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´╗┐Title: Washington and His Comrades in Arms: A Chronicle of the War of Independence
Author: Wrong, George McKinnon, 1860-1948
Language: English
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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.

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Gregory's University; and Alev Akman



Volume 12 in the Chronicles of America Series. Abraham Lincoln Edition.

By George M. Wrong


The author is aware of a certain audacity in undertaking, himself a
Briton, to appear in a company of American writers on American history
and above all to write on the subject of Washington. If excuse is needed
it is to be found in the special interest of the career of Washington to
a citizen of the British Commonwealth of Nations at the present time and
in the urgency with which the editor and publishers declared that such
an interpretation would not be unwelcome to Americans and pressed upon
the author a task for which he doubted his own qualifications. To the
editor he owes thanks for wise criticism. He is also indebted to Mr.
Worthington Chauncey Ford, of the Massachusetts Historical Society, a
great authority on Washington, who has kindly read the proofs and given
helpful comments. Needless to say the author alone is responsible for
opinions in the book.

University of Toronto, June 16, 1920.
















Moving among the members of the second Continental Congress, which met
at Philadelphia in May, 1775, was one, and but one, military figure.
George Washington alone attended the sittings in uniform. This colonel
from Virginia, now in his forty-fourth year, was a great landholder, an
owner of slaves, an Anglican churchman, an aristocrat, everything that
stands in contrast with the type of a revolutionary radical. Yet from
the first he had been an outspoken and uncompromising champion of the
colonial cause. When the tax was imposed on tea he had abolished the use
of tea in his own household and when war was imminent he had talked of
recruiting a thousand men at his own expense and marching to Boston. His
steady wearing of the uniform seemed, indeed, to show that he regarded
the issue as hardly less military than political.

The clash at Lexington, on the 19th of April, had made vivid the reality
of war. Passions ran high. For years there had been tension, long
disputes about buying British stamps to put on American legal papers,
about duties on glass and paint and paper and, above all, tea. Boston
had shown turbulent defiance, and to hold Boston down British soldiers
had been quartered on the inhabitants in the proportion of one soldier
for five of the populace, a great and annoying burden. And now British
soldiers had killed Americans who stood barring their way on Lexington
Green. Even calm Benjamin Franklin spoke later of the hands of British
ministers as "red, wet, and dropping with blood." Americans never forgot
the fresh graves made on that day. There were, it is true, more British
than American graves, but the British were regarded as the aggressors.
If the rest of the colonies were to join in the struggle, they must have
a common leader. Who should he be?

In June, while the Continental Congress faced this question at
Philadelphia, events at Boston made the need of a leader more urgent.
Boston was besieged by American volunteers under the command of General
Artemas Ward. The siege had lasted for two months, each side watching
the other at long range. General Gage, the British Commander, had the
sea open to him and a finely tempered army upon which he could rely. The
opposite was true of his opponents. They were a motley host rather than
an army. They had few guns and almost no powder. Idle waiting since
the fight at Lexington made untrained troops restless and anxious to go
home. Nothing holds an army together like real war, and shrewd officers
knew that they must give the men some hard task to keep up their
fighting spirit. It was rumored that Gage was preparing an aggressive
movement from Boston, which might mean pillage and massacre in the
surrounding country, and it was decided to draw in closer to Boston to
give Gage a diversion and prove the mettle of the patriot army. So, on
the evening of June 16, 1775, there was a stir of preparation in the
American camp at Cambridge, and late at night the men fell in near
Harvard College.

Across the Charles River north from Boston, on a peninsula, lay the
village of Charlestown, and rising behind it was Breed's Hill, about
seventy-four feet high, extending northeastward to the higher elevation
of Bunker Hill. The peninsula could be reached from Cambridge only by a
narrow neck of land easily swept by British floating batteries lying off
the shore. In the dark the American force of twelve hundred men under
Colonel Prescott marched to this neck of land and then advanced half a
mile southward to Breed's Hill. Prescott was an old campaigner of the
Seven Years' War; he had six cannon, and his troops were commanded by
experienced officers. Israel Putnam was skillful in irregular frontier
fighting, and Nathanael Greene, destined to prove himself the best man
in the American army next to Washington himself, could furnish sage
military counsel derived from much thought and reading.

Thus it happened that on the morning of the 17th of June General Gage in
Boston awoke to a surprise. He had refused to believe that he was shut
up in Boston. It suited his convenience to stay there until a plan
of campaign should be evolved by his superiors in London, but he was
certain that when he liked he could, with his disciplined battalions,
brush away the besieging army. Now he saw the American force on Breed's
Hill throwing up a defiant and menacing redoubt and entrenchments. Gage
did not hesitate. The bold aggressors must be driven away at once. He
detailed for the enterprise William Howe, the officer destined soon
to be his successor in the command at Boston. Howe was a brave and
experienced soldier. He had been a friend of Wolfe and had led the party
of twenty-four men who had first climbed the cliff at Quebec on the
great day when Wolfe fell victorious. He was the younger brother of
that beloved Lord Howe who had fallen at Ticonderoga and to whose memory
Massachusetts had reared a monument in Westminster Abbey. Gage gave him
in all some twenty-five hundred men, and, at about two in the afternoon,
this force was landed at Charlestown.

The little town was soon aflame and the smoke helped to conceal Howe's
movements. The day was boiling hot and the soldiers carried heavy packs
with food for three days, for they intended to camp on Bunker Hill.
Straight up Breed's Hill they marched wading through long grass
sometimes to their knees and throwing down the fences on the hillside.
The British knew that raw troops were likely to scatter their fire on
a foe still out of range and they counted on a rapid bayonet
charge against men helpless with empty rifles. This expectation was
disappointed. The Americans had in front of them a barricade and Israel
Putnam was there, threatening dire things to any one who should fire
before he could see the whites of the eyes of the advancing soldiery. As
the British came on there was a terrific discharge of musketry at twenty
yards, repeated again and again as they either halted or drew back.

The slaughter was terrible. British officers hardened in war declared
long afterward that they had never seen carnage like that of this fight.
The American riflemen had been told to aim especially at the British
officers, easily known by their uniforms, and one rifleman is said to
have shot twenty officers before he was himself killed. Lord Rawdon,
who played a considerable part in the war and was later, as Marquis of
Hastings, Viceroy of India, used to tell of his terror as he fought in
the British line. Suddenly a soldier was shot dead by his side, and,
when he saw the man quiet at his feet, he said, "Is Death nothing but
this?" and henceforth had no fear. When the first attack by the British
was checked they retired; but, with dogged resolve, they re-formed and
again charged up the hill, only a second time to be repulsed. The third
time they were more cautious. They began to work round to the weaker
defenses of the American left, where were no redoubts and entrenchments
like those on the right. By this time British ships were throwing shells
among the Americans. Charlestown was burning. The great column of black
smoke, the incessant roar of cannon, and the dreadful scenes of carnage
had affected the defenders. They wavered; and on the third British
charge, having exhausted their ammunition, they fled from the hill in
confusion back to the narrow neck of land half a mile away, swept now
by a British floating battery. General Burgoyne wrote that, in the third
attack, the discipline and courage of the British private soldiers also
broke down and that when the redoubt was carried the officers of some
corps were almost alone. The British stood victorious at Bunker Hill. It
was, however, a costly victory. More than a thousand men, nearly half of
the attacking force, had fallen, with an undue proportion of officers.

Philadelphia, far away, did not know what was happening when, two days
before the battle of Bunker Hill, the Continental Congress settled the
question of a leader for a national army. On the 15th of June John Adams
of Massachusetts rose and moved that the Congress should adopt as
its own the army before Boston and that it should name Washington
as Commander-in-Chief. Adams had deeply pondered the problem. He
was certain that New England would remain united and decided in the
struggle, but he was not so sure of the other colonies. To have a leader
from beyond New England would make for continental unity. Virginia,
next to Massachusetts, had stood in the forefront of the movement, and
Virginia was fortunate in having in the Congress one whose fame as a
soldier ran through all the colonies. There was something to be said for
choosing a commander from the colony which began the struggle and Adams
knew that his colleague from Massachusetts, John Hancock, a man of
wealth and importance, desired the post. He was conspicuous enough to
be President of the Congress. Adams says that when he made his motion,
naming a Virginian, he saw in Hancock's face "mortification and
resentment." He saw, too, that Washington hurriedly left the room when
his name was mentioned.

There could be no doubt as to what the Congress would do. Unquestionably
Washington was the fittest man for the post. Twenty years earlier he
had seen important service in the war with France. His position and
character commanded universal aspect. The Congress adopted unanimously
the motion of Adams and it only remained to be seen Whether Washington
would accept. On the next day he came to the sitting with his mind made
up. The members, he said, would bear witness to his declaration that he
thought himself unfit for the task. Since, however, they called him, he
would try to do his duty. He would take the command but he would accept
no pay beyond his expenses. Thus it was that Washington became a great
national figure. The man who had long worn the King's uniform was
now his deadliest enemy; and it is probably true that after this step
nothing could have restored the old relations and reunited the British
Empire. The broken vessel could not be made whole.

Washington spent only a few days in getting ready to take over his new
command. On the 21st of June, four days after Bunker Hill, he set out
from Philadelphia. The colonies were in truth very remote from each
other. The journey to Boston was tedious. In the previous year
John Adams had traveled in the other direction to the Congress at
Philadelphia and, in his journal, he notes, as if he were traveling in
foreign lands, the strange manners and customs of the other colonies.
The journey, so momentous to Adams, was not new to Washington. Some
twenty years earlier the young Virginian officer had traveled as far as
Boston in the service of King George II. Now he was leader in the war
against King George III. In New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut he was
received impressively. In the warm summer weather the roads were good
enough but many of the rivers were not bridged and could be crossed only
by ferries or at fords. It took nearly a fortnight to reach Boston.

Washington had ridden only twenty miles on his long journey when the
news reached him of the fight at Bunker Hill. The question which he
asked anxiously shows what was in his mind: "Did the militia fight?"
When the answer was "Yes," he said with relief, "The liberties of the
country are safe." He reached Cambridge on the 2d of July and on the
following day was the chief figure in a striking ceremony. In the
presence of a vast crowd and of the motley army of volunteers, which was
now to be called the American army, Washington assumed the command.
He sat on horseback under an elm tree and an observer noted that his
appearance was "truly noble and majestic." This was milder praise than
that given a little later by a London paper which said: "There is not a
king in Europe but would look like a valet de chambre by his side."
New England having seen him was henceforth wholly on his side. His
traditions were not those of the Puritans, of the Ephraims and the
Abijahs of the volunteer army, men whose Old Testament names tell
something of the rigor of the Puritan view of life. Washington, a sharer
in the free and often careless hospitality of his native Virginia, had a
different outlook. In his personal discipline, however, he was not less
Puritan than the strictest of New Englanders. The coming years were to
show that a great leader had taken his fitting place.

Washington, born in 1732, had been trained in self-reliance, for he had
been fatherless from childhood. At the age of sixteen he was working at
the profession, largely self-taught, of a surveyor of land. At the age
of twenty-seven he married Martha Custis, a rich widow with children,
though her marriage with Washington was childless. His estate on the
Potomac River, three hundred miles from the open sea, recently named
Mount Vernon, had been in the family for nearly a hundred years.
There were twenty-five hundred acres at Mount Vernon with ten miles of
frontage on the tidal river. The Virginia planters were a landowning
gentry; when Washington died he had more than sixty thousand acres. The
growing of tobacco, the one vital industry of the Virginia of the time,
with its half million people, was connected with the ownership of land.
On their great estates the planters lived remote, with a mail perhaps
every fortnight. There were no large towns, no great factories. Nearly
half of the population consisted of negro slaves. It is one of the
ironies of history that the chief leader in a war marked by a passion
for liberty was a member of a society in which, as another of its
members, Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, said,
there was on the one hand the most insulting despotism and on the
other the most degrading submission. The Virginian landowners were more
absolute masters than the proudest lords of medieval England. These
feudal lords had serfs on their land. The serfs were attached to
the soil and were sold to a new master with the soil. They were not,
however, property, without human rights. On the other hand, the slaves
of the Virginian master were property like his horses. They could not
even call wife and children their own, for these might be sold at will.
It arouses a strange emotion now when we find Washington offering to
exchange a negro for hogsheads of molasses and rum and writing that the
man would bring a good price, "if kept clean and trim'd up a little when
offered for sale."

In early life Washington had had very little of formal education. He
knew no language but English. When he became world famous and his friend
La Fayette urged him to visit France he refused because he would
seem uncouth if unable to speak the French tongue. Like another great
soldier, the Duke of Wellington, he was always careful about his dress.
There was in him a silent pride which would brook nothing derogatory
to his dignity. No one could be more methodical. He kept his accounts
rigorously, entering even the cost of repairing a hairpin for a ward.
He was a keen farmer, and it is amusing to find him recording in his
careful journal that there are 844,800 seeds of "New River Grass" to the
pound Troy and so determining how many should be sown to the acre. Not
many youths would write out as did Washington, apparently from French
sources, and read and reread elaborate "Rules of Civility and Decent
Behaviour in Company and Conversation." In the fashion of the age
of Chesterfield they portray the perfect gentleman. He is always to
remember the presence of others and not to move, read, or speak without
considering what may be due to them. In the true spirit of the time he
is to learn to defer to persons of superior quality. Tactless laughter
at his own wit, jests that have a sting of idle gossip, are to be
avoided. Reproof is to be given not in anger but in a sweet and mild
temper. The rules descend even to manners at table and are a revelation
of care in self-discipline. We might imagine Oliver Cromwell drawing up
such rules, but not Napoleon or Wellington.

The class to which Washington belonged prided itself on good birth and
good breeding. We picture him as austere, but, like Oliver Cromwell,
whom in some respects he resembles, he was very human in his personal
relations. He liked a glass of wine. He was fond of dancing and he went
to the theater, even on Sunday. He was, too, something of a lady's man;
"He can be downright impudent sometimes," wrote a Southern lady, "such
impudence, Fanny, as you and I like." In old age he loved to have the
young and gay about him. He could break into furious oaths and no one
was a better master of what we may call honorable guile in dealing with
wily savages, in circulating falsehoods that would deceive the enemy in
time of war, or in pursuing a business advantage. He played cards for
money and carefully entered loss and gain in his accounts. He loved
horseracing and horses, and nothing pleased him more than to talk of
that noble animal. He kept hounds and until his burden of cares became
too great was an eager devotee of hunting. His shooting was of a type
more heroic than that of an English squire spending a day on a moor
with guests and gamekeepers and returning to comfort in the evening.
Washington went off on expeditions into the forest lasting many days and
shared the life in the woods of rough men, sleeping often in the open
air. "Happy," he wrote, "is he who gets the berth nearest the fire." He
could spend a happy day in admiring the trees and the richness of the
land on a neighbor's estate. Always his thoughts were turning to the
soil. There was poetry in him. It was said of Napoleon that the one
approach to poetry in all his writings is the phrase: "The spring is at
last appearing and the leaves are beginning to sprout." Washington,
on the other hand, brooded over the mysteries of life. He pictured to
himself the serenity of a calm old age and always dared to look death
squarely in the face. He was sensitive to human passion and he felt the
wonder of nature in all her ways, her bounteous response in growth to
the skill of man, the delight of improving the earth in contrast
with the vain glory gained by ravaging it in war. His most striking
characteristics were energy and decision united often with strong likes
and dislikes. His clever secretary, Alexander Hamilton, found, as he
said, that his chief was not remarkable for good temper and resigned
his post because of an impatient rebuke. When a young man serving in
the army of Virginia, Washington had many a tussle with the obstinate
Scottish Governor, Dinwiddie, who thought his vehemence unmannerly and
ungrateful. Gilbert Stuart, who painted several of his portraits, said
that his features showed strong passions and that, had he not learned
self-restraint, his temper would have been savage. This discipline he
acquired. The task was not easy, but in time he was able to say with
truth, "I have no resentments," and his self-control became so perfect
as to be almost uncanny.

The assumption that Washington fought against an England grown decadent
is not justified. To admit this would be to make his task seem lighter
than it really was. No doubt many of the rich aristocracy spent idle
days of pleasure-seeking with the comfortable conviction that they could
discharge their duties to society by merely existing, since their luxury
made work and the more they indulged themselves the more happy and
profitable employment would their many dependents enjoy. The eighteenth
century was, however, a wonderful epoch in England. Agriculture became
a new thing under the leadership of great landowners like Lord Townshend
and Coke of Norfolk. Already was abroad in society a divine discontent
at existing abuses. It brought Warren Hastings to trial on the charge of
plundering India. It attacked slavery, the cruelty of the criminal law,
which sent children to execution for the theft of a few pennies, the
brutality of the prisons, the torpid indifference of the church to the
needs of the masses. New inventions were beginning the age of machinery.
The reform of Parliament, votes for the toiling masses, and a thousand
other improvements were being urged. It was a vigorous, rich, and
arrogant England which Washington confronted.

It is sometimes said of Washington that he was an English country
gentleman. A gentleman he was, but with an experience and training quite
unlike that of a gentleman in England. The young heir to an English
estate might or might not go to a university. He could, like the young
Charles James Fox, become a scholar, but like Fox, who knew some of the
virtues and all the supposed gentlemanly vices, he might dissipate
his energies in hunting, gambling, and cockfighting. He would almost
certainly make the grand tour of Europe, and, if he had little Latin and
less Greek, he was pretty certain to have some familiarity with Paris
and a smattering of French. The eighteenth century was a period of
magnificent living in England. The great landowner, then, as now, the
magnate of his neighborhood, was likely to rear, if he did not inherit,
one of those vast palaces which are today burdens so costly to the heirs
of their builders. At the beginning of the century the nation to honor
Marlborough for his victories could think of nothing better than to
give him half a million pounds to build a palace. Even with the colossal
wealth produced by modern industry we should be staggered at a residence
costing millions of dollars. Yet the Duke of Devonshire rivaled at
Chatsworth, and Lord Leicester at Holkham, Marlborough's building
at Blenheim, and many other costly palaces were erected during the
following half century. Their owners sometimes built in order to surpass
a neighbor in grandeur, and to this day great estates are encumbered by
the debts thus incurred in vain show. The heir to such a property was
reared in a pomp and luxury undreamed of by the frugal young planter of
Virginia. Of working for a livelihood, in the sense in which Washington
knew it, the young Englishman of great estate would never dream.

The Atlantic is a broad sea and even in our own day, when instant
messages flash across it and man himself can fly from shore to shore in
less than a score of hours, it is not easy for those on one strand to
understand the thought of those on the other. Every community evolves
its own spirit not easily to be apprehended by the onlooker. The state
of society in America was vitally different from that in England. The
plain living of Virginia was in sharp contrast with the magnificence
and ease of England. It is true that we hear of plate and elaborate
furniture, of servants in livery, and much drinking of Port and Madeira,
among the Virginians: They had good horses. Driving, as often they did,
with six in a carriage, they seemed to keep up regal style. Spaces were
wide in a country where one great landowner, Lord Fairfax, held no less
than five million acres. Houses lay isolated and remote and a gentleman
dining out would sometimes drive his elaborate equipage from twenty to
fifty miles. There was a tradition of lavish hospitality, of gallant men
and fair women, and sometimes of hard and riotous living. Many of the
houses were, however, in a state of decay, with leaking roofs, battered
doors and windows and shabby furniture. To own land in Virginia did
not mean to live in luxurious ease. Land brought in truth no very large
income. It was easier to break new land than to fertilize that long in
use. An acre yielded only eight or ten bushels of wheat. In England the
land was more fruitful. One who was only a tenant on the estate of Coke
of Norfolk died worth 150,000 pounds, and Coke himself had the income of
a prince. When Washington died he was reputed one of the richest men in
America and yet his estate was hardly equal to that of Coke's tenant.

Washington was a good farmer, inventive and enterprising, but he had
difficulties which ruined many of his neighbors. Today much of his
infertile estate of Mount Vernon would hardly grow enough to pay
the taxes. When Washington desired a gardener, or a bricklayer, or a
carpenter, he usually had to buy him in the form of a convict, or of
a negro slave, or of a white man indentured for a term of years. Such
labor required eternal vigilance. The negro, himself property, had no
respect for it in others. He stole when he could and worked only when
the eyes of a master were upon him. If left in charge of plants or of
stock he was likely to let them perish for lack of water. Washington's
losses of cattle, horses, and sheep from this cause were enormous. The
neglected cattle gave so little milk that at one time Washington, with a
hundred cows, had to buy his butter. Negroes feigned sickness for weeks
at a time. A visitor noted that Washington spoke to his slaves with
a stern harshness. No doubt it was necessary. The management of this
intractable material brought training in command. If Washington could
make negroes efficient and farming pay in Virginia, he need hardly be
afraid to meet any other type of difficulty.

From the first he was satisfied that the colonies had before them a
difficult struggle. Many still refused to believe that there was
really a state of war. Lexington and Bunker Hill might be regarded as
unfortunate accidents to be explained away in an era of good feeling
when each side should acknowledge the merits of the other and apologize
for its own faults. Washington had few illusions of this kind. He took
the issue in a serious and even bitter spirit. He knew nothing of the
Englishman at home for he had never set foot outside of the colonies
except to visit Barbados with an invalid half-brother. Even then he
noted that the "gentleman inhabitants" whose "hospitality and genteel
behaviour" he admired were discontented with the tone of the officials
sent out from England. From early life Washington had seen much of
British officers in America. Some of them had been men of high birth and
station who treated the young colonial officer with due courtesy. When,
however, he had served on the staff of the unfortunate General Braddock
in the calamitous campaign of 1755, he had been offended by the tone of
that leader. Probably it was in these days that Washington first brooded
over the contrasts between the Englishman and the Virginian. With
obstinate complacency Braddock had disregarded Washington's counsels
of prudence. He showed arrogant confidence in his veteran troops and
contempt for the amateur soldiers of whom Washington was one. In a wild
country where rapid movement was the condition of success Braddock would
halt, as Washington said, "to level every mole hill and to erect bridges
over every brook." His transport was poor and Washington, a lover of
horses, chafed at what he called "vile management" of the horses by
the British soldier. When anything went wrong Braddock blamed, not the
ineffective work of his own men, but the supineness of Virginia. "He
looks upon the country," Washington wrote in wrath, "I believe, as void
of honour and honesty." The hour of trial came in the fight of July,
1755, when Braddock was defeated and killed on the march to the Ohio.
Washington told his mother that in the fight the Virginian troops stood
their ground and were nearly all killed but the boasted regulars "were
struck with such a panic that they behaved with more cowardice than it
is possible to conceive." In the anger and resentment of this comment is
found the spirit which made Washington a champion of the colonial cause
from the first hour of disagreement.

That was a fatal day in March, 1765, when the British Parliament voted
that it was just and necessary that a revenue be raised in America.
Washington was uncompromising. After the tax on tea he derided "our
lordly masters in Great Britain." No man, he said, should scruple for
a moment to take up arms against the threatened tyranny. He and his
neighbors of Fairfax County, Virginia, took the trouble to tell the
world by formal resolution on July 18, 1774, that they were descended
not from a conquered but from a conquering people, that they claimed
full equality with the people of Great Britain, and like them would make
their own laws and impose their own taxes. They were not democrats; they
had no theories of equality; but as "gentlemen and men of fortune" they
would show to others the right path in the crisis which had arisen. In
this resolution spoke the proud spirit of Washington; and, as he brooded
over what was happening, anger fortified his pride. Of the Tories in
Boston, some of them highly educated men, who with sorrow were walking
in what was to them the hard path of duty, Washington could say later
that "there never existed a more miserable set of beings than these
wretched creatures."

The age of Washington was one of bitter vehemence in political thought.
In England the good Whig was taught that to deny Whig doctrine was
blasphemy, that there was no truth or honesty on the other side, and
that no one should trust a Tory; and usually the good Whig was true
to the teaching he had received. In America there had hitherto been
no national politics. Issues had been local and passions thus confined
exploded all the more fiercely. Franklin spoke of George III as drinking
long draughts of American blood and of the British people as so depraved
and barbarous as to be the wickedest nation upon earth, inspired by
bloody and insatiable malice and wickedness. To Washington George III
was a tyrant, his ministers were scoundrels, and the British people were
lost to every sense of virtue. The evil of it is that, for a posterity
which listened to no other comment on the issues of the Revolution, such
utterances, instead of being understood as passing expressions of party
bitterness, were taken as the calm judgments of men held in reverence
and awe. Posterity has agreed that there is nothing to be said for the
coercing of the colonies so resolutely pressed by George III and his
ministers. Posterity can also, however, understand that the struggle was
not between undiluted virtue on the one side and undiluted vice on the
other. Some eighty years after the American Revolution the Republic
created by the Revolution endured the horrors of civil war rather than
accept its own disruption. In 1776 even the most liberal Englishmen felt
a similar passion for the continued unity of the British Empire. Time
has reconciled all schools of thought to the unity lost in the case of
the Empire and to the unity preserved in the case of the Republic, but
on the losing side in each case good men fought with deep conviction.


Washington was not a professional soldier, though he had seen the
realities of war and had moved in military society. Perhaps it was an
advantage that he had not received the rigid training of a regular, for
he faced conditions which required an elastic mind. The force besieging
Boston consisted at first chiefly of New England militia, with companies
of minute-men, so called because of their supposed readiness to fight at
a minute's notice. Washington had been told that he should find 20,000
men under his command; he found, in fact, a nominal army of 17,000,
with probably not more than 14,000 effective, and the number tended
to decline as the men went away to their homes after the first vivid
interest gave way to the humdrum of military life.

The extensive camp before Boston, as Washington now saw it, expressed
the varied character of his strange command. Cambridge, the seat of
Harvard College, was still only a village with a few large houses and
park-like grounds set among fields of grain, now trodden down by the
soldiers. Here was placed in haphazard style the motley housing of a
military camp. The occupants had followed their own taste in building.
One could see structures covered with turf, looking like lumps of mother
earth, tents made of sail cloth, huts of bare boards, huts of brick and
stone, some having doors and windows of wattled basketwork. There were
not enough huts to house the army nor camp-kettles for cooking. Blankets
were so few that many of the men were without covering at night. In the
warm summer weather this did not much matter but bleak autumn and harsh
winter would bring bitter privation. The sick in particular suffered
severely, for the hospitals were badly equipped.

A deep conviction inspired many of the volunteers. They regarded as
brutal tyranny the tax on tea, considered in England as a mild expedient
for raising needed revenue for defense in the colonies. The men of
Suffolk County, Massachusetts, meeting in September, 1774, had declared
in high-flown terms that the proposed tax came from a parricide who
held a dagger at their bosoms and that those who resisted him would earn
praises to eternity. From nearly every colony came similar utterances,
and flaming resentment at injustice filled the volunteer army. Many a
soldier would not touch a cup of tea because tea had been the ruin of
his country. Some wore pinned to their hats or coats the words "Liberty
or Death" and talked of resisting tyranny until "time shall be no more."
It was a dark day for the motherland when so many of her sons believed
that she was the enemy of liberty. The iron of this conviction entered
into the soul of the American nation; at Gettysburg, nearly a century
later, Abraham Lincoln, in a noble utterance which touched the heart of
humanity, could appeal to the days of the Revolution, when "our fathers
brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty." The
colonists believed that they were fighting for something of import to
all mankind, and the nation which they created believes it still.

An age of war furnishes, however, occasion for the exercise of baser
impulses. The New Englander was a trader by instinct. An army had come
suddenly together and there was golden promise of contracts for supplies
at fat profits. The leader from Virginia, untutored in such things, was
astounded at the greedy scramble. Before the year 1775 ended Washington
wrote to his friend Lee that he prayed God he might never again have to
witness such lack of public spirit, such jobbing and self-seeking,
such "fertility in all the low arts," as now he found at Cambridge.
He declared that if he could have foreseen all this nothing would have
induced him to take the command. Later, the young La Fayette, who had
left behind him in France wealth and luxury in order to fight a hard
fight in America, was shocked at the slackness and indifference among
the supposed patriots for whose cause he was making sacrifices so
heavy. In the backward parts of the colonies the population was densely
ignorant and had little grasp of the deeper meaning of the patriot

The army was, as Washington himself said, "a mixed multitude." There
was every variety of dress. Old uniforms, treasured from the days of the
last French wars, had been dug out. A military coat or a cocked hat was
the only semblance of uniform possessed by some of the officers. Rank
was often indicated by ribbons of different colors tied on the arm. Lads
from the farms had come in their usual dress; a good many of these were
hunters from the frontier wearing the buckskin of the deer they had
slain. Sometimes there was clothing of grimmer material. Later in the
war in American officer recorded that his men had skinned two dead
Indians "from their hips down, for bootlegs, one pair for the Major,
the other for myself." The volunteers varied greatly in age. There
were bearded veterans of sixty and a sprinkling of lads of sixteen.
An observer laughed at the boys and the "great great grandfathers" who
marched side by side in the army before Boston. Occasionally a black
face was seen in the ranks. One of Washington's tasks was to reduce the
disparity of years and especially to secure men who could shoot. In
the first enthusiasm of 1775 so many men volunteered in Virginia that a
selection was made on the basis of accuracy in shooting. The men fired
at a range of one hundred and fifty yards at an outline of a man's nose
in chalk on a board. Each man had a single shot and the first men shot
the nose entirely away.

Undoubtedly there was the finest material among the men lounging about
their quarters at Cambridge in fashion so unmilitary. In physique they
were larger than the British soldier, a result due to abundant food and
free life in the open air from childhood. Most of the men supplied their
own uniform and rifles and much barter went on in the hours after
drill. The men made and sold shoes, clothes, and even arms. They
were accustomed to farm life and good at digging and throwing up
entrenchments. The colonial mode of waging war was, however, not that
of Europe. To the regular soldier of the time even earth entrenchments
seemed a sign of cowardice. The brave man would come out on the open to
face his foe. Earl Percy, who rescued the harassed British on the day of
Lexington, had the poorest possible opinion of those on what he called
the rebel side. To him they were intriguing rascals, hypocrites,
cowards, with sinister designs to ruin the Empire. But he was forced to
admit that they fought well and faced death willingly.

In time Washington gathered about him a fine body of officers, brave,
steady, and efficient. On the great issue they, like himself, had
unchanging conviction, and they and he saved the revolution. But a good
many of his difficulties were due to bad officers. He had himself the
reverence for gentility, the belief in an ordered grading of society,
characteristic of his class in that age. In Virginia the relation of
master and servant was well understood and the tone of authority was
readily accepted. In New England conceptions of equality were more
advanced. The extent to which the people would brook the despotism of
military command was uncertain. From the first some of the volunteers
had elected their officers. The result was that intriguing demagogues
were sometimes chosen. The Massachusetts troops, wrote a Connecticut
captain, not free, perhaps, from local jealousy, were "commanded by a
most despicable set of officers." At Bunker Hill officers of this type
shirked the fight and their men, left without leaders, joined in the
panicky retreat of that day. Other officers sent away soldiers to work
on their farms while at the same time they drew for them public pay. At
a later time Washington wrote to a friend wise counsel about the choice
of officers. "Take none but gentlemen; let no local attachment influence
you; do not suffer your good nature to say Yes when you ought to say No.
Remember that it is a public, not a private cause." What he desired
was the gentleman's chivalry of refinement, sense of honor, dignity of
character, and freedom from mere self-seeking. The prime qualities of
a good officer, as he often said, were authority and decision. It is
probably true of democracies that they prefer and will follow the man
who will take with them a strong tone. Little men, however, cannot see
this and think to gain support by shifty changes of opinion to please
the multitude. What authority and decision could be expected from
an officer of the peasant type, elected by his own men? How could he
dominate men whose short term of service was expiring and who had to be
coaxed to renew it? Some elected officers had to promise to pool their
pay with that of their men. In one company an officer fulfilled the
double position of captain and barber. In time, however, the authority
of military rank came to be respected throughout the whole army. An
amusing contrast with earlier conditions is found in 1779 when a captain
was tried by a brigade court-martial and dismissed from the service for
intimate association with the wagon-maker of the brigade.

The first thing to do at Cambridge was to get rid of the inefficient and
the corrupt. Washington had never any belief in a militia army. From
his earliest days as a soldier he had favored conscription, even in free
Virginia. He had then found quite ineffective the "whooping, holloing
gentlemen soldiers" of the volunteer force of the colony among whom
"every individual has his own crude notion of things and must undertake
to direct. If his advice is neglected he thinks himself slighted,
abused, and injured and, to redress his wrongs, will depart for his
home." Washington found at Cambridge too many officers. Then as later
in the American army there were swarms of colonels. The officers from
Massachusetts, conscious that they had seen the first fighting in the
great cause, expected special consideration from a stranger serving
on their own soil. Soon they had a rude awakening. Washington broke a
Massachusetts colonel and two captains because they had proved
cowards at Bunker Hill, two more captains for fraud in drawing pay and
provisions for men who did not exist, and still another for absence
from his post when he was needed. He put in jail a colonel, a major, and
three or four other officers. "New lords, new laws," wrote in his diary
Mr. Emerson, the chaplain: "the Generals Washington and Lee are upon
the lines every day... great distinction is made between officers and

The term of all the volunteers in Washington's any expired by the end of
1775, so that he had to create a new army during the siege of Boston. He
spoke scornfully of an enemy so little enterprising as to remain supine
during the process. But probably the British were wise to avoid a
venture inland and to remain in touch with their fleet. Washington made
them uneasy when he drove away the cattle from the neighborhood. Soon
beef was selling in Boston for as much as eighteen pence a pound. Food
might reach Boston in ships but supplies even by sea were insecure, for
the Americans soon had privateers manned by seamen familiar with New
England waters and happy in expected gains from prize money. The British
were anxious about the elementary problem of food. They might have made
Washington more uncomfortable by forays and alarms. Only reluctantly,
however, did Howe, who took over the command on October 10, 1775, admit
to himself that this was a real war. He still hoped for settlement
without further bloodshed. Washington was glad to learn that the British
were laying in supplies of coal for the winter. It meant that they
intended to stay in Boston, where, more than in any other place, he
could make trouble for them.

