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The committee were fully impressed with the correctness of the observations made by the commander in chief, and grounded their report upon them. A general concurrence of sentiment took place. Congress passed resolutions* but with various limitations, in favour of half pay to their officers for seven years after the war, and gave their sanction to the other measures suggested by Washington, and recommended by their committee. But from the delays incidental to large bodies, either deliberating upon, or executing public business, much time necessarily elapsed before the army received the benefits of the proposed reforms, and in the meantime their distresses approached to such a height as threatened their immediate dissolution. Respect for their commander, attached both officers and soldiers so strongly to his person, as enabled him to keep them together under privations almost too much for human natura to bear. Their effective force throughout the winter was little more than 5,000 men,though their numbers, on paper, exceeded 19,000. It was well for them that the British made no attempt to disturb them' while in this destitute condition. In that' case the Americans could not have kept their camp, for want of provisions, nor could they have retreated from it in tbet inclement sea* son* without the certain loss of. some thousands, who were barefooted,, and otherwise almost naked. Neither.-could they have risked an action with any probable hope of success, or without hazarding the most se* rious consequences. \ • - .
The historians of the American revolution will detail the particulars of a treaty, entered into about this time, between France and the United States, and also that thereupon the government of Great Britain offered terms to the Americans, equal to all they bad asked for, anterior to their declaration of independence. The first certain intelligence of these offers of Great Britain, was received by general Washington, in a letter from majorgeneral Try on, the British governor of New York, enclosing the conciliatory proposals, and recommending, " that they should be circulated by general Washington among- the officers and privates of his army." Instead of complying with this extraordinary request, he forwarded the whole to congress. The offers of Great Britain, which, if made in due time* would have prevented, the dismemberment of the empire, were promptly rejected. The" day of their rejection, a resolution, formerly recommended by Washington, was adopted
equally denoted an expedition to the south— an embarkation of their whole army for New York—or a march to that city through New Jersey. In the two first cases Washington had not the means of annoyance; but as the' probability of the last daily increased,, he directed his chief attention to that point.
General Maxwell, with the Jersey brigade, was ordered over the Delaware, to take post about Mount Holly, and to co-operate with general Dickinson, at the head of the New Jersey militia, in obstructing the progress of the royal army, till time should be gained for general Washington to overtake them.
The British crossed the Delaware to Glou* cester point on the 18th of June. The Americans, in four days after, at Gorryels ferry. The general officers of the latter, on being asked what line of conduct they thought most advisable, had previously, and with one consent, agreed to attempt nothing till the evacuation of Philadelphia was completed j but after the Delaware was crossed, there was a diversity of sentiment respecting the measures proper to be pursued. General Lee^ who, having been exchanged, had joined the army, was of opinion, that the United States, in consequence of their late foreign connexions, were secure of their independence, j unless unless their army was defeated—and that, under such circumstances, it would be criminal to hazard an action, without some prospect of a decided advantage. Though the numbers in both armies were nearly equal, and about 10,000 effective men in each, he attributed so much to the superiority of British discipline, as made him apprehensive of the issue of an engagement on equal ground. These sentiments were sanctioned by the voice of a great majority of the general officers. Washington was nevertheless strongly inclined to risk an action. Though cautious, he was enterprising, and could not readily believe that the chances of war were so much against him as to threaten consequences of the alarming magnitude which had been predicted. There was a general concurrence in a proposal for strengthening the corps on the left flank of the enemy with 1500 men, to improve any partial advantages that might offer, and that the main body should preserve a relative situation, for acting as circumstances might require.