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future brought only an increasing dislike of his personality, did not stay with him even the traditional six weeks usually ascribed to their collaboration.
To a person of Burr's culture, the General's lack of any considerable education, his failure to rise intellectually beyond the mediocrity of a small Virginia planter, was, in the first place, uninspiring. Aside from that, the young veteran of the assault on Quebec did not consider the ex-Indian fighter of Virginia militia fame a good general; he knew nothing of scientific methods, he possessed no experience of advanced warfare, he had no tactical knowledge to impart worth listening to. In other respects, Burr thought that the General-in the words of Mr. Parton's Life-"was as fond of adulation as he was known to be sensitive to censure, and that no officer could stand well with him who did not play the part of his worshiper. He could not bear near his person, said Burr, a man of an independent habit of mind."
As for the General's attitude towards his aide, it was inevitable that the youngster should have irritated him beyond measure. It was often to be said later that General Washington's hostility to Burr was the result of the uncovering of a scandalous love affair, from the implications of which the Captain made no effort to clear his reputation. This, also, was inevitable, since Aaron Burr was always, along with the Borgias, to enjoy the disadvantage of every doubt. Actually, it was more than likely that the brash young Captain, so free with his ideas and suggestions concerning the defence of New York, exasperated his chief from one day's end to the other; the more so since his suggestions were so fre
quently well inspired and sound. Mr. Burr was always arguing and laying down the military law, and looking over the General's shoulder at his papers and making impertinent retorts to his superior, and General Washington disliked people who presumed to make retorts of whatever nature to his pronouncements.
At all events, Captain Burr was utterly discontented at Richmond Hill, and spoke of resigning from the army in his letters to John Hancock; but on June 22, 1776, the latter procured for him a commission as aide to General Putnam, and Major Burr made his bow to His Excellency, General George Washington.
Israel Putnam was a fiery Connecticut Yankee, a hard-riding, blunt-mannered, tempestuous old warrior, a veteran of Indian frontier fighting, a soldier's soldier, with only the most rudimentary educational attainments. But whereas the deficiencies of General Washington, and his punctilious temperament, had disappointed and vexed Burr, in the case of "the good old General," as he called Putnam, the energetic, genuine spirit of the man appealed to him, and they became great friends. With Putnam there was always "hot work at the crossroads tonight, General!"-in the immortal words of a much later Bowery drama commemorating his glories-and Burr found sympathetic work to do at the headquarters in the Warren house, at the corner of Broadway and the Battery.
Sympathetic work, and the sympathetic society of the fascinating Miss Margaret Moncrieffe; a cousin
of the late General Montgomery, and the daughter of a British officer stationed on Staten Island, at whose request she had come to New York under the protection of General Putnam, in accordance with the amenable arrangements of that courteous war.
"Dear mam," the General had advised her in July, but the text and whimsical orthography of his original draft were somewhat revised by his aide, "I must beag your pardon for not answoring your leators sooner but the reason was becaus I did not know how to give you an answor, and not becaus Majr. Moncref did not give me my tital for I dont regard that in the least, but am willing to do him or any of his any kind offes lays in my power not with standing our political disputs for I know let his sentements be what they will he must fight and am well assured we shal fight sooner than give up our Libertys. According to your desir I have ben trieing to git leave for you to go to Staatons Island, for that eand have waited one his Exelancy for liberty for you to go, his answor was that when the larst flag was up hear that Collo. paten said he had it in his power to offor to excheng mastor Lovel for Govenor Skeen, the Ginrol had no power to excheng any prisnors without the leave of Congres but would send to Congres for leave and did not doubt but that they would consent, and he told me I might tel you that if they did mak the excheng you might go with Govenor Sken but would not seand a flag one porpose.
"Yestorday Majir Leavenston was hear and said you had a mind to com to New york but all the lades of his acquantone was gon out of town and asked my consent for your coming her as Mir'st Putnam and
two Daughtors are hear, be assured if you wil com you shall be hartely welcom and I think much more likely to acomplesh the eand you wish for that is to see your father."
She came, and she was perhaps fourteen years old, already possessed of that beauty which was in later days, among others, to captivate Charles James Fox. In the meantime, she captivated Major Burr, and there were trips on the river and moonlight walks on the Battery-and, indeed, rumors of a more intimate mutual interest which Mr. Burr's reputation for gallantry seemed to render unavoidable-and then one day the Major discovered that his beautiful young lady was a spy, engaged in transmitting information to the British lines, and the General had her removed to Kingsbridge.
In August, Major Burr was assigned to General McDougal, at Brooklyn, where he inspected the outposts and troops, and made those disparaging reports concerning their efficiency and morale which were to be so drearily justified at the forthcoming battle of Long Island; the fugitive battalions from which he saw convoyed over the Brooklyn Ferry, on a night of retreat and disaster.
New York was now to be abandoned, and on September 15, the British having landed four miles away on the east side of the island, the American forces retired to Harlem Heights. General Silliman's brigade, however, was left behind through some oversight, and ordered by General Knox to occupy a small fort situated about one mile from the
city on an eminence known as Bunker's Hill, or Bayard's Mount-where later the famous Vauxhall Garden was to flourish, and where now Mulberry Street meets Grand, oblivious of the long since vanished hill. "We had but just got into the fort," Lieutenant Jennings and Private Wakeman reported afterwards, "when Aaron Burr rode up and inquired who commanded there; General Knox presented himself, and Burr asked the General what he did there, and why he did not retreat with the army; the General replied that it was impossible to retreat, as the enemy were across the island, and that he meant to defend that fort; Major Burr ridiculed the idea of defending the place, being, as he said, without provisions or water, or bomb proof
and again urged General Knox to retreat to Harlem Heights; but General Knox said it would be madness to attempt it.
"A smart debate ensued, the General adhering to his opinion; Burr addressed himself to the men, and told them that if they remained they would, before night, be all prisoners and crammed into a dungeon, or hung like dogs; he engaged to lead them off, and observed that it would be better that one half should be killed in fighting, than all be sacrificed in that cowardly manner. The men agreed to follow him, and he led them out.. About four miles from town we were fired upon by a party of the enemy; Burr galloped directly to the spot .. hallooing to the men to follow him; it proved to be only a company of the enemy who immediately fled. Burr and his horsemen pursued and killed several of them; while he was thus engaged the head of a