Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

also wreaked upon the very beasts f That they cut out the tongues of the horses and cattle, and left them to wander in the midst of those fields lately so luxuriant, and now in desolation, seeming to enjoy the torments of their lingering death We have long hesitated whether we ought to relate particular instances of this demoniac cruelty; the bare remembrance of them makes us shudder. But on reflecting that these examples may deter good princes from war, and citizens from civil discord, we have deemed it useful to record them. Captain Bedlock, having been stripped naked, the savages stuck sharp pine splinters into all parts of his body; and then a heap of knots of the same wood being piled round him, the whole was set on fire, and his two companions, the captains Ranson and Durgee, thrown alive into the flames. The tories appeared to vie with, and even to surpass, the savages in barbarity. One of them, whose mother had married a second husband, butchered her with his own hand, and afterwards massacred his father-in-law, his own sisters, and their infants in the cradle. Another killed his own father, and exterminated all his family. A third inbrued his hands in the blood of his brothers, his sisters, his brotherin-law, and his father-in-law. These were a part only of the horrors perpetrated by the loyalists and Indians, at the excision of Wyoming. Other atrocities, if possible, still more abominable, we leave in silence. Those who had survived the massacres were no less worthy of commiseration; they were women and children, who had escaped to the woods at the time their husbands and fathers expired under the blows of the barbarians. Dispersed and wandering in the forests, as chance and fear directed their steps, without clothes, without food, without guide, these defenceless fugitives suffered every degree of distress. Several of the women were delivered alone in the woods, at a great distance from every possibility of relief. The most robust and resolute alone escaped ; the others perished; their bodies and those of their hapless infants became the prey of wild beasts. Thus the most flourishing colony then existing in America was totally erased. The destruction of Wyoming, and the cruelties which accompanied it, filled all the inhabitants of America with horror, with compassion, and with indignant fury. They fully purposed on a future day to exact a condign vengeance; but, in the present state of the war, it was not in their power to execute their intent immediately. They undertook, however, this year, some expeditions against the Indians. Without being of decisive importance, they deserve to be remarked for the courage and ability" with which they were executed. Colonel Clarke, at the head of a strong detachment, marched from Virginia against the settlements established by the Canadians on the upper Mississippi, in the country of the Illinois.

He purposed also to chastise, even in their most sequestered receptacles, this ruthless race. Having descended the Ohio, he directed his march northward, towards Kaskaskias, the principal village of the Canadian establishments. The republicans came upon the inhabitants in sleep, and met with very little resistance. They afterwards scoured the adjacent country, and seized other places of the settlement. Filled with dismay, the inhabitants hastened to swear allegiance to the United States. Thence, colonel Clarke marched against the barbarian tribes ; he penetrated into their inmost retreats and most secret recesses, and put all to sword and fire.

The savages experienced in their own huts and families those calamities which they had so frequently carried home to others. This castigation rendered them, for a while, more timid in their excursions, and encouraged the Americans to defend themselves.

A similar expedition was undertaken, some time after, by another colonel Butler, against the tories and Indians of the banks of the Susquehanna ; the same who had been the authors of the ruin of Wyoming. He ravaged and burned several villages, the houses, barns, harvests, mills, every thing was laid in ashes and desolation. The inhabitants had been apprised in season, and had made their escape, else they would doubtless have paid dearly for Wyoming. The Americans having accomplished their object, retired within their so limits, but not without having encountered excessive fatigues and no little peril. Thus terminated the Indian war of this year. The republicans had not only to combat the English in front, and to repel the savages and refugees who assailed them in rear; they were also not a little infested by the disaffected within the country. Of this class none were more animated than the Quakers. At first, they had embraced, or at least appeared to embrace, the principles of the revolution, and even still there existed among them several of the most distinguished patriots, such as generals Greene and Mifflin. Nevertheless, the greater number inclined for England, whether because they were weary of the length of the war, or that they had merely desired the reformation of the laws, and not independence. Perhaps too, they had persuaded themselves, that after the conquest of Philadelphia, all America would be reduced, without difficulty, and that therefore it was useful to their interests to appease the victor by a prompt submission, in order to obtain favors from the British government, which would be refused to the more obstinate. They at least showed themselves forward to serve the English, as guides and as spies. Several of them, as we have related, had been sent out of the state, or imprisoned. Some had even suffered at Philadelphia the penalties denounced against those who conspired against liberty, and held correspondence with the enemy. The republicans hoped, by these examples, to cure the restless spirit of

