loyalty and Zeal; We
     have thought fit, by and with the Advice of Our Privy Council, to
     issue this Our Royal Proclamation, hereby declaring that not only
     all Our Officers Civil and Military are obliged to exert their
     utmost Endeavours to suppress such Rebellion, and to bring the
     Traitors to Justice; but that all Our Subjects of this Realm and
     the Dominions thereunto belonging are bound by Law to be aiding and
     assisting in the Suppression of such Rebellion, and to disclose and
     make known all traitorous Conspiracies and Attempts against Us, Our
     Crown and Dignity; And We do accordingly strictly charge and
     command all Our Officers as well Civil as Military, and all other
     Our obedient and loyal Subjects, to use their utmost Endeavours to
     withstand and suppress such Rebellion, and to disclose and make
     known all Treasons and traitorous Conspiracies which they shall
     know to be against Us, Our Crown and Dignity; and for that Purpose,
     that they transmit to One of Our Principal Secretaries of State, or
     other proper Officer, due and full Information of all Persons who
     shall be found carrying on Correspondence with, or in any Manner or
     Degree aiding or abetting the Persons now in open Arms and
     Rebellion against Our Government within any of Our Colonies and
     Plantations in _North America_, in order to bring to condign
     Punishment the Authors, Perpetrators, and Abettors of such
     traitorous Designs.

        Given at Our Court at _St. James's_, the Twenty-third day
            of _August_, One thousand seven hundred and seventy-five,
            in the Fifteenth Year of Our Reign.

                           God save the King.


  Printed by _Charles Eyre_ and _William Strahan_, Printers to the
                   King's most Excellent Majesty. 1775.

  [Sidenote: The king issues a proclamation, and tries to hire troops from

  [Sidenote: Catherine refuses]

  [Sidenote: The king hires German troops]

  [Sidenote: Indignation in Germany]

Penn made all possible haste, and arrived in London on the 14th of
August; but when he got there the king would neither see him nor receive
the petition in any way, directly or indirectly. The Congress was an
illegal assembly which had no business to send letters to him: if any
one of the colonies wanted to make terms for itself separately, he might
be willing to listen to it. But this idea of a united America was
something unknown either to law or to reason, something that could not
be too summarily frowned down. So while Penn waited about London, the
king issued a proclamation; setting forth that many of his subjects in
the colonies were in open and armed rebellion, and calling upon all
loyal subjects of the realm to assist in bringing to condign punishment
the authors and abettors of this foul treason. Having launched this
thunderbolt, George sent at once to Russia to see if he could hire
20,000 men to aid in giving it effect, for the "loyal subjects of the
realm" were slow in coming forward. A war against the Americans was not
yet popular in England. Lord Chatham withdrew his eldest son, Lord Pitt,
from the army, lest he should be called upon to serve against the men
who were defending the common liberties of Englishmen. There was,
moreover, in England as well as in America, a distrust of regular
armies. Recruiting was difficult, and conscription was something that
the people would not endure unless England should actually be threatened
with invasion. The king had already been obliged to raise a force of his
Hanoverian subjects to garrison Minorca and Gibraltar, thus setting free
the British defenders of these strongholds for service in America. He
had no further resource except in hiring troops from abroad. But his
attempt in Russia was not successful, for the Empress Catherine, with
all her faults, was not disposed to sell the blood of her subjects. She
improved the occasion--as sovereigns and others will sometimes do--by
asking George, sarcastically, if he thought it quite compatible with his
dignity to employ foreign troops against his own subjects; as for
Russian soldiers, she had none to spare for such a purpose. Foiled in
this quarter, the king applied to the Duke of Brunswick, the Landgrave
of Hesse-Cassel, the princes of Waldeck and Anhalt-Zerbst, the Margrave
of Anspach-Bayreuth, and the Count of Hesse-Hanau, and succeeded in
making a bargain for 20,000 of the finest infantry in Europe, with four
good generals,--Riedesel of Brunswick, and Knyphausen, Von Heister, and
Donop of Hesse. The hiring of these troops was bitterly condemned by
Lord John Cavendish in the House of Commons, and by Lords Camden and
Shelburne and the Duke of Richmond in the House of Lords; and Chatham's
indignant invectives at a somewhat later date are familiar to every one.
It is proper, however, that in such an affair as this we should take
care to affix our blame in the right place. The king might well argue
that in carrying on a war for what the majority of Parliament regarded
as a righteous object, it was no worse for him to hire men than to buy
cannon and ships. The German troops, on their part, might justly
complain of Lord Camden for stigmatizing them as "mercenaries," inasmuch
as they did not come to America for pay, but because there was no help
for it. It was indeed with a heavy heart that these honest men took up
their arms to go beyond sea and fight for a cause in which they felt no
sort of interest, and great was the mourning over their departure. The
persons who really deserved to bear the odium of this transaction were
the mercenary princes who thus shamelessly sold their subjects into
slavery. It was a striking instance of the demoralization which had
been wrought among the petty courts of Germany in the last days of the
old empire, and among the German people it excited profound indignation.
The popular feeling was well expressed by Schiller, in his "Cabale und
Liebe." Frederick the Great, in a letter to Voltaire, declared himself
beyond measure disgusted, and by way of thriftily expressing his
contempt for the transaction he gave orders to his custom house officers
that upon all such of these soldiers as should pass through Prussian
territory a toll should be levied, as upon "cattle exported for foreign

  [Sidenote: Burning of Portland, Oct 16, 1775]

When the American question was brought up in the autumn session of
Parliament, it was treated in the manner with which the Americans had by
this time become familiar. A few far-sighted men still urged the
reasonableness of the American claims, but there was now a great
majority against them. In spite of grave warning voices, both houses
decided to support the king; and in this they were upheld by the
university of Oxford, which a century ago had burned the works of John
Milton as "blasphemous," and which now, with equal felicity, in a formal
address to the king, described the Americans as "a people who had
forfeited their lives and their fortunes to the justice of the state."
At the same time the department of American affairs was taken from the
amiable Lord Dartmouth, and given to the truculent Lord George Germain.
These things were done in November, 1775, and in the preceding month
they had been heralded by an act of wanton barbarity on the part of a
British naval officer, albeit an unwarranted act, which the British
government as promptly as possible disowned. On the 16th of October,
Captain Mowatt had sailed with four small vessels into the harbour of
Portland (then called Falmouth), and with shells and grenades set fire
to the little town. St. Paul's Church, all the public buildings, and
three fourths of all the dwellings were burned to the ground, and a
thousand unoffending men, women, and children were thus turned
out-of-doors just as the sharp Maine winter was coming on to starve and
freeze them.

The news of the burning of Portland reached Philadelphia on the same day
(October 31) with the news that George III. was about to send foreign
mercenaries to fight against his American subjects; and now the wrath of
Congress was thoroughly kindled, and the party which advised further
temporizing was thrown into helpless minority.


  [Sidenote: Effects upon Congress]

"Well, brother rebel," said a Southern member to Samuel Ward of Rhode
Island, "we have now got a sufficient answer to our petition: I want
nothing more, but am ready to declare ourselves independent." Congress
now advised New Hampshire, Virginia, and South Carolina to frame for
themselves new republican governments, as Massachusetts had already
done; it urged South Carolina to seize the British vessels in her
waters; it appointed a committee to correspond with foreign powers; and
above all, it adopted unreservedly the scheme, already partially carried
into operation, for the expulsion of the British from Canada.

  [Portrait: Guy Carleton]

  [Portrait: Rich^d. Montgomery]

  [Sidenote: The Americans invade Canada, Sept., 1775]

At once upon the outbreak of hostilities at Lexington, the conquest of
Canada had been contemplated by the Northern leaders, who well
remembered how, in days gone by, the valley of the St. Lawrence had
furnished a base for attacks upon the province of New York, which was
then the strategic centre of the American world. It was deemed an act of
military prudence to secure this region at the outset. But so long as
the least hope of conciliation remained, Congress was unwilling to
adopt any measures save such as were purely defensive in character. As
we have seen, it was only with reluctance that it had sanctioned the
garrisoning of Ticonderoga by the Connecticut troops. But in the course
of the summer it was learned that the governor of Canada, Sir Guy
Carleton, was about to take steps to recover Ticonderoga; and it was
credibly reported that intrigues were going on with the Iroquois tribes,
to induce them to harry the New England frontier and the pleasant farms
on the Hudson: so that, under these circumstances, the invasion of
Canada was now authorized by Congress as a measure of self-defence. An
expedition down Lake Champlain, against Montreal, was at once set on
foot. As Schuyler, the commander of the northern department, was
disabled by ill health, the enterprise was confided to Richard
Montgomery, an officer who had served with distinction under Wolfe. Late
in August, Montgomery started from Ticonderoga, and on the 12th of
September, with a force of two thousand men, he laid siege to the
fortress of St. John's, which commanded the approach to Montreal.
Carleton, whose utmost exertions could bring together only some nine
hundred men, made heroic but fruitless efforts to stop his progress.
After a siege of fifty days, St. John's surrendered on the 3d of
November, and on the 12th Montgomery entered Montreal in triumph. The
people of Canada had thus far seemed favourably disposed toward the
American invaders, and Montgomery issued a proclamation urging them to
lose no time in choosing delegates to attend the Continental Congress.

  [Sidenote: Arnold's march through the wilderness of Maine]

Meanwhile, in September, Washington had detached from the army at
Cambridge one thousand New England infantry, with two companies of
Pennsylvania riflemen and Morgan's famous Virginia sharpshooters, and
ordered them to advance upon Quebec through the forests of Maine and by
way of the rivers Kennebec and Chaudière. The expedition was commanded
by Colonel Benedict Arnold, who seems to have been one of the first, if
not the first, to suggest it. Such plans of invading an enemy's
territory, involving the march of independent forces upon convergent
lines from remote points, were much more in favour with military men a
century ago than to-day. The vice of such methods was often illustrated
during our Revolutionary War. The vast distances and total lack of
communication made effective coöperation between Montgomery and Arnold
impossible; while a surprise of Quebec by the latter, with force
sufficient to capture it unaided, was almost equally out of the
question. But the very difficulty of the scheme commended it to the
romantic and buoyant temper of Benedict Arnold. The enterprise was one
to call for all his persistent daring and fertile resource. It was an
amphibious journey, as his men now rowed their boats with difficulty
against the strong, swift current of the Kennebec, and now, carrying
boats and oars on their shoulders, forced their way through the tangled
undergrowth of the primeval forests. Often they had to wade across
perilous bogs, and presently their shoes were cut to pieces by sharp
stones, and their clothes torn to shreds by thorns and briers. Their
food gave out, and though some small game was shot, their hunger became
such that they devoured their dogs. When they reached the head of the
Chaudière, after this terrible march of thirty-three days, two hundred
of their number had succumbed to starvation, cold, and fatigue, while
two hundred more had given out and returned to Massachusetts, carrying
with them such of the sick and disabled as they could save. The descent
of the Chaudière in their boats afforded some chance for rest, and
presently they began to find cattle for food. At last, on the 13th of
November, the next day after Montgomery's capture of Montreal, they
crossed the broad St. Lawrence, and climbed the Heights of Abraham at
the very place where Wolfe had climbed to victory sixteen years ago.
There was splendid bravado in Arnold's advancing to the very gates with
his little, worn-out army, now reduced to seven hundred men, and
summoning the garrison either to come out and fight, or to surrender the
town. But the garrison very properly would neither surrender nor fight.
The town had been warned in time, and Arnold had no alternative but to
wait for Montgomery to join him.

  [Sidenote: Assault upon Quebec, Dec. 31, 1775]

Six days afterward, Carleton, disguised as a farmer, and ferried down
stream in a little boat, found his way into Quebec; and on the 3d of
December, Montgomery made his appearance with a small force, which
raised the number of the Americans to twelve hundred men. As Carleton
persistently refused to come out of his defences, it was resolved to
carry the works by storm,--a chivalrous, nay, one might almost say, a
foolhardy decision, had it not been so nearly justified by the event. On
the last day of 1775, England came within an ace of losing Quebec. At
two o'clock in the morning, in a blinding snowstorm, Montgomery and
Arnold began each a furious attack, at opposite sides of the town; and
aided by the surprise, each came near carrying his point. Montgomery had
almost forced his way in when he fell dead, pierced by three bullets;
and this so chilled the enthusiasm of his men that they flagged, until
reinforcements drove them back. Arnold, on his side, was severely
wounded and carried from the field; but the indomitable Morgan took his
place, and his Virginia company stormed the battery opposed to them,
and fought their way far into the town. Had the attack on the other side
been kept up with equal vigour, as it might have been but for
Montgomery's death, Quebec must have fallen. As it was, Morgan's
triumphant advance only served to isolate him, and presently he and his
gallant company were surrounded and captured.

  [Sidenote: Total failure of the attempt upon Canada]

With the failure of this desperate attack passed away the golden
opportunity for taking the citadel of Canada. Arnold remained throughout
the winter in the neighbourhood of Quebec, and in the spring the
enterprise was taken up by Wooster and Sullivan with fresh forces. But
by this time many Hessians had come over, and Carleton, reinforced until
his army numbered 13,000, was enabled to recapture Montreal and push
back the Americans, until in June, after a hazardous retreat, well
conducted by Sullivan, the remnant of their invading army found shelter
at Crown Point. Such was the disastrous ending of a campaign which at
the outset had promised a brilliant success, and which is deservedly
famous for the heroism and skill with which it was conducted. The
generalship of Montgomery received the warm approval of no less a critic
than Frederick the Great; and the chivalrous bravery of Arnold, both in
his march through the wilderness and in the military operations which
followed, was such that if a kind fate could then and there have cut the
thread of his life, he would have left behind him a sweet and shining
memory. As for the attempt to bring Canada into the American union, it
was one which had no hope of success save through a strong display of
military force. The sixteen years which had elapsed since the victory of
Wolfe had not transformed the Canadian of the old _régime_ into a
free-born Englishman. The question at present for him was only that of a
choice of allegiance, and while at first the invaders were favourably
received, it soon became apparent that between the Catholic and the
Puritan there could be but little real sympathy. The Quebec Act, which
legalized Catholic worship in Canada, had done much toward securing
England's hold upon this part of her American possessions. And although,
in the colourless political condition of this northern province, the
capture of Quebec might well have brought it into the American union,
where it would gradually have taken on a fresh life, as surely as it has
done under British guidance, yet nothing short of such a military
occupation could have had any effect in determining its languid


  [Sidenote: The siege of Boston]

While Canada was thus freed from the presence of the Continental troops,
the British army, on the other hand, was driven from Boston, and New
England was cleared of the enemy. During the autumn and winter,
Washington had drawn his lines as closely as possible about the town,
while engaged in the work of organizing and equipping his army. The
hardest task was to collect a sufficient quantity of powder and ball,
and to bring together siege-guns. As the season wore on, the country
grew impatient, and Washington sometimes had to listen to criticisms
like those that were directed against McClellan in Virginia, at the
beginning of 1862, or against Grant before Vicksburg, in the spring of
1863. President Hancock, who owned a great deal of property in Boston,
urged him to set fire to the town and destroy it, if by so doing he
could drive the British to their ships. But Washington had planned much
more wisely. By the 1st of March a great quantity of cannon had been
brought in by Henry Knox, some of them dragged on sledges all the way
from Ticonderoga, and so at last Washington felt himself prepared to
seize upon Dorchester Heights. This position commanded the town and
harbour even more effectually than Bunker Hill, and why in all these
months General Howe had not occupied it one would find it hard to say.
He was bitterly attacked for his remissness by the British newspapers,
as was quite natural.

  [Illustration: BOSTON, WITH ITS ENVIRONS, IN 1775 AND 1776]


  [Sidenote: Washington seizes Dorchester Heights March 4, 1776]

  [Sidenote: The British troops evacuate Boston March 17, 1776]

Washington chose for his decisive movement the night of the 4th of
March. Eight hundred men led the way, escorting the wagons laden with
spades and crowbars, hatchets, hammers, and nails; and after them
followed twelve hundred men, with three hundred ox-carts, carrying
timbers and bales of hay; while the rear was brought up by the heavy
siege-guns. From Somerville, East Cambridge, and Roxbury, a furious
cannonade was begun soon after sunset and kept up through the night,
completely absorbing the attention of the British, who kept up a lively
fire in return. The roar of the cannon drowned every other sound for
miles around, while all night long the two thousand Americans, having
done their short march in perfect secrecy, were busily digging and
building on Dorchester Heights, and dragging their siege-guns into
position. Early next morning, Howe saw with astonishment what had been
done, and began to realize his perilous situation. The commander of the
fleet sent word that unless the Americans could be forthwith
dislodged, he could not venture to keep his ships in the harbour. Most
of the day was consumed in deciding what should be done, until at last
Lord Percy was told to take three thousand men and storm the works. But
the slaughter of Bunker Hill had taught its lesson so well that neither
Percy nor his men had any stomach for such an enterprise. A violent
storm, coming up toward nightfall, persuaded them to delay the attack
till next day, and by that time it had become apparent to all that the
American works, continually growing, had become impregnable. Percy's
orders were accordingly countermanded, and it was decided to abandon the
town immediately. It was the sixth anniversary of the day on which
Hutchinson had yielded to the demand of the town meeting and withdrawn
the two British regiments from Boston. The work then begun was now
consummated by Washington, and from that time forth the deliverance of
Massachusetts was complete. Howe caused it at once to be known among
the citizens that he was about to evacuate Boston, but he threatened to
lay the town in ashes if his troops should be fired on. The selectmen
conveyed due information of all this to Washington, who accordingly,
secure in the achievement of his purpose, allowed the enemy to depart in
peace. By the 17th, the eight thousand troops were all on board their
ships, and, taking with them all the Tory citizens, some nine hundred in
number, they sailed away for Halifax. Their space did not permit them to
carry away their heavy arms, and their retreat, slow as it was, bore
marks of hurry and confusion. In taking possession of the town,
Washington captured more than two hundred serviceable cannon, ten times
more powder and ball than his army had ever seen before, and an immense
quantity of muskets, gun-carriages, and military stores of every sort.
Thus was New England set free by a single brilliant stroke, with very
slight injury to private property, and with a total loss of not more
than twenty lives.


  [Sidenote: A provisional flag]

  [Sidenote: Effect of the hiring of "myrmidons"]

The time was now fairly ripe for the colonies to declare themselves
independent of Great Britain. The idea of a separation from the
mother-country, which in the autumn had found but few supporters, grew
in favour day by day through the winter and spring. The incongruousness
of the present situation was typified by the flag that Washington flung
to the breeze on New Year's Day at Cambridge, which was made up of
thirteen stripes, to represent the United Colonies, but retained the
British crosses in the corner. Thus far, said Benjamin Harrison, they
had contrived to "hobble along under a fatal attachment to Great
Britain," but the time had come when one must consider the welfare of
one's own country first of all. As Samuel Adams said, their petitions
had not been heard, and yet had been answered by armies and fleets, and
by myrmidons hired from abroad. Nothing had made a greater impression
upon the American people than this hiring of German troops. It went
farther than any other single cause to ripen their minds for the
declaration of independence. Many now began to agree with the
Massachusetts statesman; and while public opinion was in this malleable
condition, there appeared a pamphlet which wrought a prodigious effect
upon the people, mainly because it gave terse and vigorous expression to
views which every one had already more than half formed for himself.

  [Portrait: T. Paine]

  [Sidenote: "Common Sense"]

Thomas Paine had come over to America in December, 1774, and through the
favour of Franklin had secured employment as editor of the "Pennsylvania
Magazine." He was by nature a dissenter and a revolutionist to the
marrow of his bones. Full of the generous though often blind enthusiasm
of the eighteenth century for the "rights of man," he was no respecter
of the established order, whether in church or state. To him the church
and its doctrines meant slavish superstition, and the state meant
tyranny. Of crude undisciplined mind, and little scholarship, yet
endowed with native acuteness and sagacity, and with no mean power of
expressing himself, Paine succeeded in making everybody read what he
wrote, and achieved a popular reputation out of all proportion to his
real merit. Among devout American families his name was for a long time
a name of horror and opprobrium, and uneducated free thinkers still
build lecture-halls in honour of his memory, and celebrate the
anniversary of his birthday, with speeches full of harmless but rather
dismal platitudes. The "Age of Reason," which was the cause of all this
blessing and banning, contains, amid much crude argument, some sound and
sensible criticism, such as is often far exceeded in boldness in the
books and sermons of Unitarian and Episcopalian divines of the present
day; but its tone is coarse and dull, and with the improvement of
popular education it is fast sinking into oblivion. There are times,
however, when such caustic pamphleteers as Thomas Paine have their uses.
There are times when they can bring about results which are not so
easily achieved by men of finer mould and more subtle intelligence. It
was at just such a time, in January, 1776, that Paine published his
pamphlet, "Common Sense," on the suggestion of Benjamin Rush, and with
the approval of Franklin and of Samuel Adams. The pamphlet contains some
irrelevant abuse of the English people, and resorts to such arguments as
the denial of the English origin of the Americans. Not one third of the
people, _even_ of Pennsylvania, are of English descent, argues Paine, as
if Pennsylvania had been preëminent among the colonies for its English
blood, and not, as in reality, one of the least English of all the
thirteen. But along with all this there was a sensible and striking
statement of the practical state of the case between Great Britain and
the colonies. The reasons were shrewdly and vividly set forth for
looking upon reconciliation as hopeless, and for seizing the present
moment to declare to the world what the logic of events was already fast
making an accomplished fact. Only thus, it was urged, could the States
of America pursue a coherent and well-defined policy, and preserve their
dignity in the eyes of the world.

  [Illustration: A PAGE FROM "COMMON SENSE"

     84                    COMMON SENSE

     The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. 'Tis not the
     affair of a City, a County, a Province or a Kingdom; but of a
     Continent--of at least one eight part of the habitable Globe. 'Tis
     not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are
     virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less
     affected even to the end of time by the proceedings now. Now Is the
     seed-time of Continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture
     now, will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the
     tender rind of a young oak; the wound will enlarge with the tree,
     and posterity read it in full grown characters.

     By referring the matter from argument to arms, a new æra for
     politics is struck--a new method of thinking hath arisen. All
     plans, proposals, &c. prior to the 19th of April, _i. e._ to the
     commencement of hostilities, are like the almanacks of the last
     year; which tho' proper then, are superseded and useless now.
     Whatever was advanced by the advocates on either side of the
     question then, terminated in one and the same point, viz. a union
     with Great-Britain; the only difference between the parties, was
     the method of effecting it; the one proposing force, the other
     friendship: but it hath so far happened that the first hath failed,
     and the second hath withdrawn her influence.

     As much hath been said of the advantages of reconciliation, which
     like an agreeable dream, hath passed away, and left us as we were,
     it is but right that we should examine the contrary side of the
     argument, and enquire into some of the many material injuries which
     these Colonies sustain, and always will sustain, by being connected
     with, and dependant on Great-Britain.--To examine that connection
     and dependance, on the principles of nature and common sense, to
     see what we have to trust to if separated, and what we are to
     expect if dependant.

  [Sidenote: Fulminations and counter-fulminations]

It was difficult for the printers, with the clumsy presses of that day,
to bring out copies of "Common Sense" fast enough to meet the demand for
it. More than a hundred thousand copies were speedily sold, and it
carried conviction wherever it went. At the same time, Parliament did
its best to reinforce the argument by passing an act to close all
American ports, and authorize the confiscation of all American ships and
cargoes, as well as of such neutral vessels as might dare to trade with
this proscribed people. And, as if this were not quite enough, a clause
was added by which British commanders on the high seas were directed to
impress the crews of such American ships as they might meet, and to
compel them, under penalty of death, to enter the service against their
fellow-countrymen. In reply to this edict, Congress, in March, ordered
the ports of America to be thrown open to all nations; it issued letters
of marque, and it advised all the colonies to disarm such Tories as
should refuse to contribute to the common defence. These measures, as
Franklin said, were virtually a declaration of war against Great
Britain. But before taking the last irrevocable step, the prudent
Congress waited for instructions from every one of the colonies.

  [Sidenote: The Scots in North Carolina]

  [Sidenote: Clinton sails for the Carolinas]

  [Sidenote: The fight at Moore's Creek, Feb. 27, 1776]

  [Sidenote: North Carolina declares for independence]

The first colony to take decisive action in behalf of independence was
North Carolina, a commonwealth in which the king had supposed the
outlook to be especially favourable for the loyalist party. Recovered in
some measure from the turbulence of its earlier days, North Carolina was
fast becoming a prosperous community of small planters, and its
population had increased so rapidly that it now ranked fourth among the
colonies, immediately after Pennsylvania. Since the overthrow of the
Pretender at Culloden there had been a great immigration of sturdy Scots
from the western Highlands, in which the clans of Macdonald and Macleod
were especially represented. The celebrated Flora Macdonald herself, the
romantic woman who saved Charles Edward in 1746, had lately come over
here and settled at Kingsborough with Allan Macdonald, her husband.
These Scottish immigrants also helped to colonize the upland regions of
South Carolina and Georgia, and they have considerably affected the
race composition of the Southern people, forming an ancestry of which
their descendants may well be proud. Though these Highland clansmen had
taken part in the Stuart insurrection, they had become loyal enough to
the government of George III., and it was now hoped that with their aid
the colony might be firmly secured, and its neighbours on either side
overawed. To this end, in January, Sir Henry Clinton, taking with him
2,000 troops, left Boston and sailed for the Cape Fear river, while a
force of seven regiments and ten ships-of-war, under Sir Peter Parker,
was ordered from Ireland to coöperate with him. At the same time, Josiah
Martin, the royal governor, who for safety had retired on board a
British ship, carried on negotiations with the Highlanders, until a
force of 1,600 men was raised, and, under command of Donald Macdonald,
marched down toward the coast to welcome the arrival of Clinton. But
North Carolina had its minute-men as well as Massachusetts, and no
sooner was this movement perceived than Colonel Richard Caswell, with
1,000 militia, took up a strong position at the bridge over Moore's
Creek, which Macdonald was about to pass on his way to the coast. After
a sharp fight of a half hour's duration the Scots were seized with
panic, and were utterly routed. Nine hundred prisoners, 2,000 stand of
arms, and £15,000 in gold were the trophies of Caswell's victory. The
Scottish commander and his kinsman, the husband of Flora Macdonald, were
taken and lodged in jail, and thus ended the sway of George III. over
North Carolina. The effect of the victory was as contagious as that of
Lexington had been in New England. Within ten days 10,000 militia were
ready to withstand the enemy, so that Clinton, on his arrival, decided
not to land, and stayed cruising about Albemarle Sound, waiting for the
fleet under Parker, which did not appear on the scene until May. A
provincial congress was forthwith assembled, and instructions were sent
to the North Carolina delegates in the Continental Congress, empowering
them "to concur with the delegates in the other colonies in declaring
independency and forming foreign alliances, reserving to the colony the
sole and exclusive right of forming a constitution and laws for it."

  [Sidenote: Action of South Carolina and Georgia]

At the same time that these things were taking place, the colony of
South Carolina was framing for itself a new government, and on the 23d
of March, without directly alluding to independence, it empowered its
delegates to concur in any measure which might be deemed essential to
the welfare of America. In Georgia the provincial congress, in choosing
a new set of delegates to Philadelphia, authorized them to "join in any
measure which they might think calculated for the common good."

  [Illustration: Dunmore]

  [Sidenote: Virginia: Lord Dunmore's proclamation]

  [Sidenote: Skirmish at the Great Bridge; and burning of Norfolk]

In Virginia the party in favour of independence had been in the
minority, until, in November, 1775, the royal governor, Lord Dunmore,
had issued a proclamation, offering freedom to all such negroes and
indented white servants as might enlist for the purpose of "reducing the
colony to a proper sense of its duty." This measure Lord Dunmore hoped
would "oblige the rebels to disperse, in order to take care of their
families and property." But the object was not attained. The relations
between master and slave in Virginia were so pleasant that the offer of
freedom fell upon dull, uninterested ears. With light work and generous
fare, the condition of the Virginia negro was a happy one. The time had
not yet come when he was liable to be torn from wife and children, to
die of hardship in the cotton-fields and rice-swamps of the far South.
He was proud of his connection with his master's estate and family, and
had nothing to gain by rebellion. As for the indented white servants,
the governor's proposal to them was of about as much consequence as a
proclamation of Napoleon's would have been if, in 1805, he had offered
to set free the prisoners in Newgate on condition of their helping him
to invade England. But, impotent as this measure of Lord Dunmore's was,
it served to enrage the people of Virginia, setting their minds
irretrievably against the king and his cause. During the month of
November, hearing that a party of "rebels" were on their way from North
Carolina to take possession of Norfolk, Lord Dunmore built a rude fort
at the Great Bridge over Elizabeth river, which commanded the southern
approach to the town. At that time, Norfolk, with about 9,000
inhabitants, was the principal town in Virginia, and the commercial
centre of the colony. The loyalist party, represented chiefly by
Scottish merchants, was so strong there and so violent that many of the
native Virginia families, finding it uncomfortable to stay in their
homes, had gone away into the country. The patriots, roused to anger by
Dunmore's proclamation, now resolved to capture Norfolk, and a party of
sharpshooters, with whom the illustrious John Marshall served as
lieutenant, occupied the bank of Elizabeth river, opposite Dunmore's
fort. On the 9th of December, after a sharp fight of fifteen minutes, in
which Dunmore's regulars lost sixty-one men, while not a single
Virginian was slain, the fort was hastily abandoned, and the road to
Norfolk was laid open for the patriots. A few days later the Virginians
took possession of their town, while Dunmore sought refuge in the
Liverpool, ship-of-the-line, which had just sailed into the harbour. On
New Year's Day the governor vindictively set fire to the town, which he
had been unable to hold against its rightful owners. The conflagration,
kindled by shells from the harbour, raged for three days and nights,
until the whole town was laid in ashes, and the people were driven to
seek such sorry shelter as might save them from the frosts of midwinter.

  [Sidenote: Virginia declares for independence]

This event went far toward determining the attitude of Virginia. In
November the colony had not felt ready to comply with the recommendation
of Congress, and frame for herself a new government. The people were not
yet ready to sever the links which bound them to Great Britain. But
bombardment of their principal town was an argument of which every one
could appreciate the force and the meaning. During the winter and spring
the revolutionary feeling waxed in strength daily. On the 6th of May,
1776, a convention was chosen to consider the question of independence.
Mason, Henry, Pendleton, and the illustrious Madison took part in the
discussion, and on the 14th it was unanimously voted to instruct the
Virginia delegates in Congress "to propose to that respectable body to
declare the United Colonies free and independent States," and to "give
the assent of the colony to measures to form foreign alliances and a
confederation, provided the power of forming government for the internal
regulations of each colony be left to the colonial legislatures." At the
same time, it was voted that the people of Virginia should establish a
new government for their commonwealth. In the evening, when these
decisions had been made known to the people of Williamsburgh, their
exultation knew no bounds. While the air was musical with the ringing of
church-bells, guns were fired, the British flag was hauled down at the
State House, and the crosses and stripes hoisted in its place.

  [Sidenote: Action of Rhode Island and Massachusetts]

This decisive movement of the largest of the colonies was hailed
throughout the country with eager delight; and from other colonies which
had not yet committed themselves responses came quickly. Rhode Island,
which had never parted with its original charter, did not need to form a
new government, but it had already, on the 4th of May, omitted the
king's name from its public documents and sheriff's writs, and had
agreed to concur with any measures which Congress might see fit to adopt
regarding the relations between England and America. In the course of
the month of May town meetings were held throughout Massachusetts and
it was everywhere unanimously voted to uphold Congress in the
declaration of independence which it was now expected to make.


  [Sidenote: Resolution of May 15]

  [Sidenote: Instructions from Boston]

On the 15th of May, Congress adopted a resolution recommending to all
the colonies to form for themselves independent governments, and in a
preamble, written by John Adams, it was declared that the American
people could no longer conscientiously take oath to support any
government deriving its authority from the Crown; all such governments
must now be suppressed, since the king had withdrawn his protection from
the inhabitants of the United Colonies. Like the famous preamble to
Townshend's bill of 1767, this Adams preamble contained within itself
the gist of the whole matter. To adopt it was virtually to cross the
Rubicon, and it gave rise to a hot debate. James Duane of New York
admitted that if the facts stated in the preamble should turn out to be
true, there would not be a single voice against independence; but he
could not yet believe that the American petitions were not destined to
receive a favourable answer. "Why," therefore, "all this haste? Why this
urging? Why this driving?" James Wilson of Pennsylvania, one of the
ablest of all the delegates in the revolutionary body, urged that
Congress had not yet received sufficient authority from the people to
justify it in taking so bold a step. The resolution was adopted,
however, preamble and all; and now the affair came quickly to maturity.
"The Gordian knot is cut at last!" exclaimed John Adams. In town meeting
the people of Boston thus instructed their delegates: "The whole United
Colonies are upon the verge of a glorious revolution. We have seen the
petitions to the king rejected with disdain. For the prayer of peace he
has tendered the sword; for liberty, chains; for safety, death. Loyalty
to him is now treason to our country. We think it absolutely
impracticable for these colonies to be ever again subject to or
dependent upon Great Britain, without endangering the very existence of
the state. Placing, however, unbounded confidence in the supreme council
of the Congress, we are determined to wait, most patiently wait, till
their wisdom shall dictate the necessity of making a declaration of
independence. In case the Congress should think it necessary for the
safety of the United Colonies to declare them independent of Great
Britain, the inhabitants, with their lives and the remnant of their
fortunes, will most cheerfully support them in the measure."

  [Sidenote: Lee's motion in Congress]

This dignified and temperate expression of public opinion was published
in a Philadelphia evening paper, on the 8th of June. On the preceding
day in accordance with the instructions which had come from Virginia,
the following motion had been submitted to Congress by Richard Henry

"That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and
independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the
British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the
state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

"That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for
forming foreign alliances.

"That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the
respective colonies, for their consideration and approbation."

  [Portrait: Richard Henry Lee]

  [Sidenote: Debate on Lee's motion]

In these trying times the two greatest colonies, Virginia and
Massachusetts, had been wont to go hand in hand; and the motion of
Richard Henry Lee was now promptly seconded by John Adams. It was
resisted by Dickinson and Wilson of Pennsylvania, and by Robert
Livingston of New York, on the ground that public opinion in the middle
colonies was not yet ripe for supporting such a measure; at the same
time these cautious members freely acknowledged that the lingering hope
of an amicable settlement with Great Britain had come to be quite
chimerical. The prospect of securing European alliances was freely
discussed. The supporters of the motion urged that a declaration of
independence would be nothing more than the acknowledgment of a fact
which existed already; and until this fact should be formally
acknowledged, it was not to be supposed that diplomatic courtesy would
allow such powers as France and Spain to treat with the Americans. On
the other hand, the opponents of the motion argued that France and Spain
were not likely to look with favour upon the rise of a great Protestant
power in the western hemisphere, and that nothing would be easier than
for these nations to make a bargain with England, whereby Canada might
be restored to France and Florida to Spain, in return for military aid
in putting down the rebellious colonies. The result of the whole
discussion was decidedly in favour of a declaration of independence; but
to avoid all appearance of undue haste, it was decided, on the motion of
Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, to postpone the question for three
weeks, and invite the judgment of those colonies which had not yet
declared themselves.

  [Sidenote: Connecticut and New Hampshire]

Under these circumstances, the several colonies acted with a promptness
that outstripped the expectations of Congress. Connecticut had no need
of a new government, for, like Rhode Island, she had always kept the
charter obtained from Lord Clarendon in 1662, she had always chosen her
own governor, and had always been virtually independent of Great
Britain. Nothing now was necessary but to omit the king's name from
legal documents and commercial papers, and to instruct her delegates in
Congress to support Lee's motion; and these things were done by the
Connecticut legislature on the 14th of June. The very next day, New
Hampshire, which had formed a new government as long ago as January,
joined Connecticut in declaring for independence.

  [Sidenote: New Jersey]

In New Jersey there was a sharp dispute. The royal governor, William
Franklin, had a strong party in the colony; the assembly had lately
instructed its delegates to vote against independence, and had resolved
to send a separate petition to the king. Against so rash and dangerous a
step, Dickinson, Jay, and Wythe were sent by Congress to remonstrate;
and as the result of their intercession, the assembly, which yielded,
was summarily prorogued by the governor. A provincial congress was at
once chosen in its stead. On the 16th of June, the governor was arrested
and sent to Connecticut for safe-keeping; on the 21st, it was voted to
frame a new government; and on the 22d, a new set of delegates were
elected to Congress, with instructions to support the declaration of

  [Portrait: Samuel Chase]

  [Sidenote: Pennsylvania and Delaware]

In Pennsylvania there was hot discussion, for the whole strength of the
proprietary government was thrown into the scale against independence.
Among the Quakers, too, there was a strong disposition to avoid an armed
conflict on any terms. A little while before, they had held a
convention, in which it was resolved that "the setting up and putting
down kings and governments is God's peculiar prerogative, for causes
best known to himself, and that it is not our business to have any hand
or contrivance therein; nor to be busybodies above our station, much
less to plot and contrive the ruin or overturn of any of them, but to
pray for the king and safety of our nation and good of all men; that we
may lead a peaceable and quiet life in all goodness and honesty, under
the government which God is pleased to set over us. May we, therefore,
firmly unite in the abhorrence of all such writings and measures as
evidence a desire and design to break off a happy connection we have
hitherto enjoyed with the kingdom of Great Britain, and our just and
necessary subordination to the king and those who are lawfully placed in
authority under him." This view of the case soon met with a pithy
rejoinder from Samuel Adams, who, with a quaint use of historical
examples, proved that, as the rise of kings and empires is part of God's
special prerogative, the time had now come, in the course of divine
providence, for the setting up of an independent empire in the western
hemisphere. Six months ago, the provincial assembly had instructed its
delegates to oppose independence; but on the 20th of May a great meeting
was held at the State House, at which more than seven thousand people
were present, and it was unanimously resolved that this act of the
assembly "had the dangerous tendency to withdraw this province from that
happy union with the other colonies which we consider both our glory and
our protection." The effect of this resolution was so great that on the
18th of June a convention was held to decide on the question of
independence; and after six days of discussion, it was voted that a
separation from Great Britain was desirable, provided only that, under
the new federal government, each state should be left to regulate its
own internal affairs. On the 14th of June, a similar action had been
taken by Delaware.

  [Portrait: Charles Carroll]

  [Sidenote: Maryland]

In Maryland there was little reason why the people should wish for a
change of government, save through their honourable sympathy with the
general interests of the United Colonies. Not only was the proprietary
government deeply rooted in the affections of the people, but Robert
Eden, the governor holding office at this particular time, was greatly
loved and respected. Maryland had not been insulted by the presence of
troops. She had not seen her citizens shot down in cold blood like
Massachusetts, or her chief city laid in ashes like Virginia; nor had
she been threatened with invasion and forced to fight in her own defence
like North Carolina. Her direct grievances were few and light, and even
so late as the 21st of May, she had protested against any action which
might lead to the separation of the colonies from England. But when, in
June, her great leaders, Samuel Chase and Charles Carroll of Carrollton,
determined to "take the sense of the people," a series of county
meetings were held, and it was unanimously voted that "the true
interests and substantial happiness of the United Colonies in general,
and this in particular, are inseparably interwoven and linked together."
As soon as the colony had taken its stand upon this broad and generous
principle, the governor embarked on a British man-of-war before
Annapolis, bearing with him the kindly regrets and adieus of the people,
and on the 28th of June the delegates in Congress were duly authorized
to concur in a declaration of independence.

  [Sidenote: The situation in New York]

Peaceful Maryland was thus the twelfth colony which formally committed
itself to the cause of independence, as turbulent North Carolina, under
the stimulus of civil war and threatened invasion, had been the first.
Accordingly on the 1st of July, the day when the motion of Richard Henry
Lee was to be taken up in Congress, unanimous instructions in favour of
independence had been received from every one of the colonies, except
New York. In approaching this momentous question New York was beset by
peculiar difficulties. Not only was the Tory party unusually strong
there, for reasons already stated, but the risks involved in a
revolutionary policy were greater than anywhere else. From its
commanding military position, it was clear that the British would direct
their main efforts toward the conquest of this central colony; and while
on the one hand the broad, deep waters about Manhattan Island afforded
an easy entrance for their resistless fleet, on the other hand the
failure of the Canadian expedition had laid the whole country open to
invasion from the north, and the bloodthirsty warriors of the Long House
were not likely to let slip so fair an opportunity for gathering scalps
from the exposed settlements on the frontier. Not only was it probable,
for these reasons, that New York would suffer more than any other colony
from the worst horrors of war, but as a commercial state with only a
single seaport, the very sources of her life would be threatened should
the British once gain a foothold upon Manhattan Island. The fleet of
Lord Howe was daily expected in the harbour, and it was known that the
army which had been ousted from Boston, now largely reinforced, was on
its way from Halifax to undertake the capture of the city of New York.
To guard against this expected danger, Washington had some weeks since
moved his army thither from Boston; but his whole effective force did
not exceed eight thousand men, and with these he was obliged to garrison
points so far apart as King's Bridge, Paulus Hook, Governor's Island,
and Brooklyn Heights. The position was far less secure than it had been
about Boston, for British ships could here come up the Hudson and East
rivers, and interpose between these isolated detachments. As for Staten
Island, Washington had not troops enough to occupy it at all, so that
when General Howe arrived, on the 28th of June, he was allowed to land
there without opposition. It was a bitter thing for Washington to be
obliged to permit this, but there was no help for it. Not only in
numbers, but in equipment, Washington's force was utterly inadequate to
the important task assigned it, and Congress had done nothing to
increase its efficiency beyond ordering a levy of twenty-five thousand
militia from New England and the middle colonies, to serve for six
months only.

  [Sidenote: The Tryon plot, June, 1779]

Under these circumstances, the military outlook, in case the war were to
go on, was certainly not encouraging, and the people of New York might
well be excused for some tardiness in committing themselves irrevocably
on the question of independence, especially as it was generally
understood that Lord Howe was coming armed with plenary authority to
negotiate with the American people. To all the other dangers of the
situation there was added that of treachery in the camp. Governor Tryon,
like so many of the royal governors that year, had taken refuge on
shipboard, whence he schemed and plotted with his friends on shore. A
plan was devised for blowing up the magazines and seizing Washington,
who was either to be murdered or carried on board ship to be tried for
treason, according as the occasion might suggest. The conspiracy was
discovered in good time; the mayor of New York, convicted of
correspondence with Tryon, was thrown into jail, and one of Washington's
own guard, who had been bribed to aid the nefarious scheme, was
summarily hanged in a field near the Bowery. Such a discovery as this
served to throw discredit upon the Tory party. The patriots took a
bolder stand than ever, but when the 1st of July came it found the
discussion still going on, and the New York delegates in Congress were
still without instructions.

  [Sidenote: Final debate on Lee's motion]

On the 1st of July Congress resolved itself into a committee of the
whole, to "take into consideration the resolution respecting
independency." As Richard Henry Lee was absent, John Adams, who had
seconded the motion, was called upon to defend it, which he did in a
powerful speech. He was ably opposed by John Dickinson, who urged that
the country ought not to be rashly committed to a position, to recede
from which would be infamous, while to persist in it might entail
certain ruin. A declaration of independence would not strengthen the
resources of the country by a single regiment or a single cask of
powder, while it would shut the door upon all hope of accommodation with
Great Britain. And as to the prospect of an alliance with France and
Spain, would it not be well to obtain some definite assurances from
these powers before proceeding to extremities? Besides all this, argued
Dickinson, the terms of confederation among the colonies were still
unsettled, and any declaration of independence, to have due weight with
the world, ought to be preceded by the establishment of a federal
government. The boundaries of the several colonies ought first to be
fixed, and their respective rights mutually guaranteed; and the public
lands ought also to be solemnly appropriated for the common benefit.
Then, the orator concluded, "when things shall have been thus
deliberately rendered firm at home and favourable abroad,--then let
America, _attollens humeris famam et fata nepotum_, bearing up her glory
and the destiny of her descendants, advance with majestic steps, and
assume her station among the sovereigns of the world."

That there was great weight in some of these considerations was shown
only too plainly by subsequent events. But the argument as a whole was
open to the fatal objection that if the American people were to wait for
all these great questions to be settled before taking a decisive step,
they would never be able to take a decisive step at all. The wise
statesman regards half a loaf as better than no bread.

  [Portrait: Edward Rutledge]

  [Sidenote: Vote on Lee's motion]

Independent action on the part of all the colonies except New York had
now become an accomplished fact. All were really in rebellion, and their
cause could not fail to gain in dignity and strength by announcing
itself to the world in its true character. Such was now the general
feeling of the committee. When the question was put to vote, the New
York delegates were excused, as they had no sufficient instructions. Of
the three delegates from Delaware, one was absent, one voted yea, and
one nay, so that the vote of the colony was lost. Pennsylvania declared
in the negative by four votes against three. South Carolina also
declared in the negative, but with the intimation from Edward Rutledge
that it might not unlikely reverse its vote, in deference to the
majority. The other nine colonies all voted in the affirmative, and the
resolution was reported as agreed to by a two thirds vote. On the next
day, when the vote was formally taken in regular session of Congress,
the Delaware members were all present, and the affirmative vote of that
colony was secured; Dickinson and Morris stayed away, thus reversing the
vote of Pennsylvania; and the South Carolina members changed for the
sake of unanimity.

  [Sidenote: Thomas Jefferson]

Thus was the Declaration of Independence at last resolved upon, by the
unanimous vote of twelve colonies, on the 2d of July, 1776; and this
work having been done, Congress at once went into committee of the
whole, to consider the form of declaration which should be adopted. That
no time might be lost in disposing of this important matter, a committee
had already been selected three weeks before, at the time of Lee's
motion, to draw up a paper which might be worthy of this great and
solemn occasion. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger
Sherman, and Robert Livingston were the members of the committee, and
Jefferson, as representing the colony which had introduced the
resolution of independence, was chosen to be the author of the
Declaration. Jefferson, then but thirty-three years of age, was one of
the youngest delegates in Congress; but of all the men of that time,
there was, perhaps, none of wider culture or keener political instincts.
Inheriting a comfortable fortune, he had chosen the law as his
profession, but he had always been passionately fond of study for its
own sake, and to a wide reading in history and in ancient and modern
literature he added no mean proficiency in mathematics and in physical
science. He was skilled in horsemanship and other manly exercises, and
in the management of rural affairs; while at the same time he was
sensitively and delicately organized, playing the violin like a master,
and giving other evidences of rare musical talent. His temper was
exceedingly placid, and his disposition was sweet and sympathetic. He
was deeply interested in all the generous theories of the eighteenth
century concerning the rights of man and the perfectibility of human
nature; and, like most of the contemporary philosophers whom he admired,
he was a sturdy foe to intolerance and priestcraft. He was in his way a
much more profound thinker than Hamilton, though he had not such a
constructive genius as the latter; as a political leader he was superior
to any other man of his age; and his warm sympathies, his almost
feminine tact, his mastery of the dominant political ideas of the time,
and, above all, his unbounded faith in the common-sense of the people
and in their essential rectitude of purpose served to give him one of
the greatest and most commanding positions ever held by any personage in
American history.

  [Sidenote: Independence declared, July 4, 1776]

On the evening of the 4th of July, 1776, the Declaration of Independence
was unanimously adopted by twelve colonies, the delegation from New York
still remaining unable to act. But the acquiescence of that colony was
so generally counted upon that there was no drawback to the exultation
of the people. All over the country the Declaration was received with
bonfires, with the ringing of bells and the firing of guns, and with
torchlight processions. Now that the great question was settled there
was a general feeling of relief. "The people," said Samuel Adams, "seem
to recognize this resolution as though it were a decree promulgated from
heaven." On the 9th of July it was formally adopted by New York, and the
soldiers there celebrated the occasion by throwing down the leaden
statue of George III. on the Bowling Green, and casting it into bullets.

  [Illustration: BATTERY AND BOWLING GREEN IN 1776]

  [Sidenote: The Declaration was a deliberate expression of the sober
thought of the American people]

Thus, after eleven years of irritation, and after such temperate
discussion as befitted a free people, the Americans had at last entered
upon the only course that could preserve their self-respect, and
guarantee them in the great part which they had to play in the drama of
civilization. For the dignity, patience, and moderation with which they
had borne themselves throughout these trying times, history had as yet
scarcely afforded a parallel. So extreme had been their forbearance, so
great their unwillingness to appeal to brute force while there yet
remained the slightest hope of a peaceful solution, that some British
historians have gone quite astray in interpreting their conduct. Because
statesmen like Dickinson and communities like Maryland were slow in
believing that the right moment for a declaration of independence had
come, the preposterous theory has been suggested that the American
Revolution was the work of an unscrupulous and desperate minority,
which, through intrigue mingled with violence, succeeded in forcing the
reluctant majority to sanction its measures. Such a misconception has
its root in an utter failure to comprehend the peculiar character of
American political life, like the kindred misconception which ascribes
the rebellion of the colonies to a sordid unwillingness to bear their
due share of the expenses of the British Empire. It is like the
misunderstanding which saw an angry mob in every town meeting of the
people of Boston, and characterized as a "riot" every deliberate
expression of public opinion. No one who is familiar with the essential
features of American political life can for a moment suppose that the
Declaration of Independence was brought about by any less weighty force
than the settled conviction of the people that the priceless treasure of
self-government could be preserved by no other means. It was but slowly
that this unwelcome conviction grew upon the people; and owing to local
differences of circumstances it grew more slowly in some places than in
others. Prescient leaders, too, like the Adamses and Franklin and Lee,
made up their minds sooner than other people. Even those conservatives
who resisted to the last, even such men as John Dickinson and Robert
Morris, were fully agreed with their opponents as to the principle at
issue between Great Britain and America, and nothing would have
satisfied them short of the total abandonment by Great Britain of her
pretensions to impose taxes and revoke charters. Upon this fundamental
point there was very little difference of opinion in America. As to the
related question of independence, the decision, when once reached, was
everywhere alike the reasonable result of free and open discussion; and
the best possible illustration of this is the fact that not even in the
darkest days of the war already begun did any state deliberately propose
to reconsider its action in the matter. The hand once put to the plough,
there was no turning back. As Judge Drayton of South Carolina said from
the bench, "A decree is now gone forth not to be recalled, and thus has
suddenly risen in the world a new empire, styled the United States of


  [7] [Of a family always prominent in Rhode Island, he had early
       come to be the most admired and respected citizen of the
       colony. His father, a narrow-minded Quaker, though rich in
       lands, mills, and iron forges, was adverse to education, and
       kept his son at work in the forges. But the son had an intense
       thirst for knowledge, and, without neglecting his duties, he
       bought books and became well versed in history, philosophy,
       and general literature.]

  [8] The first stage was the change from the solid red of the British
       ensign to the alternate red and white stripes, as seen in the
       flag on the right, which typified the thirteen confederated
       colonies. After allegiance to the British crown had been thrown
       off, the union of red St. George and white St. Andrew crosses
       upon the blue corner became inappropriate, and in June, 1777,
       Congress substituted the circle of thirteen white stars on a
       blue ground, to signify the rise of a new constellation of

                              CHAPTER V

                      FIRST BLOW AT THE CENTRE

  [Portrait: J. Rutledge]

  [Portrait: Will. Moultrie]

  [Illustration: BATTLE OF FORT MOULTRIE, JUNE 28, 1776]

  [Sidenote: Battle of Fort Moultrie, June 28, 1776]

  [Sidenote: Lord Cornwallis arrives upon the scene]

Throughout a considerable portion of the country the news of the
Declaration of Independence was accompanied by the news of a brilliant
success at the South. After the defeat of Macdonald at Moore's Creek,
and the sudden arming of North Carolina, Clinton did not venture to
land, but cruised about in the neighbourhood, awaiting the arrival of
Sir Peter Parker's squadron from Ireland. Harassed by violent and
contrary winds, Parker was three months in making the voyage, and it was
not until May that he arrived bringing with him Lord Cornwallis. As
North Carolina had given such unmistakable evidence of its real temper,
it was decided not to land upon that coast for the present, but to go
south and capture Charleston and Savannah. Lord William Campbell,
refugee governor of South Carolina, urged that there was a great
loyalist party in that colony, which would declare itself as soon as the
chief city should be in the hands of the king's troops. That there would
be any serious difficulty in taking Charleston occurred to no one. But
Colonel Moultrie had thrown up on Sullivan's Island, commanding the
harbour, a fortress of palmetto logs strengthened by heavy banks of
sand, and now held it with a force of twelve hundred men, while five
thousand militia were gathered about the town, under command of General
Charles Lee, who had been sent down to meet the emergency, but did
little more than to meddle and hinder. In his character of trained
European officer, Lee laughed to scorn Moultrie's palmetto stronghold,
and would have ordered him to abandon it, but that he was positively
overruled by John Rutledge, president of the provincial congress, who
knew Moultrie and relied upon his sound judgment. The British
commanders, Clinton and Parker, wasted three weeks in discussing various
plans of attack, while the Americans, with spade and hatchet, were
rapidly barring every approach to Charleston, and fresh regiments came
pouring in to man the new-built intrenchments. At last Clinton landed
three thousand men on a naked sand-bank, divided from Sullivan's Island
by a short space of shallow sea, which he thought could be forded at low
tide. At the proper time Sir Peter Parker was to open a lively fire from
the fleet, which it was expected would knock down the fort in a few
minutes, while Clinton, fording the shoals, would drive out the
Americans at the point of the bayonet. The shoals, however, turned out
to be seven feet deep at low water, and the task of the infantry was
reduced to a desperate conflict with the swarms of mosquitoes, which
nearly drove them frantic. The battle thus became a mere artillery duel
between the fort and the fleet. The British fire was rapid and furious,
but ineffective. Most of the shot passed harmlessly over the low
fortress, and those which struck did no harm to its elastic structure.
The American fire was very slow, and few shots were wasted. The cable of
Parker's flagship was cut by a well-aimed ball, and the ship, swinging
around, received a raking fire which swept her deck with terrible
slaughter. After the fight had lasted ten hours, the British retreated
out of range. The palmetto fort had suffered no serious injury, and only
one gun had been silenced. The American loss in killed and wounded was
thirty-seven. On the other hand, Sir Peter's flagship had lost her
mainmast and mizzen-mast, and had some twenty shots in her hull, so that
she was little better than a wreck. The British loss in killed and
wounded was two hundred and five. Of their ten sail, only one frigate
remained seaworthy at the close of the action. After waiting three weeks
to refit, the whole expedition sailed away for New York to coöperate
with the Howes. Charleston was saved, and for more than two years the
southern states were freed from the invader. In commemoration of this
brilliant victory, and of the novel stronghold which had so roused the
mirth of the European soldier of fortune, the outpost on Sullivan's
Island has ever since been known by the name of Fort Moultrie.

  [Sidenote: British plan for conquering the Hudson and cutting the United
Colonies in twain]

It was with such tidings of good omen that the Declaration of
Independence was sent forth to the world. But it was the last news of
victory that for the next six months was to cheer the anxious statesmen
assembled at Philadelphia. During the rest of the summer and the autumn,
disaster followed upon disaster, until it might well seem as if fickle
fortune had ceased to smile upon the cause of liberty. The issue of the
contest was now centred in New York. By conquering and holding the line
of the Hudson river, the British hoped to cut the United Colonies in
two, after which it was thought that Virginia and New England, isolated
from each Colonies other, might be induced to consider the error of
their ways and repent. Accordingly, General Howe was to capture the city
of New York, while General Carleton was to descend from Canada,
recapture Ticonderoga, and take possession of the upper waters of the
Hudson, together with the Mohawk valley. Great hopes were built upon the
coöperation of the loyalists, of whom there was a greater number in New
York than in any other state, except perhaps South Carolina. It was
partly for this reason, as we shall hereafter see, that these two states
suffered more actual misery from the war than all the others put
together. The horrors of civil war were to be added to the attack of the
invader. Throughout the Mohawk valley the influence of Sir John Johnson,
the Tory son of the famous baronet of the Seven Years' War, was thought
to be supreme; and it turned out to be very powerful both with the white
population and with the Indians. At the other end of the line, in New
York city, the Tory element was strong, for reasons already set forth.
On Long Island, the people of Kings and Queens counties, of Dutch
descent, were Tories almost to a man, while the English population of
Suffolk was solidly in favour of independence.

  [Sidenote: Lord Howe's futile attempt to negotiate with Washington

Before beginning his attack on New York, General Howe had to await the
arrival of his brother; for the ministry had resolved to try the effect
of what seemed to them a "conciliatory policy." On the 12th of July Lord
Howe arrived at Staten Island, bringing with him the "olive-branch"
which Lord North had promised to send along with the sword. This curious
specimen of political botany turned out to consist of a gracious
declaration that all persons who should desist from rebellion and lend
their "aid in restoring tranquillity" would receive full and free pardon
from their sovereign lord the king. As it would not do to recognize the
existence of Congress, Lord Howe inclosed this declaration in a letter
addressed to "George Washington, Esq.," and sent it up the harbour with
a flag of truce. But as George Washington, in his capacity of Virginian
landholder and American citizen, had no authority for dealing with a
royal commissioner, he refused to receive the letter. Colonel Reed
informed Lord Howe's messenger that there was no person in the army with
that address. The British officer reluctantly rowed away, but suddenly,
putting his barge about, he came back and inquired by what title
Washington should be properly addressed. Colonel Reed replied, "You are
aware, sir, of the rank of General Washington in our army?" "Yes, sir,
we are," answered the officer; "I am sure my Lord Howe will lament
exceedingly this affair, as the letter is of a civil, and not of a
military nature. He greatly laments that he was not here a little
sooner." This remark was understood by Colonel Reed to refer to the
Declaration of Independence, which was then but eight days old. A week
later Lord Howe sent Colonel Patterson, the British adjutant-general,
with a document now addressed to "George Washington, Esq., etc., etc."
Colonel Patterson begged for a personal interview, which was granted. He
was introduced to Washington, whom he describes as a gentleman of
magnificent presence and very handsomely dressed. Somewhat overawed, and
beginning his remarks with "May it please your Excellency," Patterson
explained that the etceteras on the letter meant everything. "Indeed,"
said Washington, with a pleasant smile, "they might mean anything." He
declined to take the letter, but listened to Patterson's explanations,
and then replied that he was not authorized to deal with the matter, and
could not give his lordship any encouragement, as he seemed empowered
only to grant pardons, whereas those who had committed no fault needed
no pardons. As Patterson got up to go, he asked if his Excellency had no
message to send to Lord Howe. "Nothing," answered Washington, "but my
particular compliments." Thus foiled in his attempt to negotiate with
the American commander, Lord Howe next inclosed his declaration in a
circular letter addressed to the royal governors of the middle and
southern colonies; but as most of these dignitaries were either in jail
or on board the British fleet, not much was to be expected from such a
mode of publication. The precious document was captured and sent to
Congress, which derisively published it for the amusement and
instruction of the people. It was everywhere greeted with jeers. "No
doubt we all need pardon from Heaven," said Governor Trumbull of
Connecticut, "for our manifold sins and transgressions; but the American
who needs the pardon of his Britannic Majesty is yet to be found." The
only serious effect produced was the weakening of the loyalist party.
Many who had thus far been held back by the hope that Lord Howe's
intercession might settle all the difficulties, now came forward as warm
supporters of independence as soon as it became apparent that the king
had really nothing to offer.

  [Portrait: Jon; Trumbull[9]]

  [Sidenote: The military problem at New York]

The olive-branch having proved ineffectual, nothing was left but to
unsheathe the sword, and an interesting campaign now began, of which the
primary object was to capture the city of New York and compel
Washington's army to surrender. The British army was heavily reinforced
by the return of Clinton's expedition and the arrival of 11,000 fresh
troops from England and Germany. General Howe had now more than 25,000
men at his disposal, fully equipped and disciplined; while to oppose him
Washington had but 18,000, many of them raw levies which had just come
in. If the American army had consisted of such veterans as Washington
afterwards led at Monmouth, the disparity of numbers would still have
told powerfully in favour of the British. As it was, in view of the
crudeness of his material, Washington could hardly hope to do more with
his army than to make it play the part of a detaining force. To keep the
field in the face of overwhelming odds is one of the most arduous of
military problems, and often calls for a higher order of intelligence
than that which is displayed in the mere winning of battles. Upon this
problem Washington was now to be employed for six months without
respite, and it was not long before he gave evidence of military genius
such as has seldom been surpassed in the history of modern warfare. At
the outset the city of New York furnished the kernel of the problem.
Without control of the water it would be well-nigh impossible to hold
the city. Still there was a chance, and it was the part of a good
general to take this chance, and cut out as much work as possible for
the enemy. The shore of Manhattan Island was girded with small forts and
redoubts, which Lee had erected in the spring before his departure for
South Carolina. The lower end of the island, along the line of Wall
Street, was then but little more than half its present width, as several
lines of street have since been added upon both sides. From Cortlandt
Street across to Paulus Hook, the width of the Hudson river was not less
than two miles, while the East river near Fulton Ferry was nearly a mile
in width. The city reached only from the Battery as far as Chatham
Street, whence the Bowery Lane ran northwestwardly to Bloomingdale
through a country smiling with orchards and gardens. Many of the streets
were now barricaded, and a strong line of redoubts ran across from river
to river below the side of Canal Street. At the upper end of the island,
and on the Jersey shore, were other fortresses, with which we shall
shortly have to deal, and out in the harbour, as a sort of watch-tower
from which to inspect the enemy's fleet, a redoubt had been raised on
Governor's Island, and was commanded by Colonel Prescott, with a party
of the men of Bunker Hill.

  [Illustration: VIEW OF NEW YORK IN 1776[10]]

  [Sidenote: Importance of Brooklyn Heights]

In order to garrison such various positions, it was necessary for
Washington to scatter his 18,000 men; and this added much to the
difficulty of his task, for Howe could at any moment strike at almost
any one of these points with his whole force. From the nature of the
case the immense advantage of the initiative belonged entirely to Howe.
But in one quarter, the most important of all, Washington had effected
as much concentration of his troops as was possible. The position on
Brooklyn Heights was dangerously exposed, but it was absolutely
necessary for the Americans to occupy it if they were to keep their hold
upon New York. This eminence commanded New York exactly as Bunker Hill
and Dorchester Heights commanded Boston. Greene had, accordingly, spent
the summer in fortifying it, and there 9,000 men--one half of the
army--were now concentrated under command of Putnam. Upon this exposed
position General Howe determined to throw nearly the whole of his force.
He felt confident that the capture or destruction of half the American
army would so discourage the rebels as to make them lend a readier ear
to the overtures of that excellent peacemaker, his brother. Accordingly,
on the 22d of August, General Howe landed 20,000 men at Gravesend Bay.
From this point the American position was approachable by four roads,
two of which crossed a range of densely wooded hills, and continued
through the villages of Bedford and Flatbush. To the left of these the
Gowanus road followed the shore about the western base of the hills,
while on the right the Jamaica road curved inland and turned their
eastern base.

  [Sidenote: Battle of Long Island, Aug. 27, 1776]

The elaborate caution with which the British commander now proceeded
stands out in striking contrast with the temerity of his advance upon
Bunker Hill in the preceding year. He spent four days in reconnoitring,
and then he sent his brother, with part of the fleet, to make a feint
upon New York, and occupy Washington's attention. Before daybreak of the
27th, under the cover of this feint, the British advance had been nearly
completed. General Grant, with the Highland regiments, advanced along
the coast road, where the American outposts were held by William
Alexander of New Jersey, commonly known as Lord Stirling, from a lapsed
Scotch earldom to which he had claimed the title. The Hessians, under
General von Heister, proceeded along the Bedford and Flatbush roads,
which were defended by Sullivan; while more than half of the army, under
Howe in person, accompanied by Clinton, Percy, and Cornwallis,
accomplished a long night march by the Jamaica road, in order to take
the Americans in flank. This long flanking march was completed in
perfect secrecy because the people of the neighbourhood were in sympathy
with the British, and it encountered no obstacles because the American
force was simply incapable of covering so much territory. The divisions
of Stirling and Sullivan contained the 5,000 men which were all that
Putnam could afford to send forward from his works. A patrol which
watched the Jamaica road was captured early in the morning, but it would
not in any case have been possible to send any force there which could
materially have hindered the British advance. Overwhelming superiority
in numbers enabled the British to go where they pleased, and the battle
was already virtually won when they appeared on the Jamaica road in the
rear of the village of Bedford. Scarcely had the fight begun on the
crest of the hill between Sullivan and the Hessians in his front when he
found himself assaulted in the rear. Thrown into confusion, and driven
back and forth through the woods between two galling fires, his division
was quickly routed, and nearly all were taken prisoners, including the
general himself. On the coast road the fight between Stirling and Grant
was the first in which Americans had ever met British troops in open
field and in regular line of battle. Against the sturdy Highland
regiments Stirling held his ground gallantly for four hours, until he
was in turn assaulted in the rear by Lord Cornwallis, after the rout of
Sullivan. It now became, with Stirling, simply a question of saving his
division from capture, and after a desperate fight this end was
accomplished, and the men got back to Brooklyn Heights, though the brave
Stirling himself was taken prisoner. In this noble struggle the highest
honours were won by the brigade of Maryland men commanded by Smallwood,
and throughout the war we shall find this honourable distinction of
Maryland for the personal gallantry of her troops fully maintained,
until in the last pitched battle, at Eutaw Springs, we see them driving
the finest infantry of England at the point of the bayonet.

The defeat of Sullivan and Stirling enabled Howe to bring up his whole
army in front of the works at Brooklyn Heights toward the close of the
day. To complete the victory it would be necessary to storm these works,
but Howe's men were tired with marching, if not with fighting, and so
the incident known as the battle of Long Island came to an end. A swift
ship was at once dispatched to England with the news of the victory,
which were somewhat highly coloured. It was for a while supposed that
there had been a terrible slaughter, but careful research has shown that
this was not the case. About 400 had been killed and wounded on each
side, and this loss had been incurred mainly in the fight between
Stirling and Grant. On other parts of the field the British triumph had
consisted chiefly in the scooping up of prisoners, of whom at least
1,000 were taken. The stories of a wholesale butchery by the Hessians
which once were current have been completely disproved. Washington gave
a detailed account of the affair a few days afterward, and the most
careful investigation has shown that he was correct in every particular.
But to the American public the blow was none the less terrible, while in
England the exultation served as an offset to the chagrin felt after the
loss of Boston and the defeat at Fort Moultrie, and it was naturally
long before facts could be seen in their true proportions.

  [Sidenote: Howe prepares to besiege the Heights;]

  [Sidenote: but Washington slips away with his army]

Heavy as was the blow, however, General Howe's object was still but half
attained. He had neither captured nor destroyed the American forces on
Long Island, but had only driven them into their works. He was still
confronted by 8,000 men on Brooklyn Heights, and the problem was how to
dislodge them. In the evening Washington came over from New York, and
made everything ready to resist a storm. To this end, on the next day,
he brought over reinforcements, raising his total force within the works
to 10,000 men. Under such circumstances, if the British had attempted a
storm they would probably have been repulsed with great slaughter. But
Howe had not forgotten Bunker Hill, and he thought it best to proceed by
way of siege. As soon as Washington perceived this intention of his
adversary, he saw that he must withdraw his army. He would have courted
a storm, in which he was almost sure to be victorious, but he shrank
from a siege, in which he was quite sure to lose his whole force. The
British troops now invested him in a semicircle, and their ships might
at any moment close in behind and cut off his only retreat. Accordingly,
sending trusty messengers across the river, Washington collected every
sloop, yacht, fishing-smack, yawl, scow, or row-boat that could be found
in either water from the Battery to King's Bridge or Hell Gate; and
after nightfall of the 29th, these craft were all assembled at the
Brooklyn ferry, and wisely manned by the fishermen of Marblehead and
Gloucester from Glover's Essex regiment, experts, every one of them,
whether at oar or sail. All through the night the American troops were
ferried across the broad river, as quietly as possible and in excellent
order, while Washington superintended the details of the embarkation,
and was himself the last man to leave the ground. At seven o'clock in
the morning the whole American army had landed on the New York side, and
had brought with them all their cannon, small arms, ammunition, tools,
and horses, and all their larder besides, so that when the bewildered
British climbed into the empty works they did not find so much as a
biscuit or a glass of rum wherewith to console themselves.

  [Illustration: BEDFORD CORNERS, LONG ISLAND, IN 1776.[11]]

  [Sidenote: His vigilance robbed the British of the most golden
             opportunity ever afforded them]

This retreat has always been regarded as one of the most brilliant
incidents in Washington's career, and it would certainly be hard to find
a more striking example of vigilance. Had Washington allowed himself to
be cooped up on Brooklyn Heights he would have been forced to surrender;
and whatever was left of the war would have been a game played without
queen, rook, or bishop. For this very reason it is hardly creditable to
Howe that he should have let his adversary get away so easily. At
daybreak, indeed, the Americans had been remarkably favoured by the
sudden rise of a fog which covered the East river, but during the night
the moon had shone brightly, and one can only wonder that the
multitudinous plash of oars and the unavoidable murmur of ten thousand
men embarking, with their heavy guns and stores, should not have
attracted the attention of some wakeful sentinel, either on shore or
on the fleet. A storming party of British, at the right moment, would at
least have disturbed the proceedings. So rare a chance of ending the war
at a blow was never again to be offered to the British commanders.
Washington now stationed the bulk of his army along the line of the
Harlem river, leaving a strong detachment in the city under Putnam; and
presently, with the same extraordinary skill which he had just displayed
in sending boats under the very eyes of the fleet, he withdrew Colonel
Prescott and his troops from their exposed position on Governor's
Island, which there was no longer any reason for holding.

  [Sidenote: The conference at Staten Island, Sept. 11]

Hoping that the stroke just given by the British sword might have
weakened the obstinacy of the Americans, Lord Howe again had recourse to
the olive-branch. The captured General Sullivan was sent to Congress to
hold out hopes that Lord Howe would use his influence to get all the
obnoxious acts of Parliament repealed, only he would first like to
confer with some of the members of Congress informally and as with mere
private gentlemen. A lively debate ensued upon this proposal, in which
some saw an insult to Congress, while all quite needlessly suspected
treachery. John Adams, about whom there was so much less of the
_suaviter in modo_ than of the _fortiter in re_, alluded to Sullivan,
quite unjustly, as a "decoy duck," who had better have been shot in the
battle than employed on such a business. It was finally voted that no
proposals of peace from Great Britain should receive notice, unless they
should be conveyed in writing, and should explicitly recognize Congress
as the legal representative of the American States. For this once,
however, out of personal regard for Lord Howe, and that nothing might be
disdained which really looked toward a peaceful settlement, they would
send a committee to Staten Island to confer with his lordship, who might
regard this committee in whatever light he pleased. In this shrewd,
half-humorous method of getting rid of the diplomatic difficulty, one is
forcibly reminded of President Lincoln's famous proclamation addressed
"To whom it may concern." The committee, consisting of Franklin,
Rutledge, and John Adams, were hospitably entertained by Lord Howe, but
their conference came to nothing, because the Americans now demanded a
recognition of their independence as a condition which must precede all
negotiation. There is no doubt that Lord Howe, who was a warm friend to
the Americans and an energetic opponent of the king's policy, was
bitterly grieved at this result. As a last resort he published a
proclamation announcing the intention of the British government to
reconsider the various acts and instructions by which the Americans had
been annoyed, and appealing to all right-minded people to decide for
themselves whether it were not wise to rely on a solemn promise like
this, rather than commit themselves to the dangerous chances of an
unequal and unrighteous war.

