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Title: Life and Times of Washington, Volume 2 - Revised, Enlarged, and Enriched
Author: Schroeder, John Frederick, 1800-1857, Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891
Language: English
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By John F. Schroeder and Benson John Lossing

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                 John Frederick Schroeder (1800-1857) and after his
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VOLUME II. PART IV. Washington Continental Commander-in-Chief.

CHAP. X. Lord Howe Outgeneraled by Washington

     XI. Washington Holds Howe in Check

    XII. Burgoyne's Defeat and Surrender

   XIII. Washington at Valley Forge

    XIV. The Battle of Monmouth

     XV. Washington Directs a Descent on Rhode Island

    XVI. Washington Prepares to Chastise the Indians

   XVII. Washington's Operations in the Northern States

  XVIII. Campaign in the North--Arnold's Treason

    XIX. Operations at the South

     XX. Preparations for a New Campaign

    XXI. The Campaign at the South

   XXII. Continuation of the Campaign at the South

  XXIII. Washington Captures Cornwallis

   XXIV. Final Events of the Revolution

       *       *       *       *       *

PART V. Washington, a Private Citizen. 1783-1788.


      I. Washington's Return to Private Life

     II. Washington President of the Constitutional Convention

       *       *       *       *       *

PART VI. Washington as President and in Retirement. 1789-1799.

      I. Washington Elected First President of the United States

     II. Washington's Inauguration and First Administration Formed

    III. Measures for Establishing the Public Credit

     IV. Establishment of a National Bank

      V. Political Parties Developed

     VI. Washington Inaugurates the System of Neutrality

    VII. Washington Sends Jay to England

   VIII. Washington Quells the Western Insurrection

     IX. Washington Signs Jay's Treaty

      X. Washington Maintains the Treaty-Making Power of the Executive

     XI. Washington Retires from the Presidency

    XII. Washington Appointed Lieutenant-General

   XIII. Last Illness, Death, and Character of Washington

       *       *       *       *       *





























Among the many perplexing subjects which claimed the attention of
Washington during the winter (1776-1777), while he was holding his
headquarters among the hills at Morristown, none gave him more annoyance
than that of the treatment of American prisoners in the hands of the
enemy. Among the civilized nations of modern times prisoners of war are
treated with humanity and principles are established on which they are
exchanged. The British officers, however, considered the Americans as
rebels deserving condign punishment and not entitled to the sympathetic
treatment commonly shown to the captive soldiers of independent nations.
They seem to have thought that the Americans would never be able,
or would never dare, to retaliate. Hence their prisoners were most
infamously treated. Against this the Americans remonstrated, and,
on finding their remonstrances disregarded, they adopted a system of
retaliation which occasioned much unmerited suffering to individuals.
Col. Ethan Allen, who had been defeated and made prisoner in a bold but
rash attempt against Montreal, was put in irons and sent to England as
a traitor. In retaliation, General Prescott, who had been taken at the
mouth of the Sorel, was put in close confinement for the avowed purpose
of subjecting him to the same fate which Colonel Allen should suffer.

Both officers and privates, prisoners to the Americans, were more
rigorously confined than they would otherwise have been, and, that
they might not impute this to wanton harshness and cruelty, they were
distinctly told that their own superiors only were to blame for any
severe treatment they might experience.

The capture of General Lee became the occasion of embittering the
complaints on this subject, and of aggravating the sufferings of the
prisoners of war. Before that event something like a cartel for the
exchange of prisoners had been established between Generals Howe
and Washington, but the captivity of General Lee interrupted that
arrangement. The general, as we have seen, had been an officer in the
British army, but having been disgusted had resigned his commission,
and, at the beginning of the troubles, had offered his services to
Congress, which were readily accepted. General Howe affected to consider
him as a deserter, and ordered him into close confinement. Washington
had no prisoner of equal rank, but offered six Hessian field officers
in exchange for him, and required that, if that offer should not be
accepted, General Lee should be treated according to his rank in the
American army. General Howe replied that General Lee was a deserter from
his majesty's service, and could not be considered as a prisoner of war
nor come within the conditions of the cartel. A fruitless discussion
ensued between the Commanders-in-Chief. Congress took up the matter and
resolved that General Washington be directed to inform General Howe,
that should the proffered exchange of six Hessian field officers for
General Lee not be accepted, and his former treatment continued, the
principle of retaliation shall occasion five of the Hessian field
officers, together with Lieut. Col. Archibald Campbell, or any other
officers that are or shall be in possession of equivalent in number or
quality, to be detained, in order that the treatment which General Lee
shall receive may be exactly inflicted upon their persons. Congress also
ordered a copy of their resolution to be transmitted to the Council of
Massachusetts Bay, and that they be desired to detain Lieutenant-Colonel
Campbell, and keep him in close custody till the further orders of
Congress, and that a copy be also sent to the committee of Congress, in
Philadelphia, and that they be desired to have the prisoners, officers,
and privates lately taken properly secured in some safe place.

Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell of the Seventy-first Regiment, with about
270 of his men, had been made prisoner in the bay of Boston, while
sailing for the harbor, ignorant of the evacuation of the town by
the British. Hitherto the colonel had been civilly treated; but,
on receiving the order of Congress respecting him, the Council of
Massachusetts Bay, instead of simply keeping him in safe custody,
according to order, sent him to Concord jail, and lodged him in a filthy
and loathsome dungeon, about twelve or thirteen feet square. He was
locked in by double bolts and expressly prohibited from entering the
prison yard on any consideration whatever. A disgusting hole, fitted up
with a pair of fixed chains, and from which a felon had been removed to
make room for his reception, was assigned him as an inner apartment.
The attendance of a servant was denied him, and no friend was allowed to
visit him.

Colonel Campbell naturally complained to Howe of such unworthy
treatment, and Howe addressed Washington on the subject. The latter
immediately wrote to the Council of Massachusetts Bay, and said, "You
will observe that exactly the same treatment is to be shown to Colonel
Campbell and the Hessian officers that General Howe shows to General
Lee, and as he is only confined to a commodious house, with genteel
accommodation, we have no right or reason to be more severe to Colonel
Campbell, whom I wish to be immediately removed from his present
situation and put into a house where he may live comfortably."

The historian (Gordon), who wrote at the time, gives a very graphic
account of the sufferings of the American prisoners in New York, which,
dreadful as it seems, is confirmed by many contemporary authorities. He
says: "Great complaints were made of the horrid usage the Americans met
with after they were captured."

The garrison of Fort Washington surrendered by capitulation to General
Howe, the 16th of November. The terms were that the fort should be
surrendered, the troops be considered prisoners of war, and that the
American officers should keep their baggage and sidearms. These articles
were signed and afterwards published in the New York papers. Major Otho
Holland Williams, of Rawling's Rifle Regiment, in doing his duty
that day, unfortunately fell into the hands of the enemy. The haughty
deportment of the officers, and the scurrility of the soldiers of the
British army, he afterward said, soon dispelled his hopes of being
treated with lenity. Many of the American officers were plundered of
their baggage and robbed of their sidearms, hats, cockades, etc., and
otherwise grossly ill-treated. Williams and three companions were, on
the third day, put on board the Baltic-Merchant, a hospital ship, then
lying in the sound. The wretchedness of his situation was in some degree
alleviated by a small pittance of pork and parsnip which a good-natured
sailor spared him from his own mess. The fourth day of their captivity,
Rawlings, Hanson, M'Intire, and himself, all wounded officers, were put
into one common dirt-cart and dragged through the city of New York as
objects of derision, reviled as rebels, and treated with the utmost

From the cart they were set down at the door of an old wastehouse, the
remains of Hampden Hall, near Bridewell, which, because of the openness
and filthiness of the place, he had a few months before refused as
barracks for his privates, but now was willing to accept for himself
and friends, in hopes of finding an intermission of the fatigue and
persecution they had perpetually suffered. Some provisions were issued
to the prisoners in the afternoon of that day, what quantity he could
not declare, but it was of the worst quality he ever, till then, saw
made use of. He was informed the allowance consisted of six ounces of
pork, one pound of biscuit, and some peas per day for each man, and
two bushels and a half of sea coal per week for the officers to each
fireplace. These were admitted on parole, and lived generally in
wastehouses. The privates, in the coldest season of the year, were close
confined in churches, sugar-houses, and other open buildings (which
admitted all kinds of weather), and consequently were subjected to the
severest kind of persecution that ever unfortunate captives suffered.

Officers were insulted and often struck for attempting to afford some
of the miserable privates a small relief. In about three weeks Colonel
Williams was able to walk, and was himself a witness of the sufferings
of his countrymen. He could not describe their misery. Their
constitutions were not equal to the rigor of the treatment they received
and the consequence was the death of many hundreds. The officers were
not allowed to take muster-rolls, nor even to visit their men, so that
it was impossible to ascertain the numbers that perished; but from
frequent reports and his own observations, he verily believed, as well
as had heard many officers give it as their opinion, that not less than
1,500 prisoners perished in the course of a few weeks in the city of New
York, and that this dreadful mortality was principally owing to the want
of provisions and extreme cold. If they computed too largely, it must be
ascribed to the shocking brutal manner of treating the dead bodies, and
not to any desire of exaggerating the account of their sufferings.

When the King's commissary of prisoners intimated to some of the
American officers General Howe's intention of sending the privates
home on parole, they all earnestly desired it, and a paper was signed
expressing that desire; the reason for signing was, they well knew the
effects of a longer confinement, and the great numbers that died when on
parole justified their pretensions to that knowledge. In January almost
all the officers were sent to Long Island on parole, and there billeted
on the inhabitants at $2 per week.

The filth in the churches (in consequence of fluxes) was beyond
description. Seven dead have been seen in one of them at the same time,
lying among the excrements of their bodies. The British soldiers were
full of their low and insulting jokes on those occasions, but less
malignant than the Tories. The provision dealt out to the prisoners was
not sufficient for the support of life, and was deficient in quantity,
and more so in quality. The bread was loathsome and not fit to be
eaten, and was thought to have been condemned. The allowance of meat
was trifling and of the worst sort. The integrity of these suffering
prisoners was hardly credible. Hundreds submitted to death rather than
enlist in the British service, which they were most generally pressed
to do. It was the opinion of the American officers that Howe perfectly
understood the condition of the private soldiers, and they from thence
argued that it was exactly such as he and his council intended. After
Washington's success in the Jerseys, the obduracy, and malevolence of
the Royalists subsided in some measure. The surviving prisoners were
ordered to be sent out as an exchange, but several of them fell down
dead in the streets while attempting to walk to the vessels.

Washington wrote to General Howe in the beginning of April: "It is a
fact not to be questioned that the usage of our prisoners while in your
possession, the privates at least, was such as could not be justified.
This was proclaimed by the concurrent testimony of all who came out.
Their appearance justified the assertion, and melancholy experience in
the speedy death of a large part of them, stamped it with infallible

The cruel treatment of the prisoners being the subject of conversation
among some officers captured by Sir Guy Carleton, General Parsons, who
was of the company, said, "I am very glad of it." They expressed their
astonishment and desired him to explain himself. He thus addressed them:
"You have been taken by General Carleton, and he has used you with great
humanity, would you be inclined to fight against him?" The answer was,
"No." "So," added Parsons, "would it have been, had the troops taken by
Howe been treated in like manner, but now through this cruelty we shall
get another army."

The Hon. William Smith, learning how the British used the prisoners,
and concluding it would operate to that end by enraging the Americans,
applied to the committee of New York State for leave to go into the city
and remonstrate with the British upon such cruel treatment, which he
doubted not but that he should put a stop to. The committee,
however, either from knowing what effect the cruelties would have in
strengthening the opposition to Britain, or from jealousies of his being
in some other way of disservice to the American cause or from these
united, would not grant his request.

Washington, at the beginning of 1777, determined to have the army
inoculated for the smallpox, which had made fearful ravages in the
ranks. It was carried forward as secretly and carefully as possible, and
the hospital physicians in Philadelphia were ordered at the same time to
inoculate all the soldiers who passed through that city on their way
to join the army. The same precautions were taken in the other military
stations, and thus the army was relieved from an evil which would have
materially interfered with the success of the ensuing campaign.
The example of the soldiery proved a signal benefit to the entire
population, the practice of inoculation became general, and, by little
and little, this fatal malady disappeared almost entirely.

In the hope that something might be effected at New York, Washington
ordered General Heath, who was in command in the Highlands, to move
down towards the city with a considerable force. Heath did so, and in a
rather grandiloquent summons called upon Fort Independence to surrender.
The enemy, however, stood their ground, and Heath, after a few days,
retreated, having done nothing, and exposed himself to ridicule for not
having followed up his words with suitable deeds.

While Washington was actively employed in the Jerseys in asserting the
independence of America, Congress could not afford him much assistance,
but that body was active in promoting the same cause by its enactments
and recommendations. Hitherto the Colonies had been united by no bond
but that of their common danger and common love of liberty. Congress
resolved to render the terms of their union more definite, to ascertain
the rights and duties of the several Colonies, and their mutual
obligations toward each other. A committee was appointed to sketch the
principles of the union or confederation.

This committee presented a report in thirteen Articles of Confederation
and perpetual Union between the States, and proposed that, instead of
calling themselves the United Colonies, as they had hitherto done, they
should assume the name of the United States of America; that each State
should retain its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every
power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by the confederation
expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled;
that they enter into a firm league for mutual defense; that the free
inhabitants of any of the States shall be entitled to the privileges
and immunities of free citizens in any other State; that any traitor or
great delinquent fleeing from one State and found in another shall be
delivered up to the State having jurisdiction of his offense; that full
faith and credit shall be given in each of the States to the records,
acts, and judicial proceedings of every other State; that delegates
shall be annually chosen in such manner as the legislature of each State
shall direct, to meet in Congress on the first Monday of November, with
power to each State to recall its delegates, or any of them, at any time
within the year, and to send others in their stead; that no State shall
be represented in Congress by less than two or more than seven members,
and no person shall be a delegate for more than three out of six years,
nor shall any delegate hold a place of emolument under the United
States; that each State shall maintain its own delegates; that in
Congress each State shall have only one vote; that freedom of speech
shall be enjoyed by the members, and that they shall be free from
arrest, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace; that no
State, without the consent of Congress, shall receive any ambassador, or
enter into any treaty with any foreign power; that no person holding any
office in any of the United States shall receive any present, office, or
title from any foreign State, and that neither Congress nor any of the
States shall grant any titles of nobility; that no two or more of the
States shall enter into any confederation whatever without the consent
of Congress; that no State shall impose any duties which may interfere
with treaties made by Congress; that in time of peace no vessels of
war or military force shall be kept up in any of the States but by the
authority of Congress, but every State shall have a well-regulated and
disciplined militia; that no State, unless invaded, shall engage in war
without the consent of Congress, nor shall they grant letters of marque
or reprisal till after a declaration of war by Congress; that colonels
and inferior officers shall be appointed by the Legislature of each
State for its own troops; that the expenses of war shall be defrayed out
of a common treasury, supplied by the several States according to the
value of the land in each; that taxes shall be imposed and levied by
authority and direction of the several States within the time prescribed
by Congress; that Congress has the sole and exclusive right of deciding
on peace and war, of sending and receiving ambassadors, and entering
into treaties; that Congress shall be the last resort on appeal in
all disputes and differences between two or more of the States; that
Congress have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the
alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or by that of
the respective States, fixing the standard of weights and measures,
regulating the trade, establishing post-offices, appointing all
officers of the land forces in the service of the United States, except
regimental officers, appointing all the officers of the naval forces,
and commissioning all officers whatever in the service of the United
States, making rules for the government and regulation of the said land
and naval forces, and directing their operations; that Congress have
authority to appoint a committee to sit during their recess, to be
dominated a Committee of the States, and to consist of one delegate from
each State; that Congress shall have power to ascertain the necessary
sums of money to be raised for the service of the United States, and
to appropriate and apply the same, to borrow money or emit bills on
the credit of the United States, to build and equip a navy, to fix the
number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each State for its
quota, in proportion to the number of white inhabitants in such State;
that the consent of nine States shall be requisite to any great public
measure of common interest; that Congress shall have power to adjourn to
any time within the year, and to any place within the United States, but
the adjournment not to exceed six months, and that they shall publish
their proceedings monthly, excepting such parts relating to treaties,
alliances, or military operations, as in their judgment require
secrecy; that the yeas and nays of the delegates of each State shall,
if required, be entered on the journal, and extracts granted; that the
Committee of the States, or any nine of them, shall, during the recess
of Congress, exercise such powers as Congress shall vest them with;
that Canada, if willing, shall be admitted to all the advantages of
the union; but no other colony shall be admitted, unless such admission
shall be agreed to by nine States; that all bills of credit emitted,
moneys borrowed, or debts contracted by Congress before this
confederation, shall be charges on the United States; that every State
shall abide by the determinations of Congress on all questions submitted
to them by this confederation; that the articles of it shall be
inviolably observed by every State, and that no alteration in any of
the articles shall be made, unless agreed to by Congress, and afterward
confirmed by the legislature of every State.

Such was the substance of this confederation or union. After much
discussion, at thirty-nine sittings, the articles were approved by
Congress, transmitted to the several State Legislatures, and, meeting
with their approbation, were ratified by all the delegates on the 15th
of November, 1778.

Congress maintained an erect posture, although its affairs then wore the
most gloomy aspect. It was under the provisions of this confederation
that the war was afterward carried on, and, considered as a first
essay of legislative wisdom, it discovers a good understanding, and
a respectable knowledge of the structure of society. Had peace been
concluded before the settlement of this confederation, the States would
probably have broken down into so many independent governments, and the
strength of the Union been lost in a number of petty sovereignties.

It is not hazarding much to say that, considering all the circumstances,
it was the best form of government which could have been framed at
that time. Its radical defect arose from its being a confederation
of independent States, in which the central government had no direct
recourse to the people. It required all grants of men or money to be
obtained from the State governments, who were often, during the war,
extremely dilatory in complying with the requisitions of Congress. This
defect was strongly felt by Washington, who was often compelled to exert
his personal influence, which, in all the States, was immense, to
obtain the supplies which Congress had no power to exact. We shall
see hereafter, that in forming the new constitution, a work in which
Washington took a leading part, this defect was remedied.

While Congress was beginning to form these articles of confederation,
and Washington was giving a new aspect to the war in New Jersey, the
people of Great Britain, long accustomed to colonial complaints and
quarrels, and attentive merely to their own immediate interests, paid
no due regard to the progress of the contest or to the importance of the
principles in which it originated. Large majorities in both houses of
parliament supported the ministry in all their violent proceedings,
and although a small minority, including several men of distinguished
talents, who trembled for the fate of British liberty if the court
should succeed in establishing its claims against the colonists,
vigorously opposed the measures of administration, yet the great body
of the people manifested a loyal zeal in favor of the war, and the
ill success of the Colonists in the campaign of 1776, gave that zeal
additional energy.

But amidst all the popularity of their warlike operations, the
difficulties of the ministry soon began to multiply. In consequence of
hostilities with the American provinces, the British West India islands
experienced a scarcity of the necessaries of life. About the time
when the West India fleet was about to set sail, under convoy, on its
homeward voyage, it was discovered that the negroes of Jamaica meditated
an insurrection. By means of the draughts to complete the army in
America, the military force in that island had been weakened, and the
ships of war were detained to assist in suppressing the attempts of the
negroes. By this delay the Americans gained time for equipping their
privateers. After the fleet sailed it was dispersed by stormy weather
and many of the ships, richly laden, fell into the hands of the American
cruisers who were permitted to sell their prizes in the ports of France,
both in Europe and in the West Indies.

The conduct of France was now so openly manifested that it could no
longer be winked at, and it drew forth a remonstrance from the British
cabinet. The remonstrance was civilly answered, and the traffic in
British prizes was carried on somewhat more covertly in the French ports
in Europe; but it was evident that both France and Spain were in a state
of active preparation for war. The British ministry could no longer shut
their eyes against the gathering storm, and began to prepare for it.
About the middle of October (1776) they put sixteen additional ships
into commission, and made every exertion to man them.

On the 31st of October the parliament met and was opened by a speech
from the throne, in which his majesty stated that it would have given
him much satisfaction if he had been able to inform them that the
disturbances in the revolted Colonies were at an end, and that the
people of America, recovering from their delusion, had returned to their
duty; but so mutinous and determined was the spirit of their leaders
that they had openly abjured and renounced all connection and
communication with the mother country and had rejected every
conciliatory proposition. Much mischief, he said, would accrue not only
to the commerce of Great Britain but to the general system of Europe if
this rebellion were suffered to take root. The conduct of the Colonists
would convince every one of the necessity of the measures proposed to be
adopted, and the past success of the British arms promised the happiest
results; but preparations must be promptly made for another campaign. A
hope was expressed of the general continuance of tranquility in Europe,
but that it was thought advisable to increase the defensive resources at

The addresses to the speech were in the usual form, but amendments
were moved in both houses of parliament; in the Commons by Lord John
Cavendish and in the Lords by the Marquis of Rockingham. After an
animated debate the amendment was rejected, in the House of Commons by
242 against 87, and in the Lords by 91 against 26. During the session
of parliament some other attempts were made for adopting conciliatory
measures, but the influence of ministry was so powerful that they were
all completely defeated, and the plans of administration received the
approbation and support of parliament.

During the winter (1776-1777), which was very severe, the British
troops at Brunswick and Amboy were kept on constant duty and suffered
considerable privations. The Americans were vigilant and active, and the
British army could seldom procure provisions or forage without fighting.
But although in the course of the winter the affairs of the United
States had begun to wear a more promising aspect, yet there were still
many friends of royalty in the provinces. By their open attachment to
the British interest, numbers had already exposed themselves to the
hostility of the patriotic party; and others, from affection to Britain
or distrust of the American cause, gave their countenance and aid to
General Howe. Early in the season a considerable number of these men
joined the royal army, and were embodied under the direction of the
Commander-in-Chief with the same pay as the regular troops, besides
the promise of an allotment of land at the close of the disturbances.
Governor Tryon, who had been extremely active in engaging and
disciplining them, was promoted to the rank of major-general of the
Loyal Provincialists. [1]

The campaign opened on both sides by rapid predatory incursions and bold
desultory attacks. At Peekskill, on the North river, about fifty miles
above New York, the Americans had formed a post, at which, during the
winter, they had collected a considerable quantity of provisions and
camp-equipage to supply the stations in the vicinity as occasion might

The most mountainous part of the district, named the Manor of Courland,
was formed into a kind of citadel, replenished with stores, and
Peekskill served as a port to it. On the 23d of March (1777), as soon
as the river was clear of ice, Howe, who thought Peekskill of more
importance than it really was, detached Colonel Bird, with about 500
men, under convoy of a frigate and some armed vessels, against that
post. General M'Dougal, who commanded there, had then only about 250
men in the place. He had timely notice of Colonel Bird's approach, and,
sensible that his post was untenable, he exerted himself to remove the
stores to the strong grounds about two miles and a half in his rear; but
before he had made much progress in the work the British appeared, when
he set fire to the stores and buildings and retreated. Colonel Bird
landed and completed the destruction of the stores which he was unable
to remove. On the same day he re-embarked, and returned to New York.

On the 8th of April (1777), says Gordon, Congress concluded upon the
erection of a monument to the memory of General Warren in the town of
Boston, and another to the memory of General Mercer in Fredericksburg,
in Virginia, and that the eldest son of General Warren, and the youngest
son of General Mercer, be educated from henceforward at the expense of
the United States. They conveyed in a few words the highest eulogium on
the characters and merits of the deceased. Through inattention, General
Warren, who fell on Breed's Hill, had not been properly noted when
Congress passed their resolve respecting General Montgomery: the
proposal for paying due respect to the memory of Mercer led to the like
in regard to Warren.

On the 13th of April Lord Cornwallis and General Grant, with about 2,000
men, attempted to surprise and cut off General Lincoln, who, with 500
men, was posted at Bound Brook, seven miles from Brunswick, and nearly
succeeded in their enterprise. But by a bold and rapid movement Lincoln,
when almost surrounded, forced his way between the British columns and
escaped, with the loss of sixty men, his papers, three field pieces, and
some baggage.

At that early period of the campaign Howe attempted no grand movement
against the main body of the army under Washington at Morristown, but
he made several efforts to interrupt his communications, destroy his
stores, and impede his operations. He had received information that
the Americans had collected a large quantity of stores in the town of
Danbury and in other places on the borders of Connecticut. These
he resolved to destroy, and appointed Major-General Tryon of the
Provincials, who panted for glory in his newly-acquired character, to
command an expedition for that purpose, but prudently directed Generals
Agnew and Sir William Erskine to accompany him.

On the 25th of April (1777) the fleet appeared off the coast of
Connecticut, and in the evening the troops were landed without
opposition between Fairfield and Norwalk. General Silliman, then
casually in that part of the country, immediately dispatched expresses
to assemble the militia. In the meantime Tryon proceeded to Danbury
which he reached about 2 the next day. On his approach Colonel
Huntingdon, who had occupied the town with about 150 men, retired to a
neighboring height, and Danbury, with the magazines it contained, was
consumed by fire.

General Arnold, who was also in the State superintending the recruiting
service, joined General Silliman at Reading, where that officer had
collected about 500 militia. General Wooster, who had resigned his
commission in the Continental service, and been appointed major-general
of the militia, fell in with them at the same place, and they proceeded
in the night through a heavy rain to Bethel, about eight miles from
Danbury. Having heard next morning that Tryon, after destroying the town
and magazines, was returning, they divided their troops, and General
Wooster, with about 300 men, fell in his rear, while Arnold, with about
500, crossing the country, took post in his front at Ridgefield. Wooster
came up with his rear about 11 in the morning, attacked it with great
gallantry, and a sharp skirmish ensued in which he was mortally wounded,
[2] and his troops were repulsed.

Tryon then proceeded to Ridgefield where he found Arnold already
entrenched on a strong piece of ground, and prepared to dispute his
passage. A warm skirmish ensued, which continued nearly an hour.
Arnold was at length driven from the field after which he retreated to
Paugatuck, about three miles east of Norwalk.

At break of day next morning, after setting Ridgefield on fire, the
British resumed their march. About 11 in the forenoon, April 28th
(1777), they were again met by Arnold, whose numbers increased during
the day to rather more than 1,000 men, among whom were some Continental
troops. A continued skirmishing was kept up until 5 in the afternoon,
when the British formed on a hill near their ships. The Americans
attacked them with intrepidity, but were repulsed and broken. Tryon,
availing himself of this respite, re-embarked his troops and returned to
New York.

The loss of the British amounted to about 170 men. [3] That of the
Americans was represented by Tryon as being much more considerable. By
themselves it was not admitted to exceed 100. In this number, however,
were comprehended General Wooster, Lieutenant-Colonel Gould, and another
field officer, killed, and Colonel Lamb wounded. Several other
officers and volunteers were killed. Military and hospital stores to
a considerable amount, which were greatly needed by the army, were
destroyed in the magazines at Danbury, but the loss most severely
felt was rather more than 1,000 tents which had been provided for the
campaign about to open.

Not long afterward this enterprise was successfully retaliated. A
British detachment had been for some time employed in collecting forage
and provisions on the eastern end of Long Island. Howe supposed this
part of the country to be so completely secured by the armed vessels
which incessantly traversed the Sound, that he confided the protection
of the stores deposited at a small port called Sag Harbor to a schooner
with twelve guns and a company of infantry.

General Parsons, who commanded a few recruits at New Haven, thinking
it practicable to elude the cruisers in the bay, formed the design of
surprising this party and other adjacent posts, the execution of which
was entrusted to Lieutenant-Colonel Meigs, a gallant officer who had
accompanied Arnold in his memorable march to Quebec. He embarked with
about 230 men on board 13 whale-boats, and proceeded along the coast
to Guilford, where he was to cross the Sound. With about 170 of his
detachment, under convoy of two armed sloops, he proceeded (May
23, 1777) across the Sound to the north division of the island near
Southhold in the neighborhood of which a small foraging party against
which the expedition was in part directed, was supposed to lie, but they
had marched two days before to New York. The boats were conveyed across
the land, a distance of about fifteen miles, into a bay which deeply
intersects the eastern end of Long Island, where the troops re-embarked.
Crossing the bay they landed at 2 in the morning, about four miles from
Sag Harbor, which they completely surprised and carried with charged
bayonets. At the same time a division of the detachment secured the
armed schooner and the vessels laden with forage, which were set on fire
and entirely consumed. Six of the enemy were killed and ninety taken
prisoners. A very few escaped under cover of the night.

The object of his expedition being effected without the loss of a man,
Colonel Meigs returned to Guilford with his prisoners. "Having," as
was stated in the letter to General Parsons, "moved with such uncommon
celerity as to have transported his men by land and water 90 miles in 25
hours." Congress directed a sword to be presented to him, and passed a
resolution expressing the high sense entertained of his merit, and of
the prudence, activity, and valor displayed by himself and his party.

The exertions made by Washington through the winter to raise a powerful
army for the ensuing campaign had not been successful. The hopes
respecting its strength, which the flattering reports made from every
quarter had authorized him to form, were cruelly disappointed, and
he found himself not only unable to carry into effect the offensive
operations he had meditated, but unequal even to defensive warfare. That
steady and persevering courage, however, which had supported himself and
the American cause through the gloomy scenes of the preceding year
did not forsake him, and that sound judgment which applies to the best
advantage those means which are attainable, however inadequate they may
be, still remained. His plan of operations was adapted to that which
he believed his enemy had formed. He was persuaded either that General
Burgoyne, who was then at Quebec, would endeavor to take Ticonderoga and
to penetrate to the Hudson, in which event General Howe would cooperate
with him by moving up that river, and attempting to possess himself
of the forts and high grounds commanding its passage, or that Burgoyne
would join the grand army at New York by sea, after which the combined
armies would proceed against Philadelphia.

To counteract the designs of the enemy, whatever they might be, to
defend the three great points, Ticonderoga, the Highlands of New York,
and Philadelphia, against two powerful armies so much superior to him
in arms, in numbers, and in discipline, it was necessary to make such an
arrangement of his troops as would enable the parts reciprocally to
aid each other without neglecting objects of great and almost equal
magnitude, which were alike threatened, and were far asunder. To effect
these purposes, the troops of New England and New York were divided
between Ticonderoga and Peekskill, while those from Jersey to North
Carolina inclusive, were directed to assemble at the camp to be formed
in Jersey. The more southern troops remained in that State for its

These arrangements being made and the recruits collected, the camp
at Morristown was broken up, the detachments called in, and the army
assembled at Middlebrook (May 28, 1777), just behind a connected
ridge of strong and commanding heights north of the road leading to
Philadelphia, and about ten miles from Brunswick.

This camp, the approaches to which were naturally difficult, Washington
took care to strengthen still further by entrenchments. The heights in
front commanded a prospect of the course of the Raritan, the road to
Philadelphia, the hills about Brunswick, and a considerable part of the
country between that place and Amboy, so as to afford him a full view of
the most interesting movements of the enemy.

The force brought into the field by the United States required all
the aid which could be derived from strong positions and unremitting
vigilance. On the 20th of May (1777) the army in Jersey, excluding
cavalry and artillery, amounted to only 8,378 men, of whom upwards of
2,000 were sick. The effective rank and file were only 5,738.

Had this army been composed of the best disciplined troops, its
inferiority in point of numbers must have limited its operations to
defensive war, and have rendered it incompetent to the protection of any
place whose defense would require a battle in the open field. But more
than half the troops were unacquainted with the first rudiments
of military duty, and had never looked an enemy in the face. As an
additional cause of apprehension, a large proportion of the soldiers,
especially from the middle States, were foreigners, in whose attachment
to the American cause full confidence could not be placed.

Washington, anticipating a movement by land toward Philadelphia, had
taken the precaution to give orders for assembling on the western bank
of the Delaware an army of militia strengthened by a few Continental
troops, the command of which was given to General Arnold who was then in
Philadelphia employed in the settlement of his accounts.

The first and real object of the campaign on the part of Howe was the
acquisition of Philadelphia. He intended to march through Jersey, and
after securing the submission of that State to cross the Delaware on a
portable bridge constructed in the winter for the purpose and proceed
by land to that city. If, in the execution of this plan, the Americans
could be brought to a general action on equal ground, the advantages of
the royal army must insure a victory. But should Washington decline an
engagement and be again pressed over the Delaware the object would be as
certainly obtained.

Had Howe taken the field before the Continental troops were assembled
this plan might probably have been executed without any serious
obstruction, but the tents and camp equipage expected from Europe
did not arrive until Washington had collected his forces and taken
possession of the strong post on the Heights of Middlebrook. It would be
dangerous to attack him on such advantageous ground, for, although his
camp might be forced, victory would probably be attended with such loss
as to disable the victor from reaping its fruits.

If it was deemed too hazardous to attack the strong camp at Middlebrook,
an attempt to cross the Delaware in the face of an army collected on its
western bank, while that under Washington remained unbroken in his rear,
was an experiment of equal danger. It suited the cautious temper of Howe
to devise some other plan of operation to which he might resort should
he be unable to seduce Washington from his advantageous position.

The two great bays of Delaware and Chesapeake suggested the alternative
of proceeding by water, should he be unable to maneuver Washington out
of his present encampment.

The plan of the campaign being settled and some small reinforcements
with the expected camp equipage being received from Europe, Howe,
leaving a garrison in New York and a guard in Amboy, assembled his army
at Brunswick, and gave strong indications of an intention to penetrate
through the country to the Delaware and reach Philadelphia by land.

Believing this to be his real design Washington (June 13, 1777) placed
a select corps of riflemen under the command of Colonel Morgan, who had
distinguished himself in the unfortunate attempt to storm Quebec, and
in whom those particular qualities which fit a man for the command of a
partisan corps, designed to act on the lines of a formidable enemy, were
eminently united.

He was ordered to take post at Vanvighton's bridge on the Raritan, just
above its confluence with the Millstone river, to watch the left flank
of the British army and seize every occasion to harass it.

Early in the morning of the 14th, Howe, leaving 2,000 men under the
command of General Matthews at Brunswick, advanced in two columns toward
the Delaware. The front of the first, under Cornwallis, reached Somerset
Court House, nine miles from Brunswick, by the appearance of day, and
the second, commanded by General de Heister, reached Middlebush about
the same time.

This movement was made with the view of inducing Washington to quit his
fortified camp and approach the Delaware, in which event, Howe expected
to bring on an engagement on ground less disadvantageous than that now
occupied by the American army. But Washington understood the importance
of his position too well to abandon it.

On the first intelligence that the enemy was in motion, he drew out his
whole army, and formed it to great advantage on the heights in front of
his camp. This position was constantly maintained. The troops remained
in order of battle during the day, and in the night slept on the ground
to be defended.

In the meantime the Jersey militia, with alacrity theretofore unexampled
in that State, took the field in great numbers. They principally joined
General Sullivan, who had retired from Princeton, behind the Sourland
hills toward Flemington, where an army of some extent was forming, which
could readily cooperate with that under the immediate inspection of

The settled purpose of Washington was to defend his camp, but not to
hazard a general action on other ground. He had therefore determined not
to advance from the heights he occupied into the open country, either
towards the enemy or the Delaware.

The object of Howe was, by acting on his anxiety for Philadelphia, to
seduce him from the strong ground about Middlebrook, and tempt him to
approach the Delaware in the hope of defending its passage. Should
he succeed in this, he had little doubt of being able to bring on an
engagement, in which he counted with certainty on victory.

The considerations which restrained Howe from attempting to march
through Jersey, leaving the American army in full force in his rear, had
determined Washington to allow him to proceed to the Delaware, if such
should be his intention. In that event, he had determined to throw those
impediments only in the way of the hostile army which might harass and
retard its march, and maintaining the high and secure grounds north
of the road to be taken by the enemy, to watch for an opportunity of
striking some important blow with manifest advantage.

Washington was not long in penetrating Howe's designs. "The views of
the enemy," he writes to General Arnold in a letter of the 17th (June,
1777), "must be to destroy this army and get possession of Philadelphia.
I am, however, clearly of opinion, that they will not move that way
until they have endeavored to give a severe blow to this army. The risk
would be too great to attempt to cross a river when they must expect
to meet a formidable opposition in front and would have such a force
as ours in their rear. They might possibly be successful, but the
probability would be infinitely against them. Should they be imprudent
enough to make the attempt, I shall keep close upon their heels and will
do everything in my power to make the project fatal to them."

"But, besides the argument in favor of their intending, in the first
place, a stroke at this army, drawn from the policy of the measure,
every appearance contributes to conform the opinion. Had their design
been for the Delaware in the first instance, they would probably have
made a secret, rapid march for it, and not have halted so as to awaken
our attention, and give us time to prepare for obstructing them. Instead
of that they have only advanced to a position necessary to facilitate an
attack on our right, the part in which we are most exposed. In addition
to this circumstance, they have come out as light as possible, leaving
all their baggage, provisions, boas, and bridges at Brunswick. This
plainly contradicts the idea of their intending to push for the

Finding the American army could not be drawn from its strong position
Howe determined to waste no more time in threatening Philadelphia
by land, but to withdraw from Jersey and to embark his army as
expeditiously as possible for the Chesapeake or the Delaware. On the
night of the 19th of June (1777), he returned to Brunswick, and on the
22d to Amboy, from which place the heavy baggage and a few of his troops
passed into Staten Island on the bridge which had been designed for the
Delaware. [2]

Washington had expected this movement from Brunswick and had made
arrangements to derive some advantage from it. General Greene was
detached with three brigades to annoy the British rear, and Sullivan
and Maxwell were ordered to cooperate with him. In the meantime the army
paraded on the Heights of Middlebrook, ready to act as circumstances
might require.

About sunrise, Colonel Morgan drove in a picket-guard, soon after which
that division commenced its march to Amboy. Some sharp skirmishing took
place between this party and Morgan's regiment, but the hope of gaining
any important advantage was entirely disappointed, and the retreat to
Amboy was effected with inconsiderable loss.

In order to cover his light parties, which still hung on the British
flank and rear, Washington advanced six or seven miles to Quibbletown
on the road to Amboy, and Lord Stirling's division was pushed still
further, to the neighborhood of the Metucking Meeting House, for the
purpose of co-operating with the light parties should the retreat to
Staten Island afford an opportunity of striking at the rear.

Believing it now practicable to bring on an engagement and probably
hoping to turn the left of the American army and gain the heights in its
rear, Howe, in the night of the 25th, recalled the troops from Staten
Island, and early next morning (June 26, 1777) made a rapid movement
in two columns, towards Westfield. The right, under the command of
Cornwallis took the route by Woodbridge to the Scotch plains, and the
left, led by Howe in person, marched by Metucking Meeting House to fall
into the rear of the right column. It was intended that the left should
take a separate road soon after this junction and attack the left flank
of the American army at Quibbletown, while Cornwallis should gain the
heights on the left of the camp at Middlebrook. Four battalions with six
pieces of cannon were detached to Bonhamtown.

About Woodbridge the right column fell in with one of the American
parties of observation, which gave notice of this movement. Washington
discerned his danger, put the whole army instantly in motion, and
regained the camp at Middlebrook. Cornwallis fell in with Lord Stirling
and a sharp skirmish ensued, in which the Americans were driven from
their ground with the loss of three field-pieces and a few men. They
retreated to the hills about the Scotch Plains and were pursued as far
as Westfield. Perceiving the passes in the mountains on the left of the
American camp to be guarded, and the object of this skilful maneuver to
be, consequently, unattainable, Cornwallis returned through Rahway to
Amboy, and the whole army crossed over to Staten Island. Washington was
now again left to his conjectures respecting the plan of the campaign.
The very next day (June 27), after Howe had finally evacuated the
Jerseys, intelligence was received of the appearance of Burgoyne on
Lake Champlain, and that Ticonderoga was threatened. This intelligence
strengthened the opinion that the design of Howe must be to seize the
passes in the mountains on the Hudson, secure the command of that river,
and effect a junction between the two armies. Yet Washington could not
permit himself to yield so entirely to this impression, as to make a
movement which might open the way by land to Philadelphia. His army,
therefore, maintained its station at Middlebrook, but arrangements were
made to repel any sudden attack on the posts which defended the Hudson.

Some changes made in the stations of the British ships and troops
having relieved Washington from his apprehensions of a sudden march to
Philadelphia, he advanced Sullivan's division to Pompton Plains, on
the way to Peekskill, and proceeded with the main body of his army to
Morristown, thus approaching the Highlands of New York without removing
so far from Middlebrook as to be unable to regain that camp should Howe
indicate an intention to seize it.

Meanwhile Howe prosecuted diligently his plan of embarkation, which was
necessarily attended with circumstances indicating a much longer voyage
than one up the North river. These circumstances were immediately
communicated to the Eastern States, and Congress was earnestly pressed
to strengthen the fortifications on the Delaware, and to increase the
obstructions in that river.

In the midst of these appearances certain intelligence was received
that Burgoyne was in great force on the lakes, and was advancing against
Ticonderoga. This intelligence confirmed the opinion that the main
object of Howe must be to effect a junction with Burgoyne on the North
river. Under this impression Washington ordered Sullivan to Peekskill,
and slowly advanced himself, first to Pompton Plains, and afterward to
the Clove, where he determined to remain until the views of the enemy
should be disclosed.

While Washington thus anxiously watched the movements of his adversary,
an agreeable and unexpected piece of intelligence was received from New
England. The command of the British troops in Rhode Island had devolved
on General Prescot. Thinking himself perfectly secure in an island,
the water surrounding which was believed to be entirely guarded by his
cruisers, and at the head of an army greatly superior to any force then
collected in that department, he indulged himself in convenient quarters
rather distant from camp, and was remiss with respect to the guards
about his person. Information of this negligence was communicated to the
main, and a plan was formed to surprise him. This spirited enterprise
was executed with equal courage and address by Lieutenant-Colonel Barton
of the Rhode Island militia.

On the night of the 10th (June, 1777) he embarked on board four
whale-boats at Warwick Neck, with a party consisting of about forty
persons, including Captains Adams and Philips, and several other
officers. After proceeding about ten miles by water unobserved by the
British guard boats, although several ships of war lay in that quarter,
he landed on the west of the island, about midway between Newport
and Bristol Ferry, and marching a mile to the quarters of Prescot,
dexterously seized the sentinel at his door, and one of his aids. The
general himself was taken out of bed and conveyed to a place of safety.

The success of this intrepid enterprise diffused the more joy throughout
America, because it was supposed to secure the liberation of General Lee
by enabling Washington to offer an officer of equal rank in exchange for

Congress expressed a high sense of the gallant conduct of Colonel Barton
and his party, and presented him with a sword as a mark of approbation.

As the fleet fell down toward Sandy Hook, Washington withdrew slowly
from the Clove, and disposed his army in different divisions, so as to
march to any point which might be attacked.

At length the embarkation was completed and the fleet put to sea. Still,
its destination was uncertain. It might be going to the south, or
it might return to New York and ascend the Hudson. Soon, however,
Washington received intelligence that it had been seen off the capes
of the Delaware. It was of course expected to come up the Delaware and
attack Philadelphia.

Washington ordered the army to march to Germantown, and himself hastened
forward to Chester. The fleet of the British had disappeared again. It
might have returned to New York, or it might have sailed to New England,
with a view to joining Burgoyne as he was advancing on Ticonderoga.

During this period of suspense and conjecture, Washington was for
several days in Philadelphia consulting on public measures with the
committees and members of Congress. Here he first met Lafayette. This
young nobleman, whose name has since become so dear to every American
heart, was born at Auvergne, in France, on the 6th of September, 1757.
His family was of ancient date and of the highest rank among the French
nobility. He was left an orphan at an early age, heir to an immense
estate, and exposed to all the temptations of "the gayest and most
luxurious city on earth at the period of its greatest corruption. He
escaped unhurt." Having completed his college education, he married at
the age of sixteen the daughter of the Duke D'Ayen, of the family of
Noailles. She was younger than himself and was always "the encourager of
his virtues, and the heroic partner of his sufferings, his great name,
and his honorable grave." [3]

In the summer of 1776 (says Mr. Everett), and just after the American
declaration of independence, Lafayette was stationed at Metz, a
garrisoned town on the road from Paris to the German frontier with the
regiment to which he was attached as a captain of dragoons, not then
nineteen years of age. The Duke of Gloucester, the brother of the King
of England happened to be on a visit to Metz, and a dinner was given to
him by the commandant of the garrison. Lafayette was invited with other
officers to the entertainment. Dispatches had just been received by the
duke from England relating to American affairs--the resistance of the
Colonists, and the strong measures adopted by the ministers to crush the
rebellion. Among the details stated by the Duke of Gloucester was
the extraordinary fact that these remote, scattered, and unprotected
settlers of the wilderness had solemnly declared themselves an
independent people. That word decided the fortunes of the enthusiastic
listener, and not more distinctly was the great declaration a charter
of political liberty to the rising States, than it was a commission to
their youthful champion to devote his life to the same cause.

The details which he heard were new to him. The American contest was
known to him before but as a rebellion--a tumultuary affair in a remote
transatlantic colony. He now, with a promptness of perception
which, even at this distance of time, strikes us as little less than
miraculous, addressed a multitude of inquiries to the Duke of Gloucester
on the subject of the contest. His imagination was kindled at the idea
of a civilized people struggling for political liberty. His heart was
warmed with the possibility of drawing his sword in a good cause. Before
he left the table his course was mentally resolved on, and the brother
of the King of England (unconsciously, no doubt) had the singular
fortune to enlist, from the French court and the French army, this
gallant and fortunate champion in the then unpromising cause of the
colonial Congress.

He immediately repaired to Paris to make further inquiries and
arrangements toward the execution of his great plan. He confided it
to two young friends, officers like himself, the Count de Ségur and
Viscount de Noailles, and proposed to them to join him. They shared his
enthusiasm, and determined to accompany him, but on consulting their
families, they were refused permission. But they faithfully kept
Lafayette's secret. Happily--shall I say--he was an orphan, independent
of control, and master of his own fortune, amounting to near $40,000 per

He next opened his heart to the Count de Broglie, a marshal in the
French army. To the experienced warrior, accustomed to the regular
campaigns of European service, the project seemed rash and quixotic, and
one that he could not countenance. Lafayette begged the count at least
not to betray him, as he was resolved (notwithstanding his disapproval
of the subject) to go to America. This the count promised, adding,
however, "I saw your uncle fall in Italy, and I witnessed your father's
death at the battle of Minden, and I will not be accessory to the ruin
of the only remaining branch of the family." He then used all the powers
of argument which his age and experience suggested to him, to dissuade
Lafayette from the enterprise, but in vain. Finding his determination
unalterable, he made him acquainted with the Baron De Kalb, who the
count knew was about to embark for America--an officer of experience and
merit who, as is well known, fell at the battle of Camden.

The Baron de Kalb introduced Lafayette to Silas Deane, then agent of the
United States in France, who explained to him the state of affairs in
America, and encouraged him in his project. Deane was but imperfectly
acquainted with the French language, and of manners somewhat repulsive.
A less enthusiastic temper than that of Lafayette might, perhaps, have
been chilled by the reception that he met with from Deane. He had, as
yet, not been acknowledged in any public capacity, and was beset by
the spies of the British ambassador. For these reasons it was judged
expedient that the visit of Lafayette should not be repeated, and their
further negotiations were conducted through the intervention of Mr.
Carmichael, an American gentleman at that time in Paris. The arrangement
was at length concluded, in virtue of which Deane took upon himself,
without authority, but by a happy exercise of discretion, to engage
Lafayette to enter the American service with the rank of major-general.
A vessel was about to be dispatched with arms and other supplies for
the American army, and in this vessel it was settled that he should take

At this juncture the news reached France of the evacuation of New York,
the loss of Fort Washington, the calamitous retreat through New Jersey,
and other disasters of the campaign of 1776. The friends of America in
France were in despair. The tidings, bad in themselves, were greatly
exaggerated in the British gazettes. The plan of sending an armed
vessel with munitions was abandoned. The cause, always doubtful, was now
pronounced desperate, and Lafayette was urged by all who were privy to
his project, to give up an enterprise so wild and hopeless. Even our
commissioners (for Deane had been joined by Dr. Franklin and Arthur Lee)
told him they could not in conscience urge him to proceed. His answer
was: "My zeal and love of liberty have perhaps hitherto been the
prevailing motive with me, but now I see a chance of usefulness which
I had not anticipated. These supplies I know are greatly wanted by
Congress. I have money; I will purchase a vessel to convey them to
America, and in this vessel my companions and myself will take passage."

His purpose was opposed by the government, and he was obliged to escape
into Spain and sail from that country. He landed near Georgetown in
South Carolina, and in company with the Baron de Kalb, the companion
of his voyage, proceeded to Charleston, where they were received with
enthusiasm by the magistrates and the people.

As soon as possible they proceeded by land to Philadelphia. On his
arrival there, with the eagerness of a youth anxious to be employed upon
his errand, he sent his letters to Mr. Lovell, chairman of the committee
of foreign relations. He called the next day at the hall of Congress,
and asked to see this gentleman. Mr. Lovell came out to him, stated that
so many foreigners offered themselves for employment in the American
army that Congress was greatly embarrassed to find them commands; that
the finances of the country required the most rigid economy, and that he
feared, in the present case, there was little hope of success. Lafayette
perceived that the worthy chairman had made up his report without
looking at the papers; he explained to him that his application,
if granted, would lay no burden upon the finances of Congress, and
addressed a letter to the president, in which he expressed a wish to
enter the American army on the condition of serving without pay or
emolument, and on the footing of a volunteer. These conditions removed
the chief obstacles alluded to in reference to the appointment of
foreign officers; the letters brought by Lafayette made known to
Congress his high connections, and his large means of usefulness,
and without an hour's delay he received from them a commission of
major-general in the American army, a month before he was twenty years
of age.

Washington was at headquarters when Lafayette reached Philadelphia,
but he was daily expected in the city. The introduction of the youthful
stranger to the man on whom his career depended was therefore delayed
a few days. It took place in a manner peculiarly marked with the
circumspection of Washington, at a dinner party, where Lafayette was one
among several guests of consideration. Washington was not uninformed
of the circumstances connected with his arrival in the country. He knew
what benefit it promised the cause if his character and talents were
adapted to the cause he had so boldly struck out, and he knew also how
much it was to be feared that the very qualities which had prompted
him to embark in it, would make him a useless and even a dangerous
auxiliary. We may well suppose that the piercing eye of the Father of
his Country was not idle during the repast. But that searching glance,
before which pretense or fraud never stood undetected, was completely
satisfied. When they were about to separate, Washington took Lafayette
aside, spoke to him with kindness, paid a just tribute to the noble
spirit which he had shown, and the sacrifices he had made in the
American cause, invited him to make the headquarters of the army his
home, and to regard himself at all times as one of the family of the

Such was the reception given to Lafayette by the most sagacious and
observant of men, and the personal acquaintance thus commenced ripened
into an intimacy, a confidence, and an affection without bounds, and
never for one moment interrupted. If there lived a man whom Washington
loved it was Lafayette. The proofs of this are not wanted by those who
have read the history of the Revolution, but the private correspondence
of these two great men, hitherto unpublished, discloses the full extent
of the mutual regard and affection which united them. It not only shows
that Washington entertained the highest opinion of the military talent,
the personal probity, and the general prudence and energy of Lafayette,
but that he regarded him with the tenderness of a father, and found in
the affection which Lafayette bore to him in return one of the greatest
comforts and blessings of his own life. Whenever the correspondence of
Washington and Lafayette shall be published, the publication will
do what perhaps nothing else can--raise them both in the esteem and
admiration of mankind.

Our readers will pardon this somewhat lengthened quotation respecting
the bosom friend of Washington. We now return to our narrative of

Late in the month of August (1777), Washington was relieved from his
suspense in regard to the movements of Howe. He received intelligence
that the British fleet had sailed up Chesapeake Bay, and that he was
landing his army at the head of Elk river, now Elkton. It was at length
clearly apparent that his object was the capture of Philadelphia.

At the place of debarkation the British army was within a few days'
march of Philadelphia; no great rivers were in its way, and there was
no very strong position of which the enemy could take possession. On
landing, General Howe issued a proclamation promising that private
property should be respected, and offering pardon and protection to all
who should submit to him, but, as the American army was at hand, the
proclamation produced little effect.

Washington distinctly understood the nature of the contest in which he
was engaged, and, sensible of the inferiority of his raw and disorderly
army to the veteran troops under Howe, he wished to avoid a general
engagement, but aware of the effect which the fall of Philadelphia would
produce on the minds of the people, determined to make every effort in
order to retard the progress and defeat the aim of the royal army.

Accordingly, he marched to meet General Howe, who, from want of horses,
many of which had perished in the voyage, and from other causes, was
unable to proceed from the head of the Elk before the 3d of September
(1777). On the advance of the royal array, Washington retreated across
Brandywine creek, which falls into the Delaware at Wilmington. He took
post with his main body opposite Chad's ford, where it was expected the
British would attempt the passage, and ordered General Sullivan, with a
detachment, to watch the fords above. He sent General Maxwell with about
1,000 light troops, to occupy the high ground on the other side of
the Brandywine, to skirmish with the British, and retard them in their

On the morning of the 11th of September, the British army advanced in
two columns; the right, under General Knyphausen, marched straight
to Chad's ford; the left, under Cornwallis, accompanied by Howe and
Generals Grey, Grant, and Agnew, proceeded by a circuitous route toward
a point named the Forks, where the two branches of the Brandywine unite,
with a view to turn the right of the Americans and gain their rear.
General Knyphausen's van soon found itself opposed to the light troops
under General Maxwell. A smart conflict ensued. General Knyphausen
reinforced his advanced guard, and drove the Americans across the
rivulet to shelter themselves under their batteries on the north bank.
General Knyphausen ordered some artillery to be placed on the most
advantageous points, and a cannonade was carried on with the American
batteries on the heights beyond the ford.

Meanwhile the left wing of the British crossed the fords above the
Forks. Of this movement General Washington had early notice, but the
information which he received from different quarters, through his raw
and unpracticed scouts, was confused and contradictory, and consequently
his operations were embarrassed. After passing the fords, Cornwallis
took the road to Dilworth, which led him on the American right. General
Sullivan, who had been appointed to guard that quarter, occupied the
heights above Birmingham Church, his left extending to the Brandywine,
his artillery judiciously placed, and his right flank covered by woods.
About four in the afternoon Cornwallis formed the line of battle
and began the attack: for some time the Americans sustained it with
intrepidity, but at length gave way. When Washington heard the firing
in that direction he ordered General Greene, with a brigade, to support
General Sullivan. General Greene marched four miles in forty-two
minutes, but, on reaching the scene of action, he found General
Sullivan's division defeated, and in confusion. He covered the retreat,
and, after some time, finding an advantageous position, he renewed the
battle, and arrested the progress of the pursuing enemy.

General Knyphausen, as soon as he heard the firing of Cornwallis's
division, forced the passage of Chad's ford, attacked the troops opposed
to him, and compelled them to make a precipitate and disorderly retreat.
General Washington, with the part of his army which he was able to keep
together, retired with his artillery and baggage to Chester, where he
halted within eight miles of the British army, till next morning, when
he retreated to Philadelphia.

Among the foreign officers engaged in this battle besides Lafayette, who
was wounded in the leg during the action, were General Deborre, a French
officer; [6] General Conway, an Irishman, who had served in France;
Capt. Louis Fleury, a French engineer, and Count Pulaski, a Polish
nobleman, subsequently distinguished as a commander of cavalry.

As must ever be the case in new-raised armies, unused to danger and from
which undeserving officers have not been expelled, their conduct was not
uniform. Some regiments, especially those which had served the preceding
campaign, maintained their ground with the firmness and intrepidity of
veterans, while others gave way as soon as they were pressed. The author
of a very correct history of the war, speaking of this action, says: "A
part of the troops, among whom were particularly numbered some Virginia
regiments, and the whole corps of artillery, behaved exceedingly well in
some of the actions of this day, exhibiting a degree of order, firmness,
and resolution, and preserving such a countenance in extremely sharp
service, as would not have discredited veterans. Some other bodies of
their troops behaved very badly."

The official letter of Sir William Howe stated his loss at rather less
than 100 killed and 400 wounded, and this account was accepted at the
time as true. A late discovery shows its falsehood. Mr. Headley, in his
recent "Life of Washington," notices the finding of a document which
settles the question.

It was found, he says, among Gen. James Clinton's papers, carefully
filed away and indorsed by himself. On the back, in his own handwriting,
is inscribed: "Taken from the enemy's ledgers, which fell into the hands
of General Washington's army at the action of Germantown."

Within is the following statement: "State of the British troops and
position they were in when they made the attack at Brandywine, the 11th
of September, 1777.

   The upper ford, under the command of Lieutenant
   Lord Cornwallis:

                                                        Killed and
   Second Regiment, British Guards; Second                 wounded.
   Regiment, Light Infantry                      1,740         612
   Second Brigade, British Foot                  2,240         360
   First Division, Hessians                        800          70
   Ferguson's Riflemen                              80          46
                                                ______       _____
   Totals                                        4,860       1,088

   Middle ford, under the command of Major-General

   Second Battalion, Guards                                    500
   Second Battalion, Second Highlanders                        700
   Second Battalion, Seventieth Highlanders                    700
   Total                                                     1,900

   Lower ford, under the command of Lieutenant-General

   Second Brigade, consisting of the Fourth,            Killed and
     Fifth, Tenth, Fifteenth, Twenty-third,                wounded.
     Twenty-seventh, Twenty-eighth, Fortieth,
     Forty-fourth, and Fifty-fifth Regiments     2,240         580
     Hessians to the amount of                     800          28
     Queen's Rangers                               480         290
                                              ________       _____

        Total                                    3,520         898
                                                 4,860       1,088
                                              ________      ______

        The whole British force                 10,280       1,986

The estimate, says Mr. Headley, of the total force which the British
had on the field, makes the two armies actually engaged about equal. The
heavy loss here given seems, at first sight, almost incredible, and
puts an entirely different aspect on the battle. Of the authenticity and
accuracy of this document I think there can be no doubt.

From the ardor with which Washington had inspired his troops before this
action, it is probable that the conflict would have been more severe had
the intelligence respecting the movement on the left of the British army
been less contradictory. Raw troops, changing their ground in the moment
of action, and attacked in the agitation of moving, are easily thrown
into confusion. This was the critical situation of a part of Sullivan's
division, and was the cause of its breaking before Greene could be
brought up to support it, after which it was impossible to retrieve the
fortune of the day. But had the best disposition of the troops been made
at the time, which subsequent intelligence would suggest, the action
could not have terminated in favor of the Americans. Their inferiority
in numbers, in discipline, and in arms was too great to leave them a
probable prospect of victory. A battle, however, was not to be avoided.
The opinion of the public and of Congress demanded it. The loss of
Philadelphia, without an attempt to preserve it, would have excited
discontent throughout the country, which might be productive of serious
mischief, and action, though attended with defeat, provided the loss
be not too great, must improve an army in which not only the military
talents, but even the courage of officers, some of them of high rank,
remained to be ascertained.

The battle of Brandywine was not considered as decisive by Congress,
the general, or the army. The opinion was carefully cherished that the
British had gained only the ground, and that their loss was still more
considerable than had been sustained by the Americans. Congress appeared
determined to risk another battle for the metropolis of America. Far
from discovering any intention to change their place of session, they
passed vigorous resolutions for reinforcing the army, and directed
Washington to give the necessary orders for completing the defenses of
the Delaware.

From Chester the army marched through Darby, over the Schuylkill bridge
to its former ground near the falls of that river. Greene's division,
which, having been less in action, was more entire than any other,
covered the rear, and the corps of Maxwell remained at Chester until
the next day as a rallying point for the small parties and straggling
soldiers who might yet be in the neighborhood.

Having allowed his army one day for repose and refreshment, Washington
recrossed the Schuylkill and proceeded on the Lancaster road, with the
intention of risking another engagement.

Sir William Howe passed the night of the 11th on the field of battle. On
the succeeding day he detached Major-General Grant with two brigades
to Concord Meeting House, and on the 13th (September, 1777), Lord
Cornwallis joined General Grant, and marched toward Chester. Another
detachment took possession of Wilmington, to which place the sick and
wounded were conveyed.

To prevent a sudden movement to Philadelphia by the lower road the
bridge over the Schuylkill was loosened from its moorings, and General
Armstrong was directed, with the Pennsylvania militia, to guard the
passes over that river.

On the fifteenth the American army, intending to gain the left of the
British, reached the Warren tavern, on the Lancaster road, twenty-three
miles from Philadelphia. Intelligence was received early next morning
that Howe was approaching in two columns. It being too late to reach the
ground he had intended to occupy Washington resolved to meet and engage
him in front.

Both armies prepared with great alacrity for battle. The advanced
parties had met, and were beginning to skirmish, when they were
separated by a heavy rain, which, becoming more and more violent,
rendered the retreat of the Americans a measure of absolute necessity.
The inferiority of their arms never brought them into such imminent
peril as on this occasion. Their gun-locks not being well secured, their
muskets soon became unfit for use. Their cartridge-boxes had been so
badly constructed as not to protect their ammunition from the tempest.
Their cartridges were soon damaged, and this mischief was the more
serious, because very many of the soldiers were without bayonets.

The army being thus rendered unfit for action the design of giving
battle was reluctantly abandoned by Washington and a retreat commenced.
It was continued all the day and great part of the night, through a cold
and most distressing rain and very deep roads. A few hours before day
(September 17th), the troops halted at the Yellow Springs, where their
arms and ammunition were examined, and the alarming fact was disclosed
that scarcely a musket in a regiment could be discharged and scarcely
one cartridge in a box was fit for use. This state of things suggested
the precaution of moving to a still greater distance in order to refit
their arms, obtain a fresh supply of ammunition, and revive the spirits
of the army. Washington therefore retired to Warwick Furnace on the
south branch of French creek, where ammunition and muskets might be
obtained in time to dispute the passage of the Schuylkill and make yet
another effort to save Philadelphia.

The extreme severity of the weather had entirely stopped the British
army. During two days Howe made no other movement than to unite his

From French creek General Wayne was detached with his division into
the rear of the British with orders to join General Smallwood, and,
carefully concealing himself and his movements, to seize every occasion
which this march might offer of engaging them to advantage. Meanwhile,
General Washington crossed the Schuylkill at Parker's Ferry, and
encamped on both sides of Perkyomen creek.

General Wayne lay in the woods near the entrance of the road from Darby
into that leading to Lancaster, about three miles in the rear of
the left wing of the British troops encamped at Trydruffin, where
he believed himself to be perfectly secure. But the country was so
extensively disaffected that Howe received accurate accounts of his
position and of his force. Major-General Gray was detached to surprise
him, and effectually accomplished his purpose. About 11 in the night of
the 20th his pickets, driven in with charged bayonets, gave the first
intimation of Gray's approach. Wayne instantly formed his division, and,
while his right sustained a fierce assault, directed a retreat by the
left, under cover of a few regiments, who, for a short time, withstood
the violence of shock. In his letter to Washington, he says that they
gave the assailants some well-directed fires, which must have done
considerable execution, and that, after retreating from the ground on
which the engagement commenced, they formed again, at a small distance
from the scene of action, but that both parties drew off without
renewing the conflict. He states his loss at about 150 killed and
wounded. The British accounts admit, on their part, a loss of only 7.

When the attack commenced, General Smallwood, who was on his march to
join Wayne, a circumstance entirely unexpected by General Gray, was
within less than a mile of him, and, had he commanded regulars, might
have given a very different turn to the night. But his militia thought
only of their own safety, and, having fallen in with a party returning
from the pursuit of Wayne, fled in confusion, with the loss of only one

Some severe animadversions on this unfortunate affair having been
made in the army, General Wayne demanded a court-martial, which, after
investigating his conduct, was unanimously of opinion, "that he had done
everything to be expected from an active, brave, and vigilant officer,"
and acquitted him with honor.

Having secured his rear, by compelling Wayne to take a greater distance,
Howe marched along the valley road to the Schuylkill and encamped on the
bank of that river, from the Fatland ford up to French creek, along
the front of the American army. To secure his right from being turned,
Washington again changed his position and encamped with his left near,
but above, the British right.

Howe now relinquished his plan of bringing Washington to another battle,
and thinking it advisable, perhaps, to transfer the seat of war to the
neighborhood of his ships, determined to cross the Schuylkill and take
possession of Philadelphia. In the afternoon he ordered one detachment
to cross at Fatland ford, which was on his right, and another to cross
at Gordon's ford, on his left, and to take possession of the heights
commanding them. These orders were executed without much difficulty, and
the American troops placed to defend these fords were easily dispersed.

This service being effected, the whole army marched by its right,
about midnight, and crossing at Fatland without opposition, proceeded
a considerable distance toward Philadelphia, and encamped with its left
near Sweed's ford and its right on the Manatawny road, having Stony Run
in its course.

It was now apparent that only immediate victory could save Philadelphia
from the grasp of the British general whose situation gave him the
option of either taking possession of that place or endeavoring to bring
on another engagement. If, therefore, a battle must certainly be risked
to save the capital it would be necessary to attack the enemy.

Public opinion, which a military chief finds too much difficulty in
resisting, and the opinion of Congress, required a battle; but, on a
temperate consideration of circumstances, Washington came to the wise
decision of avoiding one for the present.

His reasons for this decision were conclusive. Wayne and Smallwood had
not yet joined the army. The Continental troops ordered from Peekskill,
who had been detained for a time by an incursion from New York, were
approaching, and a reinforcement of Jersey militia, under General
Dickenson, was also expected.

To these powerful motives against risking an engagement, other
considerations of great weight were added, founded on the condition of
his soldiers. An army, maneuvering in an open country, in the face of
a very superior enemy, is unavoidably exposed to excessive fatigue and
extreme hardship. The effect of these hardships was much increased by
the privations under which the American troops suffered. While in almost
continual motion, wading deep rivers, and encountering every vicissitude
of the seasons, they were without tents, newly without shoes, or winter
clothes, and often without food.

A council of war concurred in the opinion Washington had formed, not to
march against the enemy, but to allow his harassed troops a few days
for repose and to remain on his present ground until the expected
reinforcements should arrive.

Immediately after the battle of Brandywine, the distressed situation
of the army had been represented to Congress, who had recommended the
executive of Pennsylvania to seize the cloths and other military stores
in the warehouses of Philadelphia, and, after granting certificates
expressing their value, to convey them to a place of safety. The
executive, being unwilling to encounter the odium of this strong
measure, advised that the extraordinary powers of the Commander-in-Chief
should be used on the occasion. Lieut. Col. Alexander Hamilton, one
of the General's aides, already in high estimation for his talents and
zeal, was employed on this delicate business. "Your own prudence," said
the General, in a letter to him while in Philadelphia, "will point out
the least exceptionable means to be pursued; but remember, delicacy and
a strict adherence to the ordinary mode of application must give place
to our necessities. We must, if possible, accommodate the soldiers with
such articles as they stand in need of or we shall have just reason
to apprehend the most injurious and alarming consequences from the
approaching season."

All the efforts, however, of this very active officer could not obtain
a supply in any degree adequate to the pressing and increasing wants of
the army.

Colonel Hamilton was also directed to cause the military stores which
had been previously collected to a large amount in Philadelphia, and the
vessels which were lying at the wharves, to be removed up the Delaware.
This duty was executed with so much vigilance that very little public
property fell, with the city, into the hands of the British general,
who entered it on the 26th of September (1777). The members of Congress
separated on the 18th, in the evening, and reassembled at Lancaster on
the 27th of the same month. From thence they subsequently adjourned
to Yorktown, where they remained eight months, till Philadelphia was
evacuated by the British.

From the 25th of August, when the British army landed at the head of
Elk, until the 26th of September, when it entered Philadelphia, the
campaign had been active, and the duties of the American general
uncommonly arduous.

Some English writers bestow high encomiums on Sir William Howe for his
military skill and masterly movements during this period. At Brandywine
especially, Washington is supposed to have been "out-generaled, more
out-generaled than in any action during the war." If all the operations
of this trying period be examined, and the means in possession of both
be considered, the American chief will appear in no respect inferior
to his adversary, or unworthy of the high place assigned to him in the
opinions of his countrymen. With an army decidedly inferior, not only
in numbers, but in every military requisite except courage, in an open
country, he employed his enemy near thirty days in advancing about sixty
miles. In this time he fought one general action, and, though defeated,
was able to reassemble the same undisciplined, unclothed, and almost
unfed army; and, the fifth day afterward, again to offer battle. When
the armies were separated by a storm which involved him in the most
distressing circumstances, he extricated himself from them, and still
maintained a respectable and imposing countenance.

The only advantage he is supposed to have given was at the battle of
Brandywine, and that was produced by the contrariety and uncertainty
of the intelligence received. A general must be governed by his
intelligence, and must regulate his measures by his information. It
is his duty to obtain correct information, and among the most valuable
traits of a military character is the skill to select those means which
will obtain it. Yet the best-selected means are not always successful;
and, in a new army, where military talent has not been well tried by the
standard of experience, the general is peculiarly exposed to the chance
of employing not the best instruments. In a country, too, which is
covered with wood precise information of the numbers composing different
columns is to be gained with difficulty.

Taking into view the whole series of operations, from the landing of
Howe at the Head of Elk to his entering Philadelphia, the superior
generalship of Washington is clearly manifest. Howe, with his numerous
and well-appointed army, performed a certain amount of routine work and
finally gained the immediate object which he had in view--the possession
of Philadelphia--when, by every military rule, he should have gone
up the Hudson to cooperate with Burgoyne. Washington, with his army,
composed almost entirely of raw recruits and militia, kept his adversary
out of Philadelphia a month, still menaced him with an imposing front in
his new position, and subsequently held him in check there while Gates
was defeating and capturing Burgoyne.

We shall see, in the ensuing chapter, that although Howe had attained
his first object in gaining possession of Philadelphia, he had still
many new difficulties and dangers to encounter at the hands of his
daring and persevering opponent before he could comfortably establish
himself in winter quarters.

1. Footnote: About this time the Royalists in the counties of Somerset
and Worcester, in the province of Maryland, became so formidable that an
insurrection was dreaded. And it was feared that the insurgents would,
in such a case, be joined by a number of disaffected persons in the
county of Sussex, in the Delaware State. Congress, to prevent this evil,
recommended the apprehension and removal of all persons of influence, or
of desperate characters, within the counties of Sussex, Worcester, and
Somerset, who manifested a disaffection to the American cause, to some
remote place within their respective States, there to be secured. From
appearances, Congress had also reason to believe that the Loyalists in
the New England governments and New York State, had likewise concerted
an insurrection. See Gordon's "History of the American Revolution," vol.
II, pp. 461, 462. By the same authority we are informed that General
Gates wrote to General Fellowes for a strong military force, for the
prevention of plots and insurrection in the provinces of New England and
New York.

2. Footnote: Congress voted a monument to his memory.

3. Footnote: Stedman, the British historian of the Revolution,
acknowledges a loss of 200, including 10 officers.

4. Footnote: Lieutenant-Colonel Palfrey, formerly an aide-de-camp to
General Washington, and now paymaster-general, wrote to his friend: "I
was at Brunswick just after the enemy had left it. Never let the
British troops upbraid the Americans with want of cleanliness, for such
dog-kennels as their huts were my eyes never beheld. Mr. Burton's house,
where Lord Cornwallis resided, stunk so I could not bear to enter it.
The houses were torn to pieces, and the inhabitants as well as the
soldiers have suffered greatly for want of provisions."--Gordon,
"History of the American Revolution."

5. Footnote: Eulogy on Lafayette. See "Orations and Speeches on Various
Occasions," by Edward Everett, vol. I, p. 462.

6. Footnote: Deborre's brigade broke first; and, on an inquiry into his
conduct being directed, he resigned. A misunderstanding existed between
him and Sullivan, on whose right he was stationed.

7. Footnote: All English writers do not concur in this view of the
matter. The British historian, Stedman, gives the following sharp
criticism on Howe's conduct in the affair of the Brandywine:

"The victory does not seem to have been improved in the degree which
circumstances appeared to have admitted. When the left column of the
British had turned Washington's right flank, his whole army was hemmed
in:--General Knyphausen and the Brandywine in front; Sir William Howe
and Lord Cornwallis on his right; the Delaware in his rear; and the
Christiana river on his left. He was obliged to retreat twenty-three
miles to Philadelphia, when the British lay within eighteen miles of
it. Had the Commander-in-Chief detached General Knyphausen's column in
pursuit early next morning, General Washington might with ease have been
intercepted, either at the Heights of Crum Creek, nine miles; at Derby,
fourteen; or at Philadelphia, eighteen miles, from the British camp;
or, the Schuylkill might have been passed at Gray's Ferry, only seventy
yards over, and Philadelphia, with the American magazines, taken, had
not the pontoons been improvidently left at New York as useless. Any one
of these movements, it was thought, might have been attended with the
total destruction of the American army. For some reason, however, which
it is impossible to divine, the Commander-in-Chief employed himself
for several days in making slight movements which could not by any
possibility produce any important benefits to the British cause."



Washington seems to have been by no means disheartened at the loss of
Philadelphia. On the contrary he justly regarded the circumstance of the
enemy holding that city as one which might, as in the sequel it actually
did, turn to the advantage of the American cause. Writing to General
Trumbull on the 1st of October (1777), he says: "You will hear, before
this gets to hand, that the enemy have at length gained possession of
Philadelphia. Many unavoidable difficulties and unlucky accidents which
we had to encounter helped to promote this success. This is an event
which we have reason to wish had not happened, and which will be
attended with several ill consequences, but I hope it will not be so
detrimental as many apprehend, and that a little time and perseverance
will give us some favorable opportunity of recovering our loss, and of
putting our affairs in a more flourishing condition. Our army has now
had the rest and refreshment it stood in need of, and our soldiers are
in very good spirits."

Philadelphia being lost Washington sought to make its occupation
inconvenient and insecure by rendering it inaccessible to the British
fleet. With this design works had been erected on a low, marshy island
in the Delaware, near the junction of the Schuylkill, which, from the
nature of its soil, was called Mud Island. On the opposite shore of
Jersey, at Red Bank, a fort had also been constructed which was defended
with heavy artillery. In the deep channel between, or under cover of
these batteries, several ranges of _chevaux-de-frise_ had been sunk.
These were so strong and heavy as to be destructive of any ship which
might strike against them, and were sunk in such a depth of water as
rendered it equally difficult to weigh them or cut them through; no
attempt to raise them, or to open the channel in any manner, could
be successful until the command of the shores on both sides should be

Other ranges of _chevaux-de-frise_ had been sunk about three miles
lower down the river, and some considerable works were in progress at
Billingsport on the Jersey side, which were in such forwardness as to be
provided with artillery. These works were further supported by several
galleys mounting heavy cannon, together with two floating batteries, a
number of armed vessels, and some fire ships.

The present relative situation of the armies gave a decisive importance
to these works. Cutting off the communication of Howe with his brother's
fleet, they prevented his receiving supplies by water. While the
American vessels in the river above Fort Mifflin, the name given to
the fort on Mud Island, rendered it difficult to forage in Jersey,
Washington hoped to render his supplies on the side of Pennsylvania so
precarious as to compel him to evacuate Philadelphia.

The advantages of this situation were considerably diminished by the
capture of the Delaware frigate.

The day after Cornwallis entered Philadelphia three batteries were
commenced for the purpose of acting against any American ships which
might appear before the town. While yet incomplete they were attacked
by two frigates, assisted by several galleys and gondolas. The Delaware,
being left by the tide while engaged with the battery, grounded and was
captured, soon after which the smaller frigate and the other vessels
retired under the guns of the fort. This circumstance was the more
unfortunate as it gave the British general the command of the ferry,
and consequently free access to Jersey, and enabled him to intercept the
communication between the forts below and Trenton, from which place the
garrisons were to have drawn their military stores.

All the expected reinforcements, except the State regiment and militia
from Virginia, being arrived, and the detached parties being called in,
the effective strength of the army amounted to 8,000 Continental troops
and 3,000 militia. With this force Washington determined to approach the
enemy and seize the first favorable moment to attack him. In pursuance
of this determination the army took a position on the Skippack road,
September 30th (1777), about twenty miles from Philadelphia and sixteen
from Germantown--a village stretching on both sides the great road
leading northward from Philadelphia, which forms one continued street
nearly two miles in length. The British line of encampment crossed
this village at right angles near the center, and Cornwallis, with four
regiments of grenadiers, occupied Philadelphia. The immediate object of
General Howe being the removal of the obstructions in the river, Colonel
Stirling, with two regiments, had been detached to take possession of
the fort at Billingsport, which he accomplished without opposition.
This service being effected, and the works facing the water destroyed,
Colonel Stirling was directed to escort a convoy of provisions from
Chester to Philadelphia. Some apprehensions being entertained for the
safety of this convoy, another regiment was detached from Germantown,
with directions to join Colonel Stirling.

This division of the British force appeared to Washington to furnish a
fair opportunity to engage Sir William Howe with advantage. Determining
to avail himself of it, he formed a plan for surprising the camp at
Germantown. This plan consisted, in its general outline, of a night
march and double attack, consentaneously made, on both flanks of the
enemy's right wing, while a demonstration, or attack, as circumstances
should render proper, was to be directed on the western flank of his
left wing. With these orders and objects the American army began its
march from Skippack creek at 7 o'clock in the evening of the 3d of
October (1777), in two columns--the right, under Sullivan and Wayne,
taking the Chestnut Hill road, followed by Stirling's division in
reserve; the left, composed of the divisions of Greene and Stephen,
with M'Dougal's brigade and 1,400 Maryland and Jersey militia taking
the Limekiln and old York roads, while Armstrong's Pennsylvania militia
advanced by the Ridge road. Washington accompanied the right wing, and
at dawn of day, next morning, attacked the royal army. After a smart
conflict he drove in the advance guard, which was stationed at the head
of the village, and with his army divided into five columns prosecuted
the attack, but Lieutenant-Colonel Musgrave, of the Fortieth regiment,
which had been driven in, and who had been able to keep five companies
of the regiment together, threw himself into a large stone house in the
village, belonging to Mr. Chew, which stood in front of the main column
of the Americans, and there almost a half of Washington's army was
detained for a considerable time. Instead of masking Chew's house with
a sufficient force and advancing rapidly with their main body, the
Americans attacked the house, which was obstinately defended. The delay
was very unfortunate, for the critical moment was lost in fruitless
attempts on the house; the royal troops had time to get under arms and
be in readiness to resist or attack, as circumstances required. General
Grey came to the assistance of Colonel Musgrave; the engagement for some
time was general and warm; at length the Americans began to give way and
effected a retreat with all their artillery. The morning was very foggy,
a circumstance which had prevented the Americans from combining and
conducting their operations as they otherwise might have done, but which
now favored their retreat by concealing their movements.

In this engagement the British had 600 men killed or wounded; among
the slain were Brigadier-General Agnew and Colonel Bird, officers of
distinguished reputation. The Americans lost an equal number in killed
and wounded, besides 400 who were taken prisoners. General Nash, of
North Carolina, was among those who were killed. After the battle
Washington returned to his encampment at Skippack creek.

The plan of attack formed by Washington for the battle of Germantown
was fully justified by the result. The British camp was completely
surprised, and their army was on the point of being entirely routed,
when the continued fog led the American soldiers to mistake friends
for foes, and caused a panic which threw everything into confusion and
enabled the enemy to rally.

Washington, writing to his brother John Augustine, says: "If it had not
been for a thick fog, which rendered it so dark at times that we were
not able to distinguish friend from foe at the distance of thirty yards,
we should, I believe, have made a decisive and glorious day of it. But
Providence designed it otherwise, for, after we had driven the enemy a
mile or two, after they were in the utmost confusion and flying before
us in most places, after we were upon the point, as it appeared to
everybody, of grasping a complete victory, our own troops took fright
and fled with precipitation and disorder. How to account for this I know
not, unless, as I before observed, the fog represented their own friends
to them for a reinforcement of the enemy, as we attacked in different
quarters at the same time, and were about closing the wings of our army
when this happened. One thing, indeed, contributed not a little to our
misfortune, and that was a want of ammunition on the right wing, which
began the engagement, and in the course of two hours and forty minutes,
which time it lasted, had, many of them, expended the forty rounds that
they took into the field. After the engagement we removed to a place
about twenty miles from the enemy to collect our forces together, to
take care of our wounded, get furnished with necessaries again, and be
in a better posture either for offensive or defensive operations. We are
now advancing toward the enemy again, being at this time within twelve
miles of them."

Writing to the President of Congress (October 7, 1777) he still imputes
the disaster to the fog: "It is with much chagrin and mortification I
add that every account confirms the opinion I at first entertained, that
our troops retreated at the instant when victory was declaring herself
in our favor. The tumult, disorder, and even despair, which, it seems,
had taken place in the British army, were scarcely to be paralleled; and
it is said, so strongly did the idea of a retreat prevail, that Chester
was fixed on as their rendezvous. I can discover no other cause for
not improving this happy opportunity, than the extreme haziness of the

Much controversy has arisen among writers as to the cause of failure
at Germantown, but Washington's means of observation were certainly
not inferior to those of any other person whatever, and in the above
extracts the whole matter is clearly explained. He does not refer to
the delay at Chew's house as the cause of failure. Panic struck as the
British were, they would have been defeated, notwithstanding the delay
at that impromptu fortress, if the fog had not occasioned the American
soldiers to believe that the firing on their own side proceeded from the
enemy, and that they were about to be surrounded. Hence the recoil and
retreat. It was apparently a great misfortune, but it was the destiny
of Washington to achieve greatness in spite of severe and repeated

The same opinion respecting the fog is expressed in the following
extract from a letter from General Sullivan to the President of New
Hampshire: "We brought off all our cannon and all our wounded. Our loss
in the action amounts to less than 700, mostly wounded. We lost some
valuable officers, among whom were the brave General Nash, and my two
aides-de-camp, Majors Sherburne and White, whose singular bravery must
ever do honor to their memories. Our army rendezvoused at Paulen's
Mills, and seems very desirous of another action. The misfortunes of
this day were principally owing to a thick fog which, being rendered
still more so by the smoke of the cannon and musketry, prevented our
troops from discovering the motions of the enemy, or acting in concert
with each other. I cannot help observing that with great concern I saw
our brave commander exposing himself to the hottest fire of the enemy in
such a manner that regard for my country obliged me to ride to him and
beg him to retire. He, to gratify me and some others, withdrew a small
distance, but his anxiety for the fate of the day soon brought him up
again, where he remained till our troops had retreated."

Congress unanimously adopted the following resolution on hearing of the
battle of Germantown:

"_Resolved,_ That the thanks of Congress be given to General Washington,
for his wise and well-concerted attack upon the enemy's army near
Germantown, on the 4th instant, and to the officers and soldiers of the
army for their brave exertions on that occasion; Congress being well
satisfied, that the best designs and boldest efforts may sometimes fail
by unforeseen incidents, trusting that, on future occasions, the valor
and virtue of the army will, by the blessing of Heaven, be crowned with
complete and deserved success."

The attention of both armies was now principally directed to the forts
below Philadelphia. These it was the great object of Howe to destroy,
and of Washington to defend and maintain.

The loss of the Delaware frigate, and of Billingsport, greatly
discouraged the seamen by whom the galleys and floating batteries
were manned. Believing the fate of America to be decided, an opinion
strengthened by the intelligence received from their connections in
Philadelphia, they manifested the most alarming defection, and several
officers as well as sailors deserted to the enemy. This desponding
temper was checked by the battle of Germantown, and by throwing a
garrison of Continental troops into the fort at Red Bank, called Fort
Mercer, the defense of which had been entrusted to militia. This fort
commanded the channel between the Jersey shore and Mud Island, and the
American vessels were secure under its guns. The militia of Jersey
were relied on to reinforce its garrison, and also to form a corps of
observation which might harass the rear of any detachment investing the

To increase the inconvenience of Howe's situation by intercepting his
supplies Washington ordered 600 militia, commanded by General Potter,
to cross the Schuylkill and scour the country between that river and
Chester, and the militia on the Delaware, above Philadelphia, were
directed to watch the roads in that vicinity.

The more effectually to stop those who were seduced by the hope of gold
and silver to supply the enemy at this critical time, Congress passed a
resolution subjecting to martial law and to death all who should furnish
them with provisions, or certain other enumerated articles, who should
be taken within thirty miles of any city, town, or place in Jersey,
Pennsylvania, or Delaware, occupied by British troops.

These arrangements being made to cut off supplies from the country,
Washington took a strong position at White Marsh, within fourteen miles
of Philadelphia.

Meanwhile General Howe was actively preparing to attack Fort Mifflin
from the Pennsylvania shore. He erected some batteries at the mouth of
the Schuylkill, in order to command Webb's Ferry, which were attacked by
Commodore Hazlewood and silenced; but the following night a detachment
crossed over Webb's Ferry into Province Island, and constructed a slight
work opposite Fort Mifflin, within two musket shots of the blockhouse,
from which they were enabled to throw shot and shells into the barracks.
When daylight discovered this work three galleys and a floating battery
were ordered to attack it and the garrison surrendered. While the boats
were bringing off the prisoners, a large column of British troops
were seen marching into the fortress, upon which the attack on it
was renewed, but without success, and two attempts made by
Lieutenant-Colonel Smith to storm it failed. [1]

In a few nights works were completed on the high ground of Province
Island, which enfiladed the principal battery of Fort Mifflin, and
rendered it necessary to throw up some cover on the platform to protect
the men who worked the guns.

The aid expected from the Jersey militia was not received. "Assure
yourself," said Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, in a letter pressing earnestly
for a reinforcement of Continental troops, "that no dependence is to be
put on the militia; whatever men your Excellency determines on sending,
no time is to be lost." The garrison of Fort Mifflin was now reduced to
156 effectives, and that of Red Bank did not much exceed 200.

In consequence of these representations Washington ordered Col.
Christopher Greene, of Rhode Island, with his regiment, to Red Bank,
and Lieut.-Col. John Greene, of Virginia, with about 200 men, to Fort

Immediately after the battle of Brandywine Admiral Howe had sailed for
the Delaware, where he expected to arrive in time to meet and cooperate
with the army in and about Philadelphia. But the winds were so
unfavorable, and the navigation of the Bay of Delaware so difficult,
that his van did not get into the river until the 4th of October. The
ships of war and transports which followed came up from the 6th to the
8th, and anchored from New Castle to Reddy Island.

The frigates, in advance of the fleet, had not yet succeeded in
their endeavors to effect a passage through the lower double row
of _chevaux-de-frise_. Though no longer protected by the fort at
Billingsport, they were defended by the water force above, and the work
was found more difficult than had been expected. It was not until the
middle of October that the impediments were so far removed as to afford
a narrow and intricate passage through them. In the meantime the fire
from the Pennsylvania shore had not produced all the effect expected
from it, and it was perceived that greater exertions would be necessary
for the reduction of the works than could safely be made in the present
relative situation of the armies. Under this impression, General Howe,
soon after the return of the American army to its former camp on the
Skippack, withdrew his troops from Germantown into Philadelphia, as
preparatory to a combined attack by land and water on Forts Mercer and

After effecting a passage through the works sunk in the river at
Billingsport, other difficulties still remained to be encountered by
the ships of war. Several rows of _chevaux-de-frise_ had been sunk about
half a mile below Mud Island, which were protected by the guns of the
forts, as well as by the movable water force. To silence these
works, therefore, was a necessary preliminary to the removal of these
obstructions in the channel.

On the 21st of October (1777) a detachment of Hessians, amounting
to 1,200 men, commanded by Col. Count Donop, crossed the Delaware
at Philadelphia with orders to storm Fort Mercer, at Red Bank. The
fortifications consisted of extensive outer works, within which was an
entrenchment eight or nine feet high, boarded and fraized. Late in the
evening of the 22d Count Donop appeared before the fort and attacked
it with great intrepidity. It was defended with equal resolution by
the brave garrison of Rhode Island Continentals, under command of Col.
Christopher Greene. The outer works being too extensive to be manned
by the troops in the fort, were used only to gall the assailants while
advancing. On their near approach the garrison retired within the
inner entrenchment, whence they poured upon the Hessians a heavy
and destructive fire. Colonel Donop received a mortal wound, and
Lieutenant-Colonel Mengerode, the second in command, fell about the same
time. [2]

Lieutenant-Colonel Linsing, the oldest remaining officer, drew off his
troops and returned next day to Philadelphia. The loss of the assailants
was estimated by the Americans at 400 men. The garrison was reinforced
from Fort Mifflin, and aided by the galleys which flanked the Hessians
in their advance and retreat. The American loss, in killed and wounded,
amounted to only thirty-two men.

The ships having been ordered to cooperate with Count Donop,
the Augusta, with four smaller vessels, passed the lower line of
_chevaux-de-frise_, opposite to Billingsport, and lay above it, waiting
until the assault should be made on the fort. The flood tide setting in
about the time the attack commenced they moved with it up the river.
The obstructions sunk in the Delaware had in some degree changed its
channel, in consequence of which the Augusta and the Merlin grounded a
considerable distance below the second line of _chevaux-de-frise_, and a
strong wind from the north so checked the rising of the tide that these
vessels could not be floated by the flood. Their situation, however, was
not discerned that evening, as the frigates which were able to approach
the fort, and the batteries from the Pennsylvania shore, kept up an
incessant fire on the garrison, till night put an end to the cannonade.
Early next morning it was recommenced in the hope that, under its
cover, the Augusta and the Merlin might be got off. The Americans, on
discovering their situation, sent four fire ships against them, but
without effect. Meanwhile a warm cannonade took place on both sides,
in the course of which the Augusta took fire, and it was found
impracticable to extinguish the flames. Most of the men were taken out,
the frigates withdrawn, and the Merlin set on fire, after which the
Augusta blew up, and a few of the crew were lost in her.

This repulse inspired Congress with flattering hopes for the permanent
defense of the posts on the Delaware. That body expressed its high sense
of the merits of Colonel Greene, of Rhode Island, who had commanded in
Fort Mercer; of Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, of Maryland, who had commanded
in Fort Mifflin; and of Commodore Hazlewood, who commanded the galleys;
and presented a sword to each of these officers, as a mark of the
estimation in which their services were held.

The situation of these forts was far from justifying this confidence
of their being defensible. That on Mud Island had been unskillfully
constructed and required at least 800 men fully to man the lines. The
island is about half a mile long. Fort Mifflin was placed at the lower
end, having its principal fortifications in front for the purpose of
repelling ships coming up the river. The defenses in the rear consisted
only of a ditch and palisade, protected by two blockhouses, the upper
story of one of which had been destroyed in the late cannonade. Above
the fort were two batteries opposing those constructed by the British on
Province and Carpenter's Islands, which were separated from Mud Island
only by a narrow passage between 400 and 500 yards wide.

The garrison of Fort Mifflin consisted of only 300 Continental troops,
who were worn down with fatigue and incessant watching, under the
constant apprehension of being attacked from Province Island, from
Philadelphia, and from the ships below.

Having failed in every attempt to draw the militia of New Jersey to the
Delaware, Washington determined to strengthen the garrison by further
drafts from his army. Three hundred Pennsylvania militia were detached
to be divided between the two forts, and a few days afterward General
Varnum was ordered, with his brigade, to take a position above Woodbury,
near Red Bank, and to relieve and reinforce the garrisons of both
forts as far as his strength would permit. Washington hoped that the
appearance of so respectable a Continental force might encourage the
militia to assemble in greater numbers.

Aware of the advantage to result from a victory over the British army
while separated from the fleet, Washington had been uniformly determined
to risk much to gain one. He had, therefore, after the battle of
Germantown, continued to watch assiduously for an opportunity to attack
his enemy once more to advantage. The circumspect caution of General
Howe afforded none. After the repulse at Red Bank his measures were slow
but certain, and were calculated to insure the possession of the forts
without exposing his troops to the hazard of an assault.

In this state of things intelligence was received of the successful
termination of the northern campaign, in consequence of which great part
of the troops who had been employed against Burgoyne, might be drawn to
the aid of the army in Pennsylvania. But Washington had just grounds to
apprehend that before these reinforcements could arrive Howe would gain
possession of the forts and remove the obstructions to the navigation of
the Delaware. This apprehension furnished a strong motive for vigorous
attempts to relieve Fort Mifflin. But the relative force of the armies,
the difficulty of acting offensively against Philadelphia, and, above
all, the reflection that a defeat might disable him from meeting his
enemy in the field even after the arrival of the troops expected from
the north, determined Washington not to hazard a second attack under
existing circumstances.

To expedite the reinforcements for which he waited, Washington
dispatched Colonel Hamilton to General Gates, with directions to
represent to him the condition of the armies in Pennsylvania, and
to urge him, if he contemplated no other service of more importance,
immediately to send the regiments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to
aid the army of the middle department. These orders were not peremptory,
because it was possible that some other object (as the capture of New
York) still more interesting than the expulsion of General Howe from
Philadelphia might be contemplated by Gates; and Washington meant not to
interfere with the accomplishment of such object.

On reaching General Putnam, Colonel Hamilton found that a considerable
part of the northern army had joined that officer, but that Gates had
detained four brigades at Albany for an expedition intended to be made
in the winter against Ticonderoga. Having made such arrangements with
Putnam as he supposed would secure the immediate march of a large body
of Continental troops from that station, Colonel Hamilton proceeded
to Albany for the purpose of remonstrating with General Gates against
retaining so large and valuable a part of the army unemployed at a time
when the most imminent danger threatened the vitals of the country.
Gates was by no means disposed to part with his troops. He could not
believe that an expedition then preparing at New York was designed
to reinforce General Howe; and insisted that, should the troops then
embarked at that place, instead of proceeding to the Delaware, make a
sudden movement up the Hudson, it would be in their power, should Albany
be left defenseless, to destroy the valuable arsenal which had been
there erected, and the military stores captured with Burgoyne, which had
been chiefly deposited in that town.

Having, after repeated remonstrances, obtained an order directing three
brigades to the Delaware, Hamilton hastened back to Putnam and found the
troops which had been ordered to join Washington, still at Peekskill.
The detachment from New York had suggested to Putnam the possibility
of taking that place; and he does not appear to have made very great
exertions to divest himself of a force he deemed necessary for an
object, the accomplishment of which would give so much splendor to his
military character. In addition to this circumstance, an opinion had
gained ground among the soldiers that their share of service for the
campaign had been performed, and that it was time for them to go into
winter quarters. Great discontents, too, prevailed concerning their pay,
which the government had permitted to be more than six months in arrear;
and in Poor's brigade a mutiny broke out in the course of which a
soldier who was run through the body by his captain, shot the captain
dead before he expired. Colonel Hamilton came in time to borrow money
from the Governor, George Clinton, of New York, to put the troops
in motion; and they proceeded by brigades to the Delaware. But these
several delays retarded their arrival until the contest for the forts on
that river was terminated.

The preparations of Sir William Howe being completed, a large battery on
Province Island of twenty-four and thirty-two pounders and two howitzers
of eight inches each opened, early in the morning of the 10th of
November, upon Fort Mifflin, at the distance of 500 yards, and kept
up an incessant fire for several successive days. The blockhouses were
reduced to a heap of ruins; the palisades were beaten down, and most of
the guns dismounted and otherwise disabled. The barracks were battered
in every part, so that the troops could not remain in them. They were
under the necessity of working and watching the whole night to repair
the damages of the day, and to guard against a storm, of which they were
in perpetual apprehension. If, in the days, a few moments were allowed
for repose, it was taken on the wet earth, which, in consequence of
heavy rains, had become a soft mud. The garrison was relieved by General
Varnum every forty-eight hours, but his brigade was so weak that half
the men were constantly on duty.

