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Title: George Washington - or Life in America One Hundred Years Ago.
Author: Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "George Washington - or Life in America One Hundred Years Ago." ***

Transcriber’s Note: Italics are indicated by _underscores_.

[Illustration: Original Cover]









_Copyright, Dodd & Mead, 1875._


As Columbus and La Salle were the most prominent of the Pioneers of
America, so was Washington the most illustrious of its Patriots. In
the career of Columbus we have a vivid sketch of life in the tropical
portions of the New World four hundred years ago.

The adventures of La Salle, in exploring this continent two hundred
years ago, from the Northern Lakes to the Mexican Gulf, are almost
without parallel, even in the pages of romance. His narrative gives
information, such as can nowhere else be found, of the native
inhabitants, their number, character, and modes of life when the white
man first reached these shores.

The history of George Washington is as replete with marvels as that of
either of his predecessors. The world during the last century has made
more progress than during the preceding five. The life of Washington
reveals to us, in a remarkable degree, the state of society in our
land, the manners and customs of the people, their joys and griefs, one
hundred years ago.

We search history in vain to find a parallel to Washington. As
a statesman, as a general, as a thoroughly good man, he stands
pre-eminent. He was so emphatically the Father of his country that it
may almost be said that he created the Republic. And now, that we are
about to celebrate the Centennial of these United States--the most
favored nation upon which the sun shines--it is fitting that we should
recall, with grateful hearts, the memory of our illustrious benefactor
George Washington.


  PREFACE.                                                    3


  The Youth of George Washington.                             9


  The First Military Expedition.                             44


  The French War.                                            78


  The Warrior, the Statesman, and the Planter.              108


  The Gathering Storm of War.                               138


  The Conflict Commenced.                                   170


  Progress of the War.                                      202


  The Siege of Boston.                                      232


  The War in New York.                                      264


  The Vicissitudes of War.                                  295


  The Loss of Philadelphia, and the Capture of Burgoyne.    325


  Concluding Scenes.                                        341



_The Youth of George Washington._

  Lawrence and John Washington--Their Emigration--Augustine
      Washington--His Marriage with Jane Ball--Birth of
      George--The Parental Home--The Scenery--Anecdotes--The
      Mother of Washington--Education--Lord Fairfax--The Surveying
      Tour--George at the age of seventeen years--The Mansion of Lord
      Fairfax--Contrast between the English and the French--British
      Desperadoes--The Ferocity of War--Military Organization--Claims
      of France and England--Scenes of Woe--Heroic Excursion of
      Washington to the Ohio.

About two centuries ago there were two young men, in England, by the
name of Lawrence and John Washington. They were gentlemen of refinement
and education, the sons of an opulent and distinguished family.
Lawrence was a graduate of Oxford University, and was, by profession,
a lawyer. John entered into commercial and mercantile affairs, and was
an accomplished man of business. The renown of Virginia, named after
Elizabeth, England’s virgin queen, was then luring many, even of the
most illustrious in wealth and rank, to the shores of the New World.
Lawrence and John embarked together, to seek their fortunes on the
banks of the Potomac.[1]

It was a lovely morning in summer when the ship entered Chesapeake Bay,
and sailing up that majestic inland sea, entered the silent, solitary,
forest-fringed Potomac. Eagerly they gazed upon the Indian wigwams
which were clustered upon the banks of many a sheltered and picturesque
cove; and upon the birch canoes, which were propelled by the painted
and plumed natives over the placid waters. The two brothers purchased
an extensive tract of land, on the western bank of the Potomac, about
fifty miles above its entrance into the bay. Here, with an estate of
thousands of acres spreading around them, and upon a spot commanding
a magnificent view of the broad river and the sublime forests, they
reared their modest but comfortable mansion.

John married Miss Pope. We have none of the details of their lives,
full of incidents of intensest interest to them, but of little
importance to the community at large. Life is ever a tragedy. From the
times of the patriarchs until now, it has been, to most of the families
of earth, a stormy day with a few gleams of sunshine breaking through
the clouds. Children were born and children died. There were the joys
of the bridal and the tears of the funeral.

Upon the death of John Washington, his second son, Augustine, remained
at home in charge of the paternal acres. He seems to have been, like
his father, a very worthy man, commanding the respect of the community,
which was rapidly increasing around him. He married Jane Butler, a
young lady who is described as remarkably beautiful, intelligent--and
lovely in character. A very happy union was sadly terminated by the
early death of Jane. A broken-hearted husband and three little children
were left to weep over her grave.

The helpless orphans needed another mother. One was found in Mary Ball.
She was all that husband or children could desire. Subsequent events
drew the attention of the whole nation, and almost of the civilized
world, to Mary Washington, for she became the mother of that George,
whose name is enshrined in the hearts of countless millions. It is the
uncontradicted testimony that the mother of George Washington was, by
instinct and culture, a lady; she had a superior mind, well disciplined
by study, and was a cheerful, devout Christian.

Augustine and Mary were married on the 6th of March, 1730. They
received to their arms their first-born child, to whom the name of
George was given, on the 22d of February, 1732. Little did the parents
imagine that their babe would go out into the world, from the seclusion
of his home amid the forests of the Potomac, to render the name of
Washington one of the most illustrious in the annals of our race.

George Washington was peculiarly fortunate in both father and mother.
All the influences of home tended to ennoble him. Happiness in
childhood is one of the most essential elements in the formation of
a good character. This child had ever before him the example of all
domestic and Christian virtues. The parental home consisted of a
spacious, one-story cottage, with a deep veranda in front. It was,
architecturally, an attractive edifice, and it occupied one of the most
lovely sites on the banks of the beautiful and majestic Potomac.

Soon after the birth of George, his father moved from the banks of
the Potomac to the Rappahannock, nearly opposite the present site of
Fredericksburg. Here he died, on the 12th of April, 1743, at the age
of forty-nine.

The banks of the Rappahannock were covered with forests, spreading in
grandeur over apparently an interminable expanse of hills and vales.
In those days there were but few spots, in that vast region, which
the axe of the settler had opened to the sun. But the smoke from the
Indian camp-fires could often be seen curling up from the glooms of the
forests, and the canoes of Indian hunters and warriors often arrested
the eye, as they were gliding swiftly over the mirrored waters.

Trained by such parents, and in such a home, George, from infancy,
developed a noble character. He was a handsome boy, gentlemanly in
his manners, of finely developed figure, and of animated, intelligent
features. His physical strength, frankness, moral courage, courtesy,
and high sense of honor, made him a general favorite. Every child has
heard the story of his trying the keen edge of his hatchet upon one
of the favorite cherry trees of his father’s, and of his refusal to
attempt to conceal the fault by a lie.[2]

Augustine Lawrence, the father of George, died when his son was but
twelve years of age. Mary, a grief-stricken widow, was left with six
fatherless children. She proved herself amply competent to discharge
the weighty responsibilities thus devolving upon her. George ever
honored his mother as one who had been to him a guardian angel. In her
daily life she set before him a pattern of every virtue. She instilled
into his susceptible mind those principles of probity and piety which
ever ornamented his character, and to which he was indebted for success
in the wonderful career upon which he soon entered.

In the final division of the parental property, Lawrence, the eldest
child of Jane Butler, received the rich estate called Mount Vernon,
which included twenty-five hundred acres of land. George received,
as his share, the house and lands on the Rappahannock. The paternal
mansion in Westmoreland passed to Augustine.

Lady Washington, as she was called, was deemed, before her marriage,
one of the most beautiful girls in Virginia. Through all the severe
discipline of life, she developed a character of the highest
excellence. And thus she obtained an influence over the mind of her
son, which she held, unimpaired, until the day of her death.

The wealthy families of Virginia took much pride in their equipage,
and especially in the beauty of the horses which drew their massive
carriages. Lady Washington had a span of iron-grays, of splendid figure
and remarkable spirit, and of which she was very fond. One of these,
though very docile by the side of his mate in the carriage harness, had
never been broken to the saddle. It was said that the spirited animal
would allow no one to mount him. George, though then a lad of but
thirteen years of age, was tall, strong, and very athletic.

One morning, as the colts were feeding upon the lawn, George, who had
some companions visiting him, approached the high-blooded steed, and
after soothing him for some time with caresses, watched his opportunity
and leaped upon his back. The colt, for a moment, seemed stupefied with
surprise and indignation. Then, after a few desperate, but unavailing
attempts, by rearing and plunging, to throw his rider, he dashed over
the fields with the speed of the wind.

George, glorying in his achievement, and inconsiderate of the peril to
which he was exposing the animal, gave the frantic steed the rein.
When the horse began to show signs of exhaustion, he urged him on,
hoping thus to subdue him to perfect docility. The result was that a
blood-vessel was burst, and the horse dropped dead beneath his rider.
George, greatly agitated by the calamity, hastened to his mother with
the tidings. Her characteristic reply was:

“My son, I forgive you, because you have had the courage to tell me the
truth at once. Had you skulked away, I should have despised you.”

In school studies George was a diligent scholar, though he did not
manifest any special brilliance, either in his power of acquiring
or communicating information. He was endowed with a good mind, of
well balanced powers. Such a mind is probably far more desirable, as
promotive of both happiness and usefulness, than one conspicuous for
the excrescences of what is called genius. He left school the autumn
before he was sixteen.[3]

There is still in existence a manuscript book, which singularly
illustrates his intelligence, his diligence, and his careful business
habits. This lad of thirteen had, of his own accord, carefully copied,
as a guide for himself in future life, promissory notes, bills of sale,
land warrants, leases, wills, and many other such business papers. Thus
he was prepared, at any time, to draw up such legal documents as any of
the farmers around might need.

In another manuscript book he had collected, with great care, the most
important rules of etiquette which govern in good society.[4] Had some
good angel whispered in the ear of George, at that early age, that he
was in manhood to enter upon as sublime a career as mortal ever trod,
and soaring above the rank of nobles, was to take position with kings
and emperors, he could hardly have made better preparations for these
responsibilities than his own instincts led him to make.

It may be almost said of George Washington, as Lamartine said of Louis
Philippe, that he had no youth; he was born a man. At sixteen years
of age George finished his school education. And though a Virginia
school, in that day, and in the midst of so sparse a population, could
not have been one of high character, George, by his inherent energies,
had made acquisitions of practical knowledge which enabled him, with
honor, to fill the highest stations to which one, in this world, can be

George was fond of mathematical and scientific studies, and excelled
in all those branches. With these tastes he was led to enter upon
the profession of a civil engineer. There was great demand for such
services, in the new and almost unexplored realms of Virginia, where
the population was rapidly increasing and spreading farther and farther
back into the wilderness. Notwithstanding the extreme youth of George,
he immediately found ample and remunerative employment; for his
commanding stature, and dignity of character, caused him everywhere to
be regarded as an accomplished man.

His handwriting was as plain as print. Every document which came from
his pen was perfect in spelling, punctuation, capitals, and the proper
division into paragraphs. This accuracy, thus early formed, he retained
through life.

Upon leaving school at Westmoreland, George ascended the river to visit
his elder brother Lawrence, at Mount Vernon. It was then, as now, a
lovely spot on the western bank of the river, commanding an enchanting
view of land and water. Mr. William Fairfax, an English gentleman of
wealth and high rank, had purchased a large tract of land in that
vicinity, and had reared his commodious mansion at a distance of about
eight miles from Mount Vernon. The aristocratic planters of the region
around were frequent guests at his hospitable home. Lawrence Washington
married one of his daughters.

Lawrence Washington was suddenly attacked with a painful and alarming
sickness. A change of climate was recommended. With fraternal love
George accompanied his brother to the West Indies. The invalid
continued to fail, through the tour, and soon after reaching home died.
Lawrence was a man of great excellence of character. His amiability
rendered his home one of peculiar happiness. At the early age of
thirty-four he died, leaving an infant child, and a youthful widow
stricken with grief. He left a large property. The valuable estate
of Mount Vernon he bequeathed to his infant daughter. Should she die
without heirs, it was to revert to his brother George, who was also
appointed executor of the estate.

Lord Fairfax visited William, his younger brother, and was so pleased
with the country, and surprised at the cheapness with which its fertile
acres could be bought, that he purchased an immense territory, which
extended over unexplored regions of the interior, including mountains,
rivers, and valleys. Lord Fairfax met George Washington at his brother
William’s house. He was charmed with the manliness, intelligence, and
gentlemanly bearing of the young man. George was then but one month
over sixteen years of age. And yet Lord Fairfax engaged him to survey
these pathless wilds, where scarcely an emigrant’s cabin could be
found, and which were ranged by ferocious beasts, and by savages often
still more ferocious. It may be doubted whether a boy of his age was
ever before intrusted with a task so arduous.

It was in the month of March, in the year 1748, when George Washington,
with an Indian guide and a few white attendants, commenced the
survey. The crests of the mountains were still whitened with ice and
snow. Chilling blasts swept the plains. The streams were swollen into
torrents by the spring rains. The Indians, however, whose hunting
parties ranged these forests, were at that time friendly. Still there
were vagrant bands, wandering here and there, ever ready to kill and
plunder. The enterprise upon which Washington had entered was one full
of romance, toil, and peril. It required the exercise of constant
vigilance and sagacity.

Though these wilds may be called pathless, still there were here and
there narrow trails, which the moccasined foot of the savage had
trodden for uncounted centuries. They led in a narrow track, scarcely
two feet in breadth, through dense thickets, over craggy hills, and
along the banks of placid streams or foaming torrents. The heroic boy
must have found, in these scenes of solitude, beauty, and grandeur,
some hours of exquisite enjoyment. In a sunny spring morning he would
glide down some placid river, in the birch canoe, through enchanting
scenery, the banks fringed with bloom and verdure. There were towering
mountains, from whose eminences, the eye embraced as magnificent a
region of lake and forest, river and plain, as this globe can anywhere

It was generally necessary to camp out at night, wherever darkness
might overtake them. With their axes a rude cabin was easily
constructed, roofed with bark, which afforded a comfortable shelter
from wind and rain. The forest presented an ample supply of game.
Delicious brook trout were easily taken from the streams. Exercise
and fresh air gave appetite. With a roaring fire crackling before the
camp, illumining the forest far and wide, the adventurers cooked their
supper, and ate it with a relish which the pampered guests in lordly
banqueting halls have seldom experienced. Their sleep was probably more
sweet than was ever found on beds of down. Occasionally the party would
find shelter for the night in the wigwam of the friendly Indian.

Strange must have been the emotions which at times agitated the bosom
of this pensive, reflective, heroic boy, as at midnight, far away from
the haunts of civilization, in the wigwam of the savage, he listened
to the wailings of the storm, interrupted only by the melancholy cry
of the night bird, and the howl of wolves and other unknown beasts
of prey. By the flickering light of the wigwam fire, he saw, sharing
his couch, the dusky forms of the Indian hunter, his squaw, and his
pappooses. Upon one or two occasions they found the lonely cabin of
some bold frontiersmen, who had plunged into the wilderness, and who
was living at but one remove above the condition of the savage. From
the journal which he kept we make the following extract, under date of
March 15, 1748. He is describing a night at an emigrant’s cabin.

“Worked hard till night, and then returned. After supper we were
lighted into a room; and I, being not so good a woodman as the rest,
stripped myself very orderly, and went into the bed, as they call it,
when, to my surprise, I found it to be nothing but a little straw
matted together, without sheet or anything else, but only one thread
bare blanket, with double its weight of vermin. I was glad to get up
and put on my clothes, and lie as my companions did. Had we not been
very tired, I am sure we should not have slept much that night. I made
a promise to sleep no more in a bed, choosing rather to sleep in the
open air before a fire.”

One night, after a very hard day’s work, when soundly sleeping, his
camp and bed, which were made of the most combustible materials, took
fire, and he very narrowly escaped being consumed in the flames. After
spending several months on the survey, he wrote to a friend in the
following strain:

“The receipt of your kind letter of the 2d instant afforded me
unspeakable pleasure. It convinces me that I am still in the memory of
so worthy a friend; a friendship I shall ever be proud of increasing.
Yours gave me the more pleasure, as I received it among barbarians and
an uncouth set of people. Since you received my letter of October last,
I have not slept above three or four nights in a bed. But after walking
a good deal all the day, I have lain down before the fire, on a little
hay, straw, fodder, or bearskin, whichever was to be had, with man,
wife, and children, like dogs and cats and happy is he who gets the
berth nearest the fire. I have never had my clothes off, but have lain
and slept in them, except the few nights I have been in Fredericksburg.”

Such experiences not only develop, but rapidly create character.
George returned, from the successful accomplishment of this arduous
enterprise, with all his manly energies consolidated. Though but
seventeen years of age, he was a mature, self-reliant man, prepared to
assume any of the responsibilities of manhood.

The imperial State of Virginia needed a public surveyor. This lad
of seventeen years had already risen so high in the estimation of
the community, that he was appointed to that responsible office. For
three years he performed, with singular ability, the duties which
thus devolved upon him. Great must have been the enjoyment which he
found, in the field of labor thus opened before him. The scenes to
which he was introduced must have been, at times, quite enchanting.
The wonderful scenery presented to the eye in beautiful Virginia,
the delicious climate, the grandeur of the star-bespangled sky, as
witnessed from the midnight encampment, the majestic forests abounding
in game, the placid lake, whose mirrored waters were covered with
water-fowl of every variety of gorgeous plumage, the silent river,
along which the Indian’s birch canoe glided almost as a meteor--all
these infinitely diversified scenes must, at times, have entranced a
young man in the vigor of youth and health, and buoyant with the spirit
of high enterprise.

Lord Fairfax had become the firm friend of George Washington.
The opulent English nobleman had reared for himself a large and
architecturally beautiful mansion of stone, beyond the Blue Ridge,
in one of the most sheltered, sunny, and lovely valleys of the
Alleghanies. This beautiful world of ours can present no region
more attractive than that in which Lord Fairfax constructed his
transatlantic home.[6]

His opulence enabled him to live there in splendor quite baronial. Many
illustrious families had emigrated to this State of wonderful beauty
and inexhaustible capabilities. There was no colony, on this continent,
which could present more cultivated and polished society than Virginia.
Distinguished guests frequented the parlors of Lord Fairfax. Among them
all, there were none more honored than George Washington. He was one of
the handsomest and most dignified of men, and a gentleman by birth, by
education, and by all his instincts.

The tide of emigration, pouring in a constant flood across the
Atlantic, was now gradually forcing its way over the first range of
the Alleghanies, into the fertile and delightful valleys beyond. Still
farther west there were realms, much of which no white man’s foot had
ever trod, and whose boundaries no one knew.

The French, who were prosperously established in Canada, and who, by
their wise policy, had effectually won the confidence and affection
of the natives, were better acquainted with this vast region than
were the English; and they much more fully appreciated its wonderful
capabilities. And still the English colonies, in population, exceeded
those of the French ten to one.

Almost from the beginning, the relations of the English with the
natives were hostile. And it can not be denied that the fault was with
the English. The Indians were very desirous of friendly intercourse.
It was an unspeakable advantage to them, and they highly prized it,
to be able to exchange their furs for the kettles, hatchets, knives,
guns, powder and shot of the English. With the bullet they could strike
down the deer at three times the distance to which they could throw an
arrow. The shrewd Indian, who had used flints only to cut with, could
well appreciate the value of a hatchet and a knife.

Our Puritan fathers were very anxious to treat the Indians with
brotherly kindness. And so were the governmental authorities generally
in all the colonies. But there was no strength in the Christian
principles of good men, or in the feeble powers which were established
in the colonies, to pursue, arrest, and punish the desperadoes who,
from the frontiers, penetrated the wilderness with sword and rifle,
shot down the Indians, plundered the wigwams, and inflicted every
outrage upon their wives and daughters. No candid man can read an
account of these outrages without saying:

“Had I been an Indian I would have joined in any conspiracy, and would
have strained every nerve, to exterminate such wretches from the land
they were polluting.”

The untaught natives could draw no fine distinctions. When the Indian
hunter returned to his wigwam, and found it plundered and in ashes,
his eldest son dead and weltering in blood, and heard from his wife
and daughters the story of their wrongs, he could make no distinction
between the miscreants who had perpetrated the demoniac deed, and the
Christian white men who deplored such atrocities and who implored God
to interpose and prevent them. The poor Indian could only say:

“The white man has thus wronged me. Oh, thou Great Spirit, whenever I
meet the white man, wilt thou help me to take vengeance.”

Increasing population increased these outrages. There was no law in the
wilderness. These British desperadoes regarded no more the restraints
of religion than did the bears and the wolves. They behaved like
demons, and they roused the demoniac spirit in the savages. Crime was
followed by crime, cruelty by cruelty, blood by blood. But for man’s
inhumanity to man beautiful Virginia, with her brilliant skies, her
salubrious air, her fertile fields, her crystal streams, her majestic
mountains, her sublime forests, her placid lakes, might have been
almost like the Garden of Eden. If the heart of man had been imbued
with the religion of Jesus, the whole realm might have been adorned
with homes, in some degree, at least, like those found in the mansions
of the blest. But the conduct of depraved men converted the whole
region into a valley of Hinnom, abounding in smouldering ruins, gory
corpses, and groans of despair.

Rapidly, on both sides, the spirit of vengeance spread. The savages,
with their fiend-like natures roused, perpetrated deeds of cruelty
which demons could not have surpassed. They made no discrimination. The
English were to be exterminated. When the frontiersman was roused, at
midnight, by the yell of the savages, and being left for dead upon the
ground, with his scalp torn from his head, after some hours of stupor
revived to see his cabin in ashes, the mangled corpses of his children
strewn around, with their skulls cleft by the tomahawk, and not finding
the remains of wife or daughter, was sure that they were carried into
Indian captivity, perhaps to be tortured to death, for the amusement
of howling savages--as thus bleeding, exhausted, and in agony he crept
along to some garrison house, he was in no mood to listen to the
dictates of humanity. Thus the terrible conflict which arose, assumed
the aspect of a war between maddened fiends.

George Washington had attained the age of nineteen years. Youthful
as he was, he was regarded as one of the prominent men of the State
of Virginia. Every day brought reports of tragedies enacted in the
solitudes of the wilderness, whose horrors will only be fully known
in that dread day of judgment when all secrets will be revealed. It
became necessary to call the whole military force of Virginia into
requisition, to protect the frontiers from the invasion of savage
bands, who emerged from all points like wolves from the forest.

The State was divided into districts. Over each a military commander
was appointed, with the title of Major. George Washington was one of
these majors. The responsibilities of these officers were very great,
for they were necessarily invested with almost dictatorial powers. The
savages would come rushing at midnight from the wilderness, upon some
lonely cabin or feeble settlement. An awful scene of shrieks and flame
and death would ensue, and the band would disappear beyond the reach of
any avenging arm. In such a war the tactics of European armies could be
of but little avail.

The State of Virginia was then, as now, bounded on the west by the Ohio
river, which the French called La Belle Rivière. England claimed nearly
the whole North American coast, as hers by the right of discovery,
her ships having first cruised along its shores. The breadth of the
continent was unknown. Consequently the English assumed that the
continent was theirs, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, whatever its
breadth might be.[7]

But the ships of France were the first which entered the river
St. Lawrence; and her voyagers, ascending the magnificent stream,
discovered that series of majestic lakes, whose fertile shores
presented inviting homes for countless millions. Her enterprising
explorers, in the birch canoe, traversed the solitary windings of
the Ohio and the Mississippi. Hence France claimed the whole of that
immense valley, almost a world in itself, whose unknown grandeur no
mind then had begun to appreciate.

It was then a law of nations, recognized by all the European powers,
that the discovery of a coast entitled the nation by whom the discovery
was made, to the possession of that territory, to the exclusion of
the right of any other European power. It was also an acknowledged
principle of national law, that the discovery and exploration of a
river entitled the nation by whom this exploration was made, to
the whole valley, of whatever magnitude, which that river and its
tributaries might drain.[8]

These conflicting claims led to the march of armies, the devastations
of fleets, terrific battles--blood, misery, and death. France, that
she might retain a firm hold of the territory which she claimed, began
to rear a cordon of forts, at commanding points, from the great lakes,
down the Ohio and the Mississippi, until she reached the Spanish claims
in the south. Though France had discovered the Mississippi, in its
upper waters, the Spanish chevalier, De Soto, had previously launched
his boats near its entrance into the Gulf, and his tragic life was
closed by burial beneath its waves.

An awful struggle, which caused as great woes perhaps as this sorrowful
world has ever endured, was now approaching, for the possession of this
continent. France and England were the two most powerful kingdoms, if
perhaps we except Spain, then upon the globe. The intelligent reader
will be interested in a more minute account of the nature of those
claims, which English historians, generally, have somewhat ignored,
but upon which results of such momentous importance to humanity were

In the year 1497, John Cabot, with a fleet of four, some say five
ships, sailed from Bristol, England, and discovered the coast of
Labrador. But little is known respecting this voyage, for the journal
was lost. He returned to England, greatly elated, supposing that he had
discovered the empire of China.

The next year his son, Sebastian, who had accompanied his father on the
former voyage, sailed from Bristol, with two ships, in the month of
May, and touched the coast of Labrador, far away in the north. Finding
it excessively cold, even in July, he directed his course south, and
cruised along, keeping the coast constantly in sight, until, passing
Nova Scotia, he entered the broad gulf of Maine. He continued his
voyage, it is supposed, until, rounding the long curvature of Cape
Cod, he found an open sea extending far to the west. He passed on until
he reached the latitude of Cape Hatteras, when, finding his provisions
failing him, he returned home. It was this voyage upon which England
founded her claim to the whole of that portion of the continent whose
coast had been thus explored. The breadth of the continent was entirely

Upon this claim the grants to the Virginia, as also to the Connecticut
colony, were across the whole breadth of the continent. King Charles
I., in the fifth year of his reign, in the year 1630, granted to one
of his favorites, Sir Robert Heath, all that part of America which
lies between thirty-one and thirty-six degrees of north latitude, from
the Atlantic to the Pacific. This truly imperial gift included nearly
the whole sea-coast of North and South Carolina, extending from sea to

The Spanish adventurer, De Soto, whose wonderful exploits are recorded
in one of the volumes of this series, discovered the Mississippi, near
its mouth, in the year 1541. Some years before this, in 1508, a French
exploring expedition entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and framed a map
of its shores. In 1525, France took formal possession of the country.
Ten years after, in 1535, M. Cartier ascended the St. Lawrence,
which he so named, as he entered the river on that saint’s day. This
wonderful stream, whose bed expands into a series of the most majestic
lakes on this globe, presents a continuous water-course of over two
thousand miles, and is supposed to contain more than one-half of all
the fresh water on this planet.[11]

Several trading expeditions visited the region. In 1608 the city of
Quebec was founded. French voyagers, in the birch canoe, extensively
explored rivers and lakes, for the purchase of furs. They established a
mission on the banks of Lake Huron, in the year 1641, and pushing their
explorations to Lake Superior, established one there in 1660. Another
mission was founded in 1671, at the Falls of St. Mary, which acquired
much renown. In that same year France took formal possession of the
vast regions of the north-west.

Two years after this, in 1673, Marquette and his companions discovered
the Mississippi. In 1680, Father Hennepin explored that stream to
its sources far away in the north. In 1682, La Salle performed his
wonderful voyage down the whole length of the river, to the Gulf. A
minute account of the romantic adventures he encountered, will be
found in the History of La Salle, one of the volumes of this series. In
1699, Lemoine D’Iberville entered the Mississippi with two good ships,
explored its mouths, and ascended the river about seventy-five miles,
carefully sounding his way. One morning, greatly to his surprise, he
saw a British corvette, with twelve cannon, under full sail, breasting
the current. He ordered the British immediately to leave the river,
stating that he had ample force to compel them to do so. The British
officer felt constrained to obey, though not without remonstrance. He

“England discovered this country fifty years ago; and has a better
right to it than the French have. We will soon come back and teach you
that the country is ours.”

This was the first meeting of the two rival nations in the Mississippi
valley. The bend in the river, where this occurrence took place, has
since been called the “English Bend.”[12]

Such was the nature of the conflicting claims advanced by France and
England. France was proud; England haughty. Neither would consent to
an amicable compromise, or to submit the question to the arbitration
of referees. As the year rolled on, English emigrants, crowding the
Atlantic coasts, were looking wistfully across the Alleghanies. The
French, descending from Canada, had established several trading posts,
which were also fortifications, in the beautiful valley of the Ohio.

There is much discrepancy in the details of these movements, which
have descended to us through very unreliable sources. The writer has
space here only to give the facts which are generally admitted. It is
universally admitted that the French won the love of the Indians to
an extraordinary degree. An aged chief of the Six Nations, said, at
Easton, in 1758:

“The Indians left you because of your own fault. When we heard that the
French were coming we asked you for help and arms. But we did not get
them. The French came. They treated us kindly, and gained our love. The
Governor of Virginia settled on our lands for his own benefit, and,
when we wanted help, forsook us.”[13]

Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, hearing of these encroachments, as he
regarded them, decided to send a commissioner across the Alleghanies,
to one of these posts, with a double object in view. One, and the
avowed object, was to remonstrate, in the name of Great Britain,
against this trespass, as he pronounced it, upon British territory.
The other, and the true object, was to ascertain the number, strength,
and position of the French garrisons, and to survey a route by which an
army might be sent for their capture.[14]

It was indeed a perilous enterprise; one from which the boldest spirit
might recoil. The first garrison which could be reached was on the
Ohio river, about one hundred and twenty miles below the point where
Pittsburg now stands. Here the French were erecting a strong fortress,
to which the Indians resorted for trade. There was an intervening
wilderness, from the settlements in Virginia, to be traversed, of
pathless forests, gloomy morasses, craggy mountains, and almost
impenetrable thickets, of nearly six hundred miles. Bands of savages,
on the war-path or engaged in the hunt, were ever ranging these wilds.
Many were exasperated by wrongs which they themselves had received, or
of which they had heard, inflicted by the white men. The Indians, in
all these north-western regions, had welcomed the French as brothers;
and truly fraternal relationship existed between them. And they had
nearly all learned to hate the English, who have never succeeded in
winning the love of any people.

In such a journey, one must depend entirely, for subsistence, upon
the game which could be taken. There was danger of being crippled by
a strain or a broken bone, and of thus perishing, beyond the reach of
all aid. There was no little danger from the tomahawk of the savage.
It was also probable that the French officers would not allow the
commissioner, whom they would regard as a spy, to return to the English
colonies with information so valuable to their foes. Principles of
justice and mercy have never had much control in military affairs. It
would be very easy for the French so to arrange matters, that a band
of savages should massacre and plunder the party of the commissioner,
in the depths of the forest, under such circumstances that it would
necessarily be regarded as merely a savage outrage.

There was no one to be found willing to expose himself to such
hardships, and his life to such risks. At length George Washington,
who was then but twenty years and six months old, came forward
and volunteered his services. It was universally regarded, by the
community, as an act of great heroism. Governor Dinwiddie, a blunt
and sturdy Scotchman, eagerly accepted his proffered services. As he
grasped the hand of the youthful Washington, he exclaimed:

“Truly you are a brave lad. And if you play your cards well, you shall
have no cause to repent of your bargain.”

The sobriety and dignity of character of Washington were such, that
no one thought of accusing him of boyish fool-hardiness. And he had
such experience in the deprivations and perils of the wilderness, that
it could not be questioned that he fully understood the nature of the
enterprise in which he had engaged.

On the 14th of November, 1753, Washington set out, from Williamsburg,
Virginia, on this perilous expedition. His party consisted of eight
men, two of them being Indian guides. The storms of winter were rapidly
approaching. Already the crests of the mountains were whitened with
snow. The autumnal rains had swollen the brooks into torrents. Warmly
clad in furs, the party did not fear the cold. With their axes they
could speedily rear a camp, which would shelter them from the fiercest
storm. Wood was abundant; and the most dreary of midnight scenes may be
enlivened by the blaze of the camp fire.

In such a shelter, before such a fire, with choice cuts of venison, the
fattest of nature’s poultry, and delicious trout fresh drawn from the
brook, these hardy adventurers, accustomed to the woodman’s lodging
and the woodman’s fare, could enjoy the richest of repasts, and all the
comforts of the warm and bright fireside.

Many days were passed, full of incidents, romantic adventures, and
hair-breadth escapes, when the barriers of the Alleghanies were
safely surmounted, and the explorers, winding their way through the
defiles, descended into the fertile and grand valley beyond. The Indian
guides conducted them by a route which led to the upper waters of the
Monongahela river. This stream, flowing toward the north, meets the
Alleghany, which takes its rise near the great lakes. This union forms
the Ohio.

Upon this solitary stream the Indians constructed birch canoes, and
the little party paddled down, through sublime solitudes, a distance
of nearly three hundred miles, to the mouth of the river, where
Pittsburg now stands. The voyage occupied eight days. Occasionally
they passed a small cluster of Indian wigwams. Silently the impassible
children of the forest gazed upon them as they passed, offering no
molestation. There was something truly awe-inspiring in the silence of
the wilderness. No voice was heard. No blow of axe or hammer sent its
reverberations to the ear. There was no report of the musket to break
the solemn stillness. The arrow of the hunter, in its flight through
the air, gave forth no sound.

Having reached the mouth of the Monongahela, they heard that the French
had an important military fort on French Creek, called also Rivière aux
Bœufs, about fifteen miles south of Lake Erie.[15] The French were in
possession of a strong station at Presque Isle, on the southern coast
of Lake Erie. From this point they had constructed a good wagon road to
the head of boat navigation on French Creek. Here they reared another
fort, as is supposed, about the year 1752.[16] “Through rivers and
creeks, snow, rain and cold,” Washington and his little party, toiling
through the dreary wilderness, reached French Creek on the 11th of
November. Washington had for his companion, Mr. Christopher Gist (who
was a frontiersman of great energy and experience), beside his Indian
guides, with four other white men and two Indians.[17] Forty-one days
were spent in this arduous journey. They found a small French outpost
at Venango, where the French commandant, Captain Joncaire, received
them cordially, and guided them to the head-quarters.

On this journey, Washington very carefully examined the Forks of the
Ohio, as a suitable place for the erection of a fort. He descended the
Ohio about twenty miles to an Indian village called Logstown. Here, in
a council with the chief, he endeavored to draw the tribe away from the
French and into a friendly alliance with the English;[18] and also to
obtain an escort of warriors to conduct him across the country, through
the wilderness, to the French post, which was distant one hundred and
twenty miles. In this he was but partially successful. Four Indians
only accompanied him. This made his party amount to twelve. There were
six white men and six Indians. Tanachanson, the chief sachem, and
representative of the Six Nations, accompanied Washington’s party.


_The First Military Expedition._

  The Visit to Fort Le Bœuf--The Return Journey--Incidents by the
      way--The Night Journey--The Wreck upon the Raft--Night on
      the island--Romantic scene--Reception at Williamsburg--The
      Conflicting Claims--Governor Dinwiddie--His rash and reckless
      order--The First Military Expedition--The site for a
      fortress--The plans of Washington--Fort Duquesne--The March
      through the Wilderness--Appalling tidings--The great mistake,
      and the utter discomfiture--Apologies for Washington.

A French officer, by the name of St. Pierre, was in command at Fort
Le Bœuf. Though fully aware of the object of the commissioner’s
expedition, he received Washington with the courtesy characteristic
of the French nation. Respectfully he received the remonstrance which
was presented to him, and gave Washington a written reply, couched in
dignified terms, in which he stated that he was placed at that post by
the command of his government, and that he could not abandon it until
officially instructed so to do.[19]

Washington was as hospitably entertained at the fort as if he had been
a friend. In that remote frontier station, buried in the glooms of the
wilderness, and with no society but that of rude soldiers and uncouth
savages, a French officer, who was almost of necessity a gentleman
of rank and refinement, must have enjoyed most highly a visit from
an American of cultivated mind and polished manners. There was no
opportunity to conceal anything of the strength of the French works
from the English party, even if it had been deemed desirable to do
so. Washington drew up an accurate plan of the fort, either secretly
or by permission, which he sent to the British Government.[20] The
reply which St. Pierre returned was obviously the only one which, as
a servant of the crown, he could make. This must have been known as
distinctly before the reply was given as afterward. And it certainly
did not require a journey of more than twelve hundred miles, going and
returning, through the wilderness, to learn that, if the French were to
relinquish their claims to the valley of the Ohio, they must either be
driven from it by force, or be persuaded to it by diplomatic conference
at the court of Versailles.

The main object of the mission was however accomplished. A feasible
route for a military force, over the mountains, was discovered, and the
strength of the French garrisons, in those quarters, was ascertained.
Washington was surprised in seeing with how much unexpected strength
the French were intrenching themselves, that they might hold
possessions which they deemed so valuable.

After a very friendly visit of two days, M. de St. Pierre, who had
treated his guest with much hospitality, furnished him with a strong
canoe, in which he could rapidly descend the St. Francis to the
Alleghany, and that stream to the Ohio. Mr. Sparks writes:[21]

“He had been entertained with great politeness. Nor did the
complaisance of M. de St. Pierre exhaust itself in mere forms of
civility. The canoe, by his order, was plentifully stocked with
provisions, liquors, and every other supply that could be wanted.”

The voyage down the winding stream to an Indian village, where Venango
now stands, a distance of one hundred and thirty miles, was full of
peril and suffering. The stream, swollen by wintry rains, was in some
places a roaring torrent. Again it broke over rocks, or was encumbered
by rafts of drifting timber, around which the canoe and all its freight
had to be carried. Several times all had to leap into the icy water,
to rescue the buoyant and fragile boat from impending destruction. At
one place they carried the canoe over a neck of land a quarter mile in

Soon after leaving Venango they found their progress so slow that Major
Washington and Mr. Gist clothed themselves in Indian walking dresses,
and with heavy packs on their backs, and each with a gun in his hand,
set out through the woods on foot. They directed their course, by the
compass, so as to strike the Alleghany river just above its confluence
with the Monongahela.

This was indeed a weary and perilous journey to take, with the rifle
upon the shoulder, the pack upon the back, and the hatchet suspended
at the waist. With the hatchet, each night a shelter was to be
constructed, should fierce gales or drenching rain render a shelter
needful. With the rifle, or the fish-hook, their daily food was to be
obtained. In the pack they carried their few cooking utensils and their
extra clothing.

Washington’s suspicions that there might be attempts to waylay him were
not unfounded. Some Indians followed his trail, either instigated to
it by the French, or of their own accord for purposes of plunder. A
solitary Indian met him, apparently by accident, in a very rough and
intricate part of the way, and offered his service as a guide. Through
the day they journeyed together very confidingly. The Indian’s sinews
seemed to be made of iron, which nothing could tire. He led Washington
and his companion along a very fatiguing route, until nightfall.
Then, apparently supposing that, in their exhaustion, if one were
shot the other would be helpless and could be followed and shot down
at his leisure, he took deliberate aim, it is said, at Washington and
fired, at a distance of not more than fifteen paces. The ball barely
missed its target. The Indian sprang into the woods. Indignation gave
speed to the feet of his pursuers. He was soon caught. The companion
of Washington urged that the savage should immediately be put to
death. But Washington recoiled from the idea of shooting a man in
cold blood. Having disarmed the assassin, he turned him adrift in the

It was a cold December night. As it was thought not impossible that the
Indian might have some confederates near, they pressed forward, through
all the hours of darkness until the morning dawned, taking special care
to pursue such a route that even savage sagacity could not search out
their trail. They pressed on until they reached the Alleghany river but
a short distance from its mouth. The whole region was then a silent
wilderness. There were no signs of civilized or even of savage life to
be seen. Though the broader streams were not yet frozen over, the banks
of the rivers were fringed with ice, and immense solid blocks were
floating down the rapid currents. It was necessary to cross the stream
before them. With “one poor hatchet,” Washington writes, it took them a
whole day to construct a suitable raft. The logs were bound together by
flexible boughs and grape vines. It was necessary to be very careful;
for should the logs, from the force of the waves or from collision with
the ice, part in the middle of the stream, they would be plunged into
the icy river, and death would be almost inevitable.

They mounted the raft early in the morning, having finished it the
night before, and with long setting poles endeavored to push their way
across the whirling, swollen torrent. A piercing December wind swept
the black waters. When about half-way across, the raft encountered a
pack of floating ice. Washington’s pole became entangled in the mud at
the bottom of the river, and the raft was violently whirled around.
One of the withes, which bound the logs together, parted; the raft
was broken into fragments, and the occupants were plunged into the
stream. The water was ten feet deep. Both were, for a moment, entirely
submerged. Rising to the surface they clung to the floating logs.
Fortunately, just below there was a small island, to which they were
speedily floated.

Here, drenched and freezing, they took shelter. Their powder, carefully
protected, had not been wet. Despairingly they had clung to their guns.
As soon as possible, as the island was well wooded, they constructed
a shelter from the gale, and built a roaring fire. Its genial warmth
reanimated them, so that they could even enjoy the wintry blasts which
swept fiercely by. But before they had reared their shelter and built
their fire, Mr. Gist’s hands and feet were frost-bitten.

It is surprising with what rapidity men experienced in wood-craft will
rear a camp, enclosed on three sides and open on one, which, roofed and
sheathed with overlapping bark, will afford an effectual shelter from
both wind and rain. Such a cabin, carpeted with bear-skins or with the
soft and fragrant boughs of the hemlock, with a grand fire crackling in
front, and a duck, a wild turkey, or cuts of tender venison roasting
deliciously before it, presents a scene of comfort which, to the hungry
and weary pioneer, is often truly luxurious. He would not exchange it
for the most gorgeously furnished chambers in palatial abodes.

Our adventurers, accustomed to such mishaps, regarded their cold bath
rather in the light of a joke. They piled the fuel, in immense logs,
upon the camp fire; for on the torrent-encircled island they had no
fear of being attacked by the savages. They dried their clothing,
cooked and ate their savory supper, and, wrapped in their blankets,
laid down and slept as sweetly, probably, as if they had been occupants
of the guest chamber at Mount Vernon.

The dawn of the next morning revealed to them the fact that the night
had been one bitterly cold; for the whole stream was firmly frozen
over. They crossed the remaining channel on the ice to the eastern
shore. Hence they continued their journey home, over the wide range
of the Alleghanies. Without any remarkable incident occurring, they
safely reached Williamsburg, then the capital of Virginia, on the 16th
of January, 1754, having been absent eleven weeks. Washington seemed
to be the only man who was unconscious that he had performed a feat of
remarkable skill and daring.

At the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogeny rivers, there
was an Indian princess, called Queen Aliquippa. Washington paid her a
complimentary visit, and quite won her confidence by his friendly words
and valuable gifts. He also came across a small trading post, recently
established by Mr. Frazier. Here he remained two or three days, and
succeeded in obtaining some horses for the rest of the journey.

He made his modest report to the governor. It was published, and was
read with surprise and admiration, not only all over the State, but it
was eagerly perused by statesmen in England, who were watching with
great jealousy the movements of the French west of the Alleghanies. The
all-important facts which the report established were, that the French
had taken full possession of the valley of La Belle Rivière; that
they were entrenching themselves there very strongly; that the native
tribes were in cordial sympathy with them, and would undoubtedly enter
into any military alliance with the French which they might desire;
that it was very much easier for the French to bring down any amount
of reinforcements and supplies from Canada, by the way of the great
lakes and the natural water-courses, than for the English to transport
such supplies across the wide, rugged, precipitous, pathless ranges of
the Alleghanies; and finally that it was clear that the French would
resist, with all their military force, any attempts of the English to
establish their settlements in the valley of the Ohio.[23]

The intelligent reader will inquire who, according to the law of
nations, was legitimately entitled to this region. The candid reader,
laying aside all national predilections, will say:

“It is very difficult to decide this question. The English ships
had sailed along the coast. How far back, into the interior, did
this entitle them to the country? The French had discovered these
magnificent rivers, and had explored them in their canoes. Did this so
entitle them to these valleys, as to limit the western boundaries of
the English by the Alleghany mountains, upon whose western declivities
these valleys commenced?”

Such was the question. Alas! for humanity, that it could only be
settled by war, carnage, and misery.

The Legislature of Virginia happened to be in session at Williamsburg
when Washington returned. Soon after presenting his report he went,
one day, into the gallery, mingling with the crowd, to witness the
proceedings of the House. The speaker chanced to catch sight of him. He
immediately rose from his chair and, addressing the assembly, said:

“I propose that the thanks of this House be given to Major George
Washington, who now sits in the gallery, for the gallant manner in
which he has executed the important trust lately reposed in him, by his
excellency the Governor.”

These words called forth a spontaneous burst of enthusiasm. Every
member sprang to his feet. Every eye was directed to the modest,
confused, blushing young man. A shout of applause arose, which almost
shook the rafters of the hall. There was no resisting the flood of
homage. Two gentlemen conducted Washington to the speaker’s desk. There
was instant and universal silence.

Washington was entirely taken by surprise. To such scenes he was
altogether unaccustomed. Be it remembered that he was then but
twenty-one years of age; just entering the period of manhood. Thus
suddenly was he brought before that august tribunal; and all were
silently awaiting words for which he was utterly unprepared. In his
great confusion he was speechless. There was a moment of silence, and
then the speaker, perceiving the cruel position in which he was placed,
happily relieved him from embarrassment, by presenting a chair and

“Sit down, Major Washington; sit down. Your modesty is alone equal to
your merit.”

Governor Dinwiddie, a reckless, headlong Scotchman, was governed mainly
by impulse, and was accustomed to speak and act first, and reflect
afterward. He despised the French, and could say with Lord Nelson,
“I drew in hatred for the French with my mother’s milk.” He paid no
respect whatever to the considerations upon which the French founded
their claim to the valley of the Ohio; but affirmed it to be the height
of impudence for Frenchmen to pretend to any title to territory, which
Englishmen claimed as theirs. Such insolence, he declared, was not to
be tolerated for a moment; and he determined that he would immediately
drive the intruders, neck and heels, out of the valley.[24]

Arrogance is pretty sure to bring its own punishment. But we are often
bewildered by the thought that, in the incomprehensible government of
God over this world, the punishment often falls upon the innocent,
while those who merit it go free.

Energetically the irate governor marshalled an army of four hundred
men. The idea that the cowardly French could present any effectual
resistance to his lion-hearted Englishmen, seems never to have entered
his mind. The orders issued to this army, so formidable in those days,
were very emphatic and peremptory.

“March rapidly across the mountains. Disperse, capture, or kill all
persons--not subjects of the king of Great Britain--who are attempting
to take possession of the territory of his majesty, on the banks of the
Ohio river, or any of its tributaries.”