Washington had more on his mind than the creation of an army and the
siege of Boston. He had also to decide the strategy of the war. On the
long American sea front Boston alone remained in British hands. New
York, Philadelphia, Charleston and other ports farther south were all,
for the time, on the side of the Revolution. Boston was not a good
naval base for the British, since it commanded no great waterway leading
inland. The sprawling colonies, from the rock-bound coast of New England
to the swamps and forests of Georgia, were strong in their incoherent
vastness. There were a thousand miles of seacoast. Only rarely were
considerable settlements to be found more than a hundred miles distant
from salt water. An army marching to the interior would have increasing
difficulties from transport and supplies. Wherever water routes could
be used the naval power of the British gave them an advantage. One such
route was the Hudson, less a river than a navigable arm of the sea,
leading to the heart of the colony of New York, its upper waters almost
touching Lake George and Lake Champlain, which in turn led to the
St. Lawrence in Canada and thence to the sea. Canada was held by the
British; and it was clear that, if they should take the city of New
York, they might command the whole line from the mouth of the Hudson to
the St. Lawrence, and so cut off New England from the other colonies and
overcome a divided enemy. To foil this policy Washington planned to hold
New York and to capture Canada. With Canada in line the union of the
colonies would be indeed continental, and, if the British were driven
from Boston, they would have no secure foothold in North America.

The danger from Canada had always been a source of anxiety to the
English colonies. The French had made Canada a base for attempts to
drive the English from North America. During many decades war had raged
along the Canadian frontier. With the cession of Canada to Britain in
1763 this danger had vanished. The old habit endured, however, of fear
of Canada. When, in 1774, the British Parliament passed the bill for the
government of Canada known as the Quebec Act, there was violent clamor.
The measure was assumed to be a calculated threat against colonial
liberty. The Quebec Act continued in Canada the French civil law and the
ancient privileges of the Roman Catholic Church. It guaranteed order in
the wild western region north of the Ohio, taken recently from France,
by placing it under the authority long exercised there of the Governor
of Quebec. Only a vivid imagination would conceive that to allow to
the French in Canada their old loved customs and laws involved designs
against the freedom under English law in the other colonies, or that
to let the Canadians retain in respect to religion what they had always
possessed meant a sinister plot against the Protestantism of the English
colonies. Yet Alexander Hamilton, perhaps the greatest mind in the
American Revolution, had frantic suspicions. French laws in Canada
involved, he said, the extension of French despotism in the English
colonies. The privileges continued to the Roman Catholic Church in
Canada would be followed in due course by the Inquisition, the burning
of heretics at the stake in Boston and New York, and the bringing
from Europe of Roman Catholic settlers who would prove tools for the
destruction of religious liberty. Military rule at Quebec meant, sooner
or later, despotism everywhere in America. We may smile now at the
youthful Hamilton's picture of "dark designs" and "deceitful wiles"
on the part of that fierce Protestant George III to establish Roman
Catholic despotism, but the colonies regarded the danger as serious. The
quick remedy would be simply to take Canada, as Washington now planned.

To this end something had been done before Washington assumed the
command. The British Fort Ticonderoga, on the neck of land separating
Lake Champlain from Lake George, commanded the route from New York to
Canada. The fight at Lexington in April had been quickly followed by
aggressive action against this British stronghold. No news of Lexington
had reached the fort when early in May Colonel Ethan Allen, with
Benedict Arnold serving as a volunteer in his force of eighty-three
men, arrived in friendly guise. The fort was held by only forty-eight
British; with the menace from France at last ended they felt secure;
discipline was slack, for there was nothing to do. The incompetent
commander testified that he lent Allen twenty men for some rough work
on the lake. By evening Allen had them all drunk and then it was easy,
without firing a shot, to capture the fort with a rush. The door to
Canada was open. Great stores of ammunition and a hundred and twenty
guns, which in due course were used against the British at Boston, fell
into American hands.

About Canada Washington was ill-informed. He thought of the Canadians as
if they were Virginians or New Yorkers. They had been recently conquered
by Britain; their new king was a tyrant; they would desire liberty and
would welcome an American army. So reasoned Washington, but without
knowledge. The Canadians were a conquered people, but they had found
the British king no tyrant and they had experienced the paradox of being
freer under the conqueror than they had been under their own sovereign.
The last days of French rule in Canada were disgraced by corruption
and tyranny almost unbelievable. The Canadian peasant had been cruelly
robbed and he had conceived for his French rulers a dislike which
appears still in his attitude towards the motherland of France. For
his new British master he had assuredly no love, but he was no longer
dragged off to war and his property was not plundered. He was free,
too, to speak his mind. During the first twenty years after the British
conquest of Canada the Canadian French matured indeed an assertive
liberty not even dreamed of during the previous century and a half of
French rule.

The British tyranny which Washington pictured in Canada was thus not
very real. He underestimated, too, the antagonism between the Roman
Catholics of Canada and the Protestants of the English colonies. The
Congress at Philadelphia in denouncing the Quebec Act had accused the
Catholic Church of bigotry, persecution, murder, and rebellion. This was
no very tactful appeal for sympathy to the sons of that France which was
still the eldest daughter of the Church and it was hardly helped by
a maladroit turn suggesting that "low-minded infirmities" should not
permit such differences to block union in the sacred cause of liberty.
Washington believed that two battalions of Canadians might be recruited
to fight the British, and that the French Acadians of Nova Scotia, a
people so remote that most of them hardly knew what the war was about,
were tingling with sympathy for the American cause. In truth the
Canadian was not prepared to fight on either side. What the priest and
the landowner could do to make him fight for Britain was done, but, for
all that, Sir Guy Carleton, the Governor of Canada, found recruiting

Washington believed that the war would be won by the side which held
Canada. He saw that from Canada would be determined the attitude of the
savages dwelling in the wild spaces of the interior; he saw, too, that
Quebec as a military base in British hands would be a source of grave
danger. The easy capture of Fort Ticonderoga led him to underrate
difficulties. If Ticonderoga why not Quebec? Nova Scotia might be
occupied later, the Acadians helping. Thus it happened that, soon
after taking over the command, Washington was busy with a plan for the
conquest of Canada. Two forces were to advance into that country; one by
way of Lake Champlain under General Schuyler and the other through the
forests of Maine under Benedict Arnold.

Schuyler was obliged through illness to give up his command, and it was
an odd fortune of war that put General Richard Montgomery at the head
of the expedition going by way of Lake Champlain. Montgomery had served
with Wolfe at the taking of Louisbourg and had been an officer in the
proud British army which had received the surrender of Canada in 1760.
Not without searching of heart had Montgomery turned against his former
sovereign. He was living in America when war broke out; he had married
into an American family of position; and he had come to the view that
vital liberty was challenged by the King. Now he did his work well,
in spite of very bad material in his army. His New Englanders were, he
said, "every man a general and not one of them a soldier." They feigned
sickness, though, as far as he had learned, there was "not a man dead of
any distemper." No better were the men from New York, "the sweepings of
the streets" with morals "infamous." Of the officers, too, Montgomery
had a poor opinion. Like Washington he declared that it was necessary to
get gentlemen, men of education and integrity, as officers, or disaster
would follow. Nevertheless St. Johns, a British post on the Richelieu,
about thirty miles across country from Montreal, fell to Montgomery on
the 3d of November, after a siege of six weeks; and British regulars
under Major Preston, a brave and competent officer, yielded to a crude
volunteer army with whole regiments lacking uniforms. Montreal could
make no defense. On the 12th of November Montgomery entered Montreal
and was in control of the St. Lawrence almost to the cliffs of Quebec.
Canada seemed indeed an easy conquest.

The adventurous Benedict Arnold went on an expedition more hazardous.
He had persuaded Washington of the impossible, that he could advance
through the wilderness from the seacoast of Maine and take Quebec by
surprise. News travels even by forest pathways. Arnold made a wonderful
effort. Chill autumn was upon him when, on the 25th of September, with
about a thousand picked men, he began to advance up the Kennebec River
and over the height of land to the upper waters of the Chaudiere, which
discharges into the St. Lawrence opposite Quebec. There were heavy
rains. Sometimes the men had to wade breast high in dragging heavy
and leaking boats over the difficult places. A good many men died of
starvation. Others deserted and turned back. The indomitable Arnold
pressed on, however, and on the 9th of November, a few days before
Montgomery occupied Montreal, he stood with some six hundred worn and
shivering men on the strand of the St. Lawrence opposite Quebec. He
had not surprised the city and it looked grim and inaccessible as he
surveyed it across the great river. In the autumn gales it was not easy
to carry over his little army in small boats. But this he accomplished
and then waited for Montgomery to join him.

By the 3d of December Montgomery was with Arnold before Quebec. They
had hardly more than a thousand effective troops, together with a few
hundred Canadians, upon whom no reliance could be placed. Carleton,
commanding at Quebec, sat tight and would hold no communication
with despised "rebels." "They all pretend to be gentlemen," said an
astonished British officer in Quebec, when he heard that among the
American officers now captured by the British there were a former
blacksmith, a butcher, a shoemaker, and an innkeeper. Montgomery was
stung to violent threats by Carleton's contempt, but never could he draw
from Carleton a reply. At last Montgomery tried, in the dark of early
morning of New Year's Day, 1776, to carry Quebec by storm. He was to
lead an attack on the Lower Town from the west side, while Arnold was to
enter from the opposite side. When they met in the center they were to
storm the citadel on the heights above. They counted on the help of the
French inhabitants, from whom Carleton said bitterly enough that he
had nothing to fear in prosperity and nothing to hope for in adversity.
Arnold pressed his part of the attack with vigor and penetrated to the
streets of the Lower Town where he fell wounded. Captain Daniel Morgan,
who took over the command, was made prisoner.

Montgomery's fate was more tragic. In spite of protests from his
officers, he led in person the attack from the west side of the
fortress. The advance was along a narrow road under the towering cliffs
of a great precipice. The attack was expected by the British and the
guard at the barrier was ordered to hold its fire until the enemy was
near. Suddenly there was a roar of cannon and the assailants not swept
down fled in panic. With the morning light the dead head of Montgomery
was found protruding from the snow. He was mourned by Washington and
with reason. He had talents and character which might have made him one
of the chief leaders of the revolutionary army. Elsewhere, too, was
he mourned. His father, an Irish landowner, had been a member of the
British Parliament, and he himself was a Whig, known to Fox and Burke.
When news of his death reached England eulogies upon him came from the
Whig benches in Parliament which could not have been stronger had he
died fighting for the King.

While the outlook in Canada grew steadily darker, the American cause
prospered before Boston. There Howe was not at ease. If it was really
to be war, which he still doubted, it would be well to seek some
other base. Washington helped Howe to take action. Dorchester Heights
commanded Boston as critically from the south as did Bunker Hill from
the north. By the end of February Washington had British cannon, brought
with heavy labor from Ticonderoga, and then he lost no time. On the
morning of March 5, 1776, Howe awoke to find that, under cover of a
heavy bombardment, American troops had occupied Dorchester Heights and
that if he would dislodge them he must make another attack similar
to that at Bunker Hill. The alternative of stiff fighting was the
evacuation of Boston. Howe, though dilatory, was a good fighting
soldier. His defects as a general in America sprang in part from his
belief that the war was unjust and that delay might bring counsels
making for peace and save bloodshed. His first decision was to attack,
but a furious gale thwarted his purpose, and he then prepared for the
inevitable step.

Washington divined Howe's purpose and there was a tacit agreement that
the retiring army should not be molested. Howe destroyed munitions
of war which he could not take away but he left intact the powerful
defenses of Boston, defenses reared at the cost of Britain. Many of the
better class of the inhabitants, British in their sympathies, were now
face to face with bitter sorrow and sacrifice. Passions were so aroused
that a hard fate awaited them should they remain in Boston and they
decided to leave with the British army. Travel by land was blocked; they
could go only by sea. When the time came to depart, laden carriages,
trucks, and wheelbarrows crowded to the quays through the narrow streets
and a sad procession of exiles went out from their homes. A profane
critic said that they moved "as if the very devil was after them." No
doubt many of them would have been arrogant and merciless to "rebels"
had theirs been the triumph. But the day was above all a day of sorrow.
Edward Winslow, a strong leader among them, tells of his tears "at
leaving our once happy town of Boston." The ships, a forest of masts,
set sail and, crowded with soldiers and refugees, headed straight out
to sea for Halifax. Abigail, wife of John Adams, a clever woman, watched
the departure of the fleet with gladness in her heart. She thought that
never before had been seen in America so many ships bearing so many
people. Washington's army marched joyously into Boston. Joyous it might
well be since, for the moment, powerful Britain was not secure in a
single foot of territory in the former colonies. If Quebec should fall
the continent would be almost conquered.

Quebec did not fall. All through the winter the Americans held on before
the place. They shivered from cold. They suffered from the dread disease
smallpox. They had difficulty in getting food. The Canadians were
insistent on having good money for what they offered and since good
money was not always in the treasury the invading army sometimes used
violence. Then the Canadians became more reserved and chilling than
ever. In hope of mending matters Congress sent a commission to Montreal
in the spring of 1776. Its chairman was Benjamin Franklin and, with him,
were two leading Roman Catholics, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a
great landowner of Maryland, and his brother John, a priest, afterwards
Archbishop of Baltimore. It was not easy to represent as the liberator
of the Catholic Canadians the Congress which had denounced in scathing
terms the concessions in the Quebec Act to the Catholic Church. Franklin
was a master of conciliation, but before he achieved anything a dramatic
event happened. On the 6th of May, British ships arrived at Quebec. The
inhabitants rushed to the ramparts. Cries of joy passed from street
to street and they reached the little American army, now under General
Thomas, encamped on the Plains of Abraham. Panic seized the small force
which had held on so long. On the ships were ten thousand fresh British
troops. The one thing for the Americans to do was to get away; and they
fled, leaving behind guns, supplies, even clothing and private papers.
Five days later Franklin, at Montreal, was dismayed by the distressing
news of disaster.

Congress sent six regiments to reinforce the army which had fled from
Quebec. It was a desperate venture. Washington's orders were that the
Americans should fight the new British army as near Quebec as possible.
The decisive struggle took place on the 8th of June. An American force
under the command of General Thompson attacked Three Rivers, a town
on the St. Lawrence, half way between Quebec and Montreal. They were
repulsed and the general was taken prisoner. The wonder is indeed that
the army was not annihilated. Then followed a disastrous retreat. Short
of supplies, ravaged by smallpox, and in bad weather, the invaders tried
to make their way back to Lake Champlain. They evacuated Montreal. It is
hard enough in the day of success to hold together an untrained army. In
the day of defeat such a force is apt to become a mere rabble. Some of
the American regiments preserved discipline. Others fell into complete
disorder as, weak and discouraged, they retired to Lake Champlain. Many
soldiers perished of disease. "I did not look into a hut or a tent,"
says an observer, "in which I did not find a dead or dying man." Those
who had huts were fortunate. The fate of some was to die without medical
care and without cover. By the end of June what was left of the force
had reached Crown Point on Lake Champlain.

Benedict Arnold, who had been wounded at Quebec, was now at Crown Point.
Competent critics of the war have held that what Arnold now did saved
the Revolution. In another scene, before the summer ended, the British
had taken New York and made themselves masters of the lower Hudson.
Had they reached in the same season the upper Hudson by way of Lake
Champlain they would have struck blows doubly staggering. This Arnold
saw, and his object was to delay, if he could not defeat, the British
advance. There was no road through the dense forest by the shores of
Lake Champlain and Lake George to the upper Hudson. The British must go
down the lake in boats. This General Carleton had foreseen and he had
urged that with the fleet sent to Quebec should be sent from England,
in sections, boats which could be quickly carried past the rapids of the
Richelieu River and launched on Lake Champlain. They had not come and
the only thing for Carleton to do was to build a flotilla which could
carry an army up the lake and attack Crown Point. The thing was done
but skilled workmen were few and not until the 6th of October were the
little ships afloat on Lake Champlain. Arnold, too, spent the summer in
building boats to meet the attack and it was a strange turn in warfare
which now made him commander in a naval fight. There was a brisk
struggle on Lake Champlain. Carleton had a score or so of vessels;
Arnold not so many. But he delayed Carleton. When he was beaten on the
water he burned the ships not captured and took to the land. When he
could no longer hold Crown Point he burned that place and retreated to

By this time it was late autumn. The British were far from their base
and the Americans were retreating into a friendly country. There is
little doubt that Carleton could have taken Fort Ticonderoga. It fell
quite easily less than a year later. Some of his officers urged him to
press on and do it. But the leaves had already fallen, the bleak winter
was near, and Carleton pictured to himself an army buried deeply in an
enemy country and separated from its base by many scores of miles of
lake and forest. He withdrew to Canada and left Lake Champlain to the


Well-meaning people in England found it difficult to understand the
intensity of feeling in America. Britain had piled up a huge debt in
driving France from America. Landowners were paying in taxes no less
than twenty per cent of their incomes from land. The people who had
chiefly benefited by the humiliation of France were the colonists,
now freed from hostile menace and secure for extension over a whole
continent. Why should not they pay some share of the cost of their own
security? Certain facts tended to make Englishmen indignant with the
Americans. Every effort had failed to get them to pay willingly for
their defense. Before the Stamp Act had become law in 1765 the colonies
were given a whole year to devise the raising of money in any way which
they liked better. The burden of what was asked would be light. Why
should not they agree to bear it? Why this talk, repeated by the Whigs
in the British Parliament, of brutal tyranny, oppression, hired minions
imposing slavery, and so on. Where were the oppressed? Could any one
point to a single person who before war broke out had known British
tyranny? What suffering could any one point to as the result of the tax
on tea? The people of England paid a tax on tea four times heavier than
that paid in America. Was not the British Parliament supreme over the
whole Empire? Did not the colonies themselves admit that it had the
right to control their trade overseas? And if men shirk their duty
should they not come under some law of compulsion?

It was thus that many a plain man reasoned in England. The plain man in
America had his own opposing point of view. Debts and taxes in England
were not his concern. He remembered the recent war as vividly as did the
Englishman, and, if the English paid its cost in gold, he had paid his
share in blood and tears. Who made up the armies led by the British
generals in America? More than half the total number who served in
America came from the colonies, the colonies which had barely a third
of the population of Great Britain. True, Britain paid the bill in money
but why not? She was rich with a vast accumulated capital. The war,
partly in America, had given her the key to the wealth of India. Look
at the magnificence, the pomp of servants, plate and pictures, the parks
and gardens, of hundreds of English country houses, and compare this
opulence with the simple mode of life, simplicity imposed by necessity,
of a country gentleman like George Washington of Virginia, reputed to be
the richest man in America. Thousands of tenants in England, owning no
acre of land, were making a larger income than was possible in America
to any owner of broad acres. It was true that America had gained from
the late war. The foreign enemy had been struck down. But had he not
been struck down too for England? Had there not been far more dread in
England of invasion by France and had not the colonies by helping to
ruin France freed England as much as England had freed them? If now the
colonies were asked to pay a share of the bill for the British army that
was a matter for discussion. They had never before done it and they
must not be told that they had to meet the demand within a year or be
compelled to pay. Was it not to impose tyranny and slavery to tell
a people that their property would be taken by force if they did not
choose to give it? What free man would not rather die than yield on such
a point?

The familiar workings of modern democracy have taught us that a great
political issue must be discussed in broad terms of high praise or
severe blame. The contestants will exaggerate both the virtue of
the side they espouse and the malignity of the opposing side; nice
discrimination is not possible. It was inevitable that the dispute with
the colonies should arouse angry vehemence on both sides. The passionate
speech of Patrick Henry in Virginia, in 1763, which made him famous,
and was the forerunner of his later appeal, "Give me Liberty or give me
Death," related to so prosaic a question as the right of disallowance
by England of an act passed by a colonial legislature, a right
exercised long and often before that time and to this day a part of the
constitutional machinery of the British Empire. Few men have lived more
serenely poised than Washington, yet, as we have seen, he hated the
British with an implacable hatred. He was a humane man. In earlier
years, Indian raids on the farmers of Virginia had stirred him to
"deadly sorrow," and later, during his retreat from New York, he was
moved by the cries of the weak and infirm. Yet the same man felt no
touch of pity for the Loyalists of the Revolution. To him they were
detestable parricides, vile traitors, with no right to live. When we
find this note in Washington, in America, we hardly wonder that the
high Tory, Samuel Johnson, in England, should write that the proposed
taxation was no tyranny, that it had not been imposed earlier because
"we do not put a calf into the plough; we wait till he is an ox," and
that the Americans were "a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful
for anything which we allow them short of hanging." Tyranny and treason
are both ugly things. Washington believed that he was fighting the one,
Johnson that he was fighting the other, and neither side would admit the
charge against itself.

Such are the passions aroused by civil strife. We need not now, when
they are, or ought to be, dead, spend any time in deploring them. It
suffices to explain them and the events to which they led. There was
one and really only one final issue. Were the American colonies free to
govern themselves as they liked or might their government in the last
analysis be regulated by Great Britain? The truth is that the colonies
had reached a condition in which they regarded themselves as British
states with their own parliaments, exercising complete jurisdiction in
their own affairs. They intended to use their own judgment and they were
as restless under attempted control from England as England would have
been under control from America. We can indeed always understand the
point of view of Washington if we reverse the position and imagine what
an Englishman would have thought of a claim by America to tax him.

An ancient and proud society is reluctant to change. After a long and
successful war England was prosperous. To her now came riches from India
and the ends of the earth. In society there was such lavish expenditure
that Horace Walpole declared an income of twenty thousand pounds a year
was barely enough. England had an aristocracy the proudest in the world,
for it had not only rank but wealth. The English people were certain of
the invincible superiority of their nation. Every Englishman was taught,
as Disraeli said of a later period, to believe that he occupied a
position better than any one else of his own degree in any other country
in the world. The merchant in England was believed to surpass all others
in wealth and integrity, the manufacturer to have no rivals in skill,
the British sailor to stand in a class by himself, the British officer
to express the last word in chivalry. It followed, of course, that the
motherland was superior to her children overseas. The colonies had no
aristocracy, no great landowners living in stately palaces. They had
almost no manufactures. They had no imposing state system with places
and pensions from which the fortunate might reap a harvest of ten or
even twenty thousand pounds a year. They had no ancient universities
thronged by gilded youth who, if noble, might secure degrees without the
trying ceremony of an examination. They had no Established Church with
the ancient glories of its cathedrals. In all America there was not even
a bishop. In spite of these contrasts the English Whigs insisted upon
the political equality with themselves of the American colonists. The
Tory squire, however, shared Samuel Johnson's view that colonists were
either traders or farmers and that colonial shopkeeping society was
vulgar and contemptible.

George III was ill-fitted by nature to deal with the crisis. The King
was not wholly without natural parts, for his own firm will had
achieved what earlier kings had tried and failed to do; he had mastered
Parliament, made it his obedient tool and himself for a time a despot.
He had some admirable virtues. He was a family man, the father of
fifteen children. He liked quiet amusements and had wholesome tastes. If
industry and belief in his own aims could of themselves make a man
great we might reverence George. He wrote once to Lord North: "I have no
object but to be of use: if that is ensured I am completely happy."
The King was always busy. Ceaseless industry does not, however, include
every virtue, or the author of all evil would rank high in goodness.
Wisdom must be the pilot of good intentions. George was not wise. He was
ill-educated. He had never traveled. He had no power to see the point of
view of others.

As if nature had not sufficiently handicapped George for a high part,
fate placed him on the throne at the immature age of twenty-two.
Henceforth the boy was master, not pupil. Great nobles and obsequious
prelates did him reverence. Ignorant and obstinate, the young King was
determined not only to reign but to rule, in spite of the new doctrine
that Parliament, not the King, carried on the affairs of government
through the leader of the majority in the House of Commons, already
known as the Prime Minister. George could not really change what was the
last expression of political forces in England. The rule of Parliament
had come to stay. Through it and it alone could the realm be governed.
This power, however, though it could not be destroyed, might be
controlled. Parliament, while retaining all its privileges, might yet
carry out the wishes of the sovereign. The King might be his own Prime
Minister. The thing could be done if the King's friends held a majority
of the seats and would do what their master directed. It was a dark day
for England when a king found that he could play off one faction against
another, buy a majority in Parliament, and retain it either by paying
with guineas or with posts and dignities which the bought Parliament
left in his gift. This corruption it was which ruined the first British

We need not doubt that George thought it his right and also his duty to
coerce America, or rather, as he said, the clamorous minority which was
trying to force rebellion. He showed no lack of sincerity. On October
26, 1775, while Washington was besieging Boston, he opened Parliament
with a speech which at any rate made the issue clear enough. Britain
would not give up colonies which she had founded with severe toil and
nursed with great kindness. Her army and her navy, both now increased
in size, would make her power respected. She would not, however, deal
harshly with her erring children. Royal mercy would be shown to those
who admitted their error and they need not come to England to secure it.
Persons in America would be authorized to grant pardons and furnish the
guarantees which would proceed from the royal clemency.

Such was the magnanimity of George III. Washington's rage at the tone of
the speech is almost amusing in its vehemence. He, with a mind conscious
of rectitude and sacrifice in a great cause, to ask pardon for his
course! He to bend the knee to this tyrant overseas! Washington himself
was not highly gifted with imagination. He never realized the strength
of the forces in England arrayed on his own side and attributed to the
English, as a whole, sinister and malignant designs always condemned by
the great mass of the English people. They, no less than the Americans,
were the victims of a turn in politics which, for a brief period, and
for only a brief period, left power in the hands of a corrupt Parliament
and a corrupting king.

Ministers were not all corrupt or place-hunters. One of them, the
Earl of Dartmouth, was a saint in spirit. Lord North, the king's chief
minister, was not corrupt. He disliked his office and wished to leave
it. In truth no sweeping simplicity of condemnation will include all the
ministers of George III except on this one point that they allowed to
dictate their policy a narrow-minded and ignorant king. It was their
right to furnish a policy and to exercise the powers of government,
appoint to office, spend the public revenues. Instead they let the King
say that the opinions of his ministers had no avail with him. If we ask
why, the answer is that there was a mixture of motives. North stayed in
office because the King appealed to his loyalty, a plea hard to resist
under an ancient monarchy. Others stayed from love of power or for what
they could get. In that golden age of patronage it was possible for a
man to hold a plurality of offices which would bring to himself many
thousands of pounds a year, and also to secure the reversion of offices
and pensions to his children. Horace Walpole spent a long life in
luxurious ease because of offices with high pay and few duties secured
in the distant days of his father's political power. Contracts to supply
the army and the navy went to friends of the government, sometimes
with disastrous results, since the contractor often knew nothing of
the business he undertook. When, in 1777, the Admiralty boasted that
thirty-five ships of war were ready to put to sea it was found that
there were in fact only six. The system nearly ruined the navy. It
actually happened that planks of a man-of-war fell out through rot and
that she sank. Often ropes and spars could not be had when most needed.
When a public loan was floated the King's friends and they alone were
given the shares at a price which enabled them to make large profits on
the stock market.

The system could endure only as long as the King's friends had a
majority in the House of Commons. Elections must be looked after. The
King must have those on whom he could always depend. He controlled
offices and pensions. With these things he bought members and he had to
keep them bought by repeating the benefits. If the holder of a public
office was thought to be dying the King was already naming to his Prime
Minister the person to whom the office must go when death should occur.
He insisted that many posts previously granted for life should now be
given during his pleasure so that he might dismiss the holders at will.
He watched the words and the votes in Parliament of public men and woe
to those in his power if they displeased him. When he knew that Fox,
his great antagonist, would be absent from Parliament he pressed through
measures which Fox would have opposed. It was not until George III was
King that the buying and selling of boroughs became common. The King
bought votes in the boroughs by paying high prices for trifles. He
even went over the lists of voters and had names of servants of the
government inserted if this seemed needed to make a majority secure.
One of the most unedifying scenes in English history is that of George
making a purchase in a shop at Windsor and because of this patronage
asking for the shopkeeper's support in a local election. The King was
saving and penurious in his habits that he might have the more money to
buy votes. When he had no money left he would go to Parliament and
ask for a special grant for his needs and the bought members could not
refuse the money for their buying.

The people of England knew that Parliament was corrupt. But how to end
the system? The press was not free. Some of it the government bought
and the rest it tried to intimidate though often happily in vain. Only
fragments of the debates in Parliament were published. Not until 1779
did the House of Commons admit the public to its galleries. No great
political meetings were allowed until just before the American war and
in any case the masses had no votes. The great landowners had in their
control a majority of the constituencies. There were scores of pocket
boroughs in which their nominees were as certain of election as peers
were of their seats in the House of Lords. The disease of England
was deep-seated. A wise king could do much, but while George III
survived--and his reign lasted sixty years--there was no hope of a wise
king. A strong minister could impose his will on the King. But only time
and circumstance could evolve a strong minister. Time and circumstance
at length produced the younger Pitt. But it needed the tragedy of two
long wars--those against the colonies and revolutionary France--before
the nation finally threw off the system which permitted the personal
rule of George III and caused the disruption of the Empire. It may thus
be said with some truth that George Washington was instrumental in the
salvation of England.

The ministers of George III loved the sports, the rivalries, the ease,
the remoteness of their rural magnificence. Perverse fashion kept them
in London even in April and May for "the season," just when in the
country nature was most alluring. Otherwise they were off to their
estates whenever they could get away from town. The American Revolution
was not remotely affected by this habit. With ministers long absent in
the country important questions were postponed or forgotten. The crisis
which in the end brought France into the war was partly due to the
carelessness of a minister hurrying away to the country. Lord George
Germain, who directed military operations in America, dictated a letter
which would have caused General Howe to move northward from New York
to meet General Burgoyne advancing from Canada. Germain went off to the
country without waiting to sign the letter; it was mislaid among other
papers; Howe was without needed instructions; and the disaster followed
of Burgoyne's surrender. Fox pointed out, that, at a time when there
was a danger that a foreign army might land in England, not one of the
King's ministers was less than fifty miles from London. They were in
their parks and gardens, or hunting or fishing. Nor did they stay away
for a few days only. The absence was for weeks or even months.

It is to the credit of Whig leaders in England, landowners and
aristocrats as they were, that they supported with passion the American
cause. In America, where the forces of the Revolution were in control,
the Loyalist who dared to be bold for his opinions was likely to be
tarred and feathered and to lose his property. There was an embittered
intolerance. In England, however, it was an open question in society
whether to be for or against the American cause. The Duke of Richmond,
a great grandson of Charles II, said in the House of Lords that under no
code should the fighting Americans be considered traitors. What they did
was "perfectly justifiable in every possible political and moral
sense." All the world knows that Chatham and Burke and Fox urged the
conciliation of America and hundreds took the same stand. Burke said of
General Conway, a man of position, that when he secured a majority in
the House of Commons against the Stamp Act his face shone as the face of
an angel. Since the bishops almost to a man voted with the King, Conway
attacked them as in this untrue to their high office. Sir George Savile,
whose benevolence, supported by great wealth, made him widely respected
and loved, said that the Americans were right in appealing to arms. Coke
of Norfolk was a landed magnate who lived in regal style. His seat of
Holkham was one of those great new palaces which the age reared at
such elaborate cost. It was full of beautiful things--the art of
Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and Van Dyke, rare manuscripts, books,
and tapestries. So magnificent was Coke that a legend long ran that his
horses were shod with gold and that the wheels of his chariots were of
solid silver. In the country he drove six horses. In town only the King
did this. Coke despised George III, chiefly on account of his American
policy, and to avoid the reproach of rivaling the King's estate, he
took joy in driving past the palace in London with a donkey as his
sixth animal and in flicking his whip at the King. When he was offered
a peerage by the King he denounced with fiery wrath the minister through
whom it was offered as attempting to bribe him. Coke declared that if
one of the King's ministers held up a hat in the House of Commons and
said that it was a green bag the majority of the members would solemnly
vote that it was a green bag. The bribery which brought this blind
obedience of Toryism filled Coke with fury. In youth he had been taught
never to trust a Tory and he could say "I never have and, by God, I
never will." One of his children asked their mother whether Tories were
born wicked or after birth became wicked. The uncompromising answer was:
"They are born wicked and they grow up worse."