  [Sidenote: Howe takes the city of New York, Sept. 15]

  [Sidenote: but Mrs. Lindley Murray saves the garrison]

  [Sidenote: Attack upon Harlem Heights Sept 16]

Four days after this futile interview General Howe took possession of
New York. After the loss of Brooklyn Heights, Washington and Greene were
already aware that the city could not be held. Its capture was very
easily effected. Several ships-of-the-line ascended the Hudson as far as
Bloomingdale, and the East river as far as Blackwell's Island; and while
thus from either side these vessels swept the northern part of Manhattan
with a searching fire, General Howe brought his army across from
Brooklyn in boats and landed at Kipp's Bay, near the present site of
East Thirty-Fourth Street. Washington came promptly down, with two New
England brigades, to reinforce the men whom he had stationed at that
point, and to hinder the landing of the enemy until Putnam should have
time to evacuate the city. To Washington's wrath and disgust, these men
were seized with panic, and suddenly turned and fled without firing a
shot. Had Howe now thrown his men promptly forward across the line of
Thirty-Fourth Street, he would have cut off Putnam's retreat from the
city. But what the New England brigades failed to do a bright woman
succeeded in accomplishing. When Howe had reached the spot known as
Murray Hill,--now the centre of much brownstone magnificence in Park and
Madison and Fifth avenues, at that time a noble country farmstead,--Mrs.
Lindley Murray, mother of the famous grammarian, well knowing the easy
temper of the British commander, sent out a servant to invite him to
stop and take luncheon. A general halt was ordered; and while Howe and
his officers were gracefully entertained for more than two hours by
their accomplished and subtle hostess, Putnam hastily marched his 4,000
men up the shore of the Hudson, until, passing Bloomingdale, he touched
the right wing of the main army, and was safe, though his tents,
blankets, and heavy guns had been left behind. The American lines now
extended from the mouth of Harlem river across the island, and on the
following day the British attempted to break through their centre at
Harlem Heights, but the attack was repulsed, with a loss of sixty
Americans and three hundred British, and the lines just formed remained,
with very little change, for nearly four weeks.

  [Illustration: MANHATTAN ISLAND in 1776.]

  [Sidenote: The new problem before Howe]

General Howe had thus got possession of the city of New York, but the
conquest availed him little so long as the American army stood across
the island, in the attitude of blockading him. If this campaign was to
decide the war, as the ministry hoped, nothing short of the capture or
dispersal of Washington's army would suffice. But the problem was now
much harder than it had been at Brooklyn. For as the land above
Manhattan Island widens rapidly to the north and east, it would not be
easy to hem Washington in by sending forces to his rear. As soon as he
should find his position imperilled, he would possess the shorter line
by which to draw his battalions, together and force an escape, and so
the event proved. Still, with Howe's superior force and with his fleet,
if he could get up the Hudson to the rear of the American right, and at
the same time land troops from the Sound in the rear of the American
left, it was possible that Washington might be compelled to surrender.
There was nothing to bar Howe's passage up the East river to the Sound;
but at the northern extremity of Manhattan Island the ascent of the
Hudson was guarded on the east by Fort Washington, under command of
Putnam, and on the west by Fort Lee, standing on the summit of the lofty
cliffs known as the Palisades, and commanded by Greene. It was still
doubtful, however, whether these two strongholds could effectually bar
the ascent of so broad a river, and for further security Putnam
undertook to place obstructions in the bed of the stream itself. Both
the Continental Congress and the State Convention of New York were
extremely unwilling that these two fortresses should in any event be
given up, for in no case must the Hudson river be abandoned. Putnam and
Greene thought that the forts could be held, but by the 9th of October
it was proved that they could not bar the passage of the river, for on
that day two frigates ran safely between them, and captured some small
American craft a short distance above.

  [Sidenote: Howe moves upon Throg's Neck, but Washington changes base]

This point having been ascertained, General Howe, on the 12th, leaving
Percy in command before Harlem Heights, moved the greater part of his
army nine miles up the East river to Throg's Neck, a peninsula in the
Sound, separated from the mainland by a narrow creek and a marsh that
was overflowed at high tide. By landing here suddenly, Howe hoped to get
in Washington's rear and cut him off from his base of supply in
Connecticut. But Washington had foreseen the move and forestalled it.
When Howe arrived at Throg's Neck, he found the bridge over the creek
destroyed, and the main shore occupied by a force which it would be
dangerous to try to dislodge by wading across the marsh. While Howe was
thus detained six days on the peninsula Washington moved his base to
White Plains, and concentrated his whole army at that point, abandoning
everything on Manhattan Island except Fort Washington. Sullivan,
Stirling, and Morgan who had just been exchanged, now rejoined the army,
and Lee also arrived from South Carolina.

  [Sidenote: Baffled at White Plains, Howe tries a new plan]

By this movement to White Plains, Washington had foiled Howe's attempt
to get in his rear, and the British general decided to try the effect of
an attack in front. On the 28th of October he succeeded in storming an
outpost at Chatterton Hill, losing 229 lives, while the Americans lost
140. But this affair, which is sometimes known as the battle of White
Plains, seems to have discouraged Howe. Before renewing the attack he
waited three days, thinking perhaps of Bunker Hill; and on the last
night of October, Washington fell back upon North Castle, where he took
a position so strong that it was useless to think of assailing him. Howe
then changed his plans entirely, and moved down the east bank of the
Hudson to Dobb's Ferry, whence he could either attack Fort Washington or
cross into New Jersey and advance upon Philadelphia, the "rebel
capital." The purpose of this change was to entice Washington from his
unassailable position.

  [Sidenote: Washington's orders in view of the emergency]

To meet this new movement, Washington threw his advance of 5,000 men,
under Putnam, into New Jersey, where they encamped near Hackensack; he
sent Heath up to Peekskill, with 3,000 men, to guard the entrance to the
Highlands; and he left Lee at North Castle, with 7,000 men, and ordered
him to coöperate with him promptly in whatever direction, as soon as the
nature of Howe's plans should become apparent. As Forts Washington and
Lee detained a large force in garrison, while they had shown themselves
unable to prevent ships from passing up the river, there was no longer
any use in holding them. Nay, they had now become dangerous, as traps in
which the garrisons and stores might be suddenly surrounded and
captured. Washington accordingly resolved to evacuate them both, while,
to allay the fears of Congress in the event of a descent from Canada, he
ordered Heath to fortify the much more important position at West Point.

  [Sidenote: Congress meddles with the situation and muddles it]

Had Washington's orders been obeyed and his plans carried out, history
might still have recorded a retreat through "the Jerseys," but how
different a retreat from that which was now about to take place! The
officious interference of Congress, a venial error of judgment on the
part of Greene, and gross insubordination on the part of Lee, occurring
all together at this critical moment, brought about the greatest
disaster of the war, and came within an ace of overwhelming the American
cause in total and irretrievable ruin. Washington instructed Greene, who
now commanded both fortresses, to withdraw the garrison and stores from
Fort Washington, and to make arrangements for evacuating Fort Lee also.
At the same time he did not give a positive order, but left the matter
somewhat within Greene's discretion, in case military circumstances of
an unforeseen kind should arise. Then, while Washington had gone up to
reconnoitre the site for the new fortress at West Point, there came a
special order from Congress that Fort Washington should not be abandoned
save under direst extremity. If Greene had thoroughly grasped
Washington's view of the case, he would have disregarded this
conditional order, for there could hardly be a worse extremity than that
which the sudden capture of the fortress would entail. But Greene's mind
was not quite clear; he believed that the fort could be held, and he did
not like to take the responsibility of disregarding a message from
Congress. In this dilemma he did the worst thing possible: he reinforced
the doomed garrison, and awaited Washington's return.


  [Sidenote: Howe takes Fort Washington by storm, Nov. 16]

When the commander-in-chief returned, on the 14th, he learned with
dismay that nothing had been done. But it was now too late to mend
matters, for that very night several British vessels passed up between
the forts, and the next day Howe appeared before Fort Washington with
an overwhelming force, and told Colonel Magaw, the officer in charge,
that if he did not immediately surrender the whole garrison would be put
to the sword. Magaw replied that if Howe wanted his fort he must come
and take it. On the 16th, after a sharp struggle, in which the Americans
fought with desperate gallantry though they were outnumbered more than
five to one, the works were carried, and the whole garrison was
captured. The victory cost the British more than 500 men in killed and
wounded. The Americans, fighting behind their works, lost but 150; but
they surrendered 3,000 of the best troops in their half-trained army,
together with an immense quantity of artillery and small arms. It was
not in General Howe's kindly nature to carry out his savage threat of
the day before; but some of the Hessians, maddened with the stubborn
resistance they had encountered, began murdering their prisoners in cold
blood, until they were sharply called to order. From Fort Lee, on the
opposite bank of the river, Washington surveyed this woful surrender
with his usual iron composure; but when it came to seeing his brave men
thrown down and stabbed to death by the Hessian bayonets, his
overwrought heart could bear it no longer, and he cried and sobbed like
a child.

  [Sidenote: Washington and Greene]

This capture of the garrison of Fort Washington was one of the most
crushing blows that befell the American arms during the whole course of
the war. Washington's campaign seemed now likely to be converted into a
mere flight, and a terrible gloom overspread the whole country. The
disaster was primarily due to the interference of Congress. It might
have been averted by prompt and decisive action on the part of Greene.
But Washington, whose clear judgment made due allowance for all the
circumstances, never for a moment cast any blame upon his subordinate.
The lesson was never forgotten by Greene, whose intelligence was of that
high order which may indeed make a first mistake, but never makes a
second. The friendship between the two generals became warmer than ever.
Washington, by a sympathetic instinct, had divined from the outset the
military genius that was by and by to prove scarcely inferior to his


  [Sidenote: Outrageous conduct of Charles Lee]

Yet worse remained behind. Washington had but 6,000 men on the Jersey
side of the river, and it was now high time for Lee to come over from
North Castle and join him, with the force of 7,000 that had been left
under his command. On the 17th, Washington sent a positive order for him
to cross the river at once; but Lee dissembled, pretended to regard the
order in the light of mere advice, and stayed where he was. He occupied
an impregnable position: why should he leave it, and imperil a force
with which he might accomplish something memorable on his own account?
By the resignation of General Ward, Lee had become the senior
major-general of the Continental army, and in the event of disaster to
Washington he would almost certainly become commander-in-chief. He had
returned from South Carolina more arrogant and loud-voiced than ever.
The northern people knew little of Moultrie, while they supposed Lee to
be a great military light; and the charlatan accordingly got the whole
credit of the victory, which, if his precious advice had been taken,
would never have been won. Lee was called the hero of Charleston, and
people began to contrast the victory of Sullivan's Island with the
recent defeats, and to draw conclusions very disparaging to Washington.
From the beginning Lee had felt personally aggrieved at not being
appointed to the chief command, and now he seemed to see a fair chance
of ruining his hated rival. Should he come to the head of the army in a
moment of dire disaster to the Americans, it would be so much the
better, for it would be likely to open negotiations with Lord Howe, and
Lee loved to chaffer and intrigue much better than to fight. So he spent
his time in endeavouring, by insidious letters and lying whispers, to
nourish the feeling of disaffection toward Washington, while he refused
to send a single regiment to his assistance. Thus, through the villainy
of this traitor in the camp, Washington actually lost more men, so far
as their present use was concerned at this most critical moment, than he
had been deprived of by all the blows which the enemy had dealt him
since the beginning of the campaign.

  [Sidenote: Greene barely escapes from Fort Lee, Nov. 20]

  [Signature: James Bowdoin]

  [Sidenote: Lee intrigues against Washington]

On the night of the 19th, Howe threw 5,000 men across the river, about
five miles above Fort Lee, and with this force Lord Cornwallis marched
rapidly down upon that stronghold. The place had become untenable, and
it was with some difficulty that a repetition of the catastrophe of Fort
Washington was avoided. Greene had barely time, with his 2,000 men, to
gain the bridge over the Hackensack and join the main army, leaving
behind all his cannon, tents, blankets, and eatables. The position now
occupied by the main army, between the Hackensack and Passaic rivers,
was an unsafe one, in view of the great superiority of the enemy in
numbers. A strong British force, coming down upon Washington from the
north, might compel him to surrender or to fight at a great
disadvantage. To avoid this danger, on the 21st he crossed the Passaic
and marched southwestward to Newark, where he stayed five days; and
every day he sent a messenger to Lee, urging him to make all possible
haste in bringing over his half of the army, that they might be able to
confront the enemy on something like equal terms. Nothing could have
been more explicit or more peremptory than Washington's orders; but Lee
affected to misunderstand them, sent excuses, raised objections,
paltered, argued, prevaricated, and lied, and so contrived to stay where
he was until the first of December. To Washington he pretended that his
moving was beset by "obstacles," the nature of which he would explain as
soon as they should meet. But to James Bowdoin, president of the
executive council of Massachusetts, he wrote at the same time declaring
that his own army and that under Washington "must rest each on its own
bottom." He assumed command over Heath, who had been left to guard the
Highlands, and ordered him to send 2,000 troops to himself; but that
officer very properly refused to depart from the instructions which the
commander-in-chief had left with him. To various members of Congress Lee
told the falsehood that if _his_ advice had only been heeded, Fort
Washington would have been evacuated ere it was too late; and he wrote
to Dr. Rush, wondering whether any of the members of Congress had ever
studied Roman history, and suggesting that he might do great things if
he could only be made Dictator for one week.

  [Sidenote: Washington retreats into Pennsylvania]

Meanwhile Washington, unable to risk a battle, was rapidly retreating
through New Jersey. On the 28th of November Cornwallis advanced upon
Newark, and Washington fell back upon New Brunswick. On the first of
December, as Cornwallis reached the latter place, Washington broke down
the bridge over the Raritan, and continued his retreat to Princeton. The
terms of service for which his troops had been enlisted were now
beginning to expire, and so great was the discouragement wrought by the
accumulation of disasters which had befallen the army since the battle
of Long Island that many of the soldiers lost heart in their work.
Homesickness began to prevail, especially among the New England troops,
and as their terms expired it was difficult to persuade them to
reënlist. Under these circumstances the army dwindled fast, until, by
the time he reached Princeton, Washington had but 3,000 men remaining at
his disposal. The only thing to be done was to put the broad stream of
the Delaware between himself and the enemy, and this he accomplished by
the 8th, carrying over all his guns and stores, and seizing or
destroying every boat that could be found on that great river for many
miles in either direction. When the British arrived, on the evening of
the same day, they found it impossible to cross. Cornwallis was eager to
collect a flotilla of boats as soon as practicable, and push on to
Philadelphia, but Howe, who had just joined him, thought it hardly worth
while to take so much trouble, as the river would be sure to freeze
over before many days. So the army was posted--with front somewhat too
far extended--along the east bank, with its centre at Trenton, under
Colonel Rahl; and while they waited for that "snap" of intensely cold
weather, which in this climate seldom fails to come on within a few days
of Christmas, Howe and Cornwallis both went back to New York.

  [Sidenote: Reinforcements come from Schuyler]

Meanwhile, on the 2d of December, Lee had at last crossed the Hudson
with a force diminished to 4,000 men, and had proceeded by slow marches
as far as Morristown. Further reinforcements were at hand. General
Schuyler, in command of the army which had retreated the last summer
from Canada, was guarding the forts on Lake Champlain; and as these
appeared to be safe for the present, he detached seven regiments to go
to the aid of Washington. As soon as Lee heard of the arrival of three
of these regiments at Peekskill, he ordered them to join him at
Morristown. As the other four, under General Gates, were making their
way through northern New Jersey, doubts arose as to where they should
find Washington in the course of his swift retreat. Gates sent his aid,
Major Wilkinson, forward for instructions, and he, learning that
Washington had withdrawn into Pennsylvania, reported to Lee at
Morristown, as second in command.

  [Illustration: OPERATIONS IN NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, 1776 AND 1777]

  [Sidenote: Fortunately for the Americans, the British capture Charles
             Lee, Dec. 13]

Lee had left his army in charge of Sullivan, and had foolishly taken up
his quarters at an unguarded tavern about four miles from the town,
where Wilkinson found him in bed on the morning of the 13th. After
breakfast Lee wrote a confidential letter to Gates, as to a kindred
spirit from whom he might expect to get sympathy. Terrible had been the
consequences of the disaster at Fort Washington. "There never was so
damned a stroke," said the letter. "_Entre nous_, a certain great man is
most damnably deficient. He has thrown me into a situation where I have
my choice of difficulties. If I stay in this province I risk myself and
army, and if I do not stay the province is lost forever.... Our
counsels have been weak to the last degree. As to yourself, if you think
you can be in time to aid the general, I would have you by all means go.
You will at least save your army.... Adieu, my dear friend. God bless
you." Hardly had he signed his name to this scandalous document when
Wilkinson, who was standing at the window, exclaimed that the British
were upon them. Sure enough. A Tory in the neighbourhood, discerning the
golden opportunity, had galloped eighteen miles to the British lines,
and returned with a party of thirty dragoons, who surrounded the house
and captured the vainglorious schemer before he had time to collect his
senses. Bareheaded, and dressed only in a flannel gown and slippers, he
was mounted on Wilkinson's horse, which stood waiting at the door, and
was carried off, amid much mirth and exultation, to the British camp.
Crest-fallen and bewildered, he expressed a craven hope that his life
might be spared, but was playfully reminded that he would very likely be
summarily dealt with as a deserter from the British army; and with this
scant comfort he was fain to content himself for some weeks to come.

  [Sidenote: The times that tried men's souls]

The capture of General Lee was reckoned by the people as one more in the
list of dire catastrophes which made the present season the darkest
moment in the whole course of the war. Had they known all that we know
now, they would have seen that the army was well rid of a worthless
mischief-maker, while the history of the war had gained a curiously
picturesque episode. Apart from this incident there was cause enough for
the gloom which now overspread the whole country. Washington had been
forced to seek shelter behind the Delaware with a handful of men, whose
terms of service were soon to expire, and another fortnight might easily
witness the utter dispersal of this poor little army. At Philadelphia,
where Putnam was now in command, there was a general panic, and people
began hiding their valuables and moving their wives and children out
into the country. Congress took fright, and retired to Baltimore. At the
beginning of December, Lord Howe and his brother had issued a
proclamation offering pardon and protection to all citizens who within
sixty days should take the oath of allegiance to the British Crown; and
in the course of ten days nearly three thousand persons, many of them
wealthy and of high standing in society, had availed themselves of this
promise. The British soldiers and the Tories considered the contest
virtually ended. General Howe was compared with Cæsar, who came, and
saw, and conquered. For his brilliant successes he had been made a
Knight Commander of the Bath, and New York was to become the scene of
merry Christmas festivities on the occasion of his receiving the famous
red ribbon. In his confidence that Washington's strength was quite
exhausted, he detached a considerable force from the army in New Jersey,
and sent it, under Lord Percy, to take possession of Newport as a
convenient station for British ships entering the Sound. Donop and Rahl
with their Hessians and Grant with his hardy Scotchmen would now quite
suffice to destroy the remnant of Washington's army; and Cornwallis
accordingly packed his portmanteaus and sent them aboard ship, intending
to sail for England as soon as the fumes of the Christmas punch should
be duly slept off.

  [Sidenote: Washington prepares to strike back]

Well might Thomas Paine declare, in the first of the series of pamphlets
entitled "The Crisis," which he now began to publish, that "these are
the times that try men's souls." But in the midst of the general
despondency there were a few brave hearts that had not yet begun to
despair, and the bravest of these was Washington's. At this awful moment
the whole future of America, and of all that America signifies to the
world, rested upon that single Titanic will. Cruel defeat and yet more
cruel treachery, enough to have crushed the strongest, could not crush
Washington. All the lion in him was aroused, and his powerful nature was
aglow with passionate resolve. His keen eye already saw the elements of
weakness in Howe's too careless disposition of his forces on the east
bank of the Delaware, and he had planned for his antagonist such a
Christmas greeting as he little expected. Just at this moment Washington
was opportunely reinforced by Sullivan and Gates, with the troops lately
under Lee's command; and with his little army thus raised to 6,000 men,
he meditated such a stroke as might revive the drooping spirits of his
countrymen, and confound the enemy in the very moment of his fancied


  [Sidenote: He crosses the Delaware]

  [Sidenote: and pierces the British centre at Trenton, Dec. 26]

Washington's plan was, by a sudden attack, to overwhelm the British
centre at Trenton, and thus force the army to retreat upon New York. The
Delaware was to be crossed in three divisions. The right wing, of 2,000
men, under Gates, was to attack Count Donop at Burlington; Ewing, with
the centre, was to cross directly opposite Trenton; while Washington
himself, with the left wing, was to cross nine miles above, and march
down upon Trenton from the north. On Christmas Day all was ready, but
the beginnings of the enterprise were not auspicious. Gates, who
preferred to go and intrigue in Congress, succeeded in begging off, and
started for Baltimore. Cadwalader, who took his place, tried hard to get
his men and artillery across the river, but was baffled by the huge
masses of floating ice, and reluctantly gave up the attempt. Ewing was
so discouraged that he did not even try to cross, and both officers took
it for granted that Washington must be foiled in like manner. But
Washington was desperately in earnest; and although at sunset, just as
he had reached his crossing-place, he was informed by special messenger
of the failure of Ewing and Cadwalader, he determined to go on and make
the attack with the 2,500 men whom he had with him. The great blocks of
ice, borne swiftly along by the powerful current, made the passage
extremely dangerous, but Glover, with his skilful fishermen of
Marblehead, succeeded in ferrying the little army across without the
loss of a man or a gun. More than ten hours were consumed in the
passage, and then there was a march of nine miles to be made in a
blinding storm of snow and sleet. They pushed rapidly on in two columns,
led by Greene and Sullivan respectively, drove in the enemy's pickets at
the point of the bayonet, and entered the town by different roads soon
after sunrise. Washington's guns were at once planted so as to sweep the
streets, and after Colonel Rahl and seventeen of his men had been slain,
the whole body of Hessians, 1,000 in number, surrendered at discretion.
Of the Americans, two were frozen to death on the march, and two were
killed in the action. By noon of the next day Cadwalader had crossed the
river to Burlington, but no sooner had Donop heard what had happened at
Trenton than he retreated by a circuitous route to Princeton, leaving
behind all his sick and wounded soldiers, and all his heavy arms and
baggage. Washington recrossed into Pennsylvania with his prisoners, but
again advanced, and occupied Trenton on the 29th.

  [Sidenote: Cornwallis comes up to retrieve the disaster]

  [Sidenote: and thinks he has run down the "old fox"]

When the news of the catastrophe reached New York, the holiday feasting
was rudely disturbed. Instead of embarking for England, Cornwallis rode
post-haste to Princeton, where he found Donop throwing up earthworks. On
the morning of January 2d Cornwallis advanced, with 8,000 men, upon
Trenton, but his march was slow and painful. He was exposed during most
of the day to a galling fire from parties of riflemen hidden in the
woods by the roadside, and Greene, with a force of 600 men and two
field-pieces, contrived so to harass and delay him that he did not reach
Trenton till late in the afternoon. By that time Washington had
withdrawn his whole force beyond the Assunpink, a small river which
flows into the Delaware just south of Trenton, and had guarded the
bridge and the fords by batteries admirably placed. The British made
several attempts to cross, but were repulsed with some slaughter; and as
their day's work had sorely fatigued them, Cornwallis thought best to
wait until to-morrow, while he sent his messenger post-haste back to
Princeton to bring up a force of nearly 2,000 men which he had left
behind there. With this added strength he felt sure that he could force
the passage of the stream above the American position, when by turning
Washington's right flank he could fold him back against the Delaware,
and thus compel him to surrender. Cornwallis accordingly went to bed in
high spirits. "At last we have run down the old fox," said he, "and we
will bag him in the morning."


  [Sidenote: But Washington prepares a checkmate]

  [Sidenote: and again severs the British line at Princeton, Jan. 3]

The situation was indeed a very dangerous one; but when the British
general called his antagonist an old fox, he did him no more than
justice. In its union of slyness with audacity, the movement which
Washington now executed strongly reminds one of "Stonewall" Jackson. He
understood perfectly well what Cornwallis intended to do; but he knew
at the same time that detachments of the British army must have been
left behind at Princeton and New Brunswick to guard the stores. From the
size of the army before him he rightly judged that these rear
detachments must be too small to withstand his own force. By
overwhelming one or both of them, he could compel Cornwallis to retreat
upon New York, while he himself might take up an impregnable position on
the heights about Morristown, from which he might threaten the British
line and hold their whole army in check,--a most brilliant and daring
scheme for a commander to entertain while in such a perilous position as
Washington was that night! But the manner in which he began by
extricating himself was not the least brilliant part of the manoeuvre.
All night long the American camp-fires were kept burning brightly, and
small parties were busily engaged in throwing up intrenchments so near
the Assunpink that the British sentinels could plainly hear the murmur
of their voices and the thud of the spade and pickaxe. While this was
going on, the whole American army marched swiftly up the south bank of
the little stream, passed around Cornwallis's left wing to his rear, and
gained the road to Princeton. Toward sunrise, as the British detachment
was coming down the road from Princeton to Trenton, in obedience to
Cornwallis's order, its van, under Colonel Mawhood, met the foremost
column of Americans approaching, under General Mercer. As he caught
sight of the Americans, Mawhood thought that they must be a party of
fugitives, and hastened to intercept them; but he was soon undeceived.
The Americans attacked with vigour, and a sharp fight was sustained,
with varying fortunes, until Mercer was pierced by a bayonet, and his
men began to fall back in some confusion. Just at this critical moment
Washington came galloping upon the field and rallied the troops, and as
the entire forces on both sides had now come up the fight became
general. In a few minutes the British were routed and their line was cut
in two; one half fleeing toward Trenton, the other half toward New
Brunswick. There was little slaughter, as the whole fight did not occupy
more than twenty minutes. The British lost about 200 in killed and
wounded, with 300 prisoners and their cannon; the American loss was less
than 100.

  [Portrait: Hugh Mercer]

  [Sidenote: General retreat of the British toward New York]

Shortly before sunrise, the men who had been left in the camp on the
Assunpink to feed the fires and make a noise beat a hasty retreat, and
found their way to Princeton by circuitous paths. When Cornwallis got
up, he could hardly believe his eyes. Here was nothing before him but an
empty camp: the American army had vanished, and whither it had gone he
could not imagine. But his perplexity was soon relieved by the booming
of distant cannon on the Princeton road, and the game which the "old
fox" had played him all at once became apparent. Nothing was to be done
but to retreat upon New Brunswick with all possible haste, and save the
stores there. His road led back through Princeton, and from Mawhood's
fugitives he soon heard the story of the morning's disaster. His march
was hindered by various impediments. A thaw had set in, so that the
little streams had swelled into roaring torrents, difficult to ford, and
the American army, which had passed over the road before daybreak, had
not forgotten to destroy the bridges. By the time that Cornwallis and
his men reached Princeton, wet and weary, the Americans had already left
it, but they had not gone on to New Brunswick. Washington had hoped to
seize the stores there, but the distance was eighteen miles, his men
were wretchedly shod and too tired to march rapidly, and it would not be
prudent to risk a general engagement when his main purpose could be
secured without one. For these reasons, Washington turned northward to
the heights of Morristown, while Cornwallis continued his retreat to New
Brunswick. A few days later, Putnam advanced from Philadelphia and
occupied Princeton, thus forming the right wing of the American army, of
which the main body lay at Morristown, while Heath's division on the
Hudson constituted the left wing. Various cantonments were established
along this long line. On the 5th, George Clinton, coming down from
Peekskill, drove the British out of Hackensack and occupied it, while on
the same day a detachment of German mercenaries at Springfield was
routed by a body of militia. Elizabethtown was then taken by General
Maxwell, whereupon the British retired from Newark.

  [Sidenote: The tables completely turned]

Thus in a brief campaign of three weeks Washington had rallied the
fragments of a defeated and broken army, fought two successful battles,
taken nearly 2,000 prisoners, and recovered the state of New Jersey. He
had cancelled the disastrous effects of Lee's treachery, and replaced
things apparently in the condition in which the fall of Fort Washington
had left them. Really he had done much more than this, for by assuming
the offensive and winning victories through sheer force of genius, he
had completely turned the tide of popular feeling. The British generals
began to be afraid of him, while on the other hand his army began to
grow by the accession of fresh recruits. In New Jersey, the enemy
retained nothing but New Brunswick, Amboy, and Paulus Hook.

On the 25th of January Washington issued a proclamation declaring that
all persons who had accepted Lord Howe's offer of protection must either
retire within the British lines or come forward and take the oath of
allegiance to the United States. Many narrow-minded people, who did not
look with favour upon a close federation of the states, commented
severely upon the form of this proclamation: it was too national, they
said. But it proved effective. However lukewarm may have been the
interest which many of the Jersey people felt in the war when their soil
was first invaded, the conduct of the British troops had been such that
every one now looked upon them as enemies. They had foraged
indiscriminately upon friend and foe; they had set fire to farmhouses,
and in one or two instances murdered peaceful citizens. The wrath of the
people had waxed so hot that it was not safe for the British to stir
beyond their narrow lines except in considerable force. Their foraging
parties were waylaid and cut off by bands of yeomanry, and so sorely
were they harassed in their advanced position at New Brunswick that they
often suffered from want of food. Many of the German mercenaries, caring
nothing for the cause in which they had been forcibly enlisted, began
deserting; and in this they were encouraged by Congress, which issued a
manifesto in German, making a liberal offer of land to any foreign
soldier who should leave the British service. This little document was
inclosed in the wrappers in which packages of tobacco were sold, and
every now and then some canny smoker accepted the offer.

  [Sidenote: Washington's superb generalship]

Washington's position at Morristown was so strong that there was no hope
of dislodging him, and the snow-blocked roads made the difficulties of a
winter campaign so great that Howe thought best to wait for warm weather
before doing anything more. While the British arms were thus held in
check, the friends of America, both in England and on the continent of
Europe, were greatly encouraged. From this moment Washington was
regarded in Europe as a first-rate general. Military critics who were
capable of understanding his movements compared his brilliant
achievements with his slender resources, and discovered in him genius of
a high order. Men began to call him "the American Fabius;" and this
epithet was so pleasing to his fellow-countrymen, in that pedantic age,
that it clung to him for the rest of his life, and was repeated in
newspapers and speeches and pamphlets with wearisome iteration. Yet
there was something more than Fabian in Washington's generalship. For
wariness he has never been surpassed; yet, as Colonel Stedman observed,
in his excellent contemporary history of the war, the most remarkable
thing about Washington was his courage. It would be hard indeed to find
more striking examples of audacity than he exhibited at Trenton and
Princeton. Lord Cornwallis was no mean antagonist, and no one was a
better judge of what a commander might be expected to do with a given
stock of resources. His surprise at the Assunpink was so great that he
never got over it. After the surrender at Yorktown, it is said that his
lordship expressed to Washington his generous admiration for the
wonderful skill which had suddenly hurled an army four hundred miles,
from the Hudson river to the James, with such precision and such deadly
effect. "But after all," he added, "your excellency's achievements in
New Jersey were such that nothing could surpass them." The man who had
turned the tables on him at the Assunpink he could well believe to be
capable of anything.

  [Portrait: Beaumarchais]

In England the effect of the campaign was very serious. Not long before,
Edmund Burke had despondingly remarked that an army which was always
obliged to refuse battle could never expel the invaders; but now the
case wore a different aspect. Sir William Howe had not so much to show
for his red ribbon, after all. He had taken New York, and dealt many
heavy blows with his overwhelming force, unexpectedly aided by foul play
on the American side; but as for crushing Washington and ending the war,
he seemed farther from it than ever. It would take another campaign to
do this,--perhaps many. Lord North, who had little heart for the war at
any time, was discouraged, while the king and Lord George Germain were
furious with disappointment. "It was that unhappy affair of Trenton,"
observed the latter, "that blasted our hopes."

  [Portrait: Silas Deane]

In France the interest in American affairs grew rapidly. Louis XVI. had
no love for Americans or for rebels, but revenge for the awful disasters
of 1758 and 1759 was dear to the French heart. France felt toward
England then as she feels toward Germany now, and so long ago as the
time of the Stamp Act, Baron Kalb had been sent on a secret mission to
America, to find out how the people regarded the British government. The
policy of the French ministry was aided by the romantic sympathy for
America which was felt in polite society. Never perhaps have the
opinions current among fashionable ladies and gentlemen been so directly
controlled by philosophers and scholars as in France during the latter
half of the eighteenth century. Never perhaps have men of letters
exercised such mighty influence over their contemporaries as Voltaire,
with his noble enthusiasm for humanity, and Rousseau, with his startling
political paradoxes, and the writers of the "Encyclopédie," with their
revelations of new points of view in science and in history. To such men
as these, and to such profound political thinkers as Montesquieu and
Turgot, the preservation of English liberty was the hope of the world;
but they took little interest in the British crown or in the imperial
supremacy of Parliament. All therefore sympathized with the Americans
and urged on the policy which the court for selfish reasons was inclined
to pursue. Vergennes, the astute minister of foreign affairs, had for
some time been waiting for a convenient opportunity to take part in the
struggle, but as yet he had contented himself with furnishing secret
assistance. For more than a year he had been intriguing, through
Beaumarchais, the famous author of "Figaro," with Arthur Lee (a brother
of Richard Henry Lee), who had long served in London as agent for
Virginia. Just before the Declaration of Independence Vergennes sent
over a million dollars to aid the American cause. Soon afterwards
Congress sent Silas Deane to Paris, and presently ordered Arthur Lee to
join him there. In October Franklin was also sent over, and the three
were appointed commissioners for making a treaty of alliance with

  [Portrait: Arthur Lee]

The arrival of Franklin was the occasion of great excitement in the
fashionable world of Paris. By thinkers like Diderot and D'Alembert he
was regarded as the embodiment of practical wisdom. To many he seemed to
sum up in himself the excellences of the American cause,--justice, good
sense, and moderation. Voltaire spoke quite unconsciously of the
American army as "Franklin's troops." It was Turgot who said of him, in
a line which is one of the finest modern specimens of epigrammatic
Latin, "Eripuit coelo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis." As symbolizing
the liberty for which all France was yearning, he was greeted with a
popular enthusiasm such as perhaps no Frenchman except Voltaire has ever
called forth. As he passed along the streets, the shopkeepers rushed to
their doors to catch a glimpse of him, while curious idlers crowded the
sidewalk. The charm of his majestic and venerable figure seemed
heightened by the republican simplicity of his plain brown coat, over
the shoulders of which his long gray hair fell carelessly, innocent of
queue or powder. His portrait was hung in the shop-windows and painted
in miniature on the covers of snuff-boxes. Gentlemen wore "Franklin"
hats, ladies' kid gloves were dyed of a "Franklin" hue, and _cotelettes
à la Franklin_ were served at fashionable dinners.


As the first fruits of Franklin's negotiations, the French government
agreed to furnish two million livres a year, in quarterly instalments,
to assist the American cause. Three ships, laden with military stores,
were sent over to America: one was captured by a British cruiser, but
the other two arrived safely. The Americans were allowed to fit out
privateers in French ports, and even to bring in and sell their prizes
there. Besides this a million livres were advanced to the commissioners
on account of a quantity of tobacco which they agreed to send in
exchange. Further than this France was not yet ready to go. The British
ambassador had already begun to protest against the violation of
neutrality involved in the departure of privateers, and France was not
willing to run the risk of open war with England until it should become
clear that the Americans would prove efficient allies. The king,
moreover, sympathized with George III., and hated the philosophers whose
opinions swayed the French people; and in order to accomplish anything
in behalf of the Americans he had to be coaxed or bullied at every step.

But though the French government was not yet ready to send troops to
America, volunteers were not wanting who cast in their lot with us
through a purely disinterested enthusiasm. At a dinner party in Metz,
the Marquis de Lafayette, then a boy of nineteen, heard the news from
America, and instantly resolved to leave his pleasant home and offer his
services to Washington. He fitted up a ship at his own expense, loaded
it with military stores furnished by Beaumarchais, and set sail from
Bordeaux on the 26th of April, taking with him Kalb and eleven other
officers. While Marie Antoinette applauded his generous self-devotion,
the king forbade him to go, but he disregarded the order. His young
wife, whom he deemed it prudent to leave behind, he consoled with the
thought that the future welfare of all mankind was at stake in the
struggle for constitutional liberty which was going on in America, and
that where he saw a chance to be useful it was his duty to go. The able
Polish officers, Pulaski and Kosciuszko, had come some time before.

  [Portrait: Lafayette]

During the winter season at Morristown, Washington was busy in
endeavouring to recruit and reorganize the army. Up to this time the
military preparations of Congress had been made upon a ludicrously
inadequate scale. There had been no serious attempt to create a regular
army, but squads of militia had been enlisted for terms of three or six
months, as if there were any likelihood of the war being ended within
such a period. The rumour of Lord Howe's olive-branch policy may at
first have had something to do with this, and even after the
Declaration of Independence had made further temporizing impossible,
there were many who expected Washington to perform miracles and thought
that by some crushing blow the invaders might soon be brought to terms.
But the events of the autumn had shown that the struggle was likely to
prove long and desperate, and there could be no doubt as to the
imperative need of a regular army. To provide such an army was, however,
no easy task. The Continental Congress was little more than an advisory
body of delegates, and it was questionable how far it could exercise
authority except as regarded the specific points which the constituents
of these delegates had in view when they chose them. Congress could only
recommend to the different states to raise their respective quotas of
men, and each state gave heed to such a request according to its ability
or its inclination. All over the country there was then, as always, a
deep-rooted prejudice against standing armies. Even to-day, with our
population of seventy millions, a proposal to increase our regular army
to fifty thousand men, for the more efficient police of the Indian
districts in Arizona and Montana, has been greeted by the press with
tirades about military despotism. A century ago this feeling was
naturally much stronger than it is to-day. The presence of standing
armies in this country had done much toward bringing on the Revolution;
and it was not until it had become evident that we must either endure
the king's regulars or have regulars of our own that the people could be
made to adopt the latter alternative. Under the influence of these
feelings, the state militias were enlisted for very short terms, each
under its local officers, so that they resembled a group of little
allied armies. Such methods were fatal to military discipline. Such
soldiers as had remained in the army ever since it first gathered itself
together on the day of Lexington had now begun to learn something of
military discipline; but it was impossible to maintain it in the face of
the much greater number who kept coming and going at intervals of three
months. With such fluctuations in strength, moreover, it was difficult
to carry out any series of military operations. The Christmas night when
Washington crossed the Delaware was the most critical moment of his
career; for the terms of service of the greater part of his little army
expired on New Year's Day, and but for the success at Trenton, they
would almost certainly have disbanded. But in the exultant mood begotten
of this victory, they were persuaded to remain for some weeks longer,
thus enabling Washington to recover the state of New Jersey. So low had
the public credit sunk, at this season of disaster, that Washington
pledged his private fortune for the payment of these men, in case
Congress should be found wanting; and his example was followed by the
gallant John Stark and other officers. Except for the sums raised by
Robert Morris of Philadelphia, even Washington could not have saved the

  [Portrait: Rob Morris.]

Another source of weakness was the intense dislike and jealousy with
which the militia of the different states regarded each other. Their
alliance against the common enemy had hitherto done little more toward
awakening a cordial sympathy between the states than the alliance of
Athenians with Lacedæmonians against the Great King accomplished toward
ensuring peace and good-will throughout the Hellenic world. Politically
the men of Virginia had thus far acted in remarkable harmony with the
men of New England, but socially there was little fellowship between
them. In those days of slow travel the plantations of Virginia were much
more remote from Boston than they now are from London, and the
generalizations which the one people used to make about the other were,
if possible, even more crude than those which Englishmen and Americans
are apt to make about each other at the present day. In the stately
elegance of the Virginian country mansion it seemed right to sneer at
New England merchants and farmers as "shopkeepers" and "peasants," while
many people in Boston regarded Virginian planters as mere Squire
Westerns. Between the eastern and the middle states, too, there was much
ill-will, because of theological differences and boundary disputes. The
Puritan of New Hampshire had not yet made up his quarrel with the
Churchman of New York concerning the ownership of the Green Mountains;
and the wrath of the Pennsylvania Quaker waxed hot against the Puritan
of Connecticut who dared claim jurisdiction over the valley of Wyoming.
We shall find such animosities bearing bitter fruit in personal
squabbles among soldiers and officers, as well as in removals and
appointments of officers for reasons which had nothing to do with their
military competence. Even in the highest ranks of the army and in
Congress these local prejudices played their part and did no end of

From the outset Washington had laboured with Congress to take measures
to obviate these alarming difficulties. In the midst of his retreat
through the Jerseys he declared that "short enlistments and a mistaken
dependence upon militia have been the origin of all our misfortunes,"
and at the same time he recommended that a certain number of battalions
should be raised directly by the United States, comprising volunteers
drawn indiscriminately from the several states. These measures were
adopted by Congress, and at the same time Washington was clothed with
almost dictatorial powers. It was decided that the army of state troops
should be increased to 66,000 men, divided into eighty-eight battalions,
of which Massachusetts and Virginia were each to contribute fifteen,
"Pennsylvania twelve, North Carolina nine, Connecticut eight, South
Carolina six, New York and New Jersey four each, New Hampshire and
Maryland three each, Rhode Island two, Delaware and Georgia each one."
The actual enlistments fell very far short of this number of men, and
the proportions assigned by Congress, based upon the population of the
several states, were never heeded. The men now enlisted were to serve
during the war, and were to receive at the end a hundred acres of land
each as bounty. Colonels were to have a bounty of five hundred acres,
and inferior officers were to receive an intermediate quantity. Even
with these offers it was found hard to persuade men to enlist for the
war, so that it was judged best to allow the recruit his choice of
serving for three years and going home empty-handed, or staying till the
war should end in the hope of getting a new farm for one of his
children. All this enlisting was to be done by the several states, which
were also to clothe and arm their recruits, but the money for their
equipments, as well as for the payment and support of the troops, was to
be furnished by Congress. Officers were to be selected by the states,
but formally commissioned by Congress. At the same time Washington was
authorized to raise sixteen battalions of infantry, containing 12,000
men, three regiments of artillery, 3,000 light cavalry, and a corps of
engineers. These forces were to be enlisted under Washington's
direction, in the name of the United States, and were to be taken
indiscriminately from all parts of the country. Their officers were to
be appointed by Washington, who was furthermore empowered to fill all
vacancies and remove any officer below the rank of brigadier-general in
any department of the army. Washington was also authorized to take
whatever private property might anywhere be needed for the army,
allowing a fair compensation to the owners; and he was instructed to
arrest at his own discretion, and hold for trial by the civil courts,
any person who should refuse to take the continental paper money, or
otherwise manifest a want of sympathy with the American cause.

These extraordinary powers, which at the darkest moment of the war were
conferred upon Washington for a period of six months, occasioned much
grumbling, but it does not appear that any specific difficulty ever
arose through the way in which they were exercised. It would be as hard,
perhaps, to find any strictly legal justification for the creation of a
Continental army as it would be to tell just where the central
government of the United States was to be found at that time. Strictly
speaking, no central government had as yet been formed. No articles of
confederation had yet been adopted by the states, and the authority of
the Continental Congress had been in nowise defined. It was generally
felt, however, that the Congress now sitting had been chosen for the
purpose of representing the states in their relations to the British
crown. This Congress had been expressly empowered to declare the states
independent of Great Britain, and to wage war for the purpose of making
good its declaration. And it was accordingly felt that Congress was
tacitly authorized to take such measures as were absolutely needful for
the maintenance of the struggle. The enlistment of a Continental force
was therefore an act done under an implied "war power," something like
the power invoked at a later day to justify the edict by which President
Lincoln emancipated the slaves. The thoroughly English political genius
of the American people teaches them when and how to tolerate such
anomalies, and has more than once enabled them safely to cut the Gordian
knot which mere logic could not untie if it were to fumble till
doomsday. In the second year after Lexington the American commonwealths
had already entered upon the path of their "manifest destiny," and were
becoming united into one political body faster than the people could
distinctly realize.


  [9] Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut, was a graduate of
      Harvard in 1737, in the same class with Hutchinson. Washington
      used to call him "Brother Jonathan." He was father of John
      Trumbull, the famous painter.

  [10] This view is taken from the Hudson river, and shows Fort George
       at the extreme right. The street facing upon the river was
       Greenwich Street, from which the descent to the water was
       abrupt. The cliff-like look of the banks has since been
       destroyed by the addition of new land sloping gently down to
       the water level at West Street. The church most conspicuous in
       the picture is the old Trinity, which was burned in 1776.

  [11] This is a contemporary view of the road by which Howe advanced
       upon Sullivan's rear.

                              CHAPTER VI

                      SECOND BLOW AT THE CENTRE

  [Sidenote: Carleton invades New York]

Ever since the failure of the American invasion of Canada, it had been
the intention of Sir Guy Carleton, in accordance with the wishes of the
ministry, to invade New York by way of Lake Champlain, and to secure the
Mohawk valley and the upper waters of the Hudson. The summer of 1776 had
been employed by Carleton in getting together a fleet with which to
obtain control of the lake. It was an arduous task. Three large vessels
were sent over from England, and proceeded up the St. Lawrence as far as
the rapids, where they were taken to pieces, carried overland to St.
John's, and there put together again. Twenty gunboats and more than two
hundred flat-bottomed transports were built at Montreal, and manned with
700 picked seamen and gunners; and upon this flotilla Carleton embarked
his army of 12,000 men.

  [Sidenote: Arnold's preparations]

To oppose the threatened invasion, Benedict Arnold had been working all
the summer with desperate energy. In June the materials for his navy
were growing in the forests of Vermont, while his carpenters with their
tools, his sail-makers with their canvas, and his gunners with their
guns had mostly to be brought from the coast towns of Connecticut and
Massachusetts. By the end of September he had built a little fleet of
three schooners, two sloops, three galleys, and eight gondolas, and
fitted it out with seventy guns and such seamen and gunners as he could
get together. With this flotilla he could not hope to prevent the
advance of such an overwhelming force as that of the enemy. The most he
could do would be to worry and delay it, besides raising the spirits of
the people by the example of an obstinate and furious resistance. To
allow Carleton to reach Ticonderoga without opposition would be
disheartening, whereas by delay and vexation he might hope to dampen the
enthusiasm of the invader. With this end in view, Arnold proceeded down
the lake far to the north of Crown Point, and taking up a strong
position between Valcour Island and the western shore, so that both his
wings were covered and he could be attacked only in front, he lay in
wait for the enemy. James Wilkinson, who twenty years afterward became
commander-in-chief of the American army, and survived the second war
with England, was then at Ticonderoga, on Gates's staff. Though
personally hostile to Arnold, he calls attention in his Memoirs to the
remarkable skill exhibited in the disposition of the little fleet at
Valcour Island, which was the same in principle as that by which
Macdonough won his brilliant victory, not far from the same spot, in


  [Sidenote: Battle of Valcour Island, Oct. 11, 1776]

On the 11th of October, Sir Guy Carleton's squadron approached, and
there ensued the first battle fought between an American and a British
fleet. At sundown, after a desperate fight of seven hours' duration, the
British withdrew out of range, intending to renew the struggle in the
morning. Both fleets had suffered severely, but the Americans were so
badly cut up that Carleton expected to force them to surrender the next
day. But Arnold during the hazy night contrived to slip through the
British line with all that was left of his crippled flotilla, and made
away for Crown Point with all possible speed. Though he once had to stop
to mend leaks, and once to take off the men and guns from two gondolas
which were sinking, he nevertheless, by dint of sailing and kedging, got
such a start that the enemy did not overtake him until the next day but
one, when he was nearing Crown Point. While the rest of the fleet, by
Arnold's orders, now crowded sail for their haven, he in his schooner
sustained an ugly fight for four hours with the three largest British
vessels, one of which mounted eighteen twelve-pounders. His vessel was
wofully cut up, and her deck covered with dead and dying men, when,
having sufficiently delayed the enemy, he succeeded in running her
aground in a small creek, where he set her on fire, and she perished
gloriously, with her flag flying till the flames brought it down. Then
marching through woodland paths to Crown Point, where his other vessels
had now disembarked their men, he brought away his whole force in safety
to Ticonderoga. When Carleton appeared before that celebrated fortress,
finding it strongly defended, and doubting his ability to reduce it
before the setting in of cold weather, he decided to take his army back
to Canada, satisfied for the present with having gained control of Lake
Champlain. This sudden retreat of Carleton astonished both friend and
foe. He was blamed for it by his generals, Burgoyne, Phillips, and
Riedesel, as well as by the king; and when we see how easily the
fortress was seized by Phillips in the following summer, we can hardly
doubt that it was a grave mistake.

  [Sidenote: Congress promotes five junior brigadiers over Arnold, Feb.
             19, 1777]

  [Sidenote: Philip Schuyler]

Arnold had now won an enviable reputation as the "bravest of the brave."
In his terrible march through the wilderness of Maine, in the assault
upon Quebec, and in the defence of Lake Champlain, he had shown rare
heroism and skill. The whole country rang with his praises, and
Washington regarded him as one of the ablest officers in the army. Yet
when Congress now proceeded to appoint five new major-generals, they
selected Stirling, Mifflin, St. Clair, Stephen, and Lincoln, passing
over Arnold, who was the senior brigadier. None of the generals named
could for a moment be compared with Arnold for ability, and this strange
action of Congress, coming soon after such a brilliant exploit,
naturally hurt his feelings and greatly incensed him. Arnold was proud
and irascible in temper, but on this occasion he controlled himself
manfully, and listened to Washington, who entreated him not to resign.
So astonished was Washington at the action of Congress that at first he
could not believe it. He thought either that Arnold must really have
received a prior appointment, which for some reason had not yet been
made public, or else that his name must have been omitted through some
unaccountable oversight. It turned out, however, on further inquiry,
that state jealousies had been the cause of the mischief. The reason
assigned for ignoring Arnold's services was that Connecticut had already
two major-generals, and was not in fairness entitled to any more! But
beneath this alleged reason there lurked a deeper reason, likewise
founded in jealousies between the states. The intrigues which soon after
disgraced the northern army and imperilled the safety of the country had
already begun to bear bitter fruit. Since the beginning of the war,
Major-General Philip Schuyler had been in command of the northern
department, with his headquarters at Albany, whence his ancestors had a
century before hurled defiance at Frontenac. His family was one of the
most distinguished in New York, and an inherited zeal for the public
service thrilled in every drop of his blood. No more upright or
disinterested man could be found in America, and for bravery and
generosity he was like the paladin of some mediæval romance. In spite of
these fine qualities, he was bitterly hated by the New England men, who
formed a considerable portion of his army. Beside the general stupid
dislike which the people of New York and of New England then felt for
each other, echoes of which are still sometimes heard nowadays, there
was a special reason for the odium which was heaped upon Schuyler. The
dispute over the possession of Vermont had now raged fiercely for
thirteen years, and Schuyler, as a member of the New York legislature,
had naturally been zealous in urging the claims of his own state. For
this crime the men of New England were never able to forgive him, and he
was pursued with vindictive hatred until his career as a general was
ruined. His orders were obeyed with sullenness, the worst interpretation
was put upon every one of his acts, and evil-minded busybodies were
continually pouring into the ears of Congress a stream of tattle, which
gradually wore out their trust in him.

  [Sidenote: Horatio Gates]

The evil was greatly enhanced by the fact that among the generals of the
northern army there was one envious creature who was likely to take
Schuyler's place in case he should be ousted from it, and who for so
desirable an object was ready to do any amount of intriguing. The part
sustained by Charles Lee with reference to Washington was to some extent
paralleled here by the part sustained toward Schuyler by Horatio Gates.
There is indeed no reason for supposing that Gates was capable of such
baseness as Lee exhibited in his willingness to play into the hands of
the enemy; nor had he the nerve for such prodigious treason as that in
which Arnold engaged after his sympathies had become alienated from the
American cause. With all his faults, Gates never incurred the odium
which belongs to a public traitor. But his nature was thoroughly weak
and petty, and he never shrank from falsehood when it seemed to serve
his purpose. Unlike Lee, he was comely in person, mild in disposition,
and courteous in manner, except when roused to anger or influenced by
spite, when he sometimes became very violent. He never gave evidence of
either skill or bravery; and in taking part in the war his only
solicitude seems to have been for his own personal advancement. In the
course of his campaigning with the northern army, he seems never once to
have been under fire, but he would incur no end of fatigue to get a
private talk with a delegate in Congress. Like many others, he took a
high position at the beginning of the struggle simply because he was a
veteran of the Seven Years' War, having been one of the officers who
were brought off in safety from the wreck of Braddock's army by the
youthful skill and prowess of Washington. At present, and until after
the end of the Saratoga campaign, such reputation as he had was won by
appropriating the fame which was earned by his fellow-generals. He was
in command at Ticonderoga when Arnold performed his venturesome feat on
Lake Champlain, and when Carleton made his blunder in not attacking the
stronghold; and all this story Gates told to Congress as the story of an
advantage which he had somehow gained over Carleton, at the same time
anxiously inquiring if Congress regarded him, in his remote position at
Ticonderoga, as subject to the orders of Schuyler at Albany. Finding
that he was thus regarded as subordinate, he became restive, and seized
the earliest opportunity of making a visit to Congress. The retreat of
Carleton enabled Schuyler to send seven regiments to the relief of
Washington in New Jersey, and we have already seen how Gates, on
arriving with this reinforcement, declined to assist personally in the
Trenton campaign, and took the occasion to follow Congress in its
retreat to Baltimore.

  [Portrait: Horatio Gates]

  [Sidenote: Gates intrigues against Schuyler]

The winter seems to have been spent in intrigue. Knowing the chief
source of Schuyler's unpopularity, Gates made it a point to declare, as
often and as loudly as possible, his belief that the state of New York
had no title to the Green Mountain country. In this way he won golden
opinions from the people of New England, and rose high in the good
graces of such members of Congress as Samuel Adams, whose noble nature
was slow to perceive his meanness and duplicity. The failure of the
invasion of Canada had caused much chagrin in Congress, and it was
sought to throw the whole blame of it upon Schuyler for having, as it
was alleged, inadequately supported Montgomery and Arnold. The unjust
charge served to arouse a prejudice in many minds, and during the winter
some irritating letters passed between Schuyler and Congress, until late
in March, 1777, he obtained permission to visit Philadelphia and
vindicate himself. On the 22d of May, after a thorough investigation,
Schuyler's conduct received the full approval of Congress, and he was
confirmed in his command of the northern department, which was expressly
defined as including Lakes George and Champlain, as well as the valleys
of the Hudson and the Mohawk.

  [Sidenote: Gates visits Congress]

The sensitive soul of Gates now took fresh offence. He had been sent
back in March to his post at Ticonderoga, just as Schuyler was starting
for Philadelphia, and he flattered himself with the hope that he would
soon be chosen to supersede his gallant commander. Accordingly when he
found that Schuyler had been reinstated in all his old command and
honours, he flew into a rage, refused to serve in a subordinate
capacity, wrote an impudent letter to Washington, and at last got
permission to visit Congress again, while General St. Clair was
appointed in his stead to the command of the great northern fortress. On
the 19th of June, Gates obtained a hearing before Congress, and behaved
with such unseemly violence that after being repeatedly called to order,
he was turned out of the room, amid a scene of angry confusion. Such
conduct should naturally have ruined his cause, but he had made so many
powerful friends that by dint of more or less apologetic talk the
offence was condoned.

  [Portrait: Arthur St. Clair]

  [Sidenote: Charges against Arnold]

Throughout these bickerings Arnold had been the steadfast friend of
Schuyler; and although his brilliant exploits had won general
admiration, he did not fail to catch some of the odium so plentifully
bestowed upon the New York commander. In the chaos of disappointment and
wrath which ensued upon the disastrous retreat from Canada in 1776, when
everybody was eager to punish somebody else for the ill fortune which
was solely due to the superior resources of the enemy, Arnold came in
for his share of blame. No one could find any fault with his military
conduct, but charges were brought against him on the ground of some
exactions of private property at Montreal which had been made for the
support of the army. A thorough investigation of the case demonstrated
Arnold's entire uprightness in the matter, and the verdict of Congress,
which declared the charges to be "cruel and unjust," was indorsed by
Washington. Nevertheless, in the manifold complications of feeling which
surrounded the Schuyler trouble, these unjust charges succeeded in
arousing a prejudice which may have had something to do with the slight
cast upon Arnold in the appointment of the new major-generals. In the
whole course of American history there are few sadder chapters than
this. Among the scandals of this eventful winter we can trace the
beginnings of the melancholy chain of events which by and by resulted in
making the once heroic name of Benedict Arnold a name of opprobrium
throughout the world. We already begin to see, too, originating in Lee's
intrigues of the preceding autumn, and nourished by the troubles growing
out of the Vermont quarrel and the ambitious schemes of Gates, the
earliest germs of that faction which erelong was to seek to compass the
overthrow of Washington himself.

  [Sidenote: Tryon's expedition against Danbury]

  [Sidenote: Arnold defeats Tryon at Ridgefield, April 27, 1777]

For the present the injustice suffered by Arnold had not wrought its
darksome change in him. A long and complicated series of influences was
required to produce that result. To the earnest appeal of Washington
that he should not resign he responded cordially, declaring that no
personal considerations should induce him to stay at home while the
interests of his country were at stake. He would zealously serve under
his juniors, who had lately been raised above him, so long as the common
welfare was in danger. An opportunity for active service soon presented
itself. Among the preparations for the coming summer campaign, Sir
William Howe thought it desirable to cripple the Americans by seizing a
large quantity of military stores which had been accumulated at Danbury
in Connecticut. An expedition was sent out, very much like that which at
Lexington and Concord had ushered in the war, and it met with a similar
reception. A force of 2,000 men, led by the royal governor, Tryon, of
North Carolina fame, landed at Fairfield, and marched to Danbury, where
they destroyed the stores and burned a large part of the town. The
militia turned out, as on the day of Lexington, led by General Wooster,
who was slain in the first skirmish. By this time Arnold, who happened
to be visiting his children in New Haven, had heard of the affair, and
came upon the scene with 600 men. At Ridgefield a desperate fight
ensued, in which Arnold had two horses killed under him. The British
were defeated. By the time they reached their ships, 200 of their number
had been killed or wounded, and, with the yeomanry swarming on every
side, they narrowly escaped capture. For his share in this action Arnold
was made a major-general, and was presented by Congress with a fine
horse; but nothing was done towards restoring him to his relative rank,
nor was any explanation vouchsafed. Washington offered him the command
of the Hudson at Peekskill, which was liable to prove one of the
important points in the ensuing campaign; but Arnold for the moment
declined to take any such position until he should have conferred with
Congress, and fathomed the nature of the difficulties by which he had
been beset; and so the command of this important position was given to
the veteran Putnam.

The time for the summer campaign was now at hand. The first year of the
independence of the United States was nearly completed, and up to this
time the British had nothing to show for their work except the capture
of the city of New York and the occupation of Newport. The army of
Washington, which six months ago they had regarded as conquered and
dispersed, still balked and threatened them from its inexpugnable
position on the heights of Morristown. It was high time that something
more solid should be accomplished, for every month of adverse possession
added fresh weight to the American cause, and increased the probability
that France would interfere.

  [Sidenote: The military centre of the United States was the state of
             New York]

A decisive blow was accordingly about to be struck. After careful study
by Lord George Germain, and much consultation with General Burgoyne, who
had returned to England for the winter, it was decided to adhere to the
plan of the preceding year, with slight modifications. The great object
was to secure firm possession of the entire valley of the Hudson,
together with that of the Mohawk. It must be borne in mind that at this
time the inhabited part of the state of New York consisted almost
entirely of the Mohawk and Hudson valleys. All the rest was unbroken
wilderness, save for an occasional fortified trading-post. With a total
population of about 170,000, New York ranked seventh among the thirteen
states; just after Maryland and Connecticut, just before South Carolina.
At the same time, the geographical position of New York, whether from a
commercial or from a military point of view, was as commanding then as
it has ever been. It was thought that so small a population, among which
there were known to be many Tories, might easily be conquered and the
country firmly held. The people of New Jersey and Pennsylvania were
regarded as lukewarm supporters of the Declaration of Independence, and
it was supposed that the conquest of New York might soon be followed by
the subjection of these two provinces. With the British power thus
thrust, like a vast wedge, through the centre of the confederacy, it
would be impossible for New England to coöperate with the southern
states, and it was hoped that the union of the colonies against the
Crown would thus be effectually broken.


  [Signature: J Burgoyne]

  [Sidenote: A second blow to be struck at the centre. The plan of

With this object of conquering New York, we have seen Carleton, in 1776,
approaching through Lake Champlain, while Howe was wresting Manhattan
Island from Washington. But the plan was imperfectly conceived, and the
coöperation was feeble. How feeble it was is well shown by the fact that
Carleton's ill-judged retreat from Crown Point enabled Schuyler to send
reinforcements to Washington in time to take part in the great strokes
at Trenton and Princeton. Something, however, had been accomplished. In
spite of Arnold's desperate resistance and Washington's consummate
skill, the enemy had gained a hold upon both the northern and the
southern ends of the long line. But this obstinate resistance served to
some extent to awaken the enemy to the arduous character of the problem.
The plan was more carefully studied, and it was intended that this time
the coöperation should be more effectual. In order to take possession of
the whole state by one grand system of operations, it was decided that
the invasion should be conducted by three distinct armies operating upon
converging lines. A strong force from Canada was to take Ticonderoga,
and proceed down the line of the Hudson to Albany. This force was now to
be commanded by General Burgoyne, while his superior officer, General
Carleton, remained at Quebec. A second and much smaller force, under
Colonel St. Leger, was to go up the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario, land
at Oswego, and, with the aid of Sir John Johnson and the Indians, reduce
Fort Stanwix; after which he was to come down the Mohawk valley and
unite his forces with those of Burgoyne. At the same time, Sir William
Howe was to ascend the Hudson with the main army, force the passes of
the Highlands at Peekskill, and effect a junction with Burgoyne at
Albany. The junction of the three armies was expected to complete the
conquest of New York, and to insure the overthrow of American


  [Sidenote: The plan was unsound]

Such was the plan of campaign prepared by the ministry. There can be no
doubt that it was carefully studied, or that, if successful, it would
have proved very disastrous to the Americans. There is room for very
grave doubt, however, as to whether it was the most judicious plan to
adopt. The method of invading any country by distinct forces operating
upon converging lines is open to the objection that either force is
liable to be separately overwhelmed without the possibility of
reinforcement from the other. Such a plan is prudent only when the
invaded country has good roads, and when the invaders have a great
superiority in force, as was the case when the allied armies advanced
upon Paris in 1814. In northern and central New York, in 1777, the
conditions were very unfavourable to such a plan. The distances to be
traversed were long, and the roads were few and bad. Except in the
immediate neighbourhood of Albany and Saratoga, the country was covered
with the primeval forest, through which only the trapper and the savage
could make their way with speed. The Americans, too, had the great
advantage of operating upon interior lines. It was difficult for
Burgoyne at Fort Edward, St. Leger before Fort Stanwix, and Howe in the
city of New York to communicate with each other at all; it was
impossible for them to do so promptly; whereas nothing could be easier
than for Washington at Morristown to reach Putnam at Peekskill, or for
Putnam to forward troops to Schuyler at Albany, or for Schuyler to send
out a force to raise the siege of Fort Stanwix. In view of these
considerations, it seems probable that Lord George Germain would have
acted more wisely if he had sent Burgoyne with his army directly by sea
to reinforce Sir William Howe. The army thus united, and numbering more
than 30,000 men, would have been really formidable. If they had
undertaken to go up the river to Albany, it would have been hard to
prevent them. If their united presence at Albany was the great object of
the campaign, there was no advantage in sending one commander to reach
it by a difficult and dangerous overland march. The Hudson is
navigable by large vessels all the way to Albany, and by advancing in
this way the army might have preserved its connections; and whatever
disaster might have befallen, it would have been difficult for the
Americans to surround and capture so large a force. Once arrived at
Albany, the expedition of St. Leger might have set out from that point
as a matter of subsequent detail, and would have had a base within easy
distance upon which to fall back in case of defeat.

  [Sidenote: Germain's fatal error]

It does not appear, therefore, that there were any advantages to be
gained by Burgoyne's advance from the north which can be regarded as
commensurate with the risk which he incurred. To have transferred the
northern army from the St. Lawrence to the Hudson by sea would have been
far easier and safer than to send it through a hundred miles of
wilderness in northern New York; and whatever it could have effected in
the interior of the state could have been done as well in the former
case as in the latter. But these considerations do not seem to have
occurred to Lord George Germain. In the wars with the French, the
invading armies from Canada had always come by way of Lake Champlain, so
that this route was accepted without question, as if consecrated by long
usage. Through a similar association of ideas an exaggerated importance
was attached to the possession of Ticonderoga. The risks of the
enterprise, moreover, were greatly underestimated. In imagining that the
routes of Burgoyne and St. Leger would lie through a friendly country,
the ministry fatally misconceived the whole case. There was, indeed, a
powerful Tory party in the country, just as in the days of Robert Bruce
there was an English party in Scotland, just as in the days of Miltiades
there was a Persian party in Attika. But no one has ever doubted that
the victors at Marathon and at Bannockburn went forth with a hearty
godspeed from their fellow-countrymen; and the obstinate resistance
encountered by St. Leger, within a short distance of Johnson's Tory
stronghold, is an eloquent commentary upon the error of the ministry in
their estimate of the actual significance of the loyalist element on the
New York frontier.

  [Illustration: RUINS OF TICONDEROGA IN 1818]

  [Sidenote: Too many unknown quantities]

It thus appears that in the plan of a triple invasion upon converging
lines the ministry were dealing with too many unknown quantities. They
were running a prodigious risk for the sake of an advantage which in
itself was extremely open to question; for should it turn out that the
strength of the Tory party was not sufficiently great to make the
junction of the three armies at Albany at once equivalent to the
complete conquest of the state, then the end for which the campaign was
undertaken could not be secured without supplementary campaigns. Neither
a successful march up and down the Hudson river nor the erection of a
chain of British fortresses on that river could effectually cut off the
southern communications of New England, unless all military resistance
were finally crushed in the state of New York. The surest course for
the British, therefore, would have been to concentrate all their
available force at the mouth of the Hudson, and continue to make the
destruction of Washington's army the chief object of their exertions. In
view of the subtle genius which he had shown during the last campaign,
that would have been an arduous task; but, as events showed, they had to
deal with his genius all the same on the plan which they adopted, and at
a great disadvantage.

  [Sidenote: Danger from New England ignored]

Another point which the ministry overlooked was the effect of Burgoyne's
advance upon the people of New England. They could reasonably count upon
alarming the yeomanry of New Hampshire and Massachusetts by a bold
stroke upon the Hudson, but they failed to see that this alarm would
naturally bring about a rising that would be very dangerous to the
British cause. Difficult as it was at that time to keep the Continental
army properly recruited, it was not at all difficult to arouse the
yeomanry in the presence of an immediate danger. In the western parts of
New England there were scarcely any Tories to complicate the matter; and
the flank movement by the New England militia became one of the most
formidable features in the case.

  [Sidenote: The dispatch that was never sent]

But whatever may be thought of the merits of Lord George's plan, there
can be no doubt that its success was absolutely dependent upon the
harmonious coöperation of all the forces involved in it. The ascent of
the Hudson by Sir William Howe, with the main army, was as essential a
part of the scheme as the descent of Burgoyne from the north; and as the
two commanders could not easily communicate with each other, it was
necessary that both should be strictly bound by their instructions. At
this point a fatal blunder was made. Burgoyne was expressly directed to
follow the prescribed line down the Hudson, whatever might happen, until
he should effect his junction with the main army. On the other hand, no
such unconditional orders were received by Howe. He understood the plan
of campaign, and knew that he was expected to ascend the river in
force; but he was left with the usual discretionary power, and we shall
presently see what an imprudent use he made of it. The reasons for this
inconsistency on the part of the ministry were for a long time
unintelligible; but a memorandum of Lord Shelburne, lately brought to
light by Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice, has solved the mystery. It seems that
a dispatch, containing positive and explicit orders for Howe to ascend
the Hudson, was duly drafted, and, with many other papers, awaited the
minister's signature. Lord George Germain, being on his way to the
country, called at his office to sign the dispatches; but when he came
to the letter addressed to General Howe, he found it had not been "fair
copied." Lord George, like the old gentleman who killed himself in
defence of the great principle that crumpets are wholesome, never would
be put out of his way by anything. Unwilling to lose his holiday, he
hurried off to the green meadows of Kent, intending to sign the letter
on his return. But when he came back the matter had slipped from his
mind. The document on which hung the fortunes of an army, and perhaps of
a nation, got thrust unsigned into a pigeon-hole, where it was duly
discovered some time after the disaster at Saratoga had become part of

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Portrait: Riedesel]

  [Portrait: W Phillips]

  [Sidenote: Burgoyne advances upon Ticonderoga]

  [Sidenote: Phillips seizes Mount Defiance]

  [Sidenote: St. Clair abandons Ticonderoga, July 5, 1777]

  [Sidenote: Battle of Hubbardton, July 7]

Happy in his ignorance of the risks he was assuming, Burgoyne took the
field about the 1st of June, with an army of 7,902 men, of whom 4,135
were British regulars. His German troops from Brunswick, 3,116 in
number, were commanded by Baron Riedesel, an able general, whose
accomplished wife has left us such a picturesque and charming
description of the scenes of this adventurous campaign. Of Canadian
militia there were 148, and of Indians 503. The regular troops, both
German and English, were superbly trained and equipped, and their
officers were selected with especial care. Generals Phillips and Fraser
were regarded as among the best officers in the British service. On the
second anniversary of Bunker Hill this army began crossing the lake to
Crown Point; and on the 1st of July it appeared before Ticonderoga,
where St. Clair was posted with a garrison of 3,000 men. Since its
capture by Allen, the fortress had been carefully strengthened, until it
was now believed to be impregnable. But while no end of time and expense
had been devoted to the fortifications, a neighbouring point which
commands the whole position had been strangely neglected. A little less
than a mile south of Ticonderoga, the narrow mountain ridge between the
two lakes ends abruptly in a bold crag, which rises 600 feet sheer over
the blue water. Practised eyes in the American fort had already seen
that a hostile battery Phillips planted on this eminence would render
their stronghold untenable; but it was not believed that siege-guns
could be dragged up the steep ascent, and so, in spite of due warning,
the crag had not been secured when the British army arrived. General
Phillips at once saw the value of the position, and, approaching it by a
defile that was screened from the view of the fort, worked night and day
in breaking out a pathway and dragging up cannon. "Where a goat can go,
a man may go; and where a man can go, he can haul up a gun," argued the
gallant general. Great was the astonishment of the garrison when, on the
morning of July 5th, they saw red coats swarming on the hill, which the
British, rejoicing in their exploit, now named Mount Defiance. There
were not only red coats there, but brass cannon, which by the next day
would be ready for work. Ticonderoga had become a trap, from which the
garrison could not escape too quickly. A council of war was held, and
under cover of night St. Clair took his little army across the lake and
retreated upon Castleton in the Green Mountains. Such guns and stores as
could be saved, with the women and wounded men, were embarked in 200
boats, and sent, under a strong escort, to the head of the lake, whence
they continued their retreat to Fort Edward on the Hudson. About three
o'clock in the morning a house accidentally took fire, and in the glare
of the flames the British sentinels caught a glimpse of the American
rear-guard just as it was vanishing in the sombre depths of the forest.
Alarm guns were fired, and in less than an hour the British flag was
hoisted over the empty fortress, while General Fraser, with 900 men, had
started in hot pursuit of the retreating Americans. Riedesel was soon
sent to support him, while Burgoyne, leaving nearly 1,000 men to
garrison the fort, started up the lake with the main body of the army.
On the morning of the 7th, General Fraser overtook the American
rear-guard of 1,000 men, under Colonels Warner and Francis, at the
village of Hubbardton, about six miles behind the main army. A fierce
fight ensued, in which Fraser was worsted, and had begun to fall back,
with the loss of one fifth of his men, when Riedesel came up with his
Germans, and the Americans were put to flight, leaving one third of
their number killed or wounded. This obstinate resistance at Hubbardton
served to check the pursuit, and five days later St. Clair succeeded,
without further loss, in reaching Fort Edward, where he joined the main
army under Schuyler.


