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Full text of "Recollections and private memoirs of Washington"

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RECOLLECTIONS 



AND 



PRIVATE MEMOIRS 



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WASHINGTON, 



BY 



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COMPILED FROM FILKS OF THE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCER, 
PRINTED AT WASHINGTON, D. C. 



WASHINGTON, D. C. 

PRINTED BY WILLIAM H. MOORE. 
1859. 



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mTRODUCTIOI^'. 

The late G. W.Parke Custis, the author of the "Recollections 
AXD Private Memoirs of General Washington," whose death 
occurred on the 10th October, 1857, was thus spoken of by the 
Editors of the National Intelligencer : 

DEATH OF MR. CUSTIS. 

It becomes our painful duty to announce the decease of the venerable 
George Washington Parke Custis, the last of the members of the family 
of Washington. 

Mr. Custis died at Arlington, near this city, after a brief illness, on the 
morning of the 10th instant, in the 77th year of his age. For several 
years he had stood alone in his relations to the Father of his Country, 
ever anxious, with filial reverence and affection, to illustrate his char- 
acter, and from the rich stores of his never-failing memory to bring for- 
ward an annual tribute to his immortal worth.- Known and honored by 
his fellow countrymen, his departure will awaken universally a profound 
regret. 

Born amid the great events of the Revolution, by the death of his father, 
(Col. Custis, of the army, and a son of Mrs. Washington by a former 
marriage,) which occurred near the close of the war, he found his home 
during childhood and youth at Mount Vernon, where his manners were 
formed after the noblest models ; and from the great worthies of that 
period, frequent guests there, he received impressions of wisdom and 
patriotism that were never effaced. Under the counsels of Washington 
he pursued his classical studies at Princeton, and when deprived by 
death of his great guide and father, (and soon after of his revered grand- 
mother,) he devoted himself to literary and agricultural pursuits on his 
ample estate of Arlington, the gift, by Vill, of that illustrious man. He 
was early united in marriage to Miss Mary Lee Fitzhugh, of Virginia, a 
lady of unsurpassed excellences in all the relations of life, and whose 
irreparable loss, three years ago, he continued with sorrow and affectionate 
admiration, to his final day, profoundly to deplore. One daughter, (Mrs. 
Lee, wife of Col. Robert Lee, of the army) and several grandchildren 
survive him. 

Mr. Custis was distinguished by an original genius for eloquence, 
poetry, and the fine arts ; by a knowledge of history, particularly the 



history of this couiilry ; tor great powers ol' conversation, lor an ever- 
ready and generous hospitality, for kindness to the poor, for patriotism, 
for constancy of friendship, and ibr a more than filial devotion to the 
memory and character of Washington. His early speeches on the death 
of Gen. Lingan and the overthrow of Napoleon were everywhere read 
and admired, even by those who dissented from the sentiments, for the 
beauty of their conception and their impassioned eloquence. Those 
familiar with the columns of this journal will not forget how largely we 
and the country are indebted to the warm and ever cheerful spirit of the 
deceased for many invaluable reminiscences of revolutionary history, of 
the distinguished men of those times, and especially of the private life of 
their glorious chief in the retirement of the shades of his home at Mount 
Vernon. 

Thousands from this country and from foreign lands who have visited 
Arlington to commune with our departed friend, and look upon the touch- 
ing memorials there treasured up with care of him who was first in the 
hearts of his countrymen, will not forget the charm thrown over all by 
the ease, grace, interest, and vivacity of the manners and conversation of 
him whose voice, alas! is silent now. The multitudes of our fellow-citi- 
zens accustomed, in the heat of summer, to resort to the shades of Ar- 
lington will hereafter miss that old man eloquent, who ever extended to 
them a warm-hearted welcome and became partaker of their joy. 

Long a believer in the great truths of Divine Revelation, Mr. Custis 
turned to these for consolation in his last days, and died in communion 
with the Protestant Episcopal Church. 



CtEN. wasrinciton, 

HIS LIFE, HABITS AND MANNERS. 



General Washington, during the whole of both his public and 
private life, was a very early riser ; indeed, the Maternal Mansion, 
at which his first habits were formed, abhorred the character of a 
sluirsrard, as much as nature does a vacuum. Whether as Chief 
Mao;istrate or the retired Citizen, we find this man of method 
and labor seated in his library from one to two hours before day, 
in winter, and at dav-break in summer. We wonder at the amaz- 
ing deal of work which he performed. Nothing but a method 
the most remarkable and exemplar}^ could have enabled him to 
accomplish an amount of labor, which might have given pretty 
full employment to the lives of half a dozen ordinary, and not 
idle men. When we consider the volume of his ofiicial papers — 
his vast foreign, public, and private correspondence — we are 
scarcely able to believe that the space of one man's life should 
have comprehended the doing so many things, and doing them 
so well. His toilette was soon made. A single servant prepared 
his clothes, and laid them in readiness, also combed and tied his 
hair; he shaved and dressed himself, giving but very little of his 
precious time to matters of that sort, though remarkable for the 
neatness and propriety of his apparel. His clothes were made 
after the old-fashioned cut, of the best, though plainest materials. 
AVhen President of the United States, the stvle of his household 
and equipage corresponded with the dignity of his exalted station, 
though avoiding as much as was possible every thing like show 
or parade. The expenses of his presidency, over and above the 
salary of government, absorbed the proceeds of the sale of a very 
considerable estate. 

The President never appeared in military costume, unless to 
receive his brethren of the Cincinnati, or at reviews. He then 
wore the old opposition colors of England, and the regimental 
dress of the Volunteer corps which he commanded prior to the 
Revolution. With the exception of the brilliant epaulettes, we 
believe a present from General Lafayette, and the diamond order 



6 CUSTIS S RECOLLECTIONS 

of the Cincinnati, presented by the seamen of the French ileet, 
our allies in the war of liberty, the uniform of the Commander- 
in-Chief of the army and navy, under the Constitution, was as 
plain as blue and buff could make it. The cocked hat, with the 
black ribbon cockade, was the only type of the heroic time which 
appended to the Chief, during his civil magistracy ; in all other 
respects, he seemed studiously to merge the military into the civil 
characteristics of his public life. 

About sunrise, General Washington invariably visited and in- 
spected his stables. He was very fond of horses, and his equip- 
ages were always of a superior order. The horses which he rode, 
in the war of Independence, were said to be superb. We have a 
perfect remembrance of the charger which bore him in the great- 
est of his triumphs, when he received the sword of the vanquished, 
on the ever memorable 19th October, 1781. It was a chesnut, 
with white face and legs, and was called ]^J'elson, after the patriotic 
Governor of Virginia. Far different was the fate of this favorite 
horse of Washington, from that ot "tbe high mettled racer." 
When the Chief had relinquished its back, it was never mounted 
more, but cropped the herbage in summer, was housed and well 
cared for in winter, often caressed by the master's hand, and died 
of old age at Mount Vernon, many years after the Revolution. 
The library, and a visit to the stables, occupied the morning till 
the hour of breakfast : this meal was without change to him, 
whose habits were reijular, even to matters which others are so 
apt to indulge themselves in, to endless variety. Indian cakes, 
honey and tea, formed this temperate repast. On rising from 
table, if there were guests, and it was seldom otherwise, books 
and papers were offered for their amusement ; they were requested 
to take good care of themselves, and the illustrious farmer pro- 
ceeded to the daily tour of his agricultural concerns. He rode 
upon his farms entirely unattended, opening his gates, pulling 
down and putting up his fences, as he passed, visiting his laborers 
at their work, inspecting all the operations of his extensive 
agricultural establishments with a careful eye, directing useful 
improvements, and superintending them in their progress. He 
introduced many and valuable foreign, as well as domestic modes 
of improved husbandry, showing, by experiment, their practical 
utility, and peculiar adaptation to our system of rural affairs ; 



OF WASHINGTON. 



and, by his zeal and ability, "gave a speed to the plough," and a 
generous impulse to the cause of agriculture and domestic econ- 
omy — those important sources of national wealth, industry, and 
independence. 

The tour of the farms might average from ten to fifteen miles 
per day. An anecdote occurs to us at this moment, which, as it 
embraces a Revolutionary worthy, a long tried and valued friend 
of the Chief, and is graphic of Washington on hi? farm, we shall, 
without apolog}', present to our readers. We were accosted, 
while hunting, by an elderly stranger, who inquired whether the 
General was to be found at the Mansion house, or whether he had 
gone to visit his estate. We replied, that he was abroad, and 
gave directions as to the route the stranger was to pursue, observ- 
ing, at the same time, you will meet, sir, with an old gentleman 
■riding alone, in plain drah clothes, a broad brimmed, white hat, a 
hieTcory sivitch in his hand, and carrging an umbrella with a long 
staff, which is attached to his saddle-bow — that personage, sir, is Gen- 
'iral Washington ! The stranger, much amused at our description, 
observed, with a good humored smile, Thank ye, thank ye, young 
gentleman ; I think, if I fall in with the General, I shall be rather 
apt to know him. At dinner, we had the pleasure of being intro- 
duced to Colonel Meade, who had been aid-de-camp to the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, in the war of the Revolution. The umbrella 
was not used as an article of luxury, for luxuries were to him 
known only by name. Being naturally of a very fair complexion, 
his skin was liable to be affected by the influence of the sun. 

This umbrella, just as it was when last he had it down, never 
again to require its friendly shade, we have had the good fortune 
to preserve for a quarter of a century, and the happiness to pre- 
sent it to the Patriarch of La Grange, in whose possession it will 
long be treasured, as the relic of his Paternal Chief, and as an ap- 
propriate memorial of the modern Cincinnatus. Precisely at a 
quarter before three, the industrious farmer returned, dressed, 
and dined at three o'clock. At this meal he ate heartily, but was 
not particular in his diet, with the exception of fish, of which he 
was excessively fond, partook sparingly of dessert, drank a home- 
made beverage, and from four to five glasses of Madeira wine. 
When the cloth was removed, with old-fashioned courtesy he 
drank to jthe health of every person ]:)resent, and then gave his 



8 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

toast — his only toast — all our friends : — than Avhich a nobler or a 
kindlier sentiment never was pledged at the board of social friend- 
ship, or "brayed out with the trumpet's triumphs " at the "ca- 
rousals'" of a King. 

While on the subject of toasts, we would ask permission to 
give one more. The late Colonel Cropper, of Accomac, was a 
Captain in the ninth Virginia Regiment of the line, which formed 
part of the Southern Division under Greene, and covered the re- 
treat of our discomfited army at the battle of Brandywine. On 
the evening of that hard-fought day, Cropper marched the re- 
mains of his company into Chester, having his handkerchief fas- 
tened to a ramrod, in place of a flag. After serving his countr}- 
with fidelity and distinction, Colonel Cropper retired to his estate 
on the Eastern Shore, where he lived to an advanced age. This 
worthy veteran, like his General, had but one toast, which he gave 
every day, and to all companies it was, " God bless General 
"Washington." Toasts are supposed to convey the feelings and 
wishes of our hearts ; and if ever an aspiration, warm and direct 
from the heart, deserved to find favor with "Heaven's Chancery" 
on high, it was when, with pious fervor, this old soldier's prayer 
implored a blessing upon his revered commander. 

The afternoon was usually devoted to the library. At night, 
his labors o'er, the venerable citizen would join his family and 
friends at the tea-table, and enjoy their society for several hours — 
took no supper, and about nine o'clock retired to bed. When 
without company, he frequently read to his family extracts from 
the new publications of the day, and, on Sunday, sermons and 
other sacred writings. He read with distinctness and precision, 
though with a voice, the tones of which had been considerably 
broken by a pulmonary aifection in early life, and which, when 
greatly excited, produced a laboring of the chest. He would fre- 
quently, when sitting with his family, appear absent; his lips 
would move, his hand be raised, and he would evidently seem 
under the influence of thoughts, which had nothing to do with the 
quiescent scene around him. This peculiarity is readily accounted 
for, since it must be no veiy easy matter for one who so long 
had borne the cares of public life, at once to lay aside all thought 
for others, and become content with individual concerns. 

In winter, when stress of weather prevented his taking his 



OF WASHINGTON. H 

usual exercise, he was in the habit of walking tor au hour in the 
portico, before retiring to rest. As the eastern portico of the 
Mansion House is more than ninety feet in length, this walk 
would comprise several miles. 

Thus, in the seldom varied routine of useful industry, temperate 
enjoyment, and the heartfelt gratifications of domestic felicity, 
sped the latter days of the Father of his Country ; and oh ! it was 
luxurious to behold this "time honored man," the race of whose 
glory was run, who had seized the goal of all his wishes, obtained 
the reward of all his toils, in the freedom and happiness of a ris- 
ing Empire, resting from his mighty labors, amid the tranquil re- 
tirement of ]\Iount Yernon. 

The sedentary occupations of a President of the United States 
necessarily limited the opportunities for active exercise. These 
were principally enjoyed in occasional rides to the country, and 
in frequent walks to his watch-maker's, in Second street, for the 
purpose of regulating his watch by the time-keeper. As he 
passed along, often would mothers bring their children to look 
on the Paternal Chief, vet not a word was heard of President of 
the United States; the little innocents alone were "taught to lisp 
the name of Washington." 

He was rather partial to children ; their infantine playfulness 
appeared to please him, and many are the parents who at this day 
rejoice that his patriarchal hands have touched their offspring. 

General Washington was always a stiict and decorous observer 
of the Sabbath. He invariably attended divine service once a 
day, when within reach of a place of worship. His respect to 
the clergy, as a body, was shown by public entertainments to 
them, the same as to the Corps Legislative and Diplomatic, and 
among-his bosom friends were the venerable Bishop of Pennsyl- 
vania, and the late excellent prelate and ardent friend of Ameri- 
can liberty. Dr. Carroll, Archbishop of Baltimore. 

On Sunday, no visitors were admitted to the President's House, 
save the immediate relatives of the family, with only one excep- 
tion; Mr. Speaker Trumbull, since Governor of Connecticut, and 
who had been confidential secretary to the Chief in the war of the 
Revolution, was in the habit of spending an hour with the Presi- 
dent, on Sunday evenings. Trumbull practised the lesson of 
punctuality which he learned in the service of the olden time. 



1(J CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

with such accuracy that the porter, b}' consultiug his clock, could 
tell when to stand ready to open to the Speakers Bell, as it was 
called in the family, from the circumstance of no hand, other 
than the Speaker's, touching the bell on the evenings of the Sab- 
bath. 

Forty years an husband, General Washington retained an old- 
fashioned habit of husbands, as he always did the ease and 
elegance of old-fashioned manners. He wore suspended from his 
neck by a gold chain, and resting on his bosom, the minature por- 
trait of his wife, from the time of his marriage until he ceased to 
live in nature. The letter which he wrote to her, upon his ac- 
ceptance of the command of the armies of Liberty, (which letter, 
dated June 18, 1775, is published in this work, from the auto- 
graph,) is a proof both of his conjugal tenderness, and diffidence 
in receiving so important a -commission; also of the purity of his 
heart, and of the generous and nobly disinterested motives whicli 
governed his life and actions. 

The circumstances attending bis first interview with his lad}^, 
we shall give from the relation of an aged gentleman, now no 
more. The Provincial Colonel was proceeding to Williamsburg, 
when he fell in with P. Chamberlayne, Esq., one of the ancient 
aristocracy of Virginia, who lived in a style of great hospitality at 
his seat, in the county of ISTew Kent. Chamberlayne pressed the 
Colonel to dine with him, and stay all night, (as Virginians of 
those days were not in the habit of making short or ceremonious 
visits,) but was answered, that important business at the seat of 
government made a compliance, however agreeable, quite out of 
the question. Chamberlayne now returned to the charge, by in- 
forming his friend, that it was in his power to introduce him to a 
fine, young, and handsome widow, who was spending some days 
at bis house. The gallant soldier consented to stop, but it was to 
dine — only to dine — wdiile his unsaddled horses ate a mouthful,' 
and then to be off so as to accomplish ten or fifteen miles of his 
journey by nightfall. Fate destined this interview to produce the 
long and happy union which soon followed the first meeting and 
mutual attachment of the parties ; for the enamoured Colonel, " 
making duty, for this time only, to yield to love, permitted the 
sun to set and rise again upon him, the guest of Chamberlayne, 
while Bishop, his old soldier and body servant, tall as his chief, 



OF WASHINGTON. 11 

and ill this one instance more punctilious, had, in obeying his 
orders of haste, long stood at his master's stirrup, "ready, aye, 
ready for the field." The ensuing evening the Colonel departed, 
" nothing loth " to accept the kind bidding of his hospitable host 
to call again. The marriage took place about 1760, at the White 
House in the county of New Kent. The ceremony was performed 
b}' the Rev. Mr. Mossom, a clergyman sent out by the Bishop of 
London, in whose diocess the Colony of Virginia then was, to 
the Kectory of St. Peter's Parish, New Kent. 

Soon after his marriage. Colonel Washington became settled 
at Mount Vernon, and was elected frequently from the county of 
Fairfax to the House of Burgesses. During the reigns of the Pro- 
vincial Governors, Botetourt and Eden, the Courts of Williams- 
burg and Annapolis displayed as much of the polish of high life 
as was to be found in the larger cities of Europe, with far less of 
their corruptions and debaucheries. It was the custom for gen- 
tlemen of fortune to have their town-houses during the sessions of 
the Legislature, where they lived in great splendor and hospitality. 
Colonel Washington was of this number: his personal attractions, 
not less than his early renown in arms, made him a subject of 
much interest to the Europeans, who were frequent visiters to the 
Capitals of Virginia and Maryland. Straight as an Indian arrow, 
he was easily distinguished in the gay crowds which appeared at 
the palaces of the vice-kings, by a something in his air and man- 
ner which bespoke no ordinary man. His lower limbs, being 
formed mathematically straight, he walked, as it were, on par- 
allel lines, while his mode of placing and taking up his feet, re- 
sembled the step of precision and care, so remarkal/le in the 
aboriginal children of the forest. lie might be termed rather a 
silent than a speaking member of the House of Burgesses, al- 
though he sometimes addressed the Chair, and was listened to 
with attention and respect, while the excellence of his judgment 
was put in requisition on all committees, either of important, 
general, or local policy. 

When Colonel Washington first resided at Mount Vernon, both 
the Mansion-house and estate were inconsiderable. All the em- 
bellishments of the house and grounds are owing to his creative 
hand. Prior to the war of Independence, he was much attached 
to the pleasures of the chase, and is described as a bold and fear- 



12 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

less rider. He kept liounds for a short time after the Revolution, 
but declined hunting altogether about 1787 or '88. 

He was never disposed to conviviality, but liked the cheerful 
converse of the social board ; indulged in no games of chance, ex- 
cept in the olden times when required to make up a party at whist, 
in playing for a trifle; although, for many years, play of all kinds 
was unknown in his household. After his retirement from pub- 
lic life, all the time which he could spare from his library, was de- 
voted to the improvement of his estates, and the elegant and 
tasteful arrangement of his house and grounds. He was his own 
surveyor; and the disposition and appearance of his farms, gave 
evident proofs that the genius of useful improvement had directed 
its eners:ies with beneficial as well as ornamental effects. 

As a master of slaves. General "Washington was consistent, as 
in ever}' other relation of his meritorious life. They were com- 
fortably lodged, fed, and clothed; required to do a full and fair 
share of duty; well cared for in sickness and old age, and kept 
in strict and proper discipline. These, we humbly conceive, com- 
prise all the charities of slavery. To his old servants, where long 
and faithful services rendered them v/orthy of attachment and es- 
teem, he was most kind. His huntsman and Eevolutionary 
attendant. Will Lee, commonly called Billy, was specially pro- 
vided for, and survived his master a good many years. "Will had 
been a stout, active man, and a famous horseman, but, from acci- 
dent, was a cripple for many years before his death, which oc- 
curred at a very advanced age. This ancient follower, both in 
the chase and war, formed a most interesting relic of the Chief, 
and received considerable largesse from the numerous visitors to 
Mount Vernon. The slaves were left, to be emancipated at the 
death of Mrs. Washington ; but it was found necessary (for pru- 
dential reasons) to give them their freedom in one year after the 
General's decease. Although many of them, with a view to their 
liberation, had been instructed in mechanic trades, yet they suc- 
ceeded very badly as freemen: so true is the axiom, "that the 
hour which makes man a slave, takes half his worth away." 

Bishop, an English soldier, formed an interesting reminiscence 
of the war of '56. He belonged to Braddock's own regiment; 
and, on account of possessing superior intelligence, was detailed 
as a body servant to accompany that ill-fated commander on the 



OF WASHINGTON. , 13 

expedition to Fort du Quesne. Bishop firmly believed in the 
Providence which shielded the Provincial Major, in the memora- 
ble battle of Monongahela, and observed, he was the only mount- 
ed ofiicer left. The enemy knew him well, from their having 
felt him severel}', the year before, at the aifair of the Meadows ; 
and the provincial military being far more obnoxious to the French 
and Indians than the European troops, from the marksmanship 
of the rangers, and their intimate knowledge of the modes of 
forest warfare, the fire of the enemy became singularly directed 
against the devoted young warrior, whom they afterwards termed 
"the spirit-protected man," destined to "become the Chief of 
!N"ations," and who "could not die in battle." The hat worn on 
that eventful day, and which was pierced by two balls, was at 
Mount Vernon, and both seen and handled by several persons, 
long within our remembrance; yet, strange to say, it was no 
where to be found on the demise of the Chief. Another and in- 
valuable relic was also missing; we mean the sword of service 
which was worn in action in the war of Independence. It was 
described to us, by one who oft had buckled it to the hero's side, 
as being a kind of hanger; and we have an indistinct recollec- 
tion of having been told in the family, that it was given to Greene 
at the close of the war. If so, it surely could not have been more 
worthily bestowed. Upon mentioning these circumstances to 
General Andrew Jackson, he was pleased to say that he would 
make inquiry among the descendants of Greene, who, if they 
possess, will, no doubt, most dearly prize so valued a gift as the 
Sword of the Revolution. 

At the commencement of hostilities, in 1775, Bishop being too 
old for active service, was left at home in charge of the manufac- 
turing establishments of the household, where the veteran would 
flourish his cane, exacting as perfect obedience as though he had 
been on parade. A comfortable house had been built for him ; 
he had married; and, looking no more toward his native land, 
he was contented to pass the remainder of his days on the domain 
of his patron, where he rested from labor, in the enjoyment of 
every possible ease and indulgence — the reward of his long and 
faithful services. In his comfortable homestead, and hoary with 
age, he would delight the young with tales of fearful interest of 
the Indian wars — while, his own wars ended, and at peace with 



14 , CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

the world, he feebly trimmed the lamp of life, which, having 
burned for more than eighty years, could but for a little while 
longer be kept from sinking in its socket. 

ISTotwithstanding his perfect reverence for his patron, this old 
soldier would sometimes, presuming on the privilege of age and 
long services, chafe his protector on points of expediency, though 
never on those of obedience. The General would assume a lofty 
tone, saj'ing. It is very well, sir ; if you are at length tired of my 
services, you are at perfect liberty to depart. The ancient fol- 
lower of Braddock, however, knew his man, and knew exactly 
what best to do ; he wisely became silent, and the storm which 
appeared to be brooding quickl}- passed away, when a returning 
sunshine cheered with the warmth of its kindness the veteran 
of '56. 

The "Washington family were subject to hereditary gout — the 
Chief never experienced a pang. His temperance, and the ener- 
getic employment of both his body and mind, seemed to forbid 
the approach of a disease, which severel}^ afHicted several of his 
nearest kindred. His illnesses were of rare occurrence, but were 
particularly severe ; his aversion to the uses of medicine was ex- 
treme : for, even when in great sufieriug, it was only by the en- 
treaties of his lady, and the respectful, yet beseeching look, of 
his oldest friend and companion in arms, (Dr. James Craik.) that 
he could be prevailed upon to take the slightest preparation of 
medicine. He certainly never had children. We recollect a lady 
who called herself his daughter. She was a iine looking woman, 
but without any particular likeness to the Chief; nor can we con- 
sider that as a pardonable vanity in a child, which implicates the 
honor of a parent. 