Colonel Smith was decidedly of opinion, and General Varnum concurred
with him, that the garrison could not repel an assault, and ought to be
withdrawn; but Washington still cherished the hope that the place might
be maintained until he should be reinforced from the northern army.
Believing that an assault would not be attempted until the works were
battered down, he recommended that the whole night should be employed in
making repairs. His orders were that the place should be defended to the
last extremity; and never were orders more faithfully executed.

Several of the garrison were killed and among them Captain Treat, a
gallant officer, who commanded the artillery. Colonel Smith received a
contusion on his hip and arm which compelled him to give up the command
and retire to Red Bank. Major Fleury, a French officer of distinguished
merit, who served as engineer, reported to Washington that, although
the blockhouses were beaten down, all the guns in them, except two,
disabled, and several breaches made in the walls, the place was still
defensible; but the garrison was so unequal to the numbers required by
the extent of the lines, and was so dispirited by watching, fatigue, and
constant exposure to the cold rains, which were almost incessant, that
he dreaded the event of an attempt to carry the place by storm. Fresh
troops were ordered to their relief from Varnum's brigade, and the
command was taken, first by Colonel Russell, and afterward by Major
Thayer. The artillery, commanded by Captain Lee, continued to be well
served. The besiegers were several times thrown into confusion, and a
floating battery, which opened on the morning of the 14th, was silenced
in the course of the day.

The defense being unexpectedly obstinate, the assailants brought up
their ships (November 15, 1777) as far as the obstructions in the river
permitted and added their fire to that of the batteries, which was the
more fatal as the cover for the troops had been greatly impaired. The
brave garrison, however, still maintained their ground with unshaken
firmness. In the midst of this stubborn conflict, the Vigilant and a
sloop-of-war were brought up the inner channel, between Mud and Province
Islands, which had, unobserved by the besieged, been deepened by the
current in consequence of the obstructions in the main channel, and,
taking a station within 100 yards of the works, not only kept up a
destructive cannonade, but threw hand-grenades into them, while the
musketeers from the round-top of the Vigilant killed every man that
appeared on the platform.

Major Thayer applied to the Commodore to remove these vessels, and he
ordered six galleys on the service, but, after reconnoitering their
situation, the galleys returned without attempting anything. Their
report was that these ships were so covered by the batteries on Province
Island as to be unassailable.

It was now apparent to all that the fort could be no longer defended.
The works were in ruins. The position of the Vigilant rendered any
further continuance on the island a prodigal and useless waste of human
life; and on the 16th, about 11 at night, the garrison was withdrawn.

A second attempt was made to drive the vessels from their stations, with
a determination, should it succeed, to repossess the island, but the
galleys effected nothing, and a detachment from Province Island soon
occupied the ground which had been abandoned.

The day after, receiving intelligence of the evacuation of Fort Mifflin,
Washington deputed Generals De Kalb and Knox to confer with General
Varnum and the officers at Fort Mercer on the practicability of
continuing to defend the obstructions in the channel, to report thereon,
and to state the force which would be necessary for that purpose. Their
report was in favor of continuing the defense. A council of the navy
officers had already been called by the Commodore in pursuance of a
request of the Commander-in-Chief, made before the evacuation had taken
place, who were unanimously of opinion that it would be impracticable
for the fleet, after the loss of the island, to maintain its station or
to assist in preventing the _chevaux-de-frise_ from being weighed by the
ships of the enemy.

General Howe had now completed a line of defense from the Schuylkill to
the Delaware, and a reinforcement from New York had arrived at Chester.
These two circumstances enabled him to form an army in the Jerseys,
sufficient for the reduction of Fort Mercer, without weakening himself
so much in Philadelphia as to put his lines in hazard. Still, deeming
it of the utmost importance to open the navigation of the Delaware
completely, he detached Lord Cornwallis, about 1 in the morning of the
17th (1777), with a strong body of troops to Chester. From that place
his lordship crossed over to Billingsport, where he was joined by the
reinforcement from New York.

Washington received immediate intelligence of the march of this
detachment, which he communicated to General Varnum, with orders that
Fort Mercer should be defended to the last extremity. With a view to
military operations in that quarter he ordered one division of the
army to cross the river at Burlington, and dispatched expresses to the
northern troops who were marching on by brigades, directing them to move
down the Delaware on its northern side until they should receive further

General Greene was selected for this expedition. A hope was entertained
that he would be able not only to protect Fort Mercer, but to obtain
some decisive advantage over Lord Cornwallis, as the situation of
the fort, which his lordship could not invest without placing himself
between Timber and Manto creeks, would expose the assailants to great
peril from a respectable force in their rear. But, before Greene could
cross the Delaware, Cornwallis approached with an army rendered more
powerful than had been expected by the junction of the reinforcement
from New York, and Fort Mercer was evacuated. A few of the smaller
galleys escaped up the river, and the others were burnt by their crews.

Washington still hoped to recover much of what had been lost. A victory
would restore the Jersey shore, and this object was deemed so important
that General Greene's instructions indicated the expectation that he
would be in a condition to fight Cornwallis.

Greene feared the reproach of avoiding an action less than the just
censure of sacrificing the real interests of his country by engaging the
enemy on disadvantageous terms. The numbers of the British exceeded his,
even counting his militia as regulars, and he determined to wait for
Glover's brigade, which was marching from the north. Before its arrival,
Cornwallis took post on Gloucester point, a point of land making deep
into the Delaware, which was entirely under cover of the guns of the
ships, from which place he was embarking his baggage and the provisions
he had collected for Philadelphia.

Believing that Cornwallis would immediately follow the magazines he had
collected, and that the purpose of Howe was, with his united forces,
to attack the American army while divided, General Washington ordered
Greene to re-cross the Delaware and join the army.

Thus, after one continued struggle of more than six weeks, in which
the Continental troops displayed great military virtues, the army in
Philadelphia secured itself in the possession of that city by opening a
free communication with the fleet.

While Lord Cornwallis was in Jersey, and General Greene on the Delaware
above him, the reinforcements from the north being received, an attack
on Philadelphia was strongly pressed by several officers high in rank,
and was, in some measure, urged by that torrent of public opinion,
which, if not resisted by a very firm mind, overwhelms the judgment, and
by controlling measures not well comprehended may frequently produce,
especially in military transactions, the most disastrous effects. The
officers who advised this measure were Lord Stirling, Generals Wayne,
Scott, and Woodford. The considerations urged upon Washington in its
support were: That the army was now in greater force than he could
expect it to be at any future time; that being joined by the troops who
had conquered Burgoyne, his own reputation, the reputation of his army,
the opinion of Congress and of the nation required some decisive blow
on his part; and that the rapid depreciation of the paper currency,
by which the resources for carrying on the war were dried up, rendered
indispensable some grand effort to bring it to a speedy termination.

Washington reconnoitered the enemy's lines with great care and took into
serious consideration the plan of attack proposed. The plan proposed
was that General Greene should embark 2,000 men at Dunks' ferry, and
descending the Delaware in the night land in the town just before day,
attack the enemy in the rear, and take possession of the bridge over the
Schuylkill; that a strong corps should march down on the west side of
that river, occupy the heights enfilading the works of the enemy, and
open a brisk cannonade upon them, while a detachment from it should
march down to the bridge and attack in front at the same instant that
the party descending the river should commence its assault on the rear.

Not only the Commander-in-Chief, but some of his best officers--those
who could not be impelled by the clamors of the ill-informed to ruin the
public interests--were opposed to this mad enterprise. The two armies,
they said, were now nearly equal in point of numbers, and the detachment
under Lord Cornwallis could not be supposed to have so weakened Sir
William Howe as to compensate for the advantages of his position. His
right was covered by the Delaware, his left by the Schuylkill, his
rear by the junction of those two rivers, as well as by the city of
Philadelphia, and his front by a line of redoubts extending from river
to river and connected by an abatis and by circular works. It would be
indispensably necessary to carry all these redoubts, since to leave a
part of them to play on the rear of the columns while engaged in front
with the enemy in Philadelphia would be extremely hazardous. Supposing
the redoubts carried and the British army driven into the town, yet
all military men were agreed on the great peril of storming a town. The
streets would be defended by an artillery greatly superior to that of
the Americans, which would attack in front, while the brick houses
would be lined with musketeers, whose fire must thin the ranks of the

A part of the plan, on the successful execution of which the whole
depended, was that the British rear should be surprised by the corps
descending the Delaware. This would require the concurrence of too many
favorable circumstances to be calculated on with any confidence. As the
position of General Greene was known, it could not be supposed that Sir
William Howe would be inattentive to him. It was probable that not even
his embarkation would be made unnoticed, but it was presuming a degree
of negligence which ought not to be assumed to suppose that he could
descend the river to Philadelphia undiscovered. So soon as his movement
should be observed, the whole plan would be comprehended, since it would
never be conjectured that Greene was to attack singly.

If the attack in front should fail, which was not even improbable, the
total loss of the 2,000 men in the rear must follow, and General Howe
would maintain his superiority through the winter.

The situation did not require these desperate measures. The British
general would be compelled to risk a battle on equal terms or to
manifest a conscious inferiority to the American army. The depreciation
of paper money was the inevitable consequence of immense emissions
without corresponding taxes. It was by removing the cause, not by
sacrificing the army, that this evil was to be corrected.

Washington possessed too much discernment to be dazzled by the false
brilliant presented by those who urged the necessity of storming
Philadelphia in order to throw lustre round his own fame and that of
his army, and too much firmness of temper, too much virtue and real
patriotism to be diverted from a purpose believed to be right, by the
clamors of faction or the discontents of ignorance. Disregarding
the importunities of mistaken friends, the malignant insinuations of
enemies, and the expectations of the ill-informed, he persevered in his
resolution to make no attempt on Philadelphia. He saved his army and was
able to keep the field in the face of his enemy, while the clamor of the
moment wasted in air and was forgotten.

About this time Washington learnt, by a letter from General Greene, that
his young friend Lafayette, although hardly recovered from the wound
received at Brandywine, had signalized his spirit and courage by
an attack on Cornwallis' picket guard at Gloucester point, below
Philadelphia. "The Marquis," writes Greene, "with about 400 militia and
the rifle corps, attacked the enemy's picket last evening, killed about
20, wounded many more, and took about 20 prisoners. The Marquis is
charmed with the spirited behavior of the militia and rifle corps; they
drove the enemy about half a mile and kept the ground till dark. The
enemy's picket consisted of about 300 and were reinforced during the
skirmish. The Marquis is determined to be in the way of danger."

The following letter to Washington, cited by Sparks, contains
Lafayette's own account of this affair: "After having spent the most
part of the day in making myself well acquainted with the certainty of
the enemy's motions, I came pretty late into the Gloucester road between
the two creeks. I had 10 light horse, almost 150 riflemen, and 2 pickets
of militia. Colonel Armand, Colonel Laumoy, and the Chevaliers
Duplessis and Gimat were the Frenchmen with me. A scout of my men, under
Duplessis, went to ascertain how near to Gloucester were the enemy's
first pickets, and they found at the distance of two miles and a half
from that place a strong post of 350 Hessians, with field pieces, and
they engaged immediately. As my little reconnoitering party were all in
fine spirits I supported them. We pushed the Hessians more than half a
mile from the place where their main body had been and we made them run
very fast. British reinforcements came twice to them, but, very far
from recovering their ground, they always retreated. The darkness of the
night prevented us from pursuing our advantage. After standing on
the ground we had gained, I ordered them to return very slowly to

The Marquis had only one man killed and six wounded. "I take the
greatest pleasure," he added, "in letting you know that the conduct
of our soldiers was above all praise. I never saw men so merry, so
spirited, and so desirous to go on to the enemy, whatever force they
might have, as that same small party in this little fight."

Washington, in a letter to Congress dated November 26, 1777, mentions
this affair with commendation, and suggests, as he had repeatedly done
before, Lafayette's appointment to one of the vacant divisions of the
army, and on the same day that this letter was received Congress
voted that such an appointment would be agreeable to them. Three days
afterward Washington placed Lafayette in command of the division of
General Stephen, who had been dismissed from the army for having been
intoxicated, to the great injury of the public service, on the eventful
day of the battle of Germantown. We shall see that this appointment, by
enabling Lafayette to act occasionally on a separate command, afforded
him the opportunity of rendering essential service to the cause of

On the 27th of November (1777), the Board of War was increased
from three to five members, viz.: General Mifflin, formerly aide to
Washington and recently quartermaster-general; Joseph Trumbull, Richard
Peters, Col. Timothy Pickering, of Massachusetts, and General Gates.
Gates was appointed president of the board, with many flattering
expressions from Congress. His recent triumph over Burgoyne had gained
him many friends among the members of Congress and a few among the
officers of the army. His head, naturally not over-strong, had been
turned by success, and he entered into the views of a certain clique
which had recently been formed, whose object was to disparage Washington
and put forward rather high pretensions in favor of the "hero of
Saratoga." This clique, called from the name of its most active member,
General Conway, the "Conway Cabal," we shall notice hereafter. At the
time of this change in the constitution of the Board of War it was in
full activity, and its operations were well known to Washington. In
fact, he had already applied the match which ultimately exploded the
whole conspiracy and brought lasting disgrace on every one of its

General Howe in the meantime was preparing to attack Washington in
his camp, and, as he confidently threatened, to "drive him beyond the

On the 4th of December (1777), Captain M'Lane, a vigilant officer on the
lines, discovered that an attempt to surprise the American camp at
White Marsh was about to be made, and communicated the information to
Washington. In the evening of the same day General Howe marched out of
Philadelphia with his whole force, and about 11 at night, M'Lane, who
had been detached with 100 chosen men, attacked the British van at
the Three Mile Run on the Germantown road, and compelled their front
division to change its line of march. He hovered on the front and flank
of the advancing army, galling them severely until 3 next morning, when
the British encamped on Chestnut Hill in front of the American right,
and distant from it about three miles. A slight skirmish had also taken
place between the Pennsylvania militia, under General Irvine, and the
advanced light parties of the enemy, in which the general was wounded
and the militia without much other loss were dispersed.

The range of hills on which the British were posted approached nearer
to those occupied by the Americans as they stretched northward. Having
passed the day in reconnoitering the right Howe changed his ground in
the course of the night, and moving along the hills to his right took
an advantageous position about a mile in front of the American left.
The next day he inclined still further to his right, and in doing so
approached still nearer to the left wing of the American army. Supposing
a general engagement to be approaching Washington detached Gist, with
some Maryland militia, and Morgan, with his rifle corps, to attack the
flanking and advanced parties of the enemy. A sharp action ensued in
which Major Morris, of New Jersey, a brave officer in Morgan's regiment
was mortally wounded, and twenty-seven of his men were killed and
wounded. A small loss was also sustained in the militia. The parties
first attacked were driven in, but the enemy reinforcing in numbers and
Washington unwilling to move from the heights and engage on the ground
which was the scene of the skirmish, declining to reinforce Gist and
Morgan, they, in turn, were compelled to retreat.

Howe continued to maneuver toward the flank and in front of the left
wing of the American army. Expecting to be attacked in that quarter in
full force Washington made such changes in the disposition of his troops
as the occasion required, and the day was consumed in these movements.
In the course of it Washington rode through every brigade of his army,
delivering in person his orders respecting the manner of receiving the
enemy, exhorting his troops to rely principally on the bayonet, and
encouraging them by the steady firmness of his countenance, as well as
by his words, to a vigorous performance of their duty. The dispositions
of the evening indicated an intention to attack him the ensuing morning,
but in the afternoon of the 8th the British suddenly filed off from
their right, which extended beyond the American left, and retreated
to Philadelphia. The parties detached to harass their rear could not
overtake it. [3]

The loss of the British in this expedition, as stated in the official
letter of General Howe, rather exceeded 100 in killed, wounded, and
missing, and was sustained principally in the skirmish of the 7th
(December, 1777) in which Major Morris fell.

On no former occasion had the two armies met, uncovered by works, with
superior numbers on the side of the Americans. The effective force of
the British was then stated at 12,000 men. Stedman, the historian, who
then belonged to Howe's army, states its number to have been 14,000. The
American army consisted of precisely 12,161 Continental troops and
3,241 militia. This equality in point of numbers rendered it a prudent
precaution to maintain a superiority of position. As the two armies
occupied heights fronting each other neither could attack without giving
to its adversary some advantage in the ground, and this was an advantage
which neither seemed willing to relinquish.

The return of Howe to Philadelphia without bringing on an action after
marching out with the avowed intention of fighting is the best testimony
of the respect which he felt for the talents of his adversary and the
courage of the troops he was to encounter.

The cold was now becoming so intense that it was impossible for an army
neither well-clothed nor sufficiently supplied with blankets longer to
keep the field in tents. It had become necessary to place the troops
in winter quarters, but in the existing state of things the choice of
winter quarters was a subject for serious reflection. It was impossible
to place them in villages without uncovering the country or exposing
them to the hazard of being beaten in detachment.

To avoid these calamities it was determined to take a strong position
in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, equally distant from the Delaware
above and below that city, and there to construct huts in the form of
a regular encampment which might cover the army during the winter.
A strong piece of ground at Valley Forge, on the west side of the
Schuylkill between twenty and thirty miles from Philadelphia, was
selected for that purpose, and some time before day on the morning of
the 11th of December (1777) the army marched to take possession of it.
By an accidental concurrence of circumstances Lord Cornwallis had been
detached the same morning at the head of a strong corps on a foraging
party on the west side of the Schuylkill. He had fallen in with a
brigade of Pennsylvania militia commanded by General Potter which he
soon dispersed, and, pursuing the fugitives, had gained the heights
opposite Matron's ford, over which the Americans had thrown a bridge for
the purpose of crossing the river, and had posted troops to command the
defile called the Gulph just as the front division of the American army
reached the bank of the river. This movement had been made without any
knowledge of the intention of General Washington to change his position
or any design of contesting the passage of the Schuylkill, but the
troops had been posted in the manner already mentioned for the sole
purpose of covering the foraging party.

Washington apprehended from his first intelligence that General Howe had
taken the field in full force. He therefore recalled the troops already
on the west side and moved rather higher up the river for the purpose of
understanding the real situation, force, and designs of the enemy. The
next day Lord Cornwallis returned to Philadelphia, and in the course of
the night the American army crossed the river.

Here the Commander-in-Chief communicated to his army in general orders
the manner in which he intended to dispose of them during the winter.
He expressed in strong terms his approbation of their conduct, presented
them with an encouraging state of the future prospects of their
country, exhorted them to bear with continuing fortitude the hardships
inseparable from the position they were about to take, and endeavored to
convince their judgments that those hardships were not imposed on them
by unfeeling caprice, but were necessary for the good of their country.

The winter had set in with great severity, and the sufferings of
the army were extreme. In a few days, however, these sufferings were
considerably diminished by the erection of logged huts, filled up with
mortar, which, after being dried, formed comfortable habitations, and
gave content to men long unused to the conveniences of life. The order
of a regular encampment was observed, and the only appearance of winter
quarters was the substitution of huts for tents.

Stedman, who, as we have already remarked, was in Howe's army, has not
only given a vivid description of the condition of Washington's army,
which agrees in the main with those of our own writers, but he has also
exhibited in contrast the condition and conduct of the British army in
Philadelphia. We transcribe this instructive passage:

"The American general determined to remain during the winter in the
position which he then occupied at Valley Forge, recommending to his
troops to build huts in the woods for sheltering themselves from the
inclemency of the weather. And it is perhaps one of the most striking
traits in General Washington's character that he possessed the faculty
of gaining such an ascendancy over his raw and undisciplined followers,
most of whom were destitute of proper winter clothing and otherwise
unprovided with necessaries, as to be able to prevail upon so many of
them to remain with him during the winter in so distressing a situation.
With immense labor he raised wooden huts, covered with straw and earth,
which formed very uncomfortable quarters. On the east and south an
entrenchment was made--the ditch six feet wide and three in depth; the
mound not four feet high, very narrow, and such as might easily have
been beat down by cannon. Two redoubts were also begun but never
completed. The Schuylkill was on his left with a bridge across. His rear
was mostly covered by an impassable precipice formed by Valley creek,
having only a narrow passage near the Schuylkill. On the right his camp
was accessible with some difficulty, but the approach on his front was
on ground nearly on a level with his camp. It is indeed difficult to
give an adequate description of his misery in this situation. His army
was destitute of almost every necessary of clothing, nay, almost naked,
and very often on short allowance of provisions; an extreme mortality
raged in his hospitals, nor had he any of the most proper medicines to
relieve the sick. There were perpetual desertions of parties from him of
ten to fifty at a time. In three months he had not 4,000 men and these
could by no means be termed effective. Not less than 500 horses perished
from want and the severity of the season. He had often not three days'
provisions in his camp and at times not enough for one day. In this
infirm and dangerous state he continued from December to May, during all
which time every person expected that General Howe would have stormed
or besieged his camp, the situation of which equally invited either
attempt. To have posted 2,000 men on a commanding ground near the
bridge, on the north side of the Schuylkill, would have rendered
his escape on the left impossible; 2,000 men placed on a like ground
opposite the narrow pass would have as effectually prevented a retreat
by his rear, and five or six thousand men stationed on the front and
right of his camp would have deprived him of flight on those sides. The
positions were such that if any of the corps were attacked they could
have been instantly supported. Under such propitious circumstances what
mortal could doubt of success? But the British army, neglecting all
these opportunities, was suffered to continue at Philadelphia where the
whole winter was spent in dissipation. A want of discipline and proper
subordination pervaded the whole army, and if disease and sickness
thinned the American army encamped at Valley Forge, indolence and luxury
perhaps did no less injury to the British troops at Philadelphia. During
the winter a very unfortunate inattention was shown to the feelings of
the inhabitants of Philadelphia, whose satisfaction should have been
vigilantly consulted, both from gratitude and from interest. They
experienced many of the horrors of civil war. The soldiers insulted and
plundered them, and their houses were occupied as barracks without
any compensation being made to them. Some of the first families were
compelled to receive into their habitations individual officers who were
even indecent enough to introduce their mistresses into the mansions of
their hospitable entertainers. This soured the minds of the inhabitants,
many of whom were Quakers. But the residence of the army at Philadelphia
occasioned distresses which will probably be considered by the
generality of mankind as of a more grievous nature. It was with
difficulty that fuel could be got on any terms. Provisions were most
exorbitantly high. Gaming of every species was permitted and even
sanctioned. This vice not only debauched the mind, but by sedentary
confinement and the want of seasonable repose enervated the body. A
foreign officer held the bank at the game of faro by which he made a
very considerable fortune, and but too many respectable families in
Britain had to lament its baleful effects. Officers who might have
rendered honorable service to their country were compelled, by what was
termed a bad run of luck, to dispose of their commissions and return
penniless to their friends in Europe. The father who thought he had
made a provision for his son by purchasing him a commission in the army
ultimately found that he had put his son to school to learn the science
of gambling, not the art of war. Dissipation had spread through the
army, and indolence and want of subordination, its natural concomitants.
For if the officer be not vigilant the soldier will never be alert.

"Sir William Howe, from the manners and religious opinions of the
Philadelphians, should have been particularly cautious. For this public
dissoluteness of the troops could not but be regarded by such people
as a contempt of them, as well as an offense against piety; and it
influenced all the representations which they made to their countrymen
respecting the British. They inferred from it, also, that the commander
could not be sufficiently intent on the plans of either conciliation
or subjugation; so that the opinions of the Philadelphians, whether
erroneous or not, materially promoted the cause of Congress. During the
whole of this long winter of riot and dissipation, General Washington
was suffered to continue with the remains of his army, not exceeding
5,000 effective men at most, undisturbed at Valley Forge, considerable
arrears of pay due to them; almost in a state of nature for want of
clothing; the Europeans in the American service disgusted and deserting
in great numbers, and indeed in companies, to the British army, and the
natives tired of the war. Yet, under all these favorable circumstances
for the British interest, no one step was taken to dislodge Washington,
whose cannon were frozen up and could not be moved. If Sir William Howe
had marched out in the night he might have brought Washington to action,
or if he had retreated, he must have left his sick, cannon, ammunition,
and heavy baggage behind. A nocturnal attack on the Americans would
have had this further good effect: it would have depressed the spirit
of revolt, confirmed the wavering, and attached them to the British
interest. It would have opened a passage for supplies to the city,
which was in great want of provisions for the inhabitants. It would have
shaken off that lethargy in which the British soldiers had been immerged
during the winter. It would have convinced the well-affected that the
British leader was in earnest. If Washington had retreated the British
could have followed. With one of the best-appointed in every respect
and finest armies (consisting of at least 14,000 effective men) ever
assembled in any country, a number of officers of approved service,
wishing only to be led to action, this dilatory commander, Sir William
Howe, dragged out the winter without doing any one thing to obtain
the end for which he was commissioned. Proclamation was issued after
proclamation calling upon the people of America to repair to the British
standard, promising them remission of their political sins and an
assurance of protection in both person and property, but these promises
were confined merely to paper. The best personal security to the
inhabitants was an attack by the army, and the best security of property
was peace, and this to be purchased by successful war. For had Sir
William Howe led on his troops to action victory was in his power and
conquest in his train. During Sir William Howe's stay at Philadelphia a
number of disaffected citizens were suffered to remain in the garrison;
these people were ever upon the watch and communicated to Washington
every intelligence he could wish for."

We have copied this passage from Stedman, with a view to show the
contrast between the situation of Washington and Howe and their
respective armies, as exhibited by an enemy to our cause. It is
literally the contrast between virtue and vice. The final result shows
that Providence in permitting the occupation of Philadelphia by the
British army was really promoting the cause of human liberty.

Stedman's statement of the numbers of Washington's army is erroneous,
even if it refers only to effective men, and his schemes for
annihilating Washington's army would probably not have been so easily
executed as he imagined. Still the army was very weak. Marshall says
that although the total of the army exceeded 17,000 men (February,
1778), the present effective rank and file amounted to only 5,012. This
statement alone suggests volumes of misery, sickness, destitution, and

We must now call the reader's attention to the northern campaign of 1777
which, remote as it was from Washington's immediate scene of action, was
not conducted without his aid and direction.

1. Footnote: This was Lieut.-Col. Samuel Smith, of the Maryland line.
After serving in this perilous post at Fort Mifflin, he was made
general, and in that rank assisted in the defense of Baltimore in the
War of 1812. See Document [A] at the end of this chapter.

2. Footnote: Donop was a brave officer. He was found on the battlefield
by Captain Mauduit Duplessis, a talented French engineer, who had
assisted Greene in defense of the fort, and who attended the unfortunate
count on his death-bed till he expired, three days after the battle, at
the early age of thirty-seven. "I die," said he, in his last hour,
"a victim of my ambition, and of the avarice of my sovereign." A fine
commentary on the mercenary system of the German princes. The government
of Hesse Cassel quite recently caused the remains of Count Donop to be
removed from Red Bank, to be interred with distinguished honor in his
own country.

3. Footnote: Judge Marshall, the biographer of Washington, on whose
account of this affair ours is founded, was present on the occasion. He
served in the army from the beginning of the war; was appointed first
lieutenant in 1776, and captain in 1777. He resigned his commission in
1778, and, devoting himself to the practice of the law, subsequently
rose to the eminent office of Chief Justice of the United States. He
died at Philadelphia, July 6th, 1836, aged seventy-nine.



We have already had occasion to refer to what was passing in the North
during the time when Washington was conducting the arduous campaign in
Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. General Schuyler had held the chief
command of the army operating against Canada since the opening of the
war in 1775. Under his direction the force of Montgomery was sent to
Quebec in the disastrous expedition of which we have already related
the history, and Arnold was acting in a subordinate capacity to Schuyler
when he so bravely resisted the descent of Carleton on the lakes.
Schuyler also performed the best part of the service of resisting the
invasion of New York from Canada, and nearly completed the campaign
which terminated in the surrender of Burgoyne to Gates. To the events of
this campaign we now call the reader's attention.

At the commencement of the campaign of 1777 the American army on the
frontier of Canada having been composed chiefly of soldiers enlisted
for a short period only, had been greatly reduced in numbers by the
expiration of their term of service.

The cantonments of the British northern army, extending from Isle aux
Noix and Montreal to Quebec, were so distant from each other that they
could not readily have afforded mutual support in case of an attack,
but the Americans were in no condition to avail themselves of this
circumstance. They could scarcely keep up even the appearance of
garrisons in their forts and were apprehensive of an attack on
Ticonderoga as soon as the ice was strong enough to afford an easy
passage to troops over the lakes. At the close of the preceding campaign
General Gates had joined the army under Washington, and the command of
the army in the northern department, comprehending Albany, Ticonderoga,
Fort Stanwix, and their dependencies, remained in the hands of General
Schuyler. The services of that meritorious officer were more solid than
brilliant, and had not been duly valued by Congress, which, like other
popular assemblies, was slow in discerning real and unostentatious
merit. Disgusted at the injustice which he had experienced he was
restrained from leaving the army merely by the deep interest which he
took in the arduous struggle in which his country was engaged, but after
a full investigation of his conduct during the whole of his command,
Congress was at length convinced of the value of his services and
requested him to continue at the head of the army of the northern
department. That army he found too weak for the services which it was
expected to perform and ill-supplied with arms, clothes, and provisions.
He made every exertion to organize and place it on a respectable footing
for the ensuing campaign, but his means were scanty and the new levies
arrived slowly. General St. Clair, who had served under Gates, commanded
at Ticonderoga, and, including militia, had nearly 2,000 men under him,
but the works were extensive and would have required 10,000 men to man
them fully. [1]

The British ministry had resolved to prosecute the war vigorously on the
northern frontier of the United States, and appointed Burgoyne, who had
served under Carleton in the preceding campaign, to command the royal
army in that quarter. The appointment gave offense to Carleton, then
Governor of Canada, who naturally expected to be continued in
the command of the northern army, and that officer testified his
dissatisfaction by tendering the resignation of his government.
But although displeased with the nomination, he gave Burgoyne every
assistance in his power in preparing for the campaign.

Burgoyne had visited England during the winter, concerted with the
ministry a plan of the campaign and given an estimate of the force
necessary for its successful execution. Besides a fine train of
artillery and a suitable body of artillerymen, an army, consisting of
more than 7,000 veteran troops, excellently equipped and in a high state
of discipline, was put under his command. Besides this regular force he
had a great number of Canadians and savages.

The employment of the savages had been determined on at the very
commencement of hostilities, their alliance had been courted and their
services accepted, and on the present occasion the British ministry
placed no small dependence on their aid. Carleton was directed to use
all his influence to bring a large body of them into the field, and
his exertions were very successful. General Burgoyne was assisted by
a number of distinguished officers, among whom were Generals Philips,
Fraser, Powel, Hamilton, Riedesel, and Specht. A suitable naval
armament, under the orders of Commodore Lutwych, attended the

After detaching Colonel St. Leger with a body of light troops and
Indians, amounting to about 800 men, by the way of Lake Oswego and the
Mohawk river, to make a diversion in that quarter and to join him when
he advanced to the Hudson, Burgoyne left St. John's on the 16th of June,
and, preceded by his naval armament, sailed up Lake Champlain and in a
few days landed and encamped at Crown Point earlier in the season than
the Americans had thought it possible for him to reach that place.

He met his Indian allies and, in imitation of a savage partisan, gave
them a war feast, at which he made them a speech in order to inflame
their courage and repress their barbarous cruelty. He next issued a
lofty proclamation addressed to the inhabitants of the country in
which, as if certain of victory, he threatened to punish with the utmost
severity those who refused to attach themselves to the royal cause. He
talked of the ferocity of the Indians and their eagerness to butcher the
friends of independence, and he graciously promised protection to
those who should return to their duty. The proclamation was so far from
answering the general's intention that it was derided by the people as a
model of pomposity.

Having made the necessary arrangements on the 30th of June, Burgoyne
advanced cautiously on both sides of the narrow channel which connects
Lakes Champlain and George, the British on the west and the German
mercenaries on the east, with the naval force in the center, forming a
communication between the two divisions of the army, and on the 1st of
July his van appeared in sight of Ticonderoga.

The river Sorel issues from the north end of Lake Champlain and throws
its superfluous waters into the St. Lawrence. Lake Champlain is about
eighty miles long from north to south, and about fourteen miles
broad where it is widest. Crown Point stands at what may properly be
considered the south end of the lake, although a narrow channel,
which retains the name of the lake, proceeds southward and forms a
communication with South river and the waters of Lake George.

Ticonderoga is on the west side of the narrow channel, twelve miles
south from Crown Point. It is a rocky angle of land, washed on three
sides by the water and partly covered on the fourth side by a deep
morass. On the space on the northwest quarter, between the morass and
the channel, the French had formerly constructed lines of fortification,
which still remained, and those lines the Americans had strengthened by
additional works.

Opposite Ticonderoga on the east side of the channel, which is here
between three and four hundred yards wide, stands a high circular hill
called Mount Independence, which had been occupied by the Americans when
they abandoned Crown Point, and carefully fortified. On the top of it,
which is flat, they had erected a fort and provided it sufficiently with
artillery. Near the foot of the mountain, which extends to the water's
edge, they had raised entrenchments and mounted them with heavy guns,
and had covered those lower works by a battery about half way up the

With prodigious labor they had constructed a communication between those
two posts by means of a wooden bridge which was supported by twenty-two
strong wooden pillars placed at nearly equal distances from each other.
The spaces between the pillars were filled up by separate floats,
strongly fastened to each other and to the pillars by chains and rivets.
The bridge was twelve feet wide and the side of it next Lake Champlain
was defended by a boom formed of large pieces of timber, bolted and
bound together by double iron chains an inch and a half thick. Thus
an easy communication was established between Ticonderoga and Mount
Independence and the passage of vessels up the strait prevented.

Immediately after passing Ticonderoga the channel becomes wider and, on
the southeast side, receives a large body of water from a stream at
that point called South river, but higher up named Wood creek. From the
southwest come the waters flowing from Lake George, and in the angle
formed by the confluence of those two streams rises a steep and
rugged eminence called Sugar Hill, which overlooks and commands both
Ticonderoga and Mount Independence. That hill had been examined by
the Americans, but General St. Clair, considering the force under his
command insufficient to occupy the extensive works of Ticonderoga and
Mount Independence and flattering himself that the extreme difficulty
of the ascent would prevent the British from availing themselves of it,
neglected to take possession of Sugar Hill. It may be remarked that
the north end of Lake George is between two and three miles above
Ticonderoga, but the channel leading to it is interrupted by rapids
and shallows and is unfit for navigation. Lake George is narrow, but is
thirty-five miles long, extending from northeast to southwest. At the
head of it stood a fort of the same name, strong enough to resist an
attack of Indians, but incapable of making any effectual opposition to
regular troops. Nine miles beyond it was Fort Edward on the Hudson.

On the appearance of Burgoyne's van St. Clair had no accurate knowledge
of the strength of the British army, having heard nothing of the
reinforcement from Europe. He imagined that they would attempt to take
the fort by assault and flattered himself that he would easily be able
to repulse them. But, on the 2d of July, the British appeared in great
force on both sides of the channel and encamped four miles from the
forts, while the fleet anchored just beyond the reach of the guns. After
a slight resistance Burgoyne took possession of Mount Hope, an important
post on the south of Ticonderoga, which commanded part of the lines of
that fort as well as the channel leading to Lake George, and extended
his lines so as completely to invest the fort on the west side. The
German division under General Riedesel occupied the eastern bank of the
channel and sent forward a detachment to the vicinity of the rivulet
which flows from Mount Independence. Burgoyne now labored assiduously in
bringing forward his artillery and completing his communications. On the
5th of the month (July, 1777) he caused Sugar Hill to be examined, and
being informed that the ascent, though difficult, was not impracticable,
he immediately resolved to take possession of it and proceeded with such
activity in raising works and mounting guns upon it that his battery
might have been opened on the garrison next day.

These operations received no check from the besieged, because, as it has
been alleged, they were not in a condition to give any. St. Clair was
now nearly surrounded. Only the space between the stream which flows
from Mount Independence and South river remained open, and that was to
be occupied next day.

In these circumstances it was requisite for the garrison to come to a
prompt and decisive resolution, either at every hazard to defend the
place to the last extremity or immediately to abandon it. St. Clair
called a council of war, the members of which unanimously advised the
immediate evacuation of the forts, and preparations were instantly made
for carrying this resolution into execution. The British had the command
of the communication with Lake George, and consequently the garrison
could not escape in that direction. The retreat could be effected by
the South river only. Accordingly the invalids, the hospital, and such
stores as could be most easily removed, were put on board 200 boats and,
escorted by Colonel Long's regiment, proceeded, on the night between
the 5th and 6th of July, up the South river towards Skeenesborough. The
garrisons of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence marched by land through
Castleton, towards the same place. The troops were ordered to march out
in profound silence and particularly to set nothing on fire. But these
prudent orders were disobeyed, and, before the rear guard was in motion,
the house on Mount Independence, which General Fermoy had occupied, was
seen in flames. That served as a signal to the enemy, who immediately
entered the works and fired, but without effect, on the rear of the
retreating army.

The Americans marched in some confusion to Hubbardton whence the main
body, under St. Clair, pushed forward to Castleton. But the English
were not idle. General Fraser, at the head of a strong detachment of
grenadiers and light troops, commenced an eager pursuit by land upon the
right bank of Wood creek: General Riedesel, behind him, rapidly
advanced with his Brunswickers, either to support the English or to act
separately as occasion might require. Burgoyne determined to pursue the
Americans by water. But it was first necessary to destroy the boom and
bridge which had been constructed in front of Ticonderoga. The British
seamen and artificers immediately engaged in the operation, and in less
time than it would have taken to describe their structure, those works
which had cost so much labor and so vast an expense, were cut through
and demolished. The passage thus cleared, the ships of Burgoyne
immediately entered Wood creek and proceeded with extreme rapidity
in search of the Americans. All was in movement at once upon land
and water. By three in the afternoon the van of the British squadron,
composed of gunboats, came up with and attacked the American galleys
near Skeenesborough Falls. In the meantime three regiments which had
been landed at South bay, ascended and passed a mountain with great
expedition, in order to turn the retreating army above Wood creek, to
destroy the works at the Falls of Skeenesborough, and thus to cut off
the retreat of the army to Fort Anne. But the Americans eluded this
stroke by the rapidity of their march. The British frigates having
joined the van, the galleys, already hard pressed by the gunboats, were
completely overpowered. Two of them surrendered; three of them were
blown up. The Americans having set fire to their boats, mills, and
other works, fell back upon Fort Anne, higher up Wood creek. All their
baggage, however, was lost and a large quantity of provisions and
military stores fell into the hands of the British.

The pursuit by land was not less active. Early on the morning of the
7th of July (1777) the British overtook the American rear guard who,
in opposition to St. Clair's orders, had lingered behind and posted
themselves on strong ground in the vicinity of Hubbardton. Fraser's
troops were little more than half the number opposed to him, but aware
that Riedesel was close behind and fearful lest his chase should give
him the slip, he ordered an immediate attack. Warner opposed a vigorous
resistance, but a large body of his militia retreated and left him to
sustain the combat alone, when the firing of Riedesel's advanced guard
was heard and shortly after his whole force, drums beating and colors
flying, emerged from the shades of the forest and part of his troops
immediately effected a junction with the British line. Fraser now gave
orders for a simultaneous advance with the bayonet which was effected
with such resistless impetuosity that the Americans broke and fled,
sustaining a very serious loss. St. Clair, upon hearing the firing,
endeavored to send back some assistance, but the discouraged militia
refused to return and there was no alternative but to collect the
wrecks of his army and proceed to Fort Edward to effect a junction with

Burgoyne lost not a moment in following up his success at
Skeenesborough, but dispatched a regiment to effect the capture of Fort
Anne, defended by a small party under the command of Colonel Long. This
officer judiciously posted his troops in a narrow ravine through which
his assailants were compelled to pass and opened upon them so severe
a fire in front, flank, and rear, that the British regiments, nearly
surrounded, with difficulty escaped to a neighboring hill, where the
Americans attacked them anew with such vigor that they must have been
utterly defeated had not the ammunition of the assailants given out at
this critical moment. No longer being able to fight Long's troops fell
back, and, setting the fort on fire, also directed their retreat to the
headquarters at Fort Edward.

While at Skeenesborough, General Burgoyne issued a second proclamation
summoning the people of the adjacent country to send ten deputies from
each township to meet Colonel Skeene at Castleton in order to deliberate
on such measures as might still be adopted to save those who had not
yet conformed to his first and submitted to the royal authority.
General Schuyler, apprehending some effect from this paper, issued
a counter-proclamation, stating the insidious designs of the
enemy--warning the inhabitants by the example of Jersey of the danger to
which their yielding to this seductive proposition would expose them and
giving them the most solemn assurances that all who should send deputies
to this meeting or in any manner aid the enemy, would be considered as
traitors and should suffer the utmost rigor of the law.

Nothing, as Botta remarks, [2] could exceed the consternation and
terror which the victory of Ticonderoga and the subsequent successes
of Burgoyne spread through the American provinces nor the joy and
exultation they excited in England. The arrival of these glad tidings
was celebrated by the most brilliant rejoicings at court and welcomed
with the same enthusiasm by all those who desired the unconditional
reduction of America. They already announced the approaching termination
of this glorious war; they openly declared it a thing impossible that
the rebels should ever recover from the shock of their recent losses, as
well of men as of arms and of military stores, and especially that they
should ever regain their courage and reputation, which, in war, always
contribute to success as much, at least, as arms themselves. Even the
ancient reproaches of cowardice were renewed against the Americans and
their own partisans abated much of the esteem they had borne them. They
were more than half disposed to pronounce the Colonists unworthy to
defend that liberty which they gloried in with so much complacency.
But it deserves to be noted here especially that there was no sign of
faltering on the part of the people, no disposition to submit to the
invading force. The success of the enemy did but nerve our fathers to
more vigorous resolves to maintain the cause of liberty even unto death.

Certainly the campaign had been opened and prosecuted thus far in a very
dashing style by Burgoyne and had he been able to press forward it is
quite possible that success might have crowned his efforts. But there
were some sixteen miles of forest yet to be traversed; Burgoyne waited
for his baggage and stores, and meanwhile General Schuyler, who was in
command of the American forces, took such steps as would necessarily
put a stop to the rapid approach of the enemy. Trenches were opened, the
roads and paths were obstructed, the bridges were broken up, and in the
only practicable defiles large trees were cut in such a manner on both
sides of the road as to fall across and lengthwise, which, with their
branches interwoven, presented an insurmountable barrier; in a word,
this wilderness, of itself by no means easy of passage, was thus
rendered almost absolutely impenetrable. Nor did Schuyler rest satisfied
with these precautions; he directed the cattle to be removed to the
most distant places and the stores and baggage from Fort George to Fort
Edward, that articles of such necessity for the troops might not
fall into the power of the British. He urgently demanded that all the
regiments of regular troops found in the adjacent States should be sent
without delay to join him; he also made earnest and frequent calls upon
the militia of New England and of New York. He likewise exerted his
utmost endeavors to procure himself recruits in the vicinity of Fort
Edward and the city of Albany; the great influence he enjoyed with the
inhabitants gave him in this quarter all the success he could desire.
Finally, to retard the progress of the enemy, he resolved to threaten
his left flank. Accordingly, he detached Colonel Warner, with his
regiment, into the State of Vermont with orders to assemble the militia
of the country and to make incursions toward Ticonderoga. In fact
Schuyler did everything which was possible to be done under the
circumstances, and it is not too much to assert in justice to the good
name of General Schuyler, that the measures which he adopted paved the
way to the victory which finally crowned the American arms at Saratoga.

Washington, equally with Congress, supposing that Schuyler's force was
stronger and that of the British weaker than was really the case, was
very greatly distressed and astonished at the disasters which befell
the American cause in the north. He waited, therefore, with no little
anxiety, later and more correct information before he was willing to
pronounce positively upon the course pursued by St. Clair. When that
officer joined Schuyler the whole force did not exceed 4,400 men; about
half of these were militia, and the whole were ill-clothed, badly armed,
and greatly dispirited by the recent reverses. Very ungenerously and
unjustly it was proposed to remove the northern officers from the
command and send successors in their places. An inquiry was instituted
by order of Congress, which resulted honorably for Schuyler and his
officers, and Schuyler, the able commander and zealous-hearted patriot,
remained for the present at the head of the northern department. [3]

Washington exerted himself with all diligence to send reinforcements and
supplies to the army of Schuyler. The artillery and warlike stores were
expedited from Massachusetts. General Lincoln, a man of great influence
in New England, was sent there to encourage the militia to enlist.
Arnold, in like manner, repaired thither; it was thought his ardor might
serve to inspire the dejected troops. Colonel Morgan, an officer whose
brilliant valor we have already had occasion to remark, was ordered
to take the same direction with his troop of light horse. All these
measures, conceived with prudence and executed with promptitude,
produced the natural effect. The Americans recovered by degrees their
former spirit and the army increased from day to day.

During this interval Burgoyne actively exerted himself in opening
a passage from Fort Anne to Fort Edward. But, notwithstanding the
diligence with which the whole army engaged in the work, their progress
was exceedingly slow, so formidable were the obstacles which nature as
well as art had thrown in their way. Besides having to remove the fallen
trees with which the Americans had obstructed the roads they had no less
than forty bridges to construct and many others to repair; one of these
was entirely of log work, over a morass two miles wide. In short the
British encountered so many impediments in measuring this inconsiderable
space that it was found impossible to reach the banks of the Hudson near
Fort Edward until the 30th of July (1777). The Americans, either because
they were too feeble to oppose the enemy or that Fort Edward was no
better than a ruin, not susceptible of defense, or finally because they
were apprehensive that Colonel St. Leger, after the reduction of Fort
Stanwix, might descend by the left bank of the Mohawk to the Hudson and
thus cut off their retreat, retired lower down to Stillwater where they
threw up entrenchments. At the same time they evacuated Fort George,
having previously burned their boats upon the lake, and in various ways
obstructed the road to Fort Edward. Burgoyne might have reached Fort
Edward much more readily by way of Lake George, but he had judged
it best to pursue the panic-stricken Americans, and, despite the
difficulties of the route, not to throw any discouragements in the way
of his troops by a retrograde movement.

At Fort Edward General Burgoyne again found it necessary to pause in
his career, for his carriages, which in the hurry had been made of
unseasoned wood, were much broken down and needed to be repaired. From
the unavoidable difficulties of the case not more than one-third of
the draught horses contracted for in Canada had arrived, and General
Schuyler had been careful to remove almost all the horses and draught
cattle of the country out of his way. Boats for the navigation of the
Hudson, provisions, stores, artillery, and other necessaries for the
army were all to be brought from Fort George, and although that place
was only nine or ten miles from Fort Edward, yet such was the condition
of the roads, rendered nearly impassable by the great quantities of
rain that had fallen, that the labor of transporting necessaries was
incredible. Burgoyne had collected about 100 oxen, but it was often
necessary to employ ten or twelve of them in transporting a single boat.
With his utmost exertions he had on the 15th of August conveyed only
twelve boats into the Hudson and provisions for the army for four days
in advance. Matters began to assume a very serious aspect indeed, and
as the further he removed from the lakes the more difficult it became to
get supplies from that quarter, Burgoyne saw clearly that he must look
elsewhere for sustenance for his army.

The British commander was not ignorant that the Americans had
accumulated considerable stores, including live cattle and vehicles of
various kinds at Bennington, about twenty-four miles east of the Hudson.
Burgoyne, easily persuaded that the Tories in that region would aid his
efforts, and thinking that he could alarm the country as well as secure
the supplies of which he began to stand in great need, determined
to detach Colonel Baum with a force of some six or eight hundred of
Riedesel's dragoons for the attack upon Bennington. His instructions
to Baum were "to try the affections of the country, to disconcert the
counsels of the enemy, to mount Riedesel's dragoons, to complete Peters'
corps (of Loyalists), and to obtain large supplies of cattle, horses,
and carriages." Baum set off on the 13th of August on this expedition
which was to result so unfortunately to himself, and which proved in
fact the ruin of Burgoyne's entire plans and purposes.

We have spoken of the consternation which filled the minds of men a
short time before this, when Burgoyne seemed to be marching in triumph
through the country. The alarm, however, subsided, and the New England
States resolved to make most vigorous efforts to repel the attack of
the enemy. John Langdon, a merchant of Portsmouth and speaker of the New
Hampshire Assembly, roused the desponding minds of his fellow-members to
the need of providing defense for the frontiers, and with whole-hearted
patriotism thus addressed them: "I have $3,000 in hard money; I will
pledge my plate for $3,000 more. I have seventy hogsheads of Tobago rum
which shall be sold for the most it will bring. These are at the service
of the State. If we succeed in defending our firesides and homes I may
be remunerated, if we do not the property will be of no value to me.
Our old friend Stark, who so nobly sustained the honor of our State at
Bunker Hill may be safely entrusted with the conduct of the enterprise,
and we will check the progress of Burgoyne." That brave son of New
Hampshire, General Stark, conceiving himself aggrieved by certain acts
of Congress in appointing junior officers over his head, had resigned
his commission. He was now prevailed upon to take service under
authority from his native State, it being understood that he was to
act independently as to his movements against the enemy. His popularity
speedily called in the militia, who were ready to take the field under
him without hesitation.

Soon after Stark proceeded to Manchester, twenty miles north of
Bennington, where Colonel Seth Warner, the former associate of Ethan
Allen, had taken post with the troops under his command. Here he met
General Lincoln, who had been sent by Schuyler to lead the militia to
the west bank of the Hudson. Stark refused to obey Schuyler's orders,
and Congress, on the 19th of August (1777), passed a vote of censure
upon his conduct. But Stark did not know of this, and as his course
was clearly that of sound policy, and his victory two days before the
censure cast upon him showed it to be so, he had the proud satisfaction
of knowing that the Commander-in-Chief approved of his plan of harassing
the rear of the British, and that the victory of Bennington paralyzed
the entire operations of Burgoyne.

On the day that Baum set out Stark arrived at Bennington. The progress
of the German troops, at first tolerably prosperous, was soon impeded
by the state of the roads and the weather, and as soon as Stark heard of
their approach he hurried off expresses to Warner to join him, who
began his march in the night. After sending forward Colonel Gregg to
reconnoiter the enemy he advanced to the rencontre with Baum, who,
finding the country thus rising around him, halted and entrenched
himself in a strong position above the Wollamsac river and sent off an
express to Burgoyne, who instantly dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel Breyman
with a strong reinforcement.

During the 15th of August (1777) the rain prevented any serious
movement. The Germans and English continued to labor at their
entrenchments upon which they had mounted two pieces of artillery. The
following day was bright and sunny and early in the morning Stark sent
forward two columns to storm the entrenchments at different points, and
when the firing had commenced threw himself on horseback and advanced
with the rest of his troops. As soon as the enemy's columns were seen
forming on the hill-side, he exclaimed, "See, men! there are the red
coats; we must beat to-day, or Molly Stark's a widow." The military
replied to this appeal by a tremendous shout and the battle which
ensued, as Stark states in his official report, "lasted two hours, and
was the hottest I ever saw. It was like one continual clap of thunder."
The Indians ran off at the beginning of the battle; the Tories were
driven across the river; and although the Germans fought bravely they
were compelled to abandon the entrenchments, and fled, leaving their
artillery and baggage on the field.

As Breyman and his corps approached they heard the firing and hurried
forward to the aid of their countrymen. An hour or two earlier they
might have given a different turn to the affair, but the heavy rain had
delayed their progress. They met and rallied the fugitives and returned
to the field of battle. Stark's troops, who were engaged in plunder,
were taken in great measure by surprise, and the victory might after
all have been wrested from their grasp but for the opportune arrival
of Warner's regiment at the critical moment. The battle continued until
sunset when the Germans, overwhelmed by numbers, at length abandoned
their baggage and fled. Colonel Baum, their brave commander, was killed,
and the British loss amounted to some eight or nine hundred effective
troops, in killed and prisoners. The loss of the Americans was 30 killed
and 40 wounded. Stark's horse was killed in the action.

Too much praise, as Mr. Everett well remarks, [4] cannot be bestowed on
the conduct of those who gained the battle of Bennington, officers and
men. It is, perhaps, the most conspicuous example of the performance
by militia of all that is expected of regular, veteran troops. The
fortitude and resolution with which the lines at Bunker Hill were
maintained by recent recruits against the assault of a powerful army of
experienced soldiers have always been regarded with admiration. But
at Bennington the hardy yeomen of New Hampshire, Vermont, and
Massachusetts, many of them fresh from the plough and unused to the
camp, "advanced," as General Stark expresses it in his official
letter, "through fire and smoke, and mounted breastworks that were well
fortified and defended with cannon."

Fortunately for the success of the battle Stark was most ably seconded
by the officers under him; every previous disposition of his little
force was most faithfully executed. He expresses his particular
obligations to Colonels Warner and Herrick, "whose superior skill was of
great service to him." Indeed the battle was planned and fought with a
degree of military talent and science which would have done no discredit
to any service in Europe. A higher degree of discipline might have
enabled the general to check the eagerness of his men to possess
themselves of the spoils of victory, but his ability, even in that
moment of dispersion and under the flush of success, to meet and conquer
a hostile reinforcement, evinces a judgment and resource not often
equaled in partisan warfare.

In fact it would be the height of injustice not to recognize in this
battle the marks of the master mind of the leader, which makes good
officers and good soldiers out of any materials and infuses its own
spirit into all that surround it. This brilliant exploit was the work of
Stark from its inception to its achievement. His popular name called
the militia together. His resolute will obtained him a separate
commission--at the expense, it is true, of a wise political principle,
but on the present occasion with the happiest effect. His firmness
prevented him from being overruled by the influence of General Lincoln,
which would have led him with his troops across the Hudson. How few
are the men who in such a crisis would not merely not have sought but
actually have repudiated a junction with the main army! How few who
would not only have desired, but actually insisted on taking the
responsibility of separate action! Having chosen the burden of acting
alone, he acquitted himself in the discharge of his duty with the spirit
and vigor of a man conscious of ability proportioned to the crisis. He
advanced against the enemy with promptitude; sent forward a small force
to reconnoiter and measure his strength; chose his ground deliberately
and with skill; planned and fought the battle with gallantry and

The consequences of this victory were of great moment. It roused the
people and nerved them to the contest with the enemy, and it also
justified the sagacity of Washington, whose words we have quoted on
a previous page. Burgoyne's plans were wholly deranged and instead of
relying upon lateral excursions to keep the population in alarm and
obtain supplies, he was compelled to procure necessaries as best he
might. His rear was exposed, and Stark, acting on his line of policy,
prepared to place himself so that Burgoyne might be hemmed in and be, as
soon after he was, unable to advance or retreat. When Washington heard
of Stark's victory he was in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, whence he wrote
to Putnam: "As there is now not the least danger of General Howe's going
to New England I hope the whole force of that country will turn out and
by following the great stroke struck by General Stark, near Bennington,
entirely crush General Burgoyne, who, by his letter to Colonel Baum,
seems to be in want of almost everything."

The defeat at Bennington was not the only misfortune which now fell upon
the British arms. We have noted on a previous page that Burgoyne had
detached Colonel St. Leger with a body of regular troops, Canadians,
Loyalists, and Indians, by the way of Oswego, to make a diversion on
the upper part of the Mohawk river and afterward join him on his way to
Albany. On the 2d of August (1777) St. Leger approached Fort Stanwix, or
Schuyler, a log fortification situated on rising ground near the source
of the Mohawk river, and garrisoned by about 600 Continentals under the
command of Colonel Gansevoort. Next day he invested the place with an
army of sixteen or seventeen hundred men, nearly one-half of whom were
Indians, and the rest British, Germans, Canadians, and Tories. On being
summoned to surrender Gansevoort answered that he would defend the place
to the last.

On the approach of St. Leger to Fort Schuyler, General Herkimer, who
commanded the militia of Tryon county, assembled about 700 of them and
marched to the assistance of the garrison. On the forenoon of the 6th of
August a messenger from Herkimer found means to enter the fort and gave
notice that he was only eight miles distant and intended that day to
force a passage into the fort and join the garrison. Gansevoort resolved
to aid the attempt by a vigorous sally, and appointed Colonel Willet
with upwards of 200 men to that service.

St. Leger received information of the approach of Herkimer, and placed
a large body consisting of the "Johnson Greens," and Brant's Indians in
ambush near Oriskany, on the road by which he was to advance. Herkimer
fell into the snare. The first notice which he received of the presence
of an enemy was from a heavy discharge of musketry on his troops, which
was instantly followed by the war-whoop of the Indians who attacked the
militia with their tomahawks. Though disconcerted by the suddenness
of the attack many of the militia behaved with spirit, and a scene
of unutterable confusion and carnage ensued. The royal troops and the
militia became so closely crowded together that they had not room to
use firearms, but pushed and pulled each other, and using their daggers,
fell pierced by mutual wounds. Some of the militia fled at the first
onset; others made their escape afterwards; about 100 of them retreated
to a rising ground where they bravely defended themselves till a
successful sortie from the fort compelled the British to look to the
defense of their own camp. Colonel Willet in this sally killed a number
of the enemy, destroyed their provisions, carried off some spoil, and
returned to the fort without the loss of a man. Besides the loss of
the brave General Herkimer, who was slain, the number of the killed
was computed at 400. St. Leger, imitating the grandiloquent style of
Burgoyne, again summoned the fort to surrender, but Colonel Gansevoort
peremptorily refused. Colonel Willet, accompanied by Lieutenant
Stockwell, having passed through the British camp, eluded the patrols
and the savages and made his way for fifty miles through pathless woods
and dangerous morasses and informed General Schuyler of the position of
the fort and the need of help in the emergency. He determined to afford
it to the extent of his power, and Arnold, who was always ready for such
expeditions, agreed to take command of the troops for the purpose of
relieving the fort. Arnold put in practice an acute stratagem, which
materially facilitated his success. It was this. Among the Tory
prisoners was one Yost Cuyler, who had been condemned to death, but whom
Arnold agreed to spare on consideration of his implicitly carrying out
his plan. Accordingly, Cuyler, having made several holes in his coat to
imitate bullet shots, rushed breathless among the Indian allies of St.
Leger and informed them that he had just escaped in a battle with the
Americans who were advancing on them with the utmost celerity. While
pointing to his coat for proof of his statement, a sachem, also in
the plot, came in and confirmed the intelligence. Other scouts arrived
speedily with a report which probably grew out of the affair at
Bennington, that Burgoyne's army was entirely routed. All this made a
deep impression upon the fickle-minded redmen.

Fort Schuyler was better constructed and defended with more courage than
St. Leger had expected, and his light artillery made little impression
on it. His Indians, who liked better to take scalps and plunder than
to besiege fortresses became very unmanageable. The loss which they had
sustained in the encounters with Herkimer and Willet deeply affected
them; they had expected to be witnesses of the triumphs of the British
and to share with them the plunder. Hard service and little reward
caused bitter disappointment, and when they knew that a strong
detachment of Americans was marching against them, they resolved to
take safety in flight. St. Leger employed every argument and artifice
to detain them, but in vain; part of them went off and all the rest
threatened to follow if the siege were persevered in. Therefore, on the
22d of August (1777), St. Leger raised the siege, and retreated with
circumstances indicating great alarm; the tents were left standing, the
artillery was abandoned, and a great part of the baggage, ammunition,
and provisions fell into the hands of the garrison, a detachment from
which harassed the retreating enemy. But the British troops were exposed
to greater danger from the fury of their savage allies than from the
pursuit of the Americans. During the retreat they robbed the officers
of their baggage, and the army generally of their provisions and stores.
Not content with this they first stripped off their arms, and afterwards
murdered with their own bayonets all those who from inability to keep
up, from fear or other cause were separated from the main body. The
confusion, terror, and sufferings of this retreat found no respite till
the royal troops reached the lake on their way to Montreal.

Arnold arrived at Fort Schuyler two days after the retreat of the
besiegers, but finding no occasion for his services he soon returned to
camp. The successful defense of Fort Stanwix, or Schuyler, powerfully
cooperated with the defeat of the royal troops at Bennington in
raising the spirits and invigorating the activity of the Americans. The
Loyalists became timid; the wavering began to doubt the success of
the royal arms, and the great body of the people became convinced that
nothing but steady exertion on their part was necessary to ruin that
army which a short time before had appeared to be sweeping every
obstacle from its path on the high road to victory. The decisive victory
at Bennington and the retreat of St. Leger from Fort Schuyler, however
important in themselves, were still more so in their consequences. An
army which had spread terror and dismay in every direction--which had
previously experienced no reverse of fortune was considered as already
beaten, and the opinion became common that the appearance of the great
body of the people in arms would secure the emancipation of their
country. It was, too, an advantage of no inconsiderable importance
resulting from this change of public opinion that the disaffected became
timid, and the wavering who, had the torrent of success continued, would
have made a merit of contributing their aid to the victor were no longer
disposed to put themselves and their fortunes in hazard to support an
army whose fate was so uncertain.

The barbarities which had been perpetrated by the Indians belonging to
the invading armies excited still more resentment than terror. As the
prospect of revenge began to open their effect became the more apparent,
and their influence on the royal cause was the more sensibly felt
because they had been indiscriminate.

The murder of Miss M'Crea passed through all the papers on the
continent, and the story being retouched by the hand of more than one
master, excited a peculiar degree of sensibility. [5]

But there were other causes of still greater influence in producing
the events which afterward took place. The last reinforcements of
Continental troops arrived in camp about this time and added both
courage and strength to the army. The harvest, which had detained the
northern militia upon their farms, was over, and General Schuyler, whose
continued and eminent services had not exempted him from the imputation
of being a traitor, was succeeded by General Gates, who possessed a
large share of the public confidence.

When Schuyler was directed by Congress to resume the command of the
northern department, Gates withdrew himself from it. When the resolution
passed recalling the general officers who had served in that department,
General Washington was requested to name a successor to Schuyler. On
his expressing a wish to decline this nomination and representing the
inconvenience of removing all the general officers, Gates was again
directed to repair thither and take the command, and their resolution to
recall the brigadiers was suspended until the Commander-in-Chief should
be of opinion that it might be carried into effect with safety.

Schuyler retained the command until the arrival of Gates, which was on
the 10th of August (1777), and continued his exertions to restore the
affairs of the department, though he felt acutely the disgrace of being
recalled in this critical and interesting state of the campaign. "It
is," said he, in a letter to the Commander-in-Chief, "matter of extreme
chagrin to me to be deprived of the command at a time when, soon if
ever, we shall probably be enabled to face the enemy; when we are on the
point of taking ground where they must attack to a disadvantage, should
our force be inadequate to facing them in the field; when an opportunity
will in all probability occur in which I might evince that I am not what
Congress have too plainly insinuated by taking the command from me."

If error be attributable to the evacuation of Ticonderoga, no portion of
it was committed by Schuyler. His removal from the command was probably
severe and unjust as respected himself, but perhaps wise as respected
America. The frontier towards the lakes was to be defended by the troops
of New England, and however unfounded their prejudices against him might
be, it was prudent to consult them.

Notwithstanding the difficulties which multiplied around him Burgoyne
remained steady to his purpose. The disasters at Bennington and on the
Mohawk produced no disposition to abandon the enterprise and save his

It had now become necessary for Burgoyne to recur to the slow and
toilsome mode of obtaining supplies from Fort George. Having, with
persevering labor, collected provision for thirty days in advance he
crossed the Hudson on the 13th and 14th of September (1777) and encamped
on the heights and plains of Saratoga, with a determination to decide
the fate of the expedition in a general engagement.

Gates, having been joined by all the Continental troops destined for the
northern department and reinforced by large bodies of militia, had
moved from his camp in the islands, and advanced to the neighborhood of

The bridges between the two armies having been broken down by General
Schuyler, the roads being excessively bad and the country covered with
wood, the progress of the British army down the river was slow. On the
night of the 17th of September, Burgoyne encamped within four miles of
the American army and the next day was employed in repairing the bridges
between the two camps. In the morning of the 19th he advanced in full
force toward the American left. Morgan was immediately detached with his
rifle corps to observe the enemy and to harass his front and flanks. He
fell in with a picket in front of the right wing which he attacked with
vivacity and drove in upon the main body. Pursuing with too much ardor
he was met in considerable force, and after a severe encounter was
compelled in turn to retire in some disorder. Two regiments led by
Arnold being advanced to his assistance his corps was rallied, and the
action became more general. The Americans were formed in a wood, with
an open field in front, and invariably repulsed the British corps which
attacked them, but when they pursued those corps to the main body they
were in turn driven back to their first ground. Reinforcements were
continually brought up, and about 4 in the afternoon upward of 3,000
American troops were closely engaged with the whole right wing of the
British army commanded by General Burgoyne in person. The conflict was
extremely severe and only terminated with the day. At dark the Americans
retired to their camp, and the British, who had found great difficulty
in maintaining their ground, lay all night on their arms near the field
of battle.

In this action the killed and wounded on the part of the Americans were
between three and four hundred. Among the former were Colonels Colburn
and Adams and several other valuable officers. The British loss has been
estimated at rather more than 500 men.

Each army claimed the victory and each believed itself to have beaten
near the whole of the hostile army with only a part of its own force.
The advantage, however, taking all circumstances into consideration, was
decidedly with the Americans. In a conflict which nearly consumed the
day, they found themselves at least equal to their antagonists. In every
quarter they had acted on the offensive, and after an encounter for
several hours had not lost an inch of ground. They had not been driven
from the field, but had retired from it at the close of day to the camp
from which they had marched to battle. Their object, which was to
check the advancing enemy, had been obtained, while that of the British
general had failed. In the actual state of things to fight without being
beaten was on their part victory, while on the part of the British
to fight without a decisive victory was defeat. The Indians who found
themselves beaten in the woods by Morgan, [6] and restrained from
scalping and plundering the unarmed by Burgoyne, saw before them the
prospect of hard fighting without profit, grew tired of the service and
deserted in great numbers. The Canadians and Provincials were not much
more faithful, and Burgoyne soon perceived that his hopes must rest
almost entirely on his European troops.

With reason, therefore, this action was celebrated throughout the United
States as a victory and considered as the precursor of the total ruin of
the invading army. The utmost exultation was displayed and the militia
were stimulated to fly to arms and complete the work so happily begun.

General Lincoln, in conformity with directions which have been stated,
had assembled a considerable body of New England militia in the rear of
Burgoyne, from which he drew three parties of about 500 men each. One of
these was detached under the command of Colonel Brown to the north end
of Lake George, principally to relieve a number of prisoners who were
confined there, but with orders to push his success, should he be
fortunate, as far as prudence would admit. Colonel Johnson, at the
head of another party, marched towards Mount Independence, and Colonel
Woodbury with a third was detached to Skeenesborough to cover the
retreat of both the others. With the residue, Lincoln proceeded to the
camp of Gates.

Colonel Brown, after marching all night, arrived at the break of day on
the north end of the lake where he found a small post which he carried
without opposition. The surprise was complete, and he took possession of
Mount Defiance, Mount Hope, the landing place, and about 200 batteaux.
With the loss of only three killed and five wounded, he liberated 100
American prisoners and captured 293 of the enemy. This success was
joyfully proclaimed through the northern States. It was believed
confidently that Ticonderoga and Mount Independence were recovered, and
the militia were exhorted, by joining their brethren in the army, to
insure that event if it had not already happened.

The attempt on those places, however, failed. The garrison repulsed the
assailants, who, after a few days abandoned the siege. On their return
through Lake George in the vessels they had captured the militia made an
attack on Diamond Island, the depot of all the stores collected at the
north end of the lake. Being again repulsed they destroyed the vessels
they had taken and returned to their former station.

The day after the battle of Stillwater General Burgoyne took a position
almost within cannon-shot of the American camp, fortified his right,
and extended his left to the river. Directly after taking this ground
he received a letter from Sir Henry Clinton informing him that he should
attack Fort Montgomery about the 20th of September (1777). The messenger
returned with information that Burgoyne was in extreme difficulty and
would endeavor to wait for aid until the 12th of October. [7]

Both armies retained their position until the 7th of October (1777).
Burgoyne in the hope of being relieved by Sir Henry Clinton, and Gates
in the confidence of growing stronger every day.

Having received no further intelligence from Sir Henry and being reduced
to the necessity of diminishing the ration issued to his soldiers,
Burgoyne determined to make one more trial of strength with his
adversary. In execution of this determination he drew out on his right
1,500 choice troops whom he commanded in person assisted by Generals
Philips, Riedesel, and Fraser.

The right wing was formed within three-quarters of a mile of the left of
the American camp, and a corps of rangers, Indians, and Provincials was
pushed on through secret paths to show themselves in its rear and excite
alarm in that quarter.

These movements were perceived by General Gates, who determined to
attack their left and at the same time to fall on their right flank.
Poor's brigade and some regiments from New Hampshire were ordered to
meet them in front, while Morgan with his rifle corps made a circuit
unperceived and seized a very advantageous height covered with wood
on their right. As soon as it was supposed that Morgan had gained the
ground he intended to occupy the attack was made in front and on the
left in great force. At this critical moment Morgan poured in a deadly
and incessant fire on the front and right flank.

While the British right wing was thus closely pressed in front and on
its flank, a distinct division of the American troops was ordered to
intercept its retreat to camp, and to separate it from the residue of
the army. Burgoyne perceived the danger of his situation and ordered
the light infantry under General Fraser with part of the Twenty-fourth
regiment to form a second line in order to cover the light infantry of
the right and secure a retreat. While this movement was in progress
the left of the British right was forced from its ground and the light
infantry was ordered to its aid. In the attempt to execute this order
they were attacked by the rifle corps with great effect, and Fraser was
mortally wounded. Overpowered by numbers and pressed on all sides by
a superior weight of fire, Burgoyne with great difficulty and with the
loss of his field pieces and great part of his artillery corps regained
his camp. The Americans followed close in his rear, and assaulted
his works throughout their whole extent. Toward the close of day the
entrenchments were forced on their right, and General Arnold with a few
men actually entered their works, but his horse being killed under him
and himself wounded, the troops were forced out of them, and it being
nearly dark they desisted from the assault. The left of Arnold's
division was still more successful. Jackson's regiment of Massachusetts,
then led by Lieutenant-Colonel Brooks, turned the right of the
encampment and stormed the works occupied by the German reserve.
Lieutenant-Colonel Breyman who commanded in them was killed and the
works were carried. The orders given by Burgoyne to recover them were
not executed, and Brooks maintained the ground he had gained.

Darkness put an end to the action and the Americans lay all night with
their arms in their hands about half a mile from the British lines ready
to renew the assault with the return of day. The advantage they had
gained was decisive. They had taken several pieces of artillery, killed
a great number of men, made upwards of 200 prisoners, among whom were
several officers of distinction, and had penetrated the lines in a part
which exposed the whole to considerable danger.

Unwilling to risk the events of the next day on the same ground,
Burgoyne changed his position in the course of the night and drew his
whole army into a strong camp on the river heights, extending his right
up the river. This movement extricated him from the danger of being
attacked the ensuing morning by an enemy already in possession of part
of his works. The 8th of October (1777) was spent in skirmishing and
cannonading. About sunset the body of General Fraser, who had been
mortally wounded on the preceding day was, agreeably to his own desire,
carried up the hill to be interred in the great redoubt attended only
by the officers who had lived in his family. Generals Burgoyne, Philips,
and Riedesel, in testimony of respect and affection for their late
brave companion in arms joined the mournful procession which necessarily
passed in view of both armies. The incessant cannonade, the steady
attitude and unfaltering voice of the chaplain, and the firm demeanor of
the company, though occasionally covered with the earth thrown up by the
shot from the hostile batteries ploughing the ground around them,
the mute expression of feeling pictured on every countenance, and the
increasing gloom of the evening, all contributed to give an affecting
solemnity to the obsequies. General Gates afterwards declared that if he
had been apprised of what was going on he would at least have silenced
his batteries and allowed the last offices of humanity to be performed
without disturbance, or even have ordered minute-guns to be fired in
honor of the deceased general.

Gates perceived the strength of Burgoyne's new position and was not
disposed to hazard an assault. Aware of the critical situation of his
adversary he detached a party higher up the Hudson for the purpose of
intercepting the British army on its retreat, while strong corps were
posted on the other side of the river to guard its passage.

This movement compelled Burgoyne again to change his position and to
retire to Saratoga. About 9 at night the retreat was commenced and was
effected with the loss of his hospital, containing about 300 sick, and
of several batteaux laden with provisions and baggage. On reaching the
ground to be occupied he found a strong corps already entrenched on
the opposite side of the river prepared to dispute its passage. From
Saratoga, Burgoyne detached a company of artificers under a strong
escort to repair the roads and bridges toward Fort Edward. Scarcely
had this detachment moved when the Americans appeared in force on the
heights south of Saratoga creek and made dispositions which excited the
apprehension of a design to cross it and attack his camp. The Europeans
escorting the artificers were recalled, and a Provincial corps employed
in the same service, being attacked by a small party, ran away and left
the workmen to shift for themselves. No hope of repairing the roads
remaining it became impossible to move the baggage and artillery.

The British army was now almost completely environed by a superior
force. No means remained of extricating itself from difficulties and
dangers which were continually increasing, but fording a river, on the
opposite bank of which a formidable body of troops was already posted,
and then escaping to Fort George through roads impassable by artillery
or wagons, while its rear was closely pressed by a victorious enemy. [8]

A council of general officers, called to deliberate on their situation,
took the bold resolution to abandon everything but their arms and such
provisions as the soldiers could carry, and by a forced march in the
night up the river, to extricate themselves from the American army,
and crossing at Fort Edward, or at a ford above it, to press on to Fort

Gates had foreseen this movement and had prepared for it. In addition
to placing strong guards at the fords of the Hudson he had formed an
entrenched camp on the high grounds between Fort Edward and Fort George.
The scouts sent to examine the route returned with this information and
the plan was abandoned as impracticable.

Nothing could be more hopeless than the condition of the British army,
or more desperate than that of their General, as described by himself.
In his letter to Lord George Germain, Secretary of State for American
affairs, he says: "A series of hard toil, incessant effort, stubborn
action, until disabled in the collateral branches of the army by
the total defection of the Indians; the desertion or timidity of the
Canadians and provincials, some individuals excepted; disappointed in
the last hope of any cooperation from other armies; the regular troops
reduced by losses from the best parts to 3,500 fighting men, not 2,000
of which were British; only three days' provisions upon short allowance
in store; invested by an army of 16,000 men, and no appearance of
retreat remaining--I called into council all the generals, field
officers, and captains commanding corps, and by their unanimous
concurrence and advice I was induced to open a treaty with Major-General

A treaty was opened with a general proposition stating the willingness
of the British general to spare the further effusion of blood, provided
a negotiation could be effected on honorable terms. This proposition
was answered by a demand that the whole army should ground their arms in
their encampment and surrender themselves prisoners of war. This demand
was instantly rejected with a declaration that if General Gates
designed to insist on it the negotiation must immediately break off and
hostilities recommence. On receiving this decided answer Gates receded
from the rigorous terms at first proposed, and a convention was signed
(October 17, 1777), in which it was agreed that the British army, after
marching out of their encampment with all the honors of war, should lay
down their arms and not serve against the United States till exchanged.
They were not to be detained in captivity, but to be permitted to embark
for England.

The situation of the armies considered, [9] these terms were highly
honorable to the British general and favorable to his nation. They were
probably more advantageous than would have been granted by Gates had he
entertained no apprehension from Sir Henry Clinton, who was at length
making the promised diversion on the North river, up which he had
penetrated as far as Aesopus. The drafts made from Peekskill for both
armies had left that post in a situation to require the aid of militia
for its security. The requisitions of General Putnam were complied with,
but the attack upon them being delayed, the militia, who were anxious to
attend to their farms, became impatient; many deserted, and Putnam was
induced to discharge the residue.

Governor Clinton immediately ordered out half the militia of New York
with assurances that they should be relieved in one month by the other
half. This order was executed so slowly that the forts were carried
before the militia were in the field.

Great pains had been taken and much labor employed to render the
position of the American army for guarding the passage up the Hudson
secure. The principal defenses were Forts Montgomery and Clinton. They
had been constructed on the western bank of the Hudson, on very high
ground extremely difficult of access and were separated from each other
by a small creek which runs from the mountains into the river. These
forts were too much elevated to be battered from the water, and the
hills on which they stood were too steep to be ascended by troops
landing at the foot of them. The mountains, which commence five or six
miles below them, are so high and rugged, the defiles, through which the
roads leading to them pass, so narrow and so commanded by the heights
on both sides, that the approaches to them are extremely difficult and

To prevent ships from passing the forts, _chevaux-de-frise_ had been
sunk in the river and a boom extended from bank to bank, which was
covered with immense chains stretched at some distance in its front.
These works were defended by the guns of the forts and by a frigate and
galleys stationed above them, capable of opposing with an equal fire in
front any force which might attack them by water from below.

Fort Independence is four or five miles below Forts Montgomery and
Clinton and on the opposite side of the river on a high point of land,
and Fort Constitution is rather more than six miles above them on an
island near the eastern shore. Peekskill, the general headquarters of
the officer commanding at the station, is just below Fort Independence
and on the same side of the river. The garrisons had been reduced to
about 600 men and the whole force under Putnam did not much exceed
2,000. Yet this force, though far inferior to that which Washington had
ordered to be retained at the station, was, if properly applied, more
than competent to the defense of the forts against any numbers which
could be spared from New York. To insure success to the enterprise it
was necessary to draw the attention of Putnam from the real object and
to storm the works before the garrisons could be aided by his army. This
Sir Henry Clinton accomplished.

Between three and four thousand men embarked at New York and landed on
the 5th of October (1777) at Verplanck's Point on the east side of the
Hudson, a short distance below Peekskill, upon which Putnam retired to
the heights in his rear. On the evening of the same day a part of these
troops re-embarked and the fleet moved up the river to Peekskill Neck
in order to mask King's Ferry, which was below them. The next morning at
break of day the troops destined for the enterprise landed on the west
side of Stony Point and commenced their march through the mountains
into the rear of Forts Clinton and Montgomery. This disembarkation was
observed, but the morning was so foggy that the numbers could not be
distinguished, and a large fire, which was afterward perceived at the
landing place, suggested the idea that the sole object of the party on
shore was the burning of some storehouses. In the meantime the maneuvers
of the vessels and the appearance of a small detachment left at
Verplanck's Point persuaded Putnam that the meditated attack was on Fort

His whole attention was directed to this object, and the real designs of
the enemy were not suspected until a heavy firing from the other side
of the river announced the assault on Forts Clinton and Montgomery. Five
hundred men were instantly detached to reinforce the garrisons of those
places, but, before this detachment could cross the river, the forts
were in possession of the British.

Having left a battalion at the pass of Thunderhill to keep up
a communication, Sir Henry Clinton had formed his army into two
divisions--one of which, consisting of 900 men, commanded by
Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, made a circuit by the forest of Deane,
in order to fall on the back of Fort Montgomery, while the other,
consisting of 1,200 men, commanded by General Vaughan and accompanied by
Sir Henry Clinton in person, advanced slowly against Fort Clinton.

Both posts were assaulted about five in the afternoon. The works were
defended with resolution and were maintained until dark, when, the lines
being too extensive to be completely manned, the assailants entered them
in different places. The defense being no longer possible some of
the garrison were made prisoners, while their better knowledge of the
country enabled others to escape. Governor Clinton passed the river in
a boat and Gen. James Clinton, though wounded in the thigh by a bayonet,
also made his escape. Lieutenant-Colonels Livingston and Bruyn and
Majors Hamilton and Logan were among the prisoners. The loss sustained
by the garrisons was about 250 men; that of the assailants was stated
by Sir Henry Clinton at less than 200. Among the killed were
Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell and two other field officers.

As the boom and chains drawn across the river could no longer be
defended the Continental frigates and galleys lying above them were
burnt to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy. Fort
Independence and Fort Constitution were evacuated the next day and
Putnam retreated to Fishkill. General Vaughan, after burning Continental
village, where stores to a considerable amount had been deposited,
proceeded at the head of a strong detachment up the river to Aesopus,
which he also destroyed. [10]

Putnam, whose army had been augmented by reinforcements of militia to
6,000 men, detached General Parsons with 2,000 to repossess himself of
Peekskill and of the passes in the Highlands, while with the residue
he watched the progress of the enemy up the river. The want of heavy
artillery prevented his annoying their ships in the Hudson.

On the capitulation of Burgoyne, near 5,000 men had been detached by
Gates to aid Putnam. Before their arrival General Vaughan had returned
to New York, whence a reinforcement to General Howe was then about to

Great as was the injury sustained by the United States from this
enterprise Great Britain derived from it no solid advantage. It was
undertaken at too late a period to save Burgoyne, and though the passes
in the Highlands were acquired, they could not be retained. The British
had reduced to ashes every village and almost every house within their
power, but this wanton and useless destruction served to irritate
without tending to subdue. A keenness was given to the resentment of the
injured, which outlived the contest between the two nations.

The army which surrendered at Saratoga exceeded 5,000 men. On marching
from Ticonderoga it was estimated at 9,000. In addition to this great
military force the British lost and the Americans acquired, a fine
train of artillery, 7,000 stand of excellent arms, clothing for 7,000
recruits, with tents and other military stores to a considerable amount.

The thanks of Congress were voted to General Gates and his army, and
a medal of gold in commemoration of this great event was ordered to be
struck and presented to him by the President in the name of the United
States. Colonel Wilkinson, his adjutant-general, whom he strongly
recommended, was appointed brigadier-general by brevet.

In the opinion that the British would not immediately abandon the passes
in the Highlands, Congress ordered Putnam to join Washington with
a reinforcement not exceeding 2,500 men, and directed Gates to take
command of the army on the Hudson, with unlimited powers to call for
aids of militia from the New England States as well as from New York and
New Jersey.

A proposition to authorize the Commander-in-Chief, after consulting with
General Gates and Governor George Clinton, to increase the detachment
designed to strengthen his army, if he should then be of opinion that
it might be done without endangering the objects to be accomplished
by Gates, was seriously opposed. An attempt was made to amend this
proposition so as to make the increase of the reinforcement to depend
on the assent of Gates and Clinton, but this amendment was lost by a
considerable majority and the original resolution was carried. These
proceedings were attended with no other consequences than to excite some
degree of attention to the state of parties.

Soon after the capitulation of Burgoyne, Ticonderoga and Mount
Independence were evacuated and the garrison retired to Isle aux Noix
and St. John's. The effect produced by this event on the British cabinet
and nation was great and immediate. It seemed to remove the delusive
hopes of conquest with which they had been flattered, and suddenly to
display the mass of resistance which must yet be encountered. Previous
to the reception of this disastrous intelligence the employment of
savages in the war had been the subject of severe animadversion.
Parliament was assembled on the 20th of November (1777), and, as usual,
addresses were proposed in answer to the speech from the throne entirely
approving the conduct of the administration. In the House of Lords
the Earl of Chatham moved to amend the address by introducing a clause
recommending to his majesty an immediate cessation of hostilities and
the commencement of a treaty of conciliation, "to restore peace and
liberty to America, strength and happiness to England, security and
permanent prosperity to both countries." In the course of the very
animated observations made by this extraordinary man in support of his
motion, he said: "But, my lords, who is the man that, in addition to the
disgraces and mischiefs of war, has dared to authorize and associate
to our arms the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage? to call into
civilized alliance the wild and inhuman inhabitant of the woods? to
delegate to the merciless Indian the defense of disputed rights and to
wage the horrors of his barbarous war against our brethren? My lords,
these enormities cry aloud for redress and punishment. Unless thoroughly
done away they will be a stain on the national character. It is not the
least of our national misfortunes that the strength and character of
our army are thus impaired. Familiarized to the horrid scenes of savage
cruelty, it can no longer boast of the noble and generous principles
which dignify a soldier; no longer sympathise with the dignity of the
royal banner nor feel the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war
that makes ambition virtue. What makes ambition virtue? The sense of
honor. But is this sense of honor consistent with the spirit of plunder
or the practice of murder? Can it flow from mercenary motives? or can it
prompt to cruel deeds?"

The conduct of the administration, however, received the full
approbation of large majorities, but the triumph these victories in
parliament afforded them was of short duration. The disastrous issue of
an expedition from which the most sanguine expectations had been
formed was soon known, and the mortification it produced was extreme.
A reluctant confession of the calamity was made by the minister and a
desire to restore peace on any terms consistent with the integrity of
the empire found its way into the cabinet.

The surrender of Burgoyne was an event of very great importance in a
political point of view as it undoubtedly decided the French government
to form an alliance with the United States, but it was only one of the
many disasters to the British arms which compelled them to acknowledge
our independence. There remained much to be done. Washington was still
to endure greater hardships and mortifications--to have his patriotism
and disinterestedness more severely tried than ever during the coming
campaigns. We must now return to his dreary camp at Valley Forge.

1. Footnote: The weakness of St. Clair's garrison was partly owing to
its having contributed detachments to the support of Washington's army
in New Jersey.

2. Footnote: "History of the War of Independence." vol. II, p. 280.

3. Footnote: Washington, writing to General Schuyler, clearly presaged
the great and auspicious change in affairs which was soon to take place:
"Though our affairs have for some days past worn a gloomy aspect, yet
I look forward to a happy change. I trust General Burgoyne's army will
meet sooner or later an effectual check, and, as I suggested before,
that the success he has had will precipitate his ruin. From your
accounts, he appears to be pursuing that line of conduct which, of
all others, is most favorable to us--I mean acting in detachment. This
conduct will certainly give room for enterprise on our part, and expose
his parties to great hazard. Could we be so happy as to cut one of them
off, though it should not exceed four, five, or six hundred men, it
would inspirit the people, and do away much of their present anxiety. In
such an event, they would lose sight of past misfortunes, and urged on
at the same time by a regard for their own security, they would fly to
arms, and afford every aid in their power."

4. Footnote: "Life of John Stark," p. 58.

5. Footnote: Mr. Jones, an officer of the British army, had gained the
affections of Miss M'Crea, a lovely young lady of amiable character
and spotless reputation, daughter of a gentleman attached to the royal
cause, residing near Fort Edward, and they had agreed to be married. In
the course of service, the officer was removed to some distance from his
bride, and became anxious for her safety and desirous of her company. He
engaged some Indians, of two different tribes, to bring her to camp, and
promised a keg of rum to the person who should deliver her safe to
him. She dressed to meet her bridegroom, and accompanied her Indian
conductors; but by the way, the two chiefs, each being desirous of
receiving the promised reward, disputed which of them should deliver
her to her lover. The dispute rose to a quarrel, and, according to their
usual method of disposing of a disputed prisoner, one of them instantly
cleft the head of the lady with his tomahawk.

This is the common version of the story found in the histories. Mr.
Lossing, in his Field Book of the Revolution, relying on the traditions
in the neighborhood of the scene, comes to the conclusion that the
lady was accidentally killed by a party of Americans in pursuit of the
Indians who had carried her off. Irving says she was killed by one of
the Indians.

6. Footnote: Colonel Morgan, with his regiment of riflemen, had been
recently sent by Washington to join the northern army. Gates, writing
to Washington, May 226, 1777, says: "I cannot sufficiently thank your
Excellency for sending Colonel Morgan's corps to this army; they will be
of the greatest service to it; for, until the late success this way, I
am told the army were quite panic-struck by the Indians, and their Tory
and Canadian assassins in Indian dress. Horrible, indeed, have been the
cruelties they have wantonly committed upon the miserable inhabitants,
insomuch that all is now fair with General Burgoyne, even if the bloody
hatchet he has so barbarously used should find its way into his own

7. Footnote: Letter of Burgoyne.

8. Footnote: Gordon, in his history of the war, states himself to
have received from General Glover an anecdote showing that all these
advantages were on the point of being exposed to imminent hazard: "On
the morning of the 11th, Gates called the general officers together, and
informed them of his having received certain intelligence, which might
be depended upon, that the main body of Burgoyne's army was marched off
for Fort Edward with what they could take; and that the rear guard only
was left in the camp, who, after a while, were to push off as fast as
possible, leaving the heavy baggage behind. On this it was concluded
to advance and attack the camp in half an hour. The officers repaired
immediately to their respective commands. General Nixon's, being
the eldest brigade, crossed the Saratoga creek first. Unknown to the
Americans, Burgoyne had a line formed behind a parcel of brushwood, to
support the park of artillery where the attack was to be made. General
Glover was upon the point of following Nixon. Just as he entered the
water, he saw a British soldier making across, whom he called and
examined. This soldier was a deserter, and communicated the very
important fact that the whole British army were in their encampment.
Nixon was immediately stopped, and the intelligence conveyed to Gates,
who countermanded his orders for the assault, and called back his
troops, not without sustaining some loss from the British artillery."
Gordon is confirmed by General Wilkinson, who was adjutant-general in
the American army. The narrative of the General varies from that of
Gordon only in minor circumstances.

9. Footnote: The American army consisted of 9,093 Continental troops.
The number of the militia fluctuated, but amounted, at the signature of
the convention, to 4,129. The sick exceeded 2,500 men.




We have already given some details of the sufferings endured by
Washington and his brave soldiers at Valley Forge. One-half the tale
is not told--never will be told; their sufferings were unutterable. A
review of this portion of Washington's life will show that at Valley
Forge not only was a great deal suffered but a great deal was done. Here
the army was hardened from the gristle of youth to the bone and muscle
of manhood. It entered the tents of that dreary encampment a courageous
but disorderly rabble; it left them a disciplined army. But we must not
anticipate events.

This army, which was under the immediate command of Washington, was
engaged through the winter (1777-1778) in endeavoring to stop the
intercourse between Philadelphia and the country. To effect this object
General Smallwood was detached with one division to Wilmington; Colonel
Morgan, who had been detached from Gates's army, was placed on the
lines on the west side of the Schuylkill, and General Armstrong with the
Pennsylvania militia, was stationed near the old camp at White Marsh.
Major Jameson with two troops of cavalry and M'Lane's infantry, was
directed to guard the east and Capt. Henry Lee with his troop, the west
side of that river. General Count Pulaski, who commanded the horse, led
the residue of the cavalry to Trenton, where he trained them for the
ensuing campaign.

One of the first operations meditated by Washington after crossing the
Schuylkill was the destruction of a large quantity of hay which remained
in the islands above the mouth of Darby creek, within the power of the
British. Early in the morning, after his orders for this purpose had
been given (December 22d), Howe marched out in full force and encamped
between Darby and the middle ferry, so as completely to cover the
islands while a foraging party removed the hay. Washington, with the
intention of disturbing this operation, gave orders for putting his army
in motion, when the alarming fact was disclosed that the commissary's
stores were exhausted and that the last ration had been delivered and

Accustomed as were the Continental troops to privations of every
sort, it would have been hazarding too much to move them under these
circumstances against a powerful enemy. In a desert or in a garrison
where food is unattainable, courage, patriotism, and habits of
discipline enable the soldier to conquer wants which, in ordinary
situations, would be deemed invincible. But to perish in a country
abounding with provisions requires something more than fortitude; nor
can soldiers readily submit while in such a country to the deprivation
of food. It is not, therefore, surprising that among a few of the troops
some indications of a mutiny appeared. It is much more astonishing that
the great body of the army bore a circumstance so irritating, and to
them so unaccountable, without a murmur.

On receiving intelligence of the fact, Washington ordered the country to
be scoured and provisions for supplying the pressing wants of the moment
to be seized wherever found. In the meantime light parties were detached
to harass the enemy about Darby, where Howe, with his accustomed
circumspection, kept his army so compact and his soldiers so within the
lines that an opportunity to annoy him was seldom afforded even to the
vigilance of Morgan and Lee. After completing his forage he returned,
with inconsiderable loss, to Philadelphia.

That the American army, while the value still retained by paper bills
placed ample funds in the hands of government, should be destitute
of food in the midst of a State so abounding with provisions as
Pennsylvania, is one of those extraordinary facts which cannot fail
to excite attention. A few words of explanation seem to be needed
to account for such a fact. Early in the war the office of
commissary-general had been conferred on Colonel Trumbull, of
Connecticut, a gentleman well fitted for that important station. Yet,
from the difficulty of arranging so complicated a department, complaints
were repeatedly made of the insufficiency of supplies. The subject
was taken up by Congress, but the remedy administered served only to
increase the disease. The system was not completed till near midsummer,
and then its arrangements were such that Colonel Trumbull refused
the office assigned to him. The new plan contemplated a number of
subordinate officers, all to be appointed by Congress, and neither
accountable to nor removable by the head of the department. This
arrangement, which was made in direct opposition to the opinion of the
Commander-in-Chief, drove Colonel Trumbull from the army. Congress,
however, persisted in the system, and its effects were not long in
unfolding themselves. In every military division of the continent loud
complaints were made of the deficiency of supplies. The armies were
greatly embarrassed and their movements suspended by the want of
provisions. The present total failure of all supply was preceded by
issuing meat unfit to be eaten. Representations on this subject had been
made to the Commander-in-Chief and communicated to Congress. That body
had authorized him to seize provisions for the use of his army within
seventy miles of headquarters and to pay for them in money or in
certificates. The odium of this measure was increased by the failure
of government to provide funds to take up these certificates when
presented. At the same time the provisions carried into Philadelphia
were paid for in specie at a fair price. The temptation was too great
to be resisted. Such was the dexterity employed by the inhabitants
in eluding the laws that notwithstanding the vigilance of the troops
stationed on the lines they often succeeded in concealing their
provisions from those authorized to impress for the army and in
conveying them to Philadelphia. Washington, urged on by Congress, issued
a proclamation requiring all the farmers within seventy miles of Valley
Forge to thresh out one-half of their grain by the 1st of February and
the rest by the 1st of March, under the penalty of having the whole
seized as straw. Many farmers refused, defended their grain and cattle
with muskets and rifle, and, in some instances, burnt what they could
not defend.

It would seem that Washington had a sufficiently heavy burden upon his
shoulders in the harassing cares and anxieties of his position, and that
he might have been spared from trials of another sort to which he was
exposed at this time, but Washington experienced what every great and
good man must expect to meet with in an envious and malicious world.
Thus far, apparently, little else than ill-success had attended the
military exploits of the Commander-in-Chief. He had been compelled to
retreat continually before a powerful enemy. New York and Philadelphia
had been lost, and there was almost nothing of a brilliant or striking
character in what had transpired during the war under Washington's
immediate direction. On the other hand, the victory at Saratoga had
thrown a lustre around Gates' name which far outshone for the time the
solid and enduring light of Washington's noble and patriotic devotion
to his country. It was the first great victory of the war and it was a
victory which necessarily had a most important effect upon the future
prospects of the United States. No wonder, then, that restless and
envious men should make invidious comparisons between the hero of
Saratoga and the Commander-in-Chief. No wonder that Washington should
suffer from detraction and the intrigues of dissatisfied and scheming
men, to whom his unsullied virtue, purity, and integrity were invincible
obstacles to every design of theirs to promote selfish or ambitious

A direct and systematic attempt was made to ruin the reputation of
Washington, and from the name of the person principally concerned this
attempt is known by the title of Conway's Cabal. General Gates and
General Mifflin of the army and Samuel Adams and others in Congress had
more or less to do with this matter. Gates and Mifflin had taken offense
at not receiving certain appointments during the siege of Boston, and
were at no time well disposed toward Washington; Conway, a restless,
boastful, and intriguing character, had always been distrusted by
Washington, and he knew it. Some of the New England members do not
seem ever to have cordially liked Washington's appointment as
Commander-in-Chief, and now, when the capture of Burgoyne had been
effected by the northern army without the intervention of Washington the
malcontents ventured to assume a bolder attitude. Anonymous letters were
freely circulated, attributing the ill-success of the American arms
to the incapacity or vacillating policy of Washington and filled with
insinuations and exaggerated complaints against the Commander-in-Chief.