George Washington was appointed colonel of this regiment. A wiser
selection could not have been made. His administrative abilities
were of the highest order; his exalted reputation invested him with
authority; he was acquainted with the route, as no other man in
the colony could be; his bravery was above all suspicion, and his
experience as a surveyor would enable him to select the best strategic
points to command the vast territory.

At the confluence of the Monongahela and the Alleghany, he had spent
a day in constructing a raft. There he had been wrecked. The delay
which these incidents had caused, enabled him very carefully, with his
practised eye, to study the features of the country.

This spot, he decided, with instinctive military skill, to be the
most appropriate place for England to rear a fortress and establish a
garrison, which would constitute the most effectual _point d’appui_
(point of support), from which expeditions could emerge for the
destruction of the French trading posts. This whole region was then
an unbroken, howling wilderness. Buried in the glooms of the forest,
far away from all observation, Washington hoped to rear a strong
fortress before the French should have any suspicion of what was going
on. Having completed these works, and rendered them impregnable to
any force which France could bring against them, he would then build
strong flat-bottomed boats, armed with cannon, and manned with troops,
in which they could drift down the Ohio, and attack by surprise, and
destroy, all the French military and trading posts found upon the

Contemplating this plan in the light of humanity, it was a very sad
one. “War is cruelty. You cannot refine it.” At these posts there were
many humble emigrants, fathers and mothers, little boys and girls.
They were innocent of all crime. Struggling against the enormous
taxation, of king and nobles, in France, they had left the thatched
cottages of their lowly ancestors, hoping to find homes of more comfort
in the wilderness of the New World. It is dreadful to think of the
consternation, which must have spread through such a little settlement
of pioneers, when suddenly, on some bright, sunny morning, the terrible
gun-boats, crowded with armed soldiers, rounded a bend in the river,
and opened their fire. “Bayonets,” says a French proverb, “must
not think.” Soldiers must obey orders, regardless of the tears and
pleadings of humanity. The orders were peremptory.

“Apply the torch and lay every building in ashes. The dying matron,
helpless in her bed, and the new-born babe, must look out for
themselves. Disperse, capture, or kill all the inhabitants. Leave
nothing behind but smouldering ruins and mangled corpses.”

Such was the plan, in its awfulness, when contemplated by the eye
of ordinary humanity. In a military point of view the plan, thus
devised, was worthy of all admiration. As a means for the attainment
of the desired end, it could not have been better. The expedition,
however, was not popular, and it was found necessary to resort to
impressment to fill the ranks. By the Provincial law, the militia
could not be ordered to march more than five miles beyond the bounds
of the colony. And it was at least doubtful whether the French were in
Virginia, though Governor Dinwiddie declared the Pacific Ocean to be
the western boundary of the State. Unfortunately for the success of the
expedition, the French engineers were by no means behind the English
in military skill. In descending to the Ohio, from the lakes, they had
been accustomed to take canoes, on the upper waters of the Alleghany;
and often, in fleets propelled by the paddles of friendly Indians,
they had encamped, for the night, upon the forest-crowned eminences at
the confluence of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers. They also had
decided that this was, above all others, the spot upon which France
should rear her central fortress, and where she should store her
abounding supplies.

The menace which Governor Dinwiddie had sent by Washington, was not
unheeded by the French authorities. Immediately they commenced rearing
a fortress, which they had, for some time, been contemplating. A
thousand men from Canada descended the Alleghany river in sixty French
bateaux and three hundred Indian canoes, taking with them a strong
armament and a large supply of military stores. They commenced their
fortress where Pittsburg now stands, calling it Fort Duquesne.[25]
The forest resounded with the blows of the axe men. A thousand French
soldiers, many of them skilled as masons and carpenters, plied all
their energies in rearing the walls. Several hundred Indians eagerly
aided, heaving along massive blocks of stone, and dragging heavy

Rapidly the works arose, fashioned by the most accomplished military
engineers. Eighteen pieces of cannon were soon in position. And by the
time the little army of Governor Dinwiddie had blindly commenced its
march, the frowning walls of Fort Duquesne could have bid defiance
to ten times the force the infatuated governor had sent to drive the
French, “neck and heels,” out of the valley.

Scarcely any mistake, in a military officer, can be greater than
that of despising his enemy. The French authorities, in Canada, had
carefully read Washington’s report. They had made themselves intimately
acquainted with all the discussions in the legislature. They had
watched every movement. They had read Governor Dinwiddie’s order to
“disperse, capture, or kill” them all. They were as well acquainted
with the number of troops sent to attack them, and with the strength of
their armament, as was the youthful Colonel Washington himself. They
knew the day and the hour when the march was commenced; and, by the aid
of Indian runners, kept themselves pretty accurately informed of the
progress which the army made in its advance.

The march, through the barren and rugged ranges of the Alleghanies, for
a distance of nearly one hundred miles, was exhausting in the extreme.
There was often suffering for food. Though in the rich and well-watered
plains beyond, game was abundant, it was very scarce amid the bleak
crags of the mountains. Experienced hunters accompanied the little
band, whose duty it was to range the country for one or two miles on
each side of the line of march, and bring in such game as could be shot

Slowly and painfully the soldiers toiled along, until they had
accomplished the passage of the mountains, and, emerging from the
rugged defiles, had entered hunting grounds which were abundantly
stocked with every variety of game. The troops had reached the valley
of the Monongahela, and, buoyant with hope, were pressing forward,
sanguine in the expectation of the entire success of their enterprise,
when their march was arrested by the appalling tidings which we have

They were within three or four days’ march of the fortress when a
courier communicated the alarming intelligence which we have related.
To add to their consternation, he stated, that a combined and
outnumbering force of French and Indians were on the rapid march to
attack them in front, while a numerous array of Indian warriors had
already reached their rear to cut off their retreat. More awful tidings
for a young and ambitious soldier, can scarcely be conceived. Retreat
was impossible. Even without encountering any foe, his exhausted
troops, destitute of food, and with the game driven from their path,
would inevitably perish by the way. But to add to his consternation
he was told that the veteran soldiers of France, fresh from their
barracks, in greatly outnumbering force, were coming down, at the
double quick, upon his front; while Indian warriors, the strength of
whose bands he could not compute, were lining the path of his retreat
with their ambushes.[26]

To surrender his whole force, without striking a blow, was worse than
death. In utter desperation to undertake a battle, would be an act of
madness. It could, by no possibility, result otherwise than in the
destruction of his little army. Though pride might dictate the act,
the conscience of Washington recoiled from thus dooming his men to
inevitable and useless death. France and England were then at peace.
Though, as ever, each was regarding the other with a watchful and a
jealous eye, still ostensibly friendly relations existed between the
two governments.

France had discovered the valley of the Ohio, had explored it, and
for more than half a century had been engaged in a lucrative traffic
with the Indians, establishing trading posts, which were strongly
fortified. Missionary operations, for converting and teaching the
Indians, were connected with nearly all these stations. The claim of
the French to the territory was founded, as France thought, upon the
universally recognized laws of nations.

The measure of the hot-headed Governor Dinwiddie was totally
unwarranted. Without any declaration of war, he had fitted out a
military expedition, to take possession of the country, and to
disperse, kill, or capture all the Frenchmen found in it. This was
dishonorable warfare. It was the act of an individual, who was
unfortunately invested with power. Such acts are almost invariably
followed by calamity. But in this case, as in so many others, the
calamity mainly fell, inexplicably, not so much upon him who had issued
the orders, as upon the agents, who, unfamiliar with diplomatic right
and wrong, were employed and almost forced to execute them.

As usual, rumor had exaggerated the facts. The French officers on the
Ohio, who were rearing their homes in one of the most fertile and
genial of earthly climes, who were living on terms of even affectionate
relationship with the Indians, were very anxious to avoid any collision
with the English colonists, which would involve the two kingdoms in
war. They were in possession of the country; they were carrying
on a very profitable trade with the natives, and were continually
lengthening their lines and strengthening their posts.

Peace was evidently the policy for them to pursue. By war they had
nothing to gain, but much to risk. Though minutely informed of the
movements of Washington, and fully conscious that he might be crushed
by a single blow, that blow would be but the beginning, not the end.
It would surely inaugurate a terrible war, which would call into
requisition all the fleets and armies of Great Britain. It would prove
the signal for a conflict which would encircle the globe.

The French commandant at Fort Duquesne, who had nothing whatever
to fear from the exhausted and half-famished little band which was
approaching him, decided to send a friendly party to meet Colonel
Washington, and to advise his return, assuring him that he could not
be permitted, without the consent of the French government, to rear a
fortress upon territory which France had long considered as exclusively
her own. A civilian, M. Jumonville, was sent on this peaceful mission.
He took with him, as an escort through the wilderness, but thirty-four
men. This renders it certain that he had no hostile designs, for
he sent not one to ten of the soldiers composing the regiment of

But Washington, young, inexperienced, and in a position of great
responsibility, was agitated by indescribable embarrassment. It was a
dark and stormy night. Jumonville, with his feeble escort, dreaming
of no danger, for France and England were at peace, and he was on
a friendly mission, had reared their frail shelter camps, and were
quietly sleeping around the fires. Some Indians who had been sent
forward as scouts, hurried back to Washington with the information that
the advance-guard of the French army was encamped at the distance of
but a few miles before him. The sagacious Indian scouts very accurately
described their number and their position.

They were in a sheltered glen, on the banks of the Monongahela, which
was quite shut in by rocks. An invisible foe could easily creep up in
the darkness and the storm, and, aided by the camp fires, could take
deliberate aim, and, by one volley, kill or disable almost every one of
the unsuspecting and sleeping foe. Washington, who had no doubt that
this party was advancing to attack him by surprise, unfortunately,
unjustly, but not with dishonorable intent, adopted a resolve which
introduced a war and ushered in woes over which angels might weep.
It is altogether probable that, without this untoward event, France
and England would have drifted into a war for the possession of this
continent. But the candid mind must admit that the responsibility of
opening these dreadful vials of woe, rests with the English and not
the French.[27] Washington, who had commenced intrenching himself at a
place called Great Meadows, and which he described as a “charming field
for an encounter,” took a strong detachment of his troops, and, leading
them in person was, in an hour, on the march. The darkness was as that
of Egypt. The rain fell in torrents, and the tree tops of the gigantic
forest swayed to and fro in the howling gale. Savage warriors, whose
eyesight seemed as keen by night as by day, led the party. Quite a band
of friendly Indians joined in the enterprise, so congenial to their
modes of warfare.

A march of two or three hours brought them to the glimmering fires of
the French. Many of the sleepers were protected by the camps, which
they had hurriedly reared. The assailants, with the noiseless, stealthy
step of the panther, crept behind the rocks and into the thickets, and
took careful aim at their slumbering victims. The Indians united with
the English in two parties, so as entirely to surround the French, and
prevent the possibility of escape.

Just as the day was beginning to dawn through the lurid skies, the
signal for attack was given. A deadly volley was discharged, and the
forest resounded with the yells of the Indians, so loud and hideous,
that it would seem that the cry must have burst from thousands of
savage throats. That one simultaneous discharge killed M. Jumonville
and ten of his men. Others were wounded. The survivors sprang to
their arms. But, in the gloom of the morning, no foe was visible. The
assailants, entirely concealed, could take fatal aim at their victims
who were revealed to them by the light of their fires. The French
fought bravely. They were, however, overpowered; and after many had
fallen, the survivors, twenty-one in number, several with bleeding
veins and shattered bones, were taken captive. The prisoners were sent
under guard to Virginia.[28]

This deplorable event, one of the greatest mistakes which was ever
made, created, as the tidings spread, intense excitement throughout
America, France, and England. France regarded it as one of the grossest
of outrages, which the national honor demanded should be signally
avenged. Though nothing is more certain than that Washington would
recoil from any dishonorable deed, still it is impossible to palliate
the impolicy of this act. His little army, as he well knew, was
entirely in the power of the French. This act of slaughter could by no
possibility extricate them, and would certainly so exasperate his foes
as to provoke them to the most severe measures of retaliation.[29]

The moment the tidings reached the French commandant at Fort Duquesne,
he despatched an allied force of fifteen hundred French and Indians,
to avenge the wrong. Washington, as we have said, could not retreat.
Neither could he fight with the slightest prospect of success.
Capitulation was inevitable. But his proud spirit could not stoop to
a surrender of his force until he had protected his reputation by a
desperate resistance. And such is the deplorable code of honor, in war,
that it is deemed chivalric for an officer to consign any numbers of
sons, husbands, fathers, to a bloody death, simply that he may enjoy
the renown of having fought to the bitter end.

All the energies of Washington’s little band were brought into
requisition in throwing up breastworks. Appropriately he called the
ramparts Fort Necessity.[30] At eleven o’clock in the morning of the
3d of July, the French and Indians, who are variously estimated at
from nine to fifteen hundred, commenced the attack. Nature seemed in
sympathy with the woes of man. It was a tempestuous day. The shrieks of
the storm resounded through the forest, and the rain fell in torrents.
And yet, far away in the solitudes beyond the Alleghanies, Frenchmen
and Englishmen were all the day long killing each other, to decide the
question, who should be permitted, of the human family, to rear their
homes in these boundless wilds. The history of our fallen world teaches
us, that the folly of man is equal to his depravity. God made this for
a happy world. Man, in rebellion against his Maker, has filled it with
weeping eyes and bleeding hearts.

The fratricidal strife continued until eight o’clock in the evening.
Captain Vanbraam, the only one in the fort who understood French,
was then sent, with a flag of truce, into the camp of the assailants
to ask for terms upon which the English might capitulate. He soon
returned, bringing articles “which by a flickering candle in the
dripping quarters of his commander, he translated to Washington; and,
as it proved, from intention or ignorance mistranslated.” In these
terms, which Washington accepted, and which it is said his courier did
not correctly translate, the death of Jumonville is spoken of as an

Washington, as we have mentioned, was a young man of ingenuous
character and winning manners. He was in all respects a gentleman of
dignified deportment, of firm moral principles, and of the highest
sense of honor. Fortunately he fell into the hands of M. De Villiers,
a French officer, who was also a gentleman, capable of admiring the
character of his captive, and of sympathizing with him in the terrible
embarrassments into which he had been plunged.

He treated Washington with magnanimity worthy of all praise. The terms
of surrender were generous. The troops were to leave the fort with
the honors of war, and were to return to their homes unmolested. They
were to retain their small-arms, ammunition, and personal effects,
surrendering their artillery, which indeed they had no means of moving,
as their horses were all shot. They gave their word of honor not to
attempt any buildings in the valley of the Ohio, for the space of one
year. And they promised that all the French taken in the attack upon
Jumonville, and who had been sent to Virginia, should be immediately

Washington had sent a letter to Governor Dinwiddie, commending the
prisoners to “the respect and favor due to their character and personal
merit.” But the British Governor threw them into close confinement,
and treated them with great cruelty. He also, infamously regardless
of the terms of capitulation, refused to surrender them. One of the
officers, La Force, attempted to escape. He was recaptured, secured
with double irons, and chained to the floor of his dungeon. Washington
felt deeply mortified by this obtuseness of the governor on a point
of military punctilio and honorable faith; but his remonstrances were

The next morning, Washington and his dejected troops commenced their
forlorn march back through the wilderness. Encumbered with the
wounded, who were carried on litters, but three miles were made that
day. The next day they resumed their melancholy march, and, by slow
stages, returned to their homes.[33]

On the whole, the character of Washington did not suffer permanently
from this occurrence. His extreme youth, and the untried nature of the
perplexities in which he was involved, and the fact that he _supposed_
that Jumonville was approaching to attack him by surprise, disarmed
the virulence of censure with all candid men. Indeed, his countrymen,
somewhat oblivious of the extraordinary magnanimity of M. De Villiers,
were disposed to applaud him for the military genius he had displayed
in rescuing his little army from such imminent peril, and in conducting
the troops back so safely to Virginia. The numbers engaged in the
action at Fort Necessity, and the number killed and wounded, on the two
sides, can never be known. Of the Virginia regiment alone, twelve were
killed and forty-three wounded.

The rank and file of every army almost necessarily includes many
of the most wild and depraved of men. The adventurers who crowd to
the frontiers of any country, and especially those whose tastes have
led them to abandon the more cultivated regions of civilization, and
to plunge into the solitudes of the wilderness, have generally been
those who have wished to escape from the dominion of laws and from the
restraints of religion. In the little band enlisted under the banner
of Washington there were many unprincipled and profane men. His ear
was constantly pained by that vulgar cursing and swearing, which was
exceedingly repugnant to his refined tastes, and to his Christian
principles. He could not forget that, amid the thunderings and
lightnings of Sinai, the law had been proclaimed:

“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord
will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

And he recognized the divine authority of the words of our Saviour,
when, in confirmation of this command, he said, “Swear not at all.”
Under the influence of these teachings, which he had received from the
lips of his pious mother, and which had thus far governed his life,
this young officer issued the following admirable, yet extraordinary
order of the day.

“Colonel Washington has observed that the men of his regiment are
very profane and reprobate. He takes this opportunity to inform them
of his great displeasure at such practices; and assures them that,
if they do not leave them off, they shall be severely punished. The
officers are desired, if they hear any man swear or make use of an oath
or execration, to order the offender twenty-five lashes immediately,
without a court-martial. For a second offence he shall be more severely

Such was the character of the youthful Washington. Even those who
do not emulate his example, can appreciate the excellence of his
principles. Twenty years after this, when the war of the Revolution
was deluging our land in blood, and when the infant colonies, which
numbered a population of less than three million white inhabitants,
were struggling, in deadly battle, against the armies of the most
powerful empire on the globe. Washington, still recognizing the
authority of God, and avowing his faith in the religion of Jesus
Christ, was greatly distressed in the view of the contemptuous way
in which the name of God was used by the officers, as well as by the
common soldiers.

The feeble army he led was defeated, overwhelmed with disaster, and
threatened with irretrievable ruin. Agonizing were the prayers which
he had been heard offering to God, pleading with him to interpose to
rescue our country from the gigantic power which was trampling out
its life. In those dark hours, when nearly all patriotic hearts were
engulfed in despair, General Washington, Commander in Chief of the
Armies of America, in August, 1776, issued, at New York, the following
order to the troops:

“The General is sorry to be informed that the foolish and profane
practice of cursing and swearing, a vice hitherto little known in an
American army, is growing into fashion. He hopes that the officers
will, by example as well as by influence, endeavor to check it; and
that both they and the men will reflect that we can have little hope
of the blessing of heaven on our arms, if we insult it by our impiety
and folly. Add to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any
temptation, that every man of sense and character detests and despises

Profanity must be exceedingly displeasing to God, or it would not have
been so solemnly prohibited in those commandments which God issued for
the regulation of the conduct of men in all ages. And yet it is our
national vice. How many are there “who have no God to pray to; only a
god to swear by.” While speaking upon this very important subject it
may be proper to refer to an anecdote of Washington, which was related
to the writer by an officer in the United States Army, who was present
on the occasion.

Washington had invited the members of his staff to dine with him in
the city of New York. As they were sitting at the table, all engaged
in that quiet conversation which the presence of Washington invariably
secured, one of the guests very distinctly uttered an oath. Washington
dropped his knife and fork as though he had been struck by a bullet.
The movement arrested the attention of every one. For an instant there
was perfect silence. Washington then, in calm, deliberate tones, whose
solemnity was blended with sadness, said: “I thought that I had invited
gentlemen only to dine with me.” It is needless to add that no more
oaths were heard at that table.


_The French War._

  Braddock’s Army--Washington Resigns, accepts the office of Aide to
      Braddock--Interview with Franklin--Crossing the Mountains--The
      Ambush--The warnings of Washington--The Attack--Events of the
      Battle--Peril and Bravery of Washington--The Rout--Narrative of
      Colonel Smith--Indian Strategy--Scenes at Fort Duquesne--The
      Indian War-cries--The Gold Seal--What Washington had
      gained--Spirit of the Savages--Washington’s statement--Scenes
      of woe.

War between France and England had now became inevitable. The British
cabinet, being resolved to drive the French from the continent of North
America, had not only no apology to offer for her untoward military
movement, but immediately made new and more formidable preparations
for the accomplishment of her determined purpose. The task seemed not
difficult; for the rapidly growing English colonies, scattered along
the Atlantic coast, contained a population greatly outnumbering those
gathered around the settlements on the banks of the St. Lawrence,
and the few military and trading posts which were established on the
borders of the great lakes, and in the valley of the Ohio.[34]

On the other hand, the pride of the court of France required that it
should not submit to indignity; neither could France yield to the
arrogant demands of the English, and surrender, at their dictation,
territory which she had long considered as beyond all legitimate
question her own. Thus the warfare became essentially one of attack
on the part of England, one of defence on the part of France. England
was to organize armies and send them across the mountains, to drive
the French from the valley of the Ohio. France was to strengthen her
fortresses in the valley so as to repel and drive back the invaders.
Both nations did everything in their power to enlist the Indians
warriors beneath their banners.

In the spring of the year 1755, the British government sent two
regiments of regular troops from England, to cross the wilderness of
the Alleghanies, and wrest Fort Duquesne from the French. The highly
disciplined troops were well instructed in the tactics of European
battle-fields, but were entirely unacquainted with Indian strategy, and
were quite unprepared to cope with the difficulties of Indian warfare.
General Braddock, a proud, self-conceited Englishman, who despised all
other nationalities, and who had a thorough contempt for the military
ability of the Americans, was placed in command.

“Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty look before a fall.” He
was too proud to learn from those who were abundantly able to teach
him. He was too haughty to listen to any warnings of danger from those
who were far wiser than himself, but whom he regarded as ignorant and
cowardly. He, in command of well drilled British regulars, had nothing
to fear and nothing to learn from colonists, Frenchmen, or Indians.

General Braddock, at the head of his two highly disciplined and well
uniformed regiments, commenced his march across the wide, rugged
mountain ranges. From the eastern declivities, where the water
commenced running into the Atlantic, to the western slopes where the
gushing springs flowed into the Ohio, was a distance of more than one
hundred miles. The path was narrow. In many places torrents were to
be bridged, obstructions removed, and the trail widened through the
vast masses of rock, by the corps of engineers. Thus there would be
presented to the keen eyes of the Indians, who were sent by the French,
to watch and report the progress of the foe, a straggling, broken line
of men and wagons four miles in length.

There was something exceedingly exasperating in the contemptuous manner
in which the British court and cabinet treated the colonial officers.
It seemed to be, with them, an established principle that an Englishman
must, of necessity, be superior to an American. Governor Dinwiddie
reduced Colonel Washington to the rank of a captain, and placed over
him officers whom he had commanded. This degradation was, of course,
not to be submitted to by a high-minded man. Washington at once
resigned his commission, and retired from the army.

Governor Sharpe, the crown-appointed Governor of Maryland, received,
from the king, the appointment of Commander-in-Chief of the forces
employed against the French. He was well acquainted with Washington’s
exalted character, and valuable experience, and yet he had the
presumption to write, urging him to accept the office of _captain_ of
a Virginia company, intimating to him that he might nominally hold his
former commission as colonel. Washington replied:

“This idea has filled me with surprise; for if you think me capable of
holding a commission that has neither rank nor emolument annexed to it,
you must entertain a very contemptible opinion of my weakness, and
believe me to be more empty than the commission itself.”

When General Braddock landed at Alexandria, in Virginia, with his two
regiments, hearing of the fame of Washington, and of his previous
excursions across the mountains, he invited him to take part in the
campaign, as one of his staff, retaining his former rank. The chivalric
spirit of Washington was roused; for the pageantry of war was quite
conspicuous from his quiet retreat at Mount Vernon.

British ships of war, with their gay banners, and transports crowded
with troops, were continually sailing by his door, to Alexandria, which
was but a few miles above. The booming of cannon, and the music of
well-trained bands, woke the echoes of those vast forests. Washington
mounted his horse, and rode to Alexandria. The love of adventure,
of heroic military achievements, inspired him. He eagerly accepted
the offer of Braddock, to become a member of the general’s military
household, but without any emolument or any distinct command. The
position recognized his full rank, and gave him the opportunity of
acquiring new experience, and of becoming acquainted with the highest
principles of martial tactics as then practised by the armies of Europe.

His widowed mother entreated him not again to expose himself to the
perils of a campaign. But he found the temptation too strong to be
resisted. On the 20th of April, 1755, the army commenced its march,
from Alexandria. Washington was announced as one of the general’s
aides. Benjamin Franklin, then forty-nine years of age, visited the
army when it had reached Fredericktown. Braddock was so confident of
the success of the expedition, that he said to Franklin:

“After taking Duquesne, I shall proceed to Niagara; and having taken
that, to Frontenac, if the season will allow time. And I suppose it
will, for Duquesne can hardly detain me above three or four days. Then
I can see nothing which can obstruct my march to Niagara.”[35]

Franklin, with his customary good sense and modesty, replied, “To be
sure, sir, if you arrive well before Duquesne, with these fine troops,
so well provided with artillery, the fort, though completely fortified,
and assisted with a very strong garrison, can probably make but a
very short resistance. The only danger I apprehend, of obstruction to
your march, is from the ambuscades of the Indians, who, by constant
practice, are dexterous in laying and executing them. And the slender
line, nearly four miles long, which your army must make, may expose it
to be attacked by surprise on its flanks, and to be cut, like thread,
into several pieces, which, from their distance, cannot come up in time
to support one another.”

Franklin adds, “He smiled at my ignorance, and replied, ‘These savages
may indeed be a formidable enemy to raw American militia, but upon
the king’s regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible they
should make any impression.’

“I was conscious of an impropriety in my disputing with a military man
on matters of his profession, and said no more.”[36]

There were many delays; and it was not until the 20th of May, that the
army reached Wills’ Creek, where there was a frontier post called Fort
Cumberland. Here again there were delays, which Washington deemed the
result of want of judgment. On the 10th of June, the march was resumed,
and the army commenced, what Washington called, “the tremendous
undertaking,” of dragging the artillery and the heavily-laded wagons up
the steep and rugged mountain road, which the engineers had been sent
forward to open.

Washington very strongly disapproved of the great number of horses
and wagons required by the officers for the transportation of their
baggage, with many needless luxuries. He was astonished and appalled
at the recklessness with which the march was conducted; and he could
not refrain from warning his superior officer of the peril to which the
army was exposed in its thin line several miles in extent.

“The French officers,” said he, “through their Indian runners, will
keep themselves informed of every step of our progress. The eyes of
these savage scouts, from the glooms of the forest and the distant
crags, are continually fixed upon us. We are in danger, every hour, of
falling into an ambush, when our men and horses will be shot down by
volleys of bullets from an invisible foe. And that foe can instantly
take flight, beyond all possibility of pursuit. The French officers
can lead hundreds of the savage warriors to plunge, in a sudden onset,
upon our straggling line, and striking fiercely on the right and left,
plunder and burn many wagons, throw the whole line into confusion, and
retire unharmed, before it will be possible to concentrate any force to
repel them.”

It would seem that such suggestions would be obvious to any man of
ordinary intelligence. General Braddock, with a smile of incredulity
and contempt, listened to these warnings of his youthful aide, and
politely intimated that a Major-General in the regular army of his
majesty the king of Great Britain was not to be taught the art of war
by a young American provincial, who had never seen even the inside of a
military school.

When the army commenced its march from Fort Cumberland, Washington
was quite dazzled by the brilliance of the scene. He declares it to
have been the most beautiful and inspiriting spectacle he had ever
beheld. The British troops were dressed in full and gaudy uniform. They
were arranged in columns, and marched with precision of drill such as
Washington had never seen before. The beams of the unclouded sun were
reflected from silken banners and burnished arms, while well-trained
musical bands caused the forests to resound with their martial strains.
The officers were mounted on prancing steeds, in the highest condition.
The river flowed tranquilly by, an emblem, not of horrid war, but of
peaceful, opulent, and happy homes. All were inspirited with hope and

Such was the commencement of the campaign. How different the scene
presented, when, at the close of a few weeks, the fragments of this
army returned, bleeding, exhausted, starving--a struggling band of
fugitives, one half of their number having been killed and scalped by
the Indians.

Washington soon became convinced of the incapacity of General Braddock
to conduct such an enterprise as that upon which he had entered. He

“I found that, instead of pushing on with vigor, without regarding a
little rough road, they were halting to level every mole-hill, and to
erect bridges over every brook, by which means we were four days in
getting twelve miles.”[38]

On one occasion Washington said, “If our march is to be regulated by
the slow movements of the train, it will be very tedious.” Braddock
smiled contemptuously at this indication of the ignorance of the young
American officer in reference to the march of armies.

Without encountering any opposition, the army surmounted the rugged
acclivities, and threaded the long defiles of the mountains, until,
from the dreary expanse, they entered upon the luxuriant, blooming,
magnificent valley of apparently boundless reach beyond. This
successful passage of the mountains inspired Major-General Braddock
with renewed self-confidence. His deportment said, every hour, to
his youthful American aid, “You see that a British officer cannot be
instructed in the art of war by a young Virginian.”

The lips of Washington were sealed. Not another word could he utter.
But he knew full well that an hour of awful disaster was approaching,
and one which he could do nothing whatever to avert. On the 9th of July
the sun rose over the Alleghanies, which were left far away in the
east, in cloudless splendor. The army, in joyous march, was approaching
the banks of the Monongahela.

It was one of those lovely days in which all nature seems happy. The
flowers were in their richest bloom. The birds were swelling their
throats with their sweetest songs. Balmy airs scarcely rippled the
surface of the rivulet, along whose banks the troops were marching. All
the sights and sounds of nature seemed to indicate that God intended
this for a happy world; where he wished to see his children dwelling
lovingly together, in the interchange of all deeds of fraternal
kindness. It was such a day as Herbert has beautifully pictured in the

    “Sweet day, so still, so calm, so bright,
     The bridal of the earth and sky.”

The troops were defiling through a ravine which presented a natural
path for their march. On either side the eminences were covered
with the majestic forest and dense and almost impenetrable thickets
of underbrush. The narrow passage was very circuitous. It was just
the spot which any one familiar with Indian warfare would carefully
explore, before allowing a long line of troops to become entangled in
its labyrinthine trail. But there was no pause in the march; no scouts
were sent along the eminences to search for an ambush; no precautions
whatever were adopted to guard against surprise.

The troops were now within a few miles of Fort Duquesne. The march had
been triumphantly accomplished. Braddock was sanguine in the assurance
that before the sun should set his banners would float, in triumph,
over the fortress, and his army would be sheltered within its walls. He
was exulting. Washington was appalled in view of the danger which still
menaced them. Proudly Braddock hurried along, with his straggling band.
Jokes and laughter resounded, as the burnished muskets and polished
cannon of the British regulars brilliantly reflected the sunbeams.

The hour of doom had come. Suddenly there was a thunder-burst of
musketry, as from the cloudless skies. A storm of bullets, piercing the
flesh, shattering the bones, swept the astounded ranks. It was like a
supernatural attack from invisible spirits. Not a musket was revealed.
Not an individual was to be seen. But from hundreds of stentorian
throats the hideous war-whoop burst, leading those, who had never heard
those shrill yells before, to apprehend that they were assailed, not by
mortal foes, but by incarnate fiends.

The Indians were unerring marksmen. They were allies of the French, and
their savage ferocity was guided by European science. Crash followed
crash in rapid succession. The ground was instantly covered with the
dead and the dying. The horses, goaded by bullets and terrified to
frenzy, reared and plunged, and tore along the line, dragging fragments
of wagons after them, and trampling the living and the dead into the
mire. The ranks were thrown into utter consternation. There was no
defence that could be made. And still the deadly storm of bullets fell
upon them, while a feeble return fire was attempted, which merely threw
its bullets against the rocks, or buried them in the gigantic trees.
The Indians were derisively laughing at the convulsive and impotent
struggles of their victims.

Washington, who had been appalled as he anticipated this terrific
scene, now that the awful hour had come, was perfectly calm and
self-possessed. He had previously made the arrangement with some of
the provincial officers, precisely what to do in the emergence. The
Virginia troops were somewhat scattered. Washington was on horseback.
Almost instantly his horse was shot beneath him. He sprang upon
another, from which the rider had fallen; but scarcely was he seated
in the saddle, ere that horse dropped to the ground, pierced by the
bullet. Four bullets passed through his clothing. All this occurred in
almost less time than it has taken to describe it.

The scene was one to appall the stoutest nerves. The yells of the
savages, the clamor of the panic-stricken soldiers, the frantic
plungings of the wounded steeds, the utter and helpless confusion, the
unceasing rattle of musketry, the storm of leaden hail, the incessant
dropping of the dead, and the moans of the wounded, all united in
presenting a spectacle which could scarcely be rivalled in the realms
of despair. How different this awful scene of battle from the picture
of loveliness, peace, and happiness, which the valley exhibited,
reposing in its Maker’s smiles, as that morning’s sun flooded it with
its beams.

Braddock was a Briton, and, almost of course a man of physical
courage. Even pride was sufficiently strong to prevent any display
of cowardice. With bull-dog daring, he stood his ground, and issued
his orders, endeavoring in vain to marshal his troops in battle array.
At length a bullet struck him, and he fell mortally wounded. An awful
scene of confusion and horror was presented. There were six hundred
invisible foes in ambush. They were armed with the best of French
muskets, and were supported by a small band of highly disciplined
French troops.

Washington rallied all the Americans within his reach, and each man,
posting himself behind a tree, fired not a bullet without taking
deliberate aim. The English huddled together, and senselessly, in
their frenzy, firing at random, presented a fair target to the Indian
marksmen, and fell as fast as the savages could load and fire. As the
Indians rushed from their covert, with tomahawk and scalping-knife to
seize their bloody trophy of scalps, from the dead and the wounded, who
were struggling upon the ground, the Americans, with their rapid and
deadly fire checked them, and drove them back. But for this the army
would have been utterly destroyed. The English regulars were helpless.
“They ran,” wrote Washington, “like sheep before the hounds.”

The rout was complete. Braddock, bleeding, exhausted, and experiencing
the intensest mental anguish, begged to be left upon the field to die.
Everything was abandoned. The wagoners and artillery-men, cutting the
traces, mounted the horses and fled. Fortunately, the savages were too
much engaged in plunder to pursue. The carnage had been awful. Out of
eighty-six officers, twenty-six were killed and thirty-six wounded.
Over seven hundred of the rank and file fell. The tomahawk of the
savage soon numbered the wounded with the slain.

Braddock was hurried from the field in a litter, and his wounds dressed
about a mile from the scene of carnage. He could not mount a horse, and
had to be carried. A woe-stricken band of eighty soldiers formed his
escort. For four days he lingered in great pain, and then died. Once he
was heard to exclaim: “Who would have thought it.” It is also said that
he apologized to Washington for the manner in which he had rejected his
advice. His remains were buried in the road, and all indications of his
grave concealed, lest the Indians might discover the spot. In the gloom
of night the melancholy funeral ceremonies were performed. Washington
read the burial service. It is probable that not even a volley was
fired over his grave. Seldom has there been recorded a more sad close
of an ambitious life.

The army of Braddock was annihilated. The French, conscious that it
could do no further harm, left the starving, staggering, bleeding
remains to struggle back to Virginia. They returned to Fort Duquesne,
to rejoice over the victory, and to strengthen their works, in
preparation for another assault, should the attempt be renewed.

There was, at that time, an English officer, Colonel James Smith, a
captive at the fort. He has given a minute and exceedingly interesting
account of the scenes which had transpired, and which continued to be
enacted there. His narrative throws much light upon the character of
the conflict, and upon the woes with which man’s inhumanity can crush
his brother man.

He says that Indian scouts were every hour watching, from mountain
crags and forest thickets, the advance of the army. Every day swift
runners came to the fort with their report. The French commandant was
kept as intimately acquainted with the condition of the army, and
its position, as Braddock could have been himself. These warriors,
intelligent men, with established military principles, loudly derided
the folly of Braddock, declaring that he was nothing but a fool. As
they described his straggling and defenceless line, its utter exposure,
the course which they knew he must pursue, and the ambush they were
preparing for his destruction, they would burst into boisterous
laughter, saying, “We will shoot ’em all down, same as one pigeon.”

It is a great mistake to imagine that men must be simpletons because
they can neither read nor write. It is said that Charlemagne could not
even write his own name. And many of the most illustrious warriors of
ancient days had no acquaintance whatever with books. No one can read,
with an impartial spirit, the history of the Indian wars, without
admitting that there were in many cases, Indian chiefs who entirely
outgeneralled their English antagonists. The scene of events at the
fort is very vividly presented by Colonel Smith.

Early in the morning of the day in which the attack was to be made,
there was great and joyous commotion in and around the fort. The
Indians, some six or seven hundred in number, were greatly elated. They
seemed to be as sure of victory then as they were after it had been

There was hurrying to and fro, examining the muskets, filling the
powder-horns from open kegs of powder, storing away bullets in their
leathern pouches, and hurrying off in small bands, in single file,
through the trails of the forest. About an equal number of French
troops accompanied the Indians.

Soon all were gone, save the small garrison left in charge. Slowly
and silently the hours of the long summer day passed, when late in the
afternoon the triumphant shouts of fleet-footed runners were heard in
the forest, announcing the tidings of the great victory--tidings which
awoke the garrison to enthusiasm, but which filled the heart of Colonel
Smith with _dismay_. They brought the intelligence that the English
were huddled together and surrounded, in utter dismay and confusion, in
a narrow ravine, from which escape was almost impossible. The Indians,
from their concealments, were shooting them down as fast as they could
load and fire. They said that before sundown all would be killed.

The whoops or yells of the savages had various significations. There
was the war-whoop, with which their fierce natures were roused to
the attack. There was the cry of retreat, at whose signal all seemed
instantaneously to vanish. And there was the exultant, triumphant
“scalp-halloo,” with which they made the forests resound, when they
returned to the camp, dangling the gory trophies of victory.[39]

Soon a band of about a hundred savages appeared, yelling like so many
demons in their frantic, boisterous joy. It was the greatest victory
they had ever known or conceived of. Braddock’s army was laden not
only with all conveniences but with all luxuries. The Indians were
astounded, bewildered, at the amount and richness of the plunder they
had gained. It was more than they could carry away, and it presented
to them a spectacle of wealth and splendor such as the fabled lamp
of Aladdin never revealed. The savages returned stooping beneath the
load of grenadiers’ caps, canteens, muskets, swords, bayonets, and
rich uniforms which they had stripped from the dead. All had dripping
scalps, and several had money. Colonel Smith writes:

“Those that were coming in and those that had arrived, kept a constant
firing of small-arms, and also of the great guns in the fort, which was
accompanied by the most hideous shouts and yells from all quarters;
so that it appeared to me as if the infernal regions had broke loose.
About sundown I beheld a small party coming in with about a dozen
prisoners, stripped naked, with their hands tied behind their backs.
Their faces, and parts of their bodies were blackened. These prisoners
they burned to death on the banks of the Alleghany river, opposite to
the fort. I stood on the fort walls until I beheld them begin to burn
one of these men. They tied him to a stake and kept touching him with
fire-brands, red-hot irons, etc., and he screaming in the most doleful
manner. The Indians, in the meantime, were yelling like infernal
spirits. As this scene was too shocking for me to behold, I returned to
my lodgings, both sorry and sore.[40]

“From the best information I could receive, there were only seven
Indians and four French killed in this battle. Five hundred British
lay dead in the field, besides what were killed in the river, after
their retreat. The morning after the battle, I saw Braddock’s artillery
brought into fort. The same day also I saw several Indians in the dress
of British officers, with the sashes, half moons, laced hats, etc.,
which the British wore.”

On the 17th of July, Washington, at the head of his sad cavalcade,
reached Fort Cumberland. Fugitives had already brought reports of the
disaster. Washington, knowing the terrible anxiety of his family wrote
as follows to his mother.

“The Virginia troops showed a good deal of bravery, and were nearly all
killed. The dastardly behavior of those they called Regulars, exposed
all others, that were ordered to do their duty, to almost certain
death. At last, in despite of all the efforts of the officers to the
contrary, they ran, as sheep pursued by dogs, and it was impossible to
rally them.”

The American troops, who, in silent exasperation, had allowed
themselves to be led, by the folly of Braddock, into the valley of
death, had, in some way, become acquainted with the warnings and
remonstrances of Washington. This foresight, combined with the perfect
courage he had displayed on the battle-field, gave them the highest
opinion of his military abilities. They proclaimed his fame far
and wide. Thus the ignominious defeat of the British Major-General
rebounded to the honor of his American aide.

After the lapse of eighty years a gold seal of Washington, containing
his initials, was found upon the battle-field. A bullet had struck it
from his person. The precious relic is in possession of one of the

This total defeat of the English, established, for a time, the entire
ascendency of the French in the valley of the Ohio and on the great
lakes. Washington reached Mount Vernon on the 26th of July, in a very
feeble condition of bodily health. He was probably well satisfied that
there is but little pleasant music to be found in the whistling of
hostile bullets. To his brother Augustine he wrote, in reference to his
frontier experience:

“I was employed to go a journey in the winter, when I believe few or
none would have undertaken it. What did I get by it? My expenses borne.
I was then appointed, with trifling pay, to conduct a handful of men
to the Ohio. What did I get for that? Why, after putting myself to a
considerable expense in equipping and providing necessaries for the
campaign, I went out, was soundly beaten and lost all! Came in, and had
my commission taken from me; or, in other words, my command reduced,
under pretence of an order from home [England]. I then went out a
volunteer with General Braddock; and lost all my horses and many other
things. But this, being a voluntary act, I ought not to have mentioned
it; nor should I have done it, were it not to show that I have been on
the losing order, ever since I entered the service, which is now nearly
two years.”

The French and the English now alike infamously engaged in enlisting
the Indians to aid them in the conflict. These benighted savages seem
to have had no more idea of mercy than had the wolves. They burned the
lonely cabins, tomahawked and scalped women and children, carried
mothers and maidens into the most awful captivity, and often put their
helpless victims to the torture. And yet the nobility of France and the
lords of England looked complacently on, while they goaded the savages
to their infernal deeds.

The English settlers outnumbered the French more than ten to one. But
the French, in actual possession of the lakes and the valley, could
rally around their banners a vastly more powerful force of savages than
the English could summon. Thus the English were much more exposed than
the French. The savages having lapped blood, and generally hating the
English, entered eagerly upon the work of conflagration, plunder, and

There were American hamlets of log huts, and lonely American
farm-houses, scattered through the wilderness for a distance of four
hundred miles along the western frontier of Virginia. But the court and
cabinet of Great Britain considered their weal or woe a matter of but
little consequence compared with the national glory to be obtained in
driving the French from this whole continent.[41]

Fifteen hundred plumed, painted, howling savages were soon the allies
of France, perpetrating deeds which one shudders to record. At midnight
these demons of the human race would burst from the forest, and rush
howling upon some hut where the poor defenceless emigrant, with his
wife and his children, was tremblingly sleeping. In an hour the
dreadful tragedy was completed. The yells of the savages drowned the
shrieks of the mother and her babe, as they fell beneath the tomahawk.
The cabin was in ashes. The savages had disappeared. The rising sun
revealed but the gory corpses in their shocking mutilation.

For the protection of the frontier, thus exposed to the greatest woes
of which the imagination can conceive, Virginia raised a force of seven
hundred men, which was placed under the experienced command of Colonel
Washington. For three years he was engaged in these arduous but almost
unavailing labors. No one could tell at what point the wary Indian
would strike a blow. Having struck it, the demoniac band vanished into
the glooms of the wilderness, where pursuit was impossible. There is
some excuse to be found for the fiend-like deeds of the savages, in the
ignorance, and in the principles of war which they and their ancestors
had ever cherished. But there is no excuse whatever to be found for
those French and English statesmen, who employed such agents for the
accomplishment of their ambitious projects. The scenes of woe, which
Washington often witnessed, were so dreadful that, in after life, he
could seldom bear to recur to them. We will give one instance, which he
has related, as illustrative of many others.

One day as, with a small detachment of troops, he was traversing a
portion of the frontier, he came to a solitary log cabin, in a little
clearing, which the axe of a settler had effected in the heart of
the forest. As they were approaching, through the woods, the report
of a gun arrested their attention. Cautiously they crept through the
underbrush, until they came in full sight of the cabin. Smoke was
curling up through the roof, while a large party of savages, with piles
of plunder by their side, were shouting and swinging their bleeding
scalps, as they danced round their booty. As soon as they caught sight
of the soldiers they fled into the forest with the swiftness of deer.
In the following words Washington describes the scene which was then
opened before them:

“On entering we saw a sight that, though we were familiar with blood
and massacre, struck us, at least myself, with feelings more mournful
than I had ever experienced before. On the bed, in one corner of the
room, lay the body of a young woman, swimming in blood, with a gash in
her forehead, which almost separated the head into two parts. On her
breast lay two little babes, apparently twins, less than a twelve-month
old, with their heads also cut open. Their innocent blood which once
flowed in the same veins, now mingled in one current again. I was
inured to scenes of bloodshed and misery, but this cut me to the soul.
Never in my after life, did I raise my hand against a savage, without
calling to mind the mother with her little twins, their heads cleft

The soldiers eagerly pursued the fugitive savages. They had gone but a
short distance from the house, when they found the father of the family
and his little boy, both dead and scalped in the field. The father
had been holding the plough, and his son driving the horse, when the
savages came upon them. From ambush they had shot down the father, and
the terrified little boy had run some distance toward the house, when
he was overtaken and cut down by the tomahawk. Thus the whole family
perished. Such were the perils of a home on the frontiers, in those sad
days. In allusion to these awful scenes Washington wrote:

“On leaving one spot, for the protection of another point of exposure,
the scene was often such as I shall never forget. The women and
children clung round our knees, beseeching us to stay and protect them,
and crying out to us, for God’s sake, not to leave them to be butchered
by the savages. A hundred times, I declare to heaven, I would have laid
down my life with pleasure, could I have insured the safety of those
suffering people by the sacrifice.”

During the years 1756 and 1757, the English met a constant series of
disasters. The French furnished their Indian allies with the best
muskets, and amply supplied them with ammunition. A small band of
French, under skilful officers, would take lead. They could call to
their aid any number almost they wished of Indian warriors. These
hardy men, cautious and sagacious, were highly disciplined in the kind
of warfare in which they were engaged. They were by no means to be
despised. In such enterprises they were far more valuable than European
troops could have been. If there be fiendish work to be done, fiends
are needed as the agents.

In February 1756, some matters of state called Washington to Boston.
He travelled the distance, five hundred miles, on horseback, and
in considerable state. He was accompanied by two aides. The three
officers had each black servants dressed in livery. All were well
mounted. In Philadelphia and New York Washington was received with
distinguished honors.