The remarkable degree of admiration and awe that was felt by 
every one, upon the first approach to "Washington, evidences the 
imposing power and sublimity which belongs to real greatness. 
Even the frequenters of the Courts of Princes were sensible of 
this exalted feeling, when in presence of the hero, who, formed 
for the highest destinies, bore an impress from nature, which de- 
clared him to be one among the noblest of her works. 

Those who have only seen the Leader of Armies and the Chief 
Magistrate of the Republic, can have but an imperfect idea of the 
same being, when merged into the retired citizen, embosomed 



OF WASHINGTON. 1 



r 



amid his family and friends, cultivating the social and domestic 
virtues, and diffusing pleasure and happiness to all around him. 

Persons in general have been in error in supposing that there 
belono-ed to this awful man nothing of the o-entler sort — "no tear 
for pity." The Master Spirit in the direction of those vast events 
which gave a new empire to the world, the austerity of command 
could never destroy those kindlier feelings in which he delighted 
himself to indulge, and to dispense them to others. Stern he w^as 
to all whom he deemed wanting in those high moral requisites 
which dignify and adorn our natures — stern he was to the distur- 
bers of the repose of society, the violators of those institutes 
which promote peace and good wnll among men ; but he was for- 
bearing to the imperfections of human kind, where they arose 
from the passions only, and not the depravities of the heart. 

He was reserved to the many, but there were a chosen few, who, 
having passed that barrier, were wooed by his friendship to push 
their fortunes, till they finally gained footing in the citadel of his 
esteem. 

He had a tear; for we have seen it shed with parental solicitude 
over the manifold errors and follies of our unworthy youth. He 
shed a tear of sorrow for his suffering country in the dark hour 
of her destiny, and a tear of joy and gratitude to Heaven for her 
deliverance — when, in 1789, he crossed the Bridge of Trenton; 
on wdiich classic spot the hands of freemen " reared for him tri- 
umphal bowers," while a choir of innocents, with seraph chaunt, 
"welcomed the mighty Chief once more," and "virgins fair, and 
matrons grave, strewed the hero's way with flowers." 

The journey of the first President to the seat of Government W'as 
one continued triumph ; but no where was it of so feeling a char- 
acter as at the bridge of Trenton. That was indeed a classic 
ground. It was there, on a frozen surface, that in 1776 was 
achieved the glorious event which restored the fast-failing for- 
tunes of Liberty, and gave to her drooping eagles a renewed and 
bolder fiio-ht. What a contrast to the Chief must have been this 
spot in 1789, when no longer " a mercenary foe aimed 'gainst him 
the fatal blow;" when no more was heard the roar of combat, 
the shouts of the victors, the groans of the dying — but the wel- 
come of thousands to Liberty's great Defender, the heartfelt hom- 
age of freemen to the Deliverer of his Country. The President 



16 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

alighted from his carriage, and approached the bridge uncovered. 
As he passed under the triumphal arch, a cherub, perched amid 
its foliage, crowned him with laurel which will never fade, while 
seraph strains from angel minstrelsy sweetly filled the air, as the 
Hero trod on his way of flowers. Washington shed tears! 

The merit of these appropriate and classical decorations were due 
to the late Mrs. Stockton, of Princeton, a lady of superior literary 
acquirements and refined taste. She was familiarly called the 
Duchess, from her elegance and dignity of manners ; was a most 
ardent patriot during the war of the Revolution, and, with the 
Stockton family, was marked for persecution on the ruthless inva- 
sion of the Jerseys. This distinguished lady was the grand- 
mother of Mr. Secretary Rush, who is " doubly blessed " in his 
Revolutionary ancestry ; both his father and grand-father having 
signed the Declaration of Independence — a most honored distinc- 
tion, and, we believe, enjoyed by no other citizen of our exten- 
sive American Empire. 



OP WASHINGTON. 17 



THE LAST HOURS OF WASHINGTON.— 1828. 

Twenty-eight years have passed away since an interesting group 
were assembled in the death-room, and witnessed the last hours 
of Washington. So keen and unsparing hath been the scythe of 
Time, that, of all those who watched over the Patriarch's conch, 
on the 13th and 14th of December, 1799, but a single personage 
survives. 

On the morning of the 13th, the General was engaged in 
making some improvements in front of Mount Vernon. As was 
usual with him, he carried his own compass, noted his observa- 
tions, and marked out the ground. The day became rainy, with 
sleet, and the improver remained so long exposed to the in- 
clemency of the weather, as to be considerably wetted before his 
return to the house. About one o'clock, he was seized with chill- 
ness and nausea, but having changed his clothes, he sat down to 
his in-door work — there being no moment of his time for which 
he had not provided an appropriate employment. 

At night, on joining his family circle, the General complained 
of slight indisposition, and, after a single cup of tea, repaired to 
his library, where he remained writing until between eleven and 
twelve o'clock. Mrs. Washington retired about the usual family 
hour, but becoming alarmed at not hearing the accustomed sound 
of the library door, as it closed for the night, and gave signal for 
rest in the well regulated mansion, she arose again, and continued 
sitting up, in much anxiety and suspense. At length the well 
known step was heard on the stair, and upon the General's enter- 
ing his chamber, the lady kindly chided him for remaining up so 
late, knowing himself to be unwell ; to which Washingtcfn made 
this memorable reply : " I came so soon as my business was ac- 
complished. You well know, that, through a long life, it has been 
my unvaried rule, never to put off till the morrow the duties zvhich 
should he perfonned to-day.*' 

Having first covered up the fire with care, the man of mighty 
labors at last sought repose ; but it came not as it had long been 
wont to do, to comfort and restore, after the many and earnest occu- 
pations of the well-spent day. The night was passed in feverish 
3 



18 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

restlessness and pain. "Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy 
sleep," was destined no more to visit his couch ; yet the manly 
sufferer uttered no complaint, would permit no one to be disturbed 
in their rest on his account, and it was only at daj-break he 
would consent that the overseer might be called in, and bleeding 
resorted to. A vein was opened, but without affording relief. 
Couriers were despatched to summon Dr. Craik, the family, and 
Drs. Dick and Brown, as consulting physicians, all of whom came 
with speed. The proper remedies were administered, but with- 
out producing their healing effects, while the patient, yielding to 
the anxious looks of all around him, waived his usual objection 
to medicines, and took those which were prescribed, without hesi- 
tation or remark. The medical gentlemen spared not their skill, 
and all the resources of their art were exhausted in unwearied 
endeavors to preserve this noblest work of nature. 

Night approached — the last night of Washington ; the weather 
became severely cold, while the group gathered nearer to the 
couch of the sufferer, watching, with intense anxiety, for the 
slightest dawning of hope. He spoke but little. To the respect- 
ful and affectionate inquiries of an old family servant, as she 
smoothed down his pillow, how he felt himself, he answered, " I 
am very ill." To Dr. Craik, his earliest companion in arms, 
longest tried, and bosom friend, he observed : "I am dying, sir — 
but am not afraid to die." To Mrs. Washington, he said : " Go 
to my escritoir, and in the private drawer you will find two pa- 
pers — bring them to me." They were brought. He continued : 
"These are my wills — preserve this one, and burn the other:" 
which was immediately done. Calling to Colonel Lear, he di- 
rected : " Let my corpse be kept for the usual period of three 
days." 

Here we would beg leave to remind our readers, that, in a for- 
mer part of this work, we have said that Washington was old- 
fashioned in much of his habits and manners, and in some of his 
opinions ; nor was he the less to be admired on those-accounts. 
The custom of keeping the dead for the scriptural period of three 
days, is derived from remote antiquity, and arose, not from fear 
of premature interment, as in more modern times, but from mo- 
tives of veneration toward the deceased ; for the better enabling 
the relatives and friends to assemble from a distance, to perform 
the funeral rites ; for the pious watchings of the corpse ; and for 



OF WASHINGTON. 19 

the many sad, yet endearing ceremonials with which we delight 
to pay our last duties to the remains of those we have loved. 

The patient bore his acute sufferings with manly fortitude, and 
perfect resignation to the Divine will ; while, as the night ad- 
vanced, it became evident that he was sinking, and he seemed 
fully aware that his "hour was nigh." He inquired the time, 
and it was answered, a few moments to twelve. He spake no 
more — the hand of death was upon him, and he was conscious 
that his "hour was come." "With surprising self-possession, he 
prepared to die. Composing his form at length, and folding his 
hands upon his bosom — without a sigh — without a groan — the 
Father of his Country expired, gently as though an infant died. 
JSTor pang or struggle told when the noble spirit took its noise- 
less flight ; while so tranquil appeared the manly features in the 
repose of death, that some moments had passed ere those around 
could believe that the Patriarch was no more. 

It may be asked, and why was the ministry of religion wanting 
to shed its peaceful and benign lustre upon the last hours of 
Washington ? Why was he, to whom the observances of sacred 
things were ever primary duties through life, without their con- 
solations in his last moments ? We answer, circumstances did 
not permit. It was but for a little while that the disease assumed 
so threatening a character as to forbid the encouragement of 
hopes ; yet, to stay that summons which none may refuse, to give 
still farther length of days to him whose "time-honored life" 
was so dear to mankind, prayer was not wanting to the Throne 
of Grace. fClose to the couch of the sufferer, resting her head 
upon that ancient book, with which she had been wo; it to hold 
pious communion, a portion of every day, for more than half a 
century, was the venerable consort, absorbed in silent prayer, and 
from which she only arose when the mourning group prepared to 
])ear her from the chamber of the dead. Such were the last hours 
of Washington. 



20 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

THE BIRTH NIGHT. 

The Birth Night ball was instituted at the close of the Revoln- 
tionary TVar, and its first celebration, Ave believe, was held in 
Alexandria. Celebrations of the birth night soon became gen- 
eral in all the towns and cities, the 22d of February, like the 4th 
of July, being considered a National Festival, while the pecu- 
liarity attending the former was, that its parade and ceremonies 
always closed with the birth night ball. In the larger cities, 
where public balls were customary, the birth night, in the olden 
time, as now, was the Gala Assembly of the season, attended by 
all the beauty and fashion, by the foreign ambassadors, and stran- 
gers of distinction at the seat of Government. The first President 
always attended on the birth night. The etiquette was, not to 
open the ball until the arrival of him in whose honor it was given ; 
but, so remarkable was the punctuality of Washington in all his 
engagements, whether for business or pleasure, that he was never 
waited for a moment in appointments for either. Among the 
brilliant illustrations of a birth night of five and thirty years ago, 
the most unique and imposing was the groups of young and beau- 
tiful ladies, wearing in their hair bandeaus or scrolls, having em- 
broidered thereon, in language both ancient and modern, the 
motto of '■'■Live the President." 

The Minuet, (now obsolete,) for the graceful and elegant danc- 
ing of which Washington was conspicuous, in the vice-regal days 
of Lord Botetourt in Virginia, declined down after the Revolu- 
tion. The Commander-in-Chief danced, for his last time, a 
minuet, in 1781, at the ball given in Fredericksburgf in honor of 
the French and American officers on their return from the tri- 
umphs of York-Town. The last birth night attended by the ven- 
erable Chief was in Alexandria, 22d February, 1798. Indeed he 
always appeared greatly to enjoy the gay and festive scence ex- 
hibited at the birth night balls, and usually to remain to a late 
hour ; for, remarkable as he was for reserve, and the dignified 
gravity inseperable from his nature, Washington ever looked with 
most kind and favoring eye upon the rational and elegant plea- 
sures of life. 

The first President was partial to the amusements of the The- 
atre, and attended some five or six times in a season, more espe- 
cially where some public charity was to be benefited by the per- 



OF AVASHINGTOX. "21 

formance. The habit was, for the manager to wait on the Presi- 
dent, requesting him to command a play ; the pieces so com- 
manded partook of but little variety, but must be admitted to 
have been in excellent taste, the ^^ School for Scandal," and 
^"^ Every one has his Fault,'" for the plays; and of the afterpieces, 
there was almost a standing order for the '■'■Poor Soldier," and 
" WigneVs Darby." The Old American Company, comprising 
Hallam and Henry, Harper, Wignel, and Old Morris, first played 
in 1789, in the Theatre, John street, and nothing more truly 
shows our transcendant march to empire, than the contrast be- 
tween the humble, nay, barn-like Theatre which the first Presi- 
dent attended forty years ago, and the now various and magnifi- 
cent temples of Thespis, which adorn the now great and splendid 
city of New York. 

The company moved with the Government to Philadelphia, 
and performed in the old Theatre, South wark, (in which was some 
scenery, said to have been painted by the interesting and unfor- 
tunate Major Andre,) until the erection of the house in Chesnut 
street, where we believe the curtain fell upon the exits of the last 
remnants of the Old American Company. 

(By " particular desire,") at the head of the play bill, always an- 
nounced that the President would attend, and on those nights the 
house would be crowded from top to bottom, as many to see the 
Hero as the play. Upon the President's entering the stage box 
with his family, the Orchestra struck up the President's March, 
(now Hail Columbia,) composed by a German named Files, in 
'89, and called the President's March, in contradistinction to the 
March of the Revolution, called Washington's March. The 
audience applauded on the entrance of the President, but the pit 
and gallery were so truly despotic in the early days of the Repub- 
lic, that so soon as Hail Columbia had ceased, Washington's 
March was called for by the deafening din of an hundred voices 
at once, and upon its being played, three hearty cheers would 
rock the building to its base. Indeed, five and thirty years ago 
there could not be gotten together any large public assembly with- 
out a considerable spice of the Revolution being among it. The 
soldiers and sailors of the War of Liberty abounded in all public 
places, and no sooner would their old Chief appear, than oft' came 
each hat, and the shout of welcome resounded, pure, spontaneous, 
direct from the heart. 



22 CUSTIS'S llECOLLECTIONS 



APPLICANTS FOR OFFICE. 

"When Washington was appointed to his last command in the 
armies of his country, his acceptance was accompanied by an in- 
timation that he should remain in his beloved retirement at 
Mount Vernon, till imperious circumstances should call him to 
the field. The Commander-in-Chief gave the necessary atten- 
tion to military duties through his private secretary, while him- 
self continued the occupation of rural afiairs. 

A number of the principal characters, in the United States were 
desirous that their sons should make a first essay in arms under 
the immediate auspices of the venerable Chief; among these was 
the Hon. Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, for whom Washington 
ever entertained the very warmest political as well as personal 
attachment and esteem. To Mr. Carroll's application the Gen- 
eral replied, that as it was his firm resolve, in case the enemy ef- 
fected a landing, to meet them on the very threshold of the em- 
pire, he should in such an event require about his person ofiicers 
of tried knowledge and experience in war; but, with a view to 
gratify Mr. C, that his son should be received as an extra aid- 
de-camp. 

Among the applicants of a more veteran stamp, was Col. H., 
of Richmond, one of that band of ardent and youthful chivalry, 
which Virginia sent to the War of Independence in the very 
dawn of the Revolution. II. was lieutenant of Morgan's famed 
corps of riflemen, which performed the memorable march across 
the wintry wilderness of the Kennebec in 1775, during which 
event of almost superhuman privation and toil, and in the subse- 
quent assault of Quebec, H. displayed a hardihood of character, 
and heroism of heart, that won for him the admiration of his 
comrades and esteem of their intrepid commander, and elicited a 
cognomen that a Ney might be proud to deserve, " The most dar- 
ing of all who dare." Morgan, himself bred in the hardy school 
of the frontier and Indian warfare, declared of H., "He exceeds 
all men. During the greatest horrors of our march, when the 
bravest fainted and fell from exhaustion and despondency, it was 
H. who cheered us on, for oft have I seen him dance upon the 
snow, while he gnaioed his moccasins for subsistence.'' 



^ OF WASHINGTON. 23 

Yet even to the applicatiou of such a soldier, did the ever cau- 
tions mind of Washington pause, while he weighed in the bal- 
ance not the past, but the present merits of the man. The Gen- 
eral wrote to his nephew then in Richmond to this eft'ect : " H. 
has applied to become a member of my military family. In the 
war of the Revolution I knew him well ; and of a truth he was 
then all that could be desired in a good and gallant officer, and 
estimable man ; but time, m}^ dear Bushrod, often changes men 
as well as things. iSTow, the object of this letter is to inquire 
whether the habits of H. are unaltered, and whether I shall find 
him notv what I knew him to be in other days." The answer to 
this letter was most satisfactory. H. was the same — good, gal- 
lant, and estimable. The Chief was content, and quickly " marked 
him for promotion." 

What a moral does this little private memoir impress upon 
those who are high in authority, upon whose knowledge and 
judgment of men and things, so often depend the destinies of 
nations ! How careful should chiefs be, in the choice of their 
subordinates, to weigh well in the balance the present as well as 
past merits of applicants for office, lest, as in the words of the 
venerated Washington, Time, which changes men as well as things, 
may have rendered them unworthy of being "marked for promo- 
tion." 



24 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 



THE BATTLE OF MONMOUTH. 

JuxE 28, 1778. 

The Commander-iu-Chief (Washington) having completed his 
arrangements for bringing the enemy to a general action, pro- 
ceeded slowly toward Monmouth court-house, early on the morn- 
ing of the 28th of June, 1778. 

In the council of war there were but two voices for risking a 
general engagement, Cadwallader, a gallant fellow, and devoted 
in his attachment to the Chief, and Anthony Wayne, who always 
said ay w^hen fighting was to be had on any terms. 

Washington certainly assumed a great responsibility in risking 
an engagement contrary to the opinions of a large majority of 
his generals, and notwithstanding the vast disparity of his forces 
when compared with those of his adversary— the disparity con- 
sisting more in the material of which the respective armies were 
composed than in their numerical estimates. But it is to be 
remembered that the two principal actions of the grand army in 
the preceding campaign, though bravely contested, had resulted 
unfortunately. Since the close of the campaign of '77, an alli- 
ance had been formed with France, whose fleets and armies were 
hourly ex^^ected on our coasts, while the demands of the people, 
and those often loudly expressed, were for battles. Urged by 
these considerations, the America Chief, determined, happen 
what would, to fight Sir Henry Clinton, so that he should not 
evacuate* Philadelphia, and reach his stronghold in New York 
unscathed. Crossing the Delaware, the American approached 
his formidable foe, who, trusting in his superiority of numbers, 
discipline and appointment, was leisurely wending his way toward 
Staten Island, the place of embarkation for New York. 

Asa soldier, Washington was by nature the very soul of enter- 
prise; but, fortunately for Lis fame and for his country, this 
daring spirit was tempered by a judgment and prudence the 
most happy in their characters and effects. And yet an illustri- 
ous patriot and statesman of the Revolution, and most accom- 
plished writer, (Mr. Jefferson,) has said that the Pater Patri^ was 
rather the Fabius than the Marcellus of war, his extreme caution 



OF WASHINGTON. 25 

fitting him better for the cool and methodical operations of seiges 
than for the daring strategy of surprise or the close and stubborn 
conflict of the field. Never was there sucli a misconception of a 
great soldier's attributes. Did not this modern Fabius, in the 
very depth of winter, and after overcoming mighty obstacles, 
surprise his enemy at Trenton, and recall victory to his standard, 
when hope was almost sinking in despair? Did he not by a 
masterl}' manoeuvre and midnight march surprise his enemy in 
Princeton, and add yet another laurel to the one acquired by the 
capture of the Hessians ? Did he not with an army hastily raised, 
and defeated at Brandywiue, in twenty-three days thereafter 
surprise the enemy at Germantown ? And though victory was 
denied him by a force of circumstances no human power could 
have controlled, yet the boldness of the enterprise, and the suc- 
cess attending it in the outset, produced such a confidence abroad 
in our courage and resources as to lead to our alliance with a 
powerful nation. Did he not surprise the enemy at Monmouth? 
And although untoward events served to cripple the operations 
of the early part of the day, j^et the setting sun shone upon the 
battle-field in possession of the Americans, the enemy retreating 
and their dead and wounded left as trophies to the victors. Such 
were the memorable instances in which Washington, with troops 
newly raised, and badly provided with every necessary of war, 
struck at his veteran and well appointed foe when least expected, 
producing the happiest influences upon the American cause, both 
at home and abroad ; for it is perfectly well known that the battle 
of Germantown decided the ministry of France to form the 
alliance that so materially contributed to the conclusion of the 
war and the consummation of our Independence. 

As the Commander-in-Chief, accompanied by a numerous suite, 
approached the vicinity of Monmouth court-house, he was met 
by a little fifer-boy, who archly observed, " they are all coming 
this way, your honor." Who are coming, my little man, asked 
General Knox. " Wl5^^, our boys, your honor, our boys, and the 
British right after them," replied the little musician. Impossible, 
exclaimed Washington ! And giving the spur to his charger, 
proceeded at full gallop to an eminei;ce a short distance ahead. 
There, to his extreme pain and mortification, it was discovered 
that the boy's intelligence was but too true. The very elite ot 
4 



26 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

the American army, five thousand picked officers and mt^n, were 
in full retreat, closely pursued by the enemy. The first inquiry 
of the Chief was for Major General Lee, who commauded the 
advance, and who soon appeared, when a warm conversation 
ensued, that ended by the major general being ordered to the 
rear. During this interview, an incident of rare and chivalric 
interest occurred. Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, aid to the 
General-in-Cliief, leaped from his horse, and drawing his sword, 
addressed the General with, we are betrayed; your excellency 
and this arni}'^ are betrayed ; and the moment has arrived when 
every true friend of America and her cause must be ready to die 
in their defence. Washington, charmed with the generous en- 
thusiasm of his fi^vorite aid, yet deeming the same ill-timed, 
pointing to the colonel's horse that was cropping the herbage, 
unconscious of the great scene enacting around him, calmly ob- 
served. Colonel Hamilton, you will take your horse. 

The General-in-Chief now set himself in earnest al'bout restorinsr 
the fortunes of the day. He ordered Colonel Stewart and Lieut. 
Colonel Ramsay, with their regiments, to check the advance of 
the enemy, which service was gallantly performed ; while the 
General, in person, proceeded to form his second line. He rode 
on the morning of the 28th of June, and for that time only during 
the war, a white charger that had been presented to him. From 
the over-powering heat of the day, and the deep and sandy nature 
of the soil, the spirited horse sank under his rider, and expired 
on the spot. The Chief was instantly remounted upon a chestnut 
blood mare, with a flowing main and tail. It was upon this 
beautiful animal, covered with foam, that the American General 
flew along the line, cheering the soldiers in the familiar and 
endearing language ever used by the officer to the soldier of the 
Revolution, of "Stand fast, my hoys, and receive your enemy; the 
southern troops are advancing to support ye." The person of 
"Washington, always graceful, dignified, and commanding, showed 
to peculiar advantage when mounted; it exhibited, indeed, the 
very beau ideal of a perfect cavalier. The good Lafayette, during 
his last visit to America, delighted to discourse of the "Times 
that tried men's souls." . From that venerated friend of our 
country we derived a most graphic description of "Washington 
and the field of battle. Lafayette said : " At Monmouth I com- 



OF WASHINGTON. 27 

manded a division, and it may be supposed was pretty well occu- 
pied, still I took time, amid the roar and confusion of the conflict, 
to admire our beloved Chief, who, mounted on a splendid charger, 
rode along the ranks amid the shouts of the soldiers, cheering 
them by his voice and example, and restoring to our standard the 
fortunes of the fight. I thought then, as now (continued the 
good Lafayette) that never had I beheld so superb a man." 

Among the incidents of this memorable day may be considered, 
on the part of the British, the deplorable death of the Hon. Col. 
Monckton, a brother of Earl Galway. It is said this gallant and 
accomplished officer had greatly injured his fortune by the dissi- 
pations incident to a long sojourn in city quarters, and that, in 
consequence, he exposed himself recklessly on the 28th of June. 
He was much regretted in the British army. 

On the part of the Americans, the fate of the young and brave 
Captain Fauntleroy, of the Virginia line, was remarkable. He 
was on horseback, at a well near a farm-house, waiving his turn, 
while the fainting soldiers, consumed by a thirst arising from 
their exertions on the hottest day supposed ever to have occurred 
in America, were rushing with frantic cries to the well, imploring 
for water. The captain, with the point of his sword resting on 
his boot, his arm leaning on the pommel, continued to waive his 
turn, when a cannon shot, bounding down the lane that led to 
the farm-house, struck the unfortunate officer near the hip, and 
hurled him to the ground a lifeless corpse. The lamented Faunt- 
leroy was descended from one of the old and highly respected 
families of Virginia. Leaving the comforts of home and the 
delights of a large circle of friends, this gallant young soldier 
repaired to the standard of his country early in the campaign of 
76. He was highly respected in his grade, and his untimely fate 
was deeply mourned in the American army. 