  [Sidenote: One swallow does not make a summer]

Up to this moment, considering the amount of work done and the extent of
country traversed, the loss of the British had been very small. They
began to speak contemptuously of their antagonists, and the officers
amused themselves by laying wagers as to the precise number of days it
would take them to reach Albany. In commenting on the failure to occupy
Mount Defiance, Burgoyne made a general statement on the strength of a
single instance,--which is the besetting sin of human reasoning. "It
convinces me," said he, "that the Americans have no men of military
science." Yet General Howe at Boston, in neglecting to occupy Dorchester
Heights, had made just the same blunder, and with less excuse; for no
one had ever doubted that batteries might be placed there by somebody.

  [Sidenote: The king's glee]

  [Sidenote: Wrath of John Adams]

  [Sidenote: Gates chiefly to blame]

In England the fall of Ticonderoga was greeted with exultation, as the
death-blow to the American cause. Horace Walpole tells how the king
rushed into the queen's apartment, clapping his hands and shouting, "I
have beat them! I have beat all the Americans!" People began to discuss
the best method of reëstablishing the royal governments in the
"colonies." In America there was general consternation. St. Clair was
greeted with a storm of abuse. John Adams, then president of the Board
of War, wrote, in the first white heat of indignation, "We shall never
be able to defend a post till we shoot a general!" Schuyler, too, as
commander of the department, was ignorantly and wildly blamed, and his
political enemies seized upon the occasion to circulate fresh stories to
his discredit. A court-martial in the following year vindicated St.
Clair's prudence in giving up an untenable position and saving his army
from capture. The verdict was just, but there is no doubt that the
failure to fortify Mount Defiance was a grave error of judgment, for
which the historian may fairly apportion the blame between St. Clair and
Gates. It was Gates who had been in command of Ticonderoga in the autumn
of 1776, when an attack by Carleton was expected, and his attention had
been called to this weak point by Colonel Trumbull, whom he laughed to
scorn. Gates had again been in command from March to June. St. Clair had
taken command about three weeks before Burgoyne's approach; he had
seriously considered the question of fortifying Mount Defiance, but had
not been sufficiently prompt. In no case could any blame attach to
Schuyler. Gates was more at fault than any one else, but he did not
happen to be at hand when the catastrophe occurred, and accordingly
people did not associate him with it. On the contrary, amid the general
wrath, the loss of the northern citadel was alleged as a reason for
superseding Schuyler by Gates; for if he had been there, it was thought
that the disaster would have been prevented.

  [Portrait: W Turnbull]

  [Sidenote: Burgoyne's difficulties begin]

The irony of events, however, alike ignoring American consternation and
British glee, showed that the capture of Ticonderoga was not to help the
invaders in the least. On the contrary, it straightway became a burden,
for it detained an eighth part of Burgoyne's force in garrison at a time
when he could ill spare it. Indeed, alarming as his swift advance had
seemed at first, Burgoyne's serious difficulties were now just
beginning, and the harder he laboured to surmount them the more
completely did he work himself into a position from which it was
impossible either to advance or to recede. On the 10th of July his
whole army had reached Skenesborough (now Whitehall), at the head of
Lake Champlain. From this point to Fort Edward, where the American army
was encamped, the distance was twenty miles as the crow flies; but
Schuyler had been industriously at work with those humble weapons the
axe and the crowbar, which in warfare sometimes prove mightier than the
sword. The roads, bad enough at their best, were obstructed every few
yards by huge trunks of fallen trees, that lay with their boughs
interwoven. Wherever the little streams could serve as aids to the
march, they were choked up with stumps and stones; wherever they served
as obstacles which needed to be crossed, the bridges were broken down.
The country was such an intricate labyrinth of creeks and swamps that
more than forty bridges had to be rebuilt in the course of the march.
Under these circumstances, Burgoyne's advance must be regarded as a
marvel of celerity. He accomplished a mile a day, and reached Fort
Edward on the 30th of July.

  [Sidenote: Schuyler wisely evacuates Fort Edward]

  [Sidenote: Enemies gathering in Burgoyne's rear]

In the mean time Schuyler had crossed the Hudson, and slowly fallen back
to Stillwater. For this retrograde movement fresh blame was visited upon
him by the general public, which at all times is apt to suppose that a
war should mainly consist of bloody battles, and which can seldom be
made to understand the strategic value of a retreat. The facts of the
case were also misunderstood. Fort Edward was supposed to be an
impregnable stronghold, whereas it was really commanded by highlands.
The Marquis de Chastellux, who visited it somewhat later, declared that
it could be taken at any time by 500 men with four siege-guns. Now for
fighting purposes an open field is much better than an untenable
fortress. If Schuyler had stayed in Fort Edward, he would probably have
been forced to surrender; and his wisdom in retreating is further shown
by the fact that every moment of delay counted in his favour. The
militia of New York and New England were already beating to arms. Some
of those yeomen who were with the army were allowed to go home for the
harvest; but the loss was more than made good by the numerous levies
which, at Schuyler's suggestion and by Washington's orders, were
collecting under General Lincoln in Vermont, for the purpose of
threatening Burgoyne in the rear. The people whose territory was invaded
grew daily more troublesome to the enemy. Burgoyne had supposed that it
would be necessary only to show himself at the head of an army, when the
people would rush by hundreds to offer support or seek protection. He
now found that the people withdrew from his line of advance, driving
their cattle before them, and seeking shelter, when possible, within the
lines of the American army. In his reliance upon the aid of New York
loyalists, he was utterly disappointed; very few Tories joined him, and
these could offer neither sound advice nor personal influence wherewith
to help him. When the yeomanry collected by hundreds, it was only to vex
him and retard his progress.

  [Sidenote: Use of Indian auxiliaries]

  [Sidenote: Burgoyne's address to the chiefs]

Even had the loyalist feeling on the Vermont frontier of New York been
far stronger than it really was, Burgoyne had done much to alienate or
stifle it by his ill-advised employment of Indian auxiliaries. For this
blunder the responsibility rests mainly with Lord North and Lord George
Germain. Burgoyne had little choice in the matter except to carry out
his instructions. Being a humane man, and sharing, perhaps, in that view
of the "noble savage" which was fashionable in Europe in the eighteenth
century, he fancied he could prevail upon his tawny allies to forego
their cherished pastime of murdering and scalping. When, at the
beginning of the campaign, he was joined by a party of Wyandots and
Ottawas, under command of that same redoubtable Charles de Langlade who,
twenty-two years before, had achieved the ruin of Braddock, he explained
his policy to them in an elaborate speech, full of such sentimental
phrases as the Indian mind was supposed to delight in. The slaughter of
aged men, of women and children and unresisting prisoners, was
absolutely prohibited; and "on no account, or pretense, or subtlety, or
prevarication," were scalps to be taken from wounded or dying men. An
order more likely to prove efficient was one which provided a reward for
every savage who should bring his prisoners to camp in safety. To these
injunctions, which must have inspired them with pitying contempt, the
chiefs laconically replied that they had "sharpened their hatchets upon
their affections," and were ready to follow their "great white father."

  [Portrait: LORD NORTH]

  [Sidenote: It is ridiculed by Burke]

The employment of Indian auxiliaries was indignantly denounced by the
opposition in Parliament, and when the news of this speech of Burgoyne's
reached England it was angrily ridiculed by Burke, who took a sounder
view of the natural instincts of the red man. "Suppose," said Burke,
"that there was a riot on Tower Hill. What would the keeper of his
majesty's lions do? Would he not fling open the dens of the wild beasts,
and then address them thus? 'My gentle lions, my humane bears, my
tender-hearted hyenas, go forth! But I exhort you, as you are Christians
and members of civilized society, to take care not to hurt any man,
woman, or child.'" The House of Commons was convulsed over this
grotesque picture; and Lord North, to whom it seemed irresistibly funny
to hear an absent man thus denounced for measures which he himself had
originated, sat choking with laughter, while tears rolled down his great
fat cheeks.

  [Sidenote: The story of Jane McCrea]

It soon turned out, however, to be no laughing matter. The cruelties
inflicted indiscriminately upon patriots and loyalists soon served to
madden the yeomanry, and array against the invaders whatever wavering
sentiment had hitherto remained in the country. One sad incident in
particular has been treasured up in the memory of the people, and
celebrated in song and story. Jenny McCrea, the beautiful daughter of a
Scotch clergyman of Paulus Hook, was at Fort Edward, visiting her friend
Mrs. McNeil, who was a loyalist and a cousin of General Fraser. On the
morning of July 27th, a marauding party of Indians burst into the house,
and carried away the two ladies. They were soon pursued by some American
soldiers, who exchanged a few shots with them. In the confusion which
ensued the party was scattered, and Mrs. McNeil was taken alone into the
camp of the approaching British army. Next day a savage of gigantic
stature, a famous sachem, known as the Wyandot Panther, came into the
camp with a scalp which Mrs. McNeil at once recognized as Jenny's, from
the silky black tresses, more than a yard in length. A search was made,
and the body of the poor girl was found hard by a spring in the forest,
pierced with three bullet wounds. How she came to her cruel death was
never known. The Panther plausibly declared that she had been
accidentally shot during the scuffle with the soldiers, but his veracity
was open to question, and the few facts that were known left ample room
for conjecture. The popular imagination soon framed its story with a
romantic completeness that thrust aside even these few facts. Miss
McCrea was betrothed to David Jones, a loyalist who was serving as
lieutenant in Burgoyne's army. In the legend which immediately sprang
up, Mr. Jones was said to have sent a party of Indians, with a letter to
his betrothed, entreating her to come to him within the British lines
that they might be married. For bringing her to him in safety the
Indians were to receive a barrel of rum. When she had entrusted herself
to their care, and the party had proceeded as far as the spring, where
the savages stopped to drink, a dispute arose as to who was to have the
custody of the barrel of rum, and many high words ensued, until one of
the party settled the question offhand by slaying the lady with his
tomahawk. It would be hard to find a more interesting example of the
mushroom-like growth and obstinate vitality of a romantic legend. The
story seems to have had nothing in common with the observed facts,
except the existence of the two lovers and the Indians and a spring in
the forest.[12] Yet it took possession of the popular mind almost
immediately after the event, and it has ever since been repeated, with
endless variations in detail, by American historians. Mr. Jones
himself--who lived, a broken-hearted man, for half a century after the
tragedy--was never weary of pointing out its falsehood and absurdity;
but all his testimony, together with that of Mrs. McNeil and other
witnesses, to the facts that really happened was powerless to shake the
hold upon the popular fancy which the legend had instantly gained. Such
an instance, occurring in a community of shrewd and well-educated
people, affords a suggestive commentary upon the origin and growth of
popular tales in earlier and more ignorant ages.

  [Illustration: THE ALLIES--PAR NOBILE FRATRUM[13]]

  [Sidenote: The Indians desert Burgoyne]

But in whatever way poor Jenny may have come to her death, there can be
no doubt as to the mischief which it swiftly wrought for the invading
army. In the first place, it led to the desertion of all the Indian
allies. Burgoyne was a man of quick and tender sympathy, and the fate of
this sweet young lady shocked him as it shocked the American people. He
would have had the Panther promptly hanged, but that his guilt was not
clearly proved, and many of the officers argued that the execution of a
famous and popular sachem would enrage all the other Indians, and might
endanger the lives of many of the soldiers. The Panther's life was
accordingly spared, but Burgoyne made it a rule that henceforth no party
of Indians should be allowed to go marauding save under the lead of some
British officer, who might watch and restrain them. When this rule was
put in force, the tawny savages grunted and growled for two or three
days, and then, with hoarse yells and hoots, all the five hundred broke
loose from the camp, and scampered off to the Adirondack wilderness.
From a military point of view, the loss was small, save in so far as it
deprived the army of valuable scouts and guides. But the thirst for
vengeance which was aroused among the yeomanry of northern New York, of
Vermont, and of western Massachusetts, was a much more serious matter.
The lamentable story was told at every village fireside, and no detail
of pathos or of horror was forgotten. The name of Jenny McCrea became a
watchword, and a fortnight had not passed before General Lincoln had
gathered on the British flank an army of stout and resolute farmers,
inflamed with such wrath as had not filled their bosoms since the day
when all New England had rushed to besiege the enemy in Boston.

  [Sidenote: Importance of Bennington; Burgoyne sends a German force
             against it]

Such a force of untrained yeomanry is of little use in prolonged
warfare, but on important occasions it is sometimes capable of dealing
heavy blows. We have seen what it could do on the memorable day of
Lexington. It was now about to strike, at a critical moment, with still
more deadly effect. Burgoyne's advance, laborious as it had been for the
last three weeks, was now stopped for want of horses to drag the cannon
and carry the provision bags; and the army, moreover, was already
suffering from hunger. The little village of Bennington, at the foot of
the Green Mountains, had been selected by the New England militia as a
centre of supplies. Many hundred horses had been collected there, with
ample stores of food and ammunition. To capture this village would give
Burgoyne the warlike material he wanted, while at the same time it would
paralyze the movements of Lincoln, and perhaps dispel the ominous cloud
that was gathering over the rear of the British army. Accordingly, on
the 13th of August, a strong detachment of 500 of Riedesel's men, with
100 newly arrived Indians and a couple of cannon, was sent out to seize
the stores at Bennington. Lieutenant-Colonel Baum commanded the
expedition, and he was accompanied by Major Skene, an American loyalist,
who assured Burgoyne on his honour that the Green Mountains were
swarming with devoted subjects of King George, who would flock by
hundreds to his standard as soon as it should be set up among them. That
these loyal recruits might be organized as quickly as possible, Burgoyne
sent along with the expedition a skeleton regiment of loyalists, all
duly officered, into the ranks of which they might be mustered without
delay. The loyal recruits, however, turned out to be the phantom of a
distempered imagination: not one of them appeared in the flesh. On the
contrary, the demeanour of the people was so threatening that Baum
became convinced that hard work was before him, and next day he sent
back for reinforcements. Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann was accordingly
sent to support him, with another body of 500 Germans and two

  [Sidenote: Stark prepares to receive the Germans]

Meanwhile Colonel Stark was preparing a warm reception for the invaders.
We have already seen John Stark, a gallant veteran of the Seven Years'
War, serving with distinction at Bunker Hill and at Trenton and
Princeton. He was considered one of the ablest officers in the army; but
he had lately gone home in disgust, for, like Arnold, had been passed
over by Congress in the list of promotions. Tired of sulking in his
tent, no sooner did this rustic Achilles hear of the invaders' presence
in New England than he forthwith sprang to arms, and in the twinkling of
an eye 800 stout yeomen were marching under his orders. He refused to
take instructions from any superior officer, but declared that he was
acting under the sovereignty of New Hampshire alone, and would proceed
upon his own responsibility in defending the common cause. At the same
time he sent word to General Lincoln, at Manchester in the Green
Mountains, asking him to lend him the services of Colonel Seth Warner,
with the gallant regiment which had checked the advance of Fraser at
Hubbardton. Lincoln sent the reinforcement without delay, and after
marching all night in a drenching rain, the men reached Bennington in
the morning, wet to the skin. Telling them to follow him as soon as they
should have dried and rested themselves, Stark pushed on with his main
body, and found the enemy about six miles distant. On meeting this large
force, Baum hastily took up a strong position on some rising ground
behind a small stream, everywhere fordable, known as the Walloomsac
river. All day long the rain fell in torrents, and while the Germans
began to throw up intrenchments, Stark laid his plans for storming
their position on the morrow. During the night a company of Berkshire
militia arrived, and with them the excellent Mr. Allen, the warlike
parson of Pittsfield, who went up to Stark and said, "Colonel, our
Berkshire people have been often called out to no purpose, and if you
don't let them fight now they will never turn out again." "Well," said
Stark, "would you have us turn out now, while it is pitch dark and
raining buckets?" "No, not just this minute," replied the minister.
"Then," said the doughty Stark, "as soon as the Lord shall once more
send us sunshine, if I don't give you fighting enough, I'll never ask
you to come out again!"

  [Sidenote: Battle of Bennington, Aug. 16, 1777]

  [Sidenote: The invading force annihilated]

Next morning the sun rose bright and clear, and a steam came up from the
sodden fields. It was a true dog-day, sultry and scorching. The forenoon
was taken up in preparing the attack, while Baum waited in his strong
position. The New Englanders outnumbered the Germans two to one, but
they were a militia, unfurnished with bayonets or cannon, while Baum's
soldiers were all regulars, picked from the bravest of the troops which
Ferdinand of Brunswick had led to victory at Creveld and Minden. But the
worthy German commander, in this strange country, was no match for the
astute Yankee on his own ground. Stealthily and leisurely, during the
whole forenoon, the New England farmers marched around into Baum's rear.
They did not march in military array, but in little squads, half a dozen
at a time, dressed in their rustic blue frocks. There was nothing in
their appearance which to a European veteran like Baum could seem at all
soldier-like, and he thought that here at last were those blessed
Tories, whom he had been taught to look out for, coming to place
themselves behind him for protection. Early in the afternoon he was
cruelly undeceived. For while 500 of these innocent creatures opened
upon him a deadly fire in the rear and on both flanks, Stark, with 500
more, charged across the shallow stream and assailed him in front. The
Indians instantly broke and fled screeching to the woods, while yet
there was time for escape. The Germans stood their ground, and fought
desperately; but thus attacked on all sides at once, they were soon
thrown into disorder, and after a two hours' struggle, in which Baum was
mortally wounded, they were all captured. At this moment, as the New
England men began to scatter to the plunder of the German camp, the
relieving force of Breymann came upon the scene; and the fortunes of the
day might have been changed, had not Warner also arrived with his 150
fresh men in excellent order. A furious charge was made upon Breymann,
who gave way, and retreated slowly from hill to hill, while parties of
Americans kept pushing on to his rear to cut him off. By eight in the
evening, when it had grown too dark to aim a gun, this second German
force was entirely dispersed or captured. Breymann, with a mere
corporal's guard of sixty or seventy men, escaped under cover of
darkness, and reached the British camp in safety. Of the whole German
force of 1,000 men, 207 had been killed and wounded, and more than 700
had been captured. Among the spoils of victory were 1,000 stand of arms,
1,000 dragoon swords, and four field-pieces. Of the Americans 14 were
killed and 42 wounded.


  [Sidenote: Effect of the news; Burgoyne's enemies multiply]

The news of this brilliant victory spread joy and hope throughout the
land. Insubordination which had been crowned with such splendid success
could not but be overlooked, and the gallant Stark was at once taken
back into the army, and made a brigadier-general. Not least among the
grounds of exultation was the fact that an army of yeomanry had not
merely defeated, but annihilated, an army of the Brunswick regulars,
with whose European reputation for bravery and discipline every man in
the country was familiar. The bolder spirits began to ask the question
why that which had been done to Baum and Breymann might not be done to
Burgoyne's whole army; and in the excitement of this rising hope,
reinforcements began to pour in faster and faster, both to Schuyler at
Stillwater and to Lincoln at Manchester. On the other hand, Burgoyne at
Fort Edward was fast losing heart, as dangers thickened around him. So
far from securing his supplies of horses, wagons, and food by this
stroke at Bennington, he had simply lost one seventh part of his
available army, and he was now clearly in need of reinforcements as well
as supplies. But no word had yet come from Sir William Howe, and the
news from St. Leger was anything but encouraging. It is now time for us
to turn westward and follow the wild fortunes of the second invading

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Illustration: COLONEL BARRY ST. LEGER]

  [Sidenote: Advance of St. Leger upon Fort Stanwix]

  [Sidenote: Herkimer marches against him]

  [Sidenote: Herkimer's plan]

About the middle of July, St. Leger had landed at Oswego, where he was
joined by Sir John Johnson with his famous Tory regiment known as the
Royal Greens, and Colonel John Butler with his company of Tory rangers.
Great efforts had been made by Johnson to secure the aid of the Iroquois
tribes, but only with partial success. For once the Long House was
fairly divided against itself, and the result of the present campaign
did not redound to its future prosperity. The Mohawks, under their great
chief Thayendanegea, better known as Joseph Brant, entered heartily into
the British cause, and they were followed, though with less alacrity, by
the Cayugas and Senecas; but the central tribe, the Onondagas, remained
neutral. Under the influence of the missionary, Samuel Kirkland, the
Oneidas and Tuscaroras actively aided the Americans, though they did not
take the field. After duly arranging his motley force, which amounted to
about 1,700 men, St. Leger advanced very cautiously through the woods,
and sat down before Fort Stanwix on the 3d of August. This stronghold,
which had been built in 1758, on the watershed between the Hudson and
Lake Ontario, commanded the main line of traffic between New York and
Upper Canada. The place was then on the very outskirts of civilization,
and under the powerful influence of Johnson the Tory element was
stronger here than in any other part of the state. Even here, however,
the strength of the patriot party turned out to be much greater than had
been supposed, and at the approach of the enemy the people began to rise
in arms. In this part of New York there were many Germans, whose
ancestors had come over to America in consequence of the devastation of
the Palatinate by Louis XIV.; and among these there was one stout
patriot whose name shines conspicuously in the picturesque annals of the
Revolution. General Nicholas Herkimer, commander of the militia of Tryon
County, a veteran over sixty years of age, no sooner heard of St.
Leger's approach than he started out to the rescue of Fort Stanwix; and
by the 5th of August he had reached Oriskany, about eight miles distant,
at the head of 800 men. The garrison of the fort, 600 in number, under
Colonel Peter Gansevoort, had already laughed to scorn St. Leger's
summons to surrender, when, on the morning of the 6th, they heard a
distant firing to the eastward, which they could not account for. The
mystery was explained when three friendly messengers floundered through
a dangerous swamp into the fort, and told them of Herkimer's approach
and of his purpose. The plan was to overwhelm St. Leger by a concerted
attack in front and rear. The garrison was to make a furious sortie,
while Herkimer, advancing through the forest, was to fall suddenly upon
the enemy from behind; and thus it was hoped that his army might be
crushed or captured at a single blow. To ensure completeness of
coöperation, Colonel Gansevoort was to fire three guns immediately upon
receiving the message, and upon hearing this signal Herkimer would begin
his march from Oriskany. Gansevoort would then make such demonstrations
as to keep the whole attention of the enemy concentrated upon the fort,
and thus guard Herkimer against a surprise by the way, until, after the
proper interval of time, the garrison should sally forth in full force.

  [Illustration: Plan of Fort Stanwix]

  [Portrait: Peter Gansevoort]

  [Sidenote: Failure of the plan]

In this bold scheme everything depended upon absolute coördination in
time. Herkimer had dispatched his messengers so early on the evening of
the 5th that they ought to have reached the fort by three o'clock the
next morning, and at about that time he began listening for the
signal-guns. But through some unexplained delay it was nearly eleven in
the forenoon when the messengers reached the fort, as just described.
Meanwhile, as hour after hour passed by, and no signal-guns were heard
by Herkimer's men, they grew impatient, and insisted upon going ahead,
without regard to the preconcerted plan. Much unseemly wrangling ensued,
in which Herkimer was called a coward and accused of being a Tory at
heart, until, stung by these taunts, the brave old man at length gave
way, and at about nine o'clock the forward march was resumed. At this
time his tardy messengers still lacked two hours of reaching the fort,
but St. Leger's Indian scouts had already discovered and reported the
approach of the American force, and a strong detachment of Johnson's
Greens under Major Watts, together with Brant and his Mohawks, had been
sent out to intercept them.

  [Sidenote: Thayendanegea prepares an ambuscade]

  [Sidenote: Battle of Oriskany, Aug. 6, 1777]

About two miles west of Oriskany the road was crossed by a deep
semicircular ravine, concave toward the east. The bottom of this ravine
was a swamp, across which the road was carried by a causeway of logs,
and the steep banks on either side were thickly covered with trees and
underbrush. The practised eye of Thayendanegea at once perceived the
rare advantage of such a position, and an ambuscade was soon prepared
with a skill as deadly as that which once had wrecked the proud army of
Braddock. But this time it was a meeting of Greek with Greek, and the
wiles of the savage chief were foiled by a desperate valour which
nothing could overcome. By ten o'clock the main body of Herkimer's army
had descended into the ravine, followed by the wagons, while the
rear-guard was still on the rising ground behind. At this moment they
were greeted by a murderous volley from either side, while Johnson's
Greens came charging down upon them in front, and the Indians, with
frightful yells, swarmed in behind and cut off the rear-guard, which was
thus obliged to retreat to save itself. For a moment the main body was
thrown into confusion, but it soon rallied and formed itself in a
circle, which neither bayonet charges nor musket fire could break or
penetrate. The scene which ensued was one of the most infernal that the
history of savage warfare has ever witnessed. The dark ravine was filled
with a mass of fifteen hundred human beings, screaming and cursing,
slipping in the mire, pushing and struggling, seizing each other's
throats, stabbing, shooting, and dashing out brains. Bodies of
neighbours were afterwards found lying in the bog, where they had gone
down in a death-grapple, their cold hands still grasping the knives
plunged in each other's hearts.


  [Sidenote: Retreat of the Tories]

Early in the fight a musket-ball slew Herkimer's horse, and shattered
his own leg just below the knee; but the old hero, nothing daunted, and
bating nothing of his coolness in the midst of the horrid struggle, had
the saddle taken from his dead horse and placed at the foot of a great
beech-tree where, taking his seat and lighting his pipe, he continued
shouting his orders in a stentorian voice and directing the progress of
the battle. Nature presently enhanced the lurid horror of the scene. The
heat of the August morning had been intolerable, and black
thunder-clouds, overhanging the deep ravine at the beginning of the
action, had enveloped it in a darkness like that of night. Now the rain
came pouring in torrents, while gusts of wind howled through the
treetops, and sheets of lightning flashed in quick succession, with a
continuous roar of thunder that drowned the noise of the fray. The wet
rifles could no longer be fired, but hatchet, knife, and bayonet
carried on the work of butchery, until, after more than five hundred men
had been killed or wounded, the Indians gave way and fled in all
directions, and the Tory soldiers, disconcerted, began to retreat up the
western road, while Herkimer's little army, remaining in possession of
the hard-won field, felt itself too weak to pursue them.

  [Sidenote: Retreat of Herkimer]

  [Sidenote: Colonel Willett's sortie]

  [Sidenote: First hoisting of the stars and stripes]

At this moment, as the storm cleared away and long rays of sunshine
began flickering through the wet leaves, the sound of the three
signal-guns came booming through the air, and presently a sharp
crackling of musketry was heard from the direction of Fort Stanwix.
Startled by this ominous sound, the Tories made all possible haste to
join their own army, while Herkimer's men, bearing their wounded on
litters of green boughs, returned in sad procession to Oriskany. With
their commander helpless and more than one third of their number slain
or disabled, they were in no condition to engage in a fresh conflict,
and unwillingly confessed that the garrison of Fort Stanwix must be left
to do its part of the work alone. Upon the arrival of the messengers,
Colonel Gansevoort had at once taken in the whole situation. He
understood the mysterious firing in the forest, saw that Herkimer must
have been prematurely attacked, and ordered his sortie instantly, to
serve as a diversion. The sortie was a brilliant success. Sir John
Johnson, with his Tories and Indians, was completely routed and driven
across the river. Colonel Marinus Willett took possession of his camp,
and held it while seven wagons were three times loaded with spoil and
sent to be unloaded in the fort. Among all this spoil, together with
abundance of food and drink, blankets and clothes, tools and ammunition,
the victors captured five British standards, and all Johnson's papers,
maps, and memoranda, containing full instructions for the projected
campaign. After this useful exploit, Colonel Willett returned to the
fort and hoisted the captured British standards, while over them he
raised an uncouth flag, intended to represent the American stars and
stripes, which Congress had adopted in June as the national banner. This
rude flag, hastily extemporized out of a white shirt, an old blue
jacket, and some strips of red cloth from the petticoat of a soldier's
wife, was the first American flag with stars and stripes that was ever
hoisted, and it was first flung to the breeze on the memorable day of
Oriskany, August 6, 1777.


  [Sidenote: Death of Herkimer]

Of all the battles of the Revolution, this was perhaps the most
obstinate and murderous. Each side seems to have lost not less than one
third of its whole number; and of those lost, nearly all were killed, as
it was largely a hand-to-hand struggle, like the battles of ancient
times, and no quarter was given on either side. The number of surviving
wounded, who were carried back to Oriskany, does not seem to have
exceeded forty. Among these was the indomitable Herkimer, whose
shattered leg was so unskilfully treated that he died a few days later,
sitting in bed propped by pillows, calmly smoking his Dutch pipe and
reading his Bible at the thirty-eighth Psalm.

  [Portrait: Marinus Willett]

For some little time no one could tell exactly how the results of this
fierce and disorderly day were to be regarded. Both sides claimed a
victory, and St. Leger vainly tried to scare the garrison by the story
that their comrades had been destroyed in the forest. But in its effects
upon the campaign, Oriskany was for the Americans a success, though an
incomplete one. St. Leger was not crushed, but he was badly crippled.
The sacking of Johnson's camp injured his prestige in the neighbourhood,
and the Indian allies, who had lost more than a hundred of their best
warriors on that fatal morning, grew daily more sullen and refractory,
until their strange behaviour came to be a fresh source of anxiety to
the British commander. While he was pushing on the siege as well as he
could, a force of 1,200 troops, under Arnold, was marching up the Mohawk
valley to complete his discomfiture.


  [Portrait: John Johnson]

  [Sidenote: Arnold arrives at Schuyler's camp]

  [Sidenote: and volunteers to relieve Fort Stanwix]

  [Sidenote: Yan Yost Cuyler]

  [Sidenote: Flight of St. Leger, Aug. 22]

As soon as he had heard the news of the fall of Ticonderoga, Washington
had dispatched Arnold to render such assistance as he could to the
northern army, and Arnold had accordingly arrived at Schuyler's
headquarters about three weeks ago. Before leaving Philadelphia, he had
appealed to Congress to restore him to his former rank relatively to the
five junior officers who had been promoted over him, and he had just
learned that Congress had refused the request. At this moment, Colonel
Willett and another officer, after a perilous journey through the
wilderness, arrived at Schuyler's headquarters, and bringing the news of
Oriskany, begged that a force might be sent to raise the siege of Fort
Stanwix. Schuyler understood the importance of rescuing the stronghold
and its brave garrison, and called a council of war; but he was bitterly
opposed by his officers, one of whom presently said to another, in an
audible whisper, "He only wants to weaken the army!" At this vile
insinuation, the indignant general set his teeth so hard as to bite
through the stem of the pipe he was smoking, which fell on the floor and
was smashed. "Enough!" he cried. "I assume the whole responsibility.
Where is the brigadier who will go?" The brigadiers all sat in sullen
silence; but Arnold, who had been brooding over his private grievances,
suddenly jumped up. "Here!" said he. "Washington sent me here to make
myself useful: I will go." The commander gratefully seized him by the
hand, and the drum beat for volunteers. Arnold's unpopularity in New
England was mainly with the politicians. It did not extend to the
common soldiers, who admired his impulsive bravery and had unbounded
faith in his resources as a leader. Accordingly, 1,200 Massachusetts men
were easily enlisted in the course of the next forenoon, and the
expedition started up the Mohawk valley. Arnold pushed on with
characteristic energy, but the natural difficulties of the road were
such that after a week of hard work he had only reached the German
Flats, where he was still more than twenty miles from Fort Stanwix.
Believing that no time should be lost, and that everything should be
done to encourage the garrison and dishearten the enemy, he had recourse
to a stratagem, which succeeded beyond his utmost anticipation. A party
of Tory spies had just been arrested in the neighbourhood, and among
them was a certain Yan Yost Cuyler, a queer, half-witted fellow, not
devoid of cunning, whom the Indians regarded with that mysterious awe
with which fools and lunatics are wont to inspire them, as creatures
possessed with a devil. Yan Yost was summarily condemned to death, and
his brother and gypsy-like mother, in wild alarm, hastened to the camp,
to plead for his life. Arnold for a while was inexorable, but presently
offered to pardon the culprit on condition that he should go and spread
a panic in the camp of St. Leger. Yan Yost joyfully consented, and
started off forthwith, while his brother was detained as a hostage, to
be hanged in case of his failure. To make the matter still surer, some
friendly Oneidas were sent along to keep an eye upon him and act in
concert with him. Next day, St. Leger's scouts, as they stole through
the forest, began to hear rumours that Burgoyne had been totally
defeated, and that a great American army was coming up the valley of the
Mohawk. They carried back these rumours to the camp, and toward evening,
while officers and soldiers were standing about in anxious consultation,
Yan Yost came running in, with a dozen bullet-holes in his coat and
terror in his face, and said that he had barely escaped with his life
from the resistless American host which was close at hand. As many knew
him for a Tory, his tale found ready belief, and when interrogated as to
the numbers of the advancing host he gave a warning frown, and pointed
significantly to the countless leaves that fluttered on the branches
overhead. Nothing more was needed to complete the panic. It was in vain
that Johnson and St. Leger exhorted and threatened the Indian allies.
Already disaffected, they now began to desert by scores, while some,
breaking open the camp chests, drank rum till they were drunk, and began
to assault the soldiers. All night long the camp was a perfect
Pandemonium. The riot extended to the Tories, and by noon of the next
day St. Leger took to flight and his whole army was dispersed. All the
tents, artillery, and stores fell into the hands of the Americans. The
garrison, sallying forth, pursued St. Leger for a while, but the
faithless Indians, enjoying his discomfiture, and willing to curry
favour with the stronger party, kept up the chase nearly all the way to
Oswego; laying ambushes every night, and diligently murdering the
stragglers, until hardly a remnant of an army was left to embark with
its crestfallen leader for Montreal.

  [Sidenote: Burgoyne's dangerous situation]

The news of this catastrophe reached Burgoyne before he had had time to
recover from the news of the disaster at Bennington. Burgoyne's
situation was now becoming critical. Lincoln, with a strong force of
militia, was hovering in his rear, while the main army before him was
gaining in numbers day by day. Putnam had just sent up reinforcements
from the Highlands; Washington had sent Morgan with 500 sharpshooters;
and Arnold was hurrying back from Fort Stanwix. Not a word had come from
Sir William Howe, and it daily grew more difficult to get provisions.

  [Sidenote: Schuyler superseded by Gates, Aug. 2.]

Just at this time, when everything was in readiness for the final
catastrophe, General Gates arrived from Philadelphia, to take command of
the northern army, and reap the glory earned by other men. On the first
day of August, before the first alarm occasioned by Burgoyne's advance
had subsided, Congress had yielded to the pressure of Schuyler's
enemies, and removed him from his command; and on the following day
Gates was appointed to take his place. Congress was led to take this
step through the belief that the personal hatred felt toward Schuyler by
many of the New England people would prevent the enlisting of militia to
support him. The events of the next fortnight showed that in this fear
Congress was quite mistaken. There can now be no doubt that the
appointment of the incompetent Gates was a serious blunder, which might
have ruined the campaign, and did in the end occasion much trouble, both
for Congress and for Washington. Schuyler received the unwelcome news
with the noble unselfishness which always characterized him. At no time
did he show more zeal and diligence than during his last week of
command; and on turning over the army to General Gates he cordially
offered his aid, whether by counsel or action, in whatever capacity his
successor might see fit to suggest. But so far from accepting this
offer, Gates treated him with contumely, and would not even invite him
to attend his first council of war. Such silly behaviour called forth
sharp criticisms from discerning people. "The new commander-in-chief of
the northern department," said Gouverneur Morris, "may, if he please,
neglect to ask or disdain to receive advice; but those who know him
will, I am sure, be convinced that he needs it."

  [Sidenote: Position of the two armies, Aug. 19-Sept. 12]

When Gates thus took command of the northern army, it was stationed
along the western bank of the Hudson, from Stillwater down to Halfmoon,
at the mouth of the Mohawk, while Burgoyne's troops were encamped along
the eastern bank, some thirty miles higher up, from Fort Edward down to
the Battenkill. For the next three weeks no movements were made on
either side; and we must now leave the two armies confronting each other
in these two positions, while we turn our attention southward, and see
what Sir William Howe was doing, and how it happened that Burgoyne had
as yet heard nothing from him.


  [12] I leave this as I wrote it in June, 1883. Since then another
       version of the facts has been suggested by W. L. Stone in
       Appleton's _Cyclopædia of American Biography_. In this
       version, Mr. Jones sends a party of Indians under the
       half-breed Duluth to escort Miss McCrea to the camp, where
       they are to be married by Mr. Brudenell, the chaplain. It is
       to be quite a fine little wedding, and the Baroness Riedesel
       and Lady Harriet Ackland are to be among the spectators.
       Before Duluth reaches Mrs. McNeil's house, the Wyandot Panther
       (here known by the name of a different beast, Le Loup) with
       his party attacks the house and carries off the two ladies.
       The Panther's party meets Duluth's near the spring. Duluth
       insists upon taking Jenny with him, and high words ensue
       between him and the Panther, until the latter, in a towering
       rage, draws his pistol and shoots the girl. This version, if
       correct, goes some way toward reconciling the legend with the
       observed facts.

  [13] This contemporary British caricature represents the new allies,
       "Noble Pair of Brothers," George III. and an Indian chief,
       seated together at their cannibal banquet. It expresses the
       lively disgust with which the employment of Indians was
       regarded in England.

                              CHAPTER VII



  [Sidenote: Why Howe went to Chesapeake Bay]

  [Sidenote: Charles Lee in captivity]

We have seen how, owing to the gross negligence of Lord George Germain,
discretionary power had been left to Howe, while entirely taken away
from Burgoyne. The latter had no choice but to move down the Hudson. The
former was instructed to move up the Hudson, but at the same time was
left free to depart from the strict letter of his instructions, should
there be any manifest advantage in so doing. Nevertheless, the movement
up the Hudson was so clearly prescribed by all sound military
considerations that everybody wondered why Howe did not attempt it. Why
he should have left his brother general in the lurch, and gone sailing
off to Chesapeake Bay, was a mystery which no one was able to unravel,
until some thirty years ago a document was discovered which has thrown
much light upon the question. Here there steps again upon the scene that
miserable intriguer, whose presence in the American army had so nearly
wrecked the fortunes of the patriot cause, and who now, in captivity,
proceeded to act the part of a doubly-dyed traitor. A marplot and
mischief-maker from beginning to end, Charles Lee never failed to work
injury to whichever party his selfish vanity or craven fear inclined him
for the moment to serve. We have seen how, on the day when he was
captured and taken to the British camp, his first thought was for his
personal safety, which he might well suppose to be in some jeopardy,
since he had formerly held the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the British
army. He was taken to New York and confined in the City Hall, where he
was treated with ordinary courtesy; but there is no doubt that Sir
William Howe looked upon him as a deserter, and was more than half
inclined to hang him without ceremony. Fearing, however, as he said,
that he might "fall into a law scrape," should he act too hastily, Sir
William wrote home for instructions, and in reply was directed by Lord
George Germain to send his prisoner to England for trial. In pursuance
of this order, Lee had already been carried on board ship, when a letter
from Washington put a stop to these proceedings. The letter informed
General Howe that Washington held five Hessian field-officers as
hostages for Lee's personal safety, and that all exchange of prisoners
would be suspended until due assurance should be received that Lee was
to be recognized as a prisoner of war. After reading this letter General
Howe did not dare to send Lee to England for trial, for fear of possible
evil consequences to the five Hessian officers, which might cause
serious disaffection among the German troops. The king approved of this
cautious behaviour, and so Lee was kept in New York, with his fate
undecided, until it had become quite clear that neither arguments nor
threats could avail one jot to shake Washington's determination. When
Lord George Germain had become convinced of this, he persuaded the
reluctant king to yield the point; and Howe was accordingly instructed
that Lee, although worthy of condign punishment, should be deemed a
prisoner of war, and might be exchanged as such, whenever convenient.

                 13, 1776]


  [Sidenote: Treason of Charles Lee]

All this discussion necessitated the exchange of several letters between
London and New York, so that a whole year elapsed before the question
was settled. It was not until December 12, 1777, that Howe received
these final instructions. But Lee had not been idle all this time while
his fate was in suspense. Hardly had the key been turned upon him in his
rooms at the City Hall when he began his intrigues. First, he assured
Lord Howe and his brother that he had always opposed the declaration of
independence,[14] and even now cherished hopes that, by a judiciously
arranged interview with a committee from Congress, he might persuade the
misguided people of America to return to their old allegiance. Lord
Howe, who always kept one hand on the olive-branch, eagerly caught at
the suggestion, and permitted Lee to send a letter to Congress, urging
that a committee be sent to confer with him, as he had "important
communications to make." Could such a conference be brought about, he
thought, his zeal for effecting a reconciliation would interest the
Howes in his favour, and might save his precious neck. Congress,
however, flatly refused to listen to the proposal, and then the wretch,
without further ado, went over to the enemy, and began to counsel with
the British commanders how they might best subdue the Americans in the
summer campaign. He went so far as to write out for the brothers Howe a
plan of operations, giving them the advantage of what was supposed to be
his intimate knowledge of the conditions of the case. This document the
Howes did not care to show after the disastrous event of the campaign,
and it remained hidden for eighty years, until it was found among the
domestic archives of the Strachey family, at Sutton Court, in Somerset.
The first Sir Henry Strachey was secretary to the Howes from 1775 to
1778. The document is in Lee's well-known handwriting, and is indorsed
by Strachey as "Mr. Lee's plan, March 29, 1777." In this document Lee
maintains that if the state of Maryland could be overawed, and the
people of Virginia prevented from sending aid to Pennsylvania, then
Philadelphia might be taken and held, and the operations of the "rebel
government" paralyzed. The Tory party was known to be strong in
Pennsylvania, and the circumstances under which Maryland had declared
for independence, last of all the colonies save New York, were such as
to make it seem probable that there also the loyalist feeling was very
powerful. Lee did not hesitate to assert, as of his own personal
knowledge, that the people of Maryland and Pennsylvania were nearly all
loyalists, who only awaited the arrival of a British army in order to
declare themselves. He therefore recommended that 14,000 men should
drive Washington out of New Jersey and capture Philadelphia, while the
remainder of Howe's army, 4,000 in number, should go around by sea to
Chesapeake Bay, and occupy Alexandria and Annapolis. From these points,
if Lord Howe were to issue a proclamation of amnesty, the pacification
of the "central colonies" might be effected in less than two months; and
so confident of all this did the writer feel that he declared himself
ready to "stake his life upon the issue," a remark which betrays,
perhaps, what was uppermost in his mind throughout the whole proceeding.
At the same time, he argued that offensive operations toward the north
could not "answer any sort of purpose," since the northern provinces
"are at present neither the seat of government, strength, nor politics;
and the apprehensions from General Carleton's army will, I am confident,
keep the New Englanders at home, or at least confine 'em to the east
side the [Hudson] river."

  [Sidenote: Folly of moving upon Philadelphia, as the "rebel capital"]

It will be observed that this plan of Lee's was similar to that of Lord
George Germain, in so far as it aimed at thrusting the British power
like a wedge into the centre of the confederacy, and thus cutting
asunder New England and Virginia, the two chief centres of the
rebellion. But instead of aiming his blow at the Hudson river, Lee aims
it at Philadelphia, as the "rebel capital;" and his reason for doing
this shows how little he understood American affairs, and how strictly
he viewed them in the light of his military experience in Europe. In
European warfare it is customary to strike at the enemy's capital city,
in order to get control of his whole system of administration; but that
the possession of an enemy's capital is not always decisive the wars of
Napoleon have most abundantly proved. The battles of Austerlitz in 1805
and Wagram in 1809 were fought by Napoleon after he had entered Vienna;
it was not his acquisition of Berlin in 1806, but his victory at
Friedland in the following summer, that completed the overthrow of
Prussia; and where he had to contend against a strong and united
national feeling, as in Spain and Russia, the possession of the capital
did not help him in the least. Nevertheless, in European countries,
where the systems of administration are highly centralized, it is
usually advisable to move upon the enemy's capital. But to apply such a
principle to Philadelphia in 1777 was the height of absurdity.
Philadelphia had been selected for the meetings of the Continental
Congress because of its geographical position. It was the most centrally
situated of our large towns, but it was in no sense the centre of a vast
administrative machinery. If taken by an enemy, it was only necessary
for Congress to move to any other town, and everything would go on as
before. As it was not an administrative, so neither was it a military
centre. It commanded no great system of interior highways, and it was
comparatively difficult to protect by the fleet. It might be argued, on
the other hand, that because Philadelphia was the largest town in the
United States, and possessed of a certain preëminence as the seat of
Congress, the acquisition of it by the invaders would give them a
certain moral advantage. It would help the Tory party, and discourage
the patriots. Such a gain, however, would be trifling compared with the
loss which might come from Howe's failure to coöperate with Burgoyne;
and so the event most signally proved.

  [Sidenote: Effect of Lee's advice]

Just how far the Howes were persuaded by Lee's arguments must be a
matter of inference. The course which they ultimately pursued, in close
conformity with the suggestions of this remarkable document, was so
disastrous to the British cause that the author might almost seem to
have been intentionally luring them off on a false scent. One would
gladly take so charitable a view of the matter, were it not both
inconsistent with what we have already seen of Lee, and utterly
negatived by his scandalous behaviour the following year, after his
restoration to his command in the American army. We cannot doubt that
Lee gave his advice in sober earnest. That considerable weight was
attached to it is shown by a secret letter from Sir William Howe to Lord
George Germain, dated the 2d of April or four days after the date of
Lee's extraordinary document. In this letter, Howe, intimates for the
first time that he has an expedition in mind which may modify the scheme
for a joint campaign with the northern army along the line of the
Hudson. To this suggestion Lord George replied on the 18th of May: "I
trust that whatever you may meditate will be executed in time for you to
coöperate with the army to proceed from Canada." It was a few days after
this that Lord George, perhaps feeling a little uneasy about the matter,
wrote that imperative order which lay in its pigeon-hole in London until
all the damage was done.

  [Sidenote: Washington's masterly campaign in New Jersey, June, 1777]

With these data at our command, it becomes easy to comprehend General
Howe's movements during the spring and summer. His first intention was
to push across New Jersey with the great body of his army, and occupy
Philadelphia; and since he had twice as many men as Washington, he might
hope to do this in time to get back to the Hudson as soon as he was
likely to be needed there. He began his march on the 12th of June, five
days before Burgoyne's flotilla started southward on Lake Champlain. The
enterprise did not seem hazardous, but Howe was completely foiled by
Washington's superior strategy. Before the British commander had fairly
begun to move, Washington, from various symptoms, divined his purpose,
and coming down from his lair at Morristown, planted himself on the
heights of Middlebrook, within ten miles of New Brunswick, close upon
the flank of Howe's line of march. Such a position, occupied by 8,000
men under such a general, was something which Howe could not pass by
without sacrificing his communications and thus incurring destruction.
But the position was so strong that to try to storm it would be to
invite defeat. It remained to be seen what could be done by
manoeuvring. The British army of 18,000 men was concentrated at New
Brunswick, with plenty of boats for crossing the Delaware river, when
that obstacle should be reached. But the really insuperable obstacle was
close at hand. A campaign of eighteen days ensued, consisting of wily
marches and counter-marches, the result of which showed that
Washington's advantage of position could not be wrested from him. Howe
could neither get by him nor outwit him, and was too prudent to attack
him; and accordingly, on the last day of June, he abandoned his first
plan, and evacuated New Jersey, taking his whole army over to Staten

  [Sidenote: Uncertainty as to Howe's next movements]

This campaign has attracted far less attention than it deserves, mainly,
no doubt, because it contained no battles or other striking incidents.
It was purely a series of strategic devices. But in point of military
skill it was, perhaps, as remarkable as anything that Washington ever
did, and it certainly occupies a cardinal position in the history of the
overthrow of Burgoyne. For if Howe had been able to take Philadelphia
early in the summer, it is difficult to see what could have prevented
him from returning and ascending the Hudson, in accordance with the plan
of the ministry. Now the month of June was gone, and Burgoyne was
approaching Ticonderoga. Howe ought to have held himself in readiness to
aid him, but he could not seem to get Philadelphia, the "rebel capital,"
out of his mind. His next plan coincided remarkably with the other half
of Lee's scheme. He decided to go around to Philadelphia by sea, but he
was slow in starting, and seems to have paused for a moment to watch the
course of events at the north. He began early in July to put his men on
board ship, but confided his plans to no one but Cornwallis and Grant;
and his own army, as well as the Americans, believed that this show of
going to sea was only a feint to disguise his real intention. Every one
supposed that he would go up the Hudson. As soon as New Jersey was
evacuated Washington moved back to Morristown, and threw his advance,
under Sullivan, as far north as Pompton, so as to be ready to coöperate
with Putnam in the Highlands, at a moment's notice. As soon as it became
known that Ticonderoga had fallen, Washington, supposing that his
adversary would do what a good general ought to do, advanced into the
Ramapo Clove, a rugged defile in the Highlands, near Haverstraw, and
actually sent the divisions of Sullivan and Stirling across the river to


  [Sidenote: Howe's letter to Burgoyne]

  [Sidenote: Comments of Washington and Greene]

All this while Howe kept moving some of his ships, now up the Hudson,
now into the Sound, now off from Sandy Hook, so that people might doubt
whether his destination were the Highlands, or Boston, or Philadelphia.
Probably his own mind was not fully made up until after the news from
Ticonderoga. Then, amid the general exultation, he seems to have
concluded that Burgoyne would be able to take care of himself, at least
with such coöperation as he might get from Sir Henry Clinton. In this
mood he wrote to Burgoyne as follows: "I have ... heard from the rebel
army of your being in possession of Ticonderoga, which is a great event,
carried without loss.... Washington is waiting our motions here, and has
detached Sullivan with about 2,500 men, as I learn, to Albany. My
intention is for Pennsylvania, where I expect to meet Washington; but if
he goes to the northward, contrary to my expectations, and you can keep
him at bay, be assured I shall soon be after him to relieve you. After
your arrival at Albany, the movements of the enemy will guide yours; but
my wishes are that the enemy be drove [_sic_] out of this province
before any operation takes place in Connecticut. Sir Henry Clinton
remains in the command here, and will act as occurrences may direct.
Putnam is in the Highlands with about 4,000 men. Success be ever with
you." This letter, which was written on very narrow strips of thin
paper, and conveyed in a quill, did not reach Burgoyne till the middle
of September, when things wore a very different aspect from that which
they wore in the middle of July. Nothing could better illustrate the
rash, overconfident spirit in which Howe proceeded to carry out his
southern scheme. A few days afterward he put to sea with the fleet of
228 sail, carrying an army of 18,000 men, while 7,000 were left in New
York, under Sir Henry Clinton, to garrison the city and act according to
circumstances. Just before sailing Howe wrote a letter to Burgoyne,
stating that the destination of his fleet was Boston, and he artfully
contrived that this letter should fall into Washington's hands. But
Washington was a difficult person to hoodwink. On reading the letter he
rightly inferred that Howe had gone southward. Accordingly, recalling
Sullivan and Stirling to the west side of the Hudson, he set out for the
Delaware, but proceeded very cautiously, lest Howe should suddenly
retrace his course, and dart up the Hudson. To guard against such an
emergency, he let Sullivan advance no farther than Morristown, and kept
everything in readiness for an instant counter-march. In a letter of
July 30th he writes, "Howe's in a manner abandoning Burgoyne is so
unaccountable a matter that, till I am fully assured of it, _I cannot
help casting my eyes continually behind me_." Next day, learning that
the fleet had arrived at the Capes of Delaware, he advanced to
Germantown; but on the day after, when he heard that the fleet had put
out to sea again, he suspected that the whole movement had been a feint.
He believed that Howe would at once return to the Hudson, and
immediately ordered Sullivan to counter-march, while he held himself
ready to follow at a moment's notice. His best generals entertained the
same opinion. "I cannot persuade myself," said Greene, "that General
Burgoyne would dare to push with such rapidity towards Albany if he did
not expect support from General Howe." A similar view of the military
exigencies of the case was taken by the British officers, who, almost to
a man, disapproved of the southward movement. They knew as well as
Greene that, however fine a city Philadelphia might be, it was "an
object of far less military importance than the Hudson river."

  [Sidenote: Howe's alleged reason trumped up and worthless]

  [Sidenote: Burgoyne's fate practically decided]

No wonder that the American generals were wide of the mark in their
conjectures, for the folly of Howe's movements after reaching the mouth
of the Delaware was quite beyond credence, and would be inexplicable
to-day except as the result of the wild advice of the marplot Lee. Howe
alleged as his reason for turning away from the Delaware, that there
were obstructions in the river and forts to pass, and accordingly he
thought it best to go around by way of Chesapeake Bay, and land his army
at Elkton. Now he might easily have gone a little way up the Delaware
river without encountering any obstructions whatever, and landed his
troops at a point only thirteen miles east of Elkton. Instead of
attempting this, he wasted twenty-four days in a voyage of four hundred
miles, mostly against headwinds, in order to reach the same point! No
sensible antagonist could be expected to understand such eccentric
behaviour. No wonder that, after it had become clear that the fleet had
gone southward, Washington should have supposed an attack on Charleston
to be intended. A council of war on the 21st decided that this must be
the case, and since an overland march of seven hundred miles could not
be accomplished in time to prevent such an attack, it was decided to go
back to New York, and operate against Sir Henry Clinton. But before this
decision was acted on Howe appeared at the head of Chesapeake Bay, where
he landed his forces at Elkton. It was now the 25th of August,--nine
days after the battle of Bennington and three days after the flight of
St. Leger. Since entering Chesapeake Bay, Howe had received Lord George
Germain's letter of May 18th, telling him that whatever he had to do
ought to be done in time for him to coöperate with Burgoyne. Now
Burgoyne's situation had become dangerous, and here was Howe at Elkton,
fifty miles southwest of Philadelphia, with Washington's army in front
of him, and more than three hundred miles away from Burgoyne!

On hearing of Howe's arrival at the head of Chesapeake Bay, Washington
had advanced as far as Wilmington to meet him. The first proceeding of
the British general, on landing at Elkton, was to issue his proclamation
of amnesty; but it did not bring him many recruits. A
counter-proclamation, drawn up by Luther Martin, sufficed to neutralize
it. Though there were many people in the neighbourhood who cared little
for the cause of independence, there were but few who sympathized with
the invaders enough to render them any valuable assistance. It was
through a country indifferent, perhaps, but not friendly in feeling,
that the British army cautiously pushed its way northward for a
fortnight, until it reached the village of Kennett Square, six miles
west of the Brandywine Creek, behind which Washington had planted
himself to oppose its progress.

  [Sidenote: Washington's reasons for offering battle]

  [Sidenote: He chooses a very strong position]

The time had arrived when Washington felt it necessary to offer battle,
even though such a step might not be justified from purely military
reasons. The people were weary of a Fabian policy which they did not
comprehend, and Washington saw that, even if he were defeated, the moral
effect upon the country would not be so bad as if he were to abandon
Philadelphia without a blow. A victory he was hardly entitled to expect,
since he had but 11,000 men against Howe's 18,000, and since the British
were still greatly superior in equipment and discipline. Under these
circumstances, Washington chose his ground with his usual sagacity, and
took possession of it by a swift and masterly movement. The Brandywine
Creek ran directly athwart Howe's line of march to Philadelphia. Though
large enough to serve as a military obstacle,--in England it would be
called a river,--it was crossed by numerous fords, of which the
principal one, Chadd's Ford, lay in Howe's way. Washington placed the
centre of his army just behind Chadd's Ford and across the road. His
centre was defended in front by a corps of artillery under Wayne, while
Greene, on some high ground in the rear, was stationed as a reserve.
Below Chadd's Ford, the Brandywine becomes a roaring torrent, shut in
between steep, high cliffs, so that the American left, resting upon
these natural defences, was sufficiently guarded by the Pennsylvania
militia under Armstrong. The right wing, stretching two miles up the
stream, into an uneven and thickly wooded country, was commanded by


  [Sidenote: Battle of the Brandywine, Sept. 11, 1777]

This was a very strong position. On the left it was practically
inaccessible. To try storming it in front would be a doubtful
experiment, sure to result in terrible loss of life. The only weak point
was the right, which could be taken in flank by a long circuitous march
through the woods. Accordingly, on the morning of the 11th of September,
the British right wing, under Knyphausen, began skirmishing and
occupying Washington's attention at Chadd's Ford; while the left column,
under the energetic Cornwallis, marched up the Lancaster road, crossed
the forks of the Brandywine, and turned southward toward Birmingham
church, with the intention of striking the rear of the American right
wing. It was similar to the flanking movement which had been tried so
successfully at the battle of Long Island, a year before. It was quite
like the splendid movement of Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville,
eighty-five years afterward. In Howe's time such flanking marches were
eminently fashionable. It was in this way that the great Frederick had
won some of his most astonishing victories. They were, nevertheless,
then as always, dangerous expedients, as the stupendous overthrow of the
Austro-Russian army at Austerlitz was by and by to show. There is always
a serious chance that the tables may be turned. Such flanking movements
are comparatively safe, however, when the attacking army greatly
outnumbers the army attacked, as at the Brandywine. But in all cases the
chief element in their success is secrecy; above all things, the party
attacked must be kept in the dark.

These points are admirably illustrated in the battle of the Brandywine.
The danger of a flank attack upon his right wing was well understood by
Washington; and as soon as he heard that Cornwallis was marching up the
Lancaster road, he considered the feasibleness of doing what Frederick
would probably have done,--of crossing quickly at Chadd's and Brinton's
fords, in full force, and crushing Knyphausen's division. This he could
doubtless have accomplished, had he been so fortunate as to have
inherited an army trained by the father of Frederick the Great. But
Washington's army was not yet well trained, and its numerical
inferiority was such that Knyphausen's division might of itself be
regarded as a fair match for it. The British movement was, therefore,
well considered, and it was doubtless right that Washington did not
return the offensive by crossing the creek. Moreover, the organization
of his staff was far from complete. He was puzzled by conflicting
reports as to the enemy's movements. While considering the question of
throwing his whole force against Knyphausen, he was stopped by a false
report that Cornwallis was _not_ moving upon his flank. So great was the
delay in getting intelligence that Cornwallis had accomplished his long
march of eighteen miles, and was approaching Birmingham church, before
it was well known where he was. Nevertheless, his intention of dealing a
death-blow to the American army was forestalled and partially checked.
Before he had reached our right wing, Washington had ordered Sullivan to
form a new front and advance toward Birmingham church. Owing to the
imperfect discipline of the troops, Sullivan executed the movement
rather clumsily, but enough was accomplished to save the army from rout.
In the obstinate and murderous fight which ensued near Birmingham church
between Cornwallis and Sullivan, the latter was at length slowly pushed
back in the direction of Dilworth. To save the army from being broken in
two, it was now necessary for the centre to retreat upon Chester by way
of Dilworth, and this movement was accomplished by Greene with
consummate skill. It was now possible for Knyphausen to advance across
Chadd's Ford against Wayne's position; and he did so, aided by the right
wing of Cornwallis's division, which, instead of joining in the oblique
pursuit toward Dilworth, kept straight onward, and came down upon
Wayne's rear. Nothing was left for Wayne and Armstrong but to retreat
and join the rest of the army at Chester, and so the battle of the
Brandywine came to an end.


This famous battle was admirably conducted on both sides. The risk
assumed in the long flanking march of Cornwallis was fully justified.
The poor organization of the American army was of course well known to
the British commanders, and they took advantage of the fact. Had they
been dealing with an organization as efficient as their own, their
course would have been foolhardy. On the other hand, when we consider
the relative strength of the two armies, it is clear that the bold move
of Cornwallis ought not simply to have won the field of battle. It ought
to have annihilated the American army, had not its worst consequences
been averted by Washington's promptness, aided by Sullivan's obstinate
bravery and Greene's masterly conduct of the retreat upon Dilworth. As
it was, the American soldiers came out of the fight in good order.
Nothing could be more absurd than the careless statement, so often made,
that the Americans were "routed" at the Brandywine. Their organization
was preserved, and at Chester, next day, they were as ready for fight as
ever. They had exacted from the enemy a round price for the victory. The
American loss was a little more than 1,000, incurred chiefly in
Sullivan's gallant struggle; rolls afterward captured at Germantown
showed that the British loss considerably exceeded that figure.

  [Sidenote: Washington's skill in detaining the enemy]

  [Sidenote: The British enter Philadelphia, Sept. 26]

So far as the possession of Philadelphia was concerned, the British
victory was decisive. When the news came, next morning, that the army
had retreated upon Chester, there was great consternation in the "rebel
capital." Some timid people left their homes, and sought refuge in the
mountains. Congress fled to Lancaster, first clothing Washington for
sixty days with the same extraordinary powers which had been granted him
the year before. Yet there was no need for unseemly haste, for
Washington detained the victorious enemy a fortnight on the march of
only twenty-six miles; a feat which not even Napoleon could have
performed with an army that had just been "routed." He had now heard of
Stark's victory and St. Leger's flight, and his letters show how clearly
he foresaw Burgoyne's inevitable fate, provided Howe could be kept away
from him. To keep Howe's whole force employed near Philadelphia as long
as possible was of the utmost importance. Accordingly, during the
fortnight following the battle of the Brandywine, every day saw
manoeuvres or skirmishes, in one of which General Wayne was defeated
by Sir Charles Gray, with a loss of three hundred men. On the 26th,
while Howe established his headquarters at Germantown, Cornwallis
entered Philadelphia in triumph, marching with bands of music and flying
colours, and all the troops decked out in their finest scarlet array.

  [Sidenote: Significance of Forts Mercer and Mifflin]

Having got possession of the "rebel capital," the question now arose
whether it would be possible to hold it through the winter. The Delaware
river, below the city, had been carefully obstructed by
_chevaux-de-frise_, which were guarded by two strong fortresses,--Fort
Mifflin on an island in mid-stream, and Fort Mercer on the Jersey shore.
The river was here about two miles in width, but it was impossible for
ships to pass until the forts should have been reduced. About the first
of October, after a rough return voyage of four hundred miles, Lord
Howe's fleet appeared at the mouth of the Delaware. It was absolutely
necessary to gain control of the river, in order that the city might get
supplies by sea; for so long as Washington's army remained unbroken, the
Americans were able to cut off all supplies by land. Sir William Howe,
therefore, threw a portion of his forces across the river, to aid his
brother in reducing the forts. The quick eye of Washington now saw an
opportunity for attacking the main British army, while thus temporarily
weakened; and he forthwith planned a brilliant battle, which was,
however, fated to be lost by a singular accident.

  [Sidenote: The situation at Germantown]

The village of Germantown, by the bank of the Schuylkill river, was then
separated from Philadelphia by about six miles of open country. The
village consisted chiefly of a single street, about two miles in length,
with stone houses on either side, standing about a hundred yards apart
from each other, and surrounded by gardens and orchards. Near the upper
end of the street, in the midst of ornamental shrubbery, vases, and
statues, arranged in a French style of landscape gardening, stood the
massively built house of Benjamin Chew, formerly Chief Justice of
Pennsylvania. About a mile below, at the Market House, the main street
was crossed at right angles by the Old School Lane. Beside the main
street, running over Chestnut Hill, the village was approached from the
northward by three roads. The Monatawny road ran down by the bank of the
Schuylkill, and, crossing the Old School Lane, bore on toward
Philadelphia. The Limekiln road, coming from the northeast, became
continuous with the Old School Lane. The Old York road, still farther
eastward, joined the main street at the Rising Sun tavern, about two
miles below the Market House.

The British army lay encamped just behind the Old School Lane, in the
lower part of the village: the left wing, under Knyphausen, to the west
of the main street; the right, under Grant, to the east. A strong
detachment of _chasseurs_, under Sir Charles Grey, covered the left
wing. About a mile in advance of the army, Colonel Musgrave's regiment
lay in a field opposite Judge Chew's house; and yet a mile farther
forward a battalion of light infantry was stationed on the slight
eminence known as Mount Airy, where a small battery commanded the road
to the north.

  [Sidenote: Washington's audacious plan]

Washington's plan of attack seems to have contemplated nothing less than
the destruction or capture of the British army. His forces were to
advance from the north by all four roads at once, and converge upon the
British at the Market House. The American right wing, under Sullivan,
and consisting of Sullivan's own brigade, with those of Conway, Wayne,
Maxwell, and Nash, was to march down the main street, overwhelm the
advanced parties of the British, and engage their left wing in front;
while Armstrong, with the Pennsylvania militia, was to move down the
Monatawny road, and take the same wing in flank. The American left wing,
commanded by Greene, was also to proceed in two columns. Greene, with
his own brigade, supported by Stephen and McDougal, was to march down
the Limekiln road, and assail the British right wing in front and in
flank; while Smallwood and Forman, coming down the Old York road, were
to strike the same wing in the rear. The flank attack upon the British
left, entrusted as it was to militia, was intended merely as a
demonstration. The attack upon their right, conducted by more than half
of the American army, including its best troops, was intended to crush
that wing, and folding back the whole British army upon the Schuylkill
river, compel it to surrender.


  [Sidenote: Battle of Germantown, Oct. 4]

Considering that the Americans had not even yet a superiority in
numbers, this was a most audacious plan. No better instance could be
given of the spirit of wild and venturous daring which was as
conspicuous in Washington as his cautious vigilance, whenever any fit
occasion arose for displaying it. The scheme came surprisingly near to
success; so near as to redeem it from the imputation of fool-hardiness,
and to show that here, as in all Washington's military movements, cool
judgment went along with fiery dash. At seven in the evening of the 3d
of October, the night march upon Germantown began, Washington
accompanying Sullivan's column. At sunrise a heavy fog came up, and the
darkness went on increasing. Soon after the hour of daybreak the light
infantry upon Mount Airy were surprised and routed, and the battery was
captured. Musgrave was next overwhelmed by the heavy American column;
but he, with a small force, took refuge in Judge Chew's house, and set
up a brisk fire from the windows. The Americans opened an artillery-fire
upon the house, but its stone walls were too solid to be beaten down by
the three-pound and six-pound field-pieces of that day; and so Maxwell's
brigade was left behind to besiege the house, while the rest of the
column rushed on down the street. The chief effect of this incident was
to warn the enemy, while retarding and somewhat weakening the American
charge. Nevertheless, the fury of the attack was such as to disconcert
Knyphausen's veterans, and the British left wing slowly gave way before
Sullivan. At this moment, Greene, who had also been delayed, attacked
the right wing with such vigour as presently to force it back toward the
Market House. The British ranks were falling into confusion, and
Smallwood's column had already arrived upon their right flank, when the
accident occurred which changed the fortunes of the day. From the
beginning the dense fog had been a source of confusion to both armies,
and had seriously interfered with the solidity of the American advance.
Now, as Stephen's brigade, on the right of Greene's column, came into
the village, the heavy firing at Judge Chew's seems to have caused him
to diverge more and more to the west, in the belief that there was the
thick of the battle. At the same time, Wayne, in driving the enemy
before him, had swayed somewhat to the east, so that his brigade stood
almost directly in the line of Stephen's progress. In this position he
was attacked by Stephen, who mistook him for the enemy. This lamentable
blunder instantly ruined the battle. Wayne's men, thus fiercely attacked
in the rear, and struggling to extricate themselves, were thrown upon
the left flank of Sullivan's brigade, and a panic suddenly ran through
the army. The confusion grew worse and worse, till a general retreat
began, and Grey, who had come up to support the crumbling right wing of
the British, was now able to lead in the pursuit of the Americans. He
was joined by Cornwallis, who had sprung from his bed in Philadelphia at
the first sound of the cannon, and had brought up two battalions with
him at double-quick. But the panic had subsided almost as soon as the
golden moment of victory was lost, and the retreat was conducted in
excellent order. One regiment in Greene's column was surrounded and
captured, but the army brought away all its cannon and wounded, with
several cannon taken from the enemy. The loss of the Americans in killed
and wounded was 673, and the loss of the British was 535.


The fog which enshrouded the village of Germantown on that eventful
morning has been hardly less confusing to historians than it was to the
armies engaged. The reports of different observers conflicted in many
details, and particularly as to the immediate occasion of the fatal
panic. The best accounts agree, however, that the entanglement of
Stephen with Wayne was chiefly responsible for the disaster. It was
charged against Stephen that he had taken too many pulls at his canteen
on the long, damp night march, and he was tried by court-martial, and
dismissed from the service. The chagrin of the Americans at losing the
prize so nearly grasped was profound. The total rout of Howe, coming at
the same time with the surrender of Burgoyne, would probably have been
too much for Lord North's ministry to bear, and might have brought the
war to a sudden close. As it was, the British took an undue amount of
comfort in the acquisition of Philadelphia, though so long as
Washington's army remained defiant it was of small military value to
them. On the other hand, the genius and audacity shown by Washington, in
thus planning and so nearly accomplishing the ruin of the British army
only three weeks after the defeat at the Brandywine, produced a profound
impression upon military critics in Europe. Frederick of Prussia saw
that presently, when American soldiers should come to be disciplined
veterans, they would become a formidable instrument in the hands of
their great commander; and the French court, in making up its mind that
the Americans would prove efficient allies, is said to have been
influenced almost as much by the battle of Germantown as by the
surrender of Burgoyne.

                 DONOP DIED]

  [Sidenote: Howe captures Forts Mercer and Mifflin]

Having thus escaped the catastrophe which Washington had designed for
him, the British commander was now able to put forth his utmost efforts
for the capture of the forts on the Delaware. His utmost efforts were
needed, for in the first attack on Fort Mercer, October 22, the Hessians
were totally defeated, with the loss of Count Donop and 400 men, while
the Americans lost but 37. But after a month of hard work, with the aid
of 6,000 more men sent from New York by Clinton, both forts were
reduced, and the command of the Delaware was wrested from the Americans.
Another month of manoeuvring and skirmishing followed, and then
Washington took his army into winter-quarters at Valley Forge. The
events which attended his sojourn in that natural stronghold belong to a
later period of the war. We must now return to the upper waters of the
Hudson, and show how the whole period, which may be most fitly described
as a struggle for the control of the great central state of New York,
was brought to an end by the complete and overwhelming victory of the

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Sidenote: Burgoyne recognizes the fatal error of Germain]

We have seen how it became impossible for Howe to act upon Lord George
Germain's order, received in August, in Chesapeake Bay, and get back to
the Hudson in time to be of any use to Burgoyne. We have also seen how
critical was the situation in which the northern general was left, after
the destruction of Baum and St. Leger, and the accumulation of New
England yeomanry in his rear. Burgoyne now fully acknowledged the
terrible mistake of the ministry in assuming that the resistance of the
Americans was due to the machinations of a few wily demagogues, and that
the people would hail the approach of the king's troops as deliverers.
"The great bulk of the country," said he, "is undoubtedly with the
Congress in principle and zeal, and their measures are executed with a
secrecy and dispatch that are not to be equalled.... The Hampshire
Grants, in particular, a country unpeopled and almost unknown last war,
now abounds in the most active and most rebellious race on the
continent, and hangs like a gathering storm upon my left." The situation
had, indeed, become so alarming that it is hard to say what Burgoyne
ought to have done. A retreat upon Ticonderoga would have been fraught
with peril, while to cross the Hudson and advance upon Albany would be
doing like Cortes, when he scuttled his ships. But Burgoyne was a man of
chivalrous nature. He did not think it right or prudent to abandon Sir
William Howe, whom he still supposed to be coming up the river to meet
him. In a letter to Lord George Germain, written three days after the
surrender, he says, "The difficulty of a retreat upon Canada was clearly
foreseen, as was the dilemma, should the retreat be effected, of leaving
at liberty such an army as General Gates's to operate against Sir
William Howe. This consideration operated forcibly to determine me to
abide events as long as possible, and I reasoned thus: the expedition
which I commanded was at first evidently intended to be _hazarded_;
circumstances might require it should be _devoted_."