There is, of course, in much of this something of the malignance of
party. In an age when one reverend theologian, Toplady, called another
theologian, John Wesley, "a low and puny tadpole in Divinity" we must
expect harsh epithets. But behind this bitterness lay a deep conviction
of the righteousness of the American cause. At a great banquet at
Holkham, Coke omitted the toast of the King; but every night during the
American war he drank the health of Washington as the greatest man on
earth. The war, he said, was the King's war, ministers were his tools,
the press was bought. He denounced later the King's reception of the
traitor Arnold. When the King's degenerate son, who became George IV,
after some special misconduct, wrote to propose his annual visit to
Holkham, Coke replied, "Holkham is open to strangers on Tuesdays." It
was an independent and irate England which spoke in Coke. Those who
paid taxes, he said, should control those who governed. America was not
getting fair play. Both Coke and Fox, and no doubt many others, wore
waistcoats of blue and buff because these were the colors of the
uniforms of Washington's army.

Washington and Coke exchanged messages and they would have been
congenial companions; for Coke, like Washington, was above all a farmer
and tried to improve agriculture. Never for a moment, he said, had
time hung heavy on his hands in the country. He began on his estate the
culture of the potato, and for some time the best he could hear of it
from his stolid tenantry was that it would not poison the pigs.
Coke would have fought the levy of a penny of unjust taxation and he
understood Washington. The American gentleman and the English gentleman
had a common outlook.

Now had come, however, the hour for political separation. By
reluctant but inevitable steps America made up its mind to declare for
independence. At first continued loyalty to the King was urged on the
plea that he was in the hands of evil-minded ministers, inspired by
diabolical rage, or in those of an "infernal villain" such as the
soldier, General Gage, a second Pharaoh; though it must be admitted that
even then the King was "the tyrant of Great Britain." After Bunker Hill
spasmodic declarations of independence were made here and there by local
bodies. When Congress organized an army, invaded Canada, and besieged
Boston, it was hard to protest loyalty to a King whose forces were
those of an enemy. Moreover independence would, in the eyes at least of
foreign governments, give the colonies the rights of belligerents and
enable them to claim for their fighting forces the treatment due to a
regular army and the exchange of prisoners with the British. They could,
too, make alliances with other nations. Some clamored for independence
for a reason more sinister--that they might punish those who held to the
King and seize their property. There were thirteen colonies in arms
and each of them had to form some kind of government which would work
without a king as part of its mechanism. One by one such governments
were formed. King George, as we have seen, helped the colonies to make
up their minds. They were in no mood to be called erring children who
must implore undeserved mercy and not force a loving parent to take
unwilling vengeance. "Our plantations" and "our subjects in the
colonies" would simply not learn obedience. If George III would not
reply to their petitions until they laid down their arms, they could
manage to get on without a king. If England, as Horace Walpole admitted,
would not take them seriously and speakers in Parliament called them
obscure ruffians and cowards, so much the worse for England.

It was an Englishman, Thomas Paine, who fanned the fire into
unquenchable flames. He had recently been dismissed from a post in
the excise in England and was at this time earning in Philadelphia a
precarious living by his pen. Paine said it was the interest of America
to break the tie with Europe. Was a whole continent in America to be
governed by an island a thousand leagues away? Of what advantage was
it to remain connected with Great Britain? It was said that a united
British Empire could defy the world, but why should America defy the
world? "Everything that is right or natural pleads for separation."
Interested men, weak men, prejudiced men, moderate men who do not really
know Europe, may urge reconciliation, but nature is against it. Paine
broke loose in that denunciation of kings with which ever since the
world has been familiar. The wretched Briton, said Paine, is under a
king and where there was a king there was no security for liberty.
Kings were crowned ruffians and George III in particular was a sceptered
savage, a royal brute, and other evil things. He had inflicted on
America injuries not to be forgiven. The blood of the slain, not less
than the true interests of posterity, demanded separation. Paine called
his pamphlet "Common Sense". It was published on January 9, 1776. More
than a hundred thousand copies were quickly sold and it brought decision
to many wavering minds.

In the first days of 1776 independence had become a burning question.
New England had made up its mind. Virginia was keen for separation,
keener even than New England. New York and Pennsylvania long hesitated
and Maryland and North Carolina were very lukewarm. Early in 1776
Washington was advocating independence and Greene and other army leaders
were of the same mind. Conservative forces delayed the settlement, and
at last Virginia, in this as in so many other things taking the
lead, instructed its delegates to urge a declaration by Congress of
independence. Richard Henry Lee, a member of that honored family which
later produced the ablest soldier of the Civil War, moved in Congress on
June 7, 1776, that "these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be,
Free and Independent States." The preparation of a formal declaration
was referred to a committee of which John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
were members. It is interesting to note that each of them became
President of the United States and that both died on July 4, 1826, the
fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Adams related
long after that he and Jefferson formed the sub-committee to draft the
Declaration and that he urged Jefferson to undertake the task since "you
can write ten times better than I can." Jefferson accordingly wrote
the paper. Adams was delighted "with its high tone and the flights of
Oratory" but he did not approve of the flaming attack on the King, as
a tyrant. "I never believed," he said, "George to be a tyrant in
disposition and in nature." There was, he thought, too much passion for
a grave and solemn document. He was, however, the principal speaker in
its support.

There is passion in the Declaration from beginning to end, and not the
restrained and chastened passion which we find in the great utterances
of an American statesman of a later day, Abraham Lincoln. Compared with
Lincoln, Jefferson is indeed a mere amateur in the use of words. Lincoln
would not have scattered in his utterances overwrought phrases about
"death, desolation and tyranny" or talked about pledging "our lives, our
fortunes and our sacred honour." He indulged in no "Flights of Oratory."
The passion in the Declaration is concentrated against the King. We do
not know what were the emotions of George when he read it. We know that
many Englishmen thought that it spoke truth. Exaggerations there are
which make the Declaration less than a completely candid document. The
King is accused of abolishing English laws in Canada with the intention
of "introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies." What had
been done in Canada was to let the conquered French retain their own
laws--which was not tyranny but magnanimity. Another clause of the
Declaration, as Jefferson first wrote it, made George responsible for
the slave trade in America with all its horrors and crimes. We may doubt
whether that not too enlightened monarch had even more than vaguely
heard of the slave trade. This phase of the attack upon him was too much
for the slave owners of the South and the slave traders of New England,
and the clause was struck out.

Nearly fourscore and ten years later, Abraham Lincoln, at a supreme
crisis in the nation's life, told in Independence Hall, Philadelphia,
what the Declaration of Independence meant to him. "I have never,"
he said, "had a feeling politically which did not spring from the
sentiments in the Declaration of Independence"; and then he spoke of
the sacrifices which the founders of the Republic had made for these
principles. He asked, too, what was the idea which had held together the
nation thus founded. It was not the breaking away from Great Britain. It
was the assertion of human right. We should speak in terms of reverence
of a document which became a classic utterance of political right and
which inspired Lincoln in his fight to end slavery and to make "Liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness" realities for all men. In England the
colonists were often taunted with being "rebels." The answer was not
wanting that ancestors of those who now cried "rebel" had themselves
been rebels a hundred years earlier when their own liberty was at stake.

There were in Congress men who ventured to say that the Declaration
was a libel on the government of England; men like John Dickinson of
Pennsylvania and John Jay of New York, who feared that the radical
elements were moving too fast. Radicalism, however, was in the saddle,
and on the 2d of July the "resolution respecting independency" was
adopted. On July 4, 1776, Congress debated and finally adopted
the formal Declaration of Independence. The members did not vote
individually. The delegates from each colony cast the vote of the
colony. Twelve colonies voted for the Declaration. New York alone was
silent because its delegates had not been instructed as to their vote,
but New York, too, soon fell into line. It was a momentous occasion and
was understood to be such. The vote seems to have been reached in the
late afternoon. Anxious citizens were waiting in the streets. There
was a bell in the State House, and an old ringer waited there for the
signal. When there was long delay he is said to have muttered: "They
will never do it! they will never do it!" Then came the word, "Ring!
Ring!" It is an odd fact that the inscription on the bell, placed there
long before the days of the trouble, was from Leviticus: "Proclaim
liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." The
bells of Philadelphia rang and cannon boomed. As the news spread there
were bonfires and illuminations in all the colonies. On the day after
the Declaration the Virginia Convention struck out "O Lord, save the
King" from the church service. On the 10th of July Washington, who
by this time had moved to New York, paraded the army and had the
Declaration read at the head of each brigade. That evening the statue
of King George in New York was laid in the dust. It is a comment on the
changes in human fortune that within little more than a year the British
had taken Philadelphia, that the clamorous bell had been hid away for
safety, and that colonial wiseacres were urging the rescinding of the
ill-timed Declaration and the reunion of the British Empire.


Washington's success at Boston had one good effect. It destroyed Tory
influence in that Puritan stronghold. New England was henceforth of a
temper wholly revolutionary; and New England tradition holds that what
its people think today other Americans think tomorrow. But, in the
summer of this year 1776, though no serious foe was visible at any
point in the revolted colonies, a menace haunted every one of them. The
British had gone away by sea; by sea they would return. On land armies
move slowly and visibly; but on the sea a great force may pass out of
sight and then suddenly reappear at an unexpected point. This is
the haunting terror of sea power. Already the British had destroyed
Falmouth, now Portland, Maine, and Norfolk, the principal town in
Virginia. Washington had no illusions of security. He was anxious above
all for the safety of New York, commanding the vital artery of the
Hudson, which must at all costs be defended. Accordingly, in April, he
took his army to New York and established there his own headquarters.

Even before Washington moved to New York, three great British
expeditions were nearing America. One of these we have already seen at
Quebec. Another was bound for Charleston, to land there an army and to
make the place a rallying center for the numerous but harassed Loyalists
of the South. The third and largest of these expeditions was to strike
at New York and, by a show of strength, bring the colonists to reason
and reconciliation. If mildness failed the British intended to capture
New York, sail up the Hudson and cut off New England from the other

The squadron destined for Charleston carried an army in command of a
fine soldier, Lord Cornwallis, destined later to be the defeated
leader in the last dramatic scene of the war. In May this fleet reached
Wilmington, North Carolina, and took on board two thousand men under
General Sir Henry Clinton, who had been sent by Howe from Boston in
vain to win the Carolinas and who now assumed military command of the
combined forces. Admiral Sir Peter Parker commanded the fleet, and on
the 4th of June he was off Charleston Harbor. Parker found that in order
to cross the bar he would have to lighten his larger ships. This was
done by the laborious process of removing the guns, which, of course,
he had to replace when the bar was crossed. On the 28th of June, Parker
drew up his ships before Fort Moultrie in the harbor. He had expected
simultaneous aid by land from three thousand soldiers put ashore from
the fleet on a sandbar, but these troops could give him no help against
the fort from which they were cut off by a channel of deep water. A
battle soon proved the British ships unable to withstand the American
fire from Fort Moultrie. Late in the evening Parker drew off, with
two hundred and twenty-five casualties against an American loss of
thirty-seven. The check was greater than that of Bunker Hill, for there
the British took the ground which they attacked. The British sailors
bore witness to the gallantry of the defense: "We never had such a
drubbing in our lives," one of them testified. Only one of Parker's ten
ships was seaworthy after the fight. It took him three weeks to refit,
and not until the 4th of August did his defeated ships reach New York.

A mighty armada of seven hundred ships had meanwhile sailed into the
Bay of New York. This fleet was commanded by Admiral Lord Howe and it
carried an army of thirty thousand men led by his younger brother, Sir
William Howe, who had commanded at Bunker Hill. The General was an able
and well-informed soldier. He had a brilliant record of service in the
Seven Years' War, with Wolfe in Canada, then in France itself, and in
the West Indies. In appearance he was tall, dark, and coarse. His face
showed him to be a free user of wine. This may explain some of his
faults as a general. He trusted too much to subordinates; he was
leisurely and rather indolent, yet capable of brilliant and rapid
action. In America his heart was never in his task. He was member of
Parliament for Nottingham and had publicly condemned the quarrel with
America and told his electors that in it he would take no command. He
had not kept his word, but his convictions remained. It would be to
accuse Howe of treason to say that he did not do his best in America.
Lack of conviction, however, affects action. Howe had no belief that his
country was in the right in the war and this handicapped him as against
the passionate conviction of Washington that all was at stake which made
life worth living.

The General's elder brother, Lord Howe, was another Whig who had no
belief that the war was just. He sat in the House of Lords while his
brother sat in the House of Commons. We rather wonder that the King
should have been content to leave in Whig hands his fortunes in America
both by land and sea. At any rate, here were the Howes more eager
to make peace than to make war and commanded to offer terms of
reconciliation. Lord Howe had an unpleasant face, so dark that he was
called "Black Dick"; he was a silent, awkward man, shy and harsh in
manner. In reality, however, he was kind, liberal in opinion, sober, and
beloved by those who knew him best. His pacific temper towards America
was not due to a dislike of war. He was a fighting sailor. Nearly twenty
years later, on June 1, 1794, when he was in command of a fleet in touch
with the French enemy, the sailors watched him to find any indication
that the expected action would take place. Then the word went round: "We
shall have the fight today; Black Dick has been smiling." They had it,
and Howe won a victory which makes his name famous in the annals of the

By the middle of July the two brothers were at New York. The soldier,
having waited at Halifax since the evacuation of Boston, had arrived,
and landed his army on Staten Island, on the day before Congress made
the Declaration of Independence, which, as now we can see, ended finally
any chance of reconciliation. The sailor arrived nine days later. Lord
Howe was wont to regret that he had not arrived a little earlier, since
the concessions which he had to offer might have averted the Declaration
of Independence. In truth, however, he had little to offer. Humor and
imagination are useful gifts in carrying on human affairs, but George
III had neither. He saw no lack of humor in now once more offering full
and free pardon to a repentant Washington and his comrades, though John
Adams was excepted by name * in repudiating the right to exist of the
Congress at Philadelphia, and in refusing to recognize the military
rank of the rebel general whom it had named: he was to be addressed in
civilian style as "George Washington Esq." The King and his ministers
had no imagination to call up the picture of high-hearted men fighting
for rights which they held dear.

     * Trevelyan, "American Revolution", Part II, vol. I (New
     Ed., vol. II), 261.

Lord Howe went so far as to address a letter to "George Washington Esq.
&c. &c.," and Washington agreed to an interview with the officer who
bore it. In imposing uniform and with the stateliest manner, Washington,
who had an instinct for effect, received the envoy. The awed messenger
explained that the symbols " &c. &c." meant everything, including, of
course, military titles; but Washington only said smilingly that they
might mean anything, including, of course, an insult, and refused to
take the letter. He referred to Congress, a body which Howe could not
recognize, the grave question of the address on an envelope and Congress
agreed that the recognition of his rank was necessary. There was nothing
to do but to go on with the fight.

Washington's army held the city of New York, at the southerly point
of Manhattan Island. The Hudson River, separating the island from the
mainland of New Jersey on the west, is at its mouth two miles wide. The
northern and eastern sides of the island are washed by the Harlem River,
flowing out of the Hudson about a dozen miles north of the city, and
broadening into the East River, about a mile wide where it separates New
York from Brooklyn Heights, on Long Island. Encamped on Staten Island,
on the south, General Howe could, with the aid of the fleet, land at any
of half a dozen vulnerable points. Howe had the further advantage of
a much larger force. Washington had in all some twenty thousand men,
numbers of them serving for short terms and therefore for the most part
badly drilled. Howe had twenty-five thousand well-trained soldiers, and
he could, in addition, draw men from the fleet, which would give him in
all double the force of Washington.

In such a situation even the best skill of Washington was likely only
to qualify defeat. He was advised to destroy New York and retire to
positions more tenable. But even if he had so desired, Congress, his
master, would not permit him to burn the city, and he had to make plans
to defend it. Brooklyn Heights so commanded New York that enemy cannon
planted there would make the city untenable. Accordingly Washington
placed half his force on Long Island to defend Brooklyn Heights and
in doing so made the fundamental error of cutting his army in two and
dividing it by an arm of the sea in presence of overwhelming hostile
naval power.

On the 22d of August Howe ferried fifteen thousand men across the
Narrows to Long Island, in order to attack the position on Brooklyn
Heights from the rear. Before him lay wooded hills across which led
three roads converging at Brooklyn Heights beyond the hills. On the east
a fourth road led round the hills. In the dark of the night of the 26th
of August Howe set his army in motion on all these roads, in order by
daybreak to come to close quarters with the Americans and drive them
back to the Heights. The movement succeeded perfectly. The British made
terrible use of the bayonet. By the evening of the twenty-seventh the
Americans, who fought well against overwhelming odds, had lost nearly
two thousand men in casualties and prisoners, six field pieces, and
twenty-six heavy guns. The two chief commanders, Sullivan and Stirling,
were among the prisoners, and what was left of the army had been driven
back to Brooklyn Heights. Howe's critics said that had he pressed the
attack further he could have made certain the capture of the whole
American force on Long Island.

Criticism of what might have been is easy and usually futile. It might
be said of Washington, too, that he should not have kept an army so far
in front of his lines behind Brooklyn Heights facing a superior enemy,
and with, for a part of it, retreat possible only by a single causeway
across a marsh three miles long. When he realized, on the 28th of
August, what Howe had achieved, he increased the defenders of Brooklyn
Heights to ten thousand men, more than half his army. This was another
cardinal error. British ships were near and but for unfavorable winds
might have sailed up to Brooklyn. Washington hoped and prayed that Howe
would try to carry Brooklyn Heights by assault. Then there would have
been at least slaughter on the scale of Bunker Hill. But Howe had
learned caution. He made no reckless attack, and soon Washington found
that he must move away or face the danger of losing every man on Long

On the night of the 29th of August there was clear moonlight, with fog
towards daybreak. A British army of twenty-five thousand men was only
some six hundred yards from the American lines. A few miles from the
shore lay at anchor a great British fleet with, it is to be presumed,
its patrols on the alert. Yet, during that night, ten thousand American
troops were marched down to boats on the strand at Brooklyn and, with
all their stores, were carried across a mile of water to New York. There
must have been the splash of oars and the grating of keels, orders given
in tones above a whisper, the complex sounds of moving bodies of men.
It was all done under the eye of Washington. We can picture that tall
figure moving about on the strand at Brooklyn, which he was the last
to leave. Not a sound disturbed the slumbers of the British. An army
in retreat does not easily defend itself. Boats from the British fleet
might have brought panic to the Americans in the darkness and the
British army should at least have known that they were gone. By seven in
the morning the ten thousand American soldiers were for the time safe
in New York, and we may suppose that the two Howes were asking eager
questions and wondering how it had all happened.

Washington had shown that he knew when and how to retire. Long Island
was his first battle and he had lost. Now retreat was his first great
tactical achievement. He could not stay in New York and so sent at once
the chief part of the army, withdrawn from Brooklyn, to the line of the
Harlem River at the north end of the island. He realized that his shore
batteries could not keep the British fleet from sailing up both the
East and the Hudson Rivers and from landing a force on Manhattan Island
almost where it liked. Then the city of New York would be surrounded by
a hostile fleet and a hostile army. The Howes could have performed this
maneuver as soon as they had a favorable wind. There was, we know, great
confusion in New York, and Washington tells us how his heart was torn by
the distress of the inhabitants. The British gave him plenty of time to
make plans, and for a reason. We have seen that Lord Howe was not only
an admiral to make war but also an envoy to make peace. The British
victory on Long Island might, he thought, make Congress more willing to
negotiate. So now he sent to Philadelphia the captured American General
Sullivan, with the request that some members of Congress might confer
privately on the prospects for peace.

Howe probably did not realize that the Americans had the British quality
of becoming more resolute by temporary reverses. By this time, too,
suspicion of every movement on the part of Great Britain had become
a mania. Every one in Congress seems to have thought that Howe was
planning treachery. John Adams, excepted by name from British offers of
pardon, called Sullivan a "decoy duck" and, as he confessed, laughed,
scolded, and grieved at any negotiation. The wish to talk privately with
members of Congress was called an insulting way of avoiding recognition
of that body. In spite of this, even the stalwart Adams and the suave
Franklin were willing to be members of a committee which went to meet
Lord Howe. With great sorrow Howe now realized that he had no power to
grant what Congress insisted upon, the recognition of independence, as a
preliminary to negotiation. There was nothing for it but war.

On the 15th of September the British struck the blow too long delayed
had war been their only interest. New York had to sit nearly helpless
while great men-of-war passed up both the Hudson and the East River with
guns sweeping the shores of Manhattan Island. At the same time General
Howe sent over in boats from Long Island to the landing at Kip's Bay,
near the line of the present Thirty-fourth Street, an army to cut off
the city from the northern part of the island. Washington marched in
person with two New England regiments to dispute the landing and give
him time for evacuation. To his rage panic seized his men and they
turned and fled, leaving him almost alone not a hundred yards from the
enemy. A stray shot at that moment might have influenced greatly modern
history, for, as events were soon to show, Washington was the mainstay
of the American cause. He too had to get away and Howe's force landed
easily enough. Meanwhile, on the west shore of the island, there was an
animated scene. The roads were crowded with refugees fleeing northward
from New York. These civilians Howe had no reason to stop, but there
marched, too, out of New York four thousand men, under Israel Putnam,
who got safely away northward. Only leisurely did Howe extend his
line across the island so as to cut off the city. The story, not more
trustworthy than many other legends of war, is that Mrs. Murray, living
in a country house near what now is Murray Hill, invited the General
to luncheon, and that to enjoy this pleasure he ordered a halt for his
whole force. Generals sometimes do foolish things but it is not easy to
call up a picture of Howe, in the midst of a busy movement of troops,
receiving the lady's invitation, accepting it, and ordering the whole
army to halt while he lingered over the luncheon table. There is no
doubt that his mind was still divided between making war and making
peace. Probably Putnam had already got away his men, and there was no
purpose in stopping the refugees in that flight from New York which so
aroused the pity of Washington. As it was Howe took sixty-seven guns.
By accident, or, it is said, by design of the Americans themselves, New
York soon took fire and one-third of the little city was burned.

After the fall of New York there followed a complex campaign. The
resourceful Washington was now, during his first days of active warfare,
pitting himself against one of the most experienced of British generals.
Fleet and army were acting together. The aim of Howe was to get control
of the Hudson and to meet half way the advance from Canada by way of
Lake Champlain which Carleton was leading. On the 12th of October, when
autumn winds were already making the nights cold, Howe moved. He did
not attack Washington who lay in strength at the Harlem. That would
have been to play Washington's game. Instead he put the part of his army
still on Long Island in ships which then sailed through the dangerous
currents of Hell Gate and landed at Throg's Neck, a peninsula on the
sound across from Long Island. Washington parried this movement by so
guarding the narrow neck of the peninsula leading to the mainland that
the cautious Howe shrank from a frontal attack across a marsh. After a
delay of six days, he again embarked his army, landed a few miles
above Throg's Neck in the hope of cutting off Washington from retreat
northward, only to find Washington still north of him at White Plains.
A sharp skirmish followed in which Howe lost over two hundred men and
Washington only one hundred and forty. Washington, masterly in retreat,
then withdrew still farther north among hills difficult of attack.

Howe had a plan which made a direct attack on Washington unnecessary. He
turned southward and occupied the east shore of the Hudson River. On the
16th of November took place the worst disaster which had yet befallen
American arms. Fort Washington, lying just south of the Harlem, was the
only point still held on Manhattan Island by the Americans. In modern
war it has become clear that fortresses supposedly strong may be only
traps for their defenders. Fort Washington stood on the east bank of the
Hudson opposite Fort Lee, on the west bank. These forts could not fulfil
the purpose for which they were intended, of stopping British ships.
Washington saw that the two forts should be abandoned. But the civilians
in Congress, who, it must be remembered, named the generals and had
final authority in directing the war, were reluctant to accept the
loss involved in abandoning the forts and gave orders that every effort
should be made to hold them. Greene, on the whole Washington's best
general, was in command of the two positions and was left to use his own
judgment. On the 15th of November, by a sudden and rapid march across
the island, Howe appeared before Fort Washington and summoned it to
surrender on pain of the rigors of war, which meant putting the garrison
to the sword should he have to take the place by storm. The answer was a
defiance; and on the next day Howe attacked in overwhelming force. There
was severe fighting. The casualties of the British were nearly five
hundred, but they took the huge fort with its three thousand defenders
and a great quantity of munitions of war. Howe's threat was not carried
out. There was no massacre.

Across the river at Fort Lee the helpless Washington watched this great
disaster. He had need still to look out, for Fort Lee was itself doomed.
On the nineteenth Lord Cornwallis with five thousand men crossed the
river five miles above Fort Lee. General Greene barely escaped with
the two thousand men in the fort, leaving behind one hundred and forty
cannon, stores, tools, and even the men's blankets. On the twentieth the
British flag was floating over Fort Lee and Washington's whole force
was in rapid flight across New Jersey, hardly pausing until it had been
ferried over the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.

Treachery, now linked to military disaster, made Washington's position
terrible. Charles Lee, Horatio Gates, and Richard Montgomery were
three important officers of the regular British army who fought on the
American side. Montgomery had been killed at Quebec; the defects of
Gates were not yet conspicuous; and Lee was next to Washington the most
trusted American general. The names Washington and Lee of the twin forts
on opposite sides of the Hudson show how the two generals stood in the
public mind. While disaster was overtaking Washington, Lee had seven
thousand men at North Castle on the east bank of the Hudson, a few miles
above Fort Washington, blocking Howe's advance farther up the river. On
the day after the fall of Fort Washington, Lee received positive
orders to cross the Hudson at once. Three days later Fort Lee fell, and
Washington repeated the order. Lee did not budge. He was safe where
he was and could cross the river and get away into New Jersey when he
liked. He seems deliberately to have left Washington to face complete
disaster and thus prove his incompetence; then, as the undefeated
general, he could take the chief command. There is no evidence that he
had intrigued with Howe, but he thought that he could be the peacemaker
between Great Britain and America, with untold possibilities of ambition
in that role. He wrote of Washington at this time, to his friend Gates,
as weak and "most damnably deficient." Nemesis, however, overtook him.
In the end he had to retreat across the Hudson to northern New Jersey.
Here many of the people were Tories. Lee fell into a trap, was captured
in bed at a tavern by a hard-riding party of British cavalry, and
carried off a prisoner, obliged to bestride a horse in night gown and
slippers. Not always does fate appear so just in her strokes.

In December, though the position of Washington was very bad, all was
not lost. The chief aim of Howe was to secure the line of the Hudson and
this he had not achieved. At Stony Point, which lies up the Hudson about
fifty miles from New York, the river narrows and passes through what is
almost a mountain gorge, easily defended. Here Washington had erected
fortifications which made it at least difficult for a British force to
pass up the river. Moreover in the highlands of northern New Jersey,
with headquarters at Morristown, General Sullivan, recently exchanged,
and General Gates now had Lee's army and also the remnants of the force
driven from Canada. But in retreating across New Jersey Washington
had been forsaken by thousands of men, beguiled in part by the Tory
population, discouraged by defeat, and in many cases with the right to
go home, since their term of service had expired. All that remained
of Washington's army after the forces of Sullivan and Gates joined him
across the Delaware in Pennsylvania, was about four thousand men.

Howe was determined to have Philadelphia as well as New York and
could place some reliance on Tory help in Pennsylvania. He had pursued
Washington to the Delaware and would have pushed on across that river
had not his alert foe taken care that all the boats should be on the
wrong shore. As it was, Howe occupied the left bank of the Delaware with
his chief post at Trenton. If he made sure of New Jersey he could go on
to Philadelphia when the river was frozen over or indeed when he liked.
Even the Congress had fled to Baltimore. There were British successes in
other quarters. Early in December Lord Howe took the fleet to Newport.
Soon he controlled the whole of Rhode Island and checked the American
privateers who had made it their base. The brothers issued proclamations
offering protection to all who should within sixty days return to their
British allegiance and many people of high standing in New York and New
Jersey accepted the offer. Howe wrote home to England the glad news of
victory. Philadelphia would probably fall before spring and it looked as
if the war was really over.

In this darkest hour Washington struck a blow which changed the whole
situation. We associate with him the thought of calm deliberation.
Now, however, was he to show his strongest quality as a general to be
audacity. At the Battle of the Marne, in 1914, the French General Foch
sent the despatch: "My center is giving way; my right is retreating; the
situation is excellent: I am attacking." Washington's position seemed
as nearly hopeless and he, too, had need of some striking action. A
campaign marked by his own blundering and by the treachery of a trusted
general had ended in seeming ruin. Pennsylvania at his back and New
Jersey before him across the Delaware were less than half loyal to the
American cause and probably willing to accept peace on almost any terms.
Never was a general in a position where greater risks must be taken for
salvation. As Washington pondered what was going on among the British
across the Delaware, a bold plan outlined itself in his mind. Howe,
he knew, had gone to New York to celebrate a triumphant Christmas. His
absence from the front was certain to involve slackness. It was Germans
who held the line of the Delaware, some thirteen hundred of them under
Colonel Rahl at Trenton, two thousand under Von Donop farther down the
river at Bordentown; and with Germans perhaps more than any other
people Christmas is a season of elaborate festivity. On this their first
Christmas away from home many of the Germans would be likely to be
off their guard either through homesickness or dissipation. They cared
nothing for either side. There had been much plundering in New Jersey
and discipline was relaxed.

Howe had been guilty of the folly of making strong the posts farthest
from the enemy and weak those nearest to him. He had, indeed, ordered
Rahl to throw up redoubts for the defense of Trenton, but this, as
Washington well knew, had not been done for Rahl despised his enemy and
spoke of the American army as already lost. Washington's bold plan
was to recross the Delaware and attack Trenton. There were to be three
crossings. One was to be against Von Donop at Bordentown below Trenton,
the second at Trenton itself. These two attacks were designed to prevent
aid to Trenton. The third force with which Washington himself went was
to cross the river some nine miles above the town.

Christmas Day, 1776, was dismally cold. There was a driving storm of
sleet and the broad swollen stream of the Delaware, dotted with dark
masses of floating ice, offered a chill prospect. To take an army with
its guns across that threatening flood was indeed perilous. Gates and
other generals declared that the scheme was too difficult to be carried
out. Only one of the three forces crossed the river. Washington, with
iron will, was not to be turned from his purpose. He had skilled boatmen
from New England. The crossing took no less than ten hours and a great
part of it was done in wintry darkness. When the army landed on the New
Jersey shore it had a march of nine miles in sleet and rain in order
to reach Trenton by daybreak. It is said that some of the men marched
barefoot leaving tracks of blood in the snow. The arms of some were lost
and those of others were wet and useless but Washington told them that
they must depend the more on the bayonet. He attacked Trenton in broad
daylight. There was a sharp fight. Rahl, the commander, and some seventy
men, were killed and a thousand men surrendered.

Even now Washington's position was dangerous. Von Donop, with two
thousand men, lay only a few miles down the river. Had he marched at
once on Trenton, as he should have done, the worn out little force of
Washington might have met with disaster. What Von Donop did when the
alarm reached him was to retreat as fast as he could to Princeton, a
dozen miles to the rear towards New York, leaving behind his sick and
all his heavy equipment. Meanwhile Washington, knowing his danger, had
turned back across the Delaware with a prisoner for every two of his
men. When, however, he saw what Von Donop had done he returned on the
twenty-ninth to Trenton, sent out scouting parties, and roused the
country so that in every bit of forest along the road to Princeton there
were men, dead shots, to make difficult a British advance to retake

The reverse had brought consternation at New York. Lord Cornwallis was
about to embark for England, the bearer of news of overwhelming victory.
Now, instead, he was sent to drive back Washington. It was no easy task
for Cornwallis to reach Trenton, for Washington's scouting parties and a
force of six hundred men under Greene were on the road to harass him. On
the evening of the 2d of January, however, he reoccupied Trenton.
This time Washington had not recrossed the Delaware but had retreated
southward and was now entrenched on the southern bank of the little
river Assanpink, which flows into the Delaware. Reinforcements were
following Cornwallis. That night he sharply cannonaded Washington's
position and was as sharply answered. He intended to attack in force
in the morning. To the skill and resource of Washington he paid the
compliment of saying that at last he had run down the "Old Fox."

Then followed a maneuver which, years after, Cornwallis, a generous
foe, told Washington was one of the most surprising and brilliant in
the history of war. There was another "old fox" in Europe, Frederick the
Great, of Prussia, who knew war if ever man knew it, and he, too, from
this movement ranked Washington among the great generals. The maneuver
was simple enough. Instead of taking the obvious course of again
retreating across the Delaware Washington decided to advance, to get
in behind Cornwallis, to try to cut his communications, to threaten the
British base of supply and then, if a superior force came up, to retreat
into the highlands of New Jersey. There he could keep an unbroken
line as far east as the Hudson, menace the British in New Jersey, and
probably force them to withdraw to the safety of New York.