Washington was not unaware of what his enemies were attempting, but it
was not till after the victory of Saratoga that the matter assumed a
definite shape. The success of the northern army, which in fact was
chiefly due to Schuyler, so elated Gates that he seemed to adopt the
views of those other members of the cabal who were disposed to favor his
aspirations to the office of commander-in-chief. He even ventured to do
what few men ever dared, to treat Washington with disrespect. After the
victory of the 7th of October (1777) had opened to him the prospect of
subduing the army of Burgoyne, he not only omitted to communicate his
success to Washington, but carried on a correspondence with Conway, in
which that officer expressed great contempt for the Commander-in-Chief.
When the purport of this correspondence, which had been divulged by
Wilkinson to Lord Stirling, became known to Washington, he exploded the
whole affair by sending the offensive expressions directly to Conway,
who communicated the information to Gates. [1] Gates demanded the name
of the informer in a letter to Washington, far from being conciliatory
in its terms, which was accompanied with the very extraordinary
circumstance of being passed through Congress. Washington's answer
completely humbled him.

It pointed out the inconsistencies and contradictions of Gates' defense
and showed him that Washington had penetrated his whole scheme and
regarded it with lofty contempt. In a subsequent letter Gates besought
him to bury the subject in oblivion.

Meantime, Washington's enemies in Congress were bold and active. A new
Board of War was created, of which Gates was appointed the president,
and Mifflin, who was of the party unfriendly to Washington, was one of
its members. Conway, who was probably the only brigadier in the army
that had joined this faction, was appointed Inspector-general and was
promoted above senior brigadiers to the rank of major-general. These
were evidences that if the hold which the Commander-in-Chief had
taken of the affections and confidence of the army and nation could be
loosened, the party in Congress disposed to change their general was far
from being contemptible in point of numbers. But to loosen this hold
was impossible. The indignation with which the idea of such a change was
received, even by the victorious troops who had conquered under Gates,
forms the most conclusive proof of its strength. Even the northern army
clung to Washington as the savior of his country.

These machinations to diminish the well-earned reputation of Washington
made no undue impression on his steady mind, nor did they change one of
his measures. His sensibilities seem to have been those of patriotism,
of apprehension for his country, rather than of wounded pride. [2]

His desire to remain at the head of the army seemed to flow from the
conviction that his retaining that station would be useful to his
country, rather than from the gratification his high rank might furnish
to ambition.

When he unbosomed himself to his private friends, the feelings and
sentiments he expressed were worthy of Washington. To Mr. Laurens, [3]
the President of Congress, and his private friend, who, in an unofficial
letter, had communicated an anonymous accusation made to him, as
President, containing heavy charges against the Commander-in-Chief, he
said. "I cannot sufficiently express the Obligation I feel toward you
for your friendship and politeness upon an occasion in which I am deeply
interested. I was not unapprised that a malignant faction had been for
some time forming to my prejudice, which, conscious as I am of having
ever done all in my power to answer the important purposes of the trusts
reposed in me, could not but give me some pain on a personal account;
but my chief concern arises from an apprehension of the dangerous
consequences which intestine dissensions may produce to the common

"As I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am
unambitious of honors not founded in the approbation of my country,
I would not desire in the least degree to suppress a free spirit of
inquiry into any part of my conduct that even faction itself may deem
reprehensible. The anonymous paper handed you exhibits many serious
charges and it is my wish that it may be submitted to Congress. This I
am the more inclined to as the suppression or concealment may possibly
involve you in embarrassment hereafter since it is uncertain how many or
who may be privy to the contents.

"My enemies take an ungenerous advantage of me. They know the delicacy
of my situation and that motives of policy deprive me of the defense I
might otherwise make against their insidious attacks. They know I cannot
combat their insinuations, however injurious, without disclosing secrets
it is of the utmost moment to conceal. But why should I expect to be
free from censure, the unfailing lot of an elevated station? Merit and
talents which I cannot pretend to rival have ever been subject to it.
My heart tells me it has been my unremitted aim to do the best which
circumstances would permit. Yet I may have been very often mistaken
in my judgment of the means and may in many instances deserve the
imputation of error."

While Washington expressed himself in these modest terms to a personal
friend, he assumed a much bolder and higher tone to the dastardly
enemies who were continually thwarting his designs and injuring the
public service by their malignity and incapacity. These were public
enemies to be publicly arraigned. Seizing the occasion to which we have
already referred, when the army was unable to march against the enemy
for want of provisions, he sent to the President of Congress the
following letter which, of course, like the rest of his correspondence,
was to be read to the whole house. It is severer than any he had ever
written: "Full as I was in my representation of the matters in the
commissary's department yesterday, fresh and more powerful reasons
oblige me to add that I am now convinced beyond a doubt that unless some
great and capital change suddenly takes place in that line this army
must inevitably be reduced to one or other of these three things--to
starve, dissolve, or disperse in order to obtain subsistence. Rest
assured, sir, that this is not an exaggerated picture, and that I have
abundant reason to suppose what I say.

"Saturday afternoon receiving information that the enemy in force had
left the city and were advancing toward Darby with apparent design to
forage and draw subsistence from that part of the country, I ordered
the troops to be in readiness that I might give every opposition in
my power, when, to my great mortification, I was not only informed
but convinced that the men were unable to stir on account of a want
of provisions, and that a dangerous mutiny begun the night before, and
which with difficulty was suppressed by the spirited exertions of some
officers, was still much to be apprehended from the want this article.

"This brought forth the only commissary in the purchasing line in this
camp and with him this melancholy and alarming truth, that he had not
a single hoof of any kind to slaughter and not more than twenty-five
barrels of flour! From hence form an opinion of our situation when I add
that he could not tell when to expect any.

"All I could do under these circumstances was to send out a few light
parties to watch and harass the enemy, whilst other parties were
instantly detached different ways to collect, if possible, as much
provisions as would satisfy the pressing wants of the soldiers; but will
this answer? No, sir. Three or four days of bad weather would prove our
destruction. What then is to become of the army this winter? And if we
are now as often without provisions as with them what is to become of us
in the spring when our force will be collected, with the aid perhaps of
militia, to take advantage of an early campaign before the enemy can be
reinforced? These are considerations of great magnitude, meriting the
closest attention, and will, when my own reputation is so intimately
connected with and to be affected by the event, justify my saying that
the present commissaries are by no means equal to the execution of the
office, or that the disaffection of the people surpasses all belief. The
misfortune, however, does in my opinion proceed from both causes, and
though I have been tender heretofore of giving my opinion or of lodging
complaints, as the change in that department took place contrary to my
judgment and the consequences thereof were predicted, yet finding that
the inactivity of the army, whether for want of provisions, clothes, or
other essentials is charged to my account, not only by the common vulgar
but by those in power, it is time to speak plain in exculpation of
myself. With truth then I can declare that no man, in my opinion, ever
had his measures more impeded than I have by every department of
the army. Since the month of July we have had no assistance from the
Quartermaster-General, and to want of assistance from this department
the Commissary-General charges great part of his deficiency. To this I
am to add that notwithstanding it is a standing order (often repeated)
that the troops shall always have two days' provision by them, that they
may be ready at any sudden call, yet scarcely any opportunity has
ever offered of taking advantage of the enemy that has not been either
totally obstructed or greatly impeded on this account, and this, the
great and crying evil, is not all. Soap, vinegar, and other articles
allowed by Congress we see none of, nor have we seen them, I believe,
since the battle of Brandywine. The first, indeed, we have little
occasion for--few men having more than one shirt, many only the moiety
of one, and some none at all. In addition to which, as a proof of
the little benefit from a clothier-general, and at the same time as a
further proof of the inability of an army under the circumstances of
this to perform the common duties of soldiers, we have, by a field
return this day made, besides a number of men confined to hospitals for
want of shoes and others in farmers' houses on the same account, no less
than 2,898 men now in camp unfit for duty because they are barefoot and
otherwise naked. By the same return it appears that our whole strength
in Continental troops, including the eastern brigades, which have joined
us since the surrender of General Burgoyne, exclusive of the Maryland
troops sent to Wilmington, amounts to no more than 8,200 in camp fit for
duty; notwithstanding which, and that since the 4th inst., our number
fit for duty, from the hardships and exposures they have undergone,
particularly from the want of blankets, have decreased near 2,000 men,
we find, gentlemen, without knowing whether the army was really going
into winter quarters or not (for I am sure no resolution of mine would
warrant the remonstrance), reprobating the measure as much as if
they thought the soldiers were made of stocks or stones, and equally
insensible to frost and snow; and, moreover, as if they conceived it
easily practicable for an inferior army, under the disadvantages I have
described ours to be--which are by no means exaggerated--to confine a
superior one, in all respects well appointed and provided for a winter's
campaign, within the city of Philadelphia, and to cover from depredation
and waste the States of Pennsylvania, Jersey, etc. But what makes this
matter still more extraordinary in my eye is that these very gentlemen,
who were well apprised of the nakedness of the troops from ocular
demonstration, who thought their own soldiers worse clad than others and
advised me near a month ago to postpone the execution of a plan I was
about to adopt, in consequence of a resolve of Congress for seizing
clothes, under strong assurances that an ample supply would be collected
in ten days, agreeably to a decree of the State (not one article of
which, by the by, is yet come to hand), should think a winter's campaign
and the covering of their States from the invasion of an enemy so easy
and practicable a business. I can assure those gentlemen that it is
a much easier and less distressing thing to draw remonstrances in a
comfortable room, by a good fireside, than to occupy a cold, bleak hill,
and sleep under frost and snow without clothes or blankets. However,
although they seem to have little feeling for the naked and distressed
soldiers, I feel superabundantly for them, and from my soul pity those
miseries which it is not in my power either to relieve or to prevent."

This letter must have convinced Washington's implacable enemies in
Congress that he had no thoughts of conciliating them. He despised
and defied them. Its effect on those who were friendly to him would
necessarily be inspiriting. His bold attitude justified their reliance
on his moral courage and enabled them to demand the enactment of those
measures which were necessary for the preservation of the army and the
successful assertion of the country's independence.

It is probable that this letter gave the finishing stroke to the Conway
Cabal. While Gates and Mifflin denied that they had ever desired or
aimed at Washington's removal from the office of Commander-in-Chief
and sought to recover his confidence, Conway himself, who was still
inspector-general, after denying any design to remove Washington, still
maintained an offensive attitude toward him, wrote impertinent letters
to him, and persisted in intriguing against him with Congress. But he
found himself foiled in all his ambitious and factious designs, and he
had become excessively unpopular in the army. He felt at last that he
was in a false position; we shall presently see how his career in this
country terminated.

Washington's conduct through the whole period of the Conway Cabal, which
lasted several months, is highly characteristic of the man. While he
regarded it with contempt, so far as he was personally concerned, he
felt annoyed and distressed at the injury which it was inflicting on the
public service. When the moment was come for unmasking the conspirators,
by informing Conway that he was aware of their designs, he applied the
match which was to explode the whole plot and cover its originators with
shame and confusion. This he did in a quiet, business-like way because
the public service required it. Congress, having committed itself by
promoting his enemies, could not at once retract, but the officers
themselves made haste to escape from public indignation by denials and
apologies, and the final effect of the Conway Cabal was to establish
Washington more firmly than ever in the confidence and affection of the
whole country. [4]

His situation, however, was by no means enviable. His army was much
attached to him, but weakened by disease, and irritated by nakedness and
hunger, it was almost on the point of dissolution. In the midst of
the difficulties and dangers with which he was surrounded Washington
displayed a singular degree of steady perseverance, unshaken fortitude,
and unwearied activity. Instead of manifesting irritable impatience
under the malignant attacks made on his character he behaved with
magnanimity, and earnestly applied to Congress and to the legislative
bodies of the several States for reinforcements to his army in order
that he might be prepared to act with vigor in the ensuing campaign.

But to recruit and equip the army was no easy task. The great
depreciation of paper money rendered the pay of the soldiers inadequate
to their support, and consequently it was not likely that voluntary
enlistment would be successful, especially since the patriotic ardor of
many had begun to cool by the continuance of the war, and all knew that
great hardships and dangers were to be encountered by joining the army.
The pay even of the officers, in the depreciated paper currency, was
wholly unequal to the maintenance of their rank. Some of them who had
small patrimonial estates found them melting away, while their lives
were unprofitably devoted to the service of their country, and they
who had no private fortune could not appear in a manner becoming their
station. A commission was a burden, and many considered the acceptance
of one as conferring rather than receiving a favor--a state of things
highly disadvantageous to the service, for the duties of an office
scarcely reckoned worth holding will seldom be zealously and actively
discharged. There was reason to apprehend that many of the most
meritorious officers would resign their commissions, and that they only
who were less qualified for service would remain with the army.

Congress, moved by the remonstrances of Washington, and by the
complaints with which they were assailed from every quarter, deputed
a committee of their body to reside in camp during the winter, and in
concert with the general to examine the state of the army and report on
the measures necessary to be taken for placing it in a more respectable
condition. The members of this committee were Francis Dana, General
Reed, Nathaniel Folsom, Charles Carroll, and Governeur Morris. On their
arrival at Valley Forge Washington submitted to them a memoir, filling
fifty folio pages, exhibiting the existing state of the army, the
deficiencies and disorders, and their causes, and suggesting such
reforms as he deemed necessary. Upon this document the plan for
improving the efficiency of the army was formed and communicated to
Congress by the committee, who remained in camp nearly three months.
Congress approved of their proceedings and adopted their plan, but they
legislated so slowly that the effect of their proceedings was hardly
felt before the month of April (1778).

Among the reforms recommended by the committee, called the "Committee
of Arrangement," who were sent to the camp, none met with so much
opposition in Congress as that which provided for increasing the pay
of the officers and soldiers of the army. Hitherto there had been no
provision made for officers after the war should end, and the pay which
they were actually receiving being in depreciated Continental bills was
merely nominal. To the effect of this state of things in the army we
have already adverted. It was most disastrous. Washington was desirous
that Congress should make provision for giving officers half pay for
life, or some other permanent provision, and increasing the inducements
for soldiers to enlist. A party in Congress opposed this as having the
appearance of a standing army, a pension list, and a privileged order in

In a letter to Congress Washington said: "If my opinion is asked with
respect to the necessity of making this provision for the officers I am
ready to declare that I do most religiously believe the salvation of
the cause depends upon it, and without it your officers will moulder to
nothing, or be composed of low and illiterate men, void of capacity for
this or any other business.

"Personally, as an officer, I have no interest in their decision,
because I have declared, and I now repeat it, that I never will receive
the smallest benefit from the half-pay establishment, but as a man who
fights under the weight of a proscription, and as a citizen, who
wishes to see the liberty of his country established upon a permanent
foundation, and whose property depends upon the success of our arms,
I am deeply interested. But all this apart and justice out of the
question, upon the single ground of economy and public saving, I will
maintain the utility of it, for I have not the least doubt that until
officers consider their commissions in an honorable and interested point
of view, and are afraid to endanger them by negligence and inattention,
no order, regularity, or care either of the men or public property, will

The following passages, from a letter addressed to a delegate in
Congress from Virginia, exhibit the view Washington took at the time of
public affairs and the spirit and eloquence with which he pleaded the
cause of the country and the army.

"Before I conclude there are one or two points more upon which I will
add an observation or two. The first is the indecision of Congress and
the delay used in coming to determinations on matters referred to
them. This is productive of a variety of inconveniences, and an early
decision, in many cases, though it should be against the measure
submitted, would be attended with less pernicious effects. Some new plan
might then be tried, but while the matter is held in suspense nothing
can be attempted. The other point is the jealousy which Congress
unhappily entertain of the army, and which, if reports are right, some
members labor to establish. You may be assured there is nothing more
injurious or more unfounded. This jealousy stands upon the commonly
received opinion, which under proper limitations is certainly true,
that standing armies are dangerous to a State. The prejudices in other
countries have only gone to them in time of peace, and these from their
not having in general cases any of the ties, the concerns, or interests
of citizens, or any other dependence than what flowed from their
military employ; in short, from their being mercenaries, hirelings. It
is our policy to be prejudiced against them in time of war, though they
are citizens, having all the ties and interests of citizens, and in most
cases property totally unconnected with the military line.

"If we would pursue a right system of policy, in my opinion, there
should be none of these distinctions. We should all, Congress and army,
be considered as one people, embarked in one cause, in one interest,
acting on the same principle and to the same end. The distinction, the
jealousies set up, or perhaps only incautiously let out, can answer
not a single good purpose. They are impolitic in the extreme. Among
individuals the most certain way to make a man your enemy is to tell him
you esteem him such. So with public bodies, and the very jealousy which
the narrow politics of some may affect to entertain of the army, in
order to a due subordination to the supreme civil authority, is a likely
means to produce a contrary effect--to incline it to the pursuit of
those measures which they may wish it to avoid. It is unjust because no
order of men in the thirteen States has paid a more sacred regard to
the proceedings of Congress than the army, for without arrogance or the
smallest deviation from truth it may be said that no history now extant
can furnish an instance of an army's suffering such uncommon hardships
as ours has done, and bearing them with the same patience and fortitude.
To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets
to lie on, without shoes (for the want of which their marches might
be traced by the blood from their feet), and almost as often without
provisions as with them, marching through the frost and snow, and at
Christmas taking up their winter quarters within a day's march of the
enemy, without a house or hut to cover them till they could be built,
and submitting without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience
which in my opinion can scarcely be paralleled."

Such representations as these could not fail to produce some effect even
on the minds of those who were opposed to the measures which Washington
proposed. Still the action of Congress was, as usual, dilatory. After a
great deal of discussion a vote was passed by a small majority to give
the officers half pay for life. This vote was reconsidered, and it was
finally agreed that the officers should receive half pay for seven years
after the close of the war, or that each noncommissioned officer and
soldier, who should continue in the army till the close of the war,
should receive a bounty of $80.

We have anticipated the order of time in order to dispose finally of
this matter which was not terminated till the spring of 1778.

During the winter Howe confined his operations to those small excursions
that were calculated to enlarge the comforts of his own soldiers, who,
notwithstanding the favorable dispositions of the neighboring country,
were much distressed for fuel and often in great want of forage and
fresh provisions. The vigilance of the parties on the lines, especially
on the south side of the Schuylkill, intercepted a large portion of the
supplies intended for the Philadelphia market, and corporal punishment
was frequently inflicted on those who were detected in attempting this
infraction of the laws. As Capt. Henry Lee, called in the army "Light
Horse Harry," was particularly active, a plan was formed late in January
to surprise and capture him in his quarters. An extensive circuit was
made by a large body of cavalry who seized four of his patrols without
communicating an alarm. About break of day the British horse appeared,
upon which Captain Lee placed his troopers that were in the house at the
doors and windows, who behaved so gallantly as to repulse the assailants
without losing a horse or man. Only Lieutenant Lindsay and one private
were wounded. The whole number in the house did not exceed ten. That of
the assailants was said to amount to 200. They lost a sergeant and three
men, with several horses killed, and an officer and three men wounded.
The result of this skirmish gave great pleasure to Washington who had
formed a high opinion of Lee's talents as a partisan. He mentioned the
affair in his orders with strong marks of approbation, and in a private
letter to the captain testified the satisfaction he felt. For his merit
through the preceding campaign Congress promoted him to the rank of
major and gave him an independent partisan corps, to consist of three
troops of horse.

While the deficiency of the public resources, arising from the alarming
depreciation of the bills of credit, manifested itself in all the
military departments, a plan was matured in Congress and in the Board of
War, without consulting the Commander-in-Chief, for a second irruption
into Canada. It was proposed to place the Marquis de Lafayette at the
head of this expedition and to employ Generals Conway and Stark as the
second and third in command.

This was a measure planned by those who were not friendly to Washington;
and one of its objects was to detach Lafayette from his best and dearest
friend and bring him over to the Conway party. Lafayette would have
declined the appointment, but Washington advised him to accept it,
probably foreseeing how the affair would terminate.

The first intimation to Washington that the expedition was contemplated
was given in a letter from the President of the Board of War of the
24th of January (1778), enclosing one of the same date to the Marquis,
requiring his attendance on Congress to receive his instructions.
Washington was requested to furnish Colonel Hazen's regiment, chiefly
composed of Canadians, for the expedition, and in the same letter his
advice and opinion were asked respecting it. The northern States were to
furnish the necessary troops.

Without noticing the manner in which this business had been conducted
and the marked want of confidence it betrayed, Washington ordered
Hazen's regiment to march toward Albany, and Lafayette proceeded
immediately to the seat of Congress at Yorktown. At his request he was
to be considered as an officer detached from the army of Washington, to
remain under his orders, and Major-General the Baron de Kalb was added
to the expedition; after which Lafayette repaired in person to Albany to
take charge of the troops who were to assemble at that place in order to
cross the lakes on the ice and attack Montreal.

On arriving at Albany he found no preparations made for the expedition.
Nothing which had been promised being in readiness, he abandoned
the enterprise as impracticable. Some time afterward Congress also
determined to relinquish it, and Washington was authorized to recall
both Lafayette and De Kalb.

While the army lay at Valley Forge the Baron Steuben arrived in camp.
This gentleman was a Prussian officer who came to the United States with
ample recommendations. He had served many years in the armies of the
great Frederick, had been one his aides-de-camp, and had held the
rank of lieutenant-general. He was well versed in the system of field
exercise which the King of Prussia had introduced, and was qualified to
each it to raw troops. He claimed no rank and offered his services as
a volunteer. After holding a conference with Congress he proceeded to
Valley Forge.

Although the office of inspector-general had been bestowed on Conway,
he had never entered on its duties, and his promotion to the rank of
major-general had given much umbrage to the brigadiers who had been his
seniors. That circumstance, in addition to the knowledge of his being in
a faction hostile to the Commander-in-Chief, rendered his situation in
the army so uncomfortable that he withdrew to Yorktown, in Pennsylvania,
which was then the seat of Congress. When the expedition to Canada was
abandoned he was not directed, with Lafayette and De Kalb, to rejoin the
army. Entertaining no hope of being permitted to exercise the functions
of his new office, he resigned his commission about the last of April
and, some time afterward, returned to France. [6]

On his resignation the Baron Steuben, who had, as a volunteer, performed
the duties of inspector-general much to the satisfaction of the
Commander-in-Chief and of the army, was, on the recommendation of
Washington, appointed to that office, with the rank of major-general,
without exciting the slightest murmur.

This gentleman was of immense service to the American troops. He
established one uniform system of field exercise, and, by his skill and
persevering industry, effected important improvements through all ranks
of the army during its continuance at Valley Forge.

While it was encamped at that place several matters of great interest
engaged the attention of Congress. Among them was the stipulation in the
convention of Saratoga for the return of the British army to England.
Boston was named as the place of embarkation. At the time of the
capitulation the difficulty of making that port early in the winter
was unknown to General Burgoyne. Consequently, as some time must elapse
before a sufficient number of vessels for the transportation of his army
could be collected, its embarkation might be delayed until the ensuing

On being apprised of this circumstance, Burgoyne applied to Washington,
desiring him to change the port of embarkation and to appoint Newport,
in Rhode Island, or some other place on the Sound instead of Boston,
and, in case this request should not be complied with, soliciting, on
account of his health and private business, that the indulgence might
be granted to himself and suite. Washington, not thinking himself
authorized to decide on such an application, transmitted it to Congress,
which took no notice of the matter further than to pass a resolution
"That General Washington be directed to inform General Burgoyne that
Congress will not receive or consider any proposition for indulgence
or altering the terms of the convention of Saratoga, unless immediately
addressed to their own body." The application was accordingly made
to Congress, who readily complied with the request in so far as it
respected himself personally, but refused the indulgence to his troops,
and ultimately forbade their embarkation.

Congress watched with a jealous eye every movement of the convention
army and soon gave public indications of that jealousy. Early in
November they ordered General Heath, who commanded in Boston, "to take
the name, rank, former place of abode, and description of every person
comprehended in the convention of Saratoga, in order that, if afterward
found in arms against the United States, they might be punished
according to the law of nations." Burgoyne showed some reluctance to the
execution of this order, and his reluctance was imputed to no honorable

If the troops had been embarked in the Sound they might have reached
Britain early in the winter, where, without any breach of faith,
government might have employed them in garrison duty and been enabled to
send out a corresponding number of troops in time to take an active part
in the next campaign. But if the port of Boston were adhered to as the
place of embarkation, the convention troops could not, it was thought,
sail before the spring, and, consequently, could not be replaced by the
troops whose duties they might perform at home till late in the year
1778. This circumstance, perhaps, determined Congress to abide by Boston
as the port of embarkation, and in this their conduct was free from
blame. But, by the injuries mutually inflicted and suffered in the
course of the war, the minds of the contending parties were exasperated
and filled with suspicion and distrust of each other. Congress placed
no reliance on British faith and honor, and, on the subject under
consideration, gave clear evidence that on those points they were not
over-scrupulous themselves.

On arriving in Boston the British officers found their quarters
uncomfortable. This probably arose from the large number of persons to
be provided for and the scarcity of rooms, fuel, and provisions, arising
from the presence of the whole captured army. But the officers were much
dissatisfied, and, after a fruitless correspondence with Heath, Burgoyne
addressed himself to Gates and complained of the inconvenient quarters
assigned his officers as a breach of the articles of capitulation.
Congress was highly offended at the imputation and considered or
affected to consider the charge as made with a view to justify a
violation of the convention by his army as soon as they escaped from
captivity. A number of transports for carrying off the convention troops
was collected in the Sound sooner than was expected, but that number,
amounting only to twenty-six, the Americans thought insufficient for
transporting such a number of men to Britain in the winter season, and
inferred that the intention could only be to carry them to the Delaware
and incorporate them with Howe's army. They also alleged that a number
of cartouche-boxes and other accoutrements of war belonging to the
British army had not been delivered up, agreeably to the convention, and
argued that this violation on the part of the British released Congress
from its obligations to fulfill the terms of that compact.

On the 8th of January (1778), Congress resolved "to suspend the
embarkation of the army till a distinct and explicit ratification of the
convention of Saratoga shall be properly notified by the court of
Great Britain to Congress." Afterward the embarkation of the troops was
delayed or refused for various reasons, and that part of the convention
remained unfulfilled. The troops were long detained in Massachusetts;
they were afterward sent to the back parts of Virginia and none of them
were released but by exchange.

Mrs. Washington, as usual, visited her illustrious consort in his
quarters at Valley Forge during the winter. Writing from thence to a
friend in Boston, she says: "I came to this place some time about
the 1st of February (1778), where I found the General very well. The
General's apartment is very small; he has had a log cabin built to dine
in, which has made our quarters much more tolerable than they were at
first." To those American citizens who are now reaping the rich fruits
of Washington's toils and sufferings in his country's cause, these few
lines are very suggestive. One cannot help contrasting the luxurious
habitations of the present generation with that log hut of the Father of
his Country at Valley Forge, to which the addition of another log hut to
dine in was considered by his consort a very comfortable appendage. We
should remember these things.

The effect of the news of Burgoyne's surrender, which reached Europe in
the autumn of 1777, could not be otherwise than highly favorable to
the cause of American independence. Our envoys in France, Dr. Franklin,
Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee had long been soliciting an alliance with
France. But the cautious ministers of Louis XVI, although secretly
favoring our cause and permitting supplies to be forwarded by
Beaumarchais, and the prizes of our ships to be brought into their ports
and sold, had hitherto abstained from openly supporting us, lest our
arms should finally prove unsuccessful. But the surrender of a large
army to Gates and the firm attitude of Washington's army, besieging Howe
in Philadelphia, as they had previously besieged him in Boston, gave a
new turn to French policy and disposed the ministry of Louis to treat
for an alliance with the new republic.

On the other hand, the British court was in a state of utter
consternation. The war began to assume a more portentous aspect, and
the British ministry, unable to execute their original purpose, lowered
their tone and showed an inclination to treat with the Colonies on
any terms which did not imply their entire independence and complete
separation from the British empire. In order to terminate the quarrel
with America before the actual commencement of hostilities with France,
Lord North introduced two bills into the House of Commons. The first
declared that Parliament would impose no tax or duty whatever, payable
within any of the Colonies of North America, except only such duties as
it might be expedient to impose for the purposes of commerce, the net
produce of which should always be paid and applied to and for the use
of the Colonies in which the same shall be respectively levied, in like
manner as other duties collected under the authority of their respective
Legislatures are ordinarily paid and applied; the second authorized
the appointment of commissioners by the Crown, with power to treat with
either the constituted authorities or with individuals in America, but
that no stipulation entered into should have any effect till approved
in Parliament. It empowered the commissioners, however, to proclaim
a cessation of hostilities in any of the Colonies; to suspend the
operation of the Non-intercourse Act; also to suspend, during the
continuance of the act, so much of all or any of the acts of Parliament
which have passed since the 10th day of February, 1763, as relates to
the Colonies; to grant pardons to any number or description of persons,
and to appoint a governor in any Colony in which his Majesty had
heretofore exercised the power of making such appointment. The duration
of the act was limited to the 1st day of June, 1779.

These bills passed both Houses of Parliament, and as about the time of
their introduction ministry received information of the conclusion of
the treaty between France and the Colonies, they sent off copies of them
to America, even before they had gone through the usual formalities, in
order to counteract the effects which the news of the French alliance
might produce. Early in March, the Earl of Carlisle, George Johnstone,
and William Eden, Esqs., were appointed commissioners for carrying
the acts into execution, and the celebrated Dr. Adam Ferguson, then
professor of moral philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, was
nominated their secretary. The commissioners sailed without delay for
America. But the present measure, like every other concession in the
course of this protracted contest, came too late. What was now offered
would at one time have been hailed in America with acclamations of joy
and secured the grateful affection of the Colonists. But circumstances
were now changed. The minds of the people were completely alienated from
the parent state and their spirits exasperated by the events of the war.
Independence had been declared, victory had emblazoned the standards of
Congress, and a treaty of alliance with France had been concluded.

On the 16th of December (1777) the preliminaries of a treaty between
France and America were agreed on, and the treaty itself was signed
at Paris on the 6th of February, 1778--an event of which the British
ministry got information in little more than forty-eight hours after the
signatures were affixed. The principal articles of the treaty were: That
if Britain, in consequence of the alliance, should commence hostilities
against France, the two countries should mutually assist each other;
that the independence of America should be effectually maintained; that
if any part of North America still professing allegiance to the Crown of
Britain should be reduced by the Colonies it should belong to the United
States; that if France should conquer any of the British West India
Islands they should be deemed its property; that the contracting parties
should not lay down their arms till the independence of America was
formally acknowledged, and that neither of them should conclude a peace
without the consent of the other.

Lord North's conciliatory bills reached America before the news of the
French treaty and excited in Congress considerable alarm. There were a
number of Loyalists in each of the Colonies; many, though not unfriendly
to the American cause, had never entered cordially into the quarrel, and
the heavy pressure of the war had begun to cool the zeal and exhaust
the patience of some who had once been forward in their opposition to
Britain. Congress became apprehensive lest a disposition should prevail
to accept of the terms proposed by the British government, and the great
body of the people be willing to resign the advantages of independence,
in order to escape from present calamity.

The bills were referred to a committee, which, after an acute and severe
examination, gave in a report well calculated to counteract the effects
which it was apprehended the terms offered would produce on the minds of
the timid and wavering. They reported as their opinion that it was the
aim of those bills to create divisions in the States; and "that they
were the sequel of that insidious plan, which, from the days of the
Stamp Act down to the present time, hath involved this country in
contention and bloodshed; and that, as in other cases, so in this,
although circumstances may at times force them to recede from their
un-  [missing text]

of the British fleets and armies and the acknowledgment of American
independence. At the same time the bills were published, together with
the action of Congress on the subject, and dispersed throughout the
country. This decisive stand was taken before it was known that a treaty
had been concluded with France.

The British commissioners, Carlisle, Johnstone, and Eden, charged with
negotiating and reconciliation on the basis of Lord North's bills, did
not arrive until (June, 1778) six weeks after drafts of the bills had
been published by Governor Tryon and rejected by Congress. On their
arrival at New York, Sir Henry Clinton, who had succeeded Howe as
Commander-in-Chief, requested a passport for Dr. Ferguson, the secretary
of the commissioners, to proceed to Yorktown and lay certain papers
before Congress.

Washington, not deeming the matter within his province, declined until
he could have the instruction of Congress, who sustained him in refusing
the passport. The commissioners, impatient of delay, sent on the papers
through the ordinary medium of a flag, addressed to the President of

The commissioners offered in their letter to consent to an immediate
cessation of hostilities by sea and land; to agree that no military
force should be kept up in the Colonies without the consent of Congress,
and also both to give up the right of taxation and to provide for a
representation in Parliament. They promised to sustain and finally pay
off the paper money then in circulation. Every inducement short of the
recognition of independence was held out to lead the Colonists to return
to their allegiance. But if, when relying upon their own strength alone,
they had refused to listen to such overtures, they were not likely to
do so now that they were assured of the support of France. By order
of Congress the President of that body wrote as follows to the
commissioners: "I have received the letter from your Excellencies, dated
the 9th instant, with the enclosures, and laid them before Congress.
Nothing but an earnest desire to spare the further effusion of human
blood could have induced them to read a paper containing expressions so
disrespectful to his Most Christian Majesty, the good and great ally of
these States, or to consider propositions so derogatory to the honor
of an independent nation. The acts of the British Parliament, the
commission from your sovereign, and your letter suppose the people
of these States to be subjects of the Crown of Great Britain and are
founded on the idea of dependence, which is utterly inadmissible. I am
further directed to inform your Excellencies that Congress are inclined
to peace, notwithstanding the unjust claims from which this war
originated, and the savage manner in which it hath been conducted. They
will, therefore, be ready to enter upon the consideration of a treaty
of peace and commerce not inconsistent with treaties already subsisting,
when the King of Great Britain shall demonstrate a sincere disposition
for that purpose. The only solid proof of this disposition will be an
explicit acknowledgment of these States or the withdrawing his fleets
and armies."

The British commissioners remained several months in the country and
made many and various attempts to accomplish the objects of their
mission, but without success.

They were compelled to return to England baffled and disappointed.
Thus the Americans, as an eloquent historian suggests, steady in their
resolutions, chose rather to trust to their own fortune, which they had
already proved, and to the hope they placed in that of France, than to
link themselves anew to the tottering destiny of England; abandoning all
idea of peace, war became the sole object of their solicitude. Such
was the issue of the attempts to effect an accommodation and thus were
extinguished the hopes which the negotiation had given birth to in
England. It was the misfortune of England to be governed by ministers
who were never willing to do justice until they were compelled by main
force. Their present concessions, as on all previous occasions, came too

We have had frequent occasion to notice the embarrassments and
mortifications to which Washington was subjected by the interference of
Congress in those executive matters which should have been left entirely
under his own control. This was particularly injurious to the public
service in their conduct with respect to the treatment and exchange
of prisoners. Much correspondence on this subject took place between
Washington and Howe during the winter when the army was at Valley Forge,
and whenever the generals were on the eve of arranging an exchange
Congress would interfere and prevent it. Washington had been compelled,
by his sense of justice and humanity, to censure Howe for his treatment
of American prisoners. An order hastily given out by the Board of War
exposed Washington himself, without any fault of his own, to a similar
censure from Howe. The circumstances, as related by Marshall, were

"General Washington had consented that a quartermaster, with a small
escort, should come out of Philadelphia, with clothes and other comforts
for the prisoners who were in possession of the United States. He had
expressly stipulated for their security, and had given them a passport.
While they were traveling through the country, information was given to
the Board of War that General Howe had refused to permit provisions
to be sent in to the American prisoners in Philadelphia by water. This
information was not correct. General Howe had only requested that flags
should not be sent up or down the river without previous permission
obtained from himself. On this information, however, the board ordered
Lieutenant-Colonel Smith immediately to seize the officers, though
protected by the passport of Washington, their horses, carriages, and
the provisions destined for the relief to the British prisoners, and
to secure them until further orders, either from the Board or from the

"Washington, on hearing this circumstance, dispatched one of his aids
with orders for the immediate release of the persons and property which
had been confined; but the officers refused to proceed on their journey,
and returned to Philadelphia. [10]

"This untoward event was much regretted by Washington. In a letter
received some time afterwards, Howe, after expressing his willingness
that the American prisoners should be visited by deputy commissaries,
who should inspect their situation and supply their wants, required,
as the condition on which this indulgence should be granted, 'that a
similar permit should be allowed to persons appointed by him, which
should be accompanied with the assurance of General Washington, that
his authority will have sufficient weight to prevent any interruption
to their progress, and any insult to their persons.' This demand was
ascribed to the treatment to which officers under the protection of his
passport had already been exposed.

"Washington lamented the impediment to the exchange of prisoners,
which had hitherto appeared to be insuperable, and made repeated but
ineffectual efforts to remove it. Howe had uniformly refused to proceed
with any cartel unless his right to claim for all the diseased and
infirm, whom he had liberated, should be previously admitted.

"At length, after all hope of inducing him to recede from that high
ground had been abandoned, he suddenly relinquished it of his own
accord, and acceded completely to the proposition of Washington for the
meeting of commissioners, in order to settle equitably the number to
which he should be entitled for those he had discharged in the
preceding winter. This point being adjusted, commissioners were mutually
appointed, who were to meet on the 10th of March (1778), at Germantown,
to arrange the details of a general cartel.

"Washington had entertained no doubt of his authority to enter into this
agreement. On the 4th of March, however, he had the mortification to
perceive in a newspaper a resolution of Congress, calling on the several
States for the amounts of supplies furnished the prisoners, that they
might be adjusted according to the rule of the 10th of December, before
the exchange should take place.

"On seeing this embarrassing resolution, Washington addressed a letter
to Howe, informing him that particular circumstances had rendered
it inconvenient for the American commissioners to attend at the time
appointed, and requesting that their meeting should be deferred from
the 10th to the 21st of March. The interval was employed in obtaining a
repeal of the resolution.

"It would seem probable that the dispositions of Congress, on the
subject of an exchange, did not correspond with those of Washington.
From the fundamental principle of the military establishment of the
United States at its commencement, an exchange of prisoners would
necessarily strengthen the British much more than the American army. The
war having been carried on by troops raised for short times, aided by
militia, the American prisoners, when exchanged, returned to their homes
as citizens, while those of the enemy again took the field.

"Washington, who was governed by a policy more just, and more
permanently beneficial, addressed himself seriously to Congress, urging
as well the injury done the public faith and his own personal honor, by
this infraction of a solemn engagement, as the cruelty and impolicy of
a system which must cut off forever all hopes of an exchange, and render
imprisonment as lasting as the war. He represented in strong terms
the effect such a measure must have on the troops on whom they should
thereafter be compelled chiefly to rely, and its impression on the
friends of those already in captivity. These remonstrances produced the
desired effect, and the resolutions were repealed. The commissioners met
according to the second appointment; but, on examining their powers, it
appeared that those given by Washington were expressed to be in virtue
of the authority vested in him, while those given by Howe contained no
such declaration. This omission produced an objection on the part of
Congress; but Howe refused to change the language, alleging that he
designed the treaty to be of a personal nature, founded on the mutual
confidence and honor of the contracting generals, and had no intention
either to bind his government or to extend the cartel beyond the limits
and duration of his own command.

"This explanation being unsatisfactory to the American commissioners,
and Howe persisting in his refusal to make the required alteration in
his powers, the negotiation was broken off, and this fair prospect of
terminating the distresses of the prisoners on both sides passed away
without effecting the good it had promised.

"Some time after the failure of this negotiation for a general cartel,
Howe proposed that all prisoners actually exchangeable should be sent
into the nearest posts, and returns made of officer for officer of equal
rank, and soldier for soldier, as far as numbers would admit; and that
if a surplus of officers should remain, they should be exchanged for an
equivalent in privates.

"On the representations of Washington, Congress acceded to this
proposition so far as related to the exchange of officer for officer and
soldier for soldier, but rejected the part which admitted an equivalent
in privates for a surplus of officers, because the officers captured
with Burgoyne were exchangeable within the powers of Howe. Under this
agreement an exchange took place to a considerable extent; but as the
Americans had lost more prisoners than they had taken, unless the army
of Burgoyne should be brought into computation, many of their troops
were still detained in captivity."

The British army held possession of Philadelphia during the winter and
the following spring; but they were watched and checked during the whole
time by the Americans. They were not quite so closely besieged as in
Boston, but they were quite as effectually prevented from accomplishing
any military purpose. They sent out occasional foraging parties, who
were fiercely attacked by Washington's detachments, and almost always
purchased their supplies with blood. But Howe never made an attack on
Washington's camp. Doctor Franklin, when he heard in Paris that General
Howe had taken Philadelphia, corrected his informant very justly.
"Say, rather," said the acute philosopher, "that Philadelphia has taken
General Howe." The capture of Philadelphia, as we have already
taken occasion to remark, was perfectly useless--in fact, worse than
useless--to the British arms. It only provided winter quarters to an
army which would have been more comfortable and secure in New York;
and it held them beleaguered at a remote point when their services were
greatly needed to aid Burgoyne and save his army from capture. In point
of fact, Philadelphia did take Howe; and Washington kept him out of the
way and fully employed until Burgoyne had fallen, and by his fall had
paved the way to the French alliance and to the ruin of the British
cause in America.

1. Footnote: The cool contempt expressed in Washington's letter to
Conway is one of the most curious features of this affair. It reads as
follows: "To Brigadier-General Conway: Sir--A letter which I received
last night contained the following paragraph: 'In a letter from General
Conway to General Gates, he says, "Heaven has determined to save your
country, or a weak general and bad counsellors would have ruined it."'
"I am, sir, your humble servant."

2. Footnote: Marshall

3. Footnote: John Hancock, who succeeded Peyton Randolph as president of
Congress, retired on the 29th of October, 1777. His successor was Henry
Laurens, of South Carolina.

4. Footnote: The correspondence relating to the Conway Cabal is given
entire in the Appendix to the fifth volume of Sparks' "Writings of
Washington." It is very curious and interesting. Among other letters are
anonymous ones addressed to Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia, and to
Mr. Laurens, President of Congress, full of slanders against Washington.

5. Footnote: Previous to this affair, Captain Lee, in his frequent
skirmishes with the enemy, had already captured at least a hundred of
their men.

6. Footnote: General Conway, after his resignation, frequently indulged
in expressions of extreme hostility to the Commander-in-Chief.
These indiscretions were offensive to the gentlemen of the army. In
consequence of them, he was engaged in an altercation with General
Caldwalader, which produced a duel, in which Conway received a wound
supposed for some time to be mortal. While his recovery was despaired
of, he addressed the following letter to General Washington:

PHILADELPHIA, July 23d, 1778.

SIR--I find myself just able to hold the pen during a few minutes, and
take this opportunity of expressing my sincere grief for having done,
written, or said, any thing disagreeable to your excellency. My career
will soon be over; therefore, justice and truth prompt me to declare my
last sentiments. You are, in my eyes, the great and good man. May you
long enjoy the love, veneration, and esteem of these States, whose
liberties you have asserted by your virtues. I am, with the greatest
respect, sir,

Your excellency's most obedient humble servant, THS. CONWAY.

7. Footnote: Gordon says: "May 13, 1778. General Burgoyne landed at
Portsmouth. On his arrival at London, he soon discovered that he was no
longer an object of court favor. He was refused admission to the royal
presence; and from thence experienced all those marks of being in
disgrace, which are so well understood, and so quickly observed by the
retainers and followers of courts."

8. Footnote: As early as the month of April, 1776, Turgot had said to
the ministers of Louis XVI--"The supposition of the absolute separation
between Great Britain and her Colonies seems to me infinitely probable.
This will be the result of it; when the independence of the Colonies
shall be entire and recognized by the English themselves, a total
revolution will follow in the political and commercial relations between
Europe and America; and I firmly believe that every other mother-country
will be forced to abandon all empire over her Colonies, and to leave
an entire freedom of commerce with all nations, to content herself
with partaking with others in the advantages of a free trade, and with
preserving the old ties of friendship and fraternity with her former
colonists. If this is an evil, I believe that there exists no remedy or
means of hindering it; that the only course to pursue is to submit to
the inevitable necessity, and console ourselves as best we may under it.
I must also observe, that there will be a very great danger to all such
powers as obstinately attempt to resist this course of events; that
after ruining themselves by efforts above their means, they will still
see their Colonies equally escape from them, and become their bitter
enemies, instead of remaining their allies." Mémoire de M. Turgot, à
l'occasion du Mémoire remis par M. le Compte de Vergennes sur la manière
dont la France at l'Espagne doivent envisager les suites de la querelle
entre la Grande Bretagne et ses Colonies. In "Politique de tous les
Cabinets de l'Europe pendant les Règnes to Louis XV. et de Louis XVI."
Par L.P. Segue l'ainé.

9. Footnote: The commissioners published their final manifesto and
proclamation to the Americans on the 3d of October, and on the 10th.
Congress issued a cautionary declaration in reply. No overtures were
made to the commissioners from any quarter, and not long after they
embarked for England. Thacher, in his "Military Journal," states
that "Governor Johnstone, one of the commissioners, with inexcusable
effrontery, offered a bribe to Mr. Reed, a member of Congress. In
an interview with Mrs. Ferguson at Philadelphia, whose husband was a
Royalist, he desired she would mention to Mr. Reed, that if he would
engage his interest to promote the object of their commission, he might
have any office in the Colonies in the gift of his Britannic majesty,
and ten thousand pounds in hand. Having solicited an interview with Mr.
Reed, Mrs. Ferguson made her communication. Spurning the idea of being
purchased, he replied that he was not worth purchasing, but such as he
was, the King of Great Britain was not rich enough to do it."

10. Footnote: They alleged that their horses had been disabled, and the
clothing embezzled.



For prosecuting the campaign of 1778 Washington had not been provided
with an adequate force. The committee of Congress who visited the army
at Valley Forge had agreed that the army should consist of about 40,000
men, besides artillery and horse. In May (1778) the army, including the
detachments at different places, was found to amount only to 15,000,
with little prospect of increase. At Valley Forge Washington had 11,800.
The British army at this time numbered 33,000. With such odds the plan
of operations for this season must necessarily be defensive.

From the position which Washington had taken at Valley Forge, and
from the activity and vigilance of his patrols, the British army
in Philadelphia was straitened for forage and fresh provisions. A
considerable number of the people of Pennsylvania were well affected to
the British cause and desirous of supplying the troops, while many more
were willing to carry victuals to Philadelphia, where they found a ready
market and payment in gold or silver, whereas the army at Valley Forge
could pay only in paper money of uncertain value. But it was not easy
to reach Philadelphia nor safe to attempt it, for the American parties
often intercepted and took the provisions without payment and not
unfrequently chastised those engaged. The first operations on the part
of the British, therefore, in the campaign of 1778, were undertaken
in order to procure supplies for the army. About the middle of March
a strong detachment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Mawhood, made a foraging
excursion for six or seven days into Jersey, surprised and defeated the
American parties at Hancock's and Quinton's bridges on Always creek,
which falls into the Delaware to the south of Reedy Island, killed or
took fifty or sixty of the militia prisoners, and after a successful
expedition returned to Philadelphia with little loss.

A corps of Pennsylvania militia, daily varying in number, sometimes not
exceeding fifty, sometimes amounting to 600, under General Lacey, had
taken post at a place called Crooked Billet, about seventeen miles from
Philadelphia on the road to New York, for the purpose of intercepting
the country people who attempted to carry provisions to the British
army. Early on the morning of the 4th of May, Colonel Abercrombie and
Major Simcoe, with a strong detachment, attempted to surprise this
party, but Lacey escaped with little loss, except his baggage, which
fell into the hands of the enemy.

On the 7th of May the British undertook an expedition against the
galleys and other shipping which had escaped up the Delaware after the
reduction of Mud Island, and destroyed upward of forty vessels and some
stores and provisions. The undisputed superiority of the British
naval force and the consequent command of the Delaware gave them great
facilities in directing a suitable armament against any particular
point, and the movements of the militia, on whom Congress chiefly
depended for repelling sudden predatory incursions and for guarding the
roads to Philadelphia, were often tardy and inefficient. The roads were
ill guarded, and the British frequently accomplished their foraging and
returned to camp before an adequate force could be assembled to oppose

To remedy these evils--to annoy the rear of the British troops in case
they evacuated Philadelphia, which it was now suspected they intended to
do, and also to form an advanced guard of the main army--Lafayette, with
upward of 2,000 chosen men and six pieces of artillery, was ordered to
the east of the Schuylkill, and took post on Barren Hill, seven or
eight miles in advance of the army at Valley Forge. Sir William Howe
immediately got notice of his position and formed a plan to surprise and
cut him off. For that purpose a detachment of 5,000 of the best troops
of the British army, under General Grant, marched from Philadelphia
on the night of the 20th of May and took the road which runs along the
Delaware and consequently does not lead directly to Barren Hill. But
after advancing a few miles the detachment turned to the left, and
proceeding by White Marsh passed at no great distance from Lafayette's
left flank and about sunrise reached a point in his rear where two roads
diverged, one leading to the camp of the marquis, the other to Matson's
ford, each about a mile distant. There General Grant's detachment was
first observed by the Americans, and the British perceived by the rapid
movements of some hostile horsemen that they were seen. Both Lafayette's
camp and the road leading from it to Matson's ford were concealed from
the British troops by intervening woods and high grounds. General Grant
spent some time in making dispositions for the intended attack. That
interval was actively improved by Lafayette, who, although not apprised
of the full extent of his danger, acted with promptitude and decision.
He marched rapidly to Matson's ford, from which he was somewhat more
distant than the British detachment, and reached it while General Grant
was advancing against Barren Hill in the belief that Lafayette was still
there. The Americans hurried through the ford leaving their artillery
behind, but on discovering they were not closely pursued some of them
returned and dragged the field pieces across the river; a small party
was also sent into the woods to retard the progress of the British
advanced guard, if it should approach while the artillery was in the

On finding the camp at Barren Hill deserted General Grant immediately
pursued in the track of the retreating enemy toward Matson's ford. His
advanced guard overtook some of the small American party, which had
been sent back to cover the passage of the artillery, before they could
recross the river and took or killed a few of them, but on reaching
the ford General Grant found Lafayette so advantageously posted on the
rising ground on the opposite bank and his artillery so judiciously
placed that it was deemed unadvisable to attack him. Thus the attempt
against Lafayette failed, although the plan was well concerted and on
the very point of success. In the British army sanguine expectations of
the favorable issue of the enterprise were entertained, and in order
to insure a happy result a large detachment, under General Grey, in the
course of the night took post at a ford of the Schuylkill, two or three
miles in front of Lafayette's right flank, to intercept him if he should
attempt to escape in that direction, while the main body of the army
advanced to Chestnut Hill to support the attack, but on the failure of
the enterprise the whole returned to Philadelphia.

General Grant's detachment was seen by Washington from the camp at
Valley Forge about the time it was discovered by the troops at Barren
Hill, alarm guns were fired by his order to warn Lafayette of his
danger, and the whole army was drawn out to be in readiness to act as
circumstances might require. The escape of the detachment was the cause
of much joy and congratulation in the American and of disappointment and
chagrin in the British army.

That a strong detachment of hostile troops should pass at a small
distance from Lafayette's flank and gain his rear unobserved seems
to argue a want of due vigilance on the part of that officer, but a
detachment of the Pennsylvania militia had been posted at a little
distance on his left and he relied on them for watching the roads in
that quarter. The militia, however, had quitted their station without
informing him of their movement, and consequently his left flank and the
roads about White Marsh remained unguarded.

This was the last enterprise attempted by Sir William Howe. Soon after
he resigned the command of the army. So far back as the month of October
in the preceding year he had requested to be relieved from the painful
service in which he was engaged. On the 14th of April, 1778, he received
the King's permission to resign, but at the same time he was directed,
while he continued in command, to embrace every opportunity of putting
an end to the war by a due employment of the force under his orders. In
the beginning of June after having received, in a triumphal procession
and festival, a testimony of the approbation and esteem of the army
he sailed for England, leaving the troops under the care of Sir Henry
Clinton as his successor.

Sir William Howe has been much blamed for inactivity and for not
overwhelming the Americans, but he was at least as successful as any
other general employed in the course of the war. He was cautious and
sparing of the lives of his men. In his operations he discovered
a respectable share of military science, and he met with no great
reverses. They who blame him for want of energy may look to the history
of Generals Burgoyne and Cornwallis for the fate of more enterprising
leaders in America.

About the time when Howe resigned the command of the army the British
government ordered the evacuation of Philadelphia. While the British had
an undisputed naval superiority Philadelphia was in some respects a good
military station. Although in all the States a decided majority of the
people gave their support to Congress, yet in every province south of
New England there was a considerable minority friendly to the claims of
the mother country. The occupation of Philadelphia, the principal city
of the confederation, encouraged the latter class of the inhabitants,
and the army there formed a point round which they might rally. But
Philadelphia is more than 100 miles up the Delaware, and as Howe
had been unable to drive Washington from the field he had found some
difficulty in subsisting his army in that city, even when the British
ships had the full command of the sea and could force their way up the
great rivers; but when the empire of the ocean was about to be disputed
by the French Philadelphia became a hazardous post on account of
the difficulty and uncertainty of procuring provisions, receiving
communications, or sending aid to such places as might be attacked. It
was accordingly resolved to abandon that city, and after shipping
his cavalry, formed of the German troops and American Loyalists, his
provision train and heavy baggage, on the few vessels that were in
the river, Clinton had to march the remainder of his army through the
Jerseys to New York, where the communication with the ocean is more

The preparations for this movement could not be so secretly made as to
escape the notice of the Americans, and to be in readiness for it was
one reason of detaching Lafayette to Barren Hill, where he had been
exposed to so much danger. Washington called in his detachments and
pressed the State governments to hasten the march of their new levies
in order that he might be enabled to act offensively; but the new
levies arrived slowly, and in some instances the State Legislatures were
deliberating on the means of raising them at the time when they should
have been in the field.

Although Washington was satisfied of the intention of the British
Commander-in-Chief to evacuate Philadelphia yet it was uncertain in what
way he would accomplish his purpose, but the opinion that he intended
to march through the Jerseys to New York gained ground in the American
camp; and in this persuasion Washington detached General Maxwell
with the Jersey brigade across the Delaware to cooperate with General
Dickinson, who was assembling the Jersey militia, in breaking down the
bridges, felling trees across the roads, and impeding and harassing
the British troops in their retreat, but with orders to be on his guard
against a sudden attack.

Washington summoned a council of war to deliberate on the measures to be
pursued in that emergency. It was unanimously resolved not to molest
the British army in passing the Delaware, but with respect to subsequent
operations there was much difference of opinion in the council. General
Lee, who had lately joined the army after his exchange, was decidedly
against risking either a general or partial engagement. The British army
he estimated at 10,000 men fit for duty, exclusive of officers, while
the American army did not amount to more than 11,800; he was, therefore,
of opinion that with so near an equality of force it would be criminal
to hazard a battle. He relied much on the imposing attitude in which
their late foreign alliance placed them, and maintained that nothing but
a defeat of the army could now endanger their independence. Almost all
the foreign officers agreed in opinion with General Lee, and among the
American generals only Wayne and Cadwalader were decidedly in favor
of attacking the enemy. Under these circumstances Washington, although
strongly inclined to fight, found himself constrained to act with much

Having made all the requisite preparations Sir Henry Clinton, early
in the morning of the 18th of June (1778), led the British army to the
confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill, where boats and other vessels
were ready to receive them, and so judicious were the arrangements
made by Admiral Lord Howe that all the troops, with the baggage and
artillery, were carried across the Delaware and safely landed on
the Jersey side of the river before 10 in the forenoon. Many of the
Loyalists of Philadelphia accompanied the army, carrying their effects
along with them, and such of them as ventured to remain behind met with
little indulgence from their irritated countrymen. Several of them
were tried for their lives and two Quakers were executed. The Americans
entered the city before the British rear guard had entirely left it.

There were two roads leading from Philadelphia to New York--the one
running along the western bank of the Delaware to Trenton Ferry, and
the other along the eastern bank to the same point. The British army
had wisely crossed the river at the point where it was least exposed
to molestation and entered on the last of these two roads. In marching
through a difficult and hostile country Sir Henry Clinton prudently
carried along with him a considerable quantity of baggage and a large
supply of provisions, so that the progress of the army, thus heavily
encumbered, was but slow. It proceeded leisurely through Huddersfield,
Mount Holly, and Crosswick, and reached Allentown on the 24th (June,
1778), having in seven days marched less than forty miles. This slow
progress made the Americans believe that Sir Henry Clinton wished to be
attacked. General Maxwell, who was posted at Mount Holly, retired on his
approach, and neither he nor General Dickinson was able to give him much

As the march of the British army till it passed Crosswick was up the
Delaware, and only at a small distance from that river, Washington,
who left Valley Forge on the day that Sir Henry Clinton evacuated
Philadelphia, found it necessary to take a circuitous route and pass the
river higher up at Coryell's Ferry, where he crossed it on the 22d and
took post at Hopewell on the high grounds in that vicinity, and remained
during the 23d in that position.

From Allentown there were two roads to New York--one on the left,
passing through South Amboy to the North river; the other on the right,
leading to Sandy Hook. The first of these was somewhat shorter but the
river Raritan lay in the way and it might be difficult and dangerous to
pass it in presence of a hostile force. Sir Henry Clinton, therefore,
resolved to take the road to Sandy Hook by which the Raritan would be
altogether avoided.

Although a great majority in the American council of war were averse
to fighting, yet Washington was strongly inclined to attack the British
army. He summoned the council of war a second time and again submitted
the subject to their consideration, but they adhered to their former
opinion, and Washington, still inclined to attack the enemy, determined
to act on his own responsibility.

The Jersey militia and a brigade of Continentals, under Generals
Dickinson and Maxwell, hovered on the left flank of the British army;
General Cadwalader, with a Continental regiment and a few militia was in
its rear, and Colonel Morgan, with his rifle regiment 600 strong, was on
its right. These detachments were ordered to harass the enemy as much as

As Sir Henry Clinton proceeded on the route toward Sandy Hook Washington
strengthened his advanced guard till it amounted to 5,000 men. General
Lee, from his rank, had a claim to the command of that force, but at
first he declined it and Lafayette was appointed to that service. But
General Lee perceiving the importance of the command solicited the
appointment which he had at first declined, and was accordingly sent
forward with a reinforcement, when, from seniority, the whole of the
advanced guard became subject to his orders.

On the evening of the 27th (June, 1778) Sir Henry Clinton took a strong
position on the high grounds about Freehold Court House, in the county
of Monmouth. His right was posted in a small wood; his left was covered
by a thick forest and a morass; he had a wood in front, also a marsh for
a considerable space toward his left, and he was within twelve miles of
the high grounds at Middletown, after reaching which no attempt could
be made upon him with any prospect of success. His position was
unassailable, but Washington resolved to attack his rear in the morning,
as soon as it descended from the high grounds into the plain beyond them
and gave orders accordingly to Lee, who was at Englishtown, three miles
in the rear of the British army and as much in advance of the main body
of the Americans.

By the strong parties on his flanks and rear Clinton was convinced that
the hostile army was at hand, and suspecting that an attempt on his
baggage was intended on the morning of the 28th he changed his order of
march and put all the baggage under the care of General Knyphausen, who
commanded the van division of his army, in order that the rear division,
consisting of the flower of the troops under Cornwallis, might be
unencumbered and ready to act as circumstances might require. Clinton
remained with the rear division.

To avoid pressing on Knyphausen Cornwallis remained on his ground
until about 8, and then descending from the heights of Freehold into an
extensive plain took up his line of march in rear of the front division.

General Lee had made dispositions for executing orders given the
preceding evening, and repeated in the morning, and soon after the
British rear had moved from its ground prepared to attack it. General
Dickinson had been directed to detach some of his best troops, to take
such a position as to cooperate with him, and Morgan, with his riflemen,
was ordered to act on the right flank.

Lee appeared on the heights of Freehold soon after Cornwallis had left
them, and following the British into the plain ordered General Wayne to
attack the rear of their covering party with sufficient vigor to check
it, but not to press it so closely as either to force it up to the main
body or to draw reinforcements to its aid. In the meantime he intended
to gain the front of this party by a shorter road, and, intercepting its
communication with the line, to bear it off before it could be assisted.
While in the execution of this design an officer in the suite of
Washington came up to gain intelligence and Lee communicated to him his
present object. Before he reached the point of destination, however,
there was reason to believe that the British rear was much stronger
than had been conjectured. The intelligence on this subject being
contradictory, and the face of the country well calculated to conceal
the truth, he deemed it advisable to ascertain the fact himself.

Sir Henry Clinton, soon after the rear division was in full march,
received intelligence that an American column had appeared on his left
flank. This, being a corps of militia, was soon dispersed and the march
was continued. When his rear guard had descended from the heights he
saw it followed by a strong corps, soon after which a cannonade was
commenced upon it, and at the same time a respectable force showed
itself on each of his flanks. Suspecting a design on his baggage he
determined to attack the troops in his rear so vigorously as to compel
a recall of those on his flanks, and for this purpose marched back his
whole rear division. This movement was in progress as Lee advanced for
the purpose of reconnoitering. He soon perceived his mistake respecting
the force of the British rear, but still determined to engage on that
ground although his judgment disapproved the measure--there being a
morass immediately in his rear, which would necessarily impede the
reinforcements which might be advancing to his aid and embarrass his
retreat should he be finally overpowered. This was about 10. While both
armies were preparing for action General Scott (as stated by General
Lee) mistook an oblique march of an American column for a retreat, and
in the apprehension of being abandoned left his position and repassed
the ravine in his rear.

Being himself of opinion that the ground was unfavorable Lee did not
correct the error he ascribed to Scott but ordered the whole detachment
to regain the heights. He was closely pressed and some slight
skirmishing ensued without much loss on either side.

As soon as the firing announced the commencement of the action the rear
division of the army advanced rapidly to the support of the front. As
they approached the scene of action, Washington, who had received no
intelligence from Lee giving notice of his retreat, rode forward, and to
his utter astonishment and mortification met the advanced corps retiring
before the enemy without having made a single effort to maintain its
ground. The troops he first saw neither understood the motives which had
governed Lee nor his present design, and could give no other information
than that by his orders they had fled without fighting.

Washington rode to the rear of the division where he met Lee, to whom he
spoke in terms of some warmth, implying disapprobation of his conduct.

Orders were immediately given to Colonel Stewart and Lieutenant-Colonel
Ramsay to form their regiments for the purpose of checking the pursuit,
and Lee was directed to take proper measures with the residue of his
force to stop the British column on that ground. Washington then rode
back to arrange the rear division of the army.

These orders were executed with firmness, and, when forced from his
ground, Lee brought off his troops in good order, and was directed to
form in the rear of Englishtown.

This check afforded time to draw up the left wing and second line of
the American army on an eminence covered by a morass in front. Lord
Stirling, who commanded the left wing, brought up a detachment of
artillery under Lieutenant-Colonel Carrington, and some field pieces,
which played with considerable effect on a division of the British which
had passed the morass, and was pressing on to the charge. These pieces,
with the aid of several parties of infantry, effectually stopped the
advance of the enemy.

Finding themselves warmly opposed in front, the British attempted to
turn the left flank of the American army, but were repulsed. They then
attempted the right with as little success. General Greene had advanced
a body of troops with artillery to a commanding piece of ground in his
front, which not only disappointed the design of turning the right, but
enfiladed the party which yet remained in front of the left wing.

At this moment General Wayne was advanced with a body of infantry to
engage them in front, who kept up so hot and well-directed a fire that
they soon withdrew behind the ravine to the ground on which the action
had commenced immediately after the arrival of Washington.

Lafayette, speaking of this battle, said: "Never was General Washington
greater in war than in this action. His presence stopped the retreat.
His dispositions fixed the victory. His fine appearance on horseback,
his calm courage roused by the animation produced by the vexation of the
morning, gave him the air best calculated to excite enthusiasm."

The position now taken by the British army was very strong. Both flanks
were secured by thick woods and morasses, and their front was accessible
only through a narrow pass. The day had been intensely hot, and
the troops were much fatigued. Notwithstanding these circumstances,
Washington resolved to renew the engagement. For this purpose he ordered
Brigadier-General Poor, with his own and the North Carolina brigade,
to gain their right flank, while Woodford with his brigade should turn
their left. At the same time the artillery was ordered to advance and
play on their front. These orders were obeyed with alacrity, but the
impediments on the flanks of the British were so considerable, that
before they could be overcome it was nearly dark. Further operations
were therefore deferred until next morning; and the brigades which
had been detached to the flanks of the British army continued on their
ground through

[missing text]

the justifiable claims, there can be no doubt but they will, as
heretofore, upon the first favorable occasion, again display that lust
of domination which hath rent in twain the mighty empire of Britain."

They further reported it as their opinion that any men or body of
men who should presume to make any separate or partial convention or
agreement with commissioners under the Crown of Great Britain should be
considered and treated as open and avowed enemies of the United States.
The committee further gave it as their opinion that the United States
could not hold any conference with the British commissioners unless
Britain first withdrew her fleets and armies, or in positive and express
terms acknowledged the independence of the States.

While these things were going on, Mr. Silas Deane arrived from Paris
with the important and gratifying information that treaties of alliance
and commerce had been concluded between France and the United States.
This intelligence diffused a lively joy throughout America and was
received by the people as the harbinger of their independence. The
alliance had been long expected, and the delays thrown in the way of its
accomplishment had excited many uneasy apprehensions. But these were
now dissipated, and, to the fond imaginations of the people, all the
prospects of the United States appeared gilded with the cheering beams
of prosperity.

Writing to the President of Congress on this occasion (May 4, 1778),
Washington says: "Last night at 11 o'clock I was honored with your
dispatches of the 3d. The contents afford me the most sensible pleasure.
Mr. Silas Deane had informed me by a line from Bethlehem that he was
the bearer of the articles of alliance between France and the States.
I shall defer celebrating this happy event in a suitable manner until I
have liberty from Congress to announce it publicly. I will only say that
the army are anxious to manifest their joy upon the occasion."

On the 7th of May the great event referred to in the preceding extract
was celebrated by the army at Valley Forge with the highest enthusiasm.
The following general orders were issued by Washington on the day

"It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the universe to defend the
cause of the United American States, and finally to raise us up a
powerful friend among the princes of the earth, to establish our liberty
and independency upon a lasting foundation, it becomes us to set apart a
day for gratefully acknowledging the Divine goodness and celebrating the
important event, which we owe to his Divine interposition. The several
brigades are to be assembled for this purpose at 9 o'clock to-morrow
morning, when their chaplains will communicate the intelligence
contained in the postscript of the 'Pennsylvania Gazette' of the 2d
instant, and offer up thanksgiving and deliver a discourse suitable to
the occasion. At half after 10 o'clock a cannon will be fired, which is
to be a signal for the men to be under arms; the brigade inspectors will
then inspect their dress and arms and form the battalions according to
the instructions given them, and announce to the commanding officers of
the brigade that the battalions are formed.

"The commanders of brigades will then appoint the field officers to
the battalions, after which each battalion will be ordered to load and
ground their arms. At half-past 11 a second cannon will be fired as a
signal for the march, upon which the several brigades will begin their
march by wheeling to the right by platoons and proceed by the nearest
way to the left of their ground by the new position; this will be
pointed out by the brigade inspectors. A third signal will then be
given, on which there will be a discharge of thirteen cannon, after
which a running fire of the infantry will begin on the right of
Woodford's and continue throughout the front line; it will then be
taken upon the left of the second line and continue to the right. Upon a
signal given, the whole army will huzza, 'Long live the King of France!'
The artillery then begins again and fires thirteen rounds; this will
be succeeded by a second general discharge of the musketry in a running
fire, and huzza, 'Long live the friendly European Powers!' The last
discharge of thirteen pieces of artillery will be given, followed by a
general running fire and huzza, 'The American States!'"

An officer who was present describes the scene as follows:

"Last Wednesday was set apart as a day of general rejoicing, when we had
a _feu de joie_ conducted with the greatest order and regularity. The
army made a most brilliant appearance, after which his Excellency dined
in public, with all the officers of his army, attended with a band of
music. I never was present where there was such unfeigned and perfect
joy as was discovered in every countenance. The entertainment was
concluded with a number of patriotic toasts, attended with huzzas. When
the General took his leave there was a universal clap, with loud huzzas,
which continued till he had proceeded a quarter of a mile, during which
time there were a thousand hats tossed in the air. His Excellency turned
round with his retinue and huzzaed several times."

Dr. Thacher, in his "Military Journal," mentions the presence of
"Washington's lady and suite, Lord Stirling and the Countess of
Stirling, with other general officers and ladies," at this _fête_.
Our readers, after passing with us through the dismal scenes of the
preceding winter, will readily sympathize with the army in the feelings
attending this celebration. It is worthy of special notice that in his
general order Washington was careful to give the religious feature
of the scene a prominent place by distinctly acknowledging the Divine
interposition in favor of the country. This was his invariable habit on
all occasions. Religion with him was not merely an opinion, a creed, or
a sentiment. It was a deep-rooted, all-pervading feeling, governing his
life and imparting earnestness, dignity, and power to all his actions.
Hence the reverence and affection which was the voluntary homage of all
who knew him.

Lord North's conciliatory bills, as we have seen, were not acceptable
to Congress. Washington's views in relation to them are given in the
following letter, written to a member of that body two days after he had
learned the terms proposed by the British government:

"Nothing short of independence, it appears to me, can possibly do. A
peace on other terms would, if I may be allowed the expression, be a
peace of war. The injuries we have received from the British nation were
so unprovoked, and have been so great and so many, that they can never
be forgotten. Besides the feuds, the jealousies, the animosities
that would ever attend a union with them; besides the importance, the
advantages, which we should derive from an unrestricted commerce, our
fidelity as a people, our gratitude, our character as men, are opposed
to a coalition with them but in case of the last extremity. Were
we easily to accede to terms of dependence, no nation, upon future
occasions, let the oppression of Britain be ever so flagrant and unjust,
would interpose for our relief, or, at most; they would do it with a
cautious reluctance and upon conditions most probably that would be
hard, if not dishonorable, to us."

Congress fully agreed in these views and rejected the advances of the
British government, refusing all terms of accommodation which did not
begin with the withdrawal is probable that explanations might have been
made which would have rescued him from the imputations that were cast on
him, and have restored him to the esteem of the army, could his haughty
temper have brooked the indignity he believed to have been offered him
on the field of battle. Washington had taken no measures in consequence
of the events of that day, and would probably have come to no resolution
concerning them without an amicable explanation, when he received from
Lee a letter expressed in very unbecoming terms, in which he, in the
tone of a superior, required reparation for the injury sustained "from
the very singular expressions" said to have been used on the day of the
action by Washington.

This letter was answered (July 30, 1778) by an assurance that, so
soon as circumstances would admit of an inquiry, he should have an
opportunity of justifying himself to the army, to America, and to the
world in general; or of convincing them that he had been guilty
of disobedience of orders and misbehavior before the enemy. On his
expressing a wish for a speedy investigation of his conduct, and for a
court-martial rather than a court of inquiry, he was arrested--first,
for disobedience of orders in not attacking the enemy on the 28th of
June, agreeably to repeated instructions; secondly, for misbehavior
before the enemy on the same day, in making an unnecessary,
disorderly, and shameful retreat; and thirdly, for disrespect to the
Commander-in-Chief in two letters.

Before this correspondence had taken place, strong and specific charges
of misconduct had been made against General Lee by several officers of
his detachment, and particularly by Generals Wayne and Scott. In these,
the transactions of the day, not being well understood, were represented
in colors much more unfavorable to Lee than facts, when properly
explained, would seem to justify.

These representations, most probably, induced the strong language of the
second article in the charge. A court-martial, over which Lord Stirling
presided, after a tedious investigation, found him guilty of all the
charges exhibited against him, and sentenced him to be suspended for one
year. This sentence was afterward, though with some hesitation, approved
almost unanimously by Congress. The court, softened in some degree the
severity of the second charge, by finding him guilty, not in its very
words, but "of misbehavior before the enemy, by making an unnecessary,
and, in some few instances, a disorderly retreat."

Lee defended himself with his accustomed ability. He proved that, after
the retreat had commenced, in consequence of General Scott's repassing
the ravine, on the approach of the enemy, he had designed to form on the
first advantageous piece of ground he could find; and that in his
own opinion, and in the opinion of some other officers, no safe and
advantageous position had presented itself until he met Washington, at
which time it was his intention to fight the enemy on the very ground
afterwards taken by Washington himself. He suggested a variety
of reasons in justification of his retreat, which, if they do not
absolutely establish its propriety, give it so questionable a form as
to render it probable that a public examination never would have taken
place, could his proud spirit have stooped to offer explanation instead
of outrage to the Commander-in-Chief.

His suspension gave general satisfaction through the army. Without
judging harshly of his conduct as a military man, they perfectly
understood the insult offered to their general by his letters; and,
whether rightly or not, believed his object to have been to disgrace
Washington and to obtain the supreme command for himself. So devotedly
were all ranks attached to their general, that the mere suspicion of
such a design would have rendered his continuance in the army extremely

Whatever judgment may be formed on the propriety of his retreat, it is
not easy to justify either the omission to keep the Commander-in-Chief
continually informed of his situation and intentions, or the very rude
letters written after the action was over.

The battle of Monmouth gave great satisfaction to Congress. A resolution
was passed unanimously, thanking Washington for the activity with which
he marched from the camp at Valley Forge in pursuit of the enemy; for
his distinguished exertions in forming the line of battle, and for his
great good conduct in the action; and he was requested to signify
the thanks of Congress to the officers and men under his command who
distinguished themselves by their conduct and valor in the battle.

After the battle of Monmouth, Washington gave his army one day's repose,
and then (June 30, 1778,) commenced his march toward Brunswick, at which
place he encamped, and remained for several days. Thence he sent out
parties to reconnoiter the enemy's position, and learn his intentions.
Among other persons sent out with this design was Aaron Burr, a
lieutenant-colonel, who had served in Arnold's expedition to Quebec, and
who was destined to become a conspicuous person in American history.

Clinton had arrived with his army in the neighborhood of Sandy Hook on
the 30th of June. Here he was met by Lord Howe with the fleet, which had
just arrived from Philadelphia. Sandy Hook having been converted by the
winter storms from a peninsula to an island, Lord Howe caused a bridge
of boats to be constructed, over which Clinton's army passed from the
mainland to the Hook. It was soon afterward distributed into different
encampments on Staten Island, Long Island, and the island of New York.

When Washington had learned that the British army was thus situated, he
was satisfied that Clinton had no present intention of passing up the
Hudson, and he halted a few days at Paramus, at which place he received
intelligence of an important event which will claim our attention in the
next chapter.

1. Footnote: Spencer, "History of the United States."

2. Footnote: This interview between Washington and Lee was followed by
such important results that one is naturally curious to know exactly
what passed between them. The interview is described by Lee himself in
his defense before the court-martial:

"When I arrived first in his presence, conscious of having done nothing
which could draw on me the least censure, but rather flattering myself
with his congratulation and applause, I confess I was disconcerted,
astonished, and confounded by the words and manner in which his
Excellency accosted me. It was so novel and unexpected from a man,
whose discretion, humanity, and decorum I had from the first of our
acquaintance stood in admiration of, that I was for some time unable to
make any coherent answer to questions so abrupt, and in a great measure
to me unintelligible. The terms, I think, were these: 'I desire to know,
sir, what is the reason, whence arises this disorder and confusion?' The
manner in which he expressed them was much stronger and more severe
than the expressions themselves. When I recovered myself sufficiently,
I answered that I saw or knew of no confusion but what naturally
arose from disobedience of orders, contradictory intelligence, and the
impertinence and presumption of individuals, who were invested with no
authority, intruding themselves in matters above them and out of their
sphere; that the retreat in the first instance was contrary to my
intentions, contrary to my orders, and contrary to my wishes."

Washington replied that all this might be true, but that he ought not to
have undertaken the enterprise unless he intended to go through with it.
He then rode away, and ordered some of the retreating regiments to be
formed on the ground which he pointed out.

Gordon says that, after the first meeting with Lee, Washington rode on
towards the rear of the retreating troops. He had not gone many yards
before he met his secretary, who told him that the British army were
within fifteen minutes' march of that place, which was the first
intelligence he received of their pushing on so briskly. He remained
there till the extreme rear of the retreating troops got up, when,
looking about, and judging the ground to be an advantageous spot for
giving the enemy the first check, he ordered Colonel Stewart's and
Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsey's battalions to form and incline to their
left, that they might be under cover of a corner of woods, and not be
exposed to the enemy's cannon in front. Lee having been told by one of
his aids that Washington had taken the command, answered, "Then I
have nothing further to do," and turned his horse and rode after his
Excellency in front. Washington, on his coming up, asked, "Will you
command on this ground or not? If you will, I will return to the main
body and have them formed upon the next height." Lee replied, "It is
equal with me where I command." Washington then told him, "I expect
you will take proper measures for checking the enemy," Lee said, "Your
orders shall be obeyed, and I will not be the first to leave the field."
Washington then rode to the main army, which was formed with the utmost
expedition on the eminence, with the morass in front. Immediately upon
his riding off, a warm cannonade commenced between the British and
American artillery on the right of Stewart and Ramsay, between whom and
the advanced troops of the British army a heavy fire began soon after in
the skirt of the woods before mentioned. The British pressed on close;
their light horse charged upon the right of the Americans, and the
latter were obliged to give way in such haste, that the British horse
and infantry came out of the wood seemingly mixed with them.

The action then commenced between the British and Colonel Livingston's
regiment, together with Varnum's brigade, which had been drawn up by
Lee's order, and lined the fence that stretched across the open field
in front of the bridge over the morass, with the view of covering
the retreat of the artillery and the troops advanced with them. The
artillery had timely retired to the rear of the fence, and from an
eminence discharged several rounds of shot at the British engaged with
Livingston's and Varnum's troops; these were soon broken by a charge of
the former, and retired. The artillery were then ordered off. Prior to
the commencement of the last action, Lee sent orders to Colonel Ogden,
who had drawn up in the wood nearest the bridge to defend that post to
the last extremity, thereby to cover the retreat of the whole over the
bridge. Lee was one of the last that remained on the field, and brought
off the rear of the retreating troops. Upon his addressing General
Washington, after passing the morass, with, "Sir, here are my troops,
how is it your pleasure that I should dispose of them?" he was ordered
to arrange them in the rear of Englishtown.



Previous to evacuating Philadelphia, Clinton had received notice from
his government that, in consequence of the alliance between France and
the United States, a new plan of operations had been determined on. The
French were to be attacked in their West Indian possessions by way of
diversion from the main scene of action. Five thousand men were detached
from his army to aid in the execution of this purpose, and 3,000 were
sent to Florida. Clinton was also apprised that a French fleet would
probably appear in the Delaware and thus prevent any possibility of
his leaving Philadelphia by water. Hence his sudden departure from
Philadelphia with the remainder of his forces. He was only just in time
to save his army and Lord Howe's fleet.

On the 5th of July (1778), the day on which the British army arrived
at New York, the Count D'Estaing, with a French fleet, appeared on the
coast of Virginia.

In the month of March the French ambassador in London, by order of his
government, notified to the British court the treaties entered into
between France and America. In a few days afterward he quitted London
without the ceremony of taking leave, and about the same time the
British ambassador left Paris in a similar manner. This was considered
equivalent to a declaration of war, and although war was not actually
declared, yet both parties diligently prepared for hostilities.

The French equipped at Toulon a fleet of twelve sail of the line and
six frigates, and gave the command to Count D'Estaing, who, with a
considerable number of troops on board, sailed on the 13th of April
(1778); but meeting with contrary winds he did not reach the coast of
America till the 5th of July. He expected to find the British army in
Philadelphia and the fleet in the Delaware, and if this expectation had
been realized the consequences to Britain must have been calamitous.
But the British fleet and army were at Sandy Hook or New York before the
French fleet arrived on the coast. Count D'Estaing touched at the capes
of the Delaware on the 5th of July, and on learning that the British had
evacuated Philadelphia, he dispatched one of his frigates up the river
with M. Gerard, the first minister from France to the United States, and
then sailed for Sandy Hook.

Washington received intelligence of D'Estaing's arrival in a letter
from the President of Congress while he was at Paramus. The next day
he received a second letter on the same subject, enclosing two
resolutions--one directing him to cooperate with the French admiral and
the other authorizing him to call on the States from New Hampshire
to New Jersey, inclusive, for such aids of militia as he might deem
necessary for the operations of the allied arms. He determined to
proceed immediately to White Plains, whence the army might cooperate
with more facility in the execution of any attempt which might be made
by the fleet, and dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens, one of his
aides-de-camp, with all the information relative to the enemy, as
well as to his own army, which might be useful to D'Estaing.
Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens was authorized to consult on future conjoint
operations, and to establish conventional signals for the purpose of
facilitating the communication of intelligence.

The French admiral, on arriving off the Hook, dispatched Major de
Choisi, a gentleman of his family, to Washington for the purpose of
communicating fully his views and his strength. His first object was to
attack New York. If this should be found impracticable, he was desirous
of turning his attention to Rhode Island. To assist in coming to a
result on these enterprises, Washington dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel
Hamilton, another of his aides-de-camp, with such further communications
as had been suggested by inquiries made since the departure of Laurens.

Fearing that the water on the bar at the entrance of the harbor was not
of sufficient depth to admit the passage of the largest ships of the
French fleet without much difficulty and danger, Washington had turned
his attention to other objects which might be eventually pursued.
General Sullivan, who commanded the troops in Rhode Island, was directed
(July 21, 1778) to prepare for an enterprise against Newport, and
Lafayette was detached with two brigades to join him at Providence. The
next day Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton returned to camp with the final
determination of the Count D'Estaing to relinquish the meditated
attack on the fleet in the harbor of New York, in consequence of the
impracticability of passing the bar.

General Greene was immediately ordered to Rhode Island, of which State
he was a native, and Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens was directed to attach
himself to the French admiral and to facilitate all his views by
procuring whatever might give them effect, after which he was to act
with the army under Sullivan.

Writing to the President of Congress (August 3, 1778), Washington says:
"As the army was encamped and there was no great prospect of a sudden
removal, I judged it advisable to send General Greene to the eastward
on Wednesday last, being fully persuaded his services, as well in the
quartermaster line as in the field, would be of material importance
in the expedition against the enemy in that quarter. He is intimately
acquainted with the whole of that country, and, besides, he has an
extensive interest and influence in it. And, in justice to General
Greene, I take occasion to observe that the public is much indebted to
him for his judicious management and active exertions in his present
department. When he entered upon it, he found it in a most confused,
distracted, and destitute state. This, by his conduct and industry,
has undergone a very happy change and such as enabled us, with great
facility, to make a sudden move, with the whole army and baggage, from
Valley Forge, in pursuit of the enemy, and to perform a march to this
place. In a word, he has given the most general satisfaction, and his
affairs carry much the face of method and system. I also consider it
as an act of justice to speak of the conduct of Colonel Wadsworth,
commissary-general. He has been indefatigable in his exertions to
provide for the army, and, since his appointment, our supplies of
provision have been good and ample."

We copy this extract from Washington's correspondence because it does
justice to Greene and gives us information of the favorable change which
had taken place in the condition of the army since its dreary sojourn at
Valley Forge.

The resolution being taken to proceed against Rhode Island, the fleet
got under way and on the 25th of July (1778) appeared off Newport and
cast anchor about five miles from that place; soon after which General
Sullivan visited D'Estaing and concerted with him a plan of operations.
The fleet was to enter the harbor and land the French troops on the
west side of the island, a little to the north of Dyer's Island. The
Americans were to land at the same time on the opposite coast under
cover of the guns of a frigate.

A delay of several days now took place on account of the tardiness of
the neighboring militia in joining Sullivan's army.

As the militia of New Hampshire and Massachusetts approached, Sullivan
joined Greene at Tiverton and it was agreed with the admiral that the
fleet should enter the main channel immediately (August 8th), and that
the descent should be made the succeeding day. The French fleet passed
the British batteries and entered the harbor without receiving or doing
any considerable damage.

The militia not arriving precisely at the time they were expected,
Sullivan could not hazard the movement which had been concerted, and
stated to the Count the necessity of postponing it till the next day.
Meanwhile the preparations for the descent being perceived, General
Pigot drew the troops which had been stationed on the north end of the
island into the lines at Newport.

On discovering this circumstance the next morning, Sullivan determined
to avail himself of it and to take immediate possession of the works
which had been abandoned. The whole army crossed the east passage
and landed on the north end of Rhode Island. This movement gave great
offense to D'Estaing who resented the indelicacy supposed to have
been committed by Sullivan in landing before the French and without
consulting him.

Unfortunately some difficulties on subjects of mere punctilio had
previously arisen. D'Estaing was a land as well as sea officer, and held
the high rank of lieutenant-general in the service of France. Sullivan
being only a major-general, some misunderstanding on this delicate point
had been apprehended, and Washington had suggested to him the necessity
of taking every precaution to avoid it. This, it was supposed, had been
effected in their first conference, in which it was agreed that the
Americans should land first, after which the French should land to be
commanded by D'Estaing in person. The motives for this arrangement
are not stated. Either his own after-reflections or the suggestions of
others dissatisfied D'Estaing with it and he insisted that the descent
should be made on both sides of the island precisely at the same
instant, and that one wing of the American army should be attached to
the French and land with them. He also declined commanding in person and
wished Lafayette to take charge of the French troops as well as of the
Americans attached to them.

It being feared that this alteration of the plan might endanger both its
parts D'Estaing was prevailed on to reduce his demand from one wing of
the American army to 1,000 militia. When afterward Sullivan crossed over
into the island before the time to which he had himself postponed
the descent, and without giving previous notice to the count of this
movement, considerable excitement was manifested. The count refused to
answer Sullivan's letter, and charged Lieutenant-Colonel Fleury, who
delivered it, with being more an American than a Frenchman.

At this time a British fleet appeared which, after sailing close into
the land and communicating with General Pigot, withdrew some distance
and came to anchor off Point Judith, just without the narrow inlet
leading into the harbor.

After it had been ascertained that the destination of the Count
D'Estaing was America, he was followed by a squadron of twelve ships of
the line under Admiral Byron who was designed to relieve Lord Howe,
that nobleman having solicited his recall. The vessels composing this
squadron meeting with weather unusually bad for the season, and being
separated in different storms, arrived, after lingering through a
tedious passage in various degrees of distress, on different and remote
parts of the American coast. Between the departure of D'Estaing from the
Hook on the 23d of July (1778) and the 30th of that month, four ships of
sixty-four and fifty guns arrived at Sandy Hook.

This addition to the British fleet, though it left Lord Howe
considerably inferior to the Count D'Estaing, determined him to attempt
the relief of Newport. He sailed from New York on the 6th of August and
on the 9th appeared in sight of the French fleet before intelligence of
his departure could be received by the admiral.

At the time of his arrival the wind set directly into the harbor so
that it was impossible to get out of it, but it shifted suddenly to the
northeast the next morning and the count determined to stand out to
sea and give battle. Previous to leaving port (August 10th) he informed
General Sullivan that on his return he would land his men as that
officer should advise.

Not choosing to give the advantage of the weather-gauge Lord Howe also
weighed anchor and stood out to sea. He was followed by D'Estaing, and
both fleets were soon out of sight.

The militia were now arrived and Sullivan's army amounted to 10,000
men. Notwithstanding some objections made by Lafayette to his commencing
operations before the return of D'Estaing, Sullivan determined to
commence the siege immediately. Before this determination could be
executed a furious storm blew down all the tents, rendered the arms
unfit for immediate use, and greatly damaged the ammunition, of which
fifty rounds had just been delivered to each man. The soldiers having
no shelter suffered extremely, and several perished in the storm which
continued three days. On the return of fair weather the siege was
commenced and continued without any material circumstance for several

As no intelligence had been received from the admiral the situation of
the American army was becoming very critical. On the evening of the 19th
their anxieties were relieved for a moment by the reappearance of the
French fleet.

The two admirals, desirous the one of gaining and the other of retaining
the advantage of the wind, had employed two days in maneuvering without
coming to action. Toward the close of the second they were on the point
of engaging when they were separated by the violent storm which had been
so severely felt on shore and which dispersed both fleets. Some single
vessels afterward fell in with each other, but no important capture was
made, and both fleets retired in a very shattered condition, the one to
the harbor of New York and the other to that of Newport.

A letter was immediately dispatched by D'Estaing to Sullivan, informing
him that, in pursuance of orders from the King and of the advice of all
his officers, he had taken the resolution to carry the fleet to Boston.
His instructions directed him to sail for Boston should his fleet meet
with any disaster or should a superior British fleet appear on the

To be abandoned by the fleet in such critical circumstances and not only
deprived of the brilliant success which they thought within their reach,
but exposed to imminent hazard, caused much disappointment, irritation,
and alarm in the American camp. Lafayette and Greene were dispatched
to D'Estaing to remonstrate with him on the subject and to press
his cooperation and assistance for two days only, in which time they
flattered themselves the most Brilliant success would crown their
efforts. But the count was not popular in the fleet; he was a military
officer as well as a naval commander, and was considered as belonging to
the army rather than to the navy. The officers of the sea service looked
on him with a jealous and envious eye and were willing to thwart him as
far as they were able with safety to themselves. When, on the pressing
application of Lafayette and Greene, he again submitted the matter to
their consideration, they took advantage of the letter of the admiral's
instructions and unanimously adhered to their former resolution,
sacrificing the service of their prince to their own petty jealousies
and animosities. D'Estaing, therefore, felt himself constrained to set
sail for Boston.

The departure of the French marine force left Sullivan's army in a
critical situation. It was in a firm reliance on the cooperation of
the French fleet that the expedition was undertaken, and its sudden and
unexpected departure not only disappointed the sanguine hopes of speedy
success, but exposed the army to much hazard, for the British troops
under General Pigot might have been reinforced and the fleet might have
cut off Sullivan's retreat.

The departure of the French fleet greatly discouraged the American
army, and in a few days Sullivan's force was considerably diminished
by desertion. On the 26th of August he therefore resolved to raise the
siege and retreat to the north end of the island, and took the necessary
precautions for the successful execution of that movement.

In the night of the 28th, Sullivan silently decamped and retired
unobserved. Early in the morning the British discovered his retreat and
instantly commenced a pursuit. They soon overtook the light troops who
covered the retreat of the American army, and who continued skirmishing
and retreating till they reached the north end of the island, where the
army occupied a strong position at a place where the British formerly
had a fortified post, the works of which had been strengthened during
the two preceding days. There a severe conflict for about half an hour
ensued, when the combatants mutually withdrew from the field. The loss
of the armies was nearly equal, amounting to between two and three
hundred killed or wounded in the course of the day.

On the 30th of August there was a good deal of cannonading, but
neither party ventured to attack the other. The British were expecting
reinforcements, and Sullivan, although he made a show of resolutely
maintaining his post, was busily preparing for the evacuation of the
island. In the evening he silently struck his tents, embarked his army,
with all the artillery, baggage, and stores, on board a great number of
boats and landed safely on the continent before the British suspected
his intention to abandon the post. General Sullivan made a timely
escape, for Sir Henry Clinton was on his way, with 4,000 men, to the
assistance of General Pigot. He was detained four days in the Sound
by contrary winds, but arrived on the day after the Americans left the
island. A very short delay would probably have proved fatal to their

The most sanguine expectations had been entertained throughout the
United States of the reduction of Rhode Island and the capture of
the British force which defended it, so that the disappointment and
mortification on the failure of the enterprise were exceedingly bitter.
The irritation against the French, who were considered the authors of
the miscarriage, was violent. Sullivan was confident of success; and
his chagrin at the departure of the French fleet made him use some
expressions, in a general order, which gave offense to D'Estaing.

Washington foresaw the evils likely to result from the general and
mutual irritation which prevailed, and exerted all his influence to calm
the minds of both parties. He had a powerful coadjutor in Lafayette,
who was as deservedly dear to the Americans as to the French. His first
duties were due to his King and country, but he loved America, and was
so devoted to the Commander-in-Chief of its armies, as to enter into his
views and second his softening conciliatory measures with truly filial
affection. Washington also wrote to General Heath, who commanded at
Boston, and to Sullivan and Greene, who commanded at Rhode Island. In
his letter to General Heath he stated his fears "that the departure of
the French fleet from Rhode Island at so critical a moment, would
not only weaken the confidence of the people in their new allies, but
produce such prejudice and resentment as might prevent their giving the
fleet, in its present distress, such zealous and effectual assistance
as was demanded by the exigency of affairs and the true interests of
America;" and added "that it would be sound policy to combat these
effects and to give the best construction of what had happened; and at
the same time to make strenuous exertions for putting the French fleet,
as soon as possible, in a condition to defend itself and be useful." He
also observed as follows: "The departure of the fleet from Rhode Island
is not yet publicly announced here; but when it is, I intend to ascribe
it to necessity produced by the damage received in the late storm. This,
it appears to me, is the idea which ought to be generally propagated.
As I doubt not the force of these reasons will strike you equally
with myself, I would recommend to you to use your utmost influence to
palliate and soften matters, and to induce those whose business it is to
provide succors of every kind for the fleet, to employ their utmost
zeal and activity in doing it. It is our duty to make the best of our
misfortunes and not suffer passion to interfere with our interest and
the public good."

Writing to General Sullivan he observed: "The disagreement between
the army under your command and the fleet has given me very singular
uneasiness. The continent at large is concerned in our cordiality, and
it should be kept up by all possible means consistent with our honor and
policy. First impressions are generally longest retained, and will serve
to fix in a great degree our national character with the French. In our
conduct toward them we should remember that they are a people old in
war, very strict in military etiquette, and apt to take fire when others
seem scarcely warmed. Permit me to recommend, in the most particular
manner, the cultivation of harmony and good agreement, and your
endeavors to destroy that ill-humor which may have found its way among
the officers. It is of the utmost importance, too, that the soldier and
the people should know nothing of this misunderstanding; or if it has
reached them, that means may be used to stop its progress and prevent
its effects."