  [Sidenote: Nevertheless he crosses the Hudson]

  [Sidenote: First battle at Freeman's Farm, Sept. 19; indecisive]

Influenced by these views, which were supported by all his generals
except Riedesel, Burgoyne threw a bridge of boats across the Hudson, and
passed over with whole army on the 13th of September. The Americans had
taken a strong position on Bemis Heights, where Kosciuszko had skilfully
fortified their camp with batteries and redoubts. Burgoyne felt that the
time for desperate fighting had now come, and it seemed to him that the
American position might be turned and carried by an attack upon its left
flank. On the morning of the 19th, he advanced through the woods, with
the centre of his army, toward the point where the Quaker road passed
Bemis Heights. The right wing, under Fraser, proceeded somewhat more
circuitously toward the same point, the plan being that they should join
forces and strike the rear of the American camp, while Riedesel and
Phillips, with the left wing and the artillery, marching down the river
road, should assail it in front. Three heavy guns, announcing to the
left wing the junction of Burgoyne and Fraser, were to give the signal
for a general assault. American scouts, lurking among the upper branches
of tall trees that grew on steep hillsides, presently caught glimpses
of bright scarlet flitting through the green depths of the forest, while
the long sunbeams that found their way through the foliage sent back
quick burning flashes from a thousand bayonets. By noon the course of
the British march and their plan of attack had been fully deciphered,
and the intelligence was carried to Arnold, who commanded the left wing
of the American army. Gates appears to have been unwilling to let any of
the forces descend from their strong position; but the fiery Arnold
urged and implored, until he got permission to take Morgan's riflemen
and Dearborn's infantry, and go forth to attack the enemy. Arnold's
advance, under Morgan, first fell upon Burgoyne's advance, at Freeman's
Farm, and checked its progress. Fraser then, hearing the musketry,
turned eastward to the rescue, while Arnold, moving upon Fraser's left,
sought to cut him asunder from Burgoyne. He seemed to be winning the
day, when he was attacked in flank by Riedesel, who had hurried up from
the river road. Arnold had already sent to Gates for reinforcements,
which were refused him. Arnold maintained that this was a gross blunder
on the part of the commanding general, and that with 2,000 more men he
could now easily have crushed the British centre and defeated their
army. In this opinion he was probably right, since even as it was he
held his own, in a desperate fight, for two hours, until darkness put an
end to the struggle. The losses on each side are variously estimated at
from 600 to 1,000, or from one fifth to one fourth of the forces
engaged, which indicates severe fighting. Arnold's command had numbered
about 3,000, and he had been engaged, in the course of the afternoon,
with at least 4,000 of Burgoyne's army; yet all this while some 11,000
Americans--most of the army in short--had been kept idle on Bemis
Heights by the incompetent Gates. Burgoyne tried to console himself with
the idea that he had won a victory, because his army slept that night at
Freeman's Farm; but in his testimony given afterward before the House of
Commons, he rightly maintained that his plan of attack had been utterly
defeated by the bold and skilful tactics of "Mr." Arnold.

  [Portrait: T Kosciuszko]

In the dispatches which he now sent to Congress, Gates took to himself
all the credit of this affair, and did not even mention Arnold's name.
The army, however, rang with praise of the fighting general, until
Gates, who never could bear to hear any one but himself well spoken of,
waxed wroth and revengeful. Arnold, moreover, freely blamed Gates for
not supporting him, and for refusing to renew the battle on the next
morning, while the enemy were still disconcerted. Arnold's warm
friendship with Schuyler gave further offence to the commander; and
three days after the battle he sought to wreak his spite by withdrawing
Morgan's riflemen and Dearborn's light infantry from Arnold's division.
A fierce quarrel ensued, in the course of which Gates told Arnold that
as soon as Lincoln should arrive he would have no further use for him,
and he might go back to Washington's camp as soon as he liked. Arnold,
in a white rage, said he would go, and asked for a pass, which his enemy
promptly gave him; but after receiving it, second thoughts prevented him
from going. All the general officers except Lincoln--who seems to have
refrained from unwillingness to give umbrage to a commander so high in
the good graces of Massachusetts as Gates--united in signing a letter
entreating Arnold to remain. He had been sent here by Washington to aid
the northern army, and clearly it would be wrong to leave it now, on the
eve of a decisive battle. So the proud, fiery soldier, smarting under an
accumulation of injuries, made up his mind once more to swallow the
affront, and wait for a chance to make himself useful. He stayed in his
quarters, awaiting the day of battle, though it was not clear how far he
was entitled, under the circumstances, to exercise command, and Gates
took no more notice of him than if he had been a dog.

  [Sidenote: Burgoyne's supplies cut off]

Nothing more was done for eighteen days. Just before the crossing of the
Hudson by the northern army, Sir Henry Clinton, acting "as circumstances
may direct," had planned an expedition up the river in aid of it; and
Burgoyne, hearing of this the day after the battle at Freeman's Farm,
thought it best to wait a while before undertaking another assault upon
the American lines. But things were swiftly coming to such a pass that
it would not do to wait. On the 21st, news came to the British camp that
a detachment of Lincoln's troops had laid siege to Ticonderoga, and,
while holding the garrison in check, had captured several ships and
taken 300 prisoners. A day or two later came the news that these New
Englanders had embarked on Lake George in the ships they had captured,
and were cutting off the last sources of supply. And now, while even on
shortest rations there was barely three weeks' food for the army,
Lincoln's main force appeared in front, thus swelling the numbers of the
American army to more than 16,000. The case had become as desperate as
that of the Athenians at Syracuse before their last dreadful battle in
the harbour. So, after eighteen weary days, no word yet coming from
Clinton, the gallant Burgoyne attempted, by a furious effort, to break
through the lines of an army that now outnumbered him more than three to

  [Portrait: Sim. Fraser]

  [Sidenote: Second battle at Freeman's Farm, Oct. 7; the British totally
             defeated by Arnold]

On the morning of October 7th, leaving the rest of his army in camp,
Burgoyne advanced with 1,500 picked men to turn the American left. Small
as the force was, its quality was superb, and with it were the best
commanders,--Phillips, Riedesel, Fraser, Balcarras, and Ackland. Such a
compact force, so ably led, might manoeuvre quickly. If, on sounding
the American position on the left, they should find it too strong to be
forced, they might swiftly retreat. At all events, the movement would
cover a foraging party which Burgoyne had sent out,--and this was no
small matter. Arnold, too, the fighting general, it was reported, held
no command; and Gates was known to be a sluggard. Such thoughts may have
helped to shape the conduct of the British commander on this critical
morning. But the scheme was swiftly overturned. As the British came on,
their right was suddenly attacked by Morgan, while the New England
regulars with 3,000 New York militia assailed them in front. After a
short, sharp fight against overwhelming numbers, their whole line was
broken, and Fraser sought to form a second line a little farther back,
on the west border of Freeman's Farm, though the ranks were badly
disordered and all their cannon were lost. At this moment, Arnold, who
had been watching from the heights, saw that a well-directed blow might
not only ruin this retreating column, but also shatter the whole
British army. Quick as thought he sprang upon his horse, and galloped to
the scene of action. He was greeted with deafening hurrahs, and the men,
leaping with exultation at sight of their beloved commander, rushed upon
Fraser's half-formed line. At the same moment, while Morgan was still
pressing on the British right, one of his marksmen shot General Fraser,
who fell, mortally wounded, just as Arnold charged with mad fury upon
his line. The British, thus assailed in front and flank, were soon
pushed off the field. Arnold next attacked Lord Balcarras, who had
retired behind intrenchments at the north of Freeman's Farm; but finding
the resistance here too strong, he swept by, and charged upon the
Canadian auxiliaries, who occupied a position just north of Balcarras,
and covered the left wing of Breymann's forces at the extreme right of
the British camp. The Canadians soon fled, leaving Breymann uncovered;
and Arnold forthwith rushed against Breymann on the left, just as
Morgan, who had prolonged his flanking march, assailed him on the right.
Breymann was slain and his force routed; the British right wing was
crushed, and their whole position taken in reverse and made untenable.
Just at this moment, a wounded German soldier, lying on the ground, took
aim at Arnold, and slew his horse, while the ball passed through the
general's left leg, that had been wounded at Quebec, and fractured the
bone a little above the knee. As Arnold fell, one of his men rushed up
to bayonet the wounded soldier who had shot him, when the prostrate
general cried, "For God's sake, don't hurt him; he's a fine fellow!" The
poor German was saved, and this was the hour when Benedict Arnold should
have died. His fall and the gathering twilight stopped the progress of
the battle, but the American victory was complete and decisive. Nothing
was left for Burgoyne but to get the wreck of his army out of the way as
quickly as possible, and the next day he did so, making a slow retreat
upon Saratoga, in the course of which his soldiers burned General
Schuyler's princely country-house, with its barns and granaries.

As the British retreated, General Gates steadily closed in upon them
with his overwhelming forces, which now numbered 20,000. Gates--to give
him due credit--knew how to be active after the victory, although, when
fighting was going on, he was a general of sedentary habits. When Arnold
rushed down, at the critical moment, to complete the victory of
Saratoga, Gates sent out Major Armstrong to stop him. "Call back that
fellow," said Gates, "or he will be doing something rash!" But the eager
Arnold had out-galloped the messenger, and came back only when his leg
was broken and the victory won. In the mean time Gates sat at his
headquarters, forgetful of the battle that was raging below, while he
argued the merits of the American Revolution with a wounded British
officer, Sir Francis Clerke, who had been brought in and laid upon the
commander's bed to die. Losing his temper in the discussion, Gates
called his adjutant, Wilkinson, out of the room, and asked him, "Did you
ever hear so impudent a son of a b----h?" And this seems to have been
all that the commanding general contributed to the crowning victory of

  [Portrait: La baronne de Riedesel nee de Wassow [illegible]]

  [Sidenote: The British army is surrounded]

When Burgoyne reached the place where he had crossed the Hudson, he
found a force of 3,000 Americans, with several batteries of cannon
occupying the hills on the other side, so that it was now impossible to
cross. A council of war decided to abandon all the artillery and
baggage, push through the woods by night, and effect a crossing higher
up, by Fort Edward, where the great river begins to be fordable. But no
sooner had this plan been made than word was brought that the Americans
were guarding all the fords, and had also planted detachments in a
strong position to the northward, between Fort Edward and Fort George.
The British army, in short, was surrounded. A brisk cannonade was opened
upon it from the east and south, while Morgan's sharpshooters kept up a
galling fire in the rear. Some of the women and wounded men were sent
for safety to a large house in the neighbourhood, where they took refuge
in the cellar; and there the Baroness Riedesel tells us how she passed
six dismal nights and days, crouching in a corner near the doorway, with
her three little children clinging about her, while every now and then,
with hideous crashing, a heavy cannon-ball passed through the room
overhead. The cellar became crowded with crippled and dying men. But
little food could be obtained, and the suffering from thirst was
dreadful. It was only a few steps to the river, but every man who
ventured out with a bucket was shot dead by Virginia rifles that never
missed their aim. At last the brave wife of a British soldier
volunteered to go; and thus the water was brought again and again, for
the Americans would not fire at a woman.

  [Sidenote: Clinton comes up the Hudson, but it is too late]

And now, while Burgoyne's last ray of hope was dying, and while the
veteran Phillips declared himself heartbroken at the misery which he
could not relieve, where was Sir Henry Clinton? He had not thought it
prudent to leave New York until after the arrival of 3,000 soldiers whom
he expected from England. These men arrived on the 29th of September,
but six days more elapsed before Sir Henry had taken them up the river
and landed them near Putnam's headquarters at Peekskill. In a campaign
of three days he outwitted that general, carried two of the forts after
obstinate resistance, and compelled the Americans to abandon the others;
and thus laid open the river so that British ships might go up to
Albany. On the 8th of October, Sir Henry wrote to Burgoyne from Fort
Montgomery: "_Nous y voici_, and nothing between us and Gates. I
sincerely hope this little success of ours will facilitate your
operations." This dispatch was written on a scrap of very thin paper,
and encased in an oval silver bullet, which opened with a tiny screw in
the middle. Sir Henry then sent General Vaughan, with several frigates
and the greater part of his force, to make all haste for Albany. As they
passed up the river, the next day, they could not resist the temptation
to land and set fire to the pretty village of Kingston, then the seat of
the state legislature. George Clinton, governor of the state, just
retreating from his able defence of the captured forts, hastened to
protect the village, but came up only in time to see it in flames from
one end to the other. Just then Sir Henry's messenger, as he skulked by
the roadside, was caught and taken to the governor. He had been seen
swallowing something, so they gave him an emetic, and obtained the
silver bullet. The dispatch was read; the bearer was hanged to an
apple-tree; and Burgoyne, weary with waiting for the news that never
came, at last sent a flag of truce to General Gates, inquiring what
terms of surrender would be accepted.

  [Sidenote: Burgoyne surrenders, Oct. 17]

Gates first demanded an unconditional surrender, but on Burgoyne's
indignant refusal he consented to make terms, and the more readily, no
doubt, since he knew what had just happened in the Highlands, though his
adversary did not. After three days of discussion the terms of surrender
were agreed upon. Just as Burgoyne was about to sign the articles, a
Tory made his way into camp with hearsay news that part of Clinton's
army was approaching Albany. The subject was then anxiously reconsidered
by the British officers, and an interesting discussion ensued as to
whether they had so far pledged their faith to the surrender that they
could not in honour draw back. The majority of the council decided that
their faith was irrevocably pledged, and Burgoyne yielded to this
opinion, though he did not share it, for he did not feel quite clear
that the rumoured advance of Clinton could now avail to save him in any
case. In this he was undoubtedly right. The American army, with its
daily accretions of militia, had now grown to more than 20,000, and
armed yeomanry were still pouring in by the hundred. A diversion
threatened by less than 3,000 men, who were still more than fifty miles
distant, could hardly have averted the doom of the British army. The
only effect which it did produce was, perhaps, to work upon the timid
Gates, and induce him to offer easy terms in order to hasten the
surrender. On the 17th of October, accordingly, the articles were
signed, exchanged, and put in execution. It was agreed that the British
army should march out of camp with the honours of war, and pile their
arms at an appointed place; they should then march through Massachusetts
to Boston, from which port they might sail for Europe, it being
understood that none of them should serve again in America during the
war; all the officers might retain their small arms, and no one's
private luggage should be searched or molested. At Burgoyne's earnest
solicitation the American general consented that these proceedings
should be styled a "convention," instead of a surrender, in imitation of
the famous Convention of Kloster-Seven, by which the Duke of Cumberland,
twenty years before, had sought to save his feelings while losing his
army, beleaguered by the French in Hanover. The soothing phrase has been
well remembered by British historians, who to this day continue to speak
of Burgoyne's surrender as the "Convention of Saratoga."

In carrying out the terms of the convention, both Gates and his soldiers
showed praiseworthy delicacy. As the British marched off to a meadow by
the river side and laid down their arms, the Americans remained within
their lines, refusing to add to the humiliation of a gallant enemy by
standing and looking on. As the disarmed soldiers then passed by the
American lines, says Lieutenant Anbury, one of the captured officers, "I
did not observe the least disrespect or even a taunting look, but all
was mute astonishment and pity." Burgoyne stepped up and handed his
sword to Gates, simply saying, "The fortune of war, General Gates, has
made me your prisoner." The American general instantly returned the
sword, replying, "I shall always be ready to testify that it has not
been through any fault of your excellency." When Baron Riedesel had been
presented to Gates and the other generals, he sent for his wife and
children. Set free at last from the dreadful cellar, the baroness came
with some trepidation into the enemy's camp; but the only look she saw
upon any face was one of sympathy. "As I approached the tents," she
says, "a noble-looking gentleman came toward me, and took the children
out of the wagon; embraced and kissed them; and then, with tears in his
eyes, helped me also to alight.... Presently he said, 'It may be
embarrassing to you to dine with so many gentlemen. If you will come
with your children to my tent, I will give you a frugal meal, but one
that will at least be seasoned with good wishes.' 'Oh, sir,' I cried,
'you must surely be a husband and a father, since you show me so much
kindness!' I then learned that it was General Schuyler."

  [Sidenote: Schuyler's magnanimity]

Schuyler had indeed come, with unruffled soul, to look on while the
fruit which he had sown, with the gallant aid of Stark and Herkimer,
Arnold and Morgan, was plucked by an unworthy rival. He now met
Burgoyne, who was naturally pained and embarrassed at the recollection
of the beautiful house which his men had burned a few days before. In a
speech in the House of Commons, some months later, Burgoyne told how
Schuyler received him. "I expressed to General Schuyler," says Burgoyne,
"my regret at the event which had happened, and the reasons which had
occasioned it. He desired me to think no more of it, saying that the
occasion justified it, according to the rules of war.... He did more: he
sent an aide-de-camp to conduct me to Albany, in order, as he expressed
it, to procure me better quarters than a stranger might be able to find.
This gentleman conducted me to a very elegant house, and, to my great
surprise, presented me to Mrs. Schuyler and her family; and in this
general's house I remained during my whole stay at Albany, with a table
of more than twenty covers for me and my friends, and every other
possible demonstration of hospitality." Madame Riedesel was also invited
to stay with the Schuylers; and when first she arrived in the house, one
of her little girls exclaimed, "Oh, mamma! Is this the palace that papa
was to have when he came to America?" As the Schuylers understood
German, the baroness coloured, but all laughed pleasantly, and put her
at ease.

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Sidenote: Bad faith of Congress]

With the generosity and delicacy shown alike by generals and soldiers,
it is painful, though instructive, to contrast the coarseness and bad
faith with which Congress proceeded to treat the captured army. The
presence of the troops in and about Boston was felt to be a hardship,
and General Heath, who commanded there, wrote to Washington, saying that
if they were to stay till cold weather he hardly knew how to find
shelter and fuel for them. Washington replied that they would not be
likely to stay long, since it was clearly for Howe's interest to send
them back to England as soon as possible, in order that they might
replace other soldiers who would be sent over to America for the spring
campaign. Congress caught up this suggestion with avidity, and put it to
uses quite remote from Washington's meaning. When Sir William Howe
proposed Newport as a point from which the soldiers might more speedily
be shipped, Washington, for sound and obvious reasons, urged that there
should be no departure from the strict letter of the convention.
Congress forthwith not only acted upon this suggestion so far as to
refuse Sir William Howe's request, but it went on gratuitously and
absurdly to charge the British general with bad faith. It was hinted
that he secretly intended to bring the troops to New York for immediate
service, in defiance of the convention, and Congress proceeded to make
this imputed treachery the ground for really false dealing on its own
part. When Lord Howe's transports reached Boston, it was not only
ordered that no troops should be allowed to embark until all the
accounts for their subsistence should have been settled, but it was also
required that these accounts should be liquidated in gold. In the
instructions given to General Washington a year before, a refusal on the
part of anybody to receive the Continental paper money was to be treated
as a high misdemeanour. Now Congress refused to take its own money,
which had depreciated till it was worth barely thirty cents on a dollar.
The captured army was supplied with provisions and fuel that were paid
for by General Heath with Continental paper, and now Congress insisted
that General Burgoyne should make his repayment dollar for dollar in
British gold, worth three times as much. In fairness to the delegates,
we may admit that in all probability they did not realize the baseness
of this conduct. They were no doubt misled by one of those wonderful
bits of financial sophistry by which the enacting mind of our countrymen
has so often been hopelessly confused. In an amusing letter to
Washington, honest General Heath naïvely exclaims, "What an opinion must
General Burgoyne have of the authority of these states, to suppose that
his money would be received at any higher rate than our own in public
payment! Such payment would at once be depreciating our currency with a
witness." Washington was seriously annoyed and mortified by these
vagaries,--the more so that he was at this very time endeavouring to
arrange with Howe a general cartel for the exchange of prisoners; and he
knew that the attempt to make thirty cents equal to a dollar would, as
he said, "destroy the very idea of a cartel."

  [Portrait: W Heath]

While these discussions were going on, Congress, like the wicked king in
the fairy tale, anxious to impose conditions unlikely to be fulfilled,
demanded that General Burgoyne should make out a descriptive list of all
the officers and soldiers in his army, in order that if any of them
should thereafter be found serving against the United States they might
be punished accordingly. As no such provision was contained in the
convention, upon the faith of which Burgoyne had surrendered, he
naturally regarded the demand as insulting, and at first refused to
comply with it. He afterwards yielded the point, in his eagerness to
liberate his soldiers; but meanwhile, in a letter to Gates, he had
incautiously let fall the expression, "The publick faith is broke
[_sic_];" and this remark, coming to the ears of Congress, was
immediately laid hold of as a pretext for repudiating the convention
altogether. It was argued that Burgoyne had charged the United States
with bad faith, in order to have an excuse for repudiating the
convention on his own part; and on the 8th of January, Congress
accordingly resolved, "that the embarkation of Lieutenant-General
Burgoyne and the troops under his command be suspended till a distinct
and explicit ratification of the Convention of Saratoga shall be
properly notified by the court of Great Britain to Congress." Now as the
British government could not give the required ratification without
implicitly recognizing the independence of the United States, no further
steps were taken in the matter, the "publick faith" was really broken,
and the captured army was never sent home.


  [Sidenote: The behavior of Congress was simply inexcusable]

In this wretched affair, Congress deliberately sacrificed principle to
policy. It refused, on paltry pretexts, to carry out a solemn engagement
which had been made by its accredited agent; and it did so simply
through the fear that the British army might indirectly gain a possible
reinforcement. Its conduct can be justified upon no grounds save such as
would equally justify firing upon flags of truce. Nor can it be
palliated even upon the lowest grounds of expediency, for, as it has
been well said, "to a people struggling for political life the moral
support derivable from the maintenance of honour and good faith was
worth a dozen material victories." This sacrifice of principle to policy
has served only to call down the condemnation of impartial historians,
and to dim the lustre of the magnificent victory which the valour of our
soldiers and the self-devotion of our people had won in the field. It
was one out of many instances which show that, under any form of
government, the moral sense of the governing body is likely to fall far
below the highest moral standard recognized in the community.

  [Sidenote: What became of the captured army]

The captured army was never sent home. The officers were treated as
prisoners of war, and from time to time were exchanged. Burgoyne was
allowed to go to England in the spring, and while still a prisoner on
parole he took his seat in Parliament, and became conspicuous among the
defenders of the American cause. The troops were detained in the
neighbourhood of Boston until the autumn of 1778, when they were all
transferred to Charlottesville in Virginia. Here a rude village was
built on the brow of a pleasant ridge of hills, and gardens were laid
out and planted. Much kind assistance was rendered in all this work by
Thomas Jefferson, who was then living close by, on his estate at
Monticello, and did everything in his power to make things comfortable
for soldiers and officers. Two years afterward, when Virginia became the
seat of war, some of them were removed to Winchester in the Shenandoah
valley, to Frederick in Maryland, and to Lancaster in Pennsylvania.
Those who wished to return to Europe were exchanged or allowed to
escape. The greater number, especially of the Germans, preferred to stay
in this country and become American citizens. Before the end of 1783
they had dispersed in all directions.

Such was the strange sequel of a campaign which, whether we consider the
picturesqueness of its incidents or the magnitude of its results, was
one of the most memorable in the history of mankind. Its varied scenes,
framed in landscapes of grand and stirring beauty, had brought together
such types of manhood as the feathered Mohawk sachem, the helmeted
Brunswick dragoon, and the blue-frocked yeoman of New England,--types of
ancient barbarism, of the militancy bequeathed from the Middle Ages,
and of the industrial democracy that is to possess and control the
future of the world. These men had mingled in a deadly struggle for the
strategic centre of the Atlantic coast of North America, and now the
fight had ended in the complete and overwhelming defeat of the forces of
George III. Four years, indeed,--four years of sore distress and hope
deferred,--were yet to pass before the fruits of this great victory
could be gathered. The independence of the United States was not yet
won; but the triumph at Saratoga set in motion a train of events from
which the winning of independence was destined surely to follow.


  [14] In the spring of 1776 Lee had written to Edward Rutledge: "By
       the eternal God! If you do not declare yourselves independent,
       you deserve to be slaves!" In several such letters Lee had
       fairly bellowed for independence.

                                VOLUME II


                              CHAPTER VIII

                          THE FRENCH ALLIANCE

  The four periods of the Revolutionary war                          1-3

  Consequences of Saratoga; consternation in England                   4

  Views of the different parties                                    5, 6

  Lord North's political somersault                                    6

  Strange scene in the House of Commons                             7, 8

  Treaty between France and the United States (February 6, 1778)    8, 9

  Great Britain declares war against France (March 13)                10

  Demand for Lord Chatham for prime minister                      11, 12

  The king's rage                                                 12, 13

  What Chatham would have tried to do                             13, 14

  Death of Chatham                                                 14-16

  His prodigious greatness                                         16-20

  Lord North remains in power                                     20, 21

  His commissioners in America fail to accomplish anything            22

  Germain's new plan for conducting the war                       22, 23

                              CHAPTER IX

                             VALLEY FORGE

  Distress in America                                                 24

  Lack of organization                                                25

  Vexatious meddling of Congress with the army                        26

  Sufferings at Valley Forge                                          27

  Promoting officers for non-military reasons                         28

  Absurd talk of John Adams                                           29

  Gates is puffed up with success                                     30

  And shows symptoms of insubordination                               31

  The Conway cabal                                                32, 33

  Attempts to injure Washington                                   34, 35

  Conway's letter to Gates                                            36

  Gates's letter to Washington                                        37

  Washington's reply                                                  38

  Gates tries, unsuccessfully, to save himself by lying               39

  But is successful, as usual, in keeping from under fire             40

  The forged letters                                                  40

  Scheme for invading Canada                                          41

  The dinner at York, and Lafayette's toast                           42

  Absurdity of the scheme                                             43

  Downfall of the cabal                                               43

  Decline of the Continental Congress                             44, 45

  Increasing influence of Washington                              45, 46

                              CHAPTER X

                         MONMOUTH AND NEWPORT

  Baron Friedrich von Steuben                                      47-49

  He arrives in America and visits Congress at York                   50

  His work in training the army at Valley Forge                    51-53

  His manual of tactics                                               54

  Sir William Howe resigns his command                                55

  The Mischianza                                                      56

  The British evacuate Philadelphia (June 18, 1778)               56, 57

  Arnold takes command there                                          57

  Charles Lee is exchanged, and returns to his command in the
     American army                                                    58

  His reasons for returning                                       58, 59

  Washington pursues the British                                      60

  His plan of attack                                                  61

  Battle of Monmouth (June 28)                                     62-65

  Lee's shameful retreat                                              62

  Washington retrieves the situation                              63, 64

  It was a drawn battle                                               65

  Washington's letter to Lee                                          66

  Trial and sentence of Lee                                       67, 68

  Lee's character and schemes                                      68-70

  Lee's expulsion from the army; his death                            71

  The situation at New York                                           72

  The French fleet unable to enter the harbour                        73

  General Prescott at Newport                                         74

  Attempt to capture the British garrison at Newport                  75

  Sullivan seizes Butts Hill                                          76

  Naval battle prevented by storm                                     77

  Estaing goes to Boston to refit his ships                       77, 78

  Yeomanry go home in disgust                                         78

  Battle of Butts Hill (August 29)                                    79

  The enterprise abandoned                                            79

  Unpopularity of the French alliance                                 80

  Stagnation of the war in the northern states                    81, 82

                              CHAPTER XI

                         WAR ON THE FRONTIER

  Joseph Brant, or Thayendanegea, missionary and war-chief         83-86

  The Tories of western New York                                  87, 88

  The valley of Wyoming and its settlers from Connecticut         89, 90

  Massacre at Wyoming (July 3, 1778)                              91, 92

  Massacre at Cherry Valley (November 10)                         93, 94

  Sullivan's expedition against the Iroquois                          94

  Battle of Newtown (August 29, 1779)                                 95

  Devastation of the Iroquois country                                 96

  Reign of terror in the Mohawk valley                            97, 98

  The wilderness beyond the Alleghanies                               99

  Rivalry between Pennsylvania and Virginia for the possession
    of Fort Pitt                                                     100

  Lord Dunmore's war (1774)                                      100-104

  Logan and Cresap                                              102, 103

  Battle of Point Pleasant (October 10, 1774) and its
    consequences                                                     104

  Settlement of Kentucky                                             105

  And of eastern Tennessee                                           106

  Defeat of the Cherokees on the Watauga, and its consequences   106-108

  George Rogers Clark                                                108

  His conquest of the northwestern territory (1778)                  109

  Capture of Vincennes (February 23, 1779)                           110

  Settlement of middle Tennessee                                     111

  Importance of Clark's conquest                                     112

  Tryon's raids upon the coast of Connecticut                        113

  Sir Henry Clinton captures the fortress at Stony Point (May 31,
    1779)                                                            114

  Wayne recaptures Stony Point by storm (July 16)               115, 116

  Evacuation of Stony Point                                          117

  Note on comparative humanity of Americans and British, in the
  Revolutionary war                                              116-118

  Henry Lee's exploit at Paulus Hook (August 18)                119, 120

                              CHAPTER XII

                           WAR ON THE OCEAN

  Importance of the control of the water                             121

  Feeble action of Congress                                     122, 123

  American and British cruisers                                 124, 125

  Lambert Wickes and Gustavus Conyngham                              126

  John Paul Jones                                                    126

  Franklin's supervision of maritime affairs                         127

  Jones's squadron                                              128, 129

  His cruise on the British coast                                    130

  He meets a British fleet off Flamborough Head                 130, 131

  Terrific fight between the Serapis and the Bon Homme Richard
    (September 23, 1779)                                         132-135

  Effect of Jones's victory                                          135

  Why Denmark and Russia were interested in it                  136, 137

  Relations of Spain to France and England                           138

  Intrigues of Spain                                            139, 140

  Treaty between Spain and France (April, 1779)                      141

  French and Spanish fleets attempt an invasion of England (August,
    1779)                                                            142

  Sir George Rodney                                             143, 144

  Rights of neutrals upon the sea                                144-157

  The Consolato del Mare                                        145, 146

  England's conduct in the eighteenth century                        147

  Prussian doctrine that free ships make free goods                  148

  Influence of the French philosophers                          148, 149

  Great Britain wishes to secure an alliance with Russia             149

  Importance of Minorca                                              150

  France adopts the Prussian doctrine                           151, 152

  The affair of Fielding and Bylandt                                 153

  Spanish cruisers capture Russian vessels                           154

  Catherine's proclamation (March 8, 1780)                           154

  The Armed Neutrality                                          155, 156

  Vast importance of the principles laid down by Catherine           157

  Relations between Great Britain and Holland                   158, 159

  Holland joins the Armed Neutrality                                 160

  Capture of Henry Laurens and his papers                            160

  Great Britain declares war against Holland (December 20, 1780)     161

  Catherine decides not to interfere                                 162

  Capture of St. Eustatius (February 3, 1781)                    163-165

  Shameful proceedings                                               166

  Ignominious results of the politics of George III.                 167

                              CHAPTER XIII

                         A YEAR OF DISASTERS

  State of affairs in Georgia and South Carolina                168, 169

  Georgia overrun by the British                                170, 171

  Arrival of General Lincoln (December, 1778)                        172

  Partisan warfare; barbarous reprisals                              172

  The Americans routed at Briar Creek (March 3, 1779)                173

  Vandalism of General Prevost                                       174

  Plan for arming negroes                                            175

  Indignation in South Carolina                                      176

  Action of the council                                              176

  End of the campaign                                           177, 178

  Attempt to recapture Savannah                                      179

  Clinton and Cornwallis go to Georgia                               180

  The British advance upon Charleston                                181

  Surrender of Charleston (May 12, 1780)                             182

  South Carolina overrun by the British                          182-184

  Clinton returns to New York                                        185

  An injudicious proclamation                                        186

  Disorders in South Carolina                                        186

  The strategic points                                               187

  Partisan commanders                                                187

  Francis Marion                                                     188

  Thomas Sumter                                                      189

  First appearance of Andrew Jackson in history                      189

  Advance of Kalb                                                    190

  Gates appointed to the chief command in the south             190, 191

  Choice of roads to Camden                                          192

  Gates chooses the wrong road                                       193

  He loses the moment for striking                                   193

  And weakens his army on the eve of battle                          194

  And is surprised by Cornwallis                                     195

  Battle of Camden (August 16, 1780); total and ignominious
    defeat of Gates                                              195-197

  His campaign was a series of blunders                              197

  Partisan operations                                                198

  Weariness and depression of the people                             199

  Evils wrought by the paper currency                                200

  "Not worth a Continental"                                     201, 202

  Taxes paid in the form of specific supplies                        203

  Difficulty of keeping the army together                       203, 204

  The French alliance                                                205

  Lafayette's visit to France (February, 1779)                  206, 207

  Arrival of part of the French auxiliary force under Count
    Rochambeau (July, 1780)                                          208

  The remainder is detained in France by a British fleet             209

  General despondency                                                210

                              CHAPTER XIV

                            BENEDICT ARNOLD

  Arnold put in command of Philadelphia (June, 1778)                 211

  He gets into difficulties with the government of Pennsylvania      212

  Miss Margaret Shippen                                              212

  Views of the moderate Tories                                       213

  Arnold's drift toward Toryism                                      214

  He makes up his mind to leave the army                             215

  Charges are brought against him (January, 1779)                    216

  He is acquitted by a committee of Congress (March)                 216

  The case is referred to a court-martial (April)                    217

  First correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton                        218

  The court-martial acquits Arnold of all serious charges, but
    directs Washington to reprimand him for two very trivial ones
    (January 26, 1780)                                               219

  Arnold thirsts for revenge upon Congress                           220

  Significance of West Point                                         221

  Arnold put in command of West Point (July, 1780)                   222

  Secret interview between Arnold and André (September 22)           223

  The plot for surrendering West Point                          224, 225

  André takes compromising documents                                 226

  And is persuaded to return to New York by land                     227

  The roads infested by robbers                                      228

  Arrest of André (September 23)                                 229-232

  Colonel Jameson's perplexity                                       232

  Washington returns from Hartford sooner than expected         233, 234

  Flight of Arnold (September 25)                                    235

  Discovery of the treasonable plot                             236, 237

  André taken to Tappan (September 28)                               238

  André's trial and sentence (September 29)                          238

  Clinton's arguments and protests                                   239

  Captain Ogden's message                                            240

  Execution of André (October 2)                                     241

  Lord Stanhope's unconscious impudence                              242

  There is no reason in the world why André's life should have
    been spared                                                      243

  Captain Battersby's story                                          244

  Arnold's terrible downfall                                     244-246

  Arnold's family                                                    247

  His remorse and death (June 14, 1801)                              248

  Reflections                                                    248-250

  Mutiny of Pennsylvania troops (January 1, 1781)               251, 252

  Fate of Clinton's emissaries                                       253

  Further mutiny suppressed                                     253, 254

                              CHAPTER XV


  Cornwallis invades North Carolina (September, 1780)                255

  Ferguson's expedition                                              255

  Rising of the backwoodsmen                                    256, 257

  Battle of King's Mountain (October 7, 1780)                   258, 259

  Effect of the blow                                                 260

  Reinforcements from the North; arrival of Daniel Morgan            261

  Greene appointed to the chief command at the South                 261

  Greene's daring strategy; he threatens Cornwallis on both
     flanks                                                      262-264

  Cornwallis retorts by sending Tarleton against Morgan              265

  Morgan's position at the Cowpens                                   265

  Battle of the Cowpens (January 17, 1781); nearly the whole
    British force captured on the field                              266

  Brilliant movements of Morgan and Greene; they lead Cornwallis
    a chase across North Carolina                                267-269

  Further manoeuvres                                               270

  Battle of Guilford (March 15)                                 270, 271

  Retreat of Cornwallis                                              272

  He abandons the Carolinas and marches into Virginia                273

  Greene's master-stroke; he returns to South Carolina (April
    6-18)                                                            273

  And, by taking Fort Watson, cuts Lord Rawdon's communications
    (April 23)                                                       274

  Rawdon defeats Greene at Hobkirk's Hill (April 25); but is
    none the less obliged to give up Camden in order to save
    his army (May 10)                                           275, 276

  All the inland posts taken from the British (May-June)             276

  Rawdon goes to England, leaving Stuart in command                  277

  Greene marches against Stuart (August 22)                          277

  Battle of Eutaw Springs (September 8)                              278

  Greene's superb generalship                                   278, 279

  Lord Cornwallis arrives at Petersburg (May 20)                279, 280

  His campaign against Lafayette                                 281-283

  Cornwallis retreats to the coast, and occupies Yorktown       284, 285

  Elements of the final catastrophe; arrival of the French
    fleet                                                       286, 287

  News from Grasse and Lafayette                                     288

  Subtle and audacious scheme of Washington                          289

  He transfers his army to Virginia (August 19-September 18)     290-292

  Movements of the fleets                                            293

  Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown                                 294

  Clinton's attempt at a counter-stroke; Arnold's proceedings
    at New London (September 6)                                 295, 296

  Surrender of Cornwallis                                            297

  Importance of the aid rendered by the French fleet and
     army                                                       298, 299

  Effect of the news in England                                 300, 301

  Difficult position of Great Britain                                302

  Rodney's victory over Grasse (April 12, 1782)                      303

  Resignation of Lord North (March 20, 1782)                         304

  Defeat of the political schemes of George III.                     305

  The American Revolution was not a conflict between Englishmen
  and Americans, but between two antagonistic principles of
  government, each of which had its advocates and opponents in
  both countries; and Yorktown was an auspicious victory won
  by Washington for both countries                               306-310

                          THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

                              CHAPTER VIII

                          THE FRENCH ALLIANCE

THE history of the Revolutionary War may be divided into four
well-marked periods. The first period begins in 1761 with the resistance
of James Otis to the general search-warrants, and it may be regarded as
ending in June, 1774, when the acts for changing the government of
Massachusetts were intended to take effect. This period of
constitutional discussion culminated in the defiance of Great Britain by
the people of Boston when they threw the tea into the harbour; and the
acts of April, 1774, by which Parliament replied to the challenge, were
virtually a declaration of war against the American colonies, though yet
another year elapsed before the first bloodshed at Lexington.

The second period opens with June, 1774, when Massachusetts began to
nullify the acts of Parliament, and it closes with the Declaration of
Independence. During this period warfare was carried on only for the
purpose of obtaining a redress of grievances, and without any design of
bringing about a political separation of the English people in America
from the English people in Britain. The theatre of war was mainly
confined to New England and Canada; and while the Americans failed in
the attempt to conquer Canada, their defensive warfare was crowned with
success. The fighting of this period began with the victory of
Lexington: it ended with the victory of Fort Moultrie. New England,
except the island of Newport, was finally freed from the presence of the
British, and no further attack was made upon the southern states for
more than two years.

The essential feature of the third period, comprising the years 1776 and
1777, was the struggle for the state of New York and the great natural
strategic line of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. Independence having been
declared, the United States and Great Britain were now fighting each
other single-handed, like two separate and foreign powers. It was the
object of Great Britain to conquer the United States, and accordingly
she struck at the commercial and military centre of the confederation.
If she could have thoroughly conquered the state of New York and secured
the line of the Hudson, she would have broken the confederation in two,
and might perhaps have proceeded to overcome its different parts in
detail. Hence in this period of the war everything centres about New
York, such an outlying expedition as that of Howe against Philadelphia
having no decisive military value except in its bearings upon the issue
of the great central conflict. The strategy of the Americans was mainly
defensive, though with regard to certain operations they assumed the
offensive with brilliant success. The period began with the disasters of
Long Island and Fort Washington; it ended with the triumph of Saratoga.
As the net result of the two years' work, the British had taken and held
the cities of New York and Philadelphia and the town of Newport. The
fortress of Ticonderoga, which they had likewise taken, they abandoned
after the overthrow of Burgoyne; and in like manner they retired from
the highlands of the Hudson, which the Americans now proceeded to occupy
with a stronger force than before. In short, while the British had lost
an army, they had conquered nothing but the ground on which they were
actually encamped. Their attempt to break through the centre of the
American position had ended in a total defeat, and it now began to seem
clear to discerning minds that there was small chance of their being
able to conquer the United States.

The fourth period, upon which we are now entering, begins with the
immediate consequences of the victory of Saratoga, and extends to the
treaty of 1783, whereby Great Britain acknowledged the independence of
the United States. The military history of this period ends with the
surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, in October, 1781, just four years
after the surrender of Burgoyne. Except as regards the ultimate triumph
of the American arms, the history of these four years presents striking
contrasts to the history of the two years we have just passed in review.
The struggle is no longer confined to the arms of Great Britain and the
United States, but it extends in some measure over the whole civilized
world, though it is only France, with its army and more especially its
navy, that comes into direct relation with the final result in America.
Moreover, instead of a well-aimed and concentrated blow at the centre of
the American position, the last period of the war consisted partly of a
straggling and disorderly series of movements, designed simply to harass
the Americans and wear out their patience, and partly of an attempt to
conquer the southern states and detach them from the Union. There is,
accordingly, less dramatic unity in this last stage of the war than in
the period which ended at Saratoga, and it is less susceptible of close
and consecutive treatment; but, on the other hand, in richness of
incidents and in variety of human interest it is in no wise inferior to
the earlier periods.

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Sidenote: Consternation in England]

The first consequence of Saratoga was the retreat of the British
government from every one of the positions for the sake of which it had
begun the war. The news of Burgoyne's surrender reached England just
before Parliament adjourned for Christmas, and Lord North immediately
gave notice that as soon as the holidays were over he should bring in
measures for conciliating the Americans. The general feeling in England
was one of amazement and consternation. In these days, when we are
accustomed to contemplate military phenomena of enormous magnitude, when
we have lately carried on a war in which more than two million men were
under arms, and more than two million dollars were expended every day,
we must not forget how different was the historic background upon which
events were projected a century ago. Those were not the days of
submarine telegraphs and Cunard steamships, and in trying to carry on
warfare across three thousand miles of ocean the problem before George
III. was far more arduous than that which the great Frederick had
solved, when, acting on interior lines and supported by British gold, he
overcame the combined assaults of France and Austria and Russia. The
loss which Great Britain had now suffered could not easily be made good.
At the same time it was generally believed, both in England and on the
continent of Europe, that the loss of the American colonies would entail
the ruin of the British Empire. Only a few wise political economists,
"literary men," like Adam Smith and Josiah Tucker, were far-seeing
enough to escape this prodigious fallacy; even Chatham was misled by it.
It was not understood that English America and English Britain were
bound together by commercial and social ties so strong that no question
of political union or severance could permanently affect them. It was
not foreseen that within a century the dealings of Great Britain with
the independent United States would far exceed her dealings with the
rest of the world. On the contrary, it was believed that if political
independence were conceded to the Americans, the whole stream of
transatlantic commerce would somehow be diverted to other parts of
Europe, that the British naval power would forthwith decay, and that
England would sink from her imperial position into such a mere insular
nation as that over which Henry VIII. had ruled. So greatly did men
overrate political conditions; so far were they from appreciating those
economic conditions which are so much more deep-seated and essential.

  [Portrait: LORD NORTH]

  [Sidenote: Views of the different parties]

Under these circumstances, the only people in England who were willing
to concede the independence of the United States were the Rockingham
Whigs, and these were now in a small minority. Lord Rockingham and his
friends, with Burke as their leader, had always condemned the harsh and
stupid policy of the government toward America, and they were now ready
to concede independence because they were convinced that conciliation
was no longer practicable. Lord Chatham, on the other hand, with his
section of the Whig party, while even more emphatically condemning the
policy of the government, still clung to the hope of conciliation, and
could not bear to think of the disruption of the empire. But with the
Tory party, which had all along supported the government, the war was
still popular, and no calamity seemed so great as the loss of the
American colonies. Most of the country squires believed in crushing out
rebellion, no matter where it occurred or for what reason, and this view
was almost unanimously taken by the clergy. In the House of Lords none
were so bloodthirsty as the bishops, and country parsons preached from
all the texts of the Old Testament which refer to smiting Jehovah's
enemies hip and thigh. The trading classes in the large towns, and the
few manufacturers who had come upon the scene, were so afraid of losing
the American market that they were ready to vote men and money without
stint. The town of Manchester even raised and equipped two regiments at
its own expense. Thus while the great majority of the British nation
believed that America must be retained at whatever cost, a majority of
this majority believed that it must be conquered before it could be
conciliated or reasoned with; and this was the opinion which had thus
far found favour with Lord North and controlled the policy of the

  [Sidenote: Lord North's political somersault]

We may imagine, then, the unspeakable amazement of the House of Commons,
on the 17th of February, 1778, when Lord North arose in his place and
moved that every one of the points for which Samuel Adams and his
friends had zealously contended, from the passage of the Stamp Act to
the breaking out of war, should at once be conceded forever and without
further parley. By the bill which he now proceeded to read, the famous
Tea Act and the act for changing the constitution of Massachusetts were
unconditionally repealed. It was furthermore declared that Parliament
would renounce forever the right of raising a revenue in America; and it
was provided that commissioners should be sent over to treat with
Congress, armed with full powers for negotiating a peace. Pending the
negotiations the commissioners might proclaim a truce, and might suspend
the operation of any act of Parliament relating to America which had
been passed since 1763. They might also proclaim complete amnesty for
all political offences.

  [Portrait: C. J. Fox]

  [Sidenote: Strange scene in the House of Commons]

So complete a political somersault has seldom been turned by an English
minister, and the speech in which Lord North defended himself was worthy
of the occasion. Instead of resigning when he saw that his policy had
proved a failure, as an English minister would naturally do, he suddenly
shifted his ground, and adopted the policy which the opposition had
urged in vain against him three years before, and which, if then
adopted, would unquestionably have prevented bloodshed. Not only did he
thus shift his ground, but he declared that this policy of conciliation
was really the one which he had favoured from the beginning. There was
more truth in this than appeared at the moment, for in more than one
instance Lord North had, with culpable weakness, carried out the king's
policy in defiance of his own convictions. It was in vain, however, that
he sought to clear himself of responsibility for the Tea Act, the
oppressive edicts of 1774, and the recent events in America generally.
The House received his bill and his speech in profound silence. Disgust
and dejection filled every bosom, yet no one could very well help voting
for the measures. The Tories, already chagrined by the bitter news from
Saratoga, were enraged at being thus required to abandon all the ground
for which they had been fighting, yet no way seemed open for them but to
follow their leader. The Whigs were vexed at seeing the wind taken out
of their sails, but they could not in honour oppose a policy which they
had always earnestly supported. All sat for some moments in grim,
melancholy silence, till Charles Fox, arising, sarcastically began his
speech by congratulating his Whig friends on having gained such a
powerful and unexpected ally in the prime minister. Taunts and
innuendoes flew back and forth across the House. From the Tory side came
sullen cries that the country was betrayed, while from among the Whigs
the premier was asked if he supposed himself armed with the spear of
Achilles, which could heal the wounds that itself had made. It was very
pointedly hinted that the proposed measures would not be likely to
produce much effect upon the Americans unless accompanied by Lord
North's resignation, since, coming from him, they would come as from a
tainted spring. But in spite of all this ill-feeling the bill was
passed, and the same reasons which had operated here carried it also
through the House of Lords. On the 11th of March it received the royal
signature, and three commissioners were immediately appointed to convey
information of this action to Congress, and make arrangements for a
treaty of peace.

  [Sidenote: Treaty between France and the United States, Feb. 6, 1778]

The conciliatory policy of Lord North had come at least two years too
late. The American leaders were now unwilling to consider the question
of reunion with the mother-country upon any terms, and even before the
extraordinary scene in Parliament which we have just witnessed a treaty
had been made with France, by which the Americans solemnly agreed, in
consideration of armed support to be furnished by that power, never to
entertain proposals of peace from Great Britain until their independence
should be acknowledged, and never to conclude a treaty of peace except
with the concurrence of their new ally. The French government had
secretly assisted the Americans as early as the summer of 1776 by
occasional loans of money, and by receiving American privateers in
French ports. The longer Great Britain and her colonies could be kept
weakening each other by warfare, the greater the hope that France might
at some time be enabled to step in and regain her lost maritime empire.
But it was no part of French policy to take an active share in the
struggle until the proper moment should come for reaping some decisive
material advantage. At the beginning of the year 1778 that moment seemed
to have arrived. The capture of Burgoyne and the masterly strategy which
Washington had shown, in spite of his ill-success on the field, had
furnished convincing proof that the American alliance was worth having.
At the same time, the announcement that Lord North was about to bring in
conciliatory measures indicated that the British government was
weakening in its purpose. Should such measures succeed in conciliating
the Americans and in bringing about a firm reunion with the
mother-country, the schemes of France would be irretrievably ruined.
Now, therefore, was the golden opportunity, and France was not slow to
seize it. On the 6th of February the treaty with the United States was
signed at Paris. By a special article it was stipulated that Spain might
enter into the alliance at her earliest convenience. Just now, too,
Frederick the Great publicly opened the port of Dantzic to American
cruisers and prohibited Hessian soldiers from passing through his
dominions to the seaboard, while he wrote to Franklin at Paris that he
should probably soon follow the king of France in recognizing the
independence of the United States.

  [Sidenote: Great Britain declares war against France, March 13]

Rumours of all these things kept coming to England while the
conciliatory measures were passing through Parliament, and on the 13th
of March, two days after those measures had become law, the action of
France was formally communicated to the British government, and war was
instantly declared.


               _The present_ STATE OF EUROPE & AMERICA
    _The_ MAN _in the_ MOON _taking a View of the_ ENGLISH ARMADA.

The situation of England seemed desperate. With one army lost in
America, with the recruiting ground in Germany barred against her, with
a debt piling up at the rate of a million dollars a week, and with a
very inadequate force of troops at home in case of sudden invasion, she
was now called upon to contend with the whole maritime power of France,
to which that of Spain was certain soon to be added, and, to crown all,
the government had just written its own condemnation by confessing
before the world that its policy toward America, which had been the
cause of all this mischief, was impracticable as well as

  [Sidenote: The Earl of Chatham]

  [Sidenote: The king's rage]

At this terrible moment the eyes of all England were turned upon one
great man, old now and wasted by disease, but the fire of whose genius
still burned bright and clear. The government must be changed, and in
the Earl of Chatham the country had still a leader whose very name was
synonymous with victory. Not thus had matters gone in the glorious days
of Quiberon and Minden and Quebec, when his skilful hand was at the
helm, and every heart in England and America beat high with the
consciousness of worthy ends achieved by well-directed valour. To whom
but Chatham should appeal be made to repair the drooping fortunes of the
empire? It was in his hands alone that a conciliatory policy could have
any chance of success. From the first he had been the consistent
advocate of the constitutional rights of the Americans; and throughout
America he was the object of veneration no less hearty and enthusiastic
than that which was accorded to Washington himself. Overtures that would
be laughed at as coming from North would at least find respectful
hearing if urged by Chatham. On the other hand, should the day for
conciliation have irrevocably passed by, the magic of his name was of
itself sufficient to create a panic in France, while in England it would
kindle that popular enthusiasm which is of itself the best guarantee of
success. In Germany, too, the remembrance of the priceless services he
had rendered could not but dispel the hostile feeling with which
Frederick had regarded England since the accession of George III. Moved
by such thoughts as these, statesmen of all parties, beginning with Lord
North himself, implored the king to form a new ministry under Chatham.
Lord Mansfield, his bitterest enemy, for once declared that without
Chatham at the helm the ship of state must founder, and his words were
echoed by Bute and the young George Grenville. At the opposite extreme
of politics, the Duke of Richmond, who had long since made up his mind
that the colonies must be allowed to go, declared, nevertheless, that if
it were to be Chatham who should see fit to make another attempt to
retain them, he would aid him in every possible way. The press teemed
with expressions of the popular faith in Chatham, and every one
impatiently wondered that the king should lose a day in calling to the
head of affairs the only man who could save the country. But all this
unanimity of public opinion went for nothing with the selfish and
obdurate king. All the old reasons for keeping Chatham out of office had
now vanished, so far as the American question was concerned; for by
consenting to North's conciliatory measures the king had virtually come
over to Chatham's position, and as regarded the separation of the
colonies from the mother-country, Chatham was no less unwilling than the
king to admit the necessity of such a step. Indeed, the policy upon
which the king had now been obliged to enter absolutely demanded Chatham
as its exponent instead of North. Everybody saw this, and no doubt the
king saw it himself, but it had no weight with him in the presence of
personal considerations. He hated Chatham with all the ferocity of
hatred that a mean and rancorous spirit can feel toward one that is
generous and noble; and he well knew besides that, with that statesman
at the head of affairs, his own share in the government would be reduced
to nullity. To see the government administered in accordance with the
policy of a responsible minister, and in disregard of his own
irresponsible whims, was a humiliation to which he was not yet ready to
submit. For eight years now, by coaxing and bullying the frivolous
North, he had contrived to keep the reins in his own hands; and having
so long tasted the sweets of power, he was resolved in future to have
none but milksops for his ministers. In face of these personal
considerations the welfare of the nation was of little account to
him.[16] He flew into a rage. No power in heaven or earth, he said,
should ever make him stoop to treat with "Lord Chatham and his crew;" he
refused to be "shackled by those desperate men" and "made a slave for
the remainder of his days." Rather than yield to the wishes of his
people at this solemn crisis, he would submit to lose his crown. Better
thus, he added, than to wear it in bondage and disgrace.

  [Sidenote: What Chatham would have tried to do]

In spite of the royal wrath, however, the popular demand for a change of
government was too strong to be resisted. But for Lord Chatham's sudden
death, a few weeks later, he would doubtless have been called upon to
fill the position which North was so anxious to relinquish. The king
would have had to swallow his resentment, as he was afterwards obliged
to do in 1782. Had Chatham now become prime minister, it was his design
to follow up the repeal of all obnoxious legislation concerning America
by withdrawing every British soldier from our soil, and attacking France
with might and main, as in the Seven Years' War, on the ocean and
through Germany, where the invincible Ferdinand of Brunswick was again
to lead the armies of Great Britain. In America such a policy could
hardly have failed to strengthen not only the loyalists and waverers,
but also the Whigs of conciliatory mould, such as Dickinson and Robert
Morris. Nor was the moment an inopportune one. Many Americans, who were
earnest in withstanding the legislative encroachments of Parliament, had
formerly been alienated from the popular cause by what they deemed the
needlessly radical step of the Declaration of Independence. Many others
were now alienated by the French alliance. In New England, the chief
stronghold of the revolutionary party, many people were disgusted at an
alliance with the Catholic and despotic power which in days gone by had
so often let loose the Indian hell-hounds upon their frontier. The
treaty with France was indeed a marriage of convenience rather than of
affection. The American leaders, even while arranging it, dreaded the
revulsion of feeling that might ensue in the country at large; and their
dread was the legitimate hope of Chatham. To return to the state of
things which had existed previous to 1765 would no doubt be impossible.
Independence of some sort must be conceded, and in this Lord Rockingham
and the Duke of Richmond were unquestionably right. But Chatham was in
no wise foolish in hoping that some sort of federal bond might be
established which should maintain Americans and British in perpetual
alliance, and, while granting full legislative autonomy to the colonies
singly or combined, should prevent the people of either country from
ever forgetting that the Americans were English. There was at least a
chance that this noble policy might succeed, and until the trial should
have been made he would not willingly consent to a step that seemed
certain to wreck the empire his genius had won for England. But death
now stepped in to simplify the situation in the old ruthless way.

  [Portrait: Richmond &c]

  [Sidenote: Death of Chatham]

The Duke of Richmond, anxious to bring matters to an issue, gave notice
that on the 7th of April he should move that the royal fleets and armies
should be instantly withdrawn from America, and peace be made on
whatever terms Congress might see fit to accept. Such at least was the
practical purport of the motion. For such an unconditional surrender
Chatham was not yet ready, and on the appointed day he got up from his
sick-bed and came into the House of Lords to argue against the motion.
Wrapped in flannel bandages and leaning upon crutches, his dark eyes in
their brilliancy enhancing the pallor of his careworn face, as he
entered the House, supported on the one side by his son-in-law, Lord
Mahon, on the other by that younger son who was so soon to add fresh
glory to the name of William Pitt, the peers all started to their feet,
and remained standing until he had taken his place. In broken sentences,
with strange flashes of the eloquence that had once held captive ear and
heart, he protested against the hasty adoption of a measure which simply
prostrated the dignity of England before its ancient enemy, the House of
Bourbon. The Duke of Richmond's answer, reverently and delicately
worded, urged that while the magic of Chatham's name could work anything
short of miracles, yet only a miracle could now relieve them from the
dire necessity of abandoning America. The earl rose to reply, but his
overwrought frame gave way, and he sank in a swoon upon the floor. All
business was at once adjourned. The peers, with eager sympathy, came
crowding up to offer assistance, and the unconscious statesman was
carried in the arms of his friends to a house near by, whence in a few
days he was removed to his home at Hayes. There, after lingering between
life and death for several weeks, on the 11th of May, and in the
seventieth year of his age, Lord Chatham breathed his last.

  [Sidenote: His prodigious greatness]

The man thus struck down, like a soldier at his post, was one whom
Americans no less than Englishmen have delighted to honour. The personal
fascination which he exerted in his lifetime is something we can no
longer know; but as the field of modern history expands till it covers
the globe, we find ourselves better able than his contemporaries to
comprehend the part which he played at one of the most critical moments
of the career of mankind. For simple magnitude, the preponderance of the
English race in the world has come now to be the most striking fact in
human history; and when we consider all that is implied in this growing
preponderance of an industrial civilization over other civilizations of
relatively archaic and militant type, we find reason to believe that
among historic events it is the most teeming with mighty consequences to
be witnessed by a distant future. With no other historic personage are
the beginnings of this supremacy of the English race so closely
associated as with the elder William Pitt. It was he who planned the
victories which gave England the dominion of the sea, and which,
rescuing India from the anarchy of centuries, prepared it to become the
seat of a new civilization, at once the apt pupil and the suggestive
teacher of modern Europe. It was he who, by driving the French from
America, cleared the way for the peaceful overflow of our industrial
civilization through the valley of the Mississippi; saving us from the
political dangers which chronic warfare might otherwise have entailed,
and insuring us the ultimate control of the fairest part of this
continent. To his valiant and skilful lieutenants by sea and land, to
such great men as Hawke, and Clive, and Wolfe, belongs the credit of
executing the details; it was the genius of Pitt that conceived and
superintended the prodigious scheme as a connected whole. Alone among
the Englishmen of his time, Pitt looked with prophetic gaze into the
mysterious future of colonial history, and saw the meaning of the
creation of a new and greater Europe in the outlying regions of the
earth; and through his triumphs it was decided that this new and greater
Europe should become for the most part a new and greater England,--a
world of self-government, and of freedom of thought and speech. While
his political vision thus embraced the uttermost parts of the globe, his
action in the centre of Europe helped to bring about results the
importance of which we are now beginning to appreciate. From the wreck
of all Germany in that horrible war of religion which filled one third
of the seventeenth century, a new Protestant power had slowly emerged
and grown apace, till in Pitt's time--for various reasons, dynastic,
personal, and political--it had drawn down upon itself the vengeance of
all the reactionary countries of Europe. Had the coalition succeeded,
the only considerable Protestant power on the continent would have been
destroyed, and the anarchy which had followed the Thirty Years' War
might have been renewed. The stupid George II., who could see in Prussia
nothing but a rival of Hanover, was already preparing to join the
alliance against Frederick, when Pitt overruled him, and threw the
weight of England into the other side of the scale. The same act which
thus averted the destruction of Prussia secured to England a most
efficient ally in her struggle with France. Of this wise policy we now
see the fruits in that renovated German Empire which has come to be the
strongest power on the continent of Europe, which is daily establishing
fresh bonds of sympathy with the people of the United States, and whose
political interests are daily growing more and more visibly identical
with those of Great Britain. As in days to come the solidarity of the
Teutonic race in its three great nationalities--America, England, and
Germany--becomes more and more clearly manifest, the more will the
student of history be impressed with the wonderful fact that the
founding of modern Germany, the maritime supremacy of England, and the
winning of the Mississippi valley for English-speaking America, were but
the different phases of one historic event, coherent parts of the one
vast conception which marks its author as the grandest of modern
statesmen. As the lapse of time carries us far enough from the
eighteenth century to study it in its true proportions, the figure of
Chatham in the annals of the Teutonic race will appear no less great and
commanding than the figure of Charlemagne a thousand years before.


But Chatham is interesting to Americans not only as the eloquent
defender in our revolutionary struggle, not only as standing in the
forefront of that vast future in which we are to play so important a
part, but also as the first British statesman whose political thinking
was of a truly American type. Pitt was above all things the man of the
people, and it has been well said that his title of the "Great Commoner"
marks in itself a political revolution. When the king and the Old Whig
lords sought to withstand him in the cabinet, he could say with truth,
"It is the people who have sent me here." He was the first to discover
the fact that the development of trade and manufactures, due chiefly to
the colonial expansion of England, had brought into existence an
important class of society, for which neither the Tory nor the Old Whig
schemes of government had made provision. He was the first to see the
absurdity of such towns as Leeds and Manchester going without
representation, and he began in 1745 the agitation for parliamentary
reform which was first successful in 1832. In the celebrated case of
Wilkes, while openly expressing his detestation of the man, he
successfully defended the rights of constituencies against the tyranny
of the House of Commons. Against the fierce opposition of Lord
Mansfield, he maintained inviolate the liberty of every Englishman to
publish his opinions. He overthrew the abuse of arbitrary imprisonment
by general warrants. He ended the chronic troubles of Scotland by
taking the Highlanders into his confidence and raising regiments from
them for the regular army. In this intense devotion to liberty and to
the rights of man, Pitt was actuated as much by his earnest, sympathetic
nature as by the clearness and breadth of his intelligence. In his
austere purity of character, as in his intensity of conviction, he was
an enigma to sceptical and frivolous people in his own time. Cromwell or
Milton would have understood him much better than did Horace Walpole, to
whom his haughty mien and soaring language seemed like theatrical
affectation. But this grandiose bearing was nothing but the natural
expression of that elevation of soul which, lighted by a rich poetic
imagination and fired by the glow of passion beneath, made his eloquence
the most impressive that has ever been heard in England. He was soaring
in outward demeanour only as his mind habitually dwelt with strong
emotion upon great thoughts and noble deeds. He was the incarnation of
all that is lofty and aspiring in human nature, and his sublime figure,
raised above the grave in the northern transept of Westminster Abbey,
with its eager outstretched arm, still seems to be urging on his
countrymen in the path of duty and of glory.

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Portrait: Shelburne]

  [Sidenote: Lord North remains in power]

  [Sidenote: His commissioners in America fail to accomplish anything]

By the death of Chatham the obstacles which had beset the king were
suddenly removed. On the morning after the pathetic scene in the House
of Lords, he wrote with ill-concealed glee to North, "May not the
political exit of Lord Chatham incline you to continue at the head of my
affairs?" North was very unwilling to remain, but it was difficult to
find any one who could form a government in his place. Among the New
Whigs, now that Chatham was gone, Lord Shelburne was the most prominent;
but he was a man who, in spite of great virtues and talents, never
succeeded in winning the confidence either of the politicians or of the
people. He was a warm friend to the American cause, but no one supposed
him equal to the difficult task which Chatham would have undertaken, of
pacifying the American people. The Old Whigs, under Lord Rockingham, had
committed themselves to the full independence of the United States, and
for this the people of England were not yet prepared. Under the
circumstances, there seemed to be nothing for Lord North to do but
remain in office. The king was delighted, and his party appeared to have
gained strength from the indignation aroused by the alliance of the
Americans with France. It was strengthened still more by the positive
refusal of Congress to treat with the commissioners sent over by Lord
North. The commissioners arrived in America in June, and remained until
October, without effecting anything. Congress refused to entertain any
propositions whatever from Great Britain until the independence of the
United States should first be acknowledged. Copies of Lord North's
conciliatory bills were published by order of Congress, and scattered
broadcast over the country. They were everywhere greeted with derision;
at one town in Rhode Island they were publicly burned under a gallows
which had been erected for the occasion. After fruitlessly trying all
the devices of flattery and intrigue, the commissioners lost their
temper; and just before sailing for England they issued a farewell
manifesto, in which they threatened the American people with exemplary
punishment for their contumacy. The conduct of the war, they said, was
now to be changed; these obstinate rebels were to be made to suffer the
extremes of distress, and no mercy was to be shown them. Congress
instantly published this document, and it was received with somewhat
more derision than the conciliatory bills had been. Under the
circumstances of that day, the threat could have but one meaning. It
meant arson along the coasts at the hands of the British fleet, and
murder on the frontiers at the hands of Indian auxiliaries. The
commissioners sought to justify their manifesto before Parliament, and
one of them vehemently declared that if all hell could be let loose
against these rebels, he should approve of the measure. "The
proclamation," said he, "certainly does mean a war of desolation: it can
mean nothing else." Lord Rockingham denounced the policy of the
manifesto, and few were found in Parliament willing to support it
openly. This barbarous policy, however, was neither more nor less than
that which Lord George Germain had deliberately made up his mind to
pursue for the remainder of the war. Giving up the problem of conquering
the Americans by systematic warfare, he thought it worth while to do as
much damage and inflict as much suffering as possible, in the hope that
by and by the spirit of the people might be broken and their patience
worn out. No policy could be more repugnant to the amiable soul of Lord
North, but his false position obliged him passively to sanction much
that he did not like. Besides this plan for tiring out the people, it
was designed to conduct a systematic expedition against Virginia and the
Carolinas, in order to detach these states from the rest of the
confederacy. Should it be found necessary, after all, to acknowledge the
independence of the United States, it seemed worth while at least to cut
down their territory as much as possible, and save to the British Crown
these rich countries of rice, and indigo, and tobacco. Such was the plan
now proposed by Germain, and adopted by the ministry of which he was a


  [15] Things seemed to be getting into somewhat the condition
       contemplated in the satirical print of "The Man in the Moon,"
       which appeared as frontispiece to a tract published in London
       in 1776, entitled "A Plea of the Colonies on the Charges
       brought against them by Lord Mansfield and others." The Man in
       the Moon is George III. looking through a telescope held by
       his Tory chief justice, whose sleeve shows the Scotch plaid of
       Clan Murray. He looks upon a reversed and topsy-turvy world,
       in which New York (whose true latitude is nearly the same as
       that of Naples) appears farther north than London, and America
       is east of Europe. The American coast is covered with vast
       armies, and the whole British fleet is on its way thither,
       leaving England exposed to the attack of a French host
       gathered at Dunkirk. Meanwhile the Gallic cock crows lustily,
       and the sketchy outline of Great Britain indicates that the
       artist supposes the island "may be so far wasted before the
       year 1800, that people will hardly know where the nation
       resided that was once so formidable." See _Tracts_ 985,
       Harvard University Library.

  [16] "This episode appears to me the most criminal in the whole
       reign of George III., and in my own judgment it is as criminal
       as any of those acts which led Charles I. to the scaffold."
       Lecky, _History of England in the Eighteenth Century_, vol. iv.
       p. 83.

                              CHAPTER IX

                             VALLEY FORGE

  [Sidenote: Distress in America]

Lord George Germain's scheme for tiring out the Americans could not seem
altogether hopeless. Though from a military point of view the honours of
the war thus far remained with them, yet the losses and suffering had
been very great. The disturbance of trade was felt even more severely in
America than in England, and it was further exacerbated by the evils of
a depreciated currency. The country had entered into the war heavily
handicapped by the voluntary stoppage of importation which had prevailed
for several years. The war had cut off New England from the Newfoundland
fisheries and the trade with the West Indies, and the coasting trade had
been nearly annihilated by British cruisers. The problem of managing the
expenses of a great war was something quite new to the Americans, and
the consequent waste and extravagance were complicated and enhanced by
the curse of paper money. Congress, as a mere advisory body, could only
recommend to the various states the measures of taxation which were
deemed necessary for the support of the army. It had no authority to
raise taxes in any state, nor had it any power to constrain the
government of a state to raise taxes. The states were accordingly all
delinquent, and there was no resource left for Congress but to issue its
promissory notes. Congress already owed more than forty million dollars,
and during the first half of the year 1778 the issues of paper money
amounted to twenty-three millions. The depreciation had already become
alarming, and the most zealous law-making was of course powerless to
stop it.

  [Sidenote: Lack of organization]

Until toward the close of the Revolutionary War, indeed, the United
States had no regularly organized government. At the time of the
Declaration of Independence a committee had been appointed by Congress
to prepare articles of confederation, to be submitted to the states for
their approval. These articles were ready by the summer of 1778, but it
was not until the spring of 1781, that all the states had signed them.
While the thirteen distinct sovereignties in the United States were
visible in clear outline, the central government was something very
shadowy and ill-defined. Under these circumstances, the military
efficiency of the people was reduced to a minimum. The country never put
forth more than a small fraction of its available strength. Everything
suffered from the want of organization. In spite of the popular ardour,
which never seems to have been deficient when opportunities came for
testing it, there was almost as much difficulty in keeping up the
numbers of the army by enlistment as in providing equipment, sustenance,
and pay for the soldiers when once enlisted. The army of 80,000 men,
which Congress had devised in the preceding year, had never existed
except on paper. The action of Congress had not, indeed, been barren of
results, but it had fallen far short of the end proposed. During the
campaigns of 1777 the army of Washington had never exceeded 11,000 men;
while of the 20,000 or more who witnessed the surrender of Burgoyne, at
least half were local militia, assembled merely to meet the exigencies
of the moment. The whole country, indeed, cherished such a horror of
armies that it was unjust even to the necessary instrument by which its
independence was to be won; and it sympathized with Congress in the
niggardly policy which, by discouraging pensions, endangered the future
of brave and skilful officers who were devoting the best years of their
lives to the public service. Washington's earnest efforts to secure for
retired officers the promise of half pay for life succeeded only in
obtaining it for the term of seven years. The excessive dread of a
standing army made it difficult to procure long enlistments, and the
frequent changes in the militia, besides being ruinous to discipline,
entailed a sad waste of equipments and an interruption of agriculture
which added much to the burdens of the people.


  [Sidenote: Vexatious meddling of Congress]

  [Sidenote: Sufferings at Valley Forge]

Besides these evils, for which no one in particular was to blame, since
they resulted so directly from the general state of the country, the
army suffered under other drawbacks, which were immediately traceable to
the incapacity of Congress. Just as afterwards, in the War of Secession,
the soldiers had often to pay the penalty for the sins of the
politicians. A single specimen of the ill-timed meddling of Congress may
serve as an example. At one of the most critical moments of the year
1777, Congress made a complete change in the commissariat, which had
hitherto been efficiently managed by a single officer, Colonel Joseph
Trumbull. Two commissary-generals were now appointed, one of whom was to
superintend the purchase and the other the issue of supplies; and the
subordinate officers of the department were to be accountable, not to
their superiors, but directly to Congress. This was done in spite of the
earnest opposition of Washington, and the immediate result was just what
he expected. Colonel Trumbull, who had been retained as
commissary-general for purchases, being unable to do his work properly
without controlling his subordinate officers, soon resigned his place.
The department was filled up with men selected without reference to
fitness, and straightway fell into hopeless confusion, whereby the
movements of the armies were grievously crippled for the rest of the
season. On the 22d of December Washington was actually prevented from
executing a most promising movement against General Howe, because two
brigades had become mutinous for want of food. For three days they had
gone without bread, and for two days without meat. The quartermaster's
department was in no better condition. The dreadful sufferings of
Washington's army at Valley Forge have called forth the pity and the
admiration of historians; but the point of the story is lost unless we
realize that this misery resulted from gross mismanagement rather than
from the poverty of the country. As the poor soldiers marched on the
17th of December to their winter quarters, their route could be traced
on the snow by the blood that oozed from bare, frost-bitten feet; yet at
the same moment, says Gordon, "hogsheads of shoes, stockings, and
clothing were lying at different places on the roads and in the woods,
perishing for want of teams, or of money to pay the teamsters." On the
23d, Washington informed Congress that he had in camp 2,898 men "unfit
for duty, because they are barefoot, and otherwise naked." For want of
blankets, many were fain "to sit up all night by fires, instead of
taking comfortable rest in a natural and common way." Cold and hunger
daily added many to the sick-list; and in the crowded hospitals, which
were for the most part mere log-huts or frail wigwams woven of twisted
boughs, men sometimes died for want of straw to put between themselves
and the frozen ground on which they lay. In the deficiency of oxen and
draft-horses, gallant men volunteered to serve as beasts of burden,
and, yoking themselves to wagons, dragged into camp such meagre supplies
as they could obtain for their sick and exhausted comrades. So great was
the distress that there were times when, in case of an attack by the
enemy, scarcely two thousand men could have been got under arms. When
one thinks of these sad consequences wrought by a negligent
quartermaster and a deranged commissariat, one is strongly reminded of
the remark once made by the eccentric Charles Lee, when with caustic
alliteration he described Congress as "a stable of stupid cattle that
stumbled at every step."

