Imagens das páginas

of a chi ed now,

Hlis letter was dated as early as August, while ex• erting himself to be in readiness to co-operate with the French troops, and he observed,

“But while we are meditating offensive operations which may either not be undertaken at all, or being undertaken may fail, I am persuaded Congress are not inattentive to the present state of the army, and wils view in the same light with me the necessity of providing in time against a period (the first of Jar.uary) when one half of our present force will dissolve. The shadow of an army that will remain, will have every motive, except incre patriotism, to abandon the service. without the hope, which has hitherto supported them,

for the better. This is almost extinguish.

and certainny will not outlive the campaign, unless it finds something more to rest upon. This is a truth of which every spectator of the distress of the as my cannot lielp being convinced. Those at a distance may speculate differently; but on the spot an opinion to the contrary, judging human nature on the usual scale, would be chimerical.

“ The honourable the Committee of Congress, who have seen and heard for themselves, will add their tes. timony to mine; and ine wisdom and justice of Congress cannot fail to give it the most serious attention. To me it will appear miraculous, if our affairs can ina ntain themselves much longer in their present train. If either the temper or resources of the coun. try will not admit of an alteration, we may expect boon to be reduced to the humilia:ing condition of secing the cause of America, in America, upheld by kureign arins. The generosity of our allies has a claim to all our confidence, and all our gratitude; but it is neither for the honour of America, nor for the interest of the common cause, to leave the work en. wirely to them."

After assigning his reasons for the opinion ther Great Britain would continue the war he proceeds,

“ The inference from these reflections is, that we cannot count upon a speedy end to the war; and that it is the true policy of America not to content herself with temporary expedients, but to endeavour, if possible, to give consistency and validity to her measures. An essential step to this will be immediately to devise a plan and put it in execution, for providing men in time to replace those who will leave us at the end of the year, and for subsisting and for making a reasonab!, allowance to the officers and soldiers.

- The plan for this purpose ought to be of general operation, and such as will execute itself. Experience has shown that a peremptory draught will be the only eflectual one. If a draught for the war or for three years can be effected, it ouglıt to le made on every account; a shorter period than a year is inadmissible.

“ To one who has been witness to the evils brought upon us by short enlistments, the system appears to have been pernicious beyond description; and a crowd of motives present themselves to dictate a change. It may easily be shown that all the misfortunes we have met with in the military line are to be attributed to this cause.

“ Had we fermed a permanent army in the beginnir.g, which, by the continuance of the same men in service, had been capablo of discipline, we never should have had to retreat with a handful of mor across the Delaware, in 1776, trembling for the state of America, which nothing but the infatuation of the enemy could have saved; we should not have remained all the succeeding winter at their mercy, with sometimes scarcely a sufficient body of men to mount tho ordi. nary guards, liable at every moment to be dissipated, if they had only thought proper to march against us ; we shou'd not have been under the necessity of fight. ing at Brandywine, with an unequal number of raw troops, and afterwards of seeing Philadelphia fall a prey to a victorious army : we should not have been at

Valley Forge with less than half the force of the enemy, destitute of every thing, in a situation neither to resist nor to retire ; we should not have seen NewYork left with a handful of nien, yet an overmatch for the main army of theso states, while the principal part of their force was detached for the reduction of two of them ; we should not have found ourselvos this epring so weak as to be insulted by five thousand men, unable to protect our baggage and magazines, their security depending on a good countenance, and a want of enterprise in the enemy; we should not have been tho greatest part of the war inferiour to the enemy, indebted for our safety to their inactivity, enduring frequently the mortification of seeing inviting oppor. tunities to ruin them; pass unimproved for wart of a force which the country was completely able to afford; to see the country ravaged, our towns burnt, the inhabitants plundered. abused, murdered with impunity from the same cialde.

“There is ev ry reason to believe the war has been protracted on this account. Our opposition being less, made the successes of the enemy greater. The fluc. tuation of the army kept alive thuis hopes; and at every period of the dissolution of a considerable part of it, they have fattered theniselves with some chien cisive advantages. Had we kept a perinanent army on foot, the enemy could have had nothing to hope for, and would, in all probability, have listened to terms long since. If the army is left in its present situation, it must continuean encouragement to the efforts of the enemy; if it is put in a respectable one, it must have a contrary crfect, and nothing i believe will tend more to give us peace the ensuing winter. It will be an interesting winter. Many circumstances will contribute to a negotiation. An army on font, not only for another campaign, but for many campaigns, would dotermine the enemy lo pacifick measures, and enable us to insist upon favourable terms in forcible language.

An army insignificant in numbers, dissatisfied, crumbling to pieces, would be the strongest temptation they could have to try the experiment a little longer. It is an old maxim, that the surest way to make a good peace, is to be prepared for war."

Congress having at length resolved to new model the army, determined upon the number of regiments of infant:y and cavalry, which should compose their military establishment, and apportioned upon the several states their respective quotas. The states were required to raise their men for the war, and to have them in the field by the first of the next January : but provision was made, that if any state should find it impracticable to raise its quota by the first of December, this state might supply the deficiency by men engaged to serve for a period not short of one year.

This arrangement of Congress was submited to the Commander in Chief, and his opinion desired upor it. He in a respectful manner stated his objections to the plan. The number of men contemplated was, he conceived, too small, and he proposed that ine number of privates in each regiment should be increased. Instead of distinct regiments of cavalry, he recommended legionary corps, that the horse might always be supported by the infantry attached to them. He deplored the necessity of a dependence on state agency to recruit and support the army, and lamented that Congress had made provision for the deficiency of any stats to procure men for the war, to be supplied by temporary draughts; because, he conceived that the states upon the urgent requisition of Congress, would have brought their respectivo quotas into the field for the war; but the provision for deficiency being made, their exertions would be weak, and the alternativo generally embraced. He warmly recommended honourable provision for the officers.

The repeated remonstrances of General WASHINGTON, supportea by the chastisements of experience,

finally induced Congress to lay aside their jealousy cr a standing army, and to adopt a iniliiary establish ment for the war. The expected

eriority of the French at sea fail. ing, the residue of the campaign passed away without any remarkable event. The hostile armies merely watched each other's motions, until the inclemency of the season forced them into winter quarters. The l'ennsylvania line wintered at Morristow'n ; the Jersey line about Pompton on the confines of New-York and New-Jersey; and the troops belonging to the NewEngland States at West Point and its vicinity, on both sides of the North river. The New-York line had pru vinusly been stationed at Albany, to oppose any inva sion that might be made from Canada, and liere it re nained through the win:er.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »