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Title: The Life of George Washington, Vol. 2 (of 5)
       Commander in Chief of the American Forces During the War
       which Established the Independence of his Country and First
       President of the United States

Author: John Marshall

Release Date: June 15, 2006 [EBook #18592]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Linda Cantoni and David Widger


























Printed in the U.S.A.



Birth of Mr. Washington.... His mission to the French on the Ohio....
Appointed Lieutenant Colonel of a regiment of regular troops....
Surprises Monsieur Jumonville.... Capitulation of fort Necessity....
Is appointed aid-de-camp to General Braddock.... Defeat and death of
that general.... Is appointed to the command of a regiment.... Extreme
distress of the frontiers, and exertions of Colonel Washington to
augment the regular forces of the colony.... Expedition against fort
Du Quesne.... Defeat of Major Grant.... Fort Du Quesne evacuated by
the French, and taken possession of by the English.... Resignation of
Colonel Washington.... His marriage.


Colonel Washington appointed commander-in-chief of the American
forces.... Arrives at Cambridge.... Strength and disposition of the
two armies.... Deficiency of the Americans in arms and ammunitions....
Falmouth burnt.... Success of the American cruisers.... Distress of
the British from the want of fresh provisions.... Measures to form a
continental army.... Difficulty of re-enlisting the troops.... Plan
for attacking Boston.... General Lee detached to New York....
Possession taken of the heights of Dorchester.... Boston evacuated....
Correspondence respecting prisoners.


Invasion of Canada meditated.... Siege of St. John's.... Capture of
fort Chamblée.... Carleton defeated at Longueisle.... St. John's
capitulated.... Montreal surrenders.... Arnold's expedition.... He
arrives before Quebec.... Retires to Point Aux Trembles.... Montgomery
lays siege to Quebec.... Unsuccessful attack on that place.... Death
of Montgomery.... Blockade of Quebec.... General Thomas takes command
of the army.... The blockade raised.... General Sullivan takes the
command.... Battle of the Three Rivers.... Canada evacuated....
General Carleton constructs a fleet.... Enters lake Champlain....
Defeats the American flotilla.... Takes possession of Crown Point....
Retires into winter quarters.


Transaction in Virginia.... Action at Great Bridge.... Norfolk
evacuated.... Burnt.... Transactions in North Carolina.... Action at
Moore's Creek Bridge.... Invasion of South Carolina.... British fleet
repulsed at Fort Moultrie.... Transactions in New York.... Measures
leading to Independence.... Independence declared.


Lord and Sir William Howe arrive before New York.... Circular letter
of Lord Howe.... State of the American Army.... The British land in
force on Long Island.... Battle of Brooklyn.... Evacuation of Long
Island.... Fruitless negotiations.... New York evacuated.... Skirmish
on the heights of Haerlem.... Letter on the state of the army.


The British land at Frog's Neck.... The American army evacuates York
Island, except fort Washington.... Both armies move towards the White
Plains.... Battle of the White Plains.... The British army returns to
Kingsbridge.... General Washington crosses the North river.... The
lines of fort Washington carried by the British, and the garrison made
prisoners.... Evacuation of fort Lee.... Weakness of the American
army.... Ineffectual attempts to raise the militia.... General
Washington retreats through Jersey.... General Washington crosses the
Delaware.... Danger of Philadelphia.... Capture of General Lee.... The
British go into winter quarters.... Battle of Trenton.... Of
Princeton.... Firmness of congress.


American army inoculated.... General Heath moves to Kingsbridge....
Returns to Peekskill.... Skirmishes.... State of the army....
Destruction of stores at Peekskill.... At Danbury.... Expedition to
Sagg Harbour.... Camp formed at Middlebrook.... Sir William Howe moves
out to Somerset Court House.... Returns to Amboy.... Attempts to cut
off the retreat of the American army to Middlebrook.... Lord
Cornwallis skirmishes with Lord Stirling.... General Prescott
surprised and taken.... The British army embarks.


General Washington commences his march to the Delaware.... Takes
measures for checking Burgoyne.... British army land at Elk River....
General Washington advances to Brandywine.... Retreat of Maxwell....
Defeat at Brandywine.... Slight skirmish near the White Horse, and
retreat to French Creek.... General Wayne surprised.... General Howe
takes possession of Philadelphia.... Removal of Congress to Lancaster.


Measures to cut off the communication between the British army and
fleet.... Battle of Germantown.... Measures to intercept supplies to
Philadelphia.... Attack on fort Mifflin.... On Red Bank.... The
Augusta blows up.... Fort Mifflin evacuated.... Fort Mercer
evacuated.... The British open the communication with their fleet....
Washington urged to attack Philadelphia.... General Howe marches out
to Chestnut Hill.... Returns to Philadelphia.... General Washington
goes into winter quarters.


Inquiry into the conduct of General Schuyler.... Burgoyne appears
before Ticonderoga.... Evacuation of that place,... of
Skeensborough.... Colonel Warner defeated.... Evacuation of fort
Anne.... Proclamation of Burgoyne.... Counter-proclamation of
Schuyler.... Burgoyne approaches fort Edward.... Schuyler retires to
Saratoga,... to Stillwater.... St. Leger invests fort Schuyler....
Herkimer defeated.... Colonel Baum detached to Bennington.... is
defeated.... Brechman defeated.... St. Leger abandons the siege of
fort Schuyler.... Murder of Miss M'Crea.... General Gates takes
command.... Burgoyne encamps on the heights of Saratoga.... Battle of
Stillwater.... Burgoyne retreats to Saratoga.... Capitulates.... The
British take forts Montgomery and Clinton.... The forts Independence
and Constitution evacuated by the Americans.... Ticonderoga evacuated
by the British.


Defects in the Commissary departments.... Distress of the army at
Valley Forge.... The army subsisted by impressments.... Combination in
congress against General Washington.... Correspondence between him and
General Gates.... Distress of the army for clothes.... Washington's
exertions to augment the army.... Congress sends a committee to
camp.... Attempt to surprise Captain Lee.... Congress determines on a
second expedition to Canada.... Abandons it.... General Conway
resigns.... The Baron Steuben appointed Inspector General.... Congress
forbids the embarkation of Burgoyne's army.... Plan of reconciliation
agreed to in Parliament.... Communicated to congress and rejected....
Information of treaties between France and the United States....
Complaints of the treatment of prisoners.... A partial exchange agreed





     Birth of Mr. Washington.... His mission to the French on the
     Ohio.... Appointed Lieutenant Colonel of a regiment of
     regular troops.... Surprises Monsieur Jumonville....
     Capitulation of fort Necessity.... Is appointed aid-de-camp
     to General Braddock.... Defeat and death of that general....
     Is appointed to the command of a regiment.... Extreme
     distress of the frontiers, and exertions of Colonel
     Washington to augment the regular forces of the colony....
     Expedition against fort Du Quesne.... Defeat of Major
     Grant.... Fort Du Quesne evacuated by the French, and taken
     possession of by the English.... Resignation of Colonel
     Washington.... His marriage.


[Sidenote: Birth of Mr. Washington.]

George Washington, the third son of Augustine Washington, was born on
the 22d of February, 1732, near the banks of the Potowmac, in the
county of Westmoreland, in Virginia. His father first married Miss
Butler, who died in 1728; leaving two sons, Lawrence and Augustine. In
1730, he intermarried with Miss Mary Ball, by whom he had four sons,
George, John, Samuel and Charles; and one daughter, Betty, who
intermarried with Colonel Fielding Lewis, of Fredericksburg.

His great grandfather, John Washington, a gentleman of a respectable
family, had emigrated from the north of England about the year 1657,
and settled on the place where Mr. Washington was born.

At the age of ten years he lost his father. Deprived of one parent, he
became an object of more assiduous attention to the other; who
continued to impress those principles of religion and virtue on his
tender mind, which constituted the solid basis of a character that was
maintained through all the trying vicissitudes of an eventful life.
But his education was limited to those subjects, in which alone the
sons of gentlemen, of moderate fortune, were, at that time, generally
instructed. It was confined to acquisitions strictly useful, not even
extending to foreign languages.

In 1743, his eldest brother intermarried with the daughter of the
Honourable George William Fairfax, then a member of the council; and
this connexion introduced Mr. Washington to Lord Fairfax, the
proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia, who offered him, when in
his eighteenth year, an appointment as surveyor, in the western part
of that territory. His patrimonial estate being inconsiderable, this
appointment was readily accepted; and in the performance of its
duties, he acquired that information respecting vacant lands, and
formed those opinions concerning their future value, which afterwards
contributed greatly to the increase of his private fortune.


Those powerful attractions which the profession of arms presents to
young and ardent minds, possessed their full influence over Mr.
Washington. Stimulated by the enthusiasm of military genius, to take
part in the war in which Great Britain was then engaged, he had
pressed so earnestly to enter into the navy, that, at the age of
fifteen, a midshipman's warrant was obtained for him. The interference
of a timid and affectionate mother deferred the commencement, and
changed the direction of his military career. Four years afterwards,
at a time when the militia were to be trained for actual service, he
was appointed one of the Adjutants General of Virginia, with the rank
of Major. The duties annexed to this office soon yielded to others of
a more interesting character.

France was beginning to develop the vast plan of connecting her
extensive dominions in America, by uniting Canada with Louisiana. The
troops of that nation had taken possession of a tract of country
claimed by Virginia, and had commenced a line of posts, to be extended
from the Lakes to the Ohio. The attention of Mr. Dinwiddie, Lieutenant
Governor of that Province, was attracted to these supposed
encroachments; and he deemed it his duty to demand, in the name of the
King his master, that they should be suspended.


This mission was toilsome and hazardous. The Envoy would be under the
necessity of passing through an extensive and almost unexplored
wilderness, intersected with rugged mountains and considerable rivers,
and inhabited by fierce savages, who were either hostile to the
English, or of doubtful attachment. While the dangers and fatigues of
this service deterred others from undertaking it, they seem to have
possessed attractions for Mr. Washington, and he engaged in it with

{October 31.}

[Sidenote: His mission to the French on the Ohio.]

On receiving his commission, he left Williamsburg and arrived, on the
14th of November, at Wills' creek, then the extreme frontier
settlement of the English, where guides were engaged to conduct him
over the Alleghany mountains. After surmounting the impediments
occasioned by the snow and high waters, he reached the mouth of Turtle
creek, where he was informed that the French General was dead, and
that the greater part of the army had retired into winter quarters.
Pursuing his route, he examined the country through which he passed
with a military eye, and selected the confluence of the Monongahela
and Alleghany rivers, the place where fort Du Quesne was afterwards
erected by the French, as an advantageous position, which it would be
adviseable to seize and to fortify immediately.


{January 16}

After employing a few days among the Indians in that neighbourhood,
and procuring some of their chiefs to accompany him, whose fidelity he
took the most judicious means to secure, he ascended the Alleghany
river. Passing one fort at the mouth of French creek, he proceeded up
the stream to a second, where he was received by Monsieur Le Gardeur
de St. Pierre, the commanding officer on the Ohio, to whom he
delivered the letter of Mr. Dinwiddie, and from whom he received an
answer with which he returned to Williamsburg. The exertions made by
Mr. Washington on this occasion, the perseverance with which he
surmounted the difficulties of the journey, and the judgment displayed
in his conduct towards the Indians, raised him in the public opinion,
as well as in that of the Lieutenant Governor. His journal,[1] drawn
up for the inspection of Mr. Dinwiddie, was published, and impressed
his countrymen with very favourable sentiments of his understanding
and fortitude.

     [Footnote 1: See note No. I. at the end of the volume.]

[Sidenote: Appointed lieutenant colonel of a regiment of regular

[Sidenote: Surprises Monsieur Jumonville.]

As the answer from the commandant of the French forces on the Ohio
indicated no disposition to withdraw from that country, it was deemed
necessary to make some preparations to maintain the right asserted
over it by the British crown; and the assembly of Virginia authorized
the executive to raise a regiment for that purpose, to consist of
three hundred men. The command of this regiment was given to Mr.
Fry,[2] and Major Washington was appointed Lieutenant Colonel. Anxious
to be engaged in active service, he obtained permission, about the
beginning of April, to advance with two companies to the Great Meadows
in the Alleghany mountains. By this movement he hoped to cover that
frontier, to make himself more perfectly acquainted with the country,
to gain some information respecting the situation and designs of the
French, and to preserve the friendship of the savages. Soon after his
arrival at that place, he was visited by some friendly Indians, who
informed him that the French, having dispersed a party of workmen
employed by the Ohio company to erect a fort on the south-eastern
branch of the Ohio, were themselves engaged in completing a
fortification at the confluence of the Alleghany and Monongahela
rivers: a detachment from which place was then on its march towards
his camp. Open hostilities had not yet commenced; but the country was
considered as invaded: and several circumstances were related,
confirming the opinion that this party was approaching with hostile
views. Among others, it had withdrawn itself some distance from the
path, and had encamped for the night in a bottom, as if to ensure
concealment. Entertaining no doubt of the unfriendly designs with
which these troops were advancing, Lieutenant Colonel Washington
resolved to anticipate them. Availing himself of the offer made by the
Indians to serve him as guides, he proceeded through a dark and rainy
night to the French encampment, which he completely surrounded. At
day-break, his troops fired and rushed upon the party, which
immediately surrendered. One man only escaped capture, and M.
Jumonville alone, the commanding officer, was killed.

     [Footnote 2: With an unaffected modesty which the
     accumulated honours of his after life could never impair,
     Major Washington, though the most distinguished military man
     then in Virginia, declined being a candidate for the command
     of this regiment. The following letter written on the
     occasion to Colonel Richard Corbin, a member of the council,
     with whom his family was connected by the ties of friendship
     and of affinity, was placed in the hands of the author by
     Mr. Francis Corbin, a son of that gentleman.

     "DEAR SIR,--In a conversation at Green Spring you gave me
     some room to hope for a commission above that of a Major,
     and to be ranked among the chief officers of this
     expedition. The command of the whole forces is what I
     neither look for, expect, or desire; for I must be impartial
     enough to confess, it is a charge too great for my youth and
     inexperience to be intrusted with. Knowing this, I have too
     sincere a love for my country, to undertake that which may
     tend to the prejudice of it. But if I could entertain hopes
     that you thought me worthy of the post of
     Lieutenant-colonel, and would favour me so far as to mention
     it at the appointment of officers, I could not but entertain
     a true sense of the kindness.

     "I flatter myself that under a skilful commander, or man of
     sense, (which I most sincerely wish to serve under,) with my
     own application and diligent study of my duty, I shall be
     able to conduct my steps without censure, and in time,
     render myself worthy of the promotion that I shall be
     favoured with now."

     The commission he solicited was transmitted to him by Mr.
     Corbin, in the following laconic letter:

     "DEAR GEORGE,--I inclose you your commission. God prosper
     you with it.

     "Your friend, RICHARD CORBIN."]

While the regiment was on its march to join the detachment advanced in
front, the command devolved on Lieutenant Colonel Washington by the
death of Colonel Fry. Soon after its arrival, it was reinforced by two
independent companies of regulars. After erecting a small stockade at
the Great Meadows, Colonel Washington commenced his march towards fort
Du Quesne, with the intention of dislodging the French from that
place. He had proceeded about thirteen miles, when he was met by some
friendly Indians, who informed him that the French and their savage
allies, "as numerous as the pigeons in the woods," were advancing
rapidly to meet him. Among those who brought this information was a
trusty chief, only two days from the fort on the Ohio, who had
observed the arrival of a considerable reinforcement at that place,
and had heard their intention of marching immediately to attack the
English, with a corps composed of eight hundred French and four
hundred Indians. This intelligence was corroborated by information
previously received from deserters, who had reported that a
reinforcement was expected.

The troops commanded by Colonel Washington were almost destitute of
provisions; and the ground he occupied was not adapted to military
purposes. A road at some distance, leading through other defiles in
the mountains, would enable the French to pass into his rear,
intercept his supplies, and starve him into a surrender, or fight him
with a superiority of three to one.

{June 23.}

In this hazardous situation, a council of war unanimously advised a
retreat to the fort at the Great Meadows, now termed fort Necessity;
where the two roads united, and where the face of the country was such
as not to permit an enemy to pass unperceived. At that place, it was
intended to remain, until reinforcements of men, and supplies of
provisions, should arrive.

{July 2.}


[Sidenote: Capitulation of fort Necessity.]


In pursuance of this advice, Colonel Washington returned to fort
Necessity, and began a ditch around the stockade. Before it was
completed, the French, amounting to about fifteen hundred men,
commanded by Monsieur de Villier, appeared before the fort, and
immediately commenced a furious attack upon it. They were received
with great intrepidity by the Americans, who fought partly within the
stockade, and partly in the surrounding ditch, which was nearly filled
with mud and water. Colonel Washington continued the whole day on the
outside of the fort, encouraging the soldiers by his countenance and
example. The assailants fought under cover of the trees and high
grass, with which the country abounds. The engagement was continued
with great resolution from ten in the morning until dark; when
Monsieur de Villier demanded a parley, and offered terms of
capitulation. The proposals first made were rejected; but, in the
course of the night, articles were signed, by which the fort was
surrendered, on condition that its garrison should be allowed the
honours of war--should be permitted to retain their arms and baggage,
and be suffered to march without molestation into the inhabited parts
of Virginia. The capitulation being in French--a language not
understood by any person in the garrison, and being drawn up hastily
in the night, contains an expression which was inaccurately translated
at the time, and of which advantage has been since taken, by the
enemies of Mr. Washington, to imply an admission on his part, that
Monsieur Jumonville was assassinated. An account of the transaction
was published by Monsieur de Villier, which drew from Colonel
Washington a letter to a friend, completely disproving the calumny.
Though entirely discredited at the time, it was revived at a
subsequent period, when circumstances, well understood at the date of
the transaction, were supposed to be forgotten.[3]

     [Footnote 3: See note No. II. at the end of the volume.]

The loss of the Americans in this affair is not ascertained. From a
return made on the 9th of July, at Wills' Creek, it appears that the
killed and wounded, of the Virginia regiment, amounted to fifty-eight;
but the loss sustained by the two independent companies is not stated.
That of the assailants was supposed to be more considerable.

Great credit was given to Colonel Washington by his countrymen, for
the courage displayed on this occasion. The legislature evinced its
satisfaction with the conduct of the whole party, by passing a vote of
thanks[4] to him, and the officers under his command; and by giving
three hundred pistoles, to be distributed among the soldiers engaged
in the action.

     [Footnote 4: To the vote of thanks, the officers made the
     following reply:

     "We, the officers of the Virginia regiment, are highly
     sensible of the particular mark of distinction with which
     you have honoured us, in returning your thanks for our
     behaviour in the late action; and can not help testifying
     our grateful acknowledgments, for your '_high sense_' of
     what we shall always esteem a duty to our country and the
     best of kings.

     "Favoured with your regard, we shall zealously endeavour to
     deserve your applause, and, by our future actions, strive to
     convince the worshipful house of burgesses, how much we
     esteem their approbation, and, as it ought to be, regard it
     as the voice of our country.

     "Signed for the whole corps,


The regiment returned to Winchester, to be recruited; soon after which
it was joined by a few companies from North Carolina and Maryland. On
the arrival of this reinforcement, the Lieutenant Governor, with the
advice of council, regardless of the condition or number of the
forces, ordered them immediately to march over the Alleghany
mountains, and to expel the French from fort Du Quesne, or to build
one in its vicinity.



The little army in Virginia, which was placed under the command of
Colonel Innes, from North Carolina, did not, as now reinforced, exceed
half the number of the enemy, and was neither provided with the means
of moving, nor with supplies for a winter campaign. With as little
consideration, directions had been given for the immediate completion
of the regiment, without furnishing a single shilling for the
recruiting service. Although a long peace may account for many errors
at the commencement of war, some surprise will be felt at such
ill-considered and ill-judged measures. Colonel Washington
remonstrated strongly against these orders, but prepared to execute
them. The assembly, however, having risen without making any provision
for the farther prosecution of the war, this wild expedition was laid
aside, and the Virginia regiment was reduced to independent companies.

In the course of the winter, orders were received "for settling the
rank of the officers of his majesty's forces when serving with the
provincials in North America." These orders directed "that all
officers commissioned by the King, or by his General in North America,
should take rank of all officers commissioned by the Governors of the
respective provinces; and farther, that the general and field officers
of the provincial troops should have no rank when serving with the
general and field officers commissioned by the crown; but that all
captains, and other inferior officers of the royal troops, should take
rank over provincial officers of the same grade, having senior

Strong as was his attachment to a military life, Colonel Washington
possessed in too eminent a degree the proud and punctilious feelings
of a soldier, to submit to a degradation so humiliating as was
produced by his loss of rank. Professing his unabated inclination to
continue in the service, if permitted to do so without a sacrifice too
great to be made, he retired indignantly from the station assigned
him, and answered the various letters which he received, pressing him
still to hold his commission, with assurances that he would serve with
pleasure, when he should be enabled to do so without dishonour.

His eldest brother had lately died, and left him a considerable estate
on the Potowmac. This gentleman had served in the expedition against
Carthagena; and, in compliment to the admiral who commanded the fleet
engaged in that enterprise, had named his seat _Mount Vernon_! To this
delightful spot Colonel Washington withdrew, resolving to devote his
future attention to the avocations of private life. This resolution
was not long maintained.



General Braddock, being informed of his merit, his knowledge of the
country which was to be the theatre of action, and his motives for
retiring from the service, gratified his desire to make one campaign
under a person supposed to possess some knowledge of war, by inviting
him to enter his family as a volunteer aid-de-camp.

[Sidenote: Is appointed aid-de-camp to General Braddock.]



Having determined to accept this invitation, he joined the
commander-in-chief, immediately after his departure from Alexandria,
and proceeded with him to Wills' Creek. The army, consisting of two
European regiments and a few corps of provincials, was detained at
that place until the 12th of June, by the difficulty of procuring
wagons, horses, and provisions. Colonel Washington, impatient under
these delays, suggested the propriety of using pack-horses instead of
wagons, for conveying the baggage. The commander-in-chief, although
solicitous to hasten the expedition, was so attached to the usages of
regular war, that this salutary advice was at first rejected; but,
soon after the commencement of the march, its propriety became too
obvious to be longer neglected.


On the third day after the army had moved from its ground, Colonel
Washington was seized with a violent fever, which disabled him from
riding on horseback, and was conveyed in a covered wagon. General
Braddock, who found the difficulties of the march greater than had
been expected, continuing to consult him privately, he strenuously
urged that officer to leave his heavy artillery and baggage with the
rear division of the army; and with a chosen body of troops and some
pieces of light artillery, to press forward with the utmost expedition
to fort Du Quesne. In support of this advice, he stated that the
French were then weak on the Ohio, but hourly expected reinforcements.
During the excessive drought which prevailed at that time, these could
not arrive; because the river Le Boeuf, on which their supplies must
be brought to Venango, did not then afford a sufficient quantity of
water for the purpose. A rapid movement therefore might enable him to
carry the fort, before the arrival of the expected aid; but if this
measure should not be adopted, such were the delays attendant on the
march of the whole army, that rains sufficient to raise the waters
might reasonably be expected, and the whole force of the French would
probably be collected for their reception; a circumstance which would
render the success of the expedition doubtful.

This advice according well with the temper of the commander-in-chief,
it was determined in a council of war, held at the Little Meadows,
that twelve hundred select men, to be commanded by General Braddock in
person, should advance with the utmost expedition against fort Du
Quesne. Colonel Dunbar was to remain with the residue of the two
regiments, and all the heavy baggage.

{June 19.}

Although this select corps commenced its march with only thirty
carriages, including ammunition wagons, the hopes which had been
entertained of the celerity of its movements were not fulfilled. "I
found," said Colonel Washington, in a letter to his brother, written
during the march, "that instead of pushing on with vigour, without
regarding a little rough road, they were halting to level every
mole-hill, and to erect bridges over every brook." By these means they
employed four days in reaching the great crossings of the Yohiogany,
only nineteen miles from the Little Meadows.

Colonel Washington was obliged to stop at that place;--the physician
having declared that his life would be endangered by continuing with
the army. He obeyed, with reluctance, the positive orders of the
general to remain at this camp, under the protection of a small guard,
until the arrival of Colonel Dunbar; having first received a promise
that means should be used to bring him up with the army before it
reached fort Du Quesne.

{July 8.}

The day before the action of the Monongahela he rejoined the general
in a covered wagon; and, though weak, entered on the duties of his

In a short time after the action had commenced, Colonel Washington was
the only aid remaining alive, and unwounded. The whole duty of
carrying the orders of the commander-in-chief, in an engagement with
marksmen who selected officers, and especially those on horseback, for
their objects, devolved on him alone. Under these difficult
circumstances, he manifested that coolness, that self-possession, that
fearlessness of danger which ever distinguished him, and which are so
necessary to the character of a consummate soldier. Two horses were
killed under him, and four balls passed through his coat; but, to the
astonishment of all, he escaped unhurt,--while every other officer on
horseback was either killed or wounded. "I expected every moment,"
says an eye-witness,[5] "to see him fall. His duty and situation
exposed him to every danger. Nothing but the superintending care of
Providence could have saved him from the fate of all around him."

     [Footnote 5: Dr. Craik.]

[Sidenote: Defeat and death of that general.]


At length, after an action of nearly three hours, General Braddock,
under whom three horses had been killed, received a mortal wound; and
his troops fled in great disorder. Every effort to rally them was
ineffectual until they had crossed the Monongahela, when, being no
longer pursued, they were again formed. The general was brought off in
a small tumbril by Colonel Washington, Captain Stewart of the guards,
and his servant. The defeated detachment retreated with the utmost
precipitation to the rear division of the army; soon after which,
Braddock expired. In the first moments of alarm, all the stores were
destroyed, except those necessary for immediate use; and not long
afterwards, Colonel Dunbar marched the remaining European troops to
Philadelphia, in order to place them in, what he termed, winter

Colonel Washington was greatly disappointed and disgusted by the
conduct of the regular troops in this action. In his letter to
Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie, giving an account of it, he said, "They
were struck with such an inconceivable panic, that nothing but
confusion and disobedience of orders prevailed among them. The
officers in general behaved with incomparable bravery, for which they
greatly suffered; there being upwards of sixty killed and wounded--a
large proportion out of what we had.

"The Virginia companies behaved like men, and died like soldiers; for,
I believe, out of three companies on the ground that day, scarce
thirty men were left alive. Captain Peronny, and all his officers down
to a corporal, were killed. Captain Poulson had almost as hard a fate,
for only one of his escaped. In short, the dastardly behaviour of the
regular troops (so called,) exposed those who were inclined to do
their duty, to almost certain death; and, at length, in spite of every
effort to the contrary, they broke, and ran as sheep before hounds;
leaving the artillery, ammunition, provisions, baggage, and in short
every thing, a prey to the enemy; and when we endeavoured to rally
them, in hopes of regaining the ground, and what we had left upon it,
it was with as little success as if we had attempted to have stopped
the wild bears of the mountains, or the rivulets with our feet: for
they would break by, in spite of every effort to prevent it."[6]

     [Footnote 6: In another letter, he says, "We have been
     beaten, shamefully beaten--shamefully beaten by a handful of
     men, who only intended to molest and disturb our march!
     Victory was their smallest expectation! But see the wondrous
     works of Providence, the uncertainty of human things! We,
     but a few moments before, believed our numbers almost equal
     to the force of Canada; they only expected to annoy us. Yet,
     contrary to all expectation and human probability, and even
     to the common course of things, we were totally defeated,
     and have sustained the loss of every thing."]

[Illustration: Wakefield--the Birthplace of George Washington

_This is from an etching made in idealization of the original house,
situated on the banks of the Potomac, 38 miles from Fredericksburg, in
Westmoreland County, Virginia, where our First President was born,
February 22, 1732. The original house, which was built by Washington's
father, Augustine, was destroyed by fire more than 150 years ago,
before the Declaration of Independence was signed._]


[Sidenote: Is appointed to the command of a regiment.]

Colonel Washington had long been the favourite soldier of Virginia;
and his reputation grew with every occasion for exertion. His conduct
in this battle had been universally extolled;[7] and the common
opinion of his countrymen was, that, had his advice been pursued, the
disaster had been avoided. The assembly was in session, when
intelligence was received of this defeat, and of the abandonment of
the colony by Colonel Dunbar. The legislature, perceiving the
necessity of levying troops for the defence of the province,
determined to raise a regiment, to consist of sixteen companies, the
command of which was offered to Colonel Washington; who was also
designated, in his commission, as the Commander-in-chief of all the
forces raised and to be raised in the colony of Virginia. The uncommon
privilege of naming his Field Officers was added to this honourable
manifestation of the public confidence.

     [Footnote 7: In a sermon preached not long after the defeat
     of General Braddock, the Rev. Mr. Davies, speaking of that
     disaster, and of the preservation of Colonel Washington,
     said: "I can not but hope that Providence has preserved that
     youth to be the saviour of this country." These words were
     afterwards considered as prophetic; and were applied by his
     countrymen to an event very opposite to that which was
     contemplated by the person who uttered them.]

Retaining still his prepossessions in favour of a military life, he
cheerfully embraced this opportunity of re-entering the army. After
making the necessary arrangements for the recruiting service, and
visiting the posts on the frontiers, which he placed in the best state
of defence of which they were susceptible; he set out for the seat of
government, where objects of the first importance required his
attention; but was overtaken below Fredericksburg by an express,
carrying the intelligence, that a large number of French and Indians,
divided into several parties, had broken up the frontier settlements;
were murdering and capturing men, women, and children; burning their
houses, and destroying their crops. The troops stationed among them
for their protection, were unequal to that duty; and, instead of being
able to afford aid to the inhabitants, were themselves blocked up in
their forts.

[Sidenote: Extreme distress of the frontiers and exertions of Colonel
Washington to augment the regular forces of the colony.]

Colonel Washington hastened back to Winchester, where the utmost
confusion and alarm prevailed. His efforts to raise the militia were
unavailing. Attentive only to individual security, and regardless of
the common danger, they could not be drawn from their families.
Instead of assembling in arms, and obtaining safety by meeting their
invaders, the inhabitants fled into the lower country, and increased
the general terror. In this state of things, he endeavoured to collect
and arm the men who had abandoned their houses, and to remove their
wives and children to a distance from this scene of desolation and
carnage. Pressing orders were at the same time despatched to the newly
appointed officers, to forward their recruits; and to the county
lieutenants, east of the Blue Ridge, to hasten their militia to
Winchester: but before these orders could be executed, the party which
had done so much mischief, and excited such alarm, had recrossed the
Alleghany mountains.



Early in the following spring, the enemy made another irruption into
the inhabited country, and did great mischief. The number of troops on
the regular establishment was totally insufficient for the protection
of the frontier, and effective service from the militia was found to
be unattainable. The Indians, who were divided into small parties,
concealed themselves with so much dexterity, as seldom to be perceived
until the blow was struck. Their murders were frequently committed in
the very neighbourhood of the forts; and the detachments from the
garrisons, employed in scouring the country, were generally eluded, or
attacked to advantage. In one of these skirmishes, the Americans were
routed, and Captain Mercer was killed. The people either abandoned the
country, or attempted to secure themselves in small stockade forts,
where they were in great distress for provisions, arms, and
ammunition; were often surrounded, and sometimes cut off. Colonel
Washington was deeply affected by this state of things. "I see their
situation," said he, in a letter to the Lieutenant Governor, "I know
their danger, and participate their sufferings, without having it in
my power to give them farther relief than uncertain promises. In
short, I see inevitable destruction in so clear a light, that unless
vigorous measures are taken by the assembly, and speedy assistance
sent from below, the poor inhabitants now in forts must unavoidably
fall, while the remainder are flying before the barbarous foe. In
fine, the melancholy situation of the people; the little prospect of
assistance; the gross and scandalous abuses cast upon the officers in
general, which is reflecting upon me in particular for suffering
misconduct of such extraordinary kind; and the distant prospect, if
any, of gaining reputation in the service, cause me to lament the hour
that gave me a commission, and would induce me, at any other time than
this of imminent danger, to resign, without one hesitating moment, a
command from which I never expect to reap either honour or benefit;
but, on the contrary, have almost an absolute certainty of incurring
displeasure below, while the murder of helpless families may be laid
to my account here."

Colonel Washington had been prevented from taking post at fort
Cumberland by an unfortunate and extraordinary difficulty, growing out
of an obscurity in the royal orders, respecting the relative rank of
officers commissioned by the king, and those commissioned by the
governor. A Captain Dagworthy, who was at that place, and of the
former description, insisted on taking the command, although it had
been committed to Lieutenant Colonel Stevens; and, on the same
principle, he contested the rank of Colonel Washington also. This
circumstance had retained that officer at Winchester, where public
stores to a considerable amount were deposited, with only about fifty
men to guard them. In the deep distress of the moment, a council of
war was called, to determine whether he should march this small body
to some of the nearest forts, and, uniting with their petty garrisons,
risk an action; or wait until the militia could be raised. The council
unanimously advised a continuance at Winchester. Lord Fairfax, who
commanded the militia of that and the adjacent counties, had ordered
them to his assistance; but they were slow in assembling. The
unremitting exertion of three days, in the county of Frederick, could
produce only twenty men.

The incompetency of the military force to the defence of the country
having become obvious, the assembly determined to augment the regiment
to fifteen hundred men. In a letter addressed to the house of
burgesses, Colonel Washington urged the necessity of increasing it
still farther, to two thousand men; a less number than which could not
possibly, in his opinion, be sufficient to cover the extensive
frontier of Virginia, should the defensive system be continued. In
support of this demand, he stated, in detail, the forts which must be
garrisoned; and observed, that, with the exception of a few
inhabitants in forts on the south branch of the Potowmac, the north
mountain near Winchester had become the frontier; and that, without
effectual aid, the inhabitants would even pass the Blue Ridge. He
farther observed that the woods seemed "alive with French and
Indians;" and again described so feelingly the situation of the
inhabitants, that the assembly requested the governor to order half
the militia of the adjoining counties to their relief; and the
attorney general, Mr. Peyton Randolph, formed a company of one hundred
gentlemen, who engaged to make the campaign, as volunteers. Ten well
trained woodsmen, or Indians, would have rendered more service.

The distress of the country increased. As had been foreseen,
Winchester became almost the only settlement west of the Blue Ridge,
on the northern frontier; and fears were entertained that the enemy
would soon pass even that barrier, and ravage the country below.
Express after express was sent to hasten the militia, but sent in
vain. At length, about the last of April, the French and their savage
allies, laden with plunder, prisoners, and scalps, returned to fort Du

Some short time after their retreat, the militia appeared. This
temporary increase of strength was employed in searching the country
for small parties of Indians, who lingered behind the main body, and
in making dispositions to repel another invasion. A fort was commenced
at Winchester, which, in honour of the general who had been appointed
to the command of the British troops in America, was called fort
Loudoun; and the perpetual remonstrances of Colonel Washington at
length effected some improvement in the laws for the government of the

Instead of adopting, in the first instance, that military code which
experience had matured, the assembly passed occasional acts to remedy
particular evils as they occurred; in consequence of which, a state of
insubordination was protracted, and the difficulties of the commanding
officer increased. Slight penalties were at first annexed to serious
military offences; and when an act was obtained to punish mutiny and
desertion with death, such crimes as cowardice in action, and sleeping
on a post, were pretermitted. It was left impossible to hold a general
court martial, without an order from the governor; and the commanding
officer was not at liberty to make those arrangements in other
respects which his own observation suggested, but shackled by the
control of others, who could neither judge so correctly, nor be so
well informed, as himself.

These errors of a government unused to war, though continually
remarked by the officer commanding the troops, were slowly perceived
by those in power, and were never entirely corrected.

Successive incursions continued to be made into the country by small
predatory parties of French and Indians, who kept up a perpetual
alarm, and murdered the defenceless, wherever found. In Pennsylvania,
the inhabitants were driven as far as Carlisle; and in Maryland,
Fredericktown, on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge, became a
frontier. With the Virginia regiment, which did not yet amount to one
thousand men, aided occasionally by militia, Colonel Washington was to
defend a frontier of near four hundred miles in extent, and to
complete a chain of forts. He repeatedly urged the necessity and
propriety of abandoning fort Cumberland, which was too far in advance
of the settlements, and too far north, to be useful, while it required
for its defence a larger portion of his force than could be spared
with a proper regard to the safety of other and more advantageous
positions. The governor, however, thought the abandonment of it
improper, since it was a "_king's fort_;" and Lord Loudoun, on being
consulted, gave the same opinion.

Among the subjects of extreme chagrin to the commander of the Virginia
troops, was the practice of desertion. The prevalence of this crime
was ascribed, in a considerable degree, to the ill-judged parsimony of
the assembly. The daily pay of a soldier was only eight pence, out of
which two pence were stopped for his clothes. This pay was inferior to
what was received in every other part of the continent; and, as ought
to have been foreseen, great discontents were excited by a distinction
so invidious. The remonstrances of the commanding officer, in some
degree, corrected this mischief; and a full suit of regimentals was
allowed to each soldier, without deducting its price from his pay.

This campaign furnishes no event which can interest the reader; yet
the duties of the officer, though minute, were arduous; and the
sufferings of the people, beyond measure afflicting. It adds one to
the many proofs which have been afforded, of the miseries to be
expected by those who defer preparing the means of defence, until the
moment when they ought to be used; and then, rely almost entirely, on
a force neither adequate to the danger, nor of equal continuance.

It is an interesting fact to those who know the present situation of
Virginia, that, so late as the year 1756, the Blue Ridge was the
northwestern frontier; and that she found immense difficulty in
completing a single regiment to protect the inhabitants from the
horrors of the scalping knife, and the still greater horrors of being
led into captivity by savages who added terrors to death by the manner
of inflicting it.

As soon as the main body of the enemy had withdrawn from the
settlements, a tour was made by Colonel Washington to the
south-western frontier. There, as well as to the north, continued
incursions had been made; and there too, the principal defence of the
country was entrusted to an ill-regulated militia. The fatal
consequences of this system are thus stated by him, in a letter to the
lieutenant governor: "The inhabitants are so sensible of their danger,
if left to the protection of these people, that not a man will stay at
his place. This I have from their own mouths, and the principal
inhabitants of Augusta county. The militia are under such bad order
and discipline, that they will come and go, when and where they
please, without regarding time, their officers, or the safety of the
inhabitants, but consulting solely their own inclinations. There
should be, according to your honour's orders, one-third of the militia
of these parts on duty at a time; instead of that, scarce
one-thirtieth is out. They are to be relieved every month, and they
are a great part of that time marching to and from their stations; and
they will not wait one day longer than the limited time, whether
relieved or not, however urgent the necessity for their continuance
may be." Some instances of this, and of gross misbehaviour, were then
enumerated; after which, he pressed the necessity of increasing the
number of regulars to two thousand men.

After returning from this tour, to Winchester, he gave the Lieutenant
Governor, in curious detail, a statement of the situation in which he
found the country, urging, but urging in vain, arguments which will
always be suggested by experience, against relying chiefly on militia
for defence.

Sensible of the impracticability of defending such an extensive
frontier, Colonel Washington continued to press the policy of enabling
him to act on the offensive. The people of Virginia, he thought, could
be protected only by entering the country of the enemy; giving him
employment at home, and removing the source of all their calamities by
taking possession of fort Du Quesne.