  [Sidenote: Promoting officers for non-military reasons]

The mischief did not end, however, with the demoralization of the
departments that were charged with supplying the army. In the
appointment and promotion of general officers, Congress often acted upon
principles which, if consistently carried out, would have ruined the
efficiency of any army that ever existed. For absurdly irrelevant
political reasons, brave and well-tried officers were passed by, and
juniors, comparatively little known, were promoted over their heads. The
case of Benedict Arnold was the most conspicuous and flagrant example of
this. After his good name had been destroyed by his treason, it became
customary for historians to cite the restiveness of Arnold under such
treatment as one more proof of his innate wickedness. But Arnold was not
the only officer who was sensitive about his rank. In June, 1777, it was
rumoured about Washington's camp that a Frenchman named Ducoudray was
about to be appointed to the chief command of the artillery, with the
rank of major-general. Congress was continually beset with applications
from vagrant foreign officers in quest of adventure; and such
appointments as this were sometimes made, no doubt, in that provincial
spirit which it has taken Americans so long to outgrow, and which sees
all things European in rose-colour. As soon as the report concerning
Ducoudray reached the camp, Generals Greene, Sullivan, and Knox each
wrote a letter to Congress, proffering their resignations in case the
report were true; and the three letters were dated on the same day.
Congress was very angry at this, and the three generals were abused
without stint. The affair, however, was more serious than Congress had
supposed, and the contemplated appointment of Ducoudray was not made.
The language of John Adams with reference to matters of this sort was
more pungent than wise, and it gave clear expression to the principles
upon which Congress too often acted. This "delicate point of honour" he
stigmatized as "one of the most putrid corruptions of absolute
monarchy." He would be glad to see Congress elect all the general
officers annually; and if some great men should be obliged to go home in
consequence of this, he did not believe the country would be ruined! The
jealousy with which the several states insisted upon "a share of the
general officers" in proportion to their respective quotas of troops, he
characterized as a just and sound policy. It was upon this principle, he
confessed, that many promotions had been made; and if the generals were
so unreasonable as not to like it, they must "abide the consequences of
their discontent." Such expressions of feeling, in which John Adams
found many sympathizers, bear curious testimony to the intense distrust
with which our poor little army was regarded on account of the
monarchical tendencies supposed to be necessarily inherent in a military
organization. This policy, which seemed so "sound" to John Adams, was
simply an attempt to apply to the regimen of the army a set of
principles fit only for the organization of political assemblies; and if
it had been consistently adopted, it is probable that Lord George
Germain's scheme of tiring the Americans out would have succeeded beyond
his most sanguine expectations.

  [Sidenote: Absurd talk of John Adams]

But the most dangerous ground upon which Congress ventured during the
whole course of the war was connected with the dark intrigues of those
officers who wished to have Washington removed from the chief command
that Gates might be put in his place. We have seen how successful Gates
had been in supplanting Schuyler on the eve of victory. Without having
been under fire or directing any important operation, Gates had carried
off the laurels of the northern campaign. From many persons, no doubt,
he got credit even for what had happened before he joined the army, on
the 19th of August. His appointment dated from the 2d, before either the
victory of Stark or the discomfiture of St. Leger; and it was easy for
people to put dates together uncritically, and say that before the 2d of
August Burgoyne had continued to advance into the country, and nothing
could check him until after Gates had been appointed to command. The
very air rang with the praises of Gates, and his weak head was not
unnaturally turned with so much applause. In his dispatches announcing
the surrender of Burgoyne, he not only forgot to mention the names of
Arnold and Morgan, who had won for him the decisive victory, but he even
seemed to forget that he was serving under a commander-in-chief, for he
sent his dispatches directly to Congress, leaving Washington to learn of
the event through hearsay. Thirteen days after the surrender, Washington
wrote to Gates, congratulating him upon his success. "At the same time,"
said the letter, "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 channels of letters not bearing that
authenticity which the importance of it required, and which it would
have received by a line over your signature stating the simple fact."

  [Sidenote: Gates is puffed up with success]

  [Sidenote: and shows symptoms of insubordination]

But, worse than this, Gates kept his victorious army idle at Saratoga
after the whole line of the Hudson was cleared of the enemy, and would
not send reinforcements to Washington. Congress so far upheld him in
this as to order that Washington should not detach more than 2,500 men
from the northern army without consulting Gates and Governor Clinton. It
was only with difficulty that Washington, by sending Colonel Hamilton
with a special message, succeeded in getting back Morgan with his
riflemen. When reinforcements finally did arrive, it was too late. Had
they come more promptly, Howe would probably have been unable to take
the forts on the Delaware, without control of which he could not have
stayed in Philadelphia. But the blame for the loss of the forts was by
many people thrown upon Washington, whose recent defeats at Brandywine
and Germantown were now commonly contrasted with the victories at the

  [Portrait: A Hamilton]

  [Signature: Thomas Conway]

  [Portrait: Tho Mifflin]

  [Sidenote: The Conway Cabal]

The moment seemed propitious for Gates to try his peculiar strategy once
more, and displace Washington as he had already displaced Schuyler.
Assistants were not wanting for this dirty work. Among the foreign
adventurers then with the army was one Thomas Conway, an Irishman, who
had been for a long time in the French service, and, coming over to
America, had taken part in the Pennsylvania campaign. Washington had
opposed Conway's claims for undue promotion, and the latter at once
threw himself with such energy into the faction then forming against the
commander-in-chief that it soon came to be known as the "Conway Cabal."
The other principal members of the cabal were Thomas Mifflin, the
quartermaster-general, and James Lovell, a delegate from Massachusetts,
who had been Schuyler's bitterest enemy in Congress. It was at one time
reported that Samuel Adams was in sympathy with the cabal, and the
charge has been repeated by many historians, but it seems to have
originated in a malicious story set on foot by some of the friends of
John Hancock. At the beginning of the war, Hancock, whose overweening
vanity often marred his usefulness, had hoped to be made
commander-in-chief, and he never forgave Samuel Adams for preferring
Washington for that position. In the autumn of 1777, Hancock resigned
his position as president of Congress, and was succeeded by Henry
Laurens, of South Carolina. On the day when Hancock took leave of
Congress, a motion was made to present him with the thanks of that body
in acknowledgment of his admirable discharge of his duty; but the New
England delegates, who had not been altogether satisfied with him,
defeated the motion on general grounds, and established the principle
that it was injudicious to pass such complimentary votes in the case of
any president. This action threw Hancock into a rage, which was chiefly
directed against Samuel Adams as the most prominent member of the
delegation; and after his return to Boston it soon became evident that
he had resolved to break with his old friend and patron. Artful stories,
designed to injure Adams, were in many instances traced to persons who
were in close relation with Hancock. After the fall of the cabal, no
more deadly stab could be dealt to the reputation of any man than to
insinuate that he had given it aid or sympathy; and there is good
ground for believing that such reports concerning Adams were
industriously circulated by unscrupulous partisans of the angry Hancock.
The story was revived at a later date by the friends of Hamilton, on the
occasion of the schism between Hamilton and John Adams, but it has not
been well sustained. The most plausible falsehoods, however, are those
which are based upon misconstrued facts; and it is certain that Samuel
Adams had not only favoured the appointment of Gates in the North, but
he had sometimes spoken with impatience of the so-called Fabian policy
of Washington. In this he was like many other ardent patriots whose
military knowledge was far from commensurate with their zeal. His
cousin, John Adams, was even more outspoken. He declared himself "sick
of Fabian systems." "My toast," he said, "is a short and violent war;"
and he complained of the reverent affection which the people felt for
Washington as an "idolatry" dangerous to American liberty. It was by
working upon such impatient moods as these, in which high-minded men
like the Adamses sometimes indulged, that unscrupulous men like Gates
hoped to attain their ends.

  [Portrait: Benjamin Rush]

  [Sidenote: Attempts to injure Washington]

  [Sidenote: Conway's letter to Gates]

The first fruits of the cabal in Congress were seen in the
reorganization of the Board of War in November, 1777. Mifflin was chosen
a member of the board, and Gates was made its president, with permission
to serve in the field should occasion require it. Gates was thus, in a
certain sense, placed over Washington's head; and soon afterward Conway
was made inspector-general of the army, with the rank of major-general.
In view of Washington's well-known opinions, the appointments of Mifflin
and Conway might be regarded as an open declaration of hostility on the
part of Congress. Some weeks before, in regard to the rumour that Conway
was to be promoted, Washington had written, "It will be impossible for
me to be of any further service, if such insuperable difficulties are
thrown in my way." Such language might easily be understood as a
conditional threat of resignation, and Conway's appointment was probably
urged by the conspirators with the express intention of forcing
Washington to resign. Should this affront prove ineffectual, they hoped,
by dint of anonymous letters and base innuendoes, to make the
commander's place too hot for him. It was asserted that Washington's
army had all through the year outnumbered Howe's more than three to one.
The distress of the soldiers was laid at his door; the sole result, if
not the sole object, of his many marches, according to James Lovell, was
to wear out their shoes and stockings. An anonymous letter to Patrick
Henry, then governor of Virginia, dated from York, where Congress was
sitting, observed: "We have wisdom, virtue, and strength enough to save
us, if they could be called into action. The northern army has shown us
what Americans are capable of doing with a general at their head. The
spirit of the southern army is no way inferior to the spirit of the
northern. A Gates, a Lee, or a Conway would in a few weeks render them
an irresistible body of men. Some of the contents of this letter ought
to be made public, in order to awaken, enlighten, and alarm our
country." Henry sent this letter to Washington, who instantly recognized
the well-known handwriting of Dr. Benjamin Rush. Another anonymous
letter, sent to President Laurens, was still more emphatic: "It is a
very great reproach to America to say there is only one general in it.
The great success to the northward was owing to a change of commanders;
and the southern army would have been alike successful if a similar
change had taken place. The people of America have been guilty of
idolatry by making a man their God, and the God of heaven and earth
will convince them by woful experience that he is only a man; for no
good can be expected from our army until Baal and his worshippers are
banished from camp." This mischievous letter was addressed to Congress,
but, instead of laying it before that body, the high-minded Laurens sent
it directly to Washington. But the commander-in-chief was forewarned,
and neither treacherous missives like these, nor the direct affronts of
Congress, were allowed to disturb his equanimity. Just before leaving
Saratoga, Gates received from Conway a letter containing an allusion to
Washington so terse and pointed as to be easily remembered and quoted,
and Gates showed this letter to his young confidant and aid-de-camp,
Wilkinson. A few days afterward, when Wilkinson had reached York with
the dispatches relating to Burgoyne's surrender, he fell in with a
member of Lord Stirling's staff, and under the genial stimulus of
Monongahela whiskey repeated the malicious sentence. Thus it came to
Stirling's ears, and he straightway communicated it to Washington by
letter, saying that he should always deem it his duty to expose such
wicked duplicity. Thus armed, Washington simply sent to Conway the
following brief note:--

"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.

                                                GEORGE WASHINGTON."

  [Portrait: Stirling]

  [Sidenote: Gates's letter to Washington]

Conway knew not what sort of answer to make to this startling note. When
Mifflin heard of it, he wrote at once to Gates, telling him that an
extract from one of Conway's letters had fallen into Washington's hands,
and advising him to take better care of his papers in future. All the
plotters were seriously alarmed; for their scheme was one which would
not bear the light for a moment, and Washington's curt letter left them
quite in the dark as to the extent of his knowledge. "There is scarcely
a man living," protested Gates, "who takes greater care of his papers
than I do. I never fail to lock them up, and keep the key in my pocket."
One thing was clear: there must be no delay in ascertaining how much
Washington knew and where he got his knowledge. After four anxious days
it occurred to Gates that it must have been Washington's aid-de-camp,
Hamilton, who had stealthily gained access to his papers during his
short visit to the northern camp. Filled with this idea, Gates chuckled
as he thought he saw a way of diverting attention from the subject
matter of the letters to the mode in which Washington had got possession
of their contents. He sat down and wrote to the commander-in-chief,
saying he had learned that some of Conway's confidential letters to
himself had come into his excellency's hands: such letters must have
been copied by stealth, and he hoped his excellency would assist him in
unearthing the wretch who prowled about and did such wicked things, for
obviously it was unsafe to have such creatures in the camp; they might
disclose precious secrets to the enemy. And so important did the matter
seem that he sent a duplicate of the present letter to Congress, in
order that every imaginable means might be adopted for detecting the
culprit without a moment's delay. The purpose of this elaborate artifice
was to create in Congress, which as yet knew nothing of the matter, an
impression unfavourable to Washington, by making it appear that he
encouraged his aids-de-camp in prying into the portfolios of other
generals. For, thought Gates, it is as clear as day that Hamilton was
the man; nobody else could have done it.

  [Portrait: J Wilkinson]

  [Sidenote: Washington's reply]

But Gates's silly glee was short-lived. Washington discerned at a glance
the treacherous purpose of the letter, and foiled it by the simple
expedient of telling the plain truth. "Your letter," he replied, "came
to my hand a few days ago, and, to my great surprise, informed me that a
copy of it had been sent to Congress, for what reason I find myself
unable to account; but as some end was doubtless intended to be answered
by it, I am laid under the disagreeable necessity of returning my answer
through the same channel, lest any member of that honourable body should
harbour an unfavourable suspicion of my having practised some indirect
means to come at the contents of the confidential letters between you
and General Conway." After this ominous prelude, Washington went on to
relate how Wilkinson had babbled over his cups, and a certain sentence
from one of Conway's letters had thereupon been transmitted to him by
Lord Stirling. He had communicated this discovery to Conway, to let that
officer know that his intriguing disposition was observed and watched.
He had mentioned this to no one else but Lafayette, for he thought it
indiscreet to let scandals arise in the army, and thereby "afford a
gleam of hope to the enemy." He had not known that Conway was in
correspondence with Gates, and had even supposed that Wilkinson's
information was given with Gates's sanction, and with friendly intent to
forearm him against a secret enemy. "But in this," he disdainfully adds,
"as in other matters of late, I have found myself mistaken."

  [Portrait: HORATIO GATES]

  [Sidenote: Gates tries, unsuccessfully, to save himself by lying]

So the schemer had overreached himself. It was not Washington's
aid-de-camp who had pried, but it was Gates's own aid who had blabbed.
But for Gates's treacherous letter, Washington would not even have
suspected him; and, to crown all, he had only himself to thank for
rashly blazoning before Congress a matter so little to his credit, and
which Washington, in his generous discretion, would forever have kept
secret. Amid this discomfiture, however, a single ray of hope could be
discerned. It appeared that Washington had known nothing beyond the one
sentence which had come to him as quoted in conversation by Wilkinson. A
downright falsehood might now clear up the whole affair, and make
Wilkinson the scapegoat for all the others. Gates accordingly wrote
again to Washington, denying his intimacy with Conway, declaring that he
had never received but a single letter from him, and solemnly protesting
that this letter contained no such paragraph as that of which
Washington had been informed. The information received through Wilkinson
he denounced as a villainous slander. But these lies were too
transparent to deceive any one, for in his first letter Gates had
implicitly admitted the existence of several letters between himself and
Conway, and his manifest perturbation of spirit had shown that these
letters contained remarks that he would not for the world have had
Washington see. A cold and contemptuous reply from Washington made all
this clear, and put Gates in a very uncomfortable position, from which
there was no retreat.

  [Sidenote: but is successful, as usual, in keeping from under fire]

When the matter came to the ears of Wilkinson, who had just been
appointed secretary of the Board of War, and was on his way to Congress,
his youthful blood boiled at once. He wrote bombastic letters to
everybody, and challenged Gates to deadly combat. A meeting was arranged
for sunrise, behind the Episcopal church at York, with pistols. At the
appointed hour, when all had arrived on the ground, the old general
requested, through his second, an interview with his young antagonist,
walked up a back street with him, burst into tears, called him his dear
boy, and denied that he had ever made any injurious remarks about him.
Wilkinson's wrath was thus assuaged for a moment, only to blaze forth
presently with fresh violence, when he made inquiries of Washington, and
was allowed to read the very letter in which his general had slandered
him. He instantly wrote a letter to Congress, accusing Gates of
treachery and falsehood, and resigned his position on the Board of War.

  [Sidenote: The forged letters]

These revelations strengthened Washington in proportion as they showed
the malice and duplicity of his enemies. About this time a pamphlet was
published in London, and republished in New York, containing letters
which purported to have been written by Washington to members of his
family, and to have been found in the possession of a mulatto servant
taken prisoner at Fort Lee. The letters, if genuine, would have proved
their author to be a traitor to the American cause; but they were so
bunglingly concocted that every one knew them to be a forgery, and their
only effect was to strengthen Washington still more, while throwing
further discredit upon the cabal, with which many persons were inclined
to connect them.


  [Sidenote: Scheme for invading Canada]

The army and the people were now becoming incensed at the plotters, and
the press began to ridicule them, while the reputation of Gates suffered
greatly in Congress as the indications of his real character were
brought to light. All that was needed to complete the discomfiture of
the cabal was a military fiasco, and this was soon forthcoming. In order
to detach Lafayette from Washington, a winter expedition against Canada
was devised by the Board of War. Lafayette, a mere boy, scarcely twenty
years old, was invited to take the command, with Conway for his chief
lieutenant. It was said that the French population of Canada would be
sure to welcome the high-born Frenchman as their deliverer from the
British yoke; and it was further thought that the veteran Irish schemer
might persuade his young commander to join the cabal, and bring to it
such support as might be gained from the French alliance, then about to
be completed. Congress was persuaded to authorize the expedition, and
Washington was not consulted in the matter.

  [Sidenote: The dinner at York]

  [Sidenote: Lafayette's toast]

But Lafayette knew his own mind better than was supposed. He would not
accept the command until he had obtained Washington's consent, and then
he made it an indispensable condition that Baron de Kalb, who outranked
Conway, should accompany the expedition. These preliminaries having been
arranged, the young general went to York for his instructions. There he
found Gates, surrounded by schemers and sycophants, seated at a very
different kind of dinner from that to which Lafayette had lately been
used at Valley Forge. Hilarious with wine, the company welcomed the new
guest with acclamations. He was duly flattered and toasted, and a
glorious campaign was predicted. Gates assured him that on reaching
Albany he would find 3,000 regulars ready to march, while powerful
assistance was to be expected from the valiant Stark with his
redoubtable Green Mountain Boys. The marquis listened with placid
composure till his papers were brought him, and he felt it to be time to
go. Then rising as if for a speech, while all eyes were turned upon him
and breathless silence filled the room, he reminded the company that
there was one toast which, in the generous excitement of the occasion,
they had forgotten to drink, and he begged leave to propose the health
of the commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States. The deep
silence became still deeper. None dared refuse the toast, "but some
merely raised their glasses to their lips, while others cautiously put
them down untasted." With the politest of bows and a scarcely
perceptible shrug of the shoulder, the new commander of the northern
army left the room, and mounted his horse to start for his headquarters
at Albany.


  [Sidenote: Absurdity of the scheme]

When he got there, he found neither troops, supplies, nor equipments in
readiness. Of the army to which Burgoyne had surrendered, the militia
had long since gone home, while most of the regulars had been withdrawn
to Valley Forge or the highlands of the Hudson. Instead of 3,000
regulars which Gates had promised, barely 1,200 could be found, and
these were in no wise clothed or equipped for a winter march through the
wilderness. Between carousing and backbiting, the new Board of War had
no time left to attend to its duties. Not an inch of the country but was
known to Schuyler, Lincoln, and Arnold, and they assured Lafayette that
an invasion of Canada, under the circumstances, would be worthy of Don
Quixote. In view of the French alliance, moreover, the conquest of
Canada had even ceased to seem desirable to the Americans; for when
peace should be concluded the French might insist upon retaining it, in
compensation for their services. The men of New England greatly
preferred Great Britain to France as a neighbour, and accordingly Stark,
with his formidable Green Mountain Boys, felt no interest whatever in
the enterprise, and not a dozen volunteers could be got together for
love or money.

  [Sidenote: Downfall of the cabal]

The fiasco was so complete, and the scheme itself so emphatically
condemned by public opinion, that Congress awoke from its infatuation.
Lafayette and Kalb were glad to return to Valley Forge. Conway, who
stayed behind, became indignant with Congress over some fancied slight,
and sent a conditional threat of resignation, which, to his unspeakable
amazement, was accepted unconditionally. In vain he urged that he had
not meant exactly what he said, having lost the nice use of English
during his long stay in France. His entreaties and objurgations fell
upon deaf ears. In Congress the day of the cabal was over. Mifflin and
Gates were removed from the Board of War. The latter was sent to take
charge of the forts on the Hudson, and cautioned against forgetting that
he was to report to the commander-in-chief. The cabal and its deeds
having become the subject of common gossip, such friends as it had
mustered now began stoutly to deny their connection with it. Conway
himself was dangerously wounded a few months afterward in a duel with
General Cadwallader, and, believing himself to be on his deathbed, he
wrote a very humble letter to Washington, expressing his sincere grief
for having ever done or said anything with intent to injure so great and
good a man. His wound proved not to be mortal, but on his recovery,
finding himself generally despised and shunned, he returned to France,
and American history knew him no more.


  [Sidenote: Decline of the Continental Congress]

Had Lord George Germain been privy to the secrets of the Conway cabal,
his hope of wearing out the American cause would have been sensibly
strengthened. There was really more danger in such intrigues than in an
exhausted treasury, a half-starved army, and defeat on the field. The
people felt it to be so, and the events of the winter left a stain upon
the reputation of the Continental Congress from which it never fully
recovered. Congress had already lost the high personal consideration to
which it was entitled at the outset. Such men as Franklin, Washington,
Jefferson, Henry, Jay, and Rutledge were now serving in other
capacities. The legislatures of the several states afforded a more
promising career for able men than the Continental Congress, which had
neither courts nor magistrates, nor any recognized position of
sovereignty. The meetings of Congress were often attended by no more
than ten or twelve members. Curious symptoms were visible which seemed
to show that the sentiment of union between the states was weaker than
it had been two years before. Instead of the phrase "people of the
United States," one begins, in 1778, to hear of "inhabitants of these
Confederated States." In the absence of any central sovereignty which
could serve as the symbol of union, it began to be feared that the new
nation might after all be conquered through its lack of political
cohesion. Such fears came to cloud the rejoicings over the victory of
Saratoga, as, at the end of 1777, the Continental Congress began visibly
to lose its place in public esteem, and sink, step by step, into the
utter degradation and impotence which was to overwhelm it before another
ten years should have expired.

  [Sidenote: Increasing influence of Washington]

As the defeat of the Conway cabal marked the beginning of the decline of
Congress, it marked at the same time the rise of Washington to a higher
place in the hearts of the people than he had ever held before. As the
silly intrigues against him recoiled upon their authors, men began to
realize that it was far more upon his consummate sagacity and unselfish
patriotism than upon anything that Congress could do that the country
rested its hopes of success in the great enterprise which it had
undertaken. As the nullity of Congress made it ever more apparent that
the country as a whole was without a government, Washington stood forth
more and more conspicuously as the living symbol of the union of the
states. In him and his work were centred the common hopes and the common
interests of all the American people. There was no need of clothing him
with extraordinary powers. During the last years of the war he came,
through sheer weight of personal character, to wield an influence like
that which Perikles had wielded over the Athenians. He was all-powerful
because he was "first in the hearts of his countrymen." Few men, since
history began, had ever occupied so lofty a position; none ever made a
more disinterested use of power. His arduous labours taught him to
appreciate, better than any one else, the weakness entailed upon the
country by the want of a stable central government. But when the war was
over, and the political problem came into the foreground, instead of
using this knowledge to make himself personally indispensable to the
country, he bent all the weight of his character and experience toward
securing the adoption of such a federal constitution as should make
anything like a dictatorship forever unnecessary and impossible.

                              CHAPTER X.

                        MONMOUTH AND NEWPORT.


  [Sidenote: Baron Friedrich von Steuben]

During the dreary winter at Valley Forge, Washington busied himself in
improving the organization of his army. The fall of the Conway cabal
removed many obstacles. Greene was persuaded, somewhat against his
wishes, to serve as quartermaster-general, and forthwith the duties of
that important office were discharged with zeal and promptness. Conway's
resignation opened the way for a most auspicious change in the
inspectorship of the army. Of all the foreign officers who served under
Washington during the War for Independence, the Baron von Steuben was in
many respects the most important. Member of a noble family which for
five centuries had been distinguished in the local annals of Magdeburg,
Steuben was one of the best educated and most experienced soldiers of
Germany. His grandfather, an able theologian, was well known as the
author of a critical treatise on the New Testament. His uncle, an
eminent mathematician, had been the inventor of a new system of
fortification. His father had seen half a century of honourable service
in the corps of engineers. He had himself held the rank of first
lieutenant at the beginning of the Seven Years' War, and after excellent
service in the battles of Prague, Rossbach, and Kunersdorf he was raised
to a position on the staff of Frederick the Great. At the end of the
war, when the thrifty king reduced his army, and Blücher with other
officers afterward famous left the service, Steuben retired to private
life, with the honorary rank of General of the Circle of Swabia. For
more than ten years he was grand marshal to the Prince of
Hohenzollern-Hechingen. Then he went travelling about Europe, until in
the spring of 1777 he arrived in Paris, and became acquainted with
Franklin and Beaumarchais.

  [Portrait: Steuben]

  [Portrait: Frederic]

The American alliance was already secretly contemplated by the French
ministry, and the astute Vergennes, knowing that the chief defect of our
armies lay in their want of organization and discipline, saw in the
scientific German soldier an efficient instrument for remedying the
evil. After much hesitation Steuben was persuaded to undertake the task.
That his arrival upon the scene might excite no heart-burning among the
American officers, the honorary rank which he held in Germany was
translated by Vergennes into the rank of lieutenant-general, which the
Americans would at once recognize as more eminent than any position
existing in their own army except that of the commander-in-chief.

  [Sidenote: Steuben arrives in America]

Knowing no English, Steuben took with him as secretary and interpreter
the youthful Pierre Duponceau, afterward famous as a lawyer, and still
more famous as a philologist. One day, on shipboard, this gay young
Frenchman laid a wager that he would kiss the first Yankee girl he
should meet on landing. So as they came ashore at Portsmouth on a frosty
December day, he gravely stepped up to a pretty New Hampshire maiden who
was passing by, and told her that before leaving his native land to
fight for American freedom he had taken a vow to ask, in earnest of
victory, a kiss from the first lady he should meet. The prayer of
chivalry found favour in the eyes of the fair Puritan, and the token of
success was granted.

  [Sidenote: and visits Congress at York]

At Boston John Hancock furnished the party with sleighs, drivers, and
saddle-horses for the inland journey of more than four hundred miles to
York. During this cheerful journey, which it took three weeks to
perform, Steuben's heart was warmed toward his new country by the
reminiscences of the Seven Years' War which he frequently encountered.
The name of Frederick was deservedly popular in America, and his
familiar features decorated the sign-board of many a wayside inn, while
on the coffee-room walls hung quaint prints with doggerel verses
commemorating Rossbach and Leuthen along with Louisburg and Quebec. On
arriving at York, the German general was received by Congress with
distinguished honours; and this time the confidence given to a trained
European soldier turned out to be well deserved. Throughout the war
Steuben proved no less faithful than capable. He came to feel a genuine
love for his adopted country, and after the war was over, retiring to
the romantic woodland near Oriskany, where so many families of German
lineage were already settled, and where the state of New York presented
him with a farm of sixteen thousand acres in acknowledgment of his
services, he lived the quiet life of a country gentleman until his death
in 1794. A little village some twelve miles north of the site of old
Fort Stanwix still bears his name and marks the position of his estate.


  [Sidenote: Steuben at Valley Forge]

After his interview with Congress, Steuben repaired at once to Valley
Forge, where Washington was not slow in recognizing his ability; nor was
Steuben, on the other hand, at a loss to perceive, in the ragged and
motley army which he passed in review, the existence of soldierly
qualities which needed nothing so much as training. Disregarding the
English prejudice which looked upon the drilling of soldiers as work fit
only for sergeants, he took musket in hand and showed what was to be
done. Alert and untiring, he worked from morning till night in showing
the men how to advance, retreat, or change front without falling into
disorder,--how to perform, in short, all the rapid and accurate
movements for which the Prussian army had become so famous. It was a
revelation to the American troops. Generals, colonels, and captains were
fired by the contagion of his example and his tremendous enthusiasm, and
for several months the camp was converted into a training-school, in
which masters and pupils worked with incessant and furious energy.
Steuben was struck with the quickness with which the common soldiers
learned their lessons. He had a harmlessly choleric temper, which was
part of his overflowing vigour, and sometimes, when drilling an awkward
squad, he would exhaust his stock of French and German oaths, and shout
for his aid to come and curse the blockheads in English. "Viens, mon ami
Walker," he would cry,--"viens, mon bon ami. Sacre-bleu! Gott-vertamn de
gaucherie of dese badauts. Je ne puis plus; I can curse dem no more!"
Yet in an incredibly short time, as he afterward wrote, these awkward
fellows had acquired a military air, had learned how to carry their
arms, and knew how to form into column, deploy, and execute manoeuvres
with precision. In May, 1778, after three months of such work, Steuben
was appointed inspector-general of the army, with the rank and pay of
major-general. The reforms which he introduced were so far-reaching that
after a year they were said to have saved more than 800,000 French
livres to the United States. No accounts had been kept of arms and
accoutrements, and owing to the careless good-nature which allowed every
recruit to carry home his musket as a keepsake, there had been a loss of
from five to eight thousand muskets annually. During the first year of
Steuben's inspectorship less than twenty muskets were lost. Half of the
arms at Valley Forge were found by Steuben without bayonets. The
American soldier had no faith in this weapon, because he did not know
how to use it; when he did not throw it away, he adapted it to culinary
purposes, holding on its point the beef which he roasted before his
camp-fire. Yet in little more than a year after Steuben's arrival we
shall see an American column, without firing a gun, storm the works at
Stony Point in one of the most spirited bayonet charges known to

  [Illustration: ENCAMPMENT AT VALLEY FORGE, 1777-1778]


  [Sidenote: Steuben's manual of tactics]

Besides all this, it was Steuben who first taught the American army to
understand the value of an efficient staff. The want of such a staff had
been severely felt at the battle of Brandywine; but before the end of
the war Washington had become provided with a staff that Frederick need
not have despised. While busy with all these laborious reforms, the
good baron found time to prepare a new code of discipline and tactics,
based on Prussian experience, but adapted to the peculiar conditions of
American warfare; and this excellent manual held its place, long after
the death of its author, as the Blue Book of our army. In this
adaptation of means to ends, Steuben proved himself to be no martinet,
but a thorough military scholar; he was able not only to teach, but to
learn. And in the art of warfare there was one lesson which Europe now
learned from America. In woodland fights with the Indians, it had been
found desirable to act in loose columns, which could easily separate to
fall behind trees and reunite at brief notice; and in this way there had
been developed a kind of light infantry peculiar to America, and
especially adapted for skirmishing. It was light infantry of this sort
that, in the hands of Arnold and Morgan, had twice won the day in the
Saratoga campaign. Reduced to scientific shape by Steuben, and absorbed,
with all the other military knowledge of the age, by Napoleon, these
light-infantry tactics have come to play a great part on the European
battlefields of the nineteenth century.

  [Sidenote: Sir William Howe resigns his command]

  [Sidenote: The Mischianza]

Thus from the terrible winter at Valley Forge, in which the accumulated
evils of congressional mismanagement had done their best to destroy the
army, it came forth, nevertheless, stronger in organization and bolder
in spirit than ever before. On the part of the enemy nothing had been
done to molest it. The position at Valley Forge was a strong one, and
Sir William Howe found it easier to loiter in Philadelphia than to play
a strategic game against Washington in the depths of an American winter.
When Franklin at Paris first heard the news that Howe had taken
Philadelphia, knowing well how slight was the military value of the
conquest, he observed that it would be more correct to say that
Philadelphia had taken General Howe. And so it turned out, in more ways
than one; for his conduct in going there at all was roundly blamed by
the opposition in Parliament, and not a word was said in his behalf by
Lord George Germain. The campaign of 1777 had been such a bungling piece
of work that none of the chief actors, save Burgoyne, was willing
frankly to assume his share of responsibility for it. Sir William Howe
did not wish to disclose the secret of his peculiar obligations to the
traitor Lee; and it would have ruined Lord George Germain to have told
the story of the dispatch that never was sent. Lord George, who was
never noted for generosity, sought to screen himself by throwing the
blame for everything indiscriminately upon the two generals. Burgoyne,
who sat in Parliament, defended himself ably and candidly; and when Howe
heard what was going on, he sent in his resignation, in order that he
too might go home and defend himself. Besides this, he had grown sick of
the war, and was more than ever convinced that it must end in failure.
On the 18th of May, Philadelphia was the scene of a grand farewell
banquet, called the _Mischianza_,--a strange medley combining the modern
parade with the mediæval tournament, wherein seven silk-clad knights of
the Blended Rose and seven more of the Burning Mountain did amicably
break lances in honour of fourteen blooming damsels dressed in Turkish
costume, while triumphal arches, surmounted by effigies of Fame,
displayed inscriptions commemorating in fulsome Latin and French the
glories of the departing general. In these curious festivities,
savouring more strongly of Bruges in the fifteenth century than of
Philadelphia in the eighteenth, it was long after remembered that the
most prominent parts were taken by the ill-starred Major André and the
charming Miss Margaret Shippen, who was soon to become the wife of
Benedict Arnold. With such farewell ceremonies Sir William Howe set sail
for England, and Sir Henry Clinton took his place as commander-in-chief
of the British armies in America.

  [Portrait: MAJOR ANDRÉ]

  [Sidenote: The British evacuate Philadelphia, June 18, 1778]

  [Sidenote: Arnold takes command at Philadelphia]

Washington's position at Valley Forge had held the British in check
through the winter. They had derived no advantage from the possession of
the "rebel capital," for such poor work as Congress could do was as well
done from York as from Philadelphia, and the political life of the
United States was diffused from one end of the country to the other. The
place was worthless as a basis for military operations. It was harder to
defend and harder to supply with food than the insular city of New York;
and, moreover, a powerful French fleet, under Count d'Estaing, was
approaching the American coast. With the control of the Delaware
imperilled, Philadelphia would soon become untenable, and, in accordance
with instructions received from the ministry, Sir Henry Clinton prepared
to evacuate the place and concentrate his forces at New York. His first
intention was to go by water; but finding that he had not transports
enough for his whole army, together with the Tory refugees who had put
themselves under his protection, he changed his plan. The Tories, to the
number of 3,000, with their personal effects, were sent on in the fleet,
while the army, encumbered with twelve miles of baggage wagons, began
its retreat across New Jersey. On the morning of the 18th of June, 1778,
the rear-guard of the British marched out of Philadelphia, and before
sunset the American advance marched in and took possession of the city.
General Arnold, whose crippled leg did not allow him to take the field,
was put in command, and after a fortnight both Congress and the state
government returned. Of the Tories who remained behind, twenty-five were
indicted, under the laws of Pennsylvania, for the crime of offering aid
to the enemy. Two Quakers, who had actually conducted a party of British
to a midnight attack upon an American outpost, were found guilty of
treason and hanged. The other twenty-three were either acquitted or
pardoned. Across the river, seventeen Tories, convicted of treason under
the laws of New Jersey, all received pardon from the governor.


  [Sidenote: Return of Charles Lee]

The British retreat from Philadelphia was regarded by the Americans as
equivalent to a victory, and Washington was anxious to enhance the moral
effect of it by a sudden blow which should cripple Sir Henry Clinton's
army. In force he was about equal to the enemy, both armies now
numbering about 15,000, while in equipment and discipline his men were
better off than ever before. Unfortunately, the American army had just
received one addition which went far to neutralize these advantages.
The mischief-maker Lee had returned. In the preceding summer the British
Major-general Prescott had been captured in Rhode Island, and after a
tedious negotiation of nine months Lee was exchanged for him. He arrived
at Valley Forge in May, and as Washington had found a lenient
interpretation for his outrageous conduct before his capture, while
nothing whatever was known of his treasonable plot with the Howes, he
naturally came back unquestioned to his old position as senior
major-general of the army. What a frightful situation for the Americans;
to have for the second officer in their army the man whom the chances of
war might at any moment invest with the chief command, such a villain as
this who had so lately been plotting their destruction! What would
Washington, what would Congress have thought, had the truth in its
blackness been so much as dreamed of? But why, we may ask, did the
intriguer come back? Why did he think it worth his while to pose once
more in the attitude of an American? Could it have been with the
intention of playing into the hands of the enemy? and could Sir Henry
Clinton have been aware of this purpose?

  [Portrait: H Clinton]

  [Sidenote: Lee's reasons for returning]

Such a hypothesis, implying direct collusion between Lee and the British
commander, is highly improbable. We must remember that Sir William Howe,
the Whig general, had just gone home to defend his military conduct
against the fierce attacks of the King's party; and his successor, Sir
Henry Clinton, was not only a Tory, but the personal relations between
the two men were not altogether friendly. It is therefore hardly
credible that Clinton could have known anything about Lee's coöperation
with Howe. If he had known it, we may be sure that the secret would not
have lain buried for eighty years. It is much more likely that since the
disastrous failure of Lee's military advice he was reduced to painful
insignificance in the British camp, and was thus prepared to welcome an
opportunity for trying his fortune once more with the Americans. Indeed,
the circumstances were such as hardly to leave him any choice in the
matter. As a prisoner of war, he must submit to exchange. The only way
to avoid it was to make a public avowal of having abandoned the American
service and cast in his lot with the British. But such an avowal would
at once withdraw from him General Washington's protection, and thus
leave him liable to be tried as a deserter and shot for the
gratification of George III. On the whole, as the event proved, there
was more safety for Lee in following Fortune's lead back into the
American camp. He came with the renewed hope of supplanting Washington
uppermost in his breast. As for Clinton, there is nothing to indicate
collusion between him and the traitor, but he had probably seen and
heard enough to confirm the declared opinion of Sir Joseph Yorke, that
such a man as Charles Lee was "the worst present the Americans could

  [Sidenote: Washington pursues the British]

When Philadelphia was evacuated, Lee first tried to throw Washington off
on a false scent by alleging reasons for believing that Clinton did not
intend to retreat across New Jersey. Failing in this, he found reasons
as plentiful as blackberries why the British army should not be followed
up and harassed on its retreat. Then when Washington decided that an
attack must be made, he grew sulky and refused to conduct it. Washington
was marching more rapidly than Clinton, on a line nearly parallel with
him, to the northward, so that by the time the British general reached
Allentown he found his adversary getting in front of him upon his line
of retreat. Clinton had nothing to gain by fighting, if he could
possibly avoid it, and accordingly he turned to the right, following the
road which ran through Monmouth and Middletown to Sandy Hook. Washington
now detached a force of about 5,000 men to advance swiftly and cut off
the enemy's rear, while he designed to come up and support the operation
with the rest of his army. To Lee, as second in rank, the command of
this advanced party properly belonged; but he declined to take it, on
the ground that it was sure to be defeated, and Washington entrusted the
movement to the youthful Lafayette, of the soundness of whose judgment
he had already seen many proofs. But in the course of the night it
occurred to Lee, whatever his miserable purpose may have been, that
perhaps he might best accomplish it, after all, by taking the field. So
he told Washington, next morning, that he had changed his mind, and was
anxious to take the command which he had just declined. With
extraordinary forbearance Washington granted his request, and arranged
the affair with such tact as not to wound the feelings of Lafayette,
who thus, unfortunately, lost the direction of the movement.

  [Sidenote: His plan of attack]

On the night of June 27th the left wing of the British army, 8,000
strong, commanded by Lord Cornwallis, encamped near Monmouth Court
House, on the road from Allentown. The right wing, of about equal
strength, and composed chiefly of Hessians under Knyphausen, lay just
beyond the Court House on the road to Middletown. In order of march the
right wing took the lead, convoying the immense baggage train. The left
wing, following in the rear, was the part exposed to danger, and with it
stayed Sir Henry Clinton. The American advance under Lee, 6,000 strong,
lay about five miles northeast of the British line, and Washington, with
the main body, was only three miles behind. Lee's orders from Washington
were positive and explicit. He was to gain the flank of the British left
wing and attack it vigorously, until Washington should come up and
complete its discomfiture. Lee's force was ample, in quantity and
quality, for the task assigned it, and there was fair ground for hope
that the flower of the British army might thus be cut off and captured
or destroyed. Since the war began there had hardly been such a golden

  [Sidenote: Battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778]

  [Sidenote: Lee's shameful retreat]

Sunday, the 28th of June, was a day of fiery heat, the thermometer
showing 96° in the shade. Early in the morning Clinton moved cautiously.
Knyphausen made all haste forward on the Middletown road, and the left
wing followed till it had passed more than a mile beyond Monmouth Court
House, when it found itself outflanked on the north by the American
columns. Lee had advanced from Freehold church by the main road,
crossing two deep ravines upon causeways; and now, while his left wing
was folding about Cornwallis on the north, occupying superior ground,
his centre, under Wayne, was close behind, and his right, under
Lafayette, had already passed the Court House, and was threatening the
other end of the British line on the south. Cornwallis instantly changed
front to meet the danger on the north, and a detachment was thrown down
the road toward the Court House to check Lafayette. The British position
was one of peril, but the behaviour of the American commander now became
very extraordinary. When Wayne was beginning his attack, he was ordered
by Lee to hold back and simply make a feint, as the main attack was to
be made in another quarter. While Wayne was wondering at this, the
British troops coming down the road were seen directing their march so
as to come between Wayne and Lafayette. It would be easy to check them,
but the marquis had no sooner started than Lee ordered him back,
murmuring about its being impossible to stand against British soldiers.
Lafayette's suspicions were now aroused, and he sent a dispatch in all
haste to Washington, saying that his presence in the field was sorely
needed. The army was bewildered. Fighting had hardly begun, but their
position was obviously so good that the failure to make prompt use of it
suggested some unknown danger. One of the divisions on the left was now
ordered back by Lee, and the others, seeing this retrograde movement,
and understanding it as the prelude to a general retreat, began likewise
to fall back. All thus retreated, though without flurry or disorder, to
the high ground just east of the second ravine which they had crossed in
their advance. All the advantage of their offensive movement was thus
thrown away without a struggle, but the position they had now reached
was excellent for a defensive fight. To the amazement of everybody, Lee
ordered the retreat to be continued across the marshy ravine. As they
crowded upon the causeway the ranks began to fall into some disorder.
Many sank exhausted from the heat. No one could tell from what they were
fleeing, and the exultant ardour with which they had begun to enfold the
British line gave place to bitter disappointment, which vented itself in
passionate curses. So they hurried on, with increasing disorder, till
they approached the brink of the westerly ravine, where their craven
commander met Washington riding up.

  [Sidenote: Washington retrieves the situation]

The men who then beheld Washington's face and listened to his outburst
of wrath could never forget it for the rest of their lives. It was one
of those moments that live in tradition. People of to-day, who know
nothing else about Charles Lee, think of him vaguely as the man whom
Washington upbraided at Monmouth. People who know nothing else about the
battle of Monmouth still dimly associate the name with the disgrace of a
General Lee. Not many words were wasted.[17] Leaving the traitor
cowering and trembling in his stirrups, Washington hurried on to rally
the troops and form a new front. There was not a moment to lose, for the
British were within a mile of them, and their fire began before the line
of battle could be formed. To throw a mass of disorderly fugitives in
the face of advancing reinforcements, as Lee had been on the point of
doing, was to endanger the organization of the whole force. It was now
that the admirable results of Steuben's teaching were to be seen. The
retreating soldiers immediately wheeled and formed under fire with as
much coolness and precision as they could have shown on parade, and
while they stopped the enemy's progress, Washington rode back and
brought up the main body of his army. On some heights to the left of the
enemy Greene placed a battery which enfiladed their lines with deadly
effect, while Wayne attacked them vigorously in front. After a brave
resistance, the British were driven back upon the second ravine which
Lee had crossed in the morning's advance. Washington now sent word to
Steuben, who was a couple of miles in the rear, telling him to bring up
three brigades and press the retreating enemy. Some time before this he
had again met Lee and ordered him to the rear, for his suspicion was now
thoroughly aroused. As the traitor rode away from the field, baffled and
full of spite, he met Steuben advancing, and tried to work one final
piece of mischief. He tried to persuade Steuben to halt, alleging that
he must have misunderstood Washington's orders; but the worthy baron was
not to be trifled with, and doggedly kept on his way.[18] The British
were driven in some confusion across the ravine, and were just making a
fresh stand on the high ground east of it when night put an end to the
strife. Washington sent out parties to attack them on both flanks as
soon as day should dawn; but Clinton withdrew in the night, taking with
him many of his wounded men, and by daybreak had joined Knyphausen on
the heights of Middletown, whither it was useless to follow him.

  [Portrait: CHARLES LEE]

  [Sidenote: It was a drawn battle]

The total American loss in the battle of Monmouth was 362. The British
loss is commonly given as 416, but must have been much greater.
According to Washington's own account, the Americans buried on the
battlefield 245 British dead, but could not count the wounded, as so
many had been carried away; from the ordinary proportion of four or five
wounded to one man killed, he estimates the number at from 1,000 to
1,200.[19] More than 100 of the British were taken prisoners. On both
sides there were many deaths from sunstroke. The battle has usually been
claimed as a victory for the Americans; and so it was in a certain
sense, as they drove the enemy from the field. Strategically considered,
however, Lord Stanhope is quite right in calling it a drawn battle. The
purpose for which Washington undertook it was foiled by the treachery of
Lee. Nevertheless, in view of the promptness with which Washington
turned defeat into victory, and of the greatly increased efficiency
which it showed in the soldiers, the moral advantage was doubtless with
the Americans. It deepened the impression produced by the recovery of
Philadelphia, it silenced the cavillers against Washington,[20] and its
effect upon Clinton's army was disheartening. More than 2,000 of his
men, chiefly Hessians, deserted in the course of the following week.

During the night after the battle, the behaviour of Lee was the theme of
excited discussion among the American officers. By the next day, having
recovered his self-possession, he wrote a petulant letter to Washington,
demanding an apology for his language on the battlefield. Washington's
reply was as follows:--

  [Sidenote: Washington's letter to Lee.]

     "SIR,--I received your letter, expressed, as I conceive, in terms
     highly improper. I am not conscious of making use of any very
     singular expressions at the time of meeting you, as you intimate.
     What I recollect to have said was dictated by duty and warranted by
     the occasion. As soon as circumstances will permit, you shall have
     an opportunity of justifying yourself to the army, to Congress, to
     America, and to the world in general; or of convincing them that
     you were guilty of a breach of orders, and of misbehaviour before
     the enemy on the 28th instant, in not attacking them as you had
     been directed, and in making an unnecessary, disorderly, and
     shameful retreat."

  [Sidenote: Trial and sentence of Lee]

To this terrible letter Lee sent the following impudent answer: "You
cannot afford me greater pleasure than in giving me the opportunity of
showing to America the sufficiency of her respective servants. I trust
that temporary power of office and the tinsel dignity attending it will
not be able, by all the mists they can raise, to obfuscate the bright
rays of truth." Washington replied by putting Lee under arrest. A
court-martial was at once convened, before which he was charged with
disobedience of orders in not attacking the enemy, with misbehaviour on
the field in making an unnecessary and shameful retreat, and, lastly,
with gross disrespect to the commander-in-chief. After a painstaking
trial, which lasted more than a month, he was found guilty on all three
charges, and suspended from command in the army _for the term of one

This absurdly inadequate sentence is an example of the extreme and
sometimes ill-judged humanity which has been wont to characterize
judicial proceedings in America. Many a European soldier has been
ruthlessly shot for less serious misconduct. A commander can be guilty
of no blacker crime than knowingly to betray his trust on the field of
battle. But in Lee's case, the very enormity of his crime went far to
screen him from the punishment which it deserved. People are usually
slow to believe in criminality that goes far beyond the ordinary
wickedness of the society in which they live. If a candidate for
Congress is accused of bribery or embezzlement, we unfortunately find it
easy to believe the charge; but if he were to be accused of attempting
to poison his rival, we should find it very hard indeed to believe it.
In the France of Catherine de' Medici or the Italy of Cæsar Borgia, the
one accusation would have been as credible as the other, but we have
gone far toward outgrowing some of the grosser forms of crime. In
American history, as in modern English history, instances of downright
treason have been very rare; and in proportion as we are impressed with
their ineffable wickedness are we slow to admit the possibility of their
occurrence. In ancient Greece and in mediæval Italy there were many
Benedict Arnolds; in the United States a single plot for surrendering a
stronghold to the enemy has consigned its author to a solitary
immortality of infamy. But unless the proof of Arnold's treason had been
absolutely irrefragable, many persons would have refused to believe it.
In like manner, people were slow to believe that Lee could have been so
deliberately wicked as to plan the defeat of the army in which he held
so high a command, and some historians have preferred to regard his
conduct as wholly unintelligible, rather than adopt the only clue by
which it can be explained. He might have been bewildered, he might have
been afraid, he might have been crazy, it was suggested; and to the
latter hypothesis his well-known eccentricity gave some countenance. It
was perhaps well for the court-martial to give him the benefit of the
doubt, but in any case it should have been obvious that he had proved
himself _permanently_ unfit for a command.


  [Sidenote: Lee's character and schemes]

Historians for a long time imitated the clemency of the court-martial by
speaking of the "waywardness" of General Lee. Nearly eighty years
elapsed before the discovery of that document which justifies us in
putting the worst interpretation upon his acts, while it enables us
clearly to understand the motives which prompted them. Lee was nothing
but a selfish adventurer. He had no faith in the principles for which
the Americans were fighting, or indeed in any principles. He came here
to advance his own fortunes, and hoped to be made commander-in-chief.
Disappointed in this, he began at once to look with hatred and envy upon
Washington, and sought to thwart his purposes, while at the same time he
intrigued with the enemy. He became infatuated with the idea of playing
some such part in the American Revolution as Monk had played in the
Restoration of Charles II. This explains his conduct in the autumn of
1776, when he refused to march to the support of Washington. Should
Washington be defeated and captured, then Lee, as next in command and at
the head of a separate army, might negotiate for peace. His conduct as
prisoner in New York, first in soliciting an interview with Congress,
then in giving aid and counsel to the enemy, is all to be explained in
the same way. And his behaviour in the Monmouth campaign was part and
parcel of the same crooked policy. Lord North's commissioners had just
arrived from England to offer terms to the Americans, but in the
exultation over Saratoga and the French alliance, now increased by the
recovery of Philadelphia, there was little hope of their effecting
anything. The spirits of these Yankees, thought Lee, must not be
suffered to rise too high, else they will never listen to reason. So he
wished to build a bridge of gold for Clinton to retreat by; and when he
found it impossible to prevent an attack, his second thoughts led him to
take command, in order to keep the game in his own hands. Should
Washington now incur defeat by adopting a course which Lee had
emphatically condemned as impracticable, the impatient prejudices upon
which the cabal had played might be revived. The downfall of Washington
would perhaps be easy to compass; and the schemer would thus not only
enjoy the humiliation of the man whom he so bitterly hated, but he might
fairly hope to succeed him in the chief command, and thus have an
opportunity of bringing the war to a "glorious" end through a
negotiation with Lord North's commissioners. Such thoughts as these
were, in all probability, at the bottom of Lee's extraordinary behaviour
at Monmouth. They were the impracticable schemes of a vain, egotistical
dreamer. That Washington and Chatham, had that great statesman been
still alive, might have brought the war to an honourable close through
open and frank negotiation was perhaps not impossible. That such a man
as Lee, by paltering with agents of Lord North, should effect anything
but mischief and confusion was inconceivable. But selfishness is always
incompatible with sound judgment, and Lee's wild schemes were quite in
keeping with his character. The method he adopted for carrying them out
was equally so. It would have been impossible for a man of strong
military instincts to have relaxed his clutch upon an enemy in the
field, as Lee did at the battle of Monmouth. If Arnold had been there
that day, with his head never so full of treason, an irresistible
impulse would doubtless have led him to attack the enemy tooth and nail,
and the treason would have waited till the morrow.

  [Portrait: John Laurens]

  [Sidenote: Lee's expulsion from the army]

  [Sidenote: His death]

As usually happens in such cases, the selfish schemer overreached
himself. Washington won a victory, after all; the treachery was
detected, and the traitor disgraced. Maddened by the destruction of his
air-castles, Lee now began writing scurrilous articles in the
newspapers. He could not hear Washington's name mentioned without losing
his temper, and his venomous tongue at length got him into a duel with
Colonel Laurens, one of Washington's aids and son of the president of
Congress. He came out of the affair with nothing worse than a wound in
the side; but when, a little later, he wrote an angry letter to
Congress, he was summarily expelled from the army. "Ah, I see," he said,
aiming a Parthian shot at Washington, "if you wish to become a great
general in America, you must learn to grow tobacco;" and so he retired
to a plantation which he had in the Shenandoah valley. He lived to
behold the triumph of the cause which he had done so much to injure, and
in October, 1782, he died in a mean public-house in Philadelphia,
friendless and alone. His last wish was that he might not be buried in
consecrated ground, or within a mile of any church or meeting-house,
because he had kept so much bad company in this world that he did not
choose to continue it in the next. But in this he was not allowed to
have his way. He was buried in the cemetery of Christ Church in
Philadelphia, and many worthy citizens came to the funeral.


  [Sidenote: The situation at New York]

  [Sidenote: The French fleet unable to enter the harbour]

When Washington, after the battle of Monmouth, saw that it was useless
further to molest Clinton's retreat, he marched straight for the Hudson
river, and on the 20th of July he encamped at White Plains, while his
adversary took refuge in New York. The opposing armies occupied the same
ground as in the autumn of 1776; but the Americans were now the
aggressive party. Howe's object in 1776 was the capture of Washington's
army; Clinton's object in 1778 was limited to keeping possession of New
York. There was now a chance for testing the worth of the French
alliance. With the aid of a powerful French fleet, it might be possible
to capture Clinton's army, and thus end the war at a blow. But this was
not to be. The French fleet of twelve ships-of-the-line and six
frigates, commanded by the Count d'Estaing, sailed from Toulon on the
13th of April, and after a tedious struggle with head-winds arrived at
the mouth of the Delaware on the 8th of July, just too late to intercept
Lord Howe's squadron. The fleet contained a land force of 4,000 men, and
brought over M. Gérard, the first minister from France to the United
States. Finding nothing to do on the Delaware, the count proceeded to
Sandy Hook, where he was boarded by Washington's aids, Laurens and
Hamilton, and a council of war was held. As the British fleet in the
harbour consisted of only six ships-of-the-line, with several frigates
and gunboats, it seemed obvious that it might be destroyed or captured
by Estaing's superior force, and then Clinton would be entrapped in the
island city. But this plan was defeated by a strange obstacle. Though
the harbour of New York is one of the finest in the world, it has, like
most harbours situated at the mouths of great rivers, a bar at the
entrance, which in 1778 was far more troublesome than it is to-day.
Since that time the bar has shifted its position and been partially worn
away, so that the largest ships can now freely enter, except at low
tide. But when the American pilots examined Estaing's two largest ships,
which carried eighty and ninety guns respectively, they declared it
unsafe, even at high tide, for them to venture upon the bar. The
enterprise was accordingly abandoned, but in its stead another one was
undertaken, which, if successful, might prove hardly less decisive than
the capture of New York.

  [Portrait: R^d Prescott]

  [Sidenote: General Prescott at Newport]

After their expulsion from Boston in the first year of the war, the
British never regained their foothold upon the mainland of New England.
But in December, 1776, the island which gives its name to the state of
Rhode Island had been seized by Lord Percy, and the enemy had occupied
it ever since. From its commanding position at the entrance to the
Sound, it assisted them in threatening the Connecticut coast; and, on
the other hand, should occasion require, it might even enable them to
threaten Boston with an overland attack. After Lord Percy's departure
for England in the spring of 1777, the command devolved upon
Major-general Richard Prescott, an unmitigated brute. Under his rule no
citizen of Newport was safe in his own house. He not only arrested
people and threw them into jail without assigning any reason, but he
encouraged his soldiers in plundering houses and offering gross insults
to ladies, as well as in cutting down shade-trees and wantonly defacing
the beautiful lawns. A great loud-voiced, irascible fellow, swelling
with the sense of his own importance, if he chanced to meet with a
Quaker who failed to take off his hat, he would seize him by the collar
and knock his head against the wall, or strike him over the shoulders
with the big gnarled stick which he usually carried. One night in July,
as this petty tyrant was sleeping at a country house about five miles
from Newport, a party of soldiers rowed over from the mainland in boats,
under the guns of three British frigates, and, taking the general out of
bed, carried him off in his night-gown. He was sent to Washington's
headquarters on the Hudson. As he passed through the village of Lebanon,
in Connecticut, he stopped to dine at an old inn kept by one Captain
Alden. He was politely received, and in the course of the meal Mrs.
Alden set upon the table a dish of succotash, whereupon Prescott, not
knowing the delicious dish, roared, "What do you mean by offering me
this hog's food?" and threw it all upon the floor. The good woman
retreated in tears to the kitchen, and presently her husband, coming in
with a stout horsewhip, dealt with the boor as he deserved. When
Prescott was exchanged for General Lee, in April, 1778, he resumed the
command at Newport, but was soon superseded by the amiable and
accomplished Sir Robert Pigot, under whom the garrison was increased to
6,000 men.

  [Signature: R^t Pigot]

  [Sidenote: Attempt to capture the British garrison at Newport]

New York and Newport were now the only places held by the enemy in the
United States, and the capture of either, with its army of occupation,
would be an event of prime importance. As soon as the enterprise was
suggested, the New England militia began to muster in force,
Massachusetts sending a strong contingent under John Hancock. General
Sullivan had been in command at Providence since April. Washington now
sent him 1,500 picked men of his Continental troops, with Greene, who
was born hard by and knew every inch of the island; with Glover, of
amphibious renown; and Lafayette, who was a kinsman of the Count
d'Estaing. The New England yeomanry soon swelled this force to about
9,000, and with the 4,000 French regulars and the fleet, it might well
be hoped that General Pigot would quickly be brought to surrender.

  [Sidenote: Sullivan seizes Butts Hill]

  [Sidenote: Naval battle prevented by storm]

The expedition failed through the inefficient coöperation of the French
and the insubordination of the yeomanry. Estaing arrived off the harbour
of Newport on the 29th of July, and had a conference with Sullivan. It
was agreed that the Americans should land upon the east side of the
island while the French were landing upon the west side, thus
intervening between the main garrison at Newport and a strong detachment
which was stationed on Butts Hill, at the northern end of the island. By
such a movement this detachment might be isolated and captured, to begin
with. But General Pigot, divining the purpose of the allies, withdrew
the detachment, and concentrated all his forces in and around the city.
At this moment the French troops were landing upon Conanicut island,
intending to cross to the north of Newport on the morrow, according to
the agreement. Sullivan did not wait for them, but seeing the commanding
position on Butts Hill evacuated, he rightly pushed across the channel
and seized it, while at the same time he informed Estaing of his reasons
for doing so. The count, not understanding the situation, was somewhat
offended at what he deemed undue haste on the part of Sullivan, but thus
far nothing had happened to disturb the execution of their scheme. He
had only to continue landing his troops and blockade the southern end of
the island with his fleet, and Sir Robert Pigot was doomed. But the next
day Lord Howe appeared off Point Judith, with thirteen ships-of-the
line, seven frigates, and several small vessels, and Estaing,
reëmbarking the troops he had landed on Conanicut, straightway put out
to sea to engage him. For two days the hostile fleets manoeuvred for
the weather-gage, and just as they were getting ready for action there
came up a terrific storm, which scattered them far and wide. Instead of
trying to destroy one another, each had to bend all his energies to
saving himself. So fierce was the storm that it was remembered in local
tradition as lately as 1850 as "the Great Storm." Windows in the town
were incrusted with salt blown up in the ocean spray. Great trees were
torn up by the roots, and much shipping was destroyed along the coast.

  [Portrait: Estaing]

  [Sidenote: Estaing goes to Boston, to refit his ships]

It was not until the 20th of August that Estaing brought in his
squadron, somewhat damaged from the storm. He now insisted upon going to
Boston to refit, in accordance with general instructions received from
the ministry before leaving home. It was urged in vain by Greene and
Lafayette that the vessels could be repaired as easily in Narragansett
Bay as in Boston harbour; that by the voyage around Cape Cod, in his
crippled condition, he would only incur additional risk; that by
staying he would strictly fulfil the spirit of his instructions; that
an army had been brought here, and stores collected, in reliance upon
his aid; that if the expedition were to be ruined through his failure to
coöperate, it would sully the honour of France and give rise to hard
feelings in America; and finally, that even if he felt constrained, in
spite of sound arguments, to go and refit at Boston, there was no
earthly reason for his taking the 4,000 French soldiers with him. The
count was quite disposed to yield to these sensible remonstrances, but
on calling a council of war he found himself overruled by his officers.
Estaing was not himself a naval officer, but a lieutenant-general in the
army, and it has been said that the officers of his fleet, vexed at
having a land-lubber put over them, were glad of a chance to thwart him
in his plans. However this may have been, it was voted that the letter
of the royal instructions must be blindly adhered to, and so on the 23d
Estaing weighed anchor for Boston, taking the land forces with him, and
leaving General Sullivan in the lurch.

  [Illustration: BATTLE OF BUTTS HILL]

  [Sidenote: Yeomanry go home in disgust]

  [Sidenote: Battle of Butts Hill, Aug. 29, 1778]

  [Sidenote: The enterprise abandoned]

Great was the exasperation in the American camp. Sullivan's vexation
found indiscreet expression in a general order, in which he hoped the
event would prove America "able to procure that by her own arms which
her allies refuse to assist in obtaining." But the insubordination of
the volunteers now came in to complicate the matter. Some 3,000 of them,
despairing of success and impatient at being kept from home in harvest
time, marched away in disgust and went about their business, thus
reducing Sullivan's army to the same size as that of the enemy. The
investment of Newport, by land, had already been completed, but the
speedy success of the enterprise depended upon a superiority of force,
and in case of British reinforcements arriving from New York the
American situation would become dangerous. Upon these grounds, Sullivan,
on the 28th, decided to retreat to the strong position at Butts Hill,
and await events. Lafayette mounted his horse and rode the seventy miles
to Boston in seven hours, to beg his kinsman to return as soon as
possible. Estaing despaired of getting his ships ready for many days,
but, catching a spark of the young man's enthusiasm, he offered to bring
up his troops by land. Fired with fresh hope, the young marquis spurred
back as fast as he had come, but when he arrived on the scene of action
all was over. As soon as Sullivan's retreat was perceived the whole
British army gave chase. After the Americans had retired to their lines
on Butts Hill, Sir Robert Pigot tried to carry their position by storm,
and there ensued an obstinate fight, in which the conditions were in
many respects similar to those of Bunker Hill; but this time the
Americans had powder enough, and the British were totally defeated. This
slaughter of their brave men was useless. The next day Sullivan received
a dispatch from Washington, with the news that Clinton had started from
New York with 5,000 men to reinforce Sir Robert Pigot. Under these
circumstances, it was rightly thought best to abandon the island. The
services of General Glover, who had taken Washington's army across the
East River after the defeat of Long Island, and across the Delaware
before the victory of Trenton, were called into requisition, and all the
men and stores were ferried safely to the mainland; Lafayette arriving
from Boston just in time to bring off the pickets and covering-parties.
The next day Clinton arrived with his 5,000 men, and the siege of
Newport was over.

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Portrait: John Glover B General]

  [Sidenote: Unpopularity of the French alliance]

The failure of this enterprise excited much indignation, and seemed to
justify the distrust with which so many people regarded the French
alliance. In Boston the ill-feeling found vent in a riot on the wharves
between French and American sailors, and throughout New England there
was loud discontent. It required all Washington's tact to keep peace
between the ill-yoked allies. When Congress passed a politic resolution
approving the course of the French commander, it met with no cordial
assent from the people. When, in November, Estaing took his fleet to the
West Indies, for purposes solely French, the feeling was one of lively
disgust, which was heightened by an indiscreet proclamation of the count
inviting the people of Canada to return to their old allegiance. For
the American people regarded the work of Pitt as final, and at no time
during the war did their feeling against Great Britain rise to such a
point as to make them willing to see the French restored to their old
position on this continent. The sagacious Vergennes understood this so
well that Estaing's proclamation found little favour in his eyes. But it
served none the less to irritate the Americans, and especially the
people of New England.

  [Sidenote: Stagnation of the war in the northern states]

So far as the departure of the fleet for the West Indies was concerned,
the American complaints were not wholly reasonable; for the operations
of the French in that quarter helped materially to diminish the force
which Great Britain could spare for the war in the United States. On the
very day of Estaing's departure, Sir Henry Clinton was obliged to send
5,000 men from New York to take part in the West India campaign. This
new pressure put upon England by the necessity of warding off French
attack went on increasing. In 1779 England had 314,000 men under arms in
various parts of the world, but she had so many points to defend that it
was difficult for her to maintain a sufficient force in America. In the
autumn of that year, Sir Henry Clinton did not regard his position in
New York as secure enough to justify him any longer in sparing troops
for the occupation of Newport, and the island was accordingly evacuated.
From this time till the end of the war, the only point which the British
succeeded in holding, north of Virginia, was the city of New York. After
the Rhode Island campaign of 1778, no further operations occurred at the
North between the two principal armies which could properly be said to
constitute a campaign. Clinton's resources were too slender for him to
do anything but hold New York. Washington's resources were too slender
for him to do anything but sit and watch Clinton. While the two
commanders-in-chief thus held each other at bay, the rapid and violent
work of the war was going on in the southern states, conducted by
subordinate officers. During much of this time Washington's army formed
a cordon about Manhattan Island, from Danbury in Connecticut to
Elizabethtown in New Jersey, and thus blockaded the enemy. But while
there were no decisive military operations in the northern states during
this period, many interesting and important events occurred which demand
consideration before we go on to treat of the great southern campaigns
which ended the war.


  [17] As usual in such cases, there is a great diversity of
       testimony as to what was said. In my first edition I gave the
       familiar story of which there is a meagre version in Bancroft
       and a much fuller one in Irving: "What is the meaning of all
       this?" etc.; but I suspect that story is much too literary. It
       is not likely that any such conversation occurred at such a
       moment. A young sergeant, Jacob Morton, was standing close by
       when Washington met Lee. This Morton, who afterward became a
       major, was noted for accuracy and precision of statement. In
       1840 he gave his account of the affair to Mr. Harrison
       Robertson, of Charlottesville, Virginia; and in 1895 Mr.
       Robertson kindly wrote out for me his recollection of that
       account. According to Morton, Washington simply shouted, "My
       God! General Lee, what are you about?" This has the earmark of
       truth. Another account, traceable to Lafayette and likewise
       probable, says that as Washington swept furiously past and
       away, he ejaculated with bitter emphasis, "Damned poltroon!"

  [18] Such was Steuben's own testimony on the court-martial. Lee was
       so enraged by it as to make reflections upon Steuben which
       presently called forth a challenge from that gentleman. (_Lee
       Papers_, iii. 96, 253.) It is to be regretted that we have not
       the reply in which Lee declined the encounter. There is a
       reference to it in a letter from Alexander Hamilton to Baron
       von Steuben, a fortnight after the challenge: "I have read your
       letter to Lee with pleasure. It was conceived in terms which
       the offence merited, and, if he had any feeling, must have been
       felt by him. Considering the pointedness and severity of your
       expressions, his answer was certainly a very modest one, and
       proved that he had not a violent appetite for so close a
       _tête-à-tête_ as you seemed disposed to insist upon. His
       evasions, if known to the world, would do him very little
       honour." Upon what grounds Lee refused to fight with Steuben,
       it is hard to surmise; for within another week we find him
       engaged in a duel with Colonel Laurens, as will presently be
       mentioned in the text.

  [19] Washington's _Writings_, ed. Ford, vii. 90.

  [20] "I never saw the General to so much advantage.... A general
       rout, dismay, and disgrace would have attended the whole army
       in any other hands but his. By his own good sense and fortitude
       he turned the fate of the day.... He did not hug himself at a
       distance, and leave an Arnold to win laurels for him; but by
       his own presence he brought order out of confusion, animated
       his troops, and led them to success."--_Hamilton to Boudinot_,
       5 July, 1778. Observe the well-timed sneer at Gates. Boudinot
       answers, "The General I always revered and loved ever since I
       knew him, but in this instance he rose superior to himself.
       Every lip dwells on his praise, for even his pretended friends
       (for none dare to acknowledge themselves his enemies) are
       obliged to croak it forth."--_Boudinot to Hamilton_, 8 July,

                              CHAPTER XI

                         WAR ON THE FRONTIER

The barbarous border fighting of the Revolutionary War was largely due
to the fact that powerful tribes of wild Indians still confronted us on
every part of our steadily advancing frontier. They would have tortured
and scalped our backwoodsmen even if we had had no quarrel with George
III., and there could be no lasting peace until they were crushed
completely. When the war broke out, their alliance with the British was
natural, but the truculent spirit which sought to put that savage
alliance to the worst uses was something which it would not be fair to
ascribe to the British commanders in general; it must be charged to the
account of Lord George Germain and a few unworthy men who were willing
to be his tools.

  [Portrait: Wm Johnson]

  [Illustration: A North View of Fort Johnson drawn on the spot by M^r.
Guy Johnson, Sir W^m. Johnson's Son.]

  [Sidenote: Joseph Brant, missionary and war-chief]

In the summer of 1778 this horrible border warfare became the most
conspicuous feature of the struggle, and has afforded themes for poetry
and romance, in which the figures of the principal actors are seen in a
lurid light. One of these figures is of such importance as to deserve
especial mention. Joseph Brant, or Thayendanegea, was perhaps the
greatest Indian of whom we have any knowlege; certainly the
history of the red men presents no more many-sided and interesting
character. A pure-blooded Mohawk, descended from a line of distinguished
chiefs,[21] in early boyhood he became a favourite with Sir William
Johnson, and the laughing black eyes of his handsome sister, Molly
Brant, so fascinated the rough baronet that he took her to Johnson Hall
as his wife, after the Indian fashion. Sir William believed that Indians
could be tamed and taught the arts of civilized life, and he laboured
with great energy, and not without some success, in this difficult task.
The young Thayendanegea was sent to be educated at the school in
Lebanon, Connecticut, which was afterwards transferred to New Hampshire
and developed into Dartmouth College. At this school he not only became
expert in the use of the English language, in which he learned to write
with elegance and force, but he also acquired some inkling of general
literature and history. He became a member of the Episcopal Church, and
after leaving school he was for some time engaged in missionary work
among the Mohawks, and translated the Prayer-Book and parts of the New
Testament into his native language. He was a man of earnest and serious
character, and his devotion to the church endured throughout his life.
Some years after the peace of 1783, the first Episcopal church ever
built in Upper Canada was erected by Joseph Brant, from funds which he
had collected for the purpose while on a visit to England. But with this
character of devout missionary and earnest student Thayendanegea
combined, in curious contrast, the attributes of an Iroquois war-chief
developed to the highest degree of efficiency. There was no
accomplishment prized by Indian braves in which he did not outshine all
his fellows. He was early called to take the war-path. In the fierce
struggle with Pontiac he fought with great distinction on the English
side, and at the beginning of the War of Independence he was one of the
most conspicuous of Iroquois war-chiefs.