Almost every man must have his first love. It is very confidently
asserted that Washington, young, rich, handsome, and renowned, became
an ardent and open admirer of a beautiful and highly accomplished lady,
Miss Philipse.[42] It is even said that he sought her hand, and was
refused. This is not probable. He remained in Boston but ten days; the
press of business demanding a speedy return. The lady subsequently
married Captain Morris.[43]

Napoleon once said that he could easily imagine himself surrounded from
infancy by family influences, education and companionship, which should
have led him, instead of espousing the cause of the people, to have
been an ardent defender of the ancient régime. Mr. Everett writes:

“One cannot but bestow a passing thought on the question, What might
have been the effect on the march of events, if Washington, at the age
of twenty-five, and before the controversies between the mother country
and the colonies had commenced, had formed a matrimonial alliance with
a family of wealth and influence, in New York, which adhered to the
royal cause and left America, as loyalists, when the war broke out? It
is a somewhat curious fact, that Washington’s head-quarters, during a
part of the campaign of 1776, were established in the stately mansion
of the Morrises, on the Harlem river.”[44]


_The Warrior, the Statesman, and the Planter._

  Political Views of Washington--Lord Fairfax--Greenway
      Court--Panic at Winchester--Raids of the Savages--Policy
      of the British Government--Trials of Washington--The
      Ministry of Pitt--The New Route--Scarvoyadi the Chief--The
      Rendezvous at Winchester--Washington meets Martha Custis--The
      Result--Washington elected to the House of Burgesses--Opening
      the New Route--Recklessness of Major Grant--The Disaster--The
      Melancholy March--The Fort Abandoned and Destroyed--The
      Return--Splendors of Mount Vernon.

The remonstrances of Washington against the folly of cutting a new road
were unavailing. As we have mentioned, the people were not in sympathy
with these war measures. They were unwilling to enlist, and still more
unwilling to furnish supplies. Washington, at this period of his life,
had very high notions of military authority. He was then by no means
a democrat, and not even a republican. In his view, it was the duty
of the people to obey the orders of the court, not to question them.
He was compelled to impress both wagons and wagoners. They could be
obtained in no other way. In his indignation he wrote:

“No orders are obeyed but such as a party of soldiers or my own drawn
sword enforces. Without this, not a single horse, for the most earnest
occasion, can be had; to such a pitch has the insolence of this people
arrived, by having every point hitherto submitted to them. However, I
have given up none, where his majesty’s service requires the contrary,
and where my proceedings are justified by my instructions; nor will I,
unless they execute what they threaten, and blow out our brains.”[45]


Washington was at Winchester, gathering troops for the new expedition.
The savages were ravaging the frontier, murdering travellers, burning
farm-houses, butchering and scalping the inhabitants. They had even
crossed the western ridge of the Alleghanies and penetrated the valley
of the Shenandoah. Even the baronial home of Lord Fairfax was menaced
by them. Greenway Court, as his stately mansion was called, was
surrounded by the majestic forest, where the savages, in large numbers,
could gather unseen. The scalp of his lordship would be considered by
them an inestimable trophy. His friends urged that he should abandon
the place and take refuge in some of the lower settlements. The British
nobleman, with spirit characteristic of his race, replied to his
nephew, Colonel Martin, who was urging this measure:

“I am an old man, and it is of but little importance whether I fall by
the tomahawk or die of disease and old age. But you are young, and, it
is to be hoped, have many years before you; therefore decide for us
both. My only fear is that, if we retire, the whole district will break
up and take to flight; and the fine country, which I have been at such
cost and trouble to improve, will again become a wilderness.”

It was decided to remain, and convert Greenway Court into a sort of
fortress, garrisoned by the slaves of Lord Fairfax, and his numerous
other retainers. Aid could also be speedily summoned from Winchester.
Washington, at Winchester, organized a band of Americans familiar
with forest life, and explored the hiding places in the mountains and
valleys in search of the prowling bands of savages.

The panic at Winchester was dreadful. Every hour brought its tale of
horror. Only twenty miles from the town, in the Warm Spring Mountain,
a scouting party of the English was attacked by the savages, all on
horseback. The captain and several of the soldiers were shot down.
The rest were put to flight by the victorious Indians. It was daily
expected that the town would be attacked. All looked to Washington as
their only protector. The consternation of the women was dreadful.
They came to him, with their children in their arms, and implored him
to save them from the savages. The heart of Washington was often wrung
with anguish. He wrote to Governor Dinwiddie:

“I am too little acquainted with pathetic language to attempt a
description of this people’s distress. But what can I do? I see their
situation. I know their danger and participate their sufferings,
without having it in my power to give them further relief than
uncertain promises.

“The supplicating tears of the women, and petitions of the men, melt
me into such deadly sorrow that I solemnly declare, if I know my own
mind, I could offer myself a willing sacrifice to the butchering enemy,
provided that would contribute to the people’s ease.”

Washington himself was bitterly assailed. Every outrage inflicted by
the Indians was charged to his neglect or incompetency. His sensitive
nature was stung to the quick. His situation was indeed deplorable. He
derived neither honor nor emolument from his command. He was shut up
in a frontier town, surrounded by savage hordes, whose ravages his
feeble band could by no means arrest. He declared that nothing but the
imminent danger of the times prevented him from resigning his command.
His friend Mr. Robinson, Speaker of the House of Burgesses, wrote to

“Our hopes, dear George, are all fixed on you, for bringing our affairs
to a happy issue. Consider what fatal consequences to your country your
resigning the command, at this time, may be; especially as there is no
doubt most of the officers will follow your example.”

The House of Burgesses was in favor of the policy of erecting a chain
of frontier forts to extend a distance of about four hundred miles,
through the solitudes of the Alleghany mountains, from the Potomac to
the borders of North Carolina.

Washington considered this measure quite injudicious. To render it of
any avail, it would be necessary that the forts should be within about
fifteen miles of each other, so that the intervening country could
be daily explored. Otherwise the Indians would rush between, and,
having effected their ravages would escape back to the forest where
pursuit would be fruitless. The forts would have to be very strongly
garrisoned, for French artillery could be brought against them, and
almost any number of savage warriors. The cost of rearing so many
forts would be immense. They could not be suitably garrisoned by less
than two thousand men. Washington, therefore, proposed that, instead
of this series of forts, there should be a strong central fortress
at Winchester, and three or four large fortresses, at convenient
distances on the frontier, from which parties could easily explore the
surrounding country. He also made many other suggestions of reform in
the military service, which developed, thus early, the sagacity and
forethought which so signally characterized him in future life. Many
of the suggestions of Washington, Governor Dinwiddie rejected. But the
central fortress at Winchester and the frontier posts were reared.

The repeated inroads of the savages had driven nearly all the
inhabitants out of the beautiful valley of the Shenandoah. The woes
which these poor fugitives endured cannot well be imagined. It was the
object of the British government, not only to expel the French from
the valley of the Ohio, but also from the valley of the St. Lawrence.
The necessity of collecting troops from Pennsylvania and Virginia,
to attack the French in Canada, greatly weakened the power of the
Americans in the more southern States, to protect their homes.

Every man who attains celebrity pays a heavy price for the attainment.
Washington, in one of his hours of anguish, when he was thwarted in
his most important plans, and assailed by a constant torrent of abuse,
wrote, in reference to a very unwelcome order he had received:

“The late order reverses, confuses, and incommodes everything; to say
nothing of the extraordinary expense of carriage, disappointments,
losses, and alterations which must fall heavily upon the country.
Whence it arises, or why, I am truly ignorant. But my strongest
representations of matters relative to the peace of the frontiers are
disregarded as idle and frivolous; my propositions and measures as
partial and selfish; and all my sincerest endeavors, for the service of
my country, are perverted to the worst purposes. My orders are dark,
doubtful, uncertain; to-day approved, to-morrow condemned.

“Left to act and proceed at hazard, accountable for the consequences,
and blamed without the benefit of defence, if you can think my
situation capable of exciting the smallest degree of envy, or affording
the least satisfaction, the truth is yet hidden from you, and you
entertain notions very different from the case.”[46]

Care, exposure, and sorrow threw Washington into a burning fever. He
retired to Mount Vernon, where he was reduced very low, and four months
passed away before he was able to resume his command. This was on the
1st of March, 1758.

Much to the relief of Washington, Governor Dinwiddie, in January, had
sailed for England. The Earl of Loudon succeeded him. But, busily
engaged in organizing an expedition for the invasion of Canada, the
earl did not immediately enter upon the duties of his office in
Virginia. William Pitt was now prime minister of Great Britain.

As one of his first measures, in the year 1758 a strong expedition
was organized, consisting of six thousand men, to march against Fort
Duquesne. General Forbes was appointed to the command of the whole
force. Virginia raised two thousand troops. These were divided into
two regiments. Washington, who had been appointed by the Assembly,
commander-in-chief of all the Virginia troops, was also colonel of
the first regiment. Colonel Byrd led the second. Colonel Bouquet, in
command of the British regulars, was in the advance, marshalling his
forces in the centre of Pennsylvania.

Early in July, Washington, with his troops, marching from Winchester,
reached Fort Cumberland. Two of his companies he dressed in Indian
costume. To Colonel Bouquet he wrote:

“My men are bare of regimental clothing, and I have no prospect of
supply. So far from regretting this want, during the present campaign,
if I were left to pursue my own inclinations, I would not only order
the men to adopt the Indian dress, but cause the officers to do it
also, and be the first to set the example myself. Nothing but the
uncertainty of obtaining the general approbation causes me to hesitate
a moment to leave my regimentals in this place, and proceed as light
as any Indian in the woods. It is an unbecoming dress, I own; but
convenience rather than show, I think, should be consulted.”

Notwithstanding the earnest remonstrances of Washington, it was decided
to cross the mountains by a new route. With immense labor, a road
had been cut for the passage of wagons and artillery, along which
Braddock’s army had passed. Slight repairs would put this road in good
condition. Washington presented an accurate estimate, showing that the
whole army could be at Fort Duquesne in thirty-four days, with a supply
of provisions remaining on hand for eighty-seven days. But Colonel
Bouquet was firm in his resolution to open a new route, from Raystown,
through Pennsylvania. Washington, after an interview with Bouquet,
wrote, on the 2d of August, to a friend, Major Halket:

“I have just returned from a conference with Colonel Bouquet. I find
him fixed--I think I may say unalterably fixed--to lead you a new way
to the Ohio, through a road every inch of which is to be cut, at this
advanced season, when we have scarce time to tread the beaten track,
universally confessed to be the best passage through the mountains.
If Colonel Bouquet succeeds in this point, all is lost--all is lost
indeed. Our enterprise will be ruined, and we shall be stopped at the
Laurel Hill this winter; the southern Indians will turn against us, and
these colonies will be desolated by such an accession to the enemy’s
strength. These must be the consequences of a miscarriage; and a
miscarriage is almost the necessary consequence of an attempt to march
the army by this new route.”

Quite a large band of Indians were engaged as allies of the English on
this expedition. They were led by a very intelligent and distinguished
chief, called Scarvoyadi. There were several tribes who recognized
his chieftainship. They had kept aloof, for some time, from military
alliance with either party. At length, with some hesitancy, they joined
the English. Washington considered the aid of these bold warriors as of
the utmost importance. He knew that they were proud, and would quickly
discern and keenly feel any insult. He therefore urged that they
should be treated with consideration, and that they should be consulted
on important questions.

But the British officers had but very little respect for ignorant
savages. Many of the warriors, disgusted with the long delay,
deliberately shouldered their muskets and marched back through the
wilderness to their homes. They were ready at once to respond to the
invitations of the French, who ever treated them as equals. Scarvoyadi,
who still personally adhered to the English, wrote to the Governor and
Council of Pennsylvania, in reference to the defeat of Braddock, as

“As to the defeat at the Monongahela, it was owing to the pride and
ignorance of that great general who came from England. He is now dead.
But he was a bad man when he was alive. He looked upon us as dogs.
He would never hear anything we said to him. We often endeavored to
advise him, and tell him of the danger he was in. But he never appeared
pleased with us. That was the reason why a great many of our warriors
left him.”[47]

We have no space here to allude to the great and successful campaign in
the north, against Canada, with which Washington had no connection. But
operations went on very slowly on the frontiers of Virginia. General
Forbes, who was commander-in-chief, was long detained in Philadelphia.
Colonel Bouquet, who was to command the advance, assembled his corps of
British regulars at Raystown, in the heart of Pennsylvania. There were
about three thousand five hundred American troops, Provincials, as they
were called, at other appointed places of rendezvous.

Washington summoned his two regiments of Virginia troops to meet at
Winchester. They numbered about nineteen hundred men. There were also
about seven hundred friendly Indians, who came into his camp, lured by
the high reputation of Washington and the prospect of the plunder of
Fort Duquesne.

But when the American young men, from their scattered farm-houses in
the wilderness, some of them distant two hundred miles, arrived at the
rendezvous, they found themselves destitute of everything needful for
so momentous a campaign. They were in want of horses, arms, ammunition,
tents, field equipage, and almost everything else essential to the

It was necessary for Washington immediately to repair to Williamsburg,
to present the state of the case to the Council. When he reached the
Pamunkey river, where there was no bridge, he was carried across,
with his horse, in a ferry-boat. In the crossing he chanced to meet
a Virginia gentleman of the name of Chamberlain, who was wealthy and
who occupied a mansion in the neighborhood, where he entertained his
distinguished guests with almost baronial hospitality.

He urged Washington so importunately to accompany him to his dwelling,
at least to dine, that Washington, though with great reluctance, as
it might cause the delay of an hour, felt constrained to accept the
invitation. Among the guests at the table was a very beautiful young
widow, by the name of Martha Custis. She was wealthy, and both by birth
and marriage was connected with the most distinguished families in

She was high-bred, accustomed to the most polished society,
intelligent, and very beautiful. Her husband, who had been dead about
three years, had left her with two children and a large fortune.
Washington seemed to be, at first sight, deeply impressed with her
surpassing loveliness and her social and mental attractions. The dinner
hour rapidly passed. The horses, according to appointment, were at the
door. But Washington decided to remain until the next morning. The
afternoon and evening passed rapidly away, and at an early hour the
ensuing day Washington was again in the saddle, endeavoring to make up
for lost time as he urged his steed toward Williamsburg.

The beautiful and opulent widow had many suitors. The somewhat stately
mansion, reared upon her large estate, was known as the White House. It
was situated in New Kent county, not far from Williamsburg. Washington,
apprehensive that he might lose the prize, improved the brief time
which remained to him, to the utmost. The result was that their mutual
faith was soon plighted. The marriage was to take place as soon as the
campaign against Fort Duquesne was at an end.

Washington was continually urging upon the British officers the
necessity of an immediate and vigorous advance. But these men,
though winning the admiration of all by their bravery in the field,
being generally the sons of the nobles, and accustomed to luxurious
indulgence, deemed it necessary to make provisions for their comfort on
the campaign, which, to the hardy Americans, seemed quite preposterous.
The troops became daily more restless and demoralized by the
temptations of an idle camp. The Indians, quite disgusted, in a body

At length Washington, to his great relief, received orders to repair
to Fort Cumberland. He reached that frontier fort on the 2d of July,
and immediately commenced cutting a road through the forest, a
distance of thirty miles, to Raystown, where Colonel Bouquet was
stationed. Scouting parties of Indians were ranging the woods, firing
upon the workmen, and upon the expresses passing between the posts,
and worrying the laborers in every possible way. Washington succeeded
in engaging the services of a band of Cherokee warriors, whom he sent
out in counter parties against the hostile Indians. Colonel Bouquet
thought that no one but an American could be guilty of the folly of
imagining that Cherokee warriors could, in any emergence, be equal to
British regulars. He insisted that each party should be accompanied by
an English officer and a number of English soldiers. Washington was
annoyed by the encumbrance, but was obliged to yield. He said:

“Small parties of Indians will more effectually harass the enemy, by
keeping them under continual alarms, than any parties of white men can
do. For small parties of the latter are not equal to the task, not
being so dexterous at skulking as the Indians. And large parties will
be discovered by their spies early enough to have a superior force
opposed to them.”[48]

While affairs were moving thus slowly, Washington was quite
enthusiastically chosen, by the electors of Frederick county, as their
representative to the House of Burgesses. On the 21st of July, tidings
arrived of the capture of Louisbourg, and the island of Cape Breton,
by the English. This increased the impatience of Washington to be on
the move. The rumor reached him that Colonel Bouquet intended to send a
body of eight hundred troops in advance toward the fort. He immediately
wrote to the Colonel, entreating that his command might be included in
the detachment.

“If any argument,” said he, “is needed, to obtain this favor, I hope,
without vanity, I may be allowed to say, that from long intimacy with
these woods, and frequent scoutings in them, my men are at least as
well acquainted with all the passes and difficulties as any troops that
will be employed.”

Notwithstanding the remonstrances of Washington, and the indignation of
the Virginia Assembly, Colonel Bouquet persisted in his plan of cutting
a new road over the mountains, to Fort Duquesne. Sixteen hundred men
were sent forward, from Raystown, to engage in the work. Thus July and
August passed away; Washington was still encamped at Fort Cumberland,
in the extreme of impatience, with nothing to do. He learned, by his
spies, that on the 13th of August there were but eight hundred men,
Indians included, at Fort Duquesne. There can be no question, that had
Washington’s counsels been followed, the fort would, by that time, have
been in the hands of the British.

In September, Washington received orders to repair, with his troops,
to Raystown, where he was to join Colonel Forbes. It was the middle of
the month. And yet, with incredible toil the new military road had been
opened but about forty-five miles, where a fort of deposit was built,
called Loyal Hannan, a short distance beyond Laurel Hill, a distance of
fifty miles, through the wilderness, was still to be traversed.

Colonel Bouquet, who commanded two thousand men there, sent forward
about eight hundred men, under Major Grant, to reconnoitre. The Major
was a boastful, conceited bravado. A part of his force consisted of
Highlanders, and another part of Americans, under Major Andrew Lewis.
They were all brave men. Grant was not aware that Indian scouts were
watching every step of his advance. The farther they could draw him
from the main body, the more easy and signal would be their victory.
Supposing that he had approached the fort unperceived, Major Grant
decided to make a sudden attack, thinking to take it by surprise,
and thus to win great glory. Major Lewis thought the attempt very
imprudent. There was certainly danger of failure. The failure might
prove exceedingly disastrous. Whereas, by obeying orders, and waiting
for the main body of troops to come up, the fort could certainly be
taken, and probably with but very little, if any, bloodshed. With
characteristic contemptuousness Major Grant replied:

“You and your Americans may remain behind, with the baggage. I will
go forward, with the British regulars, and show you how a fort can be

He then placed Major Lewis in the rear, with the American troops, to
protect the baggage. With martial music and unfurled banners, as if in
proud challenge of the garrison, he marched his troops to an eminence,
near the fort, where he encamped for the night. There was no movement
in the fort. Not a gun was fired. Not a voice was heard. Nearly two
thousand Indians were encamped near by, waiting to coöperate with a
sally from the fort the next morning.

The morning came. With its early dawn there was opened one of those
awful scenes of tumult, blood, and woe, which have so often disfigured
this sad world. The sally from the garrison attacked in front. The
Indians in ambush, with hideous yells, opened fire upon the flanks. The
scenes of Braddock’s defeat were renewed. The British officers, with
coolness and courage which could not be surpassed, endeavored to rally
their men according to European tactics, which was the most foolish
thing they could possibly do. The soldiers were thus presented to the
foe, in such a concentrated mass, that every bullet of the savages
accomplished its mission.

The British regulars, for a little time, held their ground bravely,
though almost deafened by the yells of two thousand savages, and
assailed by perhaps as terrific a storm of leaden hail as soldiers ever
encountered. But no mortal courage could long withstand this merciless
slaughter. Panic ensued, and a tumultuous flight. Major Lewis, leaving
Captain Bullit with fifty men to guard the baggage, hurried forward,
with the remainder of the Virginia troops, to the scene of action. The
ground was covered with the dead and wounded, and the English utterly
routed, were in frantic flight. The yells of two thousand Indians, in
hot pursuit, blended into one demoniac scream.

Lewis was surrounded and captured. A French officer came to his rescue,
and saved him from the tomahawk. Major Grant was likewise captured, and
his life was saved by a French officer. Captain Bullit endeavored to
make a forlorn stand, by forming a barricade with the baggage wagons.
It was the work of a moment. The fugitives rallied behind it. Every man
could see that escape, by flight, pursued by two thousand fleet-footed
savages, was impossible. Concealed behind this bulwark, as the savages
drew near, a deadly fire, by a concerted signal, was simultaneously
opened upon them. This held the savages in check for a little time, but
it manifestly could not be for long. We regret to add that the brave
Captain Bullit then resorted to a stratagem, which, had it been adopted
by the Indians, would have been denounced as the vilest perfidy. We
give the occurrence, in the mild, and certainly not condemnatory
language, of Washington Irving.

“They were checked for a time, but were again pressing forward in
greater numbers, when Bullit and his men held out the signal of
capitulation, and advanced, as if to surrender. When within eight
yards of the enemy, they suddenly levelled their arms, poured a most
effectual volley, and then charged with the bayonet. The Indians
fled in dismay, and Bullit took advantage of this check to retreat,
with all speed, collecting the wounded and scattered fugitives as he

The routed detachment, in broken bands, after the endurance of terrible
sufferings, reached the Fort, Loyal Hannan. Here we are informed, by
Mr. Irving, that Bullit’s behavior was “a matter of great admiration.”
He was soon after rewarded with a major’s commission.[50]

In this disastrous campaign, fraught with woe to so many once happy
homes, twenty-one officers and two hundred and seventy-three privates
were either killed or taken captive. There was something in the
dignity, thoughtfulness, and heroism of Washington’s character which
caused, notwithstanding the incessant attacks to which he was exposed,
his reputation to be continually on the advance. The weary weeks still
lingered slowly away, and but little was accomplished. The Indians were
ravaging the frontiers, almost unopposed. Life had become a burden in
hundreds of woe-stricken homes. In many a lonely log-cabin, the widowed
mother gathered her orphan children around her, and in terror awaited
the war-whoop of the savage. Washington was given the command of a
detachment of American troops to do what he could for the protection of
these homes where anguish dwelt.

If there be pestilence, famine, earthquake, God is responsible for
the consequences; for He sends the scourge. But for these woes, these
terrific woes, caused simply by ambitious warfare between the courts of
England and France, God is not responsible. They were the work of man.
The responsibility rests upon human hearts. Who will be held, by God,
accountable for them in the day of judgment? There are some persons who
must have cause to tremble.

It was not until the 5th of November, that the whole army was assembled
at Loyal Hannan. Dreary winter was at hand. Snow capped the summits,
and ice filled the gorges of the mountains. Freezing blasts moaned
through the forests and swept the plains. Fifty miles of rugged
mountain ranges were to be traversed, through which no road had yet
been opened. The march was commenced, without tents or baggage, and
with but a light train of artillery, in consequence of the ruggedness
of the way.

Washington was in the advance. His route led along the path by which
the fugitives of Grant’s army had retreated. It was a melancholy march.
The road presented continued traces of the awful defeat. It was strewed
with human bones, picked clean by the wolves. These were the remains of
beloved sons, husbands, fathers. Some had been cut down and scalped by
the Indians. Some had thrown themselves on the ground, to die alone
of exhaustion and hunger. Their panic-stricken companions could not
remain, in their desperate flight, to nurse the sick or to bury the

As the troops drew near Fort Duquesne the more numerous these mementoes
of the awful past appeared. Washington advanced with the greatest
caution, until he arrived within sight of the fort. He had anticipated
a vigorous defence. But the signal successes of the British armies in
Canada had prevented any reinforcement or supplies from being sent to
Fort Duquesne. The intelligent officers saw, consequently, that they
were in no condition to repel the very formidable army which Great
Britain was marching against them.

The commandant had but five hundred men, and his provisions were nearly
exhausted. As soon as the English army was within one day’s march of
the fort, he at night embarked his troops, and nearly all the valuable
material of the fortress, in several large flat-bottomed boats, blew
up the magazine, reduced all the works to ashes, and, leaving but
blackened ruins behind him, drifted down the rapid current of the Ohio.

In the chill and the gloom of the 25th of November, the English army
reached the confluence of the Alleghany and the Monongahela rivers.
There was neither fort, village, cabin, or wigwam there. Not an Indian
or a Frenchman was to be seen. Not a gun, not a cartridge, not a
particle of food was left behind. The grand eminences rose sublimely,
as now. The two tranquil streams flowed rapidly along, as if eager
to unite in forming La Belle Rivière. The primeval forest, in almost
awful grandeur, covered hill and valley as far as the eye could extend.
Silence and solitude reigned supreme. The French were driven out the
valley, and the British flag was triumphantly unfurled.

Vigorous measures were adopted to erect another fort. It was called
Fort Pitt, in honor of England’s illustrious minister. The domination
of the French, in the valley of the Ohio, was at an end. The Indians
promptly gave in their adhesion to the conquering power, entered into
alliances with the English, and, for a short time, allowed peace to
exist in that beautiful valley, which God apparently intended as one of
the fairest gardens of our world.

Washington, with somewhat accumulated fame, returned to Virginia. On
the 6th of January his marriage union with Mrs. Custis took place,
at the White House, the attractive residence of the wealthy bride. A
numerous assemblage of the distinguished gentlemen and ladies of the
land graced the festive scene.[51]

Washington remained for three months, a happy man, with his bride at
the White House. He then repaired to Williamsburg, to take his seat as
representative in the House of Burgesses.[52] His prospects for a happy
life were brilliant indeed. From his own family he had inherited a
large fortune. His mental and personal attractions were extraordinary.
His fame was enviable. Mr. Custis, the first husband of his wife, had
left, in addition to a very large landed estate, money, well invested,
amounting to two hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. One-third
of this fell to his widow in her own right. Two-thirds were inherited
equally by her two children: a son of six years, and a daughter of
four. Washington’s bride was, in all respects, everything his heart
could wish. The two children were intelligent, amiable, and lovely in a
high degree.

At the close of the session of the Assembly, he conducted his happy
family to his favorite abode of Mount Vernon. In those blessed days of
peace and domestic joy he wrote to a friend.[53]

“I am now, I believe, fixed in this seat, with an agreeable partner
for life; and I hope to find more happiness in retirement than I ever
experienced in the wide and bustling world.”

Most of our readers are familiar with the home of Washington, as it
has been presented to them in the many engravings which have found
their way to almost every fireside. The mansion, very spacious on the
ground floor, was architecturally quite pleasing. It stood upon a
smooth, green, velvety lawn, spreading several hundred feet down to
the river which washed its eastern base. The prospect it commanded was
magnificent. The eminence, in the rear, was crowned with the stately
forest. The spacious estate, of two thousand five hundred acres, was
divided into many highly cultivated farms. Much of the region was
still covered with the forest, which the axe of the settler had never
disturbed. Game of every variety abounded on the hills, and in the
meadows and streamlets. A nobler hunting ground could perhaps nowhere
be found. Washington, when but a stripling, had often ranged its vast
expanse, where deer, foxes, and rabbits had found their favorite
haunts; and where water-fowl floated, often in countless numbers, upon
the creeks and lakelets. In one of Washington’s letters he writes
enthusiastically, and yet truly:

“No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated. In a high and
healthy country; in a latitude between the extremes of heat and cold;
on one of the finest rivers in the world--a river well stocked with
various kinds of fish at all seasons of the year, and, in the spring
with shad, herring, bass, carp, sturgeon, etc., in great abundance. The
borders of the estate are washed by more than ten miles of tide water.
Several valuable fisheries appertain to it. The whole shore, in fact,
is one entire fishery.”

Washington was, from his natural disposition, and also from the
teachings of his mother, a devout man. The society in the midst of
which he was born, and by which he was from childhood surrounded, was
aristocratic in all its habits and tastes. Most of the wealthy planters
were connected with the aristocratic families of England. They had
brought over large sums of money, purchased extensive estates and were
living in a style of splendor and of profuse hospitality unknown in
any of the other colonies.

The governors, in particular, being appointed by the crown and who
were generally men of wealth and high birth, endeavored to form their
establishments on the pattern of miniature royalty. The Episcopal
church, or church of England, was altogether predominant throughout
the Dominion. Many of these haughty men maintained it merely as an
essential part of the political organization of the British government.
But Washington was a religious man in heart and in life. He was
vestryman[54] of two parishes: Fairfax and Truro.

The parochial church of Fairfax was at Alexandria, ten miles from Mount
Vernon. The church of the Truro parish was at Pohick, about seven miles
distant. Washington had presented the plan of the latter church, and
had built it almost at his own expense. He attended one or the other
of these churches when the weather and the state of the roads would
permit. He and Mrs. Washington were both communicants.

Notwithstanding the rapid increase of wealth and splendor in our land,
the style of living, which prevailed among these opulent families in
Virginia, has long ago faded away. Massive side-boards were generally,
seen covered with glittering plate. The burglar was not feared in these
large households. Superb carriages, drawn often by four blooded horses,
all imported from England, conveyed the richly dressed families,
through the forest roads, from mansion to mansion in their stately

Washington had his chariot and four.[55] His black postilions, chosen
for their manly beauty, were richly clad in livery. When he accompanied
Lady Washington in any one of her drives, he, a splendid horseman,
almost invariably appeared mounted, and their equipage would often
surpass that of the minor dukes and princes of Europe.

Mr. Irving writes: “A large Virginia estate, in those days, was a
little empire. The mansion-house was a seat of government, with its
numerous dependencies, such as kitchens, smoke-house, workshops and
stables. In this mansion the master ruled supreme; his steward, or
overseer, was prime minister and executive officer. He had his legion
of house negroes for domestic service, and his host of field negroes
for the culture of tobacco, Indian corn, and other crops, and for other
out-door labor.

“Their quarters formed a kind of hamlet, composed of various huts,
with little gardens and poultry yards, all well stocked; and swarms of
little negroes gambolling in the sunshine. Then there were large wooden
edifices for curing tobacco, the staple and most profitable production,
and mills for grinding wheat and Indian corn, of which large fields
were cultivated for the supply of the family, and the maintenance of
the negroes.

“Among the slaves were artificers of all kinds: tailors, shoemakers,
carpenters, smiths, wheelwrights, and so forth. So that a plantation
produced everything within itself for ordinary use. As to articles of
fashion and elegance, and expensive clothing, they were imported from
London; for the planters on the main rivers, especially the Potomac,
carried on an immediate trade with England. Their tobacco was put
up by their own negroes, bore their own marks, was shipped on board
of vessels which came up the rivers for the purpose, and consigned
to some agent in Liverpool or Bristol with whom the planter kept an


_The Gathering Storm of War._

  Life among the Planters--The Dismal Swamp--The peace of
      Fontainebleau--Arrogance of the British--The Stamp Act--Speech
      of Patrick Henry--The First Congress--Testimony of
      Franklin--Views of Washington--Splendor of Display--Insolence
      of the Soldiery--The Boston Massacre--The Expedition to the
      Ohio--Events of the Journey--The Romance of Travel in the

Many of the Virginia planters were devoted to pleasure alone. They
lived high, gambled, hunted, and left the management of their estates
very much to overseers. Washington was a model planter. He carried
into the administration of his estate all the sagacity, integrity,
punctuality, and industry, which had thus far characterized him in
public affairs. He was his own book-keeper, and his accounts were kept
with methodical exactness. His integrity was such, that it is said that
any barrel of flour, which bore his brand, was exempted in the West
India ports from the ordinary inspection.[57]

He was very simple in his domestic habits, rising often, in midwinter,
at five o’clock. He kindled his own fire, and read or wrote, by
candle-light, until seven o’clock when he breakfasted very frugally.
His ordinary breakfast was two small cups of tea, and three or four
cakes of Indian meal, called hoe-cakes. After breakfast he mounted one
of his superb horses, and in simple attire, but which set off to great
advantage his majestic frame, visited all those parts of the extended
estate, where any work was in progress. Everything was subjected to his
careful supervision. At times he dismounted, and even lent a helping
hand in furtherance of the operations which were going on. He dined at
two o’clock, and retired to his chamber about nine in the evening.[58]

He was kind in word and deed to his negro slaves, and while careful
that they should not be overtasked, was equally careful that they
should not be permitted to loiter away their time in idleness. The
servants were proud of their stately, dignified, wealthy master, and
looked up to him with reverence amounting almost to religious homage.
Washington was very fond of the chase. Often, when riding to a distant
part of the estate, he would take some of the hounds with him, from
the hope that he might start up a fox. There was not perhaps, in all
Virginia, a better horseman, or a more bold rider. The habits and
tastes of the old English nobility and gentry prevailed in Virginia
to an extraordinary degree. The passion for following the hounds
was thoroughly transplanted from the broad estates of the English
land-holders to the vast realms which nature had reared and embellished
on the banks of the Potomac, and amid the ridges of the Alleghanies.

Mount Vernon was always crowded with guests. Even the most profuse
hospitality was no burden to the princely proprietor. Frequently, in
the season, Washington would three times a week engage in these hunting
excursions with his guests. He could mount them all superbly from his
own stables. The Fairfaxes were constant companions on these festive
occasions. These opulent and high-bred gentlemen would often breakfast
at one mansion, and dine at another. It is said that Washington,
notwithstanding his natural stateliness of character, greatly enjoyed
these convivial repasts.

Washington was, however, by no means engrossed in these pleasures in
which he sought frequent recreation. The care of his vast estates
demanded much of his time. His superior abilities and his established
integrity led him to be in demand for public services. He was
appointed Judge of the County Court, and being a member of the House of
Burgesses, was frequently called from home by public duties. Whatever
trust Washington assumed, was discharged with the utmost fidelity. The
diary which he carefully kept was headed with the words, “Where and How
my Time is Spent.”[59]

The great Dismal Swamp, that vast, gloomy morass, thirty miles long and
ten miles wide, had then been but very partially explored. Washington,
with several other gentlemen of enterprise in his vicinity, formed a
project to drain it. Imagination can hardly conceive of a more gloomy
region. A dense, luxuriant forest, of cedar, cypress, hemlock, and
other evergreen and deciduous trees, sprang up from the spongy soil.
Many portions of this truly dismal realm were almost impenetrable, from
the density of thickets and interlacing vines. Stagnant creeks and
pools, some of which were almost lakes, were frequently interspersed.
It was the favorite haunt of venomous reptiles, and birds and animals
of ill omen.

Washington undertook to explore this revolting region. There were
portions of the quaking bog over which he could ride on horseback.
But often he had to dismount and carefully lead his horse from mound
to mound. In the centre of the morass he found a large sheet of water,
six miles long and three broad. It is appropriately called the Lake of
the Dismal Swamp. Upon the banks of this lake there was some firm land.
Here Washington encamped on the first night of his exploration. As the
result of this survey a company was chartered, under the title of the
Dismal Swamp Company. Through the efficiency of this company great
improvements were made in this once desolate region.

In the spring of 1763, the peace of Fontainebleau was signed; and
the two great kingdoms of England and France sheathed their swords.
During the conflict, the British government, through the arrogance
and haughty assumptions of its officers, had become increasingly
unpopular. The British had driven the French from the continent. They
had been accustomed to treat the Americans, officers and privates, as
contemptuously as they had treated the Indians. A man born in America
was deemed of an inferior grade to one born in England. This spirit,
which met the Americans at every turn, was rapidly severing the ties of
kindly feeling which had bound the emigrants to the mother country.

It was a constant endeavor of the British government to impose taxes
upon the Americans, while refusing them the right of any representation
in parliament. From the earliest period, when such a measure was
attempted, the colonists had, with great determination, remonstrated
against it. We cannot enter into the detail of the attempts made to
impose taxes, and the nature of the resistance presented. At one time
the colonists resolved not to purchase British fabrics, but to clothe
themselves in home manufactures. This, in Boston alone, cut off the
sale of British goods to the amount of more than fifty thousand dollars
in a single year.

The question was discussed in parliament, in the year 1764, George
Grenville being prime minister; and it was voted that England had a
right to tax America. There were, however, many Englishmen who were
opposed to the wrong, and who vehemently denounced it. In accordance
with this vote the Stamp Act was passed. By this act, no legal
instrument was binding, unless written upon paper stamped by the
British government, and purchased of their agents.

It is a little remarkable that aristocratic Virginia was the first
effectually to rise, in a burst of indignation, against this decree.
Thus far it had been strong in its devotion to the British crown,
church, and constitution. Washington was then a member of the Virginia
House of Burgesses. Patrick Henry, one of the most renowned of the
early patriots, presented the celebrated resolution, that “The General
Assembly of Virginia has the exclusive right and power to lay taxes
and impositions upon the inhabitants; and that whoever maintained the
contrary should be deemed an enemy to the colony.”[60]

It was in the speech of great eloquence which he made upon this
occasion, that he uttered the sentence which became world renowned:

“Cæsar had his Brutus; Charles his Cromwell; and George the
Third”--“Treason; treason,” shouted several emissaries of the crown.
Patrick Henry, bowing to the chairman, added, with great emphasis, “may
profit by their example. Sir; if this be treason, make the most of it.”

The storm was gathering. Washington foresaw it. With gloomy forebodings
he returned to Mount Vernon. He wrote to Francis Dandridge, his wife’s
uncle, then in London:

“The Stamp Act engrosses the conversation of the speculative part of
the colonists, who look upon this unconstitutional method of taxation
as a direful attack upon their liberties, and loudly exclaim against
the violation.”

The alarming posture of affairs led the General Court, or Assembly
of Massachusetts, to invite a Congress to meet, of delegates from
the several colonies. The meeting was held in New York, in October,
1765. There were delegates representing Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland,
and South Carolina.

With great unanimity they denounced the acts of parliament imposing
taxes without their consent, and some other measures, as violations
of their rights and liberties. An address, in accordance with these
resolves, was sent to the king, and petitions to both houses of
parliament. In Boston, the stamp distributor was hung in effigy, and
the stamps were seized and burned. Similar demonstrations were made
in several other places. In Virginia, Mr. George Mercer was appointed
distributor. On his arrival at Williamsburg he declined the office.
The bells were rung, the town illuminated, and Mercer was greeted with

The 1st of November, 1765, was the appointed day for the Stamp Act to
go into operation. In many of the colonies the day was ushered in with
funereal solemnities. The shops were closed, bells were tolled, flags
were at half-mast, and many of the promoters of the act were burned in
effigy. In New York, a copy of the act was paraded through the streets,
in large letters on a pole, surmounted by a death’s head, with an
inscription beneath:

“The Folly of England and the Ruin of America.”

Innumerable were the scenes of popular reprobation and violence which
the obnoxious measure brought forth. The merchants of the great
commercial marts of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, mutually
pledged themselves not to purchase any goods of British manufacture,
until the act was repealed.

Washington took no active part in these demonstrations. All his
associations allied him with the aristocracy. The native dignity and
reserve of his character rendered it difficult for him to throw himself
into the turbid current of popular indignation. He was constitutionally
cautious, being careful never to take a step which he might be
compelled to retrace. He remained quietly at Mount Vernon, absorbed in
the complicated cares of the large estates there subject to his control.

The commotion so increased that the British government became somewhat
alarmed. Dr. Franklin was called before the House of Commons to be
examined on the subject. He was asked:

“What was the temper of America toward Great Britain before the year

The philosopher replied, in calm, well ordered phrase, characteristic
of the extraordinary man:

“The best in the world. They submitted willingly to the government of
the crown. Numerous as the people are, in the several old provinces,
they cost you nothing in forts, citadels, garrisons, or armies to keep
them in subjection. They were governed, by this country, at the expense
only of a little pen, ink, and paper. They had not only respect, but
affection for Great Britain, its laws, its customs and manners, and
even a fondness for its fashions, that greatly increased the commerce.
Natives of Great Britain were always treated with particular regard. To
be an Old England man was, of itself, a character of some respect, and
gave a kind of rank among us.”

“And what is their temper now?” Franklin was asked.

He replied, “Oh! it is very much altered. If the Stamp Act is not
repealed there will be a total loss of the respect and affection the
people of America bear to England; and there will be the total loss of
the commerce which depends on that respect and affection.”

“Do you think,” the question was asked, “that the people of America
would consent to pay the tax if it were moderated?”

“No,” Franklin replied; “never, unless compelled by force of arms.”[61]

These representations probably exerted very considerable influence. The
act was repealed on the 18th of March, 1766. Washington was in entire
harmony with the philosophic Franklin in his views upon this subject.
To a friend he wrote:

“Had the Parliament of Great Britain resolved upon enforcing it,
the consequences, I conceive, would have been more direful than is
generally apprehended, both to the mother country and her colonies. All
therefore, who were instrumental in securing the repeal, are entitled
to the thanks of every British subject, and have mine cordially.”[62]

The Americans were struggling for the establishment of a principle
which they deemed vital to their liberties. The petty pecuniary sum
involved in that one case was of but little moment. The repeal of the
act was attended with the obnoxious and insulting declaration that the
king and parliament “had the right to bind the people of America in all
cases whatever.”

In correspondence with this assumption, a tax was speedily imposed
on tea, glass, and sundry other articles. Troops were also sent out
to hold the Americans in subjection, and the colonies were ordered to
pay for their support. Two regiments of British regulars were sent to
Boston. This was indeed shaking the rod over the heads of the people. A
town meeting was called. It was resolved that the king had no right to
quarter troops upon the citizens, without their consent. The selectmen
refused to provide lodgings for them.

Most of the troops were encamped on the common, while the governor, as
agent of the crown, converted the State House and Faneuil Hall into
barracks for others. The indignation of the people was at the boiling
point. To overawe them, cannon, charged with grape-shot, were planted,
to sweep the approaches to the State House and Faneuil Hall, and
sentinels, with loaded muskets and fixed bayonets, challenged all who

These regiments paraded the quiet streets of puritanic Boston with
their banners and glittering weapons, and the martial music of bugles,
drum and fifes was heard, even on the Sabbath, and every note fell upon
the ears of the people like an insult and defiance. Washington, in
his beautiful retreat at Mount Vernon, was steadfastly and anxiously
watching all these proceedings. His feelings, in reference to the
conduct of the British government, were very frankly expressed in the
following letter to a friend, George Mason.[63]

“At a time when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied
with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom, it seems
highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke, and
maintain the liberty which we have derived from our ancestors. But the
manner of doing it, to answer the purpose effectually, is the point in
question. That no man should scruple or hesitate a moment, in defence
of so valuable a blessing, is clearly my opinion. Yet arms should be
the last resource. We have already, it is said, proved the inefficacy
of addresses to the throne and remonstrances to Parliament. How far
their attention to our rights and interests is to be awakened or
alarmed, by starving their trade and manufactures, remains to be tried.”

Washington clearly foresaw how terrible the sacrifice which he and his
opulent associates must make, in entering into a conflict with the
British government. He alluded to this in the following words:

“I can see but one class of people, the merchants excepted, who will
not, or ought not, to wish well to the scheme; namely those who live
genteelly and hospitably on clear estates. Such as these, were they not
to consider the valuable object in view, and the good of others, might
think it hard to be curtailed in their living and enjoyments.”

It required the highest patriotic heroism for these wealthy men to
peril their earthly all in such a conflict. An appeal to arms, followed
by defeat, would inevitably lead to the confiscation of their estates,
and to their execution upon the scaffold, as guilty of high treason.
Mr. Mason nobly replied, in harmony with the spirit of Washington:

“Our all is at stake; and the little conveniences and comforts of
life, when set in competition with our liberty, ought to be rejected,
not with reluctance but with pleasure. We may retrench all manner of
superfluities, finery of all descriptions, and confine ourselves to
linens, woollens, etc. It is amazing how much this practice, if adopted
by all the colonies, would lessen the American imports, and distress
the various trades and manufactures of Great Britain.”

The result of this correspondence was the draft, by Mr. Mason, of the
plan of an association, each member of which was to pledge himself
not to use any article of British merchandise upon which a duty was
imposed. Washington was to submit this plan to the House of Burgesses,
on its approaching session. A somewhat similar resolve had already
been adopted by the people of Boston.

The king had appointed Lord Botetourt[64] Governor of Virginia. It was
the plan of the British court to crush the Puritans of Massachusetts by
the gleam of bayonets and the rumbling of artillery. But the Cavaliers
of Virginia were to be dazzled and seduced by such a display of regal
splendor as had never before been witnessed on this continent. It was
supposed that the _title_ of the noble lord would quite overawe the
wealthy, splendor-loving plebeians of the Potomac. The king presented
Lord Botetourt with a very magnificent coach of state, and also with a
gorgeous dining service of solid silver.[65] When the governor reached
Williamsburg, he surrounded his petty court with all the etiquette
of royalty. He opened the session of the Assembly with the pomp of
the monarch opening Parliament. His massive coach of state, polished
like a mirror, and with the panels emblazoned with his lordship’s
family coat-of-arms, was drawn from his mansion to the capitol by six
milk-white horses in the richest caparisons.

The poor negroes gazed upon the pageant, with mouths wide open with
wonder, awe, and admiration. The bedizened lord, seated upon luxurious
cushions, with his outriders, his brilliantly liveried coachman and
footman, appeared to them but little less than an archangel from some
higher sphere. But the pompous display was not in the least calculated
to overawe George Washington, George Mason, and their gentlemanly
associates, who well knew the value of human rights, and the
worthlessness of tawdry splendor.

The souls of these men were moved by stern responsibilities pressing
upon them. Several members presented spirited resolves denouncing
the late acts of Parliament in imposing taxes. It was declared,
emphatically, that the power to impose taxes was vested in the House
of Burgesses alone. Washington was prepared to submit the plan
of agreement which Mr. Mason had drawn up. The plan was publicly
canvassed, and everywhere met with approval. An address was voted to
the king, in which it was urged that all trials for treason, alleged to
be committed in one of the colonies, should be tried before the courts
of that colony. It was very clear that if any one, who had incurred the
displeasure of the crown, should be dragged to London for trial, he
would stand a very poor chance of acquittal.

Lord Botetourt was astonished by these bold declarations and demands.
He promptly repaired to the capitol, authoritatively summoned the
speaker and his council to his audience chamber, and said to them

“Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses, I have heard of
your resolves, and augur ill of their effects. You have made it my duty
to dissolve you; and you are dissolved accordingly.”

The Burgesses, as the members of the colonial Assembly were called,
unintimidated by this exercise of the royal prerogative, repaired, in a
body, to a private house. They were no longer the House of Burgesses,
but merely a collection of citizens. They chose for moderator their
late speaker, Peyton Randolph.[66] Washington then presented his draft
of an association to discountenance the use of all British merchandise,
taxed by Parliament to raise a revenue in America. It was signed by
every member. Then, being printed, it was sent throughout the country,
and to other colonies, and soon became almost universally adopted.

