Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

mattention of their country; but the majority of the o.rmy submitted to the scarcity without a murmur. General WASHINGTON ordered the country to be scour ed, and provisions to be seized wherever they could be found. At the same time he stated the situation of the army to Congress, and warned that body of the dangerous consequences of this mode of obtaining supplies. It was calculated he said, to ruin the discipline of the soldiers, and to raise in them a disposition for plunder and licentiousness. It must create in the minds of the inhabitants jealousy and dissatisfaction "I regret the occasion which compelled me to the measure the other day, and shall consider it among the greatest of our misfortunes to be uuder the neces. sity of practising it again. I am now obliged to keep several parties from the army threshing grain, that our supplies may not fail, but this will not do."-Dur ing the whole winter, the sufferings of the troops at Valley Forge were extreme.

CHAPTER V.

Progress and Issue of the Northern Campaign-Plan to displace General Washington-His Correspondence on the Subject-Letter of Gengral Gates-Remonstrance of the Legislature of Pennsylvania against closing the Campaign-Observations of the Commander in Chief upon it-Sufferings of the Army for the want of Provisions and Clothing-Measures adopted by the Commander in Chief to obtain Supplies-Methods taken to Recruit the Army

Sir Henry Clinton appointed Commander in Chief of the British Forces-He evacuates Philadelphia, and marchies through NewJersey to New-York-General Washington pursues him-Bat:le of Monmouth-Thanks of Congress to the General and ArinyGeneral Lee censured-lle demands a Court Martial, and is suspended from his command-French Fleet appears on the American Coast Expedition against Rhode Island-It fails- Disaffection between the American and French Officers-Measures of the Commander in Chief to prevent the ill Consequences of it-Army goes into Winter Quarters in the High Lands.

1777. DURING these transactions in the middlo States, the northern campaign had terminated in the capture of General Burgoyne and army. Thal department had ever been considered as a separate command, and more particularly under the direction of Congress. But the opinion of the Commander in Chief had been consulted in many of its transactions, and most of its details had passed through his hands. Through him that army had been supplied with the greater part of its artillery, ammunition, and oro. visions.

Upon the loss of Ticonderoga, and the disastrous events which followed it, he exerted himself to stop the career of General Burgoyne, although by this ex ertion, he weakened himself in his conflict with Sir William Howe. Without waiting for the order of Congress, in his own name he called out the militia of New-England, and directed General Lincoln to com. mand them. Strong detachments were sent to the northward from his own army. General Arnold, who had already greatly distinguished himself in the field, was sent at the head of these reinforcements, in the expectation that his influence would do much to reanimate the northern forces and inspirit them to noblo exertions. Soon after Colonel Morgan with his regi. ment, the best partisan corps in the American army, was also detached to that service. General Was.. Ington encouraged General Schuyler to look forward lo brighter fortune. “The evacuation of Ticondero. ga and Mount Independence," said he, in a letter to that General, "is an event of chagrin and surprise, not apprehended, nor within the compass of my rea soning. This stroke is severe indeed, and has distressed us much. But notwithstanding things at prosent wear a dark and gloomy aspect, I hope a spirited opposition will check the progress of General Burgoyne's arms, and that the confidence derived from success will hurry him into measures, that will in their consequences be favourable to us. We should never despair. Our situation has before bcen unproinising, but has changed for the better, so I trust it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new exertions, and proportion our etforts to the exigency of the times.” When informed by General Schuyler, that Burgogne had divided his force to act in different quarters, General Washington foresaw the consequences, and advised to the measures that proved fatal to that commander. " Although our af. fairs,” replied he to General Schuyler, “ have some days past worn a dark and gloomy aspect, I yet look forward to a fortunate and happy issue. I trust General Burgoyne's army will sooner or later, experience an effectual check; and, as I suggested before, that the success he had will precipitate his ruin. From your account he appears to be pursuing that line of conduct, which of all others is most favourable to us. I mean acting by detachments. This conduct wil certainly give room for enterprise on our part, and expose his parties to great hazard. Could we be so happy as to cut one of them off, though it should not exceed four, five, or six hundred men, it would inspirit the people, and do away much of their present anxiety. In such an event, they would lose sight of past misfortunes; and, urged at the same time by a regard to their own security, they would fly to arms and afford overy aid in their power."