Heedless of the remonstrances and entreaties of his officers, the 
Commander-in-Chief exposed his person to every danger through- 
out the action of the 28th of June. 

The night before the battle of Monmouth, a party of the general 
officers assembled, and resolved upon a memorial to the Chief, 
praying that he would not expose his person in the approaching 
conflict. His high and chivalric daring and contempt for danger 
at the battle of Princeton, and again at Germantowu, where his 



28 CUSTls'b RECOLLECTIONS 

officers seized the bridle of his horse, made his friends the more 
anxious for the preservation of a life so dear to all, and so truly 
important to the success of the common cause. It was deter- 
mined that the memorial should be presented b}' Dr. Craik, the 
companion in arms of Colonel Washington in the war of '55 ; 
but Craik at once assured the memorialists that, while their 
petition would be received as a proof of their aft'ectionate regard 
for their General's safety, it would not weigh a feather in prevent- 
ing the exposure of his person, should the day go against them, 
and the presence of the Chief become important at the post of 
danger. Dr. Craik then related the romantic and imposing inci- 
dent of the old Indian's prophecy, as it occurred on the banks of 
the Ohio in 1770, observing that, bred, as he himself was, in the 
rigid discipline of the Kirk of Scotland, he possessed as little 
superstition as any one, but that really there was a something in 
the air and manner of an old savas-e chief delivering his oracle 
amid the depths of the forest, that time or circumstances would 
never erase from his memor}-, and that he believed with the 
tawny prophet of the wilderness, that their beloved Washington 
was the spirit-protected being described by the savage, that the 
enemy could not kill him, and that while he lived the glorious 
cause of American Independence would never die. 

On the following da}-, while the Commander-in-Chief, attended 
by his officers, was reconnoitering the enemy from an elevated 
part of the field, a round shot from the British artillery struck 
but a little way from his horse's feet, throwing up the earth over 
his person, and then bounding harmlessly away. The Baron 
Steuben, shrugging up his shoulders, exclaimed " Dat wash very 
neer," while Dr. Craik, pleased with this instance of faith in the 
Indian's prophecy, nodded to the officers who composed the party 
of the preceeding evening, and then pointing to Heaven, seemed 
to say, in the words of the savage prophet, " The Great Spirit 
protects him — he cannot die in battle." 

A ludicrous occurrence varied the incidents of the 28th of June. 
The servants of the general officers were usually well armed and 
mounted. Will Lee or Billy, the former huntsman and favorite 
body servant of the Chief, a square muscular figure, and capital 
horseman, paraded a corps of valets, and riding pompously at 
their head, proceeded to an eminence crowned by a large syca- 



OF WASHINGTON. 29 

more tree, troni whence could be seen an extensive portion of the 
field of battle. Here Billy halted, and having unslung the large 
telescope that he always carried in a leathern case, with a martial 
air applied it to his eye, and reconnoitred the enemy. Washing- 
ton having observed these manoeuvres of the corps of valets, 
pointed them out to his officers, observing, "• See those fellows 
collecting on yonder height ; the enemy will fire on them to a 
certaintv." Meanwhile the British were not unmindful of the 
assemblage on the height, and perceiving a burly figure well 
mounted, and with a telescope in hand, they determined to pay 
their respects to the group. A shot from a six-pounder passed 
through the tree, cutting away the limbs, and producing a scamp- 
ering among the corps of valets, that caused even the grave coun- 
tenance of the General-in-Chief to relax into a smile. 

ISTor must we omit, among our incidents of the battle of Mon- 
mouth, to mention the achievement of the famed Captain Molly, 
a 7iom de gerre given to the wife of a matross in Proctor's artillery. 

At one of the gnns of Proctor's battery, six men had been 
killed or wounded. It was deemed an unlucky gun, and mur- 
murs arose that it should be drawn back and abandoned. At 
this juncture, while Captain Molly was serving some water for 
the refreshment of the men, her husband received a shot in 
the head, and fell lifeless under the wheels of the piece. The 
heroine threw down the pail of water, and crying to her dead 
consort, "lie there my darling while I revenge ye," grasped the 
ramrod the lifeless hand of the poor fellow had just relinquished, 
sent home the charge, and called to the matrosses to prime and 
fire. It was done. Then entering the sponge into the smoking 
muzzle of the cannon, the heroine performed to admiration the 
duties of the most expert artilleryman, while loud shouts from 
the soldiers rang along the line: the doomed gun was no longer 
deemed unlucky, and the fire of the battery became more vivid 
than ever. The amazonian fair one kept to her post till night 
closed the action, when she was introduced to General Greene, 
who, complimenting her upon.her courage and conduct, the next 
morning presented her to the Commander-in-Chief. Washington 
received her graciously, gave her a piece of gold, and assured her 
that her services should not be forgotten. 

This remarkable and intrepid woman survived the Revolution, 



30 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

never for an instant laying aside tlie appellation she had so nobly 
won, and levying contributions upon both civil and military, 
whenever she recounted the tale of the doomed gun, and the 
famed Captain Molly at the battle of Monmouth. 

On the night of this memorable conflict, Washington laid down 
in his cloak under a tree, in the midst of his brave soldiers. 
About midnight, an ofiicer approached cautiously, fearful of 
awakening him, when the Chief called out, "Advance, sir, and 
deliver your errand. I laid here to think and not to sleep." 

In the morning, the American army prepared to renew the 
conflict, but the enemy had retired during the night, leaving their 
dead and many of their wounded to the care of the victors. 
Morgan's mountaineers pursued on their trail, and made some 
captures, particularly the coach of a general offlcer. 

The British grand army embarked from Staten Island. The 
number, order, and regularity of the boats, and the splendid ap- 
pearance of the troops, rendered this embarkation one of the 
most brilliant and imposing spectacles of the Eevolutionary i^var. 

Congress passed a unanimous vote of thanks to the General- 
in-Chief, his oflicers, and soldiers, for the promptness of their 
march from the Valley Forge, their surprise and defeat of the 
enemy, and a feu de joie was fired by the whole American army 
for the victory of Monmouth. 



OF WASHINGTON. 31 



THE BATTLE OF GERMANTOWN", AND DEATH OF 

GENERAL NASII. 

October 4, 1777. 

Undismayed by his defeat at the battle of the Brandywinc, 
AVashington hovered on the march of his enemy; not with the 
hope of saving Phihxdelphia, but with the determination to strike 
yet another blow before the conclusion of the campaign of 1777. 
Charmed with the courage displayed by his undisciplined soldiers, 
when opposed to a superior army of veterans, in the combat at 
Chadsford, the American General anxiously watched lor an oppor- 
tunity of again measuring his sword with that of his skilful and 
far better appointed adversar}^, though vast were the advantages 
in favor of the latter. 

Sir William Howe, flushed with his victory over the American 
Grand Army, and the occupation of the then capital of the Ameri- 
can Union, and presuming that his foe was sufficiently subdued 
to give him no further molestation for the remainder of the cam- 
paign, quartered a large portion of his troops in the village of 
Germantown, about seven miles from the city of Philadelphia, 
w'hile he despatched considerable detachments towards the posi- 
tions still held by the American forces on the Delaware. 

Washington promptly embraced the opportunity thus oftered 
of striking at his powerful adversary with fair hopes of success. 
Gathering together all the troops within his reach, and having 
received some reinforcements, although they consisted mostly of 
new levies, the American Army broke up from its encampment, 
about fifteen miles from Germantown, on the night of the 3d of 
October, and advanced upon the enemy in three columns, in order 
of battle. 

During the night march, several incidents occurred that might 
be deemed ominous of the fortunes of the coming day. The 
celebrated Count Pulaski, who was charged with the service of 
watching the enemy and gaining intelligence, was said to have 
been found asleep in a farm house. But, although the gallant 
Pole might have been overtaken by slumber from the great fatigue 



32 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS- 

growing out of the duties of the advanced guard, yet no soldier 
was more wide awake in the moment of combat than the intrepid 
and chivalric Count Pulaski. The delay in the arrival of the 
ammunition wagons was productive of the most serious conse- 
quences in the action of the succeeding day. The general officer 
to whom the blame of this delay was attached was afterwards 
discovered in a state of intoxication, lying in the corner of a 
fence. Lieutenant Benjamin Grimes, of the Life Guard, grasp- 
ing the delinquent by the collar, placed him on his legs, and bade 
him go and do his duty. This bold proceeding on the part of a 
subaltern towards a general officer was certainl}' at variance with 
all rules or orders of discipline ; but the exigency of the moment, 
and the degraded spectacle that an officer of high rank had pre- 
sented to the eyes of the soldiery, would seem to have warranted 
a proceeding that, under different circumstances, must be con- 
sidered as subversive of all military discipline. Grimes was a 
bold, brave soldier, enthusiastically attached to the cause of his 
country, and foremost anions^ the asserters of her liberties. The 
general officer of whom we have spoken was brought to a court 
martial and cashiered. 

The surprise was complete. Between daybreak and sunrise 
the British pickets were forced, and the Light Infantry, routed in 
their camp, fled in confusion, leaving their camp standing. So 
complete was the surprise that the officers' watches were found 
hanging up in their marquees, together with their portmanteaus 
and trunks of clothes, the latter affi^rding a most seasonable booty 
to the American soldier}- . Many of the tents and marquees were 
burnt, owing to a want of transportation to carry them away. 
Although completely routed in the onset, the British light infan- 
try rallied under their officers, and annoyed their enemy from 
every house, enclosure, or other defensible position that offi3red 
in the line of their retreat; thus showing the mighty power of 
discipline over broken troops, and its invaluable influences amid 
the greatest emergencies of war. 

Six companies of the 40th regiment, under their lieutenant 
colonel, being hard pressed by the advancing columns of the 
Americans, threw themselves into Chew's house, a strongly con- 
structed stone building, and, barricading the lower windows, 
opened a destructive fire from the cellars and upper windows. 



OF WASHINGTON. 33 

The Americans, finding their musketr}' made no impression, were 
in the act of dragging up their cannon to batter the walls, when 
a ruse de guerre was attempted, which, however, failed of success. 
An officer galloped up from the house and cried out, " What are 
you about; you will fire upon your own people." The artillery 
opened, but after fifteen or twenty rounds, the pieces were found 
to be of too small caliber to make a serious impression, and were 
withdrawn. 

A most daring and chivalric attempt was now made to fire the 
building. Lieut. Col. Laurens, aid-de-camp to the Commander- 
in-Chief, with a few volunteers, rushed up to the house under 
cover of the smoke, and applied a burning brand to the princi- 
pal door, at the same time exchanging passes with the sword with 
the enemy on the inside. By almost a miracle, this gallant and 
accomplished officer escaped unharmed, although his clothes were 
repeatedly torn by the enemy's shot. Another and equally dar- 
ing attempt was made by Major White, aid-de-camp to General 
Sullivan, but without as fortunate a result. The Major, while in 
the act of firing, one of the cellar windows, was mortally wounded, 
and died soon after. 

Washington accompanied the leading division of Major Gen. 
Sullivan, and cheered his soldiers in their brilliant onset, as they 
drove the enemy from point to point. Arrived in the vicinity of 
Chew's house, the Commander-in-Chief halted to consult his 
oflicers as to the best course to be pursued towards this fortress 
that had so suddenly and unexpectedly sprung up in their way. 
The younger officers who were immediately attached to the per- 
son of the Chief, and among the choicest spirits of the Revolu- 
tion, including the high and honored names of Hamilton, of 
Reed, of Pinckney, of Laurens, and of Lee, were for leaving 
Chew's house to itself, or of turning the seige into a blockade, 
by stationing in its vicinity a body of troops to watch the move- 
ments of the garrison, and pressing on with the column in pur- 
suit of the flying enemy. But the sages of the army, at the head 
of whom was Major General Knox, repulsed at once the idea of 
leaving a fortified enemy in the rear, as contrary to the usages of 
war, and the most approved military authorities. 

At this period of the action the fog had become so dense that 

objects could scarcely be distinguished at a few yards' distance. 
6 



34 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

The Americans had penetrated the enemy's camp even to their 
second line, which was drawn up to receive them about the cen- 
tre of Germantown, The ammunition of the right wing, includ- 
ing the Maryland brigades, became exhausted, the soldiers hold- 
ing up their empty cartridge boxes when their officers called on 
them to rally and face the enemy. The extended line of opera- 
tions, which embraced nearly two miles, the unfavorable nature 
of the ground in the environs of Germantown for the operations 
of troops, a large portion of whom were undisciplined, the ground 
being much cut up, and intersected by stone fences and enclosures 
of various sorts, the delay of the left wing under Greene in get- 
ting into action — all these causes, combined with an atmosphere 
so dense from fog and smoke as to make it impossible to distin- 
guish friend from foe, produced a retreat in the American army 
at the moment when victory seemed to be within its grasp. 

Washington was among the foremost in his endeavors to restore 
the fortunes of the day, and while exerting himself to rally his 
broken columns, the exposure of his person became so imminent, 
that his officers, after affectionately remonstrating with him in 
vain, seized the bridle of his horse. The retreat under all cir- 
cumstances was quite as favorable as' could be expected. The 
whole of the artillery was saved, and as many of the wounded as 
could be removed. The Xinth Virginia Regiment, under Col. 
Mathews, having penetrated so far as to be without support, after 
a desperate resistance, surrendered its remnant of a hundred men, 
including its gallant Colonel, who had received several bayonet 
wounds. The British pursued but two or three miles, making 
prisoners of the worn-out soldiers, who, after a night march of 15 
miles and an action of three hours, were found exhausted and 
asleep in the fields and along the roads. 

"WTiile gallantly leading the Is^orth Carolina brigade, that formed 
part of the reserve into action. General Nash was mortally wound- 
ed. A round shot from the British artillery striking a sign-post 
in Germantown, glanced therefrom, and passing through his 
horse, shattered the General's thigh on the opposite side. The 
fall of the animal hurled its unfortunate rider with considerable 
force to the ground. "With surpassing courage and presence of 
mind, General Nash coverilg his wound with both of his hands, 
gaily called to his men, "Nevermind me, I have had a devil of a 



OF WASHINGTON. 35 

tumble; rush on, my boys, rush on the enemy, I'll be after you 
presently." Human nature could do no more. Faint from loss 
of blood and the intense agony of his wound, the sufferer was 
borne to a house hard by, and attended by Dr. Craik, by special 
order of the Commander-in-Chief. The Doctor gave his patient 
but feeble hopes of recovery, even with the chances of amputa- 
tion, when ISTash observed, "It may be considered unmanly to com- 
plain, but my agony is too great for human nature to bear. I am 
aware that my days, perhaps hours are numbered, but I do not 
repine at my fate. I have fallen on the field of honor while lead- 
ing my brave Carolinians to the assault ot the enemy. I have a 
last request to make of his excellency the Commander-in-Chief, 
that he will permit you, my dear Doctor, to remain with me to 
protect me while I live, and my remains from insult." Dr. Craik 
assured the General that he had nothing to fear from the enemy; 
it was impossible that they would harm him while living, or offer 
an insult to his remains ; that Lord Cornwallis was by this time 
in the field, and that under his auspices a wounded ofiicer would 
be treated with humanity and respect. The dying patriot and 
hero then uttered these memorable words : " I have no favors to 
expect from the enemy. I have been consistent in my principles 
and conduct since the commencement of the troubles. From the 
very first dawn of the Revolution I have ever been on the side of 
liberty and my country." 

He lingered in extreme torture between two and three days, 
and died admired by his enemies, admired and lamented by his 
companions in arms. On Thursday, the 9th of October, the whole 
American army was paraded by order of the Commander-in- 
Chief to perform the funeral obsequies of General Xash, and 
never did the warrior's last tribute peal the requiem of a braver 
soldier or nobler patriot than of the illustrious son of North 
Carolina. 

Taking rank with the chiefs who had fallen in the high and 
holy cause of a N'ation's Independence, the name of Nash will 
be associated with the martyr names of Warren, Montgomery, 
Wooster, Mercer, while the epitaph to be graven on his monu- 
mental marble should be the memorable words of the Patriot and 
Hero on the field of his fame: ^'^ From the very first daivn of the 
Revolution, I have ever been on the side of liberty and my country." 



36 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

It was not the halt at Chew's house, it was not the denseness 
of the fog, that produced the unfortunate termination of the bat- 
tle of the 4th of October. Time, that sheds the sober and endur- 
ing colors of truth over the events of the world, has determined 
that the misfortunes of the battle of Germantown are rather to 
be ascribed to the undisciplined character of a large proportion 
of the American troops, than to all other causes combined. 
Washington's oldest Continental Regiments were of but little 
more than a j^ear's standing, while many of his troops had seen 
but a few months, and some but a few weeks' service. With all 
these disadvantages, the plan of the surprise of Germantown was 
ably conceived and gallantly executed in the outset, and failed of 
complete success only from circumstances beyond all human 
control. 

Congress passed a unanimous resolution consolatory to the feel- 
ings of the Commander-in-Chief, his officers and soldiers, under 
their disappointment, intimating " that it was not in nature to 
command success," but their brave army "had done more; it 
had deserved it." 

The efiects resulting from the battle of Germantown were most 
happy both at home and abroad. The enemy were taught to re- 
spect American troops which they had affected to despise, and 
Sir William Howe deemed it prudent to draw in all his outposts, 
and shelter himself in Philadelphia, which proved a great relief 
to a large and valuable portion of the adjacent country. Indeed, 
it becomes the duty of the historian to declare that matters might 
have been much worse on the 4th of October. When the Ameri- 
cans retreated, the second line of the enemy was in great force, 
having been but little impaired in the action, while the reserve, 
consisting of the Grenadiers, were close at hand to sustain their 
comrades, those chosen fellows having at the first alarm, seized 
their arms and ran without halting the distance from the com- 
mons of Philadelphia to Germantown. Howe's army in 1777, 
without disparagement of the British service before or since that 
time, may be considered as the finest body of troops that ever 
embarked from the British dominions ; yet such was the alarm and 
confusion into which these veterans were thrown by the masterly 
surprise of Germantown, and such the courage and vigor dis- 
played b}' the Americans in their attacks in the early part of the 



OF WASHINGTON. 37 

dav, that a rendezvous at Chester became a measure of serious 
contemplation among the commanders of the British army. 

But the most happy and imposing influences upon America 
and her cause, resulting from the battle of Germantown, were ex- 
perienced abroad. Eh, mon Dieu, exclaimed the Count de Ver- 
gennes, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the American 
Commissioners in Paris, "What is this you tell me, Messieurs; 
another battle, and the British grand army surprised in its camp 
at Germantown, Sir William and his veterans routed and flying 
for two hours, and a great victory only denied to Washington by 
a tissue of accidents beyond all human control. Ah, ah, these 
Americans are an elastic people. Press them down to-day, they 
rise to-morrow. And then, my dear sirs, these military wonders, 
to be achieved by an army raised within a single year, opposed 
to the skill, discipline, and experience of European troops, com- 
manded by generals grown gray in war. The brave Americans, 
they are worthy of the aid of France. They will succeed at last." 

The winter of 1777 set in early, and with unusual severity. 
The military operations of both armies had ceased, when a de- 
tachment of the Southern troops were seen plodding their weary 
way to winter quarters at the Valley Forge. The appearance of 
the horse-guard announced the approach of the Commander-in- 
Chief: the officer commanding the detachment, choosing the 
most favorable ground, paraded his men to pay to their General 
the honors of the passing salute. As Washington rode slowly 
up, he was observed to be eyeing very earnestly something that 
attracted his attention on the frozen surface of the road. Ilavinar 
returned the salute with that native grace, that dignified air and 
manner, that won the admiration of the soldiery of the old Revo- 
lutionary day, the Chief reigned up his charger, and ordering the 
commanding officer of the detachment to his side, addressed him 
as follows : " How comes it, sir, that I have tracked the march of 
your troops by the blood stains of their feet upon the frozen 
ground? Were there no shoes in the Commissary's stores, that 
this sad spectacle is to be seen along the public highways ?" The 
officer replied : " Your excellency may rest assured that this sight 
is as painful to my feelings as it can be to yours ; but there is no 
remedy within our reach. When the shoes were issued, the dif- 
ferent regiments were served in turn ; it was our misfortune to be 



38 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

among the last to be served, and the stores became exhausted be- 
fore we could obtain even the smallest supply." 

The General was observed to be deeply affected by his officer's 
description of the soldiers' privations and sufferings. His com- 
pressed lips, the heaving of his manly chest, betokened the pow- 
erful emotions that were struggling in his bosom, when, turning 
toward the troops with a voice tremulous yet kindly, Washington 
exclaimed, Poor felloivs ; then giving rein to his charger rode 
away. 

During this touching interview every eye was bent upon the 
Chief, every ear was attentive to catch his words ; and when those 
words reached the soldiers, wai-m from the heart of their beloved 
commander, and in tones of sorrow and commiseration for their 
sufferings, a grateful but subdued expression burst from every 
lip, of God bless your excellenc}', your poor soldiers' friend. 

In this interesting event in the life and actions of Washington, 
he appears in a new light. He is no longer the grave, the digni- 
fied, the awe-inspiring and unapproachable General-in-Chief of 
the armies of his country. All these characteristics have van- 
ished, and the Pater Patriae appears amid his companions in arms 
in all his moral grandeur, giving vent to his native goodness of 
heart. 



OF AVASniNGTON. 39 



WASHINGTON: 

His 'person and personal appearance. Anecdotes of his great physical 

pi'owess. 

In person Washington was unique ; he looked like no one 
else. To a stature lofty and commanding, he united a form of 
the manliest proportions, limbs cast in Nature's finest mould, and 
a carriage the most dignified, graceful, and imposing. No one 
ever approached the Pater Patriaj that did not feel his presence. 

So long ago as the vice regal court at Williamsburg, in the days 
of Lord Botetourt, Col. Washins-ton was remarkable for his 
splendid person, the air with which he wore a small sword, and 
his peculiar walk, that had the light elastic tread acquired by his 
long service on the frontier, and was a matter of much observa- 
tion, especially to foreigners. 

While Col. Washington was on a visit to New York in 1773, 
it was boasted at the table of the British Governor that a regi- 
ment just lauded from England contained among its officers some 
of the finest specimens of martial elegance in his Majesty's ser- 
vice — in fact the most superb looking fellows ever landed upon 
the shores of the new world. " I wager your Excellency a pair of 
gloves," s'aid a Mrs. Morris, an American lady, "that I will show 
you a finer man in the procession to-morrow than your Excellency 
can select from your famous regiment." "Done, madam," replied 
the Governor. The morrow came, (the 4th of June,) and the pro- 
cession in honor of the birthday of the King advanced through 
Broadway to the strains of military music. As the troops defiled 
before the Governor, he pointed out to the lady several officers 
by name, claiming her admiration for their superior persons and 
brilliant equipments. In rear of the troops came a band of offi- 
cers not on duty, of colonial oflicers, and strangers of distinction. 
Immediately on their approach, the attention of the Governor 
was seen to be directed toward a tall and martial figure, that 
marched with grave and measured tread, apparently iudifierent 
to the scene around him. The lady now archly observed, " I per- 
ceive that your Excellency's eyes are turned to the right object; 



40 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

what say you to your wager now, sir?" "Lost, madam," replied 
the gallant Governor : " When I laid my wager, I was not aware 
that Col. Washington was in New York." 

To a question that we have been asked a thousand and one 
times, viz., to what individual, known to any who are yet living, 
did the person of Washiuo-ton bear the nearest resemblance? we 

■a. O 

answer, to Ralph Izard, Senator from South Carolina, in the first 
Congress under the Constitution. The form of Izard was cast in 
Nature's manliest mould, while his air and manner were both 
dignified and imposing. He acquired great distinction, while 
pursuing his studies in England, for his remarkable prowess in 
the athletic exercises of that distant period. 

An ofiicer of the Life Guard has been often heard to observe, 
that the Commander-in-Chief was thought to be the strongest 
man in his army, and yet what thews and sinews were to be found 
in the army of the Revolution. In 1781, a company of riflemen 
from the county of Augusta, in Virginia, reinforced the troops of 
Lafayette. As the stalwart band of mountaineers defiled before 
the General, the astonished and admiring Frenchman exclaimed : 
"Mon Dieu! what a people are these Americans; they have re- 
inforced me with a band of giants!" 