The king and parliament were not alarmed; they were only astonished
to see that the helpless worm should have presumption thus to squirm
beneath their gigantic tread. Lord Botetourt soon began to feel the
influence of the society which surrounded him. He found that the
opulent, highly cultivated gentlemen of Virginia, were quite his
equals; that they were men who could not be dazzled from their paths,
by any display of ribbons and gilding and courtly pomp.

Nay, more than this; he soon began to feel the power of their
superior intelligence. As he listened to their courteous and logical
representations, he became convinced that their cause was a just
one; that their grievances were many, and that he had entered upon
his office, with entirely erroneous impressions respecting the true
posture of affairs. His pompous equipage was laid aside. He reduced his
establishment to the simplicity of that of a well bred gentleman. He
even did not hesitate to declare that the taxes ought to be repealed,
and that sundry other reforms were called for.

In Boston, a committee called upon the royal governor to state that the
General Court could not deliberate, with self-respect, when the State
House was surrounded by soldiers, and cannon were pointed at its doors,
and men-of-war were in the harbor, with their guns directed menacingly
against the town. They requested therefore that the governor, as the
representative of his majesty the king, would have such forces removed
from Boston during the session of the court.

The governor curtly replied, “I have no authority to order the removal
of either ships or troops.”

The General Court responded firmly but respectfully, “The General Court
cannot then undertake to transact any business, while thus menaced by
cannon and muskets.”

The governor was embarrassed. There was business of pressing importance
to come before the court. He endeavored to extricate himself by
ordering the court to meet in Cambridge, beyond the reach of the guns
of the fleet, and where there were no troops. The court met, and the
governor immediately sent in a requisition for money to pay to British
soldiers, and for quarters to be assigned for their board and lodging.

The blood of the Puritan was as red and pure as that of his equally
patriotic brother the Cavalier. After a solemn discussion, for it was a
solemn moment, involving issues of fearful magnitude, these noble men
returned an answer, in brief as follows:

“The establishment of a standing army in this colony, in a time of
peace, is an invasion of our natural rights.”

There was no offer to provide for these British regulars, and no
refusal to do so, save what might be implied in the resolve. The
governor again sent to know whether the Assembly would or would not
make provision for the British troops. The decisive reply was returned
that it was “incompatible with their own honor and interest, and their
duty to their constituents,” to pay the expenses of British soldiers
thus unconstitutionally billeted upon the American people.

The governor, much annoyed, prorogued the Assembly, and ordered it to
meet again in Boston, on the 1st of January, 1770.

The “Non-Importation Associations,” as they were called, produced the
effect, on British commerce, which the advocates of those measures had
anticipated. The British merchants were in great trouble. They flooded
Parliament with petitions that the taxes might be repealed, so that
commerce might be restored.

Lord North became prime minister. He was one of the most haughty of
England’s nobles, with limited capacity, but an obstinate will. He
revoked all duties excepting that on tea. Thus he adhered to the
_principle_ that England had a right to impose taxes upon America,
without allowing the Americans any representation in Parliament. He
distinctly announced that this single tax was continued, “to maintain
the parliamentary right of taxation.” It was foolishly thought that,
because the tax was only three-pence on the pound, the Americans
would therefore consent to be betrayed into the establishment of the

There were many Englishmen in Parliament whose sympathies were entirely
with the Americans. In strains of eloquence equal to any which have
ever proceeded from human lips, they argued the cause of colonial
rights. George III. was one of the most obstinate of men. Lord North
was bound to obey his behests. He but gave utterance to the sentiments
of his royal master in saying:

“The properest time to exert our right of taxation is when the right is
refused. To temporize is to yield. The authority of the mother country,
if it is now unsupported, will be relinquished forever. A total repeal
cannot be thought of, till America is prostrate at our feet.”[67]

The British soldiers, established in Boston, were exceedingly obnoxious
to the citizens, and bitter hostility soon sprung up between them.

These veterans, inured to the cruelties of war, as, in their gay
uniform they paraded the streets, with gleaming bayonets and loaded
muskets, looked very contemptuously upon the towns-people, and often
treated them with great insolence.

One day there was some collision between a party of young Bostonians
and a small band of soldiers. The unarmed young men were put to flight,
and the soldiers pursued them. The alarm bells were rung. Excited
crowds swept through the streets. The mob, armed with clubs and stones,
assailed the troops fiercely. They defended themselves with bullets.
Four of the populace were killed. Several others were wounded. The
exasperation had now risen to such a pitch that the governor deemed it
expedient to remove the troops from the town. Tidings of the “Boston
Massacre” swept through all the colonies, and added additional fuel to
the flame already so fiercely burning.

Lord Botetourt found no friendly response to his representations at the
British Court. He had been sent to Virginia to overawe the inhabitants,
and to bring them into servile obedience to the British crown. He had
thought that the same views of truth, which had influenced his mind,
would exert a conciliatory influence upon the king and his cabinet.
But he was bitterly disappointed. Opprobrium was his only reward.
Desponding and enfeebled, he was attacked by a bilious fever and died.
He had become endeared to the people by his noble espousal of their
cause. Washington testified that he was disposed “to render every just
and reasonable service to the people whom he governed.” The House of
Burgesses erected a statue to his memory, in the area of the capitol.

The path of this world, as of all its nations and individuals, has
ever been through darkness, clouds, and storms. While the tempest of
national war, which was to doom our land to the most awful woes, was
thus deepening its folds, Washington undertook another expedition,
across the mountains, to the Ohio. He was influenced by public as well
as private considerations. The State of Virginia had offered a bounty
of two hundred thousand acres of land, to be divided among the officers
and soldiers, who had served during the French war, according to their
rank. Washington was one of the Virginia Board of Commissioners. There
had been great neglect in settling these claims. The zeal of Washington
was aroused that they should be promptly and fully paid.

The treaties made with the Indians in those days, will seldom bear
minute investigation. The purchasers were not careful to ascertain the
validity, of the title of the chiefs, to the lands which they sold. And
many of the chiefs were ready, for a suitable compensation, to sell all
their right and title to lands to which they had no claim whatever.

There was a powerful confederacy of tribes living in the vicinity of
the great northern lakes, called the Six Nations.[68] By a treaty, in
1768, these chiefs sold to the British crown all the land possessed by
them south of the river Ohio. Speculators were rushing in. It was the
object of Washington to visit these fertile acres, and affix his seal
to such tracts as he might deem suitable to pay off the soldiers’ claim.

It was an enterprise fraught with considerable danger. There was no
law in these vast wilds, which were ranged by Indians, and by white
men still more savage in character. Several of the tribes in that
region remonstrated against the sale. Among these were the powerful
Delawares, Mingoes, and Shawnees. They said that the chiefs of the Six
Nations had withheld from them their share of the consideration which
was paid; and that they were as legitimate owners of those vast hunting
grounds as were any chiefs of the Six Nations. They therefore openly
avowed their intention of exacting the deficiency, which they deemed
due to them, from the white men who should attempt to settle on their
hunting-grounds. Thus there had been several robberies and murders,
perpetrated by no one knew who. White vagabonds, dressed in Indian
costume, could scarcely be distinguished from the Indians themselves.
And lawless bands of savages, roving here and there, were the burglars
and highway robbers of the wilderness, for whose outrages no tribe
could be held responsible.

Washington selected, for his companion, on this expedition, his very
congenial friend and neighbor, Dr. Craik.[69] Washington took two of
his negro servants to accompany him, and the doctor took one. Thus
the party consisted of five persons. All were well mounted. A single
led horse carried the baggage of the party. A journey of twelve days
conducted them, through this unpeopled wilderness, to Fort Pitt, which,
it will be remembered, had been reared on the ruins of Fort Duquesne.

It was the 17th of October, 1770, when they reached the fort. It was
garrisoned by two companies of Irishmen. Around the fort a little
hamlet had sprung up, of about twenty log houses. It was called the
town. These rude dwellings, in comfort but little above the wigwam
of the savage, were occupied by a rough, coarse set of men, who had
been lured into the wilderness to trade with the Indians. Such was
the origin, scarcely one hundred years ago, of the present beautiful
city of Pittsburg, with its opulent, refined, and highly cultivated

One of these cabins they called a tavern. Nominally, Washington and
his companion took up their quarters there. But they were entertained
within the fort with all the hospitality that frontier post could
afford. Washington met, at the fort, Colonel George Crogan, a man of
great renown in frontier adventures. He had reared his hut on the banks
of the Alleghany river, about four miles above the fort. Washington
visited the colonel, at his spacious and well-guarded cabin. There
he met several chiefs of the Six Nations. The fame of Washington had
reached their ears. They greeted him fraternally, and assured him of
their earnest desire to live in peace with the white men.

Washington and his party, returning to Fort Pitt, left their horses
there, and embarked in a large canoe to sail down the beautiful and
placid Ohio, as far as the Great Kanawha. Colonel Crogan engaged two
Indians attendants and an interpreter to accompany the party, as they
floated down the sublime solitudes of this majestic stream. He also,
with several other officers, descended the river with them in a canoe,
about thirty miles, as far as the Indian village called Logstown. It
will be remembered that Washington had held an interview with the
Indian chiefs here on a former excursion.[70]

It was the lovely month of October. Nothing can be imagined more
beautiful than the luxuriant banks of the Ohio, with their swelling
mounds, crowned in their autumnal vesture. It was the favorite hunting
season of the Indians. The river valley abounded with game. The roving
Indians were alike at home everywhere. They had a taste for lovely
scenery. In every cove their picturesque wigwams could be seen. They
feasted abundantly upon the choicest viands the forest and river could
afford. Often, at night, the picturesque scenery would be illumined,
far and wide, by their camp fires, while the echoes of hill and valley
were awakened by their boisterous revelry.

Blessed peace reigned; and our voyagers were cordially welcomed and
hospitably entertained at all these encampments. As they drifted
down the tranquil current, they found themselves in the paradise
of sportsmen. Herds of deer were browsing in the rich meadows, and
unintimidated by the passage of the boats, were coming down to the
waters edge to drink. At times the whole surface of the stream seemed
to be covered with water-fowl, of every variety of gay plumage. Flocks
of ducks and geese, in their streaming flight were soaring through the
air. These skilful sportsmen, without landing, could fill their canoes
with game. When night came, selecting some sheltered and attractive
spot, they would land, erect their hut, imperious to wind and rain,
spread their couch of rushes or fragrant hemlock boughs, build their
fires, and, with appetites whetted by the adventures of the day, enjoy
as rich a repast as earth can give.

The banks of the Ohio are now fringed with magnificent hotels, and the
stream is ploughed with steamers palatial grandeur. But probably no
voyagers on that river now can find the enjoyment, which Washington
experienced in his canoe, one hundred years ago.

Washington had a spirit of romance in his nature which led him
intensely to enjoy such scenes. And yet he was at the farthest remove
from a mere pleasure-seeker. His journal shows that his mind was
much engrossed with the great object of the expedition. He carefully
examined the soil, the growth of timber, and the tracts of land most
suitable for immediate settlement.

At Logstown, Colonel Crogan, and the officers of the fort returned
up the river, and left the adventurers to pursue their voyage into
the solitary realms beyond. About seventy-five miles below Fort Pitt
they came to quite an important Indian village, called Mingotown. Here
again, amid all these scenes of peace and beauty, where man might enjoy
almost the bliss of Eden, they came to the sad evidences of our fallen
race. The whole population was in turmoil. Sixty warriors, hideously
painted and armed to the teeth, were just setting out on the warpath.

Their savage natures were roused to the highest pitch of hatred against
the Cherokees, for some real or imagined wrong. With demoniac rage they
were going to rush upon some Cherokee village, at midnight; to apply
the torch, to dash out the brains of women and children, to tomahawk
the men; and, having made such captives as they could, to bring them
back to their villages, and there, burning them at the stake, to
inflict upon them the most fiend-like torture.

It was also said that, about forty miles farther down the river, two
white men had been recently killed. Who their murderers were was not
known, or whether their object was plunder or revenge. This troubled
state of affairs led Washington to hesitate whether to continue
his voyage. He, however, decided to proceed, though with great
circumspection. Having arrived at the spot, at the mouth of Captema
creek, where the murder were said to have taken place, he found a small
Indian village, two women only being there, as the men were all absent
hunting. Here he learned that rumor had, as usual, been exaggerating
the facts. Two traders had attempted to cross the Ohio, on the backs of
their horses, swimming them; and one of them had been drowned. This was

The voyage of two additional days, through unbroken solitudes, brought
the party to an Indian hunting camp, at the mouth of the Muskingum
river. An illustrious chieftain resided here, by the name of Kiashuta.
He was a sachem of the Senecas, and was considered head chief of the
river tribes.[71]

Kiashuta was a renowned warrior. He had been one of the most energetic
of the Indian chieftains in Pontiac’s conspiracy for the extermination
of the English. The chief instantly recognized Washington. Seventeen
years before, in 1753, he had formed one of the escort of the youthful
Washington, across the wilderness country, to the French posts near
Lake Erie.

The chief received Washington with every demonstration of friendship,
presented him with a quarter of a fine buffalo, just killed, aided
him in establishing his camp, and, at the camp fire, engaged in
earnest conversation until near the dawn of the morning. He was a very
intelligent man, of decided views as to Indian policy, and was well
informed respecting the plans and measures of the English. As was
the case with nearly all the chiefs, he was very anxious for peace
with the white men. He expressed the earnest desire, to Washington,
that friendly relations might continue to exist between them and the
English, and that trade might be carried on between them upon equitable
terms. Impartial history must declare that the Indians seldom if ever
commenced hostilities, unless goaded to do so by intolerable wrongs.

Early the next morning the delightful voyage was resumed, beneath
unclouded skies, through charming scenery, over a placid river, and in
the enjoyment of as genial a clime as this earth can anywhere afford.
They reached the mouth of the Great Kanawha. Here, upon a spot on the
southern, or Kentucky shore, appropriately called Point Pleasant, they
encamped for several days to explore the solitudes of the grand realms
spreading around them.[72]

Washington describes the country as charming in the extreme. There
were, in the vicinity, many beautiful lakelets of crystal water fringed
with the grand forest in its autumnal vesture. Over these still waters,
ducks, geese, and swans floated in numbers which could not be counted.
Their gambols and their joyous notes excited the mind with the most
pleasurable emotions. Flocks of fat turkeys would scarcely step aside
from the path of the hunter, while buffalo, deer, and other similar
game, met the eye in great abundance. The larder of our voyagers was
profusely stored, and among those back woodsmen there were cooks who
knew well how to find the tender cuts, and how to prepare them for
their repasts with the most appetizing effect.


_The Conflict Commenced._

  Death of Martha Custis--Parental Solicitude--Anti-Tea
      Combination--The Boston Tea Party--The Port Bill--Policy
      of Lord Dunmore--Fashion at Williamsburg--The Virginia
      Aristocracy--Rank and Influence of Washington--The
      Assembly Dissolved--The First Congress--Political Views
      of the Fairfaxes--Interesting Correspondence--Scenes in
      Boston--Harmony in Congress--The Chaplain--Grief at Mount
      Vernon--The Battle of Lexington--The Second Congress--The Army
      formed--Washington Commander-in-Chief.

            “Sorrow is for the sons of men
             And weeping for earth’s daughters.”

Washington, on his return to Mount Vernon, found his beloved
step-daughter, Martha Custis, in the very last stages of pulmonary
consumption. She was a beautiful girl of but seventeen summers, whom
Washington loved as his own child. While in anguish he was praying at
her bedside, her spirit took its flight. She died on the 19th of June,

John Park Custis, a petted boy of about sixteen, and the heir of a
large fortune, remained the idol of his indulgent mother. It is pretty
evident that he had his own way in all things, and that the sound
judgment of the father often reluctantly yielded to the injudicious
fondness of the mother. His education had been irregular and imperfect.
The impetuous youth fell in love with a young daughter of a wealthy
neighbor, Benedict Calvert, Esq. There was no objection to the
marriage, excepting the youth of the children. It is pretty evident
that Washington had considerable difficulty in inducing the impulsive
lad to consent to the postponement of the marriage for a year or two,
that he might prosecute his studies; for his education was exceedingly

He accordingly took John to New York, and placed him under the care
of Rev. Dr. Cooper, who was president of King’s College, now called
Columbia. The lad went reluctantly, and the fond mother was so pliant
to his wishes, that but a few months passed away when she consented
to his return, and to his premature marriage. The disapproval of
Washington is expressed in the following letter to President Cooper:

“It has been against my wishes that he should quit college in order
that he may soon enter into a new scene of life, which I think he
would be much fitter for some years hence than now. But having his own
inclination, the desires of his mother, and the acquiescence of almost
all his relatives to encounter, I did not care, as he is the last of
the family, to push my opposition too far. I have therefore submitted
to a kind of necessity.”

The bridegroom had not attained his twenty first year when the marriage
was celebrated, on the 3d of February, 1774. When Washington first
learned of the attachment, and the engagement, he wrote a letter to the
father of the young lady, from which we make the following extracts:

“I write to you on a subject of importance, and of no small
embarrassment to me. My son-in-law and ward, Mr. Custis, has, as I have
been informed, paid his addresses to your second daughter; and, having
make some progress in her affection, has solicited her in marriage. How
far a union of this sort may be agreeable to you, you best can tell.
But I should think myself wanting in candor, were I not to confess that
Miss Nellie’s amiable qualities are acknowledged on all hands, and that
an alliance with your family will be pleasing to his.

“This acknowledgment being made, you must permit me to add, sir, that
at this, or in any short time, his youth, inexperience, and unripened
education are, and will be, insuperable obstacles, in my opinion, to
the completion of the marriage. As his guardian, I conceive it my
indispensable duty to endeavor to carry him through a regular course
of education, many branches of which, I am sorry to say, he is to day
deficient in, and to guide his youth to a more advanced age, before an
event, on which his own peace, and the happiness of another, are to
depend, takes place.

“If the affection, which they have avowed for each other, is fixed on
a solid basis, it will receive no diminution in the course of two or
three years, in which time he may prosecute his studies and thereby
render himself more deserving of the lady, and useful to society. If,
unfortunately, as they are both young, there should be an abatement of
affection on either side, or both, it had better precede than follow

“Delivering my sentiments thus freely, will not, I hope, lead you into
a belief that I am desirous of breaking off the match. To postpone it
is all I have in view; for I shall recommend to the young gentleman,
with all the warmth that becomes a man of honor, to consider himself as
much engaged to your daughter as if the indissoluble knot were tied;
and, as the surest means of effecting this, to apply himself closely
to his studies, by which he will, in a great measure, avoid those
little flirtations with other young ladies, that may, by dividing the
attention, contribute not a little to divide the affection.”

There was throughout the colonies a general combination against using
tea, upon which Lord North had affixed a tax. The British merchants
sent, to many of the American ports, ships laden with tea. At New York
and Philadelphia, the people would not allow the tea to be landed; and
the ships returned to London with their cargoes. At Charleston they
landed the cargo and stored it in cellars, where it perished, as no
purchasers could be found.

At Boston, a number of the inhabitants, disguised as Indians, boarded
at night the tea ships which were, anchored in the harbor, and dashing
the chests, emptied all the tea into the water. This event was
popularly called The Boston Tea Party. The British Government was now
thoroughly enraged. Its wrath was mainly directed against Boston. A
bill was enacted by Parliament, known as the Boston Port Bill, closing
the port against all commerce whatever, and transferring the Custom
House to Salem. It was supposed that Boston would thus be punished by
utter ruin.

As another vindictive measure, as exasperating as it was insulting, it
was decreed that the people of Massachusetts should no longer have any
voice in the choice of their rulers; but that all counsellors, judges,
and magistrates should be appointed by the king of Great Britain, and
should hold office during his royal pleasure.

Lord Dunmore, who had held the Government of New York, upon being
appointed Governor of Virginia, repaired, after a little delay, to
Williamsburg. A singular conflict appears to have taken place between
the Governor and the powerful and patriotic aristocracy of Virginia. He
did all in his power to win them over to the side of the crown, against
the American people. His wife was an English lady of culture and high
accomplishments. He had a numerous family of sons and daughters.
Quite a brilliant court was established at Williamsburg. Magnificent
balls and dinner parties were given. Very marked attention was paid
to the opulent planters and their families, who constituted a sort of
American nobility. On their vast estates, cultivated by hundreds of
negro slaves, they occupied the position of the feudal barons of the
European world. Regulations were drawn up, by order of the governor,
and officially published, determining the etiquette to be observed at
these grand receptions; and establishing the rank and precedence of
all military and civil officers and their wives. Unwonted splendor
embellished the streets of the capital. Gilded chariots and four, drawn
by the most magnificent steeds richly caparisoned, almost crowded the
streets of Williamsburg. It was indeed a glittering bribe which the
governor pressed upon the aristocracy of the Ancient Dominion.

But these noble men wavered not in their advocacy of human rights. They
stood as firm as their own Alleghanies. The advances of the governor
were cordially met. They accepted the proffered hand of friendship.
The parties of the governor were attended, and entertainments of equal
splendor were given in return. But not one particle of principle was
surrendered. Indeed, these nobles of the New World hoped that the Earl
of Dunmore, like Lord Botetourt, might be led to appreciate the true
posture of affairs, and to lend his influence to the cause of liberty,
rather than to that of oppression.

Washington arrived at Williamsburg on the 15th of April, 1773. He
immediately called upon the governor, to pay him his respects. The
military and civil offices of Washington caused him to have a high
position assigned him, in the court regulations. The House of Burgesses
was opened with great pomp. The lady of the governor, having recently
arrived, the Assembly voted to welcome her with a splendid ball, to be
given on the 27th of the month.

Just then intelligence reached Williamsburg, of the vindictive acts of
Parliament in closing the port of Boston, and in depriving the people
of the choice of their own rulers. One general burst of indignation
followed this announcement. A resolution of protest was promptly
passed, and a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer was appointed,
that God would save the colonies from civil war; that He would
interpose to protect their rights from destruction and that He would
unite the hearts of all Americans, to oppose whatever encroachment
might be attempted upon their liberties:

The anger of Lord Dunmore was aroused. The very next morning he
summoned the Assembly to his council chamber, and, in laconic but
excited speech, said.

“Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses: I have in my hand
a paper, published by order of your House, conceived in such terms as
reflect highly upon his majesty and the parliament of Great Britain,
which makes it necessary for me to dissolve you; and you are dissolved

Thus the House of Burgesses was entirely broken up. It had no longer
any legal existence. The members were sent to their homes. A new House
of Burgesses must be formed, by another election.

This hostile act, on the part of the governor, excited, of course,
great indignation. There was, in the vicinity, a public house which
had long been known as the Old Raleigh Tavern. To a large hall in this
house the members adjourned. They were now merely private citizens,
with no official power. As a convention, however, they passed
resolutions strongly denouncing the acts of parliament, recommending to
all the colonies to desist from the use of tea, and all other European
commodities, and recommending the assembly of a General Congress, to be
composed of deputies from the several colonies.

This all-important measure met with prompt concurrence, the 5th of
September was appointed for the meeting of the first Congress in

Still the gentlemen of Virginia remained on courteous terms with Lord
Dunmore. The ball was attended with great spirit. It is said that the
Earl was very marked in his attentions to Washington. He appreciated
his lofty character, and the influence he was capable of exerting. On
the very day when the governor dissolved the Assembly, Washington dined
with him, and spent the evening in his company. The governor also soon
accompanied Washington to Mount Vernon, breakfasted with him, and, by
his side, rode over the splendid estate.

Two days after the ball, letters reached Williamsburg, from Boston,
recommending a general league of the colonies and the suspension of all
trade with Great Britain. Most of the members of the dissolved Assembly
had returned to their homes. But twenty-five remained. They held a
convention at which Peyton Randolph presided. It was voted to call a
meeting of all the members of the late House of Burgesses, to take
steps for the formation of such a league.

On the 1st of June the Boston Port Bill was to be enforced. The day
was observed in Williamsburg and elsewhere as a season of fasting and
prayer.[74] All business ceased. Flags were draped in crape, and hung
at half-mast. Funeral bells were tolled. Less than three million of
people were rising in opposition to the despotism of one of the most
powerful empires on the globe. Every thoughtful man must have been
pale with apprehension. The odds against the colonies were fearful.
The king and his courtiers felt that they had but to close the hand
that grasped the throat of the colonies, and inevitable strangulation
would ensue. The awful cloud was growing blacker every day. There was
no alternative for the Americans, but to bow their necks to the yoke of
the cruel taskmaster, and surrender all their liberties, or to engage
in a conflict where it would seem that the chances were hundreds to one
against them. Issues awful beyond conception were at stake. Solemnity
sat on all countenances.

The king of England appointed General Thomas Gage to command the
military forces in Massachusetts. The general had said to the king:

“The Americans will be lions only so long as the English are lambs.
Give me five regiments and I will keep Boston quiet.”

Gage issued a proclamation denouncing the contemplated league as
_traitorous_, and as consequently justly consigning all who should join
it, to the scaffold. He ostentatiously encamped a force of artillery
and infantry on the Common; and prohibited all public meetings, except
the annual town meetings in March and May.

Washington returned to Mount Vernon the latter part of June. He
presided at a convention of the inhabitants of Fairfax county, and was
appointed chairman of a committee to express the sentiments of the
meeting in view of the despotic acts of Parliament. The Fairfaxes, with
their large wealth and their intimate associations with the British
aristocracy, were exceedingly reluctant to break with the mother
country. Bryan Fairfax, a very amiable man, with all of the gentle,
and none of the stern attributes of humanity, occupied a beautiful
mansion called Tarlston Hall, on an estate near Mount Vernon. He wrote
to Washington, disapproving of the strong public measures which were
adopted, and urging a petition to the throne. Washington replied:

“I would heartily join you in your political sentiments, as far as
relates to a humble and dutiful petition to the throne, provided
there was the most distant hope of success. But have we not tried
this already? Have we not addressed the Lords and remonstrated to the
Commons? And to what end? Does it not appear clear as the sun in its
meridian brightness, that there is a regular, systematical plan to fix
the right and practice of taxation upon us?”

Washington, as chairman of the committee, drew up some admirable
resolutions in entire accordance with the spirit of liberty which the
Americans had thus far advocated. They were very forcibly expressed,
and to them the king and Parliament could only reply with bayonets and
bullets. The resolutions were promptly adopted, and Washington was
chosen a delegate to represent the county at a general convention of
the province of Virginia, to be held at Williamsburg, on the 1st of
August, 1773.

Washington had strong hopes that the Non-Importation scheme would lead
Parliament to a sense of justice, without an appeal to arms.

“I am convinced,” he said, “that there is no relief for us but in
their distress. And I think, at least I hope, that there is public
virtue enough left among us, to deny ourselves everything but the bare
necessaries of life to accomplish this.”

Some suggested that the Americans should refuse to pay the debts
which they owed the English merchants. To this proposition Washington
indignantly replied:

“While we are thus accusing others of injustice we should be just
ourselves. And how this can be, while we owe a considerable debt,
and refuse payment of it, to Great Britain is, to me, inconceivable.
Nothing but the last extremity can justify it.”

On the 1st of August the convention, composed of delegates from all
parts of Virginia, met at Williamsburg. Washington presented the
resolution he had been appointed to draft, in behalf of the citizens
of Fairfax county. His feelings were so thoroughly aroused that
he advocated them with a speech of remarkable eloquence. All were
astonished; for Washington was not an eloquent man, but a man of calm
judgment and deliberate speech. In the ardor of the moment, and fully
prepared to fulfill his promise to the letter, he said:

“I am ready to raise one thousand men, subsist them at my own expense,
and march, at their head, to the relief of Boston.”[75]

The convention continued in session six days. George Washington, and
six others, of the most illustrious sons of Virginia, were chosen to
represent the province in the first colonial Congress. Soon after his
return to Mount Vernon he received a letter from Bryan Fairfax, which
throws much light upon the character of both of these estimable men.
Mr. Fairfax wrote, in reference to the letter which he had previously
sent to Washington, and which had not met with approval:

“I am uneasy to find that any one should look upon the letter as
repugnant to the principles we are contending for. And therefore,
when you have leisure I shall take it as a favor, if you will let me
know wherein it was thought so. I beg leave to look upon you as a
friend; and it is a great relief to unbosom one’s thoughts to a friend.
Besides, the information, and the correction of my errors, which I
may obtain from a correspondence are great inducements to it. For I
am convinced that no man in the colony wishes its prosperity more,
would go greater lengths to serve it, or is, at the same time a better
subject to the crown. Pray excuse these compliments. They may be
tolerable from a friend.”[76]

Washington was crowded with public and private affairs. He had no time
to enter into a lengthy discussion. But in his brief reply he wrote:

“I can only, in general, add that an innate spirit of freedom first
told me that the measures which the administration have for some time
been, and now are violently pursuing, are opposed to every principle
of natural justice; while much abler heads than my own have fully
convinced me that they are not only repugnant to natural right, but
subversive of the laws and constitution of Great Britain itself.”

The spirit of despotism held Boston in its own clutch. The port bill
was enforced. No ships entered the harbor; the warehouses were closed;
the streets were deserted; the rich were impoverished, and the poor
were without employment and without food. A park of artillery was
stationed upon the Common. Four large field pieces were planted, to
sweep Boston Neck, the only approach to the town by land; a regiment of
British regulars was encamped on Fort Hill. Boston bore the aspect of
a city in military possession of the enemy. All hearts were moved with
indignation, and yet there was a wonderful display of circumspection
and sound judgment governing the indomitable courage of the

On the 5th of September, 1774, Congress assembled in a large
building called Carpenter’s Hall, in Philadelphia. Washington had
made the journey there on horseback, from Mount Vernon, in the noble
companionship of Patrick Henry and Edmund Pendleton. It was a solemn
meeting of as majestic men as ever dwelt on this globe.[77]

All sectional and religious differences were merged in the one great
object which absorbed their thoughts and energies. Patrick Henry
expressed the common sentiment as, in a speech of eloquence such as has
rarely been uttered from human lips, he exclaimed:

“All America is thrown into one mass. Where are your landmarks, your
boundaries of colonies? They are all thrown down. The distinctions
between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are
no more. I _am not a Virginian_, but an American.”

Most of these men were imbued with deep religious feeling. Every man,
of true grandeur of mind, must be awed by the tremendous mystery of
this our earthly being--emerging from the sublime eternity of the past,
to this brief, meteoric, tempestuous life, but again to plunge into the
profundity of the eternity before us.

These patriots, moving amid solemnities of infinite moment, and
threatened with the ruin of their own country and personal martyrdom,
felt the need of the guidance and the aid of God. There were
different religious denominations represented. Samuel Adams, one of
Massachusetts’ noble patriots, a strong Congregationalist, rose and

“I can willingly join with any gentleman, of whatever denomination, who
is a friend of his country. Rev. Mr. Duché, of this city, is such a
man. I therefore move that he be invited to officiate as chaplain.”

Mr. Duché was an eminent Episcopal clergyman. He appeared in his
Episcopal robes, and read the impressive morning service, the clerk
making the responses. On the 6th of September, a rumor, which
afterward proved to be incorrect, reached Congress that the British
were cannonading Boston. It so chanced that the Psalter for that day
included the following verses from the 35th Psalm:

“Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me. Fight against
them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand
up for my help. Draw out also the spear, and stop the way of them that
persecute me. Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.”

John Adams gave a very vivid description of the scene, in a letter to
his wife. He wrote: “You must remember this was the morning after we
heard the horrible rumor of the cannonade of Boston. I never saw a
greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained
that psalm to be read, on that morning.

“After, this Mr. Duché unexpectedly struck out into an extempore
prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present. Episcopalian as he
is, Dr. Cooper himself never prayed with such fervor, such ardor, such
earnestness and pathos, and in language so eloquent and sublime for
America, for the Congress, for the province of Massachusetts Bay, and
especially for the town of Boston.”

Most of the members of Congress stood during this prayer. But it was
observed that Washington threw himself upon his knees; and undoubtedly
his devout spirit joined fervently in each petition. As the result of
this session of Congress, it was resolved to recommend to decline all
commercial relations with Great Britain. An address was prepared, to
the people of Canada, urging the inhabitants there to make common
cause with their brethren of the more southern colonies. A respectful
but firm remonstrance was addressed to King George III. and a statement
of facts was presented to the people of Great Britain.[78]

The Congress remained in session fifty-one days. Patrick Henry, on his
return home, was asked whom he considered the greatest man in Congress.
He replied:

“If you speak of eloquence, Mr. Rutlidge, of South Carolina, is by far
the greatest orator. But if you speak of solid information, and sound
judgment, Colonel Washington is unquestionably the greatest man on that

Washington returned to Mount Vernon. Clouds of sorrow darkened his
dwelling, Mrs. Washington was lonely and grief-stricken. Her beautiful,
amiable, only daughter, was in the grave. Her only son was absent.
Her noble husband had embarked in a cause which menaced him with the
scaffold. Their much loved neighbor, George William Fairfax, whose
friendship and intimacy had been one of their chief social joys, had
left his estate at Belvoir, under the care of an overseer, and had
returned to England, to enter upon the possession of large estates
which had devolved upon him there. Washington, overwhelmed with immense
national solicitudes, found his home enveloped in an atmosphere of
loneliness and sadness. Such is human life. Such it has been from the
days of the patriarchs:

    “A path it is of joys and griefs, of many hopes and fears,
     Gladdened at times by sunny smiles, but oftener dimmed by tears.”

In March, 1774, Washington attended another Virginia Convention, at
Richmond. Not one word of conciliation came from the British cabinet;
but only insults and defiance, accompanied by acts of increasing

“It is useless,” exclaimed Patrick Henry, “to address further petitions
to the British government; or to await the effect of those already
addressed to the throne. We must fight. I repeat it, we must fight. An
appeal to arms, and to the God of Hosts, is all that is left to us.”

Washington expressed full sympathy in these sentiments. He wrote to his
brother Augustine, offering to take command of a company he was raising
and disciplining. He added, “It is my full intention to devote my life
and fortune to the cause.”[79]

There were four thousand British troops in Boston. The province had a
supply of military stores at Concord, distant about eighteen miles. On
the night of the 18th of April, 1775, General Gage sent a detachment
of about nine hundred men to capture and destroy the stores. The
expedition was organized with the utmost secrecy. Boats, from the
men-of-war anchored in the harbor, took the troops, from the foot of
the Common, about ten o’clock at night, and carried them across the
bay to Lechmere Point in Cambridge. Officers were stationed at all
important points to prevent any intelligence of the expedition from
being communicated to the people.

But eagle eyes were watching the movement, and couriers, on fleet
horses were soon rushing, through the gloom of night, from farm-house
to farm-house, with the alarming tidings. The bells in the village
steeples sent forth their cry. And, through the night air, the booming
of cannon was heard, proclaiming to the startled people that the
detested foe was on the war-path.

Colonel Smith, who led the British soldiers, was alarmed. He sent back
to General Gage for reinforcements. At the same time he pushed Major
Pitcairn forward with the advance, to seize the bridges at Concord,
lest the Americans might attempt there to oppose his progress. Pitcairn
captured every man he met or overtook. When he reached Lexington,
about seventy or eighty of the people were huddled together on the
green, near the church. They had sprung from their beds, half-dressed;
some had guns in their hands, and some were unarmed, mere lookers-on,
bewildered by a movement which signified they knew not what.

Pitcairn, splendidly mounted, and at the head of his strong array of
British regulars, was approaching on the double-quick. As soon as he
caught sight of the feeble band of citizens, he drew his sword, and
shouted, with oaths which we need not record:

“Disperse, you villains. Lay down your arms and disperse.” Then turning
to his men he added, with still other oaths, “Fire!”[80]

The soldiers were more humane than their commander. It seemed to them
like murder, to be shooting these helpless citizens, who could offer no
resistance to their march. The soldiers of the first platoon discharged
their muskets; but took care to throw the bullets over the heads of
those whom they were assailing. One or two muskets were discharged
by the Americans as, in consternation, they turned and fled.[81] The
British now opened a deadly fire. Eight of the Americans were killed,
and ten wounded. The victorious British held the field. It was between
four and five o’clock, of a September morning, and, in its dim light,
objects at a distance could be but feebly discerned.

Two only of the British were wounded, one in the leg and one on the
hand. In token of their victory the whole body fired a triumphant
salute, and gave three cheers. They then marched, unopposed, six miles
farther toward Concord. About seven o’clock they entered the town, in
two divisions, by different roads. In the meantime many of the stores
had been removed, so that the work of destruction, which was promptly
commenced, proved not very successful.

By ten o’clock about four hundred armed Americans had assembled,
in the vicinity, and the British commenced a retreat. The whole
country was now alarmed. The farmers, with their rusty guns and rude
accoutrements, were rushing, from all directions, to meet the foe. The
highly disciplined regulars, in imposing battle array, but beginning
to tremble, pressed along the road on their homeward route. The rustic
marksmen, from behind rocks and trees and stumps and sheltering
buildings, opened a straggling fire, which every moment seemed to
increase in severity and deadliness.

Some of the British soldiers were shot dead; some were severely
wounded, and had to be carried along by their comrades; and some
dropped down, in utter exhaustion, by the way. While thus retreating,
every hour added to their dismay, and the most ignorant soldier could
see that they were in imminent danger of being entirely cut off by
their rapidly increasing foes. Their fears had now swollen to a panic.

About nine o’clock in the morning, General Gage had heard of the
peril to which his troops were exposed, and he immediately despatched
reinforcements, under Lord Percy, to their aid. The British Lord, as
he commenced his march ordered his band, in derision of the Americans,
to play “Yankee Doodle.” His troops consisted of a brigade of a
thousand men, with two field-pieces. This force he deemed invincible
by any power Massachusetts could bring against it. Hilariously he led
his veterans over the Neck and through Roxbury, as if on a pleasure

About noon, to his surprise, he met the British regulars, in
utter rout, flying as fast as terror could drive them, before the
Massachusetts farmers. He opened his brigade to the right and left
to receive the fugitives, and, planting his field-pieces on an
eminence, held the Americans at bay.[82] A few moments were allowed for
refreshment and repose, when the whole force resumed its humiliating
flight. The enraged British soldiers behaved like savages. They set
fire to the houses and shops by the way. Women and children were
maltreated. The sick and helpless were driven from their flaming
dwellings into the fields.

The Americans hotly pursued. They kept up a constant fire, from every
available point. The British occasionally made a stand, and sharp
skirmishes ensued. Every hour the march of the fugitives became more
and more impeded by the number of their wounded. A bullet pierced the
leg of Colonel Smith, and he sat upon his horse pallid and bleeding.
A musket ball struck a button from the waistcoat of Lord Percy.
One of his officers was so severely wounded that he had to be left
behind, at West Cambridge. The ammunition of the British was failing
them. Companies of the American militia were hurrying to the scene of
battle, from Roxbury, Dorchester, and Milton. Colonel Pickering was
approaching, with seven hundred of the Essex militia.

About sunset the wretched fugitives reached Charlestown Common, where
they found rest under the protection of the guns of the British
men-of-war. Gage was astounded at the disaster. The idea had not
entered his mind that the unorganized farmers of Massachusetts
would dare to meet, in hostile array, soldiers inured to war on the
battle-fields of Europe. One of his officers had recently written to
London, that the idea of the Americans taking up arms was ridiculous.
He said:

“Whenever it comes to blows the American that can run the fastest will
think himself well off, believe me. Any two regiments here ought to be
decimated if they did not beat, in the field, the whole force of the
Massachusetts province.”

Washington wrote: “If the retreat had not been as precipitate as it
was--and God knows it could not well have been more so--the ministerial
troops must have surrendered or been totally cut off.”

In this memorable conflict, which ushered in the awful war of the
Revolution, with its appalling catalogue of woes, the British lost, in
killed, wounded, and missing, two hundred and seventy-one. Eighteen of
their slain were officers. The loss of the Americans was forty-nine
killed, thirty-nine wounded, and five missing.[83]

History records many atrocious crimes against the British court and
cabinet. But perhaps there is none more unnatural, cruel, and criminal,
than for that proud and powerful empire thus to attempt to rivet
the chains of despotism upon her own sons and daughters, who were
struggling, with the hardships of the wilderness, that they might
enjoy civil and religious liberty.

This outrage roused all America. The tidings reached Virginia at a
critical moment. Lord Dunmore, in obedience to a ministerial order
which the king had sent to all the provincial governors, was then
seizing upon the military munitions of the province. It was clear that
the entire subjugation of the colonies was to be attempted. Every
county in Virginia was crying “To Arms.” Nearly all Virginians were
looking to Washington to take command of the Virginia troops.

Washington was at Mount Vernon, preparing to leave for Philadelphia,
as a delegate to the second Congress. Mr. Bryan Fairfax and Major
Horatio Gage chanced to be his guests at that time. Washington wrote to
his friend, George William Fairfax, then in England, in the following
terms, alike characteristic of his humanity and his firmness:

“Unhappy it is to reflect that a brother’s sword has been sheathed in
a brother’s breast; and that the once happy and peaceful fields of
America are either to be drenched with blood or inhabited by slaves.
Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice.”

It was now war. In all directions troops were mustering. A large camp
of Americans held the British besieged in Boston. A heroic band,
mainly of New Hampshire and Vermont men, under Ethan Allen, surprised
and captured, without bloodshed, the old forts of Ticonderoga and Crown
Point, where a large supply of military and naval stores was obtained.

The second Congress met, on the 10th of May, 1775. Peyton Randolph,
of Virginia, was chosen president. Being obliged soon to return to
Virginia, as speaker of the Virginia Assembly, John Hancock, one of the
most illustrious sons of Massachusetts, succeeded him in the chair.
There was still a lingering attachment for the mother country, which
was ever affectionately called _Home_. All wished for reconciliation.
Though a “humble and dutiful” petition to the king was moved and
carried, many of the members regarded it as entirely futile, and
somewhat humiliating. John Adams, of Massachusetts, vigorously opposed
it as an imbecile measure.

A federal union was formed, which leagued the colonies together in a
military confederacy. Each colony regulated its own internal affairs.
The congress of their delegates was vested with the power of making
peace or war, and of legislating on all matters which involved the
common security. The enlistment of troops was authorized, forts were
ordered to be reared and garrisoned, and notes, to the amount of three
million dollars, were voted to be issued, on the pledged faith of the
Confederacy, and bearing the inscription of “The United Colonies.”

Washington was appointed chairman of the committee on military affairs.
The infinitely important question agitated all hearts, Who should fill
the responsible post of commander-in-chief of the united colonial

General Charles Lee, an Englishman by birth, and a rough soldier,
trained amid the rudeness of camps, was a prominent candidate. He was
a veteran fighter, and had obtained great renown, for his reckless
courage on some of the most bloody fields of European warfare. It
does not seem, however, that Lee thought of seeking the office. When
informed that his name had been proposed as a candidate, he wrote to
Edmund Burke:

“To think myself qualified for the most important charge that was
ever committed to mortal man is the last stage of presumption. Nor
do I think that the Americans would, or ought to confide in a man,
let his qualifications be ever so great, who has no property among
them. It is true I most devoutly wish them success, in the glorious
struggle; that I have expressed my wishes both in writing and _viva
voce_. But my errand to Boston was only to see a people in so singular

It would seem, from John Adams’ diary, that he was the first to propose
Washington. There was an army of about ten thousand men encamped
around Boston. They were nearly all New Englanders. It seemed a little
discourteous to go to Virginia to find a commander. But Mr. Adams rose
in his place and, in a few forcible words, proposed that Congress
should adopt the army at Cambridge, and appoint George Washington, of
Virginia, General-in-Chief.

“The gentleman,” he said, “is among us, and is very well known to
us all; a gentleman whose skill and experience as an officer, whose
independent fortune, great talents, and excellent universal character
would command the approbation of all America, and unite the cordial
exertions of all the colonies better than any other person in the

On the 15th of May the “Continental Army” was adopted by Congress.
The pay of the commander-in-chief was fixed at five hundred dollars a
month; and Washington received the unanimous vote, by ballot, for the
all-important office. When the vote was formally announced, Washington
rose, and in a brief speech, expressive of his high sense of the honor
conferred upon him, said:

“I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room, that
I this day declare, with the utmost sincerity, that I do not think
myself equal to the command I am honored with. As to pay, I beg leave
to assure the Congress that, as no pecuniary consideration could have
tempted me to accept this arduous employment, at the expense of my
domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit of it.
I will keep an exact account of my expenses. Those, I doubt not, they
will discharge; and that is all I desire.”[84]


_Progress of the War._

  Letter to his Wife--Affairs at Boston--Proclamation of Gage--The
      Battle of Bunker Hill--Results of the Battle--The Loss
      on each side--The journey of Washington--Scenes in New
      York--Washington’s Arrival at Cambridge--His Appearance--He
      takes the Command--The two Forces--Condition of the
      Americans--Washington’s Officers--Character of Joseph
      Reed--Correspondence with Gates--Project for the Invasion of
      Canada--The Indian Alliance.

Washington wrote in terms of great tenderness to his afflicted wife,
whom he had no time to visit. We find the following expressions in his

“MY DEAREST: I am now set down to write to you on a subject which fills
me with inexpressible concern. And this concern is greatly aggravated
and increased when I reflect upon the uneasiness I know it will give

“You may believe me, my dear Patty, when I assure you, in the most
solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment, I have used
every endeavor in my power to avoid it; not only from my unwillingness
to part with you and the family, but from a consciousness of its being
a trust too great for my capacity. I should enjoy more real happiness
in one month with you at home, than I have the most distant prospect of
finding abroad, if my stay were to be seven times seven years.

“I shall rely confidently in that Providence which has heretofore
preserved and been bountiful to me. I shall feel no pain from the toil
or danger of the campaign. My unhappiness will flow from the uneasiness
I know you will feel from being left alone. I therefore beg that you
will summon your whole fortitude, and pass your time as agreeably as
possible. Nothing will give me so much sincere satisfaction as to hear
this, and to hear it from your pen.”

Washington received his commission on the 20th of June. The next day he
left Philadelphia for the army. He was then forty-three years of age,
and in perfect health. His commanding stature, thoughtful countenance,
and dignified demeanor arrested the attention and won the admiration of
every beholder. He sat his horse with ease and grace rarely equalled
and never surpassed.

Not quite four weeks before, several ships-of-war and transports, with
large reinforcements, had entered Boston Harbor, from England. They
brought also the distinguished generals, Burgoyne, Howe, and Clinton.
There were, at that time, five thousand British regulars in the city.
Ten thousand Americans held them in close siege. As Burgoyne stood upon
the deck of his ship, and had the American’s camp pointed out to him,
he exclaimed, with surprise and scorn:

“What! ten thousand American peasants keep five thousand British shut
up! Well, let us get in, and we will soon find elbow room.”

Encouraged by these reinforcements, Gage issued a proclamation putting
the province under martial law, threatening to punish, with death, as
rebels and traitors, all who should continue under arms, but offering
pardon to all who would return to their allegiance, excepting John
Hancock and Samuel Adams. It was declared that their offences were “too
flagitious, not to meet with condign punishment.”

The threat exasperated the Americans, and the army was soon increased
to about fifteen thousand. It was a motley assemblage of unorganized
men under no one leader. There were four distinct and independent
bodies. The Massachusetts troops were under General Artemas Ward;
General John Stark led the New Hampshire men. The Rhode Islanders
were under the command of General Nathaniel Greene. The impetuous and
reckless Putnam was at the head of the Connecticut soldiers.

Intelligence, in those days, travelled slowly. On the 17th of June,
1775, the world-renowned battle of Bunker Hill was fought. But no rumor
of the conflict had reached Philadelphia when Washington left for
Cambridge, three days later. Washington was accompanied by Generals
Lee and Schuyler, and a brilliant escort of Philadelphia troops. They
had advanced but about twenty miles from the city, when they caught
sight, in the distance, of a courier advancing, spurring his horse
to his utmost speed. He brought despatches of the battle. Washington
inquired, with almost breathless anxiety, into all the particulars.
When told that the Americans stood their ground bravely, reserved their
fire till they could take deliberate aim, and did not retreat until all
their ammunition was expended, he exclaimed, with deep emotion, “The
liberties of our country are safe.”

We need not here enter into the details of this battle, as it was
one in which Washington took no part. A general description of the
wonderful event is however needful, that the reader may comprehend the
transactions which soon ensued, resulting from it.

The American troops were kept together only by a general feeling of
indignation against their oppressors. None of them were acquainted
with the discipline of European armies. Most of them were without
any uniform, or any soldierly accoutrements. The farmers and their
boys had left the plough in the furrow, caught up the musket or the
fowling-piece with the powder-horn, and, in their coarse, homespun
clothes, without food, and with but the slightest supply of ammunition,
had rushed to the field, to combat the veteran soldiers of Great
Britain, under leaders who had already obtained renown in many a
hard-fought battle.

There was a ridge of quite commanding heights, in the rear of the
village of Charlestown, which overlooked the town and the shipping.
Two of the most prominent of these eminences were called Bunker’s Hill
and Breed’s Hill. A council of war decided to seize and occupy those
heights. It was necessary that the enterprise should be undertaken with
the utmost secrecy and caution; for the British men-of-war could open
upon the works a deadly cannonade.

It was Friday night, the 16th of June. Just before sunset, about twelve
hundred American soldiers, were assembled on Charlestown Common.
None but the officers were aware of the expedition which was to be
undertaken. President Langdon, of Harvard College, offered prayers.
In the fading twilight they commenced their silent march. Though five
of the British ships-of-war were anchored, so as to bear, with their
broadsides, upon the peninsula. The troops, in the darkness, and with
careful tread, crossed the isthmus unseen.

Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill were so nearly connected as to be almost
one. The lines, for the fortifications were marked out on Breed’s
Hill, and the American farmers, accustomed to the spade, went to work
with a will. It was a warm summer night, and the serene, cloudless sky
was brilliantly illumined with stars. From the shores of Boston the
sentinel’s cry of “All’s well,” floated over the silent waters.

As the day dawned, some sailors, on board one of the ships, espied the
rising ramparts. The alarm was given. The ships promptly commenced
their fire. Such thunders of war had never before been heard in that
peaceful bay. All Boston was roused by the terrific cannonade. But
the intrenchments were already so far advanced, as to afford the men
protection from the iron storm with which they were assailed.

Gage called a council of war. From these heights, the Americans, should
they hold them, could bombard Boston and the shipping. It was deemed
necessary to dislodge them, at whatever cost. Twenty-eight large
barges were crowded with the best of British troops, in their best
equipments. Major-General Howe led them. It was not yet noon-day. The
spectacle was sublime, as these veteran soldiers, in their scarlet
uniforms, and with the brilliant sun of a June morning reflected from
polished muskets and bayonets and brass field-pieces, were rowed across
the placid waters in parallel lines.

They landed at Moulton’s Point, a little north of Breed’s Hill.
Immediately every British ship in the harbor, and every battery which
could bring its guns to bear upon the American works, opened fire. Not
a cannon, not a musket, was discharged in return. Silence, as of the
tomb, reigned behind the American intrenchments. The British soldiers,
in military array, which they deemed irresistible, and which was truly
appalling, commenced the ascent of the hill. The Americans, crouched
behind their earthworks, took deliberate aim, and impatiently awaited
the order to fire.

When the British were within thirty paces of the Americans there was a
simultaneous discharge. The slaughter was awful. Every bullet hit its
mark. Still the British troops, with disciplined valor characteristic
of the nation, continued to advance notwithstanding an incessant stream
of fire, which mowed down whole ranks. But soon the carnage became too
deadly to be endured. The whole body broke and rushed precipitately
down the hill in utter confusion. Thousand of spectators in Boston
crowded the roofs, the heights, the steeples, watching this sublime
spectacle with varying emotions. The British soldiers were astonished,
and could hardly believe the testimony of their eye-sight, when they
beheld the British regulars retreating in confusion before the American
militia. But who can describe or imagine the emotions which agitated
the bosoms of American wives and daughters, as they gazed upon the
surges of the dreadful conflict, where their fathers, husbands, sons,
and brothers were struggling in the midst of the awful carnage.

At the bottom of the hill, the troops were again marshalled in line,
and, with reinforcements, commenced another ascent of the hill to
storm the works. When within pistol-shot another series of volleys,
flash following flash, was opened upon them. The ground was instantly
covered with the dying and the dead. Again the bleeding, panic-stricken
regulars, assailed by such a storm of bullets as they never had
encountered before, recoiled and fled. Charlestown was now in flames,
and a spectacle of horror was presented, such as even the veterans in
European warfare were appalled to contemplate.

The case was becoming desperate. The British general, Burgoyne, was
watching the scene, from one of the batteries in Boston, with mingled
emotions of astonishment and anxiety. He wrote to a friend in London:

“Sure I am, nothing ever has or ever can be more dreadfully terrible
than what was to be seen or heard at this time. The most incessant
discharge of guns that ever was heard by mortal ears; straight before,
a large and noble town all in one great blaze, and the church steeples,
being timber, were great pyramids of fire; the roar of cannon, mortars,
and muskets to fill the ear, the storm of the redoubts to fill the
eye; and the reflection that perhaps a defeat was a final loss of the
British Empire in America, to fill the mind, made the whole a picture
and a complication of horror and importance, beyond anything that ever
came to my lot to witness.”[85]

Howe ordered a third attack. Many of the British officers remonstrated,
saying that it would be downright butchery. General Clinton, who had
been watching the action from Copp’s Hill, hurriedly crowded some boats
with reinforcements, and crossed the water to aid in a renewal of the
battle. Accidentally it was discovered that the ammunition of the
Americans was nearly expended. The neck of the peninsula was so swept
by the cannonade from the ships, that no fresh supply of powder could
be sent to them. Preparations were accordingly made by the British to
carry the works by the bayonet.

The soldiers were exceedingly reluctant again to ascend the hill, in
the face of the deadly fire which they knew awaited them. They were
goaded on by the swords of the officers. Again the Americans reserved
their fire till the assailants were within a few feet of the ramparts.
A numerous volley of leaden hail fell upon them. Officers and men were
alike struck down by wounds and death. General Howe was struck by a
bullet on the foot.

But alas! the Americans had fired their last round. Their ammunition
was exhausted. The British veterans, with fixed bayonets, rushed over
the earthworks. A desperate fight now took place, hand to hand. Stones
were hurled. Muskets were clubbed. Men clenched each other in the
frenzied, deadly strife. The Americans, greatly outnumbered by their
assailants, who had ammunition in abundance, were now compelled to
retire. They cut their way through two divisions of the British, who
were in their rear to intercept their retreat. As they were slowly
retiring, disputing the ground inch by inch, they were assailed by a
constant fire from the British. It was here that the patriot Warren
fell. A musket ball passed through his head, and he dropped dead upon
the spot. The retreating Americans crossed the neck, still exposed to
a raging fire from ships and batteries. The bleeding, exhausted foe,
did not venture to pursue. The victors took possession of Bunker Hill,
promptly threw up additional intrenchments, and hurried across, from
Boston, that they might firmly hold the works.

The British admitted, in their returns of the battle, that out of a
detachment of two thousand men they lost, in killed and wounded, one
thousand and fifty four. This amounts to the astonishing proportion of
more than one-half of the number engaged. The loss of the Americans
did not exceed four hundred and fifty. Coolly the historian writes
these numbers. Calmly the reader peruses them. But who can imagine the
anguish which penetrated these American homes and those distant homes
in England, where widows and orphans wept in grief which could not be

The Americans were defeated. But it was a defeat which exercised, over
the public mind, the effect of a victory. The British were victors.
But Britain admitted, that a few more such victories would bring the
British empire in America to a close.

The news of the battle of Bunker Hill swept the land like a whirlwind.
Washington was greatly encouraged, as he learned of the heroism with
which the Americans had conducted the conflict. As he rapidly advanced,
on his journey, escorted by his brilliant cavalcade, the inhabitants
of all the towns and villages, on his way, crowded the streets to gaze
upon him.

The Americans were exposed to great embarrassments. The governors of
nearly all the provinces were Englishmen, and bitterly hostile to the
American cause. They had great political power, and also much social
influence over the most opulent and aristocratic portions of the
community. In all the cities there were large numbers, of the higher
classes, whose sympathies were earnestly with the crown of England.
Many of these would shrink from no crime to thwart the plans of the
Americans. It was therefore needful that Washington should travel with
a strong guard.

Governor Tryon, of New York, was intense in his hostility to the
“rebels,” as he called all the Americans who were opposed to the
despotism of Great Britain. He was then in England, but would
soon return, with ships and armies, to hold New York bay, and the
Hudson, in subserviency to the British. He might thus cut off all
intercourse between the eastern and southern provinces. Anxiously
General Washington discussed this matter, as he rode along, with his
companions, Generals Lee and Schuyler.[87]

Washington decided to intrust the command of New York to General
Schuyler. At Newark, New Jersey, a delegation met Washington to conduct
him to the city of New York. They informed him that a ship had just
arrived from England and that Governor Tryon, who was on board, was
every hour expected to land. How would these antagonistic forces meet,
at the same port--the British colonial governor, and the American
military commander!

Washington reached the city first. The idea of American Independence
of the British crown had not yet been uttered, if even it had occurred
to any one. It was evident that the authority of Congress and the
authority of the British Crown would soon meet in conflict. What the
result would be, no one could tell. Peter Van Burgh Livingston,
president of the New York Assembly, addressing Washington in a very
cautious speech of congratulation, said:

“Confiding in you, sir, and the worthy generals immediately under your
command, we have the most flattering hopes of success, in the glorious
struggle for American liberty. And we have the fullest assurance that,
whenever this important contest shall be decided, by that fondest wish
of each American soul, _an accommodation with our mother country_, you
will cheerfully resign the important deposit committed into your hands,
and reassume the character of our worthiest citizen.”

Washington, in entire harmony with these views, replied, “As to the
fatal but necessary operations of war, when we assumed the soldier we
did not lay aside the citizen. And we shall most sincerely rejoice,
with you, in that happy hour, when the establishment of American
liberty, on the most firm and solid foundation, shall enable us to
return to our private stations, in the bosom of a free, peaceful, and
happy country.”

Washington reached the city of New York about noon. Governor Tryon
landed about eight o’clock in the evening. He was received with
military honors, and by great demonstrations of loyalty by those
devoted to the crown. The Mayor and Common Council received him
respectfully. Any demonstrations of hostility would have been insane. A
large British ship-of-war, Aria, then was at anchor opposite the city,
ready, at any signal, with its terrible batteries, to open fire, which
would inevitably lay every building in ashes. It was also rumored that
a large British force was on the passage from England.

Washington pressed rapidly on toward the army in Cambridge. As he left
General Schuyler behind, narrowly to watch the progress of affairs, he
said to him:

“If forcible measures are judged necessary respecting the Governor,
I should have no difficulty in ordering them, if the Continental
Congress were not sitting. But as that is the case, and the _seizing
of a governor_ quite a new thing. I must refer you to that body for

Washington left New York on the 26th. General Lee accompanied him. He
was escorted as far as Kingsbridge by several companies of militia, and
a squadron of Philadelphia light horse. The Massachusetts Assembly was
in session at Watertown. They were making vigorous preparations for the
reception of the Commander-in-Chief. The residence of the president
of the Provincial Congress, at Cambridge, was fitted up for his
head-quarters.[88] As Washington pressed on his way, he was escorted
from town to town by volunteer companies and cavalcades of gentlemen.

On the 2d of July he reached Watertown, where he was greeted with
the warmest congratulations, while, at the same time, he was told
that he had come to take command of fragmentary bands of soldiers,
poorly equipped, entirely unorganized, and quite ignorant of military
discipline. It was three miles to the central camp in Cambridge.

Washington rode over, escorted by a troop of light horse and a
cavalcade of citizens. His fame had preceded him. Officers, soldiers,
and citizens were alike eager to see the man, in whose hands the
destinies of our country seemed to be placed. No one was disappointed.
Mrs. John Adams, one of the noblest of the patriotic women of America,
witnessed the scene. She wrote to her husband, who had nominated him
for this important post:

“Dignity, ease, and complacency, the gentleman and the soldier, look
agreeably blended in him. Modesty marks every line and feature of his
face. These lines of Dryden instantly occurred to me.

    “‘Mark his majestic fabric! He’s a temple
     Sacred by birth, and built by hands divine;
     His soul’s the deity that lodges there;
     Nor is the pile unworthy of the God.’”

Washington was fully awake to the fearful responsibilities now
devolving upon him. General Gage held his head-quarters in Boston,
sustained by a squadron of light horse and several companies of
infantry and artillery. The bulk of his army had taken its stand on
Bunker’s Hill, where the troops were busy in strengthening their works,
so as to render the position impregnable. Another strong party was on
the neck of land between Boston and Roxbury. A deep intrenchment ran
across the neck, which was bristling with cannon, and with the bayonets
of the regular troops who guarded all the approaches. A fleet of
British war ships was in the harbor.

The American lines extended entirely around Boston and Charleston,
from Mystic river to Dorchester. The distance was about twelve miles.
Plain farmers, many of them in their working attire, had seized
their muskets, and, in the month of June so important to all their
agricultural interests, had abandoned their fields to engage in the
revolting employments of war. They were gathering from Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. From the far-away banks
of the Potomac George Washington had come, to place himself at the head
of the sons of New England, struggling in the defence of the dearest of
all earthly rights.

On the morning of the 3d of July Washington took formal command of
the army. It was a solemn hour. There was no boasting; no exultation.
The troops were drawn up, upon Cambridge Common. An immense crowd of
spectators had assembled from the country all around. Washington, as
he rode upon the ground, was accompanied by General Lee and a numerous
suite. He took his stand under the shade of a venerable elm, probably
one of the primeval forest when he reviewed those heroic men, who had
no love for war, whose hearts were yearning for their peaceful homes,
but who were ready to sacrifice life itself rather than surrender their
infant country to the despotism of its ruthless oppressor.

The British army in Boston amounted to eleven thousand five hundred
men. They were in the highest state of discipline, under able and
experienced generals, and abundantly supplied with all the best arms,
ammunition, and material of war which Europe could afford. Washington
had under his command, fit for duty, only fourteen thousand five
hundred men, with no general organization, no supply of stores or
clothing, no military chest, and but wretchedly supplied with arms and
ammunition.[89] It is one of the marvels of history that this motley
assembly of farmers and mechanics was not swept away, before the
British regulars, like withered leaves before autumnal gales.

Washington convened a council of war. It was promptly decided, without
a dissenting voice, that at the least twenty-two thousand men were
needed, to hold the posts which the Americans then occupied. And those
posts must be held, or British marauders would range the country,
plundering villages and farm-houses.

Washington was appalled to find that there was not powder enough in the
whole camp to supply nine cartridges to a man. Had the British known
this, they might have marched from their intrenchments in Roxbury and
Charlestown, and have utterly annihilated the American army, leaving
not a vestige behind.

Washington rode to various eminences, from which he carefully
reconnoitred the British posts. His military eye revealed to him
the skill with which everything was conducted by his powerful foe.
Of the troops under Washington’s command, nine thousand were from
Massachusetts. The remainder were from the other New England colonies.
The encampment of the Rhode Island troops attracted the eye of
Washington and won his admiration. General Nathaniel Greene led them.
His soldiers were admirably drilled. Order and discipline prevailed,
under his rule, unsurpassed in any of the British camps.[90]

The troops, in general, were destitute of suitable clothing. And
there was no money in the military chest. A British soldier could be
instantly recognized, by his brilliant scarlet costume. Washington
showed his knowledge of human nature, by judging that any uniform,
however simple in its nature, which at once revealed the American
patriot, would prove a strong bond of union with the troops. He wrote
to Congress, urging that ten thousand hunting shirts should be
immediately sent to the army, as the cheapest dress which could be
promptly furnished.

It is a little remarkable that the Massachusetts troops were the most
destitute of all. The fact, as expressed by Washington, proved highly
honorable to that heroic State. He wrote:

“This unhappy and devoted province has been so long in a state of
anarchy, and the yoke has been laid so heavily on it, that great
allowances are to be made, for troops raised under such circumstances.
The deficiency of numbers, discipline, and stores can only lead to this
conclusion, that _their spirit has exceeded their strength_.”

The religious spirit which animated many of these patriots may be
inferred from the following extract from a letter, written to General
Washington at this time, by Governor Trumbull of Connecticut. “May
the God of the armies of Israel shower down the blessings of divine
providence on you; give you wisdom and fortitude; cover your head in
the day of battle and danger; add success; convince our enemies of
their mistaken measures, and that all their attempts to deprive these
colonies of their inestimable constitutional rights and liberties are
injurious and vain.”

It was necessary for Washington, as Commander-in-Chief, to maintain
considerable state. Every day some of his officers dined with him.
Though naturally very social, his mind was so entirely engrossed by the
vast responsibilities which rested upon him, that he had no time to
devote to those social indulgences of the table of which many are so
fond. He was extremely simple in his diet. Often his dinner consisted
of a bowl of baked apples and milk. Having finished his frugal repast,
he early excused himself from the table, leaving some one of his
officers to preside in his stead.

His first aide-de-camp was Colonel Mifflin, a very accomplished
gentleman from Philadelphia. His second was John Trumbull, who
afterward obtained much renown as an historical painter. His noble
father, Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut, was one of
Washington’s most efficient coöperators. He was the only one of the
colonial governors, appointed by the crown, who, at the commencement of
the revolution, proved true to the cause of the Americans.[91] Colonel
John Trumbull, in allusion to his appointment, wrote:

“I now suddenly found myself in the family of one of the most
distinguished and dignified men of the age; surrounded, at his table,
by the principal officers of the army, and in constant intercourse
with them. It was further my duty to receive company, and to do the
honors of the house to many of the first people of the country, of both

Mr. Joseph Reed, of Philadelphia, accepted the post of secretary to
the Commander-in-Chief. He was a lawyer of high repute, having studied
in America, and at the Temple, in London. His practice was extensive
and lucrative; and his rank, culture, and refined manners rendered him
a favorite in the highest circles in Philadelphia, where he was in
intimate association with the families of British officers and other
strong adherents of the crown.

Many of his friends considered it the height of infatuation that he,
at thirty-five years of age, should abandon his young wife, his happy
home, and his profession, in which he was rapidly accumulating wealth,
for the hardships and perils of the Revolutionary Camp. To their
remonstrances he replied:

“I have no inclination to be hanged for half-treason. When a subject
draws his sword against his prince, he must cut his way through, if he
means to sit down in safety. I have taken too active a part in what may
be called the civil part of opposition, to renounce, without disgrace,
the public cause, when it seems to lead to danger; and I have the most
sovereign contempt for the man who can plan measures he has not the
spirit to execute.”

Washington, in the terrible hours which he was to encounter, needed
a bosom friend, who could be in true sympathy with him, and to whom
he could confide all his solicitudes. Such a friend, intelligent,
courageous, warm-hearted, polished in manners, of pure life and pure
lips, he found in Joseph Reed. Lee, Putnam, and Gates[92] were very
efficient army officers, but they were not congenial heart-companions
for Washington. The fearless, energetic Connecticut general was very
popular with the soldiers. He was invariably called “Old Put.” That
nick-name alone sufficiently reveals his character. Washington highly
prized his services. Whatever works he undertook were pushed forward
with wonderful energy. Washington one day said to him:

“You seem, General, to have the faculty of infusing your own spirit
into all the workmen you employ.”

The arrival of Washington infused astonishing energy into the army.
His engineering skill enabled him to select the most important
strategic points of defence. Every man was at work, from morning till
night. All Cambridge and Charlestown were covered with camps, forts,
and intrenchments. The line of circumvallation was so extended, that it
soon became quite impossible for the British to cut their way through.

There were three grand divisions of the army. The right wing was
stationed on the heights of Roxbury. The left wing was on Winter and
Prospect Hill. The centre was at Cambridge. Fleet horses were kept at
several points, ready saddled, to convey instant intelligence of any
movement of the British. Washington was every day traversing these
lines, and superintending all the works.

Each regiment was summoned every morning, to attend prayers. A day was
appointed, by Congress, of fasting and prayer, to obtain the favor of
Heaven. Washington enforced the strict observance of the day. All labor
was suspended. Officers and soldiers were required to attend divine
service. But they were all armed and equipped, ready for immediate

Great commotion was excited, in the camp, one morning, when fourteen
hundred sharpshooters came marching upon the ground, from Pennsylvania,
Maryland, and Virginia. They were all tall men, and made a very
imposing appearance, in their picturesque costume, of fringed hunting
shirts and round hats. It was said that, while on the rapid march,
these men could hit a mark seven inches in diameter, at the distance of
two hundred and sixty yards.[94]

The British were in entire command of the sea. They were continually
landing, from their ships, at unprotected points, and inflicting a vast
amount of injury. It was impossible to prevent this. The ocean was, to
these foes, what the forest had been to the savage. One or two ships
would suddenly appear, send an armed party on shore in their boats,
plunder, burn, and kill at their pleasure, and long before any military
force could be assembled to resist them, their marauding fleet would
have disappeared beyond the horizon of the sea.

Washington had soon cut off all possible communication between the
British, in Boston, and the back country. He ordered all the live
stock, on the coast, to be driven into the interior, beyond the reach
of plundering parties from the men-of-war’s boats. Famine began to
prevail in Boston. But the position of the American army was still
perilous in the highest degree. They were, notwithstanding Washington’s
most intense endeavor, almost without ammunition. The supply was
reduced, as we have said, to nine cartridges to a man. And thus for a
fortnight they boldly faced the well-supplied armies of Great Britain.
At length a partial supply from New Jersey put an end to this fearful

General Gage was treating his American prisoner as outlaws, throwing
them indiscriminately into common jails, and treating them with the
utmost barbarity. Washington was personally acquainted with Gage.
He had led the advance-guard in Braddock’s defeat. Washington wrote
to him, in respectful but earnest terms, remonstrating against this
inhumanity, and stating that, if it were continued, he should be under
the very painful necessity of retaliating.

Gates returned a defiant and insolent reply, in which he spoke of the
American patriots as rebels who, by the laws of England, were “destined
to the cord, and that he acknowledged no rank which was not derived
from the king.”[95]

Washington restrained his indignation, and again wrote to his
unmannerly foe, in the courteous language of a gentleman. In this
admirable letter he said:

“I addressed you, sir, on the 11th instant, in terms which gave the
fairest scope for that humanity and politeness which were supposed to
form a part of your character.

“Not only your officers and soldiers have been treated with the
tenderness due to fellow-citizens, but even those execrable parricides,
whose counsels and aid have deluged their country with blood, have been
protected from the fury of a justly enraged people.

“You affect, sir, to despise all rank not derived from the same source
with your own. I cannot conceive one more honorable than that which
flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the
purest source and original fountain of all power.

“I shall now, sir, close my correspondence with you, perhaps forever.
If your officers, our prisoners, receive a treatment from me different
from that I wish to show them, they and you will remember the occasion
of it.”[96]

In conformity with these views Washington issued orders that the
British officers who were at large on parole, should be confined in
Northampton jail. But his humane heart recoiled from punishing the
innocent for the crimes of the guilty. The order was revoked, and they
remained at large, as before.[97]

Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold urged very strenuously upon Congress
the importance of an expedition for the conquest of Canada. There were
about seven hundred British regulars occupying different posts in
that province. The Indians generally loved the French. But they hated
the English, who had always treated them with contempt, which they
keenly felt. Many of these chiefs were now eager to join the Americans
against the English, though the rich government of Great Britain could
offer them far higher bribes. A delegation of the highest chiefs, from
several of the important tribes on the St. Lawrence, visited Washington
at Cambridge. They were received with those tokens of respect which
their rank, character, and mission demanded.

Washington invited them all to dine with him and his leading officers.
It was remarked that in dignity of demeanor and propriety of deportment
they conducted themselves like men who from infancy had been accustomed
to the usages of good society. A council was held. The chiefs offered,
in behalf of their several tribes, to coöperate in any movement for the
invasion of Canada.

It was an embarrassing offer. Congress had voted not to enter into any
alliance with the Indians unless the British should call the savages
to their aid. But the chief of the St. Francis Indians declared that
Colonel Guy Carleton, who commanded the British forces in Canada,
had offered them large rewards if they would take up arms against
the Americans. An express was sent to General Schuyler at Albany, to
ascertain whether the British were endeavoring to enlist the Indians
on their side. It so happened that General Schuyler was then attending
a conference of the chiefs of the Six Nations. He declared that there
was no question whatever that General Carleton and his agents were
attempting to rouse the Indian tribes.

It was decided that while General Schuyler should conduct troops, by
the way of Ticonderoga upon Montreal, General Arnold should lead an
expedition, of about twelve hundred men, up the valley of the Kennebec,
in Maine, to make an assault upon Quebec.


_The Siege of Boston._

  The Challenge--Bold Plan of Washington--The Expedition to
      Canada--The Conflagration of Falmouth--Barbarism of the
      Foe--The Captured Brigantine--A gleam of Joy--Cruel treatment
      of Ethan Allen--Correspondence with General Howe--Efficiency
      of “Old Put”--A Servile War proposed by Dunmore--Lady
      Washington arrives at the Camp--The Tumult Quelled--Peril of
      the diminished Army--New York menaced--Deplorable condition of
      the English--Washington fortifies Dorchester Heights--Boston

Several weeks passed away, while Washington vigorously prosecuted
the siege of the British troops in Boston. Having strengthened his
intrenchments, and obtained a sufficient supply of ammunition, he was
quite desirous of inciting them to make an attack upon his lines.
A rumor reached him, the latter part of August, that General Gage,
annoyed by the scarcity of provisions, was preparing for a sortie,
in great strength. Washington endeavored to provoke the movement by
offering a sort of challenge.

He accordingly, one night detached fourteen hundred men, to seize
upon an eminence within musket shot of an important part of the
British lines upon Charleston Neck. He hoped that the enemy, upon
discovering the movement, would immediately advance to drive them back;
and that thus a general engagement might be brought on.


The task was executed with great secrecy and skill. With the earliest
dawn, the British, to their great surprise, saw the eminence crowned
with quite formidable ramparts. But Gage had learned a lesson at Bunker
Hill. He knew Washington, and was well aware that he was a foe to be
feared. The proud Englishman did not venture to accept the challenge.
It must have been to him a great humiliation. He kept his troops
carefully sheltered behind their works, and contented himself with a
bombardment, from his heavy guns, which did but little injury. The
Americans completed and held possession of this advanced post.

Washington found it difficult to account for the fact that the British
officers, at the head of their large and well-appointed troops, allowed
themselves to be hedged in by undisciplined bands of American farmers,
of whose military prowess they had loudly proclaimed their contempt. He

“Unless the ministerial troops in Boston are waiting for
reinforcements, I cannot devise what they are staying there for, nor
why, as they affect to despise the Americans, they do not come forth
and put an end to the conflict at once.”

It is probable that Gates imagined that Washington’s troops, composed
of men who loved their homes, and who, as he knew, had enlisted only
till the 1st of January, would, as soon as the snows and storms of
winter came, disperse. He could then, with his fresh troops, sweep the
province of Massachusetts at his will.[98]

The country could not understand the reason for the apparent inactivity
of the American army. Washington was very desirous for a battle. But
a decisive defeat would prove the entire ruin of the national hopes.
Still some active movement seemed essential to reanimate the people.
After revolving the circumstances in his mind very carefully, he
summoned a council of war, and proposed that a simultaneous attack
should be made upon the enemy in Boston, by crossing the water in
boats, and, at the same time, impetuously assailing their lines on the
Neck. This was indeed a very bold measure. Washington must have had
great confidence in his men, to advance, with inexperienced militia,
against British regulars behind their ramparts. But it is very certain
that he had weighed all the chances, and that he had made every
possible preparation to guard against a decisive disaster.

“The success of such an enterprise,” he said, “depends, I well know,
upon the all-wise Disposer of events; and it is not within the reach
of human wisdom to foretell the issue. But if the prospect is fair the
undertaking is justifiable.”

The council was held on the 11th of September. Eight generals were
present. They unanimously decided that the project was too hazardous
to be undertaken, at least for the present.[99] Washington now turned
his attention to the expedition into Canada. Eleven hundred men were
detached, for the purpose, and encamped on Cambridge Common. Aaron
Burr, then a brilliant young man of twenty years, volunteered for
the service. Thus he entered upon his varied, guilty, and melancholy
career. Benedict Arnold, whose reputation for valor was established,
was intrusted with the command. The instructions which Washington gave
are characteristic of that noblest of men. The following extracts will
show their spirit:

“I charge you, and the officers and soldiers under your command, as
you value your own safety and honor and the favor and esteem of your
country, that you consider yourselves as marching, not through the
country of an enemy, but of our friends and brethren; for such the
inhabitants of Canada and the Indian nations have approved themselves,
in this unhappy contest between Great Britain and America; and that you
check, by every motive and fear of punishment, every attempt to plunder
or insult the inhabitants of Canada.

“Should an American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any
Canadian or Indian, in his person or property, I do most earnestly
enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the
enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it
will not be disproportioned to its guilt, at such a time and in such a

“I also give in charge to you, to avoid all disrespect to the religion
of the country and its ceremonies. While we are contending for our
own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the rights
of conscience in others; ever considering that God alone is the
judge of the hearts of men, and to Him only, in this case, are they

“If Lord Chatham’s son should be in Canada, and, in any way, fall into
your power, you are enjoined to treat him with all possible deference
and respect. You cannot err in paying too much honor to the son of so
illustrious a character and so true a friend to America.”

On the 13th of September, Arnold struck his tents and commenced
his long march through the almost unbroken wilderness. We have not
space here to detail the sufferings and romantic incidents of this
unsuccessful expedition. Though wisely planned, and energetically
executed, untoward circumstances, which could not have been foreseen,
prevented its success. The conduct of Arnold was approved by Washington
and applauded by the country generally.[101]

The time was rapidly approaching when the Americans must enlist a new
army. The Connecticut and Rhode Island troops were engaged to serve
only till the month of December. None were enlisted beyond the 1st of
January. Thus Washington would find himself entirely without troops,
unless new levies could be raised. The British, in Boston, cut off from
supplies by land, were fitting out small armed vessels to ravage the
coasts. Newport, Rhode Island, was the rendezvous of a strong fleet of
the enemy. Stonington was cannonaded. There was everywhere distress
and consternation. The British treated the Americans as if they were
criminals beyond the reach of mercy.

To check these marauding expeditions, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and
Connecticut, each fitted out two armed vessels. They cruised along
the whole coast of New England, to the waters of the St. Lawrence.
Portland, then called Falmouth, was one of the most heroic of the
New England seaports. Its sturdy inhabitants, by their proclaimed
patriotism, had become especially obnoxious to the enemy. Several armed
vessels were sent to lay the defenceless town in ashes. Two hours
were given to remove the sick and the infirm. Lieutenant Mount, in
command of this cruel expedition, entirely unauthorized by the rules of
civilized warfare, announced that he was instructed to burn down every
town between Boston and Halifax, and that New York, he supposed, was
already destroyed.[102]

The terrific bombardment was commenced about half-past nine o’clock,
on the morning of the 12th of October. One hundred and twenty-nine
dwelling-houses, and two hundred and twenty-eight stores, were
burned.[103] In view of this barbarism Washington wrote:

“The desolation and misery, which ministerial vengeance had planned, in
contempt of every principle of humanity, and so lately brought on the
town of Falmouth, I know not how sufficiently to commiserate; nor can
my compassion for the general suffering be conceived beyond the true
measure of my feelings.”

General Greene wrote, “O, could the Congress behold the distress and
wretched condition of the poor inhabitants, driven from the seaport
towns, it must, it would, kindle a blaze of indignation against the
commissioned pirates and licensed robbers. People begin heartily to
wish a declaration of independence.”

Though a hundred years have passed away since these deeds of wanton and
demoniac cruelty, the remembrance of them does now, and will forever
excite the emotion of every human heart against the perpetrators of
such crimes. The families of every town on the coast were in terror.
Mothers and maidens, pale and trembling, feared every morning that,
before night, they might hear the bombardment of those dreadful guns.

And these were the crimes which the government of Great Britain was
committing, that it might compel the Americans to submit to any tax
which Great Britain might impose upon them. There was no mystery about
this war. “Submit yourselves to us to be taxed as we please,” said
England. “If you do not we will, with our invincible armies, sweep your
whole country with fire and blood.”

At Portsmouth, which was daily menaced, there was a fortification of
some strength. Washington sent General Sullivan there to assist the
inhabitants in their defence. Washington wrote:

“I expect every hour to hear that Newport has shared the same fate of
unhappy Falmouth.”[104]

Gage was recalled by the British government. The battle of Bunker Hill
and the siege of their troops, in Boston, mortified the English.[105] A
committee of Congress visited Cambridge to confer with Washington. The
British in Boston could be bombarded, but not without danger of laying
the city in ashes. After several conferences, reaching through four
days, it was decided that an attack upon Boston would be inexpedient.
Congress had, however, voted to raise a new army, of a little over
twenty-two thousand men, for one year. Mr. Reed, Washington’s highly
valued and beloved secretary, found that his private concerns demanded
his return to Philadelphia.

General Howe succeeded General Gage in Boston. He was instructed, by
his government, that he was commissioned to quell the rebellion of
traitors, who merited the scaffold. In accordance with these principles
he conducted the war. Great contempt was manifested by the British
officers, for every form of religion, excepting that of the church of
England. The Old South Church was converted into a riding school, for
Burgoyne’s light dragoons. The North Church was torn down, for fuel.
Howe denounced the penalty of death upon any one who should attempt to
leave Boston without his permission. The inhabitants were commanded to
arm themselves, under British officers, to maintain order.

Throughout the country the tories were becoming more and more defiant,
and open in their opposition to the American cause. The ice of winter
would soon so bridge the bays, that the British troops, in Boston,
could, unimpeded, march from their warm barracks, to assail any portion
of the extended American lines. The annoyances of Washington were
indescribable. It was very difficult to find men ready to enlist.
The sentiment of patriotism, as it glowed in the bosom of George
Washington, was a very different emotion from that which glimmered in
the heart of the poor, obscure farmer’s boy, who was to peril life and
limb upon the field of battle, and who, if he fell, would soon be as
entirely forgotten as would be the cart-horse he might be driving.

Amid these scenes of toil, trouble, and grief, the American schooner
Lee, under Captain Manly, which had been sent out by Washington,
entered Cape Ann. It had captured a large and richly freighted English
brigantine. Indescribable was the joy, when a large and lumbering train
of wagons, in apparently an interminable line, came rumbling into the
camp of Cambridge. The wagons were decorated with flags, and bore a
vast quantity of ordnance and military stores.

There were two thousand stand of arms, one hundred thousand flints,
thirty thousand round shot, and thirty-two tons of musket balls. Among
the ordnance there was a huge brass mortar, of a new construction. It
weighed three thousand pounds. The army gazed upon it with admiration.
Putnam christened it. Mounting the gun, he dashed a bottle of rum upon
it, and shouted its new name of Congress. The cheers which rose were
heard in Boston, and excited much curiosity there to learn what could
be the occasion for such rejoicing in the American camp.

Soon after this Washington learned that Colonel Ethan Allen had been
captured near Montreal, and had been thrown, by the British General
Prescott, into prison fettered with irons. He could not have been
treated more brutally had he been the worst of criminals.

Washington immediately wrote a letter of remonstrance to General Howe.
In this letter he said:

“I must take the liberty of informing you that whatever treatment
Colonel Allen receives, whatever fate he undergoes, such exactly shall
be the treatment and fate of Brigadier Prescott, now in our hands. The
law of retaliation is not only justifiable in the eyes of God and man,
but is absolutely a duty, in our present circumstances, we owe to our
relations, friends, and fellow-citizens.

“Permit me to add, sir, that we have all the highest regard and
reverence for your great personal qualities and attainments; and the
Americans in general esteem it as not the least of their misfortunes,
that the name of Howe, a name so dear to them, should appear at the
head of the catalogue of the instruments employed by a wicked ministry
for their destruction.”[106]

Nothing can show more impressively the arrogant air assumed by these
haughty British officers, than Howe’s reply to this letter. Having
curtly stated that he had nothing to do with affairs in Canada he wrote:

“It is with regret, considering the character you have always
maintained among your friends as a gentleman, that I find cause
to resent a sentence, in the conclusion of your letter, big with
invectives against my superiors and insulting to myself, which should
obstruct any farther intercourse between us.”

The humane Americans could not carry out their threat. Prescott was
taken to Philadelphia, and thrown into jail, though not put in irons.
As his health seemed to be failing he was released on his parole.
Thomas Walker, a merchant of Montreal, wished to ascertain how he was

“To his great surprise he found Mr. Prescott lodged in the best tavern
of the place; walking or riding at large through Philadelphia and Bucks
counties, feasting with gentlemen of the first rank in the province,
and keeping a levee for the reception of the grandees.”[107]

Colonel Allen was held in close confinement and chains, until finally
he was exchanged for a British officer. Washington was indefatigable in
strengthening his old posts, and seizing new ones which would command
portions of the enemy’s lines. General Putnam was exceedingly officious
in these operations. The labors of the soldiers, in throwing up these
redoubts, were often carried on under a continual cannonade from the
British ships.

The British became much alarmed. A battery was raised on Phipps farm,
where the great mortar, the Congress, was mounted. A British officer

“If the rebels can complete their battery, this town will be on fire
about our ears a few hours after; all our buildings being of wood or a
mixture of wood and brick-work. Had the rebels erected their battery
on the other side of the town, at Dorchester, the admiral and all his
booms would have made the first blaze, and the burning of the town
would have followed.[108] If we cannot destroy the rebel battery by
our guns, we must march out and take it sword in hand.”

One very great embarrassment was the want of powder. Washington found
it necessary often, to submit to a severe cannonading from the foe,
without returning the fire. Prudence required that the small amount of
powder the Americans had, should be reserved to repel direct attacks.
The winter fortunately proved to be one of unusual mildness. One of the
Americans officers wrote:

“Everything thaws here except old Put. He is still as hard as ever,
crying out for powder, powder, powder; ye gods, give us powder.”

There was great suffering in Virginia. The British governor, Lord
Dunmore, held the province under military rule. Many feared that he
would send a detachment and lay Mount Vernon in ashes. Lady Washington
was advised to seek a retreat beyond the Blue Ridge. But the armed
patriots were on the alert. Washington had left the management of the
large estate under the care of Mr. Lund Washington, in whose integrity
and ability he had entire confidence.

To his agent Washington wrote, “Let the hospitality of the house,
with respect to the poor, be kept up. Let no one go hungry away. If
any of this kind of people should be in want of corn, supply their
necessities, provided it does not encourage them to idleness. And I
have no objection to your giving my money in charity, to the amount of
forty or fifty pounds a year, when you think it well bestowed. What I
mean by having no objections is, that it is my desire that it should be
done. You are to consider that neither myself nor wife is now in the
way to do these good offices.”[109]

Mrs. Washington was very lonely, very anxious, very sad. By invitation
of her husband she visited him at Cambridge. Her son accompanied her,
and she travelled with her own horses and carriage. She took easy
stages, as Washington was very careful of his horses, which were
remarkable for their beauty.

The pageantry of aristocratic England pervaded the higher classes in
this country, at that time, much more than at the present day. Lady
Washington was escorted from town to town by guards of honor. At
Philadelphia she was received like a princess, and was detained several
days by the hospitalities of the patriotic inhabitants. The whole army
greeted her arrival at Cambridge with acclaim. She entered the camp in
a beautiful chariot, drawn by four horses. Her black postilions were
quite gorgeously dressed, in liveries of scarlet and white. This was
the usual style of the magnates of Virginia at that day.

The presence of Mrs. Washington was of great assistance to her husband.
She presided over his household, and received his guests with great
dignity and affability. Family prayers were invariably observed,
morning and evening. On the Sabbath Washington punctually attended the
church, in which he was a communicant.

A party of Virginia riflemen came to the camp. They were a strange
looking set of men, in half-savage equipments, with deer-skin hunting
shirts, fringed and ruffled. As they were strolling about, they met a
party of Marblehead fishermen. To the Virginians, the costume of the
fishermen was grotesque, with tarpaulin hats, flowing trousers, and
round jackets.

The two parties began to banter each other. There was snow upon the
ground; and snow-balls began to fly thickly. The contest grew warm.
It was a battle between Virginia and Massachusetts. Both sides were
reinforced. Angry feelings were excited. From snow-balls they proceeded
to blows. It became a serious tumult, in which more than a thousand
were engaged.

At this moment Washington appeared, mounted, and followed by a single
servant. There was something in his majestic frame and commanding air
which impressed the common mind with awe. He sprang from his horse,
plunged into the thickest of the mêlée, and seizing two of the most
brawny Virginians, held them at arm’s length, as though they had been
children, while he administered a very severe reproof. The other
combatants instantly dispersed. In three minutes there was not one left
upon the ground.[110]

In December a vessel was captured, which was conveying supplies,
from Lord Dunmore, in Virginia, to Boston. In a letter to General
Howe, found in the vessel, Lord Dunmore urged that the war should be
transferred from New England to the southern States. He said that
by liberating and arming the negroes, their force could be greatly
augmented, consternation could be thrown into all the southern
provinces, and victory would thus be speedy and sure. The despatch
alarmed Washington. He said:

“If this man is not crushed, before spring, he will become the most
formidable enemy America has. His strength will increase as a snow

This proposition of Dunmore, and the barbarous treatment, by the
British officers, of the American prisoners of war, roused the
indignation of General Charles Lee to the highest pitch. He wrote:

“I propose to seize every governor, government man, placeman, tory, and
enemy to liberty on the continent, and to confiscate their estates;
or at least lay them under heavy contributions for the public. Their
persons should be secured in some of the interior towns, as hostages
for the treatment of those of our party, whom the fortune of war shall
throw into their hands.”[111]

Had these decisive measures been adopted, it would probably have saved
many American captives from an untold amount of misery. The month of
December was, to Washington, a period of great anxiety and perplexity.
The troops, whose time of service had expired, were rapidly leaving,
and but few came to occupy their places.

On the 1st of January, 1776, the army besieging Boston did not exceed
ten thousand men. These troops had no uniform, were wretchedly
supplied with arms, and there was a great destitution of ammunition
in the camp. The genius of Washington, in maintaining his post under
these circumstances, led even Frederick of Prussia to pronounce
him the ablest general in the world. It was indeed evident, during
those perilous months, that the aid of heaven was not always with the
heaviest battalions. Washington wrote to Congress:

“Search the volumes of history through, and I much question whether
a case similar to ours is to be found: namely, to maintain a post,
against the power of the British troops, for six months together;
without powder; and then to have one army disbanded and another raised
within musket-shot of a reinforced enemy. How it will end, God, in His
great goodness, will direct. I am thankful for His protection to this

Again he wrote, in strains which excite alike our sympathy, our
reverence, and our love:

“The reflection on my situation, and that of this army, produces many
an unhappy hour, when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people
know the predicament we are in, on a thousand accounts. I have often
thought how much happier I should have been if instead of accepting
the command, under such circumstances, I had taken my musket on my
shoulder, and entered the ranks; or, if I could have justified the
measure to posterity and my own conscience, had retired to the back
country and lived in a wigwam. If I shall be able to rise superior to
these, and many other difficulties which might be enumerated, I shall
most religiously believe that the finger of Providence is in it, to
blind the eyes of our enemies.”

General Henry Knox had been sent to Ticonderoga, at the head of
Lake George, to transport cannon and ordnance stores to the camp at
Cambridge.[112] With marvellous energy he had surmounted difficulties,
apparently insurmountable. On the 17th of December he wrote to

“Three days ago it was very uncertain whether we could get them till
next spring. Now, please God, they shall go. I have made forty-two
exceedingly strong sleds, and have provided eighty yoke of oxen, to
drag them as far as Springfield, where I shall get fresh cattle to take
them to camp.”

Early in January there was great commotion in Boston, visible from the
heights which the Americans held. A fleet of war-ships and transports,
crowded with troops and heavily laden with munitions of war, was
leaving the harbor, on some secret expedition.

The plan had been formed, by the British ministry, to take military
possession of New York, Albany, and the Hudson river; to treat as
rebels all who would not join the king’s forces; to station men-of-war,
with armed sloops, so as to cut off all communication between the
southern and the northern provinces.

Colonel Guy Johnson was to raise as large a force as possible, of
Canadians and Indians, and ravage the provinces of Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, and Connecticut. “This,” it was said, “would so distract
and divide the Provincial forces as to render it easy for the British
army, at Boston, to defeat them, break the spirit of the Massachusetts
people, depopulate their country, and compel the absolute subjection to
Great Britain.”[113]

Sir Henry Clinton[114] was in command of this naval expedition. The
fleet entered the harbor of New York on a morning of the Sabbath. The
whole city was thrown into consternation. Many of the inhabitants
immediately began to move their effects back into the country. Through
all the hours of the day, and of the ensuing night, the rumbling of
carts was heard in the streets, and boats were passing up the North
and the East rivers, heavily laden with goods and merchandise.[115]

Clinton professed to be very much surprised at the alarm of the
inhabitants. He said that he came with no hostile intent, but merely to
pay a short visit to his friend Governor Tryon.

General Lee, dispatched by Washington, was already in the city, with
a small escort. Quite an enthusiastic army hastily collected in
Connecticut, was ready and eager to march for the defence of the place.
Clinton could, with perfect ease, lay the city in ashes. But there
were perhaps as many tories as patriots in the city; and the tories
constituted the most opulent portion of the inhabitants. A general
conflagration would consume their mansions and property.

It is also said that General Lee, whose eccentricities, seemed, at
times, almost to amount to insanity, sent the menace to Colonel
Clinton, that if he, by a bombardment, set a single house on fire, one
hundred of Clinton’s most intimate friends should be chained by the
neck, to the house, and there they should find their funeral pyre.
Colonel Clinton knew well the character of General Lee, and that he
probably would not hesitate to execute his threat.[116]

The Duke of Manchester, alluding to this event, in the House of Lords,

“My Lords: Clinton visited New York. The inhabitants expected its
destruction. Lee appeared before it with an army too powerful to be
attacked; and Clinton passed by without doing any wanton damage.”

The fleet disappeared, sailing farther south. Lee commenced, with great
energy, arresting the tories and raising redoubts for the defence of
the city. It would seem that Governor Tryon took refuge on board the
Asia, which was anchored between Nutten and Bedlow’s Islands.

The British, in Boston, continued, during the remainder of the
winter, within their tents. Gradually the American army augmented its
forces. Notwithstanding all the efforts of the British officers to
find amusement, their condition daily became more melancholy. Fuel
was scarce; food still more so; sumptuous feasting impossible. The
small-pox broke out. Poverty and suffering caused houses to be broken
open and plundered. Crime was on the increase, which the sternest
punishment could not arrest. The hangman was busy. The whipping post
dripped with blood. Four, six, even a thousand lashes were inflicted on
offenders. A soldier’s wife was convicted of receiving stolen goods.
She was tied to a cart, dragged through the streets, and a hundred
lashes laid on her bare back.

The situation of Washington was dreadful. He could not reveal his
weakness; for that would invite attack, and sure destruction. It was
loudly proclaimed that he had twenty thousand men, well armed, well
disciplined, behind impregnable ramparts, and abundantly supplied
with the munitions of war. These representations alarmed the British,
and saved him from assaults which he could not repel. But the country
clamored loudly, “Why did he not then advance upon the foe?” To his
friend, Mr. Reed, he wrote:

“I know the unhappy predicament I stand in. I know that I cannot be
justified to the world, without exposing my weakness. In short my
situation has been such that I have been obliged to use art to conceal
it from my own officers.”[117]

At length Colonel Knox arrived, from Ticonderoga, with his long train
of sledges, bringing more than fifty cannon, mortars, and howitzers,
with other supplies. Powder was also brought to the camp from several
quarters, and ten regiments of militia came in.

On Monday night, the 4th of March, Washington commenced, from several
points, a heavy cannonading of the British breastworks. The fire was
tremendous. Mrs. Adams, describing the scene to her husband, wrote:

“I could no more sleep than if I had been in the engagement. The
rattling of the windows, the jar of the house, the continual roar
of twenty-four-pounders, and the bursting of shells, gave us such
ideas, and realized a scene to us, of which we could scarcely form any

Under cover of this fierce bombardment, a working party, of about two
thousand men, with intrenching tools and a train of three hundred
wagons, in silent and rapid march reached, unseen, the eminences of
Dorchester Heights, which commanded the harbor. It was eight o’clock
in the evening. They knew well how to use the spade, and vigorously
commenced fortifying their position. They worked with a will. Skilful
engineers guided every movement. Not a moment was lost. Not a spadeful
of earth was wasted. They had brought with them a large supply of
fascines and bundles of screwed hay.

Before the morning dawned a very formidable fortress frowned along the
heights. Howe gazed, appalled, upon the spectacle. He saw, at a glance,
that the Americans must be dislodged, or his doom was sealed. He
exclaimed, in his astonishment:

“The rebels have done more in one night, than my whole army would have
done in one month.”

Another British officer wrote, “This morning, at daybreak, we
discovered two redoubts on Dorchester Point, and two smaller ones on
their flanks. They were all raised, during the last night, with an
expedition equal to that of the genii belonging to Aladdin’s wonderful
lamp. From these hills they command the whole town, so that we must
drive them from their place or desert the post.”

Washington was watching, with intense anxiety, the effect which the
discovery of the operation would have upon the British. The commotion,
in the city, was very visible. Instantly the shipping in the harbor,
and every battery which could be brought to bear upon the works,
commenced the fiercest bombardment. All the hills around were covered
with spectators, witnessing the sublime and appalling spectacle. The
patriot soldiers were now familiar with cannon-shot, and paid little
heed to balls and shells, as they stood behind their ramparts, every
hour adding to their strength. Washington was in the midst of his
troops, encouraging them; and he was greeted with loud cheers as he
moved from point to point.

Howe kept up the unavailing bombardment through the day, preparing to
make a desperate night-attack upon the works, with a strong detachment
of infantry and grenadiers. In the evening twenty-five hundred men were
embarked in transports. But God did not favor the heavy battalions.
A violent easterly storm arose, rolling such surges upon the shore
that the boats could not land. It was necessary to postpone the attack
until the next day. But still the storm continued to rage, with floods
of rain. It was the best ally the Americans could have. It held the
British in abeyance until the Americans had time to render their works

The fleet and the town were at the mercy of Washington. Howe, intensely
humiliated, called a council of war. It was decided that Boston must
immediately be evacuated. Howe conferred with the “select men” of
Boston, and offered to leave, without inflicting any harm upon the
place, if permitted to do so unmolested. Otherwise the town would be
committed to the flames, and the troops would escape as best they
could. The reply of Washington was, in brief:

“If you will evacuate the city without plundering, or doing any harm, I
will not open fire upon you. But if you make any attempt to plunder, or
if the torch is applied to a single building, I will open upon you the
most deadly bombardment.”

The correspondence in reference to the evacuation continued for several
days. General Howe behaved like a silly boy. His fancied dignity, as
an officer of the crown, would not allow him to recognize any military
rank on the part of the Americans. He therefore indulged in the
childishness of sending an officer, with memoranda written upon pieces
of paper, addressed to nobody, and signed by nobody.[118]

The exasperated British soldiers committed many lawless acts of
violence, which General Howe, in vain, endeavored to arrest. Houses
were broken open and furniture destroyed. These depredations
imperilled the life of the army. Washington, if provoked to do so,
could sink their ships. General Howe issued an order that every
soldier, found plundering, should be hanged on the spot. An officer
was ordered to perambulate the streets, with a band of soldiers and a
hangman, and immediately, without farther trial, to hang every man he
should find plundering.

At four o’clock in the morning of the 17th of March, 1776, the
embarkation began, in great hurry and confusion. There were
seventy-eight ships and transports in the harbor, and about twelve
thousand, including refugees, to be embarked in them. These refugees
were the friends of British despotism, the enemies of free America. As
they had manifested more malignity against the American patriots than
the British themselves, they did not dare to remain behind. Washington
wrote, respecting them:

“By all accounts there never existed a more miserable set of beings
than those wretched creatures now are. Taught to believe that the power
of Great Britain was superior to all opposition, and that foreign
aid was at hand, they were even higher and more insulting in their
opposition than the regulars. When the order was issued, therefore,
for embarking the troops in Boston, no electric shock, no sudden clap
of thunder, in a word, the last trump, could not have struck them
with greater consternation. They were at their wits’ end, and chose to
commit themselves, in the manner I have above described, to the mercy
of the waves, at a tempestuous season, rather than meet their offended

Again he wrote, as he entered the town and beheld the ruin around him:
ordnance with trunnions knocked off, guns spiked and cannons thrown
from the wharves:[120]

“General Howe’s retreat was precipitate beyond anything I could have
conceived. The destruction of the stores at Dunbar’s camp, after
Braddock’s defeat, was but a faint image of what was to be seen in
Boston. Artillery carts cut to pieces in one place, gun-carriages in
another, shells broke here, shots buried there, and everything carrying
with it the face of disorder and confusion, as also of distress.”[121]

While the British were thus hurriedly embarking, the Americans stood
by the side of their guns, gazing upon the wondrous spectacle with
unutterable joy, and yet not firing a shot. A British officer afterward

“It was lucky for the inhabitants now left in Boston, that they did
not. For I am informed that everything was prepared to set the town in
a blaze, had they fired one cannon.”


_The War in New York._

  The Refugees--Return of Patriots--The Hessians--Scenes
      in Canada--Renewed Efforts of the British--Alexander
      Hamilton--Declaration of Independence--Prediction of John
      Adams--Position of the Hostile Forces--The Interview with
      Colonel Patterson--Scene on the River--Bombardment of
      Sullivan’s Island--Obstructions of North River--Battles on Long
      Island--The Retreat--Camp at King’s Bridge--The Camp at White
      Plains--Battle--Fort Washington captured by the British.

By ten o’clock on the morning of the 18th of February, 1776, the
British troops were all embarked, and the humiliated fleet was passing
out of the harbor. At the same time a division of the American
troops, under General Putnam, with flying colors and triumphant
martial strains, entered and took possession of the recaptured city.
From a thousand to fifteen hundred tories had fled with the British.
Houseless, homeless, in the depth of poverty, to be fed and clothed
by charity, their situation was truly heart-rending. There were among
them, affectionate fathers, loving mothers, amiable sons and daughters.
They were the victims of circumstances and not of intentional wrong.
War is indeed cruelty. Who can refine it?

Nearly two thousand members of patriot families returned with the
conquering army. Weary months of destitution and suffering had been
theirs, because they adhered to their country in dark hours of
adversity. “It was truly interesting to witness the tender interviews
and fond embraces of those who had been long separated under
circumstances so peculiarly distressing.”[122]

When we consider the feeble resources of Washington’s command, the
powerful forces he had to resist, and the obstacles to be surmounted,
it must be admitted that the triumphant result of this campaign places
Washington in the highest rank of military commanders. The annals
of war may be searched in vain for a more brilliant achievement. No
language can express the astonishment and chagrin with which these
tidings were heard in England.[123]

It was expected that the British would make an attack upon New York.
Washington reached the city on the 13th of April. Soon a patriot
army, amounting in all to about eight thousand men, was distributed
at various points in the city of New York and its environs. Governor
Tryon was still on board one of the ships of war, about twenty miles
below the city. He was keeping up an active correspondence with the
tories. Arduous duties engrossed every moment of the time of General
Washington and his officers. Lady Washington was there, with several
other distinguished ladies. One of them wrote:

“We all live here like nuns, shut up in a nunnery. No society with the
town, for there are none there to visit. Neither can we go in or out,
after a certain hour, without the countersign.”

England, greatly exasperated, was redoubling her efforts for the
subjugation of America. She hired four thousand three hundred troops,
from the Duke of Brunswick in Germany, and thirteen thousand from the
Prince of Hesse. Thus seventeen thousand Germans were hired by England,
to aid in rivetting the chains of slavery upon the necks of the
children of her own sons and daughters.

The remnants of Arnold’s army were still in Canada. And, strange to
say, they were besieging Quebec, with a force not equal to one-half of
the British garrison, in that almost impregnable fortress. The British
general, Carleton, was not a heroic soldier. Perhaps he acted humanely
in keeping, with his men, behind their ramparts, where they were safe
from harm. After sundry wild adventures, the little army found it
necessary to retreat. Just then five British ships arrived, bringing
a reinforcement of about one thousand men. As the Americans could not
muster three hundred, they retired as rapidly as possible. Montreal
was in the hands of the Americans. They reached their friends in that
vicinity without much molestation.

The latter part of May, Washington repaired to Philadelphia, to confer
with Congress respecting the next campaign. General Putnam was left
in command, at New York, during his absence. The spirit of Washington
infused new energy into Congress. He assured them that all hope of
reconciliation with implacable England was at an end; that America
must summon all its energies, and submit the question to the deadly
arbitration of battle.

Congress promptly voted to hire soldiers for three years. A bounty of
ten dollars was offered each recruit. About thirteen thousand militia
were to be sent, at once, to New York. Gun-boats and fire-ships were
to be built, to prevent the British fleet from entering the harbor.
Ten thousand militia were to be stationed in the Jerseys. The British
were engaging a large force of Indians, on the Mohawk, to descend that
valley, and ravage the upper banks of the Hudson with the torch and
the scalping knife. Washington wrote to his brother Augustine:

“We expect a bloody summer in New York and Canada. And I am sorry to
say that we are not, either in men or arms, prepared for it. However,
it is to be hoped that, if our cause is just, as I most religiously
believe, the same Providence which has, in many instances, appeared for
us, will still go on to afford us its aid.”

It was now the great object of the British to get possession of
New York. A powerful armament was daily expected. The tories had
extensively entered into a conspiracy to unite with them. Extravagant
reports were in circulation respecting their diabolical plans of
assassination and plunder. The plot, infamous in all its aspects, was
traced, by a committee of Congress, of which John Jay was chairman,
distinctly to Governor Tryon, who, from his safe retreat on a British
man-of-war, was acting through his agents. David Mathews, the tory
mayor of the city, was deeply implicated in the plot. Mathews was
residing at Flatbush. He was arrested, with many others. This threw the
tories into the greatest dismay. Conscious of guilt, many fled into the
woods. It was proved that Tryon had offered a bounty of five guineas
to every one who would enlist in the service of the king, with the
promise of one hundred acres of land for himself, one hundred for his
wife, and fifty for each child.[124]

On the 28th of June, four British ships-of-war appeared off the Hook.
The next morning forty vessels were in sight. They came from Halifax,
bringing about ten thousand troops. Most of them were soldiers who had
been expelled from Boston. The alarm was great. The conspiracy had
undefined limits. It was reported that it extended into the American
camp; and that men were bribed to spike the guns of the batteries as
soon as the ships approached. Soon other vessels arrived, swelling the
number of ships-of-war and transports, in the harbor, to one hundred
and thirty. They did not attempt to ascend the Hudson, but landed their
troops on Staten Island. The heights were soon whitened with their

General Howe came to Staten Island in one of these ships. He wrote, to
the British government:

“There is great reason to expect a numerous body of the inhabitants to
join the army from the province of York, the Jerseys, and Connecticut,
who, in this time of universal oppression, only wait for opportunities
to give proofs of their loyalty and zeal.”

What is now called “The Park,” upon which the City Hall stands, was
then a field, at some distance out of town. General Greene was crossing
the field one day, when a company of American artillery were there on
drill. Their commander was almost girlish, of fragile and graceful
stature, but exercised wonderful powers of command and discipline. He
seemed to be but about twenty years of age. It was Alexander Hamilton,
whose renown subsequently filled the land, but whose heroic life was
sullied with many a stain. He was a native of one of the West India
Islands, and from his youth, was inspired with the intense desire to
make for himself a name in the world.[125]

It is a melancholy fact that the inhabitants of Staten Island were
bitter foes of the American cause. They received the British with
rejoicing. Such was the alarming state of affairs when the Congress, at
Philadelphia, was discussing, with closed doors, the question whether
the united colonies should declare themselves free and independent
States. The resolution passed unanimously on the 2d. On the 4th, the
sublime _Declaration_ was adopted.

John Adams, the renowned patriot of Massachusetts, wrote, “This will
be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to
believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the
great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of
deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God. It ought to
be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns,
bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to
the other, from this time forth forevermore.”

Washington, who had long been convinced that the British Government
would never relinquish its claim to tax the Americans at its pleasure,
hailed this event with joy. At the same time no one foresaw, more
clearly than he did, the terrible ordeal of blood and suffering through
which the Americans must pass, before their powerful and haughty foe
would recognize their independence.

On the 9th of July the Declaration was read, at the head of each
brigade in the army. Most of the tories had fled from New York, and
the remaining inhabitants were patriotic in the highest degree. Their
joy amounted almost to frenzy. There was a leaden statue of their
implacable oppressor, George III., in the Bowling Green. They hurled it
from its pedestal and ran it into bullets.

Washington disapproved of the act. It too much resembled lawlessness
and riot. He could not denounce the very natural event with severity,
but in words characteristic of this best of men, he wrote:

“The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor
to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest
rights and liberties of his country.”[126]

The British were now in their ships in the lower harbor, and troops
were landed, in large force, on Staten Island. The Americans were
in the city, watching the foe with spy glasses, and adopting every
precaution to guard against surprise. An engagement was expected every

On the 12th of July, about three o’clock in the afternoon, two
ships-of-war, mounting together sixty guns, came rapidly up the bay,
favored by both wind and tide. The batteries opened fire upon them.
But they swept by unharmed. It was their object to take possession of
the river above the city, and rally the tories around them. That same
evening Admiral Lord Howe arrived, and was greeted with a sublime
salute from the fleet. Thus the two brothers were in command, for the
attack upon New York. Lord Howe led the ships, and Sir William the land

These haughty men, declaring the Americans to be rebels, refused to
recognize their officers by any military title. Admiral Howe sent a
flag of truce with a letter, which Lieutenant Brown, the carrier, said
was directed to Mr. Washington. As this was intended as an indignity,
Colonel Reed, Washington’s adjutant-general, declined receiving the
document, saying that he knew of no such person in the American army.
Upon producing the letter it was found to be directed to George
Washington, _Esquire_.

Colonel Reed, who, it will be remembered, was Washington’s former
secretary and intimate friend, was a polished gentleman. He knew
well how to unite mildness of demeanor with firmness of action. Very
courteously he dismissed Lieutenant Brown, assuring him that no such
communication could be conveyed to the Commander-in-Chief of the armies
of America.

Lieutenant Brown was greatly agitated and embarrassed. On the 19th
General Howe sent an aide, with a flag, to inquire if Colonel
Patterson, the British adjutant-general, could be admitted to an
interview with _General Washington_. Colonel Reed assured him that
there could be no difficulty, and that he would pledge his honor for
the safety of Colonel Patterson.

The next morning Colonel Reed and another officer met the flag, in the
harbor, and took Colonel Patterson into their barge. A cheerful and
friendly conversation was maintained on the way, as they conveyed the
officer to Washington’s head-quarters, Washington received them with
much ceremony. The Commander-in-Chief was in full dress, and his guards
were in attendance in military array. Colonel Patterson was either in
some degree overawed by the imposing scene, to which he was introduced,
or native politeness restrained him from the rudeness of which his
superior officers were guilty.

After addressing Washington as “Your Excellency,” which title he had
probably studiously adopted, as not involving any military rank, he
presented him with a document, which Sir William Howe had insolently
addressed to “George Washington, Esquire, &c., &c., &c.” He suggested
that the _et cetera_, might imply anything which Washington could wish
it to imply.

Patterson was courteously informed that no such communication could be
received; and after a brief, desultory conversation, the conference

The ships-of-war, which had ascended the river, cast anchor in
Haverstraw Bay and Tappan Sea. Their boats were exploring the river
above. One of the tenders approached within long shot of Fort
Montgomery. A thirty-two pounder was brought to bear, and a shot was
plunged through her quarter. The British commander, in revenge, ran
around Dunderberg, landed a boat’s crew, plundered the house of a poor
farmer, and applied the torch to all his buildings. The marauders
were punished severely by rustic sharpshooters, who, from the shore,
assailed them with a deadly fire as they returned to their ship.

Vigorous precautions were adopted to prevent the passage of the hostile
ships farther up the river. The wreck of the American army, which had
invaded Canada, was now at Crown Point, in a state of great destitution
and suffering. In the motley army assembled around Washington, very
unhappy jealousies existed between the officers and troops from the
different provinces.

It will be remembered that Sir Henry Clinton had entered New York
harbor with his fleet, and had again suddenly disappeared, sailing
south. Much anxiety was felt to know where he would next attempt to
strike a blow. He looked in upon Norfolk. But the energetic General
Lee was prepared to meet him. Again he spread his sails and soon
appeared before Charleston, South Carolina. Here he was fated to meet
with a humiliating repulse. Six miles below the city a strong fort had
been built, on the south-west point of Sullivan’s Island. It mounted
twenty-six guns, was garrisoned by about four hundred men, and was
commanded by Sir William Moultrie, of South Carolina, who had planned
and superintended the works.

On the 28th of June, Clinton commenced an attack upon this fort, by
both fleet and army. One of the most furious cannonades was opened,
which had ever been heard on these shores. Lee, a veteran soldier in
the wars of Europe, who was present, wrote, “It was the most furious
fire I ever heard or saw.”

For twelve hours the bombardment continued. The British were bloodily
repulsed, and, with their fleet much cut up, withdrew. A British
officer, who took part in the engagement, wrote:

“In the midst of that dreadful roar of artillery, they (the Americans)
stuck with the greatest constancy and firmness to their guns; fired
deliberately and slowly, and took a cool and effective aim. The ships
suffered accordingly. They were torn almost to pieces. The slaughter
was dreadful. Never did British valor shine more conspicuous; and never
did our marine, in an engagement of the same nature, with any foreign
enemy, experience so rude an encounter.”[128]

One hundred and seventy-five men were killed on board the fleet, and
about the same number wounded. Many of these wounds were awful, tearing
off legs and arms, and proving, to the sufferers, a life-long calamity.

This conflict was deemed one of the most memorable and hotly contested
of the war. The Americans lost, in killed and wounded, but thirty-five.
The shattered fleet put to sea, and returned to the north, to unite
with the squadron in New York Bay. General Washington, in announcing
this gratifying victory to the army, on the 21st of July, said:

“With such a bright example before us, of what can be done by brave men
fighting in defence of their country, we shall be loaded with a double
share of shame and infamy, if we do not acquit ourselves with courage,
and manifest a determined resolution to conquer or die.”

General Putnam projected a plan to obstruct the channel of the Hudson,
so as to prevent the passage of the British ships up the river.
Fire-ships were also constructed. Putnam wrote to General Gates:

“The enemy’s fleet now lies in the bay close under Staten Island. Their
troops possess no land here but the island. Is it not strange that
those invincible troops, who were to lay waste all this country, with
their fleets and army, dare not put their feet on the main?”

In the course of a few days a hundred additional British vessels
arrived, bringing large supplies of those mercenary troops who were
hired from princes of Germany, and who were called Hessians. There
was something in the name of Hessian rather appalling to the popular
mind. There was a general impression that a Hessian was a sort of human
bloodhound, whom nothing could resist.

It was evident that England, chagrined by defeats, was rousing all
her energies for the subjugation of the colonies. Her troops, as they
arrived, were disembarked on Staten Island. They had learned to respect
the prowess of the Americans; for, numerous as was their host, and
though the island was guarded by their majestic fleet, they still
deemed it necessary to throw up strong intrenchments upon the hills, to
guard against attack.

Ships-of-war continued to arrive, bringing Hessians and Scotch
Highlanders. Early in August, Sir Henry Clinton entered the bay,
with his battered fleet, from Charleston. He brought with him Lord
Cornwallis and three thousand troops.

The British accumulated a force of thirty thousand men in the vicinity
of New York; while Washington had but about twenty thousand, dispersed
at various posts which were exposed to attack. The prospects of the
Americans were dark indeed. There was much sickness in the American
army in consequence of the general destitution. It was at this time
that Washington issued his celebrated order of the day, entreating
both officers and men to refrain from the “foolish and wicked practice
of profane cursing and swearing, as tending to alienate God from our
cause.” In this same order he said:

“That the troops may have an opportunity of attending public worship,
as well as to take some rest after the great fatigue they have gone
through, the general, in future, excuses them from fatigue duty on
Sunday, except at the ship-yard, or on special occasions, until further

Many of Washington’s hastily levied troops had no weapons but a shovel,
spade, or pick-ax. It was evident that the British were preparing for
some very decisive movement. On the 17th of August many thousands were
seen crowding into the transports. No one knew where the blow would
fall. The anxiety of Washington was manifest in the orders he issued,
entreating every officer and every man to be at his post, ready for
instantaneous action. His benevolent heart was deeply moved, in view of
the woes which he knew must ensue. To the New York Convention he wrote:

“When I consider that the city of New York will, in all human
probability, very soon be the scene of a bloody conflict, I cannot but
view the great numbers of women, children, and infirm persons remaining
in it, with the most melancholy concern. Can no method be devised for
their removal.”[130]

The two British ships which had ascended the river, were so annoyed
by the menaces of fire-ships, and by having their boats fired upon
whenever they attempted to land, that on the 18th of August they
spread their sails, and sought refuge with the rest of the fleet. Had
they remained two days longer, Putnam’s obstructions would have been
so far completed that their retreat would have been cut off, and they
would have been captured.

The British landed on Long Island, and advanced in great strength, to
take possession of Brooklyn Heights which commanded the city of New
York. Twenty thousand men were embarked on this expedition. Fifteen
thousand were detached to create a diversion, by an attack upon
Elizabethtown Point, and Amboy. Washington sent to General Greene, at
Brooklyn, six battalions.[131] Not another man could be spared; for the
next tide would undoubtedly bring the British fleet to attack the city.
To human vision the doom of Washington was sealed. Certainly there was
no hope if God should lend His aid to the “heavy battalions.”

Nine thousand British troops, with forty pieces of cannon, were landed
without molestation. Sir Henry Clinton led the first division. Lord
Cornwallis, one of his associates in command, led a corps of Hessians.
While others were landing, they rapidly advanced to seize the Heights.
Should they succeed, New York would be entirely at their mercy. The
panic in the city was dreadful.

The genius of General Greene had well fortified the Heights and
established strong outworks. The British were assailed on their
march with shot and shell, and the deadly fire of sharp-shooters.
They soon found it necessary to advance slowly and with caution. It
was quite amusing to contrast the boasting of the British and their
assumed contempt for the Americans armed with scythes, pitchforks and
shot-guns, with the exceeding circumspection they used in approaching
those Americans on the field of battle.

The British commenced landing on the 21st of August. Overpowering
as were their numbers they found it necessary to fight every step
of their way. The rattle of musketry and the thunder of artillery,
during this almost continuous battle of seven days’ duration, rolled
their echoes over the city of New York, creating intense solicitude
there. There were some scenes of awful slaughter when the outnumbering
Hessians plied the bayonet with the fury of demons. There were glorious
victories and awful defeats. As Washington gazed upon one of these
scenes, where a detachment of his heroic troops was literally butchered
by the plunges of Hessian bayonets, he wrung his hands in agony,
exclaiming, “O good God, what brave fellows I must this day lose.”[132]

In this engagement fifteen thousand British troops attacked five
thousand Americans. The Americans lost in killed, wounded and captured,
about twelve hundred. General Sullivan and Lord Stirling were among the

On the 28th the British army encamped within a mile of the American
lines on the Heights. Their number and armament were such, that there
was no doubt of their being able to carry the works. The British fleet
had entire command of the water, so as apparently to preclude the
possibility of escape. There were nine thousand American soldiers on
the Heights. The broad flood of East River flowed between them and New
York. The British sentries were so near that they could hear every blow
of the pickax. How was escape possible!

Chance, says the atheist, God, says the Christian, sent a fog, so
dense that no object was visible at the distance of a boat’s length.
The rain fell dismally. At the same time a gentle breeze sprang up to
waft the boats across to the New York shore. To add to the wonder, the
atmosphere was clear on the New York side of the river.

Aided by the darkness of the night and the fog, the troops were all
embarked, with the guns and ammunition, and before the morning dawned
they were safe on the New York shore. Scarcely a musket or a cartridge
was left behind. Their escape was like that of the Israelites,
across the Red Sea, pursued by the enslaving hosts of Pharaoh. This
extraordinary retreat was one of the most signal achievements of the
war. Exceeding great was the surprise and mortification of the British,
in finding that the Americans had thus escaped them. Though British
sentries were within a few yards of the American lines, the last boat
was crossing the river before the retreat was discovered.[133]

The British were now in full possession of Long Island. They could lay
New York in ashes. But it is said a majority of the inhabitants of that
rich and commercial city were tories. The conflagration would lay their
possessions low. This arrested the torch. As the British would make
its comfortable dwellings their headquarters during the winter, and
as these dwellings were generally the property of the enemies of free
America, the question was seriously discussed, whether Washington, in
his retreat, should commit the city to the flames.[134]

The British immediately commenced vigorous measures to cut off the
retreat of the Americans at King’s Bridge. Intense activity prevailed
in both camps. Random blows were struck and returned. The sick and
wounded, with such military stores as were not immediately needed, were
sent by Washington to Orangetown, New Jersey. The troops were much
disheartened. The most unintelligent could see that there was nothing
before them but retreat. This led to alarming desertions. Washington
could make humane allowances for these desertions. He wrote:

“Men, just dragged from the tender scenes of domestic life, and
unaccustomed to the din of arms, totally unacquainted with every kind
of military skill, are timid and ready to fly from their own shadows.
Besides, the sudden change in their manner of living brings on an
unconquerable desire to return to their homes.”[135]

Admiral Lord Howe, was a personal friend of Franklin. He seemed really
desirous of promoting reconciliation, and suggested an unofficial
meeting with some of the prominent American gentlemen, to talk the
matter over. John Adams, Edward Rutledge and Benjamin Franklin were
appointed on this mission. The conference was fruitless. Lord Howe
was not authorized to propose any terms but the return of America
to subjection to the British crown. This proposition could only be
peremptorily rejected.[136]

The whole British force, excepting a small garrison of four thousand
men, left on Staten Island, was removed to Long Island. Their plan was
to surround the Americans with fleet and army, on Manhattan Island, and
thus compel their surrender or cut them to pieces. Congress, by a vote
passed on the 10th of September, left the fate of the city in the hands
of General Washington. A council of war unanimously decided that the
evacuation of the city was necessary. There were daily shots exchanged.
Ships were moving up both rivers. At times there were very heavy
exchanges of bombardments, rolling their portentous reverberations
along the shores.

Washington established his head-quarters at King’s Bridge. On the
retreat, some of the troops were thrown into a panic, and displayed the
most shameful cowardice. The disgust of Washington was so great that,
for a few moments, he seemed quite in despair. “Are these the men,” he
vehemently exclaimed, “with whom I am to defend America?”

Soon, however, he regained that self-control which he so seldom lost.
The city was finally abandoned, in such haste, being attacked by
both the fleet and the army, that most of the heavy cannon, and a
considerable amount of military stores were left behind. Washington
won the admiration of his officers by the coolness and efficiency he
manifested during this dreadful retreat. It was a day of burning,
blistering heat. The terror, confusion and suffering were dreadful. The
army was encumbered with women and children, tottering along, moaning,
crying, faint, thirsty, exhausted and in unutterable woe. Colonel
Humphreys wrote:

“I had frequent opportunities that day, of beholding Washington issuing
orders, encouraging the troops, flying on his horse covered with foam,
wherever his presence was most necessary. Without his extraordinary
exertions, the guards must have been inevitably lost, and it is
possible the entire corps would have been cut in pieces.”

On the upper part of Manhattan Island there is a neck of land
several miles long, and but about one mile wide. Here Washington
established his fortified camp. About a mile below him, the British
lines extended, across the island, in an encampment about two miles
in length. The flanks were strongly covered by the fleet. In throwing
up the fortifications here the youthful Alexander Hamilton arrested
the attention, and secured the warm attachment, of Washington by the
science and skill he displayed.

The British the next day attacked a redoubt, with overpowering numbers,
and, after a severe conflict drove off the brave defenders. With
characteristic boastfulness, they insultingly sounded their bugles, as
usual after a fox-chase. The next day Washington avenged the insult by
sending troops to attack one of the posts of the British. The British
were met in the open field, and driven before the impetuous assault.
This victory though unimportant, greatly revived the desponding spirit
of the army.[137]

The next night there was a destructive conflagration in the city. A
large portion of the buildings were laid in ashes. Whether this were
the result of accident, or the work of incendiaries, has never been
known. The British began to land their heavy cannon in preparation for
an attack upon the American camp. Still their caution was inexplicable
to Washington. They had vastly superior numbers, were thoroughly
disciplined, had an abundance of the best weapons and munitions of
war, and a powerful fleet to coöperate with the land troops; and yet,
day after day, they sheltered themselves behind their ramparts, not
venturing upon an attack.

Three ships-of-war ascended the river. “They broke through the vaunted
barriers as through a cobweb.” The Hudson was at their control. They
began to plunder and to burn. The Tories flocked to the British camp
eager to enlist. Many felt that the whole lower part of the river must
be abandoned to the foe. John Jay wrote to the Board of War:

“I wish our army well-stationed in the Highlands, and all the lower
country devastated. We might then bid defiance to all further efforts
of the enemy in that quarter.”

The British were establishing strong fortifications in the rear of the
American army to cut off its supplies. Its majestic fleet of men-of-war
and gunboats could crowd the waters of the North River and the East
River, and, encircling the island, could reach every spot with its
terrific bombardment of round-shot and shell.

A council of war decided that the island of Manhattan was no longer
tenable; and that it must be immediately abandoned. In good order the
troops retired, a new position having been selected on the mainland.
Washington established his head-quarters at White Plains in a fortified
camp. Several skirmishes ensued, in which the British were taught the
necessity of continued caution in approaching the American works.

The latter part of October the British made their appearance, in two
solid columns, to attack the encampment at White Plains. The conflict
lasted several hours, without any decisive result. About four hundred
were struck down on each side. During the night the two armies lay
opposite each other, within cannon shot. It was clear and cold. But
fuel was abundant; and the soldiers on each side were struck with the
sublime spectacle which the gloomy camp-fires presented. A British
officer, writing to a friend in London, gives the following account of
the condition of the American troops at this time:

“The rebel army are in so wretched a condition, as to clothing and
accoutrements, that I believe no nation ever saw such a set of
tatterdemalions. There are few coats among them but such as are out at
elbows, and, in a whole regiment, there is scarce a pair of breeches.
Judge, then, how they must be pinched by a winter’s campaign. We, who
are warmly clothed and well-equipped, already feel it severely; for it
is even now much colder than I ever felt it in England.”

Under these circumstances there can be no question that, in
generalship, Washington was far the superior of the British officers
who were arrayed against him. And it is probably the unanimous voice of
those skilled in the art of war, that there was not another general in
the American army who could have filled the place of Washington.

A higher compliment to American valor could hardly be paid than
the announcement, that the next morning, when General Howe saw the
arrangements Washington had made to receive him, he did not venture to
attack the American lines. On the night of the 31st Washington retired,
with his main army, a distance of about five miles, to the high, rocky
hills about North Castle. Here again he rapidly intrenched himself
with spade and mattock. It must have been a deep humiliation for the
haughty General Howe with his magnificent army to find all his plans
thwarted by this feeble band of “tatterdemalions.” He made no attempt
to dislodge Washington.

At midnight, on the 4th of November, Howe commenced withdrawing his
troops, as though he were a vanquished foe, retreating before his
victors. Soon the whole force disappeared from White Plains. The plan
of the British general was soon made manifest. He encamped his army
on Fordham Heights, near King’s Bridge, in preparation for an attack
upon Fort Washington. He invested the fort and, on the 15th, sent a
summons to surrender, with a barbaric threat, if he was forced to carry
the works by assault. Washington hastened to the beleaguered fortress,
which he reached in the gloom of a cold November evening. Colonel
Magaw, who was in command, had nearly three thousand men. As the
fort itself could not contain more than one thousand, the others were
stationed at the outposts.

General Howe planned for four simultaneous attacks. The assault was
a series of complicated battles, some at the distance of two and a
half miles from the fort, and some within cannon shot of its walls.
Washington witnessed one of those awful conflicts, where the Hessians
rushed like fiends over the ramparts of a battery, and bayoneted the
young Americans begging for life. It is said that his sympathies were
so moved by the demoniac scene, that he wept with the tenderness of a

The redoubts were captured and the retreating troops so crowded the
fort, that the men could scarcely move about. The British could throw
in a shower of shells and balls, which would cause awful carnage. A
capitulation could not be avoided.

Washington stood upon a neighboring eminence, and saw the American flag
fall and the British flag rise in its place. The loss was a severe
one. Washington had recommended, not ordered, that the fort should be
evacuated, and the men and stores removed to a place of safety.[139]
But some of his more sanguine generals were confident that they could
hold the place. Deep as was his grief, he did not reproach them. The
impetuous General Lee wrote to Washington; “Oh, General, why would you
be overpersuaded by men of inferior judgment to your own? It was a
cursed affair.”

Colonel Tilghman wrote on the 17th to Robert R. Livingston, of New
York: “We were in a fair way of finishing the campaign with credit to
ourselves and I think to the disgrace of Mr. Howe. And had the general
followed his own opinion, the garrison would have been withdrawn
immediately upon the enemy’s falling down from Dobbs Ferry.”

The captives, amounting, according to General Howe’s returns, to two
thousand eight hundred and eighteen, were marched off, at midnight, to
the awful prison hulks of New York, where they endured sufferings which
must forever redound to the disgrace of the British government.


_The Vicissitudes of War._

  Crossing the Hudson--The retreat--Views of the British--Strange
      conduct of Lee--His capture--Crossing the Delaware--Battle
      of Trenton--Heroic march upon Princeton--Discomfiture of
      the British--Increasing renown of Washington--Barbarism
      of the British--Foreign Volunteers--Movements of the
      fleet--Lafayette--Movements of Burgoyne--The murder of
      Jane McCrea--Battle of Fort Schuyler--Starks’ Victory at
      Bennington--Battle of the Brandywine--Its effects.

Washington removed the most of his army across the Hudson, a little
below Stony Point, that he might seek refuge for them among the
Highlands. General Heath was entrusted with the command. As the troops
crossed the river, three of the British men-of-war were seen a few
miles below, at anchor in Haverstraw Bay. Fort Lee, on the Jersey
shore, was now useless, and was promptly abandoned. On the 20th the
British army crossed the river in two hundred boats. It is remarkable
that their fears were such that they took the precaution of crossing,
as it were by stealth, in a dark and rainy night.

A corps of six thousand men under Cornwallis, was marshaled about
six miles above the fort, under the towering Palisades. The troops,
retreating from Fort Lee, about three thousand in number, were at
Hackensack, without tents or baggage, and exceedingly disheartened.
Still the British were in great strength on the east of the Hudson.
They could concentrate their forces and make a resistless raid into
New England, or, with their solid battalions march upon Philadelphia
and the opulent towns in that region. It soon became evident that
the British were aiming at Philadelphia. Washington endeavored to
concentrate as many as possible of his suffering troops at Brunswick.
It makes one blush with indignation to remember that a loud clamor was
raised against Washington for his continual retreat.

It would have been the act of a madman to pursue any course different
from that which Washington was pursuing. His feelings were very keenly
wounded, by seeing indications of this spirit of ignorant censure,
on the part of some whom he had esteemed his firmest friends. There
were others, however, and among them many of the very noblest in the
land, who appreciated the grandeur of Washington’s character and the
consummate ability with which he was conducting as difficult a campaign
as was ever intrusted to mortal guidance.

Washington, with a feeble, disheartened band, in a state of fearful
destitution, lingered at Brunswick until the 1st of December. The
haughty foe, in solid columns was marching proudly through the country,
with infantry, artillery and cavalry, impressing horses, wagons, sheep,
cattle and every thing which could add to the comfort of his warmly
clad and well fed hosts.[140]

The chill winds of winter were moaning over the bleak fields, and ice
was beginning to clog the swollen streams. About twelve hundred men
were stationed at Princeton, to watch the movements of the enemy. On
the 2d his harassed army reached Trenton. In that dark hour, when
all hearts began to fail, Washington remained undaunted. He wrote to
General Mercer:

“We must retire to Augusta county, in Virginia. Numbers will repair to
us for safety. We will try a predatory war. If overpowered, we must
cross the Alleghanies.”

In these hours of despondency and dismay, Admiral Howe and his brother
the general, on the 30th of November, issued a proclamation, offering
pardon to all who, within thirty days, should disband and return to
their homes. Many, particularly of those who had property to lose,
complied with these terms. On the 2d of December a British officer
wrote to a friend in London:

“The rebels continue flying before our army. Washington was seen
retreating with two brigades to Trenton, where they talk of resisting.
But such a panic has seized the rebels that no part of the Jerseys
will hold them; and I doubt whether Philadelphia itself will stop
their career. The Congress have lost their authority. They are in such
consternation that they know not what to do. However, should they
embrace the inclosed proclamation, they may yet escape the halter.”[141]

Congress hastily adjourned to meet at Baltimore on the 20th of
December. It was really a flight from Philadelphia. Washington had but
five thousand five hundred men. It is difficult to account for the
conduct of General Lee, upon any other plea than that of insanity.
He turned against Washington, assumed airs of superiority, and was
extremely dilatory in lending any coöperation. Washington wrote to him:

“Do come on. Your arrival may be the means of preserving a city,
(Philadelphia,) whose loss must prove of the most fatal consequence to
the cause of America.”

Lee was loitering at Morristown, with about four thousand men. He was
an Englishman by birth, and a man of undoubted military ability, but
coarse and vulgar in dress, mind, language, and manners. His ordinary
speech was interlarded with oaths. On the 12th of December Lee was at
a tavern at Baskenridge, not far from Morristown. There was no British
cantonment within twenty miles. He was naturally an indolent man, and
was entirely off his guard.

At eight o’clock in the morning he came down to breakfast, in his
usually slovenly style, apparently unwashed and uncombed, in slippers,
with linen much soiled, collar open, and with a coarse, war-worn
blanket overcoat. Suddenly a party of British dragoons surrounded the
house, seized him, forced him instantly on a horse, bare-headed, and in
his slippers and blanket coat, and upon the full gallop set off with
their prize for Brunswick. It was a bold movement, and heroically was
it achieved. In three hours the heavy booming of guns at Brunswick,
announced the triumph of the English.[142]

Though the British were very exultant over this capture, and the
Americans felt keenly the disgrace and the loss, it is by no means
improbable that, had not Lee thus been captured, he would have proved
the ruin of the country. He was a reckless, dashing man, destitute
of high moral qualities, was plotting against Washington, and would
unquestionably have sacrificed the army in some crushing defeat had
he been intrusted with the supreme command. There were not a few who,
disheartened by defeat, were in favor of trying the generalship of

Washington combined in his character, to an astonishing degree,
courage and prudence. It is doubtful whether there was another man
on the continent who could have conducted his retreat through the
Jerseys.[144] With a mere handful of freezing, starving, ragged men, he
retreated more than a hundred miles before a powerful foe, flushed with
victory and strengthened with abundance. He baffled all their endeavors
to cut him off, and preserved all his field-pieces, ammunition, and
nearly all his stores. There was grandeur in this achievement which
far surpassed any ordinary victory.[145]

In this emergency Congress invested Washington with almost dictatorial
authority. It was voted that “General Washington should be possessed of
all power to order and direct all things relative to the department and
to the operations of war.”[146] General Sullivan hastened to join him
with Lee’s troops. They were in a deplorable state of destitution. In
ten days several regiments would have served out their term. Washington
would then be left with but fourteen hundred men. General Wilkinson

“I saw Washington in that gloomy period: dined with him and attentively
marked his aspect. Always grave and thoughtful, he appeared at that
time, pensive and solemn in the extreme.”

Washington crossed the Delaware, destroyed the bridges, and seized all
the boats for a distance of seventy miles up and down the river. These
he either destroyed, or placed under guard, on the west bank. Here he
stationed his troops with the broad river between him and his foes.
He had then about five or six thousand men. Cornwallis continued his
troops, mostly Hessians, on the east bank of the Delaware, facing the
American lines. The idea of his being attacked by Washington was as
remote from his thoughts as that an army should descend from the skies.

There were three regiments at Trenton. The weather was intensely cold.
Vast masses of ice were floating down the river. In a few days it
would be frozen over, so that the British could pass anywhere without
impediment. The energies of despair alone could now save the army. But
Washington guided those energies with skill and caution, which elicited
the wonder and admiration of the world.

He knew that on Christmas night the German troops, unsuspicious of
danger, would be indulging in their customary carousals on that
occasion. Their bands would be in disorder, and many would be
intoxicated. He selected twenty-five hundred of his best troops with a
train of twenty pieces of artillery. With these feeble regiments, he
was to cross the ice-encumbered river, to attack the heavy battalions
of the foe. One can imagine the fervor with which he pleaded with God
to come to the aid of his little army. Defeat would be ruin--probably
his own death or capture. The British would sweep everything before
them; and then all American rights would be trampled beneath the feet
of that despotic power.

The wintry wind was keen and piercing as, soon after sunset, the thinly
clad troops entered the boats to cross the swollen stream. Washington
passed over in one of the first boats, and stood upon the snow-drifted
eastern bank, to receive and marshal the detachments as they arrived.
The night was very dark and tempestuous, with wind, rain and hail,
compelling the British sentinels to seek shelter. It was not until
three o’clock in the morning that the artillery arrived.

The landing was effected nine miles above Trenton. The storm was raging
fiercely, driving the sleet with almost blinding violence into the
faces of the troops. They advanced, in two divisions, to attack the
town at different points. Washington led one division, Sullivan the
other. At eight o’clock, enveloped in the fierce tempest, they made a
simultaneous attack. The conflict was short and the victory decisive.
The British commander--Colonel Rahl--a brave and reckless soldier, like
Lee, but a poor general, lost all self-possession, and was soon struck
down by a mortal wound. The Hessians, thrown into a panic, and having
lost their commander, threw down their arms.

Under the circumstances, it was a wonderful and glorious victory. A
thousand prisoners were captured, including twenty-three officers. Six
brass field pieces, a thousand stand of arms, and a large supply of
the munitions of war were also taken. It was comparatively a bloodless
victory. The Americans lost but four. Two were killed and two frozen to
death. Lieutenant Monroe, afterward President of the United States, was
wounded. The British lost in killed, between twenty and thirty.[147]

Washington, aware that an overpowering force might soon come down upon
him, recrossed the Delaware the same day, with his prisoners, and with
the artillery, stores and munitions of war which were of such priceless
value to the army at that time.

Washington had made arrangements for another division of his troops to
cross the river a little below Trenton, to aid in the attack. But the
ice and the storm delayed them, so that they could take no part in the
heroic enterprise. A general panic pervaded the scattered cantonments
of the British. It was reported that Washington was marching upon them
at the head of fifteen thousand troops. Many posts were abandoned,
and the troops sought refuge in precipitate flight. The tories were
alarmed, and began to avow themselves patriots. The patriotic Americans
were encouraged, and more readily enlisted. And though there was many
a dreary day of blood and woe still to be encountered, this heroic
crossing of the Delaware was the turning point in the war. The midnight
hour of darkness had passed. The dawn was at hand, which finally
ushered in the perfect day.[148]

Washington gave his brave and weary troops a few days of rest, and
again, on the 29th, crossed over to Trenton. It was mid-winter, and
the roads were in a wretched condition. But it was necessary to be
regardless of cold and hunger, and of exhaustion, in the endeavor to
reclaim the Jerseys from the cruel foe. Not a Briton or a Hessian was
to be seen. The enemy had drawn off from their scattered cantonments,
and were concentrating all their forces at Princeton.

Lord Cornwallis, greatly chagrined at the defeat, rallied about eight
thousand men at Princeton. General Howe was on the march to join him,
with an additional body of a thousand light troops which he had landed
at Amboy, with abundant supplies.

Washington posted his troops on the east side of a small stream called
the Assumpink. Cornwallis with nearly his whole force, approached about
mid-day. He made repeated attempts to cross the stream, but was driven
back by the well posted batteries of Washington. It was impossible for
the Americans to retreat, for the broad Delaware, filled with floating
ice, was in their rear. As night came on Cornwallis decided to give his
troops some sleep, and await the arrival of his rear-guard. He said,
“Washington cannot escape me. I will bag the fox in the morning.”

Again Washington performed one of those feats of skill and daring,
which has never perhaps been surpassed in the achievements of war. In
the gloom of that wintry night he piled the wood upon his watchfires,
left sentinels to go their rounds, employed a band of sappers and
miners to work noisily in throwing up trenches; and then in a rapid,
silent march, with all his remaining force, by a circuitous route,
passed round the British encampment, and when morning dawned had
reached Princeton undiscovered, many miles in the rear of the foe. Here
he attacked three British regiments and put them to flight, killed
one hundred of the enemy, captured three hundred, and replenished his
exhausted stores from the abundant supplies which the British had left
there under guard.

Should Cornwallis continue his march to Philadelphia, Washington would
immediately advance upon Brunswick, and seize all his magazines. The
British commander was therefore compelled to abandon that project
and retreat, with the utmost precipitation, to save his stores.
The battle at Princeton was fiercely contested. Washington plunged
into the thickest of all its perils. But the victory, on the part
of the Americans, was decisive. The foe was routed and scattered in
precipitate flight. One of the British officers who fell on this
occasion was Captain Leven, son of the wealthy and illustrious Earl of
Leven. He seems to have been a gallant and amiable young man. His death
was sincerely deplored by his comrades. It is often said that bayonets
must not think; that it is their sole function to obey. But those who
guide bayonets are culpable, in the highest degree, if they direct
the terrible energies of those bayonets against the right and for the
wrong. History must record that the prospective Earl of Leven fell,
ignobly fighting to rivet the chains of an intolerable despotism upon
his fellow-men. It is well that the woes of cruel war penetrate the
castle as well as the cottage.

It is said that when Cornwallis awoke in the morning, and heard
the heavy booming of cannon far away in his rear, he was lost in
astonishment, being utterly unable to account for it. And when he
learned that, during the night, his victims had escaped, and that
Washington was cutting down his guard, and seizing his magazines, he
could not refrain from expressing his admiration of the heroism of his

Greatly humiliated, he marched at the double quick, to save, if
possible, the large supplies at Brunswick, compelled to admit that he
had been completely foiled and outgeneraled.

Washington, thus gloriously a victor, thought it not prudent to
advance upon Brunswick, as a strong guard was left there, and it was
certain that Cornwallis would come rushing down upon him at the double
quick. He therefore continued his march, which may be truly called a
victorious retreat, to the mountainous region of Morristown. Here he
established his winter quarters, in strong positions which the British
did not venture to assail.

Washington, while on the march, wrote to General Putnam: “The enemy
appear to be panic-struck. I am in hopes of driving them out of the
Jerseys. Keep a strict watch upon the enemy. A number of horsemen, in
the dress of the country, must be kept constantly going backward and
forward for this purpose.”

To General Heath, who was stationed in the Highlands of the Hudson, he
wrote: “The enemy are in great consternation. As the panic affords us
a favorable opportunity to drive them out of the Jerseys, it has been
determined, in council, that you should move down toward New York,
with a considerable force, as if you had a design upon the city. That
being an object of great importance, the enemy will be reduced to the
necessity of withdrawing a considerable part of their force from the
Jerseys, if not the whole, to secure the city.”

Washington reinforced his little band at Morristown, and, keeping a
vigilant watch upon the movements of the British, so harassed them,
that Cornwallis was compelled to draw in all his outposts, and his land
communication with New York was entirely cut off. The whole aspect of
the war, in the Jerseys, was changed. The grand military qualities of
Washington were generally recognized. Alexander Hamilton wrote:

“The extraordinary spectacle was presented of a powerful army,
straitened within narrow limits, by the phantom of a military force,
and never permitted to transgress those limits with impunity.”[149]

The British had conducted like savages in the Jerseys, burning,
plundering and committing all manner of outrages, often making no
discrimination between friends and foes. Thus the whole country was
roused against them. The American troops speedily erected a village of
log huts in a sheltered valley covered with a dense forest.

General Howe, in New York, was a gamester, a wine-bibber, and a
fashionable young man of pleasure. He and his officers spent the winter
in convivial and luxurious indulgence. The American prisoners were
treated with barbarity which would have disgraced the Mohawks. General
Lee was held in close confinement, Howe affecting to regard him as a
deserter, as he had once been an officer in the British army.[150]

Washington had but a very feeble force with him at Morristown. He
however succeeded in impressing the British with the conviction that he
had a powerful army quite well equipped. He wrote: “The enemy must be
ignorant of our numbers and situation, or they would never suffer us to
remain unmolested.”

The fame of the great struggle for American independence had now
pervaded the civilized world. Everywhere, the hearts of the lovers of
freedom throbbed in sympathy with the American cause. Many foreign
officers came, and applied for service in the patriot army. One
of the most illustrious of these was the Polish general, Thaddeus

Toward the end of May, Washington broke up his camp at Morristown, and
advanced to Middlebrook, about ten miles from Brunswick. His entire
force consisted of seven thousand three hundred men. The whole country
was smiling in the beautiful bloom of spring. A fleet of a hundred
crowded British transports left New York. Great was the anxiety to
learn where the blow was to fall. At the same time, Sir William Howe
took up his headquarters at Brunswick. He soon drew out his forces
upon the Raritan, and by plundering and burning private dwellings,
endeavored to provoke Washington to descend from his strong position,
and attack him. Failing in this, and finding that he could not advance
upon Philadelphia with such a foe in his rear, he broke up his camp,
and abandoning the Jerseys, returned with all his troops to New York.

Washington having thus driven the foe from the Jerseys, awaited, with
great anxiety, tidings of the British fleet. Its destination, whether
south or east, was matter only of conjecture. The ships contained
quite a formidable army of eighteen thousand thoroughly equipped
soldiers. They were capable of striking very heavy blows. Circumstances
inclined him to the opinion that it was the aim of the fleet to capture
Philadelphia. He therefore moved his army in that direction, and
encamped at Coryell’s Ferry, about thirty miles from the city. General
Gates was stationed at Philadelphia, with a small force. On the 30th of
July, Washington wrote to General Gates:

“As we are yet uncertain as to the real destination of the enemy,
though the Delaware seems the most probable, I have thought it prudent
to halt the army at this place, at least till the fleet actually enters
the bay, and puts the matter beyond a doubt.

“That the post in the Highlands may not be left too much exposed, I
have ordered General Sullivan’s division to halt at Morristown, whence
it will march southward, if there should be occasion, or northward upon
the first advice that the enemy should be throwing any force up the
North river.”

The next day Washington received intelligence that the British fleet
of two hundred and twenty-eight sail, had appeared off the Capes of
Delaware. He immediately advanced to Germantown, but six miles from
the city. The next day, however, the fleet again disappeared and
the embarrassments of Washington were renewed. He feared that the
appearance of the fleet in the Delaware was a mere feint, and that its
destination might be to get entire possession of the Hudson river.

Several days passed, when, on the 10th of August, tidings reached him
that, three days before, the fleet was seen about fifty miles south
of the Capes of Delaware. During his encampment Washington repeatedly
visited the city to superintend operations for its defence.

On one occasion he dined in the city with several members of Congress.
One of the guests was a young nobleman from France, the Marquis de
Lafayette. This heroic man, whose memory is enshrined in the heart
of every American, had left his young wife, and all the luxurious
indulgence of his palatial home, that he might fight in the battles
of American patriots against British despotism. In his application to
Congress for employment Lafayette wrote:

“After many sacrifices I have the right to ask two favors. One is to
serve at my own expense; the other to commence serving as a volunteer.”

The commanding air yet modest bearing immediately attracted the
attention of Washington, and a life-long friendship was commenced. He
said to the rich young nobleman who was familiar with the splendid
equipments of the armies of Europe:

“We ought to feel embarrassed in presenting ourselves before an officer
just from the French army.”

The reply of Lafayette, alike characteristic of him and of the polite
nation, was:

“It is to learn, and not to instruct, that I came here.”[152]

For the defence of Philadelphia the militia of Pennsylvania,
Delaware and Northern Virginia were called out. Washington with his
troops marched through the city, and established his headquarters at
Wilmington, at the confluence of the Brandywine and Christiana Creek.
There were many tories in Philadelphia. Washington wished to make such
a display of his military power as to overawe them.

He rode at the head of the army accompanied by a numerous staff.
Lafayette was by his side. They marched, with as imposing array as
possible, down Front and up Chestnut street.

“The long column of the army, broken into divisions and brigades,
the pioneers, with their axes, the squadrons of horse, the extended
train of artillery, the tramp of steed, the bray of trumpet, and the
spirit-stirring sound of drum and fife, all had an imposing effect on a
peaceful city, unused to the sight of marshaled armies.”[153]

While Philadelphia was thus imperiled, General Burgoyne was advancing
upon the Hudson from Canada, with a strong and well-conditioned
army.[154] The tories were flocking to his standard. A large band of
northern Indians accompanied him. There was a very beautiful girl, Jane
McCrea, the daughter of a New Jersey clergyman, who was visiting a
family on the upper waters of the Hudson.

Her lover, to whom she was engaged to be married, was a tory, and was
in the British army. Under these circumstances she felt no anxiety,
in reference to her personal safety, from the approach of Burgoyne’s
troops. Still, at the urgent solicitation of some of her friends, she
decided to embark in a large bateau, with several other families, to
descend the river to Albany.

On the morning of the intended embarkation, suddenly the hideous yell
of the savage was heard. A demoniac band surrounded the house, and Miss
McCrea was seized as a captive. A quarrel arose among the savages as to
who was entitled to the prize. In the fray an Indian, maddened probably
with rum as well as rage, buried his tomahawk in her brain. He then
stripped off her scalp, and her gory body was left unburied.

Burgoyne was naturally a humane man. He was horror-stricken in view
of this deed. But the murderer was a renowned chief and warrior. At
any attempt to punish him, all the Indians would desert his camp.
Consequently the crime was unpunished. The manifest displeasure of
Burgoyne exasperated the Indians, and they soon all disappeared,
carrying with them all the plunder they could obtain.[155]

The British troops were rendezvoused at Fort Edward, not far from Crown
Point. The British had large forces in this region. They were able
to detach seventeen hundred men to besiege Fort Schuyler, formerly
called Fort Stanwix, on the right bank of the Mohawk River, at the head
of navigation. Colonel St. Leger had command of this force. He had
gathered a large band of savages. From behind the forest trees they
kept up a constant fire upon any of the garrison who exposed themselves
to repair the parapets when injured by shot or shell. At night the
woods were filled with their fiend-like yells and howlings.

A party of eight hundred men was sent to the rescue of the garrison.
One of the most desperate and bloody battles of the Revolution took
place. Both parties suffered terribly. Each side lost about four
hundred in killed and wounded. Still the loss was by no means equal.
The British regulars were generally the offscouring of the cities
of Europe. But the Americans who fell were among the most worthy and
intelligent of husbands and sons in the farm-houses of the valley of
the Mohawk. Neither party admitted a defeat, and neither claimed a
victory. The Americans still held the fort.[156]

The German troops were very reluctant to recognize the Indians as their
allies. One of the Hessian officers wrote:

“These savages are heathens, huge, warlike, and enterprising, but
wicked as Satan. Some say they are cannibals; but I do not believe it.
Though, in their fury, they will tear the flesh of the enemy with their

Burgoyne was encamped east of the Hudson, near Saratoga. A bridge
of boats crossed the river. Colonel Baum was despatched by him to
Bennington, with five hundred men, to seize a large amount of American
stores, which were deposited there. The Americans mustered from all
quarters to repel them, under the rustic but heroic General Stark.
Riding at the head of his troops, he exclaimed as soon as the British
appeared in sight:

“Now my men! There are the red-coats. Before night they must be ours or
Molly Stark will be a widow.”

The clouds of a drenching storm had passed away, and a serene morning
of surpassing loveliness dawned upon the landscape, when five hundred
British and Hessian regulars met, face to face, seven hundred American
farmers, many of whom had rushed from their firesides, seizing their
ordinary firelocks without bayonets.

The battle was fought, on both sides, with equal desperation. Baum had
artillery well posted. Stark had none. The Americans made the assault
in front, flank, and rear. The British with stolid bravery stood to
their guns in resistance. After a battle of two hours, during which
the roar of the conflict resembled an incessant clap of thunder, the
foe was utterly routed. Many were killed, more wounded, and more taken

Just then a strong, well-armed reinforcement came to the aid of the
British, when the Americans, disorganized by victory were, in broken
ranks, plundering the British camp. In vain Stark endeavored to rally
them. An awful defeat threatened to follow their signal victory, when,
very opportunely, Colonel Seth Warner arrived with fresh American
troops from Bennington.

It was four o’clock in the afternoon. Another battle was fought with
renewed ferocity. Again the American farmers put the British regulars
to flight. Night alone enabled the fugitives to escape. It was a grand
victory, both in its immediate achievements and its remote results.
Four brass field-pieces, a thousand stands of arms, and four wagons of
ammunition fell into the hands of the Americans. They also captured
thirty-two officers, and five hundred and sixty-four privates. The
number of the British who were slain is not known. The battle spread
far and wide through the forest, and there was probably many an awful
tragedy as poor wounded soldiers, in those gloomy depths, slowly
perished of starvation and misery. The Americans lost one hundred in
killed and wounded.

Language can hardly describe the exultation with which the American
farmers learned that they could meet the British regulars, in the open
field, and at disadvantage, and yet beat them. From all quarters,
the young men seized their guns and rushed to the American camp. They
surrounded Burgoyne. They cut off his supplies. They drove back his
foraging parties. Burgoyne became alarmed. He was far removed from any
reinforcements. He soon awoke to the terrible apprehension, that he
might be reduced to the humiliation of surrendering his whole army to
farmers’ boys, whose soldierly qualities he had affected so thoroughly
to despise.

Washington was at Wilmington, near Philadelphia, when he heard the
tidings of this great victory. He was watching the British fleet
which, conveying an army of nearly twenty thousand men, was evidently
directing its course toward Philadelphia. He wrote to General Putnam:

“As there is not now 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 every thing.”

The British troops, who had been sent, under St. Leger, to capture Fort
Stanwix, and ravage the valley of the Mohawk, broke up the camp in a
panic, and fled to Saratoga. They took to flight in such a hurry that
they left behind them their tents, artillery, ammunition, stores,
and most of their baggage. A detachment from the garrison harassed
them in their flight. But they received more severe and richly merited
punishment from their savage allies, who plundered them mercilessly,
massacred all who lagged in the rear, and finally disappeared in the
forest laden with spoil.

The battle at Bennington took place on the 16th of August. Nine days
after this, on the 25th of August, General Howe began to land his army
from the fleet, in Elk river, near the head of Chesapeake Bay, about
six miles below the present town of Elkton. He was then seventy miles
from Philadelphia. After sundry marchings and countermarchings, with
various skirmishes, the two armies met, on the opposite banks of a
small stream called the Brandywine, which empties into the Delaware,
about twenty-five miles below Philadelphia.

It was the 8th of September. Washington had eleven thousand men he
could lead into the field. They were but poorly armed and equipped.
General Howe had eighteen thousand Regulars; fifteen thousand of whom
he brought into action. His troops were in the finest condition, both
as to discipline and armament.

General Howe had learned to respect his foe. He advanced with great
caution, and displayed much military ability in his tactics. It was
not until the 11th, that the battle took place. It was fought with
desperation. Lafayette conducted with great heroism, and was wounded
by a bullet passing through his leg. The Americans, after a very
sanguinary conflict, were overpowered, and were driven from the field.
General Howe did not venture to pursue them. At Chester, twelve miles
from the field of battle, the defeated army rallied, as the shades of
night were deepening around them.

Dreadful was the consternation, in Philadelphia, when the tidings of
the disastrous battle reached the city. The field of conflict was
distant about twenty-five miles. Through the day the roar of this
awful tempest of war had been heard, like the mutterings of distant
thunder. Patriots and tories, with pale faces and trembling lips, met
in different groups, crowding the streets and squares. Toward evening
a courier brought the intelligence that the American army was in full
retreat. Many of the patriots, in their consternation, abandoned home
and everything, and fled with their families to the mountains. Congress
adjourned to Lancaster and subsequently to Yorktown. Washington was
invested with dictatorial powers, for a distance of seventy miles
around his headquarters, to be in force for sixty days.[158]

Notwithstanding the defeat of the Americans, General Howe followed the
retreating army slowly and with great caution. He had not forgotten
Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, and had learned to respect the
military ability of his foe. He spent the night after the battle,
and the two following days, on the battle-field. Washington quietly
retired across the Schuylkill to Germantown, but a short distance from
Philadelphia. His troops were not disheartened. Overpowered by numbers,
they regarded their repulse as a check rather than a defeat.

General Howe reported his loss to be ninety killed, six hundred
wounded, and six missing. He gave the American loss at three hundred
killed, six hundred wounded and four hundred taken prisoners. His
estimate of the American loss must have been entirely conjectural;
since General Washington made no return of his loss to Congress.[159]


_The Loss of Philadelphia, and the Capture of Burgoyne._

  Philadelphia occupied by the English--Condition of Burgoyne--Nature
      of the Conflict--Treachery of the Indians--Burgoyne’s Efforts
      to Escape--Cruel Devastation--The Surrender--Its Results--Plans
      of Washington--His Military Capacity--Battle of Germantown--The
      Panic--Washington’s Account of the Battle--Results of the
      Battle--Destruction of Fort Mifflin--Atrocities of the
      British--Encampment at Valley Forge.

Washington took advantage of the dilatoriness of Howe to prepare to
attack him again. The two armies were often face to face. Washington,
with his feeble force, could only harass the foe and retard his
march. At length, Howe encamped, with the main body of his army,
at Germantown, but a short distance from Philadelphia, and sent
Cornwallis, with a brilliant staff, and a very magnificent array of
troops, to take formal possession of the city. Washington was by no
means in despair. He wrote to Governor Trumbull:

“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.”

In the meantime, prosperity was smiling upon the American cause. A
noble spirit of patriotism imbued the hearts of the people. Burgoyne
complained bitterly that the farmers were all rebels; that at an hour’s
warning they would abandon their plows by thousands, take their own
subsistence with them, and, having achieved any enterprise for which
they were called forth, would return to their farms. Several fierce
battles were fought, in none of which did Burgoyne gain any advantage,
and in all of which his plans were thwarted.

The Americans were rapidly encircling his army in folds from which
escape would be difficult, if not impossible. Famine began to threaten
him. He tried to retreat, but the Americans hedged up his way, and
fought with bravery which the British regulars had never seen excelled.
Washington sent a band of Morgan’s riflemen to their aid. The scene
of conflict was over hills and dales, covered with a dense forest. In
this warfare Morgan’s men were far superior to the trained soldiers of
England and Germany. Their well-aimed bullets produced fearful havoc.
The shrewd Indians saw that the tides of war were turning against
them. They never loved the English. Without any leave-taking, they
disappeared, carrying with them all the plunder they could seize. The
Canadians deserted by hundreds.[160]

Burgoyne struggled with the energies of desperation. But all his
efforts to escape were in vain. The impetuosity with which the
Americans rushed upon the cannon of the foe, in the face of murderous
discharges of grape-shot, excited the astonishment of both the British
and Hessian officers. Many heroic and pathetic scenes occurred which we
have not space here to record. After a bloody battle and a disastrous
defeat, Burgoyne made another attempt to escape from his terrible foe.
The night was dark even to blackness. The rain fell in torrents. The
gale, chill and piercing, penetrated the clothing of the shivering
soldiers, and moaned its saddest requiems through the gloom of the

On the 9th, they reached Saratoga. A detachment of Americans had
preceded them, and were throwing up intrenchments. Burgoyne set fire to
farm-houses, mansions, granaries, mills. He himself estimated the value
of the property destroyed at fifty thousand dollars. He excused himself
for the act on the plea of self-preservation. But generally, friend and
foe alike condemned the cruel deed.

The sufferings of the British soldiers were awful. Drenched with rain,
numb with cold, and exhausted by their toilsome march, they had no
strength to cut wood for camp-fires. They sought such repose as could
be found on the wet ground. Burgoyne could retreat no farther. He was
surrounded. There was no escape. A deadly cannonade was opened upon his
despairing troops. Scenes of horror ensued which could hardly have been
surpassed in the realms of Pandemonium. One of the British generals

“I would not for ten thousand guineas see this place again. I am
heart-broken with what I have seen.”

Burgoyne was in despair. A council of war was held. They had food,
upon short allowance, but for three days. The cannonade continued.
Shot were striking all around. While they were deliberating, an
eighteen-pound ball passed through the tent, and swept the table at
which they were convened. All concurred that surrender was inevitable.
The articles were signed on the night of the 16th of October, 1777.

Burgoyne’s army was reduced from nine thousand men to five thousand
seven hundred and fifty-two. The Americans, under General Gates,
numbered ten thousand five hundred and fifty-four men on duty. The
trophies of this great victory, left in the hands of the Americans,
were a fine train of artillery, seven thousand stand of arms, and a
large supply of clothing, tents, and military stores.

The British troops were marched to a particular spot, where they
grounded their arms. They were allowed a free passage to Europe, being
pledged not to serve again during the war. Gates and Burgoyne met at
the head of their respective staffs. The British general was in rich,
royal uniform. Gates appeared in a plain blue frock.

“The fortune of war,” said Burgoyne, “has made me your prisoner.”

Gates replied: “I shall always be ready to testify that it has not been
through any fault of your Excellency.”

Burgoyne and all his officers bore unequivocal and constant testimony
to the extraordinary humanity and politeness with which all the
captives were treated.[161]

Washington was at this time not far from Germantown, with a force,
including militia, of about eleven thousand men. The British fleet
could not ascend the Delaware to Philadelphia, in consequence of
obstructions which had been placed in the river. Washington wrote to

“If these can be maintained, General Howe’s situation will not be the
most agreeable. For if his supplies can be stopped by water, it may
easily be done by land, and I am not without hopes that the acquisition
of Philadelphia may, instead of his good fortune, prove his ruin.”[162]

No one familiar with military affairs can critically examine the record
of these events without the conviction that neither the campaigns
of Napoleon I., nor of Frederic, called the Great, exhibit any more
consummate generalship than the commander-in-chief of the American
armies displayed through these trying scenes. Washington was head and
shoulders above any of his generals. There was no one of them whom the
voice of impartial history pronounces to be, in any respect, his rival.
There was probably not one but he, who could have carried our country
successfully through the terrible ordeal.

A large force of the British was encamped at Germantown, a small
village but a few miles out from Philadelphia. The settlement consisted
of a single street, about two miles long, running north and south. The
houses were generally one story, sometimes of stone, standing apart
from each other, surrounded with yards and gardens.

Washington, as bold as he was cautious, ever watching for an
opportunity to strike a blow, and ever avoiding to strike where he
would receive a heavier blow in return, formed the plan to attack
the foe by surprise. The plan was admirably arranged and heroically
executed. It would have proved a signal success but for one of those
accidents which no human foresight can foresee.

In the gathering darkness of the evening of the 2d of October, he
commenced a march of fifteen miles, over roads so rough that the
morning was beginning to dawn gloomily through clouds and a dense
fog, when he approached the British encampment. The British sentries
gave the alarm. The roll of drums and bugle-peals rap sublimely
along the extended lines of the foe, rousing the sleepers to battle.
Washington hurled his troops upon them, with the impetuosity which ever
characterized his attacks.

Wayne led. The British broke and fled. Hotly they were pursued. The
fugitives, reaching reinforcements, rallied, and for a short time
fought bravely. But again they broke in a panic, and ran, abandoning
their artillery. All were mingled in the flight and the pursuit. The
Americans, exasperated by many cruel deeds of the English, plied the
bayonet ferociously. The slaughter was dreadful. The officers found
it very difficult to restrain their fury towards those who threw down
their arms and cried for quarter. In the terrific excitement of such
scenes, even the most humane men often lose their self-possession, and
conduct with frenzy which is truly maniacal.

The fog was now so dense that objects could with difficulty be
discerned at the distance of one hundred feet. It was dangerous to use
cannon or musketry, for in several cases friends had been mistaken for
enemies. The Americans, in the full tide of victory, were attacking
the British in front and on the flanks. Two or three times they had
unfortunately exchanged shots, friend against friend. The British
had probably done the same. It was a frenzied scene of obscurity,
tumult, and terror. But the British were routed. They fled from their
camping-ground, abandoning tents and baggage.

As the Americans rushed forward, they came suddenly upon a large body
of troops, rapidly approaching, like specters, through the fog upon
their flank. Shots were exchanged. The British had already been driven
a distance of three miles. The troops thus mistaken for the British,
were in reality some regiments of the Jersey and Maryland militia.

The appearance of this apparently strong reinforcement of the foe
checked the pursuit. Alarm was created. The cry arose, “We are being
surrounded, and cut off from retreat.” A panic ensued; and the
victorious troops broke and ran. No appeals can arrest the steps of a
panic-stricken army. The gloom, created by fog and smoke, was almost
like midnight darkness. The fugitives soon came upon another division
of the Americans, pressing forward in the flush of victory.

These troops also mistook the fugitives rushing down upon them for
the foe, and, in their turn, fell into confusion. The British, thus
unexpectedly rescued from destruction, rallied. Lord Cornwallis arrived
from Philadelphia with a squadron of light horse. The rising sun
dispelled the fog.

The victory of the Americans was turned into a defeat. They retired in
good order, taking with them all their wounded and their baggage. For
about five miles a running fight was kept up. The British admitted a
loss of seventy-one killed, and four hundred and twenty-nine wounded
and missing. The Americans lost one hundred and fifty killed, five
hundred and twenty-one wounded, and four hundred taken prisoners.[163]

In reference to this battle General Sullivan wrote: “I saw, with great
concern, our brave commander-in-chief, 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 to 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.”

The battle of Germantown, notwithstanding its unfortunate issue,
exerted a good effect upon the public mind. It convinced the community
that our army was not disheartened, and that it was still in a
condition to take the field.[164] The Count de Vergennes, in Paris,
conferring with the American Commissioners, in reference to a treaty of
alliance, said:

“Nothing has impressed me so deeply, as General Washington’s attacking
and giving battle to General Howe’s army. To bring an army raised
within a year, to do this, promises every thing.”

Washington having received considerable reinforcements, took up a new
position at White Marsh, about fourteen miles from Philadelphia. Here
he threw up such intrenchments as to be able to challenge the British
to attack him. He was also in a condition to cut off their foraging
parties, and to prevent the tories from conveying into the city any

There were two American forts, commanding obstructions on the Delaware,
which prevented any vessels from ascending with supplies. These were
called Mifflin and Mercer. Howe concentrated all the energies of fleet
and army for the destruction of Mifflin. The conflict was terrible;
American valor never shone more brightly than in the defense against
fearful odds. Several times the advancing columns of the British were
repulsed with great slaughter. In one attack they lost, in killed and
wounded, four hundred men; while the Americans lost only eight killed,
and twenty-nine wounded.

Three British war vessels attempted to anchor, so as to open fire
upon the fort. The _Augusta_ had sixty-four guns, the _Roebuck_
forty-four--both frigates. The _Merlin_ was a sloop of war, eighteen
guns. There was also a well-armed galley. Many other vessels of the
fleet were co-operating. Together they could throw a storm of iron hail
upon the fort, which it would seem that nothing could resist.

In struggling through the lower line of chevàux-de-frise, the _Augusta_
and _Merlin_ ran aground. A red-hot shot, from the American battery,
set the _Augusta_ on fire. In a terrible panic the crew rushed to the
boats. With a volcanic explosion, whose thunders seemed to shake the
hills, the magazine of the majestic fabric exploded. Several of the
crew had not escaped. No fragments of their mangled bodies were ever

There was no escape for the _Merlin_. The British themselves applied
the torch. The remaining vessels dropped down the river.

This discomfiture led Howe to redouble his efforts for the removal of
those obstructions which imperiled the very existence of his army.
Gigantic efforts were made. Batteries were reared, which threw eighteen
and twenty-four pound shot. A large Indiaman was cut down to a floating
battery, armed with the heaviest guns.

At a concerted signal the fire was opened. It was terrific. Ships,
forts, gondolas, and floating batteries, opened their thunders at
once. This tempest of war raged with deafening roar, such as never
before had been heard on the shores of the New World. Hour after hour,
through the long day, shot and shell fell like hailstones. Guns were
dismounted, palisades shivered, parapets beaten down to the ground, and
the slaughter of the heroic garrison was awful. Nearly every man of a
company of artillery was killed. Most of the officers were wounded.

Night came, with its gloom and horror. Ruins, wounds, blood, death were
everywhere. The moans of the dying floated away sadly on the night air.
Tidings of woe were on the way to many a farm-house. The fort could no
longer be held. Fire was applied to all that was combustible of the
smoldering ruins, and the surviving officers and men retired, by the
light of the flames, taking with them their wounded and such articles
as could be removed. A more heroic resistance history has not recorded.
Under the circumstances, the defeat gave the renown of a victory.[165]

The British now established themselves in Philadelphia, for their
winter quarters. Weary of fighting, and some of them ashamed of the
infamous cause in support of which they were filling a once happy land
with death and woe, they devoted their time to gambling, drinking,
carousing, and all those associate vices which have generally attended
the encampment of an army. The patriotic citizens were subjected to
every indignity. Some were driven from their houses, that the British
might occupy them. Upon some, soldiers were quartered, to be fed and
housed. Some were plundered. When food was scarce, the inhabitants were
left to hunger, that the soldiers might have abundance.

As wintry blasts began to sweep the fields, it was necessary for
Washington to find shelter for his troops. About twenty miles from
Philadelphia there was a glen, densely wooded and well watered, called
Valley Forge. This spot Washington selected for the winter home of
his heroic little band. The forest resounded with the blows of the
ax, as the gigantic trees were felled, and there rapidly arose a
large town, of comfortable log houses, scientifically arranged. The
settlement was designed to accommodate about eleven thousand men. Each
hut was fourteen feet by sixteen, and accommodated twelve soldiers.
The whole encampment was so well protected by earth-works, that the
carousing British did not deem it expedient to leave the firesides of
Philadelphia to make an attack. The streets and avenues were neatly
arranged, and the large military town presented quite a picturesque and
cheerful aspect.

But the suffering here, during the winter of 1777 and 1778, was very
severe. In consequence of inexperience in military affairs, and the
incompetency of the commissariat department, the troops were left in
a state of great destitution. They suffered for food and clothing. At
times they were so destitute of arms and ammunition that they could
present feeble resistance to an enterprising foe.

Washington was in a state of terrible embarrassment. He could not
loudly make his wants known without proclaiming his destitution to the
enemy and inviting attack. He was therefore compelled, while his men
were freezing and starving, to let the impression go abroad, that his
troops were rejoicing in abundance, and were ready, at any moment, to
meet the British on the battle-field. From sickness and suffering the
army dwindled down to five thousand men. On one occasion he wrote:

“A part of the army has been a week without any kind of flesh, and the
rest three or four days. Naked and starving as they are, we can not
enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiers,
that they have not been ere this, excited by their suffering to a
general mutiny and desertion.”



_Concluding Scenes._

  Embarrassments of the Confederacy--Assaults upon Washington--
      Philadelphia evacuated--Lee’s Retreat--England enlists
      Savages--Lord Chatham--British Ravages--Capture of
      Stony Point--Efforts of Sir Henry Clinton--Treason of
      Arnold--Major Andrè--British at Mount Vernon--Cornwallis at
      Yorktown--Excitement in Philadelphia--News of the Treaty of
      Peace--Washington’s Farewell--Resigns his Commission--Chosen
      President--Views of Slavery--Sickness and Death.

The dreary winter passed slowly away, while Washington was making
vigorous preparations for opening the campaign in the spring. Immense
embarrassments arose from the fact that Congress did not represent
a _nation_, but merely a _confederacy_ of independent states. Each
state decided the pay it would offer the troops, and claimed the right
to retain them at home or to send them abroad at its pleasure. These
difficulties subsequently led the United States to organize themselves
into a _nation_.

No man can be in power without being denounced. Washington was assailed
most cruelly. He wrote to the President of Congress:

“My enemies 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 exempt from censure, the unfailing lot of an
elevated station? Merit and talent which I cannot pretend to rival,
have ever been subject to it.”

In these dark hours France generously came to the aid of the patriots,
struggling for freedom in America against such desperate odds. The
tidings of the French Alliance awoke new emotions of joy in the weary
hearts at Valley Forge. The British army in Philadelphia amounted to
not less than thirty thousand men. They were greatly alarmed. The
danger was imminent that a French fleet might appear in the Delaware
and cut off their retreat by water, while the American farmers, thus
encouraged, would rise _en masse_ and prevent their escape by land.
This doubtless would have been their doom but for a succession of
storms which delayed the French fleet.

With precipitation, the British evacuated Philadelphia. Their heavy
material of war was shipped to New York. The troops marched very
cautiously through New Jersey. Washington followed closely in their
rear. The 28th of June was a day of intense heat. The British were at
Monmouth. The march of another day would unite them with the troops in
New York. They would then be safe from attack. Washington was extremely
anxious that they should not escape without receiving at least one
heavy blow.

Lee was in the advance with five thousand men. Washington ordered him
to make an impetuous assault, promising to hasten to his support.
Instead of obeying orders this strange man, of undoubted abilities but
of inexplicable eccentricity, commenced a retreat. Intense, beyond the
power of utterance, was the chagrin of Washington as he met Lee, at the
head of his troops, in this retrograde movement. In tones of anguish he
exclaimed: “What means this ill-timed prudence?” Lee instantly replied:

“I know of no man blessed with a larger portion of that rascally virtue
than your Excellency.”

There was no time for altercation. Lee’s men felt humiliated. As soon
as they caught sight of Washington they greeted him with cheers.
Promptly they wheeled around at his command, and rushed upon the foe.
A bloody battle ensued with all its ordinary complications of uproar,
tumult, woe and death.

The British were routed and driven from the field. The Americans,
exhilarated by their success, slept upon the field with their arms by
their side, and impatiently awaited the morning, eager to renew the
battle. Signal as had been their success, it would have been far more
decisive had General Lee obeyed orders. General Washington wrapped
himself in his cloak, and slept in the midst of his soldiers.

In the night the vanquished British silently stole away. In the morning
no foe was to be seen. There were left three hundred of the mutilated
bodies of their dead unburied upon the plain. Sixty prisoners were
taken, and six hundred deserted the ranks, and scattered through the
country. They were disgusted with the infamous service into which
they had been driven by kings and courts, and were kindly received by
the American farmers. At Middletown the remains of the fugitive army,
protected by the guns of the fleet, embarked and were conveyed to New

Thus another summer passed away of marches, countermarches and
skirmishes, many of them bloody and woeful, but without any decisive
results. The inhuman court of England, disheartened by the wholesale
desertion of troops, both English and German, and disappointed in their
inability to enlist Tories for the war, redoubled their efforts to
summon the demoniac savages to their aid. Loud were the remonstrances
against this atrocious conduct by many of the noblest men of England,
both in the Commons and in the House of Lords. But the King and the
Court declared, that in order to subdue America they had a right to
use whatever instruments God and nature had placed in their hands.
The British sent agents to the cruel savages of the Mohawk to rouse
the fierce warriors of the Six Nations against the feeble villages of
the frontier. It was a demoniac deed. Scenes of horror were witnessed
too awful for recital. The annals of our globe contain scarcely
any tragedies more awful than the massacres of Cherry Valley and
Wyoming. The narrative of these deeds sent a thrill of horror not only
throughout France and America, but into multitudes of humane hearts in
England. Some Englishmen pleaded earnestly for us, like Lord Chatham,
in the House of Lords. We shall never forget his words as he exclaimed,
in view of these outrages:

“Were I an American as I am an Englishman, I would never lay down my
arms, never--_never_--NEVER.”

Washington sent four thousand men to defend, as far as possible, the
poor, helpless pioneers from the torch and the scalping-knife. Hundreds
of lowly homes were laid in ashes. Hundreds of families, parents and
children, were butchered, before the savages were driven from their
murderous work. They fled at length to Niagara, where the British
received their allies into their fortresses.

The American army, feeble in numbers, and suffering from cold and
hunger, were led by Washington into winter quarters, mainly on the
Hudson, near West Point. The British remained within their lines in
the city of New York. Their fleet gave them command of the ocean, and
they reveled in abundance. It would seem that both officers and men
were a godless set, dead to humanity, and still more dead to religion.
None but the worst of men would engage in so foul an enterprise. They
spent the winter in dancing, gambling, drinking, and every species of
dissolute carousal.

Alarmed by the tidings that France was coming to the aid of America,
British pride and rage were roused to intensity. The spring campaign
opened with renewed devastation and plunder. Lord George Germain
had the effrontery to say in Parliament, in view of these scenes of
massacre and brutal treatment of prisoners:

“A war of this sort will probably induce the rebellious provinces to
return to their allegiance.”

The sky was reddened with the wanton burning of villages. Women and
children were driven, houseless and without food, to perish in the
fields. Fairfield and Norwalk, Connecticut, and many other towns were
laid in ashes.

While the British were thus ravaging defenseless regions, Washington
had no power to face their concentrated armies, yet he was eagerly
watching for every opportunity to strike a blow, where there was good
prospect of success. To subject his troops to almost certain defeat,
would not only be cruel, in the slaughter which would ensue, but
disheartening and ruinous to the cause.

The British had an important fortress at Stony Point on the Hudson.
General Washington sent General Wayne to take it. With great gallantry
he conducted the enterprise. Sixty-three of the British were killed,
five hundred and forty-three were taken prisoners, and all the military
stores of the fortress were captured. Many similar enterprises were
conducted. With skill, which now seems supernatural, this wonderful
man, thoughtful, prayerful, and confident of final success, held the
fleets and armies of the empire of Great Britain at bay, thwarted
all the efforts of their ablest generals, and closed the campaign
unvanquished. We know not where to look for a record of greater
military genius, of more self-denying patriotism, of higher nobility of
soul, than is here displayed.

Again, as the wintry winds of 1779 swept the field, both armies
retired to winter quarters, preparing to renew the conflict. With the
early spring, the British troops were sent abroad in detachments to
carry on their work of conflagration, blood, and misery. Sir Henry
Clinton, then in command of the British forces, was anxious to crush
the Americans before the fleet and army which France was so generously
organizing should reach these shores.

In July, twelve French vessels of war with a supply of arms and
ammunition, and an army of five thousand soldiers arrived. But England
had by this time concentrated a far more formidable fleet in our
waters, and had greatly increased her armies. Thus many felt that
even the aid of France could be of no avail. Years of war and woe
had filled some of even the stoutest hearts with despair. Many of
the truest patriots urged that it was madness longer to continue the
conflict; that it was in vain for these feeble colonies in their utter
impoverishment, any longer to contend against the richest and most
powerful monarchy on the globe.

General Arnold was in command at West Point. He was one of the bravest
of soldiers, but a ruined gambler. Napoleon I. declared that he would
never appoint any gambler to any post of responsibility. Arnold was
overwhelmed with these so-called debts of honor. He saw no hope for
his country. He could turn traitor, and barter West Point for almost
boundless quantities of British gold. The gambler became a traitor. The
treason was detected. The traitor escaped, but young Andrè, who allowed
himself to act the part of a spy in this foul deed, perished upon the
scaffold. He was very young. He was surrounded by influences which
perverted his judgment and deadened his conscience. Consequently, great
sympathy was felt for him, and many tears were shed over his untimely

Britain proudly proclaimed that with her invincible fleet she ruled
supreme over the wild waste of waters. The whole ocean she regarded as
her undisputed domain. Lord Cornwallis was sent with a powerful army to
overrun North and South Carolina. He had a numerous fleet to co-operate
with him. The vigilant eye of Washington was fixed everywhere upon
the foe, striving to ward off blows, and to harass the enemy in his

Thus the dreary summer of 1780 lingered away, over our war-scathed,
woe-stricken land. There were many bloody conflicts, but no decisive
battles. Still Washington was victorious; for he thwarted all the
herculean endeavors of the British to enslave our land.

In the opening spring of the year 1781, the British turned their
main energies of devastation and ruin against the South. Richmond, in
Virginia, was laid in ashes. With their armed vessels they ravaged the
shores of the Chesapeake and the Potomac. They landed at Mount Vernon,
and would have applied the torch to every building, and trampled down
all the harvests, had not the manager of the estate ransomed the
property by bringing in a large quantity of supplies. When Washington
heard of this he was much displeased. He wrote to his agent:

“It would have been a less painful circumstance to me to have heard
that in consequence of your non-compliance with their request, they had
burned my house and laid the 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 of making a
voluntary offer of refreshments to them with a view to prevent the

Still the prospects of the country were dark. The army dwindled away to
three thousand men. There was no money in the treasury. The paper money
issued by Congress had become quite valueless. The British, exasperated
by defeats, and humiliated in seeing their fleets and armies held
at bay so long by a foe so feeble, were summoning their mightiest
energies to close the war as with a clap of thunder.

Cornwallis was now with a well-equipped army at Yorktown, in Virginia.
There was no foe to oppose him. Washington made a secret movement, in
conjunction with our generous allies, for his capture. He deceived the
British by making them believe that he was preparing for the siege
of New York. One bright and sunny morning in September, Cornwallis
was surprised, and quite astounded in seeing the heights around him
glistening with the bayonets and frowning with the batteries of the
Americans. And at the same time a French fleet was ascending the bay,
and casting anchor before the harbor. The British general was caught in
a trap. A few days of hopeless despairing conflict ensued, when famine
and the carnage of incessant bombardment compelled him to surrender. It
was the 19th of October, 1781.

Awful was the humiliation of Cornwallis. Seven thousand British
regulars threw down their arms. One hundred and sixty pieces of cannon
graced this memorable triumph. The noble Washington, as the British
troops were marching from their ramparts to become captives of war,
said to the Americans:

“My brave fellows, let no sensation of satisfaction for the triumphs
you have gained induce you to insult your fallen enemy. Let no
shouting, no clamorous huzzaing increase their mortification. Posterity
will huzza for us.”

The next day he issued the following characteristic order to the army:

“Divine service is to be performed to-morrow, in the several brigades
and divisions. The commander-in-chief earnestly recommends that the
troops not on duty should universally attend, with that seriousness
of deportment and gratitude of heart which the recognition of such
reiterated and astonishing interpositions of Providence demand of us.”

It was midnight when the rapturous tidings reached Philadelphia. A
watchman traversed the streets shouting at intervals, “Past twelve
o’clock, and a pleasant morning. Cornwallis is taken.”

These words startled the slumbering citizens, almost like the “trump
which wakes the dead.” Candles were lighted, windows thrown up, figures
in night robes and caps bent eagerly out to catch the thrilling
sound. Citizens rushed into the streets half clad; they wept, they
laughed, they shouted, they embraced each other; the bells were rung,
the booming of cannon and the rattle of musketry were heard in all
directions, as men and boys, in the joyful salute, endeavored to give
expression to their inexpressible joy.

The news flew upon the wings of the wind, over the mountains
and through the valleys, no one could tell how. The shout of an
enfranchised people rose like a roar of thunder from our whole land.
The enthusiasm of the Americans was roused to the highest pitch. It
was now clear, that, aided by the French fleet and the French army,
and with such supplies of money, arms, and ammunition as France was
generously affording, the British government could not enslave our
land. The British were disheartened. Though they continued their
menaces of hostility, it was evident that they considered the question
as settled. Both parties retired to winter quarters. During the winter
no movements were made by either party calling for record. Another
summer came and went. There were marchings and counter-marchings, while
neither the English nor the Americans seemed disposed to crimson the
soil with the blood of a general conflict.

On the night of the 19th of April, 1783, the joyful tidings were
communicated to the American army that a treaty of peace had been
signed in Paris. It was just eight years from the day when the awful
conflict commenced on the plain at Lexington. No one but God can know
the amount of misery caused by those long years of battle. Thousands
had perished amidst the agonies of the various fields of conflict;
thousands had been beggared; millions of property had been destroyed;
mothers and maidens whose numbers cannot be estimated had been dragged
into captivity, a thousand-fold worse than death; and widows and
orphans had been consigned to life-long poverty and grief.

Such was the vengeance which the powerful government of Great Britain
wreaked upon these feeble colonies for their refusal to submit to
intolerable despotism. The writer would not wish to perpetuate the
remembrance of these wrongs, still it is not the duty of the historian
to attempt to conceal or palliate atrocious outrages against the rights
of human nature. It is difficult to find in all the records of the
past, deeds more inexcusable, more wicked, more infamous, than this
effort of Great Britain, to enslave these infant colonies.

Late in November, the British embarked in their fleet in New York, and
sailed for their distant island. At the same time Washington, marching
with his troops from West Point, entered the city. America was free and
independent, and Washington was the universally recognized saviour of
his country. There was no longer any foe. The army was disbanded on the
4th of December. Washington took leave of his companions in arms. His
voice trembled with emotion as he 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 have been glorious and honorable. 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.”

Tears blinded his eyes, and he could say no more. One after another,
these heroic men grasped his hand in parting. Not a word was spoken.
Slowly he journeyed towards Mount Vernon. At every city and village he
was greeted with the highest tokens of love and veneration. On the 23d
of December he met the Continental Congress at Annapolis. Resigning his
commission, he said:

“Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great
theater of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to thy 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.”