It was the most trying time that had ever come to these haughty lords of
the wilderness, and called for all the valour and diplomacy which they
could summon. Brant was equal to the occasion, and no chieftain ever
fought a losing cause with greater spirit than he. We have seen how at
Oriskany he came near turning the scale against us in one of the
critical moments of a great campaign. From the St. Lawrence to the
Susquehanna his name became a name of terror. Equally skilful and
zealous, now in planning the silent night march and deadly ambush, now
in preaching the gospel of peace, he reminds one of some newly reclaimed
Frisian or Norman warrior of the Carolingian age. But in the eighteenth
century the incongruity is more striking than in the tenth, in so far as
the traits of the barbarian are more vividly projected against the
background of a higher civilization. It is odd to think of
Thayendanegea, who could outyell any of his tribe on the battlefield,
sitting at table with Burke and Sheridan, and behaving with the modest
grace of an English gentleman. The tincture of civilization he had
acquired, moreover, was by no means superficial. Though engaged in many
a murderous attack, his conduct was not marked by the ferocity so
characteristic of the Iroquois. Though he sometimes approved the slaying
of prisoners on grounds of public policy, he was flatly opposed to
torture, and never would allow it. He often went out of his way to
rescue women and children from the tomahawk, and the instances of his
magnanimity toward suppliant enemies were very numerous.

  [Illustration: A View of Niagara Fort]

  [Sidenote: The Tories of western New York]

At the beginning of the war the influence of the Johnsons had kept all
the Six Nations on the side of the Crown, except the Oneidas and
Tuscaroras, who were prevailed upon by New England missionaries to
maintain an attitude of neutrality. The Indians in general were quite
incapable of understanding the issue involved in the contest, but Brant
had some comprehension of it, and looked at the matter with Tory eyes.
The loyalists in central New York were numerous, but the patriot party
was the stronger, and such fierce enmities were aroused in this frontier
society that most of the Tories were obliged to abandon their homes and
flee to the wilds of western New York and Upper Canada, where they made
the beginnings of the first English settlement in that country. There,
under their leaders, the Johnsons, with Colonel John Butler and his son
Walter, they had their headquarters at Fort Niagara, where they were
joined by Brant with his Mohawks. Secure in the possession of that
remote stronghold, they made it the starting-point of their frequent and
terrible excursions against the communities which had cast them forth.
These rough frontiersmen, many of them Scotch Highlanders of the old
stripe, whose raiding and reaving propensities had been little changed
by their life in an American wilderness, were in every way fit comrades
for their dusky allies. Clothed in blankets and moccasins, decked with
beads and feathers, and hideous in war-paint, it was not easy to
distinguish them from the stalwart barbarians whose fiendish cruelties
they often imitated and sometimes surpassed. Border tradition tells of
an Indian who, after murdering a young mother with her three children,
as they sat by the evening fireside, was moved to pity by the sight of a
little infant sweetly smiling at him from its cradle; but his Tory
comrade picked up the babe with the point of his bayonet, and, as he
held it writhing in mid-air, exclaimed, "Is not this also a d--d rebel?"
There are many tales of like import, and whether always true or not they
seem to show the reputation which these wretched men had won. The Tory
leaders took less pains than Thayendanegea to prevent useless slaughter,
and some of the atrocities permitted by Walter Butler have never been
outdone in the history of savage warfare.


  [Sidenote: The valley of Wyoming and its settlers from Connecticut]

During the year 1778 the frontier became the scene of misery such as had
not been witnessed since the time of Pontiac. Early in July there came
a blow at which the whole country stood aghast. The valley of Wyoming,
situated in northeastern Pennsylvania, where the Susquehanna makes its
way through a huge cleft in the mountains, had become celebrated for the
unrivalled fertility and beauty which, like the fatal gift of some
unfriendly power, served only to make it an occasion of strife. The
lovely spot lay within the limits of the charter of Connecticut, granted
in 1662, according to which that colony or plantation was to extend
westward to the Pacific Ocean. It also lay within the limits of the
charter of 1681, by which the proprietary colony of Pennsylvania had
been founded. About one hundred people from Connecticut had settled in
Wyoming in 1762, but within a year this little settlement was wiped out
in blood and fire by the Indians. In 1768 some Pennsylvanians began to
settle in the valley, but they were soon ousted by a second detachment
of Yankees, and for three years a miniature war was kept up, with
varying fortunes, until at last the Connecticut men, under Zebulon
Butler and Lazarus Stewart, were victorious. In 1771 the question was
referred to the law-officers of the Crown, and the claim of Connecticut
was sustained. Settlers now began to come rapidly,--the forerunners of
that great New England migration which in these latter days has founded
so many thriving states in the West. By the year 1778 the population of
the valley exceeded 3,000, distributed in several pleasant hamlets, with
town-meetings, schools and churches, and all the characteristics of New
England orderliness and thrift. Most of the people were from
Connecticut, and were enthusiastic and devoted patriots, but in 1776 a
few settlers from the Hudson valley had come in, and, exhibiting Tory
sympathies, were soon after expelled. Here was an excellent opportunity
for the loyalist border ruffians to wreak summary vengeance upon their
enemies. Here was a settlement peculiarly exposed in position, regarded
with no friendly eyes by its Pennsylvania neighbours, and, moreover, ill
provided with defenders, for it had sent the best part of its trained
militia to serve in Washington's army.

  [Illustration: FORTY FORT, WYOMING]

  [Sidenote: Massacre at Wyoming, July 3, 1778]

These circumstances did not escape the keen eye of Colonel John Butler,
and in June, 1778, he took the war-path from Niagara, with a company of
his own rangers, a regiment of Johnson's Greens, and a band of Senecas
under their chief Sayenqueraghta, commonly called Old King; in all about
1,200 men. Reaching the Susquehanna, they glided down the swift stream
in bark canoes, landed a little above the doomed settlement, and began
their work of murder and pillage. Consternation filled the valley. The
women and children were huddled in a blockhouse called Forty Fort, and
Colonel Zebulon Butler, with 300 men, went out to meet the enemy. There
seemed to be no choice but to fight, though the odds were so desperate.
As the enemy came in sight, late in the afternoon of July 3d, the
patriots charged upon them, and for about an hour there was a fierce
struggle, till, overwhelmed by weight of numbers, the little band of
defenders broke and fled. Some made their way to the fort, and a few
escaped to the mountains, but nearly all were overtaken and slain, save
such as were reserved for the horrors of the night. The second
anniversary of independence was ushered in with dreadful orgies in the
valley of Wyoming. Some of the prisoners were burned at the stake, some
were laid upon hot embers and held down with pitchforks till they died,
some were hacked with knives. Sixteen poor fellows were arranged in a
circle, while an old half-breed hag, known as Queen Esther, and supposed
to be a granddaughter of the famous Frontenac, danced slowly around the
ring, shrieking a death-song as she slew them one after the other with
her tomahawk.

The next day, when Forty Fort surrendered, no more lives were taken, but
the Indians plundered and burned all the houses, while the inhabitants
fled to the woods or to the nearest settlements on the Lehigh and
Delaware, and the vale of Wyoming was for a time abandoned. Dreadful
sufferings attended the flight. A hundred women and children perished of
fatigue and starvation in trying to cross the swamp, which has since
been known to this day as the "Shades of Death." Several children were
born in that fearful spot, only to die there with their unhappy
mothers. Such horrors needed no exaggeration in the telling, yet from
the confused reports of the fugitives, magnified by popular rumour, a
tale of wholesale slaughter went abroad which was even worse than the
reality, but which careful research has long since completely disproved.

  [Illustration: To His Excellency WILLIAM TRION ESQ.^r
                  Captain General & Governer in Chief
                   of the Province of New York &. &.
                              This Map
                   of the Country of the VI. Nations
                  Proper, with Part of Adjacent Colony
                 Is humbly inscribed by his Excellency.
                        Most obedient humble servant
                               Guy Johnson 1771

  [Sidenote: Massacre at Cherry Valley, Nov. 10]

The popular reputation of Brant as an incarnate demon rests largely upon
the part which he was formerly supposed to have taken in the
devastation of Wyoming. But the "monster Brant," who figures so
conspicuously in Campbell's celebrated poem, was not even present on
this occasion. Thayendanegea was at that time at Niagara. It was not
long, however, before he was concerned in a bloody affair in which
Walter Butler was principal. The village of Cherry Valley, in central
New York, was destroyed on the 10th of November by a party of 700
Tories and Indians. All the houses were burned, and about fifty of the
inhabitants murdered, without regard to age or sex.[22] Many other
atrocious things were done in the course of this year; but the affairs
of Wyoming and Cherry Valley made a deeper impression than any of the
others. Among the victims there were many refined gentlemen and ladies,
well known in the northern states, and this was especially the case of
Cherry Valley.

  [Portrait: James Clinton]

  [Sidenote: Sullivan's expedition]

  [Sidenote: Battle of Newtown, Aug 29, 1779]

Washington made up his mind that exemplary vengeance must be taken, and
the source of the evil extinguished as far as possible. An army of 5,000
men was sent out in the summer of 1779, with instructions to lay waste
the country of the hostile Iroquois and capture the nest of Tory
miscreants at Fort Niagara. The command of the expedition was offered to
Gates, and when he testily declined it, as requiring too much hard work
from a man of his years, it was given to Sullivan. To prepare such an
army for penetrating to a depth of four hundred miles through the forest
was no light task; and before they had reached the Iroquois country,
Brant had sacked the town of Minisink and annihilated a force of militia
sent to oppose him. Yet the expedition was well timed for the purpose of
destroying the growing crops of the enemy. The army advanced in two
divisions. The right wing, under General James Clinton, proceeded up the
valley of the Mohawk as far as Canajoharie, and then turned to the
southwest; while the left wing, under Sullivan himself, ascended the
Susquehanna. On the 22d of August the two columns met at Tioga, and one
week later they found the enemy at Newtown, on the site of the present
town of Elmira,--1,500 Tories and Indians, led by Sir John Johnson in
person, with both the Butlers and Thayendanegea. In the battle which
ensued, the enemy was routed with great slaughter, while the American
loss was less than fifty. No further resistance was made, but the army
was annoyed in every possible way, and stragglers were now and then
caught and tortured to death. On one occasion, a young lieutenant, named
Boyd, was captured while leading a scouting party, and fell into the
hands of one of the Butlers, who threatened to give him up to torture
unless he should disclose whatever he knew of General Sullivan's plans.
On his refusal, he was given into the hands of a Seneca demon, named
Little Beard; and after being hacked and plucked to pieces with a
refinement of cruelty which the pen refuses to describe, his torments
were ended by disembowelling.

  [Sidenote: Devastation of the Iroquois country]

Such horrors served only to exasperate the American troops, and while
they do not seem to have taken life unnecessarily, they certainly
carried out their orders with great zeal and thoroughness. The Iroquois
tribes were so far advanced in the agricultural stage of development
that they were much more dependent upon their crops than upon the chase
for subsistence; and they had besides learned some of the arts of
civilization from their white neighbours. Their long wigwams were
beginning to give place to framed houses with chimneys; their extensive
fields were planted with corn and beans; and their orchards yielded
apples, pears, and peaches in immense profusion. All this prosperity was
now brought to an end. From Tioga the American army marched through the
entire country of the Cayugas and Senecas, laying waste the cornfields,
burning the houses, and cutting down all the fruit-trees. More than
forty villages, the largest containing 128 houses, were razed to the
ground. So terrible a vengeance had not overtaken the Long House since
the days of Frontenac. The region thus devastated had come to be the
most important domain of the Confederacy, which never recovered from the
blow thus inflicted. The winter of 1779-80 was one of the coldest ever
known in America, so cold that the harbour of New York was frozen solid
enough to bear troops and artillery,[23] while the British in the city,
deprived of the aid of their fleet, spent the winter in daily dread of
attack. During this extreme season the houseless Cayugas and Senecas
were overtaken by famine and pestilence, and the diminution in their
numbers was never afterwards made good. The stronghold at Niagara,
however, was not wrested from Thayendanegea. That part of Sullivan's
expedition was a failure. From increasing sickness among the soldiers
and want of proper food, he deemed it impracticable to take his large
force beyond the Genesee river, and accordingly he turned back toward
the seaboard, arriving in New Jersey at the end of October, after a
total march of more than seven hundred miles.

  [Portrait: John Sullivan]

  [Sidenote: Reign of terror in the Mohawk valley]

Though so much harrying had been done, the snake was only scotched,
after all. Nothing short of the complete annihilation of the savage
enemy would have put a stop to his inroads. Before winter was over dire
vengeance fell upon the Oneidas, who were now regarded by their brethren
as traitors to the Confederacy; they were utterly crushed by
Thayendanegea. For two years more the tomahawk and firebrand were busy
in the Mohawk valley. It was a reign of terror. Blockhouses were erected
in every neighbourhood, into which forty or fifty families could crowd
together at the first note of alarm. The farmers ploughed and harvested
in companies, keeping their rifles within easy reach, while pickets and
scouts peered in every direction for signs of the stealthy foe. In
battles with the militia, of which there were several, the enemy, with
his greatly weakened force, was now generally worsted; but nothing could
exceed the boldness of his raids. On one or two occasions he came within
a few miles of Albany. Once a small party of Tories actually found their
way into the city, with intent to assassinate General Schuyler, and came
very near succeeding. In no other part of the United States did the war
entail so much suffering as on the New York border. During the five
years ending with 1781, the population of Tryon county was reduced by
two thirds of its amount, and in the remaining third there were more
than three hundred widows and two thousand orphan children.

  [Illustration: JOHNSON HALL]

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Sidenote: The wilderness beyond the Alleghanies]

This cruel warfare, so damaging to the New York frontier settlements and
so fatal to the Six Nations, was really part of a desultory conflict
which raged at intervals from north to south along our whole western
border, and resulted in the total overthrow of British authority beyond
the Alleghanies. The vast region between these mountains and the
Mississippi river--a territory more than twice as large as the German
Empire--was at that time an almost unbroken wilderness. A few French
towns garrisoned by British troops, as at Natchez, Kaskaskia, and
Cahokia on the Mississippi river, at Vincennes, on the Wabash, and at
Detroit, sufficed to represent the sovereignty of George III., and to
exercise a very dubious control over the wild tribes that roamed through
these primeval solitudes. When the thirteen colonies declared themselves
independent of the British Crown, the ownership of this western
territory was for the moment left undecided. Portions of it were claimed
by Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, and
Georgia, on the strength of their old charters or of their relations
with the Indian tribes. Little respect, however, was paid to the quaint
terminology of charters framed in an age when almost nothing was known
of American geography; and it was virtually left for circumstances to
determine to whom the western country should belong. It was now very
fortunate for the United States that the policy of Pitt had wrested this
all-important territory from the French. For to conquer from the British
enemy so remote a region was feasible; but to have sought to obtain it
from a power with which we were forming an alliance would have been
difficult indeed.

  [Sidenote: Rivalry between Pennsylvania and Virginia for the possession
             of Fort Pitt]

The commanding approach to this territory was by the town and fortress
of Pittsburgh, the "Gateway of the West," from which, through the Ohio
river and its tributary streams, an army might penetrate with
comparative ease to any part of the vast Mississippi valley. The
possession of this gateway had for some years been a subject of dispute
between Pennsylvania and Virginia. Though the question was ultimately
settled in favour of Pennsylvania, yet for the present Virginia, which
had the longest arm, kept her hold upon the commanding citadel. To
Virginia its possession was then a matter of peculiar importance, for
her population had already begun to overflow its mountain barriers, and,
pressing down the Ohio valley, had made the beginnings of the state of
Kentucky. Virginia and North Carolina, lying farther westward than any
of the other old states, were naturally the first to send colonies
across the Alleghanies. It was not long before the beginning of the war
that Daniel Boone had explored the Kentucky river, and that Virginia
surveyors had gone down the Ohio as far as the present site of
Louisville. Conflicts ensued with the Indians, so fierce and deadly that
this region was long known as the "Dark and Bloody Ground."

During this troubled period, the hostile feeling between Pennsylvania
and Virginia was nourished by the conflicting interests of the people of
those two colonies in respect to the western country and its wild
inhabitants. The Virginians entered the country as settlers, with intent
to take possession of the soil and keep the Indians at a distance; but
there were many people in Pennsylvania who reaped large profits from
trade with the barbarians, and therefore did not wish to see them
dispossessed of their border forests and driven westward. The Virginia
frontiersmen were angry with the Pennsylvania traders for selling rifles
and powder to the redskins, and buying from them horses stolen from
white men. This, they alleged, was practically inciting the Indians to
deeds of plunder and outrage. In the spring of 1774, there seemed to be
serious danger of an outbreak of hostilities at Fort Pitt, when the
attention of Virginia was all at once absorbed in a brief but
hard-fought war, which had a most important bearing upon the issue of
the American struggle for independence.

  [Portrait: Daniel Boone]

  [Illustration:       In Memory of
                   Michael Cresap First Cap
                   Of the Rifle Batalions
                   And Son to Col. Thomas
                   Cresap Who Departed this
                   Life October the 18 1775.

  [Sidenote: Lord Dunmore's War, 1774]

  [Sidenote: Logan and Cresap]

This border war of 1774 has sometimes been known as "Cresap's War," but
more recently, and with less impropriety, as "Lord Dunmore's War." It
was conducted under the general direction of the Earl of Dunmore, last
royal governor of Virginia; and in the political excitement of the time
there were some who believed that he actually contrived to stir up the
war out of malice aforethought, in order to hamper the Virginians in
their impending struggle with the mother-country. Dunmore's agent, or
lieutenant, in western Virginia, Dr. John Connolly, was a violent and
unscrupulous man, whose arrogance was as likely to be directed against
friendly as against hostile Indians, and it was supposed that he acted
under the earl's secret orders with intent to bring on a war. But the
charge is ill-supported and quite improbable. According to some writers,
the true cause of the war was the slaying of the whole family of the
friendly chief Logan, and doubtless this event furnished the occasion
for the outbreak of hostilities. It was conspicuous in a series of
outrages that had been going on for years, such as are always apt to
occur on the frontier between advancing civilization and resisting
barbarism. John Logan, or Tagahjutè, was of Cayuga descent, a chief of
the Mingos, a brave and honest man, of fine and stately presence. He had
always been kind and hospitable to the English settlers, perhaps in
accordance with the traditional policy of his Iroquois forefathers,--a
tradition which by 1774 had lost much of its strength. In April of that
year some Indian depredations occurred on the upper Ohio, which led Dr.
Connolly to issue instructions, warning the settlers to be on their
guard, as an attack from the Shawnees was to be apprehended. Captain
Michael Cresap was a pioneer from Maryland, a brave man and sterling
patriot; but as for the Indians, his feelings toward them were like
those of most backwoodsmen. Cresap not unnaturally interpreted the
instructions from Dunmore's lieutenant as equivalent to a declaration of
war, and he proceeded forthwith to slay and scalp some friendly
Shawnees. As is apt to be the case with reprisals and other unreasoning
forms of popular vengeance, the blow fell in the wrong quarter, and
innocent people were made scapegoats for the guilty. Cresap's party next
started off to attack Logan's camp at Yellow Creek; but presently
bethinking themselves of Logan's well-known friendliness toward the
whites, as they argued with one another, they repented of their purpose,
and turned their steps in another direction. But hard by the Mingo
encampment a wretch named Greathouse had set up a whiskey shop, and
thither, on the last day of April, repaired Logan's family, nine thirsty
barbarians, male and female, old and young. When they had become dead
drunk, Greathouse and two or three of his cronies illustrated their
peculiar view of the purport of Connolly's instructions by butchering
them all in cold blood. The Indians of the border needed no stronger
provocation for rushing to arms. Within a few days Logan's men had taken
a dozen scalps, half of them from young children. Mingos and Shawnees
were joined by Wyandots, Delawares, and Senecas, and the dismal tale of
blazing cabins and murdered women was renewed all along the frontier.
It was in vain that Lord Dunmore and his lieutenant disclaimed
responsibility for the massacre at Yellow Creek. The blame was by all
the Indians and many of the whites laid upon Cresap, whose name has been
handed down to posterity as that of the arch-villain in this rough
border romance. The pathetic speech of the bereaved Logan to Dunmore's
envoy, John Gibson, was preserved and immortalized by Jefferson in his
"Notes on Virginia," and has been declaimed by thousands of American
schoolboys. In his comments Jefferson spoke of Cresap as "a man infamous
for the many murders he had committed upon these injured people."
Jefferson here simply gave voice to the tradition which had started into
full life as early as June, 1774, when Sir William Johnson wrote that "a
certain Mr. Cressop had trepanned and murdered forty Indians on the
Ohio, ... and that the unworthy author of this wanton act is fled." The
charge made by Jefferson was answered at the time, but continued to live
on in tradition, until finally disposed of in 1851 by Brantz Mayer.[24]
The origin of the misconception is doubtless to be traced to the
insignificance of Greathouse. In trying to shield himself, Connolly
deposed Cresap from command, but he was presently reinstated by Lord

In June of the next year, Captain Cresap marched to Cambridge at the
head of 130 Maryland riflemen; but during the early autumn he was seized
with illness, and while making his way homeward died at New York, at the
age of thirty-three. His grave is still to be seen in Trinity
churchyard, near the door of the north transept. The Indian chief with
whose name his has so long been associated was some time afterwards
tomahawked by a brother Indian, in the course of a drunken affray.

  [Sidenote: Battle of Point Pleasant and its consequences]

The war thus ushered in by the Yellow Creek massacre was an event of
cardinal importance in the history of our western frontier. It was ended
by the decisive battle at Point Pleasant, on the Great Kanawha (October
10, 1774), in which the Indians, under the famous Shawnee chief
Cornstalk, were totally defeated by the backwoodsmen under Andrew Lewis.
This defeat so cowed the Indians that they were fain to purchase peace
by surrendering all their claims upon the hunting-grounds south of the
Ohio. It kept the northwestern tribes comparatively quiet during the
first two years of the Revolutionary War, and thus opened the way for
white settlers to rush into Kentucky. The four years following the
battle of Point Pleasant saw remarkable and portentous changes on the
frontier. It was just at the beginning of Lord Dunmore's war that
Parliament passed the Quebec Act, of which the practical effect, had it
ever been enforced, would have been the extension of Canada southward to
the Ohio river. In contravention of old charters, it would have deprived
the American colonies of the great northwestern territory. But the
events that followed upon Lord Dunmore's war soon rendered this part of
the Quebec Act a nullity.

  [Illustration: Andrew Lewis]

  [Sidenote: Settlement of Kentucky]

In 1775, Richard Henderson of North Carolina purchased from the
Cherokees the tract between the Kentucky and Cumberland rivers, and at
the same time Boonesborough and Harrodsburg were founded by Daniel
Boone and James Harrod. As a party of these bold backwoodsmen were
encamping near the sources of the southern fork of the Licking, they
heard the news of the victory which ushered in the War of Independence,
and forthwith gave the name of Lexington to the place of their
encampment, on which a thriving city now stands. These new settlements
were not long in organizing themselves into a state, which they called
Transylvania. Courts were instituted, laws enacted, and a militia
enrolled, and a delegate was sent to the Continental Congress; but
finding that Virginia still claimed their allegiance, they yielded their
pretensions to autonomy, and were organized for the present as a county
of the mother state. The so-called "county" of Kentucky, comprising the
whole of the present state of that name, with an area one fourth larger
than that of Scotland, was indeed of formidable dimensions for a county.

  [Sidenote: and of eastern Tennessee]

  [Sidenote: Defeat of the Cherokees on the Watauga]

The settlement of Tennessee was going on at the same time. The movement
of population for some time had a southwestward trend along the great
valleys inclosed by the Appalachian ranges, so that frontiersmen from
Pennsylvania found their way down the Shenandoah, and thence the stream
of Virginian migration reached the Watauga, the Holston, and the French
Broad, in the midst of the most magnificent scenery east of the Rocky
Mountains. At the same time there was a westward movement from North
Carolina across the Great Smoky range, and the defeat of the Regulators
by Governor Tryon at the battle of the Alamance in 1771 no doubt did
much to give strength and volume to this movement. The way was prepared
in 1770 by James Robertson, who penetrated the wilderness as far as the
banks of the Watauga. Forts were soon erected there and on the
Nolichucky. The settlement grew apace, and soon came into conflict with
the most warlike and powerful of the southern tribes of Indians. The
Cherokees, like their kinsmen the Iroquois at the North, had fought on
the English side in the Seven Years' War, and had rendered some service,
though of small value, at the capture of Fort Duquesne. Early in the
Revolutionary War fierce feuds with the encroaching settlers led them to
take sides with the British, and in company with Tory guerrillas they
ravaged the frontier. In 1776, the Watauga settlement was attacked, and
invasions were made into Georgia and South Carolina. But the blow
recoiled upon the Cherokees. Their country was laid waste by troops from
the Carolinas, under Andrew Williamson and Griffith Rutherford; their
attack upon the Watauga settlement was defeated by James Robertson and
John Sevier; and in 1777 they were forced to make treaties renouncing
for the most part their claims upon the territory between the Tennessee
and the Cumberland rivers.

  [Illustration: THE COUNTRY BEHIND THE MOUNTAINS, 1770-80.]

  [Sidenote: Its consequences]

Robertson and Sevier were the most commanding and picturesque figures in
Tennessee history until Andrew Jackson came upon the scene; and their
military successes, moreover, like those of "Old Hickory," were of the
utmost importance to the whole country. This was especially true of
their victory at the Watauga; for had the settlement there been swept
away by the barbarians, it would have uncovered the great Wilderness
Road to Lexington and Harrodsburg, and the Kentucky settlement, thus
fatally isolated, would very likely have had to be abandoned. The
Watauga victory thus helped to secure in 1776 the ground won two years
before at the Great Kanawha.[25]

  [Sidenote: George Rogers Clark]

Such were the beginnings of Kentucky and Tennessee, and such was the
progress already made to the west of the mountains, when the next and
longest step was taken by George Rogers Clark. During the years 1776 and
1777, Colonel Henry Hamilton, the British commander at Detroit, was
busily engaged in preparing a general attack of Indian tribes upon the
northwestern frontier. Such concerted action among these barbarians was
difficult to organize, and the moral effect of Lord Dunmore's war
doubtless served to postpone it. There were isolated assaults, however,
upon Boonesborough and Wheeling and in the neighbourhood of Pittsburgh.
While Hamilton was thus scheming, a gallant young Virginian was
preparing an effective counter-stroke. In the late autumn of 1777,
George Rogers Clark, then just twenty-five years old, was making his way
back from Kentucky along the Wilderness Road, and heard with exultation
the news of Burgoyne's surrender. Clark was a man of bold originality.
He had been well educated by that excellent Scotch schoolmaster, Donald
Robertson, among whose pupils was James Madison. In 1772, Clark was
practising the profession of a land surveyor upon the upper Ohio, and he
rendered valuable service as a scout in the campaign of the Great
Kanawha. For skill in woodcraft, as for indomitable perseverance and
courage, he had few equals. He was a man of picturesque and stately
presence, like an old Norse viking, tall and massive, with ruddy cheeks,
auburn hair, and piercing blue eyes sunk deep under thick yellow brows.

  [Sidenote: Clark's conquest of the northwestern territory, 1778]

When he heard of the "convention" of Saratoga, Clark was meditating a
stroke as momentous in the annals of the Mississippi valley as
Burgoyne's overthrow in the annals of the Hudson. He had sent spies
through the Illinois country, without giving them any inkling of his
purpose, and from what he could gather from their reports he had made up
his mind that by a bold and sudden movement the whole region could be
secured and the British commander checkmated. On arriving in Virginia,
he laid his scheme before Governor Patrick Henry; and Jefferson, Wythe,
and Madison were also taken into his confidence. The plan met with warm
approval; but as secrecy and dispatch were indispensable, it would not
do to consult the legislature, and little could be done beyond
authorizing the adventurous young man to raise a force of 350 men and
collect material of war at Pittsburgh. People supposed that his object
was merely to defend the Kentucky settlements. Clark had a hard winter's
work in enlisting men, but at length, in May, 1778, having collected a
flotilla of boats and a few pieces of light artillery, he started from
Pittsburgh with 180 picked riflemen, and rowed swiftly down the Ohio
river a thousand miles to its junction with the Mississippi. The British
garrison at Kaskaskia had been removed, to strengthen the posts at
Detroit and Niagara, and the town was an easy prey. Hiding his boats in
a creek, Clark marched across the prairie, and seized the place without
resistance. The French inhabitants were not ill-disposed toward the
change, especially when they heard of the new alliance between the
United States and Louis XVI., and Clark showed consummate skill in
playing upon their feelings. Cahokia and two other neighbouring villages
were easily persuaded to submit, and the Catholic priest Gibault
volunteered to carry Clark's proposals to Vincennes, on the Wabash; upon
receiving the message this important post likewise submitted. As Clark
had secured the friendship of the Spanish commandant at St. Louis, he
felt secure from molestation for the present, and sent a party home to
Virginia with the news of his bloodless conquest. The territory north of
the Ohio was thus annexed to Virginia as the "county" of Illinois, and a
force of 500 men was raised for its defence.

  [Sidenote: Capture of Vincennes, Feb. 23, 1779]

When these proceedings came to the ears of Colonel Hamilton, at Detroit,
he started out with a little army of about 500 men, regulars, Tories,
and Indians, and after a march of seventy days through the primeval
forest reached Vincennes, and took possession of it. He spent the winter
intriguing with the Indian tribes, and threatened the Spanish governor
at St. Louis with dire vengeance if he should lend aid or countenance to
the nefarious proceedings of the American rebels. Meanwhile, the crafty
Virginian was busily at work. Sending a few boats, with light artillery
and provisions, to ascend the Ohio and Wabash, Clark started overland
from Kaskaskia with 130 men; and after an arduous winter march of
sixteen days across the drowned lands in what is now the state of
Illinois, he appeared before Vincennes in time to pick up his boats and
cannon. In the evening of February 23d the town surrendered, and the
townspeople willingly assisted in the assault upon the fort. After a
brisk cannonade and musket-fire for twenty hours, Hamilton surrendered
at discretion, and British authority in this region was forever at an
end. An expedition descending from Pittsburgh in boats had already
captured Natchez and ousted the British from the lower Mississippi.
Shortly after, the Cherokees and other Indians whom Hamilton had incited
to take the war-path were overwhelmed by Colonel Shelby, and on the
upper Ohio and Alleghany the Indian country was so thoroughly devastated
by Colonel Brodhead that all along the frontier there reigned a profound
peace, instead of the intended carnival of burning and scalping.

  [Sidenote: Settlement of middle Tennessee]

The stream of immigration now began to flow steadily. Fort Jefferson was
established on the Mississippi river to guard the mouth of the Ohio.
Another fortress, higher up on the beautiful river which La Salle had
discovered and Clark had conquered became the site of Louisville, so
named in honour of our ally, the French king. James Robertson again
appeared on the scene, and became the foremost pioneer in middle
Tennessee, as he had already led the colonization of the eastern part of
that great state. On a bold bluff on the southern bank of the Cumberland
river, Robertson founded a city, which took its name from the General
Nash who fell in the battle of Germantown; and among the cities of the
fair South there is to-day none more thriving than Nashville. Thus by
degrees was our grasp firmly fastened upon the western country, and year
by year it grew stronger.


                 _Colonel Clarks Compliments to Mr Hamilton and begs
                 leave to inform him that Col. Clark will not agree to
                 any other Terms than that of Mr Hamilton's Surendering
                 himself and Garrison, Prisoners at Discretion._

                 _If Mr Hamilton is Desirous of a Conferance with Col.
                 Clark he will meet him at the Church with Capt^n

                 _Feb 24th 1779 Ge Clark_

  [Sidenote: Importance of Clark's conquest]

In the gallery of our national heroes, George Rogers Clark deserves a
conspicuous and honourable place. It was due to his boldness and
sagacity that when our commissioners at Paris, in 1782, were engaged in
their difficult and delicate work of thwarting our not too friendly
French ally, while arranging terms of peace with the British enemy, the
fortified posts on the Mississippi and the Wabash were held by American
garrisons. Possession is said to be nine points in the law, and while
Spain and France were intriguing to keep us out of the Mississippi
valley, we were in possession of it. The military enterprise of Clark
was crowned by the diplomacy of Jay.[26] The four cardinal events in the
history of our western frontier during the Revolution are: (1) the
defeat of the Shawnees and their allies at Point Pleasant in 1774; (2)
the defeat of the Cherokees on the Watauga in 1776; (3) Clark's conquest
of the Illinois country in 1778-79; (4) the detection and thwarting of
the French diplomacy in 1782 by Jay. When Washington took command of the
Continental army at Cambridge, in 1775, the population and jurisdiction
of the thirteen united commonwealths scarcely reached beyond the
Alleghanies; it was due to the series of events here briefly recounted
that when he laid down his command at Annapolis, in 1783, the domain of
the independent United States was bounded on the west by the Mississippi

Clark's last years were spent in poverty and obscurity at his sister's
home, near Louisville, where he died in 1818. It was his younger
brother, William Clark, who in company with Meriwether Lewis made the
famous expedition to the Columbia river in 1804, thus giving the United
States a hold upon Oregon.

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Sidenote: Marauding expeditions]

  [Sidenote: Tryon's proceedings, July, 1779]

To return to our story,--Lord George Germain's plan for breaking the
spirit of the Americans, in so far as it depended upon the barbarous aid
which his Indian allies could render, had not thus far proved very
successful. Terrible damage had been wrought on the frontier, especially
in Pennsylvania and New York, but the net result had been to weaken the
Indians and loosen the hold of the British upon the continent, while the
American position was on the whole strengthened. The warfare which the
British themselves conducted in the north after the Newport campaign
degenerated into a series of marauding expeditions unworthy of civilized
soldiers. They seem to have learned a bad lesson from their savage
allies. While Sir Henry Clinton's force was beleaguered in New York, he
now and then found opportunities for detaching some small force by sea,
to burn and plunder defenceless villages on the coast, in accordance
with Lord George's instructions. During the autumn of 1778 the pretty
island of Martha's Vineyard was plundered from end to end, the towns of
New Bedford and Fair Haven, with all the shipping in their harbours,
were burned, and similar havoc was wrought on the coast of New Jersey.
At Old Tappan some American dragoons, asleep in a barn, were captured by
Sir Charles Grey's troops,--and thirty-seven of them were bayoneted in
cold blood. Fifty-five light infantry belonging to Pulaski's legion were
similarly surprised at night by Captain Ferguson and all but five were
massacred. In May, 1779, General Mathew was sent with 2,500 men to
Virginia, where he sacked the towns of Portsmouth and Norfolk, with
cruelties worthy of a mediæval freebooter. In July the enterprising
Tryon conducted a raiding expedition along the coast of Connecticut. At
New Haven he burned the ships in the harbour and two or three streets of
warehouses, and slew several citizens; his intention was to burn the
whole town, but the neighbouring yeomanry quickly swarmed in and drove
the British to their ships. Next day the British landed at Fairfield and
utterly destroyed it. Next they burned Green Farms and then Norwalk.
After this, just as they were about to proceed against New London, they
were suddenly recalled to New York by bad news.

  [Sidenote: Clinton captures the fortress at Stony Point, May 31, 1779]

In so far as these barbarous raids had any assignable military purpose,
it was hoped that they might induce Washington to weaken his force at
the Highlands by sending troops into Connecticut to protect the private
property and chastise the marauders. After the destruction of the
Highland forts in October, 1777, the defence of this most important
position had been entrusted to the powerful fortifications lately
erected at West Point. A little lower down the river two small but very
strong forts, at Stony Point on the right bank and at Verplanck's Point
on the left, guarded the entrance to the Highlands. While the fort at
Stony Point was building, Sir Henry Clinton came up the river and
captured it, and then, with the aid of its batteries, subdued the
opposite citadel also. Stony Point was a rocky promontory washed on
three sides by the waters of the Hudson. It was separated from the
mainland by a deep morass, over which ran a narrow causeway that was
covered at high tide, but might be crossed when the water was low. This
natural stronghold was armed with heavy batteries which commanded the
morass, with its causeway, and the river; and the British garrisoned it
with six hundred men, and built two additional lines of fortification,
rendering it well-nigh impregnable.

  [Portrait: Anthony Wayne]

  [Sidenote: The storming of Stony Point, July 16, 1779]

The acquisition of this spot seemed like the auspicious beginning of a
summer campaign for Clinton's army, which had been cooped up in New York
ever since the battle of Monmouth. To have kept on and captured West
Point would have gone a long way toward retrieving the disaster of
Saratoga, but Washington's force was so well disposed that Clinton did
not venture to attempt so much as this. Such hopes, moreover, as he may
have based upon the Connecticut raids proved entirely delusive.
Washington's method of relieving Connecticut and destroying Clinton's
scheme was different from what was expected. Among his generals was one
whom the soldiers called "Mad Anthony" for his desperate bravery, but
there was much more method than madness about Anthony Wayne. For the
union of impetuous valour with a quick eye and a cool head, he was
second to none. Twelve hundred light infantry were put at his disposal.
Every dog within three miles was slaughtered, that no indiscreet bark
might alarm the garrison. Not a gun was loaded, lest some untimely shot
betray the approaching column. The bayonet was now to be put to more
warlike use than the roasting of meat before a camp-fire. At midnight of
the 15th of July the Americans crossed the causeway at low tide, and
were close upon the outworks before their advance was discovered. The
garrison sprang to arms, and a heavy fire was opened from the batteries,
but Wayne's rush was rapid and sure. In two solid columns the Americans
came up the slope so swiftly that the grape-shot made few victims.
Shoulder to shoulder, in resistless mass, like the Theban phalanx of
Epaminondas, they pressed over the works, heedless of obstacles, and
within a few minutes the garrison surrendered at discretion. In this
assault the Americans lost fifteen killed and eighty-three wounded, and
the British sixty-three killed. The rest of the garrison, 553 in number,
including the wounded, were made prisoners, and not a man was killed in
cold blood, though the shameful scenes in Virginia were fresh in men's
memories, and the embers of Fairfield and Norwalk still smouldered. The
contemporary British historian Stedman praises Wayne for his humanity,
and thinks that he "would have been fully justified in putting the
garrison to the sword;" but certainly no laws or usages of war that
have ever obtained among the people of the United States would have
justified such a barbarous proceeding.[27]

  [Illustration: HOME OF ANTHONY WAYNE]

  [Sidenote: Evacuation of Stony Point]

The capture of Stony Point served the desired purpose of relieving
Connecticut, but the Americans held it but three days. Clinton at once
drew his forces together and came up the Hudson, hoping to entice
Washington into risking a battle for the sake of keeping his hold upon
Stony Point. But Washington knew better than to do so. In case of
defeat he would run risk of losing the far more important position at
West Point. He was not the man to hazard his main citadel for the sake
of an outpost. Finding that it would take more men than he could spare
to defend Stony Point against a combined attack by land and water, he
ordered it to be evacuated. The works were all destroyed, and the
garrison, with the cannon and stores, withdrawn into the Highlands. Sir
Henry took possession of the place and held it for some time, but did
not venture to advance against Washington.

  [Portrait: Henry Lee]

  [Sidenote: Henry Lee's exploit at Paulus Hook.]

To give the British general a wholesome sense of his adversary's
vigilance, a blow was struck in an unexpected quarter. At Paulus Hook,
on the site of the present Jersey City, the British had a very strong
fort. The "Hook" was a long low neck of land reaching out into the
Hudson. A sandy isthmus, severed by a barely fordable creek, connected
it with the mainland. Within the line of the creek, a deep ditch had
been dug across the whole isthmus, and this could only be crossed by
means of a drawbridge. Within the ditch were two lines of
intrenchments. The place was garrisoned by 500 men, but, relying on the
strength of their works and their distance from the American lines, the
garrison had grown somewhat careless. This fact was made known to
Washington by Major Henry Lee, who volunteered to surprise the fort. On
the night of the 18th of August, at the head of 300 picked men, Lee
crossed the creek which divided Paulus Hook from the mainland. A
foraging expedition had been sent out in the course of the day, and as
the Americans approached they were at first mistaken by the sentinels
for the foragers returning. Favoured by this mistake, they surmounted
all the obstacles and got possession of the fort in a twinkling. Alarm
guns, quickly answered by the ships in the river and the forts on the
New York side, warned them to retreat as fast as they had come, but not
until Lee had secured 159 prisoners, whom he carried off safely to the
Highlands, losing of his own men only two killed and three wounded. This
exploit, worthy of the good Lord James Douglas, has no military
significance save for its example of skill and boldness; but it deserves
mention for the personal interest which must ever attach to its author.
In the youthful correspondence of Washington, mention is made of a
"Lowland Beauty" for whom he entertained an unrequited passion. This
lady married a member of the illustrious Virginian family to which
Richard Henry Lee belonged. Her son, the hero of Paulus Hook, was always
a favourite with Washington, and for his dashing exploits in the later
years of the revolutionary war became endeared to the American people as
"Light Horse Harry." His noble son, Robert Edward Lee, has taken rank
among the foremost generals of modern times.


  [21] He has been sometimes described incorrectly as a half-breed,
       and even as a son of Sir William Johnson. His father was a
       Mohawk, of the Wolf clan, and son of one of the five chiefs
       who visited the court of Queen Anne in 1710. The name is
       sometimes wrongly written "Brandt." The Indian name is
       pronounced as if written "Thayendanauga," with accent on
       penult. Brant was not a sachem. His eminence was personal, not
       official. See Morgan, _League of the Iroquois_, p. 103.

  [22] It has been shown that on this occasion Thayendanegea did what
       he could to restrain the ferocity of his savage followers. See
       Stone's _Life of Brant_, i. 379-381. It has more lately been
       proved that Thayendanegea commanded only his own Mohawks at
       Cherry Valley, and the atrocities were committed chiefly by
       Senecas under the command of Sayenqueraghta. See Molly Brant's
       letter in Hayden's _The Massacre of Wyoming_, Wilkes-Barré,
       1895, p. xxiv.

  [23] Cannon were wheeled on the solid ice from Staten Island to the
       city. See Stone's _Life of Brant_, ii. 54.

  [24] In a paper read before the Maryland Historical Society. See,
       also, his _Logan and Cresap_, Albany, 1867. The story is well
       told by Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, in his admirable book, _The
       Winning of the West_, New York, 1889. Though I leave the
       present chapter mainly as it was written in 1883, I have, in
       revising it for publication, derived one or two valuable hints
       from Mr. Roosevelt's work.

  [25] This point has been well elucidated by Mr. Roosevelt in his
       _Winning of the West_, vol. i. pp. 240, 306.

  [26] See my _Critical Period of American History_, chap. i.

  [27] "The conduct of the Americans upon this occasion was highly
       meritorious: for they would have been fully justified in
       putting the garrison to the sword: not one man of which was put
       to death but in fair combat." Stedman's _History of the
       American War_, London, 1794, vol. ii. p. 145. This remark seems
       to bear unconscious testimony to the somewhat higher degree of
       humanity which American civilization had reached as compared
       with civilization in Europe. According to the usage inherited
       from the so-called ages of chivalry, it was deemed proper to
       massacre a captured garrison as a "punishment" calculated to
       deter commanders from wasting lives in trying to defend
       indefensible places. In the thirteenth article of the
       international agreement proposed in the Brussels Conference of
       1874, such slaughter is called "murder," and is strictly
       prohibited; it would not now be tolerated by public opinion
       anywhere in Europe outside of Turkey. In our Revolutionary War
       the garrison of Fort Washington was threatened with slaughter
       by General Howe, but the threat was not carried out. (See
       above, vol. i. p. 230.) At the capture of Fort Griswold, Sept.
       6, 1781, the massacre of the surrendered garrison has always
       been rightly regarded as a foul blot upon the British record.
       Mr. Lecky more than once recognizes the humanity of the
       Americans, and pronounces them superior in this respect to the
       British. (_History of England in the Eighteenth Century_, iv.
       145, and elsewhere.) Care must be taken, however, in the
       interests of historic truth, not to press this opinion too far.
       A great deal of fustian has been written about the
       "barbarities" of the British soldiers in the Revolutionary War.
       John Adams compared those honourable and kindly gentlemen, the
       brothers Howe, with such wretches as Borgia and Alva, and
       suggested that "medals in gold, silver, and copper ought to be
       struck in commemoration of the shocking cruelties, the brutal
       barbarities, and the diabolical impieties of this war; and
       these should be contrasted with the kindness, tenderness,
       humanity, and philanthropy which have marked the conduct of
       Americans toward their prisoners." (_Familiar Letters of John
       Adams and his Wife_, p. 266.) The spirit of this quotation
       pervades the late George Bancroft's narrative of the
       Revolution, and fills it with a carping animosity that is
       simply silly. In point of fact there was no strongly marked
       difference between British and Americans in respect of
       humanity. Much has been said about the horrors of the British
       prison-ships in New York harbour and elsewhere (see Greene's
       _Historical View_, p. 351); but the horrors of the old Newgate
       prison near Granby, in my native state of Connecticut, were
       even worse (see _Phelps's History of the Newgate Prison_), and
       the prisons of Massachusetts were not much better. Honest men
       unable to pay their debts were thrown into these frightful
       dungeons and treated as brutally as ever the British treated
       their prisoners of war.

       Blame has been deservedly bestowed upon the British for their
       employment of Indian auxiliaries; but Americans must to some
       extent share the blame, for early in 1775, before the bloodshed
       at Lexington, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts enlisted
       Stockbridge Indians as minute-men, and tried to prevail upon
       the Six Nations "to take an active part in this glorious
       cause." Indians served on the American side at the battles of
       Long Island and White Plains (_New York Colonial Documents_,
       viii. 740; Jones's _Annals of Oneida County_, p. 854; Winsor,
       _Narr. and Crit. Hist._ vi. 612-618). In a well-known passage
       of the Declaration of Independence the king is arraigned
       because "he has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our
       frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of
       warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes,
       and conditions." The taint of hypocrisy here is revealed by the
       fact that Congress had on June 3 authorized Washington to
       employ 2,000 Indians in Canada; and on July 8 it further
       empowered him to enlist the tribes in eastern Maine and Nova
       Scotia. These orders were in pursuance of a resolve of May 25,
       that "it is highly expedient to engage the Indians in the
       service of the United Colonies." (_Secret Journals of
       Congress_, p. 44; cf. Washington's _Writings_, ed. Ford, iv.
       140, 154, 168.) Washington approved of this hiring of Indians.
       On the whole, as so often happens, we held up our hands in holy
       horror at other people for doing what we did not scruple to do

       Among the articles adopted at the Brussels Conference of 1874 was
       one to the effect that "the population of an occupied territory
       cannot be compelled to take part in military operations against
       their own country, nor to swear allegiance to the enemy's
       power." (Farrer, _Military Manners and Customs_, p. 12.) No
       such rule was recognized a century ago. In South Carolina the
       British commanders shot as deserters persons captured in fight
       after having once accepted British protection. The execution of
       Col. Isaac Hayne, an eminent citizen, under peculiarly
       aggravating circumstances, by order of Lord Rawdon, called
       forth intense indignation. But it should not be forgotten that
       Greene also, on several occasions, shot as deserters persons
       found in the enemy's ranks after serving in his own. Such was
       the military usage at that time.

       A good many of the charges of cruelty, alleged on either side,
       must be taken with allowances for gross exaggeration. For
       example, at Concord, April 19, 1775, a farmer's boy, in combat
       with a wounded soldier, struck him on the head with a hatchet
       and killed him. This incident, as magnified by the British, gave
       rise to the statement that the Americans mutilated and scalped
       the wounded soldiers lying on the road; a statement which is
       still sometimes repeated, although it was long ago proved to be

       On the whole, while I agree with Mr. Lecky that the Americans
       behaved with more humanity than their antagonists, it does not
       appear that the difference was a wide one. To the credit of
       both sides it may be said that there was less barbarity than
       was usual in European wars before the nineteenth century.

                              CHAPTER XII

                           WAR ON THE OCEAN

  [Sidenote: Importance of the control of the water]

Until the war of independence the Americans had no navy of their own,
such maritime expeditions as that against Louisburg having been
undertaken with the aid of British ships. When the war broke out, one of
the chief advantages possessed by the British, in their offensive
operations, was their entire control of the American waters. Not only
were all the coast towns exposed to their sudden attack, but on the
broad deep rivers they were sometimes able to penetrate to a
considerable distance inland, and by means of their ships they could
safely transport men and stores from point to point. Their armies always
rested upon the fleets as bases of operations, and soon lost their
efficiency when severed from these bases. General Howe was not safe in
Philadelphia until his brother had gained control of the Delaware river,
and Burgoyne's army invited capture as soon as its connection with the
lakes was cut off. From first to last, the events of the war illustrated
this dependence of the army upon the fleet. On the retreat from
Lexington, it was only the ships that finally saved Lord Percy's weary
troops from capture; at Yorktown, it was only the momentary loss of
naval superiority that made escape impossible for Cornwallis. For want
of a navy, General Washington could not hold the island of New York in
1776; and for a like reason, in 1778, after the enemy had been reduced
to the defensive, he could not prudently undertake its recapture. It was
through lack of effective naval aid that the Newport expedition failed;
and the events of 1779, in Virginia and Connecticut, bore sad testimony
to the defenceless condition of our coasts.

  [Portrait: John Barry]

  [Sidenote: Feeble action of Congress]

Early in the war this crying want was earnestly considered by Congress,
and efforts were made to repair it by the construction of a navy and the
equipment of private cruisers. But the construction of a regular navy,
which alone could serve the purpose, was beset with even greater
difficulties than those which attended the organization of a permanent
army. There was, indeed, no lack of good material, whether for ships or
for seamen. New England, in particular, with its great length of
seacoast and its extensive fisheries, had always possessed a
considerable merchant marine, and nourished a hardy race of seafaring
people. How formidable they could become in naval warfare, Great
Britain was destined, nearly forty years afterward, to find out, to her
astonishment and chagrin. But the absence of a central government was
even more seriously felt in naval than in military affairs. The action
of Congress was feeble, unintelligent, and vacillating. The "marine
committees," "navy boards," and "boards of admiralty," to which the work
of creating a navy was entrusted, were so often changed in their
composition and in their functions that it was difficult for any piece
of work to be carried out in accordance with its original design. As
there was a total absence of system in the department of admiralty, so
there was utter looseness of discipline in the service. There were the
same wranglings about rank as in the army, and the consequences were
even more pernicious. It was difficult to enlist good crews, because of
the uncertainty arising from the general want of system. The risks
encountered were excessive, because of the overwhelming preponderance of
the enemy from the outset. Of thirteen new cruisers laid down in the
autumn of 1775, only six ever succeeded in getting out to sea. During
the war one ship-of-the-line was built,--the America 74, first commanded
by Captain John Barry;[28] but she was launched too late for active
service. Between 1775 and 1783, there were twenty small frigates and
twenty-one sloops-of-war in the service. Most of these were either
captured by the enemy, or destroyed to prevent their falling into the
enemy's hands.[29] The armaments of these ships were very light; the
largest of them, the Bon Homme Richard, was constructed for a
thirty-eight, but her heaviest guns were only twelve-pounders.


  [Sidenote: American and British cruisers]

Yet in spite of this light force, weak discipline, and unsteady
management, the little American navy did some very good work in the
course of the war, and it was efficiently helped by a multitude of
private cruisers, just as the Continental army often got valuable aid
from the militia. Before the French alliance more than six hundred
British vessels had fallen prey to the American cruisers, and so
venturesome were these swift little craft that they even hovered around
the coast of England, and merchant vessels going from one British port
to another needed the protection of a convoy. During the same period,
about nine hundred American vessels were taken by British cruisers; so
that the damaging power of the American marine seems to have amounted to
about two thirds that of such part of the British marine as could be
devoted to the injury of American shipping. The damage inflicted upon
the Americans was the more serious, for it well-nigh ruined the New
England fisheries and the coasting trade. On the other hand, the
American cruisers caused marine insurance in England to rise to a far
higher point than had ever before been known; and we learn from a letter
of Silas Deane to Robert Morris that, shortly before the alliance
between France and the United States, the docks on the Thames were
crowded with French vessels loading with British goods that sought the
shelter of a neutral flag.


  [Sidenote: Wickes and Conyngham]

  [Sidenote: Paul Jones]

  [Sidenote: Franklin's supervision of maritime affairs]

In one respect the value of this work of the American cruisers was
incalculable. It familiarized Europe with the sight of the American flag
in European waters. It was of great importance that Europe should think
of the new republic not as merely the theme of distant rumours, but as a
maritime power, able to defend itself within sight of the British
coasts; and in this respect it would be difficult to overrate the
services rendered by the heroic captains who first carried the flag of
the United States across the ocean, and bearded the lion in his native
lair. Of these gallant fellows, Lambert Wickes was the first, and his
ship, the Reprisal 16, which carried Benjamin Franklin to France in the
autumn of 1776, was the first American war vessel to visit the eastern
shores of the Atlantic. After a brilliant cruise in the summer of 1777,
she foundered off the banks of Newfoundland, with the loss of all on
board. Next came Gustavus Conyngham, with the Surprise and the Revenge,
which in the same summer took so many prizes in the North Sea and the
British Channel that insurance rose as high as twenty-five per cent.,
and in some instances ten per cent. was demanded for the short passage
between Dover and Calais. But the fame of both these captains was soon
eclipsed by that of John Paul Jones, a Scotch sailor, who from boyhood
had been engaged in the Virginia trade, and in 1773 had gone to Virginia
to live. When war broke out Jones offered his services to Congress, and
in October, 1776, his name appears as eighteenth in the list of captains
in the new navy. From the outset he was distinguished for skill and
bravery, and in 1778, being then thirty years old, he was sent, with the
Ranger 18, to prowl about the British coasts. In this little ship he
made a successful cruise in the Irish Channel, burned some of the
shipping in the port of Whitehaven, in Cumberland, and in a fierce fight
off Carrickfergus captured the British sloop-of-war Drake 20; losing
only eight men in killed and wounded, while the Drake lost forty-two.
With the Drake and several merchant prizes, Jones made his way to Brest,
and sent the Ranger home to America, while he remained to take command
of a more considerable expedition that was fitting out for the following
year. Along with the other duties of Franklin, as minister of the United
States at the French court, was joined a general superintendence of
maritime affairs. He was a sort of agent plenipotentiary of Congress in
all matters relating to the navy. He had authority from Congress to
issue letters of marque, and exercised it freely, while imposing
restrictions that were characteristic of his magnanimous spirit. In
1779, he issued instructions to all American cruisers that, in
whatsoever part of the sea they might happen to meet the great
discoverer Captain Cook, they were to forget the temporary quarrel in
which they were fighting, and not merely suffer him to pass unmolested,
but offer him every aid and service in their power; since it would ill
beseem Americans to lift their hands against one who had earned the
reverence and gratitude of all mankind. So in the instructions given to
Paul Jones, he ordered him not to burn defenceless towns on the British
coast except in case of military necessity, and in such case he was to
give notice, so that the women and children, with the sick and aged
inhabitants, might be removed betimes.

  [Portrait: J. Landais]

  [Sidenote: Jones's squadron]

The expedition of which Paul Jones took command in the summer of 1779
was designed for a signal "demonstration" upon the coasts of Great
Britain. The object of the British raids in Virginia and Connecticut was
partly to terrify the Americans by a bold and savage assertion of the
ubiquity of British power. The expedition of Paul Jones was to serve as
a sort of counter-irritant. The confused and indefinite character of the
American naval service at that time could not have a better illustration
than is to be found in the details of the little squadron with which he
was called upon to undertake his perilous task. The flagship was an old
Indiaman named the Duras, purchased by the French government and fitted
up for the occasion. In compliment to the author of Poor Richard's
maxims, her name was changed to "Bon Homme Richard." She was an
exceedingly clumsy affair, with swelling bows and a tower-like poop such
as characterized the ships of the seventeenth century. She was now
pierced for a thirty-eight-gun frigate, but as there was delay in
procuring the eighteen-pounders suited for such a craft, her main deck
was armed with twelve-pounders instead. In the gun-room below, Captain
Jones had twelve portholes cut, in which he mounted six old eighteens,
that could be shifted from side to side as occasion required. Leaving
these eighteens out of the account, the force of the Bon Homme Richard
was about equal to that of a thirty-two-gun frigate. This singular
vessel was manned by a crew as nondescript as herself,--a motley gang of
sailors and marines from nearly every country in Europe, with half a
dozen Malays into the bargain. To these a hundred New England men were
afterwards added, bringing up the whole number to 380. For this flagship
three consorts were supplied, under the direction of the French
government. The Pallas, a merchant vessel pierced for the occasion, was
thus transformed into a thirty-two-gun frigate; the Vengeance and Cerf
were of smaller calibre. All these ships were French built. To these
Franklin added the Alliance 32, which happened to be in a French port at
the time. The Alliance, lately built at Salisbury, in Massachusetts, and
named in honour of the treaty between France and the United States, was
a swift and beautiful ship, one of the finest in the American navy.
Unfortunately, it was thought desirable to pay a further compliment to
our new allies by appointing a French captain to command her, and this
step gave rise to so much discontent and insubordination as well-nigh to
destroy her efficiency. Nor had Captain Landais done anything to merit
such distinction; he was simply an adventurer, seeking notoriety in the
American service.

  [Illustration: Paul Jones's Commission]

  [Sidenote: Jones's cruise on the British coast]

  [Sidenote: He meets a British fleet off Flamborough Head]

The ships in this motley squadron were not privateers. The Alliance was
a regular member of our navy. The French-built ships were regarded as
loaned to the United States, and were to resume their French nationality
after the termination of the cruise; but they were all duly commissioned
by Franklin, under the powers delegated to him by Congress. For the time
being, they were part of the American navy and subject to its
regulations. Their commodore, Paul Jones, has often been spoken of as a
privateer, sometimes as a pirate, but he was as much a regular captain
in our navy as Greene was a regular general in our army. Though,
however, there could be no doubt as to the legitimate naval character of
the expedition, a more ill-assorted or disorderly squadron was perhaps
never sent to sea. The summer was spent in cruising about the British
coasts, and many prizes were taken; but the insubordination of the
French commanders was so gross that during a large part of the time the
ships were scattered in all directions, and Jones was left to cruise
alone. On the 17th of September, having got his fleet together, he
entered the Frith of Forth, and came within gunshot of Leith, which he
intended to attack and capture. Sir Walter Scott, then a schoolboy at
Edinburgh, has given, in the introduction to "Waverley," a graphic
description of the excitement which was felt upon that occasion. But, as
Scott says, "a steady and powerful west wind settled the matter by
sweeping Paul Jones and his vessels out of the Frith of Forth." Four
days later, the Bon Homme Richard and the Vengeance entered the river
Humber, and destroyed several vessels. On the 23d, the Alliance and
Pallas having come up, a British fleet of forty sail was descried off
Flamborough Head. They were merchant vessels bound for the Baltic,
under convoy of the Serapis 44, Captain Richard Pearson, and the
Countess of Scarborough 20, Captain Piercy. Jones instantly gave chase,
ordering his consorts to follow and form in line of battle; but the
Alliance disobeyed and ran off to some distance, for a time
disconcerting the Pallas, which could not understand the discrepancy
between the signals and the movements. The British merchant ships
crowded all sail to get out of the way, but the two frigates accepted
Jones's challenge, and came up to fight. The Countess of Scarborough was
very inferior in size and armament to the Pallas, while on the other
hand the Serapis was much more powerful than the Bon Homme Richard. She
was a two-decker, mounting twenty eighteen-pounders below, and twenty
nine-pounders above, with ten six-pounders on her quarter-deck and
forecastle; so that she could throw 300 pounds of metal on a broadside.
The Bon Homme Richard, with her six eighteens, could indeed throw 312
pounds on a broadside, but her weight of metal was very badly
distributed among light guns. Without her eighteens, she could throw
only 204 pounds on a broadside, being thus inferior to her opponent by
one third. The Serapis had a crew of 320 well-trained British sailors,
and she was a new and fast ship, perfect in all her appointments.


  [Sidenote: Terrific fight between the Serapis and the Bon Homme Richard,
             Sept. 23, 1779]

The fight began at half past seven o'clock, a little before moonrise, on
a cloudy evening, in smooth water. The two principal opponents delivered
their entire broadsides at the same moment. At this first fire, two of
the old eighteens in the American frigate burst, killing a dozen men.
After this disaster, no one had confidence enough in such guns to fire
them again, so that the Bon Homme Richard was at once reduced to two
thirds the force of her antagonist, and in ordinary fight must soon have
been overcome. A brisk cannonade was kept up for an hour, while the two
ships manoeuvred for a raking position. The Serapis, being much the
better sailer, was passing across her adversary's bows, with very little
elbow-room, when Jones succeeded in running his vessel into her just aft
of her weather beam. For a moment all firing ceased on both ships, and
Captain Pearson called out, "Have you struck your colours?" "I have not
yet begun to fight," replied Captain Jones. For a moment the ships
separated, the Serapis running ahead almost in a line with the Bon Homme
Richard. The Serapis now put her helm hard down and was boxhauled, in
order to luff up athwart her adversary's bow, and thus regain her raking
position; but the Bon Homme Richard changed her tack, and presently, in
a dense cloud of smoke, the two ships came together again, the British
bowsprit passing over the high old-fashioned poop of the American
vessel. This was just what Jones desired, and as he stood there on his
quarter-deck he seized a stout rope, and lashed the enemy's jib-boom to
his mizzen-mast. Thus tied fast, the pressure of the light wind brought
the ships alongside, the head of the one lying opposite the stern of the
other. Grappling-hooks were now thrown into the quarter of the Serapis,
and with repeated lashings fore and aft the two monsters were held
together in deadly embrace. So close did they lie that their yards were
interlocked, and some of the guns of the Serapis became useless for want
of room to use the rammers. The advantage of her superior armament was
thus in some measure lost, while her advantage in quickness of movement
was entirely neutralized. Still her heavy guns at this short range did
frightful execution, and the main deck of the Bon Homme Richard was soon
covered with mangled and dying men, while her timbers were badly
shivered and many cannon were knocked from their carriages. Unable to
bear this terrible fire, the Americans crowded upon the upper deck in
such numbers as easily to defeat the British attempts to board. Parties
of marksmen, climbing into the rigging, cleared the enemy's tops, and
shot down every man upon the Serapis who ventured from under cover.
Hand-grenades were thrown into her portholes to slay the gunners; and
presently one bold fellow, crawling out to the very end of the Bon Homme
Richard's main-yard, just over the main hatchway of the Serapis, dropped
one of these mischievous missiles through the hatchway, where it ignited
a row of cartridges that were lying upon the main deck. The explosion
ran swiftly along the line, as through a pack of gigantic fire-crackers.
More than twenty men were blown into fragments, their heads, arms, and
legs flying in every direction, while forty others were disabled. With
the havoc already wrought by the guns, the Serapis had now lost two
fifths of her crew, and her fire perceptibly slackened; so that the
Americans were able to go below and work their guns again, pouring into
the British portholes a storm of grape and canister which made an awful

It was now ten o'clock. All this time the Alliance had kept out of the
fight, but the Pallas had attacked the Countess of Scarborough, and
after a brisk cannonade compelled her to surrender. The Alliance now
came down, and stupidly poured a raking volley along the decks of the
two chief combatants, doing impartial damage to friend and foe. Warning
shouts went up from the Bon Homme Richard, and her commander called out
to Captain Landais to fall upon the farther side of the Serapis and
board her. The Frenchman replied that he would do so, but instead he ran
his ship off a couple of miles to leeward, and comfortably awaited the
end of the battle. By this time the Serapis was on fire in several
places, so that part of her crew had to leave their guns, and bend all
their energies to extinguishing the flames. The American ship was in
still worse plight; she had not only been burning for half an hour, but
so many holes had been shot in her hull that she began to sink. She had
more than a hundred British prisoners below decks, and these men were
now set free and marshalled at the pumps. Few guns were worked on
either ship, and the rest of the fight between the two exhausted
combatants was a mere question of dogged tenacity. At last Captain
Jones, with his own hands, directed a couple of guns against the enemy's
mainmast, and just as it was threatening to fall she surrendered. The
gallant British commander stood almost alone on the main deck of his
ship, in the midst of an awful scene of death; while of his few men who
remained unhurt, most had sunk down, panting and overcome with fatigue.
No sooner were the ships cut asunder than the tottering mainmast of the
Serapis went overboard, carrying with it the mizzen topmast and all the
mizzen rigging.[30] The Bon Homme Richard was with difficulty kept
afloat till morning, and all night long fresh men from her consorts were
hard at work fighting the flames, while the wounded were being carried
off. At ten o'clock next morning she sank.

  [Sidenote: Effect of Jones's victory]

Thus ended one of the most obstinate and murderous struggles recorded in
naval history. Of the men engaged, more than half were killed or badly
wounded, and few got off without some scar or bruise to carry as a
memento of that dreadful night. From a merely military point of view,
this first considerable fight between British and American frigates had
perhaps no great significance. But the moral effect, in Europe, of such
a victory within sight of the British coast was prodigious. The King of
France made Paul Jones a knight of the order of merit, and from the
Empress of Russia he received the ribbon of St. Anne. The King of
Denmark settled a pension on him, while throughout Europe his exploit
was told and told again in the gazettes, and at the drinking-tables on
street corners. On his arrival in Holland, whither he went with his
prizes a fortnight after the battle, the British government peremptorily
demanded that he should be given up, to be hanged as a pirate. The
sympathies of the Dutch were decidedly with the Americans; but as they
were not quite ready to go to war with England, a tardy notice was given
to Jones, after ten weeks, that he had better quit the country. Though
chased by a British fleet, he got safely to France in December, and
after various adventures, lasting through the ensuing year, he reached
Philadelphia early in 1781. On inquiry into the extraordinary behaviour
of Captain Landais some doubt as to his sanity arose, so that he was not
shot for disobedience of orders, but simply discharged from the navy.
Paul Jones was put in command of the America 74, but the war was so
nearly ended that he did not get to sea again, and Congress presented
his ship to the King of France. In 1788, he passed into the Russian
service with the rank of rear-admiral. He died in Paris, in 1792, in the
forty-fifth year of his age.

  [Portrait: De Vergennes]

Here the question naturally arises, Why should the King of Denmark and
the Empress of Russia have felt so much interest in the victory of Paul
Jones as to confer distinguished honours upon him for winning it? The
answer, at which we shall presently arrive, will forcibly disclose to us
the extent to which, by the end of the year 1779, the whole civilized
world had become involved in the quarrel between England and her
revolted colonies. As at the bridge of Concord the embattled farmers of
Massachusetts had once fired a shot heard round the world, so those last
guns aimed by Paul Jones against the mainmast of the Serapis aroused an
echo of which the reverberations were not to cease until it should be
shown that henceforth nobler principles of international law must
prevail upon the high seas than had ever yet been acknowledged. We have
now to trace the origin and progress of the remarkable complication of
affairs which at length, during the year 1780, brought all the other
maritime powers of Europe into an attitude of hostility toward Great
Britain. For not until we have duly comprehended this can we understand
the world-wide significance of our Revolutionary War, or estimate aright
the bearings of the events which led to that grand twofold
consummation,--the recognition of the independence of the United States,
and the overthrow of the personal government of George III. in England.

  [Sidenote: Relations of Spain to France and England]

Paul Jones was not the only enemy who hovered about the British coast in
the summer of 1779. In June of that year, Spain declared war against
England, but without recognizing the independence of the United States,
or entering into an alliance with us. From the beginning, Count
Vergennes had sought Spanish aid in his plans for supporting the
Americans, but anything like cordial coöperation between Spain and
France in such an undertaking was impossible, for their interests were
in many respects directly opposite. So far as mere hatred toward England
was concerned, Spain doubtless went even farther than France. Spain had
not forgotten that she had once been mistress of the seas, or that it
was England which had ousted her from this supremacy in the days of
Queen Elizabeth. Of England, as the greatest of Protestant and
constitutional powers, as the chief defender of political and religious
liberty, priest-ridden and king-ridden Spain was the natural enemy. She
had also, like France, the recollection of injuries lately suffered in
the Seven Years' War to urge her to a policy of revenge. And to crown
all, in the event of a successful war, she might hope to regain Jamaica,
or the Floridas, or Minorca, or, above all, Gibraltar, that impregnable
stronghold, the possession of which by England had for more than sixty
years made Spaniards blush for shame. On the other hand, Spain regarded
the Americans with a hatred probably not less rancorous than that which
she felt toward the British. The mere existence of these English
colonies in North America was a perpetual reminder of the days when the
papal edict granting this continent to Spain had been set at naught by
heretical cruisers and explorers. The obnoxious principles of civil and
religious liberty were represented here with even greater emphasis than
in England. In Mexico and South America the Spanish crown had still a
vast colonial empire; and it was rightly foreseen that a successful
revolt of the English colonies would furnish a dangerous precedent for
the Spanish colonies to follow. Spain was, moreover, the chief upholder
of the old system of commercial monopoly; and here her interests were
directly opposed to those of France, which, since it had been deprived
of its colonial empire, saw in the general overthrow of commercial
monopoly the surest way of regaining its share in the trade of the


  [Signature: el conde de florida blanca]

  [Sidenote: Intrigues of Spain]

  [Sidenote: Treaty between Spain and France, April, 1779]

Under the influence of these conflicting motives, the conduct of Spain
was marked for a time by hesitation and double-dealing. Between his
various wishes and fears, the Spanish prime minister, Florida Blanca,
knew not what course to pursue. When he heard of the alliance between
France and the United States, which was undertaken against his advice to
Vergennes, his wrath knew no bounds. It was a treaty, he said, "worthy
of Don Quixote." At first he intrigued with the British government,
offering his services as mediator between England and France. Lord
Weymouth, the British minister for foreign affairs, refused to enter
into any negotiation so long as France should extend aid to the rebel
colonies. To the covert threat of the wily Spaniard, that if the war
were to continue his royal master would doubtless feel compelled to take
part with one side or the other, Lord Weymouth replied that the
independence of the United States would prove fatal to the continuance
of Spanish control over Mexico and South America; and he suggested,
accordingly, that the true interest of Spain lay in forming an alliance
with Great Britain. While this secret discussion was going on, Florida
Blanca also sounded Vergennes, proposing that peace should be made on
such terms as to allow the British to retain possession of Rhode Island
and New York. This, he thought, would prevent the formation of an
American Union, and would sow the seeds of everlasting dissension
between Great Britain and the American States, whereby the energies of
the English race would be frittered away in internecine conflict,
leaving room for Spain to expand itself. But Vergennes would not hear of
this. France had recognized the independence of the thirteen States, and
had explicitly and publicly agreed to carry on the war until that
independence should be acknowledged by England; and from that position
she could not easily retreat. At the same time Vergennes intimated that
France was in no way bound to protect the American claim to the Ohio
valley, and was far from desiring that the people of the United States
should control the whole of North America. Upon this suggestion the
Spanish court finally acted. After six months more of diplomatic
fencing, a treaty was concluded in April, 1779, between France and
Spain, whereby it was agreed that these two powers should undertake a
concerted invasion of England. For this undertaking, France was to
furnish the land force, while both powers were to raise as great a naval
armament as possible. France was to assist Spain in recovering Minorca
and the Floridas, and if Newfoundland could be conquered, its fisheries
were to be monopolized by the two parties to this treaty. Neither power
was to make peace on any terms until England should have surrendered
Gibraltar to Spain.

