Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

consider and treat him as an equal, and in the character of an officer, regard him no more than a broom. stick, being mixed together as one common herd ; no order nor discipline can prevail, nor will the officer ever meet with that respect which is essentially necessary to due subordination.

"To place iny dependence upon militia, is assuredly resting upon a broke 7 staff. Men just dragged from the terder scenes of domestick life ; unaccustoned to the din of arms; totally unacquainted with every kind of military skill; which, being followed by a want of confidence in themselves, when opposed to troops regu. larly trained, disciplined, and appointed, superiour in knowledge, and superiour in arms, makes them timid and ready to fly fro:n their own shadows. Besides, the sudden change in their manner of living, particularly in their lodging, brings on sickness in many, impatience in all; and such an unconquerable desire of returning to their respective homes, that it not only produces shameful and scandalous desertions among themselves, but infuses the like spirit in others. Again, men accustomed to unbounded freedom, and no control, cannot brook the restraint which is indispensably nocessary to the good order and government of an army; without which, licentiousness and every kind of disorder triumphantly reign. To bring men to a proper degree of subordination, is not the work of a day, a month, or a year; and unhappily for us, and the cause we are engaged in, the little discipline I have been la jo uring to establish in the army under my immediate command, is in a manner done away by having such a mixture of troops, as liave been cailed together within these few months.

" Relaxed and unfit as our rules and regulations of war are for the government of an army, the militia, (those properly so called, for of these we have two sorts, the six months' mer., and those sent in as a temporary aid) do not think themselves subject to them, and

therefore take liberties which the soldier is punished for. This creates jealousy, jealousy begets dissatisfaction, and these by degrees ripen into inutiny ; keeping the whole army in a confused and disordered stale ; rendering the time of those, who wish to see regularity and good order prevail, more unhappy than words can describe; besides this, such repeated changes take place, that all arrangement is set at nought; and the constant fluctuation of things doranges every plan, as fast as it is adopted.

These, sir, Congress may be assured are but a small part of the inconveniences which might be enumerated and attributed to militia : but there is one which merits particular attention, and that is the expense. Certain I am, that it would be cheaper to keep fifty, or a hundred thousand men in constant pay, than to depend upon half the number, and supply the other half occasionally by militia. The time the latter is in pay, before and after they are in camp, assembling and marching, the waste of ammunition; che consumption of stores which, in spite of every resolution and requisition of Congress, they must be furnished with, or sent honie ; added to other incidental expenses consequent upon their coming, and conduct in camp, surpass all idea ; and destroy every kind of regularity and economy, which you could establish among fixed and settled troops; and will, in my opi. nion, prove (if the same be adhered to) the ruin of our

cause.

“ The jealousies of a standing army, and the evils to be apprchonded from one, are remote ; and in my judgmont, situated and circumstanced as we are, not at all tu be dreaded; but the consequence of wanting one, according to my ideas, formed upon the present view of things, is certain and inevitable ruin ; for if I were called upon to declare upon oath, whether the militia have been more serviceable or hurtful on the whole, I should subscribe to the latter. I do not mean

[ocr errors][merged small]

1776.]
LIFE OF WASHINGTON

95 by this, however, to arraign the conduct of Congress : in so doing, I should equally condemn my own measures, if not my judgment; but experience, which is the best criterion to work by, so fully, clearly, and decisively, reprobates the practice of trusting to militia, that no man who regards order, regularity, and economy, or who has any regard for his own honour, charac. ter, or peace of mind, will risk them upon militia."

your letter

[ocr errors]

cess.

“ Before I knew of the late resolutions of Congress which you did me the honour to enclose of the 24th, and before I was favoured with the visit of

your committee, I took the liberty of giving you my sentiments on several points which seemed to be of importance.

I have no doubt but that the committee will make such report of the state and condition of tho army as will induce Congress to believe that nothing but the most vigorous exertions can put matters upon such a footing, as to give this continent a fai: prospect of suc

Give me leave to say, sir, I say it with due deference and respect, (and my knowlcdge of the cts, added to the importance of the cause, and the stake I hold in it, must justify the freedom) that your affairs are in a more unpropitious way than you seem to apprehend.

“ Your army, as mentioned in my last, is upon the eve of its political dissolution. True it is, you have voted a larger one in lieu of it; but the season iz late, and there is a material difference between voting battalions and raising men. In the latter there are more difficulties than Congress seem aware of, which makes it my duty (as I have been informed of the prevailing sentiments of this army) to inform them, that, unless the pay of the officers, (especially that of the field officers) be raised, the chief part of those that are worth retaining will leave the service at the expiration of the

present term; as the soldiers will alsu, if some grealer encouragement be not offered them, than twenty dol. lars, and one hundred acres of land.

“Nothing less, in my opinion, than a suit of clothes annually given to each non-commissioned officer and soldier, in addition to the pay and bounty, will avail; and I question whether that will do, as the enemy from the information of one John Marsh, who, with six othens, was taken by our guards, are giving ten pounds bouw.y for recruits, and have got a battalion under Major Rodgers, ncarly completed upon Long Island.

“ Nor will less pay, according to niy judgment, than I have taken the liberty of mentioning in the enclosed estimate, retain such officers as we could wish to have continued ; the difference per month in each battalion would amount to bette. than one hundred pounds; to this may be added the pay of the staff officers; for it is presumable they will also require an augmentation, but being few in number, the sum will not be greatly increased by them, and consequently is a matter of no great moment; but it is a matter of no small impor. tance to make the soveral offices desirable. When the pay and establishment of an officer once become ohjects of interested attention, the sloth, negligence, and even disobedience of orders, which at this time but too generally prevail, will be purged uff. But while the service is vierved with indifference; while the officer conceives that he is rather conferring than receiving an obligation ; there will be a total relaxation of all order and discipline, and every thing will move heavi. ly on, to the great detriment of the service, and inex. pressible trouble and vexation to the General.

“ The critical situation of our affairs at this tiine will justify wny saying, that no time is to be lost in making fruitless experiments. An unavailing trial of u month, to get an army, upon the terms proposed, may renver it impracticable to do it at all, and prove fatal to our cause, as I am not sure whether anv rubs

1776.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON.

97 in the way of our enlistments or unfavourable turn in our affairs, may not prove the means of the enemy's recruiting men faster than we do. To this may be added the inextricable difficulty of forming one corps out of another, and arranging matters with any degree of order, in the face of an eneiny who are watching for advantages.

“At Cambridge last year, where the officers (and more than a sufficiency of them) were all upon the spot, we found it a work of such extreme difficulty to know their sentiments (each having some terms to propose) that I despaired, once, of getting the arrangement completed, and do suppose that at least a hundred alterations took place before matters were finally adjusted; what must it be then under the present regulation, where the officer is to negotiate this matter with the state he comes from, distant, perhaps, two or three hundred miles ; some of whom, without any license from me, set out to make personal application, the moment the resolution got to their hands ? What kind of officers these are, I leave Congress to judge.

“ If an officer of reputation (for none other should be applied to) be asked to stay, what answer can he give ? But in the first place, that he does not know whether it be at his option to do so; no provision heing made in the resolution of Congress, even recommendatory of this measure, consequently, that it rests with the state he comes from, (surri unded, perhaps, with a variety of applications, and influenced perhaps with local attachments) to determine whether he can be provided for, or not. In the next place, if he be an officer of merit, and knows that the state he comes from is to furnish more battalions than it at present has in the service, he will scarcely, after two years' faithful services, think of continuing in the rank he now bears, when new creations are to be made and

VOL. I.

9

« AnteriorContinuar »