All through the night of January 2, 1777, Washington's camp fires burned
brightly and the British outposts could hear the sound of voices and of
the spade and pickaxe busy in throwing up entrenchments. The fires
died down towards morning and the British awoke to find the enemy camp
deserted. Washington had carried his whole army by a roundabout route to
the Princeton road and now stood between Cornwallis and his base. There
was some sharp fighting that day near Princeton. Washington had to
defeat and get past the reinforcements coming to Cornwallis. He reached
Princeton and then slipped away northward and made his headquarters at
Morristown. He had achieved his purpose. The British with Washington
entrenched on their flank were not safe in New Jersey. The only thing
to do was to withdraw to New York. By his brilliant advance Washington
recovered the whole of New Jersey with the exception of some minor
positions near the sea. He had changed the face of the war. In London
there was momentary rejoicing over Howe's recent victories, but it was
soon followed by distressing news of defeat. Through all the colonies
ran inspiring tidings. There had been doubts whether, after all,
Washington was the heaven-sent leader. Now both America and Europe
learned to recognize his skill. He had won a reputation, though not yet
had he saved a cause.


Though the outlook for Washington was brightened by his success in New
Jersey, it was still depressing enough. The British had taken New York,
they could probably take Philadelphia when they liked, and no place
near the seacoast was safe. According to the votes in Parliament, by the
spring of 1777 Britain was to have an army of eighty-nine thousand men,
of whom fifty-seven thousand were intended for colonial garrisons and
for the prosecution of the war in America. These numbers were in fact
never reached, but the army of forty thousand in America was formidable
compared with Washington's forces. The British were not hampered by the
practice of enlisting men for only a few months, which marred so much of
Washington's effort. Above all they had money and adequate resources.
In a word they had the things which Washington lacked during almost the
whole of the war.

Washington called his success in the attack at Trenton a lucky stroke.
It was luck which had far-reaching consequences. Howe had the fixed idea
that to follow the capture of New York by that of Philadelphia, the most
populous city in America, and the seat of Congress, would mean great
glory for himself and a crushing blow to the American cause. If to this
could be added, as he intended, the occupation of the whole valley of
the Hudson, the year 1777 might well see the end of the war. An acute
sense of the value of time is vital in war. Promptness, the quick
surprise of the enemy, was perhaps the chief military virtue of
Washington; dilatoriness was the destructive vice of Howe. He had so
little contempt for his foe that he practised a blighting caution. On
April 12, 1777, Washington, in view of his own depleted force, in a
state of half famine, wrote: "If Howe does not take advantage of our
weak state he is very unfit for his trust." Howe remained inactive and
time, thus despised, worked its due revenge. Later Howe did move, and
with skill, but he missed the rapid combination in action which was the
first condition of final success. He could have captured Philadelphia
in May. He took the city, but not until September, when to hold it had
become a liability and not an asset. To go there at all was perhaps
unwise; to go in September was for him a tragic mistake.

From New York to Philadelphia the distance by land is about a hundred
miles. The route lay across New Jersey, that "garden of America" which
English travelers spoke of as resembling their own highly cultivated
land. Washington had his headquarters at Morristown, in northern New
Jersey. His resources were at a low ebb. He had always the faith that
a cause founded on justice could not fail; but his letters at this time
are full of depressing anxiety. Each State regarded itself as in danger
and made care of its own interests its chief concern. By this time
Congress had lost most of the able men who had given it dignity and
authority. Like Howe it had slight sense of the value of time and
imagined that tomorrow was as good as today. Wellington once complained
that, though in supreme command, he had not authority to appoint even
a corporal. Washington was hampered both by Congress and by the State
Governments in choosing leaders. He had some officers, such as Greene,
Knox, and Benedict Arnold, whom he trusted. Others, like Gates and
Conway, were ceaseless intriguers. To General Sullivan, who fancied
himself constantly slighted and ill-treated, Washington wrote sharply to
abolish his poisonous suspicions.

Howe had offered easy terms to those in New Jersey who should declare
their loyalty and to meet this Washington advised the stern policy of
outlawing every one who would not take the oath of allegiance to the
United States. There was much fluttering of heart on the New Jersey
farms, much anxious trimming in order, in any event, to be safe. Howe's
Hessians had plundered ruthlessly causing deep resentment against the
British. Now Washington found his own people doing the same thing.
Militia officers, themselves, "generally" as he said, "of the lowest
class of the people," not only stole but incited their men to steal. It
was easy to plunder under the plea that the owner of the property was a
Tory, whether open or concealed, and Washington wrote that the waste
and theft were "beyond all conception." There were shirkers claiming
exemption from military service on the ground that they were doing
necessary service as civilians. Washington needed maps to plan his
intricate movements and could not get them. Smallpox was devastating his
army and causing losses heavier than those from the enemy. When pay day
came there was usually no money. It is little wonder that in this spring
of 1777 he feared that his army might suddenly dissolve and leave him
without a command. In that case he would not have yielded. Rather, so
stern and bitter was he against England, would he have plunged into the
western wilderness to be lost in its vast spaces.

Howe had his own perplexities. He knew that a great expedition under
Burgoyne was to advance from Canada southward to the Hudson. Was he to
remain with his whole force at New York until the time should come to
push up the river to meet Burgoyne? He had a copy of the instructions
given in England to Burgoyne by Lord George Germain, but he was himself
without orders. Afterwards the reason became known. Lord George Germain
had dictated the order to cooperate with Burgoyne, but had hurried off
to the country before it was ready for his signature and it had been
mislaid. Howe seemed free to make his own plans and he longed to
be master of the enemy's capital. In the end he decided to take
Philadelphia--a task easy enough, as the event proved. At Howe's elbow
was the traitorous American general, Charles Lee, whom he had recently
captured, and Lee, as we know, told him that Maryland and Pennsylvania
were at heart loyal to the King and panting to be free from the tyranny
of the demagogue. Once firmly in the capital Howe believed that he would
have secure control of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He could
achieve this and be back at New York in time to meet Burgoyne, perhaps
at Albany. Then he would hold the colony of New York from Staten Island
to the Canadian frontier. Howe found that he could send ships up the
Hudson, and the American army had to stand on the banks almost helpless
against the mobility of sea power. Washington's left wing rested on
the Hudson and he held both banks but neither at Peekskill nor, as yet,
farther up at West Point, could his forts prevent the passage of ships.
It was a different matter for the British to advance on land. But the
ships went up and down in the spring of 1777. It would be easy enough to
help Burgoyne when the time should come.

It was summer before Howe was ready to move, and by that time he had
received instructions that his first aim must be to cooperate with
Burgoyne. First, however, he was resolved to have Philadelphia.
Washington watched Howe in perplexity. A great fleet and a great army
lay at New York. Why did they not move? Washington knew perfectly well
what he himself would have done in Howe's place. He would have attacked
rapidly in April the weak American army and, after destroying or
dispersing it, would have turned to meet Burgoyne coming southward from
Canada. Howe did send a strong force into New Jersey. But he did not
know how weak Washington really was, for that master of craft in war
disseminated with great skill false information as to his own supposed
overwhelming strength. Howe had been bitten once by advancing too far
into New Jersey and was not going to take risks. He tried to entice
Washington from the hills to attack in open country. He marched here and
there in New Jersey and kept Washington alarmed and exhausted by counter
marches, and always puzzled as to what the next move should be. Howe
purposely let one of his secret messengers be taken bearing a despatch
saying that the fleet was about to sail for Boston. All these things
took time and the summer was slipping away. In the end Washington
realized that Howe intended to make his move not by land but by sea.
Could it be possible that he was not going to make aid to Burgoyne his
chief purpose? Could it be that he would attack Boston? Washington
hoped so for he knew the reception certain at Boston. Or was his goal
Charleston? On the 23d of July, when the summer was more than half gone,
Washington began to see more clearly. On that day Howe had embarked
eighteen thousand men and the fleet put to sea from Staten Island.

Howe was doing what able officers with him, such as Cornwallis, Grey,
and the German Knyphausen, appear to have been unanimous in thinking
he should not do. He was misled not only by the desire to strike at
the very center of the rebellion, but also by the assurance of the
traitorous Lee that to take Philadelphia would be the effective signal
to all the American Loyalists, the overwhelming majority of the people,
as was believed, that sedition had failed. A tender parent, the King,
was ready to have the colonies back in their former relation and to give
them secure guarantees of future liberty. Any one who saw the fleet
put out from New York Harbor must have been impressed with the might of
Britain. No less than two hundred and twenty-nine ships set their sails
and covered the sea for miles. When they had disappeared out of sight
of the New Jersey shore their goal was still unknown. At sea they might
turn in any direction. Washington's uncertainty was partly relieved on
the 30th of July when the fleet appeared at the entrance of Delaware
Bay, with Philadelphia some hundred miles away across the bay and up the
Delaware River. After hovering about the Cape for a day the fleet again
put to sea, and Washington, who had marched his army so as to be near
Philadelphia, thought the whole movement a feint and knew not where the
fleet would next appear. He was preparing to march to New York to menace
General Clinton, who had there seven thousand men able to help Burgoyne
when he heard good news. On the 22d of August he knew that Howe
had really gone southward and was in Chesapeake Bay. Boston was now
certainly safe. On the 25th of August, after three stormy weeks at sea,
Howe arrived at Elkton, at the head of Chesapeake Bay, and there landed
his army. It was Philadelphia fifty miles away that he intended to have.
Washington wrote gleefully "Now let all New England turn out and crush
Burgoyne." Before the end of September he was writing that he was
certain of complete disaster to Burgoyne.

Howe had, in truth, made a ruinous mistake. Had the date been May
instead of August he might still have saved Burgoyne. But at the end
of August, when the net was closing on Burgoyne, Howe was three hundred
miles away. His disregard of time and distance had been magnificent. In
July he had sailed to the mouth of the Delaware, with Philadelphia near,
but he had then sailed away again, and why? Because the passage of his
ships up the river to the city was blocked by obstructions commanded by
bristling forts. The naval officers said truly that the fleet could not
get up the river. But Howe might have landed his army at the head of
Delaware Bay. It is a dozen miles across the narrow peninsula from the
head of Delaware Bay to that of Chesapeake Bay. Since Howe had decided
to attack from the head of Chesapeake Bay there was little to prevent
him from landing his army on the Delaware side of the peninsula and
marching across it. By sea it is a voyage of three hundred miles round
a peninsula one hundred and fifty miles long to get from one of these
points to the other, by land only a dozen miles away. Howe made the
sea voyage and spent on it three weeks when a march of a day would have
saved this time and kept his fleet three hundred miles by sea nearer to
New York and aid for Burgoyne.

Howe's mistakes only have their place in the procession to inevitable
disaster. Once in the thick of fighting he showed himself formidable.
When he had landed at Elkton he was fifty miles southwest of
Philadelphia and between him and that place was Washington with his
army. Washington was determined to delay Howe in every possible way.
To get to Philadelphia Howe had to cross the Brandywine River. Time was
nothing to him. He landed at Elkton on the 25th of August. Not until the
10th of September was he prepared to attack Washington barring his way
at Chadd's Ford. Washington was in a strong position on a front of two
miles on the river. At his left, below Chadd's Ford, the Brandywine is
a torrent flowing between high cliffs. There the British would find no
passage. On his right was a forest. Washington had chosen his position
with his usual skill. Entrenchments protected his front and batteries
would sweep down an advancing enemy. He had probably not more than
eleven thousand men in the fight and it is doubtful whether Howe brought
up a greater number so that the armies were not unevenly matched. At
daybreak on the eleventh the British army broke camp at the village
of Kenneth Square, four miles from Chadd's Ford, and, under General
Knyphausen, marched straight to make a frontal attack on Washington's

In the battle which followed Washington was beaten by the superior
tactics of his enemy. Not all of the British army was there in the
attack at Chadd's Ford. A column under Cornwallis had filed off by a
road to the left and was making a long and rapid march. The plan was to
cross the Brandywine some ten miles above where Washington was
posted and to attack him in the rear. By two o'clock in the afternoon
Cornwallis had forced the two branches of the upper Brandywine and was
marching on Dilworth at the right rear of the American army. Only then
did Washington become aware of his danger. His first impulse was to
advance across Chadd's Ford to try to overwhelm Knyphausen and thus
to get between Howe and the fleet at Elkton. This might, however, have
brought disaster and he soon decided to retire. His movement was ably
carried out. Both sides suffered in the woodland fighting but that night
the British army encamped in Washington's position at Chadd's Ford, and
Howe had fought skillfully and won an important battle.

Washington had retired in good order and was still formidable. He now
realized clearly enough that Philadelphia would fall. Delay, however,
would be nearly as good as victory. He saw what Howe could not see, that
menacing cloud in the north, much bigger than a man's hand, which, with
Howe far away, should break in a final storm terrible for the British
cause. Meanwhile Washington meant to keep Howe occupied. Rain alone
prevented another battle before the British reached the Schuylkill
River. On that river Washington guarded every ford. But, in the end,
by skillful maneuvering, Howe was able to cross and on the 26th of
September he occupied Philadelphia without resistance. The people were
ordered to remain quietly in their houses. Officers were billeted on the
wealthier inhabitants. The fall resounded far of what Lord Adam Gordon
called a "great and noble city," "the first Town in America," "one of
the Wonders of the World." Its luxury had been so conspicuous that the
austere John Adams condemned the "sinful feasts" in which he shared.
About it were fine country seats surrounded by parklike grounds, with
noble trees, clipped hedges, and beautiful gardens. The British believed
that Pennsylvania was really on their side. Many of the people were
friendly and hundreds now renewed their oath of allegiance to the King.
Washington complained that the people gave Howe information denied to
him. They certainly fed Howe's army willingly and received good British
gold while Washington had only paper money with which to pay. Over the
proud capital floated once more the British flag and people who did not
see very far said that, with both New York and Philadelphia taken, the
rebellion had at last collapsed.

Once in possession of Philadelphia Howe made his camp at Germantown, a
straggling suburban village, about seven miles northwest of the city.
Washington's army lay at the foot of some hills a dozen miles farther
away. Howe had need to be wary, for Washington was the same "old fox"
who had played so cunning a game at Trenton. The efforts of the British
army were now centered on clearing the river Delaware so that supplies
might be brought up rapidly by water instead of being carried fifty
miles overland from Chesapeake Bay. Howe detached some thousands of men
for this work and there was sharp fighting before the troops and the
fleet combined had cleared the river. At Germantown Howe kept about nine
thousand men. Though he knew that Washington was likely to attack him he
did not entrench his army as he desired the attack to be made. It might
well have succeeded. Washington with eleven thousand men aimed at a
surprise. On the evening of the 3d of October he set out from his camp.
Four roads led into Germantown and all these the Americans used.
At sunrise on the fourth, just as the attack began, a fog arose to
embarrass both sides. Lying a little north of the village was the solid
stone house of Chief Justice Chew, and it remains famous as the central
point in the bitter fight of that day. What brought final failure to the
American attack was an accident of maneuvering. Sullivan's brigade
was in front attacking the British when Greene's came up for the same
purpose. His line overlapped Sullivan's and he mistook in the fog
Sullivan's men for the enemy and fired on them from the rear. A panic
naturally resulted among the men who were attacked also at the same
time by the British on their front. The disorder spread. British
reinforcements arrived, and Washington drew off his army in surprising
order considering the panic. He had six hundred and seventy-three
casualties and lost besides four hundred prisoners. The British loss
was five hundred and thirty-seven casualties and fourteen prisoners.
The attack had failed, but news soon came which made the reverse
unimportant. Burgoyne and his whole army had surrendered at Saratoga.


John Burgoyne, in a measure a soldier of fortune, was the younger son of
an impoverished baronet, but he had married the daughter of the powerful
Earl of Derby and was well known in London society as a man of fashion
and also as a man of letters, whose plays had a certain vogue. His will,
in which he describes himself as a humble Christian, who, in spite of
many faults, had never forgotten God, shows that he was serious minded.
He sat in the House of Commons for Preston and, though he used the
language of a courtier and spoke of himself as lying at the King's feet
to await his commands, he was a Whig, the friend of Fox and others
whom the King regarded as his enemies. One of his plays describes the
difficulties of getting the English to join the army of George III. We
have the smartly dressed recruit as a decoy to suggest an easy life in
the army. Victory and glory are so certain that a tailor stands with his
feet on the neck of the King of France. The decks of captured ships swim
with punch and are clotted with gold dust, and happy soldiers play
with diamonds as if they were marbles. The senators of England, says
Burgoyne, care chiefly to make sure of good game laws for their own
pleasure. The worthless son of one of them, who sets out on the long
drive to his father's seat in the country, spends an hour in "yawning,
picking his teeth and damning his journey" and when once on the way
drives with such fury that the route is marked by "yelping dogs,
broken-backed pigs and dismembered geese."

It was under this playwright and satirist, who had some skill as a
soldier, that the British cause now received a blow from which it never
recovered. Burgoyne had taken part in driving the Americans from
Canada in 1776 and had spent the following winter in England using his
influence to secure an independent command. To his later undoing he
succeeded. It was he, and not, as had been expected, General Carleton,
who was appointed to lead the expedition of 1777 from Canada to the
Hudson. Burgoyne was given instructions so rigid as to be an insult to
his intelligence. He was to do one thing and only one thing, to press
forward to the Hudson and meet Howe. At the same time Lord George
Germain, the minister responsible, failed to instruct Howe to advance up
the Hudson to meet Burgoyne. Burgoyne had a genuine belief in the
wisdom of this strategy but he had no power to vary it, to meet changing
circumstances, and this was one chief factor in his failure.

Behold Burgoyne then, on the 17th of June, embarking on Lake Champlain
the army which, ever since his arrival in Canada on the 6th of May,
he had been preparing for this advance. He had rather more than seven
thousand men, of whom nearly one-half were Germans under the competent
General Riedesel. In the force of Burgoyne we find the ominous presence
of some hundreds of Indian allies. They had been attached to one side or
the other in every war fought in those regions during the previous one
hundred and fifty years. In the war which ended in 1763 Montcalm had
used them and so had his opponent Amherst. The regiments from the New
England and other colonies had fought in alliance with the painted
and befeathered savages and had made no protest. Now either times had
changed, or there was something in a civil war which made the use of
savages seem hideous. One thing is certain. Amherst had held his savages
in stern restraint and could say proudly that they had not committed a
single outrage. Burgoyne was not so happy.

In nearly every war the professional soldier shows distrust, if not
contempt, for civilian levies. Burgoyne had been in America before the
day of Bunker Hill and knew a great deal about the country. He thought
the "insurgents" good enough fighters when protected by trees and stones
and swampy ground. But he thought, too, that they had no real knowledge
of the science of war and could not fight a pitched battle. He himself
had not shown the prevision required by sound military knowledge. If the
British were going to abandon the advantage of sea power and fight where
they could not fall back on their fleet, they needed to pay special
attention to land transport. This Burgoyne had not done. It was only a
little more than a week before he reached Lake Champlain that he asked
Carleton to provide the four hundred horses and five hundred carts which
he still needed and which were not easily secured in a sparsely settled
country. Burgoyne lingered for three days at Crown Point, half way down
the lake. Then, on the 2d of July, he laid siege to Fort Ticonderoga.
Once past this fort, guarding the route to Lake George, he could easily
reach the Hudson.

In command at Fort Ticonderoga was General St. Clair, with about
thirty-five hundred men. He had long notice of the siege, for the
expedition of Burgoyne had been the open talk of Montreal and the
surrounding country during many months. He had built Fort Independence,
on the east shore of Lake Champlain, and with a great expenditure of
labor had sunk twenty-two piers across the lake and stretched in front
of them a boom to protect the two forts. But he had neglected to defend
Sugar Hill in front of Fort Ticonderoga, and commanding the American
works. It took only three or four days for the British to drag cannon to
the top, erect a battery and prepare to open fire. On the 5th of July,
St. Clair had to face a bitter necessity. He abandoned the untenable
forts and retired southward to Fort Edward by way of the difficult Green
Mountains. The British took one hundred and twenty-eight guns.

These successes led the British to think that within a few days they
would be in Albany. We have an amusing picture of the effect on George
III of the fall of Fort Ticonderoga. The place had been much discussed.
It had been the first British fort to fall to the Americans when the
Revolution began, and Carleton's failure to take it in the autumn of
1776 had been the cause of acute heartburning in London. Now, when the
news of its fall reached England, George III burst into the Queen's
room with the glad cry, "I have beat them, I have beat the Americans."
Washington's depression was not as great as the King's elation; he had
a better sense of values; but he had intended that the fort should hold
Burgoyne, and its fall was a disastrous blow. The Americans showed skill
and good soldierly quality in the retreat from Ticonderoga, and Burgoyne
in following and harassing them was led into hard fighting in the woods.
The easier route by way of Lake George was open but Burgoyne hoped to
destroy his enemy by direct pursuit through the forest. It took him
twenty days to hew his way twenty miles, to the upper waters of
the Hudson near Fort Edward. When there on the 30th of July he had
communications open from the Hudson to the St. Lawrence.

Fortune seemed to smile on Burgoyne. He had taken many guns and he had
proved the fighting quality of his men. But his cheerful elation had, in
truth, no sound basis. Never during the two and a half months of bitter
struggle which followed was he able to advance more than twenty-five
miles from Fort Edward. The moment he needed transport by land he
found himself almost helpless. Sometimes his men were without food and
equipment because he had not the horses and carts to bring supplies from
the head of water at Fort Anne or Fort George, a score of miles
away. Sometimes he had no food to transport. He was dependent on his
communications for every form of supplies. Even hay had to be brought
from Canada, since, in the forest country, there was little food for his
horses. The perennial problem for the British in all operations was this
one of food. The inland regions were too sparsely populated to make it
possible for more than a few soldiers to live on local supplies. The
wheat for the bread of the British soldier, his beef and his pork, even
the oats for his horse, came, for the most part, from England, at vast
expense for transport, which made fortunes for contractors. It is said
that the cost of a pound of salted meat delivered to Burgoyne on the
Hudson was thirty shillings. Burgoyne had been told that the inhabitants
needed only protection to make them openly loyal and had counted on them
for supplies. He found instead the great mass of the people hostile and
he doubted the sincerity even of those who professed their loyalty.

After Burgoyne had been a month at Fort Edward he was face to face with
starvation. If he advanced he lengthened his line to flank attack. As
it was he had difficulty in holding it against New Englanders, the most
resolute of all his foes, eager to assert by hard fighting, if need be,
their right to hold the invaded territory which was claimed also by New
York. Burgoyne's instructions forbade him to turn aside and strike them
a heavy blow. He must go on to meet Howe who was not there to be met.
A being who could see the movements of men as we watch a game of chess,
might think that madness had seized the British leaders; Burgoyne on
the upper Hudson plunging forward resolutely to meet Howe; Howe at sea
sailing away, as it might well seem, to get as far from Burgoyne as he
could; Clinton in command at New York without instructions, puzzled what
to do and not hearing from his leader, Howe, for six weeks at a time;
and across the sea a complacent minister, Germain, who believed that he
knew what to do in a scene three thousand miles away, and had drawn up
exact instructions as to the way of doing it, and who was now eagerly
awaiting news of the final triumph.

Burgoyne did his best. Early in August he had to make a venturesome
stroke to get sorely needed food. Some twenty-five miles east of the
Hudson at Bennington, in difficult country, New England militia had
gathered food and munitions, and horses for transport. The pressure of
need clouded Burgoyne's judgment. To make a dash for Bennington meant a
long and dangerous march. He was assured, however, that a surprise
was possible and that in any case the country was full of friends only
awaiting a little encouragement to come out openly on his side. They
were Germans who lay on Burgoyne's left and Burgoyne sent Colonel Baum,
an efficient officer, with five or six hundred men to attack the New
Englanders and bring in the supplies. It was a stupid blunder to send
Germans among a people specially incensed against the use of these
mercenaries. There was no surprise. Many professing loyalists, seemingly
eager to take the oath of allegiance, met and delayed Baum. When near
Bennington he found in front of him a force barring the way and had to
make a carefully guarded camp for the night. Then five hundred men, some
of them the cheerful takers of the oath of allegiance, slipped round to
his rear and in the morning he was attacked from front and rear.

A hot fight followed which resulted in the complete defeat of the
British. Baum was mortally wounded. Some of his men escaped into the
woods; the rest were killed or captured. Nor was this all. Burgoyne,
scenting danger, had ordered five hundred more Germans to reinforce
Baum. They, too, were attacked and overwhelmed. In all Burgoyne lost
some eight hundred men and four guns. The American loss was seventy.
It shows the spirit of the time that, for the sport of the soldiers,
British prisoners were tied together in pairs and driven by negroes
at the tail of horses. An American soldier described long after, with
regret for his own cruelty, how he had taken a British prisoner who had
had his left eye shot out and mounted him on a horse also without
the left eye, in derision at the captive's misfortune. The British
complained that quarter was refused in the fight. For days tired
stragglers, after long wandering in the woods, drifted into Burgoyne's
camp. This was now near Saratoga, a name destined to be ominous in the
history of the British army.

Further misfortune now crowded upon Burgoyne. The general of that day
had two favorite forms of attack. One was to hold the enemy's front and
throw out a column to march round the flank and attack his rear, the
method of Howe at the Brandywine; the other method was to advance on the
enemy by lines converging at a common center. This form of attack had
proved most successful eighteen years earlier when the British had
finally secured Canada by bringing together, at Montreal, three armies,
one from the east, one from the west, and one from the south. Now there
was a similar plan of bringing together three British forces at or near
Albany, on the Hudson. Of Clinton, at New York, and Burgoyne we know.
The third force was under General St. Leger. With some seventeen hundred
men, fully half of whom were Indians, he had gone up the St. Lawrence
from Montreal and was advancing from Oswego on Lake Ontario to attack
Fort Stanwix at the end of the road from the Great Lakes to the Mohawk
River. After taking that stronghold he intended to go down the river
valley to meet Burgoyne near Albany.

On the 3d of August St. Leger was before Fort Stanwix garrisoned by some
seven hundred Americans. With him were two men deemed potent in that
scene. One of these was Sir John Johnson who had recently inherited
the vast estate in the neighborhood of his father, the great Indian
Superintendent, Sir William Johnson, and was now in command of a
regiment recruited from Loyalists, many of them fierce and embittered
because of the seizure of their property. The other leader was a famous
chief of the Mohawks, Thayendanegea, or, to give him his English name,
Joseph Brant, half savage still, but also half civilized and half
educated, because he had had a careful schooling and for a brief day had
been courted by London fashion. He exerted a formidable influence with
his own people. The Indians were not, however, all on one side. Half of
the six tribes of the Iroquois were either neutral or in sympathy with
the Americans. Among the savages, as among the civilized, the war was a
family quarrel, in which brother fought brother. Most of the Indians on
the American side preserved, indeed, an outward neutrality. There was
no hostile population for them to plunder and the Indian usually had no
stomach for any other kind of warfare. The allies of the British, on the
other hand, had plenty of openings to their taste and they brought on
the British cause an enduring discredit.

When St. Leger was before Fort Stanwix he heard that a force of eight
hundred men, led by a German settler named Herkimer, was coming up
against him. When it was at Oriskany, about six miles away, St. Leger
laid a trap. He sent Brant with some hundreds of Indians and a few
soldiers to be concealed in a marshy ravine which Herkimer must cross.
When the American force was hemmed in by trees and marsh on the narrow
causeway of logs running across the ravine the Indians attacked with
wild yells and murderous fire. Then followed a bloody hand to hand
fight. Tradition has been busy with its horrors. Men struggled in slime
and blood and shouted curses and defiance. Improbable stories are told
of pairs of skeletons found afterwards in the bog each with a bony
hand which had driven a knife to the heart of the other. In the end the
British, met by resolution so fierce, drew back. Meanwhile a sortie
from the American fort on their rear had a menacing success. Sir John
Johnson's camp was taken and sacked. The two sides were at last glad to
separate, after the most bloody struggle in the whole war. St. Leger's
Indians had had more than enough. About a hundred had been killed and
the rest were in a state of mutiny. Soon it was known that Benedict
Arnold, with a considerable force, was pushing up the Mohawk Valley to
relieve the American fort. Arnold knew how to deal with savages. He took
care that his friendly Indians should come into contact with those of
Brant and tell lurid tales of utter disaster to Burgoyne and of a great
avenging army on the march to attack St. Leger. The result was that St.
Leger's Indians broke out in riot and maddened themselves with stolen
rum. Disorder affected even the soldiers. The only thing for St. Leger
to do was to get away. He abandoned his guns and stores and, harassed
now by his former Indian allies, made his way to Oswego and in the end
reached Montreal with a remnant of his force.

News of these things came to Burgoyne just after the disaster at
Bennington. Since Fort Stanwix was in a country counted upon as Loyalist
at heart it was especially discouraging again to find that in the main
the population was against the British. During the war almost without
exception Loyalist opinion proved weak against the fierce determination
of the American side. It was partly a matter of organization. The
vigilance committees in each State made life well-nigh intolerable to
suspected Tories. Above all, however, the British had to bear the odium
which attaches always to the invader. We do not know what an American
army would have done if, with Iroquois savages as allies, it had made
war in an English county. We know what loathing a parallel situation
aroused against the British army in America. The Indians, it should be
noted, were not soldiers under British discipline but allies; the chiefs
regarded themselves as equals who must be consulted and not as enlisted
to take orders from a British general.

In war, as in politics, nice balancing of merit or defect in an enemy
would destroy the main purpose which is to defeat him. Each side
exaggerates any weak point in the other in order to stimulate the
fighting passions. Judgment is distorted. The Baroness Riedesel, the
wife of one of Burgoyne's generals, who was in Boston in 1777, says that
the people were all dressed alike in a peasant costume with a leather
strap round the waist, that they were of very low and insignificant
stature, and that only one in ten of them could read or write. She
pictures New Englanders as tarring and feathering cultivated English
ladies. When educated people believed every evil of the enemy the
ignorant had no restraint to their credulity. New England had long
regarded the native savages as a pest. In 1776 New Hampshire offered
seventy pounds for each scalp of a hostile male Indian and thirty-seven
pounds and ten shillings for each scalp of a woman or of a child under
twelve years of age. Now it was reported that the British were offering
bounties for American scalps. Benjamin Franklin satirized British
ignorance when he described whales leaping Niagara Falls and he did not
expect to be taken seriously when, at a later date, he pictured George
III as gloating over the scalps of his subjects in America. The Seneca
Indians alone, wrote Franklin, sent to the King many bales of scalps.
Some bales were captured by the Americans and they found the scalps of
43 soldiers, 297 farmers, some of them burned alive, and 67 old people,
88 women, 193 boys, 211 girls, 29 infants, and others unclassified.
Exact figures bring conviction. Franklin was not wanting in exactness
nor did he fail, albeit it was unwittingly, to intensify burning
resentment of which we have echoes still. Burgoyne had to bear the odium
of the outrages by Indians. It is amusing to us, though it was hardly so
to this kindly man, to find these words put into his mouth by a colonial

     I will let loose the dogs of Hell,
     Ten thousand Indians who shall yell,
     And foam, and tear, and grin, and roar
     And drench their moccasins in gore:...
     I swear, by St. George and St. Paul,
     I will exterminate you all.

Such seed, falling on soil prepared by the hate of war, brought forth
its deadly fruit. The Americans believed that there was no brutality
from which British officers would shrink. Burgoyne had told his Indian
allies that they must not kill except in actual fighting and that there
must be no slaughter of non-combatants and no scalping of any but the
dead. The warning delivered him into the hands of his enemies for it
showed that he half expected outrage. Members of the British House of
Commons were no whit behind the Americans in attacking him. Burke amused
the House by his satire on Burgoyne's words: "My gentle lions, my humane
bears, my tenderhearted 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." Burke's great speech lasted for three and
a half hours and Sir George Savile called it "the greatest triumph of
eloquence within memory." British officers disliked their dirty, greasy,
noisy allies and Burgoyne found his use of savages, with the futile
order to be merciful, a potent factor in his defeat.

A horrifying incident had occurred while he was fighting his way to
the Hudson. As the Americans were preparing to leave Fort Edward some
marauding Indians saw a chance of plunder and outrage. They burst into a
house and carried off two ladies, both of them British in sympathy--Mrs.
McNeil, a cousin of one of Burgoyne's chief officers, General Fraser,
and Miss Jeannie McCrae, whose betrothed, a Mr. Jones, and whose brother
were serving with Burgoyne. In a short time Mrs. McNeil was handed over
unhurt to Burgoyne's advancing army. Miss McCrae was never again seen
alive by her friends. Her body was found and a Wyandot chief, known as
the Panther, showed her scalp as a trophy. Burgoyne would have been a
poor creature had he not shown anger at such a crime, even if committed
against the enemy. This crime, however, was committed against his own
friends. He pressed the charge against the chief and was prepared to
hang him and only relaxed when it was urged that the execution would
cause all his Indians to leave him and to commit further outrages. The
incident was appealing in its tragedy and stirred the deep anger of the
population of the surrounding country among whose descendants to this
day the tradition of the abandoned brutality of the British keeps alive
the old hatred.