To General Greene, Washington wrote: "I have not now time to take notice
of the several arguments which were made use of, for and against the
count's quitting the harbor of Newport and sailing for Boston. Right or
wrong, it will probably disappoint our sanguine expectations of success
and which I deem a still worse consequence, I fear it will sow the seeds
of dissension and distrust between us and our new allies, unless the
most prudent measures be taken to suppress the feuds and jealousies
that have already arisen. I depend much on your temper and influence
to conciliate that animosity which, subsists between the American and
French officers in our service. I beg you will take every measure to
keep the protest entered into by the general officers from being made
public. Congress, sensible of the ill consequences that will flow from
our differences being known to the world, have passed a resolve to that
purpose. Upon the whole, my dear sir, you can conceive my meaning better
than I can express it; and I therefore fully depend on your exerting
yourself to heal all private animosities between our principal officers
and the French, and to prevent all illiberal expression and reflections
that may fall from the army at large."

Washington also improved the first opportunity of recommencing his
correspondence with Count D'Estaing, in a letter to him, which, without
noticing the disagreements that had taken place, was well calculated to
soothe every unpleasant sensation which might have disturbed his mind.
In the course of a short correspondence, the irritation which threatened
serious mischiefs gave way to returning good understanding and
cordiality; although here and there popular ill-will manifested itself
in rather serious quarrels and disputes with the French sailors and

Meantime, in the storm which had separated the fleets of D'Estaing
and Howe when just about to engage, the British fleet had suffered
considerably, but had not sustained so much damage as the French. In a
short time Lord Howe was again ready for sea; and having learned that
D'Estaing had sailed for Boston, he left New York with the intention of
reaching that place before him, or of attacking him there, if he found
it could be done with advantage. But on entering the bay of Boston he
perceived the French fleet in Nantasket Roads, so judiciously stationed
and so well protected by batteries that there was no prospect of
attacking it with success. He therefore returned to New York, where,
finding that by fresh arrivals his fleet was decidedly superior to
that of the French, he availed himself of the permission which he had
received some time before and resigned the command to Admiral Gambier,
who was to continue in the command till the arrival of Admiral Byron,
who was daily expected from Halifax.

Sir Henry Clinton, finding that General Sullivan had effected his
retreat from Rhode Island, set out on his return to New York; but that
the expedition might not be wholly ineffectual, he meditated an attack
on New London, situated on a river which falls into the Sound. The wind,
however, being unfavorable to the enterprise, he gave the command of
the troops on board the transports to Maj.-Gen. Sir Charles Grey, with
orders to proceed in an expedition against Buzzard's Bay, and continued
his voyage to New York. [1]

In obedience to the orders which he had received, General Grey sailed
to Acushnet river where he landed on the 5th of September (1778), and
destroyed all the shipping in the river, amounting to more than seventy
sail. He burned a great part of the towns of Bedford and Fairhaven,
the one on the west and the other on the east bank, destroying a
considerable quantity of military and naval stores, provisions, and
merchandise. He landed at six in the evening, and so rapid were his
movements that the work of destruction was accomplished and the troops
re-embarked before noon the next day. He then proceeded to the island
called Martha's Vineyard, a resort of privateers, where he took
or burned several vessels, destroyed the salt works, compelled the
inhabitants to surrender their arms, and levied from them a contribution
of 1,000 sheep and 300 oxen.

Having mercilessly ravaged the seacoast, the hero of the Paoli massacre
returned, heavily laden with plunder, to New York.

The return of the British fleet and of the troops under Grey relieved
the Americans from the anxious apprehension of an attack on their allies
at Boston. Under that apprehension, Washington had broken up his camp
at White Plains, and proceeding northward taken a position at
Fredericksburg, thirty miles from West Point near the borders of
Connecticut. He detached Generals Gates and M'Dougall to Danbury,
in Connecticut, in order that they might be in readiness to move as
circumstances might require, and he sent General Putnam to West Point to
watch the North river and the important passes in the Highlands. But the
return of the fleet and troops to New York quieted those apprehensions.

Meanwhile Washington received intelligence that an expedition was
preparing at New York, the object of which was not clearly apparent; but
soon after the return of the troops under Grey the British army advanced
in great force on both sides of the North river. The column on the west
bank, consisting of 5,000 men commanded by Cornwallis, extended from the
Hudson to the Hackensack. The division on the east side consisting of
about 3,000 men under Knyphausen, stretched from the North river to
the Bronx. The communication between them was kept up by flat-bottomed
boats, by means of which the two divisions could have been readily
united if the Americans had advanced against either of them.

Washington sent out several detachments to observe the movements
of those columns. Colonel Baylor, who with his regiment of cavalry
consisting of upwards of a hundred men had been stationed near Paramus,
crossed the Hackensack on the morning of the 27th of September and
occupied Tappan or Herringtown, a small village near New Tappan, where
some militia were posted. Of these circumstances Cornwallis received
immediate notice and he formed a plan to surprise and cut off both the
cavalry and militia. The execution of the enterprise against Baylor was
entrusted to the unscrupulous General Grey, and Colonel Campbell with a
detachment from Knyphausen's division was to cross the river and attack
the militia at New Tappan. Colonel Campbell's part of the plan failed by
some delay in the passage of the river, during which a deserter informed
the militia of their danger and they saved themselves by flight. But
Grey completely surprised Baylor's troops and killed, wounded, or took
the greater part of them. Colonel Baylor was wounded and made prisoner.
The slaughter on that occasion which as at the Paoli, was a literal
massacre of surprised and defenseless men excited much indignation and
was the subject of loud complaints throughout the United States.

Three days after the surprise of Baylor, Col. Richard Butler with a
detachment of infantry assisted by Maj. Henry Lee with part of his
cavalry, fell in with a party of 15 chasseurs and about 100 yagers under
Captain Donop, on whom they made such a rapid charge that without the
loss of a man, they killed ten of them on the spot and took about twenty

The movement of the British army up the North river already mentioned,
was made for the purpose of foraging and also to cover a meditated
attack on Little Egg Harbor, and having accomplished its object it
returned to New York. Little Egg Harbor, situated on the coast of
Jersey, was a rendezvous of privateers, and being so near the entrance
to New York ships bound to that port were much exposed to their
depredations. An expedition against it was therefore planned and the
conduct of the enterprise entrusted to Capt. Patrick Ferguson of the
Seventeenth regiment with about 300 men, assisted by Captain Collins of
the navy. He sailed from New York, but short as the passage was he was
detained several days by contrary winds and did not arrive at the place
of his destination till the evening of the 5th of October (1778). The
Americans had got notice of his design and had sent to sea such of their
privateers as were ready for sailing. They had also hauled the largest
of the remaining vessels, which were chiefly prizes, twenty miles up
the river to Chestnut Neck, and had carried their smaller vessels still
further into the country. Ferguson proceeded to Chestnut Neck, burned
the vessels there, destroyed the storehouses and public works of every
sort, and in returning committed many depredations on private property.

Count Pulaski with his legionary corps composed of three companies of
foot and a troop of horse, officered principally by foreigners, had been
detached by Washington into Jersey to check these depredations. He was
ordered toward Little Egg Harbor and lay without due vigilance eight or
ten miles from the coast. One Juliet, a Frenchman, who had deserted
from the British service and obtained a commission in Pulaski's corps
redeserted, joined Captain Ferguson at Little Egg Harbor after his
return from Chestnut Neck and gave him exact information of the strength
and situation of Pulaski's troops.

Ferguson and Collins immediately resolved to surprise the Polish
nobleman, and for that purpose, on the 15th of October (1778), they
embarked 250 men in boats, rowed ten miles up the river before daybreak,
landed within a small distance of his infantry, left fifty men to guard
their boat, and with the remainder of their force suddenly fell on the
unsuspicious detachment, killed fifty of them among whom were the Baron
de Bosc and Lieutenant de la Borderie, and retreated with scarcely any
loss before they could be attacked by Pulaski's cavalry.

This was another massacre similar to those of the infamous Grey. [2]
Only five prisoners were taken. The commander pretended to have received
information that Pulaski had ordered his men to give no quarter, but
this was false.

Admiral Byron reached New York and took command of the fleet about the
middle of September (1778). After repairing his shattered vessels he
sailed for the port of Boston. Soon after his arrival in the bay fortune
disconcerted all his plans. A furious storm drove him out to sea and
damaged his fleet so much that he found it necessary to put into Newport
to refit. This favorable moment was seized by the Count D'Estaing who
sailed on the 3d of November for the West Indies.

Thus terminated an expedition from which the most important advantages
had been anticipated. A variety of accidents had defeated plans
judiciously formed which had every probability of success in their

Lafayette, ambitious of fame on another theater, was now desirous of
returning to France. Expecting war on the continent of Europe he was
anxious to tender his services to his King and to his native country.

From motives of real friendship as well as of policy, Washington was
desirous of preserving the connection of this officer with the army and
of strengthening his attachment to America. He therefore expressed to
Congress his wish that Lafayette, instead of resigning his commission,
might have unlimited leave of absence to return when it should be
convenient to himself, and might carry with him every mark of the
confidence of the government. This policy was adopted by Congress in its
full extent. The partiality of America for Lafayette was well placed.
Never did a foreigner, whose primary attachments to his own country
remained undiminished, feel more solicitude for the welfare of another
than was unceasingly manifested by this young nobleman for the United

The French alliance having effected a change in the position of affairs
on the ocean, Congress devoted a good deal of attention to naval
matters; several new vessels were built and others were purchased, and
the present year (1778) gave token of the spirit and ability of some of
our earlier naval officers in contending with a navy usually held to be
invincible. Early in the year Captain Biddle, in the Randolph, a
frigate of thirty-six guns, engaged his majesty's ship the Yarmouth, a
sixty-four, but after an action of twenty minutes the Randolph blew up
and Captain Biddle and crew perished with the exception of only four men
who were picked up a few days after on a piece of wreck. The celebrated
Paul Jones made his appearance on the English coast during this year,
and rendered his name a terror by the bold and daring exploits which
he performed. Captain Barry, off the coast of Maine, behaved in a most
gallant manner in an action with two English ships, sustaining the
contest for seven hours, and at last escaping with his men on shore.
Captain Talbot in October of this year (1778) distinguished himself by
a well-planned and successful attack upon a British vessel off Rhode
Island. The schooner Pigot, moored at the mouth of Seconset river,
effectually barred the passage, broke up the local trade, and cut off
the supplies of provisions and reinforcements for that part of the
colony. Talbot, earnestly desirous of relieving the country of this
annoyance, obtained the consent of General Sullivan to make the attempt.
With his usual alacrity he set about the affair and was entirely
successful. The Pigot was captured and carried off in triumph by the
gallant band under Talbot. In the succeeding November Captain Talbot
received a complimentary letter from the President of Congress, together
with a resolve of Congress, presenting him with the commission of
lieutenant-colonel in the army of the United States.

There being no prospect of an active winter campaign in the northern
or middle States and the climate admitting of military operations
elsewhere, a detachment from the British army consisting of 5,000 men
commanded by Major-General Grant, sailed early in November under a
strong convoy for the West India islands, and toward the end of the
same month another embarkation was made for the southern parts of the
continent. This second detachment was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel
Campbell who was escorted by Com. Hyde Parker, and was destined to act
against the Southern States.

As a force sufficient for the defense of New York yet remained the
American army retired into winter quarters (Dec., 1778). The main body
was cantoned in Connecticut, on both sides the North river, about West
Point, and at Middlebrook. Light troops were stationed nearer the lines,
and the cavalry were drawn into the interior to recruit the horses for
the next campaign. In this distribution the protection of the country,
the security of important points, and a cheap and convenient supply of
provisions were consulted.

The troops again wintered in huts, but they were used to this mode of
passing that inclement season. Though far from being well clothed their
condition in that respect was so much improved by supplies from France
that they disregarded the inconveniences to which they were exposed.

Colonel Campbell, who sailed from the Hook about the last of November,
1778, escorted by a small squadron commanded by Com. Hyde Parker reached
the Isle of Tybee, near the Savannah, on the 23d of December, and in a
few days the fleet and the transports passed the bar and anchored in the

The command of the Southern army, composed of the troops of South
Carolina and Georgia, had been committed to Major-General Robert Howe,
who in the course of the preceding summer had invaded East Florida.
The diseases incident to the climate made such ravages among his raw
soldiers that though he had scarcely seen an enemy he found himself
compelled to hasten out of the country with considerable loss. After
this disastrous enterprise his army, consisting of between six and seven
hundred Continental troops aided by a few hundred militia had encamped
in the neighborhood of the town of Savannah, situated on the southern
bank of the river bearing that name. The country about the mouth of the
river is one track of deep marsh intersected by creeks and cuts of water
impassable for troops at any time of the tide, except over causeways
extending through the sunken ground.

Without much opposition Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell effected a landing
on the 29th (December, 1778), about three miles below the town, upon
which Howe formed his line of battle. His left was secured by the river,
and along the whole extent of his front was a morass which stretched to
his right and was believed by him to be impassable for such a distance
as effectually to secure that wing.

After reconnoitering the country Colonel Campbell advanced on the great
road leading to Savannah, and about 3 in the afternoon appeared in
sight of the American army. While making dispositions to dislodge it
he accidentally fell in with a negro who informed him of a private path
leading through the swamp round the right of the American lines to their
rear. Determining to avail himself of this path he detached a column
under Sir James Baird which entered the morass unperceived by Howe.

As soon as Sir James emerged from the swamp he attacked and dispersed
a body of Georgia militia which gave the first notice to the American
general of the danger which threatened his rear. At the same instant the
British troops in his front were put in motion and their artillery began
to play upon him. A retreat was immediately ordered and the Continental
troops were under the necessity of running across a plain in front of
the corps which had been led to the rear by Sir James Baird who attacked
their flanks with great impetuosity and considerable effect. The few who
escaped retreated up the Savannah, and crossing that river at Zubly's
Ferry took refuge in South Carolina.

The victory was complete and decisive in its consequences. About 100
Americans were either killed in the field or drowned in attempting to
escape through a deep swamp. Thirty-eight officers and 415 privates were
taken. Forty-eight pieces of cannon, twenty-three mortars, the fort,
with all its military stores, a large quantity of provisions collected
for the use of the army, and the capital of Georgia fell into the hands
of the conqueror. These advantages were obtained at the expense of only
seven killed and nineteen wounded.

No military force now remained in Georgia except the garrison of Sunbury
whose retreat to South Carolina was cut off. All the lower part of that
State was occupied by the British who adopted measures to secure the
conquest they had made. The inhabitants were treated with a lenity
as wise as it was humane. Their property was spared and their persons
protected. To make the best use of victory and of the impression
produced by the moderation of the victors a proclamation was issued
inviting the inhabitants to repair to the British standard and offering
protection to those who would return to their allegiance.

The effect of these measures was soon felt. The inhabitants flocked in
great numbers to the royal standard; military corps for the protection
of the country were formed, and posts were established for a
considerable distance up the river.

The northern frontier of Georgia being supposed to be settled into a
state of quiet Colonel Campbell turned his attention toward Sunbury and
was about to proceed against that place when he received intelligence
that it had surrendered to General Prevost.

Sir Henry Clinton had ordered that officer from East Florida to
cooperate with Colonel Campbell. On hearing that the troops from the
north were off the coast he entered the southern frontier of Georgia
(Jan. 9, 1779) and invested Sunbury, which, after a slight resistance
surrendered at discretion. Having placed a garrison in the fort he
proceeded to Savannah, took command of the army, and detached Colonel
Campbell with 800 regulars and a few Provincials to Augusta which fell
without resistance, and thus the whole State of Georgia was reduced.

1. Footnote: This officer was the same Grey who had surprised Wayne's
detachment near the Paoli Tavern, in Pennsylvania (Sept. 20, 1777), as
already related in the text. His merciless massacre of Wayne's men, with
the bayonet, will ever be remembered. A monument is erected on the
spot where the massacre took place, consecrated to the memory of the

2. Footnote: The British government rewarded Grey for his cruelty by
making him a peer. He was the father of Earl Grey, who became prime
minister of Great Britain. This reward to Colonel Grey was in strict
consistency with the spirit in which the whole war against the United
States was conducted. Fortunately, the cruel and brutal outrages of the
invaders reacted on themselves, and contributed greatly to the final



While the events were passing which are recorded in the preceding
chapter a terrible war with the Indians was raging on the western
frontier of the United States. While the British were abundantly able to
supply the Indians with all those articles of use and luxury which they
had been accustomed to receive from the whites, Congress was not in a
condition to do anything of this sort to conciliate them or to secure
their neutrality in the existing war. Stimulated by the presents as
well as by the artful representations of British agents the Indians had
consequently become hostile. Early in 1778 there were many indications
of a general disposition among the savages to make war on the United
States, and the frontiers, from the Mohawk to the Ohio, were threatened
with the tomahawk and the scalping-knife. Every representation from
that country supported Washington's opinion that a war with the Indians
should never be defensive and that to obtain peace it must be carried
into their own country. Detroit was understood to be in a defenseless
condition, and Congress resolved on an expedition against that place.
This enterprise was entrusted to General M'Intosh, who commanded at
Pittsburgh, and was to be carried on with 3,000 men, chiefly militia, to
be drawn from Virginia. To facilitate its success another force was to
attack the Senecas, advancing from the east of the Hudson.

Unfortunately the acts of the government did not correspond with the
vigor of its resolutions. The necessary preparations were not made and
the inhabitants of the frontiers remained without sufficient protection
until the plans against them were matured and the storm which had been
long gathering burst upon them with a fury which spread desolation
wherever it reached.

About 300 white men, commanded by the British Col. John Butler, and
about 500 Indians, led by the Indian Chief Brandt, who had assembled
in the north, marched late in June (1778) against the settlement of
Wyoming. These troops embarked on the Chemung or Tioga and descending
the Susquehanna, landed at a place called the Three Islands, whence
they marched about twenty miles, and crossing a wilderness and passing
through a gap in the mountain, entered the valley of Wyoming near its
northern boundary. At this place a small fort called Wintermoots had
been erected, which fell into their hands without resistance and was
burnt. The inhabitants who were capable of bearing arms assembled on
the first alarm at Forty Fort on the west side of the Susquehanna, four
miles below the camp of the invading army.

The regular troops, amounting to about sixty, were commanded by Col.
Zebulon Butler, [1] the militia by Colonel Dennison. Colonel Butler was
desirous of awaiting the arrival of a small reinforcement under Captain
Spalding who had been ordered by Washington to his aid on the first
intelligence of the danger which threatened the settlement, but the
militia generally, believing themselves sufficiently strong to repel
the invading force, urged an immediate battle so earnestly that Colonel
Butler yielded to their remonstrances, and on the 3d of July (1778)
marched from Forty Fort at the head of near 400 men to attack the enemy.

The British and Indians were prepared to receive him. Their line was
formed a small distance in front of their camp on a plain thinly covered
with pine, shrub-oaks, and under-growth, and extended from the river
about a mile to a marsh at the foot of the mountain. The Americans
advanced in a single column without interruption until they approached
the enemy, when they received a fire which did not much mischief.
The line of battle was instantly formed and the action commenced with
spirit. The Americans rather gained ground on the right where Colonel
Butler commanded, until a large body of Indians passing through the
skirt of the marsh turned their left flank, which was composed of
militia, and poured a heavy and most destructive fire on their rear.
The word "retreat" was pronounced by some person and the efforts of the
officers to check it were unavailing. The fate of the day was decided,
and a flight commenced on the left which was soon followed by the right.
As soon as the line was broken the Indians, throwing down their rifles
and rushing upon them with the tomahawk, completed the confusion. The
attempt of Colonel Butler and of the officers to restore order was
unavailing and the whole line broke and fled in confusion. The massacre
was general and the cries for mercy were answered by the tomahawk.
Rather less than sixty men escaped, some to Forty Fort, some by swimming
the river, and some to the mountain. A very few prisoners were made,
only three of whom were preserved alive, who were carried to Niagara.

Further resistance was impracticable and Colonel Dennison proposed
terms of capitulation which were granted to the inhabitants. It being
understood that no quarter would be allowed to the Continental troops
Colonel Butler with his few surviving soldiers fled from the valley.

The inhabitants generally abandoned the country and, in great distress,
wandered into the settlements on the Lehigh and the Delaware. The
Indians, according to their usual practice, destroyed the houses and
improvements by fire and plundered the country. After laying waste
the whole settlement they withdrew from it before the arrival of the
Continental troops, who were ordered to meet them. On the 11th of
November (1778) 500 Indians and Loyalists, with a small detachment of
regular troops, under the command of the notorious John Butler, made
an irruption into the settlement at Cherry Valley, in the State of New
York, surprised and killed Colonel Allen, commander of the American
force at that place, and ten of his soldiers. They attacked a fort
erected there, but were compelled to retreat. Next day they left the
place, after having murdered and scalped thirty-two of the inhabitants,
chiefly women and children.

On the first intelligence of the destruction of Wyoming the regiments
of Hartley and Butler with the remnant of Morgan's corps, commanded by
Major Posey, were detached to the protection of that distressed country.
They were engaged in several sharp skirmishes, made separate incursions
into the Indian settlements, broke up their nearest villages, destroyed
their corn, and, by compelling them to retire to a greater distance,
gave some relief to the inhabitants.

While the frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania were thus suffering
the calamities incident to savage warfare, a fate equally severe was
preparing for Virginia. The western militia of that State had made some
successful incursions into the country northwest of the Ohio and had
taken some British posts on the Mississippi. These were erected into the
county of Illinois, and a regiment of infantry with a troop of cavalry
was raised for its protection. The command of these troops was given
to Col. George Rogers Clarke, a gentleman who courage, hardihood,
and capacity for Indian warfare had given repeated success to his
enterprises against the savages.

This corps was divided into several detachments, the strongest of
which remained with Colonel Clarke at Kaskaskia. Colonel Hamilton, the
Governor of Detroit, was at Vincennes with about 600 men, principally
Indians, preparing an expedition, first against Kaskaskia and then
up the Ohio to Pittsburgh, after which he purposed to desolate the
frontiers of Virginia. Clarke anticipated and defeated his design by one
of those bold and decisive measures, which, whether formed on a great or
a small scale, mark the military and enterprising genius of the man who
plans and executes them.

He was too far removed from the inhabited country to hope for support,
and was too weak to maintain Kaskaskia and the Illinois against the
combined force of regulars and Indians by which he was to be attacked as
soon as the season for action should arrive. While employed in preparing
for his defense he received unquestionable information that Hamilton had
detached his Indians on an expedition against the frontiers, reserving
at the post he occupied only about eighty regulars with three pieces
of cannon and some swivels. Clarke instantly resolved to seize this
favorable moment. After detaching a small galley up the Wabash with
orders to take her station a few miles below Vincennes and to permit
nothing to pass her, he marched in the depth of winter with 130 men,
the whole force he could collect, across the country from Kaskaskia to
Vincennes. This march through the woods and over high waters required
sixteen days, five of which were employed in crossing the drowned lands
of the Wabash. The troops were under the necessity of wading five
miles in water frequently up to their breasts. After subduing these
difficulties this small party appeared before the town, which was
completely surprised and readily consented to change its master.

Hamilton, after defending the fort a short time, surrendered himself and
his garrison prisoners of war. With a few of his immediate agents and
counselors, who had been instrumental in the savage barbarities he had
encouraged, he was, by order of the Executive of Virginia, put in irons
and confined in a jail.

This expedition was important in its consequences. It disconcerted
a plan which threatened destruction to the whole country west of the
Allegheny Mountains, detached from the British interest many of those
numerous tribes of Indians south of the waters immediately communicating
with the Great Lakes, and had most probably considerable influence in
fixing the boundary of the United States.

These Indian hostilities on the western border were a subject of extreme
solicitude to Washington, ever alive as he was to the cry of distress
and ever anxious to preserve peace and security to the rural population
of the country. Experience and observation had long since taught him
that the only effectual protection to the inhabitants of the frontier
settlements consisted in carrying the war with severity into the enemy's
own country. Hence we find that from the moment these atrocities of the
Indians commenced in the western country he was engaged in planning that
expedition which, in the next campaign, under the direction of General
Sullivan, carried desolation to their own homes and taught them a lesson
which they could not soon forget. In the following extract of a letter
to Gov. George Clinton of New York, dated March 4, 1779, it will be
perceived that he speaks of his plan as already matured:

"The President of Congress has transmitted to me your Excellency's
letter to the delegates of New York, representing the calamitous
situation of the northwestern frontier of that State, accompanied by a
similar application from the Pennsylvania Assembly, and a resolve of
the 25th, directing me to take the most effectual measures for the
protection of the inhabitants and chastisement of the Indians. The
resolve has been in some measure anticipated by my previous dispositions
for carrying on offensive operations against the hostile tribes of
savages. It has always been my intention early to communicate this
matter to your Excellency in confidence, and I take occasion, from the
letter above mentioned, to inform you that preparations have some time
since been making, and they will be conducted to the point of execution
at a proper season, if no unexpected accident prevents, and the
situation of affairs on the maritime frontier justifies the undertaking.

"The greatest secrecy is necessary to the success of such an enterprise,
for the following obvious reasons: That, immediately upon the discovery
of our design, the savages would either put themselves in condition to
make head against us, by a reunion of all their force and that of
their allies, strengthened besides by succors from Canada; or elude the
expedition altogether, which might be done at the expense of a temporary
evacuation of forests which we could not possess, and the destruction of
a few settlements which they might speedily re-establish."

Washington concludes this letter by calling upon Governor Clinton for
an account of the force which New York can furnish for the contemplated
expedition and describing the kind of men most desirable for this
peculiar service--"active rangers, who are at the same time expert
marksmen, and accustomed to the irregular kind of wood-fighting
practiced by the Indians." He concludes by expressing a desire to have
the advantage of any sentiments or advice the Governor might be pleased
to communicate relative to the expedition. This is but one among many
instances which might be cited of the vigilance and unceasing activity
of Washington in everything connected with the national defense.

In addition to this Indian war Washington at this time (1778) had
another cause of deep anxiety continually upon his mind, in the
comparatively weak and inefficient character of the legislative body to
whom he must necessarily look for support and sanction in all measures
for the defense of the country. The Congress of 1774--that Congress
whose proceedings and State papers had elicited the admiration of
the illustrious Earl of Chatham--had comprised the ablest and most
influential men in the country. But most of these men had withdrawn from
Congress or had accepted high offices under their own State governments,
and their places had either not been filled at all or had been filled
by incompetent men. For the year 1778 the average number of members had
been between twenty-five and thirty. Some States were not represented
and others had not sent delegates enough to entitle them to a vote. But
small as the number of delegates in Congress was they were sufficiently
numerous to entertain the fiercest feuds among themselves, and seriously
to embarrass the public service by permitting party considerations to
interfere with the measures most essential to the safety and efficiency
of the army and the preservation of order in the country.

Washington was acutely sensible to this disastrous state of things. Full
of disinterested zeal for the public service he could hardly comprehend
the apathy prevailing in the different States, which occasioned their
omitting to fill up their "quotas" of representatives in Congress, and
he was embarrassed and distressed with the weak and inefficient
manner in which the military and civil affairs, under the direction of
Congress, were conducted. In a letter to Benjamin Harrison of Virginia,
a member of the Congress of 1774, he expresses frankly his views on this
unpleasant topic as follows:

"It appears as clear to me as ever the sun did in its meridian
brightness, that America never stood in more eminent need of the wise,
patriotic, and spirited exertions of her sons than at this period, and
if it is not a sufficient cause for general lamentation my misconception
of the matter impresses it too strongly upon me that the States,
separately, are too much engaged in their local concerns and have too
many of their ablest men withdrawn from the general council for the
good of the commonweal. In a word I think our political system may be
compared to the mechanism of a clock and that we should derive a lesson
from it, for it answers no good purpose to keep the smaller wheels in
order if the greater one, which is the support and prime mover of the
whole, is neglected. How far the latter is the case it does not become
me to pronounce, but as there can be no harm in a pious wish for the
good of one's country, I shall offer it as mine, that each would not
only choose, but absolutely compel their ablest men to attend Congress,
and that they would instruct them to go into a thorough investigation of
the causes that have produced so many disagreeable effects in the army
and country, in a word, that public abuses should be corrected. Without
this it does not in my judgment require the spirit of divination to
foretell the consequences of the present administration nor to how
little purpose the States individually are framing constitutions,
providing laws, and filling offices with the abilities of their ablest
men. These, if the great whole is mismanaged, must sink in the general
wreck, which will carry with it the remorse of thinking that we are lost
by our own folly and negligence or by the desire, perhaps, of living in
ease and tranquility during the accomplishment of so great a revolution,
in the effecting of which the greatest abilities and the most honest men
our American world affords ought to be employed.

"It is much to be feared, my dear sir, that the States in their separate
capacities have very inadequate ideas of the present danger. Many
persons removed far distant from the scene of action and seeing and
hearing such publications only as flatter their wishes, conceive that
the contest is at an end and that to regulate the government and police
of their own State is all that remains to be done, but it is devoutly
to be wished that a sad reverse of this may not fall upon them like
a thunderclap that is little expected. I do not mean to designate
particular States. I wish to cast no reflections upon any one. The
public believe (and if they do believe it, the fact might almost as well
be so) that the States at this time are badly represented and that the
great and important concerns of the nation are horribly conducted for
want either of abilities or application in the members, or through the
discord and party views of some individuals. That they should be so is
to be lamented more at this time than formerly, as we are far advanced
in the dispute and, in the opinion of many, drawing to a happy period;
we have the eyes of Europe upon us and I am persuaded many political
spies to watch, who discover our situation and give information of our
weaknesses and wants."

We have already seen that Congress, actuated by their wishes rather than
governed by a temperate calculation of the means in their possession,
had, in the preceding winter, planned a second invasion of Canada to
be conducted by Lafayette and that, as the generals only were got
in readiness for this expedition, it was necessarily laid aside. The
design, however, seems to have been suspended, not abandoned. The
alliance with France revived the latent wish to annex that extensive
territory to the United States. That favorite subject was resumed, and
toward autumn a plan was completely digested for a combined attack to be
made by the allies on all the British dominions on the continent and
on the adjacent islands of Cape Breton and Newfoundland. This plan was
matured about the time Lafayette obtained leave to return to his own
country and was ordered to be transmitted by him to Doctor Franklin,
the minister of the United States at the court of Versailles with
instructions to induce, if possible, the French cabinet to accede to it.
Some communications respecting this subject were also made to Lafayette,
on whose influence in securing its adoption by his own government much
reliance was placed, and in October 1778, it was for the first time
transmitted to Washington, with a request that he would enclose it by
Lafayette, with his observations on it, to Doctor Franklin.

This very extensive plan of military operations for the ensuing
campaign, prepared entirely in the cabinet without consulting, so far as
is known, a single military man, consisted of many parts.

Two detachments, amounting each to 1,600 men, were to march from
Pittsburgh and Wyoming against Detroit and Niagara. A third body of
troops which was to be stationed on the Mohawk during the winter and
to be powerfully reinforced in the spring, was to seize Oswego and to
secure the navigation of Lake Ontario with vessels to be constructed of
materials to be procured in the winter. A fourth corps was to penetrate
into Canada by the St. Francis and to reduce Montreal and the posts on
Lake Champlain, while a fifth should guard against troops from Quebec.

Thus far America could proceed unaided by her ally. But Upper Canada
being reduced another campaign would still be necessary for the
reduction of Quebec. This circumstance would require that the army
should pass the winter in Canada, and in the meantime the garrison of
Quebec might be largely reinforced. It was therefore essential to the
complete success of the enterprise that France should be induced to take
a part in it.

The conquest of Quebec and of Halifax was supposed to be an object of so
much importance to France as well as to the United States that her aid
might be confidently expected.

It was proposed to request the King of France to furnish four or five
thousand troops, to sail from Brest the beginning of May under convoy
of four ships of the line and four frigates, the troops to be clad as if
for service in the West Indies and thick clothes to be sent after them
in August. A large American detachment was to act with this French army
and it was supposed that Quebec and Halifax might be reduced by the
beginning or middle of October. The army might then either proceed
immediately against New Foundland or remain in garrison until the spring
when the conquest of that place might be accomplished.

It had been supposed probable that England would abandon the further
prosecution of the war on the continent of North America, in which
case the government would have a respectable force at its disposal, the
advantageous employment of which had engaged in part the attention of
Washington. He had contemplated an expedition against the British posts
in Upper Canada as a measure which might be eventually eligible and
which might employ the arms of the United States to advantage if their
troops might safely be withdrawn from the sea-board. He had, however,
considered every object of this sort as contingent. Having estimated the
difficulties to be encountered in such an enterprise he had found them
so considerable as to hesitate on the extent which might safely be given
to the expedition admitting the United States to be evacuated by the
British armies.

In this state of mind Washington received the magnificent plan already
prepared by Congress. He was forcibly struck with the impracticability
of executing that part of it which, was to be undertaken by the United
States should the British armies continue in the country and with the
serious mischief which would result to the common cause as well as from
diverting so considerable a part of the French force from other objects
to one which was, in his opinion, so unpromising as from the ill
impression which would be made on the court and nation by the total
failure of the American government to execute its part of a plan
originating with itself--a failure would most probably sacrifice the
troops and ships employed by France.

On comparing the naval force of England with that of France in different
parts of the world, the former appeared to Washington to maintain a
decided superiority and consequently to possess the power of shutting up
the ships of the latter which might be trusted into the St. Lawrence.
To suppose that the British government would not avail itself of
this superiority on such an occasion would be to impute to it a blind
infatuation or ignorance of the plans of its adversary, which could not
be safely assumed in calculations of such serious import.

A plan, too, consisting of so many parts to be prosecuted both from
Europe and America by land and by water--which, to be successful,
required such an harmonious cooperation of the whole, such a perfect
coincidence of events--appeared to him to be exposed to too many
accidents to risk upon it interests of such high value.

In a long and serious letter to Congress he apologized for not obeying
their orders to deliver the plan with his observations upon it to
Lafayette, and entering into a full investigation of all its parts
demonstrated the mischiefs and the dangers with which it was replete.
This letter was referred to a committee whose report admits the force
of the reasons urged by Washington against the expedition and their own
conviction that nothing important could be attempted unless the British
armies should be withdrawn from the United States and that even in that
event the present plan was far too complex.

Men, however, recede slowly and reluctantly from favorite and flattering
projects on which they have long meditated, and the committee in their
report proceeded to state the opinion that the posts held by the British
in the United States would probably be evacuated before the active part
of the ensuing campaign, and that, therefore, eventual measures for the
expedition ought to be taken.

This report concludes with recommending, "that the general should be
directed to write to the Marquis de Lafayette on that subject, and also
write to the minister of these States at the court of Versailles
very fully, to the end that eventual measures may be taken in case an
armament should be sent from France to Quebec for co-operating therewith
to the utmost degree which the finances and resources of these States
will admit."

This report also was approved by Congress and transmitted to Washington
who felt himself greatly embarrassed by it. While his objections to the
project retained all their force he found himself required to open a
correspondence for the purposes of soliciting the concurrence of France
in an expedition he disapproved, and of promising a cooperation he
believed to be impracticable. In reply to this communication he said:
"The earnest desire I have strictly to comply in every instance with the
views and instructions of Congress cannot but make me feel the greatest
uneasiness when I find myself in circumstances of hesitation or doubt
with respect to their directions. But the perfect confidence I have
in the justice and candor of that honorable body emboldens me to
communicate without reserve the difficulties which occur in the
execution of their present order, and the indulgence I have experienced
on every former occasion induces me to imagine that the liberty I now
take will not meet with disapprobation."

After reviewing the report of the committee and stating his objections
to the plan and the difficulties he felt in performing the duty assigned
to him, he added: "But if Congress still think it necessary for me to
proceed in the business I must request their more definite and explicit
instructions and that they will permit me, previous to transmitting the
intended dispatches, to submit them to their determination. I could
wish to lay before Congress more minutely the state of the army, the
condition of our supplies and the requisites necessary for carrying into
execution an undertaking that may involve the most serious events.
If Congress think this can be done more satisfactorily in a personal
conference I hope to have the army in such a situation before I can
receive their answer as to afford me an opportunity of giving my

Congress acceded to his request for a personal interview, and on his
arrival in Philadelphia a committee was appointed to confer with him as
well on this particular subject as on the general state of the army and
of the country.

The result of these conferences was that the expedition against Canada
was entirely, though reluctantly, given up, and every arrangement
recommended by Washington received that attention which was due to his
judgment and experience and which his opinions were entitled to receive.

If anything were necessary to be added to this ridiculous scheme for the
conquest of Canada in order to prove the inefficiency and folly of the
Congress of 1778 we have it in the fact that France was averse to adding
that province to the United States and did not desire to acquire it
for herself. She only sought the independence of this country and its
permanent alliance.

Mr. De Sevelinges in his introduction to Botta's History recites the
private instructions to Mr. Gerard on his mission to the United States.
One article was, "to avoid entering into any formal engagement relative
to Canada and other English possessions which Congress proposed to
conquer." Mr. De Sevelinges adds, that "the policy of the cabinet of
Versailles viewed the possession of those countries, especially of
Canada by England as a principle of useful inquietude and vigilance to
the Americans. The neighborhood of a formidable enemy must make
them feel more sensibly the price which they ought to attach to the
friendship and support of the King of France."


"January I, 1779. The committee appointed to confer with the
commander-in-chief on the operations of the next campaign, report
that the plan proposed by Congress for the emancipation of Canada, in
cooperation with an army from France, was the principal subject of the
said conference. That, impressed with a strong sense of the injury and
disgrace which must attend an infraction of the proposed stipulations,
on the part of these States, your committee have taken a general view
of our finances, of the circumstances of our army, of the magazines of
clothes, artillery, arms and ammunition, and of the provisions in store,
and which can be collected in season.

"Your committee have also attentively considered the intelligence and
observations communicated to them by the commander-in-chief, respecting
the number of troops and strongholds of the enemy in Canada; their naval
force, and entire command of the water communication with that country;
the difficulties, while they possess such signal advantages, of
penetrating it with an army by land; the obstacles which are to be
surmounted in acquiring a naval superiority; the hostile temper of many
of the surrounding Indian tribes towards these States; and above all,
the uncertainty whether the enemy will not persevere in their system
of harassing and distressing our sea-coast and frontiers by a predatory

"That on a most mature deliberation, your committee cannot find room for
a well grounded presumption that these States will be able to perform
their part of the proposed stipulations. That in a measure of such
moment, calculated to call forth, and direct to a single object, a
considerable portion of the force of our ally which may otherwise be
essentially employed, nothing else than the highest probability of
success could justify Congress in making the proposition.

"Your committee are therefore of opinion, that the negotiation in
question, however desirable and interesting, should be deferred until
circumstances render the cooperation of these States more certain,
practicable, and effectual.

"That the minister plenipotentiary of these States at the court of
Versailles, the minister of France in Pennsylvania, and the minister
of France, be respectively informed that the operations of the next
campaign must depend on such a variety of contingencies to arise, as
well from our own internal circumstances and resources as the progress
and movements of our enemy, that time alone can mature and point out the
plan which ought to be pursued. That Congress, therefore, cannot, with
a degree of confidence answerable to the magnitude of the object, decide
on the practicability of their cooperating the next campaign in an
enterprise for the emancipation of Canada; that every preparation in our
power will nevertheless be made for acting with vigor against the common
enemy, and every favorable incident embraced with alacrity to facilitate
and hasten the freedom and independence of Canada, and her union with
these States--events which Congress, from motives of policy with
respect to the United States, as well as of affection to their Canadian
brethren, have greatly at heart."

This report is evidently inspired by Washington, from beginning to end.

1. Footnote: This officer was not of the same family with the Tory



We have seen that Washington had gone from his winter quarters near
Middlebrook in the Jerseys to hold a conference with Congress on the
subject of the invasion of Canada. When this matter had been disposed of
there still remained many subjects demanding the joint attention of the
supreme Legislature and the Commander-in-Chief, and accordingly he spent
a considerable part of the winter of 1778-9 at Philadelphia consulting
with Congress on measures for the general defense and welfare of the
country. Washington felt extreme anxiety at the inadequate means at
his disposal for conducting the campaign of 1779. The state of Congress
itself, as we have already shown, was sufficiently embarrassing to
him, but there were other causes of uneasiness in the general aspect of
affairs. The French alliance was considered by the people as rendering
the cause of independence perfectly safe; with little or no exertion on
our part England was supposed to be already conquered in America, and,
moreover, she was threatened with a Spanish war. Hence the States
were remiss in furnishing their quotas of men and money. The currency,
consisting of Continental bills, was so much depreciated that a silver
dollar was worth forty dollars of the paper money. The effect of this
last misfortune was soon apparent in the conduct of the officers of the
Jersey brigade.

In pursuance of Washington's plan of chastising the Indians, to which we
referred in the last chapter, it was resolved to lead a force into those
villages of the Six Nations which were hostile to the United States and
destroy their settlements.

As the army destined for this expedition was about to move alarming
symptoms of discontent appeared in a part of it. The Jersey brigade,
which had been stationed during the winter at Elizabethtown, was ordered
early in May (1779) to march by regiments. This order was answered by
a letter from General Maxwell stating that the officers of the First
regiment had delivered a remonstrance to their colonel, addressed to the
Legislature of the State, declaring that unless their complaints on the
subjects of pay and support should obtain the immediate attention of
that body, they were, at the expiration of three days, to be considered
as having resigned, and requesting the Legislature, in that event, to
appoint other officers to succeed them. They declared, however, their
readiness to make every preparation for obeying the orders which had
been given, and to continue their attention to the regiment until a
reasonable time should elapse for the appointment of their successors.
"This," added the letter of General Maxwell, "is a step they are
extremely unwilling to take, but it is such as I make no doubt they
will all take; nothing but necessity--their not being able to support
themselves in time to come and being loaded with debts contracted in
time past--could have induced them to resign at so critical a juncture."

The intelligence conveyed in this letter made a serious impression on
Washington. He was strongly attached to the army and to its interests,
had witnessed its virtues and its sufferings, and lamented sincerely its
present distresses. The justice of the complaints made by the officers
could no more be denied than the measure they had adopted could be
approved. Relying on their patriotism and on his own influence, he
immediately wrote a letter to General Maxwell to be laid before them
in which, mingling the sensibility of a friend with the authority of
a general, he addressed to their understanding and to their love of
country, observations calculated to invite their whole attention to the
consequences which must result from the step they were about to take.

"The patience and perseverance of the army," proceeds the letter, "have
been, under every disadvantage, such as to do them the highest honor
both at home and abroad, and have inspired me with an unlimited
confidence of their virtue, which has consoled me amidst every
perplexity and reverse of fortune to which our affairs, in a struggle of
this nature, were necessarily exposed. Now that we have made so great a
progress to the attainment of the end we have in view, so that we cannot
fail without a most shameful desertion of our own interests, anything
like a change of conduct would imply a very unhappy change of
principles, and a forgetfulness as well of what we owe to ourselves as
to our country. Did I suppose it possible this could be the case, even
in a single regiment of the army, I should be mortified and chagrined
beyond expression. I should feel it as a wound given to my own honor,
which I consider as embarked with that of the army at large. But this I
believe to be impossible. Any corps that was about to set an example
of the kind would weigh well the consequences, and no officer of common
discernment and sensibility would hazard them. If they should stand
alone in it, independent of other consequences, what would be their
feelings on reflecting that they had held themselves out to the world in
a point of light inferior to the rest of the army? Or if their
example should be followed, and become general, how could they console
themselves for having been the foremost in bringing ruin and disgrace
upon their country? They would remember that the army would share
a double portion of the general infamy and distress, and that the
character of an American officer would become as infamous as it is now

"I confess the appearances in the present instance are disagreeable, but
I am convinced they seem to mean more than they really do. The Jersey
officers have not been outdone by any others in the qualities either of
citizens or soldiers; and I am confident no part of them would seriously
intend anything that would be a stain on their former reputation. The
gentlemen cannot be in earnest; they have only reasoned wrong about the
means of obtaining a good end, and, on consideration, I hope and flatter
myself they will renounce what must appear to be improper. At the
opening of a campaign, when under marching orders for an important
service, their own honor, duty to the public and to themselves, and
a regard to military propriety, will not suffer them to persist in a
measure which would be a violation of them all. It will even wound their
delicacy, coolly to reflect that they have hazarded a step which has
an air of dictating terms to their country, by taking advantage of the
necessity of the moment."

This letter did not completely produce the desired effect. The officers
did not recede from their claims. In an address to Washington, they
expressed their unhappiness that any act of theirs should give him pain,
but proceeded to justify the step they had taken. Repeated memorials
had been presented to their Legislature which had been received with
promises of attention, but had been regularly neglected. "At length,"
said they, "we have lost all confidence in our Legislature. Reason
and experience forbid that we should have any. Few of us have private
fortunes; many have families, who already are suffering everything that
can be received from an ungrateful country. Are we then to suffer all
the inconveniences, fatigues, and dangers of a military life, while our
wives and our children are perishing for want of common necessaries at
home--and that without the most distant prospect of reward, for our pay
is now only nominal? We are sensible that your Excellency cannot wish
nor desire this from us. We are sorry that you should imagine we meant
to disobey orders. It was and still is our determination to march with
our regiment and to do the duty of officers until the Legislature should
have a reasonable time to appoint others, but no longer.

"We beg leave to assure your Excellency that we have the highest sense
of your ability and virtues; that executing your orders has ever given
us pleasure; that we love the service, and we love our country--but when
that country gets so lost to virtue and justice as to forget to support
its servants, it then becomes their duty to retire from its service."

This letter was peculiarly embarrassing to Washington. To adopt a stern
course of proceeding might hazard the loss of the Jersey line, an event
not less injurious to the service than painful to himself. To take up
the subject without doing too much for the circumstances of the army
would be doing too little for the occasion. He therefore declined taking
any other notice of the letter than to declare through General Maxwell,
that while they continued to do their duty in conformity with the
determination they had expressed he should only regret the part they had
taken and should hope they would perceive its impropriety.

The Legislature of New Jersey, alarmed at the decisive step taken by
the officers, was at length induced to pay some attention to their
situation--they consenting on their part to withdraw their remonstrance.
In the meantime they continued to perform their duty and their march was
not delayed by this unpleasant altercation.

In communicating this transaction to Congress Washington took occasion
to remind that body of his having frequently urged the absolute
necessity of some general and adequate provision for the officers of the
army. "I shall only observe," continued the letter, "that the distresses
in some corps are so great, either where they were not until lately
attached to any particular State, or where the State has been less
provident, that the officers have solicited even to be supplied with the
clothing destined for the common soldiery, coarse and unsuitable as it
was. I had not power to comply with the request.

"The patience of men animated by a sense of duty and honor will support
them to a certain point, beyond which it will not go. I doubt not
Congress will be sensible of the danger of an extreme in this respect,
and will pardon my anxiety to obviate it."

Before the troops destined for the grand expedition were put in motion
an enterprise of less extent was undertaken which was completely
successful. A plan for surprising the towns of the Onondagas, one of the
nearest of the hostile tribes, having been formed by General
Schuyler and approved by Washington, Colonel Van Schaick assisted by
Lieutenant-Colonel Willet and Major Cochran marched from Fort Schuyler
on the morning of the 19th of April at the head of between five and six
hundred men and on the third day reached the point of destination. The
whole settlement was destroyed after which the detachment returned
to Fort Schuyler without the loss of a single man. For this handsome
display of talents as a partisan, the thanks of Congress were voted to
Colonel Van Schaick and the officers and soldiers under his command.

The cruelties exercised by the Indians in the course of the preceding
year had given a great degree of importance to the expedition now
meditated against them, and the relative military strength and situation
of the two parties rendered it improbable that any other offensive
operations could be carried on by the Americans in the course of the
present campaign. The army under the command of Sir Henry Clinton,
exclusive of the troops in the southern department, was computed at
between sixteen and seventeen thousand men. The American army, the
largest division of which lay at Middlebrook under the immediate command
of Washington, was rather inferior to that of the British in real
strength. The grand total, except those in the southern and western
country, including officers of every description amounted to about
16,000. Three thousand of these were in New England under the command of
General Gates, and the remaining 13,000 were cantoned on both sides of
the North river.

After the destruction of Forts Clinton and Montgomery in 1777, it had
been determined to construct the fortifications intended for the future
defense of the North river at West Point, a position which being more
completely embosomed in the hills was deemed more defensible. The works
had been prosecuted with unremitting industry but were far from being

King's Ferry, some miles below West Point, where the great road, the
most convenient communication between the middle and eastern States,
crossed the North river, is completely commanded by two opposite points
of land. That on the west side, a rough and elevated piece of ground, is
denominated Stony Point; and the other, on the east side, a flat neck
of land projecting far into the water, is called Verplanck's Point.
The command of King's Ferry was an object worth the attention of either
army, and Washington had comprehended the points which protect it within
his plan of defense for the Highlands. A small but strong work called
Fort Fayette was completed at Verplanck's and was garrisoned by a
company commanded by Captain Armstrong. The works on Stony Point were
unfinished. As the season for active operations approached Sir Henry
Clinton formed a plan for opening the campaign with a brilliant _coup
de main_ up the North river and toward the latter end of May made
preparations for the enterprise.

These preparations were immediately communicated to Washington who was
confident that Clinton meditated an attack on the forts in the Highlands
or designed to take a position between those forts and Middlebrook, in
order to interrupt the communication between the different parts of
the American army, to prevent their reunion and to beat them in detail.
Measures were instantly taken to counteract either of these designs.
The intelligence from New York was communicated to Generals Putnam and
M'Dougal, who were ordered to hold themselves in readiness to march, and
on the 29th of May (1779) the army moved by divisions from Middlebrook
toward the Highlands. On the 30th the British army commanded by Clinton
in person and convoyed by Sir George Collier proceeded up the river, and
General Vaughan at the head of the largest division, landed next morning
about eight miles below Verplanck's. The other division under the
particular command of General Patterson, but accompanied by Clinton,
advancing further up, landed on the west side within three miles of
Stony Point.

That place being immediately abandoned, General Patterson took
possession of it on the same afternoon. He dragged some heavy cannon and
mortars to the summit of the hill in the course of the night (June 1,
1779), and at five next morning opened a battery on Fort Fayette at the
distance of about 1,000 yards. During the following night two galleys
passed the fort and anchoring above it prevented the escape of the
garrison by water while General Vaughan invested it closely by land.
No means of defending the fort or of saving themselves remaining the
garrisons became prisoners of war. Immediate directions were given
for completing the works at both posts and for putting Stony Point in
particular in a strong state of defense.

Washington determined to check any further advance of the enemy, and
before Clinton was in a situation to proceed against West Point, General
M'Dougal was so strengthened and the American army took such a position
on the strong grounds about the Hudson that the enterprise became too
hazardous to be further prosecuted.

After completing the fortifications on both sides of the river at King's
Ferry, Clinton placed a strong garrison in each fort and proceeded down
the river to Philipsburg. The relative situation of the hostile armies
presenting insuperable obstacles to any grand operation they could be
employed offensively only on detached expeditions. Connecticut, from
its contiguity to New York and its extent of sea coast, was peculiarly
exposed to invasion. The numerous small cruisers which plied in the
sound, to the great annoyance of British commerce, and the large
supplies of provisions drawn from the adjacent country for the use of
the Continental army, furnished great inducements to Clinton to direct
his enterprises particularly against that State. He also hoped to draw
Washington from his impregnable position on the North river into the low
country and thus obtain an opportunity of striking at some part of
his army or of seizing the posts which were the great object of the
campaign. With these views he planned an expedition against Connecticut,
the command of which was given to Governor Tryon, who reached New Haven
bay on the 5th of July (1779) with about 2,600 men.

Washington was at the time on the lines examining in person the
condition of the works on Stony and Verplanck's Points, in consequence
of which the intelligence which was transmitted to headquarters that the
fleet had sailed could not be immediately communicated to the Governor
of Connecticut, and the first intimation which that State received
of its danger was given by the appearance of the enemy. The militia
assembled in considerable numbers with alacrity, but the British
effected a landing and took possession of the town. After destroying
the military and naval stores found in the place, they re-embarked and
proceeded westward to Fairfield which was reduced to ashes. The spirited
resistance made by the militia at this place is attested by the apology
made by General Tryon for the wanton destruction of private property
which disgraced his conduct. "The village was burnt," he says, "to
resent the fire of the rebels from their houses and to mask our

From Fairfield the fleet crossed the sound to Huntington bay where it
remained until the 9th (July, 1779), when it recrossed that water. The
troops were landed in the night on a peninsula on the east side of the
Bay of Norwalk. About the same time a much larger detachment from
the British army directed its course towards Horse Neck and made
demonstrations of a design to penetrate into the country in that

On the first intelligence that Connecticut was invaded, General Parsons,
a native of that State, had been directed by Washington to hasten to the
scene of action. Placing himself at the head of about 150 Continental
troops who were supported by considerable bodies of militia, he attacked
the British on the morning of the twelfth as soon as they were in motion
and kept up an irregular distant fire throughout the day. But, being
too weak to prevent the destruction of any particular town on the coast,
Norwalk was reduced to ashes, after which the British re-embarked and
returned to Huntington bay there to await for reinforcements. At this
place, however, Tryon received orders to return to Whitestone where in
a conference between Clinton and Sir George Collier it was determined to
proceed against New London with an increased force.

On the invasion of Connecticut, Washington was prompt in his exertions
to send Continental troops from the nearest encampments to its aid, but
before they could afford any real service Clinton found it necessary to
recall Tryon to the Hudson.

Washington had planned an enterprise against the posts at King's Ferry,
comprehending a double attack to be made at the same time on both. But
the difficulty of a perfect cooperation of detachments, incapable of
communicating with each other, determined him to postpone the attack on
Verplanck's and to make that part of the plan dependent on the success
of the first. His whole attention, therefore, was turned to Stony Point
and the troops destined for this critical service proceeded on it as
against a single object.

The execution of the plan was entrusted by Washington to General Wayne
who commanded the light infantry of the army. His daring courage had
long since obtained for him the sobriquet of "Mad Anthony." He accepted
the command with alacrity. Secrecy was deemed so much more essential to
success than numbers that no addition was made to the force already on
the lines. One brigade was ordered to commence its march so as to reach
the scene of action in time to cover the troops engaged in the attack
should any unlooked-for disaster befall them, and Maj. Henry Lee of
the light dragoons, who had been eminently useful in obtaining the
intelligence which led to the enterprise, was associated with Wayne as
far as cavalry could be employed in such a service. The night of the
15th (July, 1779), and the hour of twelve, were chosen for the assault.

Stony Point is a commanding hill projecting far into the Hudson which
washes three-fourths of its base. The remaining fourth was in a great
measure covered by a deep marsh, commencing near the river on the upper
side and continuing into it below. Over this marsh there was only one
crossing place, but at its junction with the river was a sandy beach
passable at low tide. On the summit of this hill stood the fort which
was furnished with heavy ordnance. Several breastworks and strong
batteries were advanced in front of the main work, and about half way
down the hill were two rows of abattis. The batteries were calculated to
command the beach and the crossing place of the marsh, and to rake and
enfilade any column which might be advancing from either of those points
toward the fort. In addition to these defenses several vessels of war
were stationed in the river and commanded the ground at the foot of
the hill. The garrison consisted of about 600 men commanded by Colonel

Wayne arrived about eight in the evening at Springsteel's, one and a
half miles from the fort and made his dispositions for the assault.

It was intended to attack the works on the right and left flanks at the
same instant. The regiments of Febiger and of Meigs with Major Hull's
detachment formed the right column, and Butler's regiment, with two
companies under Major Murfree, formed the left. One hundred and fifty
volunteers led by Lieutenant-Colonel Fleury and Major Posey constituted
the van of the right, and 100 volunteers under Major Stewart composed
the van of the left. At 11:30 the two columns moved to the assault, the
van of each with unloaded muskets and fixed bayonets. They were
each preceded by a forlorn hope of twenty men, the one commanded by
Lieutenant Gibbon and the other by Lieutenant Knox. They reached the
marsh undiscovered and at 12:20 commenced the assault.

Both columns rushed forward under a tremendous fire of grape-shot and
musketry. Surmounting every obstacle, they entered the works at the
point of the bayonet and without discharging a single musket obtained
possession of the fort.

The humanity displayed by the conquerors was not less conspicuous nor
less honorable than their courage. Not an individual suffered after
resistance had ceased.

All the troops engaged in this perilous service manifested a degree
of ardor and impetuosity which proved them to be capable of the most
difficult enterprises, and all distinguished themselves whose situation
enabled them to do so. Colonel Fleury, who had distinguished himself in
defense of the forts on the Delaware in 1777, was the first to enter
the fort and strike the British standard. Major Posey mounted the works
almost at the same instant and was the first to give the watch-word,
"The fort's our own." Lieutenants Gibbon and Knox performed the service
allotted to them with a degree of intrepidity which could not be
surpassed. Of twenty men who constituted the party of the former,
seventeen were killed or wounded. [1] Sixty-three of the garrison were
killed, including two officers. The prisoners amounted to 543, among
whom were 1 lieutenant-colonel, 4 captains, and 20 subaltern officers.
The military stores taken in the fort were considerable.

The loss sustained by the assailants was not proportioned to the
apparent danger of the enterprise. The killed and wounded did not exceed
100 men. Wayne, who marched with Febiger's regiment in the right
column received a wound in the head which stunned him. Recovering
consciousness, but believing the wound to be mortal, he said to his
aids, "Carry me into the fort and let me die at the head of my column."
Being supported by his aids he entered the fort with the regiment.
Lieutenant-Colonel Hay was also among the wounded.

Although the design upon Fort Fayette had yielded to the desire of
securing the success of the attack on Stony Point it had not been
abandoned. Two brigades under General M'Dougal had been ordered to
approach the works on Verplanck's, in which Colonel Webster commanded,
and be in readiness to attack them the instant Wayne should obtain
possession of Stony Point. That this detachment might not permit the
favorable moment to pass unimproved Wayne had been requested to direct
the messenger who should convey the intelligence of his success to
Washington to pass through M'Dougal's camp and give him advice of that
event. He was also requested to turn the cannon of the fort against
Verplanck's and the vessels in the river. The last orders were executed
and a heavy cannonade was opened on Fort Fayette and on the vessels,
which compelled them to fall down the river. Through some misconception,
never explained, the messenger dispatched by Wayne did not call on
M'Dougal, but proceeded directly to headquarters. Thus, every advantage
expected from the first impression made by the capture of Stony Point
was lost, and the garrison had full leisure to recover from the surprise
occasioned by that event and to prepare for an attack. This change
of circumstances made it necessary to change the plan of operation.
Washington ordered General Howe to take the command of M'Dougal's
detachment to which some pieces of heavy artillery were to be annexed.
He was directed, after effecting a breach in the walls, to make the
dispositions for an assault and to demand a surrender, but not to
attempt a storm until it should be dark. To these orders explicit
instructions were added not to hazard his party by remaining before
Verplanck's after the British should cross Croton river in force.

Through some unaccountable negligence in the persons charged with the
execution of these orders the battering artillery was not accompanied
with suitable ammunition, and the necessary entrenching tools were not
brought. These omissions were supplied the next day, but it was then too
late to proceed against Verplanck's.

On receiving intelligence of the loss of Stony Point and of the danger
to which the garrison of Fort Fayette was exposed, Sir Henry Clinton
relinquished his views on Connecticut and made a forced march to Dobb's
Ferry. Some troops were immediately embarked to pass up the river and
a light corps was pushed forward to the Croton. This movement relieved
Fort Fayette.

The failure of the attempt to obtain possession of Verplanck's Point,
leaving that road of communication still closed, diminished the
advantages which had been expected to result from the enterprise so
much that it was deemed unadvisable to maintain Stony Point. On
reconnoitering the ground Washington believed that the place could not
be rendered secure with a garrison of less than 1,500 men--a number
which could not be spared from the army without weakening it too much
for further operations. He determined, therefore, to evacuate Stony
Point and retire to the Highlands. As soon as this resolution was
executed Clinton repossessed himself of that post, repaired the
fortifications, and placed a stronger garrison in it, after which he
resumed his former situation at Philipsburg.

The two armies watched each other for some time. At length, Clinton,
finding himself unable to attack Washington in the strong position he
had taken or to draw him from it, and being desirous of transferring
the theater of active war to the south, withdrew to New York and was
understood to be strengthening the fortifications erected for its
defense, as preparatory to the large detachments he intended making to
reinforce the southern army.

Although this movement was made principally with a view to southern
operations, it was in some degree hastened by the opinion that New
York required immediate additional protection during the absence of the
fleet, which was about to sail for the relief of Penobscot.

Scarcely had Sir George Collier, who had accompanied Clinton up the
Hudson to take possession of Stony Point, returned to New York, when he
was informed that a fleet of armed vessels with transports and troops
had sailed from Boston to attack a post which General M'Lean was
establishing at Penobscot in the eastern part of the province of
Massachusetts bay. He immediately got ready for sea that part of the
naval force which was at New York, and on the 3d of August sailed to
relieve the garrison of Penobscot.

In the month of June (1779) General M'Lean, who commanded the royal
troops in Nova Scotia, arrived in the bay of Penobscot with nearly 700
men, in order to establish a post which might at once be a means
of checking the incursions of the Americans into Nova Scotia and of
supplying the royal yards at Halifax with ship timber, which abounded in
that part of the country. This establishment alarmed the government of
Massachusetts bay, which resolved to dislodge M'Lean, and, with great
promptitude, equipped a fleet and raised troops for that purpose.
The fleet, which consisted of fifteen vessels of war, carrying from
thirty-two to twelve guns each with transports, was commanded by
Commodore Saltonstall; the army, amounting to between three and four
thousand militia, was under the orders of General Lovell.

General M'Lean chose for his post a peninsula on the east side of
Penobscot bay, which is about seven leagues wide and seventeen deep,
terminating at the point where the river Penobscot flows into it.
M'Lean's station was nine miles from the bottom of the bay. As that part
of the country was then an unbroken forest he cleared away the wood on
the peninsula and began to construct a fort in which he was assisted
and protected by the crews of three sloops-of-war which had escorted him
thither. M'Lean heard of the expedition against him on the 21st of July
(1779), when he had made little progress in the erection of his fort.
On the 25th the American fleet appeared in the bay, but, owing to the
opposition of the British sloops-of-war and to the bold and rugged
nature of the shore, the troops did not effect a landing until the 28th.
This interval M'Lean improved with such laborious diligence that his
fortifications were in a state of considerable forwardness. Lovell
erected a battery within 750 yards of the works, and for nearly a
fortnight a brisk cannonade was kept up and preparations were made to
assault the fort. But, on the 13th of August (1779), Lovell was informed
that Sir George Collier with a superior naval force had entered the
bay; therefore in the night he silently embarked his troops and cannon,
unperceived by the garrison, which was every moment in expectation of
being assaulted.

On the approach of the British fleet the Americans, after some show
of preparation for resistance, betook themselves to flight. A general
pursuit and unresisted destruction ensued. The Warren, a fine new
frigate of thirty-two guns, and fourteen other vessels of inferior
force, were either blown up or taken. The transports fled in confusion
and, after having landed the troops in a wild and uncultivated part
of the country, were burnt. The men, destitute of provisions and other
necessaries, had to explore their way for more than 100 miles through
an uninhabited and pathless wilderness and many of them perished before
reaching the settled country. After this successful exploit Sir George
Collier returned to New York, where he resigned the command of the fleet
to Admiral Arbuthnot, who had arrived from England with some ships of
war and with provisions, stores, and reinforcements for the army.

On descending the river, after replacing the garrison of Stony Point,
Sir Henry Clinton encamped above Harlem, with his upper posts at
Kingsbridge. Washington remained in his strong position in the
Highlands, but frequently detached numerous parties on both sides of
the river in order to check the British foragers and to restrain the
intercourse with the Loyalists. Major Lee ("Light Horse Harry"), who
commanded one of those parties, planned a bold and hazardous enterprise
against the British post at Paulus Hook on the Jersey bank of the river,
opposite New York. That post was strongly fortified and of difficult
access, and therefore the garrison thought themselves secure. But Lee
determined to make an attempt on the place and chose the morning of the
20th of August (1779) for his enterprise, when part of the garrison was
absent on a foraging excursion. Advancing silently at the head of
300 men the sentinel at the gate mistook his party for that which had
marched out the preceding day, and allowed them to pass unchallenged,
and almost in an instant they seized the blockhouse and two redoubts
before the alarm was given. Major Sutherland, commandant of the post,
with sixty Hessians, entered a redoubt and began a brisk fire on the
assailants. This gave an extensive notice of the attack, and the firing
of guns in New York, and by the shipping in the roads, proved that the
alarm was widely spread. In order, therefore, not to hazard the loss
of his party, Lee retreated with the loss of two men killed and three
wounded, carrying along with him about 150 prisoners. Notwithstanding
the difficulties and dangers which he had to encounter, he effected his
retreat. It was not his design to keep possession of the place, but
to carry off the garrison, reflect credit on the American arms, and
encourage a spirit of enterprise in the army. [2]

The expedition planned by Washington for chastising the Indians who had
committed such atrocities last year on the frontier and particularly at
Wyoming, was the most important of this campaign. Washington entrusted
the command of it to General Sullivan. The largest division of the army
employed on that service assembled at Wyoming. Another division, which
had wintered on the Mohawk, marched under the orders of Gen. James
Clinton and joined the main body at the confluence of the two great
sources of the Susquehanna. On the 22d. of August (1779), the united
force, amounting to nearly 5,000 men, under the command of General
Sullivan, proceeded up the Cayuga or western branch of the last-named
river which led directly into the Indian country. The preparations for
this expedition did not escape the notice of those against whom it was
directed, and the Indians seem fully to have penetrated Sullivan's plan
of operation. Formidable as his force was they determined to meet him
and try the fortune of a battle. They were about 1,000 strong, commanded
by the two Butlers, Guy Johnson, M'Donald, and Brandt. They chose their
ground with judgment and fortified their camp at some distance above
Chemung and within a mile of Newtown.

There Sullivan attacked them and, after a short but spirited resistance,
they retreated with precipitation. The Americans had thirty men killed
or wounded; the Indians left only eleven dead bodies on the field,
but they were so discouraged by this defeat that they abandoned their
villages and fields to the unresisted ravages of the victor, who laid
waste their towns and orchards, so that they might have no inducement
again to settle so near the settlements of the whites.

The severity of this proceeding has been censured by some writers,
but it requires no apology. Nothing could convince the savages of
the injustice and inhumanity of their usual system of warfare on the
frontier so effectually as to give them a specimen of it, even in a
milder form, in their own country. Sullivan desolated their villages and
farms, but we do not learn that he took any scalps or murdered any
women or children, or tortured any of his prisoners. The measure of
retaliation which he dealt to the miscreants who sacked Wyoming was
gentleness and humanity when compared with their proceedings. It is only
to be regretted that his retaliation could not have been applied to the
homes of the British and Tories who assisted the Indians at Wyoming.
Sullivan and his army received a vote of thanks from Congress, but the
general's health failing, he soon resigned his commission and retired
from the service.

Sullivan's orders from Washington exculpate him from all blame as to the
mode of punishing the Indians. "Of the expedition," Washington says,
in writing to him, "the immediate objects are the total destruction and
devastation of their settlements and the capture of as many prisoners
of every age and sex as possible." Washington knew that this kind of
warfare was the only possible means of putting an end to Indian wars.
Any other mode of proceeding, he was fully aware, was treachery and
cruelty to his own countrymen.

A few days after the surprise of Paulus Hook by Major Lee, the
long-expected fleet from Europe, under the command of Admiral Arbuthnot,
having on board a reinforcement for the British army, arrived at New
York. This reinforcement, however, did not enable Clinton to enter
immediately on that active course of offensive operations which he had
meditated. It was soon followed by the Count D'Estaing, who arrived on
the southern coast of America with a powerful fleet, after which Clinton
deemed it necessary to turn all his attention to his own security. Rhode
Island and the posts up the North river were evacuated and the whole
army was collected in New York, the fortifications of which were carried
on with unremitting industry.

The Count D'Estaing and Admiral Byron having sailed about the same time
from the coast of North America, met in the West Indies, where the
war was carried on with various success. St. Lucia surrendered to the
British in compensation for which the French took St. Vincent's and
Grenada. About the time of the capture of the latter island D'Estaing
received reinforcements which gave him a decided naval superiority,
after which a battle was fought between the two hostile fleets, in which
the count claimed the victory and in which so many of the British ships
were disabled that the admiral was compelled to retire into port in
order to refit.

Early in May (1779) Sir Henry Clinton had dispatched from New York
a squadron under Sir George Collier with 2,500 troops under General
Mathews, who entered Chesapeake Bay, and, after taking possession of
Portsmouth, sent out parties of soldiers to Norfolk, Suffolk, Gosport,
and other places in the neighborhood, where there were large deposits
of provisions and military and naval stores, and many merchant vessels,
some on the stocks and some laden with valuable cargoes. These were all
burnt and the whole neighborhood subjected to plunder and devastation.
This was a severe blow to the commerce on which Congress placed great
dependence for supplies to the army and for sustaining its own credit.

In compliance with the solicitations of General Lincoln and the
authorities of South Carolina, D'Estaing directed his course to the
coast of Georgia with twenty-two ships of the line and eleven frigates
having on board 6,000 soldiers, and arrived so suddenly on the southern
coast of America that the Experiment, of fifty guns, and three frigates,
fell into his hands. A vessel was sent to Charleston with information of
his arrival and a plan was concerted for the siege of Savannah.

General Lincoln, who, after the fall of Savannah, had been sent to
Charleston to take command of the southern department of the army, was
to cooperate with D'Estaing's fleet and army in the siege. Instead of
assaulting the place at the earliest practicable moment, they granted
Prevost, the British commander at Savannah, an armistice of twenty-four
hours, during which he received reinforcements and set them at defiance.
They then commenced a siege by regular approaches on land and cannonade
and bombardment from D'Estaing's formidable fleet in the harbor. This
lasted for three weeks.

On the 9th of October (1779), without having effected a sufficient
breach, the united French and American forces stormed the works. Great
gallantry was displayed by the assailants. The French and American
standards were both planted on the redoubts. But it was all in vain.
They were completely repulsed, the French losing 700 and the Americans
340 men. Count Pulaski was among the slain.

The loss of the garrison was astonishingly small. In killed and wounded
it amounted only to fifty-five--so great was the advantage of the
cover afforded by their works. After this repulse the Count D'Estaing
announced to General Lincoln his determination to raise the siege. The
remonstrances of that officer were unavailing, and the removal of the
heavy ordnance and stores was commenced. This being accomplished, both
armies moved from their ground on the evening of the 18th of October
(1779). The Americans, recrossing the Savannah at Zubly's Ferry, again
encamped in South Carolina, and the French re-embarked. D'Estaing
himself sailed with a part of his fleet for France; the rest proceeded
to the West Indies.

Although the issue of this enterprise was the source of severe chagrin
and mortification the prudence of General Lincoln suppressed
every appearance of dissatisfaction, and the armies separated with
manifestations of reciprocal esteem. The hopes which had brought the
militia into the field being disappointed they dispersed, and the
affairs of the southern States wore a more gloomy aspect than at any
former period.

During the siege of Savannah an ingenious enterprise of partisan warfare
was executed by Colonel White of the Georgia line. Before the arrival
of the French fleet in the Savannah, a British captain with in men had
taken post near the river Ogeeche, twenty-five miles from Savannah. At
the same place were five British vessels, four of which were armed, the
largest with fourteen guns, the least with four, and the vessels were
manned with forty sailors. Late at night, on the 30th of September
(1779), White, who had only six volunteers, including his own servant,
kindled a number of fires in different places so as to exhibit the
appearance of a considerable encampment, practiced several other
corresponding artifices, and then summoned the captain instantly to
surrender. That officer, believing that he was about to be attacked by a
superior force and that nothing but immediate submission could save him
and his men from destruction, made no defense. The stratagem was carried
on with so much address that the prisoners, amounting to 141, were
secured and conducted to the American post at Sunbury, twenty-five miles

On receiving intelligence of the situation of Lincoln, Congress passed a
resolution requesting Washington to order the North Carolina troops,
and such others as could be spared from the northern army, to the aid of
that in the South and assuring the States of South Carolina and Georgia
of the attention of government to their preservation, but requesting
them, for their own defense to comply with the recommendations formerly
made respecting the completion of their Continental regiments, and the
government of their militia while in actual service.

Washington had already received (November 1779) intelligence of the
disastrous result of D'Estaing and Lincoln's attack on Savannah, and had
formed his plans of operation before Congress sent assurances of aid
to the South. Giving up all expectation of cooperation from the French
fleet, he disbanded the New York and Massachusetts militia and made his
arrangements for the winter. He ordered one division of the army under
General Heath to the Highlands to protect West Point and the posts
in that neighborhood, and with the other division he went into winter
quarters near Morristown, the army being quartered in huts, as at Valley
Forge. The cavalry were sent to Connecticut.

Washington had already penetrated the design of the enemy to make the
southern States their principal field of operation, and accordingly he
dispatched to Charleston the North Carolina brigade in November, and the
whole of the Virginia line in December. On the other hand, Clinton and
Cornwallis embarked with a large force in transports convoyed by Admiral
Arbuthnot with a fleet of five ships of the line and several frigates,
and sailed on the 26th of December 1779, for Savannah. Knyphausen was
left in command of the garrison of New York. [3]

Washington's own summary of the operations of this campaign (1779)
is contained in a letter to Lafayette in the following terms: "The
operations of the enemy this campaign have been confined to the
establishment of works of defense, taking a post at King's Ferry, and
burning the defenseless towns of New Haven, Fairfield, and Norwalk,
on the Sound, within reach of their shipping, where little else was
or could be opposed to them than the cries of distressed women and
children; but these were offered in vain. Since these notable exploits
they have never stepped out of their works or beyond their lines. How a
conduct of this kind is to effect the conquest of America, the wisdom of
a North, a Germaine, or a Sandwich can best decide. It is too deep and
refined for the comprehension of common understandings and the general
run of politicians."

1. Footnote: For their bravery and good conduct at Stony Point, Wayne
received a gold, and Stewart and Fleury silver medals, with the thanks
of Congress. A separate medal was designed and struck for each of them.

2. Footnote: Lee, for this exploit at Paulus Hook, was presented with a
gold medal by Congress.

3. Footnote: Irving



During the winter which followed the campaign of 1779, Washington, with
his army hutted on the heights of Morristown, was beset by pressing
and formidable difficulties. The finances of Congress were in a most
depressed condition, and the urgent wants of the army were but ill
supplied. The evils of short enlistment, though distinctly understood
and strongly felt, could not be remedied, and the places of those men
who were leaving the army on the expiration of their stipulated term
of service could not easily be filled up. Besides, the troops were
in danger of perishing by cold and famine. During the preceding year
General Greene and Colonel Wadsworth had been at the head of the
quartermaster and commissary departments, and notwithstanding their
utmost exertions, the wants of the army had been ill supplied. After
being put into winter quarters it was in great danger of being dissolved
by want of provisions or of perishing through famine. The Colonial paper
money was in a state of great and increasing depreciation, and in
order to check the alarming evil Congress, which, like other popular
assemblies had in it no small share of ignorance and self-sufficiency,
resolved to diminish the circulation and keep up the value of their
paper currency by withholding the necessary supplies from the public
agents. This foolish resolution threatened the ruin of the army. Nobody
was willing to make contracts with the public and some of those entered
into were not fulfilled.

Congress, jealous of the public agents, because ignorant of what was
really necessary, repeatedly changed the form of its engagements
with them, and, at length, by its fluctuating policy, real wants, and
imprudent parsimony, brought matters to such extremities that Washington
was compelled to require the several counties of the State of New Jersey
to furnish his army with certain quantities of provisions within six
days in order to prevent them from being taken by force. Although the
province was much exhausted, yet the people instantly complied with the
requisition and furnished a temporary supply to the army. [1]

Soon after Clinton sailed on his expedition against Charleston a frost
of unexampled intensity began. The Hudson, East river, and all the
waters around New York were so completely frozen that an army with its
artillery and wagons might have crossed them in all directions with
perfect safety. New York lost all the advantages of its insular
situation and became easily accessible on every side. The city was
fortified by the British, but on account of its insular situation,
several parts being considered of difficult access were left undefended.
By the strength of the ice, however, every point became exposed, and in
that unforeseen emergency, Knyphausen who commanded in the city with a
garrison of 10,000 men took every prudent precaution for his defense and
fortified every vulnerable part, but the inefficiency of the American
army was his best security. Washington easily perceived the advantages
which the extraordinary frost gave him, but from the destitute state
of his army he was unable to avail himself of them. The army under his
immediate command was inferior in number to the garrison of New York;
it was also ill clad, scantily supplied with provisions, and in no
condition to undertake offensive operations.

The British had a post on Staten Island, and as the ice opened a free
communication between the island and the New Jersey coast, Washington,
notwithstanding the enfeebled condition of his army resolved to attack
the garrison, and appointed Lord Stirling to conduct the enterprise.
The night of the 14th of January (1780) was chosen for the attempt, but,
though the Americans used every precaution, the officer commanding on
Staten Island discovered their intention and took effectual measures
to defeat it. The attack was repulsed, but little loss was sustained on
either side.

The extreme cold occasioned much suffering in New York by want of
provisions and fuel, for as the communication by water was entirely
stopped the usual supplies, were cut off. The demand for fuel in
particular was so pressing that it was found expedient to break up some
old transports, and to pull down some uninhabited wooden houses for
the purpose of procuring that necessary article. As the British paid in
ready money for provisions or firewood carried within the lines many of
the country people, tempted by the precious metals, so rare among them,
tried to supply the garrison. The endeavors of the British to encourage
and protect this intercourse and the exertions of the Americans to
prevent it brought on a sort of partisan warfare in which the former
most frequently had the advantage. In one of the most important of those
encounters, early in February (1780), near White Plains, a captain and
14 men of a Massachusetts regiment were killed on the spot, 17 were
wounded, and 90, with Colonel Thompson, the officer who commanded
the party, were made prisoners. Washington, writing to General Heath
respecting this affair, says: "It is some consolation that our officers
and men appear to have made a brave resistance. I cannot help suspecting
that our officers in advance quarter too long in a place. By these
means the enemy by their emissaries gain a perfect knowledge of their
cantonments and form their attacks accordingly. Were they to shift
constantly the enemy could scarcely ever attain this knowledge."

Congress found itself placed in very difficult circumstances. It always
contained a number of men of talents and manifested no small share of
vigor and activity. Many of the members were skilful in the management
of their private affairs, and having been successful in the world
thought themselves competent to direct the most important national
concerns, although unacquainted with the principles of finance,
legislation, or war. Animated by that blind presumption which generally
characterizes popular assemblies they often entered into resolutions
which discovered little practical wisdom. In pecuniary matters they were
dilatory and never anticipated trying emergencies, or made provision
for probable events, till they were overtaken by some urgent necessity.
Hence they were frequently deliberating about levying troops and
supplying the army when the troops ought to have been in the field, and
the army fully equipped for active service. This often placed Washington
in the most trying and perilous circumstances.

Congress had solemnly resolved not to exceed $200,000,000 in Continental
bills of credit. In November, 1779, the whole of that sum was issued
and expended also. The demand on the States to replenish the treasury
by taxes had not been fully complied with, and even although it had
been completely answered would not have furnished a sum adequate to the
expenses of government. Instead of maturely considering and digesting
a plan, adhering to it, and improving it by experience, Congress often
changed its measures, and even in the midst of those distresses which
had brought the army to the verge of dissolution, was busy in devising
new and untried expedients for supporting it. As the treasury was empty
and money could not be raised, Congress, on the 25th of February
(1780), resolved to call on the several States for their proportion of
provisions, spirits, and forage for the maintenance of the army during
the ensuing campaign, but specified no time within which these were
to be collected, and consequently the States were in no haste in the
matter. In order to encourage and facilitate compliance with this
requisition it was further resolved that any State which should have
taken the necessary measures for furnishing its quota, and given notice
thereof to Congress, should be authorized to prohibit any Continental
quartermaster or commissary from purchasing within its limits.

Every man who had a practical knowledge of the subject easily perceived
the defective nature and dangerous tendency of this arrangement. It was
an attempt to carry on the war rather by separate provincial efforts
than by a combination of national strength, and if the army received
from any State where it was acting the appointed quantity of necessaries
it had no right, though starving, to purchase what it stood in need of.
Besides the carriage of provisions from distant parts was troublesome,
expensive, and sometimes impracticable.

The troops were ill clothed, their pay was in arrear, and that of the
officers, owing to the great depreciation of the paper currency, was
wholly unequal to their decent maintenance. These multiplied privations
and sufferings soured the temper of the men, and it required all the
influence of Washington to prevent many of the officers from resigning
their commissions. The long continuance of want and hardship produced
relaxation of discipline which at length manifested itself in open
mutiny. On the 25th of May (1780) two regiments belonging to Connecticut
paraded under arms, with the avowed intention of returning home, or
of obtaining subsistence at the point of the bayonet. The rest of
the soldiers, though they did not join in the mutiny, showed little
disposition to suppress it. At length the two regiments were brought
back to their duty, but much murmuring and many complaints were heard.
While the army was in such want the inhabitants of New Jersey, where
most of the troops were stationed, were unavoidably harassed by frequent
requisitions, which excited considerable discontent. Reports of the
mutinous state of the American army and of the dissatisfaction of the
people of New Jersey, probably much exaggerated, were carried to General
Knyphausen, who, believing the American soldiers ready to desert their
standards and the inhabitants of New Jersey willing to abandon
the Union, on the 6th of June (1780), passed from Staten Island to
Elizabethtown, in Jersey, with 5,000 men. That movement was intended to
encourage the mutinous disposition of the American troops, and to fan
the flame of discontent among the inhabitants of the province. Early
next morning he marched into the country toward Springfield by the way
of Connecticut Farms, a flourishing plantation, so named because the
cultivators had come from Connecticut. But even before reaching that
place which was only five or six miles from Elizabethtown, the British
perceived that the reports which they had received concerning the
discontent of the Americans were incorrect, for on the first alarm the
militia assembled with great alacrity and aided by some small parties of
regular troops, annoyed the British by an irregular but galling fire
of musketry, wherever the nature of the ground presented a favorable
opportunity, and although those parties were nowhere strong enough
to make a stand, yet they gave plain indications of the temper and
resolution which were to be encountered in advancing into the country.
At Connecticut Farms the British detachment halted. The settlers were
known to be zealous in the American cause and therefore with a little
spirit of revenge, the British, among whom was General Tryon, laid the
flourishing village, with its church and the minister's house, in ashes.
Here occurred one of those affecting incidents which being somewhat out
of the ordinary course of the miseries of war make a deep impression
on the public mind. Mr. Caldwell, minister of the place, had withdrawn
toward Springfield, but had left his wife and family behind believing
them to be in no danger. The British advanced to the industrious and
peaceful village. Mrs. Caldwell, trusting to her sex for safety and
unsuspicious of harm, was sitting in her house with her children around
her when a soldier came up, leveled his musket at the window, and
shot her dead on the spot in the midst of her terrified family. On the
intercession of a friend the dead body was permitted to be removed when
the house was set on fire. This atrocious deed excited such general
horror and detestation that the British thought proper to disavow it,
and to impute the death of Mrs. Caldwell to a random shot from the
retreating militia, though the militia did not fire a musket in the
village. The wanton murder of the lady might be the unauthorized act of
a savage individual, but can the burning of the house after her death
be accounted for in the same way? Knyphausen was a veteran officer and
cannot be supposed capable of entering into local animosities or of
countenancing such brutality, but Tryon was present and his conduct on
other occasions was not unblemished.

Mr. Caldwell had rendered himself particularly obnoxious to the enemy,
and was cordially hated by Tryon for his zealous devotion to the
patriotic cause. He had served as a chaplain in the army, was
exceedingly popular among the patriots of New Jersey, had given up his
church to be used as a hospital, and had exerted himself by eloquent
appeals to arouse his countrymen to unflinching resistance against the
enemy. For this Tryon caused his church to be burnt and did not prevent
the soldiers from shooting his wife.

After destroying the Connecticut Farms, Knyphausen advanced toward
Springfield, where the Jersey brigade, under General Maxwell, and a
large body of militia had taken an advantageous position and seemed
resolved to defend it. General Knyphausen, however, had met with a
reception so different from what he expected that without making
any attempt on the American post he withdrew during the night to

On being informed of the invasion of New Jersey, Washington put his army
in motion early on the morning of the day in which Knyphausen marched
from Elizabethtown and proceeded to the Short hills behind Springfield,
while the British were in the vicinity of that place. Feeble as his army
was, he made the necessary dispositions for fighting, but the unexpected
retreat of Knyphausen rendered a battle unnecessary. The British were
followed by an American detachment, which attacked their rear guard next
morning but was repulsed. Instead of returning to New York, Knyphausen
lingered in the vicinity of Elizabethtown and on Staten Island, and
Washington, unwilling with his inadequate force to hazard an engagement
except on advantageous ground, remained on the hills near Springfield to
watch the movements of the British army. At that time the army under the
immediate orders of Washington did not exceed 4,000 effective men.

On the 18th of June (1780), Sir Henry Clinton returned from South
Carolina with about 4,000 men, and after receiving this reinforcement
the British force in New York and its dependencies amounted to 12,000
effective and regular troops, most of whom could be brought into the
field for any particular service; besides these, the British commander
had about 4,000 militia and refugees for garrison duty. The British
army directed on any one point would have been irresistible; therefore
Washington could only follow a wary policy, occupying strong ground,
presenting a bold front, and concealing the weakness of his army as far
as possible.

The embarkation of troops by Sir Henry Clinton awakened the
apprehensions of Washington lest he should sail up the Hudson and attack
the posts in the Highlands. Those posts had always been objects of much
solicitude to Washington, and he was extremely jealous of any attack
upon them. In order to be in readiness to resist any such attack, he
left General Greene at Springfield, with 700 Continentals, the Jersey
militia, and some cavalry, and proceeded toward Pompton with the
main body of the army. Sir Henry Clinton, after having perplexed the
Americans by his movements, early on the morning of the 23d of June
(1780), rapidly advanced in full force from Elizabethtown toward
Springfield. General Greene hastily assembled his scattered detachments
and apprised Washington of the march of the royal army, who instantly
returned to support Greene's division. The British marched in two
columns--one on the main road leading to Springfield and the other on
the Vauxhall road. Greene scarcely had time to collect his troops at
Springfield and make the necessary dispositions when the royal army
appeared before the town and a cannonade immediately began. A fordable
rivulet, with bridges corresponding to the different roads, runs in
front of the place. Greene had stationed parties to guard the bridges
and they obstinately disputed the passage, but after a smart conflict
they were overpowered and compelled to retreat.

Greene then fell back and took post on a range of hills, where he
expected to be again attacked. But the British, instead of attempting
to pursue their advantage, contented themselves with setting fire to the
village and laying the greater part of it in ashes. Discouraged by the
obstinate resistance they had received and ignorant of the weakness
of the detachment which opposed them, they immediately retreated to
Elizabethtown, pursued with the utmost animosity by the militia,
who were provoked at the burning of Springfield. They arrived at
Elizabethtown about sunset, and, continuing their march to Elizabeth
Point, began at midnight to pass over to Staten Island. Before 6 next
morning they had entirely evacuated the Jerseys and removed the bridge
of boats which communicated with Staten Island.

In the skirmish at Springfield the Americans had about 20 men killed and
60 wounded. The British suffered a corresponding loss. Clinton's object
in this expedition seems to have been to destroy the American magazines
in that part of the country. But the obstinate resistance which he
met with at Springfield deterred him from advancing into a district
abounding in difficult passes, where every strong position would
be vigorously defended. He seems also to have been checked by the
apprehension of a fleet and army from France.

Washington was informed of Clinton's march soon after the British
left Elizabethtown, but, though he hastily returned, the skirmish at
Springfield was over before he reached the vicinity of that place.

After Clinton left the Jerseys, Washington planned an enterprise against
a British post at Bergen point, on the Hudson, opposite New York,
garrisoned by seventy Loyalists. It was intended to reduce the post
and also to carry off a number of cattle on Bergen Neck, from which the
garrison of New York occasionally received supplies of fresh provisions.
General Wayne was appointed to conduct the enterprise. With a
respectable force he marched against the post, which consisted of
a blockhouse covered by an abattis and palisade. Wayne pointed
his artillery against the blockhouse, but his field pieces made no
impression on the logs. Galled by the fire from the loopholes, some of
his men rushed impetuously through the abattis and attempted to storm
the blockhouse, but they were repulsed with considerable loss. Though
the Americans, however, failed in their attempt against the post, they
succeeded in driving off most of the cattle.

On the commencement of hostilities in Europe, Lafayette, as we have
seen, returned home in order to offer his services to his King, still,
however, retaining his rank in the army of Congress. His ardor in behalf
of the Americans remained unabated and he exerted all his influence
with the court of Versailles to gain its effectual support to the United
States. His efforts were successful and the King of France resolved
vigorously to assist the Americans both by sea and land. Having gained
this important point, and perceiving that there was no need for his
military services in Europe, he obtained leave from his sovereign to
return to America and join his former companions in arms. He landed
at Boston toward the end of April (1780), and, on his way to Congress,
called at the headquarters of Washington and informed him of the
powerful succor which might soon be expected from France. He met with a
most cordial reception both from Congress and Washington on account of
his high rank, tried friendship, and distinguished services.

The assistance expected from their powerful ally was very encouraging
to the Americans, but called for corresponding exertions on their part.
Washington found himself in the most perplexing circumstances; his army
was feeble, and he could form no plan for the campaign till he knew what
forces were to be put under his orders. His troops, both officers and
privates, were ill clothed and needed to be decently appareled
before they could be led into the field to cooperate with soldiers in
respectable uniforms, for his half-naked battalions would only have
been objects of contempt and derision to their better-dressed allies.
In order to supply these defects and to get his army in a state of due
preparation before the arrival of the European auxiliaries, Washington
made the most pressing applications to Congress and to the several State
Legislatures. Congress resolved and recommended, but the States were
dilatory, and their tardy proceedings ill accorded with the exigencies
of the case or with the expectations of those who best understood the
affairs of the Union. Even on the 4th of July (1780), Washington had the
mortification to find that few new levies had arrived in camp and some
of the States had not even taken the trouble to inform him of the number
of men they intended to furnish.

In the month of June the State of Massachusetts had resolved to send a
reinforcement, but no part of it had yet arrived. About the same time a
voluntary subscription was entered into in Philadelphia for the purpose
of providing bounties to recruits to fill up the Pennsylvania line,
and the President or Vice-President in council was empowered, if
circumstances required it, to put the State under martial law.

The merchants and other citizens of Philadelphia, with a zeal guided
by that sound discretion which turns expenditure to the best account,
established a bank, for the support of which they subscribed £315,000,
Pennsylvania money, to be paid, if required, in specie, the principal
object of which was to supply the army with provisions. By the plan
of this bank its members were to derive no emolument whatever from the
institution. For advancing their credit and their money they required
only that Congress should pledge the faith of the Union to reimburse the
costs and charges of the transaction in a reasonable time, and should
give such assistance to its execution as might be in their power.

The ladies of Philadelphia, too, gave a splendid example of patriotism
by large donations for the immediate relief of the suffering army. [2]

This example was extensively followed, but it is not by the
contributions of the generous that a war can or ought to be maintained.
The purse of a nation alone can supply the expenditures of a nation,
and when all are interested in a contest all ought to contribute to
its support. Taxes and taxes only can furnish for the prosecution of
a national war means which are just in themselves or competent to the

Notwithstanding these donations the distresses of the army, for clothing
especially, still continued and were the more severely felt when a
cooperation with French troops was expected. So late as the 20th of
June (1780) Washington informed Congress that he still labored under
the painful and humiliating embarrassment of having no shirts for the
soldiers, many of whom were destitute of that necessary article. "For
the troops to be without clothing at any time," he added, "is highly
injurious to the service and distressing to our feelings, but the want
will be more peculiarly mortifying when they come to act with those of
our allies. If it be possible, I have no doubt immediate measures will
be taken to relieve their distress.

"It is also most sincerely wished that there could be some supplies
of clothing furnished to the officers. There are a great many whose
condition is still miserable. This is, in some instances, the case with
the whole lines of the States. It would be well for their own sakes and
for the public good if they could be furnished. They will not be able,
when our friends come to cooperate with us, to go on a common routine of
duty, and if they should, they must, from their appearance, be held in
low estimation."

This picture presents in strong colors the real patriotism of the
American army. One heroic effort, though it may dazzle the mind with its
splendor, is an exertion most men are capable of making, but continued
patient suffering and unremitting perseverance in a service promising
no personal emolument and exposing the officer unceasingly not only to
wants of every kind, but to those circumstances of humiliation which
seem to degrade him in the eyes of others, demonstrate a fortitude of
mind, a strength of virtue, and a firmness of principle which ought
never to be forgotten.

Washington was greatly embarrassed by his uncertainty with respect
to the force which he might count upon to cooperate with the expected
succors from France. Writing to Congress on this subject he said: "The
season is come when we have every reason to expect the arrival of the
fleet, and yet, for want of this point of primary consequence, it is
impossible for me to form a system of cooperation. I have no basis to
act upon, and, of course, were this generous succor of our ally now
to arrive, I should find myself in the most awkward, embarrassing, and
painful situation. The general and the admiral, from the relation in
which I stand, as soon as they approach our coast, will require of me a
plan of the measures to be pursued, and there ought of right to be
one prepared; but, circumstanced as I am, I cannot even give them
conjectures. From these considerations I have suggested to the
committee, by a letter I had the honor of addressing them yesterday,
the indispensable necessity of their writing again to the States, urging
them to give immediate and precise information of the measures they
have taken and of the result. The interest of the States, the honor and
reputation of our councils, the justice and gratitude due to our allies,
all require that I should, without delay, be enabled to ascertain and
inform them what we can or cannot undertake. There is a point which
ought now to be determined, on the success of which all our future
operations may depend, on which, for want of knowing our prospects, I
can make no decision. For fear of involving the fleet and army of our
allies in circumstances which would expose them, if not seconded by us,
to material inconvenience and hazard, I shall be compelled to suspend
it, and the delay may be fatal to our hopes."

While this uncertainty still continued, the expected succors from
France, consisting of a fleet of eight ships of the line, with frigates
and other vessels, under the Chevalier de Ternay, having about 6,000
troops on board under General the Count de Rochambeau, reached Rhode
Island on the evening of the 10th of July (1780), and in a few days
afterward Lafayette arrived at Newport from Washington's headquarters to
confer with his countrymen.

At the time of the arrival of the French in Rhode Island, Admiral
Arbuthnot had only four sail of the line at New York, but in a few days
Admiral Graves arrived from England with six sail of the line, which
gave the British a decided superiority over the French squadron,
and therefore Sir Henry Clinton, without delay, prepared for active
operations. He embarked about 8,000 men and sailed with the fleet to
Huntington bay, in Long Island, with the intention of proceeding against
the French at Newport. The militia of Massachusetts and Connecticut were
ordered by Washington to join the French forces in Rhode Island, and
the combined army there thought itself able to give the British a good

As the garrison of New York was weakened by the sailing of the armament
under Clinton, Washington, having received considerable reinforcements,
suddenly crossed the North river and advanced toward New York; that
movement brought Clinton back to defend the place and consequently
Washington proceeded no further in his meditated enterprise.