"As defensive measures," he observed in a letter to the Lieutenant
Governor, "are evidently insufficient for the security and safety of
the country, I hope no arguments are necessary to evince the necessity
of altering them to a vigorous offensive war, in order to remove the
cause." But in the event, that the assembly should still indulge their
favourite scheme of protecting the inhabitants by forts along the
frontiers, he presented a plan, which, in its execution, would require
two thousand men--these were to be distributed in twenty-two forts,
extending from the river Mayo to the Potowmac, in a line of three
hundred and sixty miles. In a letter written about the same time to
the speaker of the assembly, he said, "The certainty of advantage, by
an offensive scheme of action, renders it, beyond any doubt,
preferable to our defensive measures. Our scattered force, so
separated and dispersed in weak parties, avails little to stop the
secret incursions of the savages. We can only perhaps put them to
flight, or frighten them to some other part of the country, which
answers not the end proposed. Whereas, had we strength enough to
invade their lands, we should restrain them from coming abroad, and
leaving their families exposed. We should then remove the principal
cause, and have stronger probability of success; we should be free
from the many alarms, mischiefs, and murders, that now attend us; we
should inspirit the hearts of our few Indian friends, and gain more
esteem with them. In short, could Pennsylvania and Maryland be induced
to join us in an expedition of this nature, and to petition his
Excellency Lord Loudoun for a small train of artillery, with some
engineers, we should then be able, in all human probability, to subdue
the terror of fort Du Quesne; retrieve our character with the Indians;
and restore peace to our unhappy frontiers."

His total inability to act offensively, or even to afford protection
to the frontiers of Virginia, was not the only distressing and
vexatious circumstance to which he was exposed. The Lieutenant
Governor, to whose commands he was subjected in every minute
particular, and who seems to have been unequal to the difficulties of
his station, frequently deranged his system by orders which could not
be executed without considerable hazard and inconvenience. Colonel
Washington could not always restrain his chagrin on such occasions;
and, on one of them, observed in a letter to an intimate friend, who
possessed great influence in the country, "whence it arises, or why, I
am truly ignorant, but my strongest representations of matters
relative to the peace of the frontiers are disregarded, as idle and
frivolous; my propositions and measures, as partial and selfish; and
all my sincerest endeavours for the service of my country, perverted
to the worst purposes. My orders are dark, doubtful, and uncertain:
to-day approved, tomorrow condemned; left to act and proceed at
hazard; accountable for the consequences, and blamed without the
benefit of defence. If you can think my situation capable of exciting
the smallest degree of envy, or of affording the least satisfaction,
the truth is yet hid from you, and you entertain notions very
different from the reality of the case. However, I am determined to
bear up under all these embarrassments some time longer, in the hope
of better regulations under Lord Loudoun, to whom I look for the
future fate of Virginia."

Not long after this letter was written, Lord Loudoun, in whose person
the offices of Governor and Commander-in-chief were united, arrived in
Virginia. A comprehensive statement of the situation of the colony, in
a military point of view, and of the regiment in particular, was drawn
up and submitted to him by Colonel Washington. In this he enumerated
the errors which had prevented the completion of his regiment, showed
the insufficiency of the militia for any military purpose, and
demonstrated the superiority of an offensive system over that which
had been pursued.


This statement was probably presented by Colonel Washington in person,
who was permitted, during the winter, to visit Lord Loudoun in
Philadelphia, where that nobleman met the Governors of Pennsylvania,
Maryland, and North Carolina, and the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia,
in order to consult with them on the measures to be taken, in their
respective Provinces, for the ensuing campaign. He was, however,
disappointed in his favourite hope of being able to act offensively
against the French on the Ohio. Lord Loudoun had determined to direct
all his efforts against Canada, and to leave only twelve hundred men
in the middle and southern colonies. Instead of receiving assistance,
Virginia was required to send four hundred men to South Carolina. Not
discouraged by these disappointments, Colonel Washington continued
indefatigable in his endeavours to impress on Mr. Dinwiddie, and on
the assembly, the importance of reviving, and properly modifying their
military code, which had now expired, of making a more effective
militia law, and of increasing their number of regular troops.


So far from succeeding on the last subject, he had the mortification
to witness a measure which crushed his hopes of an adequate regular
force. Being unable to complete the regiment by voluntary enlistment,
the assembly changed its organization, and reduced it to ten
companies; each to consist of one hundred men. Yet his anxious wishes
continued to be directed towards fort Du Quesne. In a letter written
about this time to Colonel Stanwix, who commanded in the middle
colonies, he said, "You will excuse me, sir, for saying, that I think
there never was, and perhaps never again will be, so favourable an
opportunity as the present for reducing fort Du Quesne. Several
prisoners have made their escape from the Ohio this spring, and agree
in their accounts, that there are but three hundred men left in the
garrison; and I do not conceive that the French are so strong in
Canada, as to reinforce this place, and defend themselves at home this
campaign: surely then this is too precious an opportunity to be lost."

But Mr. Pitt did not yet direct the councils of Britain; and a spirit
of enterprise and heroism did not yet animate her generals. The
campaign to the north was inglorious; and to the west, nothing was
even attempted, which might relieve the middle colonies.

{October 8.}

Large bodies of savages, in the service of France, once more spread
desolation and murder over the whole country, west of the Blue Ridge.
The regular troops were inadequate to the protection of the
inhabitants; and the incompetency of the defensive system to their
security became every day more apparent. "I exert every means," said
Colonel Washington, in a letter to Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie, "to
protect a much distressed country; but it is a task too arduous. To
think of defending a frontier of more than three hundred and fifty
miles extent, as ours is, with only seven hundred men, is vain and
idle; especially when that frontier lies more contiguous to the enemy
than any other.

"I am, and for a long time have been, fully convinced, that if we
continue to pursue a defensive plan, the country must be inevitably

{October 24.}

In another letter he said, "The raising a company of rangers, or
augmenting our strength in some other manner, is so far necessary,
that, without it, the remaining inhabitants of this once fertile and
populous valley will scarcely be detained at their dwellings until the
spring. And if there is no expedition to the westward then, nor a
force more considerable than Virginia can support, posted on our
frontiers; if we still adhere, for the next campaign, to our
destructive defensive schemes, there will not, I dare affirm, be one
soul living on this side the Blue Ridge the ensuing autumn, if we
except the troops in garrison, and a few inhabitants of this town, who
may shelter themselves under the protection of this fort. This I know
to be the immoveable determination of all the settlers of this
country." To the Speaker of the assembly he gave the same opinion; and
added, "I do not know on whom these miserable undone people are to
rely for protection. If the assembly are to give it to them, it is
time that measures were at least concerting, and not when they ought
to be going into execution, as has always been the case. If they are
to seek it from the Commander-in-chief, it is time their condition was
made known to him. For I can not forbear repeating again, that, while
we pursue defensive measures, we pursue inevitable ruin."

{August 27.}

It was impossible for Colonel Washington, zealous in the service of
his country, and ambitious of military fame, to observe the errors
committed in the conduct of the war, without censuring them. These
errors were not confined to the military affairs of the colony. The
Cherokee and Catawba Indians had hitherto remained faithful to the
English, and it was very desirable to engage the warriors of those
tribes heartily in their service; but so miserably was the intercourse
with them conducted, that, though a considerable expense was incurred,
not much assistance was obtained, and great disgust was excited among
them. The freedom with which the Commander-in-chief of the Virginia
forces censured public measures, gave offence to the Lieutenant
Governor, who considered these censures as manifesting a want of
respect for himself. Sometimes he coarsely termed them _impertinent_;
and at other times, charged him with looseness in his information, and
inattention to his duty. On one of these occasions, Colonel Washington
thus concluded a letter of detail, "Nothing remarkable has happened,
and therefore I have nothing to add. I must beg leave, however, before
I conclude, to observe, in justification of my own conduct, that it is
with pleasure I receive reproof when reproof is due, because no person
can be readier to accuse me, than I am to acknowledge an error, when I
have committed it; nor more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am
sensible of being guilty of one. But, on the other hand, it is with
concern I remark, that my best endeavours lose their reward; and that
my conduct, although I have uniformly studied to make it as
unexceptionable as I could, does not appear to you in a favourable
point of light. Otherwise, your honour would not have accused me of
_loose_ behaviour, and _remissness_ of duty, in matters where, I
think, I have rather exceeded than fallen short of it. This, I think,
is evidently the case in speaking of Indian affairs at all, after
being instructed in very express terms, '_Not to have any concern
with, or management of Indian affairs_.' This has induced me to
forbear mentioning the Indians in my letters to your honour of late,
and to leave the misunderstanding, which you speak of, between Mr.
Aikin and them, to be related by him."

Not long after this, he received a letter informing him of some coarse
calumny, reflecting on his veracity and honour, which had been
reported to the Lieutenant Governor. He enclosed a copy of this letter
to Mr. Dinwiddie, and thus addressed him,--"I should take it
infinitely kind if your honour would please to inform me whether a
report of this nature was ever made to you; and, in that case, who was
the author of it.

"It is evident from a variety of circumstances, and especially from
the change in your honour's conduct towards me, that some person, as
well inclined to detract, but better skilled in the art of detraction
than the author of the above stupid scandal, has made free with my
character. For I can not suppose, that malice so absurd, so barefaced,
so diametrically opposite to truth, to common policy, and, in short,
to everything but villany, as the above is, could impress you with so
ill an opinion of my honour and honesty.

"If it be possible that ----, for my belief is staggered, not being
conscious of having given the least cause to any one, much less to
that gentleman, to reflect so grossly; I say, if it be possible that
---- could descend so low as to be the propagator of this story, he
must either be vastly ignorant of the state of affairs in this country
_at that time_, or else, he must suppose that the whole body of the
inhabitants had combined with me in executing the deceitful fraud. Or
why did they, almost to a man, forsake their dwellings in the greatest
terror and confusion; and while one half of them sought shelter in
paltry forts, (of their own building,) the other should flee to the
adjacent counties for refuge; numbers of them even to Carolina, from
whence they have never returned?

"These are facts well known; but not better known than that these
wretched people, while they lay pent up in forts, destitute of the
common supports of life, (having in their precipitate flight
forgotten, or rather, been unable to secure any kind of necessaries,)
did despatch messengers of their own, (thinking I had not represented
their miseries in the piteous manner they deserved,) with addresses to
your honour and the assembly, praying relief. And did I ever send any
alarming account, without sending also the original papers (or the
copies) which gave rise to it?

"That I have foibles, and perhaps many of them, I shall not deny. I
should esteem myself, as the world also would, vain and empty, were I
to arrogate perfection.

"Knowledge in military matters is to be acquired only by practice and
experience; and if I have erred, great allowance should be made for
want of them; unless my errors should appear to be wilful; and then, I
conceive, it would be more generous to charge me with my faults, and
to let me stand or fall according to evidence, than to stigmatize me
behind my back.

"It is uncertain in what light my services may have appeared to your
Honour: but this I know, and it is the highest consolation I am
capable of feeling, that no man that ever was employed in a public
capacity, has endeavoured to discharge the trust reposed in him with
greater honesty, and more zeal for the country's interest than I have
done; and if there is any person living, who can say with justice that
I have offered any intentional wrong to the public, I will cheerfully
submit to the most ignominious punishment that an injured people ought
to inflict. On the other hand, it is hard to have my character
arraigned, and my actions condemned, without a hearing.

"I must therefore again beg in _more plain_, and in very _earnest_
terms, to know if ---- has taken the liberty of representing my conduct
to your Honour with such ungentlemanly freedom as the letter implies.
Your condescension herein will be acknowledged a singular favour."

In a letter, some short time after this, to the Lieutenant Governor,
he said, "I do not know that I ever gave your Honour cause to suspect
me of ingratitude; a crime I detest, and would most carefully avoid.
If an open, disinterested behaviour carries offence, I may have
offended; for I have all along laid it down as a maxim, to represent
facts freely and impartially, but not more so to others than to you,
sir. If instances of my ungrateful behaviour had been particularized,
I would have answered them. But I have been long convinced that my
actions and their motives have been maliciously aggravated." A request
that he might be permitted to come to Williamsburg for the settlement
of some accounts, which he was desirous of adjusting under the
inspection of the Lieutenant Governor, who proposed to leave the
province in the following November, was refused in abrupt and
disobliging terms. In answer to the letter containing the refusal,
Colonel Washington, after stating the immoveable disposition of the
inhabitants to leave the country unless more sufficiently protected,
added, "To give a more succinct account of their affairs than I could
in writing, was the principal, among many other reasons, that induced
me to ask leave to come down. It was not to enjoy a party of pleasure
that I asked leave of absence. I have indulged with few of those,
winter or summer."

Mr. Dinwiddie soon afterwards took leave of Virginia, and the
government devolved on Mr. Blair, the President of the Council.
Between him and the commander of the colonial troops the utmost
cordiality existed.

[Sidenote: General Forbes undertakes the expedition against Fort Du

After the close of this campaign, Lord Loudoun returned to England,
and General Abercrombie succeeded to the command of the army. The
department of the middle and southern provinces was committed to
General Forbes, who, to the inexpressible gratification of Colonel
Washington, determined to undertake an expedition against fort Du


He urged an early campaign, but he urged it ineffectually; and, before
the troops were assembled, a large body of French and Indians broke
into the country, and renewed the horrors of the tomahawk and
scalping-knife. The county of Augusta was ravaged and about sixty
persons were murdered. The attempts made to intercept these savages
were unsuccessful; and they recrossed the Alleghany, with their
plunder, prisoners, and scalps.

{May 24.}

At length, orders were given to assemble the regiment at Winchester,
and be in readiness to march in fifteen days. On receiving them,
Colonel Washington called in his recruiting parties; but so
inattentive had the government been to his representations that,
previous to marching his regiment, he was under the necessity of
repairing to Williamsburg, personally to enforce his solicitations for
arms, ammunition, money, and clothing. That these preparations for an
expedition vitally interesting to Virginia, should remain to be made
after the season for action had commenced, does not furnish stronger
evidence of the difficulties encountered by the chief of the military
department, than is given by another circumstance of about the same
date. He was under the necessity of pointing out and urging the
propriety of allowing to his regiment, which had performed much severe
service, the same pay which had been granted to a second regiment,
voted the preceding session of Assembly, to serve for a single year.

Among other motives for an early campaign, Colonel Washington had
urged the impracticability of detaining the Indians. His fears were
well founded. Before a junction of the troops had been made, these
savages became impatient to return to their homes; and, finding that
the expedition would yet be delayed a considerable time, they left the
army, with promises to rejoin it at the proper season.

{June 24.}

In pursuance of the orders which had been received, the Virginia
troops moved in detachments from Winchester to fort Cumberland, where
they assembled early in July: after which, they were employed in
opening a road to Raystown, where Colonel Bouquet was stationed. As
the English were continually harassed by small parties of French and
Indians, the general had contemplated advancing a strong detachment
over the Alleghany mountains, for the purpose of giving them
employment at home. By the advice of Colonel Washington this plan was
relinquished. In support of his opinion, he stated the probability
that a large force was collected at fort Du Quesne, and the
impracticability of moving a strong detachment, without such a
quantity of provisions, as would expose it to the danger of being
discovered and cut to pieces. He advised to harass them with small
parties, principally of Indians; and this advice was pursued.


Colonel Washington had expected that the army would march by
Braddock's road: but, late in July, he had the mortification to
receive a letter from Colonel Bouquet, asking an interview with him,
in order to consult on opening a new road from Raystown, and
requesting his opinion on that route. "I shall," says he, in answer to
this letter, "most cheerfully work on any road, pursue any route, or
enter upon any service, that the general or yourself may think me
usefully employed in, or qualified for; and shall never have a will of
my own, when a duty is required of me. But since you desire me to
speak my sentiments freely, permit me to observe, that, after having
conversed with all the guides, and having been informed by others
acquainted with the country, I am convinced that a road, to be
compared with General Braddock's, or indeed that will be fit for
transportation even by pack-horses, can not be made. I own I have no
predilection for the route you have in contemplation for me."

A few days after writing this letter, he had an interview with Colonel
Bouquet, whom he found decided in favour of opening the new road.
After their separation, Colonel Washington, with his permission,
addressed to him a letter to be laid before General Forbes, then
indisposed at Carlisle, in which he stated his reasons against this
measure. He concluded his arguments against the new road: arguments
which appear to be unanswerable, by declaring his fears that, should
the attempt be made, they would be able to do nothing more than
fortify some post on the other side of the Alleghany, and prepare for
another campaign. This he prayed Heaven to avert.

He was equally opposed to a scheme which had been suggested of
marching by the two different routes, and recommended an order of
march by Braddock's road, which would bring the whole army before fort
Du Quesne in thirty-four days, with a supply of provisions for
eighty-six days.

{August 2.}

In a letter of the same date addressed to Major Halket, aid of General
Forbes, Colonel Washington thus expressed his forebodings of the
mischiefs to be apprehended from the adoption of the proposed route.
"I am just returned from a conference held with Colonel Bouquet. I
find him fixed--I think I may say unalterably fixed--to lead you a new
way to the Ohio, through a road, every inch of which is to be cut at
this advanced season, when we have scarcely time left to tread the
beaten track, universally confessed to be the best passage through the

"If Colonel Bouquet succeeds in this point with the general, all is
lost! all is lost indeed! our enterprise is ruined! and we shall be
stopped at the Laurel hill this winter; but not to gather laurels,
except of the kind which cover the mountains. The southern Indians
will turn against us, and these colonies will be desolated by such an
accession to the enemy's strength. These must be the consequences of a
miscarriage; and a miscarriage, the almost necessary consequence of an
attempt to march the army by this route."

Colonel Washington's remonstrances and arguments were unavailing; and
the new route was adopted. His extreme chagrin at this measure, and at
the delays resulting from it, was expressed in anxious letters to Mr.
Fauquier, then governor of Virginia, and to the speaker of the house
of burgesses.

{September 2.}

In a letter to the speaker, written while at fort Cumberland, he said:
"We are still encamped here; very sickly, and dispirited at the
prospect before us. That appearance of glory which we once had in
view--that hope--that laudable ambition of serving our country, and
meriting its applause, are now no more: all is dwindled into ease,
sloth, and fatal inactivity. In a word, all is lost, if the ways of
men in power, like certain ways of Providence, are not inscrutable.
But we who view the actions of great men at a distance can only form
conjectures agreeably to a limited perception; and, being ignorant of
the comprehensive schemes which may be in contemplation, might mistake
egregiously in judging of things from appearances, or by the lump. Yet
every f--l will have his notions--will prattle and talk away; and why
may not I? We seem then, in my opinion, to act under the guidance of
an evil genius. The conduct of our leaders, if not actuated by
superior orders, is tempered with something--I do not care to give a
name to. Nothing now but a miracle can bring this campaign to a happy
issue." He then recapitulated the arguments he had urged against
attempting a new road, and added, "But I spoke unavailingly. The road
was immediately begun; and since then, from one to two thousand men
have constantly wrought on it. By the last accounts I have received,
they had cut it to the foot of the Laurel hill, about thirty-five
miles; and I suppose, by this time, fifteen hundred men have taken
post about ten miles further, at a placed called Loyal Hanna, where
our next fort is to be constructed.

"We have certain intelligence that the French strength at fort Du
Quesne did not exceed eight hundred men, the thirteenth ultimo;
including about three or four hundred Indians. See how our time has
been misspent--behold how the golden opportunity is lost--perhaps,
never to be regained! How is it to be accounted for? Can General
Forbes have orders for this?--Impossible. Will then our injured
country pass by such abuses? I hope not. Rather let a full
representation of the matter go to his majesty; let him know how
grossly his glory and interests, and the public money have been

{September 22.}

[Sidenote: Defeat of Major Grant.]

Colonel Washington was soon afterwards ordered to Raystown. Major
Grant had been previously detached from the advanced post at Loyal
Hanna, with a select corps of eight hundred men, to reconnoitre the
country about fort Du Quesne. In the night he reached a hill near the
fort, and sent forward a party for the purpose of discovery. They
burnt a log house, and returned. Next morning, Major Grant detached
Major Lewis, of Colonel Washington's regiment, with a baggage guard,
two miles into his rear; and sent an engineer, with a covering party,
within full view of the fort, to take a plan of the works. In the mean
time he ordered the _reveillée_ to be beaten in different places. An
action soon commenced, on which Major Lewis, leaving Captain Bullett,
with about fifty Virginians to guard the baggage, advanced with the
utmost celerity to support Major Grant. The English were defeated with
considerable loss; and both Major Grant and Major Lewis were taken
prisoners. In this action, the Virginians evidenced the spirit with
which they had been trained. Out of eight officers, five were killed,
a sixth wounded, and a seventh taken prisoner. Captain Bullett, who
defended the baggage with great resolution, and contributed to save
the remnant of the detachment, was the only officer who escaped
unhurt. Of one hundred and sixty-two men, sixty-two were killed on the
spot, and two wounded. This conduct reflected high honour on the
commanding officer of the regiment as well as on the troops; and he
received, on the occasion, the compliments of the general. The total
loss was two hundred and seventy-three killed, and forty-two wounded.

{October 8.}

It was at length determined that the main body of the army should move
from Raystown; and the general called on the colonels of regiments, to
submit severally to his consideration, a plan for his march. That
proposed by Colonel Washington has been preserved, and appears to have
been judiciously formed.

They reached the camp at Loyal Hanna, through a road indescribably
bad, about the fifth of November; where, as had been predicted, a
council of war determined that it was unadviseable to proceed farther
this campaign. It would have been almost impossible to winter an army
in that position. They must have retreated from the cold inhospitable
wilderness into which they had penetrated, or have suffered immensely;
perhaps have perished. Fortunately, some prisoners were taken, who
informed them of the extreme distress of the fort. Deriving no support
from Canada, the garrison was weak; in great want of provisions; and
had been deserted by the Indians. These encouraging circumstances
changed the resolution which had been taken, and determined the
general to prosecute the expedition.

[Sidenote: Fort Du Quesne evacuated by the French, and taken
possession of by the English.]

{November 25.}

Colonel Washington was advanced in front; and, with immense labour,
opened a way for the main body of the army. The troops moved forward
with slow and painful steps until they reached fort Du Quesne, of
which they took peaceable possession; the garrison having on the
preceding night, after evacuating and setting it on fire, proceeded
down the Ohio in boats.

To other causes than the vigour of the officer who conducted this
enterprise, the capture of this important place is to be ascribed. The
naval armaments of Britain had intercepted the reinforcements designed
by France for her colonies; and the pressure on Canada was such as to
disable the governor of that province from detaching troops to fort Du
Quesne. Without the aid of these causes, the extraordinary and
unaccountable delays of the campaign must have defeated its object.

The works were repaired, and the new fort received the name of the
great minister, who, with unparalleled vigour and talents, then
governed the nation.

After furnishing two hundred men from his regiment as a garrison for
fort Pitt, Colonel Washington marched back to Winchester; whence he
soon afterwards proceeded to Williamsburg, to take his seat in the
General Assembly, of which he had been elected a member by the county
of Frederick, while at fort Cumberland.

A cessation of Indian hostility being the consequence of expelling the
French from the Ohio, Virginia was relieved from the dangers with
which she had been threatened; and the object for which alone he had
continued in the service, after perceiving that he should not be
placed on the permanent establishment, was accomplished. His health
was much impaired, and his domestic affairs required his attention.

[Sidenote: Resignation and marriage of Colonel Washington.]

Impelled by these and other motives of a private nature, he determined
to withdraw from a service, which he might now quit without dishonour;
and, about the close of the year, resigned his commission, as colonel
of the first Virginia regiment, and commander-in-chief of all the
troops raised in the colony.

[Illustration: The Washington Family Burial Ground

_Wakefield, Westmoreland County, Virginia_

_Here rest the mortal remains of George Washington's
great-grandfather, Colonel John Washington, who came to Virginia in
1658 and was buried here in 1677; of his grandfather, Lawrence
Washington, buried in 1697; of his grandmother, Jane (Butler), in
1729; of his father, Augustine Washington, in 1743; and other members
of the Washington family._]

The officers whom he had commanded were greatly attached to him. They
manifested their esteem and their regret at parting, by a very
affectionate address,[8] expressive of the high opinion they
entertained both of his military and private character.

     [Footnote 8: See note No. III. at the end of the volume.]

This opinion was not confined to the officers of his regiment. It was
common to Virginia; and had been adopted by the British officers with
whom he served. The duties he performed, though not splendid, were
arduous; and were executed with zeal, and with judgment. The exact
discipline he established in his regiment, when the temper of Virginia
was extremely hostile to discipline, does credit to his military
character, and the gallantry the troops displayed, whenever called
into action, manifests the spirit infused into them by their

The difficulties of his situation, while unable to cover the frontier
from the French and Indians, who were spreading death and desolation
in every quarter, were incalculably great; and no better evidence of
his exertions, under these distressing circumstances, can be given,
than the undiminished confidence still placed in him, by those whom he
was unable to protect.

The efforts to which he incessantly stimulated his country for the
purpose of obtaining possession of the Ohio; the system for the
conduct of the war which he continually recommended; the vigorous and
active measures always urged upon those by whom he was commanded;
manifest an ardent and enterprising mind, tempered by judgment, and
quickly improved by experience.

Not long after his resignation, he was married to Mrs. Custis; a young
lady to whom he had been for some time attached; and who, to a large
fortune and fine person, added those amiable accomplishments which
ensure domestic happiness, and fill, with silent but unceasing
felicity, the quiet scenes of private life.


     Colonel Washington appointed commander-in-chief of the
     American forces.... Arrives at Cambridge.... Strength and
     disposition of the two armies.... Deficiency of the
     Americans in arms and ammunition.... Distress of the British
     from the want of fresh provisions.... Falmouth burnt....
     Success of the American cruisers.... Measures to form a
     continental army.... Difficulty of re-enlisting the
     troops.... Plan for attacking Boston.... General Lee
     detached to New York.... Possession taken of the heights of
     Dorchester.... Boston evacuated.... Correspondence
     respecting prisoners.


The attention of Colonel Washington, for several years after his
marriage, was principally directed to the management of his estate. He
continued a most respectable member of the legislature of his country,
in which he took an early and a decided part against the claims of
supremacy asserted by the British Parliament. As hostilities
approached, he was chosen by the independent companies, formed through
the northern parts of Virginia, to command them; and was elected a
member of the first congress which met at Philadelphia. The
illustrious patriots who composed it, soon distinguished him as the
soldier of America, and placed him on all those committees whose duty
it was to make arrangements for defence. When it became necessary to
appoint a commander-in-chief, his military character, the solidity of
his judgment, the steady firmness of his temper, the dignity of his
person and deportment, the confidence inspired by his patriotism and
integrity, and the independence of his fortune, combined to designate
him, in the opinion of all, for that important station. Local jealousy
was suppressed, not only by the enthusiasm of the moment, but by that
policy which induced the sagacious delegation from New England, to
prefer a commander-in-chief from the south.

[Sidenote: Colonel Washington appointed Commander-in-chief of the
American forces.]

On the 14th of June, he was unanimously chosen "General, and
Commander-in-chief of the armies of the United Colonies, and all the
forces now raised, or to be raised by them."[9]

     [Footnote 9: See note No. IV. at the end of the volume.]

{June 15.}

On the succeeding day, when the President communicated this
appointment to him, he expressed his high sense of the honour
conferred upon him, and his firm determination to exert every power he
possessed in the service of his country and of her "glorious cause."
At the same time he acknowledged the distress he felt from a
consciousness that his abilities and military experience might not be
equal to the extensive and important trust.

He declined all compensation for his services; and avowed an intention
to keep an exact account of his expenses, which he should rely on
Congress to discharge.

A special commission was directed, and a resolution unanimously
passed, declaring that "Congress would maintain, assist, and adhere to
him, as the General and Commander-in-chief of the forces raised, or to
be raised, for the maintenance and preservation of American liberty,
with their lives and fortunes."

He prepared, without delay, to enter upon the arduous duties of his
office; and, remaining only a few days in New York, where several
important arrangements were to be made, proceeded to the head quarters
of the American army.

[Sidenote: Arrives at Cambridge.]

As all orders of men concurred in approving his appointment, all
concurred in expressing their satisfaction at that event, and their
determination to afford him entire support. A committee of the
Congress of Massachusetts waited to receive him at Springfield, on the
confines of the colony, and to escort him to the army. On his arrival,
an address was presented to him by the House of Representatives,
breathing the most cordial affection, and testifying the most exalted
respect. His answer[10] was well calculated to keep up impressions
essential to the success of that arduous contest into which the United
Colonies had entered.

     [Footnote 10: It is in the following terms:

     "Gentlemen,--Your kind congratulations on my appointment and
     arrival, demand my warmest acknowledgments, and will be ever
     retained in grateful remembrance. In exchanging the
     enjoyments of domestic life for the duties of my present
     honourable but arduous situation, I only emulate the virtue
     and public spirit of the whole Province of Massachusetts,
     which, with a firmness and patriotism without example, has
     sacrificed all the comforts of social and political life, in
     support of the rights of mankind, and the welfare of our
     common country. My highest ambition is to be the happy
     instrument of vindicating these rights, and to see this
     devoted Province again restored to peace, liberty, and


{July 3.}

[Sidenote: Strength and disposition of the two armies.]

The first moments after his arrival in camp were employed in
reconnoitring the enemy, and examining the strength and situation of
the American troops.

The main body of the British army, under the immediate command of
General Howe, was entrenching itself strongly on Bunker's hill. Three
floating batteries lay in Mystic river, near the camp, and a twenty
gun ship below the ferry, between Boston and Charlestown. A strong
battery on the Boston side of the water, on Cop's or Cope's hill,
served to cover and strengthen the post on Bunker's hill. Another
division was deeply entrenched on Roxbury neck. The light horse, and
an inconsiderable body of infantry, were stationed in Boston.

The American army lay on both sides of Charles river. The right
occupied the high grounds about Roxbury; whence it extended towards
Dorchester; and the left was covered by Mystic or Medford river, a
space of at least twelve miles. These extensive lines could not be
contracted without opening to the British general a communication with
the country.

For the purpose of a more distinct arrangement, the army was thrown
into three grand divisions. That part of it which lay about Roxbury
constituted the right wing, and was commanded by Major General Ward;
the troops near Mystic or Medford river formed the left, which was
placed under Major General Lee. The centre, including the reserve, was
under the immediate command of General Washington, whose head quarters
were at Cambridge.

The army consisted of fourteen thousand five hundred men; but several
circumstances combined to render this force less effective than its
numbers would indicate.

[Sidenote: Deficiency of the Americans in arms and ammunition.]

So long had the hope of avoiding open hostilities been indulged, that
the time for making preparations to meet them had passed away
unemployed, and the neglect could not be remedied. On General
Washington's arrival in camp, he had ordered a return of the
ammunition to be made; and the report stated three hundred and three
barrels of powder to be in store. A few days after this return, the
alarming discovery was made, that the actual quantity was not more
than sufficient to furnish each man with nine cartridges. This mistake
had been produced by a misapprehension of the committee of supplies,
(for the magazines were not yet in possession of military officers,)
who, instead of returning the existing quantity, reported the whole
which had been originally furnished by the Province. Though the utmost
exertions were made, this critical state of things continued about a
fortnight, when a small supply of powder was received from
Elizabethtown, in New Jersey.[11] The utmost address was used to
conceal from the enemy this alarming deficiency; but when it is
recollected, in how many various directions, and to what various
bodies, application for assistance was unavoidably made, it will
appear scarcely possible that those efforts at concealment could have
been completely successful. It is more probable that the
communications which must have been made to the British general were
discredited; and that he could not permit himself to believe, that an
army without bayonets would be hardy enough to maintain the position
occupied by the Provincials, if destitute of ammunition.

     [Footnote 11: A circumstance attending this transaction,
     will furnish some idea of the difficulties encountered by
     those who then conducted the affairs of America.
     All-important to the general safety as was the speedy
     replenishment of the magazines of that army which lay
     encamped in front of the enemy, the committee of
     Elizabethtown was under the necessity of transmitting this
     powder secretly, lest the people of the neighbourhood should
     seize and detain it for their own security.]

The troops were also in such need of tents, as to be placed in
barracks, instead of being encamped in the open field; and were almost
destitute of clothing. They had, too, been raised by the colonial
governments; each of which organized its quota on different
principles. From this cause resulted not only a want of uniformity,
but other defects which were much more important. In Massachusetts,
the soldiers had chosen their platoon officers, and generally lived
with them as equals. This unmilitary practice was the certain index of
that general insubordination which pervaded every department. The
difficulty of establishing principles of order and obedience, always
considerable among raw troops, was increased by the short terms for
which enlistments had been made. The quotas of some of the colonies
would be entitled to a discharge in November; and none were engaged to
continue in service longer than the last of December. The early orders
evidence a state of things still more loose and unmilitary than was to
be inferred from the circumstances under which the war had been

An additional inconvenience, derived from this mixed agency of local
governments with that of the Union, was thus stated by General
Washington in a letter addressed to congress:--"I should be extremely
deficient in gratitude as well as justice, if I did not take the first
opportunity to acknowledge the readiness and attention which the
congress and different committees have shown to make every thing as
convenient and agreeable as possible; but there is a vital and
inherent principle of delay, incompatible with military service, in
transacting business through such various and different channels.[12]
I esteem it my duty, therefore, to represent the inconvenience that
must unavoidably ensue from a dependence on a number of persons for
supplies; and submit it to the consideration of congress, whether the
public service will not be best promoted by appointing a Commissary
General for the purpose."[13]

     [Footnote 12: The General was under the necessity of
     carrying on a direct correspondence, not only with the
     several colonial governments, but with the committees of all
     the important towns and some inferior places.]

     [Footnote 13: It is strange that an army should have been
     formed without such an officer.]

Every military operation was also seriously affected by the total want
of engineers, and the deficiency of working tools.

To increase difficulties already so considerable, the appointment of
general officers, made by congress, gave extensive dissatisfaction,
and determined several of those who thought themselves injured, to
retire from the service.

These disadvantages deducted essentially from the capacity of the
American force: but under them all, the General observed with pleasure
"the materials for a good army." These were "a great number of men,
able bodied, active, zealous in the cause, and of unquestionable
courage." Possessed of these materials, he employed himself
indefatigably in their organization. The army was arranged into
divisions and brigades; and congress was urged to the appointment of a
Paymaster, Quarter-master General, and such other general staff as are
indispensable in the structure of a regular military establishment.

The two armies continued to work on their respective fortifications,
without seriously molesting each other. Slight skirmishes occasionally
took place, in which little execution was done; and, although the
Americans made some advances, no attempt was made to dislodge them.


The Commander-in-chief submitted with reluctance to this state of
apparent inactivity. He felt the importance of destroying the army in
Boston, before it should be strengthened by reinforcements in the
ensuing spring; and with a view to this object, frequently
reconnoitred its situation, and was assiduous in collecting every
information respecting its strength. The result of his observations
and inquiries seems to have been, a strong inclination to the opinion,
that to carry the works by storm, though hazardous, was not
impracticable. A council of general officers being unanimously of
opinion, that for the present at least, the attempt ought not to be
made, it was laid aside.

[Sidenote: Distress of the British from the want of fresh provisions.]

A rigorous blockade being maintained, the British army began to suffer
considerably for fresh meat and vegetables. The small parties which
sailed from Boston, in quest of these articles, were frequently
disappointed by the vigilance of the minute men. But the continuance
of active exertion, which this service required on the part of the
inhabitants of the sea coast, soon became burdensome; and the
governors of the several colonies pressed for detachments from the
main army. Although it was impossible to spare the troops required,
without hazarding the cause of the colonies, great irritation was
excited by the refusal to comply with these demands of particular
protection. They at length became so importunate, and the unavoidable
refusal to comply with them was so ill received, that congress was
induced to pass a resolution, declaring that the army before Boston
was designed only to oppose the enemy at that place, and ought not to
be weakened by detachments for the security of other parts of the
country. At Newport, in Rhode Island, the committee sought to secure
the place, by entering into a compromise with Captain Wallace, who
commanded the ships of war on that station, stipulating that he should
be furnished with provisions on condition of his sparing the town, and
committing no depredations on the country. This compromise contravened
so essentially the general plan of distressing the British forces,
that General Washington deemed it necessary to interpose, and
represent to the Governor of that province, the mischief to be
apprehended from so dangerous a practice.

While the blockade of Boston was thus perseveringly maintained, other
events of considerable importance took place elsewhere.

In July, Georgia joined her sister colonies, and chose delegates to
represent her in congress: after which, the style of "The thirteen
United Colonies" was assumed; and by that title, the English
Provinces, confederated and in arms, were thenceforward designated.

{September 5.}

After a recess of one month, congress again assembled at Philadelphia.
The state of the colonies, and the letters of the Commander-in-chief
being immediately taken into consideration, the scarcity of arms and
ammunition engaged their most serious attention. Great exertions[14]
had been made, by importation and by domestic manufacture, to
extricate the country from this perilous situation; but the supplies
were unequal to the necessities of the army; and the danger resulting
from the want of articles, so vitally essential in war, still
continued to be great.

     [Footnote 14: The agents of congress had the address to
     purchase all the powder on the coast of Africa, and that
     within the British forts, without attracting notice; and to
     seize the magazine in the island of Bermuda. Great exertions
     were also made in the interior to obtain saltpetre and
     sulphur, for the manufacture of that important article.]

The importance of a maritime force to the military operations of a
country possessing an immense extent of sea coast must always be
sensibly felt; and, in an early stage of the contest, the particular
attention of the United Colonies was directed more immediately to this
interesting object, by an event not very unusual in war, but which, at
this time, excited no ordinary degree of resentment.

Orders had been issued to the commanders of the British ships of war
to proceed, as in the case of actual rebellion, against those seaport
towns which were accessible, and in which any troops should be raised,
or military works erected.


[Sidenote: Falmouth burnt.]

Falmouth, a flourishing village on the sea coast of Massachusetts,
having given some particular offence, a small naval force, commanded
by Captain Mowat, was, under colour of these orders, detached for its
destruction. After making an ineffectual effort to induce the
inhabitants to deliver up their arms and ammunition, and four of the
principal citizens as hostages, he commenced a furious cannonade and
bombardment, by which the town was reduced to ashes. An attempt was
then made to penetrate into the country; but the militia and minute
men, rather irritated than intimidated by this wanton act of
unavailing devastation, drove the party, which had landed, back to
their ships.

This measure was loudly reprobated throughout America, and
contributed, not a little, to turn the attention of the United
Colonies to their marine. It was one immediate motive with the
convention of Massachusetts, for granting letters of marque and
reprisal; and was assigned by congress, in addition to the capture of
American merchantmen on the high seas, as an inducement for fitting
out some ships of war; to man which they directed two battalions of
marines to be recruited.

[Sidenote: Success of the American cruisers.]

Though congress deferred granting general letters of reprisal, they
adopted a measure of equal efficacy, but less hostile in appearance.
Their ships of war were authorized to capture all vessels employed in
giving assistance to the enemy; the terms used in their resolution
were such as comprehended every possible capture. A few small cruisers
had already been fitted out by the directions of General Washington;
and the coasts soon swarmed with the privateers of New England. These
naval exertions were attended with valuable consequences. Many
captures were made; and important supplies of ammunition were thus

Although the British army had manifested no intention to evacuate
Boston, fears were continually entertained for New York. Mr. Tryon,
who was popular in that province, had been lately recalled from North
Carolina, and appointed its governor. His utmost influence was
employed in detaching that colony from the union; and his exertions
were seconded by the Asia man of war, whose guns commanded the town.
The consequence of these intrigues and of this terror was, that even
in the convention, disaffection to the American cause began openly to
show itself; and a determination to join the king's standard is said
to have been expressed with impunity. These threatening appearances
were rendered the more serious by some confidential communications
from England, stating the intention of administration to send a fleet
into the Hudson, and to occupy both New York and Albany. Under the
alarm thus excited, an effort was made in congress to obtain a
resolution for seizing the governor. He had, however, been artful
enough to make impressions in his favour; and he was defended by a
part of the delegation from New York with so much earnestness that,
for a time, the advocates of the proposition forbore to press it.
Afterwards, when the increasing defection in that province induced
Congress to resume the subject, the resolution was expressed in
general terms; and assumed the form of a recommendation, to those who
exercised the legislative and executive functions in the several
provinces, "to arrest and secure every person in the respective
colonies, whose going at large might, in their opinion, endanger the
safety of the colony, or the liberties of America." Intelligence of
this resolution is supposed to have been received by the governor,
who, after some correspondence with the mayor of the city respecting
his personal safety, retired for security on board the Halifax packet,
and continued to carry on his intrigues with nearly as much advantage
as while on shore.