Soon a convention was held in Philadelphia to organize the Confederacy
of States into a nation. Essentially the present Constitution was
formed. By the unanimous voice of the electors, Washington was chosen
first President of the United States. He was inaugurated on the 30th
of April, 1789. Holding the office two terms of four years each, he
retired again in 1796, to the peaceful shades of Mount Vernon. In his
farewell address he bequeathed to his countrymen a graceful legacy of
patriotic counsel which ever has and ever will excite their profound

Washington, having inherited a large landed estate in Virginia, was,
as a matter of course, a slaveholder. The whole number which he held
at the time of his death was one hundred and twenty-four. The system
met his strong disapproval. In 1786, he wrote to Robert Morris, saying:
“There is no man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a
plan adopted for the abolition of slavery.”

Lafayette, that true friend of popular rights, was extremely anxious
to free our country from the reproach which slavery brought upon it.
Washington wrote to him in 1788: “The scheme, my dear marquis, which
you propose as a precedent to encourage the emancipation of the black
people of this country from the state of bondage in which they are
held, is a striking evidence of the state of your heart. I shall be
happy to join you in so laudable a work.”

In his last will and testament, he inscribed these noble words:
“Upon the decease of my wife, it is my will and desire that all the
slaves which I hold in my own right shall receive their freedom. To
emancipate them during her life would, though earnestly wished by me,
be attended with such insuperable difficulties, on account of their
mixture by marriage with the dower negroes, as to excite the most
painful sensation, if not disagreeable consequences, from the latter,
while both descriptions are in the occupancy of the same proprietor; it
not being in my power, under the tenure by which the dower negroes are
held, to manumit them.”

Long before this he had recorded his resolve. “I never mean, unless
some particular circumstances should compel me to it, to possess
another slave by purchase; it being among my first wishes to see some
plan adopted by which slavery in this country may be abolished by law.”

Mrs. Washington, immediately after her husband’s death, learning from
his will that the only obstacle to the immediate emancipation of the
slaves was her right of dower, immediately relinquished that right, and
the slaves were at once emancipated.

The 12th of December, 1799, was chill and damp. Washington, however,
took his usual round on horseback to his farms, and returned late in
the afternoon, wet with sleet, and shivering with cold. Though the
snow was clinging to his hair behind when he came in, he sat down to
dinner without changing his dress. The next day, three inches of snow
whitened the ground, and the sky was clouded. Washington, feeling that
he had taken cold, remained by the fireside during the morning. As it
cleared up in the afternoon, he went out to superintend some work upon
the lawn. He was then hoarse, and the hoarseness increased as night
came on. He, however, took no remedy for it; saying, “I never take
anything to carry off a cold. Let it go as it came.”

He passed the evening as usual, reading the papers, answering
letters, and conversing with his family. About two o’clock the next
morning, Saturday, the 14th, he awoke in an acute chill, and was
seriously unwell. At sunrise, his physician, Dr. Craig, who resided
at Alexandria, was sent for. In the meantime, he was bled by one of
his overseers, but with no relief, as he rapidly grew worse. Dr. Craig
reached Mount Vernon at eleven o’clock, and immediately bled his
patient again, but without effect. Two consulting physicians arrived
during the day: and, as the difficulty in breathing and swallowing
rapidly increased, venesection was again attempted. It is evident that
Washington then considered his case doubtful. He examined his will,
and destroyed some papers which he did not wish to have preserved.

His sufferings from inflammation of the throat, and struggling for
breath, as the afternoon wore away, became quite severe. Still he
retained his mental faculties unimpaired, and spoke briefly of his
approaching death and burial. About four o’clock in the afternoon, he
said to Dr. Craig: “I die hard; but I am not afraid to go. I believed,
from my first attack, that I should not survive it: my breath cannot
last long.” About six o’clock, his physician asked him if he would sit
up in his bed. He held out his hands, and was raised upon his pillow,
when he said: “I feel that I am going. I thank you for your attentions.
You had better not take any more trouble about me, but let me go off
quietly. I cannot last long.”

He then sank back upon his pillow, and made several unavailing attempts
to speak intelligibly. About ten o’clock, he said: “I am just going.
Have me decently buried, and do not let my body be put into the vault
until three days after I am dead. Do you understand me?” To the reply,
“Yes, sir,” he remarked, “It is well.” These were the last words he
uttered. Soon after this he gently expired, in the sixty-eighth year of
his age.

At the moment of his death, Mrs. Washington sat in silent grief at the
foot of his bed. “Is he gone?” she asked in a firm and collected voice.
The physician, unable to speak, gave a silent signal of assent. “’Tis
well,” she added, in the same untremulous utterance. “All is now over.
I shall soon follow him. I have no more trials to pass through.”

On the 18th, his remains were deposited in the tomb at Mount Vernon,
where they now repose, enshrined in a nation’s love; and his fame will
forever, as now, fill the world.[166]


[1] “There is no doubt that the politics of the family determined the
two brothers, John and Lawrence, to emigrate to Virginia; that colony
being the favorite resort of the Cavaliers, during the government of
Cromwell, as New England was the retreat of the Puritans, in the period
which preceded the Commonwealth.”--_Life of Washington_, by Edward
Everett, p. 24.

[2] The pleasing story may easily be perverted. A little boy, having
read it, deliberately took his hatchet, went into the garden, and
utterly destroyed a valuable young pear tree. Then entering the house,
he said, while his face was beaming with satisfaction, “Grandpapa, it
was I who spoiled your pear tree.” Inexpressible was the astonishment
and chagrin of my dear little grandson, on receiving a severe
reprimand, and a prohibition from again going into the garden for a
week. He could not understand why he should be censured, for that for
which George Washington was so abundantly praised.

[3] “During the last summer that he was at school, we find him
surveying the fields around the school house, and in the adjoining
plantations, of which the boundaries, angles, and measurements, the
plots and calculations, are entered with formality and precision in
his books. He used logarithms, and proved the accuracy of his work by
different methods.”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 6.

[4] There were fifty-four of these rules. All were important. We give a
few as specimens.

Read no letters, books, or papers, in company. But when there is a
necessity for doing it you must ask leave.

Show yourself not glad at the misfortune of another, though he were
your enemy.

Strive not with your superiors, in argument, but always submit your
judgment to others with modesty.

Use no reproachful language against any one.

Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own
reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.

Speak not of doleful things in time of mirth, nor at the table. Speak
not of melancholy things, as death and wounds, and if others mention
them, change, if you can, the discourse.

When another speaks, be attentive yourself, and disturb not the
audience. If any hesitate in his words, help him not, nor prompt him
without being desired. Interrupt him not, nor answer him till his
speech be ended.

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire
called conscience.

[5] “At the age of fifteen, Washington received the appointment of
midshipman, in the British navy, but surrendered it, at the earnest
desire of his mother.”--_National Portrait Gallery_, vol. i. p. 3.

[6] “Lord Fairfax was a man of cultivated mind, educated at Oxford, the
associate of the wits in London, the author of one or two papers in the
“Spectator,” and a _habitué_ of the polite circles of the metropolis.
A disappointment in love is said to have cast a shadow over his after
life, and to have led him to pass his time in voluntary exile on his
Virginia estates.”--Everett’s _Life of Washington_, p. 41.

[7] Sebastian Cabot, in the year 1498, sailed from Bristol, England,
with two ships, in the month of May. He first made land on the coast of
Labrador. He was seeking a passage to India. Cruising along the shores
of Nova Scotia, and the whole length of the coast of Maine, he rounded
Cape Cod, and continued his voyage to the latitude of Cape Hatteras.
Thence he entered upon his homeward voyage.--Galvano’s _Discoveries of
the World_, p. 88. London, 1601.

[8] “The French insisted on the right of discovery and occupancy.
Father Marquette, La Salle, and others, they said, had descended the
Mississippi, and settlements had been made south of Lake Michigan and
on the Illinois river, years before any Englishman had set his foot
westward of the great mountains; and European treaties had repeatedly
recognized the title of France to all her actual possessions in
America. So far the ground was tenable.”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_,
p. 20.

But he immediately adds, in apparent contradiction to these statements:
“It is clear that neither of the contending parties had any just claims
to the land about which they were beginning to kindle the flames of
war. They were both intruders upon the soil of the native occupants.”

This is hardly fair to either party. Neither France nor England
claimed the territory, to the exclusion of the rights of the original
inhabitants. Their only claim extended to the right of purchasing the
territory from the Indians, of trading with them, and of establishing
colonies. And this right all the maritime nations of Europe recognized.

[9] Galvano’s “Discoveries of the World,” p. 88, London; Biddle’s
“Memoir of Sebastian Cabot,” p. 221, London.

[10] “A Description of the English Province of Carolina,” by Daniel
Coxe, Esq., p. 113.

[11] M’Culloch’s Geographical Dictionary.

[12] “New France,” vol. iii. p. 380; “Annals of the West,” p. 57.

[13] “Plain Facts,” p. 55; Pownal’s “Memoir on Service in North

[14] “He (Washington) was furthermore to inquire, diligently and by
cautious means, into the number of the French troops that had crossed
the lakes, the reinforcements expected from Canada, how many forts
they had erected, and at what places, how they were garrisoned and
appointed, and their distances from each other; and, in short, to
procure all the intelligence possible respecting the condition and
object of the intruders.”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 22.

[15] “French Creek, New York and Pennsylvania, rises in Chautauque
county, New York, passes into Pennsylvania, flowing by Meadville, and
enters Alleghany river, at Franklin, Venango county. It is about 100
miles long.”--M’Culloch’s _Geographical Dictionary_.

[16] Washington’s Journal of 1753.

[17] Gist’s Journal of the Expedition may be found in the Massachusetts
Historical Collections, 3d series, vol. v. pages 101–108.

[18] “The truth was, these Indians were in a very awkward position.
They could not resist the Europeans, and knew not which to side with;
so that a non-committal policy was much the safest; and they were wise
not to return, by Washington, as he desired they should do, the wampum
they received from the French, as that would be equivalent to breaking
with them.”--_Annals of the West_, p. 83.

[19] “M. de St. Pierre, the commandant, was an elderly person, a knight
of the military order of St. Louis, and courteous in his manners. At
the first interview, he promised immediate attention to the letter from
Governor Dinwiddie; and everything was provided for the convenience and
comfort of Major Washington and his party while they remained at the
fort.”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 26.

[20] “Major Washington took an opportunity to look around and examine
the fort. His attendants were instructed to do the same. He was thus
enabled to bring away an accurate description of its form, size,
construction, cannon, and barracks. His men counted the canoes in
the river, and such as were partly finished.”--Sparks’ _Life of
Washington_, p. 27.

[21] Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 27.

[22] Such is the story as generally received, and as narrated,
essentially, by Mr. Gist. But it would appear that Washington had some
doubt whether the Indian were treacherously disposed. According to his
narrative the savage made no attempt to escape, but commenced reloading
his gun. He said that his wigwam was so near, that he fired the gun
to let the family know that he was coming. He had previously begged
them to go with him to his cabin, and to pass the night. A careful
examination of probabilities will lead many to believe that Washington
was correct in his supposition. Mr. Sparks writes, “Whether it was
the intention to kill either of them can only be conjectured. If it
were, he showed a degree of stupidity very different from the ordinary
cunning of the savage. They could only converse by signs and might
easily have entirely misunderstood each other.”

[23] “As soon as Washington returned with the letter of St. Pierre,
Governor Dinwiddie wrote to the Board of Trade, stating that the French
were building another fort at Venango, and that, in March, twelve or
fifteen hundred men would be ready to descend the Alleghany river with
their Indian allies, for which purpose three hundred canoes had been
collected; and that Logstown was then to be made head-quarters, while
forts were built in various other positions, and the whole country
occupied.”--_Annals of the West_, p, 84.

[24] “The Assembly was convened; and many of the most judicious members
expressed doubts whether the king of England had an unquestionable
claim to the valley, which France had discovered and occupied. ‘You
may well conceive,’ the governor wrote, ‘how I fired at this; that
an English legislature should presume to doubt the right of his
majesty to the interior parts of this continent, the back of his
dominions.’”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 35.

[25] It is said that there was a small party, of about forty men,
in the employ of the Ohio Company, who had commenced throwing up
entrenchments at the Fork. “On the 17th of April, Ensign Ward, then in
command, saw, upon the Alleghany, a sight that made his heart sink;
sixty bateaux and three hundred canoes, filled with men and deeply
laden with cannon and stores. The fort was called on to surrender.
Ward tried to evade the act; but it would not do. Contrecœur, with
a thousand men about him, said ‘Evacuate,’ and the ensign dared not
refuse. That evening he supped with his captor, and the next day was
bowed off by the Frenchman, and, with his men and tools, marched up the
Monongahela.”--_Annals of the West_, p. 87.

[26] It would seem that Washington had daily public prayers in the
camp, reading the service himself. Mr. Irving writes, “It certainly
was not one of the least striking pictures presented in this wild
campaign--the youthful commander presiding with calm seriousness over
a motley assemblage of half-equipped soldiery, leathern-clad hunters
and woodsmen, and painted savages with their wives and children,
and assisting them all in solemn devotion by his own example and
demeanor.”--_Life of Washington_, in two volumes, vol. i. p. 42.

[27] It is said, on the other hand, that the French commenced the
war by driving off the party under Ensign Ward, who was throwing up
intrenchments on the site of Fort Duquesne.

[28] The British admitted that so small a party, conducting a peace
commissioner with a summons, could not have intended a hostile attack;
but they affirmed that the French were spies. It is undoubtedly true
that they were to gain what information they could; as was the case
with Washington and his party when they visited the forts on French
Creek. This was the main object of Washington’s excursion. The summons
was a mere pretext.

[29] No transaction in the life of Washington has elicited more
passionate attack and defence than this. The French court published
a very full account of the occurrence in a duodecimo which was sent
to all the governments of Europe. It was entitled, “Mémoire contenant
le Précis des Faits, avec leurs Pièces justificatives, pour servir de
Réponse aux Observations envoyées, par les Ministres d’Angleterre, dans
les cours de l’Europe.” A Paris, de l’Imprimerie Royale, 1756.

[30] “The site of this fort is three or four hundred yards south of
what is now called National Road, four miles from the foot of Laurel
Hill, and fifty miles from Cumberland at Wills’ Creek.”--Sparks’ _Life
of Washington_, p. 51.

[31] M. De Villiers, in his despatches to the French Government, wrote,
“We made the English consent to sign, that they had assassinated my
brother in his camp.”

[32] Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. p. 51.

[33] “A gentleman, who had heard that Colonel Washington had said that
he knew of no music so pleasing as the whistling of bullets, being
alone in conversation with him, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, asked him
whether it was as he had related. The general answered, ‘If I said so,
it was when I was young.’”--_Gordon’s History_, vol. ii. p. 203.

[34] “As late as 1754 all the French colonies, from the St. Lawrence to
the Gulf of Mexico, did not contain more than a hundred thousand white
inhabitants, while the inhabitants of the English colonies were then
estimated at twelve hundred thousand white and two hundred and fifty
thousand blacks.”--_History of the United States of America_, by Harvey
Prindle Peet, LL.D., p. 156.

[35] “It is evident that the sense of the people was but little
wakened to the necessity or importance of those enterprises against
the French; and that they looked upon them rather as the results of
political objects in Great Britain, than as immediately concerning
themselves.”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 51.

[36] _Autobiography of Franklin_, Sparks’ edition, p. 90.

[37] “Braddock’s own secretary, William Shirley, wrote confidentially
to Governor Morris, ‘We have a general most judiciously chosen for
being disqualified for the service he is employed in, in almost every
respect.’”--_Colonial Records_, p. 405.

[38] Walpole wittily wrote, “The Duke of Brunswick is much dissatisfied
at the slowness of General Braddock, _who does not march as if he was
at all impatient to be scalped_.” This was unjust. Want of courage was
not one of the faults of General Braddock.

[39] Mr. Irving, writing of the assailants says, “They were not the
main force of the French, but a mere detachment of 72 Regulars, 146
Canadians, and 637 Indians, 855 in all, led by Captain de Beaujeu.
Such was the scanty force which the imagination of the panic-stricken
army had magnified into a great host, and from which they had fled,
in breathless terror, abandoning the whole frontier.”--_Life of
Washington_, vol. i. p. 206.

[40] There can be no possible excuse for the French officers, in
permitting this barbarity. The Indians were their allies, instigated to
the war by their influence, marching under their banners, led by their
officers, and paid by their money. They were therefore responsible
for the conduct of these their allies. To permit them, under the very
walls of Fort Duquesne, to put the captives to death by torture, was an
atrocious crime meriting the execration of humanity.

[41] The plan of the British campaign of 1755, in which Braddock met
his disaster, was four-fold: first to capture Nova Scotia; second, to
drive the French from their posts on Lake Champlain; third, to seize
the important French fort at Niagara, between Lake Ontario and Lake
George, and fourth, to expel all French settlers from the frontiers
of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and take entire possession of the Ohio
valley.--Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. p. 152.

[42] Mr. Sparks gives the name, Miss Mary Phillips; Mr. Everett spells
it Phillipse; and Mr. Irving gives it as Philipse.

[43] “He had before felt the influence of the tender passion. At
the age of seventeen he was smitten by the graces of a fair one,
whom he called a ‘Lowland beauty,’ and whose praises he recorded in
glowing strains, while wandering with his surveyor’s compass among
the Alleghany Mountains. On that occasion he wrote desponding letters
to a friend, and indited plaintive verses, but never ventured to
reveal his emotions to the lady who was unconsciously the cause of his
pains.”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 73.

[44] _Life of George Washington_, by Edward Everett, p. 87.

[45] “One is tempted to smile at this tirade about the ‘insolence of
the people,’ and this zeal for ‘his majesty’s service,’ on the part of
Washington; but he was yet a young man and a young officer. What he
thus terms insolence was the dawning spirit of independence, which he
was afterward the foremost to cherish and promote.”--Irving’s _Life of
Washington_, vol. i. p. 215.

[46] Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 81.

[47] Hazard’s “Register of Pennsylvania,” vol. v. p. 252.

[48] Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. p. 230.

[49] Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. p. 94.

[50] Washington, commenting upon this movement of Major Grant, writes:
“From all accounts I can collect, it appears very clear that this was a
very ill-concerted, or a very ill-executed plan. Perhaps both. But it
seems to be very generally acknowledged that Major Grant exceeded his
orders.”--Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. p. 286.

[51] An old negro servant of the household of Mrs. Custis gave the
following account of the impression Washington produced upon the family:

“Never seed the like, sir--never the like of him, though I have seen
many in my day--so tall, so straight! And then, sir, he sat on a horse
and rode with such an air! Ah, sir, he was like no one else! Many of
the grandest gentlemen, in the gold lace, were at the wedding; but none
looked like the man himself.”--_Soldier and Patriot_, p. 58.

[52] William Wirt, in his Life of Patrick Henry, has assigned to this
date, the enthusiastic reception of Washington by the Assembly. Others,
as we think more correctly, have given it the date to which we have
assigned it in this volume.

[53] To a nephew, who was entering the Assembly for the first time, he
wrote, “The only advice I will offer, if you have a mind to command the
attention of the House, is to speak seldom, but on important subjects,
except such as particularly relate to your constituents; and, in the
former case make yourself perfectly master of the subject. Never
exceed a decent warmth, and submit your sentiments with diffidence.
A dictatorial style, though it may carry conviction, is always
accompanied with disgust.”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 101.

[54] “Vestryman--Episcopal church; one belonging to a select number of
persons, in each parish, who manage its temporal concerns.”--_Webster._

[55] “His stable was well filled, and admirably regulated. His stud was
thorough-bred and in excellent order. His household books contained
registers of the names, ages, and marks of his favorite horses; such
as Ajax, Blueskin, Valiant, Magnolia (an Arab), etc. Also his dogs,
chiefly fox-hounds, Vulcan, Singer, Ringwood, Sweet-lips, Forester,
Music, Rockwood, and Truelove.”--Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i.
p. 314.

[56] Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. p. 315.

[57] Speech at laying the corner stone of the Washington Monument, by
Robert C. Winthrop.

[58] “My manner of life,” Washington wrote to a friend, “is plain; and
I do not mean to be put out of it. A glass of wine and a bit of mutton
are always ready, and such as will be content to partake of them, are
always welcome. Those who expect more will be disappointed.”--_Soldier
and Patriot_, p. 62.

[59] “Washington was fond of hunting, and sport of all kinds. He kept
a beautiful barge on the Potomac, rowed by six negroes in uniform
dress.”--_Soldier and Patriot_, p. 61.

[60] Though the first burst of opposition to the Stamp Act came
from Virginia, the New Englanders were the first to take the field
against the whole project of Parliamentary taxation.--See Irving’s
_Washington_, Mount Vernon edition, vol i. p. 110.

[61] “Parliamentary Register,” 1776.

[62] “Writings of Washington,” Jared Sparks, vol. ii. p. 345, note.

[63] “He had some few intimates in his neighborhood, who accorded with
him in sentiment. One of the ablest and most efficient of these was Mr.
George Mason, with whom he had occasional conversations on the state of
affairs.”--Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. p. 341.

[64] Junius, in his celebrated letters, describes Botetourt as “a
cringing, bowing, fawning, sword-bearing courtier.” The witty Horace
Walpole wrote of him, “If his graces do not captivate them (the
Virginians), he will enrage them to fury; for I take all his _douceur_
to be enamelled on iron.”--_Grenville Papers_, vol. iv. p. 330, note.

[65] The wits of London quite amused themselves in lampoons upon this
extraordinary splendor of outfit, of “a minister plenipotentiary to the
savage Cherokees.”

[66] Peyton Randolph was one of the most distinguished of the Virginia
patriots. He was attorney-general of the Province, and was subsequently
elected President of the Second Colonial Congress.

[67] Holmes’ _American Annals_, vol. ii. p. 173.

[68] These nations, or tribes, consisted of the Mohawks, the Oneidas,
the Onondagas, the Senecas, the Cayugas, and the Tuscaroras.--See
Drake’s _Book of the Indians_, B. v. p. 2.

[69] Dr. James Craik was a Scotchman by birth, and a very noble man.
He accompanied Washington in the unfortunate expedition rendered
memorable by the disaster of Jumonville. Washington cherished, for him,
a life-long friendship.

[70] “At that time (1770) there were no inhabitants on the Ohio,
below Pittsburg, except the natives of the forest. A few traders
had wandered into those regions, and land speculators had sent out
emissaries to explore the country; but no permanent settlements had
been formed.”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 111.

[71] The Muskingum is one of the largest rivers that runs wholly in the
State of Ohio. It flows down, from its sources far away in the north,
with a gentle current, over a pebbly bottom, and is navigable for large
boats, for a distance of about one hundred miles. The beautiful city of
Marietta now stands at its mouth, where the wigwam of the Indian only
was seen at the time of Washington’s visit.--M’Culloch’s _Geographical

[72] The Great Kanawha, after flowing through a garden-like region four
hundred miles in extent, enters the Ohio about two hundred and fifty
miles below Pittsburg.--M’Culloch’s _Geographical Dictionary_.

[73] “_To Dissolve_; to bring to an end by separating the parts or
dispersing the members of; to terminate; to destroy; to cause to
disappear; as, to _dissolve_ parliament.

“_To Prorogue_; to continue from one session to another; to adjourn for
an indefinite time; applied to the English Parliament.”--_Webster._

[74] Washington’s diary testifies that he fasted rigidly, and attended
divine worship in the Episcopal Church. He still retained friendly
intercourse with the Dunmore family.

[75] See information given to the elder Adams, by Mr. Lynch of South
Carolina.--_Adams’ Diary._

[76] “Washington’s Writings,” by Jared Sparks, vol. ii. p. 329.

[77] “It is such an Assembly as never before came together, on a
sudden, in any part of the world. Here are fortunes, abilities,
learning, eloquence, acuteness, equal to any I ever met with in
my life. Here is a diversity of religions, education, manners,
interests, such as it would seem impossible to unite in one plan of
conduct.”--_Diary of John Adams._

[78] The illustrious William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, whose espousal, in
the House of Lords, of the cause of the colonists has won for him the
eternal gratitude of every American, said to the Lords, in Parliament:

“When your lordships look at the papers transmitted to us from America;
when you consider their decency, firmness, and wisdom, you cannot
but respect their cause, and wish to make it your own. For myself I
must declare and avow that, in the master states of the world I know
not the people or senate who, in such a complication of difficult
circumstances, can stand in preference to the delegates of America
assembled in General Congress at Philadelphia.”

[79] “Washington’s Writings,” by Jared Sparks, vol. ii. p. 405.

[80] It has generally been understood, as is stated here, that Major
Pitcairn gave these orders. But Mr. Elias Phinney, in his very
carefully prepared History of the Battle at Lexington, writes:

“The British troops came up shouting, and almost upon the run, till
within about ten rods of our line. Their commander, Lieutenant-Colonel
Smith, advanced a few yards and exclaimed, ‘Lay down your arms and
disperse, you damned rebels!--Rush on, my boys. Fire!’ The order not
being instantly obeyed, he again called out brandishing his sword with
great fury, ‘Fire! God damn you, fire.’ The first platoon then fired
over the heads of our men. Colonel Smith repeating his order to fire,
a general discharge, from the front ranks, was made directly into
the American ranks. On receiving the fire of the first platoon, the
Provincials imagined the regulars had fired nothing but powder, and
did not offer to return it. But on the second discharge, seeing some
of their numbers fall and others wounded, they no longer hesitated as
to their right to resist, and some of them immediately returned the
fire.”--_History of the Battle of Lexington_, by Elias Phinney, p. 20.

[81] It is difficult to find any two narratives of these events which
will agree in the minute details. It was a scene of awful confusion,
and honest men would differ in the accounts they gave. But there can be
no question whatever, that the all-important general facts are as here
recorded.--See _History of the Battle of Lexington_, by Elias Phinney,
and an admirable account of the expedition by Frederick Hudson in
_Harper’s Magazine_, vol. 50.

[82] An eye-witness writes: “When the distressed troops reached the
hollow square, formed by the fresh troops for their reception, they
were obliged to lie down upon the ground, their tongues hanging out of
their mouths like those of the dogs after the chase.”

[83] See minute and admirable account by Mr. Frederick Hudson, in
_Harper’s Magazine_, No. 300.

[84] John Adams wrote to a friend: “There is something charming to me
in the conduct of Washington; a gentleman of the first fortunes on the
continent, leaving his delicious retirement, his family and friends,
sacrificing his ease, and hazarding all in the cause of his country.
His views are noble and disinterested. He declared, when he accepted
the mighty trust, that he would lay before us an exact account of his
expenses, and not accept a shilling pay.”

[85] “Soldier and Patriots,” by F. W. Owen, p. 93; Irving’s _Life of
Washington_, vol. i. p. 478.

[86] The reader, who is interested in obtaining a more minute detail
of the incidents of this momentous battle, will find them quite fully
presented, in Mr. Irving’s excellent _Life of Washington_.

[87] General Schuyler was a native-born American, descended from one of
the most illustrious families. He had a large estate, near Saratoga,
and was highly educated, particularly in all branches relating to
military science. He was a tried patriot. In Congress and elsewhere he
had proved himself the able and eloquent advocate of American rights.
See Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. (Mount Vernon Edition) p.

[88] The house stood on the Watertown road, about half a mile from
the college. It subsequently was long known as the Cragie House. “The
Cragie House is associated with American literature, through some of
its subsequent occupants. Mr. Edward Everett resided in it the first
year or two after his marriage. Later, Mr. Jared Sparks, during part of
the time that he was preparing his collection of Washington’s writings,
editing a volume or two in the very room from which they were written.
Next came Mr. Worcester, author of the pugnacious dictionary, and of
many excellent books. And lastly, Longfellow, the poet, who purchased
the house of the heirs of Mr. Cragie, and refitted it.”--Irving’s _Life
of Washington_, Mount Vernon Edition, vol. i. p. 167.

[89] Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 136.

[90] “General Green was a son of Rhode Island, of Quaker parentage.
He was a man of fine personal appearance, of excellent character, and
of superior natural abilities. His thirst for knowledge led him to
avail himself of every opportunity for mental improvement. He thus
became an intelligent gentleman. His troops were pronounced to be
the best disciplined and the best appointed in the army. He stepped
at once into confidence of the Commander-in-Chief, which he never
forfeited, but became one of his most attached, faithful, and efficient
coadjutors.”--_Soldiers and Patriots_, p. 96.

[91] Irving’s _Life of Washington_, Mount Vernon Edition, vol. i. p.

[92] “Horatio Gates was an Englishman who adopted the cause of America.
He had distinguished himself in the West Indies. But England did not
recognize his claims, as much as he thought she ought to have done. He
therefore went out to America and bought land in Virginia. When the war
began, he seemed to see in it a more secure means to self-advancement
than he had found before, and therefore he joined in it.”--_Soldier and
Patriot_, p. 95.

[93] “Lee, we are told, scoffed with his usual profaneness. Heaven,
he said, was ever found favorable to strong battalions. Lee was an
Englishman by birth. The Indians called him, from his impetuosity,
_Boiling Water_.”--_Graydon’s Memoirs_, p. 138.

[94] Thatcher’s “Military Journal,” p. 37.

[95] “These principles set at naught all the rules of honorable
warfare; and indicated that the highest officers in the American
army, if captured, would be treated as culprits.”--Sparks’ _Life of
Washington_, p. 142.

[96] See this correspondence, more fully given in Irving’s _Life of
Washington_, vol. i. Mount Vernon edition, p. 172, 173.

[97] “The order was countermanded while the prisoners were on the
road to Northampton. ‘The General further requests,’ wrote his
secretary Colonel Reed, ‘that every other indulgence, consistent
with their security, may be shown to them. The general does not
doubt that your conduct toward them will be such as to compel their
grateful acknowledgments that Americans are as merciful as they are
brave.’”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 142.

[98] “In fact they (the British) never meditated an attack, unless
reinforcements should arrive. General Gage wrote to Lord Dartmouth,
that such an attempt, if successful, would be fruitless, as there were
neither horses nor carriages for transportation, and no other end
could be answered than to drive the Americans from one stronghold to
another.”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 146.

[99] “The enterprise,” Washington wrote, “was thought too dangerous.
Perhaps it was. Perhaps the irksomeness of my situation led me to
undertake more than could be warranted by prudence. I did not think so.
And I am sure yet that the enterprise, if it had been undertaken with
resolution, must have succeeded. Without it, any would fail.”--Sparks’
_Life of Washington_, p. 160.

[100] As Canada was originally settled by the French, the Roman
Catholic religion almost universally prevailed there.

[101] General Schuyler wrote to Washington, “I wish I had no occasion
to send my dear general this melancholy account. My amiable friend, the
gallant Montgomery, is no more. The brave Arnold is wounded; and we
have met with a severe check in our attack upon Quebec. May Heaven be
graciously pleased that this misfortune terminate here. I tremble for
our people in Canada.”

[102] “The British ministry have, in latter days, been exculpated
from the charge of issuing such a desolating order as that said to
have been reported by Lieutenant Mount. The orders, under which that
officer acted, we are told, emanated from General Gage and Admiral
Graves.”--Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. p. 188.

[103] _Holmes’ Annals_, vol. ii. p. 220.

[104] “American Archives,” vol. iii. p. 1145.

[105] “Poor Gage is to be the scapegoat, for what was a reason against
employing him--incapacity.”--_Horace Walpole._

[106] William Howe was a man of fine presence and of winning manners.
He was brother of Lord Howe, who fell on the banks of Lake George, in
the French war. He was one of the most attractive of young men, and had
secured, to a wonderful degree, the affection of the American people.
A sorrowful feeling pervaded the country when it found that General
William Howe was fighting against the Americans at the battle of
Bunker’s Hill. In an address from Congress to the people of Ireland it
was said, “America is amazed to find the name of Howe on the catalogue
of her enemies. She loved his brother.”

[107] “American Archives,” 4th series, vol. iv. p. 1178.

[108] From the heights of Dorchester the admiral’s fleet, riding at
anchor in the harbor, could be bombarded, and destroyed. Then the
British army might be captured. But this would probably be at the
expense of laying the whole town in ashes. Lord Admiral Howe was
brother of Sir William.

[109] Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p. 155.

[110] Memoranda by Hon. Israel Trask.

[111] Letter of Charles Lee to Richard Henry Lee.--_Am. Archives_, 4th
series, vol. iv. p. 248.

[112] “Knox was one of those providential characters which spring up in
emergencies, as if they were formed by and for the occasion. A thriving
bookseller in Boston, he had thrown up business, to take up arms for
the liberties of his country. He was one of the patriots who fought on
Bunker Hill; since when, he had aided in planning the defences of the
camp before Boston.”--Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. p. 190.

[113] “American Archives,” 4th series, iii. 1281.

[114] General Henry Clinton was grandson of the Earl of Lincoln, and
son of George Clinton, who had been the crown-appointed governor of New
York, for ten years from 1743.--Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i.
p. 163.

[115] “General Lee was despatched, with instructions from the
Commander-in-Chief, to raise volunteers in Connecticut, hasten forward
to New York, call to his aid other troops from New Jersey, put the city
in the best posture of defence which his means would permit, disarm
the tories, and other persons inimical to the rights and liberties of
America, and guard the fortifications on Hudson river.”--Sparks’ _Life
of Washington_, p. 157.

[116] “American Archives,” 5th series, iv. 941.

[117] To while away weary hours the spirit of gambling was prevailing
ruinously in the camp. Clouds of gloom were settling down over the
public mind. Washington, who felt most deeply the need of Divine favor,
by an order of the day, issued on the 26th of February, forbade these
demoralizing practices. He wrote:

“At this time of public distress, men may find enough to do in the
service of God and their country, without abandoning themselves to vice
and immorality.”

Six days after the issue of this order, Washington’s batteries were
planted triumphantly on Dorchester Heights.--Irving’s _Life of
Washington_, vol. i. p. 220.

[118] “Washington consulted with such of the general officers as he
could immediately assemble. The paper was not addressed to him, nor
to any one else. It was not authenticated by the signature of General
Howe. Nor was there any other act obliging that commander to fulfil
the promise asserted to have been made by him.”--Irving’s _Life of
Washington_, vol. i. Mount Vernon edition, p. 223.

[119] Letter to John A. Washington.--_Am. Archives_, v. 560.

[120] A British officer wrote, in reference to this scene, so joyful,
yet so sad. “The confusion, unavoidable to such a disaster, will make
you conceive how much must be forgot, where every man had a private
concern. The necessary care and distress of the women, children, sick
and wounded, required every assistance that could be given. It was
not like breaking up a camp, where every man knows his duty. It was
like departing from your country, with your wives, your servants,
your household furniture and all your incumbrances. The officers,
who felt the disgrace of their retreat, did their utmost to keep up
appearances.”--_Remembrancer_, vol. iii. p. 108.

[121] Lee’s Memoirs, p. 162.

[122] Thatcher’s “Military Journal,” p. 50.

[123] General Charles Lee was in Virginia, when he heard of the
evacuation. The following characteristic letter was from his pen. “My
dear General: I most sincerely congratulate you. I congratulate the
public on the great and glorious event. It will be a most bright page
in the annals of America; and a most abominable one in those of the
beldam Britain. Go on, my dear general. Crown yourself with glory; and
establish the liberties and lustre of your country on a foundation more
permanent than the Capitol rock.”

[124] “A deep plot, originating with Governor Tryon, was defeated by
timely and fortunate discovery. His agents were found enlisting men in
the American camp, and enticing them with rewards. It was a part of the
plot to seize General Washington, and carry him to the enemy.”--Sparks’
_Life of Washington_, p. 169.

[125] While a lad, in a counting house at Santa Cruz, he wrote, “I
contemn the grovelling condition of a clerk, to which my fortune
condemns me. I would willingly risk my life, though not my character,
to exalt my station. I mean to prepare the way for futurity. I am no
philosopher, and may justly be said to build castles in the air. I wish
there was a war.”

[126] Orderly Book, July 9; Sparks iii. 456.

[127] “Washington received the applause of Congress and of the public,
for sustaining the dignity of his station. His conduct, in this
particular, was recommended as a model to all American officers in
corresponding with the enemy. And Lord Howe informed his government
that thenceforth, it would be polite to change the superscription of
his letters.”--Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. 248.

[128] “History of the Civil War in America,” Dublin, 1779; “Annual

[129] Orderly Book, Aug. 3, 1776. _Writings of Washington_, vol. xiv.
p. 28.

[130] History cannot record, neither can imagination conceive the
woes of these households. Husbands and fathers were slain. They were
without employment, in abject poverty, and driven houseless, foodless,
clothesless, from their homes. In view of these awful tragedies of this
sad world, which have continued through dreary centuries, one is led to
exclaim, in anguish, “O Lord! how long! how long!”

[131] Anticipating this movement Washington had stationed a body of
troops there and thrown up breastworks. General Greene was placed in
command. Falling sick of a fever he was succeeded by General Sullivan,
who was succeeded by General Putnam.

[132] “American Archives,” 5th series ii. 108.

[133] “This retreat, in its plan, execution and success, has been
regarded as one of the most remarkable military events in history,
and as reflecting the highest credit on the talents and skill of the
commander. So intense was the anxiety of Washington, so unceasing his
exertions that, for forty-eight hours, he did not close his eyes, and
rarely dismounted from his horse.”--Sparks’ _Life of Washington_, p.

[134] Washington wrote to Congress, “If we should be obliged to abandon
the town, ought it to stand as winter quarters for the enemy. They
would derive great convenience from it, on the one hand, and much
property would be destroyed on the other. At the present, I dare say
the enemy mean to preserve it if they can.”

[135] In a somewhat similar strain of sympathy General Greene wrote:
“People coming from home, with all the tender feelings of domestic
life, are not sufficiently fortified with natural courage, to stand the
shocking scenes of war. To march over dead men, to hear without concern
the groans of the wounded--I say few men can stand such scenes, unless
steeled by habit or fortified by military pride.”

[136] On the 30th of July, 1776, Colonel Palfrey went on board Lord
Howe’s ship to negotiate an exchange of prisoners. The noble Admiral
was careful to speak of the American Commander-in-Chief as _General_
Washington; he declared that he held his person and character in
the highest esteem, and that his heart was deeply touched by the
affectionate allusion of Washington and of Congress, to his elder
brother Lord George, who fell at Ticonderoga. With a moistened eye he
alluded to the fact that the province of Massachusetts had erected a
monument to his brother in Westminster Abbey. In closing the interview
he sent his kind regards to Washington, and added, “I hope that America
will one day or other be convinced that, in our affection for that
country, we are also Howes.”

[137] It would seem that God must have stricken the British leaders
with gross incapacity, else with such a powerful fleet and with
such a numerous highly-disciplined, and thoroughly equipped army,
the feebleness of half-starved, half-clothed, and not half-equipped
American farmers would have been entirely crushed out in a week. No one
familiar with military affairs can examine these operations without
_amazement_ that the Americans could have maintained so unequal a
conflict. There is nothing to be compared to it in all the annals of
warfare. For be it remembered that neither the British officers nor
soldiers were cowards. Men more reckless of danger never stormed a

[138] It requires a heart hardened by the horrors of war to see,
unmoved, an overpowering band of soldiers, maddened by the conflict,
plunging their bayonets into the faces, bosoms, and bowels of farmers,
boys, crying for mercy, and who have but just come from their peaceful

[139] Washington wrote to General Greene, on the 8th of November: “I
am inclined to think that it will not be prudent to hazard the men and
stores at Mount Washington. But, as you are on the spot I leave it to
you to give such orders, as to evacuating Mount Washington, as you may
judge best; and so far revoking the orders given to Colonel Magaw, to
defend it to the last.”

[140] “The people of New Jersey beheld the commander in chief
retreating through their country, with a handful of men, weary,
way-worn, dispirited, without tents, without clothing, many of them
barefooted, exposed to wintry weather, and driven from port to port,
by a well clad, triumphant force tricked out in all the glittering
bravery, of war.”--Irving’s _Life of Washington_, p. 304.

[141] American Archives, 5th series, iii. 1037.

[142] American Archives, 5th series, iii. 1265. Letter of Joseph
Trumbull to Governor Trumbull.

[143] From the tavern at Baskinridge Lee wrote to General Gates: “The
ingenious manœuvre at Fort Washington has completely unhinged the
goodly fabric we had been building. There never was so damned a stroke.
_Entre nous_ (between us) a certain great man is damnably deficient.”

[144] In 1676, the present territory of New Jersey was set off in two
great divisions called East and West Jersey. Each belonged to different
proprietors. In the year 1702, the two provinces were united. But
still, in all the early annals, the province was spoken of as “the

[145] Washington, ever magnanimous, comments as follows on the capture
of Lee, who he knew was trying to supplant him. He wrote to his brother
Augustine, “This is an additional misfortune and the more vexatious as
it was by his own folly and imprudence, and without a view to effect
any good, that he was taken. As he went to lodge three miles out of his
camp, a rascally tory rode in the night, to the enemy, who sent a party
of light horse, that seized him and carried him off with every mark of
indignity and triumph.”

[146] The Committee of Congress who communicated to Washington the vote
conferring upon him these powers, added: “Happy is it for our country
that the general of their forces can safely be intrusted with the most
unlimited power, and neither personal security, liberty nor property,
be in the least degree endangered thereby.”--_American Archives_, 5th
series, iii. 1510.

[147] It is not strange that the soldiers should have been disposed
to revile the Hessian captives for having hired themselves to aid the
British to rob the Americans of their liberties. One of the Hessian
soldiers wrote in his journal:

“General Washington had written notices put up in town and country,
that we were innocent of this war, and had joined in it not of our
free will but through compulsion. We should therefore not be treated
as enemies but as friends. From this time things went better with us.
Every day many came out of the towns, old and young, rich and poor,
and treated us with kindness and humanity.” _Tagebuch des corporals
Johannes Reuber._

[148] When General Howe, in New York, heard of the affair at Trenton,
he raised his hands in amazement, exclaiming: “Is it possible that
three veteran regiments of the British army, who make war their
profession, can have laid down their arms to a ragged and undisciplined
militia, with scarcely any loss on either side.”

[149] The Italian historian _Botta_, in his admirable story of the
American War writes, “Achievements so astonishing, gained for the
American commander a very great reputation, and were regarded with
wonder by all nations, as well as by the Americans. All declared him
to be the saviour of his country; and proclaimed him equal to the
most renowned commanders of antiquity.”--_Storia della Guerra dell’
Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America_, Tom. ii. lib. 7.

[150] The officers and soldiers were confined in the hulks of old ships
which were anchored in the harbor, and which were, not inappropriately,
called _floating-hells_. They were destitute of every comfort. A
dreadful malady broke out among them, and they perished by hundreds.

[151] Kosciusko brought a letter from Franklin to Washington. “What do
you seek here;” inquired the commander-in-chief. “To fight for American
independence,” was the reply. “What can you do?” said Washington. “Try
me,” was the simple response. There was something in the bearing of
the man which won the confidence of Washington. He received him as an
aide-de-camp. In the hour of trial, he was never found wanting.

[152] “Lafayette from the first attached himself to Washington with an
affectionate reverence which could not be mistaken; and soon won his
way into a heart which, with all its apparent coldness, was naturally
confiding and required sympathy and friendship.”--Irving’s _Life of
Washington_, vol. i. p. 375.

[153] Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i., p. 396.

[154] General Burgoyne was a natural son of Lord Bingley. He was of
active mind, and ready wit, and as a man of fashion, in all convivial
scenes, stood preëminent. Gambling was then the common vice of the
British aristocracy. But Junius accuses Burgoyne of cheating at cards.
Both Washington and Napoleon endeavored to drive the foul practice
of gambling from their armies. But for this vice, the brave and able
General Arnold would probably now be enrolled among the most prominent
of American patriots.

[155] “Lieutenant Jones is said to have been completely broken in
spirit by the shock of her death. Procuring her scalp, with its long
silken tresses, he brooded over it in anguish, and preserved it as a
sad, but precious relic. Disgusted with the service, he threw up his
commission and retired to Canada; never marrying, but living to be an
old man, taciturn and melancholy and haunted by painful recollections.”
Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i., p. 378.

[156] “Old neighbors met in deadly feud; former intimacy gave
bitterness to present hate; the bodies of combatants were afterward
found, on the field of battle, grappled in death, with the hand still
grasping the knife plunged in a neighbor’s heart.

“The very savages seemed inspired with unusual ferocity, by the
confusion and deadly struggle around them, and the sight of their
prime warriors and favorite chiefs shot down. In their blind fury they
attacked the white men indiscriminately, friend or foe. So that in this
chance medley fight many of Sir John’s greens were slain by his own
Indian allies.” Irving’s _Life of Washington_, vol. i. p. 380.

[157] The British officers did not very highly esteem their German
allies. “The very hat and sword of one of them,” it was said, “weighed
nearly as much as the whole equipment of a British soldier. The worst
British regiment in the service would march two miles to their one.”

[158] Washington has been censured, by foreign writers, for fighting
this battle under such disadvantages. But Congress and the country were
clamorous for a battle. Had he surrendered Philadelphia to the English
without firing a gun, it would have been the ruin of his reputation.
The defeat was certainly less injurious upon the public mind than a
continued retreat would have been.

[159] In reference to this conflict, Washington wrote to the President
of Congress, “But though we fought under many disadvantages, and were,
from the causes above mentioned, obliged to retire, our loss of men is
not, I am persuaded, very considerable. I believe much less than that
of the enemy. We have lost seven or eight pieces of cannon, according
to the best information I am able, at present, to obtain. The baggage
having been previously moved off, is all secure, saving the men’s
blankets, which, being at their backs, many of them are doubtless lost.
Divers officers were wounded, and some slain; but the number of either
cannot now be ascertained.”

[160] Burgoyne wrote: “From the 20th of September to the 7th of
October, the armies were so near that not a night passed without
firing, and sometimes concerted attacks on our pickets. I do not
believe that either officer or soldier ever slept, in that interval,
without his clothes; or that any general officer or commander of a
regiment passed a single night without being constantly upon his legs,
occasionally at different hours, and constantly an hour before day
light.”--_Burgoyne’s Expedition_, p. 166.

[161] The surrender of Burgoyne, though mainly the result of
Washington’s far-seeing plans, had suddenly trumped up Gates into a
_quasi_ rival.--_Irving’s Life of Washington_, Vol. II., Mount Vernon
edition, p. 429.

[162] _Letters to the President of Congress.--Sparks’ Correspondence,
Vol. V._, p. 71.

[163] In Washington’s account of the battle he wrote: “Had it 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.
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.”

[164] A British officer wrote: “In this action the Americans, though
repulsed, showed themselves a formidable adversary, capable of
charging with resolution and retreating in good order. The hope,
therefore, of any action with them as decisive, and likely to put a
speedy termination to the war, was exceedingly abated.”--_Civil War in
America, Vol. I., p. 269._

[165] _Life of Talbot_, by Henry T. Tuckerman, p. 31.

[166] _Abbot’s Lives of the Presidents._

Transcriber’s Notes

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