the opposite party. The efforts of the discontented were not however greatly to be feared ; the open assurance and consent of the friends of the revolution easily triumphed over the secret artifices of their adversaries. * * . In the meantime, the marquis de la Fayette, desiring to serve his king in the war, which he doubted not was about to break out in Europe, and hoping also to promote by his representations the cause of the United States with the French government, requested of Congress permission to repass the Atlantic. Washington, who bore him a sincere affection, and who considered, besides, the importance of his name, was desirous that only a temporary leave might be granted him, without the discontinuance of his appointments. He wrote to Congress, accordingly, and they readily acceded to his views; they, moreover, addressed a letter to the marquis, returning him their thanks for the disinterested zeal which led him to America, and for the services he had rendered to the United States, by the exertion of his courage and abilities on so many signal occasions. They also directed doctor Franklin to present him with a sword decorated with devices commemorative of his achievements. Finally, they recommended him strongly to the most christian king. The marquis de la Fayette took leave of Congress, and sailed for Europe, with the intention of returning as soon as possible. On his arrival in France, he was received equally well by the king and by the people. Franklin delivered him the sword, engraved with the emblems of his brilliant exploits. He was represented wounding the British lion, and receiving a branch of laurel from the hands of America, released from her chains. America herself was figured by a crescent, with these words; Crescam, ut prosim. On the other side was inscribed, Cur non 2 the motto which M. de la Fayette had chosen at his departure from France. This masterpiece of art appeared a recompense worthy of the valiant defender of America. The count d' Estaing still lay at anchor in the harbor of Boston, where he was occupied in victualling his fleet. This operation would have been of very difficult accomplishment, from the scarcity of wheat . experienced by the northern colonies since the interruption of their commerce with those of the south, if the privateers of New England had not made so considerable a number of prizes, that not only the fleet, but also the inhabitants of Massachusetts and Connecticut were thereby abundantly supplied. Admiral Byron was no sooner arrived at New York, than he applied himself with the utmost diligence to refitting his ships, in order to resume the sea. The moment he was prepared for it, he got under sail, and stood for Boston, for the purpose of observing the motions of the French squadron. But the adverse fortune which attended him from Europe to America, seemed still to pursue him on these shores. A furious tempest having driven him off the coast, his ships were again so damaged and shat

[ocr errors]

tered, that he was constrained to take shelter in Rhode Island. The count d' Estaing embraced this opportunity of quitting the harbor of Boston unmolested, and sailed the third of November for the West Indies; where he was called by the orders of his sovereign, and the events of the war. The English, well knowing his designs, and the weakness of the garrisons in the islands of their dependency, commodore Hotham departed the same day from Sandy Hook, and also shaped his course for the West Indies, with six ships of war. They had on board five thousand land troops, commanded by major-general Grant. Admiral Byron followed him the fourteenth of December, with all his fleet. About the same time colonel Campbell embarked at New York, with a strong corps of English and Germans, upon an expedition against Georgia. He was convoyed by commodore Hyde Parker, with a squadron of a few ships. Thus the theatre of the war, after several campaigns in the provinces of the north and of the centre, was all at once transported into the islands and states of the south.

END OF BOOK TENTii.

[ocr errors]

1778. D'Est Aing and Hotham, were not yet arrived in the West Indies, when commodore Evans had made a descent upon the two islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, both very favorably situated for the fishery of Newfoundland. Being almost without defence, he occupied them easily; and, as if he had wished to efface every vestige of the French domination, he imitated the conduct of barbarians, and utterly destroyed the habitations, storehouses, and scaffoldings which had been constructed for the use of the fishery. He asterwards embarked all the inhabitants, who, with the garrisons, amounted to two thousand souls, and sent them to Europe.

The French made themselves ample amends for this loss, by seizing, as they did soon after, the island of Dominica; which being situated between Guadaloupe and Miartinico, was of the last consequence to the future operations in that part. Of this the British government was not ignorant, and therefore had sortified it with diligence, and furnished it with a formidable artillery. But, neither the garrison nor the munitions corresponded to the importance of its local position; the public magazines were nearly empty, and all the soldiers in the island scarcely amounted to five hundred; the greater part militia. For a long time, the members of the opposition in parliament, and the merchants of London, had complained aloud that the islands of the West Indies were lest without sufficient garrisons, and, as it were, abandoned to the discretion of the enemy. But all these remonstrances had been vain ; whether the war of America bad absorbed all the cares of the ministers, or that it had deprived them of the means of sending troops into those islands. ' The French, on the contrary, were in such sorce in their colonies, as to be in a condition not only to defend themselves, but also to attack their neighbors. Moreover, they had been the first to receive the news of the declaration of war in Europe. The English frigates despatched to announce it, had fallen into the power of the French, upon the coasts of St. Domingo; so that admiral Barrington, who was stationed at Barbadoes with two ships of the line and two frigates, was first informed of the state of affairs from the manifesto published at Martinico, by the marquis de Bouille, governor of that island. The capture of the frigates had likewise apprised him, that war was not only declared, but commenced. This admiral showed himself very undecided with respect to the course he had to pursue ; not having new instructions, he felt bound to adhere to the old, which required him to continue in the station of Barbadoes.

The marquis de Bouille, an active man, and prompt in taking his resolutions, willing to avail himself of the uncertainty and weakness

« AnteriorContinuar »