Washington's great phj^sical powers were in his limbs : they 
were long, large, and sinewy. His frame was of equal breadth 
from the shoulders to the hips. His chest, though broad and 
expansive, was not prominent, but rather hollowed in the centre. 
He had suflered from a pulmonary affection in early life, from 
which he never entirely recovered. ' His frame showed an extra- 
ordinary development of bone and muscle; his joints were large, 
as were his feet; and could a cast have been preserved of his 
hand, to be exhibited in these degenerate days, it would be said 
to have belono;ed to the bein": of a fabulous as-e. During the last 
visit of Lafayette to Mount Vernon, among many and interesting 
relations of events that occurred in olden days, he said to the 
writer; "It was in this portico that you were introduced to me 
in 1784; you were then holding by a single finger of the good 
General's remarkable hand, which was all that you could do, my 
dear sir, at that time." 

In the various exhibitions of Washington's great physical prowess, 
they were apparently attended by scarcely any effort. When he 



OF WASHINGTON. 41 

overthrew the strong man of Virginia in wrestling, while many 
of the iinest of the young athletre of the times were engaged in 
the manly games, Washington had retired to the shade of a tree, 
intent upon the perusal of a favorite volume; and it was only 
when the champion of the game strode through the ring, calling 
for nobler competitors, and taunting the student with the reproach 
that it was the fear of encountering so redoubted an antagonist 
that kept him from the ring, that Washington closed his book, 
and without divesting himself of his coat, calmly walked into the 
arena, observing that fear formed no part of his being; then grap- 
pling with the champion, the struggle was fierce but momentary, 
for, said the vanquished hero of the arena, in Washington's lion- 
like grasp I became powerless, and was hurled to the ground with 
a force that seemed to jar the very marrow in my bones: while 
the victor, regardless of the shouts that proclaimed his triumph, 
leisurely retired to his shade, and the enjoyment of his favorite 
volume. 

The power of Washington's arm was displayed in several mem- 
orable instances — in his throwing a stone across the Rappahan- 
nock river below Fredericksburg, another from the bed of the 
stream to the top of the Natural Bridge, and yet another over the 
Palisades into the Hudson. While the late and venerable C. H. 
Peale was at Mount Vernon in 1772, engaged in painting the 
portrait of the provincial Colonel, some young men were con- 
tending in the exercise of pitching the bar. Washington looked 
on for a time, then grasping the missile in his master hand, 
whirled the iron through the air, which took the ground far, very 
far, beyond any of its former limits — the Colonel observing, with 
a smile, "You perceive, young gentlemen, that my arm yet re- 
tains some portion of the vigor of my earlier days." He was then 
in his fortieth year, and probably in the full meridian of his physi- 
cal powers; but those powers became rather mellowed than de- 
cayed by time, for "his age was like a lusty winter, frosty yet 
kindly," and, up to his sixty-eighth year, he mounted a horse 
with surprising agility, and rode with the ease and gracefulness 
of his better days. His personal prowess, that elicited the admi- 
ration of a people who have nearly all passed from the stage of 
life, still serves as a model for the manhood of modern times. 

With all its development of muscular power, the form of Wash- 
6 



42 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

ins^ton had no appearance of bnlkincss, and so harmonious were 
its proportions, that he did not appear so passing tall as his por- 
traits have represented. He was rather spare than full during his 
whole life; this is readily ascertained from his weight. The last 
time he weighed was in the summer of 1799, when having made 
the tour of his farms, accompanied by an English gentleman, he 
called at his mill and weighed. The writer placed the weight in 
the scales. The Englishman, not so tall, but stout, square built, 
and fleshy, weighed heavily, and expressed much surprise that 
the General had not outweighed him, when Washington observed 
that the best weight of his best days never exceeded from 210 to 
220. In the instance alluded to he weighed a little rising 210. 

Of the portraits of Washington, the most of them give to his 
person a fulness that it did not possess, together with an abdomi- 
nal enlargement greater than in the life, while his matchless 
limbs have in but two instances been faithfully portrayed — in the 
equestrian portrait by Trumbull of 1790, a copy of which is in the 
City Hall of iSTew York, and in an engraving by Losier, from a 
painting by Coginet, French artists of distinguished merit. The 
latter is not an original painting, the head being from Stuart, bj^t 
the delineation of the limbs is the most perfect extant. 

Of the remarkable degree of awe and reverence that the pres- 
ence of Washington always inspired, we shall give one out of one 
thousand instances. During the cantonment of the American 
army at the Valley Forge, some oflicers of the 4tli Pennsylvania 
regiment were engaged in a game of fives. In the midst of their 
sport they discovered the Commander-in-Chief leaning upon the 
enclosure and beholding the game with evident satisfaction. In 
a moment all thins^s were chano-ed. The ball was suffered to roll 
idly away, the gay laugh and joyous shout of excitement were 
hushed into a profound silence, and the officers were gravely 
grouped together. It was in vain the Chief begged of the players 
that they would proceed with their game, declared the pleasure 
he had experienced from witnessing their skill, spoke of a pro- 
ficiency in the manly exercise that he himself could have boasted 
of in other days. All would not do. Is"ot a man could be in- 
duced to move, till the General, finding that his presence hindered 
the officers from continuing the amusement, bowed, and wishing 
them good sport, retired. 



OF WASUINGTON. 43 



THE HEADQUARTERS. 

Many of the establishments that constituted tlic Headquarters 
in the War of the Revolution yet remain for the veneration of the 
Americans. At Cambridge, Morristown, Newburg, West Point, 
New Windsor, and other places, the buildings are still preserved, 
but of the Valley Forge it is doubtful whether there exists at this 
time any remains of the Headquarters so memorable in the history 
of the days of trial. 

If the Headquarters at Morristown were bleak and gloomy, 
from being located in a mountainous region, and occupied in the 
depth of winter, the soldier was cheered amid his privations by 
the proud and happy remembrance of his triumphs at the close 
of the campaign of 1776. Xot such were the associations that 
attended the Headquarters at Valley Forge, at the close of the 
campaign of 1777. The American army, defeated in two hard- 
fought general engagements, beheld its enemy comfortably housed 
in Philadelphia, while it was compelled at an inclement season 
to retire to a forest, there to erect huts for shelter, and where it 
afterwards endured the s-reatest extremities of human suiFering. 
But Washington was in the midst of his faithful companions in 
arms, ever employed in limiting their privations, in alleviating 
their miseries, and holding up to them the hopes of better fortunes. 
And oft in the rude wintry night, when the tempest howled 
among the hovels, and the shivering sentry paced his lonely 
round, would his eye be attracted to the taper that burned in the 
Headquarters, where the man of mighty labors, watching while 
others slept, toiled in the cause of unborn millions. 

At the Headquarters of the Valley Forge occurred some of the 
most memorable incidents of the War of Independence. It was 
there the General received the appalling intelligence that not 
another ration was in store to issue to his troops. It was there 
that he was forced, by a stern and painful necessity, to use the high 
powers vested in him by Congress, to seize upon provisions for 
the relief of his starving soldiers. It was there, while struggling 



44 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

with dangers and difficulties, while borne down witli the cares 
and sorrows of his countrv's cause, that "Washinorton was informed 
of the cabal then agitating in Congress and the army for the 
removal of the Commander-in-Chief. 

But with all these glooms there were glories, too, that shed 
their lustre upon the Headquarters of the Valley Forge. It was 
there first proclaimed to the army the grateful tidings of the 
alliance with France; and it was from that scene of so many trials 
and sufi:erings, that on the return of the genial season, the modern 
Fabius marched again to grapple with his formidable and well- 
appointed foe, and to wrest from him, after a most gallant and 
hard-fought conflict, a glorious victory on the plains of Monmouth. 

The Headquarters were under canvass during the siege and 
after the surrender of Yorktown. The marquees of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief were pitched in the rear of the grand battery, 
just out of the range of the enemy's shells. There were two 
marquees attached to the Headquarters during all the campaigns. 
The larger, or banqueting tent, would contain from forty to fifty 
persons; the smaller or sleeping tent had an inner chamber, 
where, on a hard cot-bed, the Chief reposed. There is a most 
interesting reminiscence attached to the sleeping tent. The 
Headquarters, even during the summer season, were located, in 
a great majority of instances, in private dwellings, the sleeping 
tent being pitched in the yard or very near at hand. "Within its 
venerable folds, Washington was in the habit of seeking privacy 
and seclusion, where he could commune with himself, and where 
he wrote the most memorable of his despatches in the Revolu- 
tionary war. He would remain in the retirement of the sleeping 
tent some times for hours, giving orders to the officer of his guard 
that he should on no account be disturbed, save on the arrival of 
an important express. The objects of his seclusion being accom- 
plished, the Chief would appear at the canvass door" of the marquee 
with despatches in his hand, giving which to his secretary to copy 
and transmit, he would either mount his charger for a tour of 
inspection, or return to the Headquarters and enjoy social con- 
verse with his officers. 

The marquees were made in Third street, Philadelphia, under 
the direction of Captain Moulder, of the artillery, and were first 
pitched on the Heights of Dorchester, in August, 1775. 



OF WASHINGTON. 45 

The life-guard was attached to the Headquarters from the time 
of its formation till the end of the war. This chosen corps of 
picked men, with Gibbs and Colfax, and their gallant officers, 
was always in the finest order, proud of its being attached to the 
person of the Chief, and appearing smart and soldierly, even in 
the worst times. 

In our Memoirs of the Pater Patrife, we shall continue "to intro- 
duce some mention of the distinguished patiots, statesmen, and 
soldiers who enjoyed his intimacy, and were dear to his aftections. 
High on this honored list appears in bold relief the name of 
Jonathan Trumbull, the patriotic governor of Connecticut during 
the whole of the Revolution. He was, indeed, more fitted for 
the times in which he flourished, and such a one as revolution 
alone seems capable of producing. Wise to conceive, and ener- 
getic to execute, his prudence equalled his courage in the con- 
spicuous part he was destined to bear in those momentous con- 
cerns that eventuated in the Independence of his country ; yet 
did he "bear his high offices so meekly " that he was as deservedly 
beloved for the mildness of his private virtues as he was admired 
for the stern unyielding integrity with which he discharged his 
public duties. It is enough for his fame or his epitapli that he 
was a man after "Washington's own heart. 

When the news arrived in Connecticut of the battle of Lexing- 
ton, Putnam, who was ploughing in his field, instantly repaired 
to the Governor for orders. "Go," said Trumbull "to the scene 
of action." "But my clothes. Governor!" "Oh, never mind 
your clothes," continued Trumbull, "your military experience will 
be of service to your countrymen." "But my men. Governor: 
what shall I do about my men?" "Oh, never mind your men," 
continued the man for the times, "I'll send your men after you." 
Putnam hurried to Cambridge. 

One of the most urgent appeals for assistance that ever eman- 
ated from the American Headquarters was contained in a 
dispatch to the Governor of Connecticut. It was dated from 
the camp, near the il^orth river, in the latter years of the war. 

Governor Trumbull was alone in his room of business; on the 
table were various letters and despatches, some just opened and 
others sealed for immediate transmission ; a cocked hat of the 
cut and fashion of the days of George II, the Governor's sole 



46 CUSTIs'b RECOLLECTIONS 

insignia of office, was also on the table, while the Chief Magistrate 
himself was busily engaged in writing. 

An aid-de-camp of the Commander-in-Chief was introduced, 
much worn and "travel stained" from the haste of his journey. 

The Governor rose, and while cordially welcoming Colonel , 

inquired after the health of his excellency, and w^hat news from 
the army. The aid-de-camp replied that the General was well, 
and the news from the army of a very sombre character, and pre- 
sented a letter. The letter was very short. It contained an 
apology from Washington for having applied for assistance where 
it had been so often and so liberally rendered before, but con- 
tinued that the situation of the army was critical in the extreme, 
the country adjacent to the camp being completely exhausted, as 
well by the enemy's as by his own foraging parties; and con- 
cluded by lamenting that, unless supplies could be speedily 
obtained, he should be obliged to abandon his position, and fall 
back into the interior to obtain the necessary subsistence for the 
troops. 

The Governor pondered for a moment upon the contents of the 
letter, then rising, and cordially grasping the Colonel by the 
hand, observed, in a firm, yet cheerful tone, "When you return 
to camp, bear with you, my dear sir, my love and duty to his 
excellency, and say to him that brave old Connecticut, patriotic 
Connecticut, is not quite exhausted, but for every barrel of pro- 
visions she has furnished to the cause of liberty, she will furnish 
another, and yet another to the same glorious cause; say further, 
that on such a day our teams may be looked for on the bank of 
the l!s'orth river." The aid-de-camp departed rejoicing. 

And now the patriot became "ever}' inch" the executive 
officer. From his intimate acquaintance with the resources of 
his native State, he knew exactly w^here those resources were to 
be obtained, and their facilities for transportation, for with him 
every thing was done by method and regularity. His orders flew 
in all directions. His orders were obeved. 

]\Ieantime the return of the aid-de-camp to Headquarters with 
intelligence of the promised supplies diffused a general gladness 
throughout the army. When the expected day arrived, many 
an anxious eye was turned to the road leading from the eastward 
to the landing on the Xorth river; a dust is seen in the distance. 



OF WASHINGTON. 47 

and presently are heard the cries of the teamsters, urghig their 
fine oxen, while the heavy-laden wains groan under their generous 
burdens. A shout rings through the American camp, and the 
Commander-in-Chief, attended by his officers, rode to an eminence 
to witness the arrival of the welcome supplies. 

Governor Trumbull had two soi^s attached to the Headquarters, 
John, the distinguished artist and the last of the aids-de-eamp, and 
Jonathan, Military Secretary to the Commander-in-chief at the 
siege of Yorktown. 

But one attempt was made to surprise the Headquarters during 
the war. The army lay in Jersey. The enemy, taking advantage 
of their facilities for water communication, and under cover of 
night, landed in considerable force a short distance above the 
American camp, and made a spirited attack upon its outposts. 
The alarm soon extended to the Headquarters, where Lady 
Washington (always so called by the soldiers) and the ladies of 
several of the general oflicers were sojourning during the winter 
quarters. The life-guard rushed to the house, the windows were 
taken out in a moment, the doors barricaded, and the rooms and 
staircases filled with armed men. Cannon were dra2;2:ed into the 
yards, and every preparation made for a vigorous defence. An 
aid-de-camp proposed that the ladies should be removed under 
an escort to a place of safety. This ^Yashington at once refused, 
gallantly observing, " l^o, Colonel, let the ladies remain where 
they are, that they ma}' see how bravely we will defend them;" 
and then mounted his charger, and proceeded to the scene of 
action. Meantime the firinfjc was distinctlv heard, and evidences 
of battle became painfully apparent in the wounded borne along 
in the arms of their comrades in search of medical assistance. 
After a short, but sharp skirmish, the firing ceased altogether; 
the enemy, finding themselves batfled in their hopes of a surprise, 
retreated to their boats, and gained the eastern bank of the Hud- 
son. Day was now breaking, and the ladies were gratified in 
beholding the Commander-in-Chief, with his stafi'and the general 
ofiicers, returning at full gallop to the Headquarters. 

Among the great variety of persons and character that were to 
be found from time to time at and about the Headquarters, was 
the famed Captain Molly. After her heroic achievements at the 
battle of Monmouth, the heroine was always received with a 



48 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

cordial welcome at Headquarters, where she was emplo3'ed in 
the duties of the household. She always wore an artillery- 
man's coat, with the cocked hat and feather, the distinguishing 
costume of Proctor's artillery. One day the Chief accosted this 
remarkable woman, while she was engaged in washing some 
clothes, pleasantly observing: • "Well, Captain Molly, are you 
not almost tired of this quiet way of life, and longing to be once 
more on the field of battle?" "Troth, your Excellency," replied 
the heroine, "and ye may say that; for I care not how soon I 
have another slap at them red coats, bad luck to them." "But 
what is to become of your petticoats in such an event, Captain 
Molly?" "Oh, long life to your excellency, and never de ye 
mind them at all, at all," continued this intrepid female. " Sure, 
and it is only in the artillery your Excellency knows that I would 
sarve, and divil a fear but the smoke of the cannon will hide my 
petticoats." 

The name and memory of Headquarters expired not with the 
war of the Revolution, but was preserved in the Presidoliads of 
New York and Philadelphia, where hundreds of the war-worn 
veterans of the days of trial repaired, as they said, to Head- 
quarters to pay their respects, and inquire after the health of his 
Excellency and the good Lady Washington. All were made 
welcome and "kindly bid to stay;" and while they quaffed a 
generous glass to the health of their beloved Chief, 4;he triumphs 
of Trenton and Princeton, of Monmouth and Yorktown, " were 
freshly remembered." 

And poor Pat, too, reverently, with hat in hand, would ap- 
proach the Headquarters. "To be sure, he w^ould say, that he 
well knew his Excellency had no time to spare to the likes of 
him. He just called to inquire after his honor's health, long life 
to him and to the good Lady Washington, the poor soldier's 
friend." But, taking the steward aside, with a knowing look, 
would observe : " Now, my darlint, if his excellency should happen 
to inquire who it was that called, jist tell him it was one of ould 
Mad Anthony's boys. Hurray for Ameriky!" And repeating 
the shout that so often had rang above the battle's roar, the vete- 
ran would go on his way rejoicing. 

It may be in the course of human events, that upon the places 
at Morristown and the Valley Forge, where the soldier of liberty 



OP WASHINGTON. 49 

erected his cheerless hut, the domes and spires of cities may arise 
in the splendid progress of a mighty empire, but the patriotic 
American of that future day, proud of the fame of the Father of 
his Country, and glorying in the recollections of America's heroic 
time, will pass by the palaces of pomp and power to pay homage 
to the mouldering ruins of the Headquarters. 



50 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 



ALEXANDER HAMILTON. 

Faithful to our purpose of giviug, in the course of this work, 
brief Memoirs of the distinsruished characters of the asre of Wash- 
ington, who were either attached to his person or stood high in 
his esteem, next to Nathaniel Greene and Robert Morris, we 
introduce Alexander Hamilton. 

In this illustrious individual were united the patriot, the soldier, 
the statesman, the jurist, the orator, and philosopher, and he was 
great in them all. Born in the Island of Nevis, the tirst rudi- 
ments of his education were obtained in Santa Cruz, from which, 
at a very early age, he came to America, and completed his 
studies at Columbia College, in New York. In that city the 
Revolution found the West Indian eno-acred in the direction of an 
extensive mercantile concern, where the youthful aspirant for 
liberty soon laid aside his ledger, and wielded his pen, ere he 
drew his sword, for the natural rights of mankind. 

Amonsr the efforts then makine; in behalf of the roval cause in 
New York, were a series of able essays, published with a view to 
alarm the patriots as to a rupture with the mother country, urging 
that, in such an event, all supplies of clothing would be withheld, 
and thus the most serious privations be endured by the colonists. 
Young Hamilton wrote a powerful reply to these essays, in which 
he proved that resources abounded in the country ; and then, for 
the first time in the world, it was left for this precocious genius 
to predict that the cotton plant could and ivould he grown in the 
southern colonies, and would yield an abundance of the raw material 
for the supply of our wants. 

The troubles increasing, Mr. Hamilton spoke of revisiting the 
West Indies, with a view to recruit his finances; this the patriots 
of New York would not hear of for a moment ; they had witnessed 
the powers of his pen, and wished him to try the temper of his 
sword. "Well, my friends," said the gallant youth, "if you are 
determined that I shall remain among ye, and take part in your 
just and holy cause, you must raise for me a full company of 
artillery." This was done, and Captain Hamilton lost no time 
in enlisting the services of several veteran artillerists, and by con- 



OF WASHINGTON. 51 

Ptant drilling, soon brought his company into a very higli t^tate of 
order arid discipline. He remained in Kew York diligently 
engaged in his military duties, until the Asia, Admiral Pandepiit, 
fired upon the city. Retreat becoming necessary, Hamilton here 
displayed that noble disinterestedness and disregard of self that 
adorned all the subsequent actions, whether public or private, of 
his illustrious life. A cart, drawn by a single horse, contained 
the baggage of this young officer. He ordered his baggage to be 
abandoned, and the horse that drew it to be harnessed to the 
cannon. 

Hamilton's military talents were apparent in very early life. 
Previous to the battle of Long Island, he crossed over to Brooklyn, 
and thence, by examining the positions of the American forces 
with a military eye, he became convinced that with such mate- 
rials as composed the American army, a <;onflict with troops 
which consisted of all soldiers would be hopeless of success. 
Filled with these ideas, Hamilton addressed an anonymous letter 
to the Commander-in-Chief, detailing many and forcible argu- 
ments against risking an action, and warmly recommending a 
retreat to the strong grounds of the main land. The letter created 
no little surprise in the mind of the General, but it was mixed 
with respect for the talent displayed by the writer. The dis- 
astrous battle of Long Island is a matter of history. 

The letter of which we have made such honorable mention was 

forwarded to the General by M =s afterwards celebrated for 

having conveyed to the American commander the most import- 
ant information during the occupancy of ISTew York by the British 
army. The morning after Washington made his triumjihal entry 
into the city of iJ^ew York, 25th November, 1783, he breakfasted 

with M -',10 the wonder of the Tories and the perfect horror 

of the Whigs. 

Hamilton's artillery joined the American army, and took part 
in the memorable retreat through the Jerseys. It was, as we 
have before related, at the passage of the Raritan, near Brunswick, 
that Hamilton first attracted the notice of the Commander-in- 
Chief, who, while posted on the river bank, and contemplating 
with anxiety the passage of the troops, was charmed by the bril- 
liant courage and admiral skill displayed by a young officer of 
artillery, who directed a battery against the enemy's advanced 



52 • CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

columns that pressed upon the Americans in their retreat by the 
ford. The General ordered Lieutenant Colonel Fitzgerald, his 
aid-de-camp, to ascertain who this young officer was, and bid him 
repair to Headquarters at the first halt of the army. 

At the interview that ensued, Washington quickly discovered 
in the young patriot and warrior those eminent qualities of the 
head and heart that shed such a renown upon the actions of his 
after life. From that interview Washington " marked him for 
his own." 

The American Commander-in-Chief was peculiarl}' happy in 
the selection of the officers of his militar}' family, of his guard, 
&e., save in a solitary' instance, and in that instance the individual 
served but for a very short time. The members of the military 
family and of the life-guard were gentlemen of the first order in 
intellect, patriotism, and all right soldierly qualities — they were 
attached to the Chief and to each other. Hamilton and Laurens 
were kindred spirits, brothers alike in arms, in affiBction, and in 
accomplishments, and might be styled the preux chevaliers of the 
American Army. 

Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton was at the side of the Chief during 
the most eventful periods of the Revolutionary war. In the 
memorable campaigns of 1777 and 1778, the habit at the Head- 
quarters was for the General to dismiss his officers at a very late 
hour of the night to snatch a little repose, while he, the man of 
mighty labors, drawing his cloak around him, and trimming his 
lamp, would throw himself upon a hard couch, not to sleep, but 
to think. Close to his master (wrapped in a blanket, but "all 
accoutred" for instant service) snored the stout 3'et active form 
oi Billy, the celebrated body servant during the whole of the 
Revolutionary war. 

At this late lone hour silence reigned in the Headquarters, 
broken only by the measured pacing of the sentinels, and the oft- 
repeated cry of "all's well ;" when suddenly the sound of a horse- 
tramp, at speed, is borne upon the night wind, then the challeng- 
ing of the guard, and the passing the word of an express from the 
lines to the Commander-in-Chief. The despatches being opened 
and read, there would be heard in the calm deep tones of that 
voice, so well remembered by the good and the brave in the old 



OF WASHINGTON. 53 

days of our country's trial, the command of the Chief to his now 
watchful attendant, " Call Colonel Hamilton." 

