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made, that the last rations in the Commissary's stores were issued to the soldiery. General WASHINGTON expressed the feelings of his patriotick and noble mind on this complaint, in a letter addressed to the President of Congress, and written in language which he used on no other occasion.
“ Full as I was in my representations of the matters in the Commissary's department yesterday, fresh and more powerful reasons oblige me to add, that I am now convinced beyond a doubt, that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place in that line, this army must inevitably be reduced to one or other of these three things, to starve, dissolve, or disperse in order to obtain subsistence. Rest assured, sir, that this is not an exaggerated picture, and that I have at undant reason to suppose what I say.
“ Salurday afternoon, receiving information that the enemy, in force, had left the city and were advancing towards Derby with apparent design to forage, and draw subsistence from that part of the country, I ordered the troops to be in readiness that I might give every opposition in my power; when, to my great mortification, I was not only informed, but convinced, that the men were unable to stir on account of a want of provisions ; and that a dangerous mutiny, begun the night before, and which with difficulty was suppressed hy the spirited exertions of some officers, was still much to be apprehended from the want of this article.
“ This brought forth the only commissary in the purchasing line in this camp, and with him, this melancholy and alarming truth, that he had not a single hoof of any kind to slaughter, and not more than twenty-five barrels of flour! From hence, form an opinion of our situation, when I add, that he could not tell when to expect any.
• All I could do under these circumstances, was to send out a few light parties to wa and harass the fremy, whilst other parties were instantly detached
different ways to collect, if possible, as much provision as would satisfy the present pressing wants of the sol. diery ; but will this answ'er? No, sir, three or tour days of bad weather would prove our destruction What then is to become of the army this wi:iterAnd
are now as often without provisions as with them, what is to become of us in the spring, when our force will be collected with the aid, perhaps of militia, to take advantage of an early campaign before the enemy can be reinforced ?--These are considerations of great magnitude, meriting the closest attention, and will, when my own reputation is so intimately connected with, and to be affected by the event, justify my saying, that the present commissaries are by no means equal to the execution of their office, or that the disaffection of the people is past all belief. The misfortune, however, does in my opinion, proceed from both causes, and though I have been tender heretofore of giving any opinion, or of lodging complaints, as the change in that department took place contrary to niy judgment, and the consequences thereof were predicted; yet finding that the inactivity of the army, whether for want of provisions, clothes, or other essentials, is charged to my account, not only by the common vulgar, but by those in power, it is time to speak plain, in exculpation of myself. With truth then I can declare, that no man, in my opinion, ever had his mcasures more impeded than I have, by every department of the army. Since the month of July, we have had no assistance from the Quarter Master General; and to want of assistance from this departinent, the Com. missary General charges great part of his deficiency. To this I am to add, that notwithstanding it is a standing order (and often repeated) that ihe troops shall always have two days' provision by them, that they might be ready at any sudden call; yet scarcely any opportunity has ever offered of taking advantage of the enemy, that has not been either to
lally obstructed, or greatly impeded on this account: ond this, the great and crying evil, is not all; soap, vinegar, and other articies allowed by Congress, we see none ot, nor have we seen them, I believe, since the battle of Brandywine. The first, indeed, we have now little occasion for ; few men having more than one shirt, many unly the moiety of one, and some none at all. In addition to which, as a proof of the little benefit from a Clothier General, and, at the same time, as a further proof of the inability of an army under the circumstances of this, to perform the common duties of soldiers (besides a number of men confined to hospitals for want of shoes, and others in farmers' houses on the same account) we have, by a field return this day made, no less than two thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight men, now in camp, unfit for duty, because they are barefoot, and otherwise naked. By the same return, it appears, that our whole strength in continental troops (including the eastern brigades which have joined us since the surrender of General Burgoyne) exclusive of the Maryland troops sent to Wilmington, amounts to no more than eight thousand two hundred in camp, fit for duty ; notwithstanding which, and that since the fourth instant, our number fit for duty, from the hardships and exposures they have undergone, particularly from the want of blankets, have decreased near two thousand men, we find, gentlemen, without knowing whether the ormy was really going into winter quarters or not, (for I am gure no resolution of mine would warrant the rrmon. strance) reprobating the measure as much as if they thought the soldiers wero made of stocks, or stones, and equally insensible of frost and snow; and moreover, as if they conceived it easily practicable for an inferiour army, under the disadvantages I have de. scribed ours to be, which is by no ineans exaggerated, to confine a superiour one, in all respects well azp pointed, and provided for a winter's campaign, within
the city of Philadelphia, and to cover from depreda tion and waste, the states of Pennsylvania, Jersey, &c. But what makes this matter still more extraordinary in my eyes is, that these very gentlemen, who were well apprized of the nakedness of the troops, from ocular demonstration, who thought their own soldiers worse clad than ours, and advised me, near a month ago, to postpone the execution of a plan I was about to adopt, in consequence of a resolve of Congress, for seizing clothes, under strong assurances, that an ample supply would be collected in ten days, agreeably to a decree of the state, not one article of which, bye the bye, is yet come to hand, should think a winter's campaign, and the covering these states from the invasion of an enemy, so easy and practicable a business. I can assure those gentlemen, that it is a much easier and less distressing thing to draw remonstrances in a comfortable room, by a good fire side, than to occupy a cold bleak hill, and sleep under frost and snow without clothes or blankets : however, although they seem to have little feeling for the naked and distressed soldiers, I feel superabundantly for tņem, and from my soul, pity those miseries which it is not in my pou yr either to relieve or to prevent.”
All these efforts to displace the Commander in Chief were unavailing, and served only to expose their authors to the resentment of the community. He was too well established in the confidence of the army, and of the great body of the nation, to be moved from his elevated, but arduous trust. Even the victorious troops, which served under General Gates, indignantly noticed the attempt to raise him to the place of their beloved General. The resentment of the main army against those, who were known to be the active enemics of General Washington, was so great, that none of them dared appear in camp : General Conway found it necessary to resign his commission. Не afterwards fought a duel with General Cadwallader, Vol. I.
and thinkıng himself to be mortally wounded wrote General Washington the following letter.
“ I find myself just able to hold the pen during a few minutes, and take this opportunity to express my sin. cere grief for having done, written, or said, any thing disagrecable to your Excellency. My career will soon be over; therefore, justice and truth prompt me to declare my last sentiments. You are, in my eyes, the great and good man. May you long enjoy the love, veneration, and esteem of these states, wl.ose liberties you have asserted by your virtues."
1778. The sufferings of the army during this winter for provision and clothing were extrenie.- The departments of the Commissary General and Quarter Master General were not yet well arranged. The depreciation of the paper currency embarrassed all purchascs, and this embarrassment was increased by the injudicious attempt to regulate by law the prices of articles of consumption and traffick. The enemy possessed a number of the trading towns of the United States, and the commerce of the others was interrupted by their ships of war. These causes combined, produced a famino in camp, and rendered a great part of the army incapable of service for the want of clothing. Although the Commander in Chief applied all the means in his power to remedy these evils, yet from them, he apprehended the dissolution of the army In Decom ber he issued a proclamation, calling upon all the farners within seventy miles of Head Quarters, to thresh out one half of their grain by the lot of February ; and the other half hy the 1st of March, on penalty of hav ing it all seized as straw. Detachments were also * sent out to collect all animals fit for slaughter, leaving only a competence for the use of the inhabitants. But notwithstanding all this vigilance and exertion, the supplies were inadequate. Early in February, the country in the neighbourhood of camp became exhausted, and the Commissaries communicated to the Gene