This convention brought Spain into the lists against England without
bringing her directly into alliance with the United States. She was left
free to negotiate with Congress at her own good pleasure, and might ask
for the whole Mississippi valley, if she chose, in return for her
assistance. Gerard, the French minister at Philadelphia, sought to
persuade Congress to give up the fisheries and relinquish all claim to
the territory west of the Alleghanies. There were hot debates on this
subject in 1779, and indeed the situation of affairs was sufficiently
complicated to call for the exercise of skilful diplomacy. As the treaty
between France and Spain became known in America, it was felt to be in
some respects inconsistent with the prior convention between France and
the United States. In that convention it had been stipulated that
neither party should make peace with Great Britain without the consent
of the other. In the convention between France and Spain it was agreed
that neither party should make peace until Great Britain should
surrender Gibraltar. But the Americans rightly felt that, should Great
Britain be found willing to concede their independence, they were in no
wise bound to keep up the war for the sole purpose of helping France to
conquer Gibraltar for a power which had never owed them any good will,
and was at this very moment hoping to cut down their territory. The
proposal to exclude America as well as Great Britain from the fisheries
excited loud indignation in New England.

  [Sidenote: French and Spanish fleets attempt an invasion of England,
             Aug., 1779]

Meanwhile, the new allies had gone energetically to work. Early in 1779,
a French fleet had captured the British settlements in Senegambia, and
made a vigorous though unsuccessful assault upon the island of Jersey.
In June, war was declared by Spain so suddenly that England was quite
taken by surprise. Florida Blanca had lied with so grave a face that
Lord North had not been looking out for such a step. In August, the
allied French and Spanish fleets, numbering more than sixty
ships-of-the-line, with a full complement of frigates, entered the
English Channel, with intent to repeat the experiment of the Invincible
Armada; while a French army lay at Havre, ready to cross at the first
opportunity. To oppose this formidable force, Admiral Hardy was able to
get together only thirty-eight ships-of-the-line, with the ordinary
proportion of frigates. There was a panic in England, and the militia
were called out. But owing to dissensions between the French and Spanish
admirals and serious illness in the crews, nothing whatever was
accomplished, and the great fleet retired crestfallen from the channel.
Everybody blamed everybody else, while an immense sum of money had been
spent upon a wretched fiasco. In America, however, the allies were more
successful. Galvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, captured Baton
Rouge and Mobile, with their British garrisons, and preparations were
made for the siege of Pensacola, to complete the conquest of West
Florida. In the West Indies, the islands of Grenada and St. Vincent were
captured by Estaing. The moment that war was declared by Spain, there
was begun that siege of Gibraltar which, for the heroic defence, as well
as for its long duration of nearly four years, has had no parallel in
the annals of modern warfare.

  [Portrait: G B Rodney]

  [Sidenote: Sir George Rodney]

It was only through maritime expeditions that the two new allies could
directly assail England with any hope of success; but here on the sea
her natural superiority was not long in asserting itself. Great efforts
were made to increase the strength of the navy, and in December, 1779,
the command of the fleet in the West Indies was given to a man who among
English sailors ranks with Blake and Hawke, on a plane inferior only to
that occupied by Nelson. The brilliant career of Sir George Rodney began
in the Seven Years' War, in the course of which he bombarded Havre, thus
warding off a projected invasion of England, and moreover captured
several islands in the West Indies. It was Pitt who first discerned his
genius, and put him into a position in which he could win victories.
After the peace of 1763 he became a member of Parliament, but lost all
he had in gambling, and fled to France to get rid of his creditors. When
war broke out between France and England in 1778, the venerable Marshal
de Biron lent him enough money to save him from the Marshalsea or the
Fleet, and he returned to England to be appointed to the chief command
in the West Indies. A vain and unscrupulous man, as many called him, he
was none the less a most skilful and indomitable captain. He was
ordered, on his way to the West Indies, to relieve Gibraltar, which was
beginning to suffer the horrors of famine, and never was such a task
more brilliantly performed. First, he had the good fortune to fall in
with fifteen Spanish ships, loaded with provisions and under the convoy
of seven war vessels, and all this fleet he captured. Then, at Cape St.
Vincent, on a dark and stormy night, he gave chase to a Spanish fleet of
eleven ships-of-the-line and two frigates, and in a sharp fight captured
or destroyed all but four of them without losing one of his own ships.
He thus reached Gibraltar, and after passing up to the fortress the
welcome cargoes of the fifteen merchant prizes went on to the West
Indies, where his presence turned the scale against the allies. A
powerful French fleet under Count de Guichen was cruising in those
waters; and it was hoped that this fleet would soon be able to come to
New York and coöperate with Washington in an attempt to regain that
city. But the arrival of Rodney changed all this, and the Count de
Guichen, after being worsted in battle, sailed away for France, while
Rodney proceeded to New York, to relieve Sir Henry Clinton and foil the
projects of Washington.

  [Sidenote: Rights of neutrals upon the sea]

  [Sidenote: The Consolato del Mare]

That very supremacy upon the sea, however, which enabled England to defy
the combined fleets of France and Spain served, in its immediate
consequences, only to involve her in fresh difficulties. By the arrogant
and indiscriminate manner in which she exercised the right of search,
she soon succeeded in uniting against her all the neutral nations of
Europe; and a principle of international law was laid down which in our
own time has become fully established, and must in future essentially
limit the areas over which wars are likely to extend. This new principle
of international law related to the rights of merchant vessels belonging
to neutral powers in time of war. In early times it was held that if one
country went to war with another, its right to prey upon its enemy's
commerce was virtually unlimited. If it found its enemy's goods carried
in a ship belonging to some neutral power, it had a right to seize and
confiscate them; and in days when hostility was the rule and peace the
exception, when warfare was deemed honourable and commerce ignoble, and
when the usages of war were rough and unscrupulous, the neutral ship
itself, which carried the goods, was very likely to be confiscated also.
As the neutral power whose ship was seized would be sure to resent such
behaviour, it followed that any war between two maritime powers was
likely to spread until it involved every other power which possessed any
merchant shipping or did any business upon the high seas. With a view to
confining such evils within as narrow a limit as possible, the maritime
code known as the Consolato del Mare, which represented the commercial
interests of the Middle Ages, and was generally accepted as of the
highest authority in maritime affairs, recognized the right of
confiscating an enemy's goods found in a neutral ship, but did not
recognize the right of confiscating the neutral ship. In the Middle Ages
maritime warfare played a subordinate part; but after colonies had been
planted in America and the East Indies by the great maritime nations of
Western Europe, the demand for fixed rules, whereby the usages of such
warfare should be regulated, soon came to be of transcendent importance.
England and the Netherlands, as powers with whom industrial
considerations were of the first consequence and military considerations
only secondary, adhered firmly to the rule of the Consolato del Mare as
the most liberal rule then in existence. France and Spain, as
preëminently militant powers, caring more for the means of annoying an
enemy than for the interests of commerce in general, asserted the
principle that neutral ships detected in carrying an enemy's goods were
themselves lawful subjects for seizure. France, however, did not hold
this doctrine so firmly as Spain. Here, as in so many other respects,
France showed herself more advanced in civilization than Spain, while
less advanced than England and the Netherlands. In 1655, by a treaty
between Cromwell and Mazarin, France accepted the English rule; in 1681,
under the retrograde government of Louis XIV., she went back to her
ancient practice; in 1744, she again adopted the English rule, while
Spain kept on with her old custom, until sharply called to account by
Russia in 1780.



Until the middle of the eighteenth century, the most liberal doctrines
respecting maritime warfare had concerned themselves only with the
protection of neutral ships. It had never occurred to anybody to
maintain that the goods of an enemy should be guaranteed against
scrutiny and seizure by the mere fact of their being carried on a
neutral ship. That any belligerent could seize its antagonist's
property, if found on a neutral ship, was the doctrine laid down alike
by Vattel and Bynkershoek, the chief French and Dutch authorities on
maritime law. In acting upon this principle, therefore, at the time of
our Revolutionary War, England acted strictly in accordance with the
recognized maritime law of Europe. She was not, as some American writers
seem to have supposed, introducing a new principle of aggression, in
virtue of her position as chief among maritime powers. In stopping the
defenceless merchant vessels of neutral or friendly powers, compelling
them to show their bills of lading, searching their holds if need be,
subjecting them to a hateful inquisition and vexatious delays, she did
no more than every maritime nation had been in the habit of doing, and
even less than Spain claimed the right to do. It was quite natural, too,
that England should insist upon retaining this privilege, as something
which no great naval power could afford to dispense with; for obviously,
if in time of war your enemy can go on trading with everybody but
yourself, and can even receive timber and provisions from people not
concerned in the struggle, your means of crippling him are very
materially diminished.

  [Sidenote: Prussian doctrine: free ships make free goods]

  [Sidenote: Influence of the French philosophers]

Such reasoning seemed conclusive everywhere in Europe until after the
middle of the eighteenth century. At that time, however, the unexampled
naval preponderance of England began to lead other nations to take a new
view of the case. By the maintenance of the old rule, England could
damage other nations much more than they could damage her. Other
nations, accordingly, began to feel that it would be a good thing if the
flag of a neutral ship might be held to protect any merchandise
whatsoever that she might happen to have on board. This modern doctrine,
that free ships make free goods, was first suggested by Prussia in 1752.
Such a view naturally commended itself to a nation which had a
considerable number of merchantmen afloat, without any navy fit to
protect them; and it was accordingly likely to find favour in the eyes
of such nations as Denmark, Sweden, Russia, and the United States. But,
more than this, it was a view entirely in accordance with the
philosophic tendencies of the age. The great humanitarian movement,
which in our time has borne rich and ample fruit, and which has tended
in every practicable way to diminish the occasions for warfare and to
restrict its scope, had its first brilliant literary representatives
among the clear-sighted and enthusiastic French philosophers of the
eighteenth century. The liberal tendencies in politics, which hitherto
England alone had represented practically, were caught up in France, as
soon as the dismal and protracted tyranny of Louis XIV. had come to an
end, with an eagerness that partook of fanaticism. English political
ideas, without being thoroughly comprehended in their practical
bearings, were seized and generalized by Montesquieu and Turgot, and a
host of lesser writers, until they acquired a width of scope and a
genial interest which exercised a prodigious influence upon the thought
of Continental Europe. Never in any age, perhaps, since the days when
Sokrates talked to enchanted crowds upon street corners in Athens, did
men of broad philosophic ideas come so closely into contact with men
absorbed in the pursuit of life's immediate ends as at the time when all
Paris rushed to kiss the hand of Voltaire, and when ladies of the court
went to sleep with the last _brochure_ of Diderot or Helvetius under
their pillows. The generous "enthusiasm of humanity," which revealed
itself in every line of the writings of these great men, played an
important part in the political history of the eighteenth century. It
was an age of crowned philosophers and benevolent despots. Joseph of
Austria, Frederick of Prussia, and Catherine of Russia, in their several
ways, furnished illustrations of this tendency. Catherine, who wrote
letters to Voltaire, and admired Fox above all other English statesmen,
set almost as much store by free thought as by free love, and her
interest in the amelioration of mankind in general was second only to
her particular interest in the humiliation of the Turk. The idea of
taking the lead in a general movement for the liberation of maritime
commerce was sure to prove congenial to her enlightened mind, and her
action would have great weight with England, which at that time,
isolated from all European sympathy, was especially desirous of an
alliance with Russia, and especially anxious to avoid offending her.

  [Portrait: Catherine]

  [Sidenote: Great Britain wishes to secure an alliance with Russia]

  [Sidenote: Importance of Minorca]

At the beginning of 1778, Sir James Harris, afterward Earl of
Malmesbury, was sent as ambassador to St. Petersburg, with instructions
to leave no stone unturned to secure an offensive and defensive alliance
between Russia and Great Britain, in order to offset and neutralize the
alliance between France and the United States. Negotiations to this end
were kept up as long as the war lasted, but they proved fruitless. While
Catherine coquetted and temporized, the Prussian ambassador had her ear,
and his advice was unfavourable to such an alliance. For the England of
Pitt the great Frederick felt sympathy and gratitude; for the England of
George III. he had nothing but hatred, and his counsels went far to
steady Catherine, if ever she showed signs of wavering. The weight of
France was of course thrown into the same scale, and for four years the
Russian court was the scene of brisk and multifarious intrigues. Harris
said that his very valets were offered bribes by busybodies who wished
to get a look at his papers; and when he went out, leaving his secretary
writing, he used to lock him up, not through doubts of his fidelity, but
lest he should thoughtlessly leave the door ajar. From Prince Potemkin,
one of Catherine's lovers whose favour Harris courted, he learned that
nothing short of the cession of Minorca would induce the empress to
enter into the desired alliance. Russia was already taking advantage of
the situation to overrun and annex the Crimea, and the maritime outlook
thus acquired made her eager to secure some naval station on the
Mediterranean. Minorca was England's to give. She had won it in the war
of the Spanish Succession, and for seventy years it had been one of the
brightest jewels in her imperial crown. Together with Gibraltar it had
given her that firm grasp upon the Mediterranean which--strengthened in
later times by the acquisition of Malta, Cyprus, and the isthmus of
Suez--has gone far toward making that vast inland sea an English lake.
So great a value did England set upon Minorca, that when, in the Seven
Years' War, it was lost for a moment, through an error of judgment on
the part of Admiral Byng, the British people were seized with a
bloodthirsty frenzy, and one of the foulest judicial murders known to
history was committed when that gallant commander was shot on his own
quarter-deck. Yet even this island, by which England set such store, she
was now ready to surrender in exchange for the help of Russia against
her revolted colonies and the House of Bourbon. It was not, however,
until 1781 that the offer of Minorca was made, and then Catherine had so
far acceded to the general combination against England that she could
not help refusing it. That such an offer should ever have been made
shows how important an alliance with Russia seemed to England at the
moment when France and Spain were leagued against her, and all the
neutral powers looked on her with hostile eyes. We can thus the better
appreciate the significance of the step which Russia was now to take
with reference to the great question of maritime law that was beginning
to agitate the civilized world.

  [Sidenote: France adopts the Prussian doctrine]

In the summer of 1778, the French government, with intent to curb the
depredations of British cruisers, issued a proclamation adopting the
Prussian doctrine of 1752, that free ships make free goods, and
Vergennes took occasion to suggest that Catherine should put herself at
the head of a league of neutral powers for the purpose of protecting
neutral commerce all over the world. For the moment no decided action
was taken, but the idea was one of those broad ideas in which the
empress delighted. Count Panin, her principal minister, who was strongly
in sympathy with the King of Prussia, insisted upon the necessity of
protecting the commerce of minor powers against England, which since
1763 had become the great naval bully of the world. England was
doubtless acting in strict accordance with time-honoured custom, but
circumstances had changed, and the law must be changed to meet them. The
first great war since 1763 was now showing that England could destroy
the commerce of all the rest of the world, without any fear of
retaliation except through a universal war. During the summers of 1778
and 1779, Prussian, Swedish, Danish, and Dutch ships were continually
overhauled by British cruisers, and robbed of cargoes which they were
carrying to France. Such gross outrages upon private property, however
sanctioned by laws of war that had grown up in a barbarous age, awakened
general indignation throughout Europe; and from whatever quarter
complaints poured in, Vergennes and Frederick took good care that they
should be laid before the Empress of Russia, until presently she came to
look upon herself as the champion of little states and oppressed

  [Sidenote: Affair of Fielding and Bylandt]

The British depredations were, moreover, apt to be characterized by an
arrogance which, while it rendered them all the more exasperating,
sometimes transcended the limits of aggression prescribed by the rude
maritime law of that day. Upon Netherland commerce England was
especially severe, for the Dutch had more merchant shipping than any
other people on the Continent, with a weak navy to protect it. England
forbade the Dutch to send timber to France, as it would probably be used
in building ships of war. On the 30th of December, 1779, seventeen Dutch
vessels, laden with tar and hemp, and other materials useful in
shipyards, were sailing through the English Channel, escorted by five
ships-of-the-line under Count Bylandt, when toward nightfall they were
overtaken and hailed by a British squadron of sixteen ships-of-the-line
under Admiral Fielding. A lively parley ensued. Bylandt swore that his
ships should not be searched, and Fielding threatened violence. While
this was going on, twelve of the Dutch ships got away under cover of
darkness, and reached in safety the French ports to which they were
bound. Early in the morning, Bylandt fired upon the boat which was
bringing a party of British officers to search the merchantmen that
remained. Upon this, three British ships instantly poured their
broadsides into the Dutch flagship, which returned the compliment, and
then hauled down its flag, as resistance was useless. Nobody was killed,
but Fielding seized the five merchantmen, and took them in to
Portsmouth. The States-General of the Netherlands complained of the
outrage to Lord Stormont, the new foreign secretary, and demanded the
restitution of the prizes. The matter was referred to the British court
of admiralty, and the singular doctrine was there laid down that the
Dutch vessels were virtually blockade-runners, and as such were lawfully
captured! "Great Britain," said the judge, "by her insular position,
blocks naturally all the ports of Spain and France, and she has a right
to avail herself of this position as a gift of Providence." But the
States-General did not accept this interpretation of the law and
theology of the matter, and they appealed to the Empress of Russia.

  [Sidenote: Spanish cruisers capture Russian vessels]

  [Sidenote: Catherine's proclamation, March 8, 1780]

Just at this moment events occurred which compelled Catherine to take
some decided stand on the question of neutral rights. Through fear of
adding her to the list of their enemies, the British ministry had
issued the most stringent orders that no Russian vessels should be
searched or molested, under any circumstances. The Dutch and Danish
flags might be insulted at pleasure, but that of Russia must be
respected; and so well were these orders obeyed that Catherine had no
grounds for complaint against England on this score. Spain, on the other
hand, was less cautious. In the winter of 1779-80, her cruisers captured
two Russian vessels laden with wheat, in the mistaken belief that their
cargoes were destined for Gibraltar. The ships were taken into Cadiz,
their cargoes were sold at auction, while their penniless crews were
outrageously treated by the people, and came little short of starving.
Hereupon Catherine without delay ordered out fifteen ships-of-the-line
and five frigates for the protection of Russian commerce. For a moment
war between Spain and Russia seemed imminent. But Panin moved with
cautious shrewdness, and consulted the King of Prussia, who persuaded
Florida Blanca to restore the captured ships, with compensation to the
owners of the cargoes, and an ample apology for the blunder. The empress
was satisfied, and Panin assured her that now the time had come for her
to act with magnanimity and power, laying down an impartial code for the
protection of maritime commerce, and thus establishing a claim to the
gratitude of mankind through all future ages. On the 8th of March, 1780,
Catherine issued a proclamation, setting forth the principles of
maritime law which she was henceforth resolved to defend by force, if
necessary. Henceforth neutral ships were to sail unmolested from port to
port, even on the coasts of countries at war. They were to be free to
carry into such ports any goods or merchandise whatsoever, except arms
and ammunition, and the right of search was to be tolerated as regarded
such contraband articles, and for no other purpose. Hereafter no port
was to be considered blockaded unless the enemy's ships of war should be
near enough to make it dangerous to enter.

  [Portrait: Gerard]

  [Sidenote: The Armed Neutrality]

These principles were immediately adopted by Spain, France, and the
United States, the three powers actually at war with England. At the
same time, Denmark and Sweden entered into an arrangement with Russia
for the mutual protection of their commerce. It was announced that for
every Danish, Swedish, or Russian ship searched or seized by the
cruisers of any belligerent power, a strict retaliation would be made by
the allied navies of these three countries. This covenant, known as the
Armed Neutrality, was practically a threat aimed at England, and through
her unwillingness to alienate Russia it proved a very effective threat.
We can now understand the interest shown by Denmark and Russia in the
victory of Paul Jones, and we can also appreciate the prodigious moral
effect of that victory. So overwhelming was England's naval superiority
that the capture of a single one of her warships was a memorable event.
To the lesser maritime powers it seemed to bring the United States at
once into the front rank of belligerents. The British ministry was too
well instructed to be brought under this spell; but in view of the great
hostile combination now formed against it, for the moment it was at its
wits' end. "An ambiguous and trimming answer was given," says Sir James
Harris; "we seemed equally afraid to accept or dismiss the new-fangled
doctrines. I was instructed secretly to oppose, but avowedly to
acquiesce in them." In England, the wrath and disgust extended to all
parties. Shelburne and Camden joined with North and Thurlow in
denouncing Catherine's proclamation as an impudent attempt, on the part
of an upstart power, hardly known on the sea till quite lately, to
dictate maritime law to the greatest maritime power the world had ever
seen. It was contended that the right to search neutral vessels and take
an enemy's goods from them was a cardinal principle of international
law; and jurists, of course, found the whole body of precedents on the
side of this opinion. But in spite of all protests these "new-fangled
doctrines," subversive of all precedent, were almost immediately adopted
throughout Europe. In December, 1780, the Netherlands joined the Armed
Neutrality, under circumstances presently to be related. In May, 1781,
it was joined by Prussia; in October, 1781, by the Empire; in July,
1782, by Portugal; in September, 1782, by the Turk; in February, 1783,
by the Kingdom of Naples. Though England's maritime strength exceeded
that of all the members of the league taken together, she could not
afford to run the risk of war with all the world at once; and thus the
doctrine that free ships make free goods acquired a firm foothold. In
the chaos of the Napoleonic wars, indeed, paper blockades and illegal
seizures abounded, and it fared ill with neutral commerce on the high
seas. But the principles laid down by Catherine survived that terrible
crisis, and at last they were formally adopted by England at the close
of the Crimean War, in 1856.

  [Sidenote: Vast Importance of the principles laid down by Catherine]

This successful assertion of the rights of neutrals was one of the
greatest and most beneficent revolutions in the whole history of human
warfare. It was the most emphatic declaration that had ever been made of
the principle that the interests of peace are paramount and permanent,
while those of war are subordinate and temporary. In the interest of
commerce it put a mighty curb upon warfare, and announced that for the
future the business of the producer is entitled to higher consideration
than that of the destroyer. Few things have ever done so much to confine
the area of warfare and limit its destructive power. If the old doctrine
were in force at the present day, when commerce has expanded to such
enormous dimensions, and every sea is populous with merchant ships, it
would be well-nigh impossible for any two maritime powers to go to war
without dragging all the rest of the world into the struggle. For the
speedy accomplishment of this great reform we have chiefly to thank the
Empress Catherine, whose action at the critical moment was so prompt and
decisive. It is curious to consider that an act which so distinctly
subordinated military to industrial interests should have emanated from
that country of Europe which had least outgrown the militant stage of
civilization, and should have been chiefly opposed by that country which
had advanced the farthest into the industrial stage. It is a brilliant
instance of what may be achieved by an enlightened despot when
circumstances are entirely favourable. Among the many acts of Catherine
which, in spite of her horrible vices, have won the admiration of
mankind, this is doubtless the most memorable; and as time goes on we
shall realize its importance more and more.

  [Sidenote: Relations between Great Britain and Holland]

The immediate effect of the Armed Neutrality was to deprive England of
one of her principal weapons of offence. To add to her embarrassment,
there now came war with Holland. While there was strong sympathy between
the British and Dutch governments, there was great jealousy between the
peoples which had so long been rivals in the colonial world. Hence
there were two parties in the Netherlands,--the party of the
Stadtholder, which was subservient to the policy of the British
government, and the popular party, which looked with favour upon the
American cause. The popular party was far the more numerous, including
all the merchants of the most mercantile of countries, and it was
especially strong in the city of Amsterdam. A brisk trade--illicit from
the British point of view--was carried on between Holland and the United
States, chiefly through the little Dutch island of St. Eustatius, in the
West Indies. An equally lively trade went on between Holland and France,
and against this England felt that she had an especial right to make
complaint. Her relations with Holland were regulated not simply by the
ordinary law of nations, but by careful and elaborate treaties, made in
the days when the two peoples were leagued in sympathy against the
aggressive policy of Louis XIV. In 1678, it had been agreed that if
either England or Holland should be attacked by France, both powers
should make common cause against their common enemy; and in 1716 this
agreement had been renewed in such wise as to include the contingency of
an attack by Spain, since a younger branch of the House of Bourbon had
succeeded to the Spanish throne. When, in 1779, Spain declared war
against England, the latter power accordingly called upon the
Netherlands for aid; but no aid was given, for the Dutch felt that they
had an especial right to complain of the conduct of England. By that
same treaty which in 1674 had finally given New York to the English, it
had been provided that in case either England or Holland should ever go
to war with any other country, the ordinary rules of maritime law should
not be enforced as between these two friendly commercial powers. It was
agreed that either power might freely trade with the enemies of the
other; and such a treaty was at that time greatly to the credit of both
nations. It was made in a moment when an honourable spirit of commercial
equity prevailed. But it was one of the chief symptoms of the utter
demoralization of the British government in 1778, after the untimely
death of Lord Chatham, that these treaty obligations were completely
ignored; and in the general plunder of merchant shipping which went on
at that time, no nation suffered like the Dutch. George III. now felt
that he had got everything into his own hands, and when the Dutch
complained he gave them to understand that, treaty or no treaty, he
should do as he pleased. Under such circumstances, it was rather cool
for England to ask aid against Spain, and the Dutch quite naturally
turned a deaf ear to the demand.

  [Portrait: Henry Laurens]

  [Sidenote: Holland joins the Armed Neutrality]

It was thus a very pretty quarrel as it stood at the end of 1779, when
Fielding fired upon the flagship of Count Bylandt, and Paul Jones was
allowed to stay with his prizes ten weeks in a Dutch harbour. Each party
was thus furnished with an "outrage." The righteous anger of the Dutch
over the high-handed conduct of Fielding was matched by the British
chagrin over the victory of Jones. The Stadtholder's weak efforts to
keep the peace were quite overwhelmed in the storm of wrath that arose.
After much altercation, England notified Holland that all treaties
between the two countries must be considered as abrogated, owing to the
faithless behaviour of the Dutch in refusing aid against Spain, in
trading with France and America, in resisting the right of search, and
in sheltering Paul Jones. Having thus got rid of the treaties, England
proceeded to act as if there were no such thing as international law
where Dutchmen were concerned. During the summer of 1780, the wholesale
robbery on the high seas grew worse than ever, and, with a baseness that
seems almost incredible, the British ambassador at the Hague was
instructed to act as a spy, and gather information concerning the
voyages of Dutch merchants, so that British cruisers might know just
where to pounce upon the richest prizes. Thus goaded beyond human
endurance, Holland at last joined the Armed Neutrality, hoping thereby
to enlist in her behalf the formidable power of Russia.

  [Portrait: William Lee]

  [Sidenote: Capture of Henry Laurens and his papers]

  [Sidenote: Great Britain declares war against Holland, Dec. 20, 1780]

But the policy of England, though bold in the extreme, was so far well
considered as to have provided against such an emergency. She was
determined to make war on Holland, to punish her for joining the Armed
Neutrality; but if she were to avow this reason, it would at once entail
war with Russia also, so that it was necessary to find some other
reason. The requisite bone of contention was furnished by a curiously
opportune accident. In October, 1780, an American packet was captured
off the banks of Newfoundland, and among the prisoners was Henry
Laurens, lately president of Congress, now on his way to the Hague to
negotiate a loan. He threw his papers overboard, but a quick-witted tar
jumped after them, and caught them in the water. Among them was found a
project for a future treaty of commerce between the Netherlands and the
United States which had been secretly concerted two years before between
Jean de Neufville, an Amsterdam merchant, and William Lee, an American
commissioner to Berlin. It was signed also by Van Berckel, the chief
magistrate of Amsterdam; but as it had been neither authorized nor
sanctioned by the States-General or by Congress, it had no validity
whatever. Quite naturally, however, the discovery of such a document
caused much irritation in England, and it furnished just the sort of
excuse for going to war which the ministry wanted. To impose upon the
imagination of the common people, Laurens was escorted through the
streets of London by a regiment of soldiers, and shut up in the Tower,
where he was denied pen and paper, and no one was allowed to enter his
room. A demand was made upon Holland to disavow the act of Van Berckel,
and to inflict condign punishment upon him and his accomplices, "as
disturbers of the public peace and violators of the rights of nations."
In making this demand, it was foreseen that the States-General would
disavow the act of Van Berckel, but would nevertheless decline to regard
him as a fit subject for punishment. The message was sent to the British
ambassador at the Hague on the 3d of November. It was then known in
England that Holland contemplated joining the Northern league, but the
decisive step had not yet been actually taken by the States-General. The
ambassador was secretly instructed by Lord Stormont not to present the
demand for the disavowal and punishment of Van Berckel unless it should
become absolutely certain that Holland had joined the league. At their
meeting in November, the States-General voted to join the league, and
the demand was accordingly presented. Everything happened according to
the programme. The States-General freely condemned and disavowed the
Amsterdam affair, and offered to make reparation; but with regard to the
punishment of Van Berckel, they decided that an inquiry must first be
made as to the precise nature of his offence and the court most fit for
trying him. England replied by a peremptory demand for the immediate
punishment of Van Berckel, and, without waiting for an answer, proceeded
to declare war against Holland on the 20th of December. Four days before
this, the swiftest ship that could be found was sent to Admiral Rodney,
who was then at Barbadoes, ordering him to seize upon St. Eustatius
without a moment's delay.

  [Sidenote: Catherine decides not to interfere]

Whatever other qualities may have been lacking in the British ministry
at this time, they certainly were not wanting in pluck. England had now
to fight single-handed against four nations, three of which were, after
herself, the chief naval powers of the world. According to the
Malmesbury Diaries, "this bold conduct made a great and useful
impression upon the Empress" of Russia. It was partly with a view to
this moral effect that the ministry were so ready to declare war. It was
just at this time that they were proposing, by the offer of Minorca, to
tempt Catherine into an alliance with England; and they did not wish to
have her interpret their eagerness to secure her aid as a confession of
weakness or discouragement. By making war on Holland, they sought to
show themselves as full of the spirit of fight as ever. To strengthen
the impression, Harris blustered and bragged. The Dutch, said he, "are
ungrateful, dirty, senseless boors, and, since they will be ruined, must
submit to their fate." But in all this the British government was
sailing very near the wind. Prince Galitzin, the Russian ambassador at
the Hague, correctly reported that the accession of Holland to the
Armed Neutrality was the real cause of the war, and that the Amsterdam
affair was only a pretext. Upon this ground, the Dutch requested armed
assistance from Catherine, as chief of the league. The empress
hesitated; she knew the true state of the case as well as any one, but
it was open to her to accept the British story or not, as might seem
best. Dispatches from Berlin announced that Frederick was very angry.
When he first heard the news, he exclaimed, "Well! since the English
want a war with the whole world, they shall have it." Catherine then sat
down and wrote with her own hand a secret letter to Frederick, asking
him if he would join her in making war upon England. On second thoughts,
the King of Prussia concluded there was no good reason for taking part
in the affair, and he advised Catherine also to keep her hands free.
This decided the empress. She did not care to make war upon England,
except with such overwhelming force as to be sure of extorting some
important concessions. She accordingly chose to believe the British
story, and she refused to aid the Dutch, on the ground that their
quarrel with England grew out of a matter with which the Armed
Neutrality had nothing to do. At the same time, after dallying for a
while with the offer of Minorca, she refused that also, and decided to
preserve to the end the impartial attitude which she had maintained from
the beginning.


  [Illustration: North (as Boreas) studying the Americans
                 The King and Queen (as Farmer George and his Wife)

  [Sidenote: Capture of St. Eustatius, Feb. 3, 1781]

  [Sidenote: Shameful proceedings]

Meanwhile, on the 3d of February, 1781, a powerful fleet under Rodney,
with the force of 5,000 men which had been detached in November, 1779,
from Clinton's army in New York, appeared before the island of St.
Eustatius, and summoned it to surrender. The Dutch governor, ignorant of
the fact that war had begun, had only fifty-five soldiers on the island.
He had no choice but to surrender, and the place was given up without a
blow. The British had an especial spleen against this wealthy little
island, which had come to be the centre of an enormous trade between
France and Holland and the United States. Rodney called it a nest of
thieves, and declared that "this rock, only six miles in length and
three in breadth, had done England more harm than all the arms of her
most potent enemies, and alone supported the infamous American
rebellion." His colleague, General Vaughan, who commanded the land
force, regarded it as a feeder for the American "colonies," of which the
summary extinction would go far toward ending the war. With such
feelings, they made up their minds to do their work thoroughly; and
accordingly they confiscated to the Crown not only all the public
stores, but all the private property of the inhabitants. Their orders
were carried out with great brutality. The goods in the warehouses were
seized and laden upon ships, to be carried away and sold at auction in
the neighbouring islands. Every kind of private and personal property
was laid hold of, and the beggared inhabitants were turned out of doors
and ordered to quit the island. The total value of the booty amounted to
more than twenty million dollars. Among the victims of this robbery were
many British merchants, who were no better treated than the rest. Rodney
tore up their remonstrance without reading it, and exclaimed, "This
island is Dutch, and everything in it is Dutch, and as Dutch you shall
all be treated." The proceedings were fitly crowned by an act of
treachery. The Dutch flag was kept flying as a decoy, and in the course
of the next seven weeks more than fifty American ships, ignorant of the
fate of the island, were captured by the aid of this dirty stratagem.

The conduct of the government in declaring war against Holland was
denounced by the Whigs as criminal, and the true character of the
shameful affair of St. Eustatius was shown up by Burke in two powerful
speeches. But the government capped the climax when it deliberately
approved the conduct of Rodney, and praised him for it. Many of the
British victims, however, brought their cases before the courts, and
obtained judgments which condemned as illegal the seizure of private
property so far as they were concerned. On the continent of Europe, the
outrage awakened general indignation, as an infraction of the laws and
usages of civilized warfare, the like of which had not been seen for
many years; and it served to alienate from Great Britain the little
sympathy that remained for her.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the historian who appreciates the glorious part which England has
played in history, the proceedings here recorded are painful to
contemplate; and to no one should they be more painful than to the
American, whose forefathers climbed with Wolfe the rugged bank of the
St. Lawrence; or a century earlier, from their homes in New England
forests, heard with delight of Naseby and Marston Moor; or back yet
another hundred years, in Lincolnshire villages defied the tyranny of
Gardiner and Bonner; or at yet a more remote period did yeoman's
service in the army of glorious Earl Simon, or stood, perhaps, beside
great Edward on the hallowed fields of Palestine. The pride with which
one recalls such memories as these explains and justifies the sorrow and
disgust with which one contemplates the spectacle of a truculent George
Germain, an unscrupulous Stormont, or a frivolous North; or hears the
dismal stories of Indian massacres, of defenceless villages laid in
ashes, of legalized robbery on the ocean highway, or of colossal
buccaneering, such as that which was witnessed at St. Eustatius. The
earlier part of the reign of George III. is that period of English
history of which an enlightened Englishman must feel most ashamed, as an
enlightened Frenchman must feel ashamed of the reigns of Louis XIV. and
the two Bonapartes. All these were periods of wholesale political
corruption, of oppression at home and unrighteous warfare abroad, and
all invited swift retribution in the shape of diminished empire and
temporary lowering of the national prestige. It was not until after the
downfall of the personal government of George III. that England began to
resume her natural place in the foremost rank of liberal and progressive
powers. Toward that happy result, the renewal and purification of
English political life, the sturdy fight sustained by the Americans in
defence of their liberties did much to contribute. The winning of
independence by the Americans was the winning of a higher political
standpoint for England and for the world.


  [28] The first commander-in-chief of the United States navy was
       Ezekiel Hopkins, of Rhode Island, appointed by Congress in
       December, 1775. His rank was intended to correspond in the
       navy with that held by Washington in the army. In the papers
       of the time he is often styled "admiral," but among seamen he
       was commonly known as "commodore." The officers next below him
       were captains. In February, 1776, Hopkins got out to sea with
       a small fleet; in April, with two sloops-of-war and three
       small brigs, he attacked the British sloop Glasgow 20, and
       failed to take her. His failure was visited with severe and
       perhaps excessive condemnation; in the following October,
       Congress passed a vote of censure on him, and in January,
       1777, dismissed him from the service. For the rest of the war
       no commander-in-chief of the navy was appointed.

       One of Hopkins's vessels, the brig Lexington 14, was commanded
       by John Barry, a native of Wexford county, Ireland, who had
       long dwelt in Philadelphia. In April, 1776, a few days after
       Hopkins's failure, the Lexington met the British tender Edward
       off the capes of Virginia, and captured her after an hour's
       fight. This was the first capture of a British warship by an
       American. Barry served with distinction through the war and
       died at the head of the navy in 1803.

  [29] In March, 1780, the navy of the United States consisted of the
       following vessels:--

       America 74, Capt. John Barry, on the stocks at Portsmouth, N. H.
       Confederacy 36, Capt. Seth Harding, refitting at Martinico.
       Bourbon 36, Capt. Thomas Read, on the stocks in Connecticut.
       Alliance 32, Capt. Paul Jones, in France. Trumbull 28, Capt.
       James Nicholson, ready for sea in Connecticut. Deane 28, Capt.
       Samuel Nicholson, on a cruise. Providence 28, Capt. Abraham
       Whipple, } Boston 28, Capt. Samuel Tucker, } defending the
       harbour Queen of France 20, Capt. I. Rathbourne, } of
       Charleston, S.C. Ranger 18, Capt. S. Sampson, } Saratoga 18,
       Capt. J. Young, on the stocks at Philadelphia.

       See _Sparks MSS._ xlix. vol. iii. in Harvard University Library.

  [30] Richard Paton's picture of this sea-fight, of which a
       photogravure is here given, departs somewhat from the strict
       truth of history, as is apt to be the case with historical
       pictures. The Alliance is represented in the act of delivering
       her impartial volley into the stern of the Serapis and the bow
       of the Bon Homme Richard, which occurred soon after ten
       o'clock. At the same time the mainmast of the Serapis is
       represented as overboard, whereas it did not fall until the
       ships were separated after the surrender, as late as half past
       eleven. Apart from this inaccuracy, the general conception of
       the picture is admirable. The engraving, published in 1780, was
       dedicated to Sir Richard Pearson, the captain of the Serapis,
       who was deservedly knighted for his heroic resistance, which
       saved the Baltic fleet, although he was worsted in the fight.
       There is a tradition that Paul Jones, on hearing of the honour
       conferred upon Pearson, good-naturedly observed, "If I ever
       meet him again I'll make a lord of him."

                              CHAPTER XIII

                         A YEAR OF DISASTERS

After the surrender of Burgoyne, the military attitude of the British in
the northern states became, as we have seen, purely defensive. Their
efforts were almost exclusively directed toward maintaining their
foothold, at first in the islands of New York and Rhode Island,
afterward in New York alone, whence their ships could ascend the Hudson
as far as the frowning crags which sentinel the entrance of the
Highlands. Their offensive operations were restricted to a few
plundering expeditions along the coast, well calculated to remind the
worthy Connecticut farmers of the ubiquitousness of British power, and
the vanity of hopes that might have been built upon the expectation of
naval aid from France. But while the war thus languished at the centre,
while at the same time it sent forth waves of disturbance that
reverberated all the way from the Mississippi river to the Baltic sea,
on the other hand the southernmost American states were the scene of
continuous and vigorous fighting. Upon the reduction of the Carolinas
and Georgia the king and Lord George Germain had set their hearts. If
the rebellion could not be broken at the centre, it was hoped that it
might at least be frayed away at the edges; and should fortune so far
smile upon the royal armies as to give them Virginia also, perhaps the
campaigns against the wearied North might be renewed at some later time
and under better auspices.

  [Sidenote: State of things in the Far South]

In this view there was much that was plausible. Events had shown that
the ministry had clearly erred in striking the rebellion at its
strongest point; it now seemed worth while to aim a blow where it was
weakest. The people of New England were almost unanimous in their
opposition to the king, and up to this time the states of Massachusetts
and Connecticut in particular had done more to sustain the war than all
the others put together. Georgia and the Carolinas, a thousand miles
distant, might be regarded as almost beyond the reach of reinforcements
from New England; and it might be doubted whether they possessed the
ability to defend themselves against a well-planned attack. Georgia, the
weakest of the thirteen states, bordered upon the British territory of
Florida. In South Carolina the character of the population made it
difficult to organize resistance. The citizens of Charleston, and the
rich planters of English or Huguenot descent inhabiting the lowlands,
belonged mostly to the revolutionary party, but they were outnumbered by
their negro slaves; and the peculiar features of slavery in South
Carolina made this a very embarrassing circumstance. The relations
between master and slave were not friendly there, as they were in
Virginia; and while the state had kept up a militia during the whole
colonial period, this militia found plenty of employment in patrolling
the slave quarters, in searching for hidden weapons, and in hunting
fugitives. It was now correctly surmised that on the approach of an
invading army the dread of negro insurrection, with all its nameless
horrors, would paralyze the arm of the state militia. While the
patriotic South Carolinians were thus handicapped in entering upon the
contest, there were in the white population many discordant elements. It
was commonly said that the Quakers and men of German ancestry took
little interest in politics, and were only too ready to submit to any
authority that would protect them in their ordinary pursuits. A strong
contrast to the political apathy of these worthy men was to be found in
the rugged population of the upland counties. Here the small farmers of
Scotch-Irish descent were, every man of them, Whigs, burning with a
fanatical hatred of England; while, on the other hand, the Scotchmen who
had come over since Culloden were mostly Tories, and had by no means as
yet cast off that half-savage type of Highland character which we find
so vividly portrayed in the Waverley novels. It was not strange that the
firebrands of war, thrown among such combustible material, should have
flamed forth with a glare of unwonted cruelty; nor was it strange that a
commonwealth containing such incongruous elements, so imperfectly
blended, should have been speedily, though but for a moment, overcome.
The fit ground for wonder is that, in spite of such adverse
circumstances, the state of South Carolina should have shown as much
elastic strength as she did under the severest military stress which any
American state was called upon to withstand during the Revolutionary



  [Sidenote: Georgia overrun by the British]

Since the defeat of the British fleet before Charleston, in June 1776,
the southern states had been left unmolested until the autumn of 1778,
when there was more or less frontier skirmishing between Georgia and
Florida,--a slight premonitory symptom of the storm that was coming. The
American forces in the southern department were then commanded by
General Robert Howe, who was one of the most distinguished patriots of
North Carolina, but whose military capacity seems to have been slender.
In the autumn of 1778 he had his headquarters at Savannah, for there was
war on the frontier. Guerrilla parties, made up chiefly of vindictive
loyalist refugees, but aided by a few British regulars from General
Augustine Prevost's force in Florida, invaded the rice plantations of
Georgia, burning and murdering, and carrying off negroes,--not to set
them free, but to sell them for their own benefit. As a
counter-irritant, General Howe planned an expedition against St.
Augustine, and advanced as far as St. Mary's river; but so many men were
swept away by fever that he was obliged to retreat to Savannah. He had
scarcely arrived there when 3,500 British regulars from New York, under
Colonel Campbell, landed in the neighbourhood, and offered him battle.
Though his own force numbered only 1,200, of whom half were militia,
Howe accepted the challenge, relying upon the protection of a great
swamp which covered his flanks. But a path through the swamp was pointed
out to the enemy by a negro, and the Americans, attacked in front and
behind, were instantly routed. Some 500 prisoners were taken, and
Savannah surrendered, with all its guns and stores; and this achievement
cost the British but 24 men. A few days afterward, General Prevost
advanced from Florida and captured Sunbury, with all its garrison, while
Colonel Campbell captured Augusta. A proclamation was issued, offering
protection to such of the inhabitants as would take up arms in behalf of
the king's government, while all others were by implication outlawed.
The ugly temper of Lord George Germain was plainly visible in this
proclamation and in the proceedings that followed. A shameless and
promiscuous plunder was begun. The captive soldiers were packed into
prison-ships and treated with barbarity. The more timid people sought to
save their property by taking sides with the enemy, while the bolder
spirits took refuge in the mountains; and thus General Prevost was
enabled to write home that the state of Georgia was conquered.

  [Sidenote: Arrival of General Lincoln]

  [Sidenote: Barbarous reprisals]

At the request of the southern delegates in Congress, General Howe had
already been superseded by General Benjamin Lincoln, who had won
distinction through his management of the New England militia in the
Saratoga campaign. When Lincoln arrived at Charleston, in December,
1778, an attempt was made to call out the lowland militia of South
Carolina, but the dread of the slaves kept them from obeying the
summons. North Carolina, however, sent 2,000 men under John Ashe, one of
the most eminent of the southern patriots; and with this force and 600
Continentals the new general watched the Savannah river and waited his
chances. But North Carolina sent foes as well as friends to take part in
the contest. A party of 700 loyalists from that state were marching
across South Carolina to join the British garrison at Augusta, when they
were suddenly attacked by Colonel Andrew Pickens with a small force of
upland militia. In a sharp fight the Tories were routed, and half their
number were taken prisoners. Indictments for treason were brought
against many of these prisoners, and, after trial before a civil court,
some seventy were found guilty, and five of them were hanged. The
rashness of this step soon became apparent. The British had put in
command of Augusta one Colonel Thomas Browne, a Tory, who had been
tarred and feathered by his neighbours at the beginning of the war. As
soon as Browne heard of these executions for treason, he forthwith
hanged some of his Whig prisoners; and thus was begun a long series of
stupid and cruel reprisals, which, as time went on, bore bitter fruit.

  [Portrait: And^w Pickens]

  [Portrait: B Lincoln]

  [Sidenote: Americans routed at Briar Creek, March 3, 1779]

  [Sidenote: Provost's vandalism]

While these things were going on in the back country, the British on the
coast attempted to capture Port Royal, but were defeated, with heavy
loss, by General Moultrie. Lincoln now felt able to assume the
offensive, and he sent General Ashe with 1,500 men to threaten Augusta.
At his approach the British abandoned the town, and retreated toward
Savannah. Ashe pursued closely, but at Briar Creek, on the 3d of March,
1779, the British turned upon him and routed him. The Americans lost 400
in killed and wounded, besides seven pieces of artillery and more than
1,000 stand of arms. Less than 500 succeeded in making their way back to
Lincoln's camp; and this victory cost the British but five men killed
and eleven wounded. Augusta was at once retaken; the royal governor, Sir
James Wright, was reinstated in office; and, in general, the machinery
of government which had been in operation previous to 1776 was restored.
Lincoln, however, was far from accepting the defeat as final. With the
energetic coöperation of Governor Rutledge, to whom extraordinary powers
were granted for the occasion, enough militia were got together to
repair the losses suffered at Briar Creek; and in April, leaving
Moultrie with 1,000 men to guard the lower Savannah, Lincoln marched
upon Augusta with the rest of his army, hoping to capture it, and give
the legislature of Georgia a chance to assemble there, and destroy the
moral effect of this apparent restoration of the royal government. But
as soon as Lincoln had got out of the way, General Prevost crossed the
Savannah with 3,000 men and advanced upon Charleston, laying waste the
country and driving Moultrie before him. It was a moment of terror and
confusion. In General Prevost there was at last found a man after Lord
George Germain's own heart. His march was a scene of wanton vandalism.
The houses of the wealthy planters were mercilessly sacked; their
treasures of silver plate were loaded on carts and carried off; their
mirrors and china were smashed, their family portraits cut to pieces,
their gardens trampled out, their shade-trees girdled and ruined; and
as Prevost had a band of Cherokees with him, the horrors of the tomahawk
and scalping-knife in some instances crowned the shameful work. The
cabins of the slaves were burned. Cattle, horses, dogs, and poultry,
when not carried away, were slaughtered wholesale, and the destruction
of food was so great that something like famine set in. More than a
thousand negroes are said to have died of starvation.

  [Sidenote: Plan for arming negroes]

In such wise did Prevost leisurely make his way toward Charleston; and
reaching it on the 11th of May, he sent in a summons to surrender. A
strangely interesting scene ensued. Events had occurred which had sorely
perturbed the minds of the members of the state council. Pondering upon
the best means of making the state militia available, Henry Laurens had
hit upon the bold expedient of arming the most stalwart and courageous
negroes, and marching them off to camp under the lead of white officers.
Such a policy might be expected to improve the relations between whites
and blacks by uniting them against a common danger, while the
plantations would be to some extent relieved of an abiding source of
dread. The plan was warmly approved by Laurens's son, who was an officer
on Washington's staff, as well as by Alexander Hamilton, who further
suggested that the blacks thus enrolled as militia should at the same
time be given their freedom. Washington, on the other hand, feared that
if the South Carolinians were to adopt such a policy the British would
forestall them by offering better arms and equipments to the negroes,
and thus muster them against their masters. It was a game, he felt, at
which two could play. The matter was earnestly discussed, and at last
was brought before Congress, which approved of Laurens's plan, and
recommended it to the consideration of the people of South Carolina; and
it was just before the arrival of Prevost and his army that the younger
Laurens reached Charleston with this message from Congress.

  [Sidenote: Indignation in South Carolina]

  [Sidenote: Action of the council]

The advice was received in anything but a grateful spirit. For a
century the state had maintained an armed patrol to go about among the
negro quarters and confiscate every pistol, gun, or knife that could be
found, and now it was proposed that three or four thousand slaves should
actually be furnished with muskets by the state! People were startled at
the thought, and there might well be a great diversity of opinion as to
the feasibleness of so bold a measure at so critical a moment. To most
persons it seemed like jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire.
Coming, too, at a moment when the state was in such desperate need of
armed assistance from Congress, this advice was very irritating. The
people naturally could not make due allowance for the difficulties under
which Congress laboured, and their wrath waxed hot. South Carolina
seemed to be left in the lurch. Was it to join such a league as this
that she had cast off allegiance to Great Britain? She had joined in the
Declaration of Independence reluctantly, and from an honourable feeling
of the desirableness of united action among the states. On that
momentous day, of which it was not yet clear whether the result was to
be the salvation or the ruin of America, her delegates had, with wise
courtesy, changed their vote in deference to the opinions of the other
states, in order that the American people might behave as a unit in so
solemn a matter. And now that the state was invaded, her people robbed
and insulted, and her chief city threatened, she was virtually bidden to
shift for herself! Under the influence of such feelings as these, after
a hot debate, the council, by a bare majority, decided to send a flag of
truce to General Prevost, and to suggest that South Carolina should
remain neutral until the end of the war, when it should be decided by
treaty whether she should cast in her lot with Great Britain or with the
United States. What might have come of this singular suggestion had it
been seriously discussed we shall never know, for Prevost took no notice
of it whatever. To neutralize South Carolina would not accord with the
British plan which involved the conquest and occupation of that state
as a base from which to proceed to the subjugation of its neighbours to
the north. Prevost refused to exchange question and answer with a branch
of the rebel government of South Carolina, but to Moultrie, as military
commandant, he announced that his only terms were unconditional
surrender. We can imagine how the gallant heart of Moultrie must have
sunk within him at what he could not but call the dastardly action of
the council, and how it must have leaped with honest joy at the British
general's ultimatum. "Very good," said he simply; "we'll fight it out,

  [Portrait: COUNT PULASKI]

In citing this incident for its real historic interest, we must avoid
the error of making too much of it. At this moment of sudden peril,
indignation at the fancied neglect of Congress was joined to the natural
unwillingness, on the part of the council, to incur the risk of giving
up the property of their fellow-citizens to the tender mercies of such a
buccaneer as Prevost had shown himself to be. But there is no sufficient
reason for supposing that, had the matter gone farther, the suggestion
of the council would have been adopted by the legislature or acquiesced
in by the people of South Carolina.

  [Sidenote: End of the campaign]

On this occasion the danger vanished as suddenly as it came. Count
Pulaski, with his legion, arrived from the northern army, and Lincoln,
as soon as he learned what was going on, retraced his steps, and
presently attacked General Prevost. After an indecisive skirmish, the
latter, judging his force inadequate for the work he had undertaken,
retreated into Georgia, and nothing more was done till autumn. The
military honours of the campaign, however, remained with the British;
for by his march upon Charleston Prevost had prevented Lincoln from
disturbing the British supremacy in Georgia, and besides this he had
gained a foothold in South Carolina; when he retreated he left a
garrison in Beaufort which Lincoln was unable to dislodge.

  [Signature: Veritable ami et Serviteur Pulaski]

  [Sidenote: Attempt to recapture Savannah]

The French alliance, which thus far had been of so little direct
military value, now appears again upon the scene. During the year which
had elapsed since the futile Rhode Island campaign, the French fleet had
been busy in the West Indies. Honours were easy, on the whole, between
the two great maritime antagonists, but the French had so far the
advantage that in August, 1779, Estaing was able once more to give some
attention to his American friends. On the first day of September he
appeared off the coast of Georgia with a powerful fleet of twenty-two
ships-of-the-line and eleven frigates. Great hopes were now conceived
by the Americans, and a plan was laid for the recapture of Savannah. By
the 23d of the month the place was invested by the combined forces of
Lincoln and Estaing, and for three weeks the siege was vigorously
carried on by a regular system of approaches, while the works were
diligently bombarded by the fleet. At length Estaing grew impatient.
There was not sufficient harbourage for his great ships, and the
captains feared that they might be overtaken by the dangerous autumnal
gales for which that coast is noted. To reduce the town by a regular
siege would perhaps take several weeks more, and it was accordingly
thought best to try to carry it by storm. On the 9th of October a
terrific assault was made in full force. Some of the outworks were
carried, and for a moment the stars and stripes and the fleurs-de-lis
were planted on the redoubts; but British endurance and the strength of
the position at last prevailed. The assailants were totally defeated,
losing more than 1,000 men, while the British, in their sheltered
position, lost but 55. The gallant Pulaski was among the slain, and
Estaing received two severe wounds. The French, who had borne the brunt
of the fight, now embarked and stood out to sea, but not in time to
escape the October gale which they had been dreading. After weathering
with difficulty a terrible storm, their fleet was divided; and while
part returned to the West Indies, Estaing himself, with the remainder,
crossed to France. Thus the second attempt at concerted action between
French and Americans had met with even more lamentable failure than the

  [Sidenote: Sir Henry Clinton and Lord Cornwallis go to Georgia]

While these things were going on, Washington had hoped, and Clinton had
feared, that Estaing might presently reach New York in such force as to
turn the scale there against the British. As soon as he learned that the
French fleet was out of the way, Sir Henry Clinton proceeded to carry
out a plan which he had long had in contemplation. A year had now
elapsed since the beginning of active operations in the south, and,
although the British arms had been crowned with success, it was
desirable to strike a still heavier blow. The capture of the chief
southern city was not only the next step in the plan of the campaign,
but it was an object of especial desire to Sir Henry Clinton personally,
for he had not forgotten the humiliating defeat at Fort Moultrie in
1776. He accordingly made things as snug as possible at the north, by
finally withdrawing the garrisons from Rhode Island and the advanced
posts on the Hudson. In this way, while leaving Knyphausen with a strong
force in command of New York, he was enabled to embark 8,000 men on
transports, under convoy of five ships-of-the-line; and on the day after
Christmas, 1779, he set sail for Savannah, taking Lord Cornwallis with

The voyage was a rough one. Some of the transports foundered, and some
were captured by American privateers. Yet when Clinton arrived in
Georgia, and united his forces to those of Prevost, the total amounted
to more than 10,000 men. He ventured, however, to weaken the garrison of
New York still more, and sent back at once for 3,000 men under command
of the young Lord Rawdon, of the famous family of Hastings,--better
known in after-years as Earl of Moira and Marquis of Hastings, and
destined, like Cornwallis, to serve with great distinction as
governor-general of India. The event fully justified Clinton's sagacity
in taking this step. New York was quite safe for the present; for so
urgent was the need for troops in South Carolina, and so great the
difficulty of raising them, that Washington was obliged to detach from
his army all the Virginia and North Carolina troops, and sent them down
to aid General Lincoln. With his army thus weakened, it was out of the
question for Washington to attack New York.

  [Portrait: Knyphausen]

  [Sidenote: The British advance upon Charleston]

Lincoln, on the other hand, after his reinforcements arrived, had an
army of 7,000 men with which to defend the threatened state of South
Carolina. It was an inadequate force, and its commander, a thoroughly
brave and estimable man, was far from possessing the rare sagacity which
Washington displayed in baffling the schemes of the enemy. The
government of South Carolina deemed the preservation of Charleston to be
of the first importance, just as, in 1776, Congress had insisted upon
the importance of keeping the city of New York. But we have seen how
Washington, in that trying time, though he could not keep the city,
never allowed himself to get his army into a position from which he
could not withdraw it, and at last, through his sleepless vigilance, won
all the honours of the campaign. In the defence of Charleston no such
high sagacity was shown. Clinton advanced slowly overland, until on the
26th of February, 1780, he came in sight of the town. It had by that
time become so apparent that his overwhelming superiority of force would
enable him to encompass it on every side, that Lincoln should have
evacuated the place without a moment's delay; and such was Washington's
opinion as soon as he learned the facts. The loss of Charleston, however
serious a blow, could in no case be so disastrous as the loss of the
army. But Lincoln went on strengthening the fortifications, and
gathering into the trap all the men and all the military resources he
could find. For some weeks the connections with the country north of the
Cooper river were kept open by two regiments of cavalry; but on the 14th
of April these regiments were cut to pieces by Colonel Banastre
Tarleton, the cavalry commander, who now first appeared on the scene
upon which he was soon to become so famous. Five days later, the
reinforcement under Lord Rawdon, arriving from New York, completed the
investment of the doomed city. The ships entering the harbour did not
attempt to batter down Fort Moultrie, but ran past it; and on the 6th of
May this fortress, menaced by troops in the rear, surrendered.

  [Sidenote: Surrender of Charleston, May 12, 1780]

The British army now held Charleston engirdled with a cordon of works on
every side, and were ready to begin an assault which, with the disparity
of forces in the case, could have but one possible issue. On the 12th of
May, to avoid a wanton waste of life, the city was surrendered, and
Lincoln and his whole army became prisoners of war. The Continental
troops, some 3,000 in number, were to be held as prisoners till
regularly exchanged. The militia were allowed to return home on parole,
and all the male citizens were reckoned as militia, and paroled
likewise. The victorious Clinton at once sent expeditions to take
possession of Camden and other strategic points in the interior of the
state. One regiment of the Virginia line, under Colonel Buford, had not
reached Charleston, and on hearing of the great catastrophe it retreated
northward with all possible speed. But Tarleton gave chase as far as
Waxhaws, near the North Carolina border, and there, overtaking Buford,
cut his force to pieces, slaying 113 and capturing the rest. Not a
vestige of an American army was left in all South Carolina.


  [Sidenote: South Carolina overrun by the British]

"We look on America as at our feet," said Horace Walpole; and doubtless,
after the capture of Fort Washington, this capture of Lincoln's army at
Charleston was the most considerable disaster which befell the American
arms during the whole course of the war. It was of less critical
importance than the affair of Fort Washington, as it occurred at what
every one must admit to have been a less critical moment. The loss of
Fort Washington, taken in connection with the misconduct of Charles Lee,
came within a hair's-breadth of wrecking the cause of American
independence at the outset; and it put matters into so bad a shape that
nothing short of Washington's genius could have wrought victory out of
them. The loss of South Carolina, in May, 1780, serious as it was, did
not so obviously imperil the whole American cause. The blow did not come
at quite so critical a time, or in quite so critical a place. The loss
of South Carolina would not have dismembered the confederacy of states,
and in course of time, with the American cause elsewhere successful, she
might have been recovered. The blow was nevertheless very serious
indeed, and, if all the consequences which Clinton contemplated had been
achieved, it might have proved fatal. To crush a limb may sometimes be
as dangerous as to stab the heart. For its temporary completeness, the
overthrow may well have seemed greater than that of Fort Washington. The
detachments which Clinton sent into the interior met with no resistance.
Many of the inhabitants took the oath of allegiance to the Crown; others
gave their parole not to serve against the British during the remainder
of the war. Clinton issued a circular, inviting all well-disposed people
to assemble and organize a loyal militia for the purpose of suppressing
any future attempts at rebellion. All who should again venture to take
up arms against the king were to be dealt with as traitors, and their
estates were to be confiscated; but to all who should now return to
their allegiance a free pardon was offered for past offences, except in
the case of such people as had taken part in the hanging of Tories.
Having struck this great blow, Sir Henry Clinton returned, in June, to
New York, taking back with him the larger part of his force, but leaving
Cornwallis with 5,000 men to maintain and extend the conquests already


  [Sidenote: An injudicious proclamation]

  [Sidenote: Disorders in South Carolina]

Just before starting, however, Sir Henry, in a too hopeful moment,
issued another proclamation, which went far toward destroying the effect
of his previous measures. This new proclamation required all the people
of South Carolina to take an active part in reëstablishing the royal
government, under penalty of being dealt with as rebels and traitors. At
the same time, all paroles were discharged except in the case of
prisoners captured in ordinary warfare, and thus everybody was compelled
to declare himself as favourable or hostile to the cause of the
invaders. The British commander could hardly have taken a more
injudicious step. Under the first proclamation, many of the people were
led to comply with the British demands because they wished to avoid
fighting altogether; under the second, a neutral attitude became
impossible, and these lovers of peace and quiet, when they found
themselves constrained to take an active part on one side or the other,
naturally preferred to help their friends rather than their enemies.
Thus the country soon showed itself restless under British rule, and
this feeling was strengthened by the cruelties which, after Clinton's
departure, Cornwallis found himself quite unable to prevent. Officers
endowed with civil and military powers combined were sent about the
country in all directions, to make full lists of the inhabitants for the
purpose of enrolling a loyalist militia. In the course of these
unwelcome circuits many affrays occurred, and instances were not rare in
which people were murdered in cold blood. Debtors took occasion to
accuse their creditors of want of loyalty, and the creditor was obliged
to take the oath of allegiance before he could collect his dues. Many
estates were confiscated, and the houses of such patriots as had sought
refuge in the mountains were burned. Bands of armed men, whose aim was
revenge or plunder, volunteered their services in preserving order, and,
getting commissions, went about making disorder more hideous, and
wreaking their evil will without let or hindrance. The loyalists,
indeed, asserted that they behaved no worse than the Whigs when the
latter got the upper hand, and in this there was much truth. Cornwallis,
who was the most conscientious of men and very careful in his statements
of fact, speaks, somewhat later, of "the shocking tortures and inhuman
murders which are every day committed by the enemy, not only on those
who have taken part with us, but on many who refuse to join them." There
can be no doubt that Whigs and Tories were alike guilty of cruelty and
injustice. But on the present occasion all this disorder served to throw
discredit on the British, as the party which controlled the country, and
must be held responsible accordingly.

  [Sidenote: The strategic points]

  [Sidenote: Partisan commanders]

Organized resistance was impossible. The chief strategic points on the
coast were Charleston, Beaufort, and Savannah; in the interior, Augusta
was the gateway of Georgia, and the communications between this point
and the wild mountains of North Carolina were dominated by a village
known as "Ninety-Six," because it was just that number of miles distant
from Keowee, the principal town of the Cherokees. Eighty miles to the
northeast of Ninety-Six lay the still more important post of Camden, in
which centred all the principal inland roads by which South Carolina
could be reached from the north. All these strategic points were held in
force by the British, and save by help from without there seemed to be
no hope of releasing the state from their iron grasp. Among the
patriotic Whigs, however, there were still some stout hearts that did
not despair. Retiring to the dense woods, the tangled swamps, or the
steep mountain defiles, these sagacious and resolute men kept up a
romantic partisan warfare, full of midnight marches, sudden surprises,
and desperate hand-to-hand combats. Foremost among these partisan
commanders, for enterprise and skill, were James Williams, Andrew
Pickens, Thomas Sumter, and Francis Marion.

  [Portrait: FRANCIS MARION]

  [Signature: Francis Marion]

  [Sidenote: Francis Marion]

Of all the picturesque characters of our Revolutionary period, there is
perhaps no one who, in the memory of the people, is so closely
associated with romantic adventure as Francis Marion. He belonged to
that gallant race of men of whose services France had been forever
deprived when Louis XIV. revoked the edict of Nantes. His father had
been a planter near Georgetown, on the coast, and the son, while
following the same occupation, had been called off to the western
frontier by the Cherokee war of 1759, in the course of which he had made
himself an adept in woodland strategy. He was now forty-seven years
old, a man of few words and modest demeanour, small in stature and
slight in frame, delicately organized, but endowed with wonderful
nervous energy and sleepless intelligence. Like a woman in quickness of
sympathy, he was a knight in courtesy, truthfulness, and courage. The
brightness of his fame was never sullied by an act of cruelty. "Never
shall a house be burned by one of my people," said he; "to distress poor
women and children is what I detest." To distress the enemy in
legitimate warfare was, on the other hand, a business in which few
partisan commanders have excelled him. For swiftness and secrecy he was
unequalled, and the boldness of his exploits seemed almost incredible,
when compared with the meagreness of his resources. His force sometimes
consisted of less than twenty men, and seldom exceeded seventy. To arm
them, he was obliged to take the saws from sawmills and have them
wrought into rude swords at the country forge, while pewter mugs and
spoons were cast into bullets. With such equipment he would attack and
overwhelm parties of more than two hundred Tories; or he would even
swoop upon a column of British regulars on their march, throw them into
disorder, set free their prisoners, slay and disarm a score or two, and
plunge out of sight in the darkling forest as swiftly and mysteriously
as he had come.

  [Portrait: Tho. Sumter]

  [Sidenote: Thomas Sumter]

  [Sidenote: First appearance of Andrew Jackson]

Second to Marion alone in this wild warfare was Thomas Sumter, a tall
and powerful man, stern in countenance and haughty in demeanour. Born in
Virginia in 1734, he was present at Braddock's defeat in 1755, and after
prolonged military service on the frontier found his way to South
Carolina before the beginning of the Revolutionary War. He lived nearly
a hundred years; sat in the Senate of the United States during the War
of 1812, served as minister to Brazil, and witnessed the nullification
acts of his adopted state under the stormy presidency of Jackson. During
the summer of 1780, he kept up so brisk a guerrilla warfare in the
upland regions north of Ninety-Six that Cornwallis called him "the
greatest plague in the country." "But for Sumter and Marion," said the
British commander, "South Carolina would be at peace." The first
advantage of any sort gained over the enemy since Clinton's landing was
the destruction of a company of dragoons by Sumter, on the 12th of July.
Three weeks later, he made a desperate attack on the British at Rocky
Mount, but was repulsed. On the 6th of August, he surprised the enemy's
post at Hanging Rock, and destroyed a whole regiment. It was on this
occasion that Andrew Jackson made his first appearance in history, an
orphan boy of thirteen, staunch in the fight as any of his comrades.

  [Sidenote: Advance of Kalb]

  [Sidenote: Gates appointed to the chief command in the South]

But South Carolina was too important to be left dependent upon the skill
and bravery of its partisan commanders alone. Already, before the fall
of Charleston, it had been felt that further reinforcements were needed
there, and Washington had sent down some 2,000 Maryland and Delaware
troops under Baron Kalb, an excellent officer. It was a long march, and
the 20th of June had arrived when Kalb halted at Hillsborough, in North
Carolina, to rest his men and seek the coöperation of General Caswell,
who commanded the militia of that state. By this time the news of the
capture of Lincoln's army had reached the north, and the emergency was
felt to be a desperate one. Fresh calls for militia were made upon all
the states south of Pennsylvania. That resources obtained with such
difficulty should not be wasted, it was above all desirable that a
competent general should be chosen to succeed the unfortunate Lincoln.
The opinions of the commander-in-chief with reference to this matter
were well known. Washington wished to have Greene appointed, as the
ablest general in the army. But the glamour which enveloped the
circumstances of the great victory at Saratoga was not yet dispelled.
Since the downfall of the Conway cabal, Gates had never recovered the
extraordinary place which he had held in public esteem at the beginning
of 1778, but there were few as yet who seriously questioned the
reputation he had so lightly won for generalship. Many people now called
for Gates, who had for the moment retired from active service and was
living on his plantation in Virginia, and the suggestion found favour
with Congress. On the 13th of June Gates was appointed to the chief
command of the southern department, and eagerly accepted the position.
The good wishes of the people went with him. Richard Peters, secretary
of the Board of War, wrote him a very cordial letter, saying, "Our
affairs to the southward look blue: so they did when you took command
before the _Burgoynade_. I can only now say, _Go and do likewise_--God
bless you." Charles Lee, who was then living in disgrace on his
Virginia estate, sent a very different sort of greeting. Lee and Gates
had always been friends,--linked together, perhaps, by pettiness of
spirit and a common hatred for the commander-in-chief, whose virtues
were a perpetual rebuke to them. But the cynical Lee knew his friend too
well to share in the prevailing delusion as to his military capacity,
and he bade him good-by with the ominous warning, "Take care that your
northern laurels do not change to southern willows!"

  [Portrait: Le B^{ar} de Kalb]

  [Sidenote: Choice of roads to Camden]

With this word of ill omen, which doubtless he little heeded, the "hero
of Saratoga" made his way to Hillsborough, where he arrived on the 19th
of July, and relieved Kalb of the burden of anxiety that had been thrust
upon him. Gates found things in a most deplorable state: lack of arms,
lack of tents, lack of food, lack of medicines, and, above all, lack of
money. The all-pervading neediness which in those days beset the
American people, through their want of an efficient government, was
never more thoroughly exemplified. It required a very different man from
Gates to mend matters. Want of judgment and want of decision were faults
which he had not outgrown, and all his movements were marked by weakness
and rashness. He was adventurous where caution was needed, and timid
when he should have been bold. The objective point of his campaign was
the town of Camden. Once in possession of this important point, he could
force the British from their other inland positions and throw them upon
the defensive at Charleston. It was not likely that so great an object
would be attained without a battle, but there was a choice of ways by
which the strategic point might be approached. Two roads led from
Hillsborough to Camden. The westerly route passed through Salisbury and
Charlotte, in a long arc of a circle, coming down upon Camden from the
northwest. The country through which it passed was fertile, and the
inhabitants were mostly Scotch-Irish Whigs. By following this road, the
danger of a sudden attack by the enemy would be slight, wholesome food
would be obtained in abundance, and in case of defeat it afforded a safe
line of retreat. The easterly route formed the chord of this long arc,
passing from Hillsborough to Camden almost in a straight line 160 miles
in length. It was 50 miles shorter than the other route, but it lay
through a desolate region of pine barrens, where farmhouses and
cultivated fields were very few and far between, and owned by Tories.
This line of march was subject to flank attacks, it would yield no food
for the army, and a retreat through it, on the morrow of an unsuccessful
battle, would simply mean destruction. The only advantage of this route
was its directness. The British forces were more or less scattered about
the country. Lord Rawdon held Camden with a comparatively small force,
and Gates was anxious to attack and overwhelm him before Cornwallis
could come up from Charleston.

  [Sidenote: Gates chooses the wrong road]

  [Sidenote: Distress of the troops]

Gates accordingly chose the shorter route, with all its disadvantages,
in spite of the warnings of Kalb and other officers, and on the 27th of
July he put his army in motion. On the 3d of August, having entered
South Carolina and crossed the Pedee river, he was joined by Colonel
Porterfield with a small force of Virginia regulars, which had been
hovering on the border since the fall of Charleston. On the 7th he
effected a junction with General Caswell and his North Carolina militia,
and on the 10th his army, thus reinforced, reached Little Lynch's Creek,
about fifteen miles northeast of Camden, and confronted the greatly
inferior force of Lord Rawdon. The two weeks' march had been
accomplished at the rate of about eleven miles a day, with no end of
fatigue and suffering. The few lean kine slaughtered by the roadside had
proved quite insufficient to feed the army, and for want of any better
diet the half-starved men had eaten voraciously of unripe corn, green
apples, and peaches. All were enfeebled, and many were dying of
dysentery and cholera morbus, so that the American camp presented a
truly distressing scene.

  [Sidenote: Gates loses the moment for striking]

Rawdon's force stood across the road, blocking the way to Camden, and
the chance was offered for Gates to strike the sudden blow for the sake
of which he had chosen to come by this bad road. There was still,
however, a choice of methods. The two roads, converging toward their
point of intersection at Camden, were now very near together. Gates
might either cross the creek in front, and trust to his superior numbers
to overwhelm the enemy, or, by a forced march of ten miles to the right,
he might turn Rawdon's flank and gain Camden before him. A good general
would have done either the one of these things or the other, and Kalb
recommended the immediate attack. But now at the supreme moment Gates
was as irresolute as he had been impatient when 160 miles away. He let
the opportunity slip, waited two days where he was, and on the 13th
marched slowly to the right and took up his position at Clermont, on the
westerly road; thus abandoning the whole purpose for the sake of which
he had refused to advance by that road in the first place. On the 14th
he was joined by General Stevens with 700 Virginia militia; but on the
same day Lord Cornwallis reached Camden with his regulars, and the
golden moment for crushing the British in detachments was gone forever.