The remarkable conduct of the aid-de-camp during the exciting 
interview of Washington and Major General Lee, on the field of 
Monmouth, as has been related in another part of this work, 
caused no little sensation in tlie army at that time. It was, 
indeed, a generous burst of enthusiasm, emanating from a noble 
and gallant spirit, that, pure in its own devotion to the cause of 
liberty, viewed with indignation and abhorrence even the sus- 
})icion of treachery in another. It is somewhat singular that 
there were several distinguished ofhcers of the American army, 
who, judging from events at the close of the campaign of 1776, 
anticipated some defection on the part of Lee, on his return from 
captivity, and rejoining his former colors; yet it was left for a 
member of a different cloth from the military to give the first 
alarm to the Commander-in-Chief on this momentous subject. 
The Rev. Dr. Griffith, a Welshman by birth, a warm patriot in 
the cause of America, and chaplain to one of the Virginia regi- 
ments, repaired to the Headquarters at a late hour of the night 
preceding the battle of Monmouth, and warned the chief against 
the employment of Major General Lee to command the advance 
cruard on the ensuins; morning — a command which that veteran 
ofiicer had at first declined. Washington received the information 
cautiously, nay, doubtiugly, when the reverend gentleman, on 
making his bow to retire, observed, "I am not permitted to say 
more at present, but your Excellency will remember my warning 
voice to-morrow in the battle." 

From a difficuly that occurred in 1780, Lieutenant Colonel 
Hamilton retired from the Headquarters, and assumed his rank 
in the line, in the command of a battalion of light infantry, then 
the crack corps of the army. With this command he marched 
to the south in 1781. At the siege of Yorktown, it was deter- 
mined to storm the two advanced redoubts of the enemy, and 
the selection of officers and men for this daring achievement was 
entrusted to Major General the Marquis de Lafayette. The 
Marquis lost no time in choosing as the officer who was to lead 
the assault Lieutenant Colonel Gimet, a gallant Frenchman, who 
had been attached to the Marquis's military family. Hamilton, 
belonginix to the division of light infantry commanded by La- 



54 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

fayette, was about to prefer his claim, wlieii his warmest friends 
and admirers dissuaded him, owing, as they said, to the vast in- 
fluence in favor of the Frenchman, from the presence of a splendid 
Frencli fleet and army, and the universal desire of doing every 
possible honor to our generous and gallant allies. Hamilton 
observed, "I am aware that I have mighty influences to contend 
with, but I feel assured that Washington is inflexibly just. I will 
not urge my claim on the plea of my long and faithful services, 
coeval with nearly the whole war; I will only plead m}- rank." 
He accordingly repaired to Headquarters. The General received 
his former and favorite aid-de-camp with great cordiality and 
kindness, listened patiently to his representations, and finally 
granted his claims ; and Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, in pre- 
sence of three armies, led the assault of the redoubt on the night 
of the memorable 14th of October, with a brilliancy of courage 
and success that could not be surpassed. 

As the Americans mounted the works, the cry of the soldiers 
was, "Remember New London!" alluding to the cruel massacre 
of the American troops at Fort Griswold the year before. When 
the redoubt was carried, the vanquished Britons fell on their 
knees, momently expecting the exterminating bayonet; not a 
man was injured, when no longer resisting. For Hamilton, who 
commanded, and Lieutenant Colonel Laurens, who participated 
as a volunteer on this brilliant occasion, courage and mercy 
have entwined a wreath of laurel that time or circumstance can 
never Aide. 

Shortly after the surrender of Yorktown, Colonel Hamilton 
retired from the army, preserving his rank, but declining all pay 
or emolument. He commenced the study of the law, and was 
elected to the New York legislature, and afterwards to the old 
Congress. While a member of the latter body, he wrote a series 
of essays of great ability, showing the defects of the old system 
of government, and recommending a convention, with a view to 
an entirely new^ constitution, Government and laws. He was 
elected a member of the Convention of 1787, and was one of the 
brightest stars in that constellation of patriots and statesmen that 
formed the present happy Constitution of the United States. 

Hamilton's labors by no means ended with the Convention of 
1787 ; it required all his zeal and eloquence to stem the torrent of 



OF WASHINGTON. 55 



opposition from Governor Clinton and others, up to the time of 
the final adoption of the Constitution by the State of jSTew York. 

In 1789, when the first President was on his way to the seat of 
the new Government, he stopped in Philadelphia at the house of 
Robert Morris, and while consulting with that eminent patriot and 
benefactor of America as to the members oi the first Cabinet, Wash- 
ington observed, " The Treasury, Morris, will, of course, be your 
birth. After your invaluable services as financier of the Revolu- 
tion, no one can pretend to contest the ofiice of Secretary of the 
Treasury with you." Robert Morris- respectfully but firmly de- 
clined the appointment, on the ground of his private affairs, when 
he replied, "But, my dear General, you will be no loser by my 
declining the Secretaryship of the Treasury, for I can recommend 
to you a far cleverer fellow than I am for your Minister of Finance, 
in the person of your former aid-de-camp. Colonel Hamilton." The 
President was amazed, and continued, "I always knew Colonel 
Hamilton to be a man of superior talents, but never supposed 
that he had any knowledge of finance:" to which Morris replied, 
" He knows every thing, sir ; to a mind like his nothing comes 
amiss." Robert Morris, indeed, had had ample proofs of Ham- 
ilton's talents in financial matters, the financier having received 
from the soldier many and important suggestions, plans, and 
estimates touchins: the oreranization and establishment of the 
Bank of North America in 1780. 

Thus did Alexander Hamilton, from amid the stirring duties 
of a camp, devote the vast and varied powers of his mind to the 
organization of a system of finance, as connected with banking 
operations, that proved of inestimable service to the cause of the 
Revolution. 

Washington hesitated not a moment in making the appoint- 
ment of Secretary of the Treasurj-, agreeably to the recommenda- 
tion of Morris; for assuredly there was none, no, not one of the 
many worthies of the Revolution who stood higher in the esteem 
or approached nearer to the heart of the Chief than Robert Morris, 
the noble and generous benefactor of America in the darkest 
hours of her destiny. 

On the very day of the interesting event we have just related, 
Mr. Dallas met Hamilton in the street and addressed him with, 
" Well, Colonel, can you tell me who will be the members of the 



56 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

Cabinet?" "lleally, my dear, sir," replied the Colonel, "I can- 
not tell you who will, but I can very readily tell you of one who 
will not be of the number, and that one is your humble servant." 
He had not at this moment the remotest idea that Washiuo;ton 
had again in peace, as in war, "marked him for his own." 

The very best eulogium that can be pronounced upon the Fiscal 
Department of the United States, as organized by Alexander 
Hamilton, is in the remarks of the Hon, Albert Gallatin, a politi- 
cal rival, and the most distinguished financier of the successors 
of the first Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Gallatin has mag- 
nanimously declared that all Secretaries of the Treasury of the 
United States, since the first, enjoyed a sinecure, the genius and 
labors of Hamilton having created and arranged every thing that 
was requisite and necessary for the successful operation of the 
Department. • 

In January, 1795, Hamilton resigned his seat in the Cabinet 
and retired to private life. It was our good fortune to be almost 
domesticated in the family of this great man, and to see and 
know much of him in the olden time. Among the many and 
imposing recollections of the great age of the Republic that are 
graven upon our memory, and mellowed by time, cheer b}' the 
venerable and benign influences our evening of life, we call up 
with peculiar pleasure a reminiscence of the days of the first Presi- 
dency, embracing the resignation of Alexander Hamilton. 

It was at the Presidential mansion that the ex-Secretary of the 
Treasury came into the room where Mr. Lear, Major Jackson, 
and the other gentlemen of the President's family were sitting. 
With the usual smile upon his countenance, he observed : " Con- 
gratulate me, my good friends, for I am no longer a public man ; 
the President has at length consented to accept my resignation, 
and I am once more a private citizen." The gentlemen replied 
that they could perceive no cause for rejoicing in an event that 
would deprive the Government and the country of the late Secre- 
tary's valuable services. Hamilton continued : ^'' I am not worth 
exceeding five hundred dollars in the world ; my slender fortune and 
the best years of my life have been devoted to the service of my adopted 
country; a rising family hath its claims." Glancing his eye upon 
a small book that lay on the table, he took it up and observed : 
" Ah, this is the Constitution. Now, mark my words : So long as 



OF WASHINGTON. 57 

we are a young and virtuous people, this instrument 7viU bind us 
together in mutual interests, mutual welfare, and mutual happiness, 
but when we become old and corrupt it will bind us no longer." 

Such were the prophetic words of Alexander Hamilton, uttered 
half a century ago, and in the very dawn of our existence as a 
nation. Let the Americans write them in their books and treasure 
them in their hearts. Another half century, and they will be 
regarded as truths. 

What a spectacle does this touching reminiscence present to 
the Americans and their posterity ! A great man of the Revolu- 
tion, the native of a foreign isle, who had employed his pen and 
drawn his sword in the cause of liberty before a beard had grown 
upon his chin; renowned alike in Senates and in the field, in 
the halls of legislation and the "ranks of death," proudly ac- 
knowledging his honorable poverty, the result of his many and 
glorious services, and resigning one of the highest and most dig- 
nified ofiices in the Government, to retire as a private citizen to 
labor for the support of a rising family. 

Of a truth, upon the Roman model, ay, and that of the purest 
and palmiest days of the mistress of the ancient world, were 
formed the patriots, statesmen, and warriors of the American 
Revolution. Worthy, indeed, are they to be ranked with the 
purest and noblest models of ancient virtue and heroism, whom 
generations yet unborn will hail as the fathers of liberty and 
founders of an empire. 

With these reminiscences, endeared to us by many venerable 
associations of our other days, and which we ofier as an humble 
tribute to the fame and memory of him who was a master-spirit 
among the great and renowed that adorned the age of Washington, 
we close our brief memoir. 

8 



58 CTfSTIS S RECOLLECTIONS 



COMMENCExMENT OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERN- 
MENT OF THE UNITED STATES.— WASHINGTON'S 
RESIDENCE IN AND FINAL DEPARTURE FROM NEW 
YORK. 

On the 30th of April, 1789, the Constitutional Government of 
the United States beg-an, by tlie inauguration of George Wash- 
ington as President of the United States, in the city of New York. 

In the then limited extent and improvement of the city, there 
was some difficulty in selecting a mansion for the residence of 
the Chief Afagistrate and a liousehold suitable to his rank and 
station. Osgood's house, a mansion of very moderate extent, was 
at length fixed upon, situated in Cherry street. There the Presi- 
dent became domiciled. His domestic family consisted of Mrs. 
Washington, the two adopted children, Mr. Lear, as principal 
secretary, Colonel Humphreys, with Messrs. Lewis and Nelson, 
secretaries, and Major Wm. Jackson, aid-de-camp. 

Persons visiting the house in Cherrv street at this time of day 
will wonder how a building so small could contain the many and 
mighty spirits that thronged its halls in olden days. Congress, 
cabinet, all public functionaries in the commencement of the 
Government, were selected from the very elite of the nation. 
Pure patriotism, commanding talent, eminent services, were the 
proud and indispensable requisites for official station in the first 
days of the Republic. The first Congress was a most enlightened 
and dignified body. In the Senate were several of the members 
of -the Congress of 1776 and signers of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence — Richard Henry Lee, who moved the Declaration, John 
Adams, who seconded it, with Sherman, Morris, Carroll, &c. 

The levees of the first President were attended by these illus- 
trious patriots and statesmen, and by many others of the patriots, 
statesmen, and soldiers, who could say of the Revolution '■'■ magna 
parsfui;" while numbers of foreigners and strangers of distinc- 
tion crowded to the seat of the General Government, all anxious 
to witness the grand experiment that was to determine how much 
rational liberty mankind is capable of enjoying, without said 
.liberty degenerating into licentiousness. 



OF WA8HINGT0N. 59 

Mrs. Washington's drawino-. rooms, on Friday nights, were at- 
tended by the grace and beauty of New York. On one of these 
occasions an incident occurred which might have been attended 
by serious consequences. Owing to the lowness of the ceiling in 
the drawing-room, the ostrich feathers in the head-dres^ of iliss 
Mclver, a belle of Xew York, took tire from the chandelier, to 
the no small alarm of the company. Major Jackson, aid-de-camp 
to the President, with great presence of mind, and equal gallantry, 
flew to the rescue of the lady, and, by clapping the burning 
plumes between his hands, extinguished the flame, and the draw- 
ing-room went on as usual. 

Washington preserved the habit, as well in public as in private 
life, of rising at four o'clock and retiring to bed at nine. On 
Saturdays he rested somewhat from his labors, by either riding 
into the country, attended by a groom, or with his family in his 
coach drawn by six horses. 

Fond of horses, the stables of the President v.ere always in the 
tin est order, and his equipage excellent, both in taste and quality. 
Indeed, so long ago as the days of the vice regal court of Lord 
Botetourt, at Williamsburg, in Virginia, wetind that there existed 
a rivalry between the equipages of Col. Byrd, a magnate of the old 
regime, and Col. Washington, the grays against the bays. Bishoi>, 
the celebrated body servant of Braddock, was the master of Wash- 
ington's stables; and there were what was termed muslin horses\\\ 
those old days. At cock-crow the stable-boys were at work; at 
sunrise Bishop stalked into the stables, a muslin handkerchief in 
his hand, which he applied to the coats of the animals, and, if the 
slightest stain was perceptible upon the muslin, up v/cnt the luck- 
less wights of the stable boys, and punishment was administered 
instanter; for to the veteran Bishop, bred amid the iron discipline 
of European armies, mercy for anything like a breach of duty was 
altogether out of the question. 

The President's stables in Philadelphia were under the direc- 
tion of German John, and the grooming of the white chargers 
will rather surprise the moderns. The night before tlie horses 
were expected to be rode they were covered entirely over with a 
j)aste, of which whiting was the principal component part; then 
the animals were swathed in body-cloths, and left to sleep upon 
clean straw. In the morning the coraix)sition had become hard, 



60 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

was well rubbed in, and curried and brushed, which process gave 
to the coats a beautiful, glossy, and satin-like appearance. The 
hoofs were then blacked and polished, the mouths washed, teeth 
picked and cleaned: and, the leopard-skin housings being pro- 
perly adjusted, the white chargers were led out for service. Such 
was the grooming of ancient times. 

There was bnt one theatre in New York in 1789, (in John 
sci'eet,) and so small were its dimensions that the whole fabric 
might easily be placed on the stage of one of our modern theatres. 
Yet, humble as was the edifice, it possessed an excellent company 
of actors and actresses, including old Morris, who was the asso- 
ciate of Garrick in the very outset of that great actor's career at 
Goodraansfields. The stage boxes were appropriated to the Presi- 
dent and Vice President, and were each of them decorated with 
emblems, trophies, &c. At the foot of the playbills were always 
the words " Vivat RespMica.'' Washington often visited this 
theatre, being particularly gratilied by Wignell's performance of 
Darby, in the Poor Soldier. 

It was in the theatre in John street that the now national air 
of "Hail Columbia,'' then called the President's March, was tirst 
played. It was composed by a German musician, named Fyles, 
the leader of the orchestra, in compliment to the President. The 
national air will last as long as the nation lasts, while the meri- 
torious composer has been long since forgotten. 

It was while residing in Cherry street that the President was 
attacked by a severe illness, that required a surgical operation. 
He was attended by the elder and younger Drs. Bard. The elder 
being somewhat doubtful of his nerves, gave the knife to his son, 
bidding him cut away — deeper, deeper still; don't be afraid; you 
see how well he bears it. Great anxiety was felt in New York at 
this time, as the President's case was considered extremely dan- 
gerous. Happily, the operation proved successful, and the patient's 
recovery removed all cause of alarm. During the illness a chain 
was stretched across the street, and the sidewalks laid with straw. 
Soon after his recovery, the President set out on his intended 
tour through the New England States. 

The President's mansion was so limited in accommodation that 
three of the Secretaries were compelled to occupy one room — 
Humphreys, Lewis, and "JSTelson. Humphreys, aid-de-camp to 



OF WASHINGTON. 61 

the Commander-in-Chief at Yorktown, was a most estimable man, 
and at the same time a poet. About this period he was compo- 
sing his " Widoiv of Malabar.'' Lewis and Nelson, both young 
men, were content, after the labors of the day, to enjoy a good 
night's repose. But this was often denied them ; for Humphreys, 
when in the vein, would rise from his bed at any hour, and, with 
stentorian voice, recite his verses. The young men, roused from 
their slumbers, and rubbing their eyes, beheld a great burly figure 
" en chemise," striding across the floor, reciting with great emphasis 
particular passages from his poem, and calling on his room-mates 
for their approbation. Having in this way for a considerable 
time "murdered the sleep" of his associates, Humphreys at 
length, wearied by his exertions, would sink upon his pillow in 
a kind of dreamy languor. So sadly were the young secretaries 
annoyed by the frequent outbursts of the poet's imagination, that 
it was remarked of them bv their friends, that from 1789 to the 
end of their lives, neither Robert Lewis nor Thomas Nelson were 
ever known to evince the slightest taste for poetry. 

The mansion in Cherry street proving so very inconvenient, in- 
duced the French Ambassador to give up his establishment — 
McComb's new house in Broadway — for the accommodation of 
the President. It was from this house in 1790 that Washington 
took his linal departure from Nev^ York. It was always his habit 
to endeavor, as much as possible, to avoid the manifestations of 
alfection and gratitude that met him everywhere. He strove in 
vain; he was closely watched, and the people would have their 
way. He wished to have slipped ofi* unobserved from New York, 
and thus steal a march upon his old companions in arms. But 
there were too many of the dear glorious old veterans of the 
Revolution at that time of day in and near New York to render 
such an escape even possible. . 

The baggage had all been packed up; the horses, carriages, 
and servants ordered to be over the Ferry to Paul us Hook by 
daybreak, and nothing was wanting for departure but the dawn. 
The lights were yet burning, when the President came into the 
room where his family were assembled, evidently much pleased 
in the belief that all was rio;ht, when, immediatelv under the 
windows, the band of the artillery struck up Washington's March. 
"There," he exclaimed, "it's all over; we are found out. Well, 



62 CUSTIs'fc RECOLLECTIONS 

well, they must have their own way." New York soon after ap- 
})eared as if taken by storn^ ; troops and persons of all descrip- 
tions hurrying down Broadway toward the place of embarkation, 
all anxious to take a last look on him whom so many could never 
expect to see again. 

The eudjarkation was delayed until all the complimentary ar- 
rangements were completed. The President, after taking leave 
of many dear and cherished friends, and many an old companion 
in arms, stepped into the barge that was to convey him from New 
York forever. The coxswain gave the word "let fall ; the spray 
from the oars sparkled in the morning sunbeams ; the bowman 
shoved off from the pier, and, as the barge swung round to the 
tide, Washington rose, uncovered, in the stern, to bid adieu to 
the masses assembled on the shore ; he waived his hat, and in a 
voice tremulous from emotion, pronounced farewell. It may be 
supposed that Major Bauman, who commanded the artillery on 
this interesting occasion, who was first Captain of Lamb's regi- 
ment, and a favorite officer of the war of the Kevolution, would, 
when about to pay his last respects to his beloved commander, 
load his pieces with something more than mere blank cartridges. 
But ah ! the thunders of the cannon were completely Imshed when 
the mighty shout of the people arose that responded to the fare- 
well of Washington. Pure from the heart it came ; right up to 
Heaven it went, to call down a blessing upon the Father of his 
Country. 

The barge had scarcely gained the middle of the Hudson, when 
the trumpets were heard at Paulus Hook, where the Governor 
and the chivalry of Jersey were in waiting to welcome the chief 
to those well-remembered shores. Escorts of cavalrv relieved 
each other throughout the whole route, up to the Pennsylvania 
line ; every village, ^nd even hamlet, turned out its population to 
greet with cordial welcome the man upon whom all eyes were 
fixed, and in whom all hearts rejoiced. 

What must have been the recollections that crowded on the 
mind of Washington during this triumphant progress? Newark, 
Brunswick, Princeton, Trenton I What a contrast between the 
glorious burst of sunshine that now illumined and made glad 
everything around these memorable spots, with the gloomy and 
desolate remembrances of '76 I Then his country's champion^ 



OF WASHINGTON. Go 



wltli the wreck of a shattered host, was tiyiua: before a victorious 
and well-appointed foe, while all around him was shrouded in the 
darkness of despair ; no2L\ in his glorious progress over the self- 
same route, his firm footstep presses npou the soil of an infant 
empire, reposing in the joys of peace, independence, and happiness. 

Among the many who swelled his triumph, the most endeared 
to the heart of the Chief were the old associates of his toils, his 
fortunes, and his fame. Many of the Revolutionary veterans were 
living in 1790, and, by their presence, gave a dignified tone and 
character to all public assemblages ; and, when you saw a pecu- 
liarly fine looking soldier in those old days, and would ask, " to 
what corps of the American army did you belong?" — drawing 
himself up to his full height, with a martial air, and back of the 
hand thrown np to his forehead, the veteran would reply, " Life 
Guard, your honor." 

And proud and happy were these veterans in again beholding 
their own good Lady Washington. Greatly was she beloved in 
the army — her many intercessions with the Chief for the pardon 
of oftenders ; her kindness to the sick and wounded — all of which 
caused her annual arrival in camp to be hailed as an event that 
would serve to dissipate the gloom of the winter quarters. 

Arrived at the line, the Jersey escort was relieved by the cav- 
alry of Pennsylvania, and when near to Philadelphia, the Presi- 
dent was met by Governor Mifiiin.and a brilliant cortege of ofla- 
cers, and escorted by a squadron of horse to the city. Conspicu- 
ous among the Governor's suite, as well for his martial bearing 
as for the manly beauty of his person, was General Walter Stewart, 
a son of Erin, and a gallant and distinguished officer of the Penn- 
sylvania line. To Stewart, as to Cadwallader, Washington was 
most warmly attached; indeed, those officers were among the 
very choicest of the contributions of Pennsylvania to the army 
and cause of independence. Mifflin, small in stature, was active, 
alert, " every inch a soldier." He was a patriot of great influence 
in Pennsylvania in the " times that tried men's souls," and nobly 
did he exert that influence in raising troops, with which to rein- 
force the wreck of the grand army at the close of the campaign 
of 76. 

Arrived within the city, the crowd became intense ; the Presi- 
dent left his carriage and mounted the white charger ; and, with 



64 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

the Governor on his right, proceeded to the City Tavern in Third 
street, wliere quarters were prepared for him, the light infantry, 
after some time, having opened a passage for the carriages. At 
the City Tavern the President was received by the authorities of 
Philadelphia, who welcomed the Chief Magistrate to their city as 
to his home for the remainder of his Presidential term. A group 
of old and long-tried friends were also in waiting. Foremost 
among these, and first to grasp the hand of Washington, was one 
who w^as always nearest to his heart, a patriot and public bene- 
factor, Robert Morris. 

After remaining a short time in Philadelphia, the President 
speeded on his journey to that home where he ever found rest 
from his mighty labors, and enjoyed the sweets of rural and do- 
mestic happiness amid his farms and at his fireside of Mount 
Vernon. 

Onward, still onward, whirls the tide of time. The few who 
yet survive that remember the Father of his Country are fast 
fading away. A little while, and their gray heads will all have 
dropped into the grave. May the reminiscences of one whom 
Washington adopted in infancy, cherished in youth, and who 
grew up to manhood under his parental care, continue to find 
favor with the American people I 



OF WASHINGTON. 65 



ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTHDAY OF GENERAL 
WASHINGTON, FEB. 22, 1848. 

Washington's retirement after the peace of 1783. 

BISHOP, the old body SERVANT. 

After the sublime and touching event of tlie " Resignation of 
the Commission," at Annapolis, on the 23d of December, 1783, 
Washington hastened to his beloved retirement, hung up his 
sword, and prepared to enjoy the delights of rural and do- 
mestic life. 

The same exact and economical distribution of time, the same 
methodical and active habits of business, that had so triumph- 
antly borne the Commander of Armies through the mighty labors 
of an eight years' war, were now destined in the works of peace 
alike to distinguish the illustrious farmer of Mount Vernon. 

After so long an absence, the retired General, on returning to 
his home, found that there was much to create. Previous to the 
war, the establishment of Mount Vernon was upon a very lim- 
ited scale. The Mansion house was small, having but four rooms 
on a floor, and there was w^auting nearly all of the present out- 
buildings and offices. 

Washington was his own architect and builder, laying oft" every 
thing himself — the buildings, gardens, and grounds all arose to 
ornament and usefulness under his fostering hand. 