At Fort Edward Burgoyne now found that he could hardly move. He was
encumbered by an enormous baggage train. His own effects filled, it is
said, thirty wagons and this we can believe when we find that champagne
was served at his table up almost to the day of final disaster. The
population was thoroughly aroused against him. His own instinct was
to remain near the water route to Canada and make sure of his
communications. On the other hand, honor called him to go forward and
not fail Howe, supposed to be advancing to meet him. For a long time he
waited and hesitated. Meanwhile he was having increasing difficulty in
feeding his army and through sickness and desertion his numbers were
declining. By the 13th of September he had taken a decisive step. He
made a bridge of boats and moved his whole force across the river to
Saratoga, now Schuylerville. This crossing of the river would result
inevitably in cutting off his communications with Lake George and
Ticonderoga. After such a step he could not go back and he was moving
forward into a dark unknown. The American camp was at Stillwater, twelve
miles farther down the river. Burgoyne sent messenger after messenger
to get past the American lines and bring back news of Howe. Not one
of these unfortunate spies returned. Most of them were caught and
ignominiously hanged. One thing, however, Burgoyne could do. He could
hazard a fight and on this he decided as the autumn was closing in.

Burgoyne had no time to lose, once his force was on the west bank of the
Hudson. General Lincoln cut off his communications with Canada and was
soon laying siege to Ticonderoga. The American army facing Burgoyne was
now commanded by General Gates. This Englishman, the godson of Horace
Walpole, had gained by successful intrigue powerful support in Congress.
That body was always paying too much heed to local claims and jealousies
and on the 2d of August it removed Schuyler of New York because he was
disliked by the soldiers from New England and gave the command to Gates.
Washington was far away maneuvering to meet Howe and he was never able
to watch closely the campaign in the north. Gates, indeed,
considered himself independent of Washington and reported not to the
Commander-in-Chief but direct to Congress. On the 19th of September
Burgoyne attacked Gates in a strong entrenched position on Bemis
Heights, at Stillwater. There was a long and bitter fight, but by
evening Burgoyne had not carried the main position and had lost more
than five hundred men whom he could ill spare from his scanty numbers.

Burgoyne's condition was now growing desperate. American forces barred
retreat to Canada. He must go back and meet both frontal and flank
attacks, or go forward, or surrender. To go forward now had most
promise, for at last Howe had instructed Clinton, left in command at New
York, to move, and Clinton was making rapid progress up the Hudson. On
the 7th of October Burgoyne attacked again at Stillwater. This time he
was decisively defeated, a result due to the amazing energy in attack
of Benedict Arnold, who had been stripped of his command by an intrigue.
Gates would not even speak to him and his lingering in the American camp
was unwelcome. Yet as a volunteer Arnold charged the British line madly
and broke it. Burgoyne's best general, Fraser, was killed in the fight.
Burgoyne retired to Saratoga and there at last faced the prospects of
getting back to Fort Edward and to Canada. It may be that he could have
cut his way through, but this is doubtful. Without risk of destruction
he could not move in any direction. His enemies now outnumbered him
nearly four to one. His camp was swept by the American guns and his
men were under arms night and day. American sharpshooters stationed
themselves at daybreak in trees about the British camp and any one
who appeared in the open risked his life. If a cap was held up in view
instantly two or three balls would pass through it. His horses were
killed by rifle shots. Burgoyne had little food for his men and none for
his horses. His Indians had long since gone off in dudgeon. Many of
his Canadian French slipped off homeward and so did the Loyalists. The
German troops were naturally dispirited. A British officer tells of the
deadly homesickness of these poor men. They would gather in groups of
two dozen or so and mourn that they would never again see their native
land. They died, a score at a time, of no other disease than sickness
for their homes. They could have no pride in trying to save a lost
cause. Burgoyne was surrounded and, on the 17th of October, he was
obliged to surrender.

Gates proposed to Burgoyne hard terms--surrender with no honors of war.
The British were to lay down their arms in their encampments and to
march out without weapons of any kind. Burgoyne declared that, rather
than accept such terms, he would fight still and take no quarter. A
shadow was falling on the path of Gates. The term of service of some of
his men had expired. The New Englanders were determined to stay and see
the end of Burgoyne but a good many of the New York troops went off.
Sickness, too, was increasing. Above all General Clinton was advancing
up the Hudson. British ships could come up freely as far as Albany and
in a few days Clinton might make a formidable advance. Gates, a timid
man, was in a hurry. He therefore agreed that the British should march
from their camp with the honors of war, that the troops should be taken
to New England, and from there to England. They must not serve again
in North America during the war but there was nothing in the terms to
prevent their serving in Europe and relieving British regiments for
service in America. Gates had the courtesy to keep his army where it
could not see the laying down of arms by Burgoyne's force. About five
thousand men, of whom sixteen hundred were Germans and only three
thousand five hundred fit for duty, surrendered to sixteen thousand
Americans. Burgoyne gave offense to German officers by saying in his
report that he might have held out longer had all his troops been
British. This is probably true but the British met with only a just
Nemesis for using soldiers who had no call of duty to serve.

The army set out on its long march of two hundred miles to Boston. The
late autumn weather was cold, the army was badly clothed and fed, and
the discomfort of the weary route was increased by the bitter antagonism
of the inhabitants. They respected the regular British soldier but at
the Germans they shouted insults and the Loyalists they despised as
traitors. The camp at the journey's end was on the ground at Cambridge
where two years earlier Washington had trained his first army. Every day
Burgoyne expected to embark. There was delay and, at last, he knew
the reason. Congress repudiated the terms granted by Gates. A tangled
dispute followed. Washington probably had no sympathy with the quibbling
of Congress. But he had no desire to see this army return to Europe and
release there an army to serve in America. Burgoyne's force was never
sent to England. For nearly a year it lay at Boston. Then it was marched
to Virginia. The men suffered great hardships and the numbers fell by
desertion and escape. When peace came in 1783 there was no army to take
back to England; Burgoyne's soldiers had been merged into the American
people. It may well be, indeed, that descendants of his beaten men have
played an important part in building up the United States. The irony of
history is unconquerable.


Washington had met defeat in every considerable battle at which he was
personally present. His first appearance in military history, in
the Ohio campaign against the French, twenty-two years before the
Revolution, was marked by a defeat, the surrender of Fort Necessity.
Again in the next year, when he fought to relieve the disaster to
Braddock's army, defeat was his portion. Defeat had pursued him in
the battles of the Revolution--before New York, at the Brandywine, at
Germantown. The campaign against Canada, which he himself planned, had
failed. He had lost New York and Philadelphia. But, like William III of
England, who in his long struggle with France hardly won a battle
and yet forced Louis XIV to accept his terms of peace, Washington, by
suddenness in reprisal, by skill in resource when his plans seemed
to have been shattered, grew on the hard rock of defeat the flower of

There was never a time when Washington was not trusted by men of real
military insight or by the masses of the people. But a general who does
not win victories in the field is open to attack. By the winter of 1777
when Washington, with his army reduced and needy, was at Valley Forge
keeping watch on Howe in Philadelphia, John Adams and others were
talking of the sin of idolatry in the worship of Washington, of its
flavor of the accursed spirit of monarchy, and of the punishment which
"the God of Heaven and Earth" must inflict for such perversity. Adams
was all against a Fabian policy and wanted to settle issues forever by a
short and strenuous war. The idol, it was being whispered, proved after
all to have feet of clay. One general, and only one, had to his credit
a really great victory--Gates, to whom Burgoyne had surrendered at
Saratoga, and there was a movement to replace Washington by this
laureled victor.

General Conway, an Irish soldier of fortune, was one of the most
troublesome in this plot. He had served in the campaign about
Philadelphia but had been blocked in his extravagant demands for
promotion; so he turned for redress to Gates, the star in the north. A
malignant campaign followed in detraction of Washington. He had, it was
said, worn out his men by useless marches; with an army three times
as numerous as that of Howe, he had gained no victory; there was high
fighting quality in the American army if properly led, but Washington
despised the militia; a Gates or a Lee or a Conway would save the cause
as Washington could not; and so on. "Heaven has determined to save your
country or a weak general and bad counsellors would have ruined it"; so
wrote Conway to Gates and Gates allowed the letter to be seen. The words
were reported to Washington, who at once, in high dudgeon, called
Conway to account. An explosion followed. Gates both denied that he had
received a letter with the passage in question, and, at the same time,
charged that there had been tampering with his private correspondence.
He could not have it both ways. Conway was merely impudent in reply to
Washington, but Gates laid the whole matter before Congress. Washington
wrote to Gates, in reply to his denials, ironical references to "rich
treasures of knowledge and experience" "guarded with penurious reserve"
by Conway from his leaders but revealed to Gates. There was no irony in
Washington's reference to malignant detraction and mean intrigue. At
the same time he said to Gates: "My temper leads me to peace and harmony
with all men," and he deplored the internal strife which injured the
great cause. Conway soon left America. Gates lived to command another
American army and to end his career by a crowning disaster.

Washington had now been for more than two years in the chief command and
knew his problems. It was a British tradition that standing armies were
a menace to liberty, and the tradition had gained strength in crossing
the sea. Washington would have wished a national army recruited by
Congress alone and bound to serve for the duration of the war. There
was much talk at the time of a "new model army" similar in type to the
wonderful creation of Oliver Cromwell. The Thirteen Colonies became,
however, thirteen nations. Each reserved the right to raise its own
levies in its own way. To induce men to enlist Congress was twice
handicapped. First, it had no power of taxation and could only ask the
States to provide what it needed. The second handicap was even greater.
When Congress offered bounties to those who enlisted in the Continental
army, some of the States offered higher bounties for their own levies
of militia, and one authority was bidding against the other. This
encouraged short-term enlistments. If a man could re-enlist and again
secure a bounty, he would gain more than if he enlisted at once for the
duration of the war.

An army is an intricate mechanism needing the same variety of agencies
that is required for the well-being of a community. The chief aim is, of
course, to defeat the enemy, and to do this an army must be prepared to
move rapidly. Means of transport, so necessary in peace, are even more
urgently needed in war. Thus Washington always needed military engineers
to construct roads and bridges. Before the Revolution the greater part
of such services had been provided in America by the regular British
army, now the enemy. British officers declared that the American army
was without engineers who knew the science of war, and certainly the
forts on which they spent their skill in the North, those on the lower
Hudson, and at Ticonderoga, at the head of Lake George, fell easily
before the assailant. Good maps were needed, and in this Washington
was badly served, though the defect was often corrected by his intimate
knowledge of the country. Another service ill-equipped was what we
should now call the Red Cross. Epidemics, and especially smallpox,
wrought havoc in the army. Then, as now, shattered nerves were sometimes
the result of the strain of military life. "The wind of a ball," what we
should now call shellshock, sometimes killed men whose bodies appeared
to be uninjured. To our more advanced knowledge the medical science of
the time seems crude. The physicians of New England, today perhaps the
most expert body of medical men in the world, were even then highly
skillful. But the surgeons and nurses were too few. This was true
of both sides in the conflict. Prisoners in hospitals often suffered
terribly and each side brought charges of ill-treatment against the
other. The prison-ships in the harbor of New York, where American
prisoners were confined, became a scandal, and much bitter invective
against British brutality is found in the literature of the period. The
British leaders, no less than Washington himself, were humane men, and
ignorance and inadequate equipment will explain most of the hardships,
though an occasional officer on either side was undoubtedly callous in
respect to the sufferings of the enemy.

Food and clothing, the first vital necessities of an army, were often
deplorably scarce. In a land of farmers there was food enough. Its
lack in the army was chiefly due to bad transport. Clothing was another
matter. One of the things insisted upon in a well-trained army is a
decent regard for appearance, and in the eyes of the French and the
British officers the American army usually seemed rather unkempt. The
formalities of dress, the uniformity of pipe-clay and powdered hair, of
polished steel and brass, can of course be overdone. The British army
had too much of it, but to Washington's force the danger was of having
too little. It was not easy to induce farmers and frontiersmen who at
home began the day without the use of water, razor, or brush, to appear
on parade clean, with hair powdered, faces shaved, and clothes neat. In
the long summer days the men were told to shave before going to bed that
they might prepare the more quickly for parade in the morning, and to
fill their canteens over night if an early march was imminent. Some
of the regiments had uniforms which gave them a sufficiently smart
appearance. The cocked hat, the loose hunting shirt with its fringed
border, the breeches of brown leather or duck, the brown gaiters or
leggings, the powdered hair, were familiar marks of the soldier of the

During a great part of the war, however, in spite of supplies brought
from both lance and the West Indies, Washington found it difficult to
secure for his men even decent clothing of any kind, whether of military
cut or not. More than a year after he took command, in the fighting
about New York, a great part of his army had no more semblance of
uniform than hunting shirts on a common pattern. In the following
December, he wrote of many men as either shivering in garments fit only
for summer wear or as entirely naked. There was a time in the later
campaign in the South when hundreds of American soldiers marched stark
naked, except for breech cloths. One of the most pathetic hardships
of the soldier's life was due to the lack of boots. More than one of
Washington's armies could be tracked by the bloody footprints of his
barefooted men. Near the end of the war Benedict Arnold, who knew
whereof he spoke, described the American army as "illy clad, badly fed,
and worse paid," pay being then two or three years overdue. On the
other hand, there is evidence that life in the army was not without its
compensations. Enforced dwelling in the open air saved men from diseases
such as consumption and the movement from camp to camp gave a broader
outlook to the farmer's sons. The army could usually make a brave
parade. On ceremonial occasions the long hair of the men would be tied
back and made white with powder, even though their uniforms were little
more than rags.

The men carried weapons some of which, in, at any rate, the early days
of the war, were made by hand at the village smithy. A man might take
to the war a weapon forged by himself. The American soldier had this
advantage over the British soldier, that he used, if not generally, at
least in some cases, not the smooth-bore musket but the grooved rifle
by which the ball was made to rotate in its flight. The fire from this
rifle was extremely accurate. At first weapons were few and ammunition
was scanty, but in time there were importations from France and also
supplies from American gun factories. The standard length of the barrel
was three and a half feet, a portentous size compared with that of the
modern weapon. The loading was from the muzzle, a process so slow that
one of the favorite tactics of the time was to await the fire of the
enemy and then charge quickly and bayonet him before he could reload.
The old method of firing off the musket by means of slow matches
kept alight during action was now obsolete; the latest device was the
flintlock. But there was always a measure of doubt whether the weapon
would go off. Partly on this account Benjamin Franklin, the wisest man
of his time, declared for the use of the pike of an earlier age rather
than the bayonet and for bows and arrows instead of firearms. A soldier,
he said, could shoot four arrows to one bullet. An arrow wound was more
disabling than a bullet wound; and arrows did not becloud the
vision with smoke. The bullet remained, however, the chief means of
destruction, and the fire of Washington's soldiers usually excelled that
of the British. These, in their turn, were superior in the use of the

Powder and lead were hard to get. The inventive spirit of America was
busy with plans to procure saltpeter and other ingredients for making
powder, but it remained scarce. Since there was no standard firearm,
each soldier required bullets specially suited to his weapon. The men
melted lead and cast it in their own bullet-molds. It is an instance of
the minor ironies of war that the great equestrian statue of George III,
which had been erected in New York in days more peaceful, was melted
into bullets for killing that monarch's soldiers. Another necessity was
paper for cartridges and wads. The cartridge of that day was a paper
envelope containing the charge of ball and powder. This served also as
a wad, after being emptied of its contents, and was pushed home with a
ramrod. A store of German Bibles in Pennsylvania fell into the hands of
the soldiers at a moment when paper was a crying need, and the pages of
these Bibles were used for wads.

The artillery of the time seems feeble compared with the monster weapons
of death which we know in our own age. Yet it was an important factor in
the war. It is probable that before the war not a single cannon had been
made in the colonies. From the outset Washington was hampered for lack
of artillery. Neutrals, especially the Dutch in the West Indies, sold
guns to the Americans, and France was a chief source of supply during
long periods when the British lost the command of the sea. There was
always difficulty about equipping cavalry, especially in the North. The
Virginian was at home on horseback, and in the farther South bands of
cavalry did service during the later years of the war, but many of
the fighting riders of today might tomorrow be guiding their horses
peacefully behind the plough.

The pay of the soldiers remained to Washington a baffling problem. When
the war ended their pay was still heavily in arrears. The States were
timid about imposing taxation and few if any paid promptly the levies
made upon them. Congress bridged the chasm in finance by issuing paper
money which so declined in value that, as Washington said grimly, it
required a wagon-load of money to pay for a wagon-load of supplies. The
soldier received his pay in this money at its face value, and there
is little wonder that the "continental dollar" is still in the United
States a symbol of worthlessness. At times the lack of pay caused mutiny
which would have been dangerous but for Washington's firm and tactful
management in the time of crisis. There was in him both the kindly
feeling of the humane man and the rigor of the army leader. He sent
men to death without flinching, but he was at one with his men in their
sufferings, and no problem gave him greater anxiety than that of pay,
affecting, as it did, the health and spirits of men who, while unpaid,
had no means of softening the daily tale of hardship.

Desertion was always hard to combat. With the homesickness which led
sometimes to desertion Washington must have had a secret sympathy,
for his letters show that he always longed for that pleasant home in
Virginia which he did not allow himself to revisit until nearly the end
of the war. The land of a farmer on service often remained untilled,
and there are pathetic cases of families in bitter need because the
breadwinner was in the army. In frontier settlements his absence
sometimes meant the massacre of his family by the savages. There is
little wonder that desertion was common, so common that after a reverse
the men went away by hundreds. As they usually carried with them their
rifles and other equipment, desertion involved a double loss. On one
occasion some soldiers undertook for themselves the punishment of
deserters. Men of the First Pennsylvania Regiment who had recaptured
three deserters, beheaded one of them and returned to their camp with
the head carried on a pole. More than once it happened that condemned
men were paraded before the troops for execution with the graves dug and
the coffins lying ready. The death sentence would be read, and then, as
the firing party took aim, a reprieve would be announced. The reprieve
in such circumstances was omitted often enough to make the condemned
endure the real agony of death.

Religion offered its consolations in the army and Washington gave much
thought to the service of the chaplains. He told his army that fine as
it was to be a patriot it was finer still to be a Christian. It is an
odd fact that, though he attended the Anglican Communion service before
and after the war, he did not partake of the Communion during the
war. What was in his mind we do not know. He was disposed, as he said
himself, to let men find "that road to Heaven which to them shall seem
the most direct," and he was without Puritan fervor, but he had deep
religious feeling. During the troubled days at Valley Forge a neighbor
came upon him alone in the bush on his knees praying aloud, and stole
away unobserved. He would not allow in the army a favorite Puritan
custom of burning the Pope in effigy, and the prohibition was not
easily enforced among men, thousands of whom bore scriptural names from
ancestors who thought the Pope anti-Christ.

Washington's winter quarters at Valley Forge were only twenty miles from
Philadelphia, among hills easily defended. It is matter for wonder that
Howe, with an army well equipped, did not make some attempt to destroy
the army of Washington which passed the winter so near and in acute
distress. The Pennsylvania Loyalists, with dark days soon to come, were
bitter at Howe's inactivity, full of tragic meaning for themselves. He
said that he could achieve nothing permanent by attack. It may be so;
but it is a sound principle in warfare to destroy the enemy when this
is possible. There was a time when in Washington's whole force not
more than two thousand men were in a condition to fight. Congress
was responsible for the needs of the army but was now, in sordid
inefficiency, cooped up in the little town of York, eighty miles west
of Valley Forge, to which it had fled. There was as yet no real federal
union. The seat of authority was in the State Governments, and we need
not wonder that, with the passing of the first burst of devotion which
united the colonies in a common cause, Congress declined rapidly in
public esteem. "What a lot of damned scoundrels we had in that second
Congress" said, at a later date, Gouverneur Morris of Philadelphia to
John Jay of New York, and Jay answered gravely, "Yes, we had." The body,
so despised in the retrospect, had no real executive government, no
organized departments. Already before Independence was proclaimed there
had been talk of a permanent union, but the members of Congress had
shown no sense of urgency, and it was not until November 15, 1777, when
the British were in Philadelphia and Congress was in exile at York, that
Articles of Confederation were adopted. By the following midsummer many
of the States had ratified these articles, but Maryland, the last
to assent, did not accept the new union until 1781, so that Congress
continued to act for the States without constitutional sanction during
the greater part of the war.

The ineptitude of Congress is explained when we recall that it was
a revolutionary body which indeed controlled foreign affairs and the
issues of war and peace, coined money, and put forth paper money but
had no general powers. Each State had but one vote, and thus a small and
sparsely settled State counted for as much as populous Massachusetts
or Virginia. The Congress must deal with each State only as a unit; it
could not coerce a State; and it had no authority to tax or to coerce
individuals. The utmost it could do was to appeal to good feeling, and
when a State felt that it had a grievance such an appeal was likely to
meet with a flaming retort.

Washington maintained towards Congress an attitude of deference
and courtesy which it did not always deserve. The ablest men in the
individual States held aloof from Congress. They felt that they had more
dignity and power if they sat in their own legislatures. The assembly
which in the first days had as members men of the type of Washington and
Franklin sank into a gathering of second-rate men who were divided into
fierce factions. They debated interminably and did little. Each member
usually felt that he must champion the interests of his own State
against the hostility of others. It was not easy to create a sense of
national life. The union was only a league of friendship. States which
for a century or more had barely acknowledged their dependence upon
Great Britain, were chary about coming under the control of a new
centralizing authority at Philadelphia. The new States were sovereign
and some of them went so far as to send envoys of their own to negotiate
with foreign powers in Europe. When it was urged that Congress should
have the power to raise taxes in the States, there were patriots who
asked sternly what the war was about if it was not to vindicate the
principle that the people of a State alone should have power of taxation
over themselves. Of New England all the other States were jealous and
they particularly disliked that proud and censorious city which already
was accused of believing that God had made Boston for Himself and all
the rest of the world for Boston. The religion of New England did not
suit the Anglicans of Virginia or the Roman Catholics of Maryland, and
there was resentful suspicion of Puritan intolerance. John Adams said
quite openly that there were no religious teachers in Philadelphia to
compare with those of Boston and naturally other colonies drew away from
the severe and rather acrid righteousness of which he was a type.

Inefficiency meanwhile brought terrible suffering at Valley Forge,
and the horrors of that winter remain still vivid in the memory of the
American people. The army marched to Valley Forge on December 17, 1777,
and in midwinter everything from houses to entrenchments had still to be
created. At once there was busy activity in cutting down trees for the
log huts. They were built nearly square, sixteen feet by fourteen, in
rows, with the door opening on improvised streets. Since boards were
scarce, and it was difficult to make roofs rainproof, Washington tried
to stimulate ingenuity by offering a reward of one hundred dollars for
an improved method of roofing. The fireplaces of wood were protected
with thick clay. Firewood was abundant, but, with little food for oxen
and horses, men had to turn themselves into draught animals to bring in

Sometimes the army was for a week without meat. Many horses died for
lack of forage or of proper care, a waste which especially disturbed
Washington, a lover of horses. When quantities of clothing were ready
for use, they were not delivered at Valley Forge owing to lack of
transport. Washington expressed his contempt for officers who resigned
their commissions in face of these distresses. No one, he said, ever
heard him say a word about resignation. There were many desertions but,
on the whole, he marveled at the patience of his men and that they did
not mutiny. With a certain grim humor they chanted phrases about "no
pay, no clothes, no provisions, no rum," and sang an ode glorifying war
and Washington. Hundreds of them marched barefoot, their blood staining
the snow or the frozen ground while, at the same time, stores of shoes
and clothing were lying unused somewhere on the roads to the camp.

Sickness raged in the army. Few men at Valley Forge, wrote Washington,
had more than a sheet, many only part of a sheet, and some nothing at
all. Hospital stores were lacking. For want of straw and blankets the
sick lay perishing on the frozen ground. When Washington had been
at Valley Forge for less than a week, he had to report nearly three
thousand men unfit for duty because of their nakedness in the bitter
winter. Then, as always, what we now call the "profiteer" was holding up
supplies for higher prices. To the British at Philadelphia, because they
paid in gold, things were furnished which were denied to Washington
at Valley Forge, and he announced that he would hang any one who
took provisions to Philadelphia. To keep his men alive Washington had
sometimes to take food by force from the inhabitants and then there was
an outcry that this was robbery. With many sick, his horses so disabled
that he could not move his artillery, and his defenses very slight,
he could have made only a weak fight had Howe attacked him. Yet the
legislature of Pennsylvania told him that, instead of lying quiet in
winter quarters, he ought to be carrying on an active campaign. In most
wars irresponsible men sitting by comfortable firesides are sure they
knew best how the thing should be done.

The bleak hillside at Valley Forge was something more than a prison.
Washington's staff was known as his family and his relations with them
were cordial and even affectionate. The young officers faced their
hardships cheerily and gave meager dinners to which no one might go if
he was so well off as to have trousers without holes. They talked and
sang and jested about their privations. By this time many of the bad
officers, of whom Washington complained earlier, had been weeded out and
he was served by a body of devoted men. There was much good comradeship.
Partnership in suffering tends to draw men together. In the company
which gathered about Washington, two men, mere youths at the time, have
a world-wide fame. The young Alexander Hamilton, barely twenty-one years
of age, and widely known already for his political writings, had the
rank of lieutenant colonel gained for his services in the fighting about
New York. He was now Washington's confidential secretary, a position
in which he soon grew restless. His ambition was to be one of the great
military leaders of the Revolution. Before the end of the war he had
gone back to fighting and he distinguished himself in the last battle
of the war at Yorktown. The other youthful figure was the Marquis de La
Fayette. It is not without significance that a noble square bears his
name in the capital named after Washington. The two men loved each
other. The young French aristocrat, with both a great name and great
possessions, was fired in 1776, when only nineteen, with zeal for the
American cause. "With the welfare of America," he wrote to his wife,
"is closely linked the welfare of mankind." Idealists in France believed
that America was leading in the remaking of the world. When it was known
that La Fayette intended to go to fight in America, the King of France
forbade it, since France had as yet no quarrel with England. The
youth, however, chartered a ship, landed in South Carolina, hurried to
Philadelphia, and was a major general in the American army when he was
twenty years of age.

La Fayette rendered no serious military service to the American cause.
He arrived in time to fight in the battle of the Brandywine. Washington
praised him for his bravery and military ardor and wrote to Congress
that he was sensible, discreet, and able to speak English freely. It was
with an eye to the influence in France of the name of the young noble
that Congress advanced him so rapidly. La Fayette was sincere and
generous in spirit. He had, however, little military capacity. Later
when he might have directed the course of the French Revolution he was
found wanting in force of character. The great Mirabeau tried to work
with him for the good of France, but was repelled by La Fayette's
jealous vanity, a vanity so greedy of praise that Jefferson called it a
"canine appetite for popularity and fame." La Fayette once said that
he had never bad a thought with which he could reproach himself, and
he boasted that he has mastered three kings--the King of England in the
American Revolution, the King of France, and King Mob of Paris during
the upheaval in France. He was useful as a diplomatist rather than as a
soldier. Later, in an hour of deep need, Washington sent La Fayette to
France to ask for aid. He was influential at the French court and came
back with abundant promises, which were in part fulfilled.

Washington himself and Oliver Cromwell are perhaps the only two civilian
generals in history who stand in the first rank as military leaders.
It is doubtful indeed whether it is not rather character than military
skill which gives Washington his place. Only one other general of the
Revolution attained to first rank even in secondary fame. Nathanael
Greene was of Quaker stock from Rhode Island. He was a natural student
and when trouble with the mother country was impending in 1774 he
spent the leisure which he could spare from his forges in the study of
military history and in organizing the local militia. Because of his
zeal for military service he was expelled from the Society of Friends.
In 1775 when war broke out he was promptly on hand with a contingent
from Rhode Island. In little more than a year and after a very slender
military experience he was in command of the army on Long Island. On the
Hudson defeat not victory was his lot. He had, however, as much stern
resolve as Washington. He shared Washington's success in the attack on
Trenton, and his defeats at the Brandywine and at Germantown. Now he
was at Valley Forge, and when, on March 2, 1778, he became quartermaster
general, the outlook for food and supplies steadily improved. Later, in
the South, he rendered brilliant service which made possible the final
American victory at Yorktown.

Henry Knox, a Boston bookseller, had, like Greene, only slight training
for military command. It shows the dearth of officers to fight the
highly disciplined British army that Knox, at the age of twenty-five,
and fresh from commercial life, was placed in charge of the meager
artillery which Washington had before Boston. It was Knox, who, with
heart-breaking labor, took to the American front the guns captured
at Ticonderoga. Throughout the war he did excellent service with the
artillery, and Washington placed a high value upon his services. He
valued too those of Daniel Morgan, an old fighter in the Indian wars,
who left his farm in Virginia when war broke out, and marched his
company of riflemen to join the army before Boston. He served with
Arnold at the siege of Quebec, and was there taken prisoner. He was
exchanged and had his due revenge when he took part in the capture of
Burgoyne's army. He was now at Valley Forge. Later he had a command
under Greene in the South and there, as we shall see, he won the great
success of the Battle of Cowpens in January, 1781.

It was the peculiar misfortune of Washington that the three men, Arnold,
Lee, and Gates, who ought to have rendered him the greatest service,
proved unfaithful. Benedict Arnold, next to Washington himself, was
probably the most brilliant and resourceful soldier of the Revolution.
Washington so trusted him that, when the dark days at Valley Forge were
over, he placed him in command of the recaptured federal capital. Today
the name of Arnold would rank high in the memory of a grateful country
had he not fallen into the bottomless pit of treason. The same is in
some measure true of Charles Lee, who was freed by the British in an
exchange of prisoners and joined Washington at Valley Forge late in
the spring of 1778. Lee was so clever with his pen as to be one of the
reputed authors of the Letters of Junius. He had served as a British
officer in the conquest of Canada, and later as major general in the
army of Poland. He had a jealous and venomous temper and could never
conceal the contempt of the professional soldier for civilian generals.
He, too, fell into the abyss of treason. Horatio Gates, also a regular
soldier, had served under Braddock and was thus at that early period
a comrade of Washington. Intriguer he was, but not a traitor. It was
incompetence and perhaps cowardice which brought his final ruin.

Europe had thousands of unemployed officers some of whom had had
experience in the Seven Years' War and many turned eagerly to America
for employment. There were some good soldiers among these fighting
adventurers. Kosciuszko, later famous as a Polish patriot, rose by his
merits to the rank of brigadier general in the American army; De Kalb,
son of a German peasant, though not a baron, as he called himself,
proved worthy of the rank of a major general. There was, however, a
flood of volunteers of another type. French officers fleeing from their
creditors and sometimes under false names and titles, made their way
to America as best they could and came to Washington with pretentious
claims. Germans and Poles there were, too, and also exiles from that
unhappy island which remains still the most vexing problem of British
politics. Some of them wrote their own testimonials; some, too, were
spies. On the first day, Washington wrote, they talked only of serving
freely a noble cause, but within a week were demanding promotion and
advance of money. Sometimes they took a high tone with members of
Congress who had not courage to snub what Washington called impudence
and vain boasting. "I am haunted and teased to death by the importunity
of some and dissatisfaction of others" wrote Washington of these people.

One foreign officer rendered incalculable service to the American cause.
It was not only on the British side that Germans served in the American
Revolution. The Baron von Steuben was, like La Fayette, a man of rank
in his own country, and his personal service to the Revolution was much
greater than that of La Fayette. Steuben had served on the staff of
Frederick the Great and was distinguished for his wit and his polished
manners. There was in him nothing of the needy adventurer. The sale of
Hessian and other troops to the British by greedy German princes was
met in some circles in Germany by a keen desire to aid the cause of the
young republic. Steuben, who held a lucrative post, became convinced,
while on a visit to Paris, that he could render service in training the
Americans. With quick sympathy and showing no reserve in his generous
spirit he abandoned his country, as it proved forever, took ship for the
United States, and arrived in November, 1777. Washington welcomed him at
Valley Forge in the following March. He was made Inspector General
and at once took in hand the organization of the army. He prepared
"Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United
States" later, in 1779, issued as a book. Under this German influence
British methods were discarded. The word of command became short
and sharp. The British practice of leaving recruits to be trained
by sergeants, often ignorant, coarse, and brutal, was discarded, and
officers themselves did this work. The last letter which Washington
wrote before he resigned his command at the end of the war was to
thank Steuben for his invaluable aid. Charles Lee did not believe that
American recruits could be quickly trained so as to be able to face the
disciplined British battalions. Steuben was to prove that Lee was wrong
to Lee's own entire undoing at Monmouth when fighting began in 1778.

The British army in America furnished sharp contrasts to that of
Washington. If the British jeered at the fighting quality of citizens,
these retorted that the British soldier was a mere slave. There were
two great stains upon the British system, the press-gang and flogging.
Press-gangs might seize men abroad in the streets of a town and, unless
they could prove that they were gentlemen in rank, they could be sent
in the fleet to serve in the remotest corners of the earth. In both navy
and army flogging outraged the dignity of manhood. The liability to this
brutal and degrading punishment kept all but the dregs of the populace
from enlisting in the British army. It helped to fix the deep gulf
between officers and men. Forty years later Napoleon Bonaparte, despot
though he might be, was struck by this separation. He himself went
freely among his men, warmed himself at their fire, and talked to them
familiarly about their work, and he thought that the British officer was
too aloof in his demeanor. In the British army serving in America there
were many officers of aristocratic birth and long training in military
science. When they found that American officers were frequently drawn
from a class of society which in England would never aspire to a
commission, and were largely self-taught, not unnaturally they jeered
at an army so constituted. Another fact excited British disdain. The
Americans were technically rebels against their lawful ruler, and rebels
in arms have no rights as belligerents. When the war ended more than a
thousand American prisoners were still held in England on the capital
charge of treason. Nothing stirred Washington's anger more deeply than
the remark sometimes made by British officers that the prisoners they
took were receiving undeserved mercy when they were not hanged.