The community was not intimately acquainted with the state of things in the northern department. In consequence, strong prejudices were excited against General Schuyler. On account of this popular prejudice, Congress conceived it prudent to change the General of this army, and the Commander in Chief was requested to nominate a successor to General Schuyler. Through delicacy he declined this nomi. nation; but never did the semblance of envy at the good fortune of General Gates, whom Congress appointed, appear in any part of General WASHINGron's conduct. His patriotism induced him to aid this subordinate General by every means in his power, and Vol. I.

13

the successes of the northern army filled his heart with undissembled joy

This magnanimity was not in every instance repaid. The brilliant issue of the northern campaign in 1777, cast a glory around General Gates, and exalted his mili. tary reputation. During his separate command, some parts of his conduct did not correspond with the ingenuousness and delicacy with which he had been treated by the Commander in Chief. After the action of the 19th of September, when it was ascertained that Goneral Gates's force was superiour to that of the British General, and was increasing, General WASHINGTON apprehended that General Gates might return him Colonel Morgan's corps, whose services he greatly necdea while the enemy was marching through Penn: sylvania. But unwilling absolutely to order the return of Morgan, he stated that General Howe was pressing him with a superiour force, and left General Gates to act in the concern according to his discretion. General Gates retained the corps, and mentioned as his reason, “ Since tlie action of the 19th the onemy have kept the ground they occupied on the morning of that day and fortified their camp. The advance sentries of my piquets are posted within shot, and opposite those of the eneiny. Neither side has given ground an inch. In this situation your Excel. lency would not wish ine to part, with the corps, the army of General Burgoyne is most afraid of.” Ho neglected to inform the Commander in Chief of his sul sequent successes over the enemy.

When the intelligence of the surrender of the British army reached head quarters, the Coinmunder in Chief despatched Colonel Hamilton, one of his aids, lo Gene. eral Gates, to state his own critical situation, and make known his earnest wishes, that reinforcements should be forwarded to him with the utmost expedition. Colonel Hamilton found that General Gatos had retained four Brigades at Albany with a design to attack l'iconderoga in the course of the next winter. With difficulty and delay he obtained an order to move three Brigades.

Colonel Hamilton was also charged with a similar message to General Putnam in the High Lands, and directed to accelerate the movement of reinforcements from that post. But General Putnam in view of an attempt upon New-York discovered a disposition to retain under his command that portion of the northern army which had been sent to the High Lands. Colonel Hamilton was obliged to borrow money of General Clinton, Governour of the state of New York, to fit the troops of General Putnam to begin their march. These obstructions and delays in the execution of General Washington's orders, prevented his being reinforced in season to attack Lord Cornwallis, while in New Jersey, and probably occasioned the loss of Fort Mifflin and Red Bank.

The different termination of the campaigns of 1777 at the North, and in the Middle states, furnished the ignorant and factious part of the community with an opportunity to clamour against the Commander in Chief. Their murmurs emboldened several members of Congress, and individual gentlemen in different parts of the United States, to adopt measures to supplant Generai WASHINGTON, and to raise General Gates to the supreme command of the American ar mies.

In the prosecution of this scheme, pieces artfully written, were published in Newspapers in different places, tending to lessen the military character of Ge. neral (Vashington, and to prepare the publick for the conteinplated change in the head of the military de partment. Generals Gates and Mifflin, and Brigadier Conway, entered into the intrigue. Conway was an Irishman, who had been in the service of France, and on the recommendation of Mr. Silas Deane was commissioned by Congress. The influence of the party in Congress opposed to General WASHINGTON, appears

« AnteriorContinuar »