His landed estate, comprising eight thousand acres, underwent 
many and important changes and improvements. It was divided 
into farms, with suitable enclosures ; hedges w'ere planted, and 
excellent farm-buildings were erected, from European models. 
Devoting much time and attention to these various objects, Wash- 
ington accomplished the most important of his improvements in 
the very short space of from four to five years. 

Nor was his time exclusively allotted to business ; he had a 



<dQ CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

"tirae for all tliinj^s." He enjoyed the pleasures of the chase, 
visited his friends, and received and entertained the numerouB 
guests who crowded to his hospitable mansion. Indeed, in the 
retirement at Mount Vernon, from '83 to '89, were probably 
passed the very happiest days of this great man's life. Glorying 
in the emancipation of his country from foreign thraldom ; sur- 
rounded by many and dear friends; hailed with love and grati- 
tude by his countrymen wherever he appeared among them ; re- 
ceiving tokens of esteem and admiration from the good, the gifted, 
and the great of the most enlightened nations of the civilized 
world ; engaged in the pursuits of agriculture — pursuits that were 
alwa3'8 most congenial to his tastes and wishes — amid so many 
blessings, we may well believe that in the retirement at Mount 
Vernon Washington was happy. 

On leaving Annapolis the General was accompanied b}' two 
of the officers of his former staff. Colonels Pumphrej's and Smith, 
who remained for several ^^ears at ]SIount Vernon, engaged in 
arranging the vast mass of papers and documents that had accu- 
mulated during the war of Independence. Humphreys was a 
man of letters and a poet, and, together with Colonel Smith, 
served in the staff of the Commander-in-Chief on some of the 
most important occasions of the Revolutionary War. 

At a short distance from the Mansion house, in a pleasant and 
sheltered situation, rose the homestead of Bishop, the old body 
servant. Thomas Bishop, born in England, attended General 
Braddock to the continent during the Seven Years' War, and after- 
wards embarked with that brave and unfortunate Commander 
for America in 1755. 

On the morning of the 9tli of July — the day of the memorable 
battle of the Monongahela — Bishop was present when Colouel 
AVashington urged upon the English General for the last time 
the 'propriety of permitting him (the Colonel) to advance with 
the Virginia woodsmen and a band of friendly Indians, and open 
the way to Fort du Quesue. Braddock treated the proposal with 
scorn; but, turning to his faithful follower, observed : "Bishop, 
this young man is determined to go into action to-day, although 
he is really too much weakened by illness for any such purpose. 
Have au eye to him, and render him any assistance that may be 
necessary." Bishop had only tirae to reply, '• Your honor's orders 



OF WASHINGTON. 67 

shall be obeyed," when the troops were in motion and the action 
sooi] after commenced. 

Sixty-four British otiicers were killed and wounded, and Wash- 
ington was the only mounted officer on the field. His horse being 
shot, Bishop was promptly at hand to offer him a second ; and so 
exhausted was the youthful hero from his previous illness and his 
great exertions in the battle, that he was with difficulty extricated 
from his dying charger, and was actually lifted by the strong arms 
of Bishop into the saddle of the second horse. 

It was at this period of the combat that, in the glimpses of the 
smoke, the gallant Colonel was seen bravely dashing amid the 
ranks of death, and calling on the colonial woodsmen, who alone 
maintained the fight, "Hold your ground, my brave fellows, and 
draw your sights for the honor of old Virginia!" It was at this 
period, too, of the battle that the famed Indian commander, point- 
ing to Washington, cried to his warriors: "Fire at him no more; 
see ye not that the Great Spirit protects that Chief; he cannot 
die in battle." 

His second horse having fallen, the Provincial Colonel made 
his wa}' to the spot where the commanding general, though mor- 
tally stricken, raging like a wounded lion, and yet breathing de- 
fiance to the foe, was supported in the arms of Bishop, Braddock 
grasped the hand of Washington, exclaiming, " Oh, my dear 
Colonel, had I been governed by your advice, we never should 
have come to this!" When he found his last moments approach- 
ing, the British General called his faithful and long-tried follower 
and friend to his side, and said, "Bishop, you are getting too old 
foi" war; I advise you to remain in America and go into the ser- 
vice of Colonel Washington. Be but as faithful to him as you 
have been to me, and rely upon it the remainder of your days 
will be prosperous and happy." 

Bishop took the advice of his old master, and at the close of 
the campaign returned with the Colonel to Mount Vernon. As 
body servant, Bishop attended Colonel Washington at the time 
of his marriage, and was installed as chief of the stables and the 
equipage in Williamsburg, in the bright and palmy days of that 
ancient capital. Finally, the old body servant settled on the 
banks of the Potomac, married, and was made overseer of one of 
the farms of the Mount Vernon estate. 



68 CUSTIS's RECOLLECTIONS 

At the commencement of the Revolutionary War, Bishop was 
considered as too old for actual service, and was left in charge of 
the home establishment, where the veteran soldier's rigid disci- 
pline and strict attention to every thing committed to his care 
caused affairs immediately relating to the Mansion house to be 
kept in first-rate order. Upon the General's return after the peace 
of 1783, the ancient body servant had passed fourscore, had been 
relieved from all active service, and having lost his wife, he, with 
his daughter and only child, was settled down in a comfortable 
homestead that had been built expressly as an asylum for his 
old age. 

Although very infirm, yet, when the bright skies and balmy 
breath of spring renovated all Nature, the veteran soldier and 
faithful follower of two masters, would grasp his staff and wend 
his way to a spot by w^iich he knew the General would pass in 
taking his morning ride. As Washington approached, the vete- 
ran, by aid of his staff, would draw himself up to his full height, 
and with a right soldierly air uncover. A few silver locks were 
scattered about his temples, his visage was deeply farrowed by 
the hand of time, while his bent and shrunken frame was but the 
shadow of a form once so tall and manly. The General would 
rein up his horse and kindly inquire, "How are you, old man, 
I am glad to see you abroad; is there anything you want?" The 
veteran would reply: "Good morning to your honor: I am proud 
and happy to see your honor looking so brave and hearty. I 
thank God I am as w'ell as can be expected at my years. What 
can I want while in your honor's service? Whenever the choicest 
meats are killed for your honor's own table, the good lady will 
send to old Bishop a part. God bless your honor, the madam, 
and all your good family!" Washington would continue his 
morning ride, while the old body servant, made happy by the 
interview, grasped his staff and strode manfully away to his com- 
fortable home. 

Of the two former aids-de-camps, now secretaries, in their hours 
of relaxation from business, Humphreys was in the habit of strol- 
ling to unfrequented places, there to recite his verses to the echoes. 
Smith, too, would take the air after the labors of the writing-desk. 

One evening Colonel Smith in his rambles came suddenly upon 
the homestead of the old body servant, whose daughter was milk- 



OF WASHINGTON. 69 

ing at a short distance from the house. She was a slightly-built 
girl, and, in endeavoring to raise the pail, found it too much for 
her strength. Colonel Smith gallantly stepped fonvard, and offered 
his services, saying, "Do, miss, permit my strong arms to assist 
you." Now, the veteran's daughter had often heard from her 
father the most awful tales of those sad fellows, the young, and 
particularly the handsome British officers, and how their atten- 
tions to a maiden must inevitably result in her ruin. Filled with 
these ideas, Miss Bishop did not draw any line of distinction be- 
tween British and American officers, and Smith, being a pecu- 
liarly fine handsome fellow, the milkmaid threw down her pail 
and ran screaming to the house. The Colonel followed, making 
every possible apology, when suddenly he was brought up all 
standing by the appearance of the veteran, who stood, in all his 
terrors, at the door of his domicil. The affrighted girl ran into 
her father's arms, while the old body servant rated the Colonel 
in no measured terms upon the enormity of the attempt to insult 
his child. Poor Smith, wt;ll bespattered by the contents of the 
milk pail, in vain endeavored to excuse himself to the enraged 
veteran, who declared that he would carry the affair up to his 
honor, aye, and to the madam, too. At the mention of the latter 
personage, the unfortunate Colonel felt something like an ague 
chill to pass over his frame. Smitli in vain essayed to propitiate 
the old man by assuring him that the affair was one of the most 
common gallantry; that his object was to assist, and not to insult 
the damsel. Bishop replied, "Ah! Colonel Smith, I know what 
you dashing young officers are. I am an old soldier, and have 
seen some things in my long day. I am sure his honor, after my 
services, will not permit ray child to be insulted; and, as to the 
madam, why the madam as good as brought up my girl." So 
saying, the old body servant retired into his castle, and closed the 
door. 

The unfortunate Colonel wended his way to the mansion house, 
aware of the scrape he had got into, and pondering as to the mode 
by which he might be able to get out of it. At length he bethought 
himself of Billy, the celebrated servant of the Commander-in-Chief, 
during the whole of the war of the Revolution, and well known 
to all of the officers of the headquarters. 

A council of war was held, and Billy expressed great indigna- 



70 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

tion that Bishop should attempt to carry a complaint against his 
friend, Colonel Smith, up to the General, and that it was per- 
fectly monstrous that such a tale should reach the ears of the 
madam; but, continued Billy, that is a terrible old fellow, and 
he has been much spoiled on account of his services to the General 
in Braddock's war. He even says, that we of the Revolutionary 
army are but half soldiers, compared with the soldiers that he 
served with in the outlandish countries. Smith observed, it is 
bad enough, Billy, for this story to get to the General's ears, but 
to those of the lady will never do; and, then there's Humphreys, 

he will be out upon me in a d d long poem that will spread 

my misfortunes from Dan to Beersheba. At length the Colonel 
determined, by the advice of his privy counsel, to dispatch Billj' 
as a special ambassador, to endeavor to propitiate the veteran, or, 
at any rate, to prevent his visit to the Mansion house. 

Meantime the old body servant was not idle. He ransacked a 
large worm-eaten trunk, and brought forth a coat that had not 
seen the lio-ht for many Ions; years ; if^*a*s of the cut and fashion 
of the da^^s of George H; then a vest, and lastly a hat, Cumber- 
land cocked, with a huge riband cockade, that had seen service 
in the Seven Years' War; his shoes underwent a polish, and were 
covered by large silver buckles. All these matters being care- 
fully dusted and brushed, the veteran flourished his staff'andtook 
up his line of march for the Mansion house. 

Billy met the old soldier in full march, and a parley ensued. 
Bill harangued with great force upon the impropriety of the vete- 
ran's conduct in not receiving the Colonel's apology ; for, con- 
tinued the ambassador, Diy friend Colonel Smith is both an offi- 
cer and a gentleman; and then, old man, you have no business 
to have such a handsome daughter, (a grim smile passing over 
the veteran's countenance at this compliment to the beauty of his 
child,) for you know 3-oung fellows will be young fellows. He 
continued by saying, it was not to be thought of that any such 
matter should reach the madam's ears, and concluded by recom- 
mending to the veteran to drop the aliair and return to his home. 

The old body servant, fully accoutred for his expedition, had 
cooled otf a little during his march. A soldierly respect for an 
officer of Colonel Smith's rank and standing, and a fear that he 
might carry the matter a little too far, determined him to accept 



OF WASHINGTON. 71 

the Colonel's assurance that there could be iio harm Avhere "no 
harm was intended," came to the right-about, and retraced his 
steps to his home. 

The ambassador returned to the anxious Colonel, and informed 
him that he had met the old fellow, " en grand costume,'' and in full 
march for the Mansion house, but that by a powerful display of 
eloquence he had brought him to a halt, and induced him to listen 
to reason, and drop the affair altogether. The ready guinea was 
quickly in the ambassador's pouch, while the gallant Colonel, 
happy in his escape from what might have resulted in a very un- 
pleasant affair, was careful to give the homestead of the old body 
servamt a good berth in all future rambles. 

The pleasurable routine of Washington's life, in his retirement, 
was a little varied by his call to the Convention of 1787. But in 
1788, when the Constitution became ratified by the States, letters, 
addresses, and memorials, from his compatriots and old com- 
panions in arms, poured in from all parts of the country, all pray- 
ing: him who had been "first in war" to become "first in 
peace" as the Chief Magistrate of the new Government. These 
testimonials of affection made deep impression upon the retired 
General, as they showed him that he stood "first in the hearts of 
his countrymen." 

In April, 1789, the doors of Mount Yernon opened to receive, 
and "Washington hastened to embrace, the venerable Charles 
Thompson, the Secretary to the Revolutionary Congress, and 
signer of the Declaration of Independence. He came charged 
with the honored duty of announcing to the retired General his 
unanimous election totheoflice of President of the United States. 
The tall attenuated form, the simple yet dignified manners of 
Secretary Thompson, made him a most favored guest at a board 
where had been welcomed many of the wise, the good, the brave, 
and renowned. 

The unanimous election of Washington to the Chief Magis- 
tracy of a new Empire by a people who had hungered for an op- 
portunity of elevating the man of their hearts to the highest gift 
in their powder to bestow, called forth from the Chief acknowledg- 
ments of profound gratitude. Washington turned a last fond 
lingering look upon his retired home, where he had passed so 
many peaceful and happy days; upon his extensive circle of 



72 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

friends, to whom he was attached by many and most endearing 
associations; upon his improvements, which he had so much de- 
lighted to rear, and which had grown up to useful and ornamental 
maturity under his fostering hand ; he bade adieu to them all, 
and hastened to obey the call of his country. 



OF WASHINGTON. 73 



THE LAST DAYS AT MOUNT VERNON. 

On the 4th of March, 1797, Washington, as a private citizen, 
attended the dignified ceremonial of the Inauguration, as it was 
conducted in the ancient time, and was the first to pay his re- 
spects to the second President of the United States. 

During the preparations for his departure from the seat of Gov- 
ernment, the ex-President enjoyed an interchange of farewell 
visits with those in Philadelphia whom he had known so long 
and loved so well. Two new members were now added to the 
domestic family of Washington, in the persons of George Wash- 
ington Lafayette, and his tutor and friend, M. Frestel. In 1796, 
these interesting Frenchmen sought refuge in the United States 
from the troubles of their native land. Presenting themselves to . 
the President in Philadelphia, he received the j'oung Lafayette 
with a warm embrace, saying to him, consider General Washing- 
ton as your father, protector, and friend while you remain in this 
country ; reasons of State prevent me, as President, from receiv- 
ing you, gentlemen, at this time, as members of my domestic 
family. Arrangements will be made for your comfortable sojourn 
in New Jersey, for the short time that will intervene between 
this and the termination of my official duties; then, upon my re- 
tirement from all public aftairs, you will be domesticated among 
the most cherished members of my family and fireside at Mount 
Vernon. 

Several of the most distinguished of the French emigrants, 
some of them bringing letters from French oflicers who had 
served in the war of Independence, sought in vain to be received 
by the first President : among these were the celebrated Talley- 
rand, the Due de Liancourt, Louis Philippe, then Due d'Orleans, 
and his two brothers, Montpensier and Bojolais. The first Presi- 
dent adhered to his rule, that upon mature consideration he had 
laid down for his government during the wars and troubles of 
European nations, viz : Respect and consideration for our own af- 
fairs, with non-intervention in the affairs of others. 
10 



74 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

Louis Philippe and brothers visited the retired Chief during 
the "Last Days at Mount Yernoii." The amiable Due de Lian- 
court bore his reverse of fortune with threat niao-nanimitv. He 
used to say : " Li the days of my power and aftiuence, under the 
ancient regime of France, I kept fifty servants, and yet my coat 
was never as well brushed as it is now, w^hen I brush it myself." 

Many articles, both for useful and ornamental purposes, were 
forwarded from Philadelphia; and that the retired Chief was in 
full employment upon his return to his ancient and beloved man- 
sion, may be gathered from the following extract of a letter to 
the author of the Recollections, dated April 3, 1797 : " We are 
all in the midst of litter and dirt, occasioned by joiners, masons, 
painters, and upholsterers, working in the house, all parts of 
which, as w'ell as the out-buildings, are much out of repair." 
Mount Vernon, it is known, resembles a village, from there being 
some fourteen or fifteen buildings detached from each other ; and, 
being nearly all constructed of wood, it may well be supposed 
that decay had made considerable progress, more especially when 
the master's absence during the War of the Revolution and the 
first Presidency amounted to sixteen years. 

An event occurred on the 22d February, 1799, that, while it 
created an unusual bustle in the ancient halls, shed a bright gleam 
of sunshine on the "Last Days at Mount Vernon." It was the 
marriage of Major Lewis, a favorite nephew, with the adopted 
daughter of the Chief. It was the wish of the young bride that 
the General of the Armies of the United States should appear in 
the splendidly embroidered uniform (the costume assigned him 
by the board of general oflicers) in honor of the bridal ; but alas, 
even the idea of wearinsr a costume bedizzened with ffold em- 
broidery, had never entered the mind of the Chief, he being con- 
tent with the old Continental blue and buft", while the magnificent 
w^hite plumes presented to him by Major General Pinckney he 
gave to the young bride, preferring the old Continental cocked 
hat, with the plain black riband cockade, a type of the brave old 
days of '76. 

The venerable master, on returning to his home, found, indeed, 
many things to repair, with an ample field for improvement before 
him. With a body and mind alike sound and vigorous in their 
maturity, did he bend his energies to the task, w^hile the appear- 



OF WASHINGTON. 7o 

ance ol' every tliinsr 2;ave proofs of the taste mid oner<ry in the 
improvements that marked the last daj's at Mount Vernon. 

A portrait of the iUnstrious farmer, as he rode on his farm in 
the last days, may not be unacceptable to our readers. Fancy to 
yourself a fine, noble-looking old cavalier, well mounted, sitting 
firm and erect in his saddle, the personification of power, mel- 
lowed yet not impaired by time, the equipments of his steed all 
proper and in perfect order, his clothes plain and those of a gen- 
tleman, a broad-brimmed white hat, with a small gold l)uckle in 
iVoiit, a riding switch (.-at from the forest, entirely unattended, 
and thus you have Washington on his farm, in the last days at 
Mount Vernon. 

His rides on his extensive estates would be from eight to twelve 
or fourteen miles ; he usually moved at a moderate pace, passing 
through his fields and inspecting every thing; but when behind 
tiiue, the most punctual of men would display the horsemanship 
of his better days, and a hard gallop bring him up to time, sf) 
that the sound of bis horse's hoofs and the first dinner bell should 
be heard together at a quarter to three o'clock. 

During the maritime war with France, the armed merchantmen 
that sailed from Alexandria would salute on passing Mount Ver- 
non. On the report of the first gun, the General would leave hir> 
library, and, taking a position in the portico that fronts the river, 
remain there uncovered till the firing ceased. 

And yet another salute awakened the echoes around the shores 
of Mount Vernou : another act of honiage was paid to the retired 
chief, and this was an homage of the heart, for it was p:iid by an 
old companion in arms, while its echoes called up the memories 
of the past: A small vessel would be seen to skim ;iloug the 
bosom of the Potomac; nearing the shore, the little craft furled 
her sails, let go her anchor, and discharged a small piece of ord- 
nance, then a boat put ott' and pulled to the shore, and soon a 
messenger appeared, bearing a fine rock or drum fish, with the 
compliments of Benjamin Grimes, who resided some fifty miles 
down the river, and who was a gallant ofiicer of the Life Guard 
in the War of the Revolution. 

His great employment, and a constant stream of company, gave 
the General but little time to go abroad; still he occasionally visi- 
ted his old and long-remembered friends in Alexandria. He 



76 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

attended a martial exhibition, representing an invasion by the 
French, which ended in an old-fashioned sham battle and the 
capture of the invaders : it was handsomely gotten up, Alexandria 
at that time possessing a numerous and well-appointed military, 
and the whole went off with great eclat. 

Among many interesting relics of the past to be found in the 
Last Days at Mount Vernon, was old Bilh', the famed body-ser- 
vant of the Commander-in-Chief during the whole of the "War of 
the Revolution. Of a stout athletic form, he had from an acci- 
dent become a cripple, and, having lost the power of motion, took 
up the occupation of a shoemaker for sake of employment. Billy 
carefully reconnoitered the visitors as they arrived, and when a 
military title was announced, the old body-servant would send 
his compliments to the soldier, requesting an interview at his 
quarters ; it was never denied, and Billy, after receiving a warm 
grasp of the hand, would say, "Ah, Colonel, glad to see you; 
we of the army don't see one another often these peaceful times. 
Glad to see your honor looking so well; remember you at head- 
quarters. The new-time people don't know what we old soldiers 
did and suffered for the countrj in the old war. Was it not cold 
enough at Valley Forge ? Yes, was it ; and I am sure you re- 
member it was hot enough at Monmouth. Ah, Colonel, I am a 
poor cripple ; can't ride now, so I make shoes and think of the 
old times ; the General often stops his horse here to inquire if I 
want any thing. I want for nothing, thank God, but the use of 
my limbs." 

These interviews were frequent, as many veteran officers called 
to pay their respects to the retired chief, and all of them bestowed 
a token of remembrance upon the old body-servant of the Revo- 
lution. 

It was in November of the last daj's that the General visited 
Alexandria upon business, and dined with a few friends at the 
City Hotel. Gadsby, the most accomplished of hosts, requested 
the General's orders for dinner, premising that there was good 
store of canvass-back ducks in the larder. Very good, sir, replied 
the Chief, give us some of them, with a chating-dish, some hom- 
iny, and a bottle of good Madeira, and we shall not complain. 

No sooner was it known in town that the General would stay 
to dinner, than the cry was for the parade of a new company, 



OF WASHINGTON. 77 

called the Independent Blues, commanded by Captain Piercy, an 
officer of the Revolution ; the merchant closed his books, the me- 
chanic laid by his tools, the drum and fife went merrily round, 
and in the least possible time the Blues had fallen into their ranks, 
and were in full march for the headquarters. 

Meantime the General had dined, had given his only toast of 
^^All our Friends," and finished his last glass of wine, when an 
officer of the Blues was introduced, who requested, in the name 
of Captain Peircy, that the Commander-in-Chief would do the 
Blues the honor to witness a parade of the corps. The General 
consented, and repaired to the door of the hotel, looking toward 
the public square, accompanied by Col. Fitzgerald, Dr. Craik, 
Mr. Keith, Mr. Herbert, and several other gentlemen. The troops 
went through man}' evolutions with great spirit, and concluded 
by firing several volleys. When the parade was ended, the Gen- 
eral ordered the author of the Recollections to go to Capt. Piercy 
and express to him the gratification which he, th-e General, expe- 
rienced in the very correct and soldierly evolutions, marchings, 
and firing of the Independent Blues. Such commendation, from 
such a source, it may well be supposed, was received with no 
small delight by the young soldiers, who marched oft" in fine 
spirits, and were soon after dismissed. Thus the author of the 
Recollections had the great honor of bearing the last military order 
issued in person by the Father of his Country. 

Although much retired from the busy world, the chief was by 
no means inattentive to the progress of public aftairs. When the 
post-bag arrived, he would select the letters, and lay them by for 
perusal in the seclusion of his library. The journals he would 
peruse while taking his single cup of tea, (his only supper,) and 
would read aloud passages of peculiar interest, making remarks 
upon the same. These evenings with his family always ended 
precisely at nine o'clock, when Washington bade every one good 
night, and retired to rest to rise again at. four, and to renew the 
same routine of labor and enjoyment that distinguished his last 
days at Mount Vernon. 



78 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

. The Revolutionary Letter. 

"MoRiiiSTOWX, January 22, 1777. 

" Dear Sir : Your letter of the 7th came to my hands a few 
days }igo, and brought with it the pleasing reflection of your still 
holding me in remembrance. 

"The misfortune of short enlistments and the unhappy depend- 
ence upon militia have shown their baneful influence almost upon 
every occasion throughout the whole course of this war. At no 
time nor upon no occasion were they ever more exemplified than 
since Christmas; for, if we could have got in the militia in time, 
or prevailed upon those troops whose times expired, as they gen- 
erally did, on the first of this instant, to have continued, (not 
more than 1,000 or 1,200 agreeing to stay,) we might, I am per- 
suaded, have cleared the Jerseys entirely of the enemy. Instead 
of this, all our movements have been made with inferior num- 
bers, and with a mixed motley crew, who were here to-day, gone 
to-morrow, without assigning a reason or even apprizing you of 
it. In a word, I believe I may with truth add, that I do not think 
that any officer since the creation ever had such a variety of diffi- 
culties and perplexities to encounter as I have. How we shall be 
able to rub along till the new army is raised I know not; Provi- 
dence has heretofore saved us in a remarkable manner, and on 
this we must principally rely. 

"Ever}^ person in every State should exert himself in the raising 
and marching of the new regiments to the ami}' with all possible 
expedition. Those who Avant faith to believe the accounts of the 
shocking wastes committed by Howe's army, of their ravaging, 
plundering, and abuse of w^omen, may be convinced to their sor- 
row perhaps, if a check cannot be put to their progress. It is 
painful to me to hear of such illiberal reflections upon the East- 
ern troo})s as 3'ou say prevails in A'irginia. I always have and 
always shall say, that I do not believe that any of the States pro- 
duce better men or persons capable of making better soldiers, 
and we have found that wherever regiments are well officered, the 
men behave well ; where the reverse, ill. Equal injustice is done 
them in depriving them of merit in other respects, for no people 
fly to arms readier, or come better equipped, or with more regu- 
larity into the field, than they. 

"I refer you to my letter to Lund Washington, Avhich gives the 
late occurrences, and with love to Nelly and respects to Mr. Cal- 
vert's family, I am yours aft'ectionately, 

"G°. WASHINGTON. 

"To John Parke Custis, Esq., 

'''•Mount Vernon.'^ 



•" OP WASHINGTON. 79 

TJie Paternal Letter. 

"Philadelphia, November 28, 179G. 

"Dear Washington: In a few hasty lines covering your sister's 
letter on Saturday last, I promised to write more fully to you by 
the post of this day; I am now in the act of performing that 
promise, 

"The assurances you give me of applying diligently to your 
studies, and fulfilling those obligations which are enjoined by 
3"our Creator and due to his creatures, are highly pleasing and 
satisfactory to me. I rejoice in it on two accounts: First, as it is 
the sure means of laying the foundation of your own happiness, 
and rendering you, if it should please God to spare your life, a 
useful member of society hereafter; and, secondly, that I may, if 
I live to enjoy the pleasure, reflect that I have been in some de- 
gree instrumental in effecting these purposes. 

"You are now entering into that stage of life when good or bad 
habits are formed — when the mind will be turned to things use- 
ful and praiseworthy, or to dissipation and vice. Fix in which- 
ever it may, it will stick by you; for you know it has been said, 
and truly, "that as the twig is bent" so will it grow. This in a 
strong point of view shows the propriety of letting your inexpe- 
rience be directed by maturer advice, and in placing guards upon 
the avenues that lead to idleness and vice. The latter will ap- 
proach like a thief working upon your passions, encouraged per- 
haps by bad examples, the propensity to which will increase in 
proportion to the practice of it, and your yieldings. This admo- 
nition proceeds from the purest atfection for you, but I do not 
mean by it that you are to become a stoic, or to deprive youi'self 
in the intervals of study of any recreation or manly exercise 
which reason approves. 

"It is well to be on good terms with all your fellow students, 
and I am pleased to hear that you are so ; but while a courteous 
behavior is due to all, select the most deserving only for your 
friendship, and before this becomes intimate weigh their disposi- 
tions and characters ivell. True friendship is a plant of slow 
growth ; to be sincere there must be a congeniality of temper and 
pursuits. Virtue and vice cannot be allied, nor can industry and 
idleness, of course. If you resolve to adhere to the two former 
of these extremes, an intimacy with those who incline to the lat- 
ter of them would be extremely embarrassing to you ; it would 
be a stumbling block in your way, and act like a millstone hung 
to your neck ; for it is the nature of idleness and vice to obtain 
as many votaries as they can. 

"I would guard you, too, against imbibing hasty and unfavor- 
able impressions of any one; let your judgment always balance 
well before you decide, and even then, where there is no occasion 



80 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTION^ 

for expressing an opinion, it is best to be silent; for there is noth- 
ing more certain than that it is at all times more easy to- make 
enemies than friends. Besides, to speak evil of any one, unless 
there is unequivocal proofs of their deserving it, is an injury for 
which there is no adequate reparation. Keep another thing also 
in mind, that scarcely any change would be agreeable to you at 
first, from the sudden transition, and from never having been ac- 
customed to shift or to rough it, and, moreover, that if you meet 
with collegiate fare, it will be unmanly to complain. My paper 
reminds me that it is time to conclude, which I do, by subscrib- 
ing myself aifectionately, your sincere friend, 

"G°. WASHmGTON. 
"Mr. Geo. Washington Parke Custis." 



OF WASHINGTON. 81' 



THE LAST DAYS AT MOUNT VERNON. 

The year 1799 was iu its last month ; Washino-tou had nearly 
completed his sixty-eighth year ; the century was fast drawing to 
a close, and with it this o-reat man's life. Yet the "winter" of his 
age had shed its snows "so kindly" upon hira as to mellow 
without impairing his faculties, both physical and mental, and to 
give fair promise of additional length of days. 

Now was Washington unmindful of the sure progress of 
time, and of his liability to be called at any moment to " that 
bourne from which no traveller returns." He had for years kept 
a will by him, and after mature reflection had so disposed of his 
large property as to be satisfactory to himself and to the many 
who were so fortunate and happy as to share in his testamentar}' 
remembrance. 

The last days, like those that preceded them in the course of a 
long and well-spent life, were devoted to constant and useful 
employment. After the active exercise of the morning in atten- 
tion to agriculture and rural affairs, in the evening came- the post 
bag, loaded with letters, papers, and pamphlets. His correspond- 
ence, both at home and abroad, was immense; yet was it promptly 
and fully replied to. No letter was unanswered. One of the 
best bred men of his time, Washington deemed it a grave offence 
against the rules of good manners and propriety to leave letters 
unanswered. He wrote with great facility, and it would be a 
difhcult matter to find another who had written so much, who 
has, written so well. His epistolary writings will descend to 
posterity as models of good taste, as well as developing superior 
powers of mind. General Henry Lee once observed to the Chief, 
" We are amazed, sir, at the vast amount of work that you accom- 
plish." Washington replied, "Sir, I rise at four o'clock, and 
a great deal of my work is done while others are asleep." 

So punctual a man delighted in always having about him a 
good time-keeper. Li Philadelphia the first President regularly 
walked up to his watchmaker's (Clarke, in Second street) to com- 
pare his watch with the regulator. At Mount Vernon the active 
11 



82 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

yet always punctual farmer invariably consulted the dial when 
returnino- from his mornino; ride and before entering his house. 

The attairs of the household took order from the master's accu- 
rate and methodical arrangement of time. Even the fisherman 
on the river watched for the cook's signal when to pull in shore, 
so as to deliver his scaly products in time for dinner. 

The establishment of Mount Vernon employed a perfect army 
of servants ; yet to each one was assigned certain special duties, 
and these were required to be strictly performed. Upon the ex- 
tensive estate there was rigid discipline, without severity. There 
could be no confusion where all was order; and the affairs of 
this vast concern, embracing thousands of acres and hundreds of 
dependants were conducted with as much ease, method, and 
regularity as the affairs of an ordinary homestead. 

Mrs. Washington, an accomphshed Virginia housewife of the 
olden time, s-ave her constant attention to all matters of her 
domestic household, and by her skill and superior management 
greatly contributed to the comfortable reception and entertain- 
ment of the crowds of guests always to be found in the hospitable 
Mansion of Mount Vernon. 

Invariably neat and clean in his person, with clothes of the 
old-fashioned cut, but made of the best materials, Washington 
required less waiting upon than any man of his age and condition 
in the world. A single body servant attended in his room to 
brush his clothes, comb and tie his hair, (become very thin in his 
last days, worn in the old-fashioned queue, and rarely with 
powder,) and to arrange the materials of his toilet. This toilet 
he made himself, in the simplest and most expeditious manner, 
giving the least possible amount of his precious time to any thing 
relative to his person. When rising at four o'clock he lighted 
his own candles, made up his fire, and went diligently to work, 
without disturbing the slumbers of his numerous household. 

In the last days at Mount Vernon, desirous of riding pleasantly^ 
the General procured from the north two horses of the Narragan- 
sett breed, celebrated as saddle horses. The}-- were well to look 
at, and were pleasantly gaited under the saddle, but were scary, 
and therefore unfitted for the service of one who liked to ride 
quietly on his farm, occasionally dismounting and walking in his 
fields to inspect his improvements. From one of these horses 



OF AVASHINGTOX. 83 

the General sustained a heavy fall, probably the only fall he ever 
had from a horse in his life. It was in November, late in the 
evening. The General, accompanied b}- Major Lewis, Mr. Peake, 
(a gentleman residing in the neighborhood,) the author of the 
Recollections, and a groom, wore returning from Alexandria to 
Mount Vernon. Having halted for a few moments, the General 
dismounted, and upon rising in his stirrup again the Narragan- 
sett, alarmed at the glare from a fire near the road-side, sprang 
from under his rider, who came heavily to the ground. Our 
saddles were empty in an instant, and we rushed up to give our 
assistance, feariiiff he was hurt; it was unnecessarv. The vicro- 
rous old man was upon his feet again, brushing the dust from his 
clothes ; and after thanking us for our prompt assistance, observed 
that he was not hurt, that he had had a very complete tumble, and 
that it was owing to a cause that no horseman could well avoid 
ov control : that he was only poised in his stirrup, and had not 
yet gained his saddle when the scary animal sprang from under 
him. Meantime all of our horses had gone oft at full speed. It 
was night, and over four miles were to be won ere we could reach 
our destination. The Chief observed that, as our horses had dis- 
appeared, it only remained for us to take it on foot, and with 
manly strides led the way. We had proceeded but a short dis- 
tance on our march, as dismounted cavaliers, when our horses 
hove in sight. Happily for us some of the servants of Mr. Peake, 
whose plantation was hard by, in returning home from their 
labor, encountered our flying steeds, captured them, and brought 
them to us. We were speedily remounted, and soon the lights 
at Mount Vernon were seen glimmering in the distance. 

Upon Washington's first retirement in 1783, he became con- 
vinced of the defective nature of tlie working animals employed 
in the agriculture of the southern States, and set about remedying 
the evil by the introduction of mules instead of horses, the mule 
being found to live longer, be less liable to diseases, require less 
food, and in every respect to be more serviceable and economical 
than the horse in the agricultural labor of the southern States. 
Up to 1783, scarcely any mules were to be found in the American 
Confederation ; a few had been imported from the West Indies, 
but they were of diminutive size, and of little value. So soon as 
the views on this subject of the illustrious farmer of Mount 



84 CUSTls'h RECOLLECTIONS 

Vernon were known abroad, he received a present from the 
King of Spain of a jack and two jennies, selected from the royal 
stud at Madrid. The jack, called the Rojal Gift, was sixteen 
hands high, of a grey color, heavily made, and of a sluggish dis- 
position. At the same time the Marquis de Lafayette sent out a 
jack and jennies from the Island of Malta; this jack, called the 
Knight of Malta, was a superb animal, black color, with the form 
of a stag and the ferocitj' of a tiger. Washington availed himself 
of the best qualities of the two jacks by crossing the breeds, 
and lience obtained a favorite jack, called Compound, which 
animal united the size and strength of the Gift with the high 
courage and activity of the Knight. The jacks arrived at ]\Iount 
Vernon, if we mistake not, early in 1788. The General bred 
some very superior mules from his coach mares, sending them 
from Philadelphia for the purpose. In a few years the estate of 
Mount Vernon became stocked with mules of a superior order, 
rising to the height of sixteen hands, and of great power and use- 
fulness, one wagon team of four mules selling at the sale of the 
General's effects for eio-ht hundred dollars. 

In no portion of Washington's various labors and improvements 
in agriculture was he so particularly entitled to be hailed as a 
public benefactor as in the introduction of mules in farming labor, 
those animals being at this time almost exclusively used for 
farming purposes in the southern States. 

The General of the armies of the United States was much 
aided in the discharge of the duties of Commander-in-Chief by 
Colonel Lear, his Military Secretary. After the organization of 
his last army, in 1798, the General-in-Chief intrusted the details 
of the service more especially to the known ability and long-tried 
experience of Major General Hamilton and Pinckney ; still reports 
were made to and orders issued from Headquarters, Mount Ver- 
non. The last army of the Chief wms composed of military 
materials of the very first order. All of the g-eneral officers, and 
nearly all the field were composed of Revolutionary, including the 
illustrious names of Hamilton, Pincknev and William Washing- 
ington; while in the provisional or army of reserve were Howard, 
Harry Lee, and others, the history of whose martial renown was 
to be found on the brightest pages of our Revolutionary annals; 
80 that, had the threatened invasion occurred, we may venture to 



OF WASHINGTON. 85 

say that the elite of Euro[)e would have encountered in America 
an army every way worthy of their swords, and prepared to 
uphold and perpetuate the heroic fame of America's old hattle day. 
It pleased Providence to permit the beloved Washington to 
live to witness the fruition of his mighty labors in the cause of 
his country and mankind, while his success in the calm and 
honored pursuits of agriculture and rural affairs was grateful to 
his heart, and shed the most benign and happy influences upon 
the last days at Mount Vernon. 



The Revolutionary Letter. 

"Camp near White Plains, 1778. 

"Dear Custis: I thank yon for your cordial and affectionate 
congratulations upon our late success at Monmouth and the 
arrival of the French fleet at the Hook. The first, I think, might 
have been a glorious day if matters had begun well in the 
morning ; but as the court martial, which has been sitting up- 
wards of a month for the trial of General Lee, is not yet over, I 
do not choose to say any thing on the subject further than that 
there evidently appeared a capital blunder or something else 
somewhere. The truth, it is to be hoped, will come out after so 
long an investigation of it. 

"If it had not been for the long passage of the French fleet, 
which prevented their arrival till after the evacuation of Phila- 
delphia, or the shallowness of the water at the entrance of the 
harbor at Xew York, which prevented their getting in there, one 
of the greatest strokes might have been aimed that ever was, and 
if successful, which I think would have been reduced to a moral 
certainty, the ruin of Great Britain must have followed, as both 
arm}^ and the fleet must undoubtedly have fallen. 

"Count d'Estain, with his squadron, are now at Rhode Island, 
to which place I have detached troops, and hope soon to hear of 
some favorable adventure there, as an attempt will be made upon 
the enemy at that place. 

"After the battle at Monmouth, I marched for this place, where 
I have been encamped more than a fortnight. We cut off by 
the present position of the army all land supplies to the city of 
New York. I had the best reasons to believe that the troops 
there were suffering greatly for want of provisions, but the French 



86 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

fleet leaving the Ilook opens a door to the sea, through which 
DO doubt they will endeavor to avail thera&elves. 

" Give my love to Nelly, Colonel Bassett and friends, and be 
assured I am, with sincere regard and aflectioii, yours, 

"G°. WASHINGTON. 
"To John Parke Custis, Esq., 

^' New Kent County, Virginia." 



The Paternal Letter. 

"Philadelphia, January 11, 1797'. 

•'Dear Washington : I hasten to acknowledge the receipt of 
your letter of the 7th instant, but which did not get to ray hand 
till yesterday, and to express to you the sincere pleasure I feel 
in finding that I had interpreted some parts of your letters 
erroneously. 

"As you have the best and most unequivocal evidence the case 
is susceptible of that I have no other object in view by extending 
my cares and advice to you than what will redound to your future 
respectability, honor, and future happiness in life, so be assured 
that while you give me reason to expect a ready submission to 
my counsels, and while I hear that you are diligent in pursuing 
the means that are to acquire these advantages, it will afl:brd me 
infinite gratification. 

"Your last letter, replete with assurances of this nature, I place 
entire confidence in ; they have removed all the doubts expressed 
in my last letter to you, and let me repeat it again, have conveyed 
very pleasing sensations to my mind. 

"It was not my wish to check your correspondence — very far 
from it ; for with proper characters — and none surely can be more 
desirable than Dr. Stuart and Mr. Lear — and on proper subjects, 
it will give you a habit of expressing your ideas upon all occasions 
with facility and correctness. 

"I meant no more by telling 3'ou we should be contented with 
hearing from you once a week than that these correspondences 
were not to be considered as an injunction or an imposition, 
thereby interfering with your studies or concerns of a more im- 
portant nature. So far am I from discountenancing writing of 
any kind, except on the principle above mentioned, that I should 
be pleased to hear, and you yourself might derive advantages 
from a short diary recorded in- a book of the occurrences which 
happen to you, or within your sphere. Trifling as this may ap- 
pear at first view, it may become an introduction to more inter- 
esting matters. At any rate, by carefully preserving these, it 



OF WASHINGTON. 87 

would give you more satisfoction in a retrospective view than 
what you may conceive at present. 

"•Another thin o; I would recommend to vou — not that I want to 
know how you spend your money — and that is, to keep an account 
book, and enter therein every farthing of your receipts and ex- 
penditures, the doing of which Avill initiate you into a ha])it from 
which considerable advantages would result. Where no account 
of this sort is kept there can be no investigation, no correction of 
errors, no discovery, from a recurrence thereto, where too much 
or too little has been appropriated to particular uses. From an 
early attention to these matters important and lasting benefits 
may follow. 

"We are all well, and all unite in best wishes for you, and with 
sincere aifection, I am always yours, 

"G°. WASHINGTON. 

"Mr. G. Washington P. Custis." 



88 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 



Arlington House, February 21, 1854. 

My Dear Sirs: I enclose you a Recollection for the twenty- 
second, which I propose shall be the last published in the journals. 
I commend it to your excellent press, which has published for me 
«o long and so well, and to which I shall ever owe great obligation. 

The story of the Lost Letters of the Raivlins' Book I have put 
oft' to the last. It is a painful subject to me, but it was a boundeu 
duty upon me, as "Washington's Biographer and the last of his 
domestic family, to place this matter in the only light in which 
it can ever appear to the world. * * * * 

Faithfully yours, 

GEORGE W. P. CUSTIS. 

Messrs. Gales & Seaton. 



THE LAST DAYS AT MOUXT VERNON. 

On Washington's resignation of the Presidency, in 1797, one 
of the first employments of his retirement as a private citizen was 
to arrange certain letters and papers for posthumous publication. 
With this view he wrote to Gen. Spotswood, in Virginia, to select 
a young man of respectable family, good moral habits, and supe- 
rior clerkly skill to copy into a large book certain letters and 
papers that would be prepared for such purpose. 

Now, these letters and papers were by no means of an official 
character; neither did they come within the range of Recollec- 
tions of the Revolution or Constitutional Government; they were 
more especially 'private, and could with propriety be termed Pas- 
sages, Personal and Explanatory, in the Life and Oorresj^ondence of 
George Washington. 

Gen. Spotswood selected a j'oung man named Albin Rawlins, 
of a respectable family in the county of Caroline, and well quali- 
fied for the duties he was to perform. He soon after arrived at 
Mount Vernon, and entered upon his employment. 

The letters were delivered to Rawlins by the Chief in person, 



OF WASHINGTON. 89 

were carefully returned to him when copied, and others delivered 
out for copying. As the duties of the clerk lasted for a consid- 
erable time, very many of the most interesting and valuable let- 
ters that Washington ever wrote or received were copied into the 
Rawlins Book. While we repeat that these letters were not of 
an official character, we must observe that they were written to 
and received from some of the most illustrious public men who 
flourished in the age of Washington, and shed more light upon the 
true character of the men and things of that distinguished period 
than any letters or papers that ever were written and published. 

Washington postponed the arrangement for publication of his 
private memoirs to the last ; all such matters lay dormant during 
the long and meritorious career of his public services. It only 
was when retired amid the shades of Mount Vernon that he 
thought of self, and determined in his latter days that nothing 
should be left undone to give to his country and the world a fair 
and just estimate of his life and actions. 

A portion of the letters of the Rawlins' Book were of a delicate 
character, seeing that they involved the reputation of the writers 
as consistent patriots and men of honor. These letters are no where 
to he found. But, although the veil of mystery has been drawn 
over the Lost Letters of the Rawlins Book that time or circum- 
stance can never remove, our readers mav rest assured that there 
is not a line, nay, a word, in the lost letters that Washington 
wrote, that, were he living, he would wish to rev^oke or blot out, 
but would readily, fearlessly submit to the perusal and decision 
of his countrymen and the world. 

During the agitation of the public mind that grew oat of the 
subject of the lost letters more than fifty years ago, it was con- 
tended that the rumors were groundless; that there were no such 
letters. Faithful to our purpose at the close of our labors, as at 
the commencement of our humble work more than a quarter of 
a century ago, to give in the Recollections and Private Memoirs 
of the Life and Character of the Pater Patrise only of what we 
were, only of what we saw, and only of what we derived from the 
undoubted authority of others, we do not hesitate to declare, and 
from an authority that cannot be questioned, that there were such 
letters as those described as the Lost Letters of the Rawlins' Book. 

The ancient family vault having fallen into a state of decay, the 
12 



90 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

Chief surveyed and marked out a spot for a family burial place 
during the last days at Mount Vernon. The new situation is pe- 
culiarly unfavorable and ill chosen, being a most uncomfortable 
location for either the livins: or the dead. The executors, con- 
ceiving themselves bound by the provisions of the Will to erect 
a burial vault on the spot marked out, proceeded to do so to the 
best advantage; but all their endeavors, together with the labors 
of skillful mechanics, have resulted in the tomb of Washington 
being universally condemned as unfit for and unworthy of the 
purpose for which it was intended, while it serves as a matter of 
reproach to the crowds of pilgrims who resort thither to pay 
homage to the fame and memory of the Father of his Countrj'. 

It is certain that Washington never gave even a hint of his 
views or wishes in regard to the disposition of his remains. He 
no doubt believed that his ashes would be claimed as national 
property, and be entombed with national honors ; hence his silence 
on a subject that has agitated the American public for more than 
half a century. On the decease of the Chief, the high authorities 
of the nation begged his remains for public interment at the seat 
of the National Government. They were granted by the venera- 
ble relict, conditioned that her own remains should be interred 
by the side of her husband in the national tomb. This memora- 
ble compact, so solemn in itself, is still in full force and binding 
on the nation, inasmuch as no subsequent authority could alter 
or annul it. 

On the faith of this compact. Col. Monroe, when President of 
the United States, ordered two crypts or vaults to be formed in 
the basement story of the centre of the Capitol for the reception 
of the remains of the Chief and his consort, agreeably to the ar- 
rangement of 1799, which vaults are untenanted to this day. 

8urely it cannot be denied that Mrs. Washington had the right, 
the only right, to the disposal of the remains of the Chief, and by 
virtue of this right she granted them to the prayer of the nation 
as expressed by its highest authority. 

On her death-bed the venerable Lady called the author of the 
Recollections^ hev grandson and executor, to her side, and said: 
''Remember, Washington, to have my remains placed in a leaden 
coffin, that they may be removed wnth those of the General at the 
command of the Government." 



OF WASHI^lGTON. 91 

And yet we hear of the rig:ht of a State ! No one State can 
appropriate to itself that which belongs to the whole. Of the 
glorious Old Thirteen, little Delaware has as much right to the 
remains of the beloved Washington as either of her larger sisters: 
for, though small in size, she was great in value in the "time.-; 
that tried men's souls," and in proportion to her resources fur- 
nished as much courage, privation, and blood to the combats of 
liberty as those that were far larger than she. From Long Island 
to Eutuw, from the first to the last of the War of Independence, 
her banner was ever in the field, and ever floated mid the " bravest 
of the brave." 

It is high time the subject of the remains and the remains them- 
selves were at rest. Presuming that Government should purchase 
Mount Vernon, and determine that the ashes of the Chief should 
there find lasting repose, we would respectfully suggest that a 
sepulchre be erected on the site of the ancient family vault, a mag- 
nificent location, having an extensive view of the surrounding 
country and of the noble Potomac that washes its base: the mas- 
sive structure to be formed of white American marble, in blocks 
each of a ton weight, a dome of copper, surmounted by an eagle 
in bronze, a bronze door, and for inscription two words only, that 
will speak volumes to all time — Pater Patriae — the key of the 
receptacle to be always in custody of the President of the United 
States for the time being. This done, and if done, ""'tis well it 
were done quickly," the tomb of Washington would cease to bo 
a reproach among nations. The pilgrim from distant lands, as 
he journeys through a mighty Empire with his heart filled with 
veneration of the fame and memory of America's illustrious son, 
when he arrives at the. National Sepulchre, that casts its broad 
shadow o'er the Potomac's wave, will become awed by the solemn 
grandeur of the spot. The American of generations yet to come 
will behold, will filial reverence, the " time honored receptacle 
that contains the ashes of the Father of his Country;" the en- 
during marble mellowed by age, the inscription freshly preserved 
in never-dying bronze; when, proud of such a monument erected 
by the piety of his ancestors, the future American may exclaim, 
in the words of the immortal Bard : 

" Such honors Ilion to her Hero paid, 
And peaceful sleeps the might.v Hector's shade." 