The want of money and of all necessaries still continued in the American
camp, and the discontent of the troops, gradually increasing, was
matured into a dangerous spirit of insubordination. The men, indeed,
bore incredible hardships and privations with unexampled fortitude and
patience, but the army was in a state of constant fluctuation; it was
composed, in a great measure, of militia harassed by perpetual service
and obliged to neglect the cultivation of their farms and their private
interests in order to obey the calls of public duty, and of soldiers on
short enlistments, who never acquired the military spirit and habits.

In consequence of an appointment, Washington and suite set out to a
conference with Count Rochambeau and Admiral de Ternay, and on the 21st
of September (1780) met them at Hartford, in Connecticut, where they
spent a few days together, and conversed about a plan for the next

The conference was useful in making the respective commanders well
acquainted with each other, and promoting a spirit of harmony between
them; but it led to no settled plan for the next campaign. A plan
of operations for the combined forces, which had been drawn up by
Washington and sent to Rochambeau by Lafayette when he went to Newport,
had contemplated the superiority of the naval force of the French, which
had now ceased to exist in consequence of the arrival of Admiral Graves
with a fleet of six ships of the line. It was consequently agreed
that nothing could be done in the way of offensive movements until the
arrival of a second division of the French fleet and army from Brest,
which was expected, or that of the Count de Guichen from the West
Indies. In the sequel, neither of these arrivals took place. The second
French division was blockaded at Brest, and never came to this country,
and de Guichen sailed direct to France from the West Indies.
Meantime Admiral Arbuthnot blockaded the French fleet at Newport, and
Rochambeau's army remained there for its protection. Both the parties
remained watching each other's movements, and depending on the
operations of the British and French fleets. Washington crossed the
Hudson to Tappan and remained there till winter.

Washington did not relinquish without infinite chagrin the sanguine
expectations he had formed of rendering this campaign decisive of
the war. Never before had he indulged so strongly the hope of happily
terminating the contest. In a letter to an intimate friend, this chagrin
was thus expressed: "We are now drawing to a close an inactive campaign,
the beginning of which appeared pregnant with events of a very favorable
complexion. I hoped, but I hoped in vain, that a prospect was opening
which would enable me to fix a period to my military pursuits and
restore me to domestic life. The favorable disposition of Spain, the
promised succor from France, the combined force in the West Indies, the
declaration of Russia (acceded to by other powers of Europe, humiliating
the naval pride and power of Great Britain), the superiority of France
and Spain by sea in Europe, the Irish claims and English disturbances,
formed in the aggregate an opinion in my breast (which is not very
susceptible of peaceful dreams), that the hour of deliverance was not
far distant; for that, however unwilling Great Britain might be to yield
the point, it would not be in her power to continue the contest. But,
alas, these prospects, flattering as they were, have proved delusive,
and I see nothing before us but accumulating distress. We have been half
of our time without provisions and are likely to continue so. We have no
magazines nor money to form them. We have lived upon expedients until
we can live no longer. In a word, the history of the war is a history of
false hopes and temporary devices, instead of system and economy. It
is in vain, however, to look back, nor is it our business to do so.
Our case is not desperate if virtue exists in the people, and there is
wisdom among our rulers. But to suppose that this great revolution can
be accomplished by a temporary army, that this army will be subsisted by
State supplies and that taxation alone is adequate to our wants is in
my opinion absurd, and as unreasonable as to expect an inversion of the
order of nature to accommodate itself to our views. If it were necessary
it could be easily proved to any person of a moderate understanding that
an annual army or any army raised on the spur of the occasion besides
being unqualified for the end designed is, in various ways that could be
enumerated, ten times more expensive than a permanent body of men under
good organization and military discipline, which never was nor will
be the case with raw troops. A thousand arguments, resulting from
experience and the nature of things, might also be adduced to prove
that the army, if it is to depend upon State supplies, must disband or
starve, and that taxation alone (especially at this late hour) cannot
furnish the means to carry on the war. Is it not time to retract from
error and benefit by experience? Or do we want further proof of the
ruinous system we have pertinaciously adhered to?"

While the respective armies were in the state of inaction to which we
have just referred, the whole country was astounded by the discovery of
Arnold's treason. The details of this sad affair disclosed traits in
the character of this officer which were previously unknown, and, by the
public generally, unsuspected.

The great service and military talents of General Arnold, his courage
in battle and patient fortitude under excessive hardships had secured
to him a high place in the opinion of the army and of his country. Not
having sufficiently recovered from the wounds received before Quebec and
at Saratoga to be fit for active service, and having large accounts
to settle with the government, which required leisure, he was, on the
evacuation of Philadelphia in 1778, appointed to the command in that

Unfortunately that strength of principle and correctness of judgment
which might enable him to resist the various seductions to which his
fame and rank exposed him in the metropolis of the Union, were not
associated with the firmness which he had displayed in the field and in
the most adverse circumstances. Yielding to the temptations of a false
pride and forgetting that he did not possess the resources of private
fortune, he indulged in the pleasures of a sumptuous table and
expensive equipage, and soon swelled his debts to an amount which it was
impossible for him to discharge. Unmindful of his military character,
he engaged in speculations which were unfortunate, and with the hope of
immense profits took shares in privateers which were unsuccessful. His
claims against the United States were great and he looked to them for
the means of extricating himself from the embarrassments in which
his indiscretions had involved him; but the commissioners to whom his
accounts were referred for settlement had reduced them considerably, and
on his appeal from their decision to Congress, a committee reported that
the sum allowed by the commissioners was more than he was entitled to

He was charged with various acts of extortion on the citizens of
Philadelphia, and with peculating on the public funds. [3]

Not the less soured by these multiplied causes of irritation, from the
reflection that they were attributable to his own follies and vices, he
gave full scope to his resentments, and indulged himself in expressions
of angry reproach against what he termed the ingratitude of his country,
which provoked those around him, and gave great offense to Congress.
Having become peculiarly odious to the government of Pennsylvania, the
executive of that State (President Reed, formerly aid to Washington)
exhibited formal charges against him to Congress, who directed that he
should be arrested and brought before a court-martial. His trial was
concluded late in January, 1779, and he was sentenced to be reprimanded
by the Commander-in-Chief. This sentence was approved by Congress and
carried into execution. [4]

From the time the sentence against him was approved, if not sooner, his
proud unprincipled spirit revolted from the cause of his country and
determined him to seek an occasion to make the objects of his resentment
the victims of his vengeance.

Turning his eyes on West Point as an acquisition which would give value
to treason and inflict a mortal wound on his former friends, he sought
the command of that fortress for the purpose of gratifying both his
avarice and his hate.

To New York the safety of West Point was peculiarly interesting, and
in that State the reputation of Arnold was particularly high. To its
delegation he addressed himself; and one of its members had written
a letter to Washington, suggesting doubts respecting the military
character of General Robert Howe, to whom its defense was then
entrusted, and recommending Arnold for that service. This request was
not forgotten. Some short time afterward General Schuyler mentioned to
Washington a letter he had received from Arnold intimating his wish to
join the army, but stating his inability, in consequence of his wounds,
to perform the active duties of the field. Washington observed that, as
there was a prospect of a vigorous campaign he should be gratified with
the aid of General Arnold--that so soon as the operations against New
York should commence, he designed to draw his whole force into the
field, leaving even West Point to the care of invalids and a small
garrison of militia. Recollecting, however, the former application of
a member of Congress respecting this post, he added that "if, with this
previous information, that situation would be more agreeable to him than
a command in the field, his wishes should certainly be indulged."

This conversation being communicated to Arnold, he caught eagerly at
the proposition, though without openly discovering any solicitude on the
subject, and in the beginning of August (1780) repaired to camp, where
he renewed the solicitations which had before been made indirectly.

At this juncture Clinton embarked on an expedition he meditated against
Rhode Island, and Washington was advancing on New York. He offered
Arnold the left wing of the army, which he declined under the pretexts
mentioned in his letter to Schuyler.

Incapable of suspecting a man who had given such distinguished proofs of
courage and patriotism, Washington was neither alarmed at his refusal
to embrace so splendid an opportunity of recovering the favor of his
countrymen nor at the embarrassment accompanying that refusal. Pressing
the subject no further, he assented to the request which had been made
and invested Arnold with the command of West Point. Previous to his
soliciting this station Arnold had, in a letter to Colonel Robinson, of
the British army, signified his change of principles, and his wish to
restore himself to the favor of his prince by some signal proof of his
repentance. This letter opened the way to a correspondence with Clinton,
the immediate object of which, after obtaining the appointment he had
solicited, was to concert the means of delivering the important post he
commanded to the British general.

Major John André, an aide-de-camp of Clinton, and adjutant-general of
the British army, was selected as the person to whom the maturing of
Arnold's treason, and the arrangements for its execution should
be entrusted. A correspondence was carried on between them under a
mercantile disguise in the feigned names of Gustavus and Anderson;
and at length, to facilitate their communications, the Vulture,
sloop-of-war, moved up the North river and took a station convenient for
the purpose, but not so near as to excite suspicion.

The time when Washington met Rochambeau at Hartford was selected for
the final adjustment of the plan, and as a personal interview was deemed
necessary André came up the river and went on board the Vulture. The
house of a Mr. Smith, without the American posts, was appointed for the
interview, and to that place both parties repaired in the night--André
being brought under a pass for John Anderson in a boat dispatched from
the shore. While the conference was yet unfinished, daylight approached,
and to avoid discovery Arnold proposed that André should remain
concealed until the succeeding night. They continued together during
the day, and when, in the following night, his return to the Vulture was
proposed, the boatmen refused to carry him because she had shifted her
station during the day, in consequence of a gun which was moved to the
shore without the knowledge of Arnold and brought to bear upon her. This
embarrassing circumstance reduced him to the necessity of endeavoring
to reach New York by land. To accomplish this purpose, he reluctantly
yielded to the urgent representations of Arnold, and laying aside his
regimentals, which he had hitherto worn under a surtout, put on a plain
suit of clothes and received a pass from Arnold, authorizing him, under
the name of John Anderson, to proceed on the public service to White
Plains or lower if he thought proper.

With this permit he had passed all the guards and posts on the road
unsuspected and was proceeding to New York in perfect security, when one
of three militiamen who [5]

[missing text]

night, and the other troops lay on the field of battle with their arms
in their hands. Washington passed the night in his cloak in the midst
of his soldiers. The British employed the early part of the morning in
removing their wounded, and about midnight marched away in such silence
that their retreat was not perceived until day.

As it was certain that they must gain the high grounds about Middletown
before they could be overtaken, as the face of the country afforded no
prospect of opposing their embarkation, and as the battle already fought
had terminated in a manner to make a general impression favorable to the
American arms, Washington decided to relinquish the pursuit. Leaving a
detachment to hover about the British rear, the main body of the army
moved towards the Hudson.

Washington was highly gratified with the conduct of his troops in
this action. Their behavior, he said, after recovering from the first
surprise occasioned by the unexpected retreat of the advanced corps,
could not be surpassed. Wayne he particularly mentioned, and spoke of
the artillery in terms of high praise.

The loss of the Americans in the battle of Monmouth was 8 officers
and 61 privates killed, and about 160 wounded. Among the slain were
Lieutenant-Colonel Bonner, of Pennsylvania, and Major Dickinson, of
Virginia, both of whom were much regretted. One hundred and thirty were
missing, but a considerable number of these afterward rejoined their

In his official letter, Sir Henry Clinton states his dead and missing
at 4 officers and 184 privates; his wounded, at 16 officers and 154
privates. This account, so far as it respects the dead, cannot be
correct, as 4 officers and 245 privates were buried on the field by
persons appointed for the purpose, who made their report to Washington;
and some few were afterward found, so as to increase the number to
nearly 300. The uncommon heat of the day proved fatal to several on both

As usual, when a battle has not been decisive, both parties claimed the
victory. In the early part of the day the advantage was certainly
with the British; in the latter part it may be pronounced with equal
certainty to have been with the Americans. They maintained their ground,
repulsed the enemy, were prevented only by the night and by the retreat
of the hostile army from renewing the action, and suffered less in
killed and wounded than their adversaries.

It is true that Sir Henry Clinton effected what he states to have
been his principal object--the safety of his baggage. But when it is
recollected that the American officers had decided against hazarding
an action, that this advice must have trammeled the conduct and
circumscribed the views of Washington, he will be admitted to have
effected no inconsiderable object in giving the American arms that
appearance of superiority which was certainly acquired by this

Independent of the loss sustained in the action, the British army was
considerably weakened in its march from Philadelphia to New York. About
100 prisoners were made, and near 1,000 soldiers, chiefly foreigners,
deserted while passing through Jersey. Many of the soldiers had formed
attachments in Philadelphia, which occasioned their desertion. Clinton's
whole loss, including killed, wounded, prisoners, and deserters,
amounted to at least 2,000 men.

The conduct of Lee was generally disapproved. As, however, he had
possessed a large share of the confidence and good opinion of the
Commander-in-Chief, it

[missing text]

were employed between the lines of the two armies, springing suddenly
from his covert into the road, seized the reins of his bridle and
stopped his horse. Losing his accustomed self possession, André, instead
of producing the pass from Arnold, asked the man hastily where he
belonged. He replied, "To below," a term implying that he was from New
York. "And so," said André, not suspecting deception, "am I." He then
declared himself to be a British officer on urgent business, and begged
that he might not be detained. The appearance of the other militiamen
disclosed his mistake too late to correct it. He offered a purse of gold
and a valuable watch, with tempting promises of ample reward from his
government if they would, permit him to escape; but his offers were
rejected, and his captors proceeded to search him. They found concealed
in his stockings, in Arnold's handwriting, papers containing all the
information which could be important respecting West Point. When carried
before Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson, the officer commanding the scouting
parties on the lines, he maintained his assumed character and requested
Jameson to inform his commanding officer that Anderson was taken.
Jameson dispatched an express with this communication. On receiving
it, Arnold comprehended the full extent of his danger, and flying from
well-merited punishment took refuge on board the Vulture.

When sufficient time for the escape of Arnold was supposed to have
elapsed, André, no longer effecting concealment, acknowledged himself to
be the adjutant-general of the British army. Jameson, seeking to correct
the mischief of his indiscreet communication to Arnold, immediately
dispatched a packet to the Commander-in-Chief containing the papers
which had been discovered, with a letter from André relating the manner
of his capture and accounting for the disguise he had assumed.

The express was directed to meet the Commander-in-Chief, who was then on
his return from Hartford, but, taking different roads, they missed each
other, and a delay attended the delivery of the papers, which ensured
the escape of Arnold.

Washington, with Generals Lafayette and Knox, had turned from the direct
route in order to visit a redoubt. Colonels Hamilton and M'Henry, the
aides-de-camp of Washington and Lafayette, went forward to request Mrs.
Arnold not to wait breakfast. Arnold received André's billet in
their presence. He turned pale, left them suddenly, called his wife,
communicated the intelligence to her, and left her in a swoon, without
the knowledge of Hamilton and M'Henry. Mounting the horse of his
aide-de-camp, which was ready saddled, and directing him to inform
Washington on his arrival that Arnold was gone to receive him at West
Point, he gained the river shore, and was conveyed in a canoe to the

Washington, on his arrival, was informed that Arnold awaited him at West
Point. Taking it for granted that this step had been taken to prepare
for his reception he proceeded thither without entering the house, and
was surprised to find that Arnold was not arrived. On returning to the
quarters of that officer he received Jameson's dispatch which disclosed
the whole mystery.

Every precaution was immediately taken for the security of West Point,
after which the attention of the Commander-in-Chief was turned to André.
A board of general officers, of which General Greene was president,
and Lafayette and Steuben were members, was called, to report a precise
state of his case, and to determine the character in which he was to be
considered, and the punishment to which he was liable.

The frankness and magnanimity with which André had conducted himself
from the time of his appearance in his real character had made a very
favorable impression on all those with whom he had held any intercourse.
From this cause he experienced every mark of indulgent attention which
was compatible with his situation, and, from a sense of justice as well
as of delicacy, was informed, on the opening of the examination that he
was at liberty not to answer any interrogatory which might embarrass
his own feelings. But, as if only desirous to rescue his character from
imputations which he dreaded more than death, he confessed everything
material to his own condemnation, but would divulge nothing which might
involve others.

The board reported the essential facts which had appeared, with their
opinion that Major André was a spy and ought to suffer death. The
execution of this sentence was ordered to take place on the day
succeeding that on which it was pronounced.

Superior to the terrors of death, but dreading disgrace, André was
deeply affected by the mode of execution which the laws of war decree
to persons in his situation. He wished to die like a soldier not as
a criminal. To obtain a mitigation of his sentence in this respect he
addressed a letter to Washington, replete with the feelings of a man of
sentiment and honor. But the occasion required that the example should
make its full impression, and this request could not be granted. He
encountered his fate with composure and dignity, and his whole conduct
interested the feelings of all who witnessed it.

The general officers lamented the sentence which the usages of
war compelled them to pronounce, and never perhaps did the
Commander-in-Chief obey with more reluctance the stern mandates of duty
and policy. The sympathy excited among the American officers by his fate
was as universal as it is unusual on such occasions, and proclaims alike
the merit of him who suffered, and the humanity of those who inflicted
the punishment.

Great exertions were made by Sir Henry Clinton, to whom André was
particularly dear, first, to have him considered as protected by a flag
of truce, and afterward as a prisoner of war.

Even Arnold had the hardihood to interpose. After giving a certificate
of facts tending, as he supposed, to exculpate the prisoner, exhausting
his powers of reasoning on the case, and appealing to the humanity
of Washington, he sought to intimidate that officer by stating the
situation of many of the most distinguished individuals of South
Carolina, who had forfeited their lives, but had hitherto been spared
through the clemency of the British general. This clemency, he said,
could no longer be extended to them should Major André suffer.

It may well be supposed that the interposition of Arnold could have no
influence on Washington. He caused Mrs. Arnold to be conveyed to her
husband in New York, and also transmitted his clothes and baggage, for
which he had written, but in every other respect his letters, which were
unanswered, were also unnoticed.

The night after Arnold's escape, when his letter respecting André was
received, the general directed one of his aides to wait on Mrs. Arnold,
who was convulsed with grief, and inform her that he had done everything
which depended on him to arrest her husband, but that, not having
succeeded, it gave him pleasure to inform her that her husband was safe.
It is honorable to the American character that, during the effervescence
of the moment, Mrs. Arnold was permitted to go to Philadelphia to
take possession of her effects, and to proceed to New York under the
protection of a flag without receiving the slightest insult.

This treatment of Mrs. Arnold by Washington is the more remarkable for
its delicacy when we recollect that she was under very strong suspicions
at the time of being actively concerned in the treason of her husband.
Historians are still divided on the question of her guilt or innocence.

The mingled sentiments of admiration and compassion excited in every
bosom for the unfortunate André, seemed to increase the detestation in
which Arnold was held. "André," said General Washington in a private
letter, "has met his fate with that fortitude which was to be expected
from an accomplished man and a gallant officer, but I am mistaken if at
this time Arnold is undergoing the torments of a mental hell. He wants
feeling. From some traits of his character which have lately come to my
knowledge, he seems to have been so hardened in crime, so lost to all
sense of honor and shame, that while his faculties still enable him to
continue his sordid pursuits, there will be no time for remorse."

The traits in his character above alluded to, were disclosed in a
private letter from Hamilton, who said: "This man (Arnold) is in every
sense despicable. In addition to the scene of knavery and prostitution
during his command in Philadelphia, which the late seizure of his papers
has unfolded, the history of his command at West Point is a history
of little as well as great villainies. He practiced every dirty act of
peculation, and even stooped to connections with the sutlers to defraud
the public." [6]

From motives of policy, or of respect for his engagements, Sir Henry
Clinton conferred on Arnold the commission of a brigadier-general in
the British service, which he preserved throughout the war. Yet it
is impossible that rank could have rescued him from the contempt and
detestation in which the generous, and honorable, and the brave could
not cease to hold him. It was impossible for men of this description to
bury the recollection of his being a traitor--a sordid traitor--first
the slave of his rage, then purchased with gold, and finally secured at
the expense of the blood of one of the most accomplished officers in the
British army.

His representations of the discontent of the country and of the army,
concurring with reports from other quarters, had excited the hope that
the Loyalists and the dissatisfied, allured by British gold and the
prospect of rank in the British service, would flock to his standard
and form a corps at whose head he might again display his accustomed
intrepidity. With this hope he published an address to the inhabitants
of America in which he labored to palliate his own guilt, and to
increase their dissatisfaction with the existing state of things.

This appeal to the public was followed by a proclamation addressed "To
the officers and soldiers of the Continental army, who have the real
interests of their country at heart, and who are determined to be no
longer the tools and dupes of Congress or of France."

The object of this proclamation was to induce the officers and soldiers
to desert the cause they had embraced from principle by holding up to
them the very flattering offers of the British general, and contrasting
the substantial emoluments of the British service with their present
deplorable condition. He attempted to cover this dishonorable
proposition with a decent garb, by representing the base step he
invited them to take as the only measure which could restore peace, real
liberty, and happiness to their country.

These inducements did not produce their intended effect. Although the
temper of the army might be irritated by real suffering, and by the
supposed neglect of government, no diminution of patriotism had been
produced. Through all the hardships, irritations, and vicissitudes of
the war Arnold remains the solitary instance of an American officer who
abandoned the side first embraced in this civil contest, and turned his
sword upon his former companions in arms.

In the whole course of this affair of Arnold's treason, Washington,
according to the habitually religious turn of his mind, distinctly
recognized the hand of Divine Providence. Writing to Col. John Laurens
he says: "In no instance since the commencement of the war has the
interposition of Providence appeared more remarkably conspicuous than
in the rescue of the post and garrison of West Point from Arnold's
villainous perfidy. How far he meant to involve me in the catastrophe of
this place does not appear by any indubitable evidence, and I am rather
inclined to think he did not wish to hazard the more important object
of his treachery by attempting to combine two events, the less of
which might have marred the greater. A combination of extraordinary
circumstances, an unaccountable deprivation of presence of mind in a man
of the first abilities, and the virtue of three militiamen, threw the
adjutant-general of the British forces, with full proofs of Arnold's
treachery, into our hands. But for the egregious folly, or the
bewildered conception, of Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson, who seemed lost
in astonishment and not to know what he was doing, I should undoubtedly
have got Arnold."

Arnold, however, had not yet displayed the whole of his character.
Savage revenge and ruthless cruelty were yet to become apparent in his
conduct as an officer in the British service. It seems to have been the
design of Providence that Americans, in all ages, should learn to detest
treason by seeing it exhibited in all its hideous deformity, in the
person of "ARNOLD, THE TRAITOR." [7]

1. Footnote: While Washington was in winter quarters at Morristown,
he requested Congress to send a committee to the camp, as had been
previously done at Valley Forge, for the purpose of giving effect to the
arrangements for the ensuing campaign, and drawing more expeditiously
from the States their respective quotas of soldiers and supplies.
General Schuyler, who had retired from the army and was then in
Congress, was a member of this committee. He rendered essential service
at this time by his judgment and experience. The committee remained in
camp between two and three months.

2. Footnote: It is pleasant to know that Mrs. Washington was at the head
of this movement. Dr. Spencer says: "In all parts of the country the
women displayed great zeal and activity, particularly in providing
clothing for the soldiers. In Philadelphia they formed a society, at
the head of which was Martha Washington, wife of the Commander-in-Chief.
This lady was as prudent in private affairs as her husband was in
public. She alone presided over their domestic finances, and provided
for their common household. Thus it was owing to the talents and virtues
of his wife, that Washington could give himself wholly to the dictates
of that patriotism which this virtuous pair mutually shared and
reciprocally invigorated. Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Reed, Mrs. Bache, the
daughter of Dr. Franklin, with the other ladies who had formed the
society, themselves subscribed considerable sums for the public; and
having exhausted their own means, they exerted their influence, and went
from house to house to stimulate the liberality of others."

3. Footnote: While these charges were hanging over his head, Arnold
courted and married Miss Shippen, a young lady, not yet eighteen, the
daughter of Mr. Edward Shippen, of Philadelphia.

4. Footnote: "Our service,"--such were his words,--"is the chastest
of all. Even the shadow of a fault tarnishes the lustre of our finest
achievements. The least inadvertence may rob us of the public favor,
so hard to be acquired. I reprimand you for having forgotten, that in
proportion as you had rendered yourself formidable to our enemies, you
should have been guarded and temperate in your deportment toward your

"Exhibit anew those noble qualities which have placed you on the list of
our most valued commanders. I will myself furnish you, as far as it
may be in my power, with opportunities of gaining the esteem of your

5. Footnote: The names of these militiamen were John Paulding, David
Williams, and Isaac Van Wart.

6. Footnote: "I am inclined to believe that Arnold was a finished
scoundrel from early manhood to his grave; nor do I believe that he had
any real and true-hearted attachment to the Whig cause. He fought as a
mere adventurer, and took sides from a calculation of personal gain, and
chances of plunder and advancement."--_Sabine's "American Loyalists_,"
p. 131.

7. Footnote: On the third of November it was resolved, "That Congress
have a high sense of the virtuous and patriotic conduct of John
Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart; in testimony whereof,
ordered, that each of them receive annually $200 in specie, or an
equivalent in the current money of these States, during life, and that
the Board of War be directed to procure for each of them a silver medal,
on one side of which shall be a shield, with this inscription--FIDELITY:
and on the other, the following motto--VINCIT AMOR PATIAE, and forward
them to the Commander-in-Chief, who is requested to present the same,
with a copy of this resolution, and the thanks of Congress for their
fidelity, and the eminent service they have rendered their country."



Although Washington was aware that the British were aiming at the
conquest of the southern States he still considered the middle States to
be the main theater of war, and felt the necessity of reserving his main
force for the defense of that portion of the Union. He did not believe
that the possession by the British of a few posts in the South would
contribute much to the purposes of the war, and he sent no more troops
to that part of the country than he could conveniently spare from the
main army. Writing to Lafayette in Paris, after the fall of Savannah
(8th March, 1779), he says: "Nothing of importance has happened since
you left us except the enemy's invasion of Georgia and possession of
its capital, which, though it may add something to their supplies on the
score of provisions, will contribute very little to the brilliancy of
their arms; for, like the defenseless Island of St. Lucia, [1] it only
required the appearance of force to effect the conquest of it, as the
whole militia of the State did not exceed 1,200 men, and many of them
disaffected. General Lincoln is assembling a force to dispossess them,
and my only fear is that he will precipitate the attempt before he is
fully prepared for the execution."

As early as September 1778, General Lincoln had been appointed to
supersede Gen. Robert Howe in the command of the southern army. Lincoln
had baffled the attempts of General Prevost on South Carolina, and had
commanded the American forces in the unsuccessful siege of Savannah,
acting in concert with D'Estaing. He was still in command at Charleston
when Clinton, whose departure from New York on an expedition to the
South we have already noticed, made his descent on South Carolina. In
this command at Charleston General Lincoln unfortunately labored under
great disadvantages and discouragements.

The failure of the attack on Savannah (in which bombardment 1,000 lives
were lost, Count Pulaski, the Polish patriot, was mortally wounded, and
the simple-hearted Sergeant Jasper died grasping the banner presented to
his regiment at Fort Moultrie), with the departure of the French fleet
from the coast of America, presented a gloomy prospect and was the
forerunner of many calamities to the southern States. By their courage
and vigor the northern provinces had repelled the attacks of the enemy
and discouraged future attempts against them. And although having
bravely defended Sullivan's Island, in 1776, the southern colonists were
latterly less successful than their victorious brethren in the North.
The rapid conquest of Georgia and the easy march of Prevost to the very
gates of Charleston had a discouraging effect and naturally rendered
the southern section vulnerable to attack. In the North the military
operations of 1778 and 1779 had produced no important results, and,
therefore, the late transactions in Georgia and South Carolina more
readily attracted the attention of the British Commander-in-Chief to
those States.

Savannah, the chief town of Georgia, as we have already seen, was in the
hands of the British troops, and had been successfully defended against
a combined attack of the French and Americans, and therefore Sir Henry
Clinton resolved to gain possession of Charleston also, the capital of
South Carolina, which would give him the command of all the southern
parts of the Union. Having made the necessary preparations he sailed, as
we have seen, from New York on the 26th of December 1779, under convoy
of Admiral Arbuthnot, but did not arrive at Savannah till the end of
January (1780). The voyage was tempestuous; some of the transports and
victuallers were lost, others shattered, and a few taken by the American
cruisers. Most of the cavalry and draught horses perished. One of the
transports, which had been separated from the fleet and captured by the
Americans, was brought into Charleston on the 23d of January, and
the prisoners gave the first certain notice of the destination of the

As soon as it was known that an armament was fitting out at New York
many suspected that the southern States were to be assailed, and such
was the unhappy posture of American affairs at that time, that no
sanguine expectations of a successful resistance could be reasonably
entertained. The magazines of the Union were everywhere almost empty,
and Congress had neither money nor credit to replenish them. The army at
Morristown, under the immediate orders of Washington, was threatened, as
we have seen, with destruction by want of provisions, and consequently
could neither act with vigor in the North, nor send reinforcements to
the South.

General Lincoln, though aware of his danger,--was not in a condition
to meet it. On raising the siege of Savannah he had sent the troops of
Virginia to Augusta; those of South Carolina were stationed partly at
Sheldoa, opposite Port Royal, between thirty and forty miles north from
Savannah, and partly at Fort Moultrie, which had been allowed to
fall into decay; those of North Carolina were with General Lincoln at
Charleston. All these detachments formed but a feeble force, and to
increase it was not easy, for the Colonial paper money was in a state of
great depreciation; the militia, worn out by a harassing service, were
reluctant again to repair to the standards of their country, and the
brave defense of Savannah had inspired the people of the southern
provinces with intimidating notions of British valor. The patriotism of
many of the Colonists had evaporated; they contemplated nothing but the
hardships and dangers of the contest and recoiled from the protracted

In these discouraging circumstances Congress recommended the people
of South Carolina to arm their slaves, a measure to which they were
generally averse; although, had they been willing to comply with the
recommendation, arms could not have been procured. Washington had, as we
have already seen, ordered the Continental troops of North Carolina and
Virginia to march to Charleston, and four American frigates, two French
ships of war; the one mounting twenty-six and the other eighteen guns,
with the marine force of South Carolina under Commodore Whipple, were
directed to cooperate in the defense of the town. No more aid could be
expected; yet, under these unpromising circumstances, a full house of
assembly resolved to defend Charleston to the last extremity.

Although Clinton had embarked at New York on the 26th of December, 1779,
yet, as his voyage had been stormy and tedious, and as some time had
been necessarily spent at Savannah, it was the 11th of February, 1780,
before he landed on John's Island, thirty miles south from Charleston.
Had he even then marched rapidly upon the town he would probably have
entered it without much opposition, but mindful of his repulse in 1776
his progress was marked by a wary circumspection. He proceeded by the
islands of St. John and St. James, while part of his fleet advanced to
blockade the harbor. He sent for a reinforcement from New York, ordered
General Prevost to join him with 1,100 men from Savannah, and neglected
nothing that could insure success.

General Lincoln was indefatigable in improving the time which the
slow progress of the royal army afforded him. Six hundred slaves were
employed in constructing or repairing the fortifications of the town;
vigorous though not very successful measures were taken to bring the
militia into the field; and all the small detachments of regular
troops were assembled in the capital. The works which had been begun on
Charleston Neck when General Prevost threatened the place were resumed.
A chain of redoubts, lines, and batteries was formed between the Cooper
and Ashley rivers. In front of each flank the works were covered by
swamps extending from the rivers; those opposite swamps were connected
by a canal; between the canal and the works were two strong rows
of abattis, and a ditch double picketed, with deep holes at short
distances, to break the columns in case of an assault. Toward the water,
works were thrown up at every place where a landing was practicable.
The vessels intended to defend the bar of the harbor having been found
insufficient for that purpose, their guns were taken out and planted on
the ramparts, and the seamen were stationed at the batteries. One of
the ships, which was not dismantled, was placed in the Cooper river to
assist the batteries, and several vessels were sunk at the mouth of the
channel to prevent the entrance of the royal fleet. Lincoln intended
that the town should be defended until such reinforcements would arrive
from the North as, together with the militia of the State, would compel
Clinton to raise the siege. As the regular troops in the town did not
exceed 1,400, a council of war found that the garrison was too weak to
spare detachments to obstruct the progress of the royal army. Only a
small party of cavalry and some light troops were ordered to hover on
its left flank and observe its motions.

While these preparations for defense were going on in Charleston the
British army was cautiously but steadily advancing toward the town.
As he proceeded Clinton erected forts and formed magazines at proper
stations, and was careful to secure his communications with those forts
and with the sea. All the horses of the British army had perished in the
tedious and stormy voyage from New York to Savannah, but on landing in
South Carolina Clinton procured others to mount his dragoons, whom
he formed into a light corps, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Tarleton. That officer was extremely active in covering the left wing of
the army and in dispersing the militia. In one of his excursions he fell
in with Lieut.-Col. William Washington, who commanded the remnant of
Baylor's regiment, and who beat him back with loss.

On the 20th of March (1780) the British fleet, under Admiral Arbuthnot,
consisting of 1 ship of 50 guns, 2 of 44 each, 4 of 32 each, and an
armed vessel, passed the bar in front of Rebellion Road, and anchored in
Five Fathom Hole.

It being now thought impossible to prevent the fleet from passing Fort
Moultrie, and taking such stations in Cooper river as would enable them
to rake the batteries on shore, and to close that communication between
the town and country, the plan of defense was once more changed, and the
armed vessels were carried into the mouth of Cooper river, and sunk in a
line from the town to Shute's Folly.

This was the critical moment for evacuating the town. The loss of
the harbor rendered the defense of the place, if not desperate, so
improbable, that the hope to maintain it could not have been rationally
entertained by a person who was not deceived by the expectation of aids
much more considerable than were actually received.

When this state of things was communicated to Washington by
Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens he said in reply: "The impracticability of
defending the bar, I fear, amounts to the loss of the town and garrison.
At this distance it is impossible to judge for you. I have the greatest
confidence in General Lincoln's prudence, but it really appears to me
that the propriety of attempting to defend the town depended on the
probability of defending the bar, and that when this ceased, the
attempt ought to have been relinquished. In this, however, I suspend
a definitive judgment, and wish you to consider what I say as
confidential." Unfortunately this letter did not arrive in time to
influence the conduct of the besieged.

On the 4th of April (1780), Admiral Arbuthnot, taking advantage of a
strong southerly wind and a flowing tide, passed Fort Moultrie [2] and
anchored just without reach of the guns of Charleston. The fort kept
up a heavy fire on the fleet while passing which did some damage to the
ships and killed or wounded twenty-seven men.

On the 29th of March the royal army reached Ashley river and crossed it
ten miles above the town without opposition, the garrison being too
weak to dispute the passage. Sir Henry Clinton having brought over his
artillery, baggage, and stores marched down Charleston Neck, and on the
night of the 1st of April, broke ground at the distance of 800
yards from the American works. The fortifications of Charleston were
constructed under the direction of Mr. Laumoy, a French engineer of
reputation in the American service, and, although not calculated to
resist a regular siege, were by no means contemptible; and Clinton
made his approaches in due form. Meanwhile the garrison received a
reinforcement of 700 Continentals under General Woodford, and, after
this accession of strength, amounted to somewhat more than 2,000 regular
troops, besides 1,000 militia of North Carolina, and the citizens of

On the 9th of April (1780) Clinton finished his first parallel, forming
an oblique line between the two rivers, from 600 to 1,100 yards from the
American works, and mounted his guns in battery. He then, jointly with
the admiral, summoned Lincoln to surrender the town. Lincoln's answer
was modest and firm: "Sixty days," said he, "have passed since it has
been known that your intentions against this town were hostile, in which
time was afforded to abandon it, but duty and inclination point to the
propriety of supporting it to the last extremity."

On receiving this answer Clinton immediately opened his batteries, and
his fire was soon felt to be superior to that of the besieged. Hitherto
the communication with the country north of the Cooper was open and
a post was established to prevent the investiture of the town on that
side. After the summons, Governor Rutledge, with half of his council,
left the town for the purpose of exercising the functions of the
executive government in the State, and in the hope of being able to
bring a large body of the militia to act on the rear or left flank of
the besieging army, but the militia were as little inclined to embody
themselves as to enter the town.

For the purpose of maintaining the communication with the country north
of the Cooper, of checking the British foragers, and of protecting
supplies on their way to the town, the American cavalry, under General
Huger, had passed the river and taken post at Monk's Corner, thirty
miles above Charleston. Posts of militia were established between the
Cooper and Santee and at a ferry on the last-named river, where boats
were ordered to be collected in order to facilitate the passage of the
garrison, if it should be found necessary to evacuate the town. But
Clinton defeated all these precautions. For as the possession of
the harbor rendered the occupation of the forts to the southward
unnecessary, he resolved to call in the troops which had been employed
in that quarter, to close the communication of the garrison with the
country to the northward, and to complete the investiture of the town.
For these purposes, as the fleet was unable to enter the Cooper river,
he deemed it necessary to dislodge the American posts and employed
Tarleton to beat up the quarters of General Huger's cavalry at Monk's
Corner. Conducted during the night by a negro slave through unfrequented
paths, Tarleton proceeded toward the American post, and, although
General Huger had taken the precaution of placing sentinels a mile in
front of his station and of keeping his horses saddled and bridled, yet
Tarleton advanced so rapidly that, notwithstanding the alarm was given
by the outposts, he began the attack before the Americans could put
themselves in a posture of defense, killed or took about thirty of them,
and dispersed the rest. General Huger, Colonel Washington, and many
others made good their retreat through the woods. Such as escaped
concealed themselves for several days in the swamps. The horses taken by
the British fell very seasonably into their hands, as they were not
well mounted. After this decisive blow it was some time before any armed
party of the Americans ventured to show themselves south of the Santee.
That part of the country was laid open to the British, who established
posts in such a way as completely to enclose the garrison. The arrival
of 3,000 men from New York greatly increased the strength of the

The second parallel was completed, and it daily became more apparent
that the garrison must ultimately submit. An evacuation of the town was
proposed and Lincoln seems to have been favorable to the measure, but
the garrison could scarcely have escaped, and the principal inhabitants
entreated the general not to abandon them to the fury of the enemy.

The British troops on the north of the Cooper were increased, and
Cornwallis was appointed to command in that quarter. On the 20th April
(1780) General Lincoln again called a council of war to deliberate on
the measures to be adopted. The council recommended a capitulation;
terms were offered, but rejected, and hostilities recommenced. After
the besiegers had begun their third parallel, Colonel Henderson made
a vigorous sally on their right, which was attended with some success;
but, owing to the weakness of the garrison, this was the only attempt of
the kind during the siege.

After the fleet passed it, Fort Moultrie became of much less importance
than before, and part of the garrison was removed to Charleston. The
admiral, perceiving the unfinished state of the works on the west side,
prepared to storm it. On the 7th of May, everything being ready for the
assault, he summoned the garrison, consisting of 200 men, who, being
convinced of their inability to defend the place, surrendered themselves
prisoners of war without firing a gun. On the same day the cavalry which
had escaped from Monk's Corner, and which had reassembled under the
command of Colonel White, were again surprised and defeated by Colonel
Tarleton. After Cornwallis had passed the Cooper and made himself master
of the peninsula between that river and the Santee, he occasionally sent
out small foraging parties. Apprised of that circumstance, Colonel White
repassed the Santee, fell in with and took one of those parties, and
dispatched an express to Colonel Buford, who commanded a regiment of
new levies from Virginia, requesting him to cover his retreat across
the Santee at Lanneau's ferry, where he had ordered some boats to be
collected to carry his party over the river. Colonel White reached the
ferry before Buford's arrival, and, thinking himself in no immediate
danger, halted to refresh his party. Cornwallis, having received notice
of his incursion, dispatched Tarleton in pursuit, who, overtaking him a
few minutes after he had halted, instantly charged him, killed or took
about thirty of the party, and dispersed the rest.

Charleston was now completely invested, all hopes of assistance had
been cruelly disappointed, and the garrison and inhabitants were left
to their own resources. The troops were exhausted by incessant duty and
insufficient to man the lines. Many of the guns were dismounted, the
shot nearly expended, and the bread and meat almost entirely consumed.
The works of the besiegers were pushed very near the defenses of
the town, and the issue of an assault was extremely hazardous to the
garrison and inhabitants. In these critical circumstances, General
Lincoln summoned a council of war, which recommended a capitulation.
Terms were accordingly proposed, offering to surrender the town and
garrison on condition that the militia and armed citizens should not
be prisoners of war, but should be allowed to return home without
molestation. These terms were refused, hostilities were recommenced,
and preparations for an assault were in progress. The citizens, who had
formerly remonstrated against the departure of the garrison, now became
clamorous for a surrender. In this hopeless state Lincoln offered to
give up the place on the terms which Clinton had formerly proposed. The
offer was accepted and the capitulation was signed on the 12th of May

The town and fortifications, the shipping, artillery, and all public
stores were to be given up as they then were; the garrison, consisting
of the Continental troops, militia, sailors, and citizens who had borne
arms during the siege, were to be prisoners of war; the garrison were to
march out of the town and lay down their arms in front of the works, but
their drums were not to beat a British march, and their colors were not
to be uncased; the Continental troops and sailors were to be conducted
to some place afterward to be agreed on, where they were to be well
supplied with wholesome provisions until exchanged; the militia were to
be allowed to go home on parole; the officers were to retain their arms,
baggage, and servants, and they might sell their horses, but were
not permitted to take them out of Charleston; neither the persons nor
property of the militia or citizens were to be molested so long as they
kept their parole. [3]

On these terms the garrison of Charleston marched out and laid down
their arms, and General Leslie was appointed by Clinton to take
possession of the town. The siege was more obstinate than bloody. The
besiegers had 76 men killed and 189 wounded; the besieged had 92 killed
and 148 wounded; about 20 of the inhabitants were killed in their houses
by random shots. The number of prisoners reported by Clinton amounted
to upward of 5,000, exclusive of sailors, but in that return all the
freemen of the town capable of bearing arms, as well as the Continental
soldiers and militia, were included. The number of Continental troops in
the town amounted only to 1,777, about 500 of whom were in the hospital.
The effective strength of the garrison was between 2,000 and 3,000 men.
The besieging army consisted of about 9,000 of the best of the British

After the British got possession of the town the arms taken from the
Americans, amounting to 5,000 stand, were lodged in a laboratory near a
large quantity of cartridges and loose powder. By incautiously snapping
the muskets and pistols the powder ignited and blew up the house, and
the burning fragments, which were scattered in all directions, set fire
to the workhouse, jail, and old barracks, and consumed them. The British
guard stationed at the place, consisting of fifty men, was destroyed,
and about as many other persons lost their lives on the disastrous

Clinton carried on the siege in a cautious but steady and skilful
manner. Lincoln was loaded with undeserved blame by many of his
countrymen, for he conducted the defense as became a brave and
intelligent officer. The error lay in attempting to defend the town,
but, in the circumstances in which Lincoln was placed, he was almost
unavoidably drawn into that course. It was the desire of the State that
the capital should be defended, and Congress, as well as North and South
Carolina, had encouraged him to expect that his army would be increased
to 9,000 men--a force which might have successfully resisted all the
efforts of the royal army. But neither Congress nor the Carolinas were
able to fulfill the promises which they had made, for the militia were
extremely backward in taking the field, and the expected number of
Continentals could not be furnished. Lincoln, therefore, was left to
defend the place with only about one-third of the force which he had
been encouraged to expect. At any time before the middle of April he
might have evacuated the town, but the civil authority then opposed
his retreat, which soon afterward became difficult, and ultimately

At General Lincoln's request Congress passed a resolve directing the
Commander-in-Chief to cause an inquiry to be made concerning the loss
of Charleston and the conduct of General Lincoln while commanding in
the southern department. Washington, who knew Lincoln's merit well,
determined to give Congress time for reflection before adopting any
measure which had the least appearance of censure. The following extract
from his letter to the President of Congress (10th July, 1780) points
out clearly the impropriety of the hasty proceedings which had been
proposed in regard to this able and deserving officer:

"At this time," Washington writes, "I do not think that the
circumstances of the campaign would admit, at any rate, an inquiry to be
gone into respecting the loss of Charleston, but, if it were otherwise,
I do not see that it could be made so as to be completely satisfactory
either to General Lincoln or to the public, unless some gentlemen could
be present who have been acting in that quarter. This, it seems, would
be necessary on the occasion, and the more so as I have not a single
document or paper in my possession concerning the department, and a copy
of the instructions and orders which they may have been pleased to
give General Lincoln from time to time and of their correspondence. And
besides the reasons against the inquiry at this time, General Lincoln
being a prisoner of war, his situation, it appears to me, must preclude
one till he is exchanged, supposing every other obstacle were out of the
question. If Congress think proper, they will be pleased to transmit to
me such papers as they may have which concern the matters of inquiry,
that there may be no delay in proceeding in the business when other
circumstances will permit."

The fall of Charleston was matter of much exultation to the British and
spread a deep gloom over the aspect of American affairs. The southern
army was lost, and, although small, it could not soon be replaced. In
the southern parts of the Union there had always been a considerable
number of persons friendly to the claims of Britain. The success of her
arms roused all their lurking partialities, gave decision to the conduct
of the wavering, encouraged the timid, drew over to the British cause
all those who are ever ready to take part with the strongest, and
discouraged and intimidated the friends of Congress.

Clinton was perfectly aware of the important advantage which he had
gained, and resolved to keep up and deepen the impression on the public
mind by the rapidity of his movements and the appearance of his troops
in different parts of the country. For that purpose he sent a strong
detachment under Cornwallis over the Santee toward the frontier of
North Carolina. He dispatched an inferior force into the center of the
province, and sent a third up the Savannah to Augusta. These detachments
were instructed to disperse any small parties that still remained in
arms, and to show the people that the British troops were complete
masters of South Carolina and Georgia.

Soon after passing the Santee, Cornwallis was informed that Colonel
Buford was lying, with 400 men, in perfect security, near the border
of North Carolina. He immediately dispatched Colonel Tarleton, with his
cavalry, named the Legion, to surprise that party. After performing a
march of 104 miles in fifty-four hours, Tarleton, at the head of 700
men, overtook Buford on his march, at the Waxhaws, and ordered him to
surrender, offering him the same terms which had been granted to the
garrison of Charleston. On Buford's refusal, Tarleton instantly charged
the party, who were dispirited and unprepared for such an onset. Most of
them threw down their arms and made no resistance, but a few continued
firing, and an indiscriminate slaughter ensued of those who had
submitted as well as of those who had resisted. Many begged for
quarter, but no quarter was given. Tarleton's quarter became proverbial
throughout the Union and certainly rendered some subsequent conflicts
more fierce and bloody than they would otherwise have been. Buford and a
few horsemen forced their way through the enemy and escaped; some of
the infantry, also, who were somewhat in advance, saved themselves by
flight, but the regiment was almost annihilated. Tarleton stated that
113 were killed on the spot, 150 left on parole, so badly wounded that
they could not be removed, and 53 brought away as prisoners. So feeble
was the resistance made by the Americans that the British had only 12
men killed and 5 wounded. The slaughter on this occasion excited much
indignation in America. The British endeavored to justify their
conduct by asserting that the Americans resumed their arms after having
pretended to submit, but such of the American officers as escaped from
the carnage denied the allegation. For this exploit, Tarleton was highly
praised by Cornwallis.

After the defeat of Buford there were no parties in South Carolina
or Georgia capable of resisting the royal detachments. The force
of Congress in those provinces seemed annihilated and the spirit of
opposition among the inhabitants was greatly subdued. Many, thinking
it vain to contend against a power which they were unable to withstand,
took the oath of allegiance to the King or gave their parole not to bear
arms against him.

In order to secure the entire submission of that part of the country,
military detachments were stationed at the most commanding points, and
measures were pursued for settling the civil administration and for
consolidating the conquest of the provinces. So fully was Clinton
convinced of the subjugation of the country and of the sincere
submission of the inhabitants, or of their inability to resist, that, on
the 3d of June (1780), he issued a proclamation, in which, after stating
that all persons should take an active part in settling and securing
his majesty's government and in delivering the country from that anarchy
which for some time had prevailed, he discharged from their parole the
militia who were prisoners, except those only who had been taken in
Charleston and Fort Moultrie, and restored them to all the rights and
duties of inhabitants; he also declared that such as should neglect to
return to their allegiance should be treated as enemies and rebels.

This proclamation was unjust and impolitic. Proceeding on the
supposition that the people of those provinces were subdued rebels,
restored by an act of clemency to the privileges and duties of citizens,
and forgetting that for upward of four years they had been exercising an
independent authority, and that the issue of the war only could stamp
on them the character of patriots or rebels. It might easily have been
foreseen that the proclamation was to awaken the resentment and alienate
the affections of those to whom it was addressed. Many of the Colonists
had submitted in the fond hope of being released, under the shelter of
the British government, from that harassing service to which they had
lately been exposed, and of being allowed to attend to their own affairs
in a state of peaceful tranquility; but the proclamation dissipated this
delusion and opened their eyes to their real situation. Neutrality and
peace were what they desired, but neutrality and peace were denied them.
If they did not range themselves under the standards of Congress, they
must, as British subjects, appear as militia in the royal service. The
people sighed for peace, but, on finding that they must fight on one
side or the other, they preferred the banners of their country and
thought they had as good a right to violate the allegiance and parole
which Clinton had imposed on them as he had to change their state from
that of prisoners to that of British subjects without their consent.
They imagined that the proclamation released them from all antecedent
obligations. Not a few, without any pretense of reasoning on the
subject, deliberately resolved to act a deceitful part and to make
professions of submission and allegiance to the British government so
long as they found it convenient, but with the resolution of joining the
standards of their country on the first opportunity. Such duplicity and
falsehood ought always to be reprobated, but the unsparing rapacity with
which the inhabitants were plundered made many of them imagine that no
means of deception and vengeance were unjustifiable.

Hitherto the French fleets and troops had not afforded much direct
assistance to the Americans, but they had impeded and embarrassed the
operations of the British Commander-in-Chief. He had intended to sail
against Charleston so early as the month of September, 1779, but the
unexpected appearance of Count D'Estaing on the southern coast had
detained him at New York till the latter part of December. It was his
intention, after the reduction of Charleston, vigorously to employ the
whole of his force in the subjugation of the adjacent provinces, but
information, received about the time of the surrender of the town, that
Monsieur de Ternay, with a fleet and troops from France, was expected on
the American coast, deranged his plan and induced him to return to New
York with the greater part of his army, leaving Cornwallis at the head
of 4,000 men to prosecute the southern conquests. Clinton sailed from
Charleston on the 5th of June.

After the reduction of Charleston and the entire defeat of all the
American detachments in those parts, an unusual calm ensued for six
weeks. Imagining that South Carolina and Georgia were reannexed to the
British empire in sentiment as well as in appearance, Cornwallis now
meditated an attack on North Carolina. Impatient, however, as he was
of repose, he could not carry his purpose into immediate execution. The
great heat, the want of magazines, and the impossibility of subsisting
his army in the field before harvest, compelled him to pause. But the
interval was not lost. He distributed his troops in such a manner in
South Carolina and the upper parts of Georgia as seemed most favorable
to the enlistment of young men who could be prevailed on to join the
royal standard; he ordered companies of royal militia to be formed; and
he maintained a correspondence with such of the inhabitants of North
Carolina as were friendly to the British cause. He informed them of the
necessity he was under of postponing the expedition into their country,
and advised them to attend to their harvest and to remain quiet till the
royal army advanced to support them. Eager, however, to manifest
their zeal and entertaining sanguine hopes of success, certain
Tories disregarded his salutary advice and broke out into premature
insurrections, which were vigorously resisted and generally suppressed
by the patriots, who were the more numerous and determined party. But
one band of Tories, amounting to 800 men, under a Colonel Bryan, marched
down the Yadkin to a British post at the Cheraws and afterward reached

The people of North Carolina were likely to prove much more intractable
than those of South Carolina and Georgia. They were chiefly descendants
of Scotch-Irish settlers--stern Presbyterians and ardent lovers of
liberty. When Tryon was their governor, they had resisted his tyranny
under the name of Regulators, and at Mecklenburg had published a
declaration of independence more than a year before Congress took the
same attitude of defiance. Such were the North Carolinians; and their
State was destined to be the scene of many battles in which the power of
Britain was bravely resisted.

Having made the necessary dispositions Cornwallis entrusted the command
on the frontier to Lord Rawdon and returned to Charleston in order to
organize the civil government of the province and to establish such
regulations as circumstances required. But Cornwallis showed himself
more a soldier than a politician, and more a tyrant than either. Instead
of endeavoring to regain, by kindness and conciliation, the good will of
a people whose affections were alienated from the cause in which he was
engaged, Cornwallis attempted to drive them into allegiance by harshness
and severity. Indeed, many of the British officers viewed the Americans
merely in the light of rebels and traitors, whose lives it was
indulgence to spare; treated them not only with injustice, but with
insolence and insult more intolerable than injustice itself; and
exercised a rigor which greatly increases the miseries without promoting
the legitimate purposes of war.

By the capitulation of Charleston, the citizens were prisoners on
parole, but successive proclamations were published, each abridging the
privileges of prisoners more than that which had gone before. A board
of police was established for the administration of justice, and before
that board British subjects were allowed to sue for debts, but prisoners
were denied that privilege; they were liable to prosecution for debts,
but had no security for what was owing them, except the honor of their
debtors, and that, in many instances, was found a feeble guarantee. If
they complained they were threatened with close confinement; numbers
were imprisoned in the town and others consigned to dungeons at a
distance from their families. In short, every method, except that of
kindness and conciliation, was resorted to in order to compel the people
to become British subjects. A few, who had always been well affected
to the royal cause, cheerfully returned to their allegiance, and many
followed the same course from convenience. To abandon their families and
estates and encounter all the privations of fugitives required a degree
of patriotism and fortitude which few possessed.

In that melancholy posture of American affairs, many of the ladies of
Charleston displayed a remarkable degree of zeal and intrepidity in the
cause of their country. They gloried in the appellation of rebel ladies,
and declined invitations to public entertainments given by the British
officers, but crowded to prison ships and other places of confinement
to solace their suffering countrymen. While they kept back from the
concerts and assemblies of the victors they were forward in showing
sympathy and kindness toward American officers whenever they met them.
They exhorted their brothers, husbands, and sons to an unshrinking
endurance in behalf of their country, and cheerfully became the
inmates of their prison and the companions of their exile--voluntarily
renouncing affluence and ease and encountering labor, penury, and

For some time the rigorous measures of the British officers in South
Carolina seemed successful and a deathlike stillness prevailed in the
province. The clangor of arms ceased and no enemy to British authority
appeared. The people of the lower parts of South Carolina were generally
attached to the revolution, but many of their most active leaders were
prisoners. The fall of Charleston and the subsequent events had sunk
many into despondency, and all were overawed. This gloomy stillness
continued about six weeks when the symptoms of a gathering storm began
to show themselves. The oppression and insults to which the people were
exposed highly exasperated them; they repented the apathy with which
they had seen the siege of Charleston carried on, and felt that the fall
of their capital, instead of introducing safety and rural tranquility,
as they had fondly anticipated, was only the forerunner of insolent
exactions and oppressive services. Peaceful and undisturbed neutrality
was what they desired and what they had expected; but when they found
themselves compelled to fight, they chose to join the Provincial
banners, and the most daring only waited an opportunity to show their
hostility to their new masters.

Such an opportunity soon presented itself. In the end of March (1780)
Washington dispatched the troops of Maryland and Delaware, with a
regiment of artillery, under the Baron de Kalb, to reinforce the
southern army. That detachment met with many obstructions in its
progress southward. Such was the deranged state of the American finances
that it could not be put in motion when the order was given. After
setting out it marched through Jersey and Pennsylvania, embarked at the
head of Elk river, was conveyed by water to Petersburgh in Virginia,
and proceeded thence towards the place of its destination. But as no
magazines had been provided, and as provisions could with difficulty be
obtained, the march of the detachment through North Carolina was greatly
retarded. Instead of advancing rapidly, the troops were obliged to
spread themselves over the country in small parties, in order to collect
corn and to get it ground for their daily subsistence. In this way
they proceeded slowly through the upper and more fertile parts of North
Carolina to Hillsborough, and were preparing to march by Cross creek
to Salisbury, where they expected to be joined by the militia of North

The approach of this detachment, together with information that great
exertions were making to raise troops in Virginia, encouraged the
irritation which the rigorous measures of the British officers had
occasioned in South Carolina; and numbers of the inhabitants of that
State, who had fled from their homes and taken refuge in North Carolina
and Virginia, informed of the growing discontents in their native State,
and relying on the support of regular troops, assembled on the frontier
of North Carolina.

About 200 of these refugees chose Colonel Sumter, an old Continental
officer, called by his comrades the "Gamecock," as their leader. On
the advance of the British into the upper parts of South Carolina, this
gentleman had fled into North Carolina, but had left his family behind.
Soon after his departure a British party arrived, turned his wife and
family out of door, and burned his house and everything in it. This
harsh and unfeeling treatment excited his bitterest resentment, which
operated with the more virulence by being concealed under the fair veil
of patriotism.

At the head of his little band, without money or magazines, and but ill
provided with arms and ammunition, Sumter made an irruption into South
Carolina. Iron implements of husbandry were forged by common blacksmiths
into rude weapons of war; and pewter dishes, procured from private
families and melted down, furnished part of their supply of balls.

This little band skirmished with the royal militia and with small
parties of regular troops, sometimes successfully, and always with the
active courage of men fighting for the recovery of their property.

Sometimes they engaged when they had not more than three rounds of shot
each, and occasionally some of them were obliged to keep at a distance
till, by the fall of friends or foes, they could be furnished with arms
and ammunition. When successful, the field of battle supplied them with
materials for the next encounter.

This party soon increased to 600 men, and, encouraged by its daring
exertions, a disposition manifested itself throughout South Carolina
again to appeal to arms. Some companies of royal militia, embodied under
the authority of Cornwallis, deserted to Sumter and ranged themselves
under his standard.

Cornwallis beheld this change with surprise: he had thought the conflict
ended, and the southern provinces completely subdued; but, to his
astonishment, saw that past victories were unavailing, and that the work
yet remained to be accomplished. He was obliged to call in his outposts
and to form his troops into larger bodies.

But Cornwallis was soon threatened by a more formidable enemy than
Sumter, who, though an active and audacious leader, commanded only an
irregular and feeble band, and was capable of engaging only in desultory
enterprises. Congress, sensible of the value and importance of the
provinces which the British had overrun, made every effort to reinforce
the southern army; and, fully aware of the efficacy of public opinion
and of the influence of high reputation, on the 13th of June (1780)
appointed General Gates to command it. He had acquired a splendid name
by his triumphs over Burgoyne, and the populace, whose opinions
are formed by appearances and fluctuate with the rumors of the day,
anticipated a success equally brilliant. [4]

On receiving notice of his appointment to the command of the southern
army, Gates, who had been living in retirement on his estate in
Virginia, proceeded southward without delay, and on the 25th of July
(1780) reached the camp at Buffalo ford, on Deep river, where he was
received by De Kalb with respect and cordiality. The army consisted of
about 2,000 men, and considerable reinforcements of militia from North
Carolina and Virginia were expected. In order that he might lead
his troops through a more plentiful country, and for the purpose of
establishing magazines and hospitals at convenient points, De Kalb
had resolved to turn out of the direct road to Camden. But Gates, in
opposition to De Kalb's advice, determined to pursue the straight route
toward the British encampment, although it lay through a barren country,
which afforded but a scanty subsistence to its inhabitants.

On the 27th of July (1780) he put his army in motion and soon
experienced the difficulties and privations which De Kalb had been
desirous to avoid. The army was obliged to subsist chiefly on poor
cattle, accidentally found in the woods, and the supply of all kinds of
food was very limited. Meal and corn were so scarce that the men
were compelled to use unripe corn and peaches instead of bread. That
insufficient diet, together with the intense heat and unhealthy climate,
engendered disease, and threatened the destruction of the army. Gates at
length emerged from the inhospitable region of pine-barrens, sand hills,
and swamps, and, after having effected a junction with General Caswell,
at the head of the militia of North Carolina, and a small body of
troops under Lieutenant-Colonel Porterfield, he arrived at Clermont, or
Rugely's Mills, on the 13th of August (1780), and next day was joined by
the militia of Virginia, amounting to 700 men, under General Stevens.

On the day after Gates arrived at Rugley's Mills, he received an express
from Sumter, stating that a number of the militia of South Carolina
had joined him on the west side of the Wateree, and that an escort of
clothes, ammunition, and other stores for the garrison at Camden was on
its way from Ninety-Six and must pass the Wateree at a ford covered by a
small fort nor far from Camden.

Gates immediately detached 100 regular infantry and 300 militia of North
Carolina to reinforce Sumter, whom he ordered to reduce the fort and
intercept the convoy. Meanwhile he advanced nearer Camden, with the
intention of taking a position about seven miles from that place. For
that purpose he put his army in motion at 10 in the evening of the 15th
of August, having sent his sick, heavy baggage, and military stores
not immediately wanted, under a guard to Waxhaws. On the march Colonel
Armand's [5] legion composed the van; Porterfield's light infantry,
reinforced by a company of picked men from Stevens' brigade, marching in
Indian files, two hundred yards from the road, covered the right flank
of the legion, while Major Armstrong's light infantry of North Carolina
militia, reinforced in like manner by General Caswell, in the same
order, covered the left. The Maryland division, followed by the North
Carolina and Virginia militia, with the artillery, composed the main
body and rear guard; and the volunteer cavalry were equally distributed
on the flanks of the baggage. The American army did not exceed 4,000
men, only about 900 of whom were regular troops, and 70 cavalry.

On the advance of Gates into South Carolina, Lord Rawdon had called
in his outposts, and concentrated his force at Camden. Informed of the
appearance of the American army, and of the general defection of the
country between the Pedee and the Black river, Cornwallis quitted
Charleston and repaired to Camden, where he arrived on the same day that
Gates reached Clermont.

The British force was reduced by sickness, and Cornwallis could not
assemble more than two thousand men at Camden. That place, though
advantageous in other respects, was not well adapted for resisting an
attack; and as the whole country was rising against him, Cornwallis
felt the necessity of either retreating to Charleston, or of instantly
striking a decisive blow. If he remained at Camden, his difficulties
would daily increase, his communication with Charleston be endangered,
and the American army acquire additional strength. A retreat to
Charleston would be the signal for the whole of South Carolina and
Georgia to rise in arms; his sick and magazines must be left behind;
and the whole of the two provinces, except the towns of Charleston and
Savannah, abandoned. The consequences of such a movement would be nearly
as fatal as a defeat. Cornwallis, therefore, although he believed the
American army considerably stronger than what it really was, determined
to hazard a battle; and, at 10 at night, on the 15th of August, the
very hour when Gates proceeded from Rugely's Mills, about thirteen miles
distant, he marched towards the American camp.

About 2 in the morning of the 16th of August (1780) the advanced guards
of the hostile armies unexpectedly met in the woods, and the firing
instantly began. Some of the cavalry of the American advanced guard
being wounded by the first discharge, the party fell back in confusion,
broke the Maryland regiment which was at the head of the column, and
threw the whole line of the army into consternation. From that first
impression, deepened by the gloom of night, the raw and ill-disciplined
militia seem not to have recovered. In the reencounter several prisoners
were taken on each side, and from them the opposing generals acquired a
more exact knowledge of circumstances than they had hitherto possessed.
Several skirmishes happened during the night, which merely formed a
prelude to the approaching battle, and gave the commanders some notion
of the position of the hostile armies.

Cornwallis, perceiving that the Americans were on ground of no great
extent, with morasses on their right and left, so that they could not
avail themselves of their superior numbers to outflank his little army,
impatiently waited for the returning light, which would give every
advantage to his disciplined troops. [6]

Both armies prepared for the conflict. Cornwallis formed his men in two
divisions; that on the right was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Webster, that on the left under Lord Rawdon. In front were four field
pieces. The Seventy-first regiment, with two cannon, formed the reserve;
and the cavalry, about 300 in number, were in the rear, ready to act as
circumstances might require.

In the American army the second Maryland brigade, under General Gist,
formed the right of the line; the militia of North Carolina, commanded
by General Caswell, occupied the center; and the militia of Virginia,
with the light infantry and Colonel Armand's corps, composed the left;
the artillery was placed between the divisions. The First Maryland
brigade was stationed as a reserve 200 or 300 yards in the rear. Baron
de Kalb commanded on the right; the militia generals were at the head of
their respective troops, and General Gates resolved to appear wherever
his presence might be most useful.

At dawn of day Cornwallis ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Webster, with the
British right wing, to attack the American left. As Webster advanced he
was assailed by a desultory discharge of musketry from some volunteer
militia who had advanced in front of their countrymen, but the British
soldiers, rushing through that loose fire, charged the American line
with a shout. The militia instantly threw down their arms and fled, many
of them without even discharging their muskets, and all the efforts
of the officers were unable to rally them. A great part of the center
division, composed of the militia of North Carolina, imitated the
example of their comrades of Virginia; few of either of the divisions
fired a shot, and still fewer carried their arms off the field. Tarleton
with his legion pursued and eagerly cut down the unresisting fugitives.
Gates, with some of the militia general officers, made several attempts
to rally them, but in vain. The further they fled the more they
dispersed, and Gates in despair hastened with a few friends to
Charlotte, eighty miles from the field of battle.

De Kalb at the head of the Continentals, being abandoned by the militia,
which had constituted the center and left wing of the army, and being
forsaken by the general also, was exposed to the attack of the whole
British army. De Kalb and his troops, however, instead of imitating the
disgraceful example of their brethren in arms, behaved with a steady
intrepidity and defended themselves like men. Rawdon attacked them about
the time when Webster broke the left wing, but the charge was firmly
received and steadily resisted, and the conflict was maintained for some
time with equal obstinacy on both sides. The American reserve covered
the left of De Kalb's division, but its own left flank was entirely
exposed by the flight of the militia, and, therefore, Webster, after
detaching some cavalry and light troops in pursuit of the fugitive
militia, with the remainder of his division attacked them at once in
front and flank. A severe contest ensued. The Americans, in a great
measure intermingled with British, maintained a desperate conflict.
Cornwallis brought his whole force to bear upon them; they were at
length broken and began to retreat in confusion. The brave De Kalb,
while making a vigorous charge at the head of a body of his men, fell
pierced with eleven wounds. His aide-de-camp, Lieutenant-Colonel de
Buysson, embraced the fallen general, announced his rank and nation to
the surrounding enemy, and while thus generously exposing his own life
to save his bleeding friend, he received several severe wounds, and was
taken prisoner with him. De Kalb met with all possible attention and
assistance from the victorious enemy, but that gallant officer expired
in a few hours. Congress afterward ordered a monument to be erected to
his memory.

Never was victory more complete or defeat more total. Every regiment was
broken and dispersed through the woods, marshes, and brushwood, which
at once saved them from their pursuers and separated them more entirely
from each other. The officers lost sight of their men and every
individual endeavored to save himself in the best way he was able. The
British cavalry pursued; and for many miles the roads were strewed with
the wrecks of a ruined army. Wagons or fragments of wagons, arms,
dead or maimed horses, dead or wounded soldiers, were everywhere seen.
General Rutherford, of the North Carolina militia, was made prisoner,
but the other general officers reached Charlotte at different times and
by different routes.

About 200 wagons, a great part of the baggage, military stores, small
arms, and all the artillery fell into the hands of the conquerors. This
decisive victory cost the British only 80 men killed and 245 wounded.
Eight hundred or 900 of the Americans were killed or wounded, and about
1,000 taken prisoners. The militia endeavored to save themselves by
flight; the Continentals alone fought, and almost half their number

While the army under Gates was completely defeated and dispersed
Colonel Sumter was successful in his enterprise. On the evening in which
Cornwallis marched from Camden he reduced the redoubt on the Wateree,
took the stores on their way to Camden, and made about 100 prisoners.
On hearing, however, of the disastrous fate of the army under Gates,
Sumter, fully aware of his danger, retreated hastily with his stores and
prisoners up the south side of the Wateree. On the morning of the
17th (September, 1780) Cornwallis sent Tarleton, with the legion and a
detachment of infantry, in pursuit of him. That officer proceeded with
his usual rapidity. Finding many of his infantry unable to keep pace
with him he advanced with about 100 cavalry and sixty of the most
vigorous of the infantry, and on the 18th (September, 1780) suddenly and
unexpectedly came upon the Americans.

Sumter, having marched with great diligence, thought himself beyond the
reach of danger, and his men being exhausted by unremitting service and
want of sleep, he halted near the Catawba ford to give them some repose
during the heat of the day. In order to prevent a surprise he had placed
sentinels at proper stations to give warning of approaching danger,
but overcome by fatigue and equally regardless of duty and safety the
sentinels fell asleep at their post and gave no alarm. Tarleton suddenly
burst into the encampment of the drowsy and unsuspecting Americans, and,
though some slight resistance was at first made from behind the baggage,
soon gained a complete victory. The Americans fled precipitately toward
the river or the woods. Between 300 and 400 of them were killed or
wounded. Sumter escaped, galloping off on horseback, without coat, hat,
or saddle, but all his baggage fell into the hands of the enemy, while
the prisoners and stores which he had taken were recovered. About 150 of
his men made good their retreat.

By the complete defeat and dispersion of the army under Gates and of
Sumter's corps, South Carolina and Georgia appeared to be again laid
prostrate at the feet of the royal army, and the hope of maintaining
their independence seemed more desperate than ever.

Affairs did not seem desperate, however, to Washington. He knew the
defensible nature of the country--intersected in every direction by
rivers and swamps, and affording every facility for partisan warfare
against regular troops, and he knew that the infamous conduct of the
British in the South had thoroughly roused the indignation of the
people. While Gates was gathering together a new army and stationing
detachments in different posts near Hillsborough, Washington received
intelligence of the disastrous battle of Camden. The sad news came
unexpectedly, as the previous reports had given hopes of some brilliant
feat on the part of Gates. The unlooked-for disaster, however, did
not for a moment dishearten Washington. He was fully aware of the
determination of the British to conquer the South, and if possible to
detach it from the confederacy, and he was determined on his part to
defeat their purpose. This was to be done chiefly by rousing the South
itself to action, since the position of affairs at the North did not
admit of large detachments from the force under his own immediate
command. He ordered, however, that some regular troops enlisted in
Maryland for the war should be sent to the southward. To show how
attentive he was to all the details of the necessary measures for
defending the South we copy his letter of September 12th (1780)
to Governor Rutledge, of South Carolina, who had been armed with
dictatorial power by the Legislature of that State. [7]

"I am fully impressed," he writes, "with the importance of the southern
States, and of course with the necessity of making every effort to expel
the enemy from them. The late unlucky affair near Camden renders their
situation more precarious and calls for every exertion to stop at least
the further progress of the British army. It is to be wished that the
composition of our force in this quarter, our resources, and the present
situation of the fleet and army of our ally would admit of an immediate
and sufficient detachment, not only to answer the purpose I have just
mentioned, but to carry on operations of a more serious and extensive
nature. But this not being the case, for reasons which must be obvious
to you, let it suffice that your Excellency be informed that our views
tend ultimately to the southward.

"In the meantime our endeavors in that quarter should be directed rather
to checking the progress of the enemy by a permanent, compact, and
well-organized body of men, than attempting immediately to recover the
State of South Carolina by a numerous army of militia, who, besides
being inconceivably expensive, are too fluctuating and undisciplined to
oppose one composed chiefly of regular troops. I would recommend to you,
therefore, to make use of your influence with the States from Maryland
southward, to raise without delay at least 5,000 men for the war, if it
can be effected; if not, for as long a time as possible. These, with the
militia in the vicinity, would answer the purpose I have last mentioned,
and would in proper time make a useful body, either to form a diversion
in favor of, or to cooperate with, a force upon the coast.

"I have hinted the outlines of a plan to your Excellency which for many
reasons should be in general kept to yourself. You will oblige me by
informing yourself as accurately as possible, what may be the present
resources of the country as to meat, corn, wheat, or rice, and
transportation, as I suppose circumstances may have occasioned a
considerable change. And if it is possible to form magazines of either,
it should be done, especially of salt meat, which is an article so
essential to military operations, that the States of Virginia and North
Carolina should be requested to lay up, as soon as the weather will,
permit, at least 4,000 barrels in proportion to their respective
ability. You will also be pleased to endeavor to gain a knowledge of the
force of the enemy, the posts they occupy, the nature and state of those
posts, and the reinforcements they may probably derive from the people
of the country. As you receive these several intelligences you will be
pleased to communicate them to me with your opinion of the best place
for debarking troops, in case of an expedition against the enemy in
the southern States, and the names of the persons in that quarter whose
opinion and advice may be serviceable in such an event."

In the following extract from a letter to Count de Guichen in the
West Indies, September 12, 1780, we have from Washington a view of the
general state of affairs after the battle of Camden. Its object was to
induce the French admiral to come immediately to the United States.
The letter did not reach the West Indies until De Guichen had sailed to

"The situation of America," Washington writes, "at this time is
critical. The government is without finances. Its paper credit is sunk
and no expedients can be adopted capable of retrieving it. The resources
of the country are much diminished by a five years' war in which it has
made efforts beyond its ability. Clinton, with an army of 10,000 regular
troops (aided by a considerable body of militia, whom from motives of
fear and attachment he has engaged to take arms), is in possession
of one of the capital towns and a large part of the State to which it
belongs. The savages are desolating the frontier. A fleet superior to
that of our allies not only protects the enemy against any attempt of
ours, but facilitates those which they may project against us. Lord
Cornwallis, with seven or eight thousand men, is in complete possession
of two States, Georgia and South Carolina, and by recent misfortunes
North Carolina is at his mercy. His force is daily increasing by an
accession of adherents, whom his successes naturally procure in a
country inhabited by emigrants from England and Scotland who have not
been long enough transplanted to exchange their ancient habits and
attachments in favor of their new residence.

"By a letter received from General Gates we learn that in attempting
to penetrate and regain the State of South Carolina he met with a total
defeat near Camden in which many of his troops have been cut off and the
remainder dispersed with the loss of all their cannon and baggage.
The enemy are said to be now making a detachment from New York for a
southern destination. If they push their successes in that quarter we
cannot predict where their career may end. The opposition will be feeble
unless we can give succor from hence, which, from a variety of causes
must depend on a naval superiority."

The remainder of the letter gives more details and urges the admiral to
give his aid to the United States.

It will be recollected by the reader that Gates when in the height of
his glory did not make any report to Washington of the surrender of
Burgoyne. This was in the days of the Conway Cabal. He then slighted and
almost insulted the great commander, whom, it is not improbable he
hoped to supersede. But in the hour of disaster and defeat it was to
Washington himself that he turned for help, protection, and countenance.
He is prompt enough with his official report now although he writes his
first dispatch to Congress in order that his apology may be published.
The following letter to Washington is dated at Hillsborough, August 30,
1780: [8]

"My public letter to Congress has surely been transmitted to your
Excellency. Since then I have been able to collect authentic returns of
the killed, wounded, and missing of the officers of the Maryland line,
Delaware regiment, artillerists, and those of the legion under Colonel
Armand. They are enclosed. The militia broke so early in the day, and
scattered in so many directions upon their retreat, that very few have
fallen into the hands of the enemy.

"By the firmness and bravery of the Continental troops the victory is
far from bloodless on the part of the foe, they having upwards of 500
men, with officers in proportion, killed and wounded. I do not think
Lord Cornwallis will be able to reap any advantage of consequence from
his victory as this State seems animated to reinstate and support the
army. Virginia, I am confident, will not be less patriotic. By the joint
exertions of these two States there is good reason to hope that should
the events of the campaign be prosperous to your Excellency all South
Carolina might be again recovered. Lord Cornwallis remained with his
army at Camden when I received the last accounts from thence. I am
cantoning ours at Salisbury, Guilford, Hillsborough, and Cross creek.
The Marylanders and artillerists, with their general hospital, will be
here; the cavalry near Cross creek, and the militia to the westward.
This is absolutely necessary as we have no magazine of provisions and
are only supplied from hand to mouth. Four days after the action of
the 16th, fortune seemed determined to distress us; for Colonel Sumter
having marched near forty miles up the river Wateree halted with the
wagons and prisoners he had taken the 15th; by some indiscretion the
men were surprised, cut off from their arms, the whole routed, and the
wagons and prisoners retaken.

"What encouragement the numerous disaffected in this State may give Lord
Cornwallis to advance further into the country I cannot yet say. Colonel
Sumter, since his surprise and defeat upon the west side of the Wateree,
has reinstated and increased his corps to upwards of 1,000 men. I
have directed him to continue to harass the enemy upon that side. Lord
Cornwallis will therefore be cautious how he makes any considerable
movement to the eastward while his corps remains in force upon his left
flank, and the main body is in a manner cantoned in his front. Anxious
for the public good I shall continue my unwearied endeavors to stop
the progress of the enemy, to reinstate our affairs, to recommence an
offensive war and recover all our losses in the southern States. But
if being unfortunate is solely reason sufficient for removing me from
command, I shall most cheerfully submit to the orders of Congress and
resign an office few generals would be anxious to possess, and where the
utmost skill and fortitude are subject to be baffled by the difficulties
which must for a time surround the chief in command here. That your
Excellency may meet with no such difficulties, that your road to fame
and fortune may be smooth and easy is the sincere wish of, sir, your
Excellency's most obedient, etc."

In the following extract from a letter of the 3d of September (1780), he
again calls Washington's attention to his own pitiable case: "If I can
yet render good service to the United States," he writes, "it will be
necessary it should be seen that I have the support of Congress and your
Excellency; otherwise some men may think they please my superiors by
blaming me, and thus recommend themselves to favor. But you, sir, will
be too generous to lend an ear to such men, if such there be, and will
show your greatness of soul rather by protecting than slighting the
unfortunate. If, on the contrary, I am not supported and countenance is
given to everyone who will speak disrespectfully of me it will be better
for Congress to remove me at once from where I shall be unable to render
them any good service. This, sir, I submit to your candor and honor, and
shall cheerfully await the decision of my superiors. With the warmest
wishes for your prosperity, and the sincerest sentiments of esteem and
regard, I am, sir, your Excellency's most obedient, humble servant."

Notwithstanding these letters and any friendly help which Washington
may have rendered to his fallen rival, the fickle Congress, as we shall
presently see, deserted at his utmost need the man who they had advanced
against Washington's advice.

After the battle of Camden, Cornwallis was unable to follow up the
victory with his usual activity. His little army was diminished by the
sword and by disease. He had not brought with him from Charleston the
stores necessary for a long march, and he did not deem it expedient to
leave South Carolina till he had suppressed that spirit of resistance to
his authority which had extensively manifested itself in the province.
In order to consummate, as he thought, the subjugation of the State, he
resorted to measures of great injustice and cruelty. He considered the
province as a conquered country, reduced to unconditional submission
and to allegiance to its ancient sovereign, and the people liable to the
duties of British subjects and to corresponding penalties in case of
a breach of those duties. He forgot, or seemed to forget, that many
of them had been received as prisoners of war on parole; that, without
their consent, their parole had been discharged, and that, merely by
a proclamation, they had been declared British subjects instead of
prisoners of war.

In a few days after the battle of Camden, when Cornwallis thought the
country was lying prostrate at his feet, he addressed the following
letter to the commandant of the British garrison at Ninety-six: "I
have given orders that all the inhabitants of this province who have
subscribed and taken part in the revolt should be punished with the
utmost rigor; and also those who will not turn out, that they may be
imprisoned and their whole property taken from them or destroyed. I have
also ordered that compensation should be made out of these estates to
the persons who have been injured or oppressed by them. I have ordered,
in the most positive manner, that every militiaman who has borne arms
with us and afterward joined the enemy shall be immediately hanged. I
desire you will take the most vigorous measures to punish the rebels in
the district you command and that you obey, in the strictest manner, the
directions I have given in this letter relative to the inhabitants
of the country." Similar orders were given to the commanders of other
posts. [9]

In any circumstances, such orders given to officers often possessing
little knowledge and as little prudence or humanity could not fail to
produce calamitous effects. In the case under consideration, where
all the worst passions of the heart were irritated and inflamed, the
consequences were lamentable. The orders were executed in the spirit in
which they were given. Numbers of persons were put to death; many were
imprisoned and their property was destroyed or confiscated. The country
was covered with blood and desolation, rancor and grief.

The prisoners on parole thought they had a clear right to take arms, for
from their parole they had been released by the proclamation of the
20th of June (1780), which indeed called them to the duty of subjects, a
condition to which they had never consented, and therefore they reckoned
that they had as good a right to resume their arms as the British
commander had to enjoin their allegiance. The case of those who had
taken British protections in the full persuasion that they were to be
allowed to live peaceably on their estates, but who, on finding that
they must fight on one side or the other, had repaired to the standards
of their country, was equally hard. Deception and violence were
practiced against both. So long as the struggle appeared doubtful the
Colonists met with fair promises and kind treatment, but at the moment
when resistance seemed hopeless and obedience necessary they were
addressed in the tone of authority, heard stern commands and bloody
threatenings, and received harsh usage. Hence the province, which for
some time presented the stillness of peace, again put on the ruthless
aspect of war.

A number of persons of much respectability remained prisoners of war in
Charleston since the capitulation of that town, but, after the battle
of Camden, Cornwallis ordered them to be carried out of the province.
Accordingly, early in the morning of the 27th of August (1780), some of
the principal citizens of Charleston were taken out of bed, put on board
a guard-ship, and soon afterward transported to St. Augustine. They
remonstrated with Lieutenant-Colonel Balfour, the commandant of
Charleston, but experienced only the insolence of authority from that

While Cornwallis endeavored by severe measures to break the spirits of
the people and to establish the royal authority in South Carolina, he
did not lose sight of his ulterior projects. He sent emissaries into
North Carolina to excite the Loyalists there, and to assure them of
the speedy march of the British army into that province. On the 8th of
September (1780) he left Camden, and toward the end of the month arrived
at Charlottetown, in North Carolina, of which place he took possession
after a slight resistance from some volunteer cavalry under Colonel
Davie. Though symptoms of opposition manifested themselves at Charlotte
yet he advanced toward Salisbury and ordered his militia to cross the
Yadkin. But Cornwallis was suddenly arrested in his victorious career
by an unexpected disaster. He made every exertion to embody the Tory
inhabitants of the country and to form them into a British militia. For
that purpose he employed Major Ferguson of the Seventy-first regiment
with a small detachment in the district of Ninety-six, to train the
Loyalists and to attach them to his own party. From the operations of
that officer he expected the most important services.

Ferguson executed his commission with activity and zeal, collected
a large number of Loyalists, and committed great depredations on the
friends of independence in the back settlements. When about to return to
the main army in triumph he was detained by one of those incidents which
occasionally occur in war and influence the course of events and the
destiny of nations. Colonel Clarke, of Georgia, who had fled from
that province on its reduction by Campbell in 1779, had retired to the
northward, and having collected a number of followers in the Carolinas,
he returned to his native province at the head of about 700 men, and
while Cornwallis was marching from Camden to Charlottetown, attacked the
British post at Augusta. Lieutenant-Colonel Brown, who commanded at that
place with a garrison of about 150 Provincials, aided by some friendly
Indians, finding the town untenable, retired toward an eminence on the
banks of the Savannah, named Garden Hill. But the Americans occupied
it before his arrival; by bringing his artillery, however, to bear upon
them, after a desperate conflict he succeeded in dislodging them and in
gaining possession of the hill, but with the loss of his cannon. There
Clarke besieged him till informed of the near approach of a British
detachment from Ninety-six, under Colonel Kruger. He then retreated,
abandoning the cannon which he had taken, and, though pursued, effected
his escape. Notice was instantly sent to Ferguson of Clarke's retreat
and of his route, and high hopes of intercepting him were entertained.
For that purpose Ferguson remained longer in those parts and approached
nearer the mountains than he would otherwise have done. As he had
collected about 1,500 men he had no apprehension of any force assembling
in that quarter able to embarrass him.

Meanwhile the depredations committed by Ferguson exasperated many of the
inhabitants of the country, some of whom, fleeing across the Allegheny
mountains, gave their western brethren an alarming account of the evils
with which they were threatened. Those men, living in the full enjoyment
of that independence for which the Atlantic States were struggling,
resolved to keep the war at a distance from their settlements. The
hardy mountaineers of the western parts of Virginia and North Carolina
assembled under Colonels Campbell, Shelby, Cleveland, and Sevier. Other
parties, under their several leaders, hastened to join them. They were
all mounted and unencumbered with baggage. Each man had his blanket,
knapsack, and rifle, and set out in quest of Ferguson, equipped in the
same manner as when they hunted the wild beasts of the forest. At night
the earth afforded them a bed and the heavens a covering; the flowing
stream quenched their thirst; their guns, their knapsacks, or a few
cattle driven in their rear, supplied them with food. Their numbers
made them formidable, and the rapidity of their movements rendered it
difficult to escape them. They amounted to nearly 3,000 men.

On hearing of their approach Ferguson began to retreat toward Charlotte
and sent messengers to Cornwallis to apprise him of his danger. But the
messengers were intercepted, and Cornwallis remained ignorant of the
perilous situation of his detachment. In the vicinity of Gilbert town
the Americans, apprehensive of Ferguson's escape, selected 1,000 of
their best riflemen, mounted them on their fleetest horses, and
sent them in pursuit. Their rapid movements rendered his retreat
impracticable, and Ferguson, sensible that he would inevitably be
overtaken, chose his ground on King's mountain on the confines of North
and South Carolina, and waited the attack.

On the 7th of October (1780) the Americans came up with him. Campbell
had the command, but his authority was merely nominal, for there was
little military order or subordination in the attack. They agreed to
divide their forces in order to assail Ferguson from different quarters,
and the divisions were led on by Colonels Cleveland, Shelby, Sevier,
and Williams. Cleveland, who conducted the party which began the attack,
addressed his men as follows:

"My brave fellows! we have beaten the Tories and we can beat them. When
engaged you are not to wait for the word of command from me. I will show
you by my example how to fight; I can undertake no more. Every man
must consider himself an officer and act on his own judgment. Though
repulsed, do not run off; return and renew the combat. If any of you are
afraid you have not only leave to withdraw, but are requested to do so."

Cleveland instantly began the attack, but was soon compelled to retire
before the bayonet. But Ferguson had no time to continue the pursuit,
for Shelby came forward from an unexpected quarter and poured in a
destructive fire. Ferguson again resorted to the bayonet and was again
successful. But at that moment Campbell's division advanced on another
side and a new battle began. Campbell, like his comrades, was obliged to
retreat. But Cleveland had now rallied his division and advanced anew to
the combat. The Royalists wheeled and met this returning assailant. In
this way there was an unremitting succession of attacks for about
fifty minutes. Ferguson obstinately defended himself and repulsed every
assailant, but at last he fell mortally wounded, and the second in
command, seeing the contest hopeless, surrendered. Ferguson and 150 of
his men lay dead on the field; as many were wounded; nearly 700 laid
down their arms, and upwards of 400 escaped. Among the prisoners the
number of regular British soldiers did not amount to 100. The Americans
lost about twenty men, who were killed on the field, and they had many
wounded. They took 1,500 stand of arms. Major Ferguson's position was
good, but the hill abounded with wood and afforded the Americans, who
were all riflemen, an opportunity of fighting in their own way and of
firing from behind trees.

The Americans hanged ten of their prisoners on the spot, pleading the
guilt of the individuals who suffered and the example of the British,
who had executed a great number of Americans. One of the victims was
a militia officer, who accepted a British commission, although he
had formerly been in the American service. Those rude warriors, whose
enterprise was the spontaneous impulse of their patriotism or revenge,
who acknowledged no superior authority, and who were guided by no
superior counsels, having achieved their victories and attained their
object, dispersed and returned home. Most of the prisoners were soon
afterward released on various conditions.

The ruin of Ferguson's detachment, from which so much had been expected,
was a severe blow to Cornwallis; it disconcerted his plans and prevented
his progress northward. On the 14th of October (1780), as soon after
obtaining certain information of the fall of Major Ferguson as the army
could be put in motion, he left Charlotte, where Ferguson was to have
met him and began his retreat toward South Carolina. In that retrograde
movement the British army suffered severely; for several days it rained
incessantly; the roads were almost impassable; the soldiers had no
tents, and at night encamped in the woods in an unhealthy climate. The
army was ill supplied with provisions; sometimes the men had beef, but
no bread; at other times bread, but no beef. Once they subsisted during
five days on Indian corn collected as it stood in the fields. Five ears
were the daily allowance of two men, but the troops bore their toils and
privations without a murmur.

In these trying circumstances the American Loyalists who had joined
the royal standard were of great service, but their services were ill
requited, and several of them, disgusted by the abusive language and
even blows, which they received from some of the officers, left the
British army forever. At length the troops passed the Catawba, and
on the 29th of October (1780) reached Wynnesborough, an intermediate
station between Camden and Ninety-six. During this difficult march
Cornwallis was ill and Lord Rawdon had the command.

Washington directed the operations of this southern campaign as far
as it was in his power. But he was interfered with by the pragmatical,
imbecile, and conceited Congress. Had Greene been appointed to take
command of the southern army, according to Washington's desire, instead
of Gates, he would soon have assembled around him that "permanent,
compact, and well-organized body of men," referred to in Washington's
letter to Governor Rutledge, which we have quoted, and would have given
a very different account of the British from that of Gates. Greene was
second only to the Commander-in-Chief in ability--second to none in
courage, coolness, and perseverance. His campaign in the South, as we
shall presently see, was one of the most remarkable performances of
the war. But Congress would not send him to the South till repeated
disasters compelled them to listen to Washington's advice. The old virus
of the Conway Cabal must have been still lurking among the members or
they would scarcely have preferred Gates to Greene. We must now leave
the South for a season and turn to the course of events in the northern

1. Footnote: This was a recent conquest of the British fleet in the West

2. Footnote: The reader will recollect that Fort Moultrie received its
name from its defense by Colonel Moultrie in 1776.

3. Footnote: The reader will recollect that Fort Moultrie received its
name from its defense by Colonel Moultrie in 1776.

4. Footnote: Washington, who had long ago taken the measure of Gates'
capacity, was desirous that Greene should receive the appointment to the
command of the southern army at this time; but his wishes were overruled
by Congress. Had Greene been appointed, or even had De Kalb been left in
command, the campaign of 1780 would have been quite another affair.

5. Footnote: Charles Armand, Marquis de la Rouerie, was a French officer
of note when he entered our army as colonel in 1777, and was ordered to
raise a corps of Frenchmen not exceeding 200 men. He served in Jersey
and Pennsylvania in 1777, and in Westchester county, New York, in 1778,
where he captured Major Baremore and his Loyalists, as mentioned in
Washington's certificate below. In 1779 he was stationed at Ridgefield,
Connecticut, under Gen. Robert Howe. He was sent with a legion composed
of his own and Pulaski's cavalry to aid in Gates' southern expedition,
as mentioned in the text. In 1781 he went to France to obtain clothes
and equipments, and returned soon enough to assist at the siege of
Yorktown. Washington recommended him strongly to Congress, who gave him
the commission of brigadier-general in the spring of 1783. He returned
to France in 1784, engaged in the French revolution, and took an active
part. He died January 30th, 1793. On the occasion of Colonel Armand's
going to join the southern army under Gates, Washington gave him the
following certificate under his own hand:


I certify that the Marquis de la Rouerie has served in the army of the
United States since the beginning of 1777, with the rank of colonel,
during which time he has commanded an independent corps with much honor
to himself and usefulness to the service. He has upon all occasions
conducted himself as an officer of distinguished merit, of great zeal,
activity, vigilance, intelligence, and bravery. In the last campaign,
particularly, he rendered very valuable services, and towards the close
of it made a brilliant partisan stroke, by which, with much enterprise
and address, he surprised a major and some men of the enemy in quarters,
at a considerable distance within their pickets, and brought them off
without loss to his party. I give him this certificate In testimony
of my perfect approbation of his conduct, and esteem for himself

6. Footnote: Colonel Armand censured Gates' conduct on this occasion
severely. It is clear that he chose the ground best suited for the
enemy's purpose. "I will not say," Armand remarked, "that the general
contemplated treason, but I will say, that if he had desired to betray
his army, he could not have chosen a more judicious course."

7. Footnote: Sparks, "Writings of Washington," vol. VII, p.201. 8.
Footnote: Sparks, "Correspondence of the Revolution," vol. III, P.66.

9. Footnote: The orders of Rawdon and Cornwallis to the subordinates to
treat the Americans in this cruel manner were intercepted and sent to
Washington, who transmitted them, with a sharp letter, to Sir Henry
Clinton. His reply sustained Rawdon and Cornwallis. The original letters
and the whole correspondence may be found in the 7th volume of Sparks,
"Writings of Washington."



The contest between Great Britain and her revolted Colonies had involved
her in other wars. Spain had already joined with France in the alliance
against her, and the Dutch were now drawn into the contest. Great
Britain had claimed and exercised what she called the "right of search,"
which included the right to seize the property of an enemy, wherever
found, at sea. The Dutch, who had an extensive carrying trade with
France, being plundered by the British under their insolent "right of
search," were already preparing to join the other allies and commence
open hostilities.

The next act in the drama was the formation of the armed neutrality
denying the "right of search," and declaring that free ships made free
goods. Catharine II. of Russia was at its head. Sweden and Denmark
immediately joined it. It was resolved that neutral ships should enjoy
a free navigation even from port to port and on the coasts of the
belligerent powers; that all effects belonging to the subjects of the
said belligerent powers should be looked upon as free on board
such neutral ships, except only such goods as were stipulated to be
contraband, and that no port should be considered under blockade unless
there should be a sufficient force before it to render the blockade
effectual. The other European powers were invited to join this
confederacy. France and Spain agreed to do so at once; Portugal
hesitated and declined, and the United Provinces delayed for a time
their answer. The Emperor of Germany and the King of Prussia joined the
armed neutrality in 1781.

Meanwhile, Henry Laurens having been taken prisoner on his way to
Holland (1780) to solicit a loan for the United States, and his papers
having made the British ministry acquainted with the fact that overtures
for a treaty between Holland and America were under consideration,
England, at the close of 1780, resolved upon a war with the States
General. Thus England, by this step, without friend or allies, prepared
to wage, single-handed, the contest with enemies in every quarter of the

In the beginning of the year 1781, the affairs of the American Union
wore a gloomy and alarming aspect. Vigorous and united efforts were
needful; but all seemed feeble and irresolute. The people were heartily
tired of the war; and, though no better affected to the parent State
than before, yet they earnestly desired deliverance from the multiplied
miseries of the protracted struggle.

The alliance with France had promised a speedy termination to the war;
but hitherto, while its existence made the Americans comparatively
remiss in their own exertions to prosecute hostilities, the French fleet
and army had performed no important service.

Congress had called for an army of 37,000 men, to be in camp on the
1st of January (1781). The resolution, as usual, was too late, but even
although it had been promulgated in due time, so large a force could
not have been brought into the field. The deficiencies and delays on the
part of the several States exceeded all reasonable anticipation. At no
time during this active and interesting campaign did the regular force,
drawn from Pennsylvania to Georgia inclusive, amount to 3,000 men. So
late as the month of April (1781), the States, from New Jersey to New
Hampshire inclusive, had furnished only 5,000 infantry, but this force
was slowly and gradually increased, till, in the month of May, including
cavalry and artillery which never exceeded 1,000 men, it presented a
total of about 7,000, of whom upwards of 4,000 might have been relied
on in active service. A considerable part of this small force arrived
in camp too late to acquire during the campaign that discipline which is
essential to military success. Inadequate as this army was for asserting
the independence of the country, the prospect of being unable to support
it was still more alarming. The men were in rags; clothing had long been
expected from Europe but had not yet arrived and the disappointment was
severely felt.

The magazines were ill supplied, the troops were often almost starving
and the army ready to be dissolved for want of food. The arsenals were
nearly empty. Instead of having the requisites of a well-appointed army
everything was deficient and there was little prospect of being better
provided, for money was as scarce as food and military stores. Congress
had resolved to issue no more bills on the credit of the Union, and
the care of supplying the army was devolved upon the several States
according to a rule established by that body. Even when the States had
collected the specified provisions, the quartermaster-general had no
funds to pay for the transportation of them to the army to accomplish
which military impressment was resorted to in a most offensive degree.
Congress was surrounded with difficulties, the several States were
callous and dilatory, and affairs generally wore an aspect of debility
and decay.

To deepen the general gloom there were portentous rumors of preparations
for savage warfare along the whole extent of the western frontier and
of an invasion on the side of Canada. In the midst of financial
difficulties and apprehensions of attack both from foreign and domestic
enemies, a new and alarming danger appeared in a quarter where it was
little expected and which threatened to consummate the ruin of American
independence. The privations and sufferings of the troops had been
uncommonly great. To the usual hardships of a military life were added
nakedness and hunger, under that rigor of climate which whets the
appetite and renders clothing absolutely necessary. By the depreciation
of the paper currency their pay was little more than nominal, and it was
many months in arrear.

Besides those evils which were common to the whole army the troops of
Pennsylvania imagined that they labored under peculiar grievances. Their
officers had engaged them for three years or during the war. On the
expiration of three years the soldiers thought themselves entitled to a
discharge; the officers alleged that they were engaged for the war. The
large bounties given to those who were not bound by previous enlistment
heightened the discontent of the soldiers, and made them more zealous
in asserting what they thought their rights. In the first transports
of their patriotism they had readily enlisted, but men will not long
willingly submit to immediate and unprofitable hardships in the prospect
of distant and contingent rewards.

The discontents engendered by the causes now mentioned had for some time
been increasing and on the 1st of January, 1781, broke out into the open
and almost universal mutiny of the troops of Pennsylvania. On a signal
given, the greater part of the noncommissioned officers and privates
paraded under arms, declaring their intention of marching to the seat
of Congress at Philadelphia to obtain a redress of grievances, or to
abandon the service. The officers made every exertion to bring them back
to their duty, but in vain; in the attempt, a captain was killed and
several other persons wounded. General Wayne interposed, but, on cocking
his pistols at some of the most audacious of the mutineers, several
bayonets were at his breast, the men exclaiming, "We respect you--we
love you; but you are a dead man if you fire! Do not mistake us: we
are not going to the enemy, on the contrary, were they to come out, you
should see us fight under you with as much resolution and alacrity as
ever, but we wish a redress of grievances and will no longer be trifled
with." Such of the Pennsylvania troops as had at first taken no part in
the disturbance were prevailed on to join the mutineers and the whole,
amounting to 1,300 men, with six field pieces, marched from Morristown
under temporary officers of their own election. Washington's
headquarters were then at New Windsor on the North river.

Next day (Jan. 2, 1781), General Wayne and Colonels Butter and Stewart,
officers who in a high degree enjoyed the confidence and affection of
the troops, followed the mutineers, but though civilly received,
they could not succeed in adjusting the differences or in restoring
subordination. On the third day the mutineers resumed their march and
in the morning arrived at Princeton. Congress and the Pennsylvania
government, as well as Washington, were much alarmed by this mutiny
fearing the example might be contagious and lead to the dissolution of
the whole army. Therefore a committee of Congress, with President
Reed [1] at their head and some members of the executive council of
Pennsylvania, set out from Philadelphia for the purpose of allaying this
dangerous commotion.

Sir Henry Clinton, who heard of the mutiny on the morning of the 3d
(January 1781), was equally active in endeavoring to turn it to the
advantage of his government. He ordered a large corps to be in readiness
to march on a moment's notice and sent two American spies by way of
Amboy and two by way of Elizabethtown, as agents from himself to treat
with the mutineers. But two of the persons employed were actually spies
on himself and soon disclosed his proposals to the American authorities.
The two real spies on reaching Princeton were seized by the mutineers
and afterwards delivered up to General Wayne who had them tried and
executed on the 10th.

At first the mutineers declined leaving Princeton, but finding their
demands would be substantially complied with they marched to Trenton
on the 9th, and before the 15th (January 1781), the matter was so far
settled that the committee of Congress left Trenton and returned to
Philadelphia. All who had enlisted for three years or during the war
were to be discharged, and in cases where the terms of enlistment could
not be produced the oath of the soldier was to be received as evidence
on the point. They were to receive immediate certificates for the
depreciation on their pay, and their arrears were to be settled as
soon as circumstances would admit. On those terms about one-half of the
Pennsylvania troops obtained their discharge, numbers of them having,
as afterwards appeared, made false declarations concerning the terms of
their enlistment.

Intelligence of this mutiny was communicated to Washington at New
Windsor before any accommodation had taken place. Though he had been
long accustomed to decide in hazardous and difficult situations yet
it was no easy matter in this delicate crisis to determine on the most
proper course to be pursued. His personal influence had several times
extinguished rising mutinies. The first scheme that presented itself was
to repair to the camp of the mutineers and try to recall them to a sense
of their duty, but on mature reflection this was declined. He well knew
that their claims were founded in justice, but he could not reconcile
himself to wound the discipline of his army by yielding to their demands
while they were in open revolt with arms in their hands. He viewed the
subject in all its relations and was well apprised that the principal
grounds of discontent were not peculiar to the Pennsylvania line, but
common to all the troops.

If force was requisite he had none to spare without hazarding West
Point. If concessions were unavoidable they had better be made by any
person than the Commander-in-Chief. After that due deliberation which
he always gave to matters of importance he determined against a personal
interference and to leave the whole to the civil authorities which had
already taken it up, but at the same time prepared for those measures
which would become necessary if no accommodation took place. This
resolution was communicated to Wayne, with a caution to regard the
situation of the other lines of the army in any concessions which
might be made and with a recommendation to draw the mutineers over the
Delaware, with a view to increase the difficulty of communicating with
the enemy in New York. The result, however, showed that this last was an
unnecessary precaution.

The success of the Pennsylvania troops in exacting from their country by
violence what had been denied to the claims of equity produced a similar
spirit of insubordination in another division of the army. On the night
of the 20th of January (1781), about 160 of the Jersey brigade, which
was quartered at Pompton, complaining of grievances similar to those of
the Pennsylvania line and hoping for equal success, rose in arms, and
marched to Chatham with the view of prevailing on some of their comrades
stationed there to join them. Their number was not formidable and
Washington, knowing that he might depend on the fidelity of the greater
part of his troops detached Gen. Robert Howe against the mutineers, with
orders to force them to unconditional submission and to execute some
of the most turbulent of them on the spot. These orders were promptly
obeyed and two of the ringleaders were put to death.

Sir Henry Clinton, as in the case of the Pennsylvanians, endeavored to
take advantage of the mutiny of the Jersey brigade. He sent emissaries
to negotiate with them, and detached General Robertson with 3,000 men to
Staten Island to be in readiness to support them if they should accede
to his proposals, but the mutiny was so speedily crushed that his
emissaries had no time to act.

The situation of Congress at this time was trying in the extreme. The
contest was now one for very existence. A powerful foe was in full
strength in the heart of the country; they had great military operations
to carry on, but were almost without an army and wholly without money.
Their bills of credit had ceased to be of any worth; and they were
reduced to the mortifying necessity of declaring by their own acts
that this was the fact, as they no longer made them a legal tender or
received them in payment of taxes. Without money of some kind an army
could neither be raised nor maintained. But the greater the exigency
the greater were the exertions of Congress. They directed their agents
abroad to borrow, if possible, from France, Spain, and Holland. They
resorted to taxation, although they knew that the measure would be
unpopular and that they had not the power to enforce their decree. The
tax laid they apportioned among the several States, by whose authority
it was to be collected. Perceiving that there was great disorder and
waste, or peculation, in the management of the fiscal concerns they
determined on introducing a thorough reform and the strictest economy.
They accordingly appointed as treasurer Robert Morris of Philadelphia,
a man whose pure morals, ardent patriotism, and great knowledge of
financial concerns eminently fitted him for this important station. The
zeal and genius of Morris soon produced the most favorable results. By
means of the "Bank of North America," to which in the course of the year
he obtained the approbation of Congress, he contrived to draw out the
funds of wealthy individuals. By borrowing in the name of the government
from this bank and pledging for payment the taxes not yet collected, he
was enabled to anticipate them and command a ready supply. He also used
his own private credit which was good though that of the government
had failed, and at one time bills signed by him individually, were in
circulation to the amount of $581,000.

The establishment of a revenue subject to the exclusive control and
direction of the Continental government was connected inseparably
with the restoration of credit. The efforts, therefore, to negotiate a
foreign loan were accompanied by resolutions requesting the respective
States to place a fund under the control of Congress which should be
both permanent and productive. A resolution was passed recommending the
respective States to vest a power in Congress to levy for the use of the
United States a duty of five per centum ad valorem on all goods imported
into any of them, and also on all prizes condemned in any of the
American courts of admiralty.

This fund was to be appropriated to the payment of both the principal
and interest of all debts contracted in the prosecution of the war, and
was to continue until those debts should be completely discharged.

Congress at that time contained several members who perceived the
advantages which would result from bestowing on the government of the
nation the full power of regulating commerce, and consequently, of
increasing the imports as circumstances might render advisable;
but State influence predominated and they were overruled by great
majorities. Even the inadequate plan which they did recommend was never
adopted. Notwithstanding the greatness of the exigency and the pressure
of the national wants, never during the existence of the Confederation
did all the States unite in assenting to this recommendation, so
unwilling are men possessed of power to place it in the hands of others.

About the same time a reform was introduced into the administration the
necessity of which had been long perceived. From a misplaced prejudice
against institutions sanctioned by experience all the great executive
duties had been devolved either on committees of Congress or on boards
consisting of several members. This unwieldy and expensive system had
maintained itself against all the efforts of reason and public utility.
But the scantiness of the national means at length prevailed over
prejudice, and the several committees and boards yielded to a secretary
for foreign affairs, a superintendent of finance, a secretary of
war, and a secretary of marine. But so miserably defective was the
organization of Congress as an executive body that the year (1781) had
far advanced before this measure, the utility of which all acknowledged,
could be carried into complete operation by making all the appointments.

The war had continued much longer than was originally anticipated, and
the natural resources of the country, mismanaged by the inexperience of
the government and its ignorance of the principles of political economy
were so much exhausted that it became apparent the war could not be
carried on without a foreign loan and France, sufficiently embarrassed
with her own affairs, was the only country to which Congress could look
for pecuniary aid. Accordingly, Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens, who had
been one of Washington's aids, was employed on this mission, and besides
endeavoring to negotiate a loan was instructed to press on the French
monarch the advantage of maintaining a naval superiority in the American
seas. While the energies of America were thus paralyzed by the financial
difficulties of Congress, the mutinous spirit of part of the army
and the selfishness and apathy of several of the States, the British
interest in the Provinces seemed in a prosperous condition. General
Greene, as we shall presently see, was maintaining a doubtful and
hazardous struggle against Cornwallis on the northern frontier of North
Carolina. A British detachment from New York had made a deep impression
on Virginia where the resistance was neither so prompt nor so vigorous
as had been expected from the strength of that State and the unanimity
of its citizens.

On the 1st of May, 1781, Washington commenced a military journal. The
following statement is extracted from it: "I begin at this epoch a
concise journal of military transactions, &c. I lament not having
attempted it from the commencement of the war in aid of my memory, and
wish the multiplicity of matter which continually surrounds me and
the embarrassed state of our affairs which is momentarily calling
the attention to perplexities of one kind or another may not defeat
altogether or so interrupt my present intention and plan as to render it
of little avail.

"To have the clearer understanding of the entries which may follow it
would be proper to recite in detail our wants and our prospects, but
this alone would be a work of much time and great magnitude. It may
suffice to give the sum of them, which I shall do in a few words, viz.:

"Instead of having magazines filled with provisions we have a scanty
pittance scattered here and there in the distant States.

"Instead of having our arsenals well supplied with military stores they
are poorly provided, and the workmen all leaving them. Instead of
having the various articles of field equipage in readiness the
quartermaster-general is but now applying to the several States to
provide these things for their troops respectively. Instead of having
a regular system of transportation established upon credit, or funds in
the quartermaster's hands to defray the contingent expenses thereof we
have neither the one nor the other; and all that business, or a great
part of it being done by impressment, we are daily and hourly oppressing
the people, souring their tempers, and alienating their affections.
Instead of having the regiments completed agreeable to the requisitions
of Congress, scarce any State in the Union has at this hour one-eighth
part of its quota in the field, and there is little prospect of ever
getting more than half. In a word, instead of having anything in
readiness to take the field, we have nothing; and, instead of having the
prospect of a glorious offensive campaign before us we have a bewildered
and gloomy prospect of a defensive one, unless we should receive a
powerful aid of ships, troops, and money from our generous allies, and
these at present are too contingent to build upon."

While the Americans were suffering the complicated calamities which
introduced the year 1781 their adversaries were carrying on the most
extensive plan of operations against them which had ever been attempted.
It had often been objected to the British commanders that they had not
conducted the war in the manner most likely to effect the subjugation
of the revolted provinces. Military critics found fault with them for
keeping a large army idle at New York, which, they said, if properly
applied, would have been sufficient to make successful impressions at
one and the same time on several of the States. The British seemed to
have calculated the campaign of 1781 with a view to make an experiment
of the comparative merit of this mode of conducting military operations.
The war raged in that year not only in the vicinity of the British
headquarters at New York, but in Georgia, South Carolina, North
Carolina, and in Virginia.

In this extensive warfare Washington could have no immediate agency in
the southern department. His advice in corresponding with the officers
commanding in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, was freely and
beneficially given, and as large detachments sent to their aid as could
be spared consistently with the security of West Point. In conducting
the war his invariable maxim was to suffer the devastation of property
rather than hazard great and essential objects for its preservation.
While the war raged in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, the Governor, its
representatives in Congress, and other influential citizens, urged his
return to the defense of his native State. But considering America as
his country and the general safety as his object, he deemed it of more
importance to remain on the Hudson. There he was not only securing the
most important post in the United States but concerting a grand plan of
combined operations which, as shall soon be related, not only delivered
Virginia but all the States from the calamities of the war. In
Washington's disregard of property when in competition with national
objects he was in no respect partial to his own. While the British were
in the Potomac they sent a flag to Mount Vernon requiring a supply
of fresh provisions. Refusals of such demands were often followed by
burning the houses and other property near the river. To prevent this
catastrophe the person entrusted with the management of the estate went
on board with the flag and carrying a supply of provisions, requested
that the buildings and improvements might be spared. For this he
received a severe reprimand in a letter to him in which Washington
observed: "It would have been a less painful circumstance to me to have
heard that in consequence of your noncompliance with the request of the
British they had burned my house and laid my plantation in ruins. You
ought to have considered yourself as my representative, and should have
reflected on the bad example of communicating with the enemy and making
a voluntary offer of refreshment to them with a view to prevent a

To the other difficulties with which Washington had to contend in the
preceding years of the war a new one was about this time added. While
the whole force at his disposal was unequal to the defense of the
country against the common enemy, a civil war was on the point of
breaking out among his fellow-citizens. The claims of Vermont to be
a separate, independent State, and of the State of New York to their
country, as within its chartered limits, together with open offers from
the royal commanders to establish and defend them as a British province,
produced a serious crisis which called for the interference of the
American chief. This was the more necessary, as the governments of New
York and Vermont were both resolved on exercising a jurisdiction over
the same people and the same territory. Congress, wishing to compromise
the controversy, on middle ground, resolved, in August, 1781, to accede
to the independence of Vermont on certain conditions and within certain
specified limits which they supposed would satisfy both parties.
Contrary to their expectations this mediatorial act of the national
Legislature was rejected by Vermont, and yet was so disagreeable to the
Legislature of New York as to draw from them a spirited protest against
it. Vermont complained that Congress interfered in their internal
police; New York viewed the resolve as a virtual dismemberment of their
State, which was a constituent part of the Confederacy. Washington,
anxious for the peace of the Union, sent a message to Governor
Chittenden of Vermont desiring to know "what were the real designs,
views, and intentions of the people of Vermont; whether they would
be satisfied with the independence proposed by Congress, or had it
seriously in contemplation to join with the enemy and become a British
province." The Governor returned an unequivocal answer: "That there were
no people on the continent more attached to the cause of America than
the people of Vermont, but they were fully determined not to be put
under the government of New York; that they would oppose this by force
of arms and would join with the British in Canada rather than submit to
that government." While both States were dissatisfied with Congress, and
their animosities, from increasing violence and irritation, became daily
more alarming, Washington, aware of the extremes to which all parties
were tending, returned an answer to Governor Chittenden in which
were these expressions: "It is not my business, neither do I think
it necessary now to discuss the origin of the right of a number of
inhabitants to that tract of country formerly distinguished by the name
of the New Hampshire grants, and now known by that of Vermont. I will
take it for granted that their right was good, because Congress by their
resolve of the 17th of August imply it, and by that of the 21st are
willing fully to confirm it, provided the new State is confined to
certain described bounds. It appears, therefore, to me that the dispute
of boundary is the only one that exists, and that being removed all
other difficulties would be removed also and the matter terminated to
the satisfaction of all parties. You have nothing to do but withdraw
your jurisdiction to the confines of your old limits and obtain an
acknowledgment of independence and sovereignty under the resolve of the
21st of August (1781), for so much territory as does not interfere
with the ancient established bounds of New York, New Hampshire, and
Massachusetts. In my private opinion, while it behooves the delegates to
do ample justice to a body of people sufficiently respectable by
their numbers and entitled by other claims to be admitted into that
confederation, it becomes them also to attend to the interests of their
constituents and see that under the appearance of justice to one they
do not materially injure the rights of others. I am apt to think this is
the prevailing opinion of Congress."

The impartiality, moderation, and good sense of this letter, together
with a full conviction of the disinterested patriotism of the writer,
brought round a revolution in the minds of the Legislature of Vermont,
and they accepted the propositions of Congress though they had rejected
them four months before. A truce among the contending parties followed
and the storm blew over. Thus the personal influence of one man, derived
from his pre-eminent virtues and meritorious services, extinguished the
sparks of civil discord at the time they were kindling into flame. [2]

While Washington, during the early part of the year 1781, was thus
contending with every species of discouragement and difficulty,
prevented from acting offensively by want of means, and thus apparently
wasting away the fighting season in comparative inaction the war
was actively raging in the southern States. To this grand theater of
hostilities, as interesting as they are terrible, we must now call the
reader's attention.

 1. Footnote: Gen. Joseph Reed, formerly secretary to Washington.

2. Footnote: It was during this dispute between New York and Vermont
that Gen. Ethan Allen, then residing in the latter State, received large
offers from the British to use his influence to detach Vermont from the
Union and annex it to Canada. Of course these offers were indignantly



In our last notice of the movements and operations of the contending
armies in the southern States, we left Cornwallis, after a dreary and
disastrous retreat, at Wynnsborough. The Americans, in the meantime,
were not idle. Defeated, but not subdued, they were active in preparing
to renew the struggle. After the defeat and dispersion of his army at
Camden, General Gates retreated to Charlotte, eighty miles from the
field of battle. There he halted to collect the straggling fugitives and
to endeavor from the wreck of his discomfited army to form a force with
which he might check or impede the advancing foe. He was soon joined
by Generals Smallwood and Gist, and about 150 dispirited officers and
soldiers. Most of the militia who escaped returned home, and General
Caswell was ordered to assemble those of the neighboring counties. Major
Anderson of the Third Maryland regiment, who had collected a number of
fugitives not far from the field of battle, proceeded toward Charlotte
by easy marches in order to give stragglers time to join him. But as
Charlotte was utterly indefensible and as no barrier lay between it
and the victorious enemy Gates retreated to Salisbury and sent Colonel
Williams, accompanied by another officer, on the road leading to Camden
to gain information of the movements of Cornwallis, and to direct
such stragglers as he met to hasten to Salisbury. From Salisbury Gates
proceeded to Hillsborough, where he intended to assemble an army with
which he might contend for the southern Provinces.

It was from Hillsborough that he wrote the letter to Washington, which
we have already quoted, desiring the exertion of his influence to
prevent his being superseded in the command of the southern army.

At Hillsborough every exertion was made to collect and organize a
military force and ere long Gates was again at the head of 1,400 men.
Even before the royal army entered North Carolina that State had called
out the second division of its militia, under Generals Davidson and
Sumner, and they were joined by the volunteer cavalry under Colonel

When Cornwallis entered Charlotte, Gates ordered General Smallwood to
take post at the fords of the Yadkin in order to dispute the passage of
the river, and Morgan, who had joined the southern army with the rank of
brigadier-general, was employed with a light corps to harass the enemy.

When Cornwallis retreated Gates advanced to Charlotte; he stationed
General Smallwood further down the Catawba on the road to Camden and
ordered Morgan to some distance in his front. Such was the position
of the troops when Gates was superseded in the command of the southern

On the 5th of October (1780) Congress, without any previous indications
of dissatisfaction, had passed a resolution requiring Washington to
order a court of inquiry into the conduct of Major-General Gates, as
commander of the southern army, and to appoint another officer to that
command till such inquiry should be made. The order of Congress to
inquire into the conduct of Gates was unsatisfactory, as we have already
seen, to Washington. It was afterward dispensed with and Gates restored
to a command in the army.

Meanwhile Washington recommended Major-General Greene to Congress as a
person qualified to command the southern army. Greene, by his activity,
intrepidity, and good conduct, had gained the confidence of Washington
long ago; he had desired him to have the command when Gates was
appointed, as we have already seen, and he now again recommended him as
an officer in whose ability, fortitude, and integrity he could trust. On
the 2d of December (1780) Greene arrived at Charlotte and informed Gates
of his commission. That was the first official notice which Gates, the
former favorite of Congress, received of his removal from the command of
the southern army. Next day Gates resigned the command of the army with
becoming dignity and patriotism, and Greene, who was dissatisfied with
the treatment which he had received, behaved toward him with the most
polite attention.

In a few hours after Greene entered on his command he received the
report of one of Morgan's foraging parties, not far from Camden. The
party advanced to the vicinity of the British posts at Clermont, which
was viewed by Col. William A. Washington, who saw that it was too
strong to be taken by small arms and cavalry, the only weapons and force
present; he therefore had recourse to stratagem. Having made an imposing
show of part of his men and having placed the trunk of a pine tree in
such a situation as, at a distance, to have the appearance of a cannon,
he summoned the post to surrender, and it yielded without firing a shot.
The Tory Colonel Rugely and 112 men whom he had collected in the place
were made prisoners. This inconsiderable event elated Greene's army and
was considered by them as a good omen of success under their new leader.

General Greene's situation was embarrassing. His army was feeble,
consisting, on the 8th of December (1780), of 2,029 infantry, of whom
1,482 were in camp and 547 in detachments; 821 were Continentals
and 1,208 were militia. Besides these there were 90 cavalry, 60
artillerymen, and 128 Continentals on extra service, constituting in all
a force of 2,307 men.

In North Carolina there were many Loyalists, and hostilities were
carried on between them and their republican neighbors with the most
rancorous animosity. The country was thinly inhabited and abounded
in woods and swamps. The cultivated parts were laid waste by hostile
factions, and no magazines for the army were provided. The troops were
almost naked, and Greene obliged to procure subsistence for them day by

He found that he could not long remain at Charlotte for the country
between that place and Camden, having been traversed by the contending
armies, was quite exhausted. In order, therefore, to procure subsistence
for his troops, as well as to distract and harass the enemy, Greene,
though fully aware of the danger of such a measure, felt himself
constrained to divide his little army.

General Morgan had been invested with the command of the light troops by
Gates, and Greene placed him at the head of one of the divisions of his
army, consisting of nearly 400 infantry under Lieutenant-Colonel Howard,
170 Virginia riflemen under Major Triplett, and 80 light dragoons under
Lieut.-Col. William A. Washington. With this small force Morgan was sent
to the south of the Catawba to observe the British at Wynnsborough and
Camden and to shift for himself, but was directed to risk as little as
possible. On the 25th of December (1780) he took a position toward the
western frontier of South Carolina, not far from the confluence of
the Pacolet and Broad rivers, and about fifty miles northwest from
Wynnsborough. With the other division of his army Greene left Charlotte
on the 20th of the same month (December, 1780), and on the 29th arrived
at Hick's Corner on the east side of the Pedee, opposite the Cheraw
hills, about seventy miles northeast from Wynnsborough, where he
remained some time. He marched to that place in the hope of finding
more plentiful subsistence for his troops, but his difficulties in that
respect were not much diminished, for the country was almost laid waste
by the cruel feuds of the hostile factions.

General Morgan did not long remain inactive. On the 27th of December
(1780) he detached Colonel Washington with his dragoons and 200 militia,
who next day marched forty miles, surprised a body of Loyalists at
Ninety-six, killed or wounded 150 of them, and took 40 prisoners,
without sustaining any loss. At that time Morgan was joined by Major
M'Dowell with 200 North Carolina, and by Colonel Pickens with 70 South
Carolina militia.

The British had to contend not only with the force under Greene and
Morgan, but were also obliged to watch other adversaries not less active
and enterprising. Sumter had been defeated by Tarleton on the 18th
of August (1780), and his followers dispersed, but that daring and
indefatigable partisan did not long remain quiet. He was soon again at
the head of a considerable band and had frequent skirmishes with his
adversaries. Always changing his position about Enoree, Broad, and Tiger
rivers, he often assailed the British posts in that quarter. On the 12th
of November (1780) he was attacked at Broad river by Major Wemyss, but
repulsed the party and made the major prisoner. On the 20th of the same
month he was attacked by Tarleton at Black Stocks, near Tiger river; the
encounter was sharp and obstinate; Tarleton was repulsed with loss,
but Sumter was wounded in the battle, and, being unfitted for active
service, his followers dispersed. Sumter showed much humanity to his
prisoners. Although Wemyss had deliberately hanged Mr. Cusack in the
Cheraw district, and although he had in his pocket a list of several
houses burned by his orders, yet he met with every indulgence. At Black
Stocks the wounded were kindly treated.

Other partisan chiefs arose and among them General Marion held a
distinguished place. He had commanded a regiment in Charleston at the
time of the siege, but having received a wound which fractured his leg,
and being incapable of discharging the [1] active duties of his office,
he withdrew from the town. On the advance of Gates, having procured a
band of followers, he penetrated to the Santee, harassed the British
detachments, and discouraged the Loyalists. After the defeat of the
Americans at Camden he rescued a party of Continental prisoners who
were under a British guard. So ill was he provided with arms that he
was obliged to forge the saws of the sawmills into rude swords for his
horsemen, and so scanty was his ammunition that at times he engaged when
he had not three cartridges to each of his party. He secured himself
from pursuit in the recesses of the forest and in deep swamps. [2]

Cornwallis impatiently waited the arrival of reinforcements. After the
victory at Camden, when he was flushed with the sanguine hope not only
of overrunning North Carolina, but of invading Virginia, General Leslie
was detached from New York to the southward with a considerable body of
troops, and, according to orders, landed in Virginia, expecting to meet
the southern army in that State. On finding himself unable to accomplish
his lofty schemes, and obliged to fall back into South Carolina,
Cornwallis ordered Leslie to re-embark and sail for Charleston. He
arrived there on the 13th of December (1780), and on the 19th began his
march with 1,500 men to join Cornwallis. His lordship resolved to begin
offensive operations immediately on the arrival of his reinforcements,
but, in the meantime, alarmed by the movements of Morgan for the safety
of the British post at Ninety-six, he detached Tarleton with the light
and legion infantry, the fusiliers or Seventh regiment, the first
battalion of the Seventy-first regiment, 350 cavalry, 2 field pieces,
and an adequate number of the royal artillery, in all about 1,100
men, with orders to strike a blow at Morgan and drive him out of the
province. As Tarleton's force was known to be superior to that under
Morgan, no doubt whatever was entertained of the precipitate flight or
total discomfiture of the Americans.

Meanwhile Cornwallis left Wynnsborough and proceeded toward the
northwest, between the Broad and Catawba rivers. General Leslie, who had
halted at Camden in order to conceal as long as possible the road which
the British army was to take, was now ordered to advance up the Catawba
and join the main body on its march. By this route Cornwallis hoped to
intercept Morgan if he should escape Tarleton, or perhaps to get between
General Greene and Virginia and compel him to fight before the arrival
of his expected reinforcements. The British generals encumbered with
baggage and military stores, marching through bad roads, and a country
intersected by rivulets which were often swollen by the rains, advanced
but slowly. Tarleton, however, with his light troops, proceeded with
great celerity and overtook Morgan probably sooner than was expected.

On the 14th of January (1781) Morgan was informed of the movements of
the British army and got notice of the march of Tarleton and of the
force under his command. Sensible of his danger he began to retreat, and
crossed the Pacolet, the passage of which he was inclined to dispute,
but, on being told that Tarleton had forded the river six miles above
him, he made a precipitate retreat, and at ten at night on the 16th of
January the British took possession of the ground which the Americans
had left a few hours before.

Although his troops were much fatigued by several days' hard marching
through a difficult country, yet, determined that Morgan should not
escape, Tarleton resumed the pursuit at three next morning, leaving his
baggage behind under a guard with orders not to move till break of
day. Morgan, though retreating, was not disinclined to fight. By great
exertions he might have crossed Broad river or reached a hilly tract of
country before he could have been overtaken. He was inferior to
Tarleton in the number of his troops, but more so in their quality, as
a considerable part of his force consisted of militia, and the British
cavalry were three times more numerous than the American. But
Morgan, who had great confidence both in himself and in his men, was
apprehensive of being overtaken before he could pass Broad river, and
he chose rather to fight voluntarily than to be forced to a battle.
Therefore, having been joined by some militia under Colonel Pickens, he
halted at a place called the Cowpens, about three miles from the line
of separation between North and South Carolina. Before daylight on
the morning of the 17th of January (1781), he was informed of the near
approach of Tarleton, and instantly prepared to receive him.

The ground on which Morgan halted had no great advantages, but his
dispositions were judicious. On rising ground, in an open wood, he drew
up his Continental troops and Triplett's corps, amounting together to
nearly 500 men, under Lieutenant-Colonel Howard. Colonel Washington with
his cavalry was posted in their rear, behind the eminence, ready to
act as occasion might require. At a small distance in front of his
Continentals was a line of militia under Colonel Pickens and Major
M'Dowell, and 150 yards in front of Pickens was stationed a battalion
of North Carolina and Georgia volunteers under Major Cunningham, with
orders to give one discharge on the approaching enemy, and then to
retreat and join the militia. Pickens was directed, when he could no
longer keep his ground, to fall back with a retreating fire and form on
the right of the Continentals.

Scarcely were those dispositions made when the British van appeared.
Tarleton, who had been informed by two prisoners of Morgan's position
and strength, instantly formed his troops. The light and legion infantry
and the Seventh regiment, and a captain with fifty dragoons on
each flank, constituted his first line; the first battalion of the
Seventy-first regiment and the rest of the cavalry composed the reserve.
Formerly Tarleton had succeeded by sudden and impetuous assaults, and,
entertaining no doubt of speedy and complete victory on the present
occasion, he led on his men to the attack with characteristic ardor,
even before his troops were well formed. The British rushed forward
impetuously, shouting and firing as they advanced. The American
volunteers, after a single discharge, retreated to the militia under
Pickens. The British advanced rapidly, and furiously attacked the
militia, who soon gave way and sought shelter in the rear of the
Continentals. Tarleton eagerly pressed on, but the Continentals,
undismayed by the retreat of the militia, received him firmly, and an
obstinate conflict ensued. Tarleton ordered up his reserve, and the
Continental line was shaken by the violence of the onset. Morgan ordered
his men to retreat to the summit of the eminence and was instantly
obeyed. The British, whose ranks were somewhat thinned, exhausted by the
previous march and by the struggle in which they had been engaged, and
believing the victory won, pursued in some disorder, but, on reaching
the top of the hill, Howard ordered his men to wheel and face the enemy;
they instantly obeyed and met the pursuing foe with a well-directed and
deadly fire. This unexpected and destructive volley threw the British
into some confusion, which Howard observing, ordered his men to charge
them with the bayonet. Their obedience was as prompt as before, and the
British line was soon broken. About the same moment Washington routed
the cavalry on the British right, who had pursued the flying militia
and were cutting them down on the left and even in the rear of the
Continentals. Ordering his men not to fire a pistol, Washington charged
the British cavalry sword in hand. The conflict was sharp, but not of
long duration. The British were driven from the ground with considerable
loss and closely pursued. Howard and Washington pressed the advantage
which they had gained; many of the militia rallied and joined in the
battle. In a few minutes after the British had been pursuing the enemy,
without a doubt of victory, the fortune of the day entirely changed;
their artillerymen were killed, their cannon taken, and the greater part
of the infantry compelled to lay down their arms. Tarleton, with about
forty horse, made a furious charge on Washington's cavalry, but the
battle was irrecoverably lost, and he was reluctantly obliged to
retreat. Upwards of 200 of his cavalry, who had not been engaged, fled
through the woods with the utmost precipitation, bearing away with them
such of the officers as endeavored to oppose their flight. The only
part of the infantry which escaped was the detachment left to guard the
baggage, which they destroyed when informed of the defeat, and, mounting
the wagons and spare horses, hastily retreated to the army. The cavalry
arrived in camp in two divisions; one in the evening, with the tidings
of their disastrous discomfiture, and the other, under Tarleton himself,
appeared next morning. In this battle the British had ten commissioned
officers and upwards of 100 privates killed. More than 500 were made
prisoners, nearly 200 of whom, including twenty-nine commissioned
officers, were wounded. Two pieces of artillery, two standards, 800
muskets, thirty-five baggage wagons and about 100 horses fell into the
hands of the Americans whose loss amounted only to 12 men killed and 60
wounded. The British force under Tarleton has been commonly estimated
at 1,100 men, and the American army at 1,000, although Morgan, in his
official report to Greene, written two days after the battle, states it
to have been only 800. [3]

Cornwallis was at Turkey creek, twenty-five miles from the Cowpens,
confident of the success of his detachment or at least without the
slightest apprehension of its defeat. He was between Greene and Morgan
and it was a matter of much importance to prevent their junction and
to overthrow the one of them while he could receive no support from the
other. For that purpose he had marched up Broad river and instructed
General Leslie to proceed on the banks of the Catawba in order to keep
the Americans in a state of uncertainty concerning the route which he
intended to pursue, but the unexpected defeat of his detachment was an
occurrence equally mortifying and perplexing and nothing remained but to
endeavor to compensate the disaster by the rapidity of his movements and
the decision of his conduct.

He was as near the fords of the Catawba as Morgan and flattered himself
that, elated with victory and encumbered with prisoners and baggage,
that officer might yet be overtaken before he could pass those fords.
Accordingly, on the 18th of January, (1781) he formed a junction with
General Leslie and on the 19th began his remarkable pursuit of Morgan.
In order the more certainly to accomplish his end at Ramsour's Mills he
destroyed the whole of his superfluous baggage. He set the example
by considerably diminishing the quantity of his own and was readily
imitated by his officers although some of them suffered much less by the
measure. He retained no wagons except those loaded with hospital stores
and ammunition and four empty ones for the accommodation of the sick
and wounded. But notwithstanding all his privations and exertions he
ultimately missed his aim for Morgan displayed as much prudence and
activity after his victory as bravery in gaining it. Fully aware of his
danger he left behind him, under a flag of truce, such of the wounded as
could not be moved with surgeons to attend them, and scarcely giving his
men time to breathe he sent off his prisoners under an escort of militia
and followed with his regular troops and cavalry, bringing up the rear
in person. He crossed Broad river at the upper fords, hastened to the
Catawba, which he reached on the evening of the 28th, and safely passed
it with his prisoners and troops next day--his rear having gained the
northern bank only about two hours before the van of the British army
appeared on the opposite side.

Much rain had fallen on the mountains a short time before and it rained
incessantly during the night. The river rose and in the morning was
impassable. Morgan made a hair-breadth escape, for had the river risen
a few hours sooner he would have been unable to pass and probably would
have been overtaken and overwhelmed by his pursuers and had the flood in
the river been a little later Cornwallis might have forced a passage and
entirely discomfited the American division. But it was two days before
the inundation subsided, and in that interval Morgan sent off his
prisoners towards Charlottesville, in Virginia, under an escort of
militia and they were soon beyond the reach of pursuit. The Americans
regarded the swelling of the river with pious gratitude as an
interposition of Heaven in their behalf and looked forward with
increased confidence to the day of ultimate success.

Morgan called for the assistance of the neighboring militia, and
prepared to dispute the passage of the river; but on the 31st of January
(1781), while he lay at Sherwood's ford, General Greene unexpectedly
appeared in camp and took on himself the command. Toward the end of
December, (1781) Greene, as already mentioned, took a position at Hick's
creek on the east side of the Peedee, and had in camp 1,100 Continental
and State troops fit for service. On the 12th of January (1781) he was
joined by Col. Henry Lee's partisan legion which arrived from the
North and consisted of 100 well-mounted horsemen and 120 infantry. This
reinforcement was next day dispatched on a secret expedition and in
order to divert the attention of the enemy from the movements of the
legion, Major Anderson, with a small detachment was sent down the
Peedee. On the night of the 24th, Lee surprised Georgetown and killed
some of the garrison, but the greater part fled into the fort which Lee
was not in a condition to besiege.

Although Cornwallis perceived that he would meet with opposition yet
he determined to force the passage. The river was about 500 yards wide,
three feet deep, and the stream rapid. The light infantry of the guards
under Colonel Hall, accompanied by a guide, first entered the ford; they
were followed by the grenadiers who were succeeded by the battalions.
As soon as Davidson perceived the direction of the British column he led
his men to the point where it was about to land. But before he arrived
the light infantry had overcome all difficulties and were ascending the
bank and forming. While passing the river, in obedience to orders, they
reserved their fire, and, on gaining the bank, soon put the militia to
flight. Davidson was the last to retreat and on mounting his horse to
retire he received a mortal wound.

The defeat of Davidson opened the passage of the river. All the American
parties retreated, and on the same day the rest of the British
army crossed at Beattie's ford. Tarleton, with the cavalry and the
Twenty-third regiment, was sent in pursuit of the militia, and being
informed on his march that the neighboring militia were assembling at
Tarrant's tavern, about ten miles distant, he hastened with the
cavalry to that place. About 500 militia were assembled and seemed not
unprepared to receive him. He attacked them with his usual impetuosity
and soon defeated and dispersed them with considerable slaughter.
The passage of the river and the total discomfiture of the party at
Tarrant's tavern so much intimidated the inhabitants of the country that
the royal army received no further trouble from the militia till it had
passed the Yadkin.

A grand military race now began between the retreating Americans under
Greene and the pursuing British under Cornwallis. Greene marched so
rapidly that he passed the Yadkin at the trading ford on the night
between the 2d and 3d of February (1781), partly by fording and partly
by means of boats and flats. So closely was he pursued that the British
van was often in sight of the American rear and a sharp conflict
happened not far from the ford, between a body of American riflemen
and the advanced guard of the British army, when the latter obtained
possession of a few wagons. Greene secured all the boats on the south
side and here it again happened as at the Catawba--the river suddenly
rose by reason of the preceding rains and the British were unable to
pass. This second escape by the swelling of the waters was interpreted
by the Americans as a visible interposition of Heaven in their behalf
and inspired then with a lofty enthusiasm in that cause which seemed to
be the peculiar care of Omnipotence.

Greene, released from the immediate pressure of his pursuers, continued
his march northward and on the 7th of February joined his division under
Huger and Williams near Guilford Courthouse.

In order to cover his retreat and to check the pursuing enemy
Greene formed a light corps out of Lee's legion, Howard's infantry,
Washington's cavalry, and some Virginia riflemen under Major Campbell,
amounting to 700 men, the flower of the southern army. As General Morgan
was severely indisposed the command of these light troops was given to
Col. Otho Holland Williams, formerly adjutant-general.

Having refreshed his troops, and made the necessary arrangements on the
morning of the 10th of February (1781), Greene left Guilford Courthouse
on his march towards the Dan, and was pursued by Cornwallis, who had
been detained by the long circuit which he was obliged to make in order
to pass the Yadkin. The retreat and pursuit were equally rapid, but the
boldness and activity of the American light troops compelled the British
to march compactly and with caution, for on one occasion Colonel Lee
charged the advanced cavalry of the British army suddenly and furiously,
killed a number, and made some prisoners. On this occasion Cornwallis
felt the loss of the light troops who had been killed or taken at the
Cowpens. He was destined to regret their loss through the rest of the

Greene's precautions and preparations for passing the Dan were
successful and on the 14th of February he crossed that river at Boyd's
and Irwin's ferries with his army, baggage, and stores. Although his
light troops had marched forty miles that day, yet the last of them
had scarcely reached the northern bank when the advanced guard of the
British army appeared on the other side of the river.

The escape of Greene into Virginia without a battle and without any
loss except a few wagons at the Yadkin, was a severe disappointment to
Cornwallis. He had entirely failed in his attempts against Greene, but
he was consoled by the reflection that he had completely driven him out
of North Carolina, and that now there was nothing to hinder the loyal
inhabitants from openly espousing the British cause and reinforcing the
royal army.

Cornwallis now gave up the pursuit and repaired to Hillsborough with the
view of calling out and organizing the Royalist forces. His adherents,
though here particularly strong, did not come forward to the extent
expected. The larger portion, as elsewhere, regarded the cause with
that passive and inert attachment which we have remarked to be generally
prevalent and even the more zealous having suffered severely by former
premature displays, dreaded lest the republican cause should regain the
ascendancy. The view also of the distress and exhaustion of the British
troops after so long a march was by no means alluring. Yet seven
companies were formed and detachments began to come in from different

On the other hand, Greene, having obtained a reinforcement of Virginia
militia, repassed the Dan and with his light troops endeavored to
annoy the British army and prevent recruiting. Major Lee surprised a
detachment of Royalists who mistook him for Tarleton and cut them
nearly to pieces. On account of the exhausted state of the country at
Hillsborough, Cornwallis soon withdrew to a position on the Allimance
creek between Haw and Deep rivers, where he could be better supplied
and support his friends who were numerous there. Greene, however, by
an active use of his cavalry and light troops, severely harassed his
opponent and by changing his own position every night, eluded the
attempt to bring him to an engagement.

At length General Greene, having received reinforcements which raised
his army to above 4,200 men, of whom about a third were regulars,
determined to offer battle. This was what Cornwallis had eagerly sought,
yet his own effective force being reduced to somewhat under 2,000 he
felt now some hesitation, and probably would have acted more wisely in
maintaining the defensive. Even the enterprising Tarleton observes
that in his circumstances defeat would have been total ruin, while any
victory he might expect to gain could yield little fruit. All the habits
and views of Cornwallis, however, being directed to an active campaign,
he formed his resolution and, on the 15th of March (1781), proceeded to
the attack. Greene had drawn up his army very judiciously near Guilford
Courthouse mostly on a range of hills covered with trees and brushwood.

Greene made disposition of his troops in the following order: The first
line was composed of North Carolina militia, the right under General
Eaton and the left under General Butler, with two pieces of artillery
under Captain Singleton. The right flank was supported by
Kirkwood's Delawareans, Lynch's riflemen, and the cavalry, all
under Lieutenant-Colonel Washington, and the left in like manner by
Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell's riflemen and the infantry of the legion,
all under Lieutenant-Colonel Lee. The second line, which was formed 300
yards in the rear of the first, consisted of two brigades of Virginia
militia, the right under General Lawson and the left under General
Stevens. The third, 400 yards in reserve was formed upon the brow of the
hill near the courthouse. The right of this line was composed of Hawes's
and Greene's Virginia regiments under General Huger; the left of the
first and second Maryland regiments, the former under Gunby, the latter
under Ford--the whole commanded by Colonel Williams. In the center of
the last line was placed the remainder of the artillery.

Captain Singleton commenced his fire, which was returned by the enemy,
who had formed their line of battle--the right wing under General Leslie
and the left under Lieutenant-Colonel Webster, with the artillery in
the center under Lieutenant-Colonel McLeod. The first battalion of the
guards, under Lieutenant-Colonel Norton, served as a support for the
right, and the second, with one company of grenadiers under General
O'Hara, for the left wing. Tarleton's dragoons were held in reserve. The
British commander having made all his dispositions advanced, fired one
round, and charged bayonets. Our militia having given a few shots while
the enemy was at a distance were seized by a panic when they saw him
coming down upon them. Many of them threw away their muskets, and the
entreaties of Butler, Eaton, and Davie, with the threats of Lee, were of
no avail. Almost the entire body fled. The artillery now retired to the
left of the Marylanders. At this crisis the enemy considered victory as
already within his grasp and continued to push on when he was attacked
on his right and left by Lee and Washington. Cornwallis perceiving this
threw one regiment out to engage Lee, and one regiment together with his
light infantry and yagers to resist Washington, filling up the breach
thus created by advancing the grenadiers with two battalions of the
guards, which had formed the supports to the flanks. Lee and Washington
fell back in good order, delivering their fire until they came up with
the second line which gave battle in good earnest. The right flank was
supported by Washington, who ordered Lynch's riflemen to fall upon the
left of Webster, who had to be supported by O'Hara. Here Webster ordered
the Thirty-third regiment to attack Lynch and was thereby in a measure
relieved. O'Hara charged the Virginia right wing, which was obliged to
yield ground. Lee on the left nobly did his duty and firmly held his
position. When the militia on the right gave way those on the left fell
back and were not rallied until they came up on the left of the third
line. Campbell's riflemen and Lee's legion stood perfectly firm and
continued the contest against one regiment, one battalion, and a body of
infantry and riflemen. The American reserve, with the artillery posted
in a most favorable position, was fresh and ready for the word of
command. Webster having overcome the Americans of the second line in
his front advanced upon the third and was received by Gunby's Maryland
regiment with a most galling fire which made his troops falter. Gunby
advanced, charging bayonets, when the enemy was completely routed.

Leslie, after the left of the Virginia militia gave way, advanced to
the support of O'Hara, who had forced the American right wing, and the
combined commands of these generals charged the Second Maryland regiment
of the third line. This regiment, panic-stricken, fled. Gunby, coming up
at the time, held the enemy in check and a deadly conflict ensued. Gunby
having his horse shot under him, Lieutenant-Colonel Howard assumed the
command. Washington seeing how hot was the battle at this point pushed
forward and charged the enemy, and Howard advancing with his bayonets
leveled, the British were completely routed.

The pursuit was continued for some distance when Cornwallis came up and
determined to gain the victory at any cost. He opened the fire of his
artillery alike on friend and foe, causing an indiscriminate slaughter
of British and Americans.

The British were rallied at all points, and Greene, considering it
better to preserve the advantages he had gained, withdrew his forces.
This was done in good order and Cornwallis continued the pursuit but a
short distance. The loss of the Americans was about 400 in killed and
wounded; that of the British about 800. The enemy retained the field,
but his victory was both empty, and disastrous.

Notwithstanding Cornwallis claimed a victory he resolved to fall back
on Wilmington, near the mouth of Cape Fear river, where he could recruit
his troops and obtain supplies and reinforcements by sea.

Greene retreated about fifteen miles, taking post behind a small stream
called Troublesome creek, where he expected and awaited an attack.

1. Footnote: Marion was a strict temperance man. Being at a dinner party
where the guests, determined on a hard drinking bout, had locked the
door to prevent his exit, he jumped out of a second-story window, and
broke his leg. This was the wound above referred to. It occasioned him
to leave the city. He thus escaped surrendering when Charleston
fell, and his temperance preserved to the country one of its bravest

2. Footnote: Marion, on account of his successful stratagems and sudden
surprises of the British, was called by them the _Swamp-Fox_. His own
countrymen styled him the _Bayard_ of the South.

3. Footnote: The action at the Cowpens was one of the medal victories.
Congress had separate gold medals struck in honor of it, and presented
to Morgan, Howard, and Col. William A. Washington. The name Cowpens,
according to Irving, comes from the old designation of Hannah's Cowpens,
the place being part of a grazing establishment belonging to a man named
Hannah. The worthy grazier could hardly have foreseen the immortality
which was destined to attach to his Cowpens.



While the events recorded in the last chapter were passing Washington
was by no means a passive spectator. He held a constant correspondence
with Greene and sent him all the aid he could. Writing to him on the 9th
of January, 1781, he says: "It is impossible for anyone to sympathize
more feelingly with you in the sufferings and distresses of the troops
than I do, and nothing could aggravate my unhappiness so much as the
want of ability to remedy or alleviate the calamities which they suffer
and in which we participate but too largely.

"The brilliant action of General Sumter and the stratagem of Colonel
Washington deserve great commendation. It gives me inexpressible
pleasure to find that such a spirit of enterprise and intrepidity still
prevails." [1]

Writing to Greene again (on the 21st of March, 1781), he says: "You may
be assured that your retreat before Lord Cornwallis is highly applauded
by all ranks and reflects much honor on your military abilities." Such
words, from such a man, must have inspirited Greene amidst his toils and

Greene, writing to Washington three days after the battle of Guilford
Courthouse, says: "In my former letters I enclosed to your Excellency
the probable strength of the British army, since which they have been
constantly declining. Our force, as you will see by the returns, was
respectable, and the probability of not being able to keep it long
in the field, and the difficulty of subsisting men in this exhausted
country, together with the great advantages which would result from
the action if we were victorious, and the little injury if we were
otherwise, determined me to bring on an action as soon as possible. When
both parties are agreed in a matter all obstacles are soon removed. I
thought the determination warranted by the soundest principles of good
policy and I hope events will prove it so though we were unfortunate.
I regret nothing so much as the loss of my artillery, though it was of
little use to us, nor can it be in this great wilderness. However, as
the enemy have it, we must also."

"Lord Cornwallis," he writes in the same letter, "will not give up
this country without being roundly beaten. I wish our force was more
competent to the business. But I am in hopes, by little and little,
to reduce him in time. His troops are good, well found, and fight with
great obstinacy.

"Virginia has given me every support I could wish or expect since Lord
Cornwallis has been in North Carolina, and nothing has contributed more
to this than the prejudice of the people in favor of your Excellency
which has been extended to me from the friendship you have been pleased
to honor me with."

The reader will not fail to observe the soundness of Greene's judgment
as to the beneficial effect of the battle of Guilford Courthouse. It
was truly a disastrous victory for Cornwallis and a fortunate defeat for
Greene, whose subsequent operations we must now notice.

When Greene took his position at the ironworks on Troublesome creek
after the battle of Guilford Courthouse he expected that Cornwallis
would follow up his advantage and attack him without delay. He therefore
prepared again to fight. His army, indeed, was much diminished, but he
had lost more in numbers than in effective strength. The militia, many
of whom had returned home, had shown themselves very inefficient in
the field. As soon as he received certain information that instead
of pursuing, Cornwallis was retreating, he resolved to follow him and
advanced accordingly.

Greene was now in his turn the pursuer and followed Cornwallis so
closely that skirmishes occasionally happened between his advanced
parties and the rear guard of the British army, but no conflict of
importance ensued. On the morning of the 28th of March he arrived at
Ramsay's Mills, on Deep river, a strong post which the British had
evacuated a few hours before, crossing the river by a bridge erected for
the purpose. There Greene paused and meditated on his future movements.
His army, like that of the British, for some time past had suffered much
from heavy rains, deep roads, and scarcity of provisions. On reaching
Ramsay's Mills his men were starving with hunger and fed voraciously on
some fresh quarters of beef left behind by the British army. The troops
were much exhausted and stood in need of repose and refreshment. Besides
in that critical state of the campaign he found himself reduced to a
handful of Continentals. Most of the militia had left him. Small as his
army was he found great difficulty in procuring subsistence for it.

Cornwallis had fairly the start of the Americans and was advancing to a
place where he would find more plentiful supplies and easily communicate
with the sea; so that Greene was sensible that with the force then under
his command he could make no impression on him. He resolved, therefore,
instead of following his opponent, to proceed to South Carolina. That
step, he thought, would oblige Cornwallis either to follow him or to
abandon his posts in the upper parts of the southern States. If he
followed him North Carolina would be relieved and enabled to raise its
quota of men for the Continental service, but if he remained in that
State or proceeded to the northward it was likely that the greater part
of the British posts in South Carolina and Georgia would be reduced and
that those States would be restored to the Union. He entertained little
apprehension of Cornwallis being able with the force then under his
command to make any permanent impression on the powerful State of

Having refreshed his troops and collected provisions for a few days
Greene moved from Ramsay's Mills, on Deep river, on the 5th of April
(1781), toward Camden, and on the morning of the 20th of the same month
encamped at Logtown in sight of the British works at that place.

Soon after his arrival at Wilmington, Cornwallis received certain
information that Greene was proceeding to South Carolina, and it threw
him into much perplexity. He was alarmed for the safety of Lord Rawdon,
but, though desirous of assisting him, he was convinced that the
Americans were already so far advanced that it was impossible for him
to arrive at Camden in time to succor Rawdon if he should need it. His
lordship's fate and that of his garrison would probably be decided
long before he could reach them, and if Greene should be successful at
Camden, he, by attempting to relieve it, might be hemmed in between the
great rivers and exposed to the most imminent hazard. On the other hand,
if Rawdon should defeat Greene there would be no need of his assistance.
A movement so perilous in the execution and promising so little in the
result was abandoned and Rawdon left to his own resources.

Greene, without regard to the movements of his opponent, pushed on
and established himself at Hobkirk's Hill, about a mile from Rawdon's
headquarters at Camden. The militia having either deserted or their term
of service being expired his force was reduced to 1,800 men, but those
in fact included all on whom he could ever place much dependence.
Camden was occupied by Rawdon with about 800 men, the other troops being
employed upon the defense of detached posts, yet his position was judged
so strong as to afford no hope of success in a direct attack. The object
aimed at was, by throwing out detachments which might capture the forts
and cut off the supplies in his rear, to compel him gradually to fall
back. Lee, for this purpose, was sent with a strong party to cooperate
with Marion and Sumter. The English general seeing the hostile troops
thus reduced to about 1,500, formed the bold resolution of attacking
them. Making a large circuit round a swamp he came upon their left
flank quite unexpectedly, while the soldiers were busied in cooking
and washing. This first surprise was never wholly recovered, yet they
quickly stood to their arms and formed in order of battle. They had even
gained some advantages when the First Maryland regiment, considered the
flower of the army and which had highly distinguished itself both at
Cowpens and Guilford, fell into confusion, and when ordered to make a
retrograde movement, converted it into a complete retreat. The other
corps also, beginning to give ground, Greene thought it expedient to
cause the whole to retire. The loss on each side was about 260 killed
and wounded, and the Americans carried off fifty prisoners, including
six officers.

This battle, commonly called the battle of Hobkirk's Hill, reflected
much honor on Lord Rawdon considering the disproportion of force which
was, in fact, greater than at Guilford, yet it did not change materially
the relative situation of the armies. Greene could still maintain
his position and support the detachments operating in the rear of his

Lee and Marion proceeded next against Fort Watson on the Santee which
commanded in a great measure the communication with Charleston. Having
neither artillery nor besieging tools they reared a tower above the
level of the rampart whence their rifle fire drove the defenders, and
themselves then mounted and compelled the garrison to surrender. They
could not, however, prevent Colonel Watson from leading 500 men to
reinforce Lord Rawdon, who then advanced with the intention of bringing
Greene again to action, but found him fallen back upon so strong a
position as to afford no reasonable hope of success. His lordship
finding his convoys intercepted and viewing the generally insecure state
of his posts in the lower country, considered himself under at least
the temporary necessity of retreating thither. He had first in view the
relief of Mott's House, on the Congaree, but before reaching it had the
mortification to find that with the garrison of 165 it had fallen into
the hands of Marion and Lee. He continued his march to Monk's Corner,
where he covered Charleston and the surrounding country.

The partisan chiefs rapidly seized this opportunity of attacking the
interior posts and reduced successively Orangeburg and Granby on
the Congaree, and early in June, Augusta, the key of upper Georgia,
surrendered to Lee and Pickens. In these five forts they made 1,100
prisoners. The most important one, however, was that named Ninety-Six,
on the Saluda, defended by a garrison of 500 men. Orders had been sent
to them to quit and retire downward but the messenger was intercepted
and Colonel Cruger, the commander, made the most active preparations
for its defense. Greene considered the place of such importance that
he undertook the siege in person with 1,000 regulars. He broke ground
before it on the night of the 23d of May (1781), and though much impeded
by a successful sally on the following day, proceeded with such energy
that by the 3d of June the second parallel was completed and the
garrison summoned, but in vain, to surrender. On the 8th, he was
reinforced by Lee from the capture of Augusta and though he encountered
a most gallant and effective resistance trusted that the place must in
due time fall. Three days after, however, he learned that Rawdon, having
received a reinforcement from Ireland, was in full march to relieve
it and had baffled the attempts of Sumter to impede his progress. The
American leader, therefore, feeling himself unable to give battle saw
no prospect of carrying the fortress unless by storm. On the 18th (June,
1781), an attack against the two most commanding outworks was led by
Lee and Campbell, the former of whom carried his point, but the latter,
though he penetrated into the ditch and maintained his party there for
three-quarters of an hour, found them exposed to so destructive a fire
as compelled a general retreat. [2] The siege was immediately raised
and Lord Rawdon, on the 21st, entered the place in triumph. Being again
master of the field, he pressed forward in the hope of bringing his
antagonist to battle but the latter rather chose to fall back towards
the distant point of Charlotte in Virginia, while Rawdon did not attempt
to pursue him beyond the Ennoree.

Notwithstanding this present superiority his lordship, having failed in
his hopes of a decisive victory and viewing the general aspect of the
country, considered it no longer possible to attempt more than covering
the lower districts, of South Carolina. He therefore fell back to
Orangeburg on the Edisto and though he attempted at first to maintain
Cruger with a strong body at Ninety-Six was soon induced to recall
him. Greene, being reinforced by 1,000 men under Marion and Sumter,
reconnoitered his position but, judging it imprudent to attack, retired
to the high hills of the Santee, July the 15th (1781), and both armies,
exhausted by such a series of active movements, took an interval of
repose during the heat of the season.

Lord Rawdon being at this time obliged by ill health to return to
England left the army under the command of Colonel Stuart, who, to cover
the lower country, occupied a position at the point where the Congaree
and Wateree unite in forming the Santee. Greene, having received
reinforcements from the North and collected all his partisan detachments
soon found himself strong enough to try the chance of battle. His
approach on the 7th of September (1781) with this evident view induced
the British to retire down the river to the strong post of Eutaw
Springs, whither the American army immediately followed.

On the 8th of September, Greene determined to attack the British camp,
placing as usual his militia in front, hoping that the English in
charging them would get into confusion, but from apprehension of this
the latter had been warned to keep their posts till ordered to move. The
American front, however, maintained their ground better than usual
and the British having become heated and forgetting the warnings given
pushed forward irregularly. They were then charged by the veterans
of the second line and after a very desperate struggle driven off the
field. There lay in their way, however, a large brick building and
adjacent garden, where Stuart had placed a strong corps which could not
be dislodged and which kept up a deadly fire which checked the victors,
enabling the retreating troops to be formed anew. At the same time
Colonel Washington attacked the British flank, but finding it strongly
posted amongst the woods he was repulsed with great loss and himself
taken prisoner. The American general seeing no hope of making any
further impression, retreated to his previous position. The conflict
lasted four hours and great bravery was shown on both sides. Colonel
Campbell was mortally wounded. Learning the British were dispersing he
exclaimed, like Wolfe at Quebec, "Then I die contented!" and immediately

In this bloody and doubtful battle both parties claimed the victory
though the Americans with most reason as the general result was greatly
to their advantage. It was certainly far from decisive and the British
loss in killed and wounded was much greater than that of the Americans,
who also carried off above 500 prisoners. The British commander,
prompted as well probably by the result of the day as by the general
state of the country and the numbers and activity of the American light
troops, conceiving himself unable to maintain so advanced a position,
retired during the evening of the 9th (September 1781), and proceeded
down to Monk's Corner, where he covered Charleston and its vicinity. To
this and to Savannah were now limited that proud British authority which
had lately extended so widely over the southern States. [3]

Thus ended the campaign of 1781 in South Carolina. At its commencement
the British were in force all over the State. History affords but a few
instances of commanders who have achieved so much with equal means
as was done by General Greene in the short space of twelve months. He
opened the campaign with gloomy prospects but closed it with glory.
His unpaid and half-naked army had to contend with veteran soldiers,
supplied with everything that the wealth of Great Britain or the plunder
of Carolina could procure. Under all these disadvantages he compelled
superior numbers to retire from the extremity of the State, and confine
themselves in the capital and its vicinity. Had not his mind been of the
firmest texture he would have been discouraged, but his enemies found
him as formidable on the evening of a defeat as on the morning after a

The reader will not fail to perceive how important a bearing the
operations of Greene in the South had upon those of Washington in the
North. Before recovering North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia,
Greene had partly led and partly driven Cornwallis into Virginia, where
he was destined to be conquered by Washington and the war was thus to be
virtually terminated. How this was accomplished will now be the object
of our attention. Virginia had insensibly, as it were, become the
principal theater of war. General Leslie had been sent thither to
reinforce Cornwallis, who it was hoped might penetrate through the
Carolinas, but after Ferguson's disaster he was ordered to go round by
Charleston. With the view, however, of creating a diversion in favor of
the southern army, Clinton, in December, 1780, sent Arnold with 1,600
men to the Chesapeake. That infamous traitor, displaying all his wonted
activity, overran a great extent of country and captured Richmond, the
capital, destroying great quantities of stores. Washington, most anxious
to strike a blow against him, prevailed upon Destouches, the French
admiral to proceed thither with a land force but the latter was
overtaken by Arbuthnot and endured a hard battle which though not
admitted to be a defeat obliged him to return to Newport; thus Arnold
escaped the danger of falling into the hands of his enraged countrymen.
Clinton, still with the same view, sent another force of 2,000 men under
General Phillips which arrived in the Chesapeake on the 26th of March
(1781). This officer being complete master of the field, overran
the country between the James and York rivers, seized the town of
Petersburg, as also Chesterfield Courthouse, the militia rendezvous, and
other stations, destroying great quantities of shipping and stores, with
all the warehoused tobacco. Lafayette, then in command of about 3,000
men for the defense of Virginia, succeeded by skilful maneuvering in
securing Richmond.

Operations seemed at a stand, when, late in April, intelligence was
received of Cornwallis' march from South Carolina toward Virginia and,
in spite of every effort of Lafayette, he, at the end of May (1781),
joined Phillips at Petersburg, taking the command of the whole army.
Being then decidedly superior he took possession of Richmond and began
a hot pursuit of Lafayette, who retreated into the upper country so
rapidly and so skillfully that he could not be overtaken. The English
general then turned back and sent a detachment under Colonel Simcoe,
who destroyed the chief magazine at the junction of the two branches of
James river. Tarleton pushed his cavalry so swiftly upon Charlotteville,
where the State Assembly was met, that seven members were taken and
the rest very narrowly escaped. Lafayette, however, now returned with a
considerable force and by his maneuvers induced the British commander to
retire to Williamsburg. He afterward continued his retreat to Portsmouth
in the course of which the former made an attack but was repulsed and
would have been totally routed had not his strength been estimated above
its real amount.

The movement of Cornwallis into Virginia had been wholly disapproved by
Clinton who complained that, contrary to all his views and intentions,
the main theater of war had been transferred to a territory into
which he never proposed more than partial inroads, considering it very
difficult to subdue and maintain. His grand object had always been first
to secure New York and, if sufficient strength was afforded, to push
offensive operations thence into the interior. Hoping, therefore, that
the Carolinas, once subdued, might be retained by a small force, he
had repeatedly solicited the partial return of the troops. Cornwallis
defended the movement by observing that his situation at Wilmington,
allowing no time to send for instructions, obliged him to act on his own
responsibility. Communicating also with the government at home he urged
that the Carolinas could not be securely held without the possession
also of Virginia; that this might be attained by a vigorous effort,
and would make Britain mistress of all the southern Colonies, whose
resources could be then employed in conquering the more stubborn regions
of the North. These arguments, recommended by his lordship's brilliant
achievements at Camden and elsewhere, convinced the ministry, and
Lord Germaine wrote to the Commander-in-Chief to direct his principal
attention to the war in Virginia and to the plan of conquest from south
to north. The latter, considering himself thus slighted, solicited
permission to resign and leave the command to an officer who enjoyed
greater confidence, but his merits being highly estimated this tender
was not accepted.

Under the apprehension inspired by the threatening movements of
Washington and the French army against New York, he had ordered a
considerable reinforcement from Virginia, but countermanded it on
receiving the above instructions, along with an additional body of
troops. He had formed, apparently, a favorite plan somewhat of a
compromise between the two. It is nowhere distinctly developed in his
letters, but by a passage in one very active operations were proposed at
the head of the Chesapeake, to be combined probably with a movement from
New York and comprehending Philadelphia and Baltimore. Aware that this
plan required the maritime command of that great inlet, he inquired if
ministers would insure its maintenance, and they made this engagement
without duly considering its difficulties. Under these views he directed
Cornwallis to occupy and fortify a naval position at the entrance of
the bay, specially recommending Old Point Comfort, at the mouth of James
river. This measure did not harmonize with Cornwallis' views; however,
he obeyed, but, the above position being declared by the engineers
indefensible, he recommended, in preference, Yorktown on the York river,
which was agreed to and operations actively commenced at the latter end
of August. The whole British force at this time in Virginia was about
7,000 men.

1. Footnote: Referring to the affair at Rugely's Mills, where Colonel
Washington frightened the militia colonel into a surrender by means of a
pine log mounted like a cannon.

2. Footnote: On this occasion Kosciusko, the Polish general,
particularly distinguished himself.

3. Footnote: In the southern provinces the campaign of 1781 was
uncommonly active. The exertions and sufferings of the army were great.
But the troops were not the only sufferers; the inhabitants were exposed
to many calamities. The success of Colonel Campbell at Savannah laid
Georgia and the Carolinas open to all the horrors which attend the
movements of conflicting armies and the rage of civil dissensions for
two years.

In those provinces the inhabitants were nearly divided between the
British and American interests, and, under the names of Tories and
Whigs, exercised a savage hostility against each other, threatening
the entire depopulation of the country. Besides, each of the contending
armies, claiming the provinces as its own, showed no mercy to those
who, in the fluctuations of war, abandoned its cause or opposed its
pretensions. Numbers were put to death as deserters and traitors at the
different British posts. One of those executions, that of Colonel Hayne,
happened at Charleston on the 4th of August, while Lord Rawdon was in
that town, preparing to sail for Europe, and threatened to produce the
most sanguinary consequences.

Colonel Hayne had served in the American militia during the siege of
Charleston, but, after the capitulation of that place and the expulsion
of the American army from the province, he was, by several concurring
circumstances, constrained, with much reluctance, to subscribe a
declaration of allegiance to the British government being assured that
his services against his country would not be required. He was allowed
to return to his family, but, in violation of the special condition on
which he had signed the declaration, he was soon called on to take up
arms against his countrymen, and was at length threatened with close
confinement in case of further refusal. Colonel Hayne considered this
breach of contract on the part of the British, and their inability
to afford him the protection promised in reward of his allegiance,
as absolving him from the obligations into which he had entered, and
accordingly he returned to the American standard. In the month of July
he was taken prisoner, confined in a loathsome dungeon, and, by the
arbitrary mandate of Lord Rawdon and Colonel Balfour, without trial,
hanged at Charleston. He behaved with much firmness and dignity, and his
fate awakened a strong sensation.



We have already seen, by the quotation from Washington's journal, how
gloomy was the prospect presented to him at this time. He evidently saw
little to encourage a hope of the favorable termination of the campaign
of that year. Indeed, it is quite apparent that our national affairs
were then at a lower ebb than they had ever been since the period
immediately preceding the battle of Trenton. But by the merciful
interposition of divine Providence, the course of events took a
favorable turn much sooner than he had anticipated. His letter to Col.
John Laurens, on the occasion, already mentioned, of that gentleman's
mission to France to obtain a loan, had been productive of remarkable

In this paper he detailed the pecuniary embarrassments of the
government, and represented with great earnestness the inability of the
nation to furnish a revenue adequate to the support of the war. He dwelt
on the discontents which the system of impressment had excited among the
people, and expressed his fears that the evils felt in the prosecution
of the war, might weaken the sentiments which began it.

From this state of things he deduced the vital importance of an
immediate and ample supply of money, which might be the foundation for
substantial arrangements of finance, for reviving public credit, and
giving vigor to future operations, as well as of a decided effort of the
allied arms on the continent to effect the great objects of the alliance
in the ensuing campaign.

Next to a supply of money he considered a naval superiority in the
American seas as an object of the deepest interest. To the United States
it would be of decisive importance, and France also might derive great
advantages from transferring the maritime war to the coast of her ally.
The future ability of the United States to repay any loan which might
now be obtained was displayed, and he concluded with assurances that
there was still a fund of inclination and resource in the country, equal
to great and continued exertions, provided the means were afforded of
stopping the progress of disgust by changing the present system and
adopting another more consonant with the spirit of the nation, and more
capable of infusing activity and energy into public measures, of which
a powerful succor in money must be the basis. "The people were
discontented, but it was with the feeble and oppressive mode of
conducting the war, not with the war itself."

With great reason did Washington urge on the cabinet of Versailles the
policy of advancing a sum of money to the United States which might be
adequate to the exigency. Deep was the gloom with which the political
horizon was then overcast. The British in possession of South Carolina
and Georgia had overrun the greater part of North Carolina also, and it
was with equal hazard and address that Greene maintained himself in the
northern frontier of that State.

A second detachment from New York was making a deep impression on
Virginia, where the resistance had been neither so prompt nor so
vigorous as the strength of that State and the unanimity of its citizens
had given reason to expect.

Such were the facts and arguments urged by Washington in his letter to
Colonel Laurens. Its able exposition of the actual state of the country,
and his arguments in support of the application of Congress for a fleet
and army as well as money, when laid before the King and the ministry,
decided them to afford the most ample aid to the American cause. A
loan of $6,000,000 was granted, which was to be placed at Washington's
disposal, but he was happy to be relieved from that responsibility.
A loan from Holland was also guaranteed by the French government, and
large reinforcements of ships and men were sent to the United States.
The intelligence of these succors followed within a few days after the
desponding tone of Washington's journal, to which we have just referred.

Early in May (1781) the Count de Barras, who had been appointed to the
command of the French fleet on the American coast, arrived at Boston,
accompanied by the Viscount de Rochambeau, commander of the land
forces. An interview between Washington and the French commanders was
immediately appointed to be held at Wethersfield, near Hartford, on the
21st (May, 1781), but some movements of the British fleet made de Barras
repair to Newport, while the two generals met at the appointed place and
agreed on a plan of the campaign. It was resolved to unite the French
and American armies on the Hudson and to commence vigorous operations
against New York. The regular army at that station was estimated at only
4,500 men, and though Sir Henry Clinton might be able to reinforce it
with 5,000 or 6,000 militia, yet it was believed he could not maintain
the post without recalling a considerable part of his troops from the
southward and enfeebling the operations of the British in that quarter;
in which case it was resolved to make a vigorous attack on the point
which presented the best prospect of success.

In a letter to General Greene, dated June 1, 1781, Washington thus gives
the result of the conference with Rochambeau: "I have lately had an
interview with Count de Rochambeau at Weathersfield. Our affairs were
very attentively considered in every point of view and it was finally
determined to make an attempt upon New York, with its present garrison,
in preference to a southern operation, as we had not the decided command
of the water. You will readily suppose the reasons which induced this
determination were the inevitable loss of men from so long a march, more
especially in the approaching hot season, and the difficulty, I may say
impossibility, of transporting the necessary baggage, artillery, and
stores by land. If I am supported as I ought to be by the neighboring
States in this operation, which, you know, has always been their
favorite one, I hope that one of these consequences will follow--either
that the enemy will be expelled from the most valuable position which
they hold upon the continent or be obliged to recall part of their force
from the southward to defend it. Should the latter happen you will be
most essentially relieved by it. The French troops will begin their
march this way as soon as certain circumstances will admit. I can only
give you the outlines of our plan. The dangers to which letters are
exposed make it improper to commit to paper the particulars, but, as
matters ripen, I will keep you as well informed as circumstances will

Washington immediately required the States of New England to have 6,000
militia in readiness to march wherever they might be called for, and
sent an account of the conference at Wethersfield to Congress. His
dispatch was intercepted in the Jerseys and carried to Clinton, who,
alarmed by the plan which it disclosed, made the requisition, already
mentioned, of part of the troops under Cornwallis, and took diligent
precautions for maintaining his post against the meditated attack.

Meanwhile the several States of the Union were extremely dilatory in
furnishing their contingents of troops, and it was found difficult to
procure subsistence for the small number of men already in the field.
The people and their rulers talked loudly of liberty, but each was
anxious to sacrifice as little as possible to maintain it and to devolve
on his neighbor the expense, dangers, and privations of the struggle.

In consequence of this dilatory spirit, when the troops left their
winter quarters in the month of June (1781), and encamped at Peekskill,
the army under Washington did not amount to 5,000 men. This force was so
much inferior to what had been contemplated when the plan of operations
was agreed on at Wethersfield that it became doubtful whether it would
be expedient to adhere to that plan. But the deficiency of the American
force was in some measure compensated by the arrival at Boston of a
reinforcement of 1,500 men to the army under Rochambeau.

The hope of terminating the war in the course of the campaign encouraged
the States to make some exertions. Small as was their military force
it was difficult to find subsistence for the troops, and even after the
army had taken the field there was reason to apprehend that it would be
obliged to abandon the objects of the campaign for want of provisions.
It was at that critical juncture of American affairs that the finances
of the Union were entrusted to Robert Morris, a member of Congress for
Pennsylvania, a man of considerable capital and of much sagacity and
mercantile enterprise. He, as we have already seen, extensively pledged
his personal credit for articles of the first necessity to the army,
and, by an honorable fulfillment of his engagements, did much to restore
public credit and confidence. It was owing mainly to his exertions that
the active and decisive operations of the campaign were not greatly
impeded or entirely defeated by want of subsistence to the army and of
the means of transporting military stores.

By his plan of a national bank, already referred to, Mr. Morris rendered
still more important service. Its notes were to be received as cash into
the treasuries of the several States, and also as an equivalent for the
necessaries which the States were bound to provide for the army. In this
way, and by a liberal and judicious application of his own resources, an
individual afforded the supplies which government was unable to furnish.

The French troops, under Rochambeau, marched from Newport and Boston
toward the Hudson. Both in quarters and on the route their behavior
was exemplary, and gained the respect and good will of the inhabitants.
Toward the end of June (1781) Washington put his army in motion, and,
learning that a royal detachment had passed into the Jerseys, he formed
a plan to surprise the British posts on the north end of York Island,
but it did not succeed, and General Lincoln, who commanded the
Americans, being attacked by a strong British party, a sharp conflict
ensued. Washington marched with his main body to support his detachment,
but on his advance the British retired into their works at Kingsbridge.
Rochambeau, then on his march to join Washington, detached the Duke de
Lauzun with a body of men to support the attack, who advanced with his
troops within supporting distance, but the British had retreated before
they could be brought into action.

Having failed in his design of surprising the British posts Washington
withdrew to Valentine's Hill, and afterward to Dobb's Ferry. While
encamped there, on the 6th of July (1781), the van of the long-expected
French reinforcements under Rochambeau was seen winding down the
neighboring heights. The arrival of these friendly strangers
elevated the minds of the Americans, who received them with sincere
congratulations. Washington labored, by personal attentions, to
conciliate the good will of his allies, and used all the means in
his power to prevent those mutual jealousies and irritations which
frequently prevail between troops of different nations serving in the
same army. An attack on New York was still meditated, and every exertion
made to prepare for its execution, but with the determination, if it
should prove impracticable, vigorously to prosecute some more attainable
object. [1]

On the evening of the 21st of July (1781), the greater part of the
American, and part of the French troops, left their encampment, and
marching rapidly during the night, appeared in order of battle before
the British works at Kingsbridge, at 4 next morning. Washington and
Rochambeau, with the general officers and engineers, viewed the British
lines in their whole extent from right to left, and the same was again
done next morning. But, on the afternoon of the 23d they returned to
their former encampment without having made any attempt on the British

At that time the new levies arrived slowly in the American camp, and
many of those who were sent were mere boys utterly unfit for active
service. The several States discovered much backwardness in complying
with the requisitions of Congress, so that there was reason to apprehend
that the number of troops necessary for besieging New York could not be
procured. This made Washington turn his thoughts more seriously to the
southward than he had hitherto done, but all his movements confirmed
Clinton in the belief that an attack on New York was in contemplation.
As the British Commander-in-Chief, however, at that time received about
3,000 troops from Europe, he thought himself able to defend his post
without withdrawing any part of the force from Virginia. Therefore he
countermanded the requisition which he had before sent to Cornwallis for
part of the troops under his command. The troops were embarked before
the arrival of the counter order, and of their embarkation Lafayette
sent notice to Washington. On the reception of new instructions,
however, as formerly mentioned they were relanded and remained in

No great operation could be undertaken against the British armies so
long as their navy had undisputed command of the coast and of the great
navigable rivers. Washington, as we have seen, had already, through
Colonel Laurens, made an earnest application to the court of France for
such a fleet as might be capable of keeping in check the British navy
in those seas and of affording effectual assistance to the land forces.
That application was not unsuccessful, and towards the middle of the
month of August the agreeable information was received of the approach
of a powerful French fleet to the American coast.

Early in March (1781) the Count de Grasse had sailed from Brest with
twenty-five ships-of-the-line, five of which were destined for the East,
and twenty for the West Indies. After an indecisive encounter in the
Straits of St. Lucie with Sir Samuel Hood, whom Sir George Rodney, the
British admiral in the West Indies had detached to intercept him, Count
de Grasse formed a junction with the ships of his sovereign on that
station and had a fleet superior to that of the British in the West
Indies. De Grasse gave the Americans notice that he would visit their
coast in the month of August and take his station in Chesapeake Bay,
but that his continuance there could only be of short duration. This
dispatch at once determined Washington's resolution with respect to
the main point of attack, and as it was necessary that the projected
operation should be accomplished within a very limited time prompt
decision and indefatigable exertion were indispensable. Though it was
now finally resolved that Virginia should be the grand scene of action,
yet it was prudent to conceal till the last moment this determination
from Sir Henry Clinton, and still to maintain the appearance of
threatening New York.

The defense of the strong posts on the Hudson or North river was
entrusted to General Heath who was instructed to protect the adjacent
country as far as he was able, and for that purpose a respectable force
was put under his command. Every preparation of which circumstances
admitted was made to facilitate the march to the southward. Washington
was to take the command of the expedition and to employ in it all the
French troops and a strong detachment of the American army.

On the 19th of August (1781) a considerable corps was ordered to cross
the Hudson at Dobbs' Ferry and to take a position between Springfield
and Chatham, where they were directed to cover some bakehouses which it
was rumored were to be immediately constructed in the vicinity of those
places in order to encourage the belief that there the troops intended
to establish a permanent post. On the 20th and 21st the main body of the
Americans passed the river at King's ferry, but the French made a longer
circuit and did not complete the passage till the 25th. Desirous of
concealing his object as long as possible, Washington continued his
march some time in such a direction as still to keep up the appearance
of threatening New York. When concealment was no longer practicable he
marched southward with the utmost celerity. His movements had been of
such a doubtful nature that Sir Henry Clinton, it is said, was not fully
convinced of his real destination till he had crossed the Delaware.

Great exertions had been made to procure funds for putting the army
in motion, but, after exhausting every other resource, Washington was
obliged to have recourse to Rochambeau for a supply of cash, which he
received. [2]

On the 2d and 3d of September (1781) the combined American and French
armies passed through Philadelphia, where they were received with
ringing of bells, firing of guns, bonfires, illuminations, and every
demonstration of joy. Meanwhile Count de Grasse, with 3,000 troops on
board, sailed from Cape Francois with a valuable fleet of merchantmen,
which he conducted out of danger, and then steered for Chesapeake Bay
with twenty-eight sail-of-the-line and several frigates. Toward the end
of August (1781) he cast anchor just within the capes, extending across
from Cape Henry to the middle ground. There an officer from Lafayette
waited on the count, and gave him full information concerning the
posture of affairs in Virginia, and the intended plan of operations
against the British army in that State.

Cornwallis was diligently fortifying himself at York and Gloucester.
Lafayette was in a position on James river to prevent his escape into
North Carolina, and the combined army was hastening southward to attack
him. In order to cooperate against Cornwallis De Grasse detached four
ships-of-the-line and some frigates to block up the entrance of York
river, and to carry the land forces which he had brought with him, under
the Marquis de St. Simon, to Lafayette's camp. The rest of his fleet
remained at the entrance of the bay.

Sir George Rodney, who commanded the British fleet in the West Indies,
was not ignorant that the count intended to sail for America, but
knowing that the merchant vessel which he convoyed from Cape Francois
were loaded with valuable cargoes the British admiral believed that he
would send the greater part of his fleet along with them to Europe and
would visit the American coast with a small squadron only.

Accordingly, Rodney detached Sir Samuel Hood with fourteen
sail-of-the-line to America as a sufficient force to counteract the
operations of the French in that quarter. Admiral Hood reached the capes
of Virginia on the 25th of August (1781), a few days before de Grasse
entered the bay and finding no enemy there sailed for Sandy Hook, where
he arrived on the 28th of August.

Admiral Graves, who had succeeded Admiral Arbuthnot in the command of
the British fleet on the American station, was then lying at New York
with seven sail-of-the-line; but two of his ships had been damaged in a
cruise near Boston and were under repair. At the same time that Admiral
Hood gave information of the expected arrival of de Grasse on the
American coast, notice was received of the sailing of de Barras with his
fleet from Newport. Admiral Graves, therefore, without waiting for his
two ships which were under repair, put to sea on the 31st of August with
nineteen sail-of-the-line and steered to the southward.

On reaching the capes of the Chesapeake, early on the morning of the
5th of September (1781), he discovered the French fleet, consisting of
twenty-four ships-of-the-line, lying at anchor in the entrance of the
bay. Neither admiral had any previous knowledge of the vicinity of the
other till the fleets were actually seen. The British stretched into the
bay and soon as Count de Grasse ascertained their hostile character he
ordered his ships to slip their cables, form the line as they could
come up without regard to their specified stations and put to sea. The
British fleet entering the bay and the French leaving it, they were
necessarily sailing in different directions, but Admiral Graves put his
ships on the same tack with the French and about four in the afternoon
a battle began between the van and centre of the fleets which continued
till night. Both sustained considerable damage. The fleets continued
in sight of each other for five days, but de Grasse's object was not to
fight unless to cover Chesapeake Bay, and Admiral Graves, owing to the
inferiority of his force and the crippled state of several of his ships,
was unable to compel him to renew the engagement.

On the 10th (September, 1781), de Grasse bore away for the Chesapeake
and anchored within the capes next day when he had the satisfaction to
find that Admiral de Barras with his fleet from Newport and fourteen
transports laden with heavy artillery and other military stores for
carrying on a siege had safely arrived during his absence. That officer
sailed from Newport on the 25th of August, and making a long circuit to
avoid the British, entered the bay while the contending fleets were at
sea. Admiral Graves followed the French fleet to the Chesapeake, but on
arriving there he found the entrance guarded by a force with which he
was unable to contend. He then sailed for New York and left de Grasse in
the undisputed possession of the bay.

While these naval operations were going on the land forces were not less
actively employed in the prosecution of their respective purposes. The
immediate aim of Washington was to overwhelm Cornwallis and his army
at Yorktown; that of Clinton, to rescue him from his grasp. As soon as
Clinton was convinced of Washington's intention of proceeding to the
southward with a view to bring him back, he employed the infamous
traitor Arnold, with a sufficient naval and military force, on an
expedition against New London. The "parricide," as Jefferson calls him,
had not the slightest objection to fill his pockets with the plunder of
his native State. He passed from Long Island and on the forenoon of the
6th of September (1781) landed his troops on both sides of the harbor;
those on the New London side being under his own immediate orders and
those on the Groton side commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Eyre. As the
works at New London were very imperfect, no vigorous resistance was
there made, and the place was taken possession of with little loss. But
Fort Griswold, on the Groton side, was in a more finished state and the
small garrison made a desperate defense. The British entered the fort at
the point of the bayonet.

Col. William Ledyard, brother of the celebrated traveler, commanded the
fort. Colonel Eyre and Major Montgomery having fallen in the assault,
the command had devolved on Major Bromfield, a New Jersey Tory. After
the works had been carried, Ledyard ordered his men to lay down their
arms. Bromfield called out, "Who commands in this fort?" Ledyard
advanced and presenting his sword, replied, "I did, but you do now."
Bromfield seized the sword and ran Ledyard through the body. This was
the signal for an indiscriminate massacre of a greater part of the
garrison by the Tories, refugees, and Hessians, of which the army
of Arnold was very appropriately composed. Seventy were killed and
thirty-five desperately wounded. The enemy lost 2 officers and 46 men
killed, 8 officers and 135 soldiers wounded. Few Americans had fallen
before the British entered the works.

The loss sustained by the Americans at New London was great, but that
predatory incursion had no effect in diverting Washington from his
purpose or in retarding his march southward. From Philadelphia the
allied armies pursued their route, partly to the head of Elk river,
which falls into the northern extremity of Chesapeake Bay, and partly to
Baltimore, at which places they embarked on board transports
furnished by the French fleet, and the last division of them landed at
Williamsburgh on the 25th of September (1781). Washington, Rochambeau,
and their attendants proceeded to the same place by land, and reached
it ten days before the troops. Virginia had suffered extremely in
the course of the campaign; the inhabitants were clamorous for the
appearance of Washington in his native State, and hailed his arrival
with acclamations of joy.

Washington and Rochambeau immediately repaired on board de Grasse's ship
in order to concert a joint plan of operations against Cornwallis.
De Grasse, convinced that every exertion would be made to relieve his
lordship, and being told that Admiral Digby had arrived at New York with
a reinforcement of six ships-of-the-line, expected to be attacked by a
force little inferior to his own, and, deeming the station which he then
occupied unfavorable to a naval engagement, he was strongly inclined to
leave the bay and to meet the enemy in the open sea. Washington, fully
aware of all the casualties which might occur to prevent his return and
to defeat the previous arrangements, used every argument to dissuade the
French admiral from his purpose, and prevailed with him to remain in the

As de Grasse could continue only a short time on that station, every
exertion was made to proceed against Cornwallis at Yorktown. Opposite
Yorktown is Gloucester point, which projects considerably into the
river, the breadth of which at that place does not exceed a mile.
Cornwallis had taken possession of both these places and diligently
fortified them. The communication between them was commanded by his
batteries and by some ships-of-war which lay in the river under cover of
his guns. The main body of his army was encamped near Yorktown, beyond
some outer redoubts and field works calculated to retard the approach
of an enemy. Colonel Tarleton, with six or seven hundred men, occupied
Gloucester point.

The combined army, amounting to upwards of 11,000 men, exclusive of the
Virginia militia, under the command of the patriotic Governor Nelson,
was assembled in the vicinity of Williamsburgh, and on the morning
of the 28th of September (1781), marched by different routes toward
Yorktown. About midday the heads of the columns reached the ground
assigned them, and, after driving in the outposts and some cavalry,
encamped for the night. The next day was employed in viewing the British
works and in arranging the plan of attack. At the same time that the
combined army encamped before Yorktown the French fleet anchored at the
mouth of the river and completely prevented the British from escaping by
water as well as from receiving supplies or reinforcements in that way.
The legion of Lauzun and a brigade of militia, amounting to upwards of
4,000 men, commanded by the French general de Choisé, were sent across
the river to watch Gloucester Point and to enclose the British on that

On the 30th (September, 1781) Yorktown was invested. The French troops
formed the left wing of the combined army, extending from the river
above the town to a morass in front of it; the Americans composed the
right wing and occupied the ground between the morass and the river
below the town. Till the 6th of October the besieging army was
assiduously employed in disembarking its heavy artillery and military
stores and in conveying them to camp from the landing place in James
river, a distance of six miles. On the night of the 6th the first
parallel was begun, under the direction of General du Portail, the chief
engineer, 600 yards from the British works. The night was dark, rainy,
and well adapted for such a service; and in the course of it the
besiegers did not lose a man. Their operations seem not to have been
suspected by the besieged till daylight disclosed them in the morning,
when the trenches were so far advanced as in a good measure to cover the
workmen from the fire of the garrison. By the afternoon of the 9th the
batteries were completed, notwithstanding the most strenuous opposition
from the besieged, and immediately opened on the town. From that time an
incessant cannonade was kept up, and the continual discharge of shot
and shells from twenty-four and eighteen pounders and ten-inch mortars,
damaged the unfinished works on the left of the town, silenced the guns
mounted on them and occasioned a considerable loss of men. Some of the
shot and shells from the batteries passed over the town, reached the
shipping in the harbor, and set on fire the Charon of forty-four guns
and three large transports, which were entirely consumed.

"From the bank of the river," says Dr. Thacher, "I had a fine view of
this splendid conflagration. The ships were enwrapped in a torrent
of fire, which, spreading with vivid brightness among the combustible
rigging and running with amazing rapidity to the tops of the several
masts, while all around was thunder and lightning from our numerous
cannon and mortars, and in the darkness of night presented one of the
most sublime and magnificent spectacles that can be imagined. Some of
our shells, overreaching the town, are seen to fall into the river, and
bursting, throw up columns of water, like the spouting of the monsters
of the deep."

On the night of the 11th (October, 1781), the besiegers, laboring with
indefatigable perseverance, began their second parallel, 300 yards
nearer the British works than the first; and the three succeeding days
were assiduously employed in completing it.

During that interval the fire of the garrison was more destructive
than at any other period of the siege. The men in the trenches were
particularly annoyed by two redoubts toward the left of the British
works, and about 200 yards in front of them. Of these it was necessary
to gain possession, and on the 14th preparations were made to carry
them both by storm. In order to avail himself of the spirit of emulation
which existed between the troops of the two nations, and to avoid any
cause of jealousy to either, Washington committed the attack of the one
redoubt to the French and that of the other to the Americans. The latter
were commanded by Lafayette, attended by Col. Alexander Hamilton, who
led the advance, and the former by the Baron de Viomenil.

On the evening of the 14th, as soon as it was dark, the parties marched
to the assault with unloaded arms. The redoubt which the Americans under
Lafayette attacked was defended by a major, some inferior officers, and
forty-five privates. The assailants advanced with such rapidity, without
returning a shot to the heavy fire with which they were received, that
in a few minutes they were in possession of the work, having had 8 men
killed and 7 officers and 25 men wounded in the attack. Eight British
privates were killed; Major Campbell, a captain, an ensign, and
seventeen privates were made prisoners. The rest escaped. Although
the Americans were highly exasperated by the recent massacre of their
countrymen in Fort Griswold by Arnold's detachment, yet not a man of the
British was injured after resistance ceased. Retaliation had been talked
of but was not exercised. [3]

The French advanced with equal courage, but not with equal rapidity. The
American soldiers had removed the abattis themselves. The French waited
for the sappers to remove them according to military rule. While thus
waiting a message was brought from Lafayette to Viomenil, informing
him that he was in his redoubt, and wished to know where the baron was.
"Tell the marquis," replied Viomenil, "that I am not in mine, but will
be in five minutes." The abattis being removed, the redoubt was carried
in very nearly the time prescribed by the baron. There were 120 men in
this redoubt, of whom 18 were killed and 42 taken prisoners; the rest
made their escape. The French lost nearly 100 men killed or wounded.
During the night these two redoubts were included in the second
parallel, and, in the course of next day, some howitzers were placed on
them, which, in the afternoon, opened on the besieged.

"During the assault," says Dr. Thacher, "the British kept up an
incessant firing of cannon and musketry from their whole line. His
Excellency, General Washington, Generals Lincoln and Knox, with their
aids, having dismounted, were standing in an exposed situation, waiting
the result. Colonel Cobb, one of Washington's aids, solicitous for his
safety, said to his Excellency, 'Sir, you are too much exposed here;
had you not better step a little back?' 'Colonel Cobb,' replied his
Excellency, 'if you are afraid, you have liberty to step back.'

"Cornwallis and his garrison had done all that brave men could do to
defend their post. But the industry of Laurens, and to each and all the
officers and men, are above expression. Not one gun was fired, and the
ardor of the troops did not give time for the sappers to derange the
abattis; and owing to the conduct of the commanders and the bravery of
the men, the redoubt was stormed with uncommon rapidity."

[missing text]

the besiegers was persevering and their approaches rapid. The condition
of the British was becoming desperate. In every quarter their works
were torn to pieces by the fire of the assailants. The batteries already
playing upon them had nearly silenced all their guns, and the second
parallel was about to open on them, which in a few hours would render
the place untenable.

Owing to the weakness of his garrison, occasioned by sickness and
the fire of the besiegers, Cornwallis could not spare large sallying
parties, but, in the present distressing crisis, he resolved to make
every effort to impede the progress of the besiegers, and to preserve
his post to the last extremity. For this purpose, a little before
daybreak on the morning of the 16th of October (1781), about 350 men,
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Abercrombie, sallied out against
two batteries, which seemed in the greatest state of forwardness. They
attacked with great impetuosity, killed or wounded a considerable number
of the French troops, who had charge of the works, spiked eleven
guns, and returned with little loss. This exploit was of no permanent
advantage to the garrison, for the guns, having been hastily spiked,
were soon again rendered fit for service.

About 4 in the afternoon of the 16th of October, several batteries of
the second parallel opened on the garrison, and it was obvious that, in
the course of next day, all the batteries of that parallel, mounting
a most formidable artillery, would be ready to play on the town. The
shattered works of the garrison were in no condition to sustain such a
tremendous fire. In the whole front which was attacked the British could
not show a single gun, and their shells were nearly exhausted. In this
extremity Cornwallis formed the desperate resolution of crossing the
river during the night with his effective force and attempting to escape
to the northward. His plan was to leave behind his sick, baggage, and
all encumbrances; to attack de Choisé, who commanded on the Gloucester
side, with his whole force; to mount his own infantry, partly with the
hostile cavalry which he had no doubt of seizing, and partly with such
horses as he might find by the way; to hasten toward the fords of the
great rivers in the upper country, and then, turning northward, to pass
through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Jerseys, and join the army
at New York. The plan was hazardous, and presented little prospect of
success; but in the forlorn circumstances of the garrison anything that
offered a glimpse of hope was reckoned preferable to the humiliation of
an immediate surrender.

In prosecution of this perilous enterprise the light infantry, most of
the guards, and a part of the Twenty-third regiment embarked in boats,
passed the river, and landed at Gloucester point before midnight.
A storm then arose, which rendered the return of the boats and the
transportation of the rest of the troops equally impracticable. In that
divided state of the British forces the morning of the 17th of October
(1781) dawned, when the batteries of the combined armies opened on the
garrison at Yorktown. As the attempt to escape was entirely defeated
by the storm, the troops that had been carried to Gloucester point were
brought back in the course of the forenoon without much loss, though the
passage was exposed to the artillery of the besiegers. The British
works were in ruins, the garrison was weakened by disease and death, and
exhausted by incessant fatigue. Every ray of hope was extinguished. It
would have been madness any longer to attempt to defend the post and to
expose the brave garrison to the danger of an assault, which would soon
have been made on the place.

At 10 in the forenoon of the 17th Cornwallis sent a flag of truce with
a letter to Washington, proposing a cessation of hostilities for
twenty-four hours, in order to give time to adjust terms for the
surrender of the forts at Yorktown and Gloucester point. To this letter
Washington immediately returned an answer, expressing his ardent desire
to spare the further effusion of blood and his readiness to listen to
such terms as were admissible, but that he could not consent to lose
time in fruitless negotiations, and desired that, previous to the
meeting of commissioners, his lordship's proposals should be transmitted
in writing, for which purpose a suspension of hostilities for two hours
should be granted.

The terms offered by Cornwallis, although not all deemed admissible,
were such as induced the opinion that no great difficulty would occur
in adjusting the conditions of capitulation, and the suspension of
hostilities was continued through the night. Meanwhile, in order
to avoid the delay of useless discussion, Washington drew up and
transmitted to Cornwallis such articles as he was willing to grant,
informing his lordship that, if he approved of them, commissioners might
be immediately appointed to reduce them to form. Accordingly, Viscount
Noailles and Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens, whose father was then a
prisoner in the Tower of London, on the 18th met Colonel Dundas and
Major Ross of the British army at Moore's house, in the rear of
the first parallel. They prepared a rough draft, but were unable
definitively to arrange the terms of capitulation.

The draught was to be submitted to Cornwallis, but Washington, resolved
to admit of no delay, directed the articles to be transcribed; and,
on the morning of the 19th, sent them to his lordship, with a letter
expressing his expectation that they would be signed by 11 and that
the garrison would march out at 2 in the afternoon. [4] Finding that
no better terms could be obtained, Cornwallis submitted to a painful
necessity, and, on the 19th of October, surrendered the posts of
Yorktown and Gloucester point to the combined armies of America and
France, on condition that his troops should receive the same honors
of war which had been granted to the garrison of Charleston when
it surrendered to Sir Henry Clinton. The army, artillery, arms,
accoutrements, military chest, and public stores of every description
were surrendered to Washington; the ships in the harbor and the seamen
to Count de Grasse.

Cornwallis wished to obtain permission for his European troops to return
home, on condition of not serving against America, France, or their
allies during the war, but this was refused, and it was agreed that they
should remain prisoners of war in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania,
accompanied by a due proportion of officers for their protection and
government. The British general was also desirous of securing from
punishment such Americans as had joined the royal standard, but this
was refused, on the plea that it was a point which belonged to the civil
authority and on which the military power was not competent to decide.
But the end was gained in an indirect way, for Cornwallis was permitted
to send the Bonetta sloop-of-war unsearched to New York, with dispatches
to the Commander-in-Chief and to put on board as many soldiers as he
thought proper, to be accounted for in any subsequent exchange. This was
understood to be a tacit permission to send off the most obnoxious of
the Americans, which was accordingly done.

The officers and soldiers were allowed to retain their private property.
Such officers as were not required to remain with the troops were
permitted to return to Europe or to reside in any part of America not in
possession of the British troops.

Dr. Thacher, who was present during the whole siege, thus describes the
surrender: "At about 12 o'clock the combined army was arranged and drawn
up in two lines, extending more than a mile in length. The Americans
were drawn up in a line on the right side of the road, and the French
occupied the left. At the head of the former the great American
commander, mounted on his noble courser, took his station, attended
by his aides. At the head of the latter was posted the excellent Count
Rochambeau and his suite. The French troops, in complete uniform,
displayed a noble and martial appearance; their band of music, of which
the timbrel formed a part, is a delightful novelty, and produced, while
marching to the ground, a most enchanting effect. The Americans, though
not all in uniform nor their dress so neat, yet exhibited an erect,
soldierly air and every countenance beamed with satisfaction and joy.
The concourse of spectators from the country was prodigious, in point
of numbers nearly equal to the military, but universal silence and order
prevailed. It was about 2 o'clock when the captive army advanced through
the line formed for their reception. Every eye was prepared to gaze on
Lord Cornwallis, the object of peculiar interest and solicitude, but he
disappointed our anxious expectations. Pretending indisposition, he made
General O'Hara his substitute as the leader of his army. This officer
was followed by the conquered troops in a slow and solemn step, with
shouldered arms, colors cased, and drums beating a British march. Having
arrived at the head of the line, General O'Hara, elegantly mounted,
advanced to his Excellency, the Commander-in-Chief, taking off his hat
and apologizing for the nonappearance of Earl Cornwallis. With his usual
dignity and politeness, his Excellency pointed to Major-General Lincoln
for directions, by whom the British army was conducted into a spacious
field, where it was intended they should ground their arms. The royal
troops, while marching through the line formed by the allied army,
exhibited a decent and neat appearance as respects arms and clothing,
for their commander opened his store and directed every soldier to be
furnished with a new suit complete prior to the capitulation. But in
their line of march we remarked a disorderly and unsoldierlike conduct;
their step was irregular and their ranks frequently broken. But it was
in the field, when they came to the last act of the drama, that the
spirit and pride of the British soldier was put to the severest test.
Here their mortification could not be concealed. Some of the platoon
officers appeared to be exceedingly chagrined when giving the word,
'Ground arms!' and I am a witness that they performed this duty in a
very unofficerlike manner and that many of the soldiers manifested a
sullen temper, throwing their arms on the pile with violence, as if
determined to render them useless. This irregularity, however, was
checked by the authority of General Lincoln. After having grounded their
arms and divested themselves of their accoutrements, the captive troops
were conducted back to Yorktown and guarded by our troops until they
could be conducted to the place of their destination."

Congress bestowed its thanks freely and fully upon the
Commander-in-Chief, Count de Rochambeau, Count de Grasse, and the
various officers of the different corps, and the brave soldiers under
their command. Two stands of colors, trophies of war, were voted to
Washington and two pieces of cannon to Rochambeau and de Grasse, and it
was also voted that a marble column to commemorate the alliance and the
victory should be erected in Yorktown. On the day after the surrender
the general orders closed as follows: "Divine service shall be performed
tomorrow in the different brigades and divisions. The Commander-in-Chief
recommends that all the troops that are not upon duty do assist at
it with a serious deportment and that sensibility of heart which
the recollection of the surprising and particular interposition of
Providence in our favor claims." A proclamation was also issued by
Congress appointing the 13th of December as a day of thanksgiving
and prayer, on account of this signal and manifest favor of Divine
Providence in behalf of our country.

The news of Cornwallis' surrender was received throughout the country
with the most tumultuous expressions of joy. The worthy New England
Puritans considered it, as Cromwell did the victory at Worcester, "the
crowning mercy." It promised them a return of peace and prosperity. The
people of the middle States regarded it as a guarantee for their speedy
deliverance from the presence of a hated enemy. But to the southern
States it was more than this. It was the retributive justice of Heaven
against a band of cruel and remorseless murderers and robbers, who
had spread desolation and sorrow through their once happy homes. It is
asserted in Gordon's "History of the War" that wherever Cornwallis' army
marched the dwelling-houses were plundered of everything that could be
carried off. The stables of Virginia were plundered of the horses on
which his cavalry rode in their ravaging march through that State.
Millions of property, in tobacco and other merchandise and in private
houses and public buildings, were destroyed by Arnold, Philips, and
Cornwallis in Virginia alone. The very horse which Tarleton had
the impudence to ride on the day of the surrender was stolen from a
planter's stable, who recognized it on the field and compelled Tarleton
to give it up and mount a sorry hack for the occasion.

It was computed at the time that 1,400 widows were made by the war in
the single district of Ninety-Six. The whole devastation occasioned
by the British army, during six months previous to the surrender at
Yorktown, amounted to not less than £3,000,000 sterling, an immense
loss for so short a time, falling, as it did, chiefly on the rural
population. No wonder that they assembled in crowds to witness the
humiliation of Cornwallis and his army. To them it was not only a
triumph, but a great deliverance. Well might the Virginians triumph.
The return of their favorite commander, a son of the soil, had speedily
released their State from ravage and destruction and restored them to
comparative peace and repose.

On the very day of Cornwallis' surrender, Clinton sailed from New York
with reinforcements. He had been perfectly aware of Cornwallis' extreme
peril and was anxious to relieve him, but the fleet had sustained
considerable damage in the battle with de Grasse and some time
was necessarily spent in repairing it. During that interval four
ships-of-the-line arrived from Europe and two from the West Indies. At
length Clinton embarked with 7,000 of his best troops, but was unable to
sail from Sandy Hook till the 19th (1781), the day on which Cornwallis
surrendered. The fleet, consisting of twenty-five ships-of-the-line,
two vessels of fifty guns each, and eight frigates, arrived off
the Chesapeake on the 24th (October, 1781), when Clinton had the
mortification to be informed of the event of the 19th. He remained
on the coast, however, till the 29th, when, every doubt being removed
concerning the capitulation of Cornwallis, whose relief was the sole
object of the expedition, he returned to New York.

While Clinton continued off the Chesapeake, the French fleet, consisting
of thirty-six sail-of-the-line, satisfied with the advantage already
gained, lay at anchor in the bay without making any movement whatever.

Washington, considering the present a favorable opportunity for
following up his success by an expedition against the British army
in Charleston, wrote a letter to Count de Grasse on the day after the
capitulation, requesting him to unite his fleet to the proposed armament
and assist in the expedition. He even went on board the admiral's fleet
to thank him for his late services in the siege and to urge upon him the
feasibility and importance of this plan of operations. But the orders of
his court, ulterior projects, and his engagements with the Spaniards put
it out of the power of the French admiral to continue so long in America
as was required. He, however, remained some days in the bay in order to
cover the embarkation of the troops and of the ordnance to be conveyed
by water to the head of the Elk. [5]

Some brigades proceeded by land to join their companions at that place.
Some cavalry marched to join General Greene, but the French troops,
under Count Rochambeau, remained in Virginia to be in readiness to march
to the south or north, as the circumstances of the next campaign might
require. On the 27th the troops of St. Simon began to embark, in order
to return to the West Indies, and early in November Count de Grasse
sailed for that quarter.

Part of the prisoners were sent to Winchester in Virginia and
Fredericktown, Maryland, the remainder to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lord
Cornwallis and the principal officers were paroled and sailed for New
York. During their stay at Yorktown, after the surrender, they received
the most delicate attentions from the conquerors. Dr. Thacher, in his
"Military Journal," notices particularly some of these attentions: "Lord
Cornwallis and his officers," he says, "since their capitulation, have
received all the civilities and hospitality which is in the power of
their conquerors to bestow. General Washington, Count Rochambeau, and
other general officers have frequently invited them to entertainments,
and they have expressed their grateful acknowledgments in return. They
cannot avoid feeling the striking contrast between the treatment which
they now experience and that which they have bestowed on our prisoners
who have unfortunately fallen into their hands. It is a dictate of
humanity and benevolence, after sheathing the sword, to relieve and
meliorate the condition of the vanquished prisoner.

"On one occasion, while in the presence of General Washington, Lord
Cornwallis was standing with his head uncovered. His Excellency said to
him, politely, 'My lord, you had better be covered from the cold.' His
lordship, applying his hand to his head, replied, 'It matters not, sir,
what becomes of this head now.'" The reader will not have failed to
notice that the capture of Cornwallis was effected solely by the able
and judicious strategy of Washington. It was he that collected from
different parts of the country the forces that were necessary to enclose
that commander and his hitherto victorious army as it were in a net,
from which there was no possibility of escape. It was he who, by
personal influence and exertion, brought de Grasse to renounce his
expected triumphs at sea and zealously assist in the siege by preventing
Cornwallis from receiving any aid from British naval forces. It was he
who detained de Grasse at a critical moment of the siege, when he
was anxious to go off with the chief part of his force and engage the
British at sea. In short, it was he who provided all, oversaw all,
directed all, and having, by prudence and forethought, as well as
by activity and perseverance, brought all the elements of conquest
together, combined them into one mighty effort with glorious success.
It was the second siege on a grand scale which had been brought to a
brilliant and fortunate conclusion by the wisdom and prudence as well as
the courage and perseverance of Washington. In the first he expelled the
enemy and recovered Boston uninjured, freeing the soil for a time from
the presence of the enemy. In the second, he captured the most renowned
and successful British army in America and dictated his own terms of
surrender to a commander who, from his marquee, had recently given law
to three States of the Union.

1. Footnote: Dr. Thacher, in his Military Journal, has an entry: "July
7th. Our army was drawn up in a line and reviewed by General
Rochambeau, with his Excellency, General Washington, and other general
officers.--July 10th. Another review took place in presence of the
French ambassador from Philadelphia, after which the French army passed
a review in presence of the general officers of both armies." Speaking
of the French army, Dr. Thacher says: "In the officers we recognize
the accomplished gentlemen, free and affable in their manners. Their
military dress and side-arms are elegant. The troops are under
the strictest discipline, and are amply provided with arms and
accoutrements, which are kept in the neatest order. They are in complete
uniform--coats of white broadcloth, trimmed with green, and white
under-dress, and on their heads they wear a singular kind of hat or
chapeau. It is unlike our cocked hats, in having but two corners instead
of three, which gives them a very novel appearance."

2. Footnote: The amount was $20,000 in specie, to be refunded by Robert
Morris on the 1st of October. On the 31st of August, Dr. Thacher says:
"Colonel Laurens arrived at headquarters, camp, Trenton, on his way from
Boston to Philadelphia. He brought two and a half millions of livres in
cash, a part of the French subsidy,--a most seasonable supply, as the
troops were discontented and almost mutinous for want of pay."

3. Footnote: Lafayette (letter to Washington, 16th October, 1781) says
"Your Excellency having personally seen our dispositions, I shall only
give you an account of what passed in the execution. Colonel Gimat's
battalion led the van, and was followed by that of Colonel Hamilton, who
commanded the whole advanced corps. At the same time a party of eighty
men, under Colonel Laurens, turned the redoubt. I beg leave to refer
your Excellency to the report I have received from Colonel Hamilton,
whose well-known talents and gallantry were, on this occasion, most
conspicuous and serviceable. Our obligations to him, to Colonel Gimat,
to Colonel

[missing footnote text]

4. Footnote: The whole number of prisoners, exclusive of seamen, was
over 7,000, and the British loss during the siege was between five and
six hundred. The army of the allies consisted of 7,000 American regular
troops, upward of 5,000 French, and 4,000 militia. The loss in killed
and wounded was about 300. The captured property consisted of a large
train of artillery--viz., 75 brass and 69 iron cannon, howitzers, and
mortars; also a large quantity of arms, ammunition, military stores, and
provisions fell to the Americans. One frigate, 2 ships of twenty guns
each, a number of transports and other vessels, and 1,500 seamen were
surrendered to de Grasse.

5. Footnote: On his departure, the Count de Grasse received from
Washington a present of two elegant horses as a token of his friendship
and esteem.


CLOSE OF THE WAR. 1782-1783.

After the surrender of Cornwallis, the combined forces were distributed
in different parts of the country, in the manner we have described
at the close of the last chapter. Having personally superintended
the distribution of the ordnance and stores, and the departure of the
prisoners as well as the embarkation of the troops, who were to go
northward under General Lincoln, Washington left Yorktown on the 5th of
November (1781) for Eltham, the seat of his friend, Colonel Basset.
He arrived there the same day, but he came to a house of mourning. His
stepson, John Parke Custis, was just expiring when he reached the house.
Washington was just in time to be present, with Mrs. Washington and Mrs.
Custis, her daughter-in-law, at the last painful moment of the young
man's departure to the world of spirits. Mr. Custis had been an object
of peculiar affection and care to Washington, who had superintended his
education and introduction to public life. He had entered King's college
in New York, in 1773, but soon after left that institution and married
the daughter of Mr. Benedict Calvert, February 3, 1774. He had passed
the winter of 1775 at headquarters in Cambridge with his wife and Mrs.
Washington. He had subsequently been elected a member of the House of
Burgesses of Virginia, in which office he acquitted himself with
honor, and he was now cut off on the very threshold of life being only
twenty-eight years of age at the time of his decease. He left a widow
and four young children. The two youngest of these children, one less
than two and the other four years old, were adopted by Washington, and
thenceforward formed a part of his immediate family. During the last
year of Mr. Custis' life, Washington, writing to General Greene, took
occasion to cite a passage from his correspondence. He says, "I have
received a letter from Mr. Custis, dated the 29th ultimo (March, 1781),
in which are these words: 'General Greene has by his conduct gained
universal esteem, and possesses, in the fullest degree, the confidence
of all ranks of people.'" He had just then returned from the Assembly at
Richmond. Washington remained for several days at Eltham to comfort the
family in their severe affliction, and then proceeded to Mount Vernon,
where he arrived on the 13th of November. From this home of his early
affections he wrote to Lafayette on the 15th (1781), accounting for his
not having joined him in Philadelphia, by the pressure of private and
public duties. In this letter, ever attentive to the interests of
his country, Washington expresses his views with respect to the next
campaign; and as Lafayette, after the expedition with de Grasse to
the South was abandoned, had determined to pass the winter in France,
Washington takes occasion in this letter to impress upon his mind the
absolute necessity of a strong naval force in order to conduct the
next campaign to a successful termination. In concluding his letter,
Washington says: "If I should be deprived of the pleasure of a personal
interview with you before your departure, permit me to adopt this method
of making you a tender of my ardent vows for a prosperous voyage,
a gracious reception from your prince, an honorable reward for your
services, a happy meeting with your lady and friends, and a safe return
in the spring to, my dear marquis, your affectionate friend, etc.--


Washington had given Lafayette leave to proceed to Philadelphia, where
he obtained from Congress permission to visit his family in France
for such a period as he should think proper. Congress at the same time
passed resolutions doing justice to the zeal and military conduct of
Lafayette. Among them were the following:

"Resolved, that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs acquaint the ministers
plenipotentiary of the United States, that it is the desire of Congress
that they confer with the Marquis de Lafayette, and avail themselves of
his information relative to the affairs of the United States.

"Resolved, that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs further acquaint
the minister plenipotentiary at the court of Versailles, that he will
conform to the intention of Congress by consulting with and employing
the assistance of the Marquis de Lafayette in accelerating the supplies
which may be afforded by his most Christian majesty for the use of the
United States."

Lafayette was also commended by Congress to the notice of Louis XVI
in very warm terms. Having received his instructions from Congress
and completed his preparations, he went to Boston, where the American
frigate Alliance awaited his arrival. His farewell letter to Congress
is dated on board this vessel, December 23, 1781, and immediately after
writing it he set sail for his native country.

Before proceeding to Philadelphia Washington visited Alexandria, where
he was honored with a public reception and an address from a committee
of the citizens, in replying to which he was careful to remind them,
when referring to the late success at Yorktown, that "a vigorous
prosecution of this success would, in all probability," procure
peace, liberty, and independence. He also visited Annapolis, where the
Legislature was in session. A vote of thanks was passed by that body
(22d November, 1781), and in replying to it Washington also reminded the
legislators of Maryland that the war was by no means finished, and that
further exertions were required to be made by the States.

The splendid success of the allied arms in Virginia, and the great
advantages obtained still further south, produced no disposition in
Washington to relax those exertions which might yet be necessary to
secure the great object of the contest. "I shall attempt to stimulate
Congress," said he in a letter to General Greene, written at Mount
Vernon, "to the best improvement of our late success, by taking the most
vigorous and effectual measures to be ready for an early and decisive
campaign the next year. My greatest fear is that viewing this stroke
in a point of light which may too much magnify its importance they may
think our work too nearly closed and fall into a state of languor and
relaxation. To prevent this error I shall employ every means in my
power, and, if unhappily we sink into this fatal mistake, no part of the
blame shall be mine."

On the 27th of November (1781) Washington reached Philadelphia, and
Congress passed a resolution granting him an audience on the succeeding
day. On his appearance the President addressed him in a short speech,
informing him that a committee was appointed to state the requisitions
to be made for the proper establishment of the army, and expressing the
expectation that he would remain in Philadelphia, in order to aid the
consultations on that important subject.

The Secretary of War, the financier, Robert Morris, and the Secretary of
Foreign Affairs, Robert R. Livingston, assisted at these deliberations,
and the business was concluded with unusual celerity.

A revenue was scarcely less necessary than an army, and it was obvious
that the means for carrying on the war must be obtained either by
impressments or by a vigorous course of taxation. But both these
alternatives depended on the States, and the government of the Union
resorted to the influence of Washington in aid of its requisitions.

But no exertions on the part of America alone could expel the invading
army. A superiority at sea was indispensable to the success of offensive
operations against the posts which the British still held within
the United States. To obtain this superiority Washington pressed its
importance on the Chevalier de la Luzerne, the minister of France, and
commanding officers of the French troops, as he had on Lafayette when he
was about to return to his native country.

The first intelligence from Europe was far from being conciliatory. The
Parliament of Great Britain reassembled in November (1781). The speech
from the throne breathed a settled purpose to continue the war, and
the addresses from both houses, which were carried by large majorities,
echoed the sentiment.

In the course of the animated debates which these addresses occasioned,
an intention was indeed avowed by some members of the administration to
direct the whole force of the nation against France and Spain, and to
suspend offensive operations in the interior of the United States until
the strength of those powers should be broken. In the meantime the posts
then occupied by their troops were to be maintained.

This development of the views of the administration furnished additional
motives to the American government for exerting all the faculties of the
nation to expel the British garrisons from New York and Charleston.
The efforts of Washington to produce these exertions were earnest and
unremitting, but not successful. The State Legislatures declared the
inability of their constituents to pay taxes. Instead of filling the
Continental treasury some were devising means to draw money from it, and
some of those which passed bills imposing heavy taxes directed that the
demands of the State should be first satisfied, and that the residue
only should be paid to the Continental receiver. By the unwearied
attention and judicious arrangements of Robert Morris, the minister of
finance, the expenses of the nation had been greatly reduced. The bank
established in Philadelphia, and his own high character, had enabled him
to support in some degree a system of credit, the advantages of which
were incalculably great. He had, through the Chevalier de la Luzerne,
obtained permission from the King of France to draw for half a million
of livres monthly, until 6,000,000 should be received. To prevent the
diversion of any part of this sum from the most essential objects, he
had concealed the negotiation even from Congress, and had communicated
it only to Washington; yet after receiving the first installment it was
discovered that Dr. Franklin had anticipated the residue of the loan
and had appropriated it to the purposes of the United States. At the
commencement of the year 1782 not a dollar remained in the treasury, and
although Congress had required the payment of 2,000,000 on the 1st of
April not a cent had been received on the 23d of that month, and so
late as the 1st of June (1782) not more than $20,000 had reached the
treasury. Yet to Robert Morris every eye was turned, to him the empty
hand of every public creditor was stretched for, and against him,
instead of the State governments, the complaints and imprecations of
every unsatisfied claimant were directed. In July (1782), when the
second quarter annual payment of taxes ought to have been received,
Morris was informed by some of his agents, that the collection of the
revenue had been postponed in some of the States, in consequence of
which the month of December would arrive before any money could come
into the hands of the Continental receivers. In a letter communicating
this unpleasant intelligence to Washington, he added: "With such
gloomy prospects as this letter affords I am tied here to be baited
by continual clamorous demands; and for the forfeiture of all that is
valuable in life, and which I hoped at this moment to enjoy, I am to be
paid by invective. Scarce a day passes in which I am not tempted to give
back into the hands of Congress the power they have delegated, and to
lay down a burden which presses me to the earth. Nothing prevents me but
a knowledge of the difficulties I am obliged to struggle under. What
may be the success of my efforts God only knows, but to leave my post at
present would, I know, be ruinous. This candid state of my situation and
feelings I give to your bosom, because you, who have already felt and
suffered so much, will be able to sympathize with me."

Fortunately for the United States the temper of the British nation
on the subject of continuing the war did not accord with that of its
Sovereign. That war, into which the people had entered with at least as
much eagerness as the minister, had become almost universally unpopular.
Motions against the measures of administration respecting America were
repeated by the opposition, and, on every experiment, the strength
of the minority increased. At length, on the 27th of February (1782),
General Conway moved in the House of Commons, "that it is the opinion of
this house that a further prosecution of offensive war against America
would, under present circumstances, be the means of weakening the
efforts of this country against her European enemies, and tend to
increase the mutual enmity so fatal to the interests both of Great
Britain and America." The whole force of administration was exerted to
get rid of this resolution, but was exerted in vain, and it was carried.
An address to the King, in the words of the resolution, was immediately
voted, and was presented by the whole house. The answer of the Crown
being deemed inexplicit it was, on the 4th of March (1782), resolved
"that the house will consider as enemies to his Majesty and the
country, all those who should advise or attempt a further prosecution of
offensive war on the continent of North America."

These votes were soon followed by a change of ministers and by
instructions to the officers commanding the forces in America, which
conformed to them.

While Washington was employed in addressing circular letters to the
State governments, suggesting all those motives which might stimulate
them to exertions better proportioned to the exigency, English papers,
containing the debates in Parliament on the various propositions
respecting America, reached the United States. Alarmed at the impression
these debates might make, he introduced the opinions it was deemed
prudent to inculcate respecting them into the letters he was then about
to transmit to the Governors of the several States. "I have perused
these debates," he said, "with great attention and care, with a view,
if possible, to penetrate their real design, and upon the most mature
deliberation I can bestow I am obliged to declare it as my candid
opinion that the measure, in all its views, so far as it respects
America, is merely delusory, having no serious intention to admit our
independence upon its true principles, but is calculated to produce a
change of ministers to quiet the minds of their own people and reconcile
them to a continuance of the war, while it is meant to amuse this
country with a false idea of peace, to draw us from our connection with
France, and to lull us into a state of security and inactivity; which
taking place, the ministry will be left to prosecute the war in other
parts of the world with greater vigor and effect. Your Excellency will
permit me on this occasion to observe that, even if the nation and
Parliament are really in earnest to obtain peace with America, it
will undoubtedly be wisdom in us to meet them with great caution and
circumspection, and by all means to keep our arms firm in our hands, and
instead of relaxing one iota in our exertions, rather to spring forward
with redoubled vigor, that we may take the advantage of every favorable
opportunity until our wishes are fully obtained. No nation yet suffered
in treaty by preparing (even in the moment of negotiation) most
vigorously for the field.

"The industry which the enemy is using to propagate their pacific
reports appears to me a circumstance very suspicious, and the eagerness
with which the people, as I am informed, are catching at them, is, in my
opinion, equally dangerous."

While Washington was still residing at Philadelphia, in conference with
the committees of Congress, a spirited naval action took place near the
capes of the Delaware, which must have afforded him much gratification.

The Delaware bay was, at this period, says Peterson, [1] infested with
small cruisers of the enemy, which not only captured the river craft,
but molested the neighboring shores. To repress these marauders, the
State of Pennsylvania determined to fit out a vessel or two at its own
expense, and with this view a small merchant ship, called the Hyder All,
then lying outward-bound with a cargo of flour, was purchased. It took
but a few days to discharge her freight, to pierce her for sixteen
guns, and to provide her with an armament. Volunteers flocked to offer
themselves for her crew. The command was given to Barney, and, at the
head of a convoy of outward-bound merchantmen, he stood down the bay,
and anchored, on the 8th of April (1782), in the roads off Cape May,
where he awaited a proper wind for the traders to go to sea. Suddenly
two ships and a brig, one of the former a frigate, were seen rounding
the cape, obviously with the intention of attacking him, on which
he signaled the convoy to stand up the bay, the wind being at the
southward, himself covering their rear, and the enemy in hot pursuit.

In order to head off the fugitives, the frigate took one channel and her
consorts the other, the ship and brig choosing that which the Hyder
Ali had selected. The brig, being a very fast vessel, soon overhauled
Barney, but, contenting herself with giving him a broadside as she
passed, pressed on in pursuit of the convoy. The Hyder Ali declined
to return this fire, holding herself in reserve for the ship,
a sloop-of-war mounting twenty guns, which was now seen rapidly
approaching. When the Englishman drew near, Barney suddenly luffed,
threw in his broadside, and immediately righting his helm, kept away
again. This staggered the enemy, who, being so much the superior and
having a frigate within sustaining distance, had expected the Hyder Ali
to surrender. The two vessels were now within pistol shot of each other,
and the forward guns of the British were just beginning to bear, when
Barney, in a loud voice, ordered his quartermaster "to port his helm."
The command was distinctly heard on board the enemy, as indeed Barney
had intended it should be, and the Englishman immediately prepared to
maneuver his ship accordingly. But the quartermaster of the Hyder Ali
had, prior to this, received his instructions, and, instead of obeying
Barney's pretended order, whirled his wheel in the contrary direction,
luffing the American ship athwart the hawse of her antagonist. The
jib-boom of the enemy, in consequence of this, caught in the forerigging
of the Hyder Ali, giving the latter the raking position which Barney had

Not a cheer rose from the American vessel, even at this welcome
spectacle, for the men knew that victory against such odds was still
uncertain, and they thought as yet only of securing it. Nor did the
British, at a sight so dispiriting to them, yield in despair. On the
contrary, both crews rushed to their guns, and, for half an hour, the
combat was waged on either side with desperate fury. The two vessels
were soon enveloped in smoke. The explosions of the artillery were like
continuous claps of thunder. In twenty-six minutes not less than
twenty broadsides were discharged. Nor was the struggle confined to the
batteries. Riflemen, posted in the tops of the Hyder Ali, picked off one
by one the crew of the enemy, until his decks ran slippery with blood
and 56 out of his crew of 140 had fallen. All this while Barney stood
on the quarter-deck of his ship, a mark for the enemy's sharpshooters,
until they were driven from their stations by the superior aim of
the Americans. At length, finding further resistance hopeless, the
Englishman struck his colors. Huzza on huzza now rose from the deck of
the victor. Barney, on taking possession, discovered that the vessel
he had captured was the General Monk, and that her weight of metal was
nearly twice his own. Notwithstanding the presence of the frigate, the
young hero succeeded in bringing off his prize in safety and in a few
hours had moored her by the Hyder Ali's side, opposite Philadelphia,
with the dead of both ships still on their decks. In this action Barney
lost but 4 killed and 11 wounded. For the victory, conceded to be the
most brilliant of the latter years of the war, Barney was rewarded by
the State of Pennsylvania with a gold-hilted sword. In consequence of
the capture of the General Monk, the Delaware ceased to be infested with
the enemy.

About the middle of April (1782), Washington left Philadelphia, where
he had remained since November (1781), and joined the army, his
headquarters being at Newburg. He was directly informed of a very
shameful proceeding on the part of some refugees from New York, and felt
compelled to give the matter his serious attention. The circumstances
were these: Captain Huddy, who commanded a body of troops in Monmouth
county, New Jersey, was attacked by a party of refugees, was made
prisoner, and closely confined in New York. A few days afterward they
led him out and hanged him, with a label on his breast declaring that
he was put to death in retaliation for some of their number, who,
they said, had suffered a similar fate. Taking up the matter promptly,
Washington submitted it to his officers, laid it before Congress, and
wrote to Clinton demanding that Captain Lippencot, the perpetrator of
the horrid deed, should be given up. The demand not being complied with,
Washington, in accordance with the opinion of the council of officers,
determined upon retaliation. A British officer, of equal rank with
Captain Huddy, was chosen by lot. Captain Asgill, a young man just
nineteen years old, and the only son of his parents, was the one upon
whom the lot fell. The whole affair was in suspense for a number of
months. Both Clinton and Carleton, his successor, reprobated the act
of Lippencot with great severity, yet he was not given up, it being
considered by a court-martial that he had only obeyed the orders of the
Board of Associated Loyalists in New York. Great interest was made to
save Asgill's life; his mother begged the interference of the Count
de Vergennes, who wrote to Washington in her behalf. Early in November
Washington performed the grateful task of setting Captain Asgill at

Meantime the army, by whose toils and sufferings the country had
been carried through the perils of the Revolution, remained unpaid,
apparently disregarded by Congress and by the people whom they had
delivered from oppression. It seemed probable that they would speedily
be disbanded, without any adequate provision being made by Congress
for the compensation which was due to them, and which had been solemnly
promised by repeated acts of legislation. They were very naturally
discontented. Their complaints and murmurs began to be ominous of very
serious consequences. They even began to question the efficiency of the
form of government, which appeared to be unfitted for meeting the first
necessities of the country--the maintenance and pay of its military
force. They began to consider the propriety of establishing a more
energetic form of government, while they still had their arms in their
hands. Colonel Nicola, an able and experienced officer, who stood high
in Washington's estimation, and had frequently been made the medium of
communication between him and the officers, was chosen as the organ
for making known their sentiments to him on the present occasion. In
a letter carefully written, after commenting upon the gloomy state
of public affairs, the disordered finances, and other embarrassments
occasioned by the war, all caused by defective political organization,
he proceeded to say: "This must have shown to all, and to military men
in particular, the weakness of republics, and the exertions the army
have been able to make by being under a proper head. Therefore, I little
doubt that, when the benefits of a mixed government are pointed out and
duly considered, such will be readily adopted. In this case it will,
I believe, be uncontroverted that the same abilities which have led
us through difficulties, apparently insurmountable by human power, to
victory and glory, those qualities that have merited and obtained the
universal esteem and veneration of an army, would be most likely to
conduct and direct us in the smoother paths of peace. Some people
have so connected the ideas of tyranny and monarchy as to find it very
difficult to separate them. It may, therefore, be requisite to give
the head of such a constitution as I propose some title apparently
more moderate; but, if all things were once adjusted, I believe strong
arguments might be produced for admitting the name of King, which I
conceive would be attended with some material advantages."

The answer of Washington to this communication was in the following

"NEWBURG, 22d _May_, 1782.

"SIR.--With a mixture of great surprise and astonishment, I have read
with attention the sentiments you have submitted to my perusal. Be
assured, sir, no occurrence in the course of the war has given me more
painful sensations than your information of there being such ideas
existing in the army as you have expressed, and I must view with
abhorrence and reprehend with severity. For the present, the
communication of them will rest in my own bosom, unless some further
agitation of the matter shall make a disclosure necessary.

"I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my conduct could have
given encouragement to an address, which to me seems big with the
greatest mischiefs that can befall my country. If I am not deceived in
the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a person to whom your
schemes are more disagreeable. At the same time, in justice to my own
feelings, I must add, that no man possesses a more sincere wish to see
ample justice done to the army than I do; and as far as my powers and
influence, in a constitutional way, extend, they shall be employed, to
the utmost of my abilities, to effect it, should there be any occasion.
Let me conjure you, then, if you have any regard for your country,
concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me, to banish these
thoughts from your mind, and never communicate, as from yourself or any
one else, a sentiment of the like nature.

"I am, sir, &c.,


       *       *       *       *       *

This was the language of Washington at a time when the army was entirely
devoted to him, when his popularity was equal to that of Cromwell or
Napoleon in their palmiest days. Certain officers of the army were
ready, at a word, to make him king; and the acknowledged inefficiency of
the existing government would have furnished a plausible reason for the
act. But Washington was not formed of the material that kings are made
of. Personal ambition he despised. To be, not to seem great and good was
his aim. To serve, and not to rule his country was his object. He was
too true a patriot to assume the power and title of a monarch.

Early in May (1782) Sir Guy Carleton, who had succeeded Sir Henry
Clinton in the command of all the British forces in the United States,
arrived at New York. Having been also appointed, in conjunction with
Admiral Digby, a commissioner to negotiate a peace, he lost no time in
conveying to Washington copies of the votes of the British
Parliament, and of a bill which had been introduced on the part of the
administration, authorizing the King to conclude a peace or truce
with those who were still denominated "the revolted Colonies of North
America." These papers, he said, would manifest the dispositions
prevailing with the government and people of England toward those of
America, and, if the like pacific temper should prevail in this country,
both inclination and duty would lead him to meet it with the most
zealous concurrence. He had addressed to Congress, he said, a letter
containing the same communications, and he solicited a passport for the
person who should convey it.

At this time (1782) the bill enabling the British monarch to conclude a
peace or truce with America had not become a law, nor was any assurance
given that the present commissioners were empowered to offer other
terms than those which had been formerly rejected. General Carleton,
therefore, could not hope that negotiations would commence on such a
basis, nor be disappointed at the refusal of the passports he requested
by Congress, to whom the application was, of course, referred by
Washington. The letter may have been written for the general purpose
of conciliation, but the situation of the United States justified a
suspicion of different motives, and prudence required that their conduct
should be influenced by that suspicion. The repugnance of the King to a
dismemberment of the empire was understood, and it was thought
probable that the sentiments expressed in the House of Commons might be
attributable rather to a desire of changing ministers than to any fixed
determination to relinquish the design of reannexing America to the

Under these impressions, the overtures now made were considered as
opiates administered to lull the spirit of vigilance, which Washington
and his friends in Congress labored to keep up, into a state of fatal
repose, and to prevent those measures of security which it might yet be
necessary to adopt.

This jealousy was nourished by all the intelligence received from
Europe. The utmost address of the British cabinet had been employed to
detach the belligerents from each other. The mediation of Russia had
been accepted to procure a separate peace with Holland; propositions had
been submitted both to France and Spain, tending to an accommodation
of differences with each of those powers singly, and inquiries had been
made of Mr. Adams, the American minister at the Hague in place of Mr.
Laurens, which seemed to contemplate the same object with regard to the
United States. These political maneuvers furnished additional motives
for doubting the sincerity of the English cabinet. Whatever views might
actuate the court of St. James on this subject, the resolution of the
American government to make no separate treaty was unalterable.

But the public votes which have been stated, and probably his private
instructions, restrained Sir Guy Carleton from offensive war, and the
state of the American army disabled Washington from making any attempt
on the posts in possession of the British. The campaign of 1782
consequently passed away without furnishing any military operations
of moment between the armies under the immediate direction of the
respective Commanders-in-Chief.

Early in August (1782) a letter was received by Washington from Sir
Guy Carleton and Admiral Digby, which, among other communications
manifesting a pacific disposition on the part of England, contained the
information that Mr. Grenville was at Paris, invested with full powers
to treat with all the parties at war, that negotiations for a general
peace were already commenced and that his Majesty had commanded his
minister to direct Mr. Grenville that the independence of the thirteen
provinces should be proposed by him in the first instance instead of
being made a condition of a general treaty. But that this proposition
would be made in the confidence that the Loyalists would be restored
to their possessions, or a full compensation made them for whatever
confiscations might have taken place.

This letter was, not long afterward, followed by one from Sir Guy
Carleton, declaring that he could discern no further object of contest,
and that he disapproved of all further hostilities by sea or land, which
could only multiply the miseries of individuals, without a possible
advantage to either nation. In pursuance of this opinion, he had, soon
after his arrival in New York, restrained the practice of detaching
parties of Indians against the frontiers of the United States and had
recalled those which were previously engaged in those bloody incursions.

These communications appear to have alarmed the jealousy of the minister
of France. To quiet his fears Congress renewed the resolution "to enter
into no discussion of any overtures for pacification, but in confidence
and in concert with his most Christian Majesty," and again recommended
to the several States to adopt such measures as would most effectually
guard against all intercourse with any subjects of the British Crown
during the war.

In South Carolina the American army under General Greene maintained
its position in front of Jacksonborough, and that of the British under
General Leslie was confined to Charleston and its immediate vicinity.
Both were inactive for a long period, and during this time Greene's army
suffered so much for want of provisions that he was under the necessity
of authorizing the seizure of them by the odious measure of impressment.

Privations, which had been borne without a murmur under the excitement
of active military operations, produced great irritation during the
leisure which prevailed after the enemy had abandoned the open field,
and, in the Pennsylvania line, which was composed chiefly of foreigners,
the discontent was aggravated to such a point as to produce a
treasonable intercourse with the enemy, in which a plot is understood
to have been laid for seizing General Greene and delivering him to a
detachment of British troops which would move out of Charleston for the
purpose of favoring the execution of the design. It was discovered when
it is supposed to have been on the point of execution, and a Sergeant
Gornell, believed to be the chief of the conspiracy, was condemned to
death by a court-martial, and executed on the 22d of April. Some others,
among whom were two domestics in the general's family, were brought
before the court on suspicion of being concerned in the plot, but the
testimony was not sufficient to convict them, and twelve deserted the
night after it was discovered. There is no reason to believe that the
actual guilt of this transaction extended further.

Charleston was held until the 14th of December. Previous to its
evacuation General Leslie had proposed a cessation of hostilities, and
that his troops might be supplied with fresh provisions, in exchange
for articles of the last necessity in the American camp. The policy of
government being adverse to this proposition, General Greene was under
the necessity of refusing his assent to it, and the British general
continued to supply his wants by force. This produced several skirmishes
with foraging parties, to one of which importance was given by the
untimely death of the intrepid Laurens, whose loss was universally

This gallant and accomplished young gentleman had entered into the
military family of Washington at an early period of the war and had
always shared a large portion of his esteem. Brave to excess, he sought
every occasion to render service to his country and to acquire that
military fame which he pursued with the ardor of a young soldier, whose
courage seems to have partaken largely of that romantic spirit which
youth and enthusiasm produce in a fearless mind. No small addition to
the regrets occasioned by his loss was derived from the reflection that
he fell unnecessarily, in an unimportant skirmish, in the last moments
of the war, when his rash exposure to the danger which proved fatal to
him could no longer be useful to his country.

From the arrival of Sir Guy Carleton at New York, the conduct of the
British armies on the American continent was regulated by the spirit
then recently displayed in the House of Commons, and all the sentiments
expressed by their general were pacific and conciliatory. But to these
flattering appearances it was dangerous to yield implicit confidence.
With a change of men a change of measures might also take place, and, in
addition to the ordinary suggestions of prudence, the military events
in the West Indies were calculated to keep alive the attention, and to
continue the anxieties of the United States.

After the surrender of Lord Cornwallis the arms of France and Spain in
the American seas had been attended with such signal success that the
hope of annihilating the power of Great Britain in the West Indies was
not too extravagant to be indulged. Immense preparations had been made
for the invasion of Jamaica, and, early in April, Admiral Count de
Grasse sailed from Martinique with a powerful fleet, having on board the
land forces and artillery which were to be employed in the operations
against that island. His intention was to form a junction with the
Spanish Admiral Don Solano, who lay at Hispaniola; after which the
combined fleet, whose superiority promised to render it irresistible,
was to proceed on the important enterprise which had been concerted. On
his way to Hispaniola de Grasse was overtaken by Rodney, and brought to
an engagement in which he was totally defeated and made a prisoner. This
decisive victory disconcerted the plans of the combined powers and gave
security to the British islands. In the United States it was feared that
this alteration in the aspect of affairs might influence the councils
of the English cabinet on the question of peace, and these apprehensions
increased the uneasiness with which all intelligent men contemplated the
state of the American finances.

It was then in contemplation to reduce the army by which many of
the officers would be discharged. While the general declared, in a
confidential letter to the Secretary of War, his conviction of the
alacrity with which they would retire into private life, could they be
placed in a situation as eligible as they had left to enter into the
service, he added--"Yet I cannot help fearing the result of the
measure, when I see such a number of men goaded by a thousand stings of
reflection on, the past, and of anticipation on the future, about to
be turned on the world, soured by penury, and what they call the
ingratitude of the public; involved in debts, without one farthing of
money to carry them home, after having spent the flower of their days,
and many of them their patrimonies, in establishing the freedom and
independence of their country; and having suffered everything which
human nature is capable of enduring on this side of death. I repeat
it, when I reflect on these irritating circumstances, unattended by one
thing to soothe their feelings or brighten the gloomy prospect, I cannot
avoid apprehending that a train of evils will follow of a very serious
and distressing nature.

"I wish not to heighten the shades of the picture so far as the real
life would justify me in doing, or I would give anecdotes of patriotism
and distress which have scarcely ever been paralleled, never surpassed,
in the history of mankind. But you may rely upon it, the patience and
long-sufferance of this army are almost exhausted, and there never was
so great a spirit of discontent as at this instant. While in the field I
think it may be kept from breaking out into acts of outrage, but when we
retire into winter quarters (unless the storm be previously dissipated)
I cannot be at ease respecting the consequences. It is high time for a

"To judge rightly," says Marshall, "of the motives which produced this
uneasy temper in the army it will be necessary to recollect that the
resolution of October, 1780, granting half-pay for life to the officers
stood on the mere faith of a government possessing no funds enabling
it to perform its engagements. From requisitions alone, to be made on
sovereign States, the supplies were to be drawn which should satisfy
these meritorious public creditors, and the ill success attending these
requisitions while the dangers of war were still impending, furnished
melancholy presages of their unproductiveness in time of peace. In
addition to this reflection, of itself sufficient to disturb the
tranquility which the passage of the resolution had produced, were other
considerations of decisive influence. The dispositions manifested by
Congress itself were so unfriendly to the half-pay establishment as to
extinguish the hope that any funds the government might acquire would be
applied to that object. Since the passage of the resolution the articles
of confederation, which required the concurrence of nine States to any
act appropriating public money, had been adopted, and nine States had
never been in favor of the measure. Should the requisitions of Congress
therefore be respected, or should permanent funds be granted by the
States, the prevailing sentiment of the nation was too hostile to the
compensation which had been stipulated to leave a probability that it
would be substantially made. This was not merely the sentiment of the
individuals then administering the government which might change with
a change of men; it was known to be the sense of the States they
represented, and consequently the hope could not be indulged that, on
this subject, a future Congress would be more just or would think more
liberally. As, therefore, the establishment of that independence for
which they had fought and suffered appeared to become more certain as
the end of their toils approached--the officers became more attentive to
their own situation, and the inquietude of the army increased with the
progress of the negotiation."

In October (1782) the French troops marched to Boston, in order to
embark for the West Indies, and the Americans retired into winter
quarters. The apparent indisposition of the British general to act
offensively, the pacific temper avowed by the cabinet of London, and the
strength of the country in which the American troops were cantoned, gave
ample assurance that no military operations would be undertaken during
the winter which would require the continuance of Washington in camp.
But the irritable temper of the army furnished cause for serious
apprehension, and he determined to forego every gratification to be
derived from a suspension of his toils, in order to watch the progress
of its discontent.

The officers who had wasted their fortunes and the prime of their lives
in unrewarded service, fearing, with reason, that Congress possessed
neither the power nor the inclination to comply with its engagements
to the army, could not look with unconcern at the prospect which was
opening to them. In December, soon after going into winter quarters,
they presented a petition to Congress respecting the money actually due
to them, and proposing a commutation of the half-pay stipulated by the
resolutions of October, 1780, for a sum in gross, which, they flattered
themselves, would encounter fewer prejudices than the half-pay
establishment. Some security that the engagements of the government
would be complied with was also requested. A committee of officers was
deputed to solicit the attention of Congress to this memorial, and to
attend its progress through the house.

Among the most distinguished members of the Federal government were
persons sincerely disposed to do ample justice to the public creditors
generally, and to that class of them particularly whose claims were
founded in military service. But many viewed the army with jealous eyes,
acknowledged its merit with unwillingness, and betrayed, involuntarily,
their repugnance to a faithful observance of the public engagements.
With this question another of equal importance was connected, on which
Congress was divided almost in the same manner. One party was attached
to a State, the other to a Continental system. The latter labored to
fund the public debts on solid Continental security, while the former
opposed their whole weight to measures calculated to effect that object.

In consequence of these divisions on points of the deepest interest,
the business of the army advanced slowly, and the important question
respecting the commutation of their half-pay remained undecided
(March, 1783), when intelligence was received of the signature of the
preliminary and eventual articles of peace between the United States and
Great Britain.

The officers, soured by their past sufferings, their present wants,
and their gloomy prospects--exasperated by the neglect which they
experienced and the injustice which they apprehended, manifested an
irritable and uneasy temper, which required only a slight impulse to
give it activity. To render this temper the more dangerous, an opinion
had been insinuated that the Commander-in-Chief was restrained, by
extreme delicacy, from supporting their interests with that zeal which
his feelings and knowledge of their situation had inspired. Early
in March a letter was received from their committee in Philadelphia,
showing that the objects they solicited had not been obtained. On the
10th of that month (1783) an anonymous paper was circulated, requiring a
meeting of the general and field officers at the public building on the
succeeding day at 11 in the morning, and announcing the expectation
that an officer from each company, and a delegate from the medical staff
would attend. The object of the meeting was avowed to be, "to consider
the late letter from their representatives in Philadelphia, and what
measures (if any) should be adopted to obtain that redress of grievances
which they seemed to have solicited in vain."

On the same day an address to the army was privately circulated, which
was admirably well calculated to work on the passions of the moment,
and to lead to the most desperate resolutions. This was the first of the
celebrated "Newburg Addresses," since acknowledged to have been written
by Gen. John Armstrong, at the request of several of the officers in
camp. The following were the concluding passages of the first address:

"After a pursuit of seven long years, the object for which we set out
is at length brought within our reach. Yes, my friends, that suffering
courage of yours was active once. It has conducted the United States of
America through a doubtful and a bloody war. It has placed her in the
chair of independency; and peace returns again to bless--whom? A country
willing to redress your wrongs, cherish your worth, and reward your
services? A country courting your return to private life with tears
of gratitude and smiles of admiration--longing to divide with you that
independency which your gallantry has given, and those riches which your
wounds have preserved? Is this the case? Or is it rather a country
that tramples upon your rights, disdains your cries, and insults your
distresses? Have you not more than once suggested your wishes and made
known your wants to Congress? Wants and wishes which gratitude and
policy would have anticipated rather than evaded; and have you not
lately, in the meek language of entreating memorials, begged from their
justice what you could no longer expect from their favor? How have you
been answered? Let the letter which you are called to consider tomorrow

"If this, then, be your treatment while the swords you wear are
necessary for the defense of America, what have you to expect from
peace, when your voice shall sink and your strength dissipate by
division? When those very swords, the instruments and companions of your
glory, shall be taken from your sides, and no remaining mark of military
distinction left but your wants, infirmities, and scars? Can you then
consent to be the only sufferers by this Revolution, and, retiring from
the field, grow old in poverty, wretchedness, and contempt? Can you
consent to wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the
miserable remnant of that life to charity which has hitherto been spent
in honor? If you can, go; and carry with you the jest of Tories and the
scorn of Whigs, the ridicule, and, what is worse, the pity of the world.
Go--starve and be forgotten. But if your spirit should revolt at this,
if you have sense enough to discover, and spirit enough to oppose,
tyranny under whatever garb it may assume, whether it be the plain
coat of republicanism or the splendid robe of royalty; if you have yet
learned to discriminate between a people and a cause, between men and
principles, awake; attend to your situation and redress yourselves. If
the present moment be lost, every future effort is in vain, and your
threats then will be as empty as your entreaties now.

"I would advise you, therefore, to come to some final opinion upon what
you can bear and what you will suffer. If your determination be in any
proportion to your wrongs, carry your appeal from the justice to the
fears of the government. Change the milk-and-water style of your
last memorial. Assume a bolder tone, decent, but lively; spirited and
determined; and suspect the man who would advise to more moderation and
longer forbearance. Let two or three men who can feel as well as write
be appointed to draw up your last remonstrance; for I would no longer
give it the suing, soft, unsuccessful epithet of memorial. Let it be
represented in language that will neither dishonor you by its rudeness
nor betray you by its fears, what has been promised by Congress and what
has been performed; how long and how patiently you have suffered; how
little you have asked, and how much of that little has been denied. Tell
them that, though you were the first, and would wish to be the last
to encounter danger; though despair itself can never drive you into
dishonor it may drive you from the field; that the wound often irritated
and never healed may at length become incurable, and that the slightest
mark of indignity from Congress now must operate like the grave,
and part you forever; that in any political event, the army has its
alternative--if peace, that nothing shall separate you from your
arms but death; if war, that, courting the auspices and inviting the
directions of your illustrious leader, you will retire to some unsettled
country, smile in your turn, and 'mock when their fear cometh on.' But
let it represent also that should they comply with the request of your
late memorial, it would make you more happy and them more respectable.
That while war should continue you would follow their standard into the
field, and when it came to an end, you would withdraw into the shade
of private life, and give the world another subject of wonder and
applause--an army victorious over its enemies, victorious over itself."

Persuaded as the officers in general were of the indisposition of
government to remunerate their services, this eloquent and impassioned
address, dictated by genius and by feeling, found in almost every bosom
a kindred though latent sentiment prepared to receive its impression.
Quick as the train to which a torch is applied, the passions caught its
flame and nothing seemed to be required but the assemblage proposed for
the succeeding day to communicate the conflagration to the combustible
mass and to produce an explosion ruinous to the army and to the nation.

Accustomed as Washington had been to emergencies of great delicacy and
difficulty, yet none had occurred which called more pressingly than the
present for the utmost exertion of all his powers. He knew well that it
was much easier to avoid intemperate measures than to recede from them
after they have been adopted. He therefore considered it as a matter
of the last importance to prevent the meeting of the officers on the
succeeding day, as proposed in the anonymous summons. The sensibilities
of the army were too high to admit of this being forbidden by authority,
as a violation of discipline; but the end was answered in another way
and without irritation. Washington, in general orders, noticed the
anonymous summons, as a disorderly proceeding, not to be countenanced;
and the more effectually to divert the officers from paying any
attention to it, he requested them to meet for the same nominal purpose,
but on a day four days subsequent to the one proposed by the anonymous
writer. On the next day (March 12th), the second "Newburg Address"
appeared, affecting to consider Washington as approving the first, and
only changing the day of meeting. But this artifice was defeated.
The intervening period was improved in preparing the officers for the
adoption of moderate measures. Washington sent for one officer after
another, and enlarged in private on the fatal consequences, and
particularly the loss of character, which would result from the adoption
of intemperate resolutions. His whole personal influence was exerted to
calm the prevailing agitation. When the officers assembled (March
15, 1783), General Gates was called to the chair. Washington rose and
apologized for being present, which had not been his original intention;
but the circulation of anonymous addresses had imposed on him the duty
of expressing his opinion of their tendency. He had committed it to
writing, and, with the indulgence of his brother officers, he would take
the liberty of reading it to them; and then proceeded as follows:

"GENTLEMEN.--By an anonymous summons an attempt has been made to
convene you together. How inconsistent with the rules of propriety, how
unmilitary, and how subversive of all order and discipline, let the good
sense of the army decide.

"In the moment of this summons, another anonymous production was sent
into circulation, addressed more to the feelings and passions than to
the reason and judgment of the army. The author of the piece is entitled
to much credit for the goodness of his pen, and I could wish he had
as much credit for the rectitude of his heart; for, as men see through
different optics, and are induced, by the reflecting faculties of the
mind, to use different means to attain the same end, the author of the
address should have had more charity than to mark for suspicion the man
who should recommend moderation and longer forbearance; or, in other
words, who should not think as he thinks, and act as he advises. But he
had another plan in view, in which candor and liberality of sentiment,
regard to justice, and love of country have no part; and he was right to
insinuate the darkest suspicion to effect the blackest design. That
the address is drawn with great art and is designed to answer the most
insidious purposes; that it is calculated to impress the mind with an
idea of premeditated injustice in the sovereign power of the United
States, and rouse all those resentments which must unavoidably flow from
such a belief that the secret mover of this scheme, whoever he may be,
intended to take advantage of the passions, while they were warmed
by the recollection of past distresses, without giving time for cool,
deliberate thinking, and that composure of mind which is so necessary to
give dignity and stability to measures, is rendered too obvious, by the
mode of conducting the business, to need other proof than a reference to
the proceeding. Thus much, gentlemen, I have thought it incumbent on me
to observe to you, to show upon what principles I opposed the irregular
and hasty meeting which was proposed to have been held on Tuesday last,
and not because I wanted a disposition to give you every opportunity,
consistent with your own honor and the dignity of the army, to make
known your grievances. If my conduct heretofore has not evinced to you
that I have been a faithful friend to the army, my declaration of it at
this time would be equally unavailing and improper. But as I was among
the first who embarked in the cause of our common country; as I have
never left your side one moment, but when called from you on public
duty; as I have been the constant companion and witness of your
distresses, and not among the last to feel and acknowledge your merits;
as I have ever considered my own military reputation as inseparably
connected with that of the army; as my heart has ever expanded with joy
when I have heard its praises, and my indignation has arisen when the
mouth of detraction has been opened against it, it can scarcely be
supposed, at this late stage of the war, that I am indifferent to its
interests. But how are they to be promoted? The way is plain, says
the anonymous addresser. If war continues, remove into the unsettled
country; there establish yourselves and leave an ungrateful country to
defend itself. But who are they to defend? Our wives, our children, our
farms and other property, which we leave behind us? Or, in this state of
hostile separation, are we to take the two first (the latter cannot be
removed), to perish in a wilderness with hunger, cold, and nakedness?
If peace takes place, never sheathe your swords, says he, until you have
obtained full and ample justice. This dreadful alternative of either
deserting our country in the extremist hour of her distress, or turning
our arms against it, which is the apparent object, unless Congress can
be compelled into instant compliance, has something so shocking in it
that humanity revolts at the idea. My God! What can this writer have in
view, by recommending such measures? Can he be a friend to the army? Can
he be a friend to this country? Rather is he not an insidious foe? some
emissary, perhaps, from New York, plotting the ruin of both, by sowing
the seeds of discord and separation between the civil and military
powers of the continent? And what a compliment does he pay to our
understandings, when he recommends measures, in either alternative,
impracticable in their nature!

"But here, gentlemen, I will drop the curtain, because it would be as
imprudent in me to assign my reasons for this opinion as it would be
insulting to your conception to suppose you stood in need of them.
A moment's reflection will convince every dispassionate mind of the
physical impossibility of carrying either proposal into execution. There
might, gentlemen, be an Impropriety in my taking notice, in this
address to you, of an anonymous production, but the manner in which that
performance has been introduced to the army, the effect it was intended
to have, together with some other circumstances, will amply justify my
observations on the tendency of that writing. With respect to the advice
given by the author, to suspect the man who shall recommend moderate
measures and longer forbearance, I spurn it, as every man who regards
that liberty and reveres that justice for which we contend, undoubtedly
must; for, if men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on
a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences
that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us.
The freedom of speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent, we may be
led like sheep to the slaughter.

"I cannot, in justice to my own belief and what I have great reason to
conceive is the intention of Congress, conclude this address without
giving it as my decided opinion that that honorable body entertain
exalted sentiments of the services of the army, and from a full
conviction of its merits and sufferings will do it complete justice;
that their endeavors to discover and establish funds for this purpose
has been unwearied, and will not cease till they have succeeded, I have
not a doubt. But, like all other large bodies where there is a variety
of different interests to reconcile, their determinations are slow. Why,
then, should we distrust them, and, in consequence of that distrust,
adopt measures which may cast a shade over that glory which has been
so justly acquired, and tarnish the reputation of an army which is
celebrated through all Europe for its fortitude and patriotism? And
for what is this done? To bring the object we seek nearer? No; most
certainly, in my opinion, it will cast it at a greater distance. For
myself--and I take no merit in giving the assurance, being induced to it
from principles of gratitude, veracity, and justice--a grateful sense
of the confidence you have ever placed in me, a recollection of the
cheerful assistance and prompt obedience I have experienced from you
under every vicissitude of fortune, and the sincere affection I feel
for an army I have so long had the honor to command, will oblige me
to declare in this public and solemn manner that in the attainment
of complete justice for all your toils and dangers, and in the
gratification of every wish, so far as may be done consistently with the
great duty I owe my country, and those powers we are bound to respect,
you may freely command my services to the utmost extent of my abilities.
While I give you these assurances, and pledge myself in the most
unequivocal manner to exert whatever ability I am possessed of in your
favor, let me entreat you, gentlemen, on your part, not to take any
measure, which, viewed in the calm light of reason, will lessen the
dignity and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained. Let me request
you to rely on the plighted faith of your country, and place a full
confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress, that, previous
to your dissolution as an army, they will cause all your accounts to be
fairly liquidated, as directed in the resolutions which were published
to you two days ago; and that they will adopt the most effectual
measures in their power to render ample justice to you for your faithful
and meritorious services. And let me conjure you, in the name of our
common country, as you value your own sacred honor, as you respect
the rights of humanity, and as you regard the military and national
character of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation
of the man who wishes, under any specious pretenses, to overturn
the liberties of our country, and who wickedly attempts to open the
floodgates of civil discord and deluge our rising empire in blood.

"By thus determining and thus acting, you will pursue the plain and
direct road to the attainment of your wishes; you will defeat the
insidious designs of our enemies, who are compelled to resort from open
force to secret artifice. You will give one more distinguished proof
of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue, rising superior to the
pressure of the most complicated sufferings; and you will, by the
dignity of your conduct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when
speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind--'Had
this day been wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of
perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.'"

After concluding this address, Washington read to the meeting a letter
from one of his frequent correspondents in Congress, the Hon. Joseph
Jones, pointing out the difficulties Congress had to contend with, but
expressing the opinion that the claims of the army would, at all events,
be paid. When he got through with the first paragraph of the letter he
made a short pause, took out his spectacles, and craved the indulgence
of the audience while he put them on, remarking, while he was engaged in
that operation, that "he had grown gray in their service, and now found
himself growing blind." The effect of such remark from Washington, at
such a moment, may be imagined. It brought tears to the eyes of many a
veteran in that illustrious assemblage. When he had finished reading
the letter he retired, leaving the officers to deliberate and act as the
crisis demanded.

On the present occasion, as on previous ones, Washington's appeal to the
officers was successful. The sentiments uttered in his address, from
a person whom the army had been accustomed to love, to revere, and to
obey--the solidity of whose judgment and the sincerity of whose zeal
for their interests were alike unquestioned--could not fail to be
irresistible. No person was hardy enough to oppose the advice he had
given, and the general impression was apparent. A resolution, moved by
General Knox and seconded by Brigadier-General Putnam, "assuring him
that the officers reciprocated his affectionate expressions with the
greatest sincerity of which the human heart is capable," was unanimously
voted. On the motion of General Putnam, a committee consisting of
General Knox, Colonel Brooks, and Captain Howard was then appointed to
prepare resolutions on the business before them, and to report in half
an hour. The report of the committee being brought in and considered,
resolutions were passed declaring that no circumstances of distress
should induce the officers to sully, by unworthy conduct, the reputation
acquired in their long and faithful service; that they had undiminished
confidence in the justice of Congress and of their country; and that
the Commander-in-Chief should be requested to write to the President
of Congress, earnestly entreating a speedy decision on the late address
forwarded by a committee of the army. In compliance with the request of
the officers, expressed in the above mentioned resolution, and with the
pledge which he had voluntarily given, Washington forthwith addressed
the following letter to the President of Congress:

"The result of the proceedings of the grand convention of the officers,
which I have the honor of enclosing to your Excellency for the
inspection of Congress, will, I flatter myself, be considered as the
last glorious proof of patriotism which could have been given by men who
aspired to the distinction of a patriot army, and will not only
confirm their claim to the justice but will increase their title to the
gratitude of their country. Having seen the proceedings on the part
of the army terminate with perfect unanimity and in a manner entirely
consonant to my wishes; being impressed with the liveliest sentiments
of affection for those who have so long, so patiently, and so cheerfully
suffered and fought under my immediate direction; having, from motives
of justice, duty, and gratitude, spontaneously offered myself as an
advocate for their rights, and, having been requested to write to your
Excellency, earnestly entreating the most speedy decision of Congress
upon the subjects of the late address from the army to that honorable
body, it now only remains for me to perform the task I have assumed, and
to intercede in their behalf, as I now do, that the sovereign power
will be pleased to verify the predictions I have pronounced of, and the
confidence the army have reposed in, the justice of their country. And
here I humbly conceive it is altogether unnecessary (while I am pleading
the cause of an army which have done and suffered more than any other
army ever did in the defense of the rights and liberties of human
nature) to expatiate on their claims to the most ample compensation
for their meritorious services, because they are known perfectly to the
whole world, and because (although the topics are inexhaustible) enough
has already been said on the subject. To prove these assertions, to
evince that my sentiments have ever been uniform, and to show what
my ideas of the rewards in question have always been, I appeal to the
archives of Congress, and call on those sacred deposits to witness for
me. And in order that my observations and arguments in favor of a
future adequate provision for the officers of the army may be brought
to remembrance again and considered in a single point of view, without
giving Congress the trouble of having recourse to their files, I will
beg leave to transmit herewith an extract from a representation made by
me to a committee of Congress, so long ago as the 29th of January, 1778,
and also the transcript of a letter to the President of Congress, dated
near Passaic Falls, October 11, 1780.

"That in the critical and perilous moment when the last-mentioned
communication was made there was the utmost danger a dissolution of the
army would have taken place unless measures similar to those recommended
had been adopted, will not admit a doubt. That the adoption of the
resolution granting half-pay for life has been attended with all the
happy consequences I had foretold, so far as respected the good of the
service, let the astonishing contrast between the state of the army
at this instant and at the former period determine. And that the
establishment of funds and security of the payment of all the just
demands of the army will be the most certain means of preserving the
national faith and future tranquility of this extensive continent, is my
decided opinion.

"By the preceding remarks it will readily be imagined that instead of
retracting and reprehending (from further experience and reflection) the
mode of compensation so strenuously urged in the enclosures, I am more
and more confirmed in the sentiment, and if in the wrong, suffer me to
please myself with the grateful delusion.

"For if, besides the simple payment of their wages, a further
compensation is not due to the sufferings and sacrifices of the
officers, then have I been mistaken indeed. If the whole army have not
merited whatever a grateful people can bestow, then have I been beguiled
by prejudice and built opinion on the basis of error. If this country
should not in the event perform everything which has been requested in
the late memorial to Congress, then will my belief become vain, and
the hope that has been excited void of foundation. And if (as has been
suggested for the purpose of inflaming their passions) the officers of
the army are to be the only sufferers by this revolution; 'if, retiring
from the field, they are to grow old in poverty, wretchedness, and
contempt; if they are to wade through the vile mire of dependency and
owe the miserable remnant of that life to charity which has hitherto
been spent in honor,' then shall I have learned what ingratitude
is--then shall I have realized a tale which will embitter every moment
of my future life.

"But I am under no such apprehensions; a country rescued by their arms
from impending ruin will never leave unpaid the debt of gratitude.

"Should any intemperate or improper warmth have mingled itself amongst
the foregoing observations, I must entreat your Excellency and Congress
it may be attributed to the effusion of an honest zeal in the best of
causes, and that my peculiar situation may be my apology, and I hope
I need not on this momentous occasion make any new protestations of
personal disinterestedness, having ever renounced for myself the idea
of pecuniary reward. The consciousness of having attempted faithfully to
discharge my duty and the approbation of my country will be a sufficient
recompense for my services."

This energetic letter, connected with recent events, induced Congress to
decide on the claims of the army. These were liquidated, and the amount
acknowledged to be due from the United States. Thus the country was
once more indebted to the wisdom and moderation of Washington for its
preservation from imminent danger.

Soon after these events intelligence of a general peace was received.
The news came by a French vessel from Cadiz, with a letter from
Lafayette, who was then at that place preparing for an expedition to the
West Indies, under Count d'Estaing. Shortly after, Sir Guy Carleton gave
official information to the same effect and announced a cessation of
hostilities. The joyful intelligence was notified by proclamation of
Washington to the army, in the camp at Newburg, on the 19th of April
(1783), exactly eight years after the commencement of hostilities at
Lexington. In general orders a public religious service and thanksgiving
was directed by him to take place on the evening of the same day, when
the proclamation was read at the head of every regiment and corps of
the army. The immediate reduction of the army was resolved upon, but the
mode of effecting it required deliberation. To avoid the inconveniences
of dismissing a great number of soldiers in a body, furloughs were
freely granted on the application of individuals, and after their
dispersion they were not enjoined to return. By this arrangement
a critical moment was got over. A great part of an unpaid army was
dispersed over the States without tumult or disorder.

At the instance of Washington the soldiers were permitted to carry
home their arms, to be preserved and transmitted to their posterity as
memorials of the glorious war of independence.

While the veterans serving under the immediate eye of their beloved
Commander-in-Chief manifested the utmost good temper and conduct,
a mutinous disposition broke out among some new levies stationed at
Lancaster, in Pennsylvania. About eighty of this description marched in
a body to Philadelphia, where they were joined by some other troops, so
as to amount in the whole to 300. They marched with fixed bayonets to
the statehouse, in which Congress and the State Executive Council held
their sessions. They placed guards at every door and threatened the
President and Council of the State with letting loose an enraged
soldiery upon them, unless they granted their demands in twenty minutes.
As soon as this outrage was known to Washington, he detached General
Howe with a competent force to suppress the mutiny. This was
effected without bloodshed before his arrival. The mutineers were too
inconsiderable to commit extensive mischief, but their disgraceful
conduct excited the greatest indignation in the breast of the
Commander-in-Chief, which was expressed in a letter to the President of
Congress in the following words:

"While I suffer the most poignant distress in observing that a handful
of men, contemptible in numbers, and equally so in point of service (if
the veteran troops from the southward have not been seduced by their
example), and who are not worthy to be called soldiers, should disgrace
themselves and their country, as the Pennsylvania mutineers have done,
by insulting the sovereign authority of the United States, and that of
their own, I feel an inexpressible satisfaction that even this behavior
cannot stain the name of the American soldiery.

"It cannot be imputable to or reflect dishonor on the army at large,
but, on the contrary, it will, by the striking contrast it exhibits,
hold up to public view the other troops in the most advantageous point
of light. Upon taking all the circumstances into consideration, I cannot
sufficiently express my surprise and indignation at the arrogance,
the folly, and the wickedness of the mutineers; nor can I sufficiently
admire the fidelity, the bravery, and patriotism which must forever
signalize the unsullied character of the other corps of our army. For
when we consider that these Pennsylvania levies who have now mutinied
are recruits and soldiers of a day, who have not borne the heat and
burden of war, and who can have in reality very few hardships to
complain of, and when we at the same time recollect that those soldiers
who have lately been furloughed from this army, are the veterans who
have patiently endured hunger, nakedness, and cold; who have suffered
and bled without a murmur, and who, with perfect good order have retired
to their homes without a settlement of their accounts or a farthing of
money in their pockets, we shall be as much astonished at the virtues of
the latter as we are struck with detestation at the proceedings of the

On the occasion of disbanding the army, Washington addressed a circular
letter to the governors of all the States, in which he gave his views
of the existing state of the country and the principles upon which the
future fabric of united government should be founded. It is one of the
most remarkable state papers ever produced in this country.

Meantime Sir Guy Carleton was preparing to evacuate the city of New
York. On the 27th of April (1783) a fleet had sailed for Nova Scotia
with 7,000 persons and their effects. These were partly soldiers and
partly Tories exiled by the laws of the States.

On the 6th of May Washington had a personal interview with Carleton at
Orangetown respecting the delivery of the British ports in the United
States, and of property directed to be surrendered by an article of the

The independence of his country being established, Washington looked
forward with anxiety to its future destinies. These might greatly
depend on the systems to be adopted on the return of peace, and to
those systems much of his attention was directed. The future peace
establishment of the United States was one of the many interesting
subjects which claimed the consideration of Congress. As the experience
of Washington would certainly enable him to suggest many useful ideas on
this important point, his opinions respecting it were requested by
the committee of Congress to whom it was referred. His letter on this
occasion will long deserve the attention of those to whom the interests
of the United States may be confided. His strongest hopes of securing
the future tranquility, dignity, and respectability of his country
were placed on a well-regulated and well-disciplined militia; and his
sentiments on this subject are entitled to the more regard as a
long course of severe experience had enabled him to mark the total
incompetence of the existing system to the great purposes of national

At length the British troops evacuated New York, and on the 25th of
November (1783) a detachment from the American army took possession of
that city.

Guards being posted for the security of the citizens, Washington,
accompanied by Governor George Clinton, and attended by many civil
and military officers and a large number of respectable inhabitants on
horseback, made his public entry into the city, where he was received
with every mark of respect and attention. His military course was now on
the point of terminating, and he was about to bid adieu to his comrades
in arms. This affecting interview took place on the 4th of December. At
noon the principal officers of the army assembled at Frances' tavern,
soon after which their belove'd Commander entered the room. His emotions
were too strong to be concealed. Filling a glass, he turned to them and
said, "With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of
you; I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous
and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable." Having
drunk, he added, "I cannot come to each of you to take my leave, but
shall be obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand."
General Knox, being nearest, turned to him. Washington, incapable of
utterance, grasped his hand and embraced him. In the same affectionate
manner he took leave of each succeeding officer. The tear of manly
sensibility was in every eye, and not a word was articulated to
interrupt the dignified silence and the tenderness of the scene. Leaving
the room, he passed through the corps of light infantry and walked to
Whitehall, where a barge waited to convey him to Paulus Hook. The
whole company followed in mute and solemn procession, with dejected
countenances, testifying feelings of delicious melancholy which no
language can describe. Having entered the barge he turned to the company
and, waving his hat, bid them a silent adieu. They paid him the same
affectionate compliment, and, after the barge had left them, returned in
the same solemn manner to the place where they had assembled.

Congress was then in session at Annapolis, in Maryland, to which place
Washington repaired for the purpose of resigning into their hands the
authority with which they had invested him. He arrived on the 19th of
December (1783). The next day he informed that body of his intention to
ask leave to resign the commission he had the honor of holding in their
service, and requested to know whether it would be their pleasure that
he should offer his resignation in writing or at an audience.

To give the more dignity to the act, they determined that it should be
offered at a public audience on the following Tuesday, 23d of December,
at 12.

When the hour arrived for performing a ceremony so well calculated
to recall the various interesting scenes which had passed since the
commission now to be returned was granted, the gallery was crowded with
spectators and several persons of distinction were admitted on the floor
of Congress. The members remained seated and covered. The spectators
were standing and uncovered. Washington was introduced by the secretary
and conducted to a chair. After a short pause the President, General
Mifflin, informed him that "the United States in Congress assembled were
prepared to receive his communications." With native dignity, improved
by the solemnity of the occasion, Washington rose and delivered the
following address:

"MR. PRESIDENT.--The great events on which my resignation depended
having at length taken place, I have now the honor of offering my
sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself before
them, to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to
claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.

"Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and
pleased with an opportunity afforded the United States of becoming
a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I
accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish
so arduous a task, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in
rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union,
and the patronage of Heaven.

"The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine
expectations, and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and
the assistance I have received from my countrymen increases with every
review of the momentous contest. While I repeat my obligations to
the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to
acknowledge in this place the peculiar services and distinguished merits
of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It
was impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my
family should have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend
in particular, those who have continued in the service to the present
moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.

"I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last act of my
official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the
protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of
them to His holy keeping.

"Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great
theater of action, and, bidding an affectionate farewell to this
august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my
commission and take my leave of all the employments of public life."

After advancing to the chair and delivering his commission to the
President, he returned to his place and received, standing, the
following answer of Congress, which was delivered by the President:

"SIR.--The United States, in Congress assembled, receive with emotions
too affecting for utterance, the solemn resignation of the authorities
under which you have led their troops with success through a perilous
and a doubtful war. Called upon by your country to defend its invaded
rights, you accepted the sacred charge before it had formed alliances
and whilst it was without funds or a government to support you. You
have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude,
invariably regarding the rights of the civil power through all disasters
and changes. You have, by the love and confidence of your fellow
citizens, enabled them to display their martial genius and transmit
their fame to posterity. You have persevered until these United States,
aided by a magnanimous King and nation, have been enabled, under a just
Providence, to close the war in freedom, safety, and independence, on
which happy event we sincerely join you in congratulations.

"Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world, having
taught a lesson useful to those who inflict and to those who feel
oppression, you retire from the great theater of action with the
blessings of your fellow-citizens. But the glory of your virtues will
not terminate with your military command; it will continue to animate
remotest ages.

"We feel with you our obligations to the army in general and will
particularly charge ourselves with the interests of those confidential
officers who have attended your person to this affecting moment.

"We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the
protection of Almighty God, beseeching Him to dispose the hearts and
minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of
becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you we address to Him
our earnest prayers that a life so beloved may be fostered with all his
care; that your days may be as happy as they have been illustrious, and
that he will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give."

This scene being closed, a scene rendered peculiarly interesting by the
personages who appeared in it, by the great events it recalled to the
memory, and by the singularity of the circumstances under which it
was displayed, the American chief withdrew from the hall of Congress,
leaving the silent and admiring spectators deeply impressed with those
sentiments which its solemnity and dignity were calculated to inspire.

Divested of his military character, Washington, on the following day,
set out for Mount Vernon to which favorite residence he now retired,
followed by the enthusiastic love, esteem, and admiration of his
countrymen. Relieved from the agitations of a doubtful contest and from
the toils of an exalted station he returned with increased delight to
the duties and the enjoyments of a private citizen. He indulged the
hope that in the shade of retirement, under the protection of a free
government and the benignant influence of mild and equal laws, he might
taste that felicity which is the reward of a mind at peace with itself
and conscious of its own purity. [2]

"Though General Washington was not stayed in his progress to
Philadelphia, by the Congress, who, on the 1st of November, had elected
the Honorable Thomas Mifflin President, and three days after had
adjourned to meet at Annapolis in Maryland on the 26th; yet it was
the 8th of December, at noon, before General Washington arrived at the
Capital of Pennsylvania. When his intention of quitting the army was
known he was complimented and received with the utmost respect and
affection, by all orders of men, both civil and military. He remained
some days in Philadelphia. While in the city he delivered in his
accounts to the comptroller, down to December the 13th, all in his own
handwriting, and every entry made in the most particular manner,
stating the occasion of each charge, so as to give the least trouble
in examining and comparing them with the vouchers with which they were

   "The heads are as follows, copied from the folio manuscript paper book,
   in the file of the treasury office, No. 3700, being a black box of tin
   containing, under lock and key, both that and the vouchers:

   "Total of expenditures from 1775 to 1783, exclusive    £.  s. d.
   of provisions from commissaries and contractors,
   and of liquors, &c., from them and others............ 3387 14 4
   Secret intelligence and service...................... 1982 10 0
   Spent in reconnoitering and traveling................  874  8 8
   Miscellaneous charges ............................... 2952 10 1
   Expended besides, dollars according to the scale of
   depreciation ........................................ 6114 14 0

                                                      £16,311 17 1

   [3] "(General Washington's account) from June, 1775,    £.  s. d.
   to the end of June, 1783............................ 16,311 17 1
   Expenditure from July 1, 1783, to Dec. 13...........   1717  5 4
   (Added afterwards) from thence to Dec. 28...........    213  8 4
   Mrs. Washington's traveling expenses in coming
   to the General and returning........................   1064  1 0

                                                       £19,306 11 9

   "Lawful money of Virginia,
   the same as the Massachusetts, or £14,479 18 9 3/4 sterling.

"The General entered in his book--'I find upon the final adjustment of
these accounts, that I am a considerable loser--my disbursements falling
a good deal short of my receipts, and the money I had upon hand of my
own; for besides the sums I carried with me to Cambridge in 1775, I
received moneys afterward on private account in 1777 and since, which
(except small sums that I had occasion now and then to apply to private
uses) were all expended in the public service: through hurry, I suppose,
and the perplexity of business (for I know not how else to account for
the deficiency) I have omitted to charge the same, whilst every debit
against me is here credited. July 1, 1783.'" [4]

"Happy would it have been for the United States had each person who has
handled public money been equally exact and punctual!

"General Washington, after delivering in his accounts, hastened to
Annapolis, where he arrived on the evening of the 19th December."

A facsimile of the original account, filling many foolscap pages, has
been published; and copies were eagerly ordered by collectors in Europe
as well as the United States.

The document through which Washington, at the close of the Revolution,
left to the States whose trust he had held, and whose work he had
done, does not yield in interest and importance to even the more famous
Farewell Address. It was sent to each of the Governors of the several
States, and was as follows:


"Headquarters, Newburg, June 18, 1783. Sir:--The object for which I
had the honor to hold an appointment in the service of my country
being accomplished, I am now preparing to resign it into the hands of
Congress, and return to that domestic retirement, which, it is well
known, I left with the greatest reluctance; a retirement for which I
have never ceased to sigh through a long and painful absence, in which
(remote from the noise and trouble of the world) I meditate to pass the
remainder of life, in a state of undisturbed repose: but, before I carry
this resolution into effect, I think it a duty incumbent on me to make
this my last official communication, to congratulate you on the glorious
events which Heaven has been pleased to produce in our favor; to offer
my sentiments respecting some important subjects, which appear to me to
be intimately connected with the tranquility of the United States; to
take my leave of your Excellency as a public character; and to give my
final blessing to that country in whose service I have spent the prime
of my life, for whose sake I have consumed so many anxious days and
watchful nights, and whose happiness, being extremely dear to me, will
always constitute no inconsiderable part of my own.

"Impressed with the liveliest sensibility on this pleasing occasion, I
will claim the indulgence of dilating the more copiously on the subject
of our mutual felicitation. When we consider the magnitude of the prize
we contended for, the doubtful nature of the contest, and the favorable
manner in which it has terminated, we shall find the greatest possible
reason for gratitude and rejoicing. This is a theme that will afford
infinite delight to every benevolent and liberal mind, whether the event
in contemplation be considered as a source of present enjoyment, or
the parent of future happiness; and we shall have equal occasion to
felicitate ourselves on the lot which Providence has assigned us,
whether we view it in a natural, a political, or moral point of light.

"The citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condition, as the
sole lords and proprietors of a vast tract of continent, comprehending
all the various soils and climates of the world, and abounding with
all the necessaries and conveniences of life, are now, by the late
satisfactory pacification, acknowledged to be possessed of absolute
freedom and independency: they are from this period to be considered as
the actors on a most conspicuous theatre, which seems to be peculiarly
designed by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity.
Here they are not only surrounded with every thing that can contribute
to the completion of private and domestic enjoyment; but Heaven has
crowned all its other blessings, by giving a surer opportunity for
political happiness, than any other nation has ever been favored
with. Nothing can illustrate these observations more forcibly than a
recollection of the happy conjuncture of times and circumstances under
which our republic assumed its rank among the nations. The foundation of
our empire was not laid in a gloomy age of ignorance and superstition,
but at an epoch when the rights of mankind were better understood and
more clearly defined, than at any former period. Researches of the human
mind after social happiness have been carried to a great extent; the
treasures of knowledge acquired by the labors of philosophers, sages,
and legislators, through a long succession of years, are laid open
for us, and their collected wisdom may be happily applied in the
establishment of our forms of government. The free cultivation of
letters, the unbounded extension of commerce, the progressive refinement
of manners, the growing liberality of sentiment; and, above all, the
pure and benign light of revelation, have had a meliorating influence
on mankind, and increased the blessings of society. At this auspicious
period, the United States came into existence as a nation; and if their
citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be
entirely their own.

"Such is our situation, and such are our prospects. But notwithstanding
the cup of blessing is thus reached out to us; notwithstanding happiness
is ours, if we have a disposition to seize the occasion, and make it our
own; yet it appears to me there is an option still left to the United
States of America, whether they will be respectable and prosperous,
or contemptible and miserable as a nation. This is the time of their
political probation; this is the moment when the eyes of the whole
world are turned upon them; this is the time to establish or ruin their
national character forever; this is the favorable moment to give such a
tone to the federal government, as will enable it to answer the ends of
its institution; or, this may be the ill-fated moment for relaxing the
powers of the union, annihilating the cement of the confederation, and
exposing us to become the sport of European politics, which may play one
State against another, to prevent their growing importance, and to serve
their own interested purposes. For, according to the system of policy
the States shall adopt at this moment, they will stand or fall; and,
by their confirmation or lapse, it is yet to be decided, whether the
Revolution must ultimately be considered as a blessing or a curse:--a
blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate
will the destiny of unborn millions be involved.

"With this conviction of the importance of the present crisis, silence
in me would be a crime; I will therefore speak to your Excellency
the language of freedom and sincerity, without disguise. I am aware,
however, those who differ from me in political sentiments may, perhaps,
remark, I am stepping out of the proper line of my duty; and they may
possibly ascribe to arrogance or ostentation, what I know alone is the
result of the purest intention. But the rectitude of my own heart, which
disdains such unworthy motives; the part I have hitherto acted in
life; the determination I have formed of not taking any share in public
business hereafter; the ardent desire I feel, and shall continue to
manifest, of quietly enjoying in private life, after all the toils of
war, the benefits of a wise and liberal government, will, I flatter
myself, sooner or later, convince my countrymen, that I could have
no sinister views in delivering with so little reserve the opinions
contained in this address.

"There are four things which I humbly conceive are essential to the
well-being, I may even venture to say to the existence, of the United
States as an independent power.

"1st. An indissoluble union of the States under one federal head.

"2dly. A sacred regard to public justice.

"3dly. The adoption of a proper peace establishment. And,

"4thly. The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among
the people of the United States, which will induce them to forget their
local prejudices and policies; to make those mutual concessions which
are requisite to the general prosperity; and, in some instances, to
sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.

"These are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our independency
and national character must be supported. Liberty is the basis; and
whoever would dare to sap the foundation, or overturn the structure,
under whatever specious pretext he may attempt it, will merit the
bitterest execration, and the severest punishment, which can be
inflicted by his injured country.

"On the three first articles I will make a few observations; leaving the
last to the good sense and serious consideration of those immediately

"Under the first head, although it may not be necessary or proper for me
in this place to enter into a particular disquisition of the principles
of the union, and to take up the great question which has been
frequently agitated, whether it be expedient and requisite for the
States to delegate a larger portion of power to Congress, or not; yet
it will be a part of my duty, and that of every true patriot, to assert,
without reserve, and to insist upon the following positions:--That
unless the States will suffer Congress to exercise those prerogatives
they are undoubtedly invested with by the Constitution, every thing must
very rapidly tend to anarchy and confusion: That it is indispensable
to the happiness of the individual States, that there should be lodged,
somewhere, a supreme power to regulate and govern the general concerns
of the confederated Republic, without which the union cannot be of long
duration: That there must be a faithful and pointed compliance on the
part of every State with the late proposals and demands of Congress, or
the most fatal consequences will ensue: That whatever measures have a
tendency to dissolve the union, or contribute to violate or lessen the
sovereign authority, ought to be considered as hostile to the
liberty and independence of America, and the authors of them treated
accordingly. And, lastly, that unless we can be enabled by the
concurrence of the States to participate of the fruits of the
Revolution, and enjoy the essential benefits of civil society, under a
form of government so free and uncorrupted, so happily guarded against
the danger of oppression, as has been devised and adopted by the
articles of confederation, it will be a subject of regret that so much
blood and treasure have been lavished for no purpose; that so many
sufferings have been encountered without a compensation; and that so
many sacrifices have been made in vain. Many other considerations might
here be adduced to prove, that without an entire conformity to the
spirit of the union, we cannot exist as an independent power. It will be
sufficient for my purpose to mention but one or two, which seem to me
of the greatest importance. It is only in our united character, as an
empire, that our independence is acknowledged that our power can be
regarded, or our credit supported among foreign nations. The treaties
of the European powers with the United States of America, will have no
validity on a dissolution of the union. We shall be left nearly in a
state of nature; or we may find, by our own unhappy experience, that
there is a natural and necessary progression from the extreme of anarchy
to the extreme of tyranny; and that arbitrary power is most easily
established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.

"As to the second article, which respects the performance of public
justice, Congress have, in their late address to the United States,
almost exhausted the subject; they have explained their ideas so
fully, and have enforced the obligations the States are under to render
complete justice to all the public creditors, with so much dignity
and energy, that, in my opinion, no real friend to the honor and
independency of America can hesitate a single moment respecting the
propriety of complying with the just and honorable measures proposed. If
their arguments do not produce conviction, I know of nothing that will
have greater influence, especially when we reflect that the system
referred to, being the result of the collected wisdom of the continent,
must be esteemed, if not perfect, certainly the least objectionable of
any that could be devised; and that, if it should not be carried into
immediate execution, a national bankruptcy, with all its deplorable
consequences, will take place before any different plan can possibly be
proposed or adopted; so pressing are the present circumstances, and such
is the alternative now offered to the States.

"The ability of the country to discharge the debts which have been
incurred in its defense, is not to be doubted; and inclination, I
flatter myself, will not be wanting. The path of our duty is plain
before us; honesty will be found, on every experiment to be the best and
only true policy. Let us then, as a nation, be just; let us fulfill the
public contracts which Congress had undoubtedly a right to make for
the purpose of carrying on the war, with the same good faith we suppose
ourselves bound to perform our private engagements. In the mean time,
let an attention to the cheerful performance of their proper business,
as individuals, and as members of society, be earnestly inculcated
on the citizens of America; then will they strengthen the bands of
government, and be happy under its protection. Every one will reap the
fruit of his labors: every one will enjoy his own acquisitions, without
molestation and without danger.

"In this state of absolute freedom and perfect security, who will grudge
to yield a very little of his property to support the common interests
of society, and insure the protection of government? Who does not
remember the frequent declarations at the commencement of the war, that
we should be completely satisfied, if, at the expense of one half, we
could defend the remainder of our possessions? Where is the man to be
found, who wishes to remain in debt for the defense of his own person
and property, to the exertions, the bravery, and the blood of others,
without making one generous effort to pay the debt of honor and of
gratitude? In what part of the continent shall we find any man, or body
of men, who would not blush to stand up and propose measures purposely
calculated to rob the soldier of his stipend, and the public creditor of
his due? And were it possible that such a flagrant instance of injustice
could ever happen, would it not excite the general indignation, and tend
to bring down upon the authors of such measures the aggravated vengeance
of Heaven? If, after all, a spirit of disunion, or a temper of obstinacy
and perverseness should manifest itself in any of the States; if such an
ungracious disposition should attempt to frustrate all the happy effects
that might be expected to flow from the union; if there should be a
refusal to comply with requisitions for funds to discharge the annual
interest of the public debts; and if that refusal should revive all
those jealousies, and produce all those evils, which are now happily
removed, Congress, who have in all their transactions shown a great
degree of magnanimity and justice, will stand justified in the sight of
God and man! and that State alone, which puts itself in opposition to
the aggregate wisdom of the continent, and follows such mistaken and
pernicious councils, will be responsible for all the consequences.

"For my own part, conscious of having acted, while a servant of the
public, in the manner I conceived best suited to promote the real
interests of my country; having, in consequence of my fixed belief, in
some measure pledged myself to the army that their country would finally
do them complete and ample justice; and not wishing to conceal any
instance of my official conduct from the eyes of the world, I have
thought proper to transmit to your Excellency the enclosed collection of
papers, relative to the half-pay and commutation granted by Congress to
the officers of the army. From these communications my decided sentiment
will be clearly comprehended, together with the conclusive reasons
which induced me, at an early period, to recommend the adoption of this
measure in the most earnest and serious manner. As the proceedings of
Congress, the army, and myself, are open to all, and contain, in my
opinion, sufficient information to remove the prejudices and errors
which may have been entertained by any, I think it unnecessary to say
any thing more than just to observe, that the resolutions of Congress
now alluded to, are as undoubtedly and absolutely binding upon the
United States, as the most solemn acts of confederation or legislation.

"As to the idea which, I am informed, has in some instances prevailed,
that the half-pay and commutation are to be regarded merely in the
odious light of a pension, it ought to be exploded forever: that
provision should be viewed, as it really was, a reasonable compensation
offered by Congress, at a time when they had nothing else to give to
officers of the army, for services then to be performed. It was the only
means to prevent a total dereliction of the service. It was a part of
their hire; I may be allowed to say, it was the price of their blood,
and of your independency. It is therefore more than a common debt; it is
a debt of honor: it can never be considered as a pension, or gratuity,
nor cancelled until it is fairly discharged.

"With regard to the distinction between officers and soldiers, it is
sufficient that the uniform experience of every nation of the world,
combined with our own, proves the utility and propriety of the
discrimination. Rewards in proportion to the aid the public draws from
them, are unquestionably due to all its servants. In some lines, the
soldiers have perhaps, generally, had as ample compensation for their
services, by the large bounties which have been paid them, as their
officers will receive in the proposed commutation; in others, if,
besides the donation of land, the payment of arrearages of clothing and
wages (in which articles all the component parts of the army must be put
upon the same footing), we take into the estimate the bounties many of
the soldiers have received, and the gratuity of one year's full pay,
which is promised to all, possibly their situation (every circumstance
being duly considered) will not be deemed less eligible than that of the
officers. Should a further reward, however, be judged equitable, I
will venture to assert, no man will enjoy greater satisfaction than
myself,--in an exemption from taxes for a limited time (which has been
petitioned for in some instances), or any other adequate immunity or
compensation granted to the brave defenders of their country's cause.
But neither the adoption or rejection of this proposition will, in any
manner, affect, much less militate against, the act of Congress by which
they have offered five years' full pay in lieu of the half-pay for life,
which had been before promised to the officers of the army.

"Before I conclude the subject on public justice, I cannot omit to
mention the obligations this country is under to the meritorious class
of veterans, the non-commissioned officers and privates, who have been
discharged for inability, in consequence of the resolution of Congress
of the 23d of April, 1782, on an annual pension for life. Their peculiar
sufferings, their singular merits and claims to that provision, need
only to be known to interest the feelings of humanity in their behalf.
Nothing but a punctual payment of their annual allowance can rescue them
from the most complicated misery; and nothing could be a more melancholy
and distressing sight than to behold those who have shed their blood,
or lost their limbs in the service of their country, without a shelter,
without a friend, and without the means of obtaining any of the comforts
or necessaries of life, compelled to beg their bread daily from door
to door. Suffer me to recommend those of this description, belonging
to your State, to the warmest patronage of your Excellency and your

"It is necessary to say but a few words on the third topic which was
proposed, and which regards particularly the defense of the republic--as
there can be little doubt but Congress will recommend a proper peace
establishment for the United States, in which a due attention will
be paid to the importance of placing the militia of the Union upon a
regular and respectable footing. If this should be the case, I should
beg leave to urge the great advantage of it in the strongest terms.

"The militia of this country must be considered as the palladium of our
security, and the first effectual resort in case of hostility. It is
essential, therefore, that the same system should pervade the whole;
that the formation and discipline of the militia of the continent should
be absolutely uniform; and that the same species of arms, accoutrements,
and military apparatus should be introduced in every part of the United
States. No one, who has not learned it from experience, can conceive the
difficulty, expense, and confusion which result from a contrary system,
or the vague arrangements which have hitherto prevailed.