But the subject which, next to the supply of arms and ammunition, most
interested the American government, was the re-enlistment of the army.

[Illustration: The Historic Washington Elm at Cambridge, Massachusetts

_"Under this tree," as the granite tablet states, "Washington first
took command of the American army, July 3d, 1775." This picture is
from a photograph taken about the year 1900. In spite of the most
determined efforts to preserve this historic relic, the tree fell in
November, 1923._

© U & U]

[Sidenote: Measures to form a continental army.]

On the 29th of September, at the earnest solicitation of General
Washington, a committee had been appointed by congress, with
directions to repair to the camp at Cambridge; there to consult with
the Commander-in-chief, and with the chief magistrates of New
Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and the council of
Massachusetts, "on the most effectual method of continuing,
supporting, and regulating a continental army." On the return of this
committee, congress determined that the new army should consist of
twenty thousand three hundred and seventy-two men, including officers;
to be raised as far as practicable from the troops already in service.
Unfortunately, in constituting this first military establishment of
the union, an essential error was committed; the consequences of which
ceased only with the war. The soldiers, instead of being engaged for
an unlimited time, were enlisted for the term of only one year, if not
sooner discharged by congress. It is not easy to account entirely for
this fatal error. With their jealousy of a permanent army, were
probably intermingled hopes that the war would not be of long
duration, and fears that much difficulty would be encountered in
prevailing on men to enter into engagements of unlimited extent.
Perhaps the habits of the northern colonies, where it had been usual
to raise men for a single campaign, may have contributed to this
measure. Whatever may have been its motives, its consequences were of
the most serious nature; and it brought the American cause, more than
once, into real hazard.

Other resolutions accompanied that for raising and establishing the
new army, which exhibit the perilous condition of the country, and its
want of those means, which were indispensable to the support of the
arduous conflict in which it was engaged.

One resolution ordered the detention, at a valuation, of the arms of
those soldiers who should refuse to re-enlist, although they were
private property, and but ill adapted to military purposes; another,
offered two dollars to every recruit who would supply himself with a
blanket; a third, ordered the purchase of any cloths which could be
procured, without regard to colour, to be delivered to the soldiers,
after deducting the price from their pay; and a fourth, required the
soldiers to furnish their own arms, or to pay for the use of those
which might be supplied by the government.

{October 22.}

Before the arrangements made by the committee were confirmed by
congress, General Washington proceeded to take the preparatory steps
for carrying them into execution.

It being understood that the engagements of the officers, as well as
of the soldiers, would expire with the year; the whole army was to be
formed anew. The officers therefore were required to signify in
writing to their respective colonels, their determination to leave, or
to continue in the service; that it might be communicated to congress
through the officer commanding brigades.

[Sidenote: Difficulty of re-enlisting the army.]

The urgency of the case could not produce a compliance with these
orders. Many disregarded them; and others annexed conditions to their
remaining in the service. Repetitions of them became necessary; and an
unconditional declaration was required.[15] But that high spirit and
enthusiastic ardour, which had brought such numbers into the field
after the battle of Lexington, was already beginning to dissipate; and
that alacrity for the service, which had been expected, was not
displayed. The orders of the day contain the most animating
exhortations to the army, and the strongest appeals to its patriotism;
but there was an ominous hesitation in forming new engagements.

     [Footnote 15: In this state of things, several officers,
     supposing that commissions and rank might depend on
     recruiting men, began, without permission, to recruit
     soldiers, to serve particularly under the officer enlisting
     them. Every military principle required that this practice
     should be arrested; and it was peremptorily forbidden in
     general orders.]

{November 12.}

At length, with much labour, the officers were arranged, upon which,
recruiting orders were issued. But the sufferings of the army for
fuel, clothes, and even provisions, had been great; and to this cause
may be attributed the tardiness with which the soldiers in camp
enrolled themselves. One officer from each company was employed to
recruit in the country; but their progress was not such as the crisis
demanded; and the army was dissolving by the expiration of the time
for which it had been enlisted. The impatience of the soldiers to
revisit their friends, overcame all their solicitude for maintaining
the blockade of Boston; and it was with great difficulty that those
entitled to a discharge were detained in camp even for ten days; at
the end of which time a body of militia was expected to supply their
places. This fact, however, did not convince the governments of the
United Colonies, that it was possible to rely too much on individual
patriotism; and that the American cause, if defended entirely by
temporary armies, must be often exposed to imminent hazard.

{November 30.}

Perceiving the difficulty of recruiting the army, the General
earnestly recommended to congress, to try the effect of a bounty. This
proposition was not adopted until late in January; and, on the last
day of December, when all the old troops, not engaged on the new
establishment, were disbanded, only nine thousand six hundred and
fifty men had been enlisted for the army of 1776; many of whom were
unavoidably permitted to be absent on furlough. Their numbers,
however, were considerably augmented during the winter; and, in the
mean time, the militia cheerfully complied with the requisitions made
on them.


Notwithstanding these complicated difficulties and embarrassments, the
General viewed with deep mortification the semblance of inactivity to
which his situation compelled him to submit. In the commencement of
the contest, while the minds of many were undetermined, it was of vast
importance to secure the public confidence, and it was necessary to
pay some attention even to the public caprice. The real difficulties
under which he laboured were not generally known. His numbers were
exaggerated, and his means of carrying on offensive operations were
magnified. The expulsion of the British army from Boston had been long
since anticipated by many; and those were not wanting, who endeavoured
to spread discontent by insinuating that the Commander-in-chief was
desirous of prolonging the war, in order to continue his own
importance. To these symptoms of impatience, and to the consequences
they might produce, he could not be insensible; but it was not in his
power to silence such complaints, by disclosing to the world his real
situation. His views still continued to be directed towards Boston;
and, congress having manifested a disposition favourable to an attack
on that place, the general officers had been again assembled, and had
again advised unanimously against the measure. Supposing that fears
for the safety of the town might embarrass the proceedings of the
army, congress resolved, "that if General Washington and his council
of war should be of opinion that a successful attack might be made on
the troops in Boston, he should make it in any manner he might think
expedient, notwithstanding the town and property in it might be
thereby destroyed."

[Sidenote: Plans for attacking Boston.]

Whilst waiting for a favourable opportunity to execute this bold plan,
the American general availed himself of the occasional aids received
from the militia, to make advances on the besieged, and to seize
positions which would favour ulterior operations. Ploughed Hill,
Cobble Hill, and Lechmere's Point, were successively occupied and
fortified. His approaches were carried within half a mile of the works
on Bunker's Hill; and his guns drove their floating batteries from
their stations, and protected others constructed under his orders.

Hitherto, the object of the war had been a redress of grievances. The
language, that it was a war against a corrupt administration, had been
carefully observed; and allegiance to the British crown was
universally avowed. The progress, however, of the public mind towards
independence, though slow, was certain; and measures were necessarily
taken, which apparently tended to that object. Among these, was the
act of establishing temporary governments in place of that
revolutionary system which followed the suspension of the ancient

The first application on this subject was made by Massachusetts;[16]
and her example was soon followed by other colonies. These
applications could not fail to draw forth the sentiments of members on
the very interesting question of separation from the mother country.
They who wished to lead public opinion to independence, were desirous
of establishing a regular government in each province, entirely
competent to the administration of its affairs; while they who were
hostile to that event, opposed every measure which might either
incline the colonies towards it, or strengthen the opinion in Great
Britain, that it was the real object of all who had resisted the
legislative supremacy of parliament. A resolution was with difficulty
obtained in the case of New Hampshire, which formed a precedent for
others of the same nature, recommending to the provincial convention
to call a full and free representation of the people, who should
establish such form of government as would best promote the general
happiness, and most effectually secure peace and good order in the
colony, during the continuance of the present dispute with Great
Britain. Without this last clause, which still maintained the
appearance of preserving the ancient connexion with the parent state,
the recommendation would not have been made. About the same time,
congress also resolved that it would be extremely dangerous to the
liberties and welfare of America, for any colony separately to
petition the king or either house of parliament.

     [Footnote 16: On this application congress recommended that
     an assembly and council should be chosen in the usual way,
     who should exercise the powers of government until a
     Governor of his Majesty's appointment should consent to
     govern the colony according to its charter.]

Having taken into consideration a proclamation, declaring certain
persons in the colonies to have forgotten their allegiance, and to be
in a state of open rebellion, and threatening with punishment those
who should be found carrying on correspondence with them;--congress
declared, "in the name of the people of these United Colonies, and by
the authority according to the purest maxims of representation derived
from them, that whatever punishment shall be inflicted upon any
persons in the power of their enemies, for favouring, aiding, or
abetting the cause of American liberty, shall be retaliated in the
same kind, and in the same degree, upon those in their power, who have
favoured, aided, or abetted, or shall favour, aid, or abet the system
of ministerial oppression."

The British army, the command of which, on the recall of General Gage,
had devolved upon General Howe, still remained inactive in Boston; and
was still closely blocked up on the land side. The history of this
winter campaign, is a history of successive struggles on the part of
the American general, with the difficulties imposed by the want of
arms, ammunition, and permanent troops, on a person extremely
solicitous, by some grand and useful achievement, to prove himself
worthy of the high station to which the voice of his country had
called him.



Considering the resolution relative to the attack on Boston as
indicating the desire of congress on that subject, he assured the
president that an attempt would be made to put it in execution the
first moment he should perceive a probability of success. If this
should not occur, as soon as might be expected or wished, he prayed
that his situation might be recollected, and that congress would do
him the justice to believe, that circumstances, not inclination on his
part, occasioned the delay. "It is not," said he, "in the pages of
history to furnish a case like ours. To maintain a post within musket
shot of the enemy for six months together, without _ammunition_; and
at the same time, to disband one army and recruit another, within that
distance of twenty-odd British regiments, is more than, probably, ever
was attempted. But if we succeed as well in the latter, as we have
hitherto done in the former, I shall think it the most fortunate event
of my whole life."

In the month of January a council of war, at which Mr. John Adams, a
member of congress, and Mr. Warren, president of the provincial
congress of Massachusetts, assisted: Resolved, "that a vigorous
attempt ought to be made on the ministerial troops in Boston, before
they can be reinforced in the spring, if the means can be provided,
and a favourable opportunity should offer." It was farther advised,
"that thirteen regiments of militia should be asked for from
Massachusetts and the neighbouring colonies, in order to put the army
in a condition to make the attempt. The militia to assemble on the
first of February, and to continue in service, if necessary, until the
first of March." The colonies readily complied with these
requisitions; but so mild had the season hitherto been, that the
waters about Boston continued open. "Congress would discover in my
last," said the general, on the nineteenth of January, "my motives for
strengthening these lines with militia. But whether, as the weather
turns out exceedingly mild, (insomuch as to promise nothing favourable
from ice,) and there is no appearance of powder, I shall be able to
attempt any thing decisive, time only can determine. No man upon earth
wishes to destroy the nest in Boston more than I do; no person would
be willing to go greater lengths than I shall to accomplish it, if it
shall be thought adviseable; but if we have no powder to bombard with,
nor ice to pass on, we shall be in no better situation than we have
been all the year: we shall be in a worse, as their works are

[Sidenote: General Lee detached to New York.]

Early in January, the Commander-in-chief received unquestionable
intelligence that an armament was equipping in Boston, to sail under
General Clinton on a secret expedition. Many considerations induced
him to believe that New York was its destination. He thought the
possession of the Hudson of great importance to the British: and that
the numerous adherents to the royal cause in New York, furnished an
additional reason for transferring the seat of war to that colony.
Whilst deliberating on this subject, he received a letter from General
Lee, requesting to be detached to Connecticut, for the purpose of
assembling a body of volunteers, who should march into New York, and
be employed both for the security of that place, and the expulsion or
suppression of a band of tories collecting on Long Island. Though
inclined to the adoption of this measure, delicacy towards those who
exercised the powers of civil government in the colony, suspended his
decision on it. Mr. John Adams, who possessed great and well merited
influence, was then at Watertown, attending the provincial convention;
and with him, the general held some communications respecting his
powers. That gentleman being decidedly of opinion that they extended
to the case, General Lee was detached, with instructions to raise a
body of volunteers in Connecticut, to reinforce the battalions of New
Jersey and New York, which were placed under his command. His orders
were to proceed to New York; to examine the fortifications of the
city, and up the river; to put them in the best possible state of
defence; to disarm all persons whose conduct rendered them justly
suspected of designs unfriendly to the government, especially those on
Long Island; and to collect the arms and ammunition in their
possession, for the use of the army.

No difficulty was found in raising the volunteers required from
Connecticut. The people of that province were zealous and
enterprising, and Governor Trumbull having sanctioned the measure,
troops were immediately embodied, and Lee commenced his march for New
York at the head of twelve hundred men.

The inhabitants of that place were much alarmed at his approach.
Captain Parker of the Asia man of war had threatened that he would
destroy the town in the event of its being entered by any considerable
body of provincials; and it was believed that these threats would be

A committee of safety, which had been appointed to exercise the powers
of government during the recess of the provincial congress, addressed
a letter to General Lee, expressing astonishment at the report that he
was about to enter the town without previously intimating his design,
and pressing him earnestly not to pass the confines of Connecticut,
until they could have further explanations with him.

Holding in utter contempt the threats of Captain Parker, Lee continued
his march; and, in a letter[17] to congress, represented in such
strong terms the impolicy of leaving the military arrangements for New
York under the control of the local government, that congress
appointed three of their own body, to consult with him and the council
of safety, respecting the defence of the place; and instructed him to
obey the directions of that committee.

     [Footnote 17: See note No. V. at the end of the volume.]

Lee soon acquired that ascendancy which is the prerogative of a
superior mind, over those who were sent for his government, and they
directed him to execute whatever he suggested. A plan recommended by
him, for fortifying the city and preserving its connexion with Long
Island, was adopted, and prosecuted with vigour.

General Clinton arrived almost at the same instant with General Lee,
but without troops. He said openly, that none were coming; that no
hostilities were contemplated against New York; and that he was,
himself, merely on a visit to his friend Tryon. "If it be really so,"
added General Lee, in his letter containing this communication, "it is
the most whimsical piece of civility I ever heard of." General Clinton
did not affect to conceal that his real object was to proceed to North
Carolina, where he expected that five regiments from Europe would join
the small force he should carry with him.

About the middle of February, the cold was intense, and the ice became
sufficiently firm to bear the troops. General Washington was now
disposed to execute the bold plan he had formed, of attacking General
Howe in Boston; but a council of war being almost unanimous against
the measure, it was abandoned. The want of ammunition for the
artillery was a principal inducement to this opinion.

The attempt, probably, would not have succeeded, and must certainly
have been attended with considerable loss. But the advice of the
council seems to have been adopted with regret. In communicating their
opinion to congress, the general observed, "Perhaps the irksomeness of
my situation may have given different ideas to me, from those which
influence the gentlemen I consulted; and might have inclined me to put
more to the hazard than was consistent with prudence. If it had this
effect, I am not sensible of it, as I endeavoured to give the subject
all the consideration a matter of such importance required. True it
is, and I can not help acknowledging, that I have many disagreeable
sensations on account of my situation; for, to have the eyes of the
whole continent fixed on me, with anxious expectation of hearing some
great event, and to be restrained in every military operation for want
of the necessary means to carry it on, is not very pleasing;
especially as the means used to conceal my weakness from the enemy,
conceal it also from our friends, and add to their wonder."

Late in February, various appearances among the British troops
indicated an intention to evacuate Boston; but as these appearances
might be deceptive, and he had now received a small supply of powder,
General Washington determined to prosecute vigorously a plan he had
formed, to force General Howe either to come to an action, or to
abandon the town.

Since the allowance of a bounty, recruiting had been more successful;
and the regular force had been augmented to rather more than fourteen
thousand men. In addition to these troops, the Commander-in-chief had
called to his aid about six thousand of the militia of Massachusetts.
Thus reinforced, he determined to take possession of the heights of
Dorchester, and to fortify them. As the possession of this post would
enable him to annoy the ships in the harbour and the soldiers in the
town, he was persuaded that a general action would ensue. But if this
hope should be disappointed, his purpose was to make the works on the
heights of Dorchester only preparatory to seizing and fortifying
Nook's Hill, and the points opposite the south end of Boston, which
commanded the harbour, a great part of the town, and the beach from
which an embarkation must take place in the event of a retreat.


[Sidenote: Possession taken of the heights of Dorchester.]

To facilitate the execution of this plan, a heavy bombardment and
cannonade were commenced on the town and on the British lines, which
were repeated the two succeeding nights. On the last of them,
immediately after the firing had begun, a strong detachment, under the
command of General Thomas, took possession of the heights without
opposition. Such was their activity and industry through the night
that, although the ground was almost impenetrable, the works were
sufficiently advanced by the morning, nearly to cover them. When
day-light disclosed their operations to the British, a considerable
degree of embarrassment appeared, and an ineffectual fire was
commenced on the party in possession of the heights, who in turn
opened a battery on the besieged; and continued with unremitting
labour to strengthen their position.

{March 5.}

It was necessary to dislodge the Americans from the heights, or to
evacuate the town; and General Howe, as had been foreseen, determined
to embrace the former part of the alternative. Three thousand chosen
men, to be commanded by Lord Percy, were ordered on this service.
These troops were embarked, and fell down to the castle, in order to
proceed up the river to the intended scene of action; but were
scattered by a furious storm, which disabled them from immediately
prosecuting the enterprise. Before they could again be in readiness
for the attack, the works were made so strong, that the attempt to
storm them was thought unadviseable, and the evacuation of the town
became inevitable.

In the expectation that the flower of the British troops would be
employed against the heights of Dorchester, General Washington had
concerted a plan for availing himself of that occasion, to attack
Boston itself. The storm which defeated the proposed attack on the
heights defeated this enterprise also.

[Sidenote: Boston evacuated.]

{March 17.}

The determination to evacuate Boston was soon communicated. A paper
signed by some of the select men of the town, and brought out with a
flag, stated the fact. This paper was accompanied by propositions said
to be made on the part of General Howe, but not signed by him,
relative to the security of the town, and the peaceable embarkation of
his army. As these propositions were not addressed to the
Commander-in-chief, and were not authenticated by the signature of
General Howe, nor by any act obligatory on him, General Washington
thought it improper directly to notice them; and ordered the officer
to whom they were delivered to return an answer stating the reasons
why they were not treated with more attention. The determination,
however, to continue his advances and to secure Nook's Hill, was
changed; and considerable detachments were moved towards New York,
before the actual evacuation of Boston. This event took place on the
17th of March; and, in a few days, the whole fleet sailed out of
Nantasket road, directing its course eastward.

The recovery of this important town gave great joy to the United
Colonies. Congress passed a vote of thanks to the General and his
army, "for their wise and spirited conduct in the siege and
acquisition of Boston;" and directed a medal of gold to be struck in
commemoration of the event.

As soon as the British fleet had put to sea, the American army
proceeded by divisions to New York, where it arrived on the 14th of

During the siege of Boston, an altercation concerning prisoners took
place between the commanders of the respective armies, which was
viewed with great interest throughout America. The character of the
war--a war between a sovereign and those who professed to be his
subjects, led to a course of conduct on the part of the British
General, which the actual state of things did not justify.

General Gage, as Governor of Massachusetts, had received all the
irritations of which his mind was susceptible--irritations which
seemed to have had no inconsiderable influence over his conduct as
Commander-in-chief. He regarded the Americans nearly as rebels; and
treated them as if the great national resistance they were making on
principle, was to be viewed as the act of a few daring and turbulent
individuals, rising against laws of unquestionable obligation, who
would soon be quelled, and punished for their disobedience of
legitimate authority. In this spirit, he threw some distinguished
gentlemen of Boston, and the American officers and soldiers who fell
into his hands, into the common jail of felons; and treated them,
without respect to military rank or condition, not as prisoners of
war, but as state criminals.

[Sidenote: Correspondence respecting prisoners.]

General Washington remonstrated very seriously against this
unjustifiable measure. Considering political opinion entirely out of
the question, and "conceiving the obligations of humanity, and the
claims of rank, to be universally binding, except in the case of
retaliation;" he expressed the hope he had entertained, "that they
would have induced, on the part of the British General, a conduct more
conformable to the rights they gave." While he claimed the benefits of
these rights, he declared his determination "to be regulated entirely,
in his conduct towards the prisoners who should fall into his hands,
by the treatment which those in the power of the British General
should receive."

To this letter, a haughty and intemperate answer was returned,
retorting the complaints concerning the treatment of prisoners, and
affecting to consider it as an instance of clemency, that the cord was
not applied to those whose imprisonment was complained of. To this
answer, General Washington gave a manly and dignified reply, which
was, he said, "to close their correspondence perhaps forever;" and
which concluded with saying, "If your officers, our prisoners, receive
from me a treatment different from what I wished to show them, they
and you will remember the occasion of it."

The result of this correspondence was communicated to the council of
Massachusetts,[18] who were requested to order the British officers
then on parole to be confined in close jail, and the soldiers to be
sent to such place of security as the general court should direct.

     [Footnote 18: In the early part of the war, congress had
     appointed no commissary of prisoners; nor had the government
     taken upon itself the custody of them. They were entrusted
     for safe keeping to the respective legislatures and
     committees, to whom it was necessary to apply for the
     execution of every order respecting them.]

On the recall of General Gage, the command devolved on General Howe,
whose conduct was less exceptionable; and this rigorous treatment of
prisoners was relaxed.

Not long after this correspondence with General Gage, while Montgomery
was employed in the siege of St. John's, Colonel Ethan Allen was
captured in a bold and rash attempt on Montreal. Under the pretext of
his having acted without authority, he was put in irons, and sent to
England as a traitor.

While he was yet in Canada, congress requested the Commander-in-chief
to inquire into the fact. He addressed a letter to Sir William Howe,
requiring explanations on it, and assuring him that General Prescot,
who had been taken in Canada, and was understood to have contributed
to the severities inflicted on Colonel Allen, should receive exactly
the fate of that officer.

General Howe, not holding any authority in Canada, or not choosing to
enter fully into this subject, General Schuyler was directed to make
particular inquiries into the conduct of Prescot; and congress, on
being informed of the inefficacy of the application to General Howe,
ordered that officer into close jail.


     Invasion of Canada meditated.... Siege of St. John's....
     Capture of fort Chamblée.... Carleton defeated at
     Longueisle.... St. John's capitulated.... Montreal
     surrenders.... Arnold's expedition.... He arrives before
     Quebec.... Retires to Point Aux Trembles.... Montgomery lays
     siege to Quebec.... Unsuccessful attack on that place....
     Death of Montgomery.... Blockade of Quebec.... General
     Thomas takes command of the army.... The blockade raised....
     General Sullivan takes the command.... Battle of the Three
     Rivers.... Canada evacuated.... General Carleton constructs
     a fleet.... Enters lake Champlain.... Defeats the American
     flotilla.... Takes possession of Crown Point.... Retires
     into winter quarters.


During these transactions, events of great interest were passing still
further north.

Serious dissatisfaction prevailed in Canada. The measures of
administration had disquieted the British settlers, without
conciliating the ancient inhabitants. At the same time, the regular
troops had been chiefly ordered to Boston, and the province left
almost entirely undefended. These facts were known in the United
Colonies. It was also known that military stores to an immense amount
had been deposited in Quebec, and that preparations were making to
invade the colonies from that quarter. The possession of that country
was believed to be all important; and its present temper countenanced
the opinion, that its weight would be thrown into the scale of that
party, which should first show a force in it sufficient for the
protection of its inhabitants. The facility with which Crown Point and
Ticonderoga had been taken, and the command of the lakes George and
Champlain acquired, added to the motives already stated, inspiring
congress with the daring design of anticipating the plans meditated in
Canada, by taking possession of that province.

[Sidenote: Invasion of Canada meditated.]

In June, 1775, a resolution passed that body, directing General
Schuyler to repair to Ticonderoga, and take the proper measures for
securing that post and Crown Point, and for retaining the command of
the lakes. He was, at the same time authorized, if he should find the
measure not disagreeable to the Canadians, to take possession of St.
John's and Montreal, and to pursue any other steps which might have a
tendency to promote the peace and security of the United Colonies.

Near three thousand men from New England and New York were designed
for this service. A number of batteaux were directed to be built at
Ticonderoga and Crown Point, to convey them along lake Champlain, and
fifty thousand dollars in specie were voted for the expenses of the
army in Canada.

General Schuyler, who was at New York when this important command was
confided to him, hastened to Ticonderoga, in order to make the
necessary arrangements for the enterprise.

The troops of that department, belonging to different colonies,
stationed at different places, and acknowledging no one commanding
officer, were found in a state of entire disorganization. The stores
were misapplied, or wasted; no subordination nor camp discipline was
observed; and had the enemy been in a condition to attempt a _coup de
main_, Ticonderoga and Crown Point would have been lost, with as much
facility as they had been acquired.


Schuyler immediately commenced the task of preparing vessels for the
transportation of the troops; a task the more laborious and tedious,
as the timber for the batteaux was then to be procured from the woods.
Before the preparations were complete, or the soldiers destined for
the expedition were assembled, the impatience expressed by the
discontented in Canada rendered an immediate movement adviseable.
Orders were therefore given to General Montgomery to embark with the
troops then in readiness; and General Schuyler having directed the
expected reinforcements to rendezvous at the Isle Aux Noix, followed
and joined him before he reached that place.

[Sidenote: The Americans enter that Province.]

Circular letters to the Canadians, exhorting them to rouse and assert
their liberties, and declaring, that the Americans entered their
country, not as enemies, but as friends and protectors, were
immediately dispersed among them; and to improve the favourable
impression which had been made, it was determined to advance directly
to St. John's. On the sixth of September, the American army, amounting
to about one thousand men, entirely destitute of artillery, embarked
on the Sorel, and proceeding down that river, landed within a mile and
a half of the fort. The intelligence received during the evening,
determined them to return to the Isle Aux Noix, and wait for their
remaining troops and artillery.

The Isle Aux Noix lies at the junction of the Sorel with lake
Champlain; and to prevent the armed vessels at St. John's from
entering the latter, a boom was drawn across the narrow channel, at
the point of union between those waters.

While at that place, General Schuyler became so ill as to be confined
to his bed; and the command devolved on Montgomery.

{September 25.}

[Sidenote: Siege of St. Johns.]


[Sidenote: Capture of Fort Chamblée.]

Late in September the artillery was brought up; and reinforcements
arrived, which augmented the army to nearly two thousand men;--upon
which Montgomery again proceeded to the investment of St. John's. This
place was garrisoned by five or six hundred regulars, with about two
hundred Canadian militia, and was well provided with artillery and
military stores. The army of Canada, as well as the other armies of
the United Colonies, was almost entirely without powder; and, of
consequence, the siege advanced slowly. Its necessities in this
respect were fortunately relieved by the capture of fort Chamblée,
which being supposed to be covered by St. John's, was not in a
defensible condition. In this place, about one hundred and twenty
barrels of gunpowder were taken, after which the siege of St. John's
was prosecuted with vigour; but the garrison made a resolute defence,
and for some time indulged the hope of being relieved.[19]

     [Footnote 19: Annual Register.]

[Sidenote: Carleton defeated at Longueisle.]

Colonel M'Clean, a veteran officer, with his regiment of royal
highland emigrants, and a few hundred Canadians, was posted near the
junction of the Sorel with the St. Lawrence. General Carleton was at
Montreal, where he had collected about a thousand men, chiefly
Canadians. At the head of these troops, he hoped to effect a junction
with M'Clean, after which he designed to march with his whole force
against Montgomery, and endeavour to raise the siege; but, on
attempting to cross over from Montreal, he was encountered and
entirely defeated at Longueisle by a detachment of the American troops
under Colonel Warner. Another party advanced on M'Clean. Being
entirely abandoned by his Canadians so soon as they were informed of
the defeat of the governor, and having also received information that
Arnold was approaching Point Levi, M'Clean retreated to Quebec. The
Americans occupied the post he had abandoned, and erected batteries on
a point of land at the junction of the Sorel with the St. Lawrence;
where they also constructed several armed rafts and floating
batteries, in order to prevent Carleton with the vessels at Montreal
from escaping down the river.

[Sidenote: St. Johns capitulates.]

{November 3.}

Montgomery was pressing the siege of St. John's with great vigour, and
had advanced his works near the fort, when the account of the success
at Longueisle reached him. On receiving this intelligence, he sent a
flag by one of the prisoners, with a letter to Major Preston, the
commanding officer, demanding a surrender of the place. All hopes of
relief having now vanished, the garrison capitulated, on being allowed
the honours of war.

Scarcely was this first success obtained, when the consequences of
short enlistments began to be felt. The time of service for which the
troops had engaged being about to expire, great difficulty was
experienced in prevailing on them to proceed farther; and before the
General could induce them to march against Montreal, he was under the
necessity of stipulating explicitly, that all who wished it should be
discharged at that place. Having effected this compromise, he
proceeded against Montreal; while his floating batteries, under
Colonel Easton, advanced up the St. Lawrence, and not only prevented
the armed vessels of the enemy from escaping to Quebec, but drove them
still higher up the river.

[Sidenote: Montreal surrenders.]

{November 13.}

Montreal was not in a condition to be defended. After engaging to
allow the Canadians in their own laws, the free exercise of their
religion, and the privilege of governing themselves, Montgomery took
peaceable possession of the town; and Governor Carleton retired to his
flotilla. While preparations were making to attack these vessels, the
Governor was conveyed in a boat with muffled oars down the river, in a
dark night, and made his escape to Quebec. The fleet soon afterwards
surrendered, and the General prepared, with the utmost expedition, to
proceed with the few troops who were willing to follow him, to the
capital of Canada.

Diminished as his army was by the discharge of those who claimed the
performance of his engagements made at St. John's, it was necessary to
leave a part of it at Montreal, St. John's, and Chamblée to garrison
those places--keep open the communication between Quebec and the
United Colonies--preserve the dependence of the Canadians--overawe the
Indians, and hold in check the garrisons above him at Detroit and
Niagara. These essential objects, though provided for with the utmost
possible economy of men, formed such deductions from his force, as to
leave little more than three hundred soldiers to follow their General
in the enterprise against Quebec.


Foreseeing that the whole force of Canada would be concentrated about
Montreal, General Washington had planned an expedition against Quebec,
to be carried on by a detachment from his camp before Boston, which
was to march by the way of Kennebec river; and, passing through the
dreary wilderness lying between the settled parts of Maine and the St.
Lawrence, to enter Canada about ninety miles below Montreal.

The object of this hardy enterprise was to compel Carleton, either to
draw his troops from the upper country and leave the passage open to
the army invading the province by the way of the river Sorel, or, if
he should maintain that position, to take possession of Quebec. All
his accounts assured him that this place was unable to hold out
against the force which would appear before it; and, if attacked by an
American army before the return of Carleton, would surrender without
firing a shot.

This arduous enterprise was committed to Colonel Arnold. About a
thousand men, consisting of New England infantry, some volunteers,[20]
a company of artillery under Captain Lamb, and three companies of
riflemen, were selected for the service.

     [Footnote 20: Colonel Burr, since Vice President of the
     United States, was of this number.]

[Sidenote: Arnold's expedition by the way of the Kennebec.]

Such delays in expediting this detachment were occasioned by the
derangements of the army, that Arnold could not commence his march
until the middle of September.

The success of the expedition depending in a great measure on the
friendly temper of the province against which it was directed, the
instructions given to Arnold earnestly inculcated the cultivation of a
good understanding with the Canadians; and even enjoined an
abandonment of the enterprise, should this sudden invasion of their
country threaten to irritate them, and induce them to take up arms
against the United Colonies. He was furnished with about one thousand
pounds in specie to defray contingent expenses, and with a cargo of
manifestoes to be dispersed through Canada.

The opinion which had been formed of the favourable disposition of the
Canadians was not disproved by the event. They gave essential aid to
the Americans, and cheerfully facilitated their march through that
province. But the previous difficulties to be surmounted were much
greater than had been apprehended. The intermediate country, which had
never been well explored, opposed obstacles to the march, which only
perseverance like that of Arnold and of his brave and hardy followers,
could have conquered. Colonel Enos, who commanded the rear division,
consisting of one third of the detachment, returned from the Dead
River, a branch of the Kennebec. At first, his appearance excited the
utmost indignation in the army; yet, on being arrested, he was
acquitted by a court martial, on the principle that it was absolutely
impracticable to obtain provisions on the route to preserve the troops
from perishing with famine.

Arnold, who at the head of the first two divisions, still prosecuted
his march, was thirty-two days traversing a hideous wilderness,
without seeing a house, or any thing human. Notwithstanding the
zealous and wonderfully persevering exertions of his men, the
obstacles he encountered so protracted his march, that he did not
reach the first settlements on the Chaudière, which empties itself
into the St. Lawrence, near Quebec, until the 3d of November.

On the high grounds which separate the waters of the Kennebec from
those of the St. Lawrence, the scanty remnant of provisions was
divided among the companies; each of which was directed, without
attempting to preserve any connexion with the other, to march with the
utmost possible celerity into the inhabited country. Whilst those who
gained the front were yet thirty miles from the first poor and
scattered habitations which composed that frontier of Canada, their
last morsel of food was consumed. But, preceded by Arnold, who went
forward for the purpose of procuring for them something which might
satisfy the demands of nature, the troops persevered in their labours
with a vigour unimpaired by the hardships they had encountered, until
they once more found themselves in regions frequented by human beings.

After a march of such unexampled fatigue, no more time was allowed for
repose than was barely sufficient to collect the rear, and to refresh
the men. During this short respite from toil, the address signed by
General Washington was published, and every assurance given to the
people, that they came to protect, and not to plunder them. The line
of march was resumed; and, on the 9th of November, this gallant corps
reached Point Levi, opposite Quebec.

[Sidenote: He arrives before Quebec.]

The town was almost entirely without a garrison, and nothing could
exceed the astonishment of its inhabitants. Could Arnold have
immediately crossed the St. Lawrence, and have availed himself of the
first consternation, it is believed that he might have entered the
place without opposition; but a high wind, and the want of boats,
rendered the passage of the river impossible.

One of his Indian messengers, despatched with letters to General
Schuyler, had either betrayed him or been intercepted; and thus
intelligence of his approach was communicated to Colonel M'Clean who
was then at the mouth of the Sorel. Trembling for the capital of the
province, that gallant veteran determined to throw himself into it,
and endeavour to defend it. In the mean time, the winds continued so
high for several nights as to render the passage of the river in the
canoes which had been collected, too hazardous to be attempted; and it
was only in the night that the Americans could hope to cross, because
four ships of war were distributed at different stations in the river,
and armed boats were employed to ply around them. Whilst the Americans
were thus unavoidably detained on the south side of the St. Lawrence,
Colonel M'Clean, with his corps of emigrants, entered the city.

{November 12.}

At length the wind moderated; and Arnold determined to attempt the
river. Eluding the armed vessels, and conquering a rapid current, he,
with great difficulty and danger, crossed over in the night, and
landed his little army about a mile and a half above the place which
is rendered memorable by the disembarkation of Wolfe. The passage of
the rugged cliffs which continue on the northern bank of the St.
Lawrence for some distance above Quebec, being impracticable at this
place, he marched down on the shore to Wolfe's Cove, and ascending
with his band of hardy followers the same precipice which had opposed
such obstacles to the British hero; he, too, formed his small corps on
the heights near the plains of Abraham.

The dangerous and difficult operations of crossing the river in
canoes, whilst the passage was vigilantly guarded by ships of war, and
of gaining the almost perpendicular heights of the opposite shore,
were completed, soon after midnight, by the advance party, consisting
of the rifle companies. While waiting for the residue of the
detachment, a council of all the officers was held for the purpose of
determining on their future measures. Although destitute of every
implement required for an assault, Arnold proposed to march
immediately against Quebec. He counted on surprising the place, and
finding the gates open; but this opinion, which was not earnestly
pressed, was overruled.

Though disappointed in the expectation of surprising Quebec, Arnold
did not immediately relinquish the hope of obtaining possession of
that important place. Not superior to the garrison in point of
numbers, and without a single piece of artillery, he was obviously
incapable of acting offensively; but he flattered himself that a
defection in the town might yet put it in his hands. With this view,
he paraded on the adjacent heights for some days, and sent two flags
to demand a surrender. But the presence of Colonel M'Clean restrained
those measures which the fears of the inhabitants dictated. Deeming
any communication with the assailants dangerous, he refused to receive
the flag, and fired on the officer who bore it. Intelligence was soon
obtained, that the first alarm was visibly wearing off, and giving
place to other sentiments unfavourable to the hope of gaining Quebec.
Fears for the vast property contained in the town had united the
disaffected; who were, at their own request, embodied and armed. The
sailors too were landed, and placed at the batteries; and, by these
means, the garrison had become more numerous than the American army.

[Sidenote: And retires to Point Aux Trembles.]

{November 19.}

After collecting those who had been left on the south side of the St.
Lawrence, Arnold could not parade more than seven hundred men, and
they were in no condition to risk an action. In their laborious march
through the wilderness, nearly one third of their muskets had been
rendered useless; and their ammunition had sustained such damage that
the riflemen had not more than ten, nor the other troops more than six
rounds for each man. Under these circumstances, it was thought most
adviseable to retire to Point Aux Trembles, twenty miles above Quebec,
and there await the arrival of Montgomery. On their march, they saw
the vessel which conveyed General Carleton; and afterwards found he
had been on shore at Point Aux Trembles, a few hours before they
reached that place.[21]

     [Footnote 21: In the account of this expedition much use has
     been made of a journal kept by Colonel Heth who served in it
     as a Lieutenant in Morgan's company of riflemen.]

In war, the success of the most judicious plans often depends on
accidents not to be foreseen nor controlled. Seldom has the truth of
this proposition been more clearly demonstrated, than in the issue of
the expedition conducted by Colonel Arnold. The situation of Canada
conformed exactly to the expectations of the American general. Not
suspecting that so bold and difficult an enterprise could be
meditated, its Governor had left Quebec entirely defenceless, and had
drawn the strength of the province towards the lakes. Could Arnold
have reached that place a few days sooner--could he even have crossed
the river on his first arrival at Point Levi--or had Colonel Enos been
able to follow the main body with his division of the
detachment--every probability favours the opinion, that this hardy and
well conceived expedition would have been crowned with the most
brilliant success. Nay, more--had Arnold been careful to relieve the
inhabitants of the town from all fears respecting their property,
there is reason to believe, they would have refused to defend it. But
although this bold enterprise was planned with judgment, and executed
with vigour; although the means employed were adequate to the object;
yet the concurrence of several minute and unfavourable incidents
entirely defeated it, and deprived it of that éclat to which it was
justly entitled.

{December 5.}

Having clothed his almost naked troops at Montreal, General
Montgomery, at the head of about three hundred men, proceeded with his
usual expedition to join Colonel Arnold at Point Aux Trembles, where
he supplied the troops of that officer with clothes provided at
Montreal; and afterwards marched with their united forces directly to
Quebec. But, before his arrival, Governor Carleton, who had entered
the town, was making every preparation for a vigorous defence. The
garrison now consisted of about fifteen hundred men, of whom eight
hundred were militia, and between four and five hundred were seamen.
Montgomery's effective force was stated, by himself, at only eight
hundred. His situation would have filled with despair a mind less
vigorous, less sanguine, and less brave. His numbers were not
sufficient to render success probable, according to any common
principle of calculation; and the prospect of their being diminished
might be rationally entertained. But, relying on their courage, on
himself and his fortune, and on the fears of the garrison; stimulated,
too, by the high expectations formed throughout America of his
success, and by the dread of disappointing those expectations, he
determined to lay immediate siege to the town.

[Sidenote: Montgomery lays siege to Quebec.]

In a few days he opened a six gun battery within seven hundred yards
of the walls; but his artillery was too light to make a breach, and he
did not calculate on any effect from it. His object was to amuse the
garrison, and conceal his real design.

Although the troops supported the excessive hardships to which they
were exposed, with constancy and firmness, Montgomery feared that such
continued sufferings would overcome them; and, as he would soon have
no legal authority to retain a part of them, he apprehended that he
should be abandoned by that part. Impressed with the real necessity of
taking decisive steps, and impelled by his native courage, this
gallant officer determined to risk an assault.

Of such materials was his little army composed, that the most
desperate hardihood could not hope to succeed in the purposed attempt,
unless it should receive the approbation of all his troops. It was
therefore necessary, not only to consult the officers individually on
this delicate subject, but to obtain also the cheerful assent of the
soldiers to the meditated enterprise. The proposition was at first
received coldly by a part of Arnold's corps, who were, by some means,
disgusted with their commanding officer; but the influence of Morgan,
who was particularly zealous for an assault, and who held up as a
powerful inducement, the rights conferred by the usages of war on
those who storm a fortified town, at length prevailed; and the measure
was almost unanimously approved.

Whilst the general was preparing for the assault, the garrison
received intelligence of his design from a deserter. This circumstance
induced him to change the plan, which had originally been to attack
both the upper and lower towns at the same time. That finally adopted,
was to divide the army into four parts; and while two of them,
consisting of Canadians under Major Livingston, and a small party
under Major Brown, were to distract the garrison by making two feints
against the upper town at St. John's and Cape Diamond; the other two,
led, the one by Montgomery in person, and the other by Arnold, were to
make real attacks on opposite sides of the lower town. After gaining
that, it would yet be extremely difficult to conquer the obstacles to
be surmounted in forcing their way to the upper town; but, as all the
wealth of the city would then be in their power, it was confidently
expected that the inhabitants, to secure their property, would compel
the governor to capitulate.

{December 31.}

[Sidenote: Unsuccessful attack on that place.]

Between four and five in the morning, the signal was given; and the
several divisions moved to the assault under a violent storm of snow.
The plan was so well concerted, that from the side of the river St.
Lawrence, along the fortified front round to the basin, every part
seemed equally threatened.[22] Montgomery advanced at the head of the
New York troops, along the St. Lawrence, by the way of Aunce de Mere,
under Cape Diamond. The first barrier on this side, at the Pot Ash,
was defended by a battery, in which a few pieces of artillery were
mounted; about two hundred paces in front of which was a block-house
and picket. The guard placed at the block-house being chiefly
Canadians, after giving a random and harmless fire, threw away their
arms, and fled in confusion to the barrier. Their terrors were
communicated to those who defended this important pass; and from the
intelligence afterwards received by the American prisoners in Quebec,
it appears that the battery was for a time deserted.

     [Footnote 22: Letter of Governor Carleton.]

[Sidenote: Death of Montgomery.]

Unfortunately, the difficulties of the route rendered it impossible
for Montgomery to avail himself instantly of this first impression.
Cape Diamond, around which he was to make his way, presents a
precipice, the foot of which is washed by the river, where such
enormous and rugged masses of ice had been piled on each other, as to
render the way almost impassable.[23] Along the scanty path leading
under the projecting rocks of the precipice, the Americans pressed
forward in a narrow file, until they reached the block-house and
picket. Montgomery, who was himself in front, assisted with his own
hand to cut down or pull up the pickets, and open a passage for his
troops: but the roughness and difficulty of the way had so lengthened
his line of march, that he found it absolutely necessary to halt a few
minutes. Having re-assembled about two hundred men, he advanced boldly
and rapidly at their head, to force the barrier. One or two persons
had now ventured to return to the battery, and seizing a slow-match,
discharged a gun, when the American front was within forty paces of
it. This single and accidental fire proved fatal to the enterprise.
The general, with Captains M'Pherson and Cheeseman, the first of whom
was his aid, together with his orderly sergeant and a private, were
killed upon the spot. The loss of their general, in whom their
confidence had been so justly placed, discouraged the troops; and
Colonel Campbell, on whom the command devolved, made no attempt to
reanimate them. This whole division retired precipitately from the
action, and left the garrison at leisure to direct its undivided force
against Arnold.

     [Footnote 23: Annual Register.]

At the common signal for the attack, the division commanded by this
officer moved in files along the street of St. Roques towards the Saut
de Matelots, where the first barrier had been constructed, and a
battery of two twelve pounders erected. In imitation of Montgomery, he
too led the forlorn hope in person, and was followed by Captain Lamb
with his company of artillery, and a field piece mounted on a sled.
Close in the rear of the artillery was the main body, in front of
which was Morgan's company of riflemen, commanded by himself. The path
along which the troops were to march was so narrow, that the two
pieces of artillery in the battery were capable of raking with grape
shot every inch of the ground; whilst the whole right flank was
exposed to an incessant fire of musketry from the walls, and from the
pickets of the garrison.

In this order Arnold advanced along the St. Charles with the utmost
intrepidity. The alarm was immediately given, and the fire on his
flank commenced. As he approached the barrier, he received a musket
ball in the leg which shattered the bone, and was carried off the
field. Morgan rushed forward to the battery at the head of his
company, and received from one of the pieces, almost at its mouth, a
discharge of grape shot, which killed only one man. The barricade was
instantly mounted, on which the battery was deserted without a
discharge from another gun. The captain of the guard, with the greater
number of his men, were made prisoners.

Morgan formed his troops in the streets within the barrier, and took
into custody several English and Canadian burghers; but his situation
soon became extremely critical. He was not followed by the main body
of the division--he had no guide--and was, himself, totally ignorant
of the situation of the town. It was yet dark--and he had not the
slightest knowledge of the course to be pursued, or of the defences to
be encountered. Under these circumstances, it was thought unadviseable
to advance farther. They were soon joined by Lieutenant Colonel Green,
and Majors Bigelow and Meigs, with several fragments of companies, so
as to constitute altogether about two hundred men.

As the light of day began to appear, this gallant party was again
formed, with Morgan's company in front; and, with one voice, loudly
called on him to lead them against the second barrier, which was now
known to be less than forty paces from them, though concealed by an
angle of the street from their immediate view. Seizing the few ladders
brought with them, they again rushed forward; and under an incessant
fire from the battery, and from the windows overlooking it, applied
their ladders to the barricade; and maintained for some time a fierce,
and, on their part, a bloody contest. Exposed thus, in a narrow
street, to a galling fire, and finding themselves unable to force the
barrier, or to discharge more than one in ten of their fire arms--the
violence of the storm having unfitted them for service; many of the
assailants threw themselves into the stone houses on each side, which
afforded them a shelter both from the storm and from the enemy. After
continuing some time in this situation, Morgan proposed to cut their
way back to the American camp. They were prevented from adopting this
daring resolution, only by the suggestion that the attack led by
Montgomery, of whose fate they were ignorant, might possibly be
successful; and that, in the event of his having entered the opposite
part of the town, their co-operation might be useful to him. On this
account, they determined still to maintain their situation. But the
force of the enemy increasing considerably, they soon perceived that
they were no longer masters of their own destinies, and surrendered
themselves prisoners of war.[24]

     [Footnote 24: In this account of the attempt to storm
     Quebec, free use is made of Colonel Heth's journal.]

In this bold attack on Quebec, the loss on the part of the garrison
was inconsiderable. That of the Americans was about four hundred men,
three hundred and forty of whom were prisoners. It fell chiefly on
Arnold's division. Captain Hendricks of the Pennsylvania riflemen,
Lieutenant Humphries of Morgan's company, and Lieutenant Cooper of
Connecticut, were among the slain. Captains Lamb and Hubbard, and
Lieutenants Steele and Tisdale, were among the wounded. Every officer
at the second barrier received several balls through his clothes, and
some of them were severely scorched by the powder from the muzzles of
the muskets discharged at them. But the loss most deplored, and most
fatal to the hopes of the American army, was that of their general.

Richard Montgomery was a native of Ireland, and had served with
reputation in the late war. After its conclusion he settled in New
York, where he married an American lady, and took a decided part with
the colonies in their contest with Great Britain. His military
reputation was high throughout America. In the history of his
achievements, while commanding in Canada, we perceive the bold,
skilful, and active partisan; and, so far as a judgment can be formed
of a capacity for conducting the movements of a large army from
judicious management of a small one, we can not hesitate to allow him
the talents of an able general. At the head of a small body of
undisciplined troops, drawn from different colonies, unwilling to be
commanded by a stranger, jealous of him in the extreme, often disposed
to disobedience, and anxious for their homes, he conquered
difficulties which not many would have ventured to meet; and, until
his last fatal moment, was uniformly successful. In little more than
two months, he made himself master of Canada, from the lakes to
Quebec: and, as if determined to triumph over the climate itself, laid
siege, in the depth of winter, to that important fortress. His
measures seem to have been taken with judgment, and were certainly
executed with great courage and unremitting exertion. When he appears
to have risked much, and to have exposed his troops to excessive
hardships, this line of conduct was not inconsiderately chosen. The
state of his affairs left him only the alternative between attempting
to storm Quebec, or abandoning the great object of the expedition. Nor
was his attempt so hopeless a measure as the strength of the place,
and the event might, at first view, induce us to suppose. The design
was worthy of the lofty spirit which formed it; though hazardous, it
was not desperate; and if great courage was required to crown it with
success, great courage was employed in its execution. He counted, and
with reason, on the fears of the garrison, and on the immense extent
of ground to be guarded. Had he not fallen himself, or been deserted
by his troops, it is even yet believed the enterprise would have
succeeded. The progress made by Arnold's division gives great
countenance to this opinion.

To manifest the high sense entertained of his services, congress
directed a monument, expressing the circumstances of his death and the
gratitude of his country, to be erected to his memory.

The Americans, being no longer in a condition to continue the siege,
retired about three miles from the city; where, though inferior in
numbers to the garrison, they maintained the blockade. By preserving
this bold countenance, they retained the confidence of the Canadians;
which saved their affairs, for a time, from total ruin.

Governor Carleton was content to preserve Quebec, until the
reinforcements he expected in the spring should enable him to act on
the offensive. He therefore determined not to hazard an attack, with a
garrison on which it was unsafe to rely; and Arnold, on whom the
command had devolved, remained undisturbed. Although badly wounded, he
retained his courage and activity; and, though deserted by those whose
terms of service had expired, so as to be reduced at one time to about
five hundred effective men, he discovered no disposition to sink under
the weight of adverse fortune.

While the affairs of the colonies wore this gloomy aspect in Canada,
congress was indulging sanguine hopes of annexing that province to the
union. Nine regiments, including one to be raised in that colony, were
voted for its defence during the ensuing campaign; and General
Schuyler was directed to construct a number of batteaux at
Ticonderoga, for the purpose of transporting the troops to the scene
of action.


{January 17.}

Whilst adopting these measures, congress received the melancholy
intelligence of the disaster of the 31st December. Far from being
dispirited by this reverse of fortune, that body redoubled its
exertions to hasten reinforcements to the army in Canada, and urged
the several conventions to collect for its use all the specie they
could obtain. These measures were, in some degree, accelerated by
having been anticipated by the Commander-in-chief.[25]

     [Footnote 25: On the first intelligence received in the camp
     at Boston of the fate of Montgomery, General Washington,
     though extremely delicate respecting the assumption of
     power, without waiting for the orders of congress, had
     immediately requested the New England governments to raise
     several regiments to reinforce that army. This proceeding
     was approved by congress.]

The service in Canada being deemed of too much importance to be
entrusted to Colonel, now Brigadier General Arnold, or to General
Wooster; and the health of General Schuyler not admitting of his
proceeding to Quebec; General Thomas, an officer who had acquired
reputation at Roxbury, was ordered to take command of the army in that

In the hope of exciting throughout Canada the sentiments which
prevailed in the United Colonies, and of forming with it a perfect
union, three commissioners, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Chase, and Mr.
Carroll,[26] were deputed with full powers on this subject, and with
instructions to establish a free press. These commissioners were
directed to assure the people that they would be permitted to adopt
such form of government as should be agreeable to themselves; to
exercise freely all the rights of conscience; and to be considered as
a sister colony, governed by the same general system of mild and equal
laws which prevailed in the other colonies, with only such local
differences as each might deem conducive to its own happiness. They
were also instructed to inquire into the conduct of the American army,
and to correct any irregularities which might be offensive to the

     [Footnote 26: They were accompanied by Mr. Carroll, a bishop
     of the Roman Catholic church.]

Congress seems to have entertained the opinion expressed by General
Washington in a letter to General Schuyler, "that the Province could
be secured only by laying hold of the affections of the people, and
engaging them heartily in the common cause." In pursuance of this
opinion, they adopted the magnanimous policy of compensating those
individuals who had suffered for their adherence to the Americans.

[Sidenote: Blockade of Quebec continued.]

In the mean time Arnold maintained the blockade of Quebec. But
reinforcements were slow in arriving, notwithstanding every exertion
to hasten them, and from the first of January to the first of March,
the effective force before that place had never exceeded seven hundred
men, and had often been as low as five hundred. In March,
reinforcements arrived in greater numbers, and the army was increased
to seventeen hundred; but this number was soon reduced by the
small-pox, which had made its way into camp, where, in contempt of
orders, it was propagated by inoculation.

To render the blockade in any degree effectual, this small army, which
occupied the island of Orleans and both sides of the St. Lawrence, was
spread over a circuit of twenty-six miles, and divided by three
ferries. The establishment of discipline had been impracticable, if
attempted; and the Canadians were often injured and irritated. There
is reason to believe that even General Arnold was disposed to think
himself in the country of an enemy; and that, in repressing disorders,
he did not exert that energy which he had always displayed
conspicuously in the field.

{March 4.}

Many causes combined to diminish the attachment originally manifested
by the Canadians to the United Colonies. The necessities of his
situation compelled General Arnold to issue a proclamation making
paper money current, under the promise of redeeming it in four months,
and denouncing those as enemies, who should refuse to receive it. The
Canadians were unwilling to exchange their property or labour, for an
article of such uncertain value; and the discontents excited by the
attempt to force it on them were very considerable.

Another circumstance, which had great influence with reflecting men,
was the obvious incompetence of the American force to its object. The
Canadians had expected a powerful army--sufficient for the protection
of the country; and their disappointment in this respect, produced a
great change in their opinions and conduct.

The dissatisfaction arising from these causes was augmented by the
priests. They, as a body, were never cordial in the American interest;
and having been, since the death of Montgomery, very injudiciously
neglected, had become almost universally hostile to the views of the
United Colonies.

General Carleton was no stranger to the revolution which was taking
place in the minds of the Canadians, and entertained the hope of
raising the siege by their assistance. A detachment of about sixty
men, from the garrison of Quebec, landed twelve leagues below the town
on the south side of the river, and were joined by about two hundred
and fifty Canadians, who were rapidly increasing in numbers, when they
were suddenly attacked by a detachment sent by Arnold, which surprised
their advance guard, killed a few, took some prisoners, and dispersed
the residue.

{April 2.}

As the season of the year approached when reinforcements from England
might be expected, Arnold deemed it necessary to recommence active
operations, and to resume the siege. His batteries were again erected,
and were opened on the 2d of April, but without much effect. He had
not weight of metal to make a breach in the wall, nor an engineer
capable of directing a siege, nor artillerists who understood the
management of the pieces.

On the 1st of April, Wooster had arrived, and, on the succeeding day,
Arnold's horse fell with him, and so bruised one of his legs as to
confine him to his bed for some time. Believing himself to be
neglected, he obtained leave of absence as soon as he was able to
move, and took the command at Montreal.

{April 15.}

A considerable part of the army having become entitled to a discharge,
no inducement could prevail on them to continue longer in so severe a
service. This deduction from Wooster's force was the more sensibly
felt, because the present situation of the roads, the lakes, and the
St. Lawrence, suspended the arrival of the reinforcements destined for
his aid.

[Sidenote: General Thomas takes command of the army.]

Among the first who reached camp after this state of things took
place, was General Thomas. He arrived on the 1st of May, and found an
army consisting of nineteen hundred men; of whom, less than one
thousand, including officers, were effective. Among these were three
hundred entitled to discharge, who refused to do duty, and insisted
importunately on being immediately dismissed. This small force was
still more enfeebled by being so divided that it was impracticable to
unite more than three hundred men at any one point. All the magazines
contained but one hundred and fifty barrels of powder, and six days
provisions; nor could adequate supplies from the country people be
obtained, as the Canadians no longer manifested any disposition to
serve them.

The river began to open below, and it was certain, that the British
would seize the first moment of its being practicable, to relieve this
important place. Amidst these unpromising circumstances, the hopes of
taking Quebec appeared to General Thomas to be chimerical, and a
longer continuance before the town both useless and dangerous. It was
apparent that the first reinforcements which should arrive would
deprive him entirely of the use of the river, and consequently would
embarrass the removal of his sick, and military stores. No object
remained to justify this hazard.

[Sidenote: The blockade of Quebec is raised.]

{May 6.}

Under these impressions, he called a council of war, which unanimously
determined, that the army was not in a condition to risk an
assault--that the sick should be removed to the Three Rivers, and the
artillery and other stores embarked in their boats, in order to move
to a more defensible position. On the evening of the same day,
intelligence was received that a British fleet was below; and, the
next morning, five ships, which had, with much labour and danger, made
their way up the river through the ice, appeared in sight. They soon
entered the harbour, and landed some men whilst the Americans were
assiduously employed in the embarkation of their sick and stores--an
operation carried on the more slowly, because the first appearance of
the ships deprived them of the aid expected from the teams and
carriages of the Canadians.

About noon, Carleton made a sortie at the head of one thousand men,
formed in two divisions, and supported by six field pieces. The
Americans had thrown up no intrenchments, and could not bring into
action more than three hundred men. Under these circumstances, victory
was scarcely possible, and could have produced no important effect.
General Thomas, therefore, with the advice of the field officers about
him, determined not to risk an action, and ordered his troops to
retreat up the river. This was done with much precipitation, and many
of the sick, with all the military stores, fell into the hands of the
enemy. The army continued its retreat to the Sorel, where General
Thomas was seized with the small=pox, of which he died.[27]

     [Footnote 27: Whilst the troops of the United Colonies were
     flying from the vicinity of Quebec, an unexpected calamity
     befel them in a different quarter of that province.

     Colonel Bedel, with three hundred and ninety continental
     troops and two field pieces, had been stationed at the
     Cedars, a point of land about forty miles above Montreal,
     which projected far into the St. Lawrence, and could be
     approached only on one side. Early in the spring, General
     Carleton had planned an expedition against this post, the
     execution of which was committed to Captain Forster, who
     commanded at an English station on Oswegachie. At the head
     of a company of regulars and a body of Indians, amounting in
     the whole to six hundred men, he appeared before the
     American works early in May. Two days previous to his
     appearance, Colonel Bedel had received intelligence of his
     approach; and, leaving the fort to be commanded by Major
     Butterfield, had proceeded himself to Montreal, to solicit
     assistance. Arnold, who then commanded at that place,
     immediately detached Major Sherburne to the Cedars with one
     hundred men; and prepared to follow, in person, at the head
     of a much larger force.

     Although the place could have been easily defended, the
     besiegers having no artillery--Major Butterfield,
     intimidated by the threat, that should any Indians be killed
     during the siege, it would be out of the power of Captain
     Forster to restrain the savages from massacreing every
     individual of the garrison, consented to a capitulation, by
     which the whole party became prisoners of war. The next day,
     Major Sherburne approached without having received any
     information that Butterfield had surrendered. Within about
     four miles of the Cedars, he was attacked by a considerable
     body of Indians; and, after a sharp conflict, surrendered at

     On being informed of these untoward events, Arnold, at the
     head of seven hundred men, marched against the enemy then at
     Vaudreuil, in the hope of recovering the American prisoners.
     When preparing for an engagement, he received a flag,
     accompanied by Major Sherburne, giving him the most positive
     assurances that if he persisted in his design, it would be
     entirely out of the power of Captain Forster to prevent his
     savages from pursuing their horrid customs, and
     disencumbering themselves of their prisoners by putting
     every man to death. This massacre was already threatened;
     and Major Sherburne confirmed the information. Under the
     influence of this threat, Arnold desisted from his purpose,
     and consented to a cartel, by which the prisoners were
     delivered up to him; he agreeing, among other things, not
     only to deliver as many British soldiers in exchange for
     them, but also, that they should immediately return to their

The Americans were much dissatisfied with the conduct of this
gentleman. To him they, in some degree, attributed the disasters which
ruined their affairs in Canada. But this censure was unjust. He took
command of the army when it was too weak to maintain its ground, and
when the time for saving the sick and the military stores had passed

The siege of Quebec, instead of being continued longer, ought to have
been abandoned at an earlier period. This was the real fault of those
who commanded in Canada. It is to be ascribed to the reluctance always
felt by inexperienced officers to disappoint the public expectation,
by relinquishing an enterprise concerning which sanguine hopes have
been entertained; and to encounter the obloquy of giving up a post,
although it can no longer with prudence be defended. In the
perseverance with which the siege of Quebec was maintained, these
motives operated with all their force, and they received an addition,
from the unwillingness felt by the Americans, to abandon those of
their friends who had taken so decisive a part in their favour, as to
be incapable of remaining in safety behind them.

{June 4.}

[Sidenote: General Sullivan takes the command.]

After the death of General Thomas, reinforcements assembled at the
mouth of the Sorel, which increased the army to four or five thousand
men, who were commanded by General Sullivan. The friendly Canadians
who had supposed themselves abandoned, manifested great joy at the
arrival of a force which appeared to them very considerable; and
offered every assistance in their power. Sullivan calculated on their
joining him in great numbers, and entertained sanguine hopes of
recovering and maintaining the post of De Chambeau. As a previous
measure, it was necessary to dislodge the enemy at the Three Rivers.

Carleton was not immediately in a situation to follow up the blow
given the Americans at Quebec, and to drive them entirely out of the
province; but the respite allowed them was not of long duration.

Towards the end of May large reinforcements arrived, which augmented
the British army in Canada to about thirteen thousand men. The general
rendezvous appointed for these troops was at the Three Rivers. The
army was greatly divided. A considerable corps, commanded by General
Frazer, had reached the Three Rivers, and the main body was on its way
from Quebec. The distance from the Sorel was about fifty miles, and
several armed vessels and transports, full of troops, lay about five
miles higher up than the Three Rivers, full in the way.[28]

     [Footnote 28: Annual Register.]

General Thompson, who commanded the army after the illness of General
Thomas, understanding the party at the Three Rivers to consist of
about eight hundred men, partly Canadians, had detached Colonel St.
Clair with between six and seven hundred men, to attack it, if there
should be any probability of doing so with advantage. Colonel St.
Clair advanced to Nicolet, where, believing himself not strong enough
for the service on which he had been ordered, he waited for further
reinforcements, or additional instructions. At this time General
Sullivan arrived; and, understanding the enemy to be weak at the Three
Rivers, orders General Thompson to join Colonel St. Clair at Nicolet,
with a reinforcement of nearly fourteen hundred men, to take command
of the whole detachment, and to attack the troops lying at the Three
Rivers, provided there was a favourable prospect of success.

{June 8.}

General Thompson joined Colonel St. Clair at Nicolet, and, believing
himself strong enough to perform the service consigned to him, fell
down the river by night, and passed to the other side, with the
intention of surprising Frazer. The plan was to attack the village a
little before day-break, at the same instant, at each end; whilst two
smaller corps were drawn up to cover and support the attack.

[Sidenote: Battle of the Three Rivers.]

The troops passed the armed vessels without being perceived, but
arrived at Three Rivers about an hour later than had been intended; in
consequence of which they were discovered, and the alarm was given at
their landing. To avoid the fire of some ships in the river, they
attempted to pass through what appeared to be a point of woods, but
was in reality a deep morass three miles in extent. The delays
occasioned by their detention in this morass, gave General Frazer full
time to land some field pieces, and prepare for their reception; while
General Nesbit fell into their rear, and cut off their return to the
boats. They advanced to the charge, but were soon repulsed; and
finding it impracticable to return the way they came, were driven some
miles through a deep swamp, which they traversed with inconceivable
toil, and every degree of distress. The British at length gave over
the pursuit.

In this unfortunate enterprise, General Thompson and Colonel Irwin,
with about two hundred men, were made prisoners; and from twenty to
thirty were killed. The loss of the British was inconsiderable.

{June 14.}

The whole American force in Canada now amounted to about eight
thousand men, not one half of whom were fit for duty. About two
thousand five hundred effectives were with General Sullivan at the
Sorel. The whole were in a state of total insubordination--much
harassed with fatigue--and dispirited by their late losses, by the
visible superiority of the enemy, and by the apprehension that their
retreat would be entirely cut off. Under all these discouraging
circumstances, General Sullivan formed the rash determination of
defending the post at Sorel; and was induced only by the unanimous
opinion of his officers, and a conviction that the troops would not
support him, to abandon it a few hours before the British took
possession of it. The same causes drew him reluctantly from Chamblée
and St. John's; but he resolved to remain at the Isle Aux Noix, until
he should receive orders to retreat. He had been joined at St. John's
by General Arnold, who had crossed over at Longueisle just in time to
save the garrison of Montreal.

The Isle Aux Noix is a low unhealthy place, badly supplied with water;
where the troops were so universally seized with fevers, as to compel
General Sullivan to retire to the Isle Lamotte. At that place he
received the orders of General Schuyler to embark on the lakes for
Crown Point.

The armed vessels on the Sorel and St. Lawrence were destroyed, and
the fortifications of Chamblée and St. John's set on fire. All the
baggage of the army, and nearly all the military stores were saved.

The British army, during this whole retreat, followed close in the
rear, and took possession of the different posts which the Americans
had occupied, immediately after they were evacuated.

On the Sorel the pursuit stopped. The Americans had the command of the
lake, and the British general deemed it prudent to wrest it from them
before he advanced farther. To effect this, it was necessary to
construct a number of vessels, which required time and labour.
Meanwhile, General Gates was ordered to take command of the northern
army, which was directed to be reinforced with six thousand militia.

[Sidenote: Canada evacuated.]

Thus terminated the enterprise against Canada. It was a bold, and, at
one period, promised to be a successful effort to annex that extensive
province to the United Colonies. The dispositions of the Canadians
favoured the measure; and had Quebec fallen, there is reason to
believe the colony would have entered cordially into the union. Had a
few incidents turned out fortunately; had Arnold been able to reach
Quebec a few days sooner, or to cross the St. Lawrence on his first
arrival--or had the gallant Montgomery not fallen in the assault of
the 31st December, it is probable the expedition would have been
crowned with complete success. But the radical causes of failure,
putting fortune out of the question, were to be found in the lateness
of the season when the troops were assembled, in a defect of the
preparations necessary for such a service, and still more in the
shortness of the time for which the men were enlisted. Had the
expedition been successful, the practicability of maintaining the
country is much to be doubted. Whilst General Montgomery lay before
Quebec, and expected to obtain possession of the place, he extended
his views to its preservation. His plan required a permanent army of
ten thousand men; strong fortifications at Jacques Cartier, and the
rapids of Richelieu; and armed vessels in the river, above the last
place. With this army and these precautions, he thought the country
might be defended; but not with an inferior force.

It seems, therefore, to have been an enterprise requiring means beyond
the ability of congress; and the strength exhausted on it would have
been more judiciously employed in securing the command of the lakes
George and Champlain, and the fortified towns upon them.

While General Carleton was making preparations to enter the lakes,
General Schuyler was using his utmost exertions to retain the command
of them. But, so great was the difficulty of procuring workmen and
materials, that he found it impossible to equip a fleet which would be
equal to the exigency. It consisted of only fifteen small vessels; the
largest of which was a schooner mounting twelve guns, carrying six and
four pound balls. The command of this squadron, at the instance of
General Washington, was given to General Arnold.

[Sidenote: General Carleton constructs a fleet.]

[Sidenote: Enters Lake Champlain.]

With almost incredible exertions, the British general constructed a
powerful fleet; and, afterwards, dragged up the rapids of St. Therese
and St. John's, a vast number of long boats and other vessels, among
which was a gondola weighing thirty tons. This immense work was
completed in little more than three months; and, as if by magic,
General Arnold saw on Lake Champlain, early in October, a fleet
consisting of near thirty vessels; the largest of which, the
Inflexible, carried eighteen twelve-pounders. This formidable fleet,
having on board General Carleton himself, and navigated by seven
hundred prime seamen under the command of Captain Pringle, proceeded
immediately in quest of Arnold, who was advantageously posted between
the island of Valicour and the western main.

Notwithstanding the disparity of force, a warm action ensued. A wind,
unfavourable to the British, kept the Inflexible and some other large
vessels at too great a distance to render any service. This
circumstance enabled Arnold to keep up the engagement until night,
when Captain Pringle discontinued it, and anchored his whole fleet in
a line, as near the vessels of his adversary as was practicable. In
this engagement, the best schooner belonging to the American flotilla
was burnt, and a gondola was sunk.

[Sidenote: Defeats the American flotilla.]

In the night, Arnold attempted to escape to Ticonderoga; and, the next
morning, was out of sight; but, being immediately pursued, was
overtaken about noon, and brought to action a few leagues short of
Crown Point. He kept up a warm engagement for about two hours, during
which the vessels that were most ahead escaped to Ticonderoga. Two
gallies and five gondolas, which remained, made a desperate
resistance. At length one of them struck; after which Arnold ran the
remaining vessels on shore, and blew them up; having first saved his
men, though great efforts were made to take them.

On the approach of the British army, a small detachment, which had
occupied Crown Point as an out-post, evacuated the place, and retired
to Ticonderoga, which Schuyler determined to defend to the last

[Sidenote: Takes possession of Crown Point.]

[Sidenote: Retires into winter quarters.]

General Carleton took possession of Crown Point, and advanced a part
of his fleet into Lake George, within view of Ticonderoga. His army
also approached that place, as if designing to invest it; but, after
reconnoitring the works, and observing the steady countenance of the
garrison, he thought it too late to lay siege to the fortress.
Re-embarking his army, he returned to Canada, where he placed it in
winter quarters; making the Isle Aux Noix his most advanced post.


     Transactions in Virginia.... Action at Great Bridge....
     Norfolk evacuated.... Burnt.... Transactions in North
     Carolina.... Action at Moore's Creek Bridge.... Invasion of
     South Carolina.... British fleet repulsed at Fort
     Moultrie.... Transactions in New York.... Measures leading
     to Independence.... Independence declared.



[Sidenote: Transactions in Virginia.]

Whilst the war was carried on thus vigorously in the north, the
southern colonies were not entirely unemployed. The convention of
Virginia determined to raise two regiments of regular troops for one
year, and to enlist a part of the militia as minute-men.


Lord Dunmore, the Governor of the colony, who was joined by the most
active of the disaffected, and by a number of slaves whom he had
encouraged to run away from their masters, was collecting a naval
force, which threatened to be extremely troublesome in a country so
intersected with large navigable rivers as the colony of Virginia.
With this force he carried on a slight predatory war, and, at length,
attempted to burn the town of Hampton. The inhabitants, having
received intimation of his design, gave notice of it to the commanding
officer at Williamsburg, where some regulars and minute-men were
stationed. Two companies were despatched to their assistance, who
arrived just before the assault was made, and obliged the assailants
to retreat, with some loss, to their vessels.

{November 7.}

In consequence of this repulse, his Lordship proclaimed martial law;
summoned all persons capable of bearing arms to repair to the royal
standard, or be considered as traitors; and offered freedom to all
indented servants and slaves who should join him.[29]

     [Footnote 29: Gazette-Remembrancer.]

This proclamation made some impression about Norfolk, where the
Governor collected such a force of the disaffected and negroes, as
gave him an entire ascendancy in that part of the colony.

Intelligence of these transactions being received at Williamsburg, a
regiment of regulars and about two hundred minute-men, were ordered
down under the command of Colonel Woodford,[30] for the defence of the
inhabitants. Hearing of their approach, Lord Dunmore took a well
chosen position on the north side of Elizabeth river, at the Great
Bridge, where it was necessary for the provincials to cross in order
to reach Norfolk; at which place he had established himself in some
force. Here he erected a small fort on a piece of firm ground
surrounded by a marsh, which was accessible, on either side, only by a
long causeway. Colonel Woodford encamped within cannon-shot of this
post, in a small village at the south end of the causeway; across
which, just at its termination, he constructed a breast-work; but,
being without artillery, was unable to make any attempt on the fort.

     [Footnote 30: The author was in this expedition, and relates
     the circumstances attending it chiefly from his own


[Sidenote: Action at the Great Bridge.]

In this position both parties continued for a few days, when Lord
Dunmore ordered Captain Fordyce, the commanding officer at the Great
Bridge, though inferior in numbers, to storm the works of the
provincials. Between day-break and sunrise, this officer, at the head
of about sixty grenadiers of the 14th regiment, who led the column,
advanced along the causeway with fixed bayonets, against the
breast-work. The alarm was immediately given; and, as is the practice
with raw troops, the bravest rushed to the works, where, regardless of
order, they kept up a heavy fire on the front of the British column.
Captain Fordyce, though received so warmly in front, and taken in
flank by a party posted on a small eminence on his right, marched up
with great intrepidity, until he fell dead within a few steps of the
breast-work. The column immediately broke and retreated; but being
covered by the artillery of the fort, was not pursued.

In this ill-judged attack, every grenadier is said to have been killed
or wounded; while the Americans did not lose a single man.

[Sidenote: Norfolk evacuated.]

The following night, the fort was evacuated. The provincial troops
proceeded to Norfolk, under the command of Colonel Howe of North
Carolina, and Lord Dunmore took refuge on board his vessels.



[Sidenote: And burnt.]

After taking possession of the town, the American soldiers frequently
amused themselves by firing into the vessels in the harbour, from the
buildings near the water. Irritated by this, Lord Dunmore determined
to destroy the houses immediately on the shore; and, on the night of
the first of January, under cover of a heavy cannonade, landed a body
of troops, and set fire to a number of houses near the river. The
provincials, who entertained strong prejudices against this station,
saw the flames spread from house to house without making any attempt
to extinguish them. After the fire had continued several weeks, in
which time it had consumed about four-fifths of the town, Colonel
Howe, who had waited on the convention to urge the necessity of
destroying the place, returned with orders to burn the remaining
houses; which were carried into immediate execution.


Thus was destroyed the most populous and flourishing town in Virginia.
Its destruction was one of those ill-judged measures, of which the
consequences are felt long after the motives are forgotten.

After Norfolk was laid in ashes, Lord Dunmore continued a predatory
war on the rivers--burning houses, and robbing plantations--which
served only to distress a few individuals, and to increase the
detestation in which he was held through the country. At length, his
wretched followers, wearied with their miserable condition, were sent
to Florida.[31]

     [Footnote 31: Virginia Gazette.]

As the war became more serious, the convention deemed it necessary to
increase the number of regular regiments from two to nine, which were
afterwards taken into the continental service.

[Sidenote: Transactions in North Carolina.]

In North Carolina, Governor Martin, though obliged to take refuge on
board a ship of war, in Cape Fear river, indulged the hope of being
able to reduce that colony.

A body of ignorant and disorderly men on the western frontier, styling
themselves regulators, had attempted by arms, some time before the
existing war, to control and stop the administration of justice. After
failing in this attempt, they became as hostile to the colonial, as
they had been to the royal government.

The province also contained many families who had lately emigrated
from the highlands of Scotland; and who, retaining their attachment to
the place of their nativity, transferred it to the government under
which they had been bred. From the union of these parties, Governor
Martin entertained sanguine hopes of making a successful struggle for
North Carolina. His confidence was increased by the assurances he had
received, that a considerable land and naval armament was destined for
the southern colonies.

To prepare for co-operating with this force, should it arrive; or, in
any event, to make an effort to give the ascendancy in North Carolina
to the royal cause, he sent several commissions to the leaders of the
highlanders, for raising and commanding regiments; and granted one to
a Mr. M'Donald, their chief, to act as their general. He also sent
them a proclamation, to be used on a proper occasion, commanding all
persons, on their allegiance, to repair to the royal standard. This
was erected by General M'Donald at Cross Creek, about the middle of
February, and nearly fifteen hundred men arranged themselves under it.



Upon the first advice that the loyalists were assembling, Brigadier
General Moore marched at the head of a provincial regiment, with such
militia as he could suddenly collect, and some pieces of cannon, and
took a strong position within a few miles of them. General M'Donald
soon approached, and sent a letter to Moore, enclosing the Governor's
proclamation, and recommending to him and his party to join the King's
standard by a given hour the next day. The negotiation was protracted
by Moore, in the hope that the numerous bodies of militia who were
advancing to join him, would soon enable him to surround his
adversary. M'Donald, at length, perceived his danger, and, suddenly
decamping, endeavoured by forced marches to extricate himself from it,
and join Governor Martin and Lord William Campbell, who were
encouraged to commence active operations by the arrival of General
Clinton in the colony.

[Sidenote: Action at Moore's Creek Bridge.]

The provincial parties, however, were so alert in every part of the
country, that he found himself under the necessity of engaging
Colonels Caswell and Lillington, who, with about one thousand
minute-men and militia, had entrenched themselves directly in his
front, at a place called Moore's Creek Bridge. The royalists were
greatly superior in number, but were under the disadvantage of being
compelled to cross the bridge, the planks of which were partly taken
up, in the face of the intrenchments occupied by the provincials. They
commenced the attack, however, with great spirit; but Colonel M'Leod
who commanded them, in consequence of the indisposition of M'Donald,
and several others of their bravest officers and men, having fallen in
the first onset, their courage deserted them, and they fled in great
disorder, leaving behind them their general and several others of
their leaders, who fell into the hands of the provincials.[32]

     [Footnote 32: Annual Register--Gordon--Ramsay--Gazette.]

This victory was of eminent service to the American cause in North
Carolina. It broke the spirits of a great body of men, who would have
constituted a formidable reinforcement to an invading army; increased
the confidence of the provincials in themselves, and attached to them
the timid and wavering, who form a large portion of every community.

General Clinton, who was to command in the south, had left Boston with
a force too inconsiderable to attempt any thing until he should be
reinforced by the troops expected from Europe. After parting with
Governor Tryon in New York, he had proceeded to Virginia, where he
passed a few days with Lord Dunmore; but finding himself too weak to
effect any thing in that province, he repaired to North Carolina, and
remained with Governor Martin until the arrival of Sir Peter Parker.
Fortunately for the province, the unsuccessful insurrection of
M'Donald had previously broken the strength and spirits of the
loyalists, and deprived them of their most active chiefs; in
consequence of which, the operations which had been meditated against
North Carolina were deferred. Clinton continued in Cape Fear until
near the end of May, when, hearing nothing certain from General Howe,
he determined to make an attempt on the capital of South Carolina.


Early in the month of April, a letter from the secretary of state to
Mr. Eden, the royal governor of Maryland, disclosing the designs of
administration against the southern colonies, was intercepted in the
Chesapeake; and thus, South Carolina became apprized of the danger
which threatened its metropolis. Mr. Rutledge, a gentleman of vigour
and talents, who had been chosen president of that province on the
dissolution of the regal government, adopted the most energetic means
for placing it in a posture of defence.


[Sidenote: Invasion of South Carolina.]

In the beginning of June, the British fleet came to anchor off the
harbour of Charleston. The bar was crossed with some difficulty; after
which, it was determined to commence operations by silencing a fort on
Sullivan's island.

During the interval between passing the bar and attacking the fort,
the continental troops of Virginia and North Carolina arrived in
Charleston; and the American force amounted to between five and six
thousand men, of whom two thousand five hundred were regulars. This
army was commanded by General Lee, whose fortune it had been to meet
General Clinton at New York, in Virginia, and in North Carolina.
Viewing with a military eye the situation of the post entrusted to his
care, Lee was disinclined to hazard his army by engaging it deeply in
the defence of the town; but the solicitude of the South Carolinians
to preserve their capital, aided by his confidence in his own
vigilance, prevailed over a caution which was thought extreme, and
determined him to attempt to maintain the place.