  [Illustration: Statue of Kalb at Annapolis]

  [Sidenote: and weakens his army on the eve of battle]

  [Sidenote: and is surprised by Cornwallis]

The American army now numbered 3,052 men, of whom 1,400 were regulars,
chiefly of the Maryland line. The rest were mostly raw militia. The
united force under Cornwallis amounted to only 2,000 men, but they were
all thoroughly trained soldiers. It was rash for the Americans to hazard
an attack under such circumstances, especially in their forlorn
condition, faint as they were with hunger and illness, and many of them
hardly fit to march or take the field. But, strange as it may seem, a
day and a night passed by, and Gates had not yet learned that Cornwallis
had arrived, but still supposed he had only Rawdon to deal with. It was
no time for him to detach troops on distant expeditions, but on the 14th
he sent 400 of his best Maryland regulars on a long march southward, to
coöperate with Sumter in cutting off the enemy's supplies on the road
between Charleston and Camden. At ten o'clock on the night of the 15th,
Gates moved his army down the road from Clermont to Camden, intending to
surprise Lord Rawdon before daybreak. The distance was ten miles through
the woods, by a rough road, hemmed in on either side, now by hills, and
now by impassable swamps. At the very same hour, Cornwallis started up
the road, with the similar purpose of surprising General Gates. A little
before three in the morning, the British and American advance guards of
light infantry encountered each other on the road, five miles north of
Camden, and a brisk skirmish ensued, in which the Americans were routed
and the gallant Colonel Porterfield was slain. Both armies, however,
having failed in their scheme of surprising each other, lay on their
arms and waited for daylight. Some prisoners who fell into the hands of
the Americans now brought the news that the army opposed to them was
commanded by Cornwallis himself, and they overstated its numbers at
3,000 men. The astonished Gates called together his officers, and asked
what was to be done. No one spoke for a few moments, until General
Stevens exclaimed, "Well, gentlemen, is it not too late _now_ to do
anything but fight?" Kalb's opinion was in favour of retreating to
Clermont and taking a strong position there; but his advice had so often
passed unheeded that he no longer urged it, and it was decided to open
the battle by an attack on the British right.


  [Sidenote: Battle of Camden, Aug. 16, 1780]

  [Sidenote: Total and ignominious defeat of Gates]

The rising sun presently showed the two armies close together. Huge
swamps, at a short distance from the road, on either side, covered both
flanks of both armies. On the west side of the road the British left was
commanded by Lord Rawdon, on the east side their right was led by
Colonel James Webster, while Tarleton and his cavalry hovered a little
in the rear. The American right wing, opposed to Rawdon, was commanded
by Kalb, and consisted of the Delaware regiment and the second Maryland
brigade in front, supported by the first Maryland brigade at some
distance in the rear. The American left wing, opposed to Webster,
consisted of the militia from Virginia and North Carolina, under
Generals Stevens and Caswell. Such an arrangement of troops invited
disaster. The battle was to begin with an attack on the British right,
an attack upon disciplined soldiers; and the lead in this attack was
entrusted to raw militia who had hardly ever been under fire, and did
not even understand the use of the bayonet! This work should have been
given to those splendid Maryland troops that had gone to help Sumter.
The militia, skilled in woodcraft, should have been sent on that
expedition, and the regulars should have been retained for the battle.
The militia did not even know how to advance properly, but became
tangled up; and while they were straightening their lines, Colonel
Webster came down upon them in a furious charge. The shock of the
British column was resistless. The Virginia militia threw down their
guns and fled without firing a shot. The North Carolina militia did
likewise, and within fifteen minutes the whole American left became a
mob of struggling men, smitten with mortal panic, and huddling like
sheep in their wild flight, while Tarleton's cavalry gave chase and cut
them down by scores. Leaving Tarleton to deal with them, Webster turned
upon the first Maryland brigade, and slowly pushed it off the field,
after an obstinate resistance. The second Maryland brigade, on the other
hand, after twice repelling the assault of Lord Rawdon, broke through
his left with a spirited bayonet charge, and remained victorious upon
that part of the field, until the rest of the fight was ended; when
being attacked in flank by Webster, these stalwart troops retreated
westerly by a narrow road between swamp and hillside, and made their
escape in good order. Long after the battle was lost in every other
quarter, the gigantic form of Kalb, unhorsed and fighting on foot, was
seen directing the movements of his brave Maryland and Delaware troops,
till he fell dying from eleven wounds, Gates, caught in the throng of
fugitives at the beginning of the action, was borne in headlong flight
as far as Clermont, where, taking a fresh horse, he made the distance of
nearly two hundred miles to Hillsborough in less than four days. The
laurels of Saratoga had indeed changed into willows. It was the most
disastrous defeat ever inflicted upon an American army, and ignominious
withal, since it was incurred through a series of the grossest blunders.
The Maryland troops lost half their number, the Delaware regiment was
almost entirely destroyed, and all the rest of the army was dispersed.
The number of killed and wounded has never been fully ascertained, but
it can hardly have been less than 1,000, while more than 1,000 prisoners
were taken, with seven pieces of artillery and 2,000 muskets. The
British loss in killed and wounded was 324.

  [Sidenote: His campaign was a series of blunders]

The reputation of General Gates never recovered from this sudden
overthrow, and his swift flight to Hillsborough was made the theme of
unsparing ridicule. Yet, if duly considered, that was the one part of
his conduct for which he cannot fairly be blamed. The best of generals
may be caught in a rush of panic-stricken fugitives and hurried off the
battlefield: the flight of Frederick the Great at Mollwitz was even more
ignominious than that of Gates at Camden. When once, moreover, the full
extent of the disaster had become apparent, it was certainly desirable
that Gates should reach Hillsborough as soon as possible, since it was
the point from which the state organization of North Carolina was
controlled, and accordingly the point at which a new army might soonest
be collected. Gates's flight was a singularly dramatic and appropriate
end to his silly career, but our censure should be directed to the
wretched generalship by which the catastrophe was prepared: to the wrong
choice of roads, the fatal hesitation at the critical moment, the
weakening of the army on the eve of battle; and, above all, to the
rashness in fighting at all after the true state of affairs had become
known. The campaign was an epitome of the kind of errors which
Washington always avoided; and it admirably illustrated the inanity of
John Adams's toast, "A short and violent war," against an enemy of
superior strength.

  [Sidenote: Partisan operations]

If the 400 Maryland regulars who had been sent to help General Sumter
had remained with the main army and been entrusted with the assault on
the British right, the result of this battle would doubtless have been
very different. It might not have been a victory, but it surely would
not have been a rout. On the day before the battle, Sumter had attacked
the British supply train on its way from Charleston, and captured all
the stores, with more than 100 prisoners. But the defeat at Camden
deprived this exploit of its value. Sumter retreated up the Wateree
river to Fishing creek, but on the 18th Tarleton for once caught him
napping, and routed him; taking 300 prisoners, setting free the captured
British, and recovering all the booty. The same day witnessed an
American success in another quarter. At Musgrove's Mills, in the western
part of the state, Colonel James Williams defeated a force of 500
British and Tories, killing and wounding nearly one third of their
number. Two days later, Marion performed one of his characteristic
exploits. A detachment of the British army was approaching Nelson's
Ferry, where the Santee river crosses the road from Camden to
Charleston, when Marion, with a handful of men, suddenly darting upon
these troops, captured 26 of their number, set free 150 Maryland
prisoners whom they were taking down to the coast, and got away without
losing a man.

Such deeds showed that the life of South Carolina was not quite extinct,
but they could not go far toward relieving the gloom which overspread
the country after the defeat of Camden. For a second time within three
months the American army in the south had been swept out of existence.
Gates could barely get together 1,000 men at Hillsborough, and
Washington could not well spare any more from his already depleted
force. To muster and train a fresh army of regulars would be slow and
difficult work, and it was as certain as anything could be that
Cornwallis would immediately proceed to attempt the conquest of North

       *       *       *       *       *

  [Sidenote: Weariness and depression of the people]

Never was the adage that the darkest time comes just before day more
aptly illustrated than in the general aspect of American affairs during
the summer and fall of 1780. The popular feeling had not so much the
character of panic as in those "times which tried men's souls," when the
broad Delaware river screened Washington's fast dwindling army from
destruction. It was not now a feeling of quick alarm so much as of utter
weariness and depression. More than four years had passed since the
Declaration of Independence, and although the enemy had as yet gained no
firm foothold in the northern states except in the city of New York, it
still seemed impossible to dislodge them from that point, while
Cornwallis, flushed with victory, boasted that he would soon conquer all
the country south of the Susquehanna. For the moment it began to look as
if Lord George Germain's policy of tiring the Americans out might prove
successful, after all. The country was still without anything fit to be
called a general government. After three years' discussion, the Articles
of Confederation, establishing a "league of friendship" between the
thirteen states, had not yet been adopted. The Continental Congress had
continued to decline in reputation and capacity. From this state of
things, rather than from any real poverty of the country, there had
ensued a general administrative paralysis, which went on increasing even
after the war was ended, until it was brought to a close by the adoption
of the Federal Constitution. It was not because the thirteen states were
lacking in material resources or in patriotism that the conduct of the
war languished as it did. The resources were sufficient, had there been
any means of concentrating and utilizing them. The relations of the
states to each other were not defined; and while there were thirteen
powers which could plan and criticise, there was no single power which
could act efficiently. Hence the energies of the people were frittered

  [Illustration: Continental Currency LXD]


  [Sidenote: Evils wrought by the paper currency]

  [Sidenote: "Not worth a Continental"]

The disease was most plainly visible in those money matters which form
the basis of all human activity. The condition of American finance in
1780 was simply horrible. The "greenback" delusion possessed people's
minds even more strongly then than in the days following our Civil War.
Pelatiah Webster, the ablest political economist in America at that
time, a thinker far in advance of his age, was almost alone in insisting
upon taxation. The popular feeling was expressed by a delegate in
Congress who asked, with unspeakable scorn, why he should vote to tax
the people, when a Philadelphia printing-press could turn out money by
the bushel.[31] But indeed, without an amendment, Congress had no power
to lay any tax, save through requisitions upon the state governments.
There seemed to be no alternative but to go on issuing this money, which
many people glorified as the "safest possible currency," because "nobody
could take it out of the country." As Webster truly said, the country
had suffered more from this cause than from the arms of the enemy. "The
people of the states at that time," said he, "had been worried and
fretted, disappointed and put out of humour, by so many tender acts,
limitations of prices, and other compulsory methods to force value into
paper money, and compel the circulation of it, and by so many vain
funding schemes and declarations and promises, all which issued from
Congress, but died under the most zealous efforts to put them into
operation, that their patience was exhausted. These irritations and
disappointments had so destroyed the courage and confidence of the
people that they appeared heartless and almost stupid when their
attention was called to any new proposal." During the summer of 1780
this wretched "Continental" currency fell into contempt. As Washington
said, it took a wagon-load of money to buy a wagon-load of provisions.
At the end of the year 1778, the paper dollar was worth sixteen cents in
the northern states and twelve cents in the south. Early in 1780 its
value had fallen to two cents, and before the end of the year it took
ten paper dollars to make a cent. In October, Indian corn sold wholesale
in Boston for $150 a bushel, butter was $12 a pound, tea $90, sugar $10,
beef $8, coffee $12, and a barrel of flour cost $1,575. Samuel Adams
paid $2,000 for a hat and suit of clothes. The money soon ceased to
circulate, debts could not be collected, and there was a general
prostration of credit. To say that a thing was "not worth a Continental"
became the strongest possible expression of contempt. A barber in
Philadelphia papered his shop with bills, and a dog was led up and down
the streets, smeared with tar, with this unhappy "money" sticking all
over him,--a sorry substitute for the golden-fleeced sheep of the old
Norse legend. Save for the scanty pittance of gold which came in from
the French alliance, from the little foreign commerce that was left, and
from trade with the British army itself, the country was without any
circulating medium. In making its requisitions upon the states, Congress
resorted to a measure which reminds one of the barbaric ages of barter.
Instead of asking for money, it requested the states to send in their
"specific supplies" of beef and pork, flour and rice, salt and hay,
tobacco and rum. The finances of what was so soon to become one of the
richest of nations were thus managed on the principle whereby the meagre
salaries of country clergymen in New England used to be eked out. It
might have been called a continental system of "donation parties."

  [Sidenote: Difficulty of keeping the army together]

Under these circumstances, it became almost impossible to feed and
clothe the army. The commissaries, without either money or credit, could
do but little; and Washington, sorely against his will, was obliged to
levy contributions on the country surrounding his camp. It was done as
gently as possible. The county magistrates were called on for a
specified quantity of flour and meat; the supplies brought in were duly
appraised, and certificates were given in exchange for them by the
commissaries. Such certificates were received at their nominal value in
payment of taxes. But this measure, which simply introduced a new kind
of paper money, served only to add to the general confusion. These
difficulties, enhanced by the feeling that the war was dragged out to an
interminable length, made it impossible to keep the army properly
recruited. When four months' pay of a private soldier would not buy a
single bushel of wheat for his family, and when he could not collect
even this pittance, while most of the time he went barefoot and
half-famished, it was not strange that he should sometimes feel
mutinous. The desertions to the British lines at this time averaged more
than a hundred a month. Ternay, the French admiral, wrote to Vergennes
that the fate of North America was as yet very uncertain, and the
Revolution by no means so far advanced as people in Europe supposed. The
accumulated evils of the time had greatly increased the number of
persons who, to save the remnant of their fortunes, were ready to see
peace purchased at any price. In August, before he had heard of the
disaster at Camden, Washington wrote to President Huntington, reminding
him that the term of service of half the army would expire at the end of
the year. "The shadow of an army that will remain," said Washington,
"will have every motive except mere patriotism to abandon the service,
without the hope, which has hitherto supported them, of a change for the
better. This is almost extinguished now, and certainly will not outlive
the campaign unless it finds something more substantial to rest upon. To
me it will appear miraculous if our affairs can maintain themselves much
longer in their present train. If either the temper or the resources of
the country will not admit of an alteration, we may expect soon to be
reduced to the humiliating condition of seeing the cause of America in
America upheld by foreign arms."

  [Portrait: Sam^{el} Huntington]

  [Sidenote: The French alliance]

To appreciate the full force of this, we must remember that, except in
South Carolina, there had been no fighting worthy of mention during the
year. The southern campaign absorbed the energies of the British to such
an extent that they did nothing whatever in the north but make an
unsuccessful attempt at invading New Jersey in June. While this fact
shows how severely the strength of England was taxed by the coalition
that had been formed against her, it shows even more forcibly how the
vitality of America had been sapped by causes that lay deeper down than
the mere presence of war. It was, indeed, becoming painfully apparent
that little was to be hoped save through the aid of France. The alliance
had thus far achieved but little that was immediately obvious to the
American people, but it had really been of enormous indirect benefit to
us. Both in itself and in the European complications to which it had
led, the action of France had very seriously crippled the efficient
military power of England. It locked up and neutralized much British
energy that would otherwise have been directed against the Americans.
The French government had also furnished Congress with large sums of
money. But as for any direct share in military enterprises on American
soil or in American waters, France had as yet done almost nothing. An
evil star had presided over both the joint expeditions for the recovery
of Newport and Savannah, and no French army had yet been landed on our
shores to cast in its lot with Washington's brave Continentals in a
great and decisive campaign.


  [Portrait: Louis]

  [Portrait: Marie Antoinette]

  [Sidenote: Lafayette's visit to France]

It had long been clear that France could in no way more effectively
further the interests which she shared with the United States than by
sending a strong force of trained soldiers to act under Washington's
command. Nothing could be more obvious than the inference that such a
general, once provided with an adequate force, might drive the British
from New York, and thus deal a blow which would go far toward ending the
war. This had long been Washington's most cherished scheme. In February,
1779, Lafayette had returned to France to visit his family, and to urge
that aid of this sort might be granted. To chide him for his naughtiness
in running away to America in defiance of the royal mandate, the king
ordered him to be confined for a week at his father-in-law's house in
Paris. Then he received him quite graciously at court, while the queen
begged him to "tell us good news of our dearly beloved Americans." The
good Lafayette, to whom, in the dreadful years that were to come, this
dull king and his bright, unhappy queen were to look for compassionate
protection, now ventured to give them some sensible words of advice.
"The money that you spend on one of your old court balls," he said,
"would go far toward sending a serviceable army to America, and dealing
England a blow where she would most feel it." For several months he
persisted in urging Vergennes to send over at least 12,000 men, with a
good general, and to put them distinctly under Washington's command, so
that there might be no disastrous wrangling about precedence, and no
repetition of such misunderstandings as had ruined the Newport campaign.
When Estaing arrived at Paris, early in 1780, after his defeat at
Savannah, he gave similar advice. The idea commended itself to
Vergennes, and when, in April, 1780, Lafayette returned to the United
States, he was authorized to inform Washington that France would soon
send the desired reinforcement.

  [Sidenote: Arrival of part of the French auxiliary force under

On the 10th of July, Admiral Ternay, with seven ships-of-the-line and
three frigates, arrived at Newport, bringing with him a force of 6,000
men, commanded by a good general, Count Rochambeau. This was the first
instalment of an army of which the remainder was to be sent as soon as
adequate means of transport could be furnished. On the important
question of military etiquette, Lafayette's advice had been strictly
heeded. Rochambeau was told to put himself under Washington's command,
and to consider his troops as part of the American army, while American
officers were to take precedence of French officers of equal rank. This
French army was excellent in discipline and equipment, and among its
officers were some, such as the Duke de Lauzun-Biron and the Marquis de
Chastellux, who had won high distinction. Rochambeau wrote to Vergennes
that on his arrival he found the people of Rhode Island sad and
discouraged. Everybody thought the country was going to the dogs. But
when it was understood that this was but the advance guard of a
considerable army and that France was this time in deadly earnest, their
spirits rose, and the streets of Newport were noisy with hurrahs and
brilliant with fireworks.


The hearts of the people, however, were still further to be sickened
with hope deferred. Several British ships-of-the-line, arriving at New
York, gave the enemy such a preponderance upon the water that Clinton
resolved to take the offensive, and started down the Sound with 6,000
men to attack the French at Newport. Washington foiled this scheme by a
sudden movement against New York, which obliged the British commander to
fall back hastily for its defence; but the French fleet was nevertheless
blockaded in Narragansett Bay by a powerful British squadron, and
Rochambeau felt it necessary to keep his troops in Rhode Island to aid
the admiral in case of such contingencies as might arise. The second
instalment of the French army, on which their hopes had been built,
never came, for a British fleet of thirty-two sail held it blockaded in
the harbour of Brest.

  [Sidenote: General despondency]

The maritime supremacy of England thus continued to stand in the way of
any great enterprise; and for a whole year the gallant army of
Rochambeau was kept idle in Rhode Island, impatient and chafing under
the restraint. The splendid work it was destined to perform under
Washington's leadership lay hidden in the darkness of the future, and
for the moment the gloom which had overspread the country was only
deepened. Three years had passed since the victory of Saratoga, but the
vast consequences which were already flowing from that event had not yet
disclosed their meaning. Looking only at the surface of things, it might
well be asked--and many did ask--whether that great victory had really
done anything more than to prolong a struggle which was essentially vain
and hopeless. Such themes formed the burden of discourse at gentlemen's
dinner-tables and in the back parlours of country inns, where stout
yeomen reviewed the situation of affairs through clouds of tobacco
smoke; and never, perhaps, were the Tories more jubilant or the Whigs
more crestfallen than at the close of this doleful summer.

It was just at this moment that the country was startled by the sudden
disclosure of a scheme of blackest treason. For the proper explanation
of this affair, a whole chapter will be required.


  [31] Agricultural communities lack the right kind of experience for
       understanding the real nature of money, and farmers are
       peculiarly subject to financial delusions. This has been
       illustrated again and again in American history, with
       lamentable consequences, from the Massachusetts issue of
       "paper money" in 1690 down to the drivelling schemes of the
       silver lunatics at the present time.

                              CHAPTER XIV

                            BENEDICT ARNOLD

  [Sidenote: Arnold put in command of Philadelphia June 18, 1778]

To understand the proximate causes of Arnold's treason, we must start
from the summer of 1778, when Philadelphia was evacuated by the British.
On that occasion, as General Arnold was incapacitated for active service
by the wound he had received at Saratoga, Washington placed him in
command of Philadelphia. This step brought Arnold into direct contact
with Congress, toward which he bore a fierce grudge for the slights it
had put upon him; and, moreover, the command was in itself a difficult
one. The authority vested in the commandant was not clearly demarcated
from that which belonged to the state government, so that occasions for
dispute were sure to be forthcoming. While the British had held the city
many of the inhabitants had given them active aid and encouragement, and
there was now more or less property to be confiscated. By a resolve of
Congress, all public stores belonging to the enemy were to be
appropriated for the use of the army, and the commander-in-chief was
directed to suspend the sale or transfer of goods until the general
question of ownership should have been determined by a joint committee
of Congress and of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania. It became
Arnold's duty to carry out this order, which not only wrought serious
disturbance to business, but made the city a hornet's nest of bickerings
and complaints. The qualities needed for dealing successfully with such
an affair as this were very different from the qualities which had
distinguished Arnold in the field. The utmost delicacy of tact was
required, and Arnold was blunt and self-willed, and deficient in tact.
He was accordingly soon at loggerheads with the state government, and
lost, besides, much of the personal popularity with which he started.
Stories were whispered about to his discredit. It was charged against
Arnold that the extravagance of his style of living was an offence
against republican simplicity, and a scandal in view of the distressed
condition of the country; that in order to obtain the means of meeting
his heavy expenses he resorted to peculation and extortion; and that he
showed too much favour to the Tories. These charges were doubtless not
without some foundation. This era of paper money and failing credit was
an era of ostentatious expenditure, not altogether unlike that which, in
later days, preceded the financial break-down of 1873. People in the
towns lived extravagantly, and in no other town was this more
conspicuous than in Philadelphia; while perhaps no one in Philadelphia
kept a finer stable of horses or gave more costly dinners than General
Arnold. He ran in debt, and engaged in commercial speculations to remedy
the evil; and, in view of the light afterward thrown upon his character,
it is not unlikely that he may have sometimes availed himself of his
high position to aid these speculations.

  [Portrait: B Arnold]

  [Sidenote: Miss Margaret Shippen]

  [Sidenote: Views of the moderate Tories]

The charge of favouring the Tories may find its explanation in a
circumstance which possibly throws a side-light upon his lavish use of
money. Miss Margaret Shippen, daughter of a gentleman of moderate Tory
sympathies, who some years afterward became chief justice of
Pennsylvania, was at that time the reigning belle of Philadelphia; and
no sooner had the new commandant arrived at his post than he was taken
captive by her piquant face and charming manner. The lady was scarcely
twenty years old, while Arnold was a widower of thirty-five, with three
sons; but his handsome face, his gallant bearing, and his splendid
career outweighed these disadvantages, and in the autumn of 1778 he was
betrothed to Miss Shippen, and thus entered into close relations with a
prominent Tory family. In the moderate section of the Tory party, to
which the Shippens belonged, there were many people who, while strongly
opposed to the Declaration of Independence, would nevertheless have
deemed it dishonourable to lend active aid to the enemy. In 1778, such
people thought that Congress did wrong in making an alliance with France
instead of accepting the liberal proposals of Lord North. The
Declaration of Independence, they argued, would never have been made had
it been supposed that the constitutional liberties of the American
people could any otherwise be securely protected. Even Samuel Adams
admitted this. In the war which had been undertaken in defence of these
liberties, the affair of Saratoga had driven the British government to
pledge itself to concede them once and forever. Then why not be
magnanimous in the hour of triumph? Why not consider the victory of
Saratoga as final, instead of subjecting the resources of the country to
a terrible strain in the doubtful attempt to secure a result which, only
three years before, even Washington himself had regarded as undesirable?
Was it not unwise and unpatriotic to reject the overtures of our
kinsmen, and cast in our lot with that Catholic and despotic power which
had ever been our deadliest foe?


  [Sidenote: Arnold's drift toward Toryism]

  [Sidenote: He makes up his mind to leave the army]

Such were the arguments to which Arnold must have listened again and
again, during the summer and autumn of 1778. How far he may have been
predisposed toward such views it would be impossible to say. He always
declared himself disgusted with the French alliance,[32] and in this
there is nothing improbable. But that, under the circumstances, he
should gradually have drifted into the Tory position was, in a man of
his temperament, almost inevitable. His nature was warm, impulsive, and
easily impressible, while he was deficient in breadth of intelligence in
rigorous moral conviction; and his opinions on public matters took their
hue largely from his personal feelings. It was not surprising that such
a man, in giving splendid entertainments, should invite to them the Tory
friends of the lady whose favour he was courting. His course excited the
wrath of the Whigs. General Reed wrote indignantly to General Greene
that Arnold had actually given a party at which "not only common Tory
ladies, but the wives and daughters of persons proscribed by the state,
and now with the enemy at New York," were present in considerable
numbers. When twitted with such things, Arnold used to reply that it was
the part of a true soldier to fight his enemies in the open field, but
not to proscribe or persecute their wives and daughters in private life.
But such an explanation naturally satisfied no one. His quarrels with
the Executive Council, sharpened by such incidents as these, grew more
and more violent, until when, in December, his most active enemy, Joseph
Reed, became president of the Council, he suddenly made up his mind to
resign his post and leave the army altogether. He would quit the turmoil
of public affairs, obtain a grant of land in western New York, settle it
with his old soldiers, with whom he had always been a favourite, and
lead henceforth a life of Arcadian simplicity. In this mood he wrote to
Schuyler, in words which to-day seem strange and sad, that his ambition
was not so much to "shine in history" as to be "a good citizen;" and
about the 1st of January, 1779, he set out for Albany to consult with
the New York legislature about the desired land.

  [Portrait: John Jay]

  [Sidenote: Charges are brought against him Jan., 1779]

  [Sidenote: He is acquitted by a committee of Congress in March]

  [Sidenote: The case is referred to a court-martial, April 3, 1779]

Arnold's scheme was approved by John Jay, who was then president of the
Continental Congress, as well as by several other men of influence, and
in all likelihood it would have succeeded; but as he stopped for a day
at Morristown, to visit Washington, a letter overtook him, with the
information that as soon as his back had been turned upon Philadelphia
he had been publicly attacked by President Reed and the Council. Formal
charges were brought against him: 1, of having improperly granted a pass
for a ship to come into port; 2, of having once used some public wagons
for the transportation of private property; 3, of having usurped the
privilege of the Council in allowing people to enter the enemy's lines;
4, of having illegally bought up a lawsuit over a prize vessel; 5, of
having "imposed menial offices upon the sons of freemen" serving in the
militia; and 6, of having made purchases for his private benefit at the
time when, by his own order, all shops were shut. These charges were
promulgated in a most extraordinary fashion. Not only were they laid
before Congress, but copies of them were sent to the governors of all
the states, accompanied by a circular letter from President Reed
requesting the governors to communicate them to their respective
legislatures. Arnold was naturally enraged at such an elaborate attempt
to prepossess the public mind against him, but his first concern was for
the possible effect it might have upon Miss Shippen. He instantly
returned to Philadelphia, and demanded an investigation. He had obtained
Washington's permission to resign his command, but deferred acting upon
it till the inquiry should have ended. The charges were investigated by
a committee of Congress, and about the middle of March this committee
brought in a report stating that all the accusations were groundless,
save the two which related to the use of the wagons and the irregular
granting of a pass; and since in these instances there was no evidence
of wrong intent, the committee recommended an unqualified verdict of
acquittal. Arnold thereupon, considering himself vindicated, resigned
his command. But Reed now represented to Congress that further testimony
was forthcoming, and urged that the case should be reconsidered.
Accordingly, instead of acting upon the report of its committee,
Congress referred the matter anew to a joint committee of Congress and
the Assembly and Council of Pennsylvania. This joint committee shirked
the matter by recommending that the case be referred to a court-martial,
and this recommendation was adopted by Congress on the 3d of April. The
vials of Arnold's wrath were now full to overflowing; but he had no
cause to complain of Miss Shippen, for their marriage took place in less
than a week after this action of Congress. Washington, who sympathized
with Arnold's impatience, appointed the court-martial for the 1st of
May, but the Council of Pennsylvania begged for more time to collect
evidence. And thus, in one way and another, the summer and autumn were
frittered away, so that the trial did not begin until the 19th of
December. All this time Arnold kept clamouring for a speedy trial, and
Washington did his best to soothe him while paying due heed to the
representations of the Council.

  [Sidenote: First correspondence with Clinton]

In the excitement of this fierce controversy the Arcadian project seems
to have been forgotten. Up to this point Arnold's anger had been chiefly
directed toward the authorities of Pennsylvania; but when Congress
refused to act upon the report of its committee exonerating him from
blame, he became incensed against the whole party which, as he said, had
so ill requited his services. It is supposed to have been about that
time, in April, 1779, that he wrote a letter to Sir Henry Clinton, in
disguised handwriting and under the signature of "Gustavus," describing
himself as an American officer of high rank, who, through disgust at the
French alliance and _other recent proceedings of Congress_, might
perhaps be persuaded to go over to the British, provided he could be
indemnified for any losses he might incur by so doing. The beginning of
this correspondence--if this was really the time--coincided curiously
with the date of Arnold's marriage, but it is in the highest degree
probable that down to the final catastrophe Mrs. Arnold knew nothing
whatever of what was going on.[33] The correspondence was kept up at
intervals, Sir Henry's replies being written by Major John André, his
adjutant-general, over the signature of "John Anderson." Nothing seems
to have been thought of at first beyond the personal desertion of Arnold
to the enemy; the betrayal of a fortress was a later development of
infamy. For the present, too, we may suppose that Arnold was merely
playing with fire, while he awaited the result of the court-martial.

  [Portrait: John André]

  [Sidenote: The court-martial acquits Arnold of all serious charges, but
directs Washington to reprimand him for two very trivial ones, Jan. 26,

The summer was not a happy one. His debts went on increasing, while his
accounts with Congress remained unsettled, and he found it impossible to
collect large sums that were due him. At last the court-martial met, and
sat for five weeks. On the 26th of January, 1780, the verdict was
rendered, and in substance it agreed exactly with that of the committee
of Congress ten months before. Arnold was fully acquitted of all the
charges which alleged dishonourable dealings. The pass which he had
granted was irregular, and public wagons, which were standing idle, had
once been used to remove private property that was in imminent danger
from the enemy. The court exonerated Arnold of all intentional wrong,
even in these venial matters, which it characterized as "imprudent;"
but, as a sort of lame concession to the Council of Pennsylvania, it
directed that he should receive a public reprimand from the
commander-in-chief for his imprudence in the use of wagons, and for
hurriedly giving a pass in which all due forms were not attended to. The
decision of the court-martial was promptly confirmed by Congress, and
Washington had no alternative but to issue the reprimand, which he
couched in words as delicate and gracious as possible.[34]

  [Sidenote: Arnold thirsts for revenge upon Congress]

It was too late, however. The damage was done. Arnold had long felt
persecuted and insulted. He had already dallied with temptation, and the
poison was now working in his veins. His sense of public duty was
utterly distorted by the keener sense of his private injuries. We may
imagine him brooding over some memorable incidents in the careers of
Monk, of the great Montrose and the greater Marlborough, until he
persuaded himself that to change sides in a civil war was not so heinous
a crime after all. Especially the example of Monk, which had already led
Charles Lee to disgrace, seems to have riveted the attention of Arnold,
although only the most shallow scrutiny could discover any resemblance
between what the great English general had done and what Arnold purposed
to do. There was not a more scrupulously honourable soldier in his day
than George Monk. Arnold's thoughts may have run somewhat as follows. He
would not become an ordinary deserter, a villain on a small scale. He
would not sell himself cheaply to the devil; but he would play as signal
a part in his new career as he had played in the old one. He would
overwhelm this blundering Congress, and triumphantly carry the country
back to its old allegiance. To play such a part, however, would require
the blackest treachery. Fancy George Monk, "honest old George," asking
for the command of a fortress in order to betray it to the enemy!


When once Arnold had committed himself to this evil course, his story
becomes a sickening one, lacking no element of horror, whether in its
foul beginnings or in its wretched end. To play his new part properly,
he must obtain an important command, and the place which obviously
suggested itself was West Point.

  [Sidenote: Significance of West Point]

Since Burgoyne's overthrow, Washington had built a chain of strong
fortresses there, for he did not intend that the possession of the
Hudson river should ever again be put in question, so far as
fortifications could go. Could this cardinal position be delivered up to
Clinton, the prize would be worth tenfold the recent triumphs at
Charleston and Camden. It would be giving the British what Burgoyne had
tried in vain to get; and now it was the hero of Saratoga who plotted to
undo his own good work at the dictates of perverted ambition and
unhallowed revenge.

  [Sidenote: Arnold put in command of West Point, July, 1780]

To get possession of this stronghold, it was necessary to take advantage
of the confidence with which his great commander had always honoured
him. From Washington, in July, 1780, Arnold sought the command of West
Point, alleging that his wounded leg still kept him unfit for service in
the field; and Washington immediately put him in charge of this
all-important post, thus giving him the strongest proof of unabated
confidence and esteem which it was in his power to give; and among all
the dark shades in Arnold's treason, perhaps none seems darker than this
personal treachery toward the man who had always trusted and defended
him. What must the traitor's feelings have been when he read the
affectionate letters which Schuyler wrote him at this very time? In
better days he had shown much generosity of nature. Can it be that this
is the same man who on the field of Saratoga saved the life of the poor
soldier who in honest fight had shot him and broken his leg? Such are
the strange contrasts that we sometimes see in characters that are
governed by impulse, and not by principle. Their virtue may be real
enough while it lasts, but it does not weather the storm; and when once
wrecked, the very same emotional nature by which alone it was supported
often prompts to deeds of incredible wickedness.


  [Sidenote: Secret interview between Arnold and André, Sept. 22]

After taking command of West Point, the correspondence with André,
carefully couched in such terms as to make it seem to refer to some
commercial enterprise, was briskly kept up; and hints were let drop
which convinced Sir Henry Clinton that the writer was Arnold, and the
betrayal of the highland stronghold his purpose. Troops were accordingly
embarked on the Hudson, and the flotilla was put in command of Admiral
Rodney, who had looked in at New York on his way to the West Indies. To
disguise the purpose of the embarkation, a rumour was industriously
circulated that a force was to be sent southward to the Chesapeake. To
arrange some important details of the affair it seemed desirable that
the two correspondents "Gustavus" and "John Anderson," should meet, and
talk over matters which could not safely be committed to paper. On the
18th of September, Washington, accompanied by Lafayette and Hamilton,
set out for Hartford, for an interview with Rochambeau; and advantage
was taken of his absence to arrange a meeting between the plotters. On
the 20th André was taken up the river on the Vulture, sloop-of-war, and
on the night of the 21st Arnold sent out a boat which brought him ashore
about four miles below Stony Point. There in a thicket of fir-trees,
under the veil of blackest midnight, the scheme was matured; but as gray
dawn came on before all the details had been arranged, the boatmen
became alarmed, and refused to take André back to the ship, and he was
accordingly persuaded, though against his will, to accompany Arnold
within the American lines. The two conspirators walked up the bank a
couple of miles to the house of one Joshua Smith, a man of doubtful
allegiance, who does not seem to have understood the nature and extent
of the plot, or to have known who Arnold's visitor was. It was thought
that they might spend the day discussing the enterprise, and when it
should have grown dark André could be rowed back to the Vulture.


  [Illustration: SCENE OF ARNOLD'S TREASON, 1780]

  [Sidenote: The plot for surrendering West Point]

But now a quite unforeseen accident occurred. Colonel Livingston,
commanding the works on the opposite side of the river, was provoked by
the sight of a British ship standing so near; and he opened such a
lively fire upon the Vulture that she was obliged to withdraw from the
scene. As the conspirators were waiting in Smith's house for breakfast
to be served, they heard the booming of the guns, and André, rushing to
the window, beheld with dismay the ship on whose presence so much
depended dropping out of sight down the stream. On second thoughts,
however, it was clear that she would not go far, as her commander had
orders not to return to New York without André, and it was still thought
that he might regain her. After breakfast he went to an upper chamber
with Arnold, and several hours were spent in perfecting their plans.
Immediately upon André's return to New York, the force under Clinton and
Rodney was to ascend the river. To obstruct the approach of a hostile
flotilla, a massive chain lay stretched across the river, guarded by
water batteries. Under pretence of repairs, one link was to be taken out
for a few days, and supplied by a rope which a slight blow would tear
away. The approach of the British was to be announced by a concerted
system of signals, and the American forces were to be so distributed
that they could be surrounded and captured in detail, until at the
proper moment Arnold, taking advantage of the apparent defeat, was to
surrender the works, with all the troops--3,000 in number--under his
command. It was not unreasonably supposed that such a catastrophe,
coming on the heels of Charleston and Camden and general bankruptcy,
would put a stop to the war and lead to negotiations, in which Arnold,
in view of such decisive service, might hope to play a leading part.

  [Sidenote: André takes compromising documents]

  [Sidenote: and is reluctantly persuaded to return to New York by land,
             Sept. 22]

When André set out on this perilous undertaking, Sir Henry Clinton
specially warned him not to adopt any disguise or to carry any papers
which might compromise his safety. But André disregarded the advice, and
took from Arnold six papers, all but one of them in the traitor's own
handwriting, containing descriptions of the fortresses and information
as to the disposition of the troops. Much risk might have been avoided
by putting this information into cipher, or into a memorandum which
would have been meaningless save to the parties concerned. But André may
perhaps have doubted Arnold's fidelity, and feared lest under a false
pretence of treason he might be drawing the British away into a snare.
The documents which he took, being in Arnold's handwriting and
unmistakable in their purport, were such as to put him in Clinton's
power, and compel him, for the sake of his own safety, to perform his
part of the contract. André intended, before getting into the boat, to
tie up these papers in a bundle loaded with a stone, to be dropped into
the water in case of a sudden challenge; but in the mean time he put
them where they could not so easily be got rid of, between his stockings
and the soles of his feet. Arnold furnished the requisite passes for
Smith and André to go either by boat or by land, and, having thus
apparently provided for all contingencies, took leave before noon, and
returned in his barge to his headquarters, ten miles up the stream. As
evening approached, Smith, who seems to have been a man of unsteady
nerves, refused to take André out to the Vulture. He had been alarmed by
the firing in the morning, and feared there would be more risk in trying
to reach the ship than in travelling down to the British lines by land,
and he promised to ride all night with André if he would go that way.
The young officer reluctantly consented, and partially disguised himself
in some of Smith's clothes. At sundown the two crossed the river at
King's Ferry, and pursued their journey on horseback toward White


  [Sidenote: The roads infested by robbers]

The roads east of the Hudson, between the British and the American
lines, were at this time infested by robbers, who committed their
depredations under pretence of keeping up a partisan warfare. There were
two sets of these scapegraces,--the "Cowboys," or cattle-thieves, and
the "Skinners," who took everything they could find. These epithets,
however, referred to the political complexion they chose to assume,
rather than to any difference in their evil practices. The Skinners
professed to be Whigs, and the Cowboys called themselves Tories; but in
point of fact the two parties were alike political enemies to any farmer
or wayfarer whose unprotected situation offered a prospect of booty; and
though murder was not often committed, nobody's property was safe. It
was a striking instance of the demoralization wrought in a highly
civilized part of the country through its having so long continued to be
the actual seat of war. Rumours that the Cowboys were out in force made
Smith afraid to continue the journey by night, and the impatient André
was thus obliged to stop at a farmhouse with his timid companion. Rising
before dawn, they kept on until they reached the Croton river, which
marked the upper boundary of the neutral ground between the British and
the American lines. Smith's instructions had been, in case of adopting
the land route, not to leave his charge before reaching White Plains;
but he now became uneasy to return, and André, who was beginning to
consider himself out of danger, was perhaps not unwilling to part with a
comrade who annoyed him by his loquacious and inquisitive disposition.
So Smith made his way back to headquarters, and informed Arnold that he
had escorted "Mr. Anderson" within a few miles of the British lines,
which he must doubtless by this time have reached in safety.

  [Portrait: John Paulding]


  [Sidenote: Arrest of André, Sept. 23]

  [Sidenote: Colonel Jameson's perplexity]

Meanwhile, André, left to himself, struck into the road which led
through Tarrytown, expecting to meet no worse enemies than Cowboys, who
would either respect a British officer, or, if bent on plunder, might be
satisfied by his money and watch. But it happened that morning that a
party of seven young men had come out to intercept some Cowboys who were
expected up the road; and about nine o'clock, as André was approaching
the creek above Tarrytown, a short distance from the far-famed Sleepy
Hollow, he was suddenly confronted by three of this party, who sprang
from the bushes and, with levelled muskets, ordered him to halt. These
men had let several persons, with whose faces they were familiar, pass
unquestioned; and if Smith, who was known to almost every one in that
neighbourhood, had been with André, they too would doubtless have been
allowed to pass. André was stopped because he was a stranger. One of
these men happened to have on the coat of a Hessian soldier. Held by the
belief that they must be Cowboys, or members of what was sometimes
euphemistically termed the "lower party," André expressed a hope that
such was the case; and on being assured that it was so, his caution
deserted him, and, with that sudden sense of relief which is apt to come
after unwonted and prolonged constraint, he avowed himself a British
officer, travelling on business of great importance. To his dismay, he
now learned his mistake. John Paulding, the man in the Hessian coat,
informed him that they were Americans, and ordered him to dismount.
When he now showed them Arnold's pass they disregarded it, and insisted
upon searching him, until presently the six papers were discovered where
he had hidden them. "By God, he is a spy!" exclaimed Paulding, as he
looked over the papers. Threats and promises were of no avail. The young
men, who were not to be bought or cajoled, took their prisoner twelve
miles up the river, and delivered him into the hands of Colonel John
Jameson, a Virginian officer, who commanded a cavalry outpost at North
Castle. When Jameson looked over the papers, they seemed to him very
extraordinary documents to be travelling toward New York in the
stockings of a stranger who could give no satisfactory account of
himself. But so far from his suspecting Arnold of any complicity in the
matter, he could think of nothing better than to send the prisoner
straightway to Arnold himself, together with a brief letter in which he
related what had happened. To the honest Jameson it seemed that this
must be some foul ruse of the enemy, some device for stirring up
suspicion in the camp,--something, at any rate, which could not too
quickly be brought to his general's notice. But the documents themselves
he prudently sent by an express-rider to Washington, accompanying them
with a similar letter of explanation. André, in charge of a military
guard, had already proceeded some distance toward West Point when
Jameson's second in command, Major Benjamin Tallmadge, came in from some
errand on which he had been engaged. On hearing what had happened,
Tallmadge suspected that all was not right with Arnold, and insisted
that André and the letter should be recalled. After a hurried
discussion, Jameson sent out a party which brought André back; but he
still thought it his duty to inform Arnold, and so the letter which
saved the traitor's life was allowed to proceed on its way.

  [Portrait: Le duc de la Luzerne]


  [Sidenote: Washington returns from Hartford sooner than expected]

Now, if Washington had returned from Hartford by the route which it was
supposed he would take, through Danbury and Peekskill, Arnold would not
even thus have been saved. For some reason Washington returned two or
three days sooner than had been expected; and, moreover, he chose a more
northerly route, through Farmington and Litchfield, so that the
messenger failed to meet him. It was on the evening of Saturday, the
23d, that Jameson's two letters started. On Sunday afternoon Washington
arrived at Fishkill, eighteen miles above West Point, and was just
starting down the river road when he met Luzerne, the French minister,
who was on his way to consult with Rochambeau. Wishing to have a talk
with this gentleman, Washington turned back to the nearest inn, where
they sat down to supper and chatted, all unconsciously, with the very
Joshua Smith from whom André had parted at the Croton river on the
morning of the day before. Word was sent to Arnold to expect the
commander-in-chief and his suite to breakfast the next morning, and
before daybreak of Monday they were galloping down the wooded road. As
they approached the confiscated country house of the loyalist Beverly
Robinson, where Arnold had his headquarters, opposite West Point,
Washington turned his horse down toward the river, whereat Lafayette
reminded him that they were late already, and ought not to keep Mrs.
Arnold waiting. "Ah, marquis," said Washington, laughing, "I know you
young men are all in love with Mrs. Arnold: go and get your breakfast,
and tell her not to wait for me." Lafayette did not adopt the
suggestion. He accompanied Washington and Knox while they rode down to
examine some redoubts. Hamilton and the rest of the party kept on to the
house, and sat down to breakfast in its cheerful wainscoted dining-room,
with Arnold and his wife and several of his officers.


  [Sidenote: Flight of Arnold, Sept. 25]

As they sat at table, a courier entered, and handed to Arnold the letter
in which Colonel Jameson informed him that one John Anderson had been
taken with compromising documents in his possession, which had been
forwarded to the commander-in-chief. With astonishing presence of mind,
Arnold folded the letter and put it in his pocket, finished the remark
which had been on his lips when the courier entered, and then, rising,
said that he was suddenly called across the river to West Point, but
would return to meet Washington without delay; and he ordered his barge
to be manned. None of the officers observed anything unusual in his
manner, but the quick eye of his wife detected something wrong, and as
he left the room she excused herself and hurried after him. Going up to
their bedroom, he told her that he was a ruined man and must fly for his
life; and as she screamed and fainted in his arms, he laid her upon the
bed, called in the maid to attend her, stooped to kiss his baby boy who
was sleeping in the cradle, rushed down to the yard, leaped on a horse
that was standing there, and galloped down a by-path to his barge. It
had promptly occurred to his quick mind that the Vulture would still be
waiting for André some miles down stream, and he told the oarsmen to row
him thither without delay, as he must get back soon to meet Washington.
A brisk row of eighteen miles brought them to the Vulture, whose
commander was still wondering why André did not come back. From the
cabin of the Vulture Arnold sent a letter to Washington, assuring him of
Mrs. Arnold's innocence, and begging that she might be allowed to return
to her family in Philadelphia, or come to her husband, as she might
choose. Then the ill-omened ship weighed anchor, and reached New York
next morning.


  [Sidenote: Discovery of the treasonable plot]

Meanwhile, about noonday Washington came in for his breakfast, and,
hearing that Arnold had crossed the river to West Point, soon hurried
off to meet him there, followed by all his suite except Hamilton. As
they were ferried across, no salute of cannon greeted them, and on
landing they learned with astonishment that Arnold had not been there
that morning; but no one as yet had a glimmer of suspicion. When they
returned to Robinson's house, about two o'clock, they found Hamilton
walking up and down before the door in great excitement. Jameson's
courier had arrived, with the letters for Washington, which Hamilton had
just opened and read. The commander and his aide went into the house,
and together examined the papers, which, taken in connection with the
traitor's flight, but too plainly told the story. From Mrs. Arnold, who
was in hysterics, Washington could learn nothing. He privately sent
Hamilton and another aide in pursuit of the fugitive; and coming out to
meet Lafayette and Knox, his voice choking and tears rolling down his
cheeks, he exclaimed, "Arnold is a traitor, and has fled to the British!
Whom can we trust now?" In a moment, however, he had regained his wonted
composure. It was no time for giving way to emotion. It was as yet
impossible to tell how far the scheme might have extended. Even now the
enemy's fleet might be ascending the river (as but for André's capture
it doubtless would have been doing that day), and an attack might be
made before the morrow. Riding anxiously about the works, Washington
soon detected the treacherous arrangements that had been made, and by
seven in the evening he had done much to correct them and to make ready
for an attack. As he was taking supper in the room which Arnold had so
hastily quitted in the morning, the traitor's letter from the Vulture
was handed him. "Go to Mrs. Arnold," said he quietly to one of his
officers, "and tell her that though my duty required no means should be
neglected to arrest General Arnold, I have great pleasure in
acquainting _her_ that he is now safe on board a British vessel."

  [Sidenote: André taken to Tappan, Sept. 28]

But while the principal criminal was safe it was far otherwise with the
agent who had been employed in this perilous business. On Sunday, from
his room in Jameson's quarters, André had written a letter to
Washington, pathetic in its frank simplicity, declaring his position in
the British army, and telling his story without any attempt at evasion.
From the first there could be no doubt as to the nature of his case, yet
André for the moment did not fully comprehend it. On Thursday, the 28th,
he was taken across the river to Tappan, where the main army was
encamped. His escort, Major Tallmadge, was a graduate of Yale College
and a classmate of Nathan Hale, whom General Howe had hanged as a spy
four years before. Tallmadge had begun to feel a warm interest in André,
and as they rode their horses side by side into Tappan, when his
prisoner asked how his case would probably be regarded, Tallmadge's
countenance fell, and it was not until the question had been twice
repeated that he replied by a gentle allusion to the fate of his
lamented classmate. "But surely," said poor André, "you do not consider
his case and mine alike!" "They are precisely similar," answered
Tallmadge gravely, "and similar will be your fate."

  [Portrait: Benj'^{n}. Tallmadge]

  [Sidenote: André's trial and sentence, Sept. 29]

Next day a military commission of fourteen generals was assembled, with
Greene presiding, to sit in judgment on the unfortunate young officer.
"It is impossible to save him," said the kindly Steuben, who was one of
the judges. "Would to God the wretch who has drawn him to his death
might be made to suffer in his stead!" The opinion of the court was
unanimous that André had acted as a spy, and incurred the penalty of
death. Washington allowed a brief respite, that Sir Henry Clinton's
views might be considered. The British commander, in his sore distress
over the danger of his young friend, could find no better grounds to
allege in his defence than that he had, presumably, gone ashore under a
flag of truce, and that when taken he certainly was travelling under
the protection of a pass which Arnold, in the ordinary exercise of his
authority, had a right to grant. But clearly these safeguards were
vitiated by the treasonable purpose of the commander who granted them,
and in availing himself of them André, who was privy to this treasonable
purpose, took his life in his hands as completely as any ordinary spy
would do. André himself had already candidly admitted before the court
"that it was impossible for him to suppose that he came ashore under the
sanction of a flag;" and Washington struck to the root of the matter, as
he invariably did, in his letter to Clinton, where he said that André
"was employed in the execution of measures very foreign to the objects
of flags of truce, and such as they were never meant to authorize or
countenance in the most distant degree." The argument was conclusive,
but it was not strange that the British general should have been slow to
admit its force. He begged that the question might be submitted to an
impartial committee, consisting of Knyphausen from the one army and
Rochambeau from the other; but as no question had arisen which the
military commission was not thoroughly competent to decide, Washington
very properly refused to permit such an unusual proceeding. Lastly,
Clinton asked that André might be exchanged for Christopher Gadsden, who
had been taken in the capture of Charleston, and was then imprisoned at
St. Augustine. At the same time, a letter from Arnold to Washington,
with characteristic want of tact, hinting at retaliation upon the
persons of sundry South Carolinian prisoners, was received with silent

  [Sidenote: Captain Ogden's message, Sept. 30]

  [Sidenote: Execution of André, Oct. 2]

There was a general feeling in the American army that if Arnold himself
could be surrendered to justice, it might perhaps be well to set free
the less guilty victim by an act of executive clemency; and Greene gave
expression to this feeling in an interview with Lieutenant-General
Robertson, whom Clinton sent up on Sunday, the 1st of October, to plead
for André's life. No such suggestion could be made in the form of an
official proposal. Under no circumstances could Clinton be expected to
betray the man from whose crime he had sought to profit, and who had now
thrown himself upon him for protection. Nevertheless, in a roundabout
way the suggestion was made. On Saturday, Captain Ogden, with an escort
of twenty-five men and a flag of truce, was sent down to Paulus Hook
with letters for Clinton, and he contrived to whisper to the commandant
there that if in any way Arnold might be suffered to slip into the hands
of the Americans André would be set free. It was Lafayette who had
authorized Ogden to offer the suggestion, and so, apparently Washington
must have connived at it; but Clinton of course refused to entertain
the idea for a moment.[35] The conference between Greene and Robertson
led to nothing. A petition from André, in which he begged to be shot
rather than hanged, was duly considered and rejected; and, accordingly,
on Monday, the 2d of October, the ninth day after his capture by the
yeomen at Tarrytown, the adjutant-general of the British army was led to
the gallows. His remains were buried near the spot where he suffered,
but in 1821 they were disinterred and removed to Westminster Abbey.


The fate of this gallant young officer has always called forth tender
commiseration, due partly to his high position and his engaging personal
qualities, but chiefly, no doubt, to the fact that, while he suffered
the penalty of the law, the chief conspirator escaped. One does not
easily get rid of a vague sense of injustice in this, but the injustice
was not of man's contriving. But for the remarkable series of
accidents--if it be philosophical to call them so--resulting in André's
capture, the treason would very likely have been successful, and the
cause of American independence might have been for the moment ruined.
But for an equally remarkable series of accidents Arnold would not have
received warning in time to escape. If both had been captured, both
would probably have been hanged. Certainly both alike had incurred the
penalty of death. It was not the fault of Washington or of the military
commission that the chief offender went unpunished, and in no wise was
André made a scapegoat for Arnold.

  [Sidenote: Lord Stanhope's unconscious impudence]

It is right that we should feel pity for the fate of André; but it is
unfortunate that pity should be permitted to cloud the judgment of the
historian, as in the case of Lord Stanhope, who stands almost alone
among competent writers in impugning the justice of André's sentence.
One remark of Lord Stanhope's I am tempted to quote, as an amusing
instance of that certain air of "condescension" which James Russell
Lowell once observed in our British cousins. He seeks to throw discredit
upon the military commission by gravely assuming that the American
generals must, of course, have been ignorant men, "who had probably
never so much as heard the names of Vattel or Puffendorf," and,
accordingly, "could be no fit judges on any nice or doubtful point" of
military law. Now, of the twelve American generals who sat in judgment
on André, at least seven were men of excellent education. Two of them
had taken degrees at Harvard, and two at English universities. Greene,
the president, a self-educated man, who used, in leisure moments, to
read Latin poets by the light of his camp-fire, had paid especial
attention to military law, and had carefully read and copiously
annotated his copy of Vattel. The judgment of these twelve men agreed
with that of the two educated Europeans, Steuben and Lafayette, who sat
with them on the commission; and, moreover, no nice or intricate
questions were raised.

  [Sidenote: There is no reason in the world why André should have been

It was natural enough that André's friends should make the most of the
fact that when captured he was travelling under a pass granted by the
commander of West Point; but to ask the court to accept such a plea was
not introducing any nice or doubtful question; it was simply contending
that "the wilful abuse of a privilege is entitled to the same respect as
its legitimate exercise." Accordingly, historians on both sides of the
Atlantic have generally admitted the justice of Andre's sentence, though
sometimes its rigorous execution has been censured as an act of
unnecessary severity. Yet if we withdraw our attention for a moment from
the irrelevant fact that the British adjutant-general was an amiable and
interesting young man, and concentrate it upon the essential fact that
he had come within our lines to aid a treacherous commander in betraying
his post, we cannot fail to see that there is no principle of military
policy upon which ordinary spies are rigorously put to death which does
not apply with redoubled force to the case of André. Moreover, while it
is an undoubted fact that military morality permits, and sometimes
applauds, such enterprises as that in which André lost his life, I
cannot but feel that the flavour of treachery which clings about it must
somewhat weaken the sympathy we should otherwise freely accord; and I
find myself agreeing with the British historian, Mr. Massey, when he
doubts "whether services of this character entitle his memory to the
honours of Westminster Abbey."

  [Sidenote: Captain Battersby's story]

  [Sidenote: Arnold's terrible downfall]

As for Arnold, his fall had been as terrible as that of Milton's
rebellious archangel, and we may well believe his state of mind to have
been desperate. It was said that on hearing of Captain Ogden's
suggestion as to the only possible means of saving André, Arnold went to
Clinton and offered to surrender himself as a ransom for his
fellow-conspirator. This story was published in the London "Morning
Herald" in February, 1782, by Captain Battersby, of the 29th
regiment,--one of the "Sam Adams" regiments. Battersby was in New York
in September, 1780, and was on terms of intimacy with members of
Clinton's staff. In the absence of further evidence, one must beware of
attaching too much weight to such a story. Yet it is not inconsistent
with what we know of Arnold's impulsive nature. In the agony of his
sudden overthrow it may well have seemed that there was nothing left to
live for, and a death thus savouring of romantic self-sacrifice might
serve to lighten the burden of his shame as nothing else could. Like
many men of weak integrity, Arnold was over-sensitive to public opinion,
and his treason, as he had planned it, though equally indefensible in
point of morality, was something very different from what it seemed now
that it was frustrated. It was not for this that he had bartered his
soul to Satan. He had aimed at an end so vast that, when once attained,
it might be hoped that the nefarious means employed would be overlooked,
and that in Arnold, the brilliant general who had restored America to
her old allegiance, posterity would see the counterpart of that other
general who, for bringing back Charles Stuart to his father's throne,
was rewarded with the dukedom of Albemarle. Now he had lost everything,
and got nothing in exchange but £6,000 sterling and a brigadiership in
the British army.[36] He had sold himself cheap, after all, and incurred
such hatred and contempt that for a long time, by a righteous
retribution, even his past services were forgotten. Even such weak
creatures as Gates could now point the finger of scorn at him, while
Washington, his steadfast friend, could never speak of him again
without a shudder. From men less reticent than Washington strong words
were heard. "What do you think of the damnable doings of that diabolical
dog?" wrote Colonel Otho Williams with sturdy alliteration to Arnold's
old friend and fellow in the victory of Saratoga, Daniel Morgan. "Curse
on his folly and perfidy," said Greene, "how mortifying to think that he
is a New Englander!" These were the men who could best appreciate the
hard treatment Arnold had received from Congress. But in the frightful
abyss of his crime all such considerations were instantly swallowed up
and lost. No amount of personal wrong could for a moment excuse or even
palliate such a false step as he had taken.

  [Portrait: O. H. Williams]

  [Illustration: ANDRÉ'S POCKETBOOK]

  [Illustration: ARNOLD'S WATCH]

Within three months from the time when his treason was discovered,
Arnold was sent by Sir Henry Clinton on a marauding expedition into
Virginia, and in the course of one of his raids an American captain was
taken prisoner. "What do you suppose my fate would be," Arnold is said
to have inquired, "if my misguided countrymen were to take me prisoner?"
The captain's reply was prompt and frank: "They would cut off the leg
that was wounded at Quebec and Saratoga and bury it with the honours of
war, and the rest of you they would hang on a gibbet." After the close
of the war, when Arnold, accompanied by his wife, made England his home,
it is said that he sometimes had to encounter similar expressions of
contempt. The Earl of Surrey once, seeing him in the gallery of the
House of Commons, asked the Speaker to have him put out, that the House
might not be contaminated by the presence of such a traitor. The story
is not well authenticated; but it is certain that in 1792 the Earl of
Lauderdale used such language about him in the House of Lords as to lead
to a bloodless duel between Arnold and the noble earl. It does not
appear, however, that Arnold was universally despised in England.
Influenced by the political passions of the day, many persons were ready
to judge him leniently; and his generous and affectionate nature won him
many friends. It is said that so high-minded a man as Lord Cornwallis
became attached to him, and always treated him with respect.

  [Sidenote: Arnold's family]

  [Sidenote: His remorse and death, June 14, 1801]

Mrs. Arnold proved herself a devoted wife and mother;[37] and the record
of her four sons, during long years of service in the British army, was
highly honourable. The second son, Lieutenant-General Sir James
Robertson Arnold, served with distinction in the wars against Napoleon.
A grandson who was killed in the Crimean war was especially mentioned by
Lord Raglan for valour and skill. Another grandson, the Rev. Edward
Arnold, who died in 1887, was rector of Great Massingham, in Norfolk.
The family has intermarried with the peerage, and has secured for itself
an honourable place among the landed gentry of England. But the disgrace
of their ancestor has always been keenly felt by them. At Surinam, in
1804, James Robertson Arnold, then a lieutenant, begged the privilege of
leading a desperate forlorn hope, that he might redeem the family name
from the odium which attached to it; and he acquitted himself in a way
that was worthy of his father in the days of Quebec and Saratoga. All
the family tradition goes to show that the last years of Benedict Arnold
in London were years of bitter remorse and self-reproach. The great name
which he had so gallantly won and so wretchedly lost left him no repose
by night or day. The iron frame, which had withstood the fatigue of so
many trying battlefields and still more trying marches through the
wilderness, broke down at last under the slow torture of lost
friendships and merited disgrace. In the last sad days in London, in
June, 1801, the family tradition says that Arnold's mind kept reverting
to his old friendship with Washington. He had always carefully preserved
the American uniform which he wore on the day when he made his escape to
the Vulture; and now as, broken in spirit and weary of life, he felt the
last moments coming, he called for this uniform and put it on, and
decorated himself with the epaulettes and sword-knot which Washington
had given him after the victory of Saratoga. "Let me die," said he, "in
this old uniform in which I fought my battles. May God forgive me for
ever putting on any other!"

       *       *       *       *       *

As we thus reach the end of one of the saddest episodes in American
history, our sympathy cannot fail for the moment to go out toward the
sufferer, nor can we help contrasting these passionate dying words with
the last cynical scoff of that other traitor, Charles Lee, when he
begged that he might not be buried within a mile of any church, as he
did not wish to keep bad company after death. From beginning to end the
story of Lee is little more than a vulgar melodrama; but into the story
of Arnold there enters that element of awe and pity which, as Aristotle
pointed out, is an essential part of real tragedy. That Arnold had been
very shabbily treated, long before any thought of treason entered his
mind, is not to be denied. That he may honestly have come to consider
the American cause hopeless, that he may really have lost his interest
in it because of the French alliance,--all this is quite possible. Such
considerations might have justified him in resigning his commission; or
even, had he openly and frankly gone over to the enemy, much as we
should have deplored such a step, some persons would always have been
found to judge him charitably, and accord him the credit of acting upon
principle. But the dark and crooked course which he did choose left open
no alternative but that of unqualified condemnation. If we feel less of
contempt and more of sorrow in the case of Arnold than in the case of
such a weakling as Charles Lee, our verdict is not the less
unmitigated.[38] Arnold's fall was by far the more terrible, as he fell
from a greater height, and into a depth than which none could be lower.
It is only fair that we should recall his services to the cause of
American independence, which were unquestionably greater than those of
any other man in the Continental army except Washington and Greene. But
it is part of the natural penalty that attaches to backsliding such as
his, that when we hear the name of Benedict Arnold these are not the
things which it suggests to our minds, but the name stands, and will
always stand, as a symbol of unfaithfulness to trust.

       *       *       *       *       *

The enormity of Arnold's conduct stands out in all the stronger relief
when we contrast with it the behaviour of the common soldiers whose
mutiny furnished the next serious obstacle with which Washington had to
contend at this period of the war.

  [Sidenote: Mutiny of Pennsylvania troops, Jan. 1, 1781]

In the autumn of 1780, owing to the financial and administrative chaos
which had overtaken the country, the army was in a truly pitiable
condition. The soldiers were clothed in rags and nearly starved, and
many of them had not seen a dollar of pay since the beginning of the
year. As the winter frosts came on there was much discontent, and the
irritation was greatest among the soldiers of the Pennsylvania line who
were encamped on the heights of Morristown. Many of these men had
enlisted at the beginning of 1778, to serve "for three years or during
the war;" but at that bright and hopeful period, just after the victory
of Saratoga, nobody supposed that the war could last for three years
more, and the alternative was inserted only to insure them against being
kept in service for the full term of three years in spite of the
cessation of hostilities. Now the three years had passed, the war was
not ended, and the prospect seemed less hopeful than in 1778. The men
felt that their contract was fulfilled and asked to be discharged. But
the officers, unwilling to lose such disciplined troops, the veterans of
Monmouth and Stony Point, insisted that the contract provided for three
years' service or more, in case the war should last longer; and they
refused the requested discharge. On New Year's Day, 1781, after an extra
ration of grog, 1,300 Pennsylvania troops marched out of camp, in
excellent order, under command of their sergeants, and seizing six
field-pieces, set out for Philadelphia, with declared intent to frighten
Congress and obtain redress for their wrongs. Their commander, General
Wayne, for whom they entertained great respect and affection, was unable
to stop them, and after an affray in which one man was killed and a
dozen were wounded, they were perforce allowed to go on their way. Alarm
guns were fired, couriers were sent to forewarn Congress and to notify
Washington; and Wayne, attended by two colonels, galloped after the
mutineers, to keep an eye upon them, and restrain their passions so far
as possible. Washington could not come to attend to the affair in
person, for the Hudson was not yet frozen and the enemy's fleet was in
readiness to ascend to West Point the instant he should leave his post.
Congress sent out a committee from Philadelphia, accompanied by
President Reed, to parley with the insurgents, who had halted at
Princeton and were behaving themselves decorously, doing no harm to the
people in person or property. They allowed Wayne and his colonels to
come into their camp, but gave them to understand that they would take
no orders from them. A sergeant-major acted as chief-commander, and his
orders were implicitly obeyed. When Lafayette, with St. Clair and
Laurens, came to them from Washington's headquarters, they were politely
but firmly told to go about their business. And so matters went on for a
week. President Reed came as far as Trenton, and wrote to Wayne
requesting an interview outside of Princeton, as he did not wish to come
to the camp himself and run the risk of such indignity as that with
which Washington's officers had just been treated. As the troops
assembled on parade Wayne read them this letter. Such a rebuke from the
president of their native state touched these poor fellows in a
sensitive point. Tears rolled down many a bronzed and haggard cheek.
They stood about in little groups, talking and pondering and not half
liking the business which they had undertaken.

  [Portrait: Jos. Reed]

  [Sidenote: Fate of Clinton's emissaries]

At this moment it was discovered that two emissaries from Sir Henry
Clinton were in the camp, seeking to tamper with the sergeant-major, and
promising high pay, with bounties and pensions, if they would come over
to Paulus Hook or Staten Island and cast in their lot with the British.
In a fury of wrath the tempters were seized and carried to Wayne to be
dealt with as spies. "We will have General Clinton understand," said the
men, "that we are not Benedict Arnolds!" Encouraged by this incident,
President Reed came to the camp next day, and was received with all due
respect. He proposed at once to discharge all those who had enlisted for
three years or the war, to furnish them at once with such clothing as
they most needed, and to give paper certificates for the arrears of
their pay, to be redeemed as soon as possible. These terms, which
granted unconditionally all the demands of the insurgents, were
instantly accepted. All those not included in the terms received six
weeks' furlough, and thus the whole force was dissolved. The two spies
were tried by court-martial and promptly hanged.

  [Sidenote: Further mutiny suppressed]

The quickness with which the demands of these men were granted was an
index to the alarm which their defection had excited; and Washington
feared that their example would be followed by the soldiers of other
states. On the 20th of January, indeed, a part of the New Jersey troops
mutinied at Pompton, and declared their intention to do like the men of
Pennsylvania. The case was becoming serious; it threatened the very
existence of the army; and a sudden blow was needed. Washington sent
from West Point a brigade of Massachusetts troops, which marched quickly
to Pompton, surprised the mutineers before daybreak, and compelled them
to lay down their arms without a struggle. Two of the ringleaders were
summarily shot, and so the insurrection was quelled.

Thus the disastrous year which had begun when Clinton sailed against
Charleston, the year which had witnessed the annihilation of two
American armies and the bankruptcy of Congress, came at length to an
end amid treason and mutiny. It had been the most dismal year of the
war, and it was not strange that many Americans despaired of their
country. Yet, as we have already seen, the resources of Great Britain,
attacked as she was by the united fleets of France, Spain, and Holland,
were scarcely less exhausted than those of the United States. The moment
had come when a decided military success must turn the scale irrevocably
the one way or the other; and events had already occurred at the South
which were soon to show that all the disasters of 1780 were but the
darkness that heralds the dawn.


  [32] The story of his attempt to enter the service of Luzerne,
       the French minister who succeeded Gerard, rests upon
       insufficient authority.

  [33] The charge against Mrs. Arnold, in Parton's _Life of Burr_,
       i. 126, is conclusively refuted by Sabine, in his _Loyalists
       of the American Revolution_, i. 172-178. I think there can be
       no doubt that Burr lied.

  [34] The version of the reprimand given by Marbois, however, is
       somewhat apocryphal.

  [35] To a gentleman, like Clinton, such a proposal was a gross
       insult, to which the only fitting answer would have been,
       "What do you take me for?" The scheme was highly
       discreditable to all concerned, and if Washington was one of
       these, it must be pronounced a blot upon his record. The only
       explanation would be that the "vague sense of injustice"
       mentioned below must have been felt by him so keenly as to
       warp for the moment his moral judgment.

  [36] In 1782, the British government granted him a pension of
       £1,000 a year for his lifetime and that of his wife. Arnold
       died in 1801, Mrs. Arnold in 1804.

  [37] As Lecky well says, "there is something inexpressibly
       touching in the tender affection and the undeviating
       admiration for her husband, which she retained through all
       the vicissitudes of his dark and troubled life." _Hist. of
       England in the Eighteenth Century_, iv. 136. Her affection
       seems to have been repaid with perfect loyalty on Arnold's
       part. His domestic life seems to have been above reproach, in
       which respect he presents a strong contrast to such utterly
       depraved wretches as Charles Lee and Aaron Burr.

  [38] [Illustration: THE SARATOGA MONUMENT]

       This is the most suitable place for making mention of the
       Saratoga monument, which was erected in 1883, but is not yet
       completed. The obelisk, 155 feet in height, stands upon a
       bluff about 300 feet above the Hudson river, and just south
       of the road from Schuylerville to Saratoga Springs. The view
       here given is taken from the southeast. The great
       pointed-arch niches in the base, just over the doorways, are
       occupied by bronze statues of heroic size. Of these it was
       necessary that one should be the unworthy Gates, who
       commanded the army and received Burgoyne's surrender. The
       second and third are obviously Schuyler and Morgan. The
       fourth niche is vacant. The place belongs to Arnold, who was
       especially the hero of Saratoga. But for Arnold, the
       relieving army of St. Leger might have come down the Mohawk
       valley. But for Arnold, the 19th of September would have seen
       Gates's position turned at Bemis Heights. But for Arnold the
       victory of October 7th would probably have been indecisive,
       so that time would have been allowed for Clinton to come up
       the Hudson. In commemorating Saratoga, to leave Arnold
       unnoticed would be impossible. He has therefore his niche,
       but it is vacant. When the monument is completed, the names
       of the four generals are to be inscribed below their niches,
       and then the empty niche will speak as eloquently as the
       black veil that in the long series of portraits of Venetian
       doges covers the place of Marino Faliero.

       In the view here given, the empty niche is seen on the left.
       The niche on the right, or east, contains (on almost too small
       a scale to be here visible) the statue of Schuyler, with folded
       arms, gazing upon the field of surrender where he ought to
       have presided. On the north side stands Gates with a
       spy-glass, as in the final battle; while Arnold was winning
       victory for him, he stood on Bemis Heights to watch what he
       supposed would be the _retreat_ of the Americans! On the west
       side Morgan is in the attitude of ordering his sharpshooter
       Tim Murphy to fire upon General Fraser. These poses were
       suggested by Colonel William Leete Stone, secretary of the
       Saratoga Monument Association, to whom, indeed, the monument
       owes its existence.

       The interior of the monument is finely decorated with
       bas-reliefs of scenes in the Burgoyne campaign.

                              CHAPTER XV


In the invasion of the South by Cornwallis, as in the invasion of the
North by Burgoyne, the first serious blow which the enemy received was
dealt by the militia. After his great victory over Gates, Cornwallis
remained nearly a month at Camden resting his troops, who found the
August heat intolerable.

  [Sidenote: Cornwallis invades North Carolina, Sept., 1780]

By the middle of September, 1780, he had started on his march to North
Carolina, of which he expected to make an easy conquest. But his
reception in that state was anything but hospitable. Advancing as far as
Charlotte, he found himself in the midst of that famous Mecklenb