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prrss by military force to so great an extent, that there was reason to apprehend the inhabitants, irritated by such frequent calls, would proceed to dangerous insurrections. Fort Schuyler, West Point, and the posts up the North river, were on the point of being abandoned by their starving garrisons. Ajt this period of the war, there was little or no circulating medium, either in the form of paper or specie; and in the neighbourhood of the American army there was a real want of necessary provisions. The deficiency of the former occasioned many inconveniencies, and an unequal distribution of the burdens of the war; but the insufficiency of the latter had well nigh dissolved the army, and laid the country in every direction, open to British incursions.
On the first of May 178l, general Wash- 178;. ington commenced a military journal. The following statement is extracted from it: " I begin at this epoch a concise journal of military transactions, &c. I lament not having attempted it from the commencement of the war, in aid of my memory, and wish the multiplicity of matter which continually surrounds me, and the embarrassed state of our affairs, which is momentarily calling the attention to perplexities of one kind or another, may not defeat altogether, or so interrupt, my '' -. present
present intention and plan, as to render it of little avail.
"To have a clearer understanding of the entries which may follow, it would be proper to recite in detail our wants and our prospects; but this alone would be a work of much time and great magnitude. It may suffice to give the sum of them, which I shall do in a few words, viz.
"Instead of having magazines filled with
'provisions, we have a scanty pittance scattered here and there in the different states. Instead of having our arsenals well supplied with military stores, they are poorly provided, and the workmen all leaving them. Instead of having the various articles of field equipage in, readiness, the quarter-master general is but now applying to the several states (as the dernier resort) to provide these things for their troops respectively. Instead of having a regular system of transportation established upon credit, or funds in the quartermaster's hands, to defray the contingent expenses of it; we have neither the one nor the other: and all that business, or a great
. part of it, being done by military impressment, we are daily and hourly oppressing the people, souring their tempers, and alienating their affections. Instead of having the regi
i .-'• ments
'ments completed to the new establishments, scarce any state in the union has at this hour one eighth part of its quota in the field; and there is little prospect, that I qan see, of ever getting more than half. In a word, instead of having every thing in readiness to take the field, we have nothing. And instead of having the prospect of a glorious offensive campaign before us, we have a bewildered and gloomy prospect of a defensive one, unless we should receive a powerful aid of ships, troops, and money from our generous allies, and these at present are too contingent to build upon."
While the Americans were suffering the complicated calamities which introduced the year 1781, their adversaries were carrying on the most extensive plan of operation which had ever been attempted since the war. It had often been objected to the British commanders, that they had not conducted the war in the manner most likely to effect the subjugation of the revolted provinces. Military critics, in particular, found fault with them for keeping a large army idle a I New York, which they said, if properly applied, would have been sufficient to make successful impressions at one and the same time on several of the states. The British see'm to have calculated the campaign of 178l, with
• a view to make an experiment of the comparative merit of this mode of conducting military operations. The war raged in that year, not only in the vicinity of the British head quarters at New York, but in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and in Virginia. . In this extensive warfare, which was carried on nearly at the same time in the four most southern states, general Washington could have . no immediate agency. .His advice, in corresponding with the officers commanding in these states, was freely and beneficially given, and as large detachments sent to theii aid as could be spared, consistently with the security of West Point. In conducting the war, his invariable maxim was to suffer the devastation of property, rather than hazard great and essential objects for its preservation. While the war raged in Virginia, the governor, members of congress, and other influential citizens, urged his return to the defence of his native state. But, considering: America as his country, and the general safety as his object, he deemed it of more importance to remain on the Hudson. There he was not only securing the most important post in the United States, but concerting a grand plan of combined operations, which, as shall soon. be related, not only delivered Virginia,
but bat all the states, from the calamities ot the war, and established their independence.
In his disregard of property, when in competition with national objects, Washington was in no respect partial to his own. While the British were in the Potomac, they sent a flag on shore to Mount Vernon, his private estate, requiring a supply of fresh provisions. Refusals of such demands were often followed by burning the houses and other property near the river. To prevent this catastrophe, the person entrusted with the management of the estate went on board with the flag, and carrying a supply of provisions, requested that the buildings and improvements might be spared. For this he received a severe reprimand in a letter, in which the general observed, "that it would have been a less painful circumstance to him to have heard, that in consequence of a non-compliance with the request of the British, they had burnt his house and laid his plantation in ruins."
To the other difficulties with which Washington had to contend in the preceding years of the war, a new one was about this time added. While the whole force at his disposal was unequal to the defence of the country against the common enemy, a civil war was on the point of breaking out among bis fellow citizens. The claims of the inhabitants .of