Two regular regiments of South Carolina, commanded by Colonels Gadsden
and Moultrie, garrisoned fort Johnson and fort Moultrie. About five
hundred regulars, and three hundred militia under Colonel Thompson,
were stationed in some works which had been thrown up on the
north-eastern extremity of Sullivan's island; and the remaining troops
were arranged on Hadrell's Point, and along the bay in front of the
town. General Lee remained in person with the troops at Hadrell's
Point, in the rear of Sullivan's island. His position was chosen in
such a manner as to enable him to observe and support the operations
in every quarter, and especially to watch and oppose any attempt of
the enemy to pass from Long Island to the continent; a movement of
which he seems to have been particularly apprehensive.

{June 28.}

[Sidenote: British fleet repulsed at Fort Moultrie.]

The British ships, after taking their stations, commenced an incessant
and heavy cannonade on the American works. Its effect, however, on the
fort, was not such as had been expected. This was attributable to its
form, and to its materials. It was very low, with merlons of great
thickness; and was constructed of earth, and a species of soft wood
common in that country, called the palmetto, which, on being struck
with a ball, does not splinter, but closes upon it.

The fire from the fort was deliberate; and, being directed with skill,
did vast execution. The garrison united the cool determined courage of
veterans, with the enthusiastic ardour of youth. General Lee crossed
over in a boat, to determine whether he should withdraw them; and was
enraptured with the ardour they displayed. They assured him they would
lose the fort only with their lives; and the mortally wounded breathed
their last, exhorting their fellow soldiers to the most heroic defence
of the place.

{July 15.}

The engagement continued until night. By that time, the ships were in
such a condition, as to be unfit to renew the action on the ensuing
day. The Bristol lost one hundred and eleven men, and the Experiment
seventy-nine. Captain Scott, of the one, lost his arm; and Captain
Morris, of the other, was mortally wounded. Lord Campbell, late
Governor of the province, who served as a volunteer on board one of
these vessels, was also mortally wounded; and both ships were so
shattered, as to inspire hopes that they would be unable to repass the
bar. About nine, they slipped their cables and moved off. A few days
afterwards, the troops were re-embarked, and all farther designs
against the southern colonies being for the present relinquished, the
squadron sailed for New York.[33]

     [Footnote 33: Annual Register--Gordon--Ramsay--Letters of
     General Lee.]

The attack on fort Moultrie was supported by the British seamen with
their accustomed bravery; and the slaughter on board the ships was
uncommonly great. The loss of the Americans, in killed and wounded,
was only thirty-five men.

Great and well merited praise was bestowed on Colonel Moultrie, who
commanded the fort, and on the garrison, for the resolution displayed
in defending it. Nor was the glory acquired on this occasion confined
to them. All the troops that had been stationed on the island partook
of it: and the thanks of the United Colonies were voted by congress to
General Lee, Colonel Moultrie, Colonel Thompson, and the officers and
men under their command.

This fortunate event, for such it may well be termed, though not of
much magnitude in itself, was, like many other successes attending the
American arms in the commencement of the war, of great importance in
its consequences. By impressing on the colonists a conviction of their
ability to maintain the contest, it increased the number of those who
resolved to resist British authority, and assisted in paving the way
to a declaration of independence.


[Sidenote: Transactions in New York.]

Even before the evacuation of Boston, it had been foreseen that New
York must become the seat of war; and that most important military
operations would be carried on in that colony. The fortifications
which had been commenced for the defence of its capital were
indefatigably prosecuted; and, after the arrival of General
Washington, these works, combined with those to be erected in the
passes through the highlands up the Hudson, were the objects of his
unremitting attention.

The difficulty which had been experienced in expelling the British
from Boston, had demonstrated the importance of preventing their
establishment in New York; and had contributed to the determination of
contesting with them, very seriously, the possession of that important
place. The execution of this determination, however, was difficult and
dangerous. The defence of New York, against an enemy commanding the
sea, requires an army capable of meeting him in the open field, and of
acting offensively both on Long and York Islands. Congress had not
adopted measures which might raise such an army. The
Commander-in-chief, in his letters to that body, had long and
earnestly urged the policy of bringing the whole strength of the
country into regular operation. The government was not inattentive to
his remonstrances; but many circumstances combined to prevent such a
military establishment as the exigency required.

The congress which assembled in 1775 had adjourned with strong hopes
that the differences between the Mother Country and the Colonies would
soon be adjusted to their mutual satisfaction. When the temper
manifested both by the king and his parliament had dissipated these
hopes, and the immense preparations of Great Britain for war, evinced
the necessity of preparations equally vigorous on the part of America,
the resolution to make them was finally taken. But, unaccustomed to
the great duties of conducting a war of vast extent, they could not
estimate rightly the value of the means employed, nor calculate the
effects which certain causes would produce. Opinions of the most
pernicious tendency prevailed; from which they receded slowly, and
from which they could be ultimately forced only by melancholy

The most fatal among these was the theory, that an army could be
created every campaign for the purposes of that campaign; and that
such temporary means would be adequate to the defence of the country.
They relied confidently on being able on any emergency, to call out a
force suited to the occasion:--they relied too much on the competence
of such a force to the purposes of war, and they depended too long on
the spirit of patriotism, which was believed to animate the mass of
the people.

Under these impressions, the determination to form a permanent army
was too long delayed; and the measures necessary to raise such an army
were deferred, till their efficacy became doubtful. It was not until
June, 1776, that the representations of the Commander-in-chief could
obtain a resolution, directing soldiers to be enlisted for three
years, and offering a bounty of ten dollars to each recruit. The time
when this resolution could certainly have been executed, had passed
away. That zeal for the service, which was manifested in the first
moments of the war, had long since begun to abate; and though the
determination to resist had become more general, that enthusiasm which
prompts individuals to expose themselves to more than an equal share
of danger and hardship, was visibly declining. The progress of these
sentiments seems to have been unexpected; and the causes producing
such effects appear not to have been perceived. The regiments voted by
congress were incomplete; and that bounty, which, if offered in time,
would have effected its object, came too late to fill them.

It was not in numbers only that the weakness of the American army
consisted. In arms, ammunition, tents, and clothes, its deficiency was
such as to render it unfit for the great purposes of war, and
inferior, in all these respects, to the enemy which it was destined to

But, however inadequate to the object the regular force might be, both
the government and the Commander-in-chief were determined to defend
New York; and congress passed a resolution to reinforce the army with
thirteen thousand eight hundred militia. For the defence of the middle
colonies, and for the purpose of repelling any attempt to land on the
Jersey shore, it was resolved to form a flying camp, to be composed of
ten thousand men, to be furnished by Pennsylvania, Delaware, and
Maryland. The militia, both of the flying camp and of the army at New
York, were to be engaged to serve until the first of December; and the
Commander-in-chief was empowered to call on the neighbouring colonies
for such additional temporary aids of militia, as the exigencies of
his army might render necessary.

Great and embarrassing as were the difficulties already noticed, they
were augmented by the disaffection of the city of New York, and of the
adjacent islands. Although Governor Tryon had found it necessary to
take refuge on board some ships lying in the harbour, he had been
permitted to continue an open intercourse with the inhabitants, which
enabled him to communicate freely with the royalists; and to concert
plans of future co-operation. This intercourse was broken off by the
arrival of the Commander-in-chief;--yet a plot was formed, through the
agency of the mayor, to rise in favour of the British on their
landing; and, as was understood, to seize and deliver up General
Washington himself. This plot had extended to the American army, and
even to the general's guards. It was fortunately discovered in time to
be defeated; and some of the persons concerned were executed. About
the same time a similar plot was discovered in the neighbourhood of
Albany; and there too, executions were found necessary.

Hitherto, the sole avowed object of the war had been a redress of
grievances. The utmost horror had been expressed at the idea of
attempting independence; and the most anxious desire of
re-establishing the union which had so long subsisted between the two
countries on its ancient principles, was openly and generally
declared. But however sincere these declarations might have been at
the commencement of the conflict, the operation of hostilities was
infallible. To profess allegiance and respect for a monarch with whom
they were at open war, was an absurdity too great to be long
continued. The human mind, when it receives a strong impulse, does
not, like projectiles, stop at the point to which the force originally
applied may have been calculated to carry it. Various causes act upon
it in its course. When the appeal was made to arms, a great majority
of those who guided the councils and led the forces of America, wished
only for a repeal of the acts of parliament which had occasioned their
resistance to the authority of the crown; and would have been truly
unwilling to venture upon the unexplored field of self-government. For
some time, prayers were offered for the king, in the performance of
divine service; and, in the proclamation of a fast by congress, in
June, 1775, one of the motives for recommending it, was, to beseech
the Almighty "to bless our rightful sovereign King George III. and
inspire him with wisdom."

[Illustration: Independence Hall, Philadelphia

_In this unpretentious brick building, erected in 1729-34, and
intimately associated with the birth of the nation, the Continental
Congress met, Washington was made Commander-in-Chief of the American
army in 1775, and the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July
4, 1776, and read to the people assembled in the street. It is now a
museum of Revolutionary and historical relics._]

[Sidenote: Measures leading to independence.]

The prejudices in favour of a connexion with England, and of the
English constitution, gradually, but rapidly yielded to republican
principles, and a desire for independence. New strength was every day
added to the opinions, that a cordial reconciliation with Great
Britain had become impossible; that mutual confidence could never be
restored; that reciprocal jealousy, suspicion, and hate, would take
the place of that affection, which could alone render such a connexion
happy and beneficial; that even the commercial dependence of America
upon Britain, was greatly injurious to the former, and that
incalculable benefits must be derived from opening to themselves the
markets of the world; that to be governed by a distant nation or
sovereign, unacquainted with, and unmindful of their interests, would,
even if reinstated in their former situation, be an evil too great to
be voluntarily borne. But victory alone could restore them to that
situation--and victory would give them independence. The hazard was
the same; and since the risk of every thing was unavoidable, the most
valuable object ought, in common justice, and common prudence, to be
the reward of success. With such horror, too, did they view the
present war, as to suppose it could not possibly receive the support
of a free people. The alacrity therefore with which the English nation
entered into it, was ascribed to a secret and dangerous influence,
which was, with rapid progress, undermining the liberties and the
morals of the Mother Country; and which, it was feared, would cross
the Atlantic, and infect the principles of the colonists likewise,
should the ancient connexion be restored. The intercourse of America
with the world, and her own experience, had not then been sufficient
to teach her the important truth, that the many, as often as the few,
can abuse power, and trample on the weak, without perceiving that they
are tyrants; that they too, not unfrequently, close their eyes against
the light; and shut their ears against the plainest evidence, and the
most conclusive reasoning.

It was also urged, with great effect, that the possibility of
obtaining foreign aid would be much increased by holding out the
dismemberment of the British empire, to the rivals of that nation, as
an inducement to engage in the contest.

American independence became the general theme of conversation; and
more and more the general wish. The measures of congress took their
complexion from the temper of the people. Their proceedings against
the disaffected became more and more vigorous; their language
respecting the British government was less the language of subjects,
and better calculated to turn the public attention towards congress
and the provincial assemblies, as the sole and ultimate rulers of the
country. General letters of marque and reprisal were granted; and the
American ports were opened to all nations and people, not subject to
the British crown.

{May 6.}

At length, a measure was adopted, which was considered by congress and
by America in general, as deciding the question of independence.
Hitherto, it had been recommended to particular colonies, to establish
temporary institutions for the conduct of their affairs during the
existence of the contest; but now, a resolution was offered,
recommending generally to such colonies as had not already established
them, the adoption of governments adequate to the exigency. Mr. John
Adams, Mr. Rutledge, and Mr. Richard Henry Lee, all zealous advocates
for independence, were appointed a committee, to prepare a proper
preamble to the resolution. The report of these gentlemen was
accepted, and the resolution passed.[34]

     [Footnote 34: Before the vote on the question of
     independence was taken, congress passed resolutions,
     declaring that all persons residing within, or passing
     through any one of the United Colonies, owed allegiance to
     the government thereof; and that any such person who should
     levy war against any of the United Colonies, or adhere to
     the king of Great Britain, or other enemies of the said
     colonies, or any of them, should be guilty of treason: and
     recommending it to the several legislatures to pass laws for
     their punishment.]

{May 15.}

The provincial assemblies and conventions acted on this
recommendation; and governments were generally established. In
Connecticut and Rhode Island, it was deemed unnecessary to make any
change in their actual situation, because, in those colonies, the
executive, as well as the whole legislature, had always been elected
by themselves. In Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York, some
hesitation was at first discovered; and the assemblies appeared
unwilling to take this decisive step. The public opinion, however, was
in favour of it, and finally prevailed.

The several colonies, now contemplating themselves as sovereign
states, and mingling with the arduous duty of providing means to repel
a powerful enemy, the important and interesting labour of framing
governments for themselves and their posterity, exhibited the novel
spectacle of matured and enlightened societies, uninfluenced by
external or internal force, devising, according to their own
judgments, political systems for their own government.

With the exceptions already stated, of Connecticut and Rhode Island,
whose systems had ever been in a high degree democratic, the hitherto
untried principle was adopted, of limiting the departments of
governments by a written constitution, prescribing bounds not to be
transcended by the legislature itself.

The solid foundations of a popular government were already laid in all
the colonies. The institutions received from England were admirably
calculated to prepare the way for temperate and rational republics. No
hereditary powers had ever existed; and every authority had been
derived either from the people or the king. The crown being no longer
acknowledged, the people remained the only source of legitimate power.
The materials in their possession, as well as their habits of
thinking, were adapted only to governments in all respects
representative; and such governments were universally adopted.

The provincial assemblies, under the influence of congress, took up
the question of independence; and, in some instances, authorized their
representatives in the great national council, to enter into foreign
alliances. Many declared themselves in favour of a total and immediate
separation from Great Britain; and gave instructions to their
representatives conforming to this sentiment.

{June 7.}

Thus supported by public opinion, congress determined to take this
decisive step; and on the 7th of June, a resolution to that effect was
moved by Richard Henry Lee, and seconded by John Adams. The resolution
was referred to a committee, who reported it in the following terms.
"Resolved, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be
free and independent states; and that all political connexion between
them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally

{June 28.}

{July 2.}

This resolution was referred to a committee of the whole, in which it
was debated on Saturday the 8th, and Monday the 10th of June. It
appearing that New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland,
and South Carolina were not yet matured for the measure, but were fast
advancing to that state, the debate was adjourned to the first of
July, when it was resumed. In the mean time, a committee[35] was
appointed to prepare the declaration of independence, which was
reported on the 28th of June, and laid on the table. On the first of
July the debate on the original resolution was resumed. The question
was put in the evening of that day, and carried in the affirmative by
the votes of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, against
Pennsylvania and South Carolina. Delaware was divided; and the
delegates from New York, having declared their approbation of the
resolution, and their conviction that it was approved by their
constituents also, but that their instructions, which had been drawn
near twelve months before, enjoined them to do nothing which might
impede reconciliation with the mother country, were permitted to
withdraw from the question. The report of the committee was put off
till the next day at the request of Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina,
who expressed the opinion that his colleagues would then concur in the
resolution for the sake of unanimity. The next day South Carolina did
concur in it. The votes of Pennsylvania and Delaware were also changed
by the arrival of other members. Congress then proceeded to consider
the declaration of independence. After some amendments[36] it was
approved, and signed by every member present except Mr. Dickenson.[37]

     [Footnote 35: Mr. Jefferson, Mr. John Adams, Mr. Franklin,
     and Mr. R.R. Livingston. Mr. R.H. Lee, the mover of the
     resolution, had been compelled by the illness of Mrs. Lee to
     leave congress the day on which the committee was

     [Footnote 36: See note No. VI. at the end of the volume.]

     [Footnote 37: Mr. Jefferson's Correspondence.]

[Sidenote: Independence declared.]

{July 4.}

This declaration was immediately communicated to the armies, who
received it with enthusiasm. It was also proclaimed throughout the
United States, and was generally approved by those who had engaged in
the opposition to the claims of the British Parliament. Some few
individuals, who had been zealous supporters of all measures which had
for their object only a redress of grievances, and in whose bosoms the
hope of accommodation still lingered,--either too timid to meet the
arduous conflict which this measure rendered inevitable, or, sincerely
believing that the happiness of America would be best consulted by
preserving their political connexion with Great Britain, viewed the
dissolution of that connexion with regret. Others, who afterwards
deserted the American cause, attributed their defection to this
measure. It was also an unfortunate truth, that in the whole country
between New England and the Potowmac, which was now become the great
theatre of action, although the majority was in favour of
independence, a formidable minority existed, who not only refused to
act with their countrymen, but were ready to give to the enemy every
aid in their power.

It can not, however, be questioned, that the declaration of
independence was wise, and well-timed. The soundest policy required
that the war should no longer be a contest between subjects and their
acknowledged sovereign.


     Lord and Sir William Howe arrive before New York....
     Circular letter of Lord Howe.... State of the American
     Army.... The British land in force on Long Island.... Battle
     of Brooklyn.... Evacuation of Long Island.... Fruitless
     negotiations.... New York evacuated.... Skirmish on the
     heights of Haerlem.... Letter on the state of the army.


While congress was deliberating in Philadelphia on the great question
of independence, the British fleet appeared before New York.

[Sidenote: Lord and Sir William Howe arrive before New York.]

On evacuating Boston, General Howe had retired to Halifax; where he
purposed to remain till reinforcements should arrive from England. But
the situation of his army in that place was so uncomfortable, and the
delays in the arrival of the troops from Europe were so great, that he
at length resolved to sail for New York, with the forces already under
his command.

{June 10.}

{July 3 & 4.}

In the latter end of June, he arrived off Sandy Hook, in the Grey
Hound; and, on the 29th of that month, the first division of the fleet
from Halifax reached that place. The rear division soon followed; and
the troops were landed on Staten Island, on the third and fourth of
July. They were received with great demonstrations of joy by the
inhabitants, who took the oaths of allegiance to the British crown,
and embodied themselves under the authority of the late Governor
Tryon, for the defence of the island. Strong assurances were also
received from Long Island, and the neighbouring parts of New Jersey,
of the favourable dispositions of a great proportion of the people to
the royal cause.

It was foreseen that the provisions remaining on the small islands
about New York, must fall into the possession of the invading army,
and General Washington had intended to remove them to a place of
safety; but, the existing state of public opinion requiring the
co-operation of the several committees, this measure of wise
precaution could not be completely executed; and General Howe, on his
arrival, obtained ample supplies for his army.

The command of the fleet destined for the American service was
intrusted to Lord Howe, the brother of the general; and they were both
constituted commissioners for restoring peace to the colonies, and
granting pardons, with such exceptions as they should think proper to
make. He arrived at Staten Island on the twelfth of July.

{July 12.}

The difficulty of closing the Hudson against an enemy possessing a
powerful fleet was soon demonstrated. Two frigates passed the
batteries without injury, and took a station which enabled them to cut
off the communication by water, between the army at New York, and that
at Ticonderoga. An attempt to set these frigates on fire failed in its
execution, and only a tender was burnt;--soon after which these
vessels returned to the fleet.

[Sidenote: Circular letter of Lord Howe.]

{July 14.}

Lord Howe was not deterred by the declaration of Independence from
trying the influence of his powers for pacification. He sent on shore,
by a flag, a circular letter, dated off the coast of Massachusetts,
addressed severally to the late governors under the crown, enclosing a
declaration, which he requested them to make public. This declaration
announced his authority to grant pardons to any number or description
of persons, who, during the tumult and disorders of the times, might
have deviated from their just allegiance, and who might be willing, by
a speedy return to their duty, to reap the benefits of the royal
favour; and to declare any colony, town, port, or place, in the peace
and under the protection of the crown, and excepted from the penal
provisions of the act of parliament prohibiting all trade and
intercourse with the colonies. Assurances were also given that the
meritorious services of all persons who should aid and assist in
restoring public tranquillity in the colonies, or in any parts
thereof, would be duly considered.

{July 19.}

These papers were immediately transmitted by the Commander-in-chief to
congress, who resolved that they should "be published in the several
gazettes, that the good people of the United States might be informed
of what nature were the commissioners, and what the terms, with the
expectation of which, the insidious court of Britain had sought to
amuse and disarm them; and that the few who still remained suspended
by a hope, founded either in the justice or moderation of their late
king, might now, at length, be convinced, that the valour alone of
their country is to save its liberties."

About the same time, Lord Howe sent, with a flag, a letter addressed
to "George Washington, esquire," which the General refused to receive,
as "it did not acknowledge the public character with which he was
invested by congress, and in no other character could he have any
intercourse with his lordship." In a resolution approving this
proceeding, congress directed, "that no letter or message be received
on any occasion whatever from the enemy, by the Commander-in-chief, or
others, the commanders of the American army, but such as shall be
directed to them in the characters they respectively sustain."

{July 20.}

The commissioners felt some difficulty in recognizing either the civil
or military character conferred on individuals by the existing powers
in America; and yet it was desirable, either for the purpose of
effecting a pacification, or, if that should be impracticable, of
increasing the divisions already existing, to open negotiations, and
hold out the semblance of restoring peace. They cast about for means
to evade this preliminary obstacle to any discussion of the terms they
were authorized to propose; and, at length, Colonel Patterson,
adjutant general of the British army, was sent on shore by General
Howe, with a letter directed to George Washington, &c. &c. &c. He was
introduced to the general, whom he addressed by the title of
"Excellency;" and, after the usual compliments, opened the subject of
his mission, by saying, that General Howe much regretted the
difficulties which had arisen respecting the address of the letters;
that the mode adopted was deemed consistent with propriety, and was
founded on precedent, in cases of ambassadors and plenipotentiaries,
where disputes or difficulties had arisen about rank; that General
Washington might recollect he had, last summer, addressed a letter to
"the honourable William Howe;" that Lord, and General Howe, did not
mean to derogate from his rank, or the respect due to him, and that
they held his person and character in the highest esteem;--but that
the direction, with the addition of &c. &c. &c. implied every thing
which ought to follow. Colonel Patterson then produced a letter which
he said was the same that had been sent, and which he laid on the

The General declined receiving it, and said, that a letter directed to
a person in a public character, should have some description or
indication of that character; otherwise it would be considered as a
mere private letter. It was true the _etceteras_ implied every thing,
and they also implied any thing; that the letter to General Howe,
alluded to, was an answer to one received from him under a like
address; which, having been taken by the officer on duty, he did not
think proper to return, and therefore answered in the same mode of
address; and that he should absolutely decline any letter relating to
his public station, directed to him as a private person.

Colonel Patterson then said, that General Howe would not urge his
delicacy farther, and repeated his assertions that no failure of
respect was intended.

After some conversation relative to the treatment of prisoners,
Colonel Patterson said, that the goodness and benevolence of the king
had induced him to appoint Lord Howe, and General Howe, his
commissioners to accommodate the unhappy dispute at present
subsisting: that they had great powers, and would derive much pleasure
from effecting the accommodation; and that he wished this visit to be
considered as the first advance towards so desirable an object.

General Washington replied, that he was not vested with any powers on
this subject; but he would observe that, so far as he could judge from
what had yet transpired, Lord Howe and General Howe were only
empowered to grant pardons; that those who had committed no fault,
wanted no pardon; and that the Americans were only defending what they
deemed their indubitable rights. This, Colonel Patterson said, would
open a very wide field for argument: and, after expressing his fears
that an adherence to forms might obstruct business of the greatest
moment and concern, he took his leave.

The substance of this conversation was communicated to congress, who
directed its publication.


The reinforcements to the British army, of whom about four hundred and
fifty had been captured by the American cruisers, were now arriving
daily from Europe; and General Howe had also been joined by the troops
from Charleston. His strength was estimated at twenty-four thousand

[Sidenote: State of the American army.]

To this army, alike formidable for its numbers, its discipline, and
its equipments,--aided in its operations by a numerous fleet, and
conducted by commanders of skill and experience, was opposed a force,
unstable in its nature,--incapable, from its structure, of receiving
discipline,--and inferior to its enemy, in numbers, in arms, and in
every military equipment. It consisted, when General Howe landed on
Staten Island, of ten thousand men, who were much enfeebled by
sickness. The diseases which always afflict new troops, were increased
by exposure to the rain and night air, without tents. At the instance
of the General, some regiments, stationed in the different states,
were ordered to join him; and, in addition to the requisitions of men
to serve until December--requisitions not yet complied with--the
neighbouring militia were called into service for the exigency of the
moment. Yet, in a letter written to congress on the 8th of August, he
stated that "for the several posts on New York, Long, and Governor's
Island, and Paulus Hook, the army consisted of only seventeen thousand
two hundred and twenty-five men, of whom three thousand six hundred
and sixty-eight were sick; and that, to repel an immediate attack, he
could count certainly on no other addition to his numbers, than a
battalion from Maryland under the command of Colonel Smallwood." This
force was rendered the more inadequate to its objects by being
necessarily divided for the defence of posts, some of which were
fifteen miles distant from others, with navigable waters between them.

"These things," continued the letter, "are melancholy, but they are
nevertheless true. I hope for better. Under every disadvantage, my
utmost exertions shall be employed to bring about the great end we
have in view; and, so far as I can judge from the professions and
apparent dispositions of my troops, I shall have their support. The
superiority of the enemy, and the expected attack, do not seem to have
depressed their spirits. These considerations lead me to think that
though the appeal may not terminate so happily as I could wish, yet
the enemy will not succeed in their views without considerable loss.
Any advantage they may gain, I trust will cost them dear."

Soon after this letter, the army was reinforced by Smallwood's
regiment, and by two regiments from Pennsylvania, with a body of New
England and New York militia, which increased it to twenty-seven
thousand men, of whom one fourth were sick.

A part of the army was stationed on Long Island, under the command of
Major General Sullivan. The residue occupied different stations on
York Island, except two small detachments, one on Governor's Island,
and the other at Paulus Hook; and except a part of the New York
militia under General Clinton, who were stationed on the Sound,
towards New Rochelle, and about East and West Chester, in order to
oppose any sudden attempt which might be made to land above
Kingsbridge, and cut off the communication with the country.

{July 2.}

Expecting daily to be attacked, and believing that the influence of
the first battle would be considerable, the Commander-in-chief
employed every expedient which might act upon that enthusiastic love
of liberty, that indignation against the invaders of their country,
and that native courage, which were believed to animate the bosoms of
his soldiers; and which were relied on as substitutes for discipline
and experience. "The time," say his orders issued soon after the
arrival of General Howe, "is now near at hand, which must determine
whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to
have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and
farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a
state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them.
The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage
and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us
only the choice of a brave resistance, or the most abject submission.
We have therefore to resolve to conquer or to die. Our own, our
country's honour, call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion; and
if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole
world. Let us then rely on the goodness of our cause, and the aid of
the Supreme Being, in whose hands victory is, to animate and encourage
us to great and noble actions. The eyes of all our countrymen are now
upon us, and we shall have their blessings and praises, if happily we
are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny meditated against
them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the
whole world that a freeman contending for liberty, on his own ground,
is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."

To the officers, he recommended coolness in time of action; and to the
soldiers, strict attention and obedience, with a becoming firmness and

He assured them that any officer, soldier, or corps, distinguished by
any acts of extraordinary bravery, should most certainly meet with
notice and rewards; whilst, on the other hand, those who should fail
in the performance of their duty, would as certainly be exposed and

{July 21.}

Whilst preparations were making for the expected engagement,
intelligence was received of the repulse of the British squadron which
had attacked fort Moultrie. The Commander-in-chief availed himself of
the occasion of communicating this success to his army, to add a
spirit of emulation to the other motives which should impel them to
manly exertions. "This glorious example of our troops," he said,
"under the like circumstances with ourselves, the General hopes, will
animate every officer and soldier to imitate, and even to out-do them,
when the enemy shall make the same attempt on us. With such a bright
example before us of what can be done by brave men fighting in defence
of their country, we shall be loaded with a double share of shame and
infamy, if we do not acquit ourselves with courage, and manifest a
determined resolution to conquer or die."

As the crisis approached, his anxiety increased. Endeavouring to
breathe into his army his own spirit, and to give them his own
feeling, he thus addressed them. "The enemy's whole reinforcement is
now arrived; so that an attack must, and will soon be made. The
General, therefore, again repeats his earnest request that every
officer and soldier will have his arms and ammunition in good order;
keep within his quarters and encampments as far as possible; be ready
for action at a moment's call; and when called to it, remember, that
liberty, property, life, and honour, are all at stake; that upon their
courage and conduct rest the hopes of their bleeding and insulted
country; that their wives, children, and parents, expect safety from
them only; and that we have every reason to believe, that heaven will
crown with success so just a cause.

"The enemy will endeavour to intimidate by show and appearance; but
remember, they have been repulsed on various occasions by a few brave
Americans; their cause is bad; and if opposed with firmness and
coolness on their first onset, with our advantage of works, and
knowledge of the ground, the victory is most assuredly ours. Every
good soldier will be silent and attentive, wait for orders, and
reserve his fire until he is sure of doing execution; of this the
officers are to be particularly careful."

He directed explicitly that any soldier who should attempt to conceal
himself, or retreat without orders, should instantly be shot down; and
solemnly promised to notice and reward those who should distinguish
themselves. Thus did he, by infusing those sentiments which would
stimulate to the greatest individual exertion, into every bosom,
endeavour to compensate for the want of arms, of discipline, and of

As the defence of Long Island was intimately connected with that of
New York, a brigade had been stationed at Brooklyn, a post capable of
being maintained for a considerable time. An extensive camp had been
marked out and fortified at the same place. Brooklyn is a village on a
small peninsula made by East river, the Bay, and Gowan's Cove. The
encampment fronted the main land of the island, and the works
stretched quite across the peninsula, from Whaaleboght Bay in the East
river on the left, to a deep marsh on a creek emptying into Gowan's
Cove, on the right. The rear was covered and defended against an
attack from the ships, by strong batteries on Red Hook and on
Governor's Island, which in a great measure commanded that part of the
bay, and by other batteries on East river, which kept open the
communication with York Island. In front of the camp was a range of
hills covered with thick woods, which extended from east to west
nearly the length of the island, and across which were three different
roads leading to Brooklyn ferry. These hills, though steep, are every
where passable by infantry.

[Sidenote: The British land in force on Long Island.]

The movements of General Howe indicating an intention to make his
first attack on Long Island, General Sullivan was strongly reinforced.
Early in the morning of the twenty-second, the principal part of the
British army, under the command of General Clinton, landed under cover
of the guns of the fleet, and extended from the ferry at the Narrows,
through Utrecht and Gravesend, to the village of Flatland.[38]

     [Footnote 38: General Howe's letter.]

{July 23.}

Confident that an engagement must soon take place, General Washington
made still another effort to inspire his troops with the most
determined courage. "The enemy," said he, in addressing them, "have
now landed on Long Island, and the hour is fast approaching, on which
the honour and success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding
country depend. Remember, officers and soldiers, that you are freemen,
fighting for the blessings of liberty--that slavery will be your
portion and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves
like men." He repeated his instructions respecting their conduct in
action, and concluded with the most animating and encouraging

{July 25.}

Major General Putnam was now directed to take command at Brooklyn,
with a reinforcement of six regiments; and he was charged most
earnestly by the Commander-in-chief, to be in constant readiness for
an attack, and to guard the woods between the two camps with his best

General Washington had passed the day at Brooklyn, making arrangements
for the approaching action; and, at night, had returned to New York.

The Hessians under General De Heister composed the centre of the
British army at Flatbush; Major General Grant commanded the left wing
which extended to the coast, and the greater part of the British
forces under General Clinton. Earl Percy and Lord Cornwallis turned
short to the right, and approached the opposite coast of Flatland.[39]

     [Footnote 39: General Howe's letter.]

The two armies were now separated from each other by the range of
hills already mentioned. The British centre at Flatbush was scarcely
four miles distant from the American lines at Brooklyn; and a direct
road led across the heights from the one to the other. Another road,
rather more circuitous than the first, led from Flatbush by the way of
Bedford, a small village on the Brooklyn side of the hills. The right
and left wings of the British army were nearly equi-distant from the
American works, and about five or six miles from them. The road
leading from the Narrows along the coast, and by the way of Gowan's
Cove, afforded the most direct route to their left; and their right
might either return by the way of Flatbush and unite with the centre,
or take a more circuitous course, and enter a road leading from
Jamaica to Bedford. These several roads unite between Bedford and
Brooklyn, a small distance in front of the American lines.

The direct road from Flatbush to Brooklyn was defended by a fort which
the Americans had constructed in the hills; and the coast and Bedford
roads were guarded by detachments posted on the hills within view of
the British camp. Light parties of volunteers were directed to patrol
on the road leading from Jamaica to Bedford; about two miles from
which, near Flatbush, Colonel Miles of Pennsylvania was stationed with
a regiment of riflemen. The convention of New York had ordered General
Woodhull, with the militia of Long Island, to take post on the high
grounds, as near the enemy as possible; but he remained at Jamaica,
and seemed scarcely to suppose himself under the control of the
regular officer commanding on the island.

{July 27.}

About nine at night, General Clinton silently drew off the van of the
British army across the country, in order to seize a pass in the
heights, about three miles east of Bedford, on the Jamaica road. In
the morning, about two hours before day-break, within half a mile of
the pass, his patrols fell in with and captured one of the American
parties, which had been stationed on this road. Learning from his
prisoners that the pass was unoccupied, General Clinton immediately
seized it; and, on the appearance of day, the whole column passed the
heights, and advanced into the level country between them and

     [Footnote 40: General Howe's letter.]

Before Clinton had secured the passes on the road from Jamaica,
General Grant advanced along the coast at the head of the left wing,
with ten pieces of cannon. As his first object was to draw the
attention of the Americans from their left, he moved slowly,
skirmishing as he advanced with the light parties stationed on that

     [Footnote 41: General Howe's letter.]

This movement was soon communicated to General Putnam, who reinforced
the parties which had been advanced in front; and, as General Grant
continued to gain ground, still stronger detachments were employed in
this service. About three in the morning, Brigadier General Lord
Stirling was directed to meet the enemy, with the two nearest
regiments, on the road leading from the Narrows. Major General
Sullivan, who commanded all the troops without the lines, advanced at
the head of a strong detachment on the road leading directly to
Flatbush; while another detachment occupied the heights between that
place and Bedford.

About the break of day, Lord Stirling reached the summit of the hills,
where he was joined by the troops which had been already engaged, and
were retiring slowly before the enemy, who almost immediately appeared
in sight. A warm cannonade was commenced on both sides, which
continued for several hours; and some sharp, but not very close
skirmishing took place between the infantry. Lord Stirling, being
anxious only to defend the pass he guarded, could not descend in force
from the heights; and General Grant did not wish to drive him from
them until that part of the plan, which had been entrusted to Sir
Henry Clinton, should be executed.

[Sidenote: Battle of Brooklyn and evacuation of Long Island.]

In the centre, General De Heister, soon after day-light, began to
cannonade the troops under General Sullivan; but did not move from his
ground at Flatbush, until the British right had approached the left
and rear of the American line. In the mean time, in order the more
effectually to draw their attention from the point where the grand
attack was intended, the fleet was put in motion, and a heavy
cannonade was commenced on the battery at Red Hook.

About half past eight, the British right having then reached Bedford,
in the rear of Sullivan's left, General De Heister ordered Colonel
Donop's corps to advance to the attack of the hill; following,
himself, with the centre of the army. The approach of Clinton was now
discovered by the American left, which immediately endeavoured to
regain the camp at Brooklyn. While retiring from the woods by
regiments, they encountered the front of the British. About the same
time, the Hessians advanced from Flatbush, against that part of the
detachment which occupied the direct road to Brooklyn.[42] Here,
General Sullivan commanded in person; but he found it difficult to
keep his troops together long enough to sustain the first attack. The
firing heard towards Bedford had disclosed the alarming fact that the
British had turned their left flank, and were getting completely into
their rear. Perceiving at once the full danger of their situation,
they sought to escape it by regaining the camp with the utmost
possible celerity. The sudden rout of this party enabled De Heister to
detach a part of his force against those who were engaged near
Bedford. In that quarter, too, the Americans were broken, and driven
back into the woods; and the front of the column led by General
Clinton, continuing to move forward, intercepted and engaged those who
were retreating along the direct road from Flatbush. Thus attacked
both in front and rear, and alternately driven by the British on the
Hessians, and by the Hessians back again on the British, a succession
of skirmishes took place in the woods, in the course of which, some
parts of corps forced their way through the enemy, and regained the
lines of Brooklyn, and several individuals saved themselves under
cover of the woods; but a great proportion of the detachment was
killed or taken. The fugitives were pursued up to the American works;
and such is represented to have been the ardour of the British
soldiers, that it required the authority of their cautious commander
to prevent an immediate assault.

     [Footnote 42: General Howe's letter.]

The fire towards Brooklyn gave the first intimation to the American
right, that the enemy had gained their rear. Lord Stirling perceived
the danger, and that he could only escape it by retreating instantly
across the creek. This movement was immediately directed; and, to
secure it, his lordship determined to attack, in person, a British
corps under Lord Cornwallis, stationed at a house rather above the
place at which he intended to cross the creek. About four hundred men
of Smallwood's regiment were drawn out for this purpose, and the
attack was made with great spirit. This small corps was brought up
several times to the charge; and Lord Stirling stated that he was on
the point of dislodging Lord Cornwallis from his post; but the force
in his front increasing, and General Grant also advancing on his rear,
the brave men he commanded were no longer able to oppose the superior
numbers which assailed them on every quarter; and those who survived
were, with their General, made prisoners of war. This attempt, though
unsuccessful, gave an opportunity to a large part of the detachment to
save themselves by crossing the creek.

The loss sustained by the American army in this battle could not be
accurately ascertained by either party. Numbers were supposed to have
been drowned in the creek, or suffocated in the marsh, whose bodies
were never found; and exact accounts from the militia are seldom to be
obtained, as the list of the missing is always swelled by those who
return to their homes. General Washington did not admit it to exceed a
thousand men; but in this estimate he must have included only the
regular troops. In the letter written by General Howe, the amount of
prisoners is stated at one thousand and ninety-seven; among whom were
Major General Sullivan, and Brigadiers Lord Stirling and Woodhull, by
him named Udell. He computes the loss of the Americans at three
thousand three hundred men; but his computation is probably excessive.
He supposes, too, that the troops engaged on the heights, amounted to
ten thousand; but they could not have much exceeded half that number.
His own loss is stated at twenty-one officers, and three hundred and
forty-six privates; killed, wounded, and taken.

As the action became warm, General Washington passed over to the camp
at Brooklyn, where he saw, with inexpressible anguish, the destruction
in which his best troops were involved, and from which it was
impossible to extricate them. Should he attempt any thing in their
favour with the men remaining within the lines, it was probable the
camp itself would be lost, and that whole division of his army
destroyed. Should he bring over the remaining battalions from New
York, he would still be inferior in point of numbers; and his whole
army, perhaps the fate of his country, might be staked on the issue of
a single battle thus inauspiciously commenced. Compelled to behold the
carnage of his troops, without being able to assist them, his efforts
were directed to the preservation of those which remained.

{July 28.}

Believing the Americans to be much stronger than they were in reality,
and unwilling to commit any thing to hazard, General Howe made no
immediate attempt to force their lines. He encamped in front of them;
and, on the twenty-eighth at night, broke ground in form, within six
hundred yards of a redoubt on the left.

{July 29.}

In this critical state of things, General Washington determined to
withdraw from Long Island. This difficult movement was effected on the
night of the twenty-eighth, with such silence, that all the troops and
military stores, with the greater part of the provisions, and all the
artillery, except such heavy pieces as could not be drawn through the
roads, rendered almost impassable by the rains which had fallen, were
carried over in safety. Early next morning, the British out-posts
perceived the rear guard crossing the East river, out of reach of
their fire.

From the commencement of the action on the morning of the
twenty-seventh, until the American troops had crossed the East river
on the morning of the twenty-ninth, the exertions and fatigues of the
Commander-in-chief were incessant. Throughout that time, he never
closed his eyes, and was almost constantly on horseback.

The manner in which this critical operation was executed, and the
circumstances under which it was performed, added greatly to the
reputation of the American general, in the opinion of all military
men. To withdraw, without loss, a defeated, dispirited, and
undisciplined army from the view of an experienced and able officer,
and to transport them in safety across a large river, while watched by
a numerous and vigilant fleet, require talents of no ordinary kind;
and the retreat from Long Island may justly be ranked among those
skilful manoeuvres which distinguish a master in the art of war.

The attempt to defend Long Island was so perilous in itself, and so
disastrous in its issue, that it was condemned by many at the time,
and is yet represented as a great error of the Commander-in-chief.
But, in deciding on the wisdom of measures, the event will not always
lead to a correct judgment. Before a just opinion can be formed, it is
necessary to consider the previous state of things--to weigh the
motives which induced the decision--and to compare the value of the
object, and the probability of securing it, with the hazards attending
the attempt.

It was very desirable to preserve New York, if practicable; or, if
that could not be done, to consume the campaign in the struggle for
that place. The abandonment of Long Island, besides giving the enemy
secure and immediate possession of an extensive and fertile country,
would certainly facilitate the success of his attempt upon New York.
It was therefore to be avoided, if possible.

The impossibility of avoiding it was not evident until the battle was
fought. It is true, that the American force on the island could not
have been rendered equal, even in point of numbers, to that of the
British; but, with the advantage of the defencible country through
which the assailants were to pass, and of a fortified camp which could
be attacked only on one side, hopes might be entertained, without the
imputation of being oversanguine, of maintaining the position for a
considerable time; and, ultimately, of selling it at a high price.
This opinion is supported by the subsequent movements of General Howe,
who, even after the victory of the twenty-seventh, was unwilling to
hazard an assault on the American works, without the co-operation of
the fleet; but chose rather to carry them by regular approaches. Nor
would the situation of the troops on Long Island have been desperate,
even in the event of a conjoint attack by land and water, before their
strength and spirits were broken by the action of the twenty-seventh.
The East river was guarded by strong batteries on both sides, and the
entrance into it from the bay was defended by Governor's Island, which
was fortified, and in which two regiments were stationed. The ships
could not lie in that river, without first silencing those
batteries--a work not easily accomplished. The aid of the fleet,
therefore, could be given only at the point of time when a storm of
the works should be intended; and when that should appear practicable,
the troops might be withdrawn from the island.

There was then considerable hazard in maintaining Long Island; but not
so much as to demonstrate the propriety of relinquishing a post of
such great importance, without a struggle.

With more appearance of reason, the General has been condemned for not
having guarded the road which leads over the hills from Jamaica to

The written instructions given to the officer commanding on Long
Island, two days previous to the action, directed that the woods
should be well guarded, and the approach of the enemy through them
rendered as difficult as possible. But his numbers were not sufficient
to furnish detachments for all the defiles through the mountains; and
if a corps, capable of making an effectual resistance, had been posted
on this road, and a feint had been made on it, while the principal
attack was by the direct road from Flatbush, or by that along the
coast, the events of the day would probably have been not less
disastrous. The columns marching directly from Flatbush must, on every
reasonable calculation, have been in possession of the plain in the
rear of the detachment posted on the road from Jamaica, so as to
intercept its retreat to the camp. So great is the advantage of those
who attack, in being able to choose the point against which to direct
their grand effort.

The most adviseable plan, then, appears to have been, to watch the
motions of the enemy so as to be master of his designs; to oppose with
a competent force every attempt to seize the heights; and to guard all
the passes in such a manner as to receive notice of his approach
through any one of them, in sufficient time to recall the troops
maintaining the others.

This plan was adopted--and the heavy disasters of the day are
attributable, principally, to the failure of those charged with the
execution of that very important part of it which related to the
Jamaica road. The letter of General Howe states that an American
patrolling party was taken on this road; and General Washington, in a
private and confidential communication to a friend, says, "This
misfortune happened, in a great measure, by two detachments of our
people who were posted in two roads leading through a wood, to
intercept the enemy in their march, suffering a surprise, and making a
precipitate retreat."

The events of this day, too, exhibited a practical demonstration of a
radical defect in the structure of the army. It did not contain a
single corps of cavalry. That miscalculating economy which refuses the
means essential to the end, was not sufficiently relaxed to admit of
so expensive an establishment. Had the General been furnished with a
few troops of light-horse, to serve merely as videts, it is probable
that the movement so decisive of the fate of the day could not have
been made unnoticed. The troops on the lines do not appear to have
observed the column which was withdrawn, on the evening of the
twenty-sixth, from Flatbush to Flatland. Had this important manoeuvre
been communicated, it would, most probably, have turned the attention
of General Putnam, more particularly, to the Jamaica road. It is to
the want of videts, that a failure to obtain this important
intelligence is to be ascribed. The necessity of changing the officer
originally intrusted with the command, was also an unfortunate
circumstance, which probably contributed to the event which happened.

Whatever causes might have led to this defeat, it gave a gloomy aspect
to the affairs of America. Heretofore, her arms had been frequently
successful, and her soldiers had always manifested a great degree of
intrepidity. A confidence in themselves, a persuasion of superiority
over the enemy, arising from the goodness of their cause, and their
early and habitual use of fire arms, had been carefully encouraged.
This sentiment had been nourished by all their experience preceding
this event. When they found themselves, by a course of evolutions in
which they imagined they perceived a great superiority of military
skill, encircled with unexpected dangers, from which no exertions
could extricate them, their confidence in themselves and in their
leaders was greatly diminished, and the approach of the enemy inspired
the apprehension that some stratagem was concealed, from which
immediate flight alone could preserve them.

{September 2.}

In a letter from General Washington to congress, the state of the army
after this event was thus feelingly described: "Our situation is truly
distressing. The check our detachment sustained on the 27th ultimo,
has dispirited too great a proportion of our troops, and filled their
minds with apprehension and despair. The militia, instead of calling
forth their utmost efforts to a brave and manly opposition, in order
to repair our losses, are dismayed, intractable, and impatient to
return. Great numbers of them have gone off; in some instances, almost
by whole regiments; in many, by half ones and by companies, at a time.
This circumstance, of itself, independent of others, when fronted by a
well appointed enemy, superior in number to our whole collected force,
would be sufficiently disagreeable; but when it is added, that their
example has infected another part of the army; that their want of
discipline, and refusal of almost every kind of restraint and
government, have rendered a like conduct but too common in the whole;
and have produced an entire disregard of that order and subordination
necessary for the well doing of an army, and which had been before
inculcated as well as the nature of our military establishment would
admit of; our condition is still more alarming, and with the deepest
concern I am obliged to confess my want of confidence in the
generality of the troops.

"All these circumstances fully confirm the opinion I ever entertained,
and which I, more than once, in my letters, took the liberty of
mentioning to congress, that no dependence could be placed in a
militia, or other troops than those enlisted and embodied for a longer
period than our regulations have hitherto prescribed. I am persuaded,
and am as fully convinced as of any one fact that has happened, that
our liberties must, of necessity, be greatly hazarded, if not entirely
lost, if their defence be left to any but a permanent army."

[Sidenote: Fruitless negotiations.]

The first use made by Lord Howe of the victory of the 27th of August,
was to avail himself of the impression it had probably made on
congress, by opening a negotiation in conformity with his powers as a
commissioner. For this purpose, General Sullivan was sent on parole to
Philadelphia, with a verbal message, the import of which was, "that
though he could not at present treat with congress as a political
body, yet he was very desirous of having a conference with some of its
members, whom he would consider, for the present, only as private
gentlemen, and meet them as such at any place they would appoint.

"That, in conjunction with General Howe, he had full powers to
compromise the dispute between Great Britain and America, on terms
advantageous to both; the obtaining of which detained him near two
months in England, and prevented his arrival in New York before the
declaration of independence took place.

"That he wished a compact might be settled at this time, when no
decisive blow was struck, and neither party could allege being
compelled to enter into such agreement.

"That in case congress were disposed to treat, many things which they
had not as yet asked, might, and ought to be granted them; and that
if, upon the conference, they found any probable ground of an
accommodation, the authority of congress must be afterwards
acknowledged--otherwise the compact would not be complete."

This proposition was not without its embarrassments. Its rejection
would give some countenance to the opinion, that, if independence were
waved, a restoration of the ancient connexion between the two
countries, on principles formerly deemed constitutional, was still
practicable; an opinion which would have an unfavourable effect on the
public sentiment. On the other hand, to enter into a negotiation under
such circumstances, might excite a suspicion, that their determination
to maintain the independence they had declared, was not immoveable;
and that things were in such a situation, as to admit of some
relaxation in the measures necessary for the defence of the country.

The answer given to Lord Howe, through General Sullivan, was, "that
congress, being the representatives of the free and independent States
of America, can not, with propriety, send any of its members to confer
with his Lordship in their private characters; but that, ever desirous
of establishing peace on reasonable terms, they will send a committee
of their body to know whether he has any authority to treat with
persons authorized by congress for that purpose, on behalf of America;
and what that authority is;--and to hear such propositions as he shall
think proper to make, respecting the same."

The President was, at the same time, directed to communicate to
General Washington the opinion of congress, that no propositions for
making peace "ought to be received or attended to, unless the same be
made in writing, and addressed to the representatives of the United
States in congress, or persons authorized by them: And if applications
on that subject be made to him by any of the commanders of the British
forces, that he inform them, that these United States, who entered
into the war only for the defence of their lives and liberties, will
cheerfully agree to peace on reasonable terms, whenever such shall be
proposed to them in manner aforesaid."

It is worthy of remark, that, in these resolutions, congress preserves
the appearance of insisting on the independence of the United States,
without declaring it to be the indispensable condition of peace.

Mr. Franklin, Mr. John Adams, and Mr. Edward Rutledge, all zealous
supporters of independence, were appointed "to receive the
communications of Lord Howe."

They waited on his Lordship; and, on their return, reported, that he
had received them on the 11th of September, on Staten Island, opposite
to Amboy, with great politeness.

He opened the conversation by acquainting them, that though he could
not treat with them as a committee of congress, yet, as his powers
enabled him to confer and consult with any private gentlemen of
influence in the colonies, on the means of restoring peace between the
two countries, he was glad of this opportunity of conferring with them
on that subject; if they thought themselves at liberty to enter into a
conference with him in that character. The committee observed to his
Lordship, that, as their business was to hear, he might consider them
in what light he pleased, and communicate to them any propositions he
might be authorized to make for the purpose mentioned; but that they
could consider themselves in no other character than that in which
they were placed by order of congress. His Lordship then proceeded to
open his views at some length. He offered peace only on the condition
that the colonies should return to their allegiance and obedience to
the British crown. He made no explicit propositions as inducements to
this measure, but gave assurances that there was a good disposition in
the king and his ministers to make the government easy to them, with
intimations that, in case of submission, the offensive acts of
parliament would be revised, and the instructions to the Governors
reconsidered; so that, if any just causes of complaint were found in
the acts, or any errors in government were found to have crept into
the instructions, they might be amended or withdrawn.

The committee gave it as their opinion to his Lordship, that a return
to the domination of Great Britain was not now to be expected. They
mentioned the repeated humble petitions of the colonies to the king
and parliament, which had been treated with contempt, and answered
only by additional injuries; the unexampled patience which had been
shown under their tyrannical government; and that it was not until the
late act of parliament, which denounced war against them, and put them
out of the king's protection, that they declared their independence;
that this declaration had been called for by the people of the
colonies in general, and that every colony had approved it when
made,--and all now considered themselves as independent states, and
were settling, or had settled, their governments accordingly; so that
it was not in the power of congress to agree for them that they should
return to their former dependent state; that there was no doubt of
their inclination for peace, and their willingness to enter into a
treaty with Britain, that might be advantageous to both countries;
that though his Lordship had, at present, no power to treat with them
as independent states, he might, if there was the same good
disposition in Britain, much sooner obtain fresh powers from his
government, for that purpose, than powers could be obtained by
congress, from the several colonies, to consent to a submission.

His Lordship then expressed his regret that no accommodation was like
to take place, and put an end to the conference.

These fruitless negotiations produced no suspension of hostilities.

The British army, now in full possession of Long Island, was posted
from Bedford to Hurlgate; and thus fronted and threatened York Island
from its extreme southern point, to the part opposite the northern
boundary of Long Island, a small distance below the heights of
Haerlem; comprehending a space of about nine miles.

The two armies were divided only by the East river, which is generally
less than a mile wide.

{September 4.}

Immediately after the victory at Brooklyn, dispositions were made by
the enemy to attack New York, and a part of the fleet sailed round
Long Island, and appeared in the Sound. Two frigates passed up the
East river, without receiving any injury from the batteries, and
anchored behind a small island which protected them from the American
artillery. At the same time, the main body of the fleet lay at anchor
close in with Governor's Island, from which the American troops had
been withdrawn, ready to pass up either the North or East river, or
both, and act against any part of York Island.

These movements indicated a disposition, not to make an attack
directly on New York, as had been expected, but to land near
Kingsbridge, and take a position which would cut off the communication
of the American army with the country.

Aware of the danger of his situation, General Washington began to
remove such stores as were not immediately necessary; and called a
council of general officers for the purpose of deciding, whether New
York should be evacuated without delay, or longer defended.

In his letter communicating to congress the result of this council,
which was against an immediate evacuation, he manifested a conviction
of the necessity of that measure, though he yielded to that necessity
with reluctance. Speaking of the enemy, he observed, "It is now
extremely obvious from their movements, from our intelligence, and
from every other circumstance, that, having their whole army upon Long
Island, except about four thousand men who remain on Staten Island,
they mean to enclose us in this island, by taking post in our rear,
while their ships effectually secure the front; and thus, by cutting
off our communication with the country, oblige us to fight them on
their own terms, or surrender at discretion; or, if that shall be
deemed more adviseable, by a brilliant stroke endeavour to cut this
army to pieces, and secure the possession of arms and stores, which
they well know our inability to replace.

"Having their system unfolded to us, it becomes an important
consideration how it could be most successfully opposed. On every side
there is a choice of difficulties, and experience teaches us, that
every measure on our part (however painful the reflection) must be
taken with some apprehension, that all our troops will not do their

"In deliberating upon this great question," he added, "it was
impossible to forget that history, our own experience, the advice of
our ablest friends in Europe, the fears of the enemy, and even the
declarations of congress, demonstrate that, on our side, the war
should be defensive;--(it has ever been called a war of posts;)--that
we should, on all occasions, avoid a general action, nor put any thing
to the risk, unless compelled by necessity, into which we ought never
to be drawn."

After communicating the decision which had been made by the council of
officers, he stated the opinion of those who were in favour of an
immediate evacuation with such force, as to confirm the belief that it
remained his own.

The majority, who overruled this opinion, did not expect to be able to
defend the city, permanently, but to defer the time of losing it, in
the hope of wasting so much of the campaign, before General Howe could
obtain possession of it, as to prevent his undertaking any thing
farther until the following year. They therefore advised a middle
course between abandoning the town absolutely, and concentrating their
whole strength for its defence. This was, to form the army into three
divisions; one of which should remain in New York; the second be
stationed at Kingsbridge, and the third occupy the intermediate space,
so as to support either extreme. The sick were to be immediately
removed to Orange Town. A belief that congress was inclined to
maintain New York at every hazard, and a dread of the unfavourable
impression which its evacuation might make on the people, seem to have
had great influence in producing the determination to defend the place
yet a short time longer.

{September 10.}

This opinion was soon changed. The movements of the British general
indicated clearly an intention either to break their line of
communication, or to enclose the whole army in York Island. His
dispositions were alike calculated to favour the one or the other of
those objects. The general, who had continued to employ himself
assiduously in the removal of the military stores to a place of
safety,[43] called a second council to deliberate on the farther
defence of the city, which determined, by a large majority, that it
had become not only prudent, but absolutely necessary to withdraw the
army from New York.

     [Footnote 43: He had, on the first appearance of the enemy
     in force before New York urged the removal of the women and
     children, with their most valuable effects, to a place of

{September 12.}

In consequence of this determination, Brigadier General Mercer, who
commanded the flying camp on the Jersey shore, was directed to move up
the North river, to the post opposite fort Washington; and every
effort was used to expedite the removal of the stores.

On the morning of the fifteenth, three ships of war proceeded up the
North river as high as Bloomingdale; a movement which entirely stopped
the farther removal of stores by water. About eleven on the same day,
Sir Henry Clinton, with a division of four thousand men who had
embarked at the head of New Town bay, where they had lain concealed
from the view of the troops posted on York Island, proceeded through
that bay into the East river, which he crossed; and, under cover of
the fire of five men of war, landed at a place called Kipp's bay,
about three miles above New York.

[Sidenote: New York evacuated.]

The works thrown up to oppose a landing at this place, were of
considerable strength, and capable of being defended for some time;
but the troops stationed in them abandoned them without waiting to be
attacked, and fled with precipitation. On the commencement of the
cannonade, General Washington ordered the brigades of Parsons and
Fellowes to the support of the troops posted in the lines, and rode
himself towards the scene of action. The panic of those who had fled
from the works was communicated to the troops ordered to sustain them;
and the Commander-in-chief had the extreme mortification to meet the
whole party retreating in the utmost disorder, totally regardless of
the great efforts made by their generals to stop their disgraceful
flight. Whilst General Washington was exerting himself to rally them,
a small corps of the enemy appeared; and they again broke and fled in
confusion. The only part to be taken was immediately to withdraw the
few remaining troops from New York, and to secure the posts on the
heights. For this latter purpose, the lines were instantly manned; but
no attempt was made to force them. The retreat from New York was
effected with an inconsiderable loss of men, sustained in a skirmish
at Bloomingdale; but all the heavy artillery, and a large portion of
the baggage, provisions, and military stores, much of which might have
been saved had the post at Kipp's bay been properly defended, were
unavoidably abandoned. In this shameful day, one colonel, one captain,
three subalterns, and ten privates were killed: one lieutenant
colonel, one captain, and one hundred and fifty-seven privates were

The unsoldierly conduct displayed on this occasion was not
attributable to a want of personal courage, but to other causes. The
apprehensions excited by the defeat on Long Island had not yet
subsided; nor had the American troops recovered their confidence
either in themselves or in their commanders. Their situation appeared
to themselves to be perilous; and they had not yet acquired that
temper which teaches the veteran to do his duty wherever he may be
placed; to assure himself that others will do their duty likewise; and
to rely that those, who take into view the situation of the whole,
will not expose him to useless hazard; or neglect those precautions
which the safety and advantage of the whole may require.

Unfortunately, there existed in a great part of the army, several
causes, in addition to the shortness of enlistments and reliance on
militia, which were but too operative in obstructing the progress of
these military sentiments. In New England, whence the supplies of men
had been principally drawn, the zeal excited by the revolution had
taken such a direction, as in a great degree to abolish those
distinctions between the platoon officers and the soldiers, which are
indispensable to the formation of an army suited to all the purposes
of war. It has been already said that these officers, who constitute
an important part of every army, were, in many companies, elected by
the privates. Of consequence, a disposition to associate with them on
the footing of equality, was a recommendation of more weight, and
frequently conduced more to the choice, than individual merit.
Gentlemen of high rank have stated that, in some instances, men were
elected, who agreed to put their pay in a common stock with that of
the soldiers, and divide equally with them. It is not cause of wonder,
that among such officers, the most disgraceful and unmilitary
practices should frequently prevail; and that the privates should not
respect them sufficiently, to acquire habits of obedience and
subordination. This vital defect had been in some degree remedied, in
new modelling the army before Boston; but it still existed to a fatal

{September 15.}

Having taken possession of New York, General Howe stationed a few
troops in the town; and, with the main body of his army, encamped on
the island near the American lines. His right was at Horen's Hook on
the East river, and his left reached the North river near
Bloomingdale; so that his encampment extended quite across the island,
which is, in this place, scarcely two miles wide; and both his flanks
were covered by his ships.

The strongest point of the American lines was at Kingsbridge, both
sides of which had been carefully fortified. M'Gowan's Pass, and
Morris's Heights were also occupied in considerable force, and
rendered capable of being defended against superior numbers. A strong
detachment was posted in an intrenched camp on the heights of Haerlem,
within about a mile and a half of the British lines.

The present position of the armies favoured the views of the American
General. He wished to habituate his soldiers, by a series of
successful skirmishes, to meet the enemy in the field; and he
persuaded himself that his detachments, knowing a strong intrenched
camp to be immediately in their rear, would engage without
apprehension, would soon display their native courage, and would
speedily regain the confidence they had lost.

Opportunities to make the experiments he wished were soon afforded.
The day after the retreat from New York, the British appeared in
considerable force in the plains between the two camps; and the
General immediately rode to his advanced posts, in order to make in
person such arrangements as this movement might require. Soon after
his arrival, Lieutenant Colonel Knowlton of Connecticut, who, at the
head of a corps of rangers, had been skirmishing with this party, came
in, and stated their numbers on conjecture at about three hundred men;
the main body being concealed in a wood.

The General ordered Colonel Knowlton with his rangers, and Major
Leitch with three companies of the third Virginia regiment, which had
joined the army only the preceding day, to gain their rear, while he
amused them with the appearance of making dispositions to attack their

[Sidenote: Skirmish on the heights of Haerlem.]

This plan succeeded. The British ran eagerly down a hill, in order to
possess themselves of some fences and bushes, which presented an
advantageous position against the party expected in front; and a
firing commenced--but at too great a distance to do any execution. In
the mean time, Colonel Knowlton, not being precisely acquainted with
their new position, made his attack rather on their flank than rear;
and a warm action ensued.

In a short time, Major Leitch, who had led the detachment with great
intrepidity, was brought off the ground mortally wounded, having
received three balls through his body; and soon afterwards the gallant
Colonel Knowlton also fell. Not discouraged by the loss of their field
officers, the captains maintained their ground, and continued the
action with great animation. The British were reinforced; and General
Washington ordered some detachments from the adjacent regiments of New
England and Maryland, to the support of the Americans. Thus
reinforced, they made a gallant charge, drove the enemy out of the
wood into the plain, and were pressing him still farther, when the
General, content with the present advantage, called back his troops to
their intrenchments.[44]

     [Footnote 44: The author received the account of this
     skirmish from the Colonel of the third Virginia Regiment,
     and from the Captains commanding the companies that were

In this sharp conflict, the loss of the Americans, in killed and
wounded, did not exceed fifty men. The British lost more than double
that number. But the real importance of the affair was derived from
its operation on the spirits of the whole army. It was the first
success they had obtained during this campaign; and its influence was
very discernible. To give it the more effect, the parole the next day
was Leitch; and the General, in his orders, publicly thanked the
troops under the command of that officer, who had first advanced on
the enemy, and the others who had so resolutely supported them. He
contrasted their conduct with that which had been exhibited the day
before; and the result, he said, evidenced what might be done where
officers and soldiers would exert themselves. Once more, therefore, he
called upon them so to act, as not to disgrace the noble cause in
which they were engaged. He appointed a successor to "the gallant and
brave Colonel Knowlton, who would," he said, "have been an honour to
any country, and who had fallen gloriously, fighting at his post."

In this active part of the campaign, when the utmost stretch of every
faculty was required, to watch and counteract the plans of a skilful
and powerful enemy, the effects of the original errors committed by
the government, in its military establishment, were beginning to be so
seriously felt, as to compel the Commander-in-chief to devote a
portion of his time and attention to the complete removal of the
causes which produced them.

The situation of America was becoming extremely critical. The almost
entire dissolution of the existing army, by the expiration of the time
for which the greater number of the troops had been engaged, was fast
approaching. No steps had been taken to recruit the new regiments
which congress had resolved to raise for the ensuing campaign; and
there was much reason to apprehend, that in the actual state of
things, the terms offered would not hold forth sufficient inducements
to fill them.

{September 24.}

[Sidenote: Letter on the state of the army.]

With so unpromising a prospect before him, the General found himself
pressed by an army, permanent in its establishment, supplied with
every requisite of war, formidable for its discipline and the
experience of its leaders, and superior to him in numbers. These
circumstances, and the impressions they created, will be best
exhibited by an extract from a letter written at the time to congress.
It is in these words: "From the hours allotted to sleep, I will borrow
a few moments to convey my thoughts, on sundry important matters, to
congress. I shall offer them with that sincerity which ought to
characterize a man of candour; and with the freedom which may be used
in giving useful information, without incurring the imputation of

"We are now, as it were, upon the eve of another dissolution of our
army. The remembrance of the difficulties which happened upon that
occasion last year; the consequences which might have followed the
change, if proper advantages had been taken by the enemy; added to a
knowledge of the present temper and disposition of the troops; reflect
but a very gloomy prospect upon the appearance of things now, and
satisfy me, beyond the possibility of doubt, that unless some speedy
and effectual measures are adopted by congress, our cause will be

"It is in vain to expect that any, or more than a trifling part of
this army, will engage again in the service, on the encouragement
offered by congress. When men find that their townsmen and companions
are receiving twenty, thirty, and more dollars, for a few months
service, (which is truly the case,) this can not be expected, without
using compulsion; and to force them into the service would answer no
valuable purpose. When men are irritated, and their passions inflamed,
they fly hastily and cheerfully to arms; but after the first emotions
are over, to expect among such people as compose the bulk of an army,
that they are influenced by any other motives than those of interest,
is to look for what never did, and I fear never will happen; the
congress will deceive themselves therefore if they expect it.

"A soldier, reasoned with upon the goodness of the cause he is engaged
in, and the inestimable rights he is contending for, hears you with
patience, and acknowledges the truth of your observations; but adds,
that it is of no more consequence to him than to others. The officer
makes you the same reply, with this further remark, that his pay will
not support him, and he can not ruin himself and family to serve his
country, when every member of the community is equally benefited and
interested by his labours. The few, therefore, who act upon principles
of disinterestedness, are, comparatively speaking, no more than a drop
in the ocean. It becomes evidently clear, then, that as this contest
is not likely to become the work of a day; as the war must be carried
on systematically; and to do it, you must have good officers; there
is, in my judgment, no other possible means to obtain them, but by
establishing your army upon a permanent footing, and giving your
officers good pay. This will induce gentlemen, and men of character,
to engage; and, until the bulk of your officers are composed of such
persons as are actuated by principles of honour and a spirit of
enterprise, you have little to expect from them. They ought to have
such allowances as will enable them to live like, and support the
character of gentlemen; and not be driven by a scanty pittance to the
low and dirty arts which many of them practise, to filch the public of
more than the difference of pay would amount to, upon an ample
allowance. Besides, something is due to the man who puts his life in
your hands, hazards his health, and forsakes the sweets of domestic
enjoyments. Why a captain in the continental service should receive no
more than five shillings currency per day, for performing the same
duties that an officer of the same rank in the British service
receives ten shillings sterling for, I never could conceive;
especially, when the latter is provided with every necessary he
requires, upon the best terms, and the former can scarcely procure
them at any rate. There is nothing that gives a man consequence, and
renders him fit for command, like a support that renders him
independent of every body but the state he serves.

"With respect to the men, nothing but a good bounty can obtain them
upon a permanent establishment, and for no shorter time than the
continuance of the war ought they to be engaged; as facts
incontestably prove that the difficulty and cost of enlistments
increase with time. When the army was first raised at Cambridge, I am
persuaded the men might have been got, without a bounty, for the war:
after that, they began to see that the contest was not likely to end
so speedily as was imagined, and to feel their consequence, by
remarking, that to get their militia, in the course of the last year,
many towns were induced to give them a bounty. Foreseeing the evils
resulting from this, and the destructive consequences which would
unavoidably follow short enlistments, I took the liberty, in a long
letter, (date not now recollected, as my letter book is not here,) to
recommend the enlistments for and during the war, assigning such
reasons for it, as experience has since convinced me, were well
founded. At that time, twenty dollars would, I am persuaded, have
engaged the men for this term: but it will not do to look back--and if
the present opportunity is slipped, I am persuaded that twelve months
more will increase our difficulties four fold. I shall therefore take
the liberty of giving it as my opinion, that a good bounty be
immediately offered, aided by the proffer of at least a hundred, or a
hundred and fifty acres of land, and a suit of clothes, and a blanket,
to each non-commissioned officer and soldier, as I have good authority
for saying, that however high the men's pay may appear, it is barely
sufficient, in the present scarcity and dearness of all kinds of
goods, to keep them in clothes, much less to afford support to their
families. If this encouragement, then, is given to the men, and such
pay allowed to the officers, as will induce gentlemen of liberal
character and liberal sentiments to engage; and proper care and
caution be used in the nomination, (having more regard to the
characters of persons than the number of men they can enlist,) we
should, in a little time, have an army able to cope with any that can
be opposed to it, as there are excellent materials to form one out of:
but whilst the only merit an officer possesses is his ability to raise
men; whilst those men consider and treat him as an equal, and in the
character of an officer, regard him no more than a broomstick, being
mixed together as one common herd; no order nor discipline can
prevail, nor will the officer ever meet with that respect which is
essentially necessary to due subordination.

"To place any dependence upon militia, is assuredly resting upon a
broken staff. Men just dragged from the tender scenes of domestic
life; unaccustomed to the din of arms; totally unacquainted with every
kind of military skill, which, being followed by a want of confidence
in themselves, when opposed to troops regularly trained, disciplined,
and appointed--superior in knowledge, and superior in arms--makes them
timid, and ready to fly from their own shadows. Besides, the sudden
change in their manner of living, particularly in their lodging,
brings on sickness in many, impatience in all; and such an
unconquerable desire of returning to their respective homes, that it
not only produces shameful and scandalous desertions among themselves,
but infuses the like spirit into others. Again, men accustomed to
unbounded freedom and no control, can not brook the restraint which is
indispensably necessary to the good order and government of an army;
without which, licentiousness, and every kind of disorder,
triumphantly reign. To bring men to a proper degree of subordination,
is not the work of a day, a month, or a year; and unhappily for us,
and the cause we are engaged in, the little discipline I have been
labouring to establish in the army under my immediate command, is in a
manner done away by having such a mixture of troops as have been
called together within these few months."

The frequent remonstrances of the Commander-in-chief; the opinions of
all military men; and the severe, but correcting hand of experience,
had at length produced some effect on the government of the
union;--and soon after the defeat on Long Island, congress had
directed the committee composing the board of war, to prepare a plan
of operations for the next succeeding campaign. Their report proposed
a permanent army, to be enlisted for the war, and to be raised by the
several states, in proportion to their ability. A bounty of twenty
dollars was offered to each recruit; and small portions of land to
every officer and soldier.

{October 4.}

The resolutions adopting this report were received by the
Commander-in-chief soon after the transmission of the foregoing
letter. Believing the inducements they held forth for the completion
of the army to be still insufficient, he, in his letter acknowledging
the receipt of them, urged in the most serious terms, the necessity of
raising the pay of the officers, and the bounty offered to recruits.
"Give me leave to say, sir," he observed, "I say it with due deference
and respect, (and my knowledge of the facts, added to the importance
of the cause, and the stake I hold it in, must justify the freedom,)
that your affairs are in a more unpromising way than you seem to

"Your army, as mentioned in my last, is upon the eve of political
dissolution. True it is, you have voted a larger one in lieu of it;
but the season is late, and there is a material difference between
voting battalions, and raising men. In the latter, there are more
difficulties than Congress seem aware of; which makes it my duty (as I
have been informed of the prevailing sentiments of this army) to
inform them, that unless the pay of the officers (especially that of
the field officers) is raised, the chief part of those that are worth
retaining will leave the service at the expiration of the present
term; as the soldiers will also, if some greater encouragement is not
offered them, than twenty dollars and one hundred acres of land."

After urging in strong terms the necessity of a more liberal
compensation to the army, and stating that the British were actually
raising a regiment with a bounty of ten pounds sterling for each
recruit, he added, "when the pay and establishment of an officer once
become objects of interested attention, the sloth, negligence, and
even disobedience of orders, which at this time but too generally
prevail, will be purged off;--but while the service is viewed with
indifference; while the officer conceives that he is rather conferring
than receiving an obligation: there will be a total relaxation of all
order and discipline; and every thing will move heavily on, to the
great detriment of the service, and inexpressible trouble and vexation
of the general.

"The critical situation of our affairs at this time will justify my
saying, that no time is to be lost in making fruitless experiments. An
unavailing trial of a month, to get an army upon the terms proposed,
may render it impracticable to do it at all, and prove fatal to our
cause; as I am not sure whether any rubs in the way of our
enlistments, or unfavourable turn in our affairs, may not prove the
means of the enemy's recruiting men faster than we do."

After stating at large the confusion and delay, inseparable from the
circumstance that the appointments for the new army were to be made by
the states, the letter proceeds, "upon the present plan, I plainly
foresee an intervention of time between the old and new army, which
must be filled with militia, if to be had, with whom no man, who has
any regard for his own reputation, can undertake to be answerable for
consequences. I shall also be mistaken in my conjectures, if we do not
lose the most valuable officers in this army, under the present mode
of appointing them; consequently, if we have an army at all, it will
be composed of materials not only entirely raw, but, if uncommon pains
are not taken, entirely unfit: and I see such a distrust and jealousy
of military power, that the Commander-in-chief has not an opportunity,
even by recommendation, to give the least assurance of reward for the
most essential services.

"In a word, such a cloud of perplexing circumstances appears before
me, without one flattering hope, that I am thoroughly convinced,
unless the most vigorous and decisive exertions are immediately
adopted to remedy these evils, the certain and absolute loss of our
liberties will be the inevitable consequence: as one unhappy stroke
will throw a powerful weight into the scale against us, and enable
General Howe to recruit his army, as fast as we shall ours; numbers
being disposed, and many actually doing so already. Some of the most
probable remedies, and such as experience has brought to my more
intimate knowledge, I have taken the liberty to point out; the rest I
beg leave to submit to the consideration of congress.

"I ask pardon for taking up so much of their time with my opinions,
but I should betray that trust which they and my country have reposed
in me, were I to be silent upon matters so extremely interesting."

On receiving this very serious letter, congress passed resolutions
conforming to many of its suggestions. The pay of the officers was
raised, and a suit of clothes allowed annually to each soldier: The
legislatures of the states having troops in the continental service,
either at New York, Ticonderoga, or New Jersey, were requested to
depute committees to those places in order to officer the regiments on
the new establishment: and it was recommended to the committees to
consult the General on the subject of appointments.

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters at White Plains

_Here, twenty-two miles northeast of New York City, Washington made
his headquarters in October, 1776, and directed the Battle of White
Plains or Chatterton Hill. Opposed to the American forces was a
British army, greatly superior in numbers, under General Howe, whose
delay in attaching the Americans enabled Washington to take up an
unassailable position at North Castle, preparatory to his subsequent
masterly retreat across New Jersey._]


     The British land at Frog's Neck.... The American army
     evacuates York Island, except fort Washington.... Both
     armies move towards the White Plains.... Battle of the White
     Plains.... The British army returns to Kingsbridge....
     General Washington crosses the North river.... The lines of
     fort Washington carried by the British, and the garrison
     made prisoners.... Evacuation of fort Lee.... Weakness of
     the American army.... Ineffectual attempts to raise the
     militia.... General Washington retreats through Jersey....
     General Washington crosses the Delaware.... Danger of
     Philadelphia.... Capture of General Lee.... The British go
     into winter quarters.... Battle of Trenton.... Of
     Princeton.... Firmness of congress.


{October 9.}

The armies did not long retain their position on York Island. General
Howe was sensible of the strength of the American camp, and was not
disposed to force it. His plan was to compel General Washington to
abandon it, or to give battle in a situation in which a defeat must be
attended with the total destruction of his army. With this view, after
throwing up entrenchments on M'Gowan's hill for the protection of New
York, he determined to gain the rear of the American camp, by the New
England road, and also to possess himself of the North river above
Kingsbridge. To assure himself of the practicability of acquiring the
command of the river, three frigates passed up it under the fire from
fort Washington, and from the opposite post on the Jersey shore,
afterwards called fort Lee, without sustaining any injury from the
batteries, or being impeded by the chevaux-de-frise which had been
sunk in the channel between those forts.


[Sidenote: The enemy land at Frog's Neck.]

This point being ascertained, he embarked a great part of his army on
board flat bottomed boats, and, passing through Hurl Gate into the
Sound, landed at Frog's Neck, about nine miles from the camp on the
heights of Haerlem.

In consequence of this movement, Washington strengthened the post at
Kingsbridge, and detached some regiments to West Chester for the
purpose of skirmishing with the enemy, so soon as he should march from
the ground he occupied. The road from Frog's Point to Kingsbridge
leads through a strong country, intersected by numerous stone fences,
so as to render it difficult to move artillery, or even infantry, in
compact columns, except along the main road, which had been broken up
in several places. The General, therefore, entertained sanguine hopes
of the event, should a direct attack be made on his camp.

General Howe continued some days waiting for his artillery, military
stores, and reinforcements from Staten Island, which were detained by
unfavourable winds.

{October 16.}

[Sidenote: The American army evacuates York island except Fort

In the mean time, as the habits of thinking in America required that
every important measure should be the result of consultation, and
should receive the approbation of a majority, the propriety of
removing the American army from its present situation was submitted to
a council of the general officers. After much investigation, it was
declared to be impracticable, without a change of position, to keep up
their communication with the country, and avoid being compelled to
fight under great disadvantages, or to surrender themselves prisoners
of war. General Lee, who had just arrived from the south, and whose
experience as well as late success gave great weight to his opinions,
urged the necessity of this movement with much earnestness. It was, at
the same time, determined to hold fort Washington, and to defend it as
long as possible. A resolution of congress of the 11th of October,
desiring General Washington, by every art and expense, to obstruct, if
possible, the navigation of the river, contributed, not
inconsiderably, to this determination.

In pursuance of this opinion of the military council, measures were
taken for moving the army up the North River, so as to extend its
front, or left, towards the White Plains, beyond the British right,
and thus keep open its communication with the country. The right, or
rear division, remained a few days longer about Kingsbridge under the
command of General Lee, for the security of the heavy baggage and
military stores, which, in consequence of the difficulty of obtaining
wagons, could be but slowly removed.

{October 18.}

General Howe, after uniting his forces at Pell's Point, moved forward
his whole army, except four brigades destined for the defence of New
York, through Pelham's manor, towards New Rochelle. Some skirmishes
took place on the march with a part of Glover's brigade, in which the
conduct of the Americans was mentioned with satisfaction by the
Commander-in-chief; and, as General Howe took post at New Rochelle, a
village on the Sound, General Washington occupied the heights between
that place and the North River.

{October 21.}

[Sidenote: Both armies move towards the White Plains.]

At New Rochelle, the British army was joined by the second division of
Germans, under the command of General Knyphausen, and by an incomplete
regiment of cavalry from Ireland; some of whom had been captured on
their passage. Both armies now moved towards the White Plains, a
strong piece of ground already occupied by a detachment of militia.
The main body of the American troops formed a long line of entrenched
camps, extending from twelve to thirteen miles, on the different
heights from Valentine's Hill, near Kingsbridge, to the White Plains,
fronting the British line of march, and the Brunx, which divided the
two armies. The motions of General Howe were anxiously watched, not
only for the purposes of security, and of avoiding a general action,
but in order to seize any occasion which might present itself of
engaging his out-posts with advantage. While the British army lay at
New Rochelle, the position of a corps of American loyalists commanded
by Major Rogers was supposed to furnish such an occasion. He was
advanced, farther eastward, to Mamaraneck, on the Sound, where he was
believed to be covered by the other troops. An attempt was made to
surprise him in the night, by a detachment which should pass between
him and the main body of the British army, and, by a coup de main,
bear off his whole corps. Major Rogers was surprised, and about sixty
of his regiment killed and taken. The loss of the Americans was only
two killed, and eight or ten wounded; among the latter was Major Green
of Virginia, a brave officer, who led the detachment, and who received
a ball through his body.