There was much debate at Valley Forge as to the prospect for the future.
When we look at available numbers during the war we appreciate the
view of a British officer that in spite of Washington's failures and
of British victories the war was serious, "an ugly job, a damned affair
indeed." The population of the colonies--some 2,500,000--was about
one-third that of the United Kingdom; and for the British the war was
remote from the base of supply. In those days, considering the means
of transport, America was as far from England as at the present day is
Australia. Sometimes the voyage across the sea occupied two and even
three months, and, with the relatively small ships of the time, it
required a vast array of transports to carry an army of twenty or
thirty thousand men. In the spring of 1776 Great Britain had found it
impossible to raise at home an army of even twenty thousand men for
service in America, and she was forced to rely in large part upon
mercenary soldiers. This was nothing new. Her island people did not like
service abroad and this unwillingness was intensified in regard to
war in remote America. Moreover Whig leaders in England discouraged
enlistment. They were bitterly hostile to the war which they regarded as
an attack not less on their own liberties than on those of America. It
would be too much to ascribe to the ignorant British common soldier of
the time any deep conviction as to the merits or demerits of the cause
for which he fought. There is no evidence that, once in the army, he
was less ready to attack the Americans than any other foe. Certainly the
Americans did not think he was half-hearted.

The British soldier fought indeed with more resolute determination
than did the hired auxiliary at his side. These German troops played
a notable part in the war. The despotic princes of the lesser German
states were accustomed to sell the services of their troops. Despotic
Russia, too, was a likely field for such enterprise. When, however, it
was proposed to the Empress Catherine II that she should furnish twenty
thousand men for service in America she retorted with the sage advice
that it was England's true interest to settle the quarrel in America
without war. Germany was left as the recruiting field. British efforts
to enlist Germans as volunteers in her own army were promptly checked by
the German rulers and it was necessary literally to buy the troops from
their princes. One-fourth of the able-bodied men of Hesse-Cassel were
shipped to America. They received four times the rate of pay at home and
their ruler received in addition some half million dollars a year. The
men suffered terribly and some died of sickness for the homes to which
thousands of them never returned. German generals, such as Knyphausen
and Riedesel, gave the British sincere and effective service. The
Hessians were, however, of doubtful benefit to the British. It angered
the Americans that hired troops should be used against them, an anger
not lessened by the contempt which the Hessians showed for the colonial
officers as plebeians.

The two sides were much alike in their qualities and were skillful in
propaganda. In Britain lurid tales were told of the colonists scalping
the wounded at Lexington and using poisoned bullets at Bunker Hill. In
America every prisoner in British hands was said to be treated brutally
and every man slain in the fighting to have been murdered. The use of
foreign troops was a fruitful theme. The report ran through the colonies
that the Hessians were huge ogre-like monsters, with double rows of
teeth round each jaw, who had come at the call of the British tyrant
to slay women and children. In truth many of the Hessians became good
Americans. In spite of the loyalty of their officers they were readily
induced to desert. The wit of Benjamin Franklin was enlisted to compose
telling appeals, translated into simple German, which promised grants
of land to those who should abandon an unrighteous cause. The Hessian
trooper who opened a packet of tobacco might find in the wrapper appeals
both to his virtue and to his cupidity. It was easy for him to resist
them when the British were winning victories and he was dreaming of a
return to the Fatherland with a comfortable accumulation of pay, but it
was different when reverses overtook British arms. Then many hundreds
slipped away; and today their blood flows in the veins of thousands of
prosperous American farmers.


Washington badly needed aid from Europe, but there every important
government was monarchical and it was not easy for a young republic,
the child of revolution, to secure an ally. France tingled with joy at
American victories and sorrowed at American reverses, but motives were
mingled and perhaps hatred of England was stronger than love for liberty
in America. The young La Fayette had a pure zeal, but he would not have
fought for the liberty of colonists in Mexico as he did for those in
Virginia; and the difference was that service in Mexico would not hurt
the enemy of France so recently triumphant. He hated England and said so
quite openly. The thought of humiliating and destroying that "insolent
nation" was always to him an inspiration. Vergennes, the French Foreign
Minister, though he lacked genius, was a man of boundless zeal and
energy. He was at work at four o'clock in the morning and he spent his
long days in toil for his country. He believed that England was the
tyrant of the seas, "the monster against whom we should be always
prepared," a greedy, perfidious neighbor, the natural enemy of France.

From the first days of the trouble in regard to the Stamp Act Vergennes
had rejoiced that England's own children were turning against her. He
had French military officers in England spying on her defenses. When
war broke out he showed no nice regard for the rules of neutrality and
helped the colonies in every way possible. It was a French writer who
led in these activities. Beaumarchais is known to the world chiefly as
the creator of the character of Figaro, which has become the type of the
bold, clever, witty, and intriguing rascal, but he played a real part
in the American Revolution. We need not inquire too closely into his
motives. There was hatred of the English, that "audacious, unbridled,
shameless people," and there was, too, the zeal for liberal ideas which
made Queen Marie Antoinette herself take a pretty interest in the "dear
republicans" overseas who were at the same time fighting the national
enemy. Beaumarchais secured from the government money with which he
purchased supplies to be sent to America. He had a great warehouse
in Paris, and, under the rather fantastic Spanish name of Roderigue
Hortalez & Co., he sent vast quantities of munitions and clothing
to America. Cannon, not from private firms but from the government
arsenals, were sent across the sea. When Vergennes showed scruples
about this violation of neutrality, the answer of Beaumarchais was that
governments were not bound by rules of morality applicable to private
persons. Vergennes learned well the lesson and, while protesting to
the British ambassador in Paris that France was blameless, he permitted
outrageous breaches of the laws of neutrality.

Secret help was one thing, open alliance another. Early in 1776 Silas
Deane, a member from Connecticut of the Continental Congress, was named
as envoy to France to secure French aid. The day was to come when
Deane should believe the struggle against Britain hopeless and counsel
submission, but now he showed a furious zeal. He knew hardly a word of
French, but this did not keep him from making his elaborate programme
well understood. Himself a trader, he promised France vast profits from
the monopoly of the trade of America when independence should be secure.
He gave other promises not more easy of fulfillment. To Frenchmen
zealous for the ideals of liberty and seeking military careers in
America he promised freely commissions as colonels and even generals and
was the chief cause of that deluge of European officers which proved
to Washington so annoying. It was through Deane's activities that La
Fayette became a volunteer. Through him came too the proposal to send
to America the Comte de Broglie who should be greater than colonel or
general--a generalissimo, a dictator. He was to brush aside Washington,
to take command of the American armies, and by his prestige and skill to
secure France as an ally and win victory in the field. For such services
Broglie asked only despotic power while he served and for life a great
pension which would, he declared, not be one-hundredth part of his real
value. That Deane should have considered a scheme so fantastic reveals
the measure of his capacity, and by the end of 1776 Benjamin Franklin
was sent to Paris to bring his tried skill to bear upon the problem
of the alliance. With Deane and Franklin as a third member of the
commission was associated Arthur Lee who had vainly sought aid at the
courts of Spain and Prussia. France was, however, coy. The end of 1776
saw the colonial cause at a very low ebb, with Washington driven from
New York and about to be driven from Philadelphia. Defeat is not a good
argument for an alliance. France was willing to send arms to America and
willing to let American privateers use freely her ports. The ship which
carried Franklin to France soon busied herself as a privateer and reaped
for her crew a great harvest of prize money. In a single week of June,
1777, this ship captured a score of British merchantmen, of which more
than two thousand were taken by Americans during the war. France allowed
the American privateers to come and go as they liked, and gave England
smooth words, but no redress. There is little wonder that England
threatened to hang captured American sailors as pirates.

It was the capture of Burgoyne at Saratoga which brought decision to
France. That was the victory which Vergennes had demanded before he
would take open action. One British army had surrendered. Another was
in an untenable position in Philadelphia. It was known that the British
fleet had declined. With the best of it in America, France was the more
likely to win successes in Europe. The Bourbon king of France could,
too, draw into the war the Bourbon king of Spain, and Spain had good
ships. The defects of France and Spain on the sea were not in ships but
in men. The invasion of England was not improbable and then less than
a score of years might give France both avenging justice for her recent
humiliation and safety for her future. Britain should lose America,
she should lose India, she should pay in a hundred ways for her past
triumphs, for the arrogance of Pitt, who had declared that he would so
reduce France that she should never again rise. The future should belong
not to Britain but to France. Thus it was that fervent patriotism argued
after the defeat of Burgoyne. Frederick the Great told his ambassador
at Paris to urge upon France that she had now a chance to strike England
which might never again come. France need not, he said, fear his enmity,
for he was as likely to help England as the devil to help a Christian.
Whatever doubts Vergennes may have entertained about an open alliance
with America were now swept away. The treaty of friendship with
America was signed on February 6, 1778. On the 13th of March the French
ambassador in London told the British Government, with studied
insolence of tone, that the United States were by their own declaration
independent. Only a few weeks earlier the British ministry had said that
there was no prospect of any foreign intervention to help the Americans
and now in the most galling manner France told George III the one thing
to which he would not listen, that a great part of his sovereignty was
gone. Each country withdrew its ambassador and war quickly followed.

France had not tried to make a hard bargain with the Americans.
She demanded nothing for herself and agreed not even to ask for the
restoration of Canada. She required only that America should never
restore the King's sovereignty in order to secure peace. Certain
sections of opinion in America were suspicious of France. Was she not
the old enemy who had so long harassed the frontiers of New England and
New York? If George III was a despot what of Louis XVI, who had not
even an elected Parliament to restrain him? Washington himself was
distrustful of France and months after the alliance had been concluded
he uttered the warning that hatred of England must not lead to
over-confidence in France. "No nation," he said, "is to be trusted
farther than it is bound by its interests." France, he thought, must
desire to recover Canada, so recently lost. He did not wish to see a
great military power on the northern frontier of the United States. This
would be to confirm the jeer of the Loyalists that the alliance was a
case of the wooden horse in Troy; the old enemy would come back in
the guise of a friend and would then prove to be master and bring the
colonies under a servitude compared with which the British supremacy
would seem indeed mild.

The intervention of France brought a cruel embarrassment to the Whig
patriot in England. He could rejoice and mourn with American patriots
because he believed that their cause was his own. It was as much the
interest of Norfolk as of Massachusetts that the new despotism of a
king, who ruled through a corrupt Parliament, should be destroyed. It
was, however, another matter when France took a share in the fight.
France fought less for freedom than for revenge, and the Englishman who,
like Coke of Norfolk, could daily toast Washington as the greatest
of men could not link that name with Louis XVI or with his minister
Vergennes. The currents of the past are too swift and intricate to be
measured exactly by the observer who stands on the shore of the present,
but it is arguable that the Whigs might soon have brought about peace
in England had it not been for the intervention of France. No serious
person any longer thought that taxation could be enforced upon America
or that the colonies should be anything but free in regulating their
own affairs. George III himself said that he who declared the taxing of
America to be worth what it cost was "more fit for Bedlam than a seat in
the Senate." The one concession Britain was not yet prepared to make was
Independence. But Burke and many other Whigs were ready now for this,
though Chatham still believed it would be the ruin of the British

Chatham, however, was all for conciliation, and it is not hard to
imagine a group of wise men chosen from both sides, men British in blood
and outlook, sitting round a table and reaching an agreement to result
in a real independence for America and a real unity with Great Britain.
A century and a quarter later a bitter war with an alien race in South
Africa was followed by a result even more astounding. The surrender of
Burgoyne had made the Prime Minister, Lord North, weary of his position.
He had never been in sympathy with the King's policy and since the bad
news had come in December he had pondered some radical step which should
end the war. On February 17, 1778, before the treaty of friendship
between the United States and France had been made public, North
startled the House of Commons by introducing a bill repealing the tax on
tea, renouncing forever the right to tax America, and nullifying those
changes in the constitution of Massachusetts which had so rankled in the
minds of its people. A commission with full powers to negotiate peace
would proceed at once to America and it might suspend at its discretion,
and thus really repeal, any act touching America passed since 1763.

North had taken a sharp turn. The Whig clothes had been stolen by a Tory
Prime Minister and if he wished to stay in office the Whigs had not the
votes to turn him out. His supporters would accept almost anything in
order to dish the Whigs. They swallowed now the bill, and it became
law, but at the same time came, too, the war with France. It united the
Tories; it divided the Whigs. All England was deeply stirred. Nearly
every important town offered to raise volunteer forces at its own
expense. The Government soon had fifteen thousand men recruited at
private cost. Help was offered so freely that the Whig, John Wilkes,
actually introduced into Parliament a bill to prohibit gifts of money to
the Crown since this voluntary taxation gave the Crown money without
the consent of Parliament. The British patriot, gentle as he might
be towards America, fumed against France. This was no longer only a
domestic struggle between parties, but a war with an age-long foreign
enemy. The populace resented what they called the insolence and the
treachery of France and the French ambassador was pelted at Canterbury
as he drove to the seacoast on his recall. In a large sense the French
alliance was not an unmixed blessing for America, since it confused the
counsels of her best friends in England.

In spite of this it is probably true that from this time the mass of the
English people were against further attempts to coerce America. A change
of ministry was urgently demanded. There was one leader to whom the
nation looked in this grave crisis. The genius of William Pitt, Earl
of Chatham, had won the last war against France and he had promoted the
repeal of the Stamp Act. In America his name was held in reverence so
high that New York and Charleston had erected statues in his honor. When
the defeat of Burgoyne so shook the ministry that North was anxious to
retire, Chatham, but for two obstacles, could probably have formed a
ministry. One obstacle was his age; as the event proved, he was near
his end. It was, however, not this which kept him from office, but
the resolve of George III. The King simply said that he would not have
Chatham. In office Chatham would certainly rule and the King intended
himself to rule. If Chatham would come in a subordinate position, well;
but Chatham should not lead. The King declared that as long as even ten
men stood by him he would hold out and he would lose his crown rather
than call to office that clamorous Opposition which had attacked his
American policy. "I will never consent," he said firmly, "to removing
the members of the present Cabinet from my service." He asked North:
"Are you resolved at the hour of danger to desert me?" North remained in
office. Chatham soon died and, during four years still, George III was
master of England. Throughout the long history of that nation there
is no crisis in which one man took a heavier and more disastrous

News came to Valley Forge of the alliance with France and there
were great rejoicings. We are told that, to celebrate the occasion,
Washington dined in public. We are not given the bill of fare in that
scene of famine; but by the springtime tension in regard to supplies had
been relieved and we may hope that Valley Forge really feasted in
honor of the great event. The same news brought gloom to the British
in Philadelphia, for it had the stern meaning that the effort and loss
involved in the capture of that city were in vain. Washington held most
of the surrounding country so that supplies must come chiefly by sea.
With a French fleet and a French army on the way to America, the British
realized that they must concentrate their defenses. Thus the cheers at
Valley Forge were really the sign that the British must go.

Sir William Howe, having taken Philadelphia, was determined not to be
the one who should give it up. Feeling was bitter in England over the
ghastly failure of Burgoyne, and he had gone home on parole to defend
himself from his seat in the House of Commons. There Howe had a seat and
he, too, had need to be on hand. Lord George Germain had censured him
for his course and, to shield himself; was clearly resolved to make
scapegoats of others. So, on May 18, 1778, at Philadelphia there was
a farewell to Howe, which took the form of a Mischianza, something
approaching the medieval tournament. Knights broke lances in honor
of fair ladies, there were arches and flowers and fancy costumes,
and high-flown Latin and French, all in praise of the departing Howe.
Obviously the garrison of Philadelphia had much time on its hands and
could count upon, at least, some cheers from a friendly population. It
is remembered still, with moralizings on the turns in human fortune,
that Major Andre and Miss Margaret Shippen were the leaders in that gay
scene, the one, in the days to come, to be hanged by Washington as a
spy, because entrapped in the treason of Benedict Arnold, who became the
husband of the other.

On May 24, 1778, Sir Henry Clinton took over from Howe the command
of the British army in America and confronted a difficult problem. If
d'Estaing, the French admiral, should sail straight for the Delaware he
might destroy the fleet of little more than half his strength which lay
there, and might quickly starve Philadelphia into surrender. The British
must unite their forces to meet the peril from France, and New York, as
an island, was the best point for a defense, chiefly naval. A move to
New York was therefore urgent. It was by sea that the British had come
to Philadelphia, but it was not easy to go away by sea. There was not
room in the transports for the army and its encumbrances. Moreover, to
embark the whole force, a march of forty miles to New Castle, on the
lower Delaware, would be necessary and the retreating army was sure to
be harassed on its way by Washington. It would besides hardly be safe
to take the army by sea for the French fleet might be strong enough to
capture the flotilla.

There was nothing for it but, at whatever risk, to abandon Philadelphia
and march the army across New Jersey. It would be possible to take by
sea the stores and the three thousand Loyalists from Philadelphia, some
of whom would probably be hanged if they should be taken. Lord Howe, the
naval commander, did his part in a masterly manner. On the 18th of June
the British army marched out of Philadelphia and before the day was
over it was across the Delaware on the New Jersey side. That same day
Washington's army, free from its long exile at Valley Forge, occupied
the capital. Clinton set out on his long march by land and Howe worked
his laden ships down the difficult river to its mouth and, after delay
by winds, put to sea on the 28th of June. By a stroke of good fortune
he sailed the two hundred miles to New York in two days and missed the
great fleet of d'Estaing, carrying an army of four thousand men. On the
8th of July d'Estaing anchored at the mouth of the Delaware. Had not his
passage been unusually delayed and Howe's unusually quick, as Washington
noted, the British fleet and the transports in the Delaware would
probably have been taken and Clinton and his army would have shared the
fate of Burgoyne.

As it was, though Howe's fleet was clear away, Clinton's army had a bad
time in the march across New Jersey. Its baggage train was no less than
twelve miles long and, winding along roads leading sometimes through
forests, was peculiarly vulnerable to flank attack. In this type of
warfare Washington excelled. He had fought over this country and he knew
it well. The tragedy of Valley Forge was past. His army was now well
trained and well supplied. He had about the same number of men as the
British--perhaps sixteen thousand--and he was not encumbered by a long
baggage train. Thus it happened that Washington was across the Delaware
almost as soon as the British. He marched parallel with them on a line
some five miles to the north and was able to forge towards the head of
their column. He could attack their flank almost when he liked. Clinton
marched with great difficulty. He found bridges down. Not only was
Washington behind him and on his flank but General Gates was in front
marching from the north to attack him when he should try to cross the
Raritan River. The long British column turned southeastward toward Sandy
Hook, so as to lessen the menace from Gates. Between the half of the
army in the van and the other half in the rear was the baggage train.

The crisis came on Sunday the 28th of June, a day of sweltering heat. By
this time General Charles Lee, Washington's second in command, was in
a good position to attack the British rear guard from the north, while
Washington, marching three miles behind Lee, was to come up in the hope
of overwhelming it from the rear. Clinton's position was difficult but
he was saved by Lee's ineptitude. He had positive instructions to attack
with his five thousand men and hold the British engaged until Washington
should come up in overwhelming force. The young La Fayette was with Lee.
He knew what Washington had ordered, but Lee said to him: "You don't
know the British soldiers; we cannot stand against them." Lee's conduct
looks like deliberate treachery. Instead of attacking the British he
allowed them to attack him. La Fayette managed to send a message to
Washington in the rear; Washington dashed to the front and, as he came
up, met soldiers flying from before the British. He rode straight to
Lee, called him in flaming anger a "damned poltroon," and himself at
once took command. There was a sharp fight near Monmouth Court House.
The British were driven back and only the coming of night ended the
struggle. Washington was preparing to renew it in the morning, but
Clinton had marched away in the darkness. He reached the coast on the
30th of June, having lost on the way fifty-nine men from sunstroke,
over three hundred in battle, and a great many more by desertion. The
deserters were chiefly Germans, enticed by skillful offers of land.
Washington called for a reckoning from Lee. He was placed under arrest,
tried by court-martial, found guilty, and suspended from rank for twelve
months. Ultimately he was dismissed from the American army, less it
appears for his conduct at Monmouth than for his impudent demeanor
toward Congress afterwards.

These events on land were quickly followed by stirring events on the
sea. The delays of the British Admiralty of this time seem almost
incredible. Two hundred ships waited at Spithead for three months for
convoy to the West Indies, while all the time the people of the West
Indies, cut off from their usual sources of supply in America, were in
distress for food. Seven weeks passed after d'Estaing had sailed for
America, before the Admiralty knew that he was really gone and sent
Admiral Byron, with fourteen ships, to the aid of Lord Howe. When
d'Estaing was already before New York Byron was still battling with
storms in mid-Atlantic, storms so severe that his fleet was entirely
dispersed and his flagship was alone when it reached Long Island on the
18th of August.

Meanwhile the French had a great chance. On the 11th of July their
fleet, much stronger than the British, arrived from the Delaware, and
anchored off Sandy Hook. Admiral Howe knew his danger. He asked for
volunteers from the merchant ships and the sailors offered themselves
almost to a man. If d'Estaing could beat Howe's inferior fleet, the
transports at New York would be at his mercy and the British army, with
no other source of supply, must surrender. Washington was near, to give
help on land. The end of the war seemed not far away. But it did not
come. The French admirals were often taken from an army command, and
d'Estaing was not a sailor but a soldier. He feared the skill of Howe,
a really great sailor, whose seven available ships were drawn up in line
at Sandy Hook so that their guns bore on ships coming in across the bar.
D'Estaing hovered outside. Pilots from New York told him that at high
tide there were only twenty-two feet of water on the bar and this was
not enough for his great ships, one of which carried ninety-one guns. On
the 22d of July there was the highest of tides with, in reality, thirty
feet of water on the bar, and a wind from the northeast which would have
brought d'Estaing's ships easily through the channel into the harbor.
The British expected the hottest naval fight in their history. At three
in the afternoon d'Estaing moved but it was to sail away out of sight.

Opportunity, though once spurned, seemed yet to knock again. The one
other point held by the British was Newport, Rhode Island. Here General
Pigot had five thousand men and only perilous communications by sea with
New York. Washington, keenly desirous to capture this army, sent General
Greene to aid General Sullivan in command at Providence, and d'Estaing
arrived off Newport to give aid. Greene had fifteen hundred fine
soldiers, Sullivan had nine thousand New England militia, and d'Estaing
four thousand French regulars. A force of fourteen thousand five hundred
men threatened five thousand British. But on the 9th of August Howe
suddenly appeared near Newport with his smaller fleet. D'Estaing put to
sea to fight him, and a great naval battle was imminent, when a terrific
storm blew up and separated and almost shattered both fleets. D'Estaing
then, in spite of American protests, insisted on taking the French ships
to Boston to refit and with them the French soldiers. Sullivan publicly
denounced the French admiral as having basely deserted him and his own
disgusted yeomanry left in hundreds for their farms to gather in the
harvest. In September, with d'Estaing safely away, Clinton sailed into
Newport with five thousand men. Washington's campaign against Rhode
Island had failed completely.

The summer of 1778 thus turned out badly for Washington. Help from
France which had aroused such joyous hopes in America had achieved
little and the allies were hurling reproaches at each other. French and
American soldiers had riotous fights in Boston and a French officer
was killed. The British, meanwhile, were landing at small ports on
the coast, which had been the haunts of privateers, and were not only
burning shipping and stores but were devastating the country with
Loyalist regiments recruited in America. The French told the Americans
that they were expecting too much from the alliance, and the cautious
Washington expressed fear that help from outside would relax effort at
home. Both were right. By the autumn the British had been reinforced
and the French fleet had gone to the West Indies. Truly the mountain
in labor of the French alliance seemed to have brought forth only
a ridiculous mouse. None the less was it to prove, in the end, the
decisive factor in the struggle.

The alliance with France altered the whole character of the war, which
ceased now to be merely a war in North America. France soon gained an
ally in Europe. Bourbon Spain had no thought of helping the colonies in
rebellion against their king, and she viewed their ambitions to extend
westward with jealous concern, since she desired for herself both sides
of the Mississippi. Spain, however, had a grievance against Britain,
for Britain would not yield Gibraltar, that rocky fragment of Spain
commanding the entrance to the Mediterranean which Britain had wrested
from her as she had wrested also Minorca and Florida. So, in April,
1779, Spain joined France in war on Great Britain. France agreed not
only to furnish an army for the invasion of England but never to make
peace until Britain had handed back Gibraltar. The allies planned to
seize and hold the Isle of Wight. England has often been threatened and
yet has been so long free from the tramp of hostile armies that we are
tempted to dismiss lightly such dangers. But in the summer of 1779 the
danger was real. Of warships carrying fifty guns or more France and
Spain together had one hundred and twenty-one, while Britain had
seventy. The British Channel fleet for the defense of home coasts
numbered forty ships of the line while France and Spain together had
sixty-six. Nor had Britain resources in any other quarter upon which she
could readily draw. In the West Indies she had twenty-one ships of the
line while France had twenty-five. The British could not find comfort
in any supposed superiority in the structure of their ships. Then and
later, as Nelson admitted when he was fighting Spain, the Spanish ships
were better built than the British.

Lurking in the background to haunt British thought was the growing
American navy. John Paul was a Scots sailor, who had been a slave trader
and subsequently master of a West India merchantman, and on going
to America had assumed the name of Jones. He was a man of boundless
ambition, vanity, and vigor, and when he commanded American privateers
he became a terror to the maritime people from whom he sprang. In the
summer of 1779 when Jones, with a squadron of four ships, was haunting
the British coasts, every harbor was nervous. At Plymouth a boom blocked
the entrance, but other places had not even this defense. Sir Walter
Scott has described how, on September 17, 1779, a squadron, under John
Paul Jones, came within gunshot of Leith, the port of Edinburgh. The
whole surrounding country was alarmed, since for two days the squadron
had been in sight beating up the Firth of Forth. A sudden squall, which
drove Jones back, probably saved Edinburgh from being plundered. A few
days later Jones was burning ships in the Humber and, on the 23d of
September, he met off Flamborough Head and, after a desperate fight,
captured two British armed ships: the Serapis, a 40-gun vessel newly
commissioned, and the Countess of Scarborough, carrying 20 guns, both
of which were convoying a fleet. The fame of his exploit rang through
Europe. Jones was a regularly commissioned officer in the navy of
the United States, but neutral powers, such as Holland, had not yet
recognized the republic and to them there was no American navy. The
British regarded him as a traitor and pirate and might possibly have
hanged him had he fallen into their hands.

Terrible days indeed were these for distracted England. In India,
France, baulked twenty years earlier, was working for her entire
overthrow, and in North Africa, Spain was using the Moors to the same
end. As time passed the storm grew more violent. Before the year 1780
ended Holland had joined England's enemies. Moreover, the northern
states of Europe, angry at British interference on the sea with their
trade, and especially at her seizure of ships trying to enter blockaded
ports, took strong measures. On March 8, 1780, Russia issued a
proclamation declaring that neutral ships must be allowed to come and go
on the sea as they liked. They might be searched by a nation at war for
arms and ammunition but for nothing else. It would moreover be illegal
to declare a blockade of a port and punish neutrals for violating it,
unless their ships were actually caught in an attempt to enter the
port. Denmark and Sweden joined Russia in what was known as the Armed
Neutrality and promised that they would retaliate upon any nation which
did not respect the conditions laid down.

In domestic affairs Great Britain was divided. The Whigs and Tories were
carrying on a warfare shameless beyond even the bitter partisan strife
of later days. In Parliament the Whigs cheered at military defeats
which might serve to discredit the Tory Government. The navy was torn
by faction. When, in 1778, the Whig Admiral Keppel fought an indecisive
naval battle off Ushant and was afterwards accused by one of his
officers, Sir Hugh Palliser, of not pressing the enemy hard enough,
party passion was invoked. The Whigs were for Keppel, the Tories for
Palliser, and the London mob was Whig. When Keppel was acquitted there
were riotous demonstrations; the house of Palliser was wrecked, and he
himself barely escaped with his life. Whig naval officers declared that
they had no chance of fair treatment at the hands of a Tory Admiralty,
and Lord Howe, among others, now refused to serve. For a time British
supremacy on the sea disappeared and it was only regained in April,
1782, when the Tory Admiral Rodney won a great victory in the West
Indies against the French.

A spirit of violence was abroad in England. The disabilities of the
Roman Catholics were a gross scandal. They might not vote or hold public
office. Yet when, in 1780, Parliament passed a bill removing some of
their burdens dreadful riots broke out in London. A fanatic, Lord George
Gordon, led a mob to Westminster and, as Dr. Johnson expressed it,
"insulted" both Houses of Parliament. The cowed ministry did nothing
to check the disturbance. The mob burned Newgate jail, released the
prisoners from this and other prisons, and made a deliberate attempt to
destroy London by fire. Order was restored under the personal direction
of the King, who, with all his faults, was no coward. At the same time
the Irish Parliament, under Protestant lead, was making a Declaration of
Independence which, in 1782, England was obliged to admit by formal act
of Parliament. For the time being, though the two monarchies had the
same king, Ireland, in name at least, was free of England.

Washington's enemy thus had embarrassments enough. Yet these very years,
1779 and 1780, were the years in which he came nearest to despair. The
strain of a great movement is not in the early days of enthusiasm, but
in the slow years when idealism is tempered by the strife of opinion
and self-interest which brings delay and disillusion. As the war went
on recruiting became steadily more difficult. The alliance with France
actually worked to discourage it since it was felt that the cause
was safe in the hands of this powerful ally. Whatever Great Britain's
difficulties about finance they were light compared with Washington's.
In time the "continental dollar" was worth only two cents. Yet soldiers
long had to take this money at its face value for their pay, with the
result that the pay for three months would scarcely buy a pair of
boots. There is little wonder that more than once Washington had to face
formidable mutiny among his troops. The only ones on whom he could rely
were the regulars enlisted by Congress and carefully trained. The worth
of the militia, he said, "depends entirely on the prospects of the day;
if favorable, they throng to you; if not, they will not move." They
played a chief part in the prosperous campaign of 1777, when Burgoyne
was beaten. In the next year, before Newport, they wholly failed General
Sullivan and deserted shamelessly to their homes.

By 1779 the fighting had shifted to the South. Washington personally
remained in the North to guard the Hudson and to watch the British in
New York. He sent La Fayette to France in January, 1779, there to urge
not merely naval but military aid on a great scale. La Fayette came back
after an absence of a little over a year and in the end France
promised eight thousand men who should be under Washington's control as
completely as if they were American soldiers. The older nation accepted
the principle that the officers in the younger nation which she was
helping should rank in their grade before her own. It was a magnanimity
reciprocated nearly a century and a half later when a great American
army in Europe was placed under the supreme command of a Marshal of


After 1778 there was no more decisive fighting in the North. The British
plan was to hold New York and keep there a threatening force, but to
make the South henceforth the central arena of the war. Accordingly,
in 1779, they evacuated Rhode Island and left the magnificent harbor of
Newport to be the chief base for the French fleet and army in America.
They also drew in their posts on the Hudson and left Washington free to
strengthen West Point and other defenses by which he was blocking the
river. Meanwhile they were striking staggering blows in the South. On
December 29, 1778, a British force landed two miles below Savannah, in
Georgia, lying near the mouth of the important Savannah River, and by
nightfall, after some sharp fighting, took the place with its stores
and shipping. Augusta, the capital of Georgia, lay about a hundred
and twenty-five miles up the river. By the end of February, 1779, the
British not only held Augusta but had established so strong a line of
posts in the interior that Georgia seemed to be entirely under their

Then followed a singular chain of events. Ever since hostilities had
begun, in 1775, the revolutionary party had been dominant in the South.
Yet now again in 1779 the British flag floated over the capital of
Georgia. Some rejoiced and some mourned. Men do not change lightly
their political allegiance. Probably Boston was the most completely
revolutionary of American towns. Yet even in Boston there had been a sad
procession of exiles who would not turn against the King. The South
had been more evenly divided. Now the Loyalists took heart and began to
assert themselves.

When the British seemed secure in Georgia bands of Loyalists marched
into the British camp in furious joy that now their day was come, and
gave no gentle advice as to the crushing of rebellion. Many a patriot
farmhouse was now destroyed and the hapless owner either killed or
driven to the mountains to live as best he could by hunting. Sometimes
even the children were shot down. It so happened that a company of
militia captured a large band of Loyalists marching to Augusta to
support the British cause. Here was the occasion for the republican
patriots to assert their principles. To them these Loyalists were guilty
of treason. Accordingly seventy of the prisoners were tried before a
civil court and five of them were hanged. For this hanging of prisoners
the Loyalists, of course, retaliated in kind. Both the British and
American regular officers tried to restrain these fierce passions but
the spirit of the war in the South was ruthless. To this day many a tale
of horror is repeated and, since Loyalist opinion was finally destroyed,
no one survived to apportion blame to their enemies. It is probable that
each side matched the other in barbarity.

The British hoped to sweep rapidly through the South, to master it up
to the borders of Virginia, and then to conquer that breeding ground of
revolution. In the spring of 1779 General Prevost marched from Georgia
into South Carolina. On the 12th of May he was before Charleston
demanding surrender. We are astonished now to read that, in response
to Prevost's demand, a proposal was made that South Carolina should be
allowed to remain neutral and that at the end of the war it should join
the victorious side. This certainly indicates a large body of opinion
which was not irreconcilable with Great Britain and seems to justify the
hope of the British that the beginnings of military success might
rally the mass of the people to their side. For the moment, however,
Charleston did not surrender. The resistance was so stiff that Prevost
had to raise the siege and go back to Savannah.

Suddenly, early in September, 1779, the French fleet under d'Estaing
appeared before Savannah. It had come from the West Indies, partly to
avoid the dreaded hurricane season of the autumn in those waters. The
British, practically without any naval defense, were confronted at
once by twenty-two French ships of the line, eleven frigates, and many
transports carrying an army. The great flotilla easily got rid of the
few British ships lying at Savannah. An American army, under General
Lincoln, marched to join d'Estaing. The French landed some three
thousand men, and the combined army numbered about six thousand. A siege
began which, it seemed, could end in only one way. Prevost, however,
with three thousand seven hundred men, nearly half of them sick, was
defiant, and on the 9th of October the combined French and American
armies made a great assault. They met with disaster. D'Estaing was
severely wounded. With losses of some nine hundred killed and wounded in
the bitter fighting the assailants drew off and soon raised the siege.
The British losses were only fifty-four. In the previous year French
and Americans fighting together had utterly failed. Now they had failed
again and there was bitter recrimination between the defeated allies.
D'Estaing sailed away and soon lost some of his ships in a violent
storm. Ill-fortune pursued him to the end. He served no more in the
war and in the Reign of Terror in Paris, in 1794, he perished on the

At Charleston the American General Lincoln was in command with about six
thousand men. The place, named after King Charles II, had been a center
of British influence before the war. That critical traveler, Lord
Adam Gordon, thought its people clever in business, courteous, and
hospitable. Most of them, he says, made a visit to England at some time
during life and it was the fashion to send there the children to be
educated. Obviously Charleston was fitted to be a British rallying
center in the South; yet it had remained in American hands since the
opening of the war. In 1776 Sir Henry Clinton, the British Commander,
had woefully failed in his assault on Charleston. Now in December, 1779,
he sailed from New York to make a renewed effort. With him were three
of his best officer--Cornwallis, Simcoe, and Tarleton, the last two
skillful leaders of irregulars, recruited in America and used chiefly
for raids. The wintry voyage was rough; one of the vessels laden with
cannon foundered and sank, and all the horses died. But Clinton reached
Charleston and was able to surround it on the landward side with an army
at least ten thousand strong. Tarleton's irregulars rode through
the country. It is on record that he marched sixty-four miles in
twenty-three hours and a hundred and five miles in fifty-four hours.
Such mobility was irresistible. On the 12th of April, after a ride
of thirty miles, Tarleton surprised, in the night, three regiments of
American cavalry regulars at a place called Biggin's Bridge, routed them
completely and, according to his own account, with the loss of three men
wounded, carried off a hundred prisoners, four hundred horses, and
also stores and ammunition. There is no doubt that Tarleton's dragoons
behaved with great brutality and it would perhaps have taught a
needed lesson if, as was indeed threatened by a British officer, Major
Ferguson, a few of them had been shot on the spot for these outrages.
Tarleton's dashing attacks isolated Charleston and there was nothing for
Lincoln to do but to surrender. This he did on the 12th of May. Burgoyne
seemed to have been avenged. The most important city in the South had
fallen. "We look on America as at our feet," wrote Horace Walpole. The
British advanced boldly into the interior. On the 29th of May Tarleton
attacked an American force under Colonel Buford, killed over a hundred
men, carried off two hundred prisoners, and had only twenty-one
casualties. It is such scenes that reveal the true character of the war
in the South. Above all it was a war of hard riding, often in the night,
of sudden attack, and terrible bloodshed.

After the fall of Charleston only a few American irregulars were to be
found in South Carolina. It and Georgia seemed safe in British control.
With British successes came the problem of governing the South. On the
royalist theory, the recovered land had been in a state of rebellion and
was now restored to its true allegiance. Every one who had taken up
arms against the King was guilty of treason with death as the penalty.
Clinton had no intention of applying this hard theory, but he was
returning to New York and he had to establish a government on some legal
basis. During the first years of the war, Loyalists who would not accept
the new order had been punished with great severity. Their day had now
come. Clinton said that "every good man" must be ready to join in arms
the King's troops in order "to reestablish peace and good government."
"Wicked and desperate men" who still opposed the King should be punished
with rigor and have their property confiscated. He offered pardon for
past offenses, except to those who had taken part in killing Loyalists
"under the mock forms of justice." No one was henceforth to be exempted
from the active duty of supporting the King's authority.

Clinton's proclamation was very disturbing to the large element in South
Carolina which did not desire to fight on either side. Every one must
now be for or against the King, and many were in their secret hearts
resolved to be against him. There followed an orgy of bloodshed which
discredits human nature. The patriots fled to the mountains rather than
yield and, in their turn, waylaid and murdered straggling Loyalists.
Under pressure some republicans would give outward compliance to royal
government, but they could not be coerced into a real loyalty. It
required only a reverse to the King's forces to make them again actively
hostile. To meet the difficult situation Congress now made a disastrous
blunder. On June 13, 1780, General Gates, the belauded victor at
Saratoga, was given the command in the South.

Camden, on the Wateree River, lies inland from Charleston about a
hundred and twenty-five miles as the crow flies. The British had
occupied it soon after the fall of Charleston, and it was now held by
a small force under Lord Rawdon, one of the ablest of the British
commanders. Gates had superior numbers and could probably have taken
Camden by a rapid movement; but the man had no real stomach for
fighting. He delayed until, on the 14th of August, Cornwallis arrived
at Camden with reinforcements and with the fixed resolve to attack Gates
before Gates attacked him. On the early morning of the 16th of August,
Cornwallis with two thousand men marching northward between swamps on
both flanks, met Gates with three thousand marching southward, each of
them intending to surprise the other. A fierce struggle followed. Gates
was completely routed with a thousand casualties, a thousand prisoners,
and the loss of nearly the whole of his guns and transport. The fleeing
army was pursued for twenty miles by the relentless Tarleton. General
Kalb, who had done much to organize the American army, was killed. The
enemies of Gates jeered at his riding away with the fugitives and hardly
drawing rein until after four days he was at Hillsborough, two hundred
miles away. His defense was that he "proceeded with all possible
despatch," which he certainly did, to the nearest point where he could
reorganize his forces. His career was, however, ended. He was deprived
of his command, and Washington appointed to succeed him General
Nathanael Greene.

In spite of the headlong flight of Gates the disaster at Camden had only
a transient effect. The war developed a number of irregular leaders on
the American side who were never beaten beyond recovery, no matter what
might be the reverses of the day. The two most famous are Francis Marion
and Thomas Sumter. Marion, descended from a family of Huguenot exiles,
was slight in frame and courteous in manner; Sumter, tall, powerful, and
rough, was the vigorous frontiersman in type. Threatened men live
long: Sumter died in 1832, at the age of ninety-six, the last surviving
general of the Revolution. Both men had had prolonged experience in
frontier fighting against the Indians. Tarleton called Marion the "old
swamp fox" because he often escaped through using by-paths across the
great swamps of the country. British communications were always in
danger. A small British force might find itself in the midst of a host
which had suddenly come together as an army, only to dissolve next day
into its elements of hardy farmers, woodsmen, and mountaineers.

After the victory at Camden Cornwallis advanced into North Carolina, and
sent Major Ferguson, one of his most trusted officers, with a force
of about a thousand men, into the mountainous country lying westward,
chiefly to secure Loyalist recruits. If attacked in force Ferguson
was to retreat and rejoin his leader. The Battle of King's Mountain is
hardly famous in the annals of the world, and yet, in some ways, it
was a decisive event. Suddenly Ferguson found himself beset by hostile
bands, coming from the north, the south, the east, and the west.
When, in obedience to his orders, he tried to retreat he found the way
blocked, and his messages were intercepted, so that Cornwallis was not
aware of the peril. Ferguson, harassed, outnumbered, at last took refuge
on King's Mountain, a stony ridge on the western border between the two
Carolinas. The north side of the mountain was a sheer impassable cliff
and, since the ridge was only half a mile long, Ferguson thought that
his force could hold it securely. He was, however, fighting an enemy
deadly with the rifle and accustomed to fire from cover. The sides and
top of King's Mountain were wooded and strewn with boulders. The motley
assailants crept up to the crest while pouring a deadly fire on any of
the defenders who exposed themselves. Ferguson was killed and in the end
his force surrendered, on October 7, 1780, with four hundred casualties
and the loss of more than seven hundred prisoners. The American
casualties were eighty-eight. In reprisal for earlier acts on the other
side, the victors insulted the dead body of Ferguson and hanged nine of
their prisoners on the limb of a great tulip tree. Then the improvised
army scattered.*

     * See Chapter IX, "Pioneers of the Old Southwest", by
     Constance Lindsay Skinner in "The Chronicles of America."

While the conflict for supremacy in the South was still uncertain, in
the Northwest the Americans made a stroke destined to have astounding
results. Virginia had long coveted lands in the valleys of the Ohio and
the Mississippi. It was in this region that Washington had first seen
active service, helping to wrest that land from France. The country was
wild. There was almost no settlement; but over a few forts on the upper
Mississippi and in the regions lying eastward to the Detroit River there
was that flicker of a red flag which meant that the Northwest was under
British rule. George Rogers Clark, like Washington a Virginian land
surveyor, was a strong, reckless, brave frontiersman. Early in 1778
Virginia gave him a small sum of money, made him a lieutenant colonel,
and authorized him to raise troops for a western adventure. He had less
than two hundred men when he appeared a little later at Kaskaskia near
the Mississippi in what is now Illinois and captured the small British
garrison, with the friendly consent of the French settlers about the
fort. He did the same thing at Cahokia, farther up the river. The
French scattered through the western country naturally sided with the
Americans, fighting now in alliance with France. The British sent out
a force from Detroit to try to check the efforts of Clark, but in
February, 1779, the indomitable frontiersman surprised and captured this
force at Vincennes on the Wabash. Thus did Clark's two hundred famished
and ragged men take possession of the Northwest, and, when peace was
made, this vast domain, an empire in extent, fell to the United States.
Clark's exploit is one of the pregnant romances of history. *

     * See Chapters III and IV in "The Old Northwest" by Frederic
     Austin Ogg in "The Chronicles of America".

Perhaps the most sorrowful phase of the Revolution was the internal
conflict waged between its friends and its enemies in America, where
neighbor fought against neighbor. During this pitiless struggle the
strength of the Loyalists tended steadily to decline; and they came at
last to be regarded everywhere by triumphant revolution as a vile people
who should bear the penalties of outcasts. In this attitude towards them
Boston had given a lead which the rest of the country eagerly followed.
To coerce Loyalists local committees sprang up everywhere. It must be
said that the Loyalists gave abundant provocation. They sneered at rebel
officers of humble origin as convicts and shoeblacks. There should be
some fine hanging, they promised, on the return of the King's men to
Boston. Early in the Revolution British colonial governors, like Lord
Dunmore of Virginia, adopted the policy of reducing the rebels by
harrying their coasts. Sailors would land at night from ships and commit
their ravages in the light of burning houses. Soldiers would dart out
beyond the British lines, burn a village, carry off some Whig farmers,
and escape before opposing forces could rally. Governor Tryon of New
York was specially active in these enterprises and to this day a special
odium attaches to his name.

For these ravages, and often with justice, the Loyalists were held
responsible. The result was a bitterness which fired even the calm
spirit of Benjamin Franklin and led him when the day came for peace to
declare that the plundering and murdering adherents of King George
were the ones who should pay for damage and not the States which had
confiscated Loyalist property. Lists of Loyalist names were sometimes
posted and then the persons concerned were likely to be the victims of
any one disposed to mischief. Sometimes a suspected Loyalist would find
an effigy hung on a tree before his own door with a hint that next time
the figure might be himself. A musket ball might come whizzing through
his window. Many a Loyalist was stripped, plunged in a barrel of tar,
and then rolled in feathers, taken sometimes from his own bed.

Punishment for loyalism was not, however, left merely to chance. Even
before the Declaration of Independence, Congress, sitting itself in
a city where loyalism was strong, urged the States to act sternly in
repressing Loyalist opinion. They did not obey every urging of Congress
as eagerly as they responded to this one. In practically every
State Test Acts were passed and no one was safe who did not carry a
certificate that he was free of any suspicion of loyalty to King George.
Magistrates were paid a fee for these certificates and thus had a golden
reason for insisting that Loyalists should possess them. To secure a
certificate the holder must forswear allegiance to the King and promise
support to the State at war with him. An unguarded word even about the
value in gold of the continental dollar might lead to the adding of the
speaker's name to the list of the proscribed. Legislatures passed bills
denouncing Loyalists. The names in Massachusetts read like a list of
the leading families of New England. The "Black List" of Pennsylvania
contained four hundred and ninety names of Loyalists charged with
treason, and Philadelphia had the grim experience of seeing two
Loyalists led to the scaffold with ropes around their necks and hanged.
Most of the persecuted Loyalists lost all their property and remained
exiles from their former homes. The self-appointed committees took in
hand the task of disciplining those who did not fly, and the rabble
often pushed matters to brutal extremes. When we remember that
Washington himself regarded Tories as the vilest of mankind and unfit to
live, we can imagine the spirit of mobs, which had sometimes the further
incentive of greed for Loyalist property. Loyalists had the experience
of what we now call boycotting when they could not buy or sell in the
shops and were forced to see their own shops plundered. Mills would not
grind their corn. Their cattle were maimed and poisoned. They could
not secure payment of debts due to them or, if payment was made, they
received it in the debased continental currency at its face value. They
might not sue in a court of law, nor sell their property, nor make a
will. It was a felony for them to keep arms. No Loyalist might hold
office, or practice law or medicine, or keep a school.

Some Loyalists were deported to the wilderness in the back country.
Many took refuge within the British lines, especially at New York. Many
Loyalists created homes elsewhere. Some went to England only to
find melancholy disillusion of hope that a grateful motherland would
understand and reward their sacrifices. Large numbers found their way to
Nova Scotia and to Canada, north of the Great Lakes, and there played
a part in laying the foundation of the Dominion of today. The city of
Toronto with a population of half a million is rooted in the Loyalist
traditions of its Tory founders. Simcoe, the first Governor of Upper
Canada, who made Toronto his capital, was one of the most enterprising
of the officers who served with Cornwallis in the South and surrendered
with him at Yorktown.

The State of New York acquired from the forfeited lands of Loyalists
a sum approaching four million dollars, a great amount in those days.
Other States profited in a similar way. Every Loyalist whose property
was seized had a direct and personal grievance. He could join the
British army and fight against his oppressors, and this he did: New
York furnished about fifteen thousand men to fight on the British side.
Plundered himself, he could plunder his enemies, and this too he did
both by land and sea. In the autumn of 1778 ships manned chiefly by
Loyalist refugees were terrorizing the coast from Massachusetts to New
Jersey. They plundered Martha's Vineyard, burned some lesser towns,
such as New Bedford, and showed no quarter to small parties of American
troops whom they managed to intercept.

What happened on the coast happened also in the interior. At Wyoming in
the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, in July, 1778, during a raid of
Loyalists, aided by Indians, there was a brutal massacre, the horrors of
which long served to inspire hate for the British. A little later in
the same year similar events took place at Cherry Valley, in central New
York. Burning houses, the dead bodies not only of men but of women and
children scalped by the savage allies of the Loyalists, desolation and
ruin in scenes once peaceful and happy such horrors American patriotism
learned to associate with the Loyalists. These in their turn remembered
the slow martyrdom of their lives as social outcasts, the threats and
plunder which in the end forced them to fly, the hardships, starvation,
and death to their loved ones which were wont to follow. The conflict
is perhaps the most tragic and irreconcilable in the whole story of the


During 1778 and 1779 French effort had failed. Now France resolved to do
something decisive. She never sent across the sea the eight thousand men
promised to La Fayette but by the spring of 1780 about this number were
gathered at Brest to find that transport was inadequate. The leader was
a French noble, the Comte de Rochambeau, an old campaigner, now in his
fifty-fifth year, who had fought against England before in the Seven
Years' War and had then been opposed by Clinton, Cornwallis, and Lord
George Germain. He was a sound and prudent soldier who shares with La
Fayette the chief glory of the French service in America. Rochambeau had
fought at the second battle of Minden, where the father of La Fayette
had fallen, and he had for the ardent young Frenchman the amiable regard
of a father and sometimes rebuked his impulsiveness in that spirit. He
studied the problem in America with the insight of a trained leader.
Before he left France he made the pregnant comment on the outlook:
"Nothing without naval supremacy." About the same time Washington was
writing to La Fayette that a decisive naval supremacy was a fundamental

A gallant company it was which gathered at Brest. Probably no other land
than France could have sent forth on a crusade for democratic liberty a
band of aristocrats who had little thought of applying to their own land
the principles for which they were ready to fight in America. Over some
of them hung the shadow of the guillotine; others were to ride the storm
of the French Revolution and to attain fame which should surpass their
sanguine dreams. Rochambeau himself, though he narrowly escaped during
the Reign of Terror, lived to extreme old age and died a Marshal of
France. Berthier, one of his officers, became one of Napoleon's marshals
and died just when Napoleon, whom he had deserted, returned from Elba.
Dumas became another of Napoleon's generals. He nearly perished in the
retreat from Moscow but lived, like Rochambeau, to extreme old age. One
of the gayest of the company was the Duc de Lauzun, a noted libertine in
France but, as far as the record goes, a man of blameless propriety in
America. He died on the scaffold during the French Revolution. So, too,
did his companion, the Prince de Broglie, in spite of the protest of
his last words that he was faithful to the principles of the Revolution,
some of which he had learned in America. Another companion was the
Swedish Count Fersen, later the devoted friend of the unfortunate Queen
Marie Antoinette, the driver of the carriage in which the royal family
made the famous flight to Varennes in 1791, and himself destined to be
trampled to death by a Swedish mob in 1810. Other old and famous names
there were: Laval-Montmorency, Mirabeau, Talleyrand, Saint-Simon. It has
been said that the names of the French officers in America read like a
list of medieval heroes in the Chronicles of Froissart.

Only half of the expected ships were ready at Brest and only five
thousand five hundred men could embark. The vessels were, of course,
very crowded. Rochambeau cut down the space allowed for personal
effects. He took no horse for himself and would allow none to go, but
he permitted a few dogs. Forty-five ships set sail, "a truly imposing
sight," said one of those on board. We have reports of their ennui
on the long voyage of seventy days, of their amusements and their
devotions, for twice daily were prayers read on deck. They sailed into
Newport on the 11th of July and the inhabitants of that still primitive
spot illuminated their houses as best they could. Then the army
settled down at Newport and there it remained for many weary months.
Reinforcements never came, partly through mismanagement in France,
partly through the vigilance of the British fleet, which was on guard
before Brest. The French had been for generations the deadly enemies of
the English Colonies and some of the French officers noted the reserve
with which they were received. The ice was, however, soon broken. They
brought with them gold, and the New England merchants liked this relief
from the debased continental currency. Some of the New England ladies
were beautiful, and the experienced Lauzun expresses glowing admiration
for a prim Quakeress whose simple dress he thought more attractive than
the elaborate modes of Paris.

The French dazzled the ragged American army by their display of
waving plumes and of uniforms in striking colors. They wondered at the
quantities of tea drunk by their friends and so do we when we remember
the political hatred for tea. They made the blunder common in Europe of
thinking that there were no social distinctions in America. Washington
could have told him a different story. Intercourse was at first
difficult, for few of the Americans spoke French and fewer still of the
French spoke English. Sometimes the talk was in Latin, pronounced by an
American scholar as not too bad. A French officer writing in Latin to
an American friend announces his intention to learn English: "Inglicam
linguam noscere conabor." He made the effort and he and his fellow
officers learned a quaint English speech. When Rochambeau and Washington
first met they conversed through La Fayette, as interpreter, but in time
the older man did very well in the language of his American comrade in

For a long time the French army effected nothing. Washington longed
to attack New York and urged the effort, but the wise and experienced
Rochambeau applied his principle, "nothing without naval supremacy,"
and insisted that in such an attack a powerful fleet should act with
a powerful army, and, for the moment, the French had no powerful fleet
available. The British were blockading in Narragansett Bay the French
fleet which lay there. Had the French army moved away from Newport their
fleet would almost certainly have become a prey to the British. For
the moment there was nothing to do but to wait. The French preserved an
admirable discipline. Against their army there are no records of outrage
and plunder such as we have against the German allies of the British. We
must remember, however, that the French were serving in the country of
their friends, with every restraint of good feeling which this involved.
Rochambeau told his men that they must not be the theft of a bit of
wood, or of any vegetables, or of even a sheaf of straw. He threatened
the vice which he called "sonorous drunkenness," and even lack of
cleanliness, with sharp punishment. The result was that a month after
landing he could say that not a cabbage had been stolen. Our credulity
is strained when we are told that apple trees with their fruit overhung
the tents of his soldiers and remained untouched. Thousands flocked to
see the French camp. The bands played and Puritan maidens of all grades
of society danced with the young French officers and we are told,
whether we believe it or not, that there was the simple innocence of
the Garden of Eden. The zeal of the French officers and the friendly
disposition of the men never failed. There had been bitter quarrels
in 1778 and 1779 and now the French were careful to be on their good
behavior in America. Rochambeau had been instructed to place himself
under the command of Washington, to whom were given the honors of a
Marshal of France. The French admiral, had, however, been given no such
instructions and Washington had no authority over the fleet.

Meanwhile events were happening which might have brought a British
triumph. On September 14, 1780, there arrived and anchored at Sandy
Hook, New York, fourteen British ships of the line under Rodney, the
doughtiest of the British admirals afloat. Washington, with his army
headquarters at West Point, on guard to keep the British from advancing
up the Hudson, was looking for the arrival, not of a British fleet, but
of a French fleet, from the West Indies. For him these were very dark
days. The recent defeat at Camden was a crushing blow. Congress was
inept and had in it men, as the patient General Greene said, "without
principles, honor or modesty." The coming of the British fleet was a
new and overwhelming discouragement, and, on the 18th of September,
Washington left West Point for a long ride to Hartford in Connecticut,
half way between the two headquarters, there to take counsel with the
French general. Rochambeau, it was said, had been purposely created to
understand Washington, but as yet the two leaders had not met. It is
the simple truth that Washington had to go to the French as a beggar.
Rochambeau said later that Washington was afraid to reveal the extent
of his distress. He had to ask for men and for ships, but he had also
to ask for what a proud man dislikes to ask, for money from the stranger
who had come to help him.

The Hudson had long been the chief object of Washington's anxiety and
now it looked as if the British intended some new movement up the river,
as indeed they did. Clinton had not expected Rodney's squadron, but it
arrived opportunely and, when it sailed up to New York from Sandy Hook,
on the 16th of September, he began at once to embark his army, taking
pains at the same time to send out reports that he was going to the
Chesapeake. Washington concluded that the opposite was true and that he
was likely to be going northward. At West Point, where the Hudson flows
through a mountainous gap, Washington had strong defenses on both
shores of the river. His batteries commanded its whole width, but
shore batteries were ineffective against moving ships. The embarking
of Clinton's army meant that he planned operations on land. He might be
going to Rhode Island or to Boston but he might also dash up the Hudson.
It was an anxious leader who, with La Fayette and Alexander Hamilton,
rode away from headquarters to Hartford.

The officer in command at West Point was Benedict Arnold. No general on
the American side had a more brilliant record or could show more scars
of battle. We have seen him leading an army through the wilderness to
Quebec, and incurring hardships almost incredible. Later he is found on
Lake Champlain, fighting on both land and water. When in the next year
the Americans succeeded at Saratoga it was Arnold who bore the brunt of
the fighting. At Quebec and again at Saratoga he was severely wounded.
In the summer of 1778 he was given the command at Philadelphia, after
the British evacuation. It was a troubled time. Arnold was concerned
with confiscations of property for treason and with disputes about
ownership. Impulsive, ambitious, and with a certain element of
coarseness in his nature, he made enemies. He was involved in bitter
strife with both Congress and the State government of Pennsylvania.
After a period of tension and privation in war, one of slackness and
luxury is almost certain to follow. Philadelphia, which had recently
suffered for want of bare necessities, now relapsed into gay indulgence.
Arnold lived extravagantly. He played a conspicuous part in society
and, a widower of thirty-five, was successful in paying court to Miss
Shippen, a young lady of twenty, with whom, as Washington said, all the
American officers were in love.

Malignancy was rampant and Arnold was pursued with great bitterness.
Joseph Reed, the President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania,
not only brought charge against him of abusing his position for his own
advantage, but also laid the charges before each State government. In
the end Arnold was tried by court-martial and after long and inexcusable
delay, on January 26, 1780, he was acquitted of everything but the
imprudence of using, in an emergency, public wagons to remove private
property, and of granting irregularly a pass to a ship to enter the port
of Philadelphia. Yet the court ordered that for these trifles Arnold
should receive a public reprimand from the Commander-in-Chief.
Washington gave the reprimand in terms as gentle as possible, and when,
in July, 1780, Arnold asked for the important command at West Point,
Washington readily complied probably with relief that so important a
position should be in such good hands.

The treason of Arnold now came rapidly to a head. The man was
embittered. He had rendered great services and yet had been persecuted
with spiteful persistence. The truth seems to be, too, that Arnold
thought America ripe for reconciliation with Great Britain. He dreamed
that he might be the saviour of his country. Monk had reconciled the
English republic to the restored Stuart King Charles II; Arnold might
reconcile the American republic to George III for the good of both. That
reconciliation he believed was widely desired in America. He tried to
persuade himself that to change sides in this civil strife was no more
culpable then to turn from one party to another in political life. He
forgot, however, that it is never honorable to betray a trust.

It is almost certain that Arnold received a large sum in money for his
treachery. However this may be, there was treason in his heart when he
asked for and received the command at West Point, and he intended to use
his authority to surrender that vital post to the British. And now
on the 18th of September Washington was riding northeastward into
Connecticut, British troops were on board ships in New York and all was
ready. On the 20th of September the Vulture, sloop of war, sailed up the
Hudson from New York and anchored at Stony Point, a few miles below West
Point. On board the Vulture was the British officer who was treating
with Arnold and who now came to arrange terms with him, Major
John Andre, Clinton's young adjutant general, a man of attractive
personality. Under cover of night Arnold sent off a boat to bring Andre
ashore to a remote thicket of fir trees, outside the American lines.
There the final plans were made. The British fleet, carrying an army,
was to sail up the river. A heavy chain had been placed across the river
at West Point to bar the way of hostile ships. Under pretense of repairs
a link was to be taken out and replaced by a rope which would break
easily. The defenses of West Point were to be so arranged that they
could not meet a sudden attack and Arnold was to surrender with his
force of three thousand men. Such a blow following the disasters at
Charleston and Camden might end the strife. Britain was prepared to
yield everything but separation; and America, Arnold said, could now
make an honorable peace.

A chapter of accidents prevented the testing. Had Andre been rowed
ashore by British tars they could have taken him back to the ship at
his command before daylight. As it was the American boatmen, suspicious
perhaps of the meaning of this talk at midnight between an American
officer and a British officer, both of them in uniform, refused to row
Andre back to the ship because their own return would be dangerous in
daylight. Contrary to his instructions and wishes Andre accompanied
Arnold to a house within the American lines to wait until he could be
taken off under cover of night. Meanwhile, however, an American battery
on shore, angry at the Vulture, lying defiantly within range, opened
fire upon her and she dropped down stream some miles. This was alarming.
Arnold, however, arranged with a man to row Andre down the river and
about midday went back to West Point.

It was uncertain how far the Vulture had gone. The vigilance of those
guarding the river was aroused and Andre's guide insisted that he should
go to the British lines by land. He was carrying compromising papers and
wearing civilian dress when seized by an American party and held under
close arrest. Arnold meanwhile, ignorant of this delay, was waiting for
the expected advance up the river of the British fleet. He learned
of the arrest of Andre while at breakfast on the morning of the
twenty-fifth, waiting to be joined by Washington, who had just ridden
in from Hartford. Arnold received the startling news with extraordinary
composure, finished the subject under discussion, and then left the
table under pretext of a summons from across the river. Within a few
minutes his barge was moving swiftly to the Vulture eighteen miles away.
Thus Arnold escaped. The unhappy Andre was hanged as a spy on the 2d of
October. He met his fate bravely. Washington, it is said, shed tears at
its stern necessity under military law. Forty years later the bones of
Andre were reburied in Westminster Abbey, a tribute of pity for a fine

The treason of Arnold is not in itself important, yet Washington wrote
with deep conviction that Providence had directly intervened to save
the American cause. Arnold might be only one of many. Washington said,
indeed, that it was a wonder there were not more. In a civil war every
one of importance is likely to have ties with both sides, regrets for
the friends he has lost, misgivings in respect to the course he has
adopted. In April, 1779, Arnold had begun his treason by expressing
discontent at the alliance with France then working so disastrously.
His future lay before him; he was still under forty; he had just married
into a family of position; he expected that both he and his descendants
would spend their lives in America and he must have known that contempt
would follow them for the conduct which he planned if it was regarded
by public opinion as base. Voices in Congress, too, had denounced the
alliance with France as alliance with tyranny, political and religious.
Members praised the liberties of England and had declared that the
Declaration of Independence must be revoked and that now it could be
done with honor since the Americans had proved their metal. There was
room for the fear that the morale of the Americans was giving way.

The defection of Arnold might also have military results. He had
bargained to be made a general in the British army and he had intimate
knowledge of the weak points in Washington's position. He advised
the British that if they would do two things, offer generous terms to
soldiers serving in the American army, and concentrate their effort,
they could win the war. With a cynical knowledge of the weaker side of
human nature, he declared that it was too expensive a business to bring
men from England to serve in America. They could be secured more
cheaply in America; it would be necessary only to pay them better than
Washington could pay his army. As matters stood the Continental troops
were to have half pay for seven years after the close of the war and
grants of land ranging from one hundred acres for a private to eleven
hundred acres for a general. Make better offers than this, urged Arnold;
"Money will go farther than arms in America." If the British would
concentrate on the Hudson where the defenses were weak they could drive
a wedge between North and South. If on the other hand they preferred
to concentrate in the South, leaving only a garrison in New York, they
could overrun Virginia and Maryland and then the States farther south
would give up a fight in which they were already beaten. Energy and
enterprise, said Arnold, will quickly win the war.

In the autumn of 1780 the British cause did, indeed, seem near triumph.
An election in England in October gave the ministry an increased
majority and with this renewed determination. When Holland, long a
secret enemy, became an open one in December, 1780, Admiral Rodney
descended on the Dutch island of St. Eustatius, in the West Indies,
where the Americans were in the habit of buying great quantities of
stores and on the 3d of February, 1781, captured the place with two
hundred merchant ships, half a dozen men-of-war, and stores to the value
of three million pounds. The capture cut off one chief source of supply
to the United States. By January, 1781, a crisis in respect to money
came to a head. Fierce mutinies broke out because there was no money
to provide food, clothing, or pay for the army and the men were in a
destitute condition. "These people are at the end of their resources,"
wrote Rochambeau in March. Arnold's treason, the halting voices in
Congress, the disasters in the South, the British success in cutting off
supplies of stores from St. Eustatius, the sordid problem of money--all
these were well fitted to depress the worn leader so anxiously watching
on the Hudson. It was the dark hour before the dawn.


The critical stroke of the war was near. In the South, after General
Greene superseded Gates in the command, the tide of war began to turn.
Cornwallis now had to fight a better general than Gates. Greene arrived
at Charlotte, North Carolina, in December. He found an army badly
equipped, wretchedly clothed, and confronted by a greatly superior
force. He had, however, some excellent officers, and he did not scorn,
as Gates, with the stiff military traditions of a regular soldier, had
scorned, the aid of guerrilla leaders like Marion and Sumter. Serving
with Greene was General Daniel Morgan, the enterprising and resourceful
Virginia rifleman, who had fought valorously at Quebec, at Saratoga, and
later in Virginia. Steuben was busy in Virginia holding the British in
check and keeping open the line of communication with the North. The
mobility and diversity of the American forces puzzled Cornwallis. When
he marched from Camden into North Carolina he hoped to draw Greene into
a battle and to crush him as he had crushed Gates. He sent Tarleton with
a smaller force to strike a deadly blow at Morgan who was threatening
the British garrisons at the points in the interior farther south. There
was no more capable leader than Tarleton; he had won many victories; but
now came his day of defeat. On January 17, 1781, he met Morgan at the
Cowpens, about thirty miles west from King's Mountain. Morgan, not quite
sure of the discipline of his men, stood with his back to a broad river
so that retreat was impossible. Tarleton had marched nearly all night
over bad roads; but, confident in the superiority of his weary and
hungry veterans, he advanced to the attack at daybreak. The result was a
complete disaster. Tarleton himself barely got away with two hundred
and seventy men and left behind nearly nine hundred casualties and

Cornwallis had lost one-third of his effective army. There was nothing
for him to do but to take his loss and still to press on northward
in the hope that the more southerly inland posts could take care of
themselves. In the early spring of 1781, when heavy rains were making
the roads difficult and the rivers almost impassable, Greene was luring
Cornwallis northward and Cornwallis was chasing Greene. At Hillsborough,
in the northwest corner of North Carolina, Cornwallis issued a
proclamation saying that the colony was once more under the authority of
the King and inviting the Loyalists, bullied and oppressed during nearly
six years, to come out openly on the royal side. On the 15th of March
Greene took a stand and offered battle at Guilford Court House. In the
early afternoon, after a march of twelve miles without food, Cornwallis,
with less than two thousand men, attacked Greene's force of about
four thousand. By evening the British held the field and had captured
Greene's guns. But they had lost heavily and they were two hundred miles
from their base. Their friends were timid, and in fact few, and their
numerous enemies were filled with passionate resolution.

Cornwallis now wrote to urge Clinton to come to his aid. Abandon New
York, he said; bring the whole British force into Virginia and end the
war by one smashing stroke; that would be better than sticking to
salt pork in New York and sending only enough men to Virginia to steal
tobacco. Cornwallis could not remain where he was, far from the sea. Go
back to Camden he would not after a victory, and thus seem to admit a
defeat. So he decided to risk all and go forward. By hard marching he
led his army down the Cape Fear River to Wilmington on the sea, and
there he arrived on the 9th of April. Greene, however, simply would not
do what Cornwallis wished--stay in the north to be beaten by a second
smashing blow. He did what Cornwallis would not do; he marched back into
the South and disturbed the British dream that now the country was held
securely. It mattered little that, after this, the British won minor
victories. Lord Rawdon, still holding Camden, defeated Greene on the
25th of April at Hobkirk's Hill. None the less did Rawdon find his
position untenable and he, too, was forced to march to the sea, which
he reached at a point near Charleston. Augusta, the capital of Georgia,
fell to the Americans on the 5th of June and the operations of the
summer went decisively in their favor. The last battle in the field of
the farther South was fought on the 8th of September at Eutaw Springs,
about fifty miles northwest of Charleston. The British held their
position and thus could claim a victory. But it was fruitless. They
had been forced steadily to withdraw. All the boasted fabric of royal
government in the South had come down with a crash and the Tories who
had supported it were having evil days.

While these events were happening farther south, Cornwallis himself,
without waiting for word from Clinton in New York, had adopted his own
policy and marched from Wilmington northward into Virginia. Benedict
Arnold was now in Virginia doing what mischief he could to his former
friends. In January he burned the little town of Richmond, destined in
the years to come to be a great center in another civil war. Some twenty
miles south from Richmond lay in a strong position Petersburg, later
also to be drenched with blood shed in civil strife. Arnold was already
at Petersburg when Cornwallis arrived on the 20th of May. He was now in
high spirits. He did not yet realize the extent of the failure farther
south. Virginia he believed to be half loyalist at heart. The negroes
would, he thought, turn against their masters when they knew that the
British were strong enough to defend them. Above all he had a finely
disciplined army of five thousand men. Cornwallis was the more confident
when he knew by whom he was opposed. In April Washington had placed
La Fayette in charge of the defense of Virginia, and not only was La
Fayette young and untried in such a command but he had at first only
three thousand badly-trained men to confront the formidable British
general. Cornwallis said cheerily that "the boy" was certainly now his
prey and began the task of catching him.

An exciting chase followed. La Fayette did some good work. It was
impossible, with his inferior force, to fight Cornwallis, but he could
tire him out by drawing him into long marches. When Cornwallis advanced
to attack La Fayette at Richmond, La Fayette was not there but had
slipped away and was able to use rivers and mountains for his defense.
Cornwallis had more than one string to his bow. The legislature of
Virginia was sitting at Charlottesville, lying in the interior nearly
a hundred miles northwest from Richmond, and Cornwallis conceived
the daring plan of raiding Charlottesville, capturing the Governor of
Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, and, at one stroke, shattering the civil
administration. Tarleton was the man for such an enterprise of hard
riding and bold fighting and he nearly succeeded. Jefferson indeed
escaped by rapid flight but Tarleton took the town, burned the public
records, and captured ammunition and arms. But he really effected
little. La Fayette was still unconquered. His army was growing and the
British were finding that Virginia, like New England, was definitely
against them.

At New York, meanwhile, Clinton was in a dilemma. He was dismayed at the
news of the march of Cornwallis to Virginia. Cornwallis had been so long
practically independent in the South that he assumed not only the right
to shape his own policy but adopted a certain tartness in his despatches
to Clinton, his superior. When now, in this tone, he urged Clinton to
abandon New York and join him Clinton's answer on the 26th of June was
a definite order to occupy some port in Virginia easily reached from
the sea, to make it secure, and to send to New York reinforcements.
The French army at Newport was beginning to move towards New York and
Clinton had intercepted letters from Washington to La Fayette revealing
a serious design to make an attack with the aid of the French fleet.
Such was the game which fortune was playing with the British generals.
Each desired the other to abandon his own plans and to come to his
aid. They were agreed, however, that some strong point must be held in
Virginia as a naval base, and on the 2d of August Cornwallis established
this base at Yorktown, at the mouth of the York River, a mile wide where
it flows into Chesapeake Bay. His cannon could command the whole width
of the river and keep in safety ships anchored above the town. Yorktown
lay about half way between New York and Charleston and from here a fleet
could readily carry a military force to any needed point on the sea.
La Fayette with a growing army closed in on Yorktown, and Cornwallis,
almost before he knew it, was besieged with no hope of rescue except by
a fleet.

Then it was that from the sea, the restless and mysterious sea, came
the final decision. Man seems so much the sport of circumstance that
apparent trifles, remote from his consciousness, appear at times to
determine his fate; it is a commonplace of romance that a pretty face
or a stray bullet has altered the destiny not merely of families but of
nations. And now, in the American Revolution, it was not forts on the
Hudson, nor maneuvers in the South, that were to decide the issue, but
the presence of a few more French warships than the British could muster
at a given spot and time. Washington had urged in January that France
should plan to have at least temporary naval superiority in American
waters, in accordance with Rochambeau's principle, "Nothing without
naval supremacy." Washington wished to concentrate against New York,
but the French were of a different mind, believing that the great
effort should be made in Chesapeake Bay. There the British could have
no defenses like those at New York, and the French fleet, which was
stationed in the West Indies, could reach more readily than New York a
point in the South.

Early in May Rochambeau knew that a French fleet was coming to his aid
but not yet did he know where the stroke should be made. It was clear,
however, that there was nothing for the French to do at Newport, and,
by the beginning of June, Rochambeau prepared to set his army in motion.
The first step was to join Washington on the Hudson and at any rate
alarm Clinton as to an imminent attack on New York and hold him to that
spot. After nearly a year of idleness the French soldiers were delighted
that now at last there was to be an active movement. The long march from
Newport to New York began. In glowing June, amid the beauties of nature,
now overcome by intense heat and obliged to march at two o'clock in the
morning, now drenched by heavy rains, the French plodded on, and joined
their American comrades along the Hudson early in July.

By the 14th of August Washington knew two things--that a great French
fleet under the Comte de Grasse had sailed for the Chesapeake and that
the British army had reached Yorktown. Soon the two allied armies, both
lying on the east side of the Hudson, moved southward. On the 20th of
August the Americans began to cross the river at King's Ferry, eight
miles below Peekskill. Washington had to leave the greater part of his
army before New York, and his meager force of some two thousand was soon
over the river in spite of torrential rains. By the 24th of August the
French, too, had crossed with some four thousand men and with their
heavy equipment. The British made no move. Clinton was, however,
watching these operations nervously. The united armies marched down
the right bank of the Hudson so rapidly that they had to leave useful
effects behind and some grumbled at the privation. Clinton thought his
enemy might still attack New York from the New Jersey shore. He knew
that near Staten Island the Americans were building great bakeries as if
to feed an army besieging New York. Suddenly on the 29th of August the
armies turned away from New York southwestward across New Jersey, and
still only the two leaders knew whither they were bound.

American patriotism has liked to dwell on this last great march of
Washington. To him this was familiar country; it was here that he had
harassed Clinton on the march from Philadelphia to New York three long
years before. The French marched on the right at the rate of about
fifteen miles a day. The country was beautiful and the roads were good.
Autumn had come and the air was bracing. The peaches hung ripe on the
trees. The Dutch farmers who, four years earlier, had been plaintive
about the pillage by the Hessians, now seemed prosperous enough and
brought abundance of provisions to the army. They had just gathered
their harvest. The armies passed through Princeton, with its fine
college, numbering as many as fifty students; then on to Trenton, and
across the Delaware to Philadelphia, which the vanguard reached on the
3d of September.

There were gala scenes in Philadelphia. Twenty thousand people witnessed
a review of the French army. To one of the French officers the city
seemed "immense" with its seventy-two streets all "in a straight line."
The shops appeared to be equal to those of Paris and there were pretty
women well dressed in the French fashion. The Quaker city forgot its old
suspicion of the French and their Catholic religion. Luzerne, the French
Minister, gave a great banquet on the evening of the 5th of September.
Eighty guests took their places at table and as they sat down good news
arrived. As yet few knew the destination of the army but now Luzerne
read momentous tidings and the secret was out: twenty-eight French ships
of the line had arrived in Chesapeake Bay; an army of three thousand men
had already disembarked and was in touch with the army of La Fayette;
Washington and Rochambeau were bound for Yorktown to attack Cornwallis.
Great was the joy; in the streets the soldiers and the people shouted
and sang and humorists, mounted on chairs, delivered in advance mock
funeral orations on Cornwallis.

It was planned that the army should march the fifty miles to Elkton, at
the head of Chesapeake Bay, and there take boat to Yorktown, two hundred
miles to the south at the other end of the Bay. But there were not ships
enough. Washington had asked the people of influence in the neighborhood
to help him to gather transports but few of them responded. A deadly
apathy in regard to the war seems to have fallen upon many parts of the
country. The Bay now in control of the French fleet was quite safe for
unarmed ships. Half the Americans and some of the French embarked and
the rest continued on foot. There was need of haste, and the troops
marched on to Baltimore and beyond at the rate of twenty miles a day,
over roads often bad and across rivers sometimes unbridged. At Baltimore
some further regiments were taken on board transports and most of them
made the final stages of the journey by water. Some there were, however,
and among them the Vicomte de Noailles, brother-in-law of La Fayette,
who tramped on foot the whole seven hundred and fifty-six miles from
Newport to Yorktown. Washington himself left the army at Elkton and rode
on with Rochambeau, making about sixty miles a day. Mount Vernon lay
on the way and here Washington paused for two or three days. It was the
first time he had seen it since he set out on May 4, 1775, to attend the
Continental Congress at Philadelphia, little dreaming then of himself as
chief leader in a long war. Now he pressed on to join La Fayette. By the
end of the month an army of sixteen thousand men, of whom about one-half
were French, was besieging Cornwallis with seven thousand men in

Heart-stirring events had happened while the armies were marching to
the South. The Comte de Grasse, with his great fleet, arrived at the
entrance to the Chesapeake on the 30th of August while the British fleet
under Admiral Graves still lay at New York. Grasse, now the pivot upon
which everything turned, was the French admiral in the West Indies.
Taking advantage of a lull in operations he had slipped away with his
whole fleet, to make his stroke and be back again before his absence had
caused great loss. It was a risky enterprise, but a wise leader takes
risks. He intended to be back in the West Indies before the end of

It was not easy for the British to realize that they could be outmatched
on the sea. Rodney had sent word from the West Indies that ten ships
were the limit of Grasse's numbers and that even fourteen British ships
would be adequate to meet him. A British fleet, numbering nineteen ships
of the line, commanded by Admiral Graves, left New York on the 31st of
August and five days later stood off the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. On
the mainland across the Bay lay Yorktown, the one point now held by the
British on that great stretch of coast. When Graves arrived he had an
unpleasant surprise. The strength of the French had been well concealed.
There to confront him lay twenty-four enemy ships. The situation was
even worse, for the French fleet from Newport was on its way to join

On the afternoon of the 5th of September, the day of the great rejoicing
in Philadelphia, there was a spectacle of surpassing interest off Cape
Henry, at the mouth of the Bay. The two great fleets joined battle,
under sail, and poured their fire into each other. When night came the
British had about three hundred and fifty casualties and the French
about two hundred. There was no brilliant leadership on either side. One
of Graves's largest ships, the Terrible, was so crippled that he
burnt her, and several others were badly damaged. Admiral Hood, one
of Graves's officers, says that if his leader had turned suddenly and
anchored his ships across the mouth of the Bay, the French Admiral with
his fleet outside would probably have sailed away and left the British
fleet in possession. As it was the two fleets lay at sea in sight of
each other for four days. On the morning of the tenth the squadron from
Newport under Barras arrived and increased Grasse's ships to thirty-six.
Against such odds Graves could do nothing. He lingered near the mouth of
the Chesapeake for a few days still and then sailed away to New York
to refit. At the most critical hour of the whole war a British fleet,
crippled and spiritless, was hurrying to a protecting port and the
fleurs-de-lis waved unchallenged on the American coast. The action
of Graves spelled the doom of Cornwallis. The most potent fleet ever
gathered in those waters cut him off from rescue by sea.

Yorktown fronted on the York River with a deep ravine and swamps at the
back of the town. From the land it could on the west side be approached
by a road leading over marshes and easily defended, and on the east side
by solid ground about half a mile wide now protected by redoubts and
entrenchments with an outer and an inner parallel. Could Cornwallis hold
out? At New York, no longer in any danger, there was still a keen desire
to rescue him. By the end of September he received word from Clinton
that reinforcements had arrived from England and that, with a fleet of
twenty-six ships of the line carrying five thousand troops, he hoped to
sail on the 5th of October to the rescue of Yorktown. There was delay.
Later Clinton wrote that on the basis of assurances from Admiral Graves
he hoped to get away on the twelfth. A British officer in New York
describes the hopes with which the populace watched these preparations.
The fleet, however, did not sail until the 19th of October. A speaker in
Congress at the time said that the British Admiral should certainly hang
for this delay.

On the 5th of October, for some reason unexplained, Cornwallis abandoned
the outer parallel and withdrew behind the inner one. This left him in
Yorktown a space so narrow that nearly every part of it could be
swept by enemy artillery. By the 11th of October shells were dropping
incessantly from a distance of only three hundred yards, and before this
powerful fire the earthworks crumbled. On the fourteenth the French
and Americans carried by storm two redoubts on the second parallel. The
redoubtable Tarleton was in Yorktown, and he says that day and night
there was acute danger to any one showing himself and that every gun was
dismounted as soon as seen. He was for evacuating the place and marching
away, whither he hardly knew. Cornwallis still held Gloucester, on the
opposite side of the York River, and he now planned to cross to that
place with his best troops, leaving behind his sick and wounded. He
would try to reach Philadelphia by the route over which Washington had
just ridden. The feat was not impossible. Washington would have had a
stern chase in following Cornwallis, who might have been able to live
off the country. Clinton could help by attacking Philadelphia, which was
almost defenseless.

As it was, a storm prevented the crossing to Gloucester. The defenses
of Yorktown were weakening and in face of this new discouragement the
British leader made up his mind that the end was near. Tarleton and
other officers condemned Cornwallis sharply for not persisting in the
effort to get away. Cornwallis was a considerate man. "I thought it
would have been wanton and inhuman," he reported later, "to sacrifice
the lives of this small body of gallant soldiers." He had already
written to Clinton to say that there would be great risk in trying to
send a fleet and army to rescue him. On the 19th of October came the
climax. Cornwallis surrendered with some hundreds of sailors and about
seven thousand soldiers, of whom two thousand were in hospital. The
terms were similar to those which the British had granted at Charleston
to General Lincoln, who was now charged with carrying out the surrender.
Such is the play of human fortune. At two o'clock in the afternoon the
British marched out between two lines, the French on the one side, the
Americans on the other, the French in full dress uniform, the Americans
in some cases half naked and barefoot. No civilian sightseers were
admitted, and there was a respectful silence in the presence of this
great humiliation to a proud army. The town itself was a dreadful
spectacle with, as a French observer noted, "big holes made by bombs,
cannon balls, splinters, barely covered graves, arms and legs of blacks
and whites scattered here and there, most of the houses riddled with
shot and devoid of window-panes."

On the very day of surrender Clinton sailed from New York with a
rescuing army. Nine days later forty-four British ships were counted off
the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. The next day there were none. The
great fleet had heard of the surrender and had turned back to New York.
Washington urged Grasse to attack New York or Charleston but the French
Admiral was anxious to take his fleet back to meet the British menace
farther south and he sailed away with all his great array. The waters
of the Chesapeake, the scene of one of the decisive events in human
history, were deserted by ships of war. Grasse had sailed, however, to
meet a stern fate. He was a fine fighting sailor. His men said of him
that he was on ordinary days six feet in height but on battle days six
feet and six inches. None the less did a few months bring the British
a quick revenge on the sea. On April 12, 1782, Rodney met Grasse in a
terrible naval battle in the West Indies. Some five thousand in both
fleets perished. When night came Grasse was Rodney's prisoner and
Britain had recovered her supremacy on the sea. On returning to France
Grasse was tried by court-martial and, though acquitted, he remained in
disgrace until he died in 1788, "weary," as he said, "of the burden of
life." The defeated Cornwallis was not blamed in England. His character
commanded wide respect and he lived to play a great part in public life.
He became Governor General of India, and was Viceroy of Ireland when its
restless union with England was brought about in 1800.

Yorktown settled the issue of the war but did not end it. For more
than a year still hostilities continued and, in parts of the South,
embittered faction led to more bloodshed. In England the news of
Yorktown caused a commotion. When Lord George Germain received the first
despatch he drove with one or two colleagues to the Prime Minister's
house in Downing Street. A friend asked Lord George how Lord North
had taken the news. "As he would have taken a ball in the breast," he
replied; "for he opened his arms, exclaiming wildly, as he paced up and
down the apartment during a few minutes, 'Oh God! it is all over,' words
which he repeated many times, under emotions of the deepest agitation
and distress." Lord North might well be agitated for the news meant the
collapse of a system. The King was at Kew and word was sent to him.
That Sunday evening Lord George Germain had a small dinner party and the
King's letter in reply was brought to the table. The guests were curious
to know how the King took the news. "The King writes just as he always
does," said Lord George, "except that I observe he has omitted to mark
the hour and the minute of his writing with his usual precision." It
needed a heavy shock to disturb the routine of George III. The
King hoped no one would think that the bad news "makes the smallest
alteration in those principles of my conduct which have directed me in
past time." Lesser men might change in the face of evils; George III was
resolved to be changeless and never, never, to yield to the coercion of

Yield, however, he did. The months which followed were months of
political commotion in England. For a time the ministry held its
majority against the fierce attacks of Burke and Fox. The House of
Commons voted that the war must go on. But the heart had gone out of
British effort. Everywhere the people were growing restless. Even
the ministry acknowledged that the war in America must henceforth be
defensive only. In February, 1782, a motion in the House of Commons for
peace was lost by only one vote; and in March, in spite of the frantic
expostulations of the King, Lord North resigned. The King insisted that
at any rate some members of the new ministry must be named by himself
and not, as is the British constitutional custom, by the Prime Minister.
On this, too, he had to yield; and a Whig ministry, under the Marquis
of Rockingham, took office in March, 1782. Rockingham died on the 1st of
July, and it was Lord Shelburne, later the Marquis of Lansdowne, under
whom the war came to an end. The King meanwhile declared that he would
return to Hanover rather than yield the independence of the colonies.
Over and over again he had said that no one should hold office in his
government who would not pledge himself to keep the Empire entire. But
even his obstinacy was broken. On December 5, 1782, he opened Parliament
with a speech in which the right of the colonies to independence was
acknowledged. "Did I lower my voice when I came to that part of my
speech?" George asked afterwards. He might well speak in a subdued
tone for he had brought the British Empire to the lowest level in its

In America, meanwhile, the glow of victory had given way to weariness
and lassitude. Rochambeau with his army remained in Virginia. Washington
took his forces back to the lines before New York, sparing what men he
could to help Greene in the South. Again came a long period of watching
and waiting. Washington, knowing the obstinate determination of the
British character, urged Congress to keep up the numbers of the army so
as to be prepared for any emergency. Sir Guy Carleton now commanded the
British at New York and Washington feared that this capable Irishman
might soothe the Americans into a false security. He had to speak
sharply, for the people seemed indifferent to further effort and
Congress was slack and impotent. The outlook for Washington's allies in
the war darkened, when in April, 1782, Rodney won his crushing victory
and carried De Grasse a prisoner to England. France's ally Spain had
been besieging Gibraltar for three years, but in September, 1782,
when the great battering-ships specially built for the purpose began a
furious bombardment, which was expected to end the siege, the British
defenders destroyed every ship, and after that Gibraltar was safe.
These events naturally stiffened the backs of the British in negotiating
peace. Spain declared that she would never make peace without the
surrender of Gibraltar, and she was ready to leave the question of
American independence undecided or decided against the colonies if she
could only get for herself the terms which she desired. There was a
period when France seemed ready to make peace on the basis of dividing
the Thirteen States, leaving some of them independent while others
should remain under the British King.

Congress was not willing to leave its affairs at Paris in the capable
hands of Franklin alone. In 1780 it sent John Adams to Paris, and John
Jay and Henry Laurens were also members of the American Commission. The
austere Adams disliked and was jealous of Franklin, gay in spite of his
years, seemingly indolent and easygoing, always bland and reluctant to
say No to any request from his friends, but ever astute in the interests
of his country. Adams told Vergennes, the French foreign minister, that
the Americans owed nothing to France, that France had entered the war
in her own interests, and that her alliance with America had greatly
strengthened her position in Europe. France, he added, was really
hostile to the colonies, since she was jealously trying to keep them
from becoming rich and powerful. Adams dropped hints that America might
be compelled to make a separate peace with Britain. When it was proposed
that the depreciated continental paper money, largely held in France for
purchases there, should be redeemed at the rate of one good dollar
for every forty in paper money, Adams declared to the horrified French
creditors of the United States that the proposal was fair and just. At
the same time Congress was drawing on Franklin in Paris for money to
meet its requirements and Franklin was expected to persuade the French
treasury to furnish him with what he needed and to an amazing degree
succeeded in doing so. The self interest which Washington believed to be
the dominant motive in politics was, it is clear, actively at work.
In the end the American Commissioners negotiated directly with Great
Britain, without asking for the consent of their French allies. On
November 30, 1782, articles of peace between Great Britain and the
United States were signed. They were, however, not to go into effect
until Great Britain and France had agreed upon terms of peace; and it
was not until September 3, 1783, that the definite treaty was signed. So
far as the United States was concerned Spain was left quite properly to
shift for herself.

Thus it was that the war ended. Great Britain had urged especially
the case of the Loyalists, the return to them of their property and
compensation for their losses. She could not achieve anything. Franklin
indeed asked that Americans who had been ruined by the destruction of
their property should be compensated by Britain, that Canada should
be added to the United States, and that Britain should acknowledge her
fault in distressing the colonies. In the end the American Commissioners
agreed to ask the individual States to meet the desires of the British
negotiators, but both sides understood that the States would do nothing,
that the confiscated property would never be returned, that most of
the exiled Loyalists would remain exiles, and that Britain herself
must compensate them for their losses. This in time she did on a scale
inadequate indeed but expressive of a generous intention. The United
States retained the great Northwest and the Mississippi became the
western frontier, with destiny already whispering that weak and grasping
Spain must soon let go of the farther West stretching to the Pacific
Ocean. When Great Britain signed peace with France and Spain in January,
1783, Gibraltar was not returned; Spain had to be content with the
return of Minorca, and Florida which she had been forced to yield to
Britain in 1763. Each side restored its conquests in the West Indies.
France, the chief mainstay of the war during its later years, gained
from it really nothing beyond the weakening of her ancient enemy. The
magnanimity of France, especially towards her exacting American ally, is
one of the fine things in the great combat. The huge sum of nearly eight
hundred million dollars spent by France in the war was one of the chief
factors in the financial crisis which, six years after the signing of
the peace, brought on the French Revolution and with it the overthrow
of the Bourbon monarchy. Politics bring strange bedfellows and they have
rarely brought stranger ones than the democracy of young America and the
political despotism, linked with idealism, of the ancient monarchy of

The British did not evacuate New York until Carleton had gathered there
the Loyalists who claimed his protection. These unhappy people made
their way to the seaports, often after long and distressing journeys
overland. Charleston was the chief rallying place in the South and from
there many sad-hearted people sailed away, never to see again their
former homes. The British had captured New York in September, 1776, and
it was more than seven years later, on November 25, 1783, that the last
of the British fleet put to sea. Britain and America had broken forever
their political tie and for many years to come embittered memories kept
up the alienation.

It was fitting that Washington should bid farewell to his army at New
York, the center of his hopes and anxieties during the greater part of
the long struggle. On December 4, 1783, his officers met at a tavern to
bid him farewell. The tears ran down his cheeks as he parted with these
brave and tried men. He shook their hands in silence and, in a fashion
still preserved in France, kissed each of them. Then they watched him as
he was rowed away in his barge to the New Jersey shore. Congress was
now sitting at Annapolis in Maryland and there on December 23, 1783,
Washington appeared and gave up finally his command. We are told that
the members sat covered to show the sovereignty of the Union, a quaint
touch of the thought of the time. The little town made a brave show and
"the gallery was filled with a beautiful group of elegant ladies." With
solemn sincerity Washington commended the country to the protection of
Almighty God and the army to the special care of Congress. Passion had
already subsided for the President of Congress in his reply praised the
"magnanimous king and nation" of Great Britain. By the end of the
year Washington was at Mount Vernon, hoping now to be able, as he said
simply, to make and sell a little flour annually and to repair houses
fast going to ruin. He did not foresee the troubled years and the
vexing problems which still lay before him. Nor could he, in his modest
estimate of himself, know that for a distant posterity his character and
his words would have compelling authority. What Washington's countryman,
Motley, said of William of Orange is true of Washington himself: "As
long as he lived he was the guiding star of a brave nation and when he
died the little children cried in the streets." But this is not all. To
this day in the domestic and foreign affairs of the United States the
words of Washington, the policies which he favored, have a living and
almost binding force. This attitude of mind is not without its dangers,
for nations require to make new adjustments of policy, and the past
is only in part the master of the present; but it is the tribute of a
grateful nation to the noble character of its chief founder.


In Winsor, "Narrative and Critical History of America", vol. VI (1889),
and in Larned (editor), "Literature of American History", pp. 111-152
(1902), the authorities are critically estimated. There are excellent
classified lists in Van Tyne, "The American Revolution" (1905), vol. V
of Hart (editor), "The American Nation", and in Avery, "History of the
United States", vol. V, pp. 422-432, and vol. VI, pp. 445-471 (1908-09).
The notes in Channing, "A History of the United States", vol. III
(1913), are useful. Detailed information in regard to places will be
found in Lossing, "The Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution", 2 vols.

In recent years American writers on the period have chiefly occupied
themselves with special studies, and the general histories have been
few. Tyler's "The Literary History of the American Revolution", 2
vols. (1897), is a penetrating study of opinion. Fiske's "The American
Revolution", 2 vols. (1891), and Sydney George Fisher's "The Struggle
for American Independence", 2 vols. (1908), are popular works. The short
volume of Van Tyne is based upon extensive research. The attention
of English writers has been drawn in an increasing degree to the
Revolution. Lecky, "A History of England in the Eighteenth Century",
chaps. XIII, XIV, and XV (1903), is impartial. The most elaborate
and readable history is Trevelyan, "The American Revolution", and his
"George the Third" and "Charles Fox" (six volumes in all, completed in
1914). If Trevelyan leans too much to the American side the opposite is
true of Fortescue, "A History of the British Army", vol. III (1902), a
scientific account of military events with many maps and plans. Captain
Mahan, U. S. N., wrote the British naval history of the period in Clowes
(editor), "The Royal Navy, a History", vol. III, pp. 353-564 (1898). Of
great value also is Mahan's "Influence of Sea Power on History" (1890)
and "Major Operations of the Navies in the War of Independence"
(1913). He may be supplemented by C. O. Paullin's "Navy of the American
Revolution" (1906) and G. W. Allen's "A Naval History of the American
Revolution", 2 vols. (1913).


Washington's own writings are necessary to an understanding of his
character. Sparks, "The Life and Writings of George Washington", 2 vols.
(completed 1855), has been superseded by Ford, "The Writings of George
Washington", 14 vols. (completed 1898). The general reader will probably
put aside the older biographies of Washington by Marshall, Irving, and
Sparks for more recent "Lives" such as those by Woodrow Wilson, Henry
Cabot Lodge, and Paul Leicester Ford. Haworth, "George Washington,
Farmer" (1915) deals with a special side of Washington's character. The
problems of the army are described in Bolton, "The Private Soldier under
Washington" (1902), and in Hatch, "The Administration of the American
Revolutionary Army" (1904). For military operations Frothingham, "The
Siege of Boston"; Justin H. Smith, "Our Struggle for the Fourteenth
Colony", 2 vols. (1907); Codman, "Arnold's Expedition to Quebec" (1901);
and Lucas, "History of Canada", 1763-1812 (1909).


For the state of opinion in England, the contemporary "Annual Register",
and the writings and speeches of men of the time like Burke, Fox, Horace
Walpole, and Dr. Samuel Johnson. The King's attitude is found in Donne,
"Correspondence of George III with Lord North", 1768-83, 2 vols. (1867).
Stirling, "Coke of Norfolk and his Friends", 2 vols. (1908), gives
the outlook of a Whig magnate; Fitzmaurice, "Life of William, Earl of
Shelburne", 2 vols. (1912), the Whig policy. Curwen's "Journals
and Letters", 1775-84 (1842), show us a Loyalist exile in England.
Hazelton's "The Declaration of Independence, its History" (1906), is an
elaborate study.


The three campaigns--New York, Philadelphia, and the Hudson--are covered
by C. F. Adams, "Studies Military and Diplomatic" (1911), which makes
severe strictures on Washington's strategy; H. P. Johnston's "Campaign
of 1776 around New York and Brooklyn," in the Long Island Historical
Society's "Memoirs", and "Battle of Harlem Heights" (1897); Carrington,
"Battles of the American Revolution" (1904); Stryker, "The Battles
of Trenton and Princeton" (1898); Lucas, "History of Canada" (1909).
Fonblanque's "John Burgoyne" (1876) is a defense of that leader; while
Riedesel's "Letters and Journals Relating to the War of the American
Revolution" (trans. W. L. Stone, 1867) and Anburey's "Travels through
the Interior Parts of America" (1789) are accounts by eye-witnesses.
Mereness' (editor) "Travels in the American Colonies", 1690-1783 (1916)
gives the impressions of Lord Adam Gordon and others.


On Washington at Valley Forge, Oliver, "Life of Alexander Hamilton"
(1906); Charlemagne Tower, "The Marquis de La Fayette in the American
Revolution", 2 vols. (1895); Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene" (1893);
Brooks, "Henry Knox" (1900); Graham, "Life of General Daniel Morgan"
(1856); Kapp, "Life of Steuben" (1859); Arnold, "Life of Benedict
Arnold" (1880). On the army Bolton and Hatch as cited; Mahan gives a
lucid account of naval effort. Barrow, "Richard, Earl Howe" (1838) is
a dull account of a remarkable man. On the French alliance, Perkins,
"France in the American Revolution" (1911), Corwin, "French Policy and
the American Alliance of 1778" (1916), and Van Tyne on "Influences which
Determined the French Government to Make the Treaty with America, 1778,"
in "The American Historical Review", April, 1916.


Fortescue, as cited, gives excellent plans. Other useful books are
McCrady, "History of South Carolina in the Revolution" (1901); Draper,
"King's Mountain and its Heroes" (1881); Simms, "Life of Marion" (1844).
Ross (editor), "The Cornwallis Correspondence", 3 vols. (1859), and
Tarleton, "History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern
Provinces of North America" (1787), give the point of view of British
leaders. On the West, Thwaites, "How George Rogers Clark won the
Northwest" (1903); and on the Loyalists Van Tyne, "The Loyalists in the
American Revolution" (1902), Flick, "Loyalism in New York" (1901), and
Stark, "The Loyalists of Massachusetts" (1910).


For the exploits of John Paul Jones and of the American navy, Mrs. De
Koven's "The Life and Letters of John Paul Jones", 2 vols. (1913),
Don C. Seitz's "Paul Jones", and G. W. Allen's "A Naval History of the
American Revolution", 2 vols. (1913), should be consulted. Jusserand's
"With Americans of Past and Present Days" (1917) contains a chapter
on 'Rochambeau and the French in America'; Johnston's "The Yorktown
Campaign" (1881) is a full account; Wraxall, "Historical Memoirs of my
own Time" (1815, reprinted 1904), tells of the reception of the news of
Yorktown in England.

The "Encyclopaedia Britannica" has useful references to authorities
for persons prominent in the Revolution and "The Dictionary of National
Biography" for leaders on the British side.

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