92 CUSTIS'S RECOLLEOTIONS 

Another object claimed the attention of the Chief during the 
Last Days at Mount Vernon — the complete survey and remodel- 
ing of his farms, with a view to their improvement. These sur- 
veys he made in person, the calculations and estimates drawn out 
by his own hand; and indeed it was a rare spectacle to behold 
this venerable man, who had attained the very topmost height of 
human greatness, carrying his own compass, the emblem of the 
employment of his early days. 

His correspondence with Sir John Sinclair and other eminent 
characters in Europe gave a great deal of information touching 
the improvements in agriculture and domestic economy in the 
Old World. This valuable information was carefully digested by 
the Farmer of Mount Vernon, with a view to its adaptation to 
the climate and resources of the United States. Nothing that 
tended to public benefit was too vast to be undertaken by this 
man of mighty labors. The whole of his public as well as pri- 
vate career was marked by usefulness. His aim was good to his 
country and mankind, and to effect this desirable end untiring 
were his energies and onward his course as a public benefactor. 

Washington ceased to be a sportsman after 1787, when he gave 
up the hunting establishment. True, he bred the blood horse, 
and a favorite colt of his, named Magnolia, was entered and ran 
for a purse ; but this was more to encourage the breeding of fine 
horses than from any attachment to the sports of the turf. All 
the time that he could spare for active exercise in his latter days 
was devoted to riding about his farm and inspecting his improve- 
ments. In this he was ably assisted by several of his stewards 
and managers, who were Europeans, and who had brought from 
their own countries habits of industry and a knowledge of im- 
proved agriculture and rural affairs ; so that, had the Farmer of 
Mount Vernon been spared but a few years longer, his estate 
would have exhibited a series of model farms, examples to neigh- 
boring improvers and to the country at large. 

Mount Vernon, in the olden time, was celebrated for the luxu- 
ries of the table. The fields, the forest, and the river, each in 
their respective seasons, furnished the most abundant resources 
for good living. Among the picturesque objects on the Potomac 
to be seen from the eastern portico of the Mansion house, was 
the light canoe of Father Jack, the fisherman to the establish- 



OF WASHINGTON. 98 

ment. Father Jack was an African negro, an hundred years of 
age. and, although greatly enfeebled in body by such a vast weight 
of years, his mind possessed uncommon vigor. And he would 
tell of days long past, of Afric's clime, and of Afric's wars, in 
which he (of course the son of a king) was made captive, and of 
the terrible battle in which his royal sire was slain, the village 
consigned to the flames, and he to the slave ship. 

Father Jack possessed in an eminent degree the leading quality 
of all his race, somnolency. By looking through a spy-glass you 
would see the canoe fastened to a stake, with the old fisherman, 
bent nearly double, enjoying a nap, which was only disturbed bj' 
the hard jerking of the white perch that became entangled by his 
hook. 

But the slumbers of Father Jack ivere occasionally attended by 
some inconvenience. The domestic duties at Mount Vernon were 
governed by clock time. Now, the cook required that the fish 
should be forthcoming at a certain period, so that they might be 
served smoking on the board precisely at three o'clock. He 
would repair to the river bank and make the accustomed signals; 
but, alas, there would be no response ; the old fisherman was 
seen quietly reposing in his canoe, rocked by the gentle undula- 
tions of the stream, and dreaming no doubt of events "longtime 
ago." The unfortunate artiste of the culinary department, grown 
furious by delay, w^ould now rush down to the water's edge, and^ 
by dint of loud shouting, at length the canoe would be seen to 
turn its prow to the shore. Father Jack, indignant at its being 
even supposed that he wag asleep on his post, would rate those 
present on his landing with "What you all meek such a debil of 
a noise for, hey ; I want sleep, only noddiu." 

Poor Father Jack ! No more at early dawn will he be seen, as 
with withered arms he paddled his light canoe on the broad sur- 
face of the Potomac, to return with the finny spoils and boast of 
famous fish taken "on his own hook." His canoe has long since 
rotted on the shore, his paddle hangs idly in his cabin, his "oc- 
cupation's gone," and Father Jack, the old fisherman of Mount 
Vernon, " sleeps the sleep that know^s no waking." 

A hunter too was attached to the household establishment. 
Tom Davis and his great Newfoundland dog, Gunner, were as 
important characters in the department for furnishing game and 



94 CUSTIS 8 RECOLLECTIONS 

wild fowl as Father Jack in that of fish. So vast were the num- 
bers of the canvass-back duck on the Potomac in the ancient 
time that a single discharge of Tom Davis's old British musket 
would procure as many of those delicious birds as would supply 
the larder for a week. 

George Washington Lafayette, and his tutor and friend. M. 
Frestel, became members of the Mount Vernon family during the 
last days. These estimable Frenchmen, driven by persecution 
from their native country, found refuge in America. 

While reasons of State prevented Washington as President from 
receiving emigres, so soon as he became the private citizen he 
warmly, joyfully welcomed to bis heart and his home the son of 
his old companion in arms, bidding the young Lafayette consider 
George Washington as a friend and father. The French gentle- 
men, from their superior intelligence, together with their highly 
accomplished and amiable manners, endeared themselves to all 
who knew them during their sojourn in the United States. They 
remained members of the family of Mount Yernon until a change 
in European afiairs enabled them to embark for their native laud. 

The sentinel placed on the watch-tower by Fate to guard the ' 
destinies of Washington might have cried all's well during the 
last days at Mount Yernon. All was well. All things glided 
gently and prosperously dovvn the stream of time, and all was 
progressive. Two blades of grass had been made to •' grovv where 
but one grew before," and a garden "bloomed where flowers had 
once grown wild." 

The best charities of life were gathered around the Pater Patriae 
in the last days at Mount Yernon. The love and veneration of 
a whole people for his illustrious services; his generous and un- 
tiring labors in the cause of public utility; his kindly demeanor 
to his family circle, his friends, and numerous dependents; his 
courteous and cordial hospitality to his guests, many of them 
strangers from far distant lands; these charities, all of which 
sprung from the heart, were the ornament of his declining years, 
and gave benignant radiance to his setting sun ; and that scene, 
the most sublime in nature, where human greatness reposes on 
the bosom of human happiness, was to be admired on the banks 
of the Potomac in the Last Days at Mount Yernon. 



OF WASHINGTON. 95 

Extracts from the Revolutioiianj Letters. 

"Fredericksburg, (N. Y.,) October 26, 1778. 

"Dear Jack: The enemy still continues to keep us in suspense 
and baffle all conjecture. They have five or six thousand men 
actuall}' on board transports lying in JSTcw York, and a fleet of 
more than one hundred sail left the Hook on the 20th instant for 
England, said to contain invalids, officers of reduced corps, &c. 
This fleet comprehended empty provision ships, merchant ships, 
and private adventurers taking the benefit of convoy. Admiral 
Byron, with fourteen or fifteen sail of the line and some frigates, 
sailed from the Hook, it is supposed, with design to look at the 
French squadron at Boston, and keep them shut in there till the 
transports can get well advanced to their respective places of des- 
tination. 

"It remains a matter of great uncertainty whether the enemy 
mean to evacuate iSTew York or not. I do not think myself that 
they will, but can give no better reasoii for their staying than 
that they ought to go. Their uniform practice is to run counter 
to all expectation. I am therefore justified in my conclusion in 
the present instance. 

" Sincerely and alfectionately, yours, 

"G^. WASHINGTON. 

"John Parke Custis, Esq. 

"P. S. When you come or send to Mount Vernon let my mare 
be brought." 



" Camp near Dobb's Ferry, July 2o, 1781. 

"Dear Custis: That so few of our countrymen have joined 
the enemy is a circumstance as pleasing to me as it must be mor- 
tifyingly evincive to them of the fallacy of their assertion that 
two-thirds of the people wer/3 in their interest and readj^ to join 
them when opportunity ofifered. Had this been the case the 
Marquis's force and the other third must have abandoned the 
country. 

"I am much pleased with your choice of a Governor. He is 
an honest man, active, spirited, and decided, and will, I am per- 
suaded, suit the times as well as any person in the State. You 
were lucky, considering the route by which the enemy retreated 
to Williamsburg, to sustain so little damage. I am of opinion 
that Lord Cornwallis will establish a strong post at Portsmouth, 
detach a part of his force to New York, and go with the residue 
to South Carolina. 

"I returned yesterday from reconnoitering (with Count Ro- 
chambeau and the engineers of both armies) the enemy's works 



96 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

near King's bridge. We lay close to them two days and a night 
without any attempt on their part to prevent it; they begun and 
continued a random kind of cannonade, but to very little effect. 
I am waiting impatiently for the men the States (this way) have 
been called upon for, that I may determine on my plans and com- 
mence my operations. 

" My best wishes attend Nelly, who I hope is perfectly recov- 
ered. My love to the little girls, compliments to friends. 
"Sincerely and affectionately, yours, 

"G°. WASHINGTON. 

"John Parke Ctjstis, Esq." 



(( 



TowLEs' Hook, West Point, August 24, 1779. 

"Dear Custis: Our affairs at present put on a pleasing aspect, 
especially in Europe and the West Indies, and bid us, I think, 
hope for the iinal accomplishment of our independence. But as 
peace depends upon our allies as well as ourselves, and Great 
Britain has refused the mediation of Spain, it will puzzle, I con- 
ceive, the best politicians to point out with certainty the limita- 
tion of our warfare. 

"We have given the enemy another little stroke in the surprise 
of Powles' Hook, (within cannon shot of New York,) and bring- 
ing off seven officers and one hundred and fifty-one men. This 
was a brilliant transaction, and performed by a detachment of 
Virginians and Marylanders, under the command of Major Henry 
Lee,* of the light dragoons, with the loss of not more than ten 
or a dozen men. The colors of the garrison were also brought off, 

"Remember me affectionately to Nelly and the children, and 
})e assured that, with the truest regard, I am yours, 

"G^ WASHINGTON. 

"John Parke Custis, Esq." 



* Afterwards commanded the celebrated Partisan Legion in the campaigns of the 
Caroliuas. 



OF WASHINGTON. 97 



THE MYSTERIES OF THE REVOLUTION. 

THE WARNING. 

It was Saturday niffht, the 27th of June. 1778, when the Ameri- 
can army, after a toilsome march in a tropical keat, halted for 
rest and refreshment in the county of Monmouth, State of New 
Jersey. The weary soldiers were gathered in groups, some 
preparing the evening meal, while others, exhausted by their 
march, threw themselves on the ground to seek repose. The 
short night of June was waning away, the watch-fires burned 
dimly, and silence reigned around. iS"ot so at Headquarters. 
There lights were seen, while the Chief, seated at a table, wrote 
or dictated dispatches, which were folded and directed by aid-de- 
camp and secretaries, while near at hand were expresses, seated 
like statues upon their drowsy horses, awaiting orders, and ever 
and anon an officer would approach them with the words, ''This 
for Major General- — — ; ride with speed, and spare not the 
spur;" and in a moment the horseman would disappear in the 
surrounding gloom. Suddenly a stranger appeared on the scene. 
He wore no martial costume, neither had he the measured tread 
of the soldier; in truth his appearance was any thing but militai-y. 
On being challenged by the sentinel, he answered: "Dr. Griffith, 
chaplain and surgeon in the Virginia line, on business highly 
important with the Commander-in-Chief." The cry of "officer 
of the guard" brought forth that functionary, so necessary a per- 
sonage in a night camp. The officer shook his head, and waiving 
his hand said, "No, sir, no; impossible; intensely engaged; my 
orders positive ; can't be seen on any account." The reverend 
gentleman quailed not, but said to the officer who barred his 
passage, "Present, sir, by humble duty to his Excellency, and 
say that Dr. Griffith waits upon him with secret and import- 
ant intelligence, and craves an audience of only five minutes' 
duration." 

The high respect in which the clergy of the Arnerican army 

was held by Washington was known to every officer and soldier 
13 



98 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

in its ranks. This, together* with the imposing nature of the 
chaplain's visit, induced the officer of the guard to enter the 
Headquarters, and report the circumstances to the General. He, 
quickly returning, ushered the chaplain into the presence of the 
Commander-in-Chief. 

Washington, still with pen in hand, received his midnight 
visitor courteously, when Griffith observed : " The nature of the 
communication I am about to make to your Excellency must be 
my apology for disturbing you at this hour of the night. While 
1 am not permitted to indulge the names of the authorities from 
whom 1 have obtained my information, I can assure you they are 
of the very first order, whether in the point of character or 
attachment to the cause of American Independence. I have 
sought this interview to warn your Excellency against the con- 
duct of Major General Lee in to-morrow's battle. My duty is 
fulfilled, and I go now to pray to the God of Battles for success to 
our arms, and that he may always have your Excellency in his 
holy keeping." The chaplain retired, the officer of the guard (by 
signal from the Chief) accompanying the reverend gentleman to 
the line of the sentinels. 

When the warning became known in the army, it created many 
conjectures as to the sources from whence the chaplain acquired 
his information. Nothing ever transpired, and the secret died, 
while the mystery remains to the present time. 

The conduct of General Lee in the battle of Monmouth very 
fairly justified the warning of the chaplain. It is certain that the 
brave and skillful Commander had no leaning toward the enemy, 
but it is thought that he expected by throwing things into con- 
fusion, to lessen the merits of Washington in the public estima- 
tion, and thus himself aspire to the command of the army. 

The interview between the Generals has been but imperfectly 
narrated bv the chroniclers of the events of the heroic age. We 
have our relation from the venerable James Craik, who, as phy- 
sician-general to the staff, was always in the suite of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief in the moment of battle. He said: "The meeting 
was abrupt : when Washington, with warmth, demanded of the 
Major General why the advanced guard of the army was in 
retreat before the enemy, having made little or no resistance ; 
Lee replied in language explanatory, but decorous and officer- 



OP WASHINGTON. 99 

like. The Chief then said, 'Will you, sir, command on this 
ground?' To which Lee replied, 'Your Excellency's orders shall 
be obeyed, and I will be among the last to leave the field.' "' 

But the poetry of this memorable interview was in the chivalric 
ardor of Alexander Hamilton. He sprung from his horse, and 
leaving the animal to itself, drew his sword, and addressing the 
Chief, said, "General, we are betrayed, and the moment has 
arrived when eveiy true friend of this country should be prepared 
to die in her defence." "Washington, though inwardly pleased 
with the heroic devotion of his favorite aid, yet deeming it inap- 
propriate to the battle-field, in the then uncertain fortunes of the 
fight, camly observed to the youthful enthusiast, " Colonel Ham- 
ilton, you will take your horse" — the animal quietly cropping 
the herbage hard by, unconscious of the scene that was enacted 
so near it, in which such great spirits were the actors. Dr. 
Griffith survived the war, and became rector of a parish in which 
Washington worshiped. He was elected first bishop of Virginia 
under the new regime, and when about to embark for Europe for 
consecration, sickened and died in Philadelphia. He was a ripe 
scholar, a pious minister, and an ardent enthusiast in the cause 
of American Independence. 



Rivington^ the King's Printer, and the Secret Service of the Ameri- 
can Greneral. 

Of all the mysteries that occurred in the American Revolution 
the employment of Rivington, editor of the Royal Gazette, in 
the secret service of the American Commander, is the most 
astounding. 

The time that this remarkable connection took place is, of course, 
unknown. There is much probability that it may have com- 
menced as early as the closing of the campaign of 1776, as it is 
known that about that period Robert Morris borrowed of a 
Quaker five hundred guineas in gold for the secret service of 
Washington's army, and that intelligence of vital and vast im- 
portance was obtained from the disbursement of the Quaker loan. 

The worthy Quaker said to Morris : "How can I, friend Robert, 
who am a man of peace, lend thee money for the purposes of 
war? Friend George is, I believe, a good man and fighting in 



100 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS 

a good cause ; but I am opposed to fighting of any sort." Moitis, 
however, soon managed to quiet old Broadbrim's scruples ; the 
gold was dug up from his garden, and handed over to the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, whose application of it to the secret service 
produced the happiest efiects upon the cause of the Revolution 
in that critical period of our destiny. 

Rivington proved faithful to his bargain, and often would intel- 
ligence ot great importance, gleaned in convivial moments at Sir 
William's or Sir Henry's table, be in the American camp before 
the convivialists had slept oft" the eifects of their wine. 

The business of the secret service was so well managed that 
even a suspicion never arose as to the medium through which 
intelligence of vast importance was continually being received in 
the American camp from the very Headquarters of the British 
army ; and had suspicion arose, the King's printer would probably 
have been the last man suspected, for during the whole of his 
connection with the secret service, his Royal Cfazette literally piled 
abuse of every sort upon the American General and the cause of 
America. 

In 1783 this remarkable mystery was solved. When Wash- 
ington entered New York a conqueror, on the evacuation by the 
British forces, he said one morning to two of his officers : '^ Sup- 
pose, gentlemen, we walk down to Rivington's bookstore ; he \i 
said to be a very pleasant kind of fellow." Amazed, as the 
officers were, at the idea of visiting such a man, they of course 
prepared to accompany the Chief. When arrived at the book- 
store, Rivington received his visitors with great politeness ; for 
he was indeed one of the most elegant gentlemen and best bred 
men of the age. Escorting the party into a parlor, he begged 
the officers to be seated, and then said to the Chief, '• Will youi 
Excellency do me the honor to step into the adjoining room for 
a moment, that I may show you a list of the agricultural works 
I am about to order out from London for your special use?" 
They retired. The locks on the doors of the houses in New 
York more than three-score years ago were not so good as now. 
The door of Rivington's private room closed very imperfectly, 
and soon became ajar, when the officers distinctly heard the 
chincking of two heavy purses of gold as they were successively 
placed on the table. 



OF WASHINGTON. 101 

The party soon returned from the inner-room, when Riviugton 
pressed upon his guests a glass of Madeira, which he assured 
them was a prime article, having imported it himself, and it 
having received the approbation of Sir Plenry, and the most dis- 
tinguished hon vivants of the British army. 

The visitors now rose to depart. Rivington, on taking leave of 
the Chief, whom he escorted to the door, said : " Your Excel- 
lenc}' may rely upon my especial attention being given to the 
agriindtural works, which, on their arrival, will be immediately 
forwarded to Mount Vernon, where I trust they will contribute 
to your gratification amid the shades of domestic retirement," 
Rivington remained for several years in ISTew York after the 
peace of 1783, then returned to England, and there died. He 
was never called to account by his Government for the affair of 
the secret service. It was the general opinion at that time that 
if Rivington had been closely pressed on the delicate subject 
of the secret service, characters of greater calibre might have 
appeared on the tapis than the King's Printer. 

When the famous Rivington espionage became known there 
were many speculations as to the amount paid for the secret 
service. Some went so far as to calculate how many guineas the 
capacious pockets of an officer's coat, made in the old fashion, 
would contain. The general result was that, including the 
Quaker's loan, and payments made up to the final payment in 
full, made by the Chief in person, from a thousand to fifteen 
hundred guineas would be a pretty fair estimate. 

It was a cheap, a dog cheap bargain ; for, although gold v/as 
precious in the days of the Continental currency, yet the gold 
paid for the secret service was of inestimable value, when it is 
remembered how much it contributed to the safetv and success 
of the army of Independence. 

Note hy the Author of the '''■ Recollections J" — We are prepared at 
all times to give the authorities from which we have gathered the 
many Recollections, 3£emoirs, and Mysteries touching the life and 
character of Washington and the History of the Revolution, and 
which we have published to the American people and the world 
for half a century. The incident of the Waryiing we obtained 
from the late Colonel iNicholas, an officer of the life-guard — a 
corps attached to the person of the Commander-in-Chief, more 
especially on the eve of battle. The story of the secret service 



102 CUSTIS S RECOLLECTIONS 

was related to us by the late General Henry Lee, who had it from 
one of the officers that accompanied the Chief in the visit to 
Rivington s bookstore in 1783. The story of the worthy Quaker, 
who, although a man of peace, and opposed to all fighting, yet 
loaned his gold to Friend George, believing that the man of war 
was fighting in a good cause — this story was no mystery in Phila- 
delphia sixty-five years ago, when the man of peace was then 
living, perfectly well known, and deservedly esteemed, and en- 
joying the peace, liberty, and happiness his gold had contributed 
to accomplish for his native land. 



OF WASHINGTON. 108 



RETROSPECTION. 

A Pilgrim to the Approaching Inauguration on the Fourth 

of March, 1857. 

On the 4th of March, and on Pennsylvania avenue, apart from 
the crowd, might have been seen an aged man plodding his way 
to the Capitol Hill, a pilgrim to the Inauguration. 

Since the Inaugurations have occurred at the city of Wash- 
ington, this individual has made pilgrimages to them, by visiting 
a certain spot near the Capitol, where once was a large stone, on 
which that pilgrim would sit during the performance of the cere- 
monies in the building, and when the first gun announced that 
the ceremonies were complete the pilgrim would rise, and, pro- 
nouncing the name of the new President, and the date in the 
order of succession of the Chief Magistrates, the old man would 
remark, "What next?" and then take up his line of march for 
his home in Virginia. 

This pilgrim has had the rare honor of personally knowing, 
taking by the hand, and breaking bread with all the Presidents 
of the United States. Brought up in his youth at the then seat 
of the National Government, he enjoyed the most distinguished 
opportunities of seeing and knowing much of the great men and 
great things that illustrated and adorned the early age of the Re- 
public, dignified to all time as the age of Washington, storing 
his mind at that auspicious period of his life with recollections 
the most imposing of the olden time and the glorious memories 
of the past. 

On the Inauguration of Mr. Madison, in 1809, the pilgrim de- 
parted from his usual habit of being merely a " looker-on in 
Vienna," and took a somewhat remarkable part in the events of 
the day. When the President retired from the Capitol, on rushed 
the crowd to the worship of the rising sun. The avenue was 
nearly deserted, while the hum of the multitude faded in the dis- 
tance ; then appeared on horseback, and entirely alone, Thomas 
Jeflerson. The old pilgrim pointed out this spectacle to two 
Revolutionary officers, Col. Thomas Parker and Major Butler, 



104 CUSTIS'S RECOLLECTIONS OP WASHINGTON. 

(who were lookers-on,) saying, " See, gentlemen, how soon a 
great man becomes neglected and his services forgotten in 
America when he ceases to be the fountain of patronage and 
power ! Whatever may be the Eevolutionary patriot and states- 
man's politics now, they were of the right sort in 1776, and led 
to the Independence of his country. Honor to whom honor is 
due." The Revolutionary veterans now begged to be introduced, 
and the small party falling into line, the retired Chief Magistrate 
was escorted on his route, down the avenue, by a trio of his politi- 
cal opponents. 

The pilgrim- s stone has been removed for some years, to make 
way for the improvements of the grounds about the palace of the 
jSTatioual Legislature, but the pilgrim will be somewhere near the 
ancient spot, and while the sounds of artillery still linger about 
the echoes of the Capitol, the old man will say, " James Buchanan, 
fifteenth President of the United States! What next?" And then 
having in all probability performed his last pilgrimage to an In- 
auguration, the old fellow will take up his line of march for his 
home in Virginia. 



I N D E X 



Goii. Washington, his Life, Habits and Manners G 

The Last Hours of Washington.— 1828 17 

The Blrtliuight 2o 

Applii-auts for Office 22 

The Battle of Monmouth 24 

Tlie Battle of Germantown. and death of General Nash 31 

Washington, his person and personal appearance. — Anecdotes of his great I'livsical 

prowess 3!> 

The Headquarters 43 

Alexander Hamilton 50 

Commencement of the Constitutional Government of the L^nited States. — Wash- 
ington's residence in and final dejjarture from New York 58 

Anniversary of the Birthday of Gen. Washington, Feb. z'l, 1848 (J5 

The Last Days at Mount Vernon 73 

Do do 81 

Do do 88 

The Mysteries of the Revolution 07 

Retrospection. — A Pilgrim to the approaching Inauguration on the 4th of March, 

1857 10.; 



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