Not long afterwards, a regiment of Pennsylvania riflemen, under
Colonel Hand, engaged an equal number of Hessian chasseurs, with some

The caution of the English general was increased by these evidences of
enterprise in his adversary. His object seems to have been to avoid
skirmishes, and to bring on a general action, if that could be
effected under favourable circumstances; if not, he calculated on
nearly all the advantages of a victory from the approaching
dissolution of the American army. He proceeded therefore slowly. His
march was in close order, his encampments compact, and well guarded
with artillery; and the utmost circumspection was used to leave no
vulnerable point.

{October 25.}

As the sick and baggage reached a place of safety, General Washington
gradually drew in his out-posts, and took possession of the heights on
the east side of the Brunx, fronting the head of the British columns,
at the distance of seven or eight miles from them. The next day, he
was joined by General Lee, who, after securing the sick and the
baggage, had, with considerable address, brought up the rear division
of the army; an operation the more difficult as the deficiency of
teams was such that a large portion of the labour usually performed by
horses or oxen, devolved on men.

General Washington was encamped on high broken ground, with his right
flank on the Brunx. This stream meandered so as also to cover the
front of his right wing, which extended along the road leading towards
New Rochelle, as far as the brow of the hill where his centre was
posted. His left, which formed almost a right angle with his centre,
and was nearly parallel to his right, extended along the hills
northward, so as to keep possession of the commanding ground, and
secure a retreat, should it be necessary, to a still stronger position
in his rear.

On the right of the army, and on the west side of the Brunx, about one
mile from camp, on a road leading from the North River, was a hill, of
which General M'Dougal was ordered to take possession, for the purpose
of covering the right flank. His detachment consisted of about sixteen
hundred men, principally militia; and his communication with the main
army was open, that part of the Brunx being passable without

Intrenchments were thrown up to strengthen the lines.

General Howe, having made arrangements to attack Washington in his
camp, advanced early in the morning in two columns, the right
commanded by Sir Henry Clinton, and the left by General Knyphausen;
and, about ten, his van appeared in full view, on which a cannonade
commenced without much execution on either side.

{October 28.}

[Sidenote: Battle of the White Plains.]

The British right formed behind a rising ground, about a mile in front
of the American camp, and extending from the road leading from
Mamaraneck towards the Brunx, stood opposed to the American centre.

On viewing Washington's situation, Howe, who accompanied Knyphausen,
determined to carry the hill occupied by M'Dougal, as preliminary to
an attack on the centre and right of the American camp. He therefore
directed Colonel Rawle, with a brigade of Hessians, to cross the Brunx
and make a circuit so as to turn M'Dougal's right flank, while
Brigadier General Leslie, with a strong corps of British and Hessian
troops should attack him in front. When Rawle had gained his position,
the detachment commanded by Leslie also crossed the Brunx, and
commenced a vigorous attack.[45] The militia in the front line
immediately fled; but the regulars maintained their ground with great
gallantry. Colonel Smallwood's regiment of Maryland, and Colonel
Reitzimer's of New York, advanced boldly towards the foot of the hill
to meet Leslie, but, after a sharp encounter, were overpowered by
numbers, and compelled to retreat. General Leslie then attacked the
remaining part of M'Dougal's forces, who were soon driven from the
hill, but kept up for some time an irregular fire from the stone walls
about the scene of action. General Putnam, with Real's brigade, was
ordered to support them; but not having arrived till the hill was
lost, the attempt to regain it was deemed unadviseable, and the troops
retreated to the main army.

     [Footnote 45: General Howe's letter.]

In this animated engagement, the loss was supposed to be nearly equal.
That of the Americans was between three and four hundred in killed,
wounded, and taken. Colonel Smallwood was among the wounded.

General Washington continued in his lines expecting an assault. But a
considerable part of the day having been exhausted in gaining the hill
which had been occupied by M'Dougal, the meditated attempt on his
intrenchments was postponed until the next morning; and the British
army lay on their arms the following night, in order of battle, on the
ground taken during the day.

{October 30.}

This interval was employed by General Washington in strengthening his
works, removing his sick and baggage, and preparing for the expected
attack by adopting the arrangement of his troops to the existing state
of things. His left maintained its position; but his right was drawn
back to stronger ground. Perceiving this, and being unwilling to leave
any thing to hazard, Howe resolved to postpone farther offensive
operations, until Lord Percy should arrive with four battalions from
New York, and two from Mamaraneck. This reinforcement was received on
the evening of the thirtieth, and preparations were then made to force
the American intrenchments the next morning. In the night, and during
the early part of the succeeding day, a violent rain still farther
postponed the assault.

Having now removed his provisions and heavy baggage to much stronger
ground, and apprehending that the British general, whose left wing
extended along the height, taken from M'Dougal, to his rear, might
turn his camp, and occupy the strong ground to which he designed to
retreat, should an attempt on his lines prove successful, General
Washington changed his position in the night, and withdrew to the
heights of North Castle, about five miles from the White Plains.

{November 1.}

Deeming this position too strong to be attempted with prudence,
General Howe determined to change his plan of operations, and to give
a new direction to his efforts.[46]

     [Footnote 46: General Howe's letter.]

While forts Washington and Lee were held by the Americans, his
movements were checked, and York Island insecure. With a view to the
acquisition of these posts, he directed General Knyphausen to take
possession of Kingsbridge, which was defended by a small party of
Americans placed in fort Independence. On his approach, this party
retreated to fort Washington; and Knyphausen encamped between that
place and Kingsbridge.

{November 5.}

[Sidenote: The British army returns to Kingsbridge.]

In the mean time, General Howe retired slowly down the North River.
His designs were immediately penetrated by the American general, who
perceived the necessity of passing a part of his army into Jersey, but
was restrained from immediately leaving the strong ground he occupied
by the apprehension that his adversary might, in that event, return
suddenly and gain his rear. A council of war was called, which
determined unanimously, that, should General Howe continue his march
towards New York, all the troops raised on the west side of the Hudson
should cross that river, to be afterwards followed by those raised in
the eastern part of the continent, leaving three thousand men for the
defence of the Highlands about the North river.

In a letter to congress communicating this movement of the British
army, and this determination of the council, the general said, "I can
not indulge the idea that General Howe, supposing him to be going to
New York, means to close the campaign, and to sit down without
attempting something more. I think it highly probable, and almost
certain, that he will make a descent with part of his troops into the
Jerseys; and, as soon as I am satisfied that the present manoeuvre is
real, and not a feint, I shall use all the means in my power to
forward a part of our force to counteract his designs.

"I expect the enemy will bend their force against fort Washington, and
invest it immediately. From some advices, it is an object that will
attract their earliest attention."

He also addressed a letter to the governor of New Jersey, expressing a
decided opinion that General Howe would not content himself with
investing fort Washington, but would invade the Jerseys; and urging
him to put the militia in the best possible condition to reinforce the
army, and to take the place of the new levies, who could not, he
suggested, be depended on to continue in service one day longer than
the first of December, the time for which they were engaged.

Immediate intelligence of this movement was likewise given to General
Greene, who commanded in the Jerseys; and his attention was
particularly pointed to fort Washington.

As the British army approached Kingsbridge, three ships of war passed
up the North River, notwithstanding the fire from forts Washington and
Lee, and notwithstanding the additional obstructions which had been
placed in the channel.

{November 8.}

On being informed of this, another letter was addressed to General
Greene, stating that this fact was so plain a proof of the inefficacy
of all the obstructions thrown in the river, as to justify a change in
the dispositions which had been made. "If," continued the letter, "we
can not prevent vessels from passing up, and the enemy are possessed
of the surrounding country, what valuable purpose can it answer to
attempt to hold a post from which the expected benefit can not be
derived? I am therefore inclined to think it will not be prudent to
hazard the men and stores at Mount Washington; but as you are on the
spot, I leave it to you to give such orders respecting the evacuation
of the place, as you may think most adviseable; and so far revoke the
orders given to Colonel Magaw to defend it to the last."

Measures were now taken to cross the North River with the troops which
had been raised on its western side, and General Washington determined
to accompany that division of the army. The eastern regiments remained
on the eastern side of the river, under the command of General Lee,
with orders to join the Commander-in-chief, should the British army
cross the Hudson.

[Sidenote: And General Washington with a part of his army crosses the
North River.]

After visiting the posts about Peekskill, and making all the
arrangements in his power for their defence, General Washington passed
the North River in the rear of the troops designed to act in the
Jerseys, and proceeded to the quarters of General Greene, near fort

From too great a confidence[47] in the strength of fort Washington,
and a conviction of its importance, General Greene had not withdrawn
its garrison under the discretionary orders he had received, but still
indulged a hope that the post might be maintained, or, should its
situation become desperate, that means might be found to transport the
troops across the river to the Jersey shore, which was defended by
fort Lee.

     [Footnote 47: Extract of a letter from General Greene, dated
     September 11th, 1778.

     "Remember the effect that the loss of the garrison of fort
     Washington had; there were men enough to have defended
     themselves against all the army had they not been struck
     with a panic; but, being most of them irregular troops, they
     lost their confidence when the danger began to grow
     pressing, and so fell a prey to their own fears."--_Life of
     Greene_, v. 1, p. 121.]

Mount Washington is a high piece of rocky ground, near the North
River, very difficult of ascent, especially towards the north, or
Kingsbridge. The fort was capable of containing about one thousand
men; but the lines and out-works, which were chiefly on the southern
side, towards New York, were drawn quite across the island. The ground
was naturally strong, the approaches difficult, and the
fortifications, though not sufficient to resist heavy artillery, were
believed to be in a condition to resist any attempt to carry them by
storm. The garrison consisted of troops, some of whom were among the
best in the American army; and the command had been given to Colonel
Magaw, a brave and intelligent officer, in whom great confidence was

{November 13.}


General Howe, after retiring from the White Plains, encamped at a
small distance from Kingsbridge, on the heights of Fordham; and,
having made the necessary preparations for an assault, summoned the
garrison to surrender, on pain of being put to the sword. Colonel
Magaw replied, that he should defend the place to the last extremity,
and communicated the summons to General Greene at fort Lee, who
transmitted it to the Commander-in-chief, then at Hackensack. He
immediately rode to fort Lee, and, though it was late in the night,
was proceeding to fort Washington, where he expected to find Generals
Putnam and Greene, when, in crossing the river, he met those officers
returning from a visit to that fort. They reported that the garrison
was in high spirits, and would make a good defence; on which he
returned with them to fort Lee.

{November 16.}

Early next morning, Colonel Magaw posted his troops, partly on a
commanding hill north of the fort, partly in the outermost of the
lines drawn across the island on the south of the fort, and partly
between those lines, on the woody and rocky heights fronting Haerlem
River, where the ground being extremely difficult of ascent, the works
were not closed. Colonel Rawlings, of Maryland, commanded on the hill
towards Kingsbridge; Colonel Cadwallader, of Pennsylvania, in the
lines, and Colonel Magaw himself continued in the fort.

The strength of the place had not deterred the British general from
resolving to carry it by storm; and, on receiving the answer of
Colonel Magaw, arrangements were made for a vigorous attack next day.
About ten, the assailants appeared before the works, and moved to the
assault in four different quarters. Their first division consisting of
Hessians and Waldeckers, amounting to about five thousand men, under
the command of General Knyphausen, advanced on the north side of the
fort, against the hill occupied by Colonel Rawlings, who received them
with great gallantry. The second, on the east, consisting of the
British light infantry and guards, was led by Brigadier General
Matthews, supported by Lord Cornwallis, at the head of the grenadiers
and the thirty-third regiment. These troops crossed Haerlem River in
boats, under cover of the artillery planted in the works, which had
been erected on the opposite side of the river, and landed within the
third line of defence which crossed the island. The third division was
conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Stirling, who passed the river higher
up; and the fourth by Lord Percy, accompanied by General Howe in
person. This division was to attack the lines in front, on the south

     [Footnote 48: General Howe's letter.]

The attacks on the north and south by General Knyphausen and Lord
Percy, were made about the same instant, on Colonels Rawlings and
Cadwallader, who maintained their ground for a considerable time; but,
while Colonel Cadwallader was engaged in the first line against Lord
Percy, the second and third divisions which had crossed Haerlem River
made good their landing, and dispersed the troops fronting that river,
as well as a detachment sent by Colonel Cadwallader to support them.
Thus being overpowered, and the British advancing between the fort and
the lines, it became necessary to abandon them. In retreating to the
fort, some of the men were intercepted by the division under Colonel
Stirling, and made prisoners.

The resistance on the north was of longer duration. Rawlings
maintained his ground with firmness, and his riflemen did vast
execution. A three gun battery also played on Knyphausen with great
effect. At length, the Hessian columns gained the summit of the hill;
after which, Colonel Rawlings, who perceived the danger which
threatened his rear, retreated under the guns of the fort.

[Sidenote: The lines of Fort Washington carried by the enemy, and the
garrison made prisoners.]

Having carried the lines, and all the strong ground adjoining them,
the British general again summoned Colonel Magaw to surrender. While
the capitulation was in a course of arrangement, General Washington
sent him a billet, requesting him to hold out until the evening, when
means should be attempted to bring off the garrison. But Magaw had
proceeded too far to retreat; and it is probable the place could not
have resisted an assault from so formidable a force as threatened it.
The greatest difficulties had been overcome; the fort was too small to
contain all the men; and their ammunition was nearly exhausted. Under
these circumstances the garrison became prisoners of war.

The loss on this occasion was the greatest the Americans had ever
sustained. The garrison was stated by General Washington at about two
thousand men. Yet, in a report published as from General Howe, the
number of prisoners is said to be two thousand and six hundred,
exclusive of officers. Either General Howe must have included in his
report persons who were not soldiers, or General Washington must have
comprehended the regulars only in his letter. The last conjecture is
most probably correct. The loss of the assailants, according to Mr.
Stedman, amounted to eight hundred men. This loss fell heaviest on the

[Sidenote: Evacuation of Fort Lee.]

{November 18.}

On the surrender of fort Washington, it was determined to evacuate
fort Lee; and a removal of the stores was immediately commenced.
Before this operation could be completed, a detachment commanded by
Lord Cornwallis, amounting to about six thousand men, crossed the
North River below Dobb's ferry, and endeavoured, by a rapid march, to
enclose the garrison between the North and Hackensack Rivers. An
immediate retreat from that narrow neck of land had become
indispensable, and was with difficulty effected. All the heavy cannon
at fort Lee, except two twelve-pounders, with a considerable quantity
of provisions and military stores, including three hundred tents, were
lost. After crossing the Hackensack, General Washington posted his
troops along the western bank of that river, but was unable to dispute
its passage at the head of about three thousand effectives, exposed,
without tents, in an inclement season; he was in a level country,
without a single intrenching tool, among people far from being zealous
in the American cause. In other respects this situation was dangerous.
The Passaic, in his rear, after running several miles nearly parallel
to the Hackensack, unites with that river below the ground occupied by
the Americans, who were consequently still exposed to the hazard of
being inclosed between two rivers.

{November 21.}

[Sidenote: Weakness of the American army.]

This gloomy state of things was not brightened by the prospect before
him. In casting his eyes around, no cheering object presented itself.
No confidence could be placed on receiving reinforcements from any
quarter. But, in no situation could Washington despond. His exertions
to collect an army, and to impede the progress of his enemy, were
perseveringly continued. Understanding that Sir Guy Carleton no longer
threatened Ticonderoga, he directed General Schuyler to hasten the
troops of Pennsylvania and Jersey to his assistance, and ordered[49]
General Lee to cross the North River, and be in readiness to join him,
should the enemy continue the campaign. But, under the influence of
the same fatal cause which had acted elsewhere, these armies too were
melting away, and would soon be almost totally dissolved. General
Mercer, who commanded a part of the flying camp stationed about
Bergen, was also called in; but these troops had engaged to serve only
till the 1st of December, and, like the other six months men, had
already abandoned the army in great numbers. No hope existed of
retaining the remnant after they should possess a legal right to be
discharged; and there was not much probability of supplying their
places with other militia. To New England he looked with anxious hope;
and his requisitions on those states received prompt attention. Six
thousand militia from Massachusetts, and a considerable body from
Connecticut, were ordered to his assistance; but some delay in
assembling them was unavoidable, and their march was arrested by the
appearance of the enemy in their immediate neighbourhood.

     [Footnote 49: See note No. VII. at the end of the volume.]

Three thousand men, conducted by Sir Henry Clinton, who were embarked
on board a fleet commanded by Sir Peter Parker, sailed late in
November from New York, and, without much opposition, took possession
of Newport. This invasion excited serious alarm in Massachusetts and
Connecticut, and these states retained for their own defence, the
militia who had been embodied at the instance of the

Not intending to maintain his present position, General Washington had
placed some regiments along the Hackensack to afford the semblance of
defending its passage until his stores could be removed; and, with the
residue of the troops, crossed the Passaic, and took post at Newark.
Soon after he had marched, Major General Vaughan appeared before the
new bridge over Hackensack. The American detachment which had been
left in the rear, being unable to defend it, broke it down, and
retired before him over the Passaic.

[Sidenote: Ineffectual attempts to raise the militia.]

Having entered the open country, General Washington determined to halt
a few days on the south side of this river, make some show of
resistance, and endeavour to collect such a force as would keep up the
semblance of an army. His letters, not having produced such exertions
as the public exigencies required, he deputed General Mifflin to the
government of Pennsylvania, and Colonel Reid, his Adjutant General, to
the government of New Jersey, with orders to represent the real
situation of the army, and the certainty that, without great
reinforcements, Philadelphia must fall into the hands of the enemy,
and the state of Jersey be overrun.

While thus endeavouring to strengthen himself with militia, he pressed
General Lee to hasten his march, and cautioned him to keep high enough
up the country to avoid the enemy, who, having got possession of the
mail containing one of his late letters, would certainly endeavour to
prevent the junction of the two armies.

This perilous state of things was rendered still more critical by
indications of an insurrection in the county of Monmouth, in Jersey,
where great numbers favoured the royal cause. In other places, too, a
hostile temper was displayed, and an indisposition to farther
resistance began to be manifested throughout that state. These
appearances obliged him to make detachments from the militia of his
army, to overawe the disaffected of Monmouth, who were on the point of
assembling in force.

[Sidenote: General Washington retreats through Jersey.]

{November 23.}

As the British army crossed the Passaic, General Washington abandoned
his position behind that river; and the day Lord Cornwallis entered
Newark, he retreated to Brunswick, a small village on the Raritan.

{December 1.}

At this place, the levies drawn from Maryland and Jersey to compose
the flying camp, became entitled to their discharge. No remonstrances
could detain them; and he sustained the mortification of seeing his
feeble army still more enfeebled by being entirely abandoned by these
troops, in the face of an advancing enemy. The Pennsylvania militia
belonging to the flying camp were engaged to serve till the 1st of
January. So many of them deserted, that it was deemed necessary to
place guards on the roads, and ferries over the Delaware, to apprehend
and send them back to camp. The Governor of New Jersey was again
pressed for assistance, but it was not in his power to furnish the aid
required. The well affected part of the lower country was overawed by
the British army; and the militia of Morris and Sussex came out slowly
and reluctantly.

While at Brunswick, attempts were made to retard the advance of the
British army by movements indicating an intention to act on the
offensive; but this feint was unavailing. Lord Cornwallis continued to
press forward; and, as his advanced guards showed themselves on the
opposite side of the bridge, General Washington evacuated the town,
and marched through Princeton to Trenton. Directions had already been
given to collect all the boats on the Delaware, from Philadelphia
upwards for seventy miles, in the hope that the progress of the enemy
might be stopped at this river; and that, in the mean time,
reinforcements might arrive which would enable him to dispute its

{December 2.}

Having, with great labour, transported the few remaining military
stores and baggage over the Delaware, he determined to remain as long
as possible on the northern banks of that river.

The army which was thus pressed slowly through the Jerseys, was aided
by no other cavalry than a small corps of badly mounted Connecticut
militia, commanded by Major Shelden; and was almost equally destitute
of artillery. Its numbers, at no time during the retreat, exceeded
four thousand men, and on reaching the Delaware, was reduced to less
than three thousand; of whom, not quite one thousand were militia of
New Jersey. Even among the continental troops there were many whose
term of service was about to expire.

Its defectiveness of numbers did not constitute its only weakness. The
regulars were badly armed, worse clad, and almost destitute of tents,
blankets, or utensils for dressing their food. They were composed
chiefly of the garrison of fort Lee, and had been obliged to evacuate
that place with too much precipitation to bring with them even those
few articles of comfort and accommodation with which they had been
furnished. The Commander-in-chief found himself at the head of this
small band of soldiers, dispirited by their losses and fatigues,
retreating almost naked and bare-footed, in the cold of November and
December, before a numerous, well appointed, and victorious army,
through a desponding country, much more disposed to obtain safety by
submission, than to seek it by a manly resistance.

In this crisis of American affairs, a proclamation was issued by Lord
and General Howe, as commissioners appointed on the part of the crown
for restoring peace to America, commanding all persons assembled in
arms against his majesty's government, to disband and return to their
homes; and all civil officers to desist from their treasonable
practices, and relinquish their usurped authority. A full pardon was
offered to every person who would, within sixty days, appear before
certain civil or military officers of the crown, claim the benefit of
that proclamation, and testify his obedience to the laws by
subscribing a declaration of his submission to the royal authority.
Copies of it were dispersed through the country, after which numbers
flocked in daily, to make their peace and obtain protection. The
contrast between the splendid appearance of the pursuing army, and
that of the ragged Americans who were flying before them, could not
fail to nourish the general opinion that the contest was approaching
its termination.

Among the many valuable traits in the character of Washington, was
that unyielding firmness of mind which resisted these accumulated
circumstances of depression, and supported him under them. Undismayed
by the dangers which surrounded him, he did not for an instant relax
his exertions, nor omit any thing which could obstruct the progress of
the enemy, or improve his own condition. He did not appear to despair
of the public safety, but struggled against adverse fortune with the
hope of yet vanquishing the difficulties which surrounded him; and
constantly showed himself to his harassed and enfeebled army, with a
serene, unembarrassed countenance, betraying no fears in himself, and
invigorating and inspiring with confidence the bosoms of others. To
this unconquerable firmness, to this perfect self-possession under the
most desperate circumstances, is America, in a great degree, indebted
for her independence.

{December 5.}

After removing his baggage and stores over the Delaware, and sending
his sick to Philadelphia, the American General, finding that Lord
Cornwallis still continued in Brunswick, detached twelve hundred men
to Princeton in the hope that this appearance of advancing on the
British might not only retard their progress, but cover a part of the
country, and reanimate the people of Jersey.

Some portion of this short respite from laborious service was devoted
to the predominant wish of his heart,--preparations for the next
campaign,--by impressing on congress a conviction of the real causes
of the present calamitous state of things. However the human mind may
resist the clearest theoretic reasoning, it is scarcely possible not
to discern obvious and radical errors, while smarting under their
destructive consequences. The abandonment of the army by whole
regiments of the flying camp, in the face of an advancing and superior
enemy; the impracticability of calling out the militia of Jersey and
Pennsylvania in sufficient force to prevent Lord Cornwallis from
overrunning the first state, or restrain him from entering the last,
had it not been saved by other causes, were practical lessons on the
subjects of enlistments for a short time, and a reliance on militia,
which no prejudice could disregard, and which could not fail to add
great weight to the remonstrances formerly made by the
Commander-in-chief, which were now repeated.

{December 6.}


The exertions of General Mifflin to raise the militia of Pennsylvania,
though unavailing in the country, were successful in Philadelphia. A
large proportion of the inhabitants of that city capable of bearing
arms, had associated for the general defence; and, on this occasion,
fifteen hundred of them marched to Trenton; to which place a German
battalion was also ordered by congress. On the arrival of these
troops, General Washington commenced his march to Princeton, but was
stopped by the intelligence that Lord Cornwallis, having received
large reinforcements, was advancing rapidly from Brunswick by
different routes, and endeavouring to gain his rear.


[Sidenote: General Washington crosses the Delaware.]

[Sidenote: Danger of Philadelphia.]

On receiving this intelligence, he crossed the Delaware, and posted
his army in such a manner as to guard the fords. As his rear passed
the river, the van of the British army appeared in sight. The main
body took post at Trenton, and detachments were placed both above and
below, while small parties, without interruption from the people of
the country, reconnoitred the Delaware for a considerable distance.
From Bordentown below Trenton the course of the river turns westward,
and forms an acute angle with its course from Philadelphia to that
place; so that Lord Cornwallis might cross a considerable distance
above, and be not much, if any, farther from that city than the
American army.

The British general made some unsuccessful attempts to seize a number
of boats guarded by Lord Stirling, about Coryell's Ferry; and, in
order to facilitate his movements down the river, on the Jersey shore,
repaired the bridges below Trenton, which had been broken down by
order of General Washington. He then advanced a strong detachment to
Bordentown, giving indications of an intention to cross the Delaware
at the same time above and below; and either to march in two columns
to Philadelphia, or completely to envelop the American army in the
angle of the river. To counteract this plan, the American General
stationed a few gallies to watch the movements of his enemy below, and
aid in repelling any effort to pass over to the Pennsylvania shore;
and made such a disposition of his little army as to guard against any
attempt to force a passage above, which he believed to be the real

Having made his arrangements, he waited anxiously for reinforcements;
and, in the meantime, sent daily parties over the river to harass the
enemy, and to observe his situation.

The utmost exertions were made by government to raise the militia. In
the hope that a respectable body of continental troops would aid these
exertions, General Washington had directed General Gates, with the
regulars of the northern army, and General Heath, with those at
Peekskill, to march to his assistance.

[Sidenote: Capture of General Lee.]

Although General Lee had been repeatedly urged to join the
Commander-in-chief, he proceeded slowly in the execution of these
orders, manifesting a strong disposition to retain his separate
command, and rather to hang on, and threaten the rear of the British
army, than to strengthen that in its front. With this view he proposed
establishing himself at Morristown. On receiving a letter from General
Washington disapproving this proposition, and urging him to hasten his
march, Lee still avowed a preference for his own plan, and proceeded
reluctantly towards the Delaware. While passing through Morris county,
at the distance of twenty miles from the British encampment, he, very
incautiously, quartered under a slight guard, in a house about three
miles from his army. Information of this circumstance was given by a
countryman to Colonel Harcourt, at that time detached with a body of
cavalry to watch his movements, who immediately formed and executed
the design of seizing him. Early in the morning of the 12th of
December, this officer reached Lee's quarters, who received no
intimation of his danger until the house was surrounded, and he found
himself a prisoner. He was carried off in triumph to the British army,
where he was, for some time, treated as a deserter from the British

This misfortune made a serious impression on all America. The
confidence originally placed in General Lee had been increased by his
success in the southern department, and by a belief that his opinions,
during the military operations in New York, had contributed to the
adoption of those judicious movements which had, in some measure,
defeated the plans of General Howe in that quarter. It was also
believed that he had dissented from the resolution of the council of
war for maintaining forts Washington and Lee. No officer, except the
Commander-in-chief, possessed, at that time, in so eminent a degree,
the confidence of the army, or of the country; and his loss was,
almost universally, bewailed as one of the greatest calamities which
had befallen the American arms. It was regretted by no person more
than by General Washington himself. He respected the merit of that
eccentric veteran, and sincerely lamented his captivity.

General Sullivan, on whom the command of that division devolved after
the capture of Lee, promptly obeyed the orders which had been directed
to that officer; and, crossing the Delaware at Philipsburg, joined the
Commander-in-chief. On the same day General Gates arrived with a few
northern troops. By these and other reinforcements, the army was
augmented to about seven thousand effective men.

[Sidenote: The British go into winter quarters.]

The attempts of the British general to get possession of boats for the
transportation of his army over the Delaware having failed, he gave
indications of an intention to close the campaign, and to retire into
winter quarters. About four thousand men were cantoned on the Delaware
at Trenton, Bordentown, the White Horse, and Mount Holly; and the
remaining part of the army of Jersey was distributed from that river
to the Hackensack. Strong corps were posted at Princeton, Brunswick,
and Elizabethtown.

To intimidate the people, and thereby impede the recruiting service,
was believed to be no inconsiderable inducement with General Howe, for
covering so large a portion of Jersey. To counteract these views,
General Washington ordered three of the regiments from Peekskill to
halt at Morristown, and to unite with about eight hundred militia
assembled at that place under Colonel Ford. General Maxwell was sent
to take command of these troops, with orders to watch the motions of
the enemy, to harass him in his marches, to give intelligence of all
his movements, to keep up the spirits of the militia, and to prevent
the inhabitants from going within the British lines, and taking

{December 20.}

The short interval between this cantonment of the British troops, and
the recommencement of active operations, was employed by General
Washington in repeating the representations he had so often made to
congress, respecting preparations for the ensuing campaign. The
dangers resulting from a reliance on temporary armies had been fully
exemplified; and his remonstrances on that subject were supported by
that severe experience which corrects while it chastises. In the
course of the campaign, he had suffered greatly from the want of
cavalry, of artillery, and of engineers. His ideas on these important
subjects had been already stated to congress, and were now reurged.
With respect to the additional expense to be incurred by the measures
recommended, he observed, "that our funds were not the only object now
to be taken into consideration. The enemy, it was found, were daily
gathering strength from the disaffected. This strength, like a snow
ball by rolling, would increase, unless some means should be devised
to check effectually the progress of their arms. Militia might
possibly do it for a little while; but in a little while also, the
militia of those states which were frequently called upon would not
turn out at all, or would turn out with so much reluctance and sloth,
as to amount to the same thing. Instance New Jersey! Witness
Pennsylvania! Could any thing but the river Delaware have saved

"Could any thing," he asked, "be more destructive of the recruiting
business than giving ten dollars bounty for six weeks service in the
militia, who come in, you can not tell how; go, you can not tell when;
and act, you can not tell where; who consume your provisions, exhaust
your stores, and leave you at last in a critical moment.

"These, sir," he added, "are the men I am to depend upon ten days
hence. This is the basis upon which your cause will rest, and must for
ever depend, until you get a large standing army sufficient of itself
to oppose the enemy."

[Illustration: Washington Crossing the Delaware

_From the painting by Emanuel Leutze, in the Metropolitan Museum of
Art, New York City._

_On December 8, 1776, following his retreat across New Jersey, with
the British army under Cornwallis pressing him closely, Washington
transported his army of 6,000 men across the Delaware into
Pennsylvania and to safety. He had seized all the boats within seventy
miles, leaving Cornwallis to wait until the river froze over before he
could follow._

_In recrossing the Delaware (as here depicted) to strike the British
at Trenton, Washington executed the most brilliant military maneuver
of his career._

_In his sesquicentennial address delivered at Cambridge,
Massachusetts, July 3, 1925, President Coolidge related this incident
which gives us Cornwallis's estimate of the importance of the Trenton

     "It is recorded that a few evenings after the surrender of
     Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown a banquet was given by
     Washington and his staff to the British commander and his
     staff. One likes to contemplate the sportsmanship of that
     function. Amiabilities and good wishes were duly exchanged,
     and finally Lord Cornwallis rose to present his compliments
     to Washington. There had been much talk of past campaigning
     experiences, and Cornwallis, turning to Washington,
     expressed the judgment that when history's verdict was made
     up 'the brightest garlands for your Excellency will be
     gathered, not from the shores of the Chesapeake, but from
     the banks of the Delaware.'"]

He also hinted the idea, extremely delicate in itself, of enlarging
his powers so as to enable him to act, without constant applications
to congress for their sanction of measures, the immediate adoption of
which was essential to the public interests. "This might," he said,
"be termed an application for powers too dangerous to be trusted." He
could only answer, "that desperate diseases required desperate
remedies. He could with truth declare that he felt no lust for power,
but wished with as much fervency as any man upon this wide extended
continent, for an opportunity of turning the sword into a ploughshare;
but his feelings as an officer and a man had been such as to force him
to say, that no person ever had a greater choice of difficulties to
contend with than himself."

After recapitulating the measures he had adopted, which were not
within his power, and urging many other necessary arrangements, he
added, "it may be thought I am going a good deal out of the line of my
duty to adopt these measures, or to advise thus freely. A character to
lose; an estate to forfeit; the inestimable blessing of liberty at
stake; and a life devoted, must be my excuse."

The present aspect of American affairs was gloomy in the extreme. The
existing army, except a few regiments, affording an effective force of
about fifteen hundred men, would dissolve in a few days. New Jersey
had, in a great measure, submitted; and the militia of Pennsylvania
had not displayed the alacrity expected from them. General Howe would,
most probably, avail himself of the ice which would soon form, and of
the dissolution of the American army, to pass the Delaware and seize
Philadelphia. This event was dreaded, not only on account of its
intrinsic importance, but of its peculiar effect at this time, when an
army was to be recruited on which the future hopes of America were to
rest. It was feared, and with reason, that it would make such an
impression on the public mind as to deter the American youth from
engaging in a contest becoming desperate.

Impelled by these considerations, General Washington meditated a blow
on the British army, while dispersed in its cantonments, which might
retrieve the affairs of America in the opinion of the public, and
recover the ground that had been lost.

He formed the daring plan of attacking all the British posts on the
Delaware at the same instant. If successful in all, or any of these
attacks, he hoped not only to wipe off the impression made by his
losses, and by his retreat, but also to relieve Philadelphia from
immediate danger, and to compel his adversary to compress himself in
such a manner as no longer to cover the Jerseys.

The positions taken to guard the river were equally well adapted to
offensive operations.

The regulars were posted above Trenton from Yardley's up to Coryell's
Ferry. The Pennsylvania flying camp, and Jersey militia, under the
command of General Irvine, extended from Yardley's to the ferry
opposite Bordentown; and General Cadwallader with the Pennsylvania
militia lay still lower down the river.

In the plan of attack which had been digested, it was proposed to
cross in the night at M'Konkey's Ferry, about nine miles above
Trenton; to march down in two divisions, the one taking the river
road, and the other the Pennington road, both which lead into the
town; the first, towards that part of the western side which
approaches the river, and the last towards the north. This part of the
plan was to be executed by the General in person, at the head of about
two thousand four hundred continental troops. It was thought
practicable to pass them over the river by twelve, and to reach the
point of destination by five in the morning of the next day, when the
attack was to be made. General Irvine was directed to cross at the
Trenton Ferry, and to secure the bridge below the town, in order to
prevent the escape of the enemy by that road. General Cadwallader was
to pass over at Dunk's Ferry, and carry the post at Mount Holly. It
had been in contemplation to unite the troops employed in fortifying
Philadelphia, to those at Bristol, and to place the whole under
General Putnam; but such indications were given in that city of an
insurrection of the royal cause, that this part of the plan was
abandoned. The cold on the night of the 25th was very severe. Snow,
mingled with hail and rain, fell in great quantities, and so much ice
was made in the river that, with every possible exertion, the division
conducted by the General in person could not effect its passage until
three, nor commence its march down the river till near four. As the
distance to Trenton by either road is nearly the same, orders were
given to attack at the instant of arrival, and, after driving in the
out-guards, to press rapidly after them into the town, and prevent the
main body from forming.

[Sidenote: Battle of Trenton.]

{December 26.}

General Washington accompanied the upper column, and arriving at the
out-post on that road, precisely at eight, drove it in, and, in three
minutes, heard the fire from the column which had taken the river
road. The picket guard attempted to keep up a fire while retreating,
but was pursued with such ardour as to be unable to make a stand.
Colonel Rawle, who commanded in the town, paraded his men, and met the
assailants. In the commencement of the action, he was mortally
wounded, upon which the troops, in apparent confusion, attempted to
gain the road to Princeton. General Washington threw a detachment into
their front, while he advanced rapidly on them in person. Finding
themselves surrounded, and their artillery already seized, they laid
down their arms, and surrendered themselves prisoners of war. About
twenty of the enemy were killed, and about one thousand made
prisoners. Six field pieces, and a thousand stand of small arms were
also taken. On the part of the Americans, two privates were killed;
two frozen to death; and one officer, Lieutenant Monroe,[50] of the
third Virginia regiment, and three or four privates wounded.

     [Footnote 50: Since President of the United States.]

Unfortunately, the ice rendered it impracticable for General Irvine to
execute that part of the plan which was allotted to him. With his
utmost efforts, he was unable to cross the river; and the road towards
Bordentown remained open. About five hundred men, among whom was a
troop of cavalry, stationed in the lower end of Trenton, availed
themselves of this circumstance, and crossing the bridge in the
commencement of the action, escaped down the river. The same cause
prevented General Cadwallader from attacking the post at Mount Holly.
With great difficulty a part of his infantry passed the river, but
returned on its being found absolutely impracticable to cross with the

Although this plan failed in so many of its parts, the success
attending that which was conducted by General Washington in person was
followed by the happiest effects.

Had it been practicable for the divisions under Generals Irvine and
Cadwallader to cross the river, it was intended to proceed from
Trenton to the posts at and about Bordentown, to sweep the British
from the banks of the Delaware,[51] and to maintain a position in the
Jerseys. But finding that those parts of the plan had failed, and
supposing the British to remain in force below, while a strong corps
was posted at Princeton, General Washington thought it unadviseable to
hazard the loss of the very important advantage already gained, by
attempting to increase it, and recrossed the river with his prisoners
and military stores. Lieutenant Colonel Baylor, his aid-de-camp, who
carried the intelligence of this success to congress, was presented
with a horse completely caparisoned for service, and recommended to
the command of a regiment of cavalry.

     [Footnote 51: A fact has been stated to the author which
     shows to what an extent the plan might have been executed
     had it been possible to cross the river. Colonel Reed, who
     was with the division of Cadwallader, passed the ferry with
     the van of the infantry, and immediately despatched some
     trusty persons to examine the situation of the troops at
     Mount Holly. The report made by his messengers was, that
     they had looked into several houses in which the soldiers
     were quartered, and had found them generally fast asleep,
     under the influence, as was supposed, of the spirituous
     liquors they had drunk the preceding day, which was
     Christmas-day. That there appeared to be no apprehension of
     danger, nor precaution against it.]

Nothing could surpass the astonishment of the British commander at
this unexpected display of vigour on the part of the American General.
His condition, and that of his country, had been thought desperate. He
had been deserted by all the troops having a legal right to leave him;
and, to render his situation completely ruinous, nearly two-thirds of
the continental soldiers still remaining with him, would be entitled
to their discharge on the first day of January. There appeared to be
no probability of prevailing on them to continue longer in the
service, and the recruiting business was absolutely at an end. The
spirits of a large proportion of the people were sunk to the lowest
point of depression. New Jersey appeared to be completely subdued; and
some of the best judges of the public sentiment were of opinion that
immense numbers in Pennsylvania, also, were determined not to permit
the sixty days allowed in the proclamation of Lord and Sir William
Howe, to elapse, without availing themselves of the pardon it
proffered. Instead of offensive operations, the total dispersion of
the small remnant of the American army was to be expected, since it
would be rendered too feeble by the discharge of those engaged only
until the last day of December, to attempt, any longer, the defence of
the Delaware, which would by that time, in all probability, be
passable on the ice. While every appearance supported these opinions,
and the British General, without being sanguine, might well consider
the war as approaching its termination, this bold and fortunate
enterprise announced to him, that he was contending with an adversary
who could never cease to be formidable while the possibility of
resistance remained. Finding the conquest of America more distant than
had been supposed, he determined, in the depth of winter to recommence
active operations; and Lord Cornwallis, who had retired to New York
with the intention of embarking for Europe, suspended his departure,
and returned to the Jerseys in great force, for the purpose of
regaining the ground which had been lost.