"If, in treating of political points, a greater latitude than usual has
been taken in the course of the address, the importance of the crisis,
and the magnitude of the objects in discussion, must be my apology.
It is, however, neither my wish nor expectation that the preceding
observations should claim any regard, except so far as they shall appear
to be dictated by a good intention, consonant to the immutable rules of
justice, calculated to produce a liberal system of policy, and founded
on whatever experience may have been acquired by a long and close
attention to public business. Here I might speak with more confidence,
from my actual observations; and if it would not swell this letter
(already too prolix) beyond the bounds I had prescribed myself, I could
demonstrate to every mind, open to conviction, that in less time, and
with much less expense than has been incurred, the war might have been
brought to the same happy conclusion, if the resources of the continent
could have been properly called forth; that the distresses and
disappointments which have very often occurred have, in too many
instances, resulted more from a want of energy in the continental
government, than a deficiency of means in the particular States; that
the inefficiency of the measures, arising from the want of an adequate
authority in the supreme power, from a partial compliance with the
requisitions of Congress in some of the States, and from a failure of
punctuality in others, while they tended to damp the zeal of those who
were more willing to exert themselves, served also to accumulate the
expenses of the war, and to frustrate the best concerted plans; and
that the discouragement occasioned by the complicated difficulties and
embarrassments in which our affairs were by this means involved, would
have long ago produced the dissolution of any army, less patient, less
virtuous, and less persevering than that which I have had the honor to
command. But while I mention those things which are notorious facts, as
the defects of our federal constitution, particularly in the prosecution
of a war, I beg it may be understood, that as I have ever taken a
pleasure in gratefully acknowledging the assistance and support I have
derived from every class of citizens, so shall I always be happy to do
justice to the unparalleled exertions of the individual States, on many
interesting occasions.

"I have thus freely disclosed what I wished to make known, before I
surrendered up my public trust to those who committed it to me. The task
is now accomplished. I now bid adieu to your Excellency, as the chief
magistrate of your State; at the same time, I bid a last farewell to the
cares of office, and all the employments of public life.

"It remains, then, to be my final and only request, that your Excellency
will communicate these sentiments to your legislature at their next
meeting; and that they may be considered as the legacy of one who has
ardently wished, on all occasions, to be useful to his country, and who,
even in the shade of retirement, will not fail to implore the divine
benediction upon it.

"I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State
over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline
the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and
obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for
one another; for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large,
and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field; and,
finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to
do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity,
humility, and pacific temper of the mind, which were the characteristics
of the divine Author of our blessed religion; without an humble
imitation of whose example, in these things, we can never hope to be a
happy nation.

"I have the honor to be, with much esteem and respect, sir, your
Excellency's most obedient and most humble servant,


NOTE.--On the 3d of September, 1783, the Definitive Treaty of Peace,
between Great Britain and the United States of America, was signed at
Paris, by David Hartley, Esq., on the part of his Britannic Majesty, and
by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay, Esqs., on the part of
the United States. The treaty was ratified by Congress early in January,


It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the
most serene and most potent prince, George the Third, by the grace of
God King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith,
Duke of Brunswick and Lunenburg, Arch-Treasurer and Prince Elector of
the holy Roman empire, etc., and of the United States of America, to
forget all past misunderstandings and differences that have unhappily
interrupted the good correspondence and friendship which they mutually
wish to restore, and to establish such a beneficial and satisfactory
intercourse between the two countries, upon the ground of reciprocal
advantages and mutual convenience, as may promote and secure to both
perpetual peace and harmony; and having for this desirable end already
laid the foundation of peace and reconciliation, by the provisional
articles signed at Paris, on the 30th of November, 1782, by the
commissioners empowered on each part; which articles were agreed to
be inserted in, and to constitute the treaty of peace proposed to be
concluded between the crown of Great Britain and the said United States,
but which treaty was not to be concluded until the terms of peace should
be agreed upon between Great Britain and France, and his Britannic
majesty should be ready to conclude such treaty accordingly; and the
treaty between Great Britain and France having since been concluded, his
Britannic majesty and the United States of America, in order to carry
into full effect the provisional articles above mentioned, according to
the tenor thereof, have constituted and appointed, that is to say,
his Britannic majesty on his part, David Hartley, Esq., member of the
Parliament of Great Britain; and the said United States on their part,
John Adams, Esq., late a commissioner of the United States of America
at the court of Versailles, late delegate in Congress from the State
of Massachusetts, and chief-justice of the said State, and minister
plenipotentiary of the said United States to their high mightinesses the
States General of the United Netherlands; Benjamin Franklin, Esq., late
delegate in Congress from the State of Pennsylvania, president of the
Convention of the said State, and minister plenipotentiary from the
United States of America at the court of Versailles; and John Jay, Esq.,
late president of Congress, and chief-justice of the State of New York,
and minister plenipotentiary from the said United States at the court of
Madrid; to be the plenipotentiaries for the concluding and signing the
present definitive treaty; who, after having reciprocally communicated
their respective full powers, have agreed upon and confirmed the
following articles.

ART. I.--His Britannic majesty acknowledges the said United States,
viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence
Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware,
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, to be
free, sovereign, and independent States; that he treats them as such,
and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claim to
the government, proprietary, and territorial right of the same, and
every part thereof.

ART. II.-And that all disputes which might arise in future on the
subject of the boundaries of the said United States may be prevented, it
is hereby agreed and declared that the following are and shall be their
boundaries, viz.: from the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, viz., that
angle which is formed by a line drawn due north from the source of
St. Croix River to the high lands which divide those rivers that empty
themselves into the river St. Lawrence from those which fall into the
Atlantic Ocean, to the northwestern most head of Connecticut River;
thence drawn along the middle of that river to the forty-fifth degree of
north latitude; from thence by a line due west on said latitude, until
it strikes the river Iroquois or Cataraquy; thence along the middle of
said river into Lake Ontario; through the middle of said lake until
it strikes the communication by water between that lake and Lake Erie;
thence along the middle of the said communication into Lake Erie,
through the middle of said lake, until it arrives at the water
communication between that lake and Lake Huron; thence through the
middle of said lake to the water communication between that lake and
Lake Superior; thence through Lake Superior northward to the isles Royal
and Philipeaux, to the Long Lake; thence through the middle of said Long
Lake, and the water communication between it and the Lake of the Woods,
to the said Lake of the Woods; thence through the said lake to the most
northwestern most point thereof, and from thence a due west course to
the river Mississippi; thence by a line to be drawn along the middle of
the said river Mississippi, until it shall intersect the northernmost
part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude; south, by a line to
be drawn due east from the determination of the line last mentioned, in
the latitude of thirty-one degrees north of the equator, to the middle
of the river Apalachicola or Catahouche; thence along the middle
thereof, to its junction with the Flint River; thence straight to the
head of St. Mary's River, and thence down the middle of St. Mary's River
to the Atlantic Ocean; east, by a line to be drawn along the middle of
the River St. Croix, from its mouth in the Bay of Fundy to its source,
and from its source directly north to the aforesaid high lands, which
divide the rivers that fall into the Atlantic Ocean from those which
fall into the river St. Lawrence, comprehending all islands within
twenty leagues of any part of the shores of the United States, and lying
between lines to be drawn due east from the points where the aforesaid
boundaries between Nova Scotia on the one part, and east Florida on the
other, shall respectively touch the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Ocean,
excepting such islands as now are or heretofore have been within the
limits of the said province of Nova Scotia.

ART. III.--It is agreed, that the people of the United States shall
continue to enjoy, unmolested, the right to take fish of every kind on
the Great Bank, and on all the other banks of Newfoundland; also in
the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and at all other places in the sea where the
inhabitants of both countries used at any time heretofore to fish; and
also that the inhabitants of the United States shall have liberty to
take fish of every kind on such part of the coast of Newfoundland as
British fishermen shall use (but not to dry or cure the same on that
island), and also on the coasts, bays, and creeks of all other of
his Britannic majesty's dominions in America; and that the American
fishermen shall have liberty to dry and cure fish in any of the
unsettled bays, harbors, and creeks of Nova Scotia, Magdalen Islands,
and Labrador, so long as the same shall remain unsettled; but as soon as
the same shall be settled, it shall not be lawful for the said fishermen
to dry or cure fish at such settlement, without a previous agreement
for that purpose with the inhabitants, proprietors, or possessors of the

ART. IV.--It is agreed, that the creditors, on either side, shall meet
with no lawful impediment to the recovery of the full value in sterling
money of all _bona fide_ debts heretofore contracted.

ART. V.--It is agreed, that Congress shall earnestly recommend it to the
legislatures of the respective States, to provide for the restitution
of all estates, rights, and properties, which have been confiscated,
belonging to real British subjects; and also of the estates, rights,
and properties of persons resident in districts in the possession of his
majesty's arms, and who have not borne arms against the United States;
and that persons of any other description shall have free liberty to go
to any part or parts of any of the thirteen United States, and therein
to remain twelve months unmolested in their endeavors to obtain the
restitution of such of their estates, rights, and properties as may have
been confiscated; and that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to
the several States a reconsideration and revision of all acts or laws
regarding the premises, so as to render the said laws or acts perfectly
consistent, not only with justice and equity, but with that spirit of
conciliation which, on the return of the blessings of peace, should
invariably prevail; and that Congress shall also earnestly recommend
to the several States, that the estates, rights, and properties of such
last-mentioned persons shall be restored to them, they refunding to any
persons who may be now in possession, the _bona fide_ price (where any
has been given) which such persons may have paid on purchasing any of
the said lands, rights, or properties, since the confiscation. And it
is agreed, that all persons who have any interest in confiscated lands,
either by debts, marriage settlements, or otherwise, shall meet with no
lawful impediment in the prosecution of their just rights.

ART. VI.--That there shall be no future confiscations made, nor any
prosecutions commenced against any person or persons, for or by reason
of the part which he or they may have taken in the present war; and that
no person shall on that account suffer any future loss or damage,
either in his person, liberty, or property; and that those who may be
in confinement on such charges, at the time of the ratification of
the treaty in America, shall be immediately set at liberty, and the
prosecutions so commenced be discontinued.

ART. VII.--There shall be a firm and perpetual peace between his
Britannic majesty and the said United States, and between the subjects
of the one and the citizens of the other; wherefore all hostilities,
both by sea and land, shall from henceforth cease; all prisoners, on
both sides, shall be set at liberty; and his Britannic majesty shall,
with all convenient speed, and without causing any destruction, or
carrying away any negroes or other property of the American inhabitants,
withdraw all his armies, garrisons, and fleets from the said United
States, and from every post, place, and harbor within the same, leaving
in all fortifications the American artillery that may be therein; and
shall also order and cause all archives, records, deeds, and papers
belonging to any of the said States, or their citizens, which in the
course of the war may have fallen into the hands of his officers, to be
forthwith restored, and delivered to the proper States and persons to
whom they belong.

ART. VIII.--The navigation of the river Mississippi, from its source to
the ocean, shall forever remain free and open to the subjects of Great
Britain and the citizens of the United States.

Art. IX.--In case it should so happen that any place or territory,
belonging to Great Britain or to the United States, should have been
conquered by the arms of either from the other, before the arrival of
the said provisional articles in America, it is agreed that the
same shall be restored without difficulty and without requiring any

Art. X.--The solemn ratifications of the present treaty, expedited in
good and due form, shall be exchanged between the contracting parties in
the space of six months, or sooner, if possible, to be computed from the
day of the signature of the present treaty.

1. Footnote: C. J. Peterson, "History of the Navy of the United States."

2. Footnote: Gordon thus notices the settlement of Washington's accounts
with the government.

3. Footnote: Two hundred guineas advanced to General M'Dougat are not
included in the £1982 10, not being yet settled, but included in some of
the other charges, and so reckoned in the general sum.

4. Footnote: 104,364, of the dollars were received after March, 1780,
and although credited forty for one, many did not fetch at the rate of
a hundred for one, while 27,775 of them are returned without deducting
anything from the above account (and therefore actually made a present
to the public).

       *       *       *       *       *




When Washington retired from the command of the army it was undoubtedly
his intention to devote the remainder of his life to his favorite
pursuit of agriculture. His estate had suffered considerably from his
devotion to public duties, and his private affairs now demanded all his
attention. The Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania instructed the
delegates of that State in Congress to propose a public remuneration for
his services, but when the proposition was submitted for his approbation
he promptly declined it. This was in strict consistency with his uniform
character of disinterestedness. A liberal grant would have been voted by
Congress and sanctioned by the nation, but Washington would not consent
to receive it.

His feelings on finding himself a private citizen are expressed in his
correspondence. In a letter to Governor Clinton, written only three
days after his arrival at Mount Vernon, he says: "The scene is at length
closed. I feel myself eased of a load of public care and hope to spend
the remainder of my days in cultivating the affections of good men, and
in the practice of the domestic virtues."

"At length, my dear marquis," said he to his noble and highly-valued
friend, Lafayette, "I have become a private citizen on the banks of the
Potomac, and under the shadow of my own vine and my own fig tree, free
from the bustle of a camp and the busy scenes of public life, I am
solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments of which the soldier,
who is ever in pursuit of fame--the statesman, whose watchful days and
sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare
of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if this globe was
insufficient for us all--and the courtier, who is always watching the
countenance of his prince in the hope of catching a gracious smile--can
have very little conception. I have not only retired from all public
employments, but am retiring within myself, and shall be able to view
the solitary walk and tread the paths of private life with heartfelt
satisfaction. Envious of none I am determined to be pleased with all,
and this, my dear friend, being the order of my march, I will move
gently down the stream of life until I sleep with my fathers."

But a mind accustomed to labor for a nation's welfare does not
immediately divest itself of ancient habits. That custom of thinking on
public affairs, and that solicitude respecting them, which belong to the
patriot in office, follow him into his retreat. In a letter to General
Knox, written soon after his resignation, Washington thus expressed the
feelings attendant upon this sudden transition from public to private
pursuits. "I am just beginning to experience the ease and freedom from
public cares, which however desirable, takes some time to realize, for,
strange as it may seem, it is nevertheless true that it was not until
lately I could get the better of my usual custom of ruminating, as soon
as I awoke in the morning, on the business of the ensuing day, and of my
surprise at finding, after revolving many things in my mind, that I was
no longer a public man or had anything to do with public transactions.
I feel now, however, as I conceive a wearied traveler must do who, after
treading many a painful step with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is
eased of the latter, having reached the haven to which all the former
were directed, and from his house-top is looking back and tracing with
an eager eye the meanders by which he escaped the quicksands and mires
which lay in his way, and into which none but the all-powerful Guide and
Dispenser of human events could have prevented his falling."

For several months after arriving at Mount Vernon, almost every day
brought him the addresses of an affectionate and grateful people. The
glow of expression in which the high sense universally entertained
of his services was conveyed, manifested the warmth of feeling which
animated the American bosom. This unexampled tribute of voluntary
applause, paid by a whole people to an individual no longer in power,
made no impression on the unassuming modesty of his character and
deportment. The same firmness of mind, the same steady and well-tempered
judgment, which had guided him through the most perilous seasons of the
war, still regulated his conduct, and the enthusiastic applauses of an
admiring nation served only to cherish sentiments of gratitude and to
give greater activity to the desire still further to contribute to the
general prosperity.

Soon after peace was proclaimed Congress unanimously passed a resolution
for the erection of an equestrian statue of Washington, at the place
which should be established for the residence of the government.

The Legislature of Virginia, too, at its first session after his
resignation, passed the following resolution:

"Resolved, That the Executive be requested to take measures for
procuring a statue of General Washington, to be of the finest marble and
best workmanship, with the following inscription on its pedestal:

"The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia have caused this
statue to be erected as a monument of affection and gratitude to George
Washington, who, uniting to the endowments of the hero, the virtues
of the patriot, and exerting both in establishing the liberties of his
country, has rendered his name dear to his fellow-citizens, and given
the world an immortal example of true glory." [5]

In addition to the attention which he bestowed on his own estate
Washington endeavored to ameliorate the condition of agriculture
generally. Nothing could be more wretched than the general state of this
useful art in America. To its amelioration by examples which might be
followed, and by the introduction of systems adapted to the soil, the
climate, and to the wants of the people, the energies of his active and
intelligent mind were now in a great degree directed. No improvement
of the implements to be used on a farm, no valuable experiments in
husbandry, escaped his attention. His inquiries, which were equally
minute and comprehensive, extended beyond the limits of his own country,
and he entered into a correspondence on this interesting subject with
Arthur Young, the celebrated English writer, and with other foreigners
who had been most distinguished for their additions to the stock of
agricultural science.

Mingled with this favorite pursuit were the multiplied avocations
resulting from the high office he had lately filled. He was engaged in
an extensive correspondence with the friends most dear to his heart--the
foreign and American officers who had served under him during the late
war--and with almost every conspicuous political personage of his own,
and with many of other countries. Literary men also were desirous
of obtaining his approbation of their works, and his attention was
solicited to every production of American genius. His countrymen who
were about to travel were anxious to receive from the first citizen of
the rising Republic, some testimonial bearing his signature, and all
those strangers of distinction, who visited this newly-created empire,
were ambitious of being presented to its founder. In addition to
visitors of distinction, and those who had claims of ancient friendship,
he was subjected to the annoyance of visitors, who, without any just
pretension to such an honor, made visits to Mount Vernon merely to
gratify their curiosity, and to the scarcely less wearisome annoyance of
tedious and unnecessary letters. Of these unwelcome intrusions upon his
time Washington thus complained to an intimate military friend. "It is
not, my dear sir, the letters of my friends which give me trouble or add
aught to my perplexity. I receive them with pleasure, and pay as much
attention to them as my avocations will permit. It is references to old
matters with which I have nothing to do--applications which oftentimes
cannot be complied with--inquiries, to satisfy which would employ the
pen of an historian--letters of compliment, as unmeaning perhaps as they
are troublesome, but which must be attended to--and the common-place
business--which employ my pen and my time often disagreeably. Indeed
these, with company, deprive me of exercise, and, unless I can obtain
relief, must be productive of disagreeable consequences. Already I begin
to feel their effects. Heavy and painful oppressions of the head
and other disagreeable sensations often trouble me. I am determined
therefore to employ some person who shall ease me of the drudgery of
this business. At any rate, if the whole of it is thereby suspended,
I am determined to use exercise. My private affairs also require
infinitely more attention than I have given or can give them under
present circumstances. They can no longer be neglected without involving
my ruin."

It was some time after the date of this letter before he introduced into
his family a young gentleman, qualified by education and manners to fill
the station of private secretary and friend. This was Mr. Tobias Lear of
New Hampshire, who had graduated at Harvard college.

The numerous visits which Washington received made Mount Vernon anything
but a place of seclusion and repose, and "during these stirring times
Mrs. Washington performed the duties of a Virginia housewife and
presided at her well-spread board with that ease and elegance of manners
which always distinguished her." [2]

This multiplicity of private avocations could not entirely withdraw the
mind of Washington from objects tending to promote and secure the public
happiness. His resolution never again to appear in the busy scenes of
political life, though believed by himself and by his bosom friends to
be unalterable, could not render him indifferent to those measures on
which the prosperity of his country essentially depended.

It is a very interesting fact that Washington was among the first,
if not the very first of our public men, who were impressed with the
importance of connecting the western with the eastern territory, by
facilitating the means of intercourse between them. To this subject his
attention had been directed in the early part of his life. While the
American States were yet British colonies he had obtained the passage
of a bill for opening the Potomac so as to render it navigable from
tide-water to Wills creek, a distance of about 150 miles. The river
James had also been comprehended in this plan, and he had triumphed so
far over the opposition produced by local interests and prejudices,
that the business was in a train which promised success, when the
Revolutionary War diverted the attention of its patrons, and of all
America, from internal improvements to the still greater objects of
liberty and independence. As that war approached its termination,
subjects which for a time had yielded their pretensions to
consideration, reclaimed that place to which their real magnitude
entitled them, and internal navigation again attracted the attention of
the wise and thinking part of society. Accustomed to contemplate America
as his country and to consider with solicitude the interests of the
whole, Washington now took a more enlarged view of the advantages to be
derived from opening both the eastern and the western waters; and for
this, as well as for other purposes, after peace had been proclaimed,
he traversed the western parts of New England and New York. "I have
lately," said he, in a letter to the Marquis of Chastellux, "made a
tour through the lakes George and Champlain as far as Crown Point;
then returning to Schenectady I proceeded up the Mohawk river to Fort
Schuyler, crossed over to Wood creek, which empties into the Oneida lake
and affords the water communication with Ontario. I then traversed the
country to the head of the eastern branch of the Susquehanna and viewed
the lake Otsego and the portage between that lake and the Mohawk river
at Canajoharie. Prompted by these actual observations, I could not
help taking a more contemplative and extensive view of the vast inland
navigation of these United States, and could not but be struck with the
immense diffusion and importance of it, and with the goodness of that
Providence which has dealt His favors to us with so profuse a hand.
Would to God we may have wisdom enough to improve them. I shall not rest
contented until I have explored the western country and traversed those
lines (or great part of them) which have given bounds to a new empire."
The journey here referred to was performed in company with Governor
Clinton while the army was encamped at Newburg.

Scarcely had he answered those spontaneous offerings of the heart which
flowed in upon him from every part of a grateful nation, when his views
were once more seriously turned to this truly interesting subject. Its
magnitude was also impressed on others, and the value of obtaining the
aid which his influence and active interference would afford to any
exertions for giving this direction to the public mind, and for securing
the happy execution of the plan which might be devised, was perceived by
all those who attached to the great work its real importance. Jefferson,
who had taken an expanded view of it concluded a letter to Washington
containing a detailed statement of his ideas on the subject in these

"But a most powerful objection always arises to propositions of this
kind. It is, that public undertakings are carelessly managed and much
money spent to little purpose. To obviate this objection is the purpose
of my giving you the trouble of this discussion. You have retired
from public life. You have weighed this determination, and it would be
impertinence in me to touch it. But would the superintendence of this
work break in too much on the sweets of retirement and repose? If they
would I stop here. Your future time and wishes are sacred in my eye. If
it would be only a dignified amusement to you, what a monument of your
retirement would it be! It is one which would follow that of your public
life and bespeak it the work of the same great hand. I am confident that
would you, either alone or jointly with any persons you think proper, be
willing to direct this business, it would remove the only objection, the
weight of which I apprehend."

In September, 1784, Washington fulfilled the intention expressed in his
letter to the Marquis of Chastellux, by making a tour to the western
country. He went on horseback, using pack-horses for his tent and
baggage. He crossed the Alleghenies by Braddock's road, examined his
lands on the Monongahela river, and returned through the wilderness by
a circuitous route, examining the country in order to determine the
practicability of connecting the Potomac and James rivers with the
western waters by means of canals. The whole journey extended some 680
miles. [3]

After returning from this tour Washington's first moments of leisure
were devoted to the task of engaging his countrymen in a work which
appeared to him to merit still more attention from its political than
from its commercial influence on the Union. In a long and interesting
letter to Mr. Harrison then Governor of Virginia, he detailed the
advantages which might be derived from opening the great rivers, the
Potomac and the James, as high as should be practicable. After stating,
with his accustomed exactness, the distances and the difficulties to be
surmounted in bringing the trade of the west to different points on
the Atlantic, he expressed unequivocally the opinion that the rivers of
Virginia afforded a more convenient and a more direct course than could
be found elsewhere for that rich and increasing commerce. This was
strongly urged as a motive for immediately commencing the work. But
the rivers of the Atlantic constituted only a part of the great plan he
contemplated. He suggested the appointment of commissioners who should,
after an accurate examination of the James and the Potomac, search out
the nearest and best portages between those waters and the streams which
run into the Ohio. Those streams were to be accurately surveyed,
the impediments to their navigation ascertained, and their relative
advantages examined. The navigable waters west of the Ohio toward the
great lakes were also to be traced to their sources and those which
emptied into the lakes to be followed to their mouths. "These things
being done, and an accurate map of the whole presented to the public, he
was persuaded that reason would dictate what was right and proper." For
the execution of this latter part of his plan he had also much reliance
on Congress, and, in addition to the general advantages to be drawn from
the measure, he labored in his letters to the members of that body to
establish the opinion that the surveys he recommended would add to the
revenue by enhancing the value of the lands offered for sale. "Nature,"
he said, "had made such an ample display of her bounties in those
regions that the more the country was explored the more it would rise in

The assent and cooperation of Maryland being indispensable to the
improvement of the Potomac, he was equally earnest in his endeavors to
impress a conviction of its superior advantages on those individuals
who possessed most influence in that State. In doing so he detailed
the measures which would unquestionably be adopted by New York and
Pennsylvania for acquiring the monopoly of the western commerce, and the
difficulty which would be found in diverting it from the channel it had
once taken. "I am not," he added, "for discouraging the exertions of any
State to draw the commerce of the western country to its seaports. The
more communications we open to it the closer we bind that rising world
(for indeed it may be so called) to our interests, and the greater
strength shall we acquire by it. Those to whom nature affords the best
communication will, if they are wise, enjoy the greatest share of the
trade. All I would be understood to mean, therefore, is, that the gifts
of Providence may not be neglected."

But the light in which this subject would be viewed with most interest
and which gave to it most importance, was its political influence on
the Union. "I need not remark to you, sir," said he, in his letter to
Governor Harrison of Virginia, "that the flanks and rear of the United
States are possessed by other powers--and formidable ones, too: nor need
I press the necessity of applying the cement of interest to bind all
parts of the Union together by indissoluble bonds--especially of binding
that part of it which lies immediately west of us to the middle States.
For what ties, let me ask, should we have upon those people? How
entirely unconnected with them shall we be, and what troubles may we
not apprehend if the Spaniards on their right and Great Britain on
their left, instead of throwing impediments in their way as they now
do, should hold out lures for their trade and alliance? When they get
strength, which will be sooner than most people conceive, what will be
the consequence of their having formed close commercial connections with
both or either of those powers, it needs not, in my opinion, the gift of
prophecy to foretell."

This idea was enlarged and pressed with much earnestness in his letters
to several members of Congress.

The letter to Governor Harrison was communicated to the Assembly of
Virginia, and the internal improvements it recommended were zealously
supported by the wisest members of that body. While the subject remained
undecided, Washington, accompanied by Lafayette, who had crossed the
Atlantic and had arrived at Mount Vernon on the 17th of August, paid a
visit to the capital of the State. Never was reception more cordial
or more demonstrative of respect and affection than was given to
these beloved personages. But amidst the display of addresses and of
entertainments which were produced by the occasion, the great business
of internal improvements was not forgotten, and the ardor of the moment
was seized to conquer those objections to the plan which yet lingered
in the bosoms of members who could perceive in it no future advantage to
compensate for the present expense.

An exact conformity between the acts of Virginia and of Maryland being
indispensable to the improvement of the Potomac, a resolution was passed
soon after the return of Washington to Mount Vernon, requesting him to
attend the Legislature of Maryland, in order to agree on a bill which
might receive the sanction of both States. This agreement being happily
completed, the bills were passed, and thus began that grand system of
internal improvement by which the eastern portion of the Union is bound
to the west. Canals and portages were the forerunners of the railroads
by which every part of the country is now traversed, and the whole
Republic is firmly united in bonds of mutual intercourse, which, it is
fondly hoped will prove perpetual.

The Legislature of Virginia seized the occasion afforded by the passage
of these acts to signalize the affection and gratitude of the State
towards her favorite son. A bill was drafted by Mr. Madison, the
preamble of which was in the following words:

"Whereas, it is the desire of the representatives of this commonwealth
to embrace every suitable occasion of testifying their sense of the
unexampled merits of George Washington, Esquire, toward his country,
and it is their wish in particular that those great works for its
improvement, which, both as springing from the liberty which he has been
so instrumental in establishing and as encouraged by his patronage will
be durable monuments of his glory, may be made monuments also of the
gratitude of his country. Be it enacted, &c."

By this bill the treasurer was instructed to subscribe, in behalf of
the State, for a specified number of shares in each company. Just at
the close of the session, when no refusal of their offer could be
communicated to them, a bill was suddenly brought in which received the
unanimous assent of both houses, authorizing the treasurer to subscribe
for the benefit of Washington the same number of shares in each company
as were to be taken for the State. The actual value of the shares was

Washington was greatly embarrassed by this mark of gratitude. It
afforded him pleasure to see that his character and services were
appreciated by his fellow-citizens. But he would not depart from his
determination to receive no pecuniary reward for his public services.

To Madison, who conveyed to him the first intelligence of this bill, his
difficulties were thus expressed:

"It is not easy for me to decide by which my mind was most affected upon
the receipt of your letter of the sixth instant--surprise or gratitude.
Both were greater than I had words to express. The attention and good
wishes which the Assembly has evinced by their act for vesting in me 150
shares in the navigation of the rivers Potomac and James, is more
than mere compliment--there is an unequivocal and substantial meaning
annexed. But, believe me, sir, no circumstance has happened since I left
the walks of public life which has so much embarrassed me. On the one
hand, I consider this act, as I have already observed, as a noble and
unequivocal proof of the good opinion, the affection, and disposition
of my country to serve me, and I should be hurt, if, by declining the
acceptance of it my refusal should be construed into disrespect or the
smallest slight upon the generous intention of the legislature, or that
an ostentatious display of disinterestedness of public virtue was the
source of refusal.

"On the other hand, it is really my wish to have my mind and my actions,
which are the result of reflection as free and independent as the air,
that I may be more at liberty (in things which my opportunities
and experience have brought me to the knowledge of) to express my
sentiments, and, if necessary, to suggest what may occur to me under the
fullest conviction that, although my judgment may be arraigned, there
will be no suspicion that sinister motives had the smallest influence
in the suggestion. Not content then with the bare consciousness of
my having in all this navigation business, acted upon the clearest
conviction of the political importance of the measure, I would wish that
every individual who may hear that it was a favorite plan of mine,
may know also, that I had no other motive for promoting it than the
advantage of which I conceived it would be productive to the Union at
large and to this State in particular, by cementing the eastern and
western territory together, at the same time that it will give vigor and
increase to our commerce and be a convenience to our citizens."

At length he determined, in the same letter which should convey his
resolution not to retain the shares for his private emolument,
to signify his willingness to hold them in trust for such public
institution as the Legislature should approve. The following letter
conveyed this resolution to the General Assembly through the governor of
the State:

OCTOBER, 1785.

"SIR:--Your Excellency having been pleased to transmit me a copy of
the act appropriating to my benefit certain shares in the companies for
opening the navigation of James and Potomac rivers, I take the liberty
of returning to the General Assembly, through your hands, the profound
and grateful acknowledgments inspired by so signal a mark of their
beneficent intentions towards me. I beg you, sir, to assure them that
I am filled on this occasion with every sentiment which can flow from
a heart warm with love for my country, sensible to every token of its
approbation and affection, and solicitous to testify in every instance a
respectful submission to its wishes.

"With these sentiments in my bosom, I need not dwell on the anxiety I
feel in being obliged, in this instance, to decline a favor which is
rendered no less flattering by the manner in which it is conveyed,
than it is affectionate in itself. In explaining this I pass over
a comparison of my endeavors in the public service, with the many
honorable testimonies of approbation which have already so far
overrated, and overpaid them--reciting one consideration only, which
supersedes the necessity of recurring to every other.

"When I was first called to the station with which I was honored during
the late conflict for our liberties, to the diffidence which I had so
many reasons to feel in accepting it, I thought it my duty to join a
firm resolution to shut my hand against every pecuniary recompense. To
this resolution I have invariably adhered, and from it (if I had the
inclination) I do not consider myself at liberty now to depart.

"Whilst I repeat therefore my fervent acknowledgments to the Legislature
for their very kind sentiments and intentions in my favor, and at the
same time beg them to be persuaded that a remembrance of this singular
proof of their goodness towards me will never cease to cherish returns
of the warmest affection and gratitude, I must pray that their act, so
far as it has for its object my personal emolument, may not have its
effect; but if it should please the General Assembly to permit me to
turn the destination of the fund vested in me, from my private emolument
to objects of a public nature, it will be my study, in selecting these,
to prove the sincerity of my gratitude for the honor conferred upon me,
by preferring such as may appear most subservient to the enlightened and
patriotic views of the Legislature."

The wish suggested in this letter immediately received the sanction
of the Legislature, and at a subsequent time the trust was executed
by conveying the shares respectively to the use of a seminary of
learning--which is now called Washington college, and to a university
to be established in the District of Columbia, under the auspices of the

Washington felt too strong an interest in the success of these works to
refuse the presidency of the companies instituted for their completion.
In conducting the affairs of the Potomac company, he took an active
part; to that formed for opening the navigation of the James, he could
only give his counsel.

While Washington was at Richmond attending to the interests of internal
navigation he had been joined by Lafayette, who, since his recent visit
to Mount Vernon, had accompanied the commissioners to Fort Schuyler to
make a treaty with the Indians, and had assisted on that occasion.
He had subsequently made a tour in the eastern States, where he was
received with much distinction and he was now on his return to pay a
farewell visit to Washington at Mount Vernon.

He remained only a week at Mount Vernon. Washington accompanied him
to Annapolis, where Lafayette was honored with a public reception
and address by the Legislature of Maryland, and there, on the 30th of
November, 1784, these distinguished men took leave of each other. From
Annapolis Lafayette proceeded to Trenton, where Congress was then in
session, and on Christmas day he embarked at New York for France in the
frigate Nymphe. The following is an extract from a letter written by
Washington to Lafayette on his return to Mount Vernon:

"The peregrination of the day in which I parted from you ended at
Maryborough. The next day, bad as it was, I got home before dinner.

"In the moment of separation, upon the road as I traveled, and every
hour since, I have felt all that love, respect, and attachment for
you, with which length of years, close connection, and your merits have
inspired me. I often asked myself, as our carriages separated, whether
that was the last sight I ever should have of you? And though I wished
to say No, my fears answered Yes. I called to mind the days of my youth,
and found they had long since fled to return no more; that I was now
descending the hill I had been fifty-two years climbing, and that,
though I was blest with a good constitution, I was of a short-lived
family, and might soon expect to be entombed in the mansion of my
fathers. These thoughts darkened the shades, and gave a gloom to the
picture, and consequently to my prospect of seeing you again. But I will
not repine; I have had my day.

"Nothing of importance has occurred since I parted with you. I found my
family well, and am now immersed in company; notwithstanding which, I
have in haste produced a few more letters to give you the trouble of,
rather inclining to commit them to your care, than to pass them through
many and unknown hands."

Among the letters referred to in the above extract was one to the
Marchioness de Lafayette and another to her little daughter. In the
former he writes: "The Marquis returns to you with all the warmth and
ardor of a newly-inspired lover. We restore him to you in good health,
crowned with wreaths of love and respect from every part of the Union."

1. Footnote: This statue was executed by Houdon, and stands in the
capitol at Richmond. It is in the costume of commander-in-chief of
the army, and is considered an excellent likeness. Another statue
of Washington, by Canova, was in the Roman costume, and in a sitting
posture. It was made for the State of North Carolina, and was
unfortunately destroyed when the capitol was burnt. Another statue
stands in the statehouse at Boston. It was the result of a private
subscription. A fourth, by Greenough, adorns the grounds of the capitol
at Washington.

2. Footnote: Custis, "Memoir of Martha Washington."

3. Footnote: Sparks.



On first retiring to Mount Vernon (1785), Washington had devoted his
attention to the restoration of his estate to that high condition
of order and productiveness which had been maintained under his own
personal superintendence previous to the war. During his absence of
nine years he had constantly corresponded with his manager and given
particular directions respecting its cultivation. But it had suffered
much in his absence, and he was determined to renovate it by assiduous
care. He gave up the cultivation of tobacco because it had a tendency
to exhaust the soil, and planted wheat in its stead, giving attention at
the same time to the production of grass, maize, potatoes, and oats, and
pursuing the system of rotation in crops now considered so indispensable
by intelligent farmers.

When this system was well established he commenced planting and adorning
with trees the grounds surrounding the mansion-house. His diary shows
that he paid great attention to this object, directing the setting out
of a great number and variety of ornamental trees, some of them being
obtained in the neighboring woods and others brought from a great
distance. He also replenished his gardens, orchards, and green-houses
with choice fruits and flowers which were confided to the care of
skilful gardeners.

Meantime the number of guests entertained at Mount Vernon was ever on
the increase. Many were known to have crossed the Atlantic for the sole
purpose of visiting the founder of the Republic. Among these was Mrs.
Catharine Macauley Graham. By the principles contained in her "History
of the Stuarts," this lady had acquired much reputation in republican
America and by all was received with marked attention. She was cordially
received at Mount Vernon, and, if her letters may be credited, the
exalted opinion she had formed of its proprietor was "not diminished by
a personal acquaintance with him."

The French military and naval officers, Lafayette, Rochambeau,
D'Estaing, and others, gave letters of introduction to be presented to
Washington by their friends whenever any of them came to America, and
those letters were always duly honored by hospitable attentions to those
who bore them. His own compatriots were still more numerous and more
assiduous in attention to the retired commander. Officers who had
served with him in the old French war and in the Revolution, members of
Congress, politicians, and magistrates from distant States, were among
the guests at Mount Vernon; so that Washington's time would thus have
been completely taken up but for the efficient aid which he received
in discharging the duties of hospitality from the ease, urbanity, and
excellent management of his accomplished lady.

"His habits," says Mr. Sparks, "were uniform and nearly the same as they
had been previously to the war. He arose before the sun and employed
himself in his study writing letters or reading till the hour of
breakfast. When breakfast was over his horse was ready at the door, and
he rode to his farms and gave directions for the day to the managers
and laborers. Horses were likewise prepared for his guests whenever they
chose to accompany him, or to amuse themselves by excursions into the
country. Returning from his fields and dispatching such business as
happened to be on hand, he went again to his study, and continued there
till 3 o'clock, when he was summoned to dinner. The remainder of the day
and the evening were devoted to company or to recreation in the family
circle. At 10 he retired to rest. From these habits he seldom deviated
unless compelled to do so by particular circumstances." [1]

In a delightful memoir [2] of his own life and times by Mr. Elkanah
Watson, we find the following interesting notice of Washington at home,
and we also learn what subject chiefly occupied his thoughts at the time
of which we are writing:

"I had feasted my imagination for several days," says Mr. Watson, "on
the near prospect of a visit to Mount Vernon--the seat of Washington. No
pilgrim ever approached Mecca with deeper enthusiasm. I arrived there
on the afternoon of January 23d, 1785. I was the bearer of a letter from
General Greene, with another from Colonel Fitzgerald, one of the former
aides of Washington, and also the books from Granville Sharpe. Although
assured that these credentials would secure me a respectful reception,
I felt an unaccountable diffidence as I came into the presence of the
great man. I found him at table with Mrs. Washington and his private
family, and was received with the native dignity and urbanity so
peculiarly combined in the character of a soldier and eminent private
gentleman. He soon put me at ease, by unbending in a free and affable

"The cautious reserve which wisdom and policy dictated whilst engaged in
rearing the glorious fabric of our independence was evidently the result
of consummate prudence and not characteristic of his nature. Although
I had frequently seen him in the progress of the Revolution and had
corresponded with him from France in 1781 and 1782, this was the first
occasion on which I had contemplated him in his private relations. I
observed a peculiarity in his smile which seemed to illuminate his
eye; his whole countenance beamed with intelligence, while it commanded
confidence and respect. The gentleman who had accompanied me from
Alexandria left in the evening, and I remained alone in the enjoyment of
the society of Washington for two of the richest days of my life. I saw
him reaping the reward of his illustrious deeds in the quiet shade
of his beloved retirement. He was at the matured age of fifty-three.
Alexander died before he reached that period of life and he had
immortalized his name. How much stronger and nobler the claims of
Washington to immortality! In the impulses of mad, selfish ambition,
Alexander acquired fame by wading to the conquest of the world through
seas of blood. Washington, on the contrary, was parsimonious of the
blood of his countrymen, stood forth the pure and virtuous champion of
their rights, and formed for them, not himself, a mighty empire.

"To have communed with such a man in the bosom of his family I shall
always regard as one of the highest privileges and most cherished
incidents of my life. I found him kind and benignant in the domestic
circle, revered and beloved by all around him, agreeably social, without
ostentation; delighting in anecdote and adventures, without assumption;
his domestic arrangements harmonious and systematic. His servants seemed
to watch his eye, and to anticipate his every wish; hence a look was
equivalent to a command. His servant Billy, the faithful companion of
his military career, was always at his side. Smiling content animated
and beamed on every countenance in his presence.

"The first evening I spent under the wing of his hospitality we sat a
full hour at table, by ourselves, without the least interruption, after
the family had retired. I was extremely oppressed with a severe cold
and excessive coughing, contracted from the exposure of a harsh winter
journey. He pressed me to use some remedies, but I declined doing so. As
usual after retiring my cough increased. When some time had elapsed the
door of my room was gently opened, and on drawing my bed-curtains, to my
utter astonishment, I beheld Washington himself standing at my bedside
with a bowl of hot tea in his hand. I was mortified and distressed
beyond expression. This little incident, occurring in common life with
an ordinary man would not have been noticed, but as a trait of the
benevolence and the private virtue of Washington it deserves to be

"He modestly waived all allusions to the events in which he had acted so
glorious and conspicuous a part. Much of his conversation had reference
to the interior country and to the opening of the navigation of the
Potomac, by canals and locks at the Seneca, the Great, and the Little
Falls. His mind appeared to be deeply absorbed in that object, then in
earnest contemplation. He allowed me to take minutes from his former
journal on this subject, of which the following is a partial summary:

"'The stock of the company is divided into 500 shares at £50 sterling
each. The canal company has been incorporated by both Maryland
and Virginia.' Washington had accepted the presidency of it. 'The
preliminary preparations are in full train, to commence operations in
the ensuing spring, not only to remove the obstacles in the Potomac to
a boat navigation from Georgetown to Fort Cumberland, a distance of 190
miles, but to the ultimate construction of a canal to Lake Erie, which
is intended not only to give a direction to the fur trade from Detroit
to Alexandria, but to attract the eventual trade of the country north
of the Ohio which now slumbers in a state of nature.' This scheme was
worthy of the comprehensive mind of Washington.

"To demonstrate the practicability and the policy of diverting the trade
of the immense interior world yet unexplored to the Atlantic cities,
especially in view of the idea that the Mississippi would be opened
by Spain, was his constant and favorite theme. To elucidate the
probability, also, that the Detroit fur trade would take this direction,
he produced the following estimates, which I copied in his presence and
with his aid from the original manuscript:

"From Detroit, at the head of Lake Erie, via Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh)
and Fort Cumberland, to the head of the Potomac, is 607 Miles.

"To Richmond 840

"To Philadelphia 741

"To Albany 943

"To Montreal 955

"Thus it appeared that Alexandria is 348 miles nearer Detroit than
Montreal, with only two carrying places of about forty miles."

"Since my travels in 1779 I had been deeply and constantly impressed
with the importance of constructing canals to connect the various waters
of America. This conviction was confirmed under the examination of
numerous canals of Europe, and traveling extensively on several of them.
Hearing little else for two days from the persuasive tongue of this
great man I was, I confess, completely under the influence of the canal
mania, and it en kindled all my enthusiasm."

Among the objects which claimed the attention of Washington in his
retirement was a change in the constitution of the Cincinnati. This
society had been formed in May, 1783, when the army was encamped
at Newburg. The prospect of speedily separating from each other had
suggested the plan of forming an association among the officers to serve
as a tie of brotherhood for the future.

This idea was suggested by General Knox and was matured in a meeting
composed of the generals, and of deputies from the regiments, at which
Major-General Steuben presided. An agreement was then entered into by
which the officers were to constitute themselves into one society of
friends, to endure as long as they should endure, or any of their eldest
male posterity, and, in failure thereof, any collateral branches who
might be judged worthy of becoming its supporters and members, were to
be admitted into it. To mark their veneration for that celebrated Roman
between whose situation and their own they found some similitude, they
were to be denominated "The Society of the Cincinnati." Individuals of
the respective States, distinguished for their patriotism and abilities,
might be admitted as honorary members for life, provided their numbers
should at no time exceed a ratio of one to four.

The society was to be designated by a medal of gold representing the
American eagle bearing on its breast the devices of the order, which was
to be suspended by a ribbon of deep blue edged with white, descriptive
of the union of America and France. To the ministers who had represented
the King of France at Philadelphia, to the admirals who had commanded
in the American seas, to the Count de Rochambeau and the generals and
colonels of the French troops who had served in the United States, the
insignia of the order were to be presented and they were to be invited
to consider themselves as members of the society, at the head of which
the Commander-in-Chief was respectfully solicited to place his name. An
incessant attention, on the part of the members, to the preservation
of the exalted rights and liberties of human nature for which they had
fought and bled, and an unalterable determination to promote and cherish
between the respective States union and national honor, were declared
to be the immutable principles of the society. Its objects were to
perpetuate the remembrance of the American revolution, as well as
cordial affection and the spirit of brotherly kindness among the
officers, and to extend acts of beneficence to those officers and their
families whose situation might require assistance. To give effect to the
charitable object of the institution a common fund was to be created by
the deposit of one month's pay on the part of every officer becoming
a member, the product of which fund, after defraying certain necessary
charges, was to be sacredly appropriated to this humane purpose.

The military gentlemen of each State were to constitute a distinct
society, deputies from which were to assemble triennially in order to
form a general meeting for the regulation of general concerns.

Without encountering any open opposition this institution was carried
into complete effect, and its honors were sought, especially by the
foreign officers, with great avidity. But soon after it was organized
those jealousies, which in its first moments had been concealed, burst
forth into open view. In October, 1783, a pamphlet was published by Mr.
Burk of South Carolina, for the purpose of rousing the apprehensions
of the public, and of directing its resentments against the society. In
this work its was denounced as an attempt to form an order of nobility.
The hereditary feature of the constitution and the power of conferring
its honors on distinguished personages, not descended from the officers
of the army, were considered particularly inconsistent with the genius
of our republican institutions. In Massachusetts the subject was
even taken up by the Legislature, and it was well understood that, in
Congress, the society was viewed with secret disapprobation.

It was impossible for Washington to view with indifference this state of
the public feeling. Bound to the officers of his army by the strictest
ties of esteem and affection, conscious of their merits and assured of
their attachment to his person, he was alive to everything which
might affect their reputation or their interests. However innocent the
institution might be in itself or however laudable its real objects, if
the impression it made on the public mind was such as to draw a line
of distinction between the military men of America and their
fellow-citizens, he was earnest in his wishes to adopt such measures as
would efface that impression. However ill founded the public prejudices
might be he thought this a case in which they ought to be respected,
and, if it should be found impracticable to convince the people that
their fears were misplaced, he was disposed "to yield to them in a
degree, and not to suffer that which was intended for the best of
purposes to produce a bad one."

A general meeting was to be held in Philadelphia in May, 1784, and, in
the meantime, he had been appointed the temporary president. Washington
was too much in the habit of considering subjects of difficulty in
various points of view, and of deciding on them with coolness and
deliberation, to permit his affections to influence his judgment. The
most exact inquiries, assiduously made into the true state of the
public mind, resulted in a conviction that opinions unfriendly to the
institution, in its actual form, were extensively entertained, and that
those opinions were founded, not in hostility to the late army, but in
real apprehensions for equal liberty.

A wise and necessary policy required, he thought, the removal of these
apprehensions, and, at the general meeting in May, the hereditary
principle, and the power of adopting honorary members, were
relinquished. The result demonstrated the propriety of this alteration.
Although a few, who always perceive most danger where none exists, and
the visionaries then abounding in Europe, continued their prophetic
denunciations against the order, America dismissed her fears, and,
notwithstanding the refusal of several of the State societies to adopt
the measures recommended by the general meeting, the members of the
Cincinnati were received as brethren into the bosom of their country.

While Washington was engaged in the cultivation of his extensive estate
his thoughts were by no means withdrawn from the political concerns of
the country, which at this time were assuming rather an ominous aspect.
His correspondence evinces that his advice was much sought for by the
leading men in the country, and that his opinions on the aspect of
the public affairs were freely given. The want of power in the central
government, arising from the defects of the old confederation, was
becoming more and more apparent, and the evils arising from this want
of power were pressing severely on every side. While the war lasted the
external pressure held the government together, but on the return
of peace its dissolution had become imminent. Large debts had been
contracted to pay the expenses of the war, and, although an attempt
had been made to establish a general system of revenue from duties on
imports, individual States had obstructed the prosecution of this plan,
and the government had found itself unable to raise the funds necessary
to pay the interest on the public debt. It had, in fact, no power
to regulate commerce or collect a revenue. This made it incapable of
executing treaties, fulfilling its foreign engagements, or causing
itself to be respected by foreign nations. While at home its weakness
was disgusting the public creditors and raising a clamor of discontent
and disaffection on every side. An alarming crisis was rapidly

By the enlightened friends of republican government, this gloomy state
of things was viewed with deep chagrin. Many became apprehensive that
those plans from which so much happiness to the human race had been
anticipated would produce only real misery, and would maintain but a
short and a turbulent existence. Meanwhile, the wise and thinking
part of the community, who could trace evils to their source, labored
unceasingly to inculcate opinions favorable to the incorporation of some
principles into the political system which might correct the obvious
vices, without endangering the free spirit of the existing institutions.

While the advocates for union were exerting themselves to impress its
necessity on the public mind, measures were taken in Virginia, which,
though originating in different views, terminated in a proposition for a
general convention to revise the state of the Union.

To form a compact relative to the navigation of the rivers Potomac and
Pocomoke, and of part of Chesapeake Bay, commissioners were appointed by
the Legislatures of Virginia and Maryland, who assembled in Alexandria
in March, 1785. While at Mount Vernon on a visit [4] they agreed
to propose to their respective governments the appointment of other
commissioners, with power to make conjoint arrangements, to which the
assent of Congress was to be solicited, for maintaining a naval force in
the Chesapeake, and to establish a tariff of duties on imports to which
the laws of both States should conform. When these propositions received
the assent of the Legislature of Virginia an additional resolution
was passed, directing that which respected the duties on imports to be
communicated to all the States in the Union, who were invited to send
deputies to the meeting.

On the 21st of January, 1786, a few days after the passage of these
resolutions, another was adopted appointing Edmund Randolph, James
Madison, Walter Jones, St. George Tucker, and Meriwether Smith,
commissioners, "who were to meet such as might be appointed by the other
States in the Union, at a time and place to be agreed on, to take into
consideration the trade of the United States; to examine the relative
situation and trade of the said States; to consider how far a uniform
system in their commercial relations may be necessary to their common
interest and their permanent harmony, and to report to the several
States such an act relative to this great object, as, when unanimously
ratified by them, will enable the United States in Congress assembled
effectually to provide for the same."

In the circular letter transmitting these resolutions to the respective
States, Annapolis, in Maryland, was proposed as the place, and the
ensuing September (1786) as the time of meeting.

Before the arrival of the period at which these commissioners were
to assemble the idea was carried by those who saw and deplored the
complicated calamities which flowed from the inefficacy of the general
government, much further than was avowed by the resolution of Virginia.
"Although," said Mr. Jay, one of the most conspicuous patriots of the
Revolution, in a letter to Washington, dated the 16th of March, 1786,
"you have wisely retired from public employments, and calmly view,
from the temple of fame, the various exertions of that sovereignty
and independence which Providence has enabled you to be so greatly and
gloriously instrumental in securing to your country, yet I am persuaded
you cannot view them with the eye of an unconcerned spectator.

"Experience has pointed out errors in our national government which call
for correction, and which threaten to blast the fruit we expected from
our tree of liberty. The convention proposed by Virginia may do some
good, and would perhaps do more, if it comprehended more objects. An
opinion begins to prevail that a general convention for revising the
articles of confederation would be expedient. Whether the people are yet
ripe for such a measure, or whether the system proposed to be attained
by it is only to be expected from calamity and commotion, is difficult
to ascertain.

"I think we are in a delicate situation, and a variety of considerations
and circumstances give me uneasiness. It is in contemplation to take
measures for forming a general convention. The plan is not matured. If
it should be well connected and take effect, I am fervent in my wishes
that it may comport with the line of life you have marked out for
yourself to favor your country with your counsels on such an important
and single occasion. I suggest this merely as a hint for consideration."

To the patriots who accomplished the great revolution which gave to the
American people a national government capable of maintaining the union
of the States and of preserving republican liberty, we must ever feel
grateful and admire and honor them for their services during that
arduous and doubtful struggle which terminated in the triumph of human
reason and the establishment of a free government. To us who were not
actors in those busy scenes, but who enjoy the fruits of the labor
without having participated in the toils or the fears of the patriots
who achieved such glorious results, the sentiments entertained by the
most enlightened and virtuous of America at that eventful period cannot
be uninteresting.

"Our affairs," said Mr. Jay, in a letter of the 27th of June (1786),
"seem to lead to some crisis, some revolution--something that I cannot
foresee or conjecture. I am uneasy and apprehensive, more so than during
the war. Then, we had a fixed object and, though the means and time of
obtaining it were often problematical, yet I did firmly believe that we
should ultimately succeed, because I did firmly believe that justice
was with us. The case is now altered, we are going and doing wrong and
therefore I look forward to evils and calamities, but without being able
to guess at the instrument, nature, or measure of them.

"That we shall again recover and things again go well, I have no doubt.
Such a variety of circumstances would not, almost miraculously, have
combined to liberate and make us a nation for transient and unimportant
purposes. I therefore believe we are yet to become a great and
respectable people, but when or how, only the spirit of prophecy can

"There doubtless is much reason to think and to say that we are
woefully, and, in many instances, wickedly misled. Private rage for
property suppresses public considerations, and personal rather than
national interests have become the great objects of attention. New
governments have not the aid of habit and hereditary respect, and,
being generally the result of preceding tumult and confusion, do
not immediately acquire stability or strength. Besides, in times of
commotion, some men will gain confidence and importance who merit
neither, and who, like political mountebanks, are less solicitous about
the health of the credulous crowd than about making the most of their
nostrums and prescriptions.

"What I most fear is that the better kind of people (by which I mean
the people who are orderly and industrious, who are content with their
situations, and not uneasy in their circumstances) will be led by the
insecurity of property, the loss of confidence in their rulers, and the
want of public faith and rectitude, to consider the charms of liberty
as imaginary and delusive. A state of uncertainty and fluctuation must
disgust and alarm such men and prepare their minds for almost any change
that may promise them quiet and security."

To this interesting letter Washington made the following reply:

"Your sentiments, that our affairs are drawing rapidly to a crisis,
accord with my own. What the event will be, is also beyond the reach of
my foresight. We have errors to correct; we have probably had too good
an opinion of human nature in forming our confederation. Experience has
taught us that men will not adopt and carry into execution measures the
best calculated for their own good without the intervention of coercive
power. I do not conceive we can exist long as a nation, without lodging
somewhere a power which will pervade the whole Union in as energetic
a manner as the authority of the State governments extends over the
several States. To be fearful of investing Congress, constituted as that
body is with ample authorities for national purposes, appears to me the
very climax of popular absurdity and madness. Could Congress exert them
for the detriment of the people, without injuring themselves in an equal
or greater proportion? Are not their interests inseparably connected
with those of their constituents? By the rotation of appointment, must
they not mingle frequently with the mass of citizens? Is it not
rather to be apprehended, if they were possessed of the powers before
described, that the individual members would be induced to use them,
on many occasions, very timidly and inefficaciously, for fear of losing
their popularity and future election? We must take human nature as
we find it; perfection falls not to the share of mortals. Many are of
opinion that Congress have too frequently made use of the suppliant
humble tone of requisition, in applications to the States, when they had
a right to assert their imperial dignity, and command obedience. Be that
as it may, requisitions are a perfect nullity, where thirteen sovereign,
independent, disunited States are in the habit of discussing, and
refusing or complying with them at their option. Requisitions are
actually little better than a jest and a by-word throughout the land.
If you tell the Legislatures they have violated the treaty of peace,
and invaded the prerogatives of the confederacy, they will laugh in your
face. What then is to be done? Things cannot go on in the same train
forever. It is much to be feared, as you observe, that the better kind
of people, being disgusted with these circumstances, will have their
minds prepared for any revolution whatever. We are apt to run from one
extreme into another. To anticipate and prevent disastrous contingencies
would be the part of wisdom and patriotism.

"What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am
told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of
government without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking; thence to
acting is often but a single step. But how irrevocable and tremendous!
what a triumph for our enemies to verify their predictions! what a
triumph for the advocates of despotism, to find that we are incapable
of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal
liberty are merely ideal and fallacious! Would to God that wise measures
may be taken in time to avert the consequences we have but too much
reason to apprehend.

"Retired as I am from the world, I frankly acknowledge I cannot feel
myself an unconcerned spectator. Yet, having happily assisted in
bringing the ship into port, and having been fairly discharged, it is
not my business to embark again on a sea of troubles.

"Nor could it be expected that my sentiments and opinions would have
much weight on the minds of my countrymen. They have been neglected,
though given as a last legacy in the most solemn manner. I had then
perhaps some claims to public attention. I consider myself as having
none at present."

The convention at Annapolis was attended by commissioners from only
six States--New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland,
and Virginia. These, after appointing Mr. Dickinson their chairman,
proceeded to discuss the objects for which they had convened. Perceiving
that more ample powers would be required to effect the beneficial
purposes which they contemplated, and hoping to procure a representation
from a greater number of States, the convention determined to rise
without coming to any specific resolutions on the particular subject
which had been referred to them.

Previous to their adjournment, however, they agreed on a report to be
made to their respective States, in which they represented the necessity
of extending the revision of the Federal system to all its defects, and
recommended that deputies for that purpose be appointed by the several
Legislatures, to meet in convention in the city of Philadelphia on the
second day of the ensuing May (1787).

The reasons for preferring a convention to a discussion of this subject
in Congress, were stated to be, "that in the latter body it might be
too much interrupted by the ordinary business before them and would,
besides, be deprived of the valuable counsels of sundry individuals who
were disqualified by the constitution or laws of particular States or by
peculiar circumstances from a seat in that assembly."

A copy of this report was transmitted to Congress in a letter from
the chairman, stating the inefficacy of the Federal government and
the necessity of devising such further provisions as would render it
adequate to the exigencies of the Union. On receiving this report, the
Legislature of Virginia (1786) passed an act for the appointment of
deputies to meet such as might be appointed by other States, to assemble
in convention at Philadelphia at the time and for the purposes specified
in the recommendation from the convention which had met at Annapolis.

When the plan of a convention was thus ripened and its meeting appointed
to be at Philadelphia in May, 1787, Mr. Madison communicated to
Washington the intention of that State to elect him one of her
representatives on this important occasion. He explicitly declined
being a candidate, yet the Legislature placed him at the head of her
delegation, in the hope that mature reflection would induce him to
attend upon the service. The governor of the State, Mr. Randolph,
informed him of his appointment by the following letter:

"By the enclosed act you will readily discover that the assembly are
alarmed at the storms which threaten the United States. What our enemies
have foretold seems to be hastening to its accomplishment, and cannot be
frustrated but by an instantaneous, zealous, and steady union among the
friends of the Federal government. To you I need not press our present
dangers. The inefficacy of Congress you have often felt in your official
character, the increasing languor of our associated republics you hourly
see; and a dissolution would be, I know, to you a source of the deepest
mortification. I freely then entreat you to accept the unanimous
appointment of the General Assembly to the convention at Philadelphia.
For the gloomy prospect still admits one ray of hope--that those who
began, carried on, and consummated the Revolution, can yet restore
America from the impending ruin."

"Sensible as I am," said Washington in his answer, "of the honor
conferred on me by the General Assembly of this commonwealth, in
appointing me one of the deputies to a convention proposed to be held
in the city of Philadelphia in May next, for the purpose of revising
the Federal constitution, and desirous as I am on all occasions of
testifying a ready obedience to the calls of my country, yet, sir, there
exist at this moment circumstances which I am persuaded will render this
fresh instance of confidence incompatible with other measures which
I had previously adopted and from which, seeing little prospect of
disengaging myself, it would be disingenuous not to express a wish
that some other character, on whom greater reliance can be had, may be
substituted in my place, the probability of my nonattendance being too
great to continue my appointment.

"As no mind can be more deeply impressed than mine is with the critical
situation of our affairs, resulting in a great measure from the want of
efficient powers in the Federal head and due respect to its ordinances,
so consequently those who do engage in the important business of
removing these defects will carry with them every good wish of mine,
which the best dispositions toward their obtainment can bestow."

The governor declined the acceptance of his resignation of the
appointment and begged him to suspend his determination until the
approach of the period of the meeting of the convention, that his
final judgment might be the result of a full acquaintance with all

Thus situated, Washington reviewed the subject that he might, upon
thorough deliberation, make the decision which duty and patriotism
enjoined. He had, by a circular letter to the State societies, declined
being re-elected the president of the Cincinnati, and had announced that
he should not attend their general meeting at Philadelphia in the next
May, and he apprehended that if he attended the convention at the time
and place of their meeting he should give offense to all the officers of
the late army who composed this body. He was under apprehension that the
States would not be generally represented on this occasion, and that a
failure in the plan would diminish the personal influence of those who
engaged in it. Some of his confidential friends were of opinion that the
occasion did not require his interposition and that he ought to reserve
himself for a state of things which would unequivocally demand his
agency and influence. Even on the supposition that the plan should
succeed they thought that he ought not to engage in it, because his
having been in convention would oblige him to make exertions to
carry the measures that body might recommend into effect, and would
necessarily "sweep him into the tide of public affairs." His own
experience since the close of the Revolutionary War created in his mind
serious doubts whether the respective States would quietly adopt
any system calculated to give stability and vigor to the national
government. "As we could not," to use his own language, "remain quiet
more than three or four years in times of peace under the constitutions
of our own choosing, which were believed in many States to have been
formed with deliberation and wisdom, I see little prospect either of our
agreeing on any other, or that we should remain long satisfied under it,
if we could. Yet I would wish anything and everything essayed to prevent
the effusion of blood and to divert the humiliating and contemptible
figure we are about to make in the annals of mankind."

These considerations operated powerfully to confirm him in the
determination first formed, not to attend the convention. On the other
hand he realized the greatness of the emergency. The confederation
was universally considered as a nullity. The advice of a convention,
composed of respectable characters from every part of the Union, would
probably have great influence with the community, whether it should
be to amend the articles of the old government or to form a new

Amidst the various sentiments which at this time prevailed respecting
the state of public affairs, many entertained the supposition that the
"times must be worse before they could be better," and that the American
people could be induced to establish an efficient and liberal national
government only by the scourge of anarchy. Some seemed to think that the
experiment of a republican government in America had already failed and
that one more energetic would soon by violence be introduced. Washington
entertained some apprehension that his declining to attend the
convention would be considered as a dereliction of republican

While he was balancing these opposite circumstances in his mind the
insurrection of Massachusetts occurred, [5] which turned the scale of
opinion in favor of his joining the convention. He viewed this event
as awfully alarming. "For God's sake, tell me," said he, in a letter to
Colonel Humphreys, "what is the cause of all these commotions? Do they
proceed from licentiousness, British influence disseminated by the
Tories, or real grievances which admit of redress? If the latter, why
was redress delayed until the public mind had become so much agitated?
If the former, why are not the powers of the government tried at once?
It is as well to be without as not to exercise them."

To General Knox and other friends similar apprehensions were expressed.
"I feel infinitely more than I can express to you for the disorders
which have arisen in these States. Good God! who besides a Tory could
have foreseen, or a Briton have predicted them? I do assure you that
even at this moment, when I reflect upon the present aspect of our
affairs, it seems to me like the visions of a dream. My mind can
scarcely realize it as a thing in actual existence, so strange, so
wonderful, does it appear to me. In this, as in most other matters, we
are too slow. When this spirit first dawned it might probably have been
easily checked, but it is scarcely within the reach of human ken, at
this moment, to say when, where, or how it will terminate. There
are combustibles in every State to which a spark might set fire. In
bewailing, which I have often done with the keenest sorrow, the death of
our much-lamented friend, General Greene, I have accompanied my regrets
of late with a query, whether he would not have preferred such an exit
to the scenes which it is more than probable many of his compatriots may
live to bemoan.

"You talk, my good sir, of employing influence to appease the present
tumults in Massachusetts. I know not where that influence is to be
found, nor if attainable, that it would be a proper remedy for these
disorders. Influence is not government. Let us have a government by
which our lives, liberties, and properties will be secured, or let us
know the worst at once. Under these impressions my humble opinion
is that there is a call for decision. Know then precisely what the
insurgents aim at. If they have real grievances redress them if
possible, or acknowledge the justice of them and your inability to do
it in the present moment. If they have not, employ the force of the
government against them at once. If this is inadequate all will be
convinced that the superstructure is bad or wants support. To be more
exposed in the eyes of the world, and more contemptible than we already
are, is hardly possible. To delay one or the other of these expedients
is to exasperate on the one hand or to give confidence on the other, and
will add to their numbers, for, like snowballs, such bodies increase
by every movement, unless there is something in the way to obstruct and
crumble them before their weight is too great and irresistible.

"These are my sentiments. Precedents are dangerous things. Let the reins
of government then be braced and held with a steady hand, and every
violation of the constitution be reprehended. If defective, let it
be amended, but not suffered to be trampled upon while it has an

Colonel Humphreys having intimated by letter his apprehension that civil
discord was near, in which event he would be obliged to act a public
part, or to leave the continent--"It is," said Washington in reply,
"with the deepest and most heartfelt concern I perceive, by some late
paragraphs extracted from the Boston papers, that the insurgents of
Massachusetts, far from being satisfied with the redress offered by
their General Court, are still acting in open violation of law and
government, and have obliged the chief magistrate, in a decided tone, to
call upon the militia of the State to support the constitution.

"What, gracious God, is man, that there should be such inconsistency
and perfidiousness in his conduct! It is but the other day that we
were shedding our blood to obtain the constitutions under which we
live--constitutions of our own choice and making--and now we are
unsheathing the sword to overturn them. The thing is so unaccountable
that I hardly know how to realize it, or to persuade myself that I am
not under the illusion of a dream. My mind, previous to the receipt of
your letter of the first ultimo, had often been agitated by a thought
similar to the one you expressed respecting a friend of yours, but
heaven forbid that a crisis should come when he shall be driven to
the necessity of making a choice of either of the alternatives there

Having learned that the States had generally elected their
representatives to the convention, and Congress having given its
sanction to it, he on the 28th of March communicated to the governor of
Virginia his consent to act as one of the delegates of his State on this
important occasion.

When this determination was formed Washington at once commenced his
preparations to leave Mount Vernon at an early day, so that he might be
able to be present at the meeting of the Cincinnati; but on the 26th of
April (1787) he received intelligence by an express that his mother and
sister were dangerously ill at Fredericksburg. He immediately set off
for that place, and the detention thus occasioned prevented his meeting
the Cincinnati. After remaining three days at Fredericksburg, his mother
and sister being partially recovered, he returned to Mount Vernon, and
was enabled to complete his preparations for leaving home in season to
arrive in Philadelphia on the 13th of May, the day before the opening of
the convention. [6]

Public honors had awaited him everywhere on his route. At Chester he was
met by General Mifflin, then speaker of the Assembly of Pennsylvania,
and several officers of the army and other public characters who
accompanied him to Gray's Ferry, where his former escort, the "First
Troop" of Philadelphia, were waiting to conduct him to the city. On his
arrival he paid his first visit to Dr. Franklin, president of the State
of Pennsylvania, who had also been elected a member of the convention.

On the next day (May 14, 1787), the convention assembled which was to
accomplish one of the most splendid works that ever was achieved by
human wisdom. Several days, however, elapsed before a quorum of members
could be formed. When the moment for commencing the organization of
the convention arrived, Robert Morris, on behalf of the Pennsylvania
delegation, nominated Washington as its president. John Rutledge of
South Carolina, future chief justice of the United States, seconded
the nomination, remarking at the same time that the presence of General
Washington forbade any observations on the occasion which might not be
proper. He was elected by a unanimous vote. By this act the convention
did but fulfill the wishes of the whole nation. A crisis had arrived in
which all eyes were turned to the Great Founder for deliverance. To use
his own language in a letter written to Mr. Jefferson a few days later
(May 30, 1787), "That something is necessary none will deny, for the
general government, if it can be called a government, is shaken to its
foundation and liable to be overturned by every blast. In a word, it
is at an end, and unless a remedy is soon applied anarchy and confusion
will inevitably ensue."

Among the members of the convention were many men of exalted character
and signal abilities. New York sent Alexander Hamilton, himself a host.
No member was better fitted for the work or exerted a more important
influence in perfecting it. Madison was one of the delegates from
Virginia, whose pen was subsequently exerted, in connection with those
of Hamilton and Jay in defending and expounding the constitution to the
people in the memorable papers of the "Federalist." Massachusetts
sent Nathaniel Gorham and Rufus King; New Hampshire, John Langdon
and Nicholas Gilman; Pennsylvania counted in her numerous delegates
Franklin, Mifflin, James Wilson, Robert Morris, and Gouverneur Morris,
with others whose historical names are less distinguished for ability
and eloquence, though not less for integrity and patriotism. South
Carolina sent John Rutledge, her former governor, one of the ablest
and purest men then living, and destined to preside over the supreme
judiciary of the Union. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, one of the bravest
of the revolutionary generals, and the future ambassador to France, was
also among the delegates of South Carolina. Among the other names on the
roll of the convention, we recognize those of another Pinckney, famed
for eloquence; Roger Sherman, a veteran statesman and signer of the
Declaration of Independence; William Livingston, afterwards Governor
of New Jersey, friend and correspondent of Washington, and Doctor
Hugh Williamson of North Carolina, an early patriot, who had assisted
Franklin in detecting the intrigues of Hutchinson and Oliver.

It would fill far too much space to enumerate all the members of the
convention, or even to glance at their respective titles, already earned
by public service, to the confidence of their countrymen.

"It was a most fortunate thing for America," says a recent writer, [7]
"that the Revolutionary age, with its hardships, its trials, and its
mistakes, had formed a body of Statesmen capable of framing for it a
durable constitution. The leading persons in the convention which formed
the constitution had been actors either in civil or military life in the
scenes of the Revolution. In those scenes their characters as American
statesmen had been formed. When the condition of the country had fully
revealed the incapacity of the government to provide for its wants,
these men were naturally looked to to construct a system which
would save it from anarchy. And their great capacities, their
high disinterested purposes, their freedom from all fanaticism and
illiberality, and their earnest, unconquerable faith in the destiny of
the country, enabled them to found that government which now upholds and
protects the whole fabric of liberty in the States of this Union."

The convention remained in session four months, and their industry and
devotion to their important work is amply testified by the fact
that they sat from five to seven hours a day. It was a most imposing
assemblage. "The severe, unchanging presence of Washington," says the
writer last quoted, "presided over all. The chivalrous sincerity and
disinterestedness of Hamilton pervaded the assembly with all the power
of his fascinating manners. The flashing eloquence of Gouverneur
Morris recalled the dangers of anarchy, which must be accepted as the
alternative of an abortive experiment. The calm, clear, statesmanlike
views of Madison, the searching and profound expositions of King, the
prudent influence of Franklin, at length ruled the hour."

On the 17th of September, 1787, the constitution was signed by all
the members present, except Edmund Randolph, the governor of Virginia;
George Mason and Elbridge Gerry; and it was then forwarded with a letter
to Congress. By that assembly it was sent to the State Legislatures to
be submitted in each State to a convention of delegates, to be chosen
by the people, for approval or rejection. As the State Legislatures
assembled at different times, nearly a year would elapse before the
result could be known.

Immediately after the convention had ended its labors, Washington
returned to Mount Vernon to resume his agricultural pursuits and
to watch with intense interest the slow process of ratifying the
constitution by the several States. His correspondence with Hamilton,
Madison, Jay, Wilson, Governor Langdon of New Hampshire, Generals Knox
and Lincoln, and Governor Randolph, at this time, shows that the subject
occupied a great share of his attention, and that he was extremely
anxious that the constitution should be adopted by all the States.

In a letter to Lafayette (7th of February, 1788), he says: "As to my
sentiments with respect to the merits of the new constitution, I
will disclose them without reserve, although, by passing through the
post-offices they should become known to all the world; for, in truth, I
have nothing to conceal on that subject. It appears to me, then, little
short of a miracle that the delegates from so many States, different
from each other, as you know, in their manners, circumstances, and
prejudices, should unite in forming a system of national government
so little liable to well-founded objections. Nor am I yet such an
enthusiastic, partial, or undiscriminating admirer of it as not to
perceive it is tinctured with some real though not radical defects. The
limits of a letter would not suffer me to go fully into an examination
of them; nor would the discussion be entertaining or profitable. I
therefore forbear to touch upon it. With regard to the two great points,
the pivots upon which the whole machine must move, my creed is simply--

"First, That the general government is not invested with more powers
than are indispensably necessary to perform the functions of a good
government, and, consequently, that no objection ought to be made
against the quantity of power delegated to it.

"Secondly, That these powers, as the appointment of all rulers will
forever arise from, and at short stated intervals recur to the free
suffrage of the people, are so distributed among the legislative,
executive, and judicial branches in to which the general government is
arranged that it can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy,
an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any other despotic or oppressive form
so long as there shall remain any virtue in the body of the people.

"I would not be understood, my dear Marquis, to speak of consequences
which may be produced in the revolution of ages, by corruption of
morals, profligacy of manners, and listlessness in the preservation of
the natural and unalienable rights of mankind, nor of the successful
usurpations that may be established at such an unpropitious juncture
upon the ruins of liberty, however providentially guarded and secured,
as these are contingencies against which no human prudence can
effectually provide. It will at least be a recommendation to the
proposed constitution that it is provided with more checks and barriers
against the introduction of tyranny and those of a nature less liable to
be surmounted than any government hitherto instituted among mortals.
We are not to expect perfection in this world: but mankind, in modern
times, have apparently made some progress in the science of government.
Should that which is now offered to the people of America be found an
experiment less perfect than it can be made, a constitutional door is
left open for its amelioration."

A letter of Mr. Jefferson, written to one of his friends while the
constitution was under consideration, gives some interesting particulars
respecting its reception and the opinions of some of the States and
leaders in regard to it:

"The constitution," he says, "has been received with very general
enthusiasm; the bulk of the people are eager to adopt it. In the eastern
States the printers will print nothing against it unless the writer
subscribes his name. Massachusetts and Connecticut have called
conventions in January to consider it. In New York there is a division;
the governor, Clinton, is known to be hostile. Jersey, it is thought,
will accept; Pennsylvania is divided, and all the bitterness of her
factions has been kindled anew. But the party in favor of it is the
strongest, both in and out of the Legislature. This is the party
anciently of Morris, Wilson, etc. Delaware will do what Pennsylvania
shall do. Maryland is thought favorable to it, yet it is supposed that
Chase and Paca will oppose it. As to Virginia, two of her delegates, in
the first place, refused to sign it; these were Randolph, the governor,
and George Mason. Besides these, Henry, Harrison, Nelson, and the Lees
are against it. General Washington will be for it, but it is not in his
character to exert himself much in the case. Madison will be its main
pillar," etc.

With respect to Washington, Jefferson was mistaken. His letters show
that he did exert himself very zealously to remove the objections of
recusant States and statesmen, especially the Virginia leaders who were
all numbered among his personal friends.

The following letter to Jonathan Trumbull, of Connecticut, written at
Mount Vernon on the 20th of July, 1788, when the final event was pretty
certain, evinces the lively interest he took in the progress of affairs
and the deep religious feeling of thankfulness with which, as usual, he
recognized the hand of Providence in the result:

"You will have perceived from the public papers," he writes, "that I was
not erroneous in my calculation, that the constitution would be accepted
by the convention of this State. The majority, it is true, was small and
the minority respectable in many points of view. But the great part of
the minority here, as in most other States, have conducted themselves
with great prudence and political moderation, insomuch that we may
anticipate a pretty general and harmonious acquiescence. We shall
impatiently wait the result from New York and North Carolina. The other
State, which has not yet acted, is nearly out of the question.

"I am happy to hear from General Lincoln and others that affairs are
taking a good turn in Massachusetts, but the triumph of salutary and
liberal measures over those of an opposite tendency seems to be as
complete in Connecticut as in any other State, and affords a particular
subject of congratulation. Your friend, Colonel Humphreys, informs me
from the wonderful revolution of sentiment in favor of Federal measures
and the marvelous change for the better in the elections of your State,
that he shall begin to suspect that miracles have not ceased. Indeed,
for myself, since so much liberality has been displayed in the
construction and adoption of the proposed general government, I am
almost disposed to be of the same opinion. Or at least we may, with a
kind of pious and grateful exultation, trace the finger of Providence
through those dark and mysterious events which first induced the States
to appoint a general convention and then led them one after another, by
such steps as were best calculated to effect the object into an adoption
of the system recommended by that general convention, thereby, in all
human probability, laying a lasting foundation for tranquility and
happiness, when we had but too much reason to fear that confusion and
misery were coming rapidly upon us."

North Carolina and Rhode Island did not at first accept the constitution
and New York was apparently dragged into it by a repugnance to being
excluded from the confederacy. At length the conventions of eleven
States assented to and ratified the constitution. When officially
informed of this fact, Congress passed an act appointing a day for the
people throughout the Union to choose electors of a president of the
United States in compliance with the provision in the constitution and
another day for the electors to meet and vote for the person of their
choice. The choice of electors was to take place in February, 1789, and
the electors were to meet and choose a president on the first Wednesday
in March following.

A few days before the close of the convention, Washington prepared
and submitted a draft of a letter to Congress, which was adopted. The
constitution having been duly signed, it was transmitted to Congress,
with the letter from the president of the convention.

"IN CONVENTION, September 17, 1787.

"SIR:--We have now the honor to submit to the consideration of the
United States, in Congress assembled, that constitution which has
appeared to us the most advisable.

"The friends of our country have long seen and desired, that the
power of making war, peace, and treaties; that of levying money, and
regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial
authorities, should be fully and effectually vested in the general
government of the Union: but the impropriety of delegating such
extensive trust to one body of men is evident. Hence results the
necessity for a different organization.

"It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these States
to secure all the rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet
provide for the interest and safety of all. Individuals entering into
society, must give up a share of liberty, to preserve the rest. The
magnitude of the sacrifice must depend, as well on situation and
circumstance, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times
difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which
must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved; and on the present
occasion, this difficulty was increased by a difference among the
several States, as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular

"In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily in our view
that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American,
the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity,
felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important
consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each
State in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude
than might have been otherwise expected; and thus the constitution,
which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that
mutual deference and concession, which the peculiarity of our political
situation rendered indispensable.

"That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every State, is
not perhaps to be expected; but each State will doubtless consider, that
had her interests alone been consulted, the consequences might have been
particularly disagreeable or injurious to others; that it is liable to
as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and
believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that country so
dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness, is our most ardent

"With great respect, we Have the honor to be, sir, your Excellency's
most obedient and humble servants.



"By unanimous Order of the Convention.


We give this important document in full, as contained in the Supplement
to the Journal of the Federal Convention.


We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect
union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the
common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings
of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this
Constitution for the United States of America.


Sect. 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a
Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House
of Representatives.

Sect. 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members
chosen every second year by the people of the several States; and the
electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for
electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature.

No person shall be a representative who shall not have attained to the
age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United
States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State
in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several
States which may be included within this union, according to their
respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole
number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term
of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other
persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after
the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within
every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law
direct. The number of representatives shall not exceed one for
every thirty thousand, but each State shall have, at least, one
representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of
New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight,
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York
six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six,
Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia

When vacancies happen in the representation from any State, the
executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such

The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other
officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.

SECT. 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two
senators from each State, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six
years; and each senator shall have one vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first
election, they shall be divided, as equally as may be, into three
classes. The seats of the senators of the first class shall be vacated
at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the
expiration of the fourth year, and of the third class at the expiration
of the sixth year, so that one-third may be chosen every second year;
and if vacancies happen by resignation or otherwise, during the
recess of the Legislature of any State, the executive thereof may make
temporary appointments until the next meeting of the legislature, which
shall then fill such vacancies.

No person shall be a senator who shall not have attained to the age of
thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and
who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State for which he
shall be chosen.

The vice-president of the United States shall be president of the
Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall choose their other officers, also a president pro
tempore, in the absence of the vice-president, or when he shall exercise
the office of president of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When
sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When
the president of the United States is tried, the chief-justice shall
preside; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of
two-thirds of the members present.

Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to
removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office
of honor, trust, or profit, under the United States; but the party
convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial,
judgment, and punishment, according to law.

SECT. 4. The times, places, and manner of holding elections for
senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the
legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time, by law, make or
alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such
meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by
law appoint a different day.

SECT. 5. Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns,
and qualifications of its own members; and a majority of each shall
constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn
from day to day, and imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout
the United States:

To borrow money on the credit of the United States:

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States,
and with the Indian tribes:

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the
subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States:

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix
the standard of weights and measures:

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and
current coin of the United States:

To establish post-offices and post-roads:

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for
limited times, to authors and inventors, the exclusive right to their
respective writings and discoveries:

To constitute tribunals inferior to the supreme court:

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas,
and offences against the law of nations:

To declare war, to grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules
concerning captures on land and water:

To raise and support armies; but no appropriation of money to that use
shall be for a longer term than two years:

To provide and maintain a navy:

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the
Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions:

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and
for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the
United States-reserving to the States respectively the appointment of
the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the
discipline prescribed by Congress:

To exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over
such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of
particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of
government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over
all places purchased, by the consent of the legislature of the State in
which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals,
dock-yards, and other needful buildings:--and,

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into
execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by
this constitution in the government of the United States, or in any
department or officer thereof.

SECT. 9. The migration or importation of such persons as any of
the States, now existing, shall think proper to admit, shall not be
prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808, but a tax or duty
may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended,
unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may
require it.

No bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, shall be passed.

No capitation, or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion
to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State. No
preference shall be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, to
the ports of one State over those of another; nor shall vessels bound
to, or from one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in

No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of
appropriations made by law: and a regular statement and account of the
receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from
time to time.

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no
person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without
the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office,
or title of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

SECT. 10. No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or
confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit
bills of credit; make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in
payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law
impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

No State shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or
duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary
for executing its inspection laws; and the net produce of all duties and
imposts, laid by any State on imports or exports, shall be for the use
of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject
to the revision and control of the Congress. No State shall, without the
consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops or ships of
war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another
State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually
invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.


SECT. I. The executive power shall be vested in a president of the
United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of
four years, and, together with the vice-president, chosen for the same
term, be elected as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may
direct, a number of electors equal to the whole number of senators and
representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress; but
no senator or representative, or person holding any office of trust or
profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.

The electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot
for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of
the same State with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the
persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list
they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the
government of the United States, directed to the president of the
Senate. The president of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate
and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes
shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes
shall be the president, if such number be a majority of the whole number
of electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such
majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of
Representatives shall immediately choose, by ballot, one of them for
president; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest
on the list, the said house shall, in like manner, choose the president.
But in choosing the president, the votes shall be taken by States,
the representation from each State having one vote. A quorum for this
purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the
States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice.
In every case, after the choice of the president, the person having the
greatest number of votes of the electors shall be the vice-president.
But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate
shall choose from them, by ballot, the vice-president.

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the
day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same
throughout the United States.

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United
States at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall be
eligible to the office of president; neither shall any person be
eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of
thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United

In case the removal of the president from office, or of his death,
resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said
office, the same shall devolve on the vice-president; and the Congress
may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation, or
inability, both of the president and vice-president, declaring what
officer shall then act as president, and such officer shall act
accordingly until the disability be removed, or a president shall be

The president shall, at stated times, receive for his services a
compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the
period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive
within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of

Before he enters on the execution of his office, he shall take the
following oath or affirmation:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the
office of president of the United States, and will, to the best of my
ability, preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United

SECT. 2. The president shall be commander-in-chief of the army and navy
of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when
called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the
opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive
departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective
offices; and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for
offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,
to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the senators present concur;
and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the
Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls,
judges of the supreme court, and all other officers of the United
States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and
which shall be established by law. But the Congress may by law vest
the appointment of such inferior officers as they think proper in the
president alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The president shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen
during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions, which shall
expire at the end of their next session.

SECT. 3. He shall, from time to time, give to the Congress information
of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration
such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on
extraordinary occasions, convene both houses, or either of them, and
in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of
adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper;
he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take
care that the laws be faithfully executed; and shall commission all the
officers of the United States.

SECT. 4. The president, vice-president, and all civil officers of the
United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and
conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.


SECT. 1. The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one
supreme court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may, from
time to time, ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme
and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior; and
shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation, which
shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

SECT. 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity,
arising under this constitution, the laws of the United States, and
treaties made, or which shall be made under their authority; to all
cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls; to all
cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which
the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more
States, between a State and citizens of another State, between citizens
of different States, between citizens of the same State, claiming lands
under grants of different States, and between a State, or the citizens
thereof, and foreign States, citizens, or subjects.

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls,
and those in which a State shall be a party, the supreme court shall
have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned,
the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and
fact, with such exceptions and under such regulations as the Congress
shall make.

The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by
jury; and such trial shall be held in the State where the said crimes
shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the
trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have

SECT. 3. Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying
war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and
comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony
of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason; but
no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture,
except during the life of the person attainted.


SECT. 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the
public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State. And
the Congress may, by general laws, prescribe the manner in which such
acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

SECT. 2. The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges
and immunities of citizens in the several States.

A person charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who
shall flee from justice, and be found in another State, shall, on demand
of the executive authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered
up, to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime.

No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof,
escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation
therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be
delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be

SECT. 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but
no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any
other State, nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more
States, or parts of States, without the consent of the legislatures of
the States concerned, as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules
and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging
to the United States; and nothing in this constitution shall be so
construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any
particular State.

SECT. 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union
a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against
invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive
(when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.


The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose amendments to this constitution; or, on the
application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several States,
shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either
case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this
constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the
several States, or by conventions in three-fourths thereof, as the
one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress:
Provided, that no amendment which may be made prior to the year 1808,
shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth
section of the first article; and that no State, without its consent,
shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.


All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption
of this constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under
this constitution as under the confederation.

This constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made
in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made,
under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of
the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby,
any thing in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary

The senators and representatives before mentioned, and the members of
the several State legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers,
both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by
oath or affirmation to support this constitution; but no religious test
shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust
under the United States.


The ratification of the conventions of nine States shall be sufficient
for the establishment of this constitution between the States so
ratifying the same.

Done in convention, by the unanimous consent of the States present,
the 17th day of September, in the year of our Lord 1787, and of the
independence of the United States of America, the twelfth. In witness
whereof, we have hereunto subscribed our names.


_President, and Deputy from Virginia._

_New Hampshire_.









_New York_.


_New Jersey_.



























_North Carolina_.




_South Carolina_.








Attest: WILLIAM JACKSON, Secretary.

1. Footnote: "Life of Washington," p. 389.

2. Footnote: "Men and Times of the Revolution, or Memoirs of Elkanah

3. Footnote: Marshall, "Life of Washington."

4. Footnote: It is a very interesting fact that the proposition in which
the Convention that formed the Constitution originated should have been
made at Mount Vernon, in Washington's presence, if not by himself.
As Faneuil Hall is called the Cradle of Liberty, Mount Vernon may be
regarded as the Cradle of the Constitution.

5. Footnote: The occasion and effect of this insurrection, commonly
called Shay's Rebellion, are thus described by a recent writer. The
jealousy felt toward the statesmen of the Republic, or toward the upper
by the middle class--if the terms may be allowed--was likely to operate
fatally in marring the project of a Constitution, and rendering any
innovation for the purpose impracticable; since the dissentient States
were resolved not to choose delegates, or accede to the desire of

These democratic opinions of the middle classes, however, and the
resolutions founded upon them, were eventually shaken and overturned by
the extreme to which they were carried by the lower orders. These were
no sooner inspired by the same political feelings, than, after their
fashion, they rose in insurrection; bade defiance not only to Congress,
but to the State authorities themselves; and, collecting in armed bands,
threatened to effect a serious revolution by taking law and property
into their own hands. The New England States, principally Massachusetts,
were the scenes of these disorders, which took place toward the close of

A body of 2,000 men, assembled in the northwestern region of the State,
chose one of their number, Daniel Shay, for leader. They asked for
suspension of taxes, and the remission of paper money; but it was
known that their favorite scheme was that of an agrarian law--a general
division of property. Respectable classes were, of course, thrown into
alarm; Congress recovered a portion of that vigor which had marked it
during the war; troops were dispatched, under General Lincoln and other
officers, against the insurgents; and the citizens of the New England
towns forgot their late jealousy of the military so far as to join them
in the task of putting down their domestic foes. Funds were raised by
private subscription to supply the emptiness of the public treasury; and
an efficient force was enabled to march, in the midst of winter, against
the insurgents, who were soon dispersed and reduced.

The rebellion thus suppressed was productive of the most salutary
result. The middle classes, terrified at the exaggeration of their own
doctrines, and at the risk of exciting the mob as supporters, rallied
universally to the support of Congress.

Jealousy of those above was counterbalanced by fear of those below; and
the majority of the State Legislatures was brought to coincide with
the views of the Federal statesmen. Convinced by late experience of the
necessity of an established and general government, even for purposes
of domestic security, the hitherto refractory States named, without
hesitation, their delegates to the appointed convention for forming a
constitution. Rhode Island alone refused.

6. Footnote: Sparks, "Writings of Washington."

7. Footnote: George Ticknor Curtis, "History of the Constitution of the
United States."

       *       *       *       *       *





As soon as it was ascertained that the new form of government had
received the sanction of the people and would go into immediate
operation, all eyes were at once turned to Washington as the first
President of the United States. During the war he had, in fact, directed
the course of public affairs. His suggestions had been almost invariably
followed by Congress. His recommendations had influenced the action of
the different States. His practical administrative abilities were known
to all. He alone possessed the confidence of the people to that degree
which was necessary to carry the constitution into vigorous effect
at the outset and to defend it against its secret as well as its open
enemies. But it was by no means certain that he would accept the office.
By all who knew him, fears were entertained that his preference for
private life would prevail over the wishes of the public, and soon after
the adoption of the constitution was ascertained, his correspondents
began to press him on a point which was believed essential to the
completion of the great work on which the grandeur and happiness of
America was supposed to depend. "We cannot," said Mr. Johnson, a man
of great political eminence in Maryland, "do without you; and I, and
thousands more, can explain to anybody but yourself why we cannot do
without you." "I have ever thought," said Gouverneur Morris, "and
have ever said, that you must be President; no other man can fill that
office. No other man can draw forth the abilities of our country into
the various departments of civil life. You alone can awe the insolence
of opposing factions and the greater insolence of assuming adherents.
I say nothing of foreign powers nor of their ministers. With these last
you will have some plague. As to your feelings on this occasion they
are, I know, both deep and affecting: you embark property most precious
on a most tempestuous ocean; for, as you possess the highest reputation,
so you expose it to the perilous chance of popular opinion. On the other
hand, you will, I firmly expect, enjoy the inexpressible felicity of
contributing to the happiness of all your countrymen. You will become
the father of more than three millions of children; and while your bosom
glows with parental tenderness, in theirs or at least in a majority of
them, you will excite the duteous sentiments of filial affection. This,
I repeat it, is what I firmly expect; and my views are not directed by
that enthusiasm which your public character has impressed on the public
mind. Enthusiasm is generally short-sighted and too often blind. I form
my conclusions from those talents and virtues which the world believes
and which your friends know you possess."

In a letter detailing the arrangements which were making for the
introduction of the new government, Col. Henry Lee proceeded thus to
speak of the presidency of the United States. "The solemnity of
the moment and its application to yourself have fixed my mind in
contemplations of a public and a personal nature, and I feel an
involuntary impulse which I cannot resist, to communicate without
reserve to you some of the reflections which the hour has produced.
Solicitous for our common happiness as a people, and convicted as
I continue to be that our peace and prosperity depend on the proper
improvement of the present period, my anxiety is extreme that the new
government may have an auspicious beginning. To effect this and to
perpetuate a nation formed under your auspices it is certain that again
you will be called forth.

"The same principles of devotion to the good of mankind which have
invariably governed your conduct will no doubt continue to rule your
mind, however opposite their consequences may be to your repose and
happiness. It may be wrong, but I cannot suppress, in my wishes for
national felicity, a due regard for your personal fame and content.

"If the same success should attend your efforts on this important
occasion which has distinguished you hitherto, then, to be sure, you
will have spent a life which Providence rarely if ever before gave to
the lot of one man. It is my anxious hope, it is my belief, that this
will be the case; but all things are uncertain, and perhaps nothing more
so than political events." He then proceeded to state his apprehensions
that the government might sink under the activity hostility of its
foes, and in particular the fears which he entertained from the circular
letter of New York, around which the minorities in the several States
might be expected to rally. Before concluding his letter, Colonel Lee
said, "Without you the government can have but little chance of success;
and the people of that happiness which its prosperity must yield."

In reply to this letter Washington said: "Your observations on the
solemnity of the crisis and its application to myself bring before me
subjects of the most momentous and interesting nature. In our
endeavors to establish a new general government the contest, nationally
considered, seems not to have been so much for glory as existence.
It was for a long time doubtful whether we were to survive as
an independent Republic or decline from our federal dignity into
insignificant and wretched fragments of empire. The adoption of the
constitution so extensively and with so liberal an acquiescence on the
part of the minorities in general, promised the former; but lately
the circular letter of New York has manifested, in my apprehension, an
unfavorable if not an insidious tendency to a contrary policy. I still
hope for the best, but before you mentioned it I could not help fearing
it would serve as a standard to which the disaffected might resort. It
is now evidently the part of all honest men who are friends to the new
constitution, to endeavor to give it a chance to disclose its merits and
defects, by carrying it fairly into effect in the first instance.

"The principal topic of your letter is to me a point of great delicacy
indeed--insomuch that I can scarcely without some impropriety touch upon
it. In the first place, the event to which you allude may never happen;
among other reasons, because, if the partiality of my fellow-citizens
conceive it to be a means by which the sinews of the new government
would be strengthened, it will of consequence be obnoxious to those
who are in opposition to it, many of whom unquestionably will be placed
among the electors.

"This consideration alone would supersede the expediency of announcing
any definite and irrevocable resolution. You are among the small number
of those who know my invincible attachment to domestic life, and that
my sincerest wish is to continue in the enjoyment of it solely, until
my final hour. But the world would be neither so well instructed, nor
so candidly disposed, as to believe me to be uninfluenced by sinister
motives, in case any circumstance should render a deviation from the
line of conduct I had prescribed for myself indispensable. Should the
contingency you suggest take place, and (for argument sake alone, let me
say) should my unfeigned reluctance to accept the office be overcome
by a deference for the reasons and opinions of my friends, might I not,
after the declarations I have made (and heaven knows they were made in
the sincerity of my heart), in the judgment of the impartial world, and
of posterity, be chargeable with levity and inconsistency, if not
with rashness and ambition? Nay, further, would there not even be some
apparent foundation for the two former charges? Now, justice to myself,
and tranquility of conscience, require that