Meanwhile, Count Donop, who commanded the troops below Trenton, on
hearing the disaster which had befallen Colonel Rawle, retreated by
the road leading to Amboy, and joined General Leslie at Princeton. The
next day, General Cadwallader crossed the Delaware, with orders to
harass the enemy, but to put nothing to hazard until he should be
joined by the continental battalions, who were allowed a day or two of
repose, after the fatigues of the enterprise against Trenton. General
Mifflin joined General Irvine with about fifteen hundred Pennsylvania
militia, and those troops also crossed the river.

Finding himself once more at the head of a force with which it seemed
practicable to act offensively, the General determined to employ the
winter in endeavouring to recover Jersey.

{December 30.}

With this view, he ordered General Heath to leave a small detachment
at Peekskill, and with the main body of the New England militia, to
enter Jersey, and approach the British cantonments on that side.
General Maxwell was ordered, with all the militia he could collect, to
harass their flank and rear, and to attack their out-posts on every
favourable occasion, while the continental troops, led by himself,
recrossed the Delaware, and took post at Trenton. On the last day of
December, the regulars of New England were entitled to a discharge.
With great difficulty, and a bounty of ten dollars, many of them were
induced to renew their engagements for six weeks.


{January 1.}

The British were now collected in force at Princeton under Lord
Cornwallis; and appearances confirmed the intelligence, secretly[52]
obtained, that he intended to attack the American army.

     [Footnote 52: In this critical moment, when correct
     intelligence was so all important, Mr. Robert Morris raised
     on his private credit in Philadelphia, five hundred pounds
     in specie, which he transmitted to the Commander-in-chief,
     who employed it in procuring information not otherwise to
     have been obtained.]

Generals Mifflin and Cadwallader, who lay at Bordentown and Crosswix,
with three thousand six hundred militia, were therefore ordered to
join the Commander-in-chief, whose whole effective force, with this
addition, did not exceed five thousand men.

{January 2.}

Lord Cornwallis advanced upon him the next morning; and about four in
the afternoon, the van of the British army reached Trenton. On its
approach, General Washington retired across the Assumpinck, a creek
which runs through the town. The British attempted to cross the creek
at several places, but finding all the fords guarded, they desisted
from the attempt, and kindled their fires. The Americans kindled their
fires likewise; and a cannonade was kept up on both sides till dark.

The situation of General Washington was again extremely critical.
Should he maintain his position, he would certainly be attacked next
morning, by a force so very superior, as to render the destruction of
his little army inevitable. Should he attempt to retreat over the
Delaware, the passage of that river had been rendered so difficult by
a few mild and foggy days which had softened the ice, that a total
defeat would be hazarded. In any event, the Jerseys would, once more,
be entirely in possession of the enemy; the public mind again be
depressed; recruiting discouraged; and Philadelphia, a second time, in
the grasp of General Howe.

In this embarrassing state of things, he formed the bold design of
abandoning the Delaware, and marching, by a circuitous route, along
the left flank of the British army, into its rear, at Princeton, where
its strength could not be great; and, after beating the troops at that
place, to move rapidly to Brunswick, where the baggage and principal
magazines of the army lay under a weak guard. He indulged the hope
that this manoeuvre would call the attention of the British general to
his own defence. Should Lord Cornwallis, contrary to every reasonable
calculation, proceed to Philadelphia, nothing worse could happen in
that quarter, than must happen should the American army be driven
before him; and some compensation for that calamity would be obtained
by expelling the enemy completely from Jersey, and cutting up, in
detail, all his parties in that state.

{January 3.}

[Sidenote: Of Princeton.]

This plan being approved by a council of war, preparations were made
for its immediate execution. As soon as it was dark, the baggage was
removed silently to Burlington; and, about one in the morning, after
renewing their fires, and leaving their guards to go the rounds as
usual; the army decamped with perfect silence, and took a circuitous
route along the Quaker road to Princeton, where three British
regiments had encamped the preceding night, two of which commenced
their march early in the morning to join the rear of their army at
Maidenhead. At sunrise, when they had proceeded about two miles, they
saw the Americans on their left, advancing in a direction which would
enter the road in their rear. They immediately faced about, and,
repassing Stony Brook, moved under cover of a copse of wood towards
the American van, which was conducted by General Mercer. A sharp
action ensued, which, however, was not of long duration. The militia,
of which the advanced party was principally composed, soon gave way;
and the few regulars attached to them were not strong enough to
maintain their ground. While exerting himself gallantly to rally his
broken troops, General Mercer was mortally wounded, and the van was
entirely routed. But the fortune of the day was soon changed. The main
body, led by General Washington in person, followed close in the rear,
and attacked the British with great spirit. Persuaded that defeat
would irretrievably ruin the affairs of America, he advanced in the
very front of danger, and exposed himself to the hottest fire of the
enemy. He was so well supported by the same troops who, a few days
before, had saved their country at Trenton, that the British, in turn,
were compelled to give way. Their line was broken, and the two
regiments separated from each other. Colonel Mawhood, who commanded
that in front, and was, consequently, nearest the rear division of the
army, under Lord Cornwallis, retired to the main road, and continued
his march to Maidenhead. The fifty-fifth regiment, which was on the
left, being hard pressed, fled in confusion across the fields into a
back road, leading between Hillsborough and Kingston towards
Brunswick. The vicinity of the British forces at Maidenhead secured
Colonel Mawhood, and General Washington pressed forward to Princeton.
The regiment remaining in that place took post in the college, and
made a show of resistance; but some pieces of artillery being brought
up to play upon that building, it was abandoned, and the greater part
of them became prisoners. A few saved themselves by a precipitate
flight to Brunswick.

In this engagement, rather more than one hundred British were killed
in the field, and near three hundred were taken prisoners. The loss of
the Americans, in killed, was somewhat less, but in their number was
included General Mercer, a valuable officer, who had served with the
Commander-in-chief during his early campaigns in Virginia, and was
greatly esteemed by him. Colonels Haslet and Potter, Captain Neal of
the artillery, Captain Fleming, and five other valuable officers, were
also among the slain.

On the return of day-light, Lord Cornwallis discovered that the
American army had decamped in the night; and immediately conceived the
whole plan. Alarmed at the danger which threatened Brunswick, he
marched with the utmost expedition for that place, and was close in
the rear of the American army before it could leave Princeton.

The situation of General Washington was again perilous in the extreme.
His small army was exhausted with fatigue. His troops had been without
sleep, all of them one night, and some of them, two. They were without
blankets, many of them were bare-footed and otherwise thinly clad, and
were eighteen miles from his place of destination. He was closely
pursued by a superior enemy who must necessarily come up with him
before he could accomplish his designs on Brunswick. Under these
circumstances he abandoned the remaining part of his original plan,
and took the road leading up the country to Pluckemin, where his
troops were permitted to refresh themselves. Lord Cornwallis continued
his march to Brunswick, which he reached in the course of that night.

The sufferings of the American soldiers had been so great from the
severity of the season, and the very active service in which they had
been engaged; their complaints, especially on the part of the militia,
were so loud; their numbers were reducing so fast by returning home,
and by sickness; that General Washington found it impracticable to
continue offensive operations. He retired to Morristown, in order to
put his men under cover, and to give them some repose.

The bold, judicious, and unexpected attacks made at Trenton and
Princeton, had a much more extensive influence than would be supposed
from a mere estimate of the killed and taken. They saved Philadelphia
for the winter; recovered the state of Jersey; and, which was of still
more importance, revived the drooping spirits of the people, and gave
a perceptible impulse to the recruiting service throughout the United

The problem, that a nation can be defended against a permanent force,
by temporary armies, by occasional calls of the husbandman from his
plough to the field, was completely disproved; and, in demonstrating
its fallacy, the independence of America had nearly perished in its
cradle. The utmost efforts were now directed to the creation of an
army for the ensuing campaign, as the only solid basis on which the
hopes of the patriot could rest. During the retreat through the
Jerseys, and while the expectation prevailed that no effectual
resistance could be made to the British armies, some spirited men
indeed were animated to greater and more determined exertions; but
this state of things produced a very different effect on the great
mass, which can alone furnish the solid force of armies. In the middle
states especially, the panic of distrust was perceived. Doubts
concerning the issue of the contest became extensive; and the
recruiting service proceeded so heavily and slowly as to excite the
most anxious solicitude for the future.

The affairs of Trenton and Princeton were magnified into great
victories; and were believed by the body of the people to evidence the
superiority of their army and of their general. The opinion that they
were engaged in hopeless contest, yielded to a confidence that proper
exertions would ensure ultimate success.

This change of opinion was accompanied with an essential change of
conduct; and, although the regiments required by congress were not
completed, they were made much stronger than was believed to be
possible before this happy revolution in the aspect of public affairs.

[Sidenote: Firmness of Congress.]

The firmness of congress throughout the gloomy and trying period which
intervened between the loss of fort Washington and the battle of
Princeton, gives the members of that time a just claim to the
admiration of the world, and to the gratitude of their fellow
citizens. Undismayed by impending dangers, they did not, for an
instant, admit the idea of surrendering the independence they had
declared, and purchasing peace by returning to their colonial
situation. As the British army advanced through Jersey, and the
consequent insecurity of Philadelphia rendered an adjournment from
that place a necessary measure of precaution, their exertions seemed
to increase with their difficulties. They sought to remove the
despondence which was seizing and paralyzing the public mind, by an
address to the states, in which every argument was suggested which
could rouse them to vigorous action. They made the most strenuous
efforts to animate the militia, and impel them to the field, by the
agency of those whose popular eloquence best fitted them for such a


{December 20.}

When reassembled at Baltimore, the place to which they had adjourned,
their resolutions exhibited no evidence of confusion or dismay; and
the most judicious efforts were made to repair the mischief produced
by past errors.

{December 27.}

Declaring that, in the present state of things, the very existence of
civil liberty depended on the right execution of military powers, to a
vigorous direction of which, distant, numerous, and deliberative
bodies were unequal, they authorized General Washington to raise
sixteen additional regiments, and conferred upon him, for six months,
almost unlimited powers for the conduct of the war.

Towards the close of 1776, while the tide of fortune was running
strongest against them, some few members, distrusting their ability to
make a successful resistance, proposed to authorize their
commissioners at the court of Versailles to transfer to France the
same monopoly of their trade which Great Britain had possessed.[53]
This proposition is stated to have been relinquished, because it was
believed that concessions of this kind would impair many arguments
which had been used in favour of independence, and disunite the
people. It was next proposed to offer a monopoly of certain enumerated
articles; but the unequal operation of this measure gave to the
proposition a speedy negative. Some proposed offering to France an
offensive and defensive league; but this also was rejected. The more
enlightened members argued that, though the friendship of small states
might be purchased, that of France could not. They alleged that, if
she would risk a war with Great Britain by openly espousing their
cause, she would not be induced to that measure by the prospect of
direct advantages, so much as by a desire to lessen the overgrown
power of a dangerous rival.[54] It was therefore urged that the most
certain means of influencing France to interfere, was an assurance
that the United States were determined to persevere in refusing to
resume their former allegiance. Under the influence of this better
opinion, resolutions were again entered into, directing their
commissioners in Europe to give explicit assurances of their
determination at all events to maintain their independence. Copies of
these resolutions were sent to the principal courts of Europe; and
agents were appointed to solicit their friendship to the new formed
states.[55] These despatches fell into the hands of the British, and
were published by them; a circumstance which promoted the views of
congress, who were persuaded that an apprehension of their coming to
an accommodation with Great Britain constituted a material objection
to the interference of foreign courts, in what was represented as
merely a domestic quarrel. A resolution adopted in the deepest
distress, to listen to no terms of reunion with their parent state,
would, it was believed, convince those who wished for the
dismemberment of the British empire, that sound policy required their
interference so far as to prevent the conquest of the United States.

     [Footnote 53: Ramsay.]

     [Footnote 54: Ramsay.]

     [Footnote 55: Secret Journals of Congress, vol. ii. p. 38,
     and post.]


     American army inoculated.... General Heath moves to
     Kingsbridge.... Returns to Peekskill.... Destruction of
     stores at Peekskill.... At Danbury.... Expedition to Sagg
     Harbour.... Camp formed at Middlebrook.... Sir William Howe
     moves out to Somerset Court House.... Returns to Amboy....
     Attempts to cut off the retreat of the American army to
     Middlebrook.... Lord Cornwallis skirmishes with Lord
     Stirling.... General Prescot surprised and taken.... The
     British army embarks.


The effect of the proclamation published by Lord and General Howe on
taking possession of New Jersey, was, in a great degree, counteracted
by the conduct of the invading army. Fortunately for the United
States, the hope that security was attainable by submission, was soon
dissipated. Whatever may have been the exertions of their General to
restrain his soldiers, they still considered and treated the
inhabitants rather as conquered rebels than returning friends.
Indulging in every species of licentiousness, the plunder and
destruction of property were among the least offensive of the injuries
they inflicted. The persons, not only of the men, but of that sex
through which indignities least to be forgiven, and longest to be
remembered, are received, were exposed to the most irritating outrage.
Nor were these excesses confined to those who had been active in the
American cause. The lukewarm, and even the loyalists, were the victims
of this indiscriminating spirit of rapine and violence.

The effect of such proceedings on a people whose country had never
before been the seat of war, and whose non-resistance had been
occasioned solely by the expectation of that security which had been
promised as the reward of submission to the royal authority, could not
fail to equal the most sanguine hopes of the friends of the
revolution. A sense of personal wrongs produced a temper which
national considerations had proved too weak to excite; and, when the
battles of Trenton and Princeton relieved the inhabitants from fears
inspired by the presence of their invaders, the great body of the
people flew to arms; and numbers who could not be brought into the
field to check the advancing enemy, and prevent the ravages which
uniformly afflict a country that becomes the seat of war, were prompt
in avenging those ravages. Small bodies of militia scoured the
country, seized on stragglers, behaved unexceptionably well in several
slight skirmishes, and were collecting in such numbers as to threaten
the weaker British posts with the fate which had befallen Trenton and

To guard against that spirit of enterprise which his adversary had
displayed to such advantage, General Howe determined to strengthen his
posts by contracting them. The position taken for the purpose of
covering the country were abandoned; and the British force in New
Jersey was collected at New Brunswick, on the Raritan, and at Amboy, a
small town at the mouth of that river.

Feeble as was the American army, this movement was not effected
without some loss. On the evacuation of Elizabeth town, General
Maxwell attacked the British rear, and captured about seventy men with
a part of their baggage.

The American troops had been so diminished by the extreme severity of
the service, that it was with much difficulty the appearance of an
army could be maintained. Fresh militia and volunteers arrived in
camp, whose numbers were exaggerated by report. These additions to his
small remaining regular force enabled the General to take different
positions near the lines of the enemy, to harass him perpetually,
restrain his foraging parties, and produce considerable distress in
his camp.

{January 12.}

While, with little more than an imaginary army, General Washington
thus harassed and confined his adversary, he came to the hazardous
resolution of freeing himself and his troops from the fear of a
calamity which he found it impossible to elude, and which had proved
more fatal in his camp than the sword of the enemy.

[Sidenote: American army inoculated.]

Inoculation having been rarely practised in the western world, the
American youth remained liable to the small pox. Notwithstanding the
efforts to guard against this disease, it had found its way into both
the northern and middle army, and had impaired the strength of both to
an alarming degree. To avoid the return of the same evil, the General
determined to inoculate all the soldiers in the American service. With
the utmost secrecy, preparations were made to give the infection in
camp; and the hospital physicians in Philadelphia were ordered to
carry all the southern troops, as they should arrive, through the
disease. Similar orders were also given to the physicians at other
places; and thus an army exempt from the fear of a calamity which had,
at all times, endangered the most important operations, was prepared
for the ensuing campaign. This example was followed through the
country; and this alarming disease was no longer the terror of

As the main body of the British army was cantoned in Jersey, and a
strong detachment occupied Rhode Island, General Washington believed
that New York could not be perfectly secure. His intelligence
strengthened this opinion; and, as an army, respectable in point of
numbers, had been assembled about Peekskill, he ordered General Heath
to approach New York for the purpose of foraging, and, should
appearances favour the attempt, of attacking the forts which guarded
the entrance into the island. The hope was entertained that General
Howe, alarmed for New York, might either withdraw his troops from
Jersey, or so weaken his posts in that state as to endanger them.
Should this hope be disappointed, it was believed that something
handsome might be done, either on York or Long Island.

[Sidenote: General Heath moves down to Kingsbridge, but returns to
Peekskill without effecting anything.]

In pursuance of this plan, General Heath marched down to West Chester,
and summoned fort Independence to surrender; but, the garrison
determining to hold the place, a council of war deemed it unadviseable
to risk an assault. An embarkation of troops which took place, about
that time, at Rhode Island, alarmed General Heath for his rear, and
induced him to resume his ground in the Highlands.

Though this attempt entirely failed, the Commander-in-chief still
meditated important operations during the winter. All the intelligence
from Europe demonstrated the necessity of these operations, and the
fallacy of the hope, still extensively cherished, that the war would
be abandoned by Great Britain. The administration was still supported
by great majorities in parliament; and the nation seemed well disposed
to employ all its means to reannex to the empire, what were still
denominated, revolted colonies. It was not to be doubted that large
reinforcements would arrive in the spring; and the safety of the
nation would be in hazard should General Howe remain in full force
till they should be received. The utmost efforts were made by the
Commander-in-chief to collect a sufficient number of troops to enable
him to give a decisive blow to some one of the positions of his enemy.
The state sovereignties, where the real energies of government
resided, were incessantly urged to fill their regiments, and to bring
their quotas into the field; and congress, at his instance, passed
resolutions authorizing him to draw the troops from Peekskill, and to
call out the militia of the neighbouring states. "It being," these
resolutions proceed to say, "the earnest desire of congress, to make
the army under the immediate command of General Washington
sufficiently strong, not only to curb and confine the enemy within
their present quarters, and prevent their drawing support of any kind
from the country, but, by the divine blessing, totally to subdue them
before they can be reinforced."

These resolves were communicated to the general, in a letter,
manifesting the confident expectation of congress that the desire
expressed in them would soon be realized. But the energy displayed in
their passage could not be maintained in their execution.

Many causes concurred to prevent the collection of a force competent
to those vigorous operations which the enterprising genius of the
Commander-in-chief had provisionally planned, and the sanguine temper
of congress had anticipated. Some of the state assemblies did not even
complete the appointment of officers till the spring; and then, bitter
contests concerning rank remained to be adjusted when the troops
should join the army. After these arrangements were made, the
difficulty of enlisting men was unexpectedly great. The immense
hardships to which the naked soldiers had been exposed, during a
winter campaign, in the face of a superior enemy; the mortality
resulting from those hardships, and probably from an injudicious
arrangement of the hospital department which was found to be the tomb
of the sick; had excited a general disgust to the service; and a
consequent unwillingness to engage in it.

From these causes the army continued so feeble that the general,
instead of being able to execute the great designs he had meditated,
entertained serious fears that Sir William Howe would take the field
during the winter, force his positions, cross the Delaware on the ice,
and proceed to Philadelphia. In the apprehension of this attempt, and
to avoid that confusion which would result from the removal of stores
in the crisis of military operations, he had taken the precaution, as
soon as the armies were in winter quarters, to convey those which were
most valuable, to a distance from the route which it was supposed the
British army would pursue.

{March 4.}

The real condition of the army is exhibited in a letter from the
Commander-in-chief to congress, in answer to that which enclosed the
resolutions already mentioned, and which expressed the brilliant
schemes of victory formed by the government. "Could I," said the
general, "accomplish the important objects so eagerly wished by
congress; confining the enemy within their present quarters,
preventing their getting supplies from the country, and totally
subduing them before they are reinforced, I should be happy indeed.
But what prospect or hope can there be of my effecting so desirable a
work at this time? The enclosed return,[56] to which I solicit the
most serious attention of congress, comprehends the whole force I have
in Jersey. It is but a handful, and bears no proportion on the scale
of numbers to that of the enemy. Added to this, the major part is made
up of militia. The most sanguine in speculation can not deem it more
than adequate to the least valuable purposes of war."

     [Footnote 56: See note No. VIII. at the end of the volume.]

[Sidenote: Skirmishes.]

Though unable to act with the vigour he wished, the American general
kept up a war of skirmishes through the winter. In the course of it,
the British loss was believed to be considerable; and hopes were
entertained that, from the scarcity of forage, neither their cavalry
nor draft horses would be in a condition to take the field when the
campaign should open. Their foraging parties were often attacked to
advantage. Frequent small successes, the details of which filled the
papers throughout the United States, not only increased the confidence
of the American soldiers, but served greatly to animate the people.

[Sidenote: State of the army.]

The hope of collecting a sufficient force during the winter to make
any valuable impression on the British army being disappointed, the
views of the General were directed to the next campaign.

As the new army was to be raised by the authority of the state
governments, he urged on them the necessity of bringing a respectable
force into the field early in the spring, with all the earnestness
which was suggested by his situation, and zeal for the service.

In Connecticut and Massachusetts, the country was laid off into
districts, each of which was required, by a given day, to furnish a
soldier enlisted for three years, or during the war; in default of
which, one person, from those capable of bearing arms, was to be
drafted to serve until the first of the ensuing January. The
Commander-in-chief, though still deprecating the introduction of men
into the army whose terms of service would be of short duration, felt
the necessity of submitting to this expedient, as the most eligible
which could now be adopted.

In Virginia, where the same difficulty attended enlistments, it was
proposed by the executive to fill the regiments with volunteers, who
should engage to serve for six months. This plan was submitted to
General Washington by Governor Henry, and his opinion asked upon it.
"I am under the necessity of observing," said the General in reply,
"that the volunteer plan which you mention will never answer any
valuable purpose, and that I can not but disapprove the measure. To
the short engagements of our troops may be fairly and justly ascribed
almost every misfortune that we have experienced."

In a subsequent letter to the same gentleman, enforcing earnestly the
necessity of bringing a sufficient army into the field, though
coercive measures should be adopted, some alternatives were suggested,
which, in a later period of the war, constituted the basis of various
experiments to furnish the quota of troops required from that state.

As the season for active operations approached, fresh difficulties,
growing out of the organization of the American system, unfolded
themselves. As every state was exposed to invasion, and the command of
the ocean enabled the British general to transfer the war, at
pleasure, to any part of the Union, the attention of each was directed
exclusively to its particular situation. Each state in the
neighbourhood of the great theatre of action, contemplating its own
danger, claimed the protection which is due from the whole to its
parts. Although the object of the confederation was the same with that
pursued by each of its members, the spirit incident to every league
could not be controlled in an empire where, notwithstanding the
existence of a head, the essentials of government resided in the
members. It was displayed in repeated efforts to give to the energies
of the army such various directions, as would leave it unable to
effect any great object, or to obstruct any one plan the enemy might
form. The patriotism of the day, however, and the unexampled
confidence placed by all the state governments in the
Commander-in-chief, prevented the mischiefs this spirit is so well
calculated to generate. His representations made their proper
impression; and the intention of retaining continental troops for
local defence was abandoned, though with some reluctance. The burden,
however, of calling militia from their domestic avocations, at every
threat of invasion, to watch every military post in each state, became
so intolerable, that the people cast about for other expedients to
relieve themselves from its weight. The plan of raising regular corps,
to be exclusively under state authority, and thus be a perpetual
substitute for the yeomanry of the country, presented itself as the
most effectual and convenient mode of protecting the coasts from

During the winter, General Howe kept his troops in their quarters,
attending to their comfort. As the season for more active operations
approached, his first attention was directed to the destruction of the
scanty supplies prepared by the Americans for the ensuing campaign. A
small place on the Hudson called Peekskill, about fifty miles above
New York, was generally the residence of the officer commanding in the
Highlands, and was used for the reception of stores, to be distributed
into the neighbouring posts as occasion might require. Its strength,
like that of all others depending for defence on militia, was subject
to great fluctuation. As soon as the ice was out of the river, General
Howe took advantage of its occasional weakness, to carry on an
expedition against it, for the purpose of destroying the stores there
deposited, or of bringing them away.

{March 23.}

[Sidenote: Destruction of stores at Peekskill.]

Colonel Bird was detached up the river on this service, with about
five hundred men, under convoy of a frigate and some armed vessels.
General M'Dougal, whose numbers did not at that time exceed two
hundred and fifty men, received timely notice of his approach, and
exerted himself for the removal of the stores into the strong country
in his rear. Before this could be effected, Colonel Bird appeared; and
M'Dougal, after setting fire to the remaining stores and barracks,
retired into the strong grounds in the rear of Peekskill. The British
detachment completed the conflagration, and returned to New York.
During their short stay, a piquet guard was attacked by Colonel
Willet, and driven in with the loss of a few men; a circumstance,
believed by General M'Dougal, to have hastened the re-embarkation of
the detachment.

[Sidenote: At Danbury.]


Military stores to a considerable amount had likewise been deposited
at Danbury, on the western frontier of Connecticut. Although this
place is not more than twenty miles from the Sound, yet the roughness
of the intervening country, the frequent passage of troops from the
eastward through the town, and the well known zeal of the neighbouring
militia, were believed sufficient to secure the magazines collected at
it. Against Danbury an expedition was projected; and two thousand men
under the command of Governor Tryon, major general of the provincials
in the British service, assisted by Brigadiers Agnew and Sir William
Erskine, were employed in it.

{April 28.}

On the 25th of April the fleet appeared off the coast of Connecticut;
and in the evening the troops were landed without opposition between
Fairfield and Norwalk. General Silliman, then casually in that part of
the country, immediately despatched expresses to assemble the militia.
In the mean time Tryon proceeded to Danbury, which he reached about
two the next day. On his approach, Colonel Huntingdon, who had
occupied the town with about one hundred and fifty men, retired to a
neighbouring height, and Danbury, with the magazines it contained, was
consumed by fire. General Arnold, who was also in the state
superintending the recruiting service, joined General Silliman at
Reading, where that officer had collected about five hundred militia.
General Wooster, who had resigned his commission in the continental
service, and been appointed major general of the militia, fell in with
them at the same place, and they proceeded in the night through a
heavy rain to Bethel, about eight miles from Danbury. Having heard
next morning that Tryon, after destroying the town and magazines, was
returning, they divided their troops; and General Wooster, with about
three hundred men, fell in his rear, while Arnold, with about five
hundred, crossing the country, took post in his front at Ridgefield.
Wooster came up with his rear about eleven in the morning, attacked it
with great gallantry, and a sharp skirmish ensued, in which he was
mortally wounded,[57] and his troops were repulsed. Tryon then
proceeded to Ridgefield, where he found Arnold already intrenched on a
strong piece of ground, and prepared to dispute his passage. A warm
skirmish ensued, which continued nearly an hour. Arnold was at length
driven from the field; after which he retreated to Paugatuck, about
three miles east of Norwalk. At break of day next morning, after
setting Ridgefield on fire, the British resumed their march. About
eleven in the forenoon, they were again met by Arnold, whose numbers
increased during the day to rather more than one thousand men; among
whom were some continental troops. A continued skirmishing was kept up
until five in the afternoon, when the British formed on a hill near
their ships. The Americans attacked them with intrepidity, but were
repulsed and broken. Tryon, availing himself of this respite,
re-embarked his troops, and returned to New York.

     [Footnote 57: Congress voted a monument to his memory.]

The loss of the British amounted to about one hundred and seventy men.
That of the Americans, was represented by Tryon, as being much more
considerable. By themselves, it was not admitted to exceed one
hundred. In this number, however, were comprehended General Wooster,
Lieutenant Colonel Gould, and another field officer, killed; and
Colonel Lamb wounded. Several other officers and volunteers were
killed. Military and hospital stores to a considerable amount, which
were greatly needed by the army, were destroyed in the magazines at
Danbury; but the loss most severely felt was rather more than one
thousand tents, which had been provided for the campaign about to

Not long afterwards this enterprise was successfully retaliated. A
British detachment had been for some time employed in collecting
forage and provisions on the eastern end of Long Island. Howe supposed
this part of the country to be so completely secured by the armed
vessels which incessantly traversed the Sound, that he confided the
protection of the stores, deposited at a small port called Sagg
Harbour, to a schooner with twelve guns, and a company of infantry.

[Sidenote: Expedition of Colonel Meigs to Sagg Harbour.]


{May 24.}

General Parsons, who commanded a few recruits at New Haven, thinking
it practicable to elude the cruisers in the bay, formed the design of
surprising this party, and other adjacent posts, the execution of
which was entrusted to Lieutenant Colonel Meigs, a gallant officer,
who had accompanied Arnold in his memorable march to Quebec. He
embarked with about two hundred and thirty men, on board thirteen
whale boats, and proceeded along the coast to Guilford, where he was
to cross the Sound. With about one hundred and seventy of his
detachment, under convoy of two armed sloops, he proceeded across the
Sound to the north division of the island near South Hold, in the
neighbourhood of which a small foraging party, against which the
expedition was in part directed, was supposed to lie; but they had
marched two days before to New York. The boats were conveyed across
the land, a distance of about fifteen miles, into a bay which deeply
intersects the eastern end of Long Island, where the troops
re-embarked. Crossing the bay, they landed at two in the morning,
about four miles from Sagg Harbour, which place they completely
surprised, and carried with charged bayonets. At the same time, a
division of the detachment secured the armed schooner, and the vessels
laden with forage, which were set on fire, and entirely consumed. Six
of the enemy were killed, and ninety taken prisoners. A very few
escaped under cover of the night.

The object of his expedition being effected without the loss of a man,
Colonel Meigs returned to Guilford with his prisoners. "Having," as
was stated in the letter to General Parsons, "moved with such uncommon
celerity, as to have transported his men, by land and water, ninety
miles in twenty-five hours." Congress directed a sword to be presented
to him, and passed a resolution expressing the high sense entertained
of his merit, and of the prudence, activity, and valour, displayed by
himself and his party.

The exertions made by the Commander-in-chief through the winter to
raise a powerful army for the ensuing campaign, had not been
successful. The hopes respecting its strength which the flattering
reports made from every quarter had authorized him to form, were
cruelly disappointed; and he found himself not only unable to carry
into effect the offensive operations he had meditated, but unequal
even to defensive war. That steady and persevering courage, however,
which had supported himself and the American cause through the gloomy
scenes of the preceding year, did not forsake him; and that sound
judgment which applies to the best advantage those means which are
attainable, however inadequate they may be, still remained. His plan
of operations was adapted to that which he believed his enemy had
formed. He was persuaded either that General Burgoyne would endeavour
to take Ticonderoga, and to penetrate to the Hudson, in which event
General Howe would co-operate with him by moving up that river, and
attempting to possess himself of the forts and high grounds commanding
its passage; or that Burgoyne would join the grand army at New York by
sea; after which the combined armies would proceed against

To counteract the designs of the enemy, whatever they might be, to
defend the three great points, Ticonderoga, the Highlands of New York,
and Philadelphia, against two powerful armies so much superior to him,
in arms, in numbers, and in discipline, it was necessary to make such
an arrangement of his troops as would enable the parts reciprocally to
aid each other, without neglecting objects of great, and almost equal
magnitude which were alike threatened, and were far asunder. To effect
these purposes, the troops of New England and New York were divided
between Ticonderoga and Peekskill, while those from Jersey to North
Carolina inclusive, were directed to assemble at the camp to be formed
in Jersey. The more southern troops remained in that weak quarter of
the union for its protection.

[Sidenote: Camp formed at Middlebrook.]

These arrangements being made, and the recruits collected, the camp at
Morristown was broken up, the detachments called in, and the army
assembled at Middlebrook, just behind a connected ridge of strong and
commanding heights, north of the road leading to Philadelphia, and
about ten miles from Brunswick.

This camp, the approaches to which were naturally difficult, was
rendered still more defensible by intrenchments. The heights in front
commanded a prospect of the course of the Raritan, the road to
Philadelphia, the hills about Brunswick, and a considerable part of
the country between that place and Amboy; so as to afford a full view
of the most interesting movements of the enemy.

The force brought into the field by America required all the aid which
could be derived from strong positions, and unremitting vigilance. On
the 20th of May, the total of the army in Jersey, excluding cavalry
and artillery, amounted to only eight thousand three hundred and
seventy-eight men, of whom upwards of two thousand were sick. The
effective rank and file were only five thousand seven hundred and

Had this army been composed of the best disciplined troops, its
inferiority, in point of numbers, must have limited its operations to
defensive war; and have rendered it incompetent to the protection of
any place, whose defence would require a battle in the open field. But
more than half the troops[58] were unacquainted with the first
rudiments of military duty, and had never looked an enemy in the face.
As an additional cause of apprehension, a large proportion of the
soldiers, especially from the middle states, were foreigners, many of
them servants, in whose attachment to the American cause full
confidence could not be placed.

     [Footnote 58: The extreme severity of the service, aided
     perhaps by the state of the hospitals, had carried to the
     grave more than two-thirds of the soldiers who had served
     the preceding campaign, and been engaged for more than one

General Washington, anticipating a movement by land towards
Philadelphia, had taken the precaution to give orders for assembling
on the western bank of the Delaware, an army of militia, strengthened
by a few continental troops, the command of which was given to General
Arnold, who was then in Philadelphia, employed in the settlement of
his accounts.

The first and real object of the campaign, on the part of General
Howe, was the acquisition of Philadelphia. He intended to march
through Jersey; and, after securing the submission of that state, to
cross the Delaware on a portable bridge constructed in the winter for
the purpose, and proceed by land to that city. If, in the execution of
this plan, the Americans could be brought to a general action on equal
ground, the advantages of the royal army must insure a victory. But
should Washington decline an engagement, and be again pressed over the
Delaware, the object would be as certainly obtained.

Had Sir William Howe taken the field before the continental troops
were assembled, this plan might probably have been executed without
any serious obstruction; but the tents and camp equipage expected from
Europe did not arrive until General Washington had collected his
forces, and taken possession of the strong post on the heights of
Middlebrook. It would be dangerous to attack him on such advantageous
ground; for, although his camp might be forced, victory would probably
be attended with such loss, as to disable the victor from reaping its

If it was deemed too hazardous to attack the strong camp at
Middlebrook, an attempt to cross the Delaware, in the face of an army
collected on its western bank, while that under General Washington
remained unbroken in his rear, was an experiment of equal danger. It
comported with the cautious temper of Sir William Howe to devise some
other plan of operation to which he might resort, should he be unable
to seduce the American general from his advantageous position.

The two great bays of Delaware and Chesapeake suggested the
alternative of proceeding by water, should he be unable to manoeuvre
General Washington out of his present encampment.


{June 12.}

The plan of the campaign being settled, and some small reinforcements
with the expected camp equipage being received from Europe, General
Howe, leaving a garrison in New York, and a guard in Amboy, assembled
his army at Brunswick, and gave strong indications of an intention to
penetrate through the country to the Delaware, and reach Philadelphia
by land.

Believing this to be his real design, Washington placed a select corps
of riflemen under the command of Colonel Morgan, an officer who had
distinguished himself in the unfortunate attempt to storm Quebec, and
in whom those peculiar qualities which fit a man for the command of a
partisan corps, designed to act on the lines of a formidable enemy,
were eminently united.

He was ordered to take post at Vanvighton's Bridge on the Raritan,
just above its confluence with the Millstone River, to watch the left
flank of the British army, and seize every occasion to harass it.

[Sidenote: Sir William Howe moves out to Somerset Court House in great

Early in the morning of the 14th, Sir William Howe, leaving two
thousand men under the command of General Matthews at Brunswick,
advanced in two columns towards the Delaware. The front of the first,
under Lord Cornwallis, reached Somerset Court House, nine miles from
Brunswick, by the appearance of day; and the second, commanded by
General de Heister, reached Middlebush about the same time.

This movement was made with the view of inducing General Washington to
quit his fortified camp, and approach the Delaware,[59] in which
event, the British general expected to bring on an engagement on
ground less disadvantageous than that now occupied by the American
army. But that officer understood the importance of his position too
well to abandon it. On the first intelligence that the enemy was in
motion, he drew out his whole army, and formed it, to great advantage,
on the heights in front of his camp. This position was constantly
maintained. The troops remained in order of battle during the day;
and, in the night, slept on the ground to be defended. In the mean
time the Jersey militia, with an alacrity theretofore unexampled in
that state, took the field in great numbers. They principally joined
General Sullivan, who had retired from Princeton, behind the Sourland
hills towards Flemingtown, where an army of some respectability was
forming, which could readily co-operate with that under the immediate
inspection of the Commander-in-chief.

     [Footnote 59: General Howe's letter.]

The settled purpose of General Washington was to defend his camp, but
not to hazard a general action on other ground. He had therefore
determined not to advance from the heights he occupied, into the open
country, either towards the enemy, or the Delaware.

The object of General Howe seems to have been, by acting on his
anxiety for Philadelphia, to seduce him from the strong ground about
Middlebrook, and tempt him to approach the Delaware, in the hope of
defending its passage. Should he succeed in this, he had little doubt
of being able to bring on an engagement, in which he counted with
certainty on victory. The considerations which restrained General Howe
from attempting to march through Jersey, leaving the American army in
full force in his rear, had determined Washington to allow him to
proceed to the Delaware, if such should be his intention. In that
event, he had determined to throw those impediments only in the way of
the hostile army which might harass and retard its march; and,
maintaining the high and secure grounds north of the road to be taken
by the enemy, to watch for an opportunity of striking some important
blow with manifest advantage.

He was not long in penetrating the designs of his adversary. "The
views of the enemy," he writes to General Arnold in a letter of the
17th, "must be to destroy this army, and get possession of
Philadelphia. I am, however, clearly of opinion, that they will not
move that way until they have endeavoured to give a severe blow to
this army. The risk would be too great to attempt to cross a river,
when they must expect to meet a formidable opposition in front, and
would have such a force as ours in their rear. They might possibly be
successful, but the probability would be infinitely against them.
Should they be imprudent enough to make the attempt, I shall keep
close upon their heels, and will do every thing in my power to make
the project fatal to them.

"But, besides the argument in favour of their intending, in the first
place, a stroke at this army, drawn from the policy of the measure,
every appearance contributes to confirm the opinion. Had their design
been for the Delaware in the first instance, they would probably have
made a secret, rapid march for it, and not have halted so as to awaken
our attention, and give us time to prepare for obstructing them.
Instead of that they have only advanced to a position necessary to
facilitate an attack on our right, the part in which we are most
exposed. In addition to this circumstance, they have come out as light
as possible, leaving all their baggage, provisions, boats, and
bridges, at Brunswick. This plainly contradicts the idea of their
intending to push for the Delaware."

[Sidenote: Returns to Amboy.]

Finding the American army could not be drawn from its strong position,
General Howe determined to waste no more time in threatening
Philadelphia by land, but to withdraw from Jersey, and to embark his
army as expeditiously as possible for the Chesapeake or the Delaware.
On the night of the 19th he returned to Brunswick, and on the 22d to
Amboy, from which place, the heavy baggage and a few of his troops
passed into Staten Island, on the bridge which had been designed for
the Delaware.

General Washington had expected this movement from Brunswick, and had
made arrangements to derive some advantage from it. General Greene was
detached with three brigades to annoy the British rear; and Sullivan
and Maxwell were ordered to co-operate with him. In the mean time the
army paraded on the heights of Middlebrook, ready to act as
circumstances might require.

About sunrise, Colonel Morgan drove in a piquet guard, soon after
which that division commenced its march to Amboy. Some sharp
skirmishing took place between this party and Morgan's regiment, but
the hope of gaining any important advantage was entirely disappointed;
and the retreat to Amboy was effected with inconsiderable loss.

{June 24.}

In order to cover his light parties, which still hung on the British
flank and rear, General Washington advanced six or seven miles, to
Quibbletown on the road to Amboy; and Lord Stirling's division was
pushed still farther, to the neighbourhood of the Metucking Meeting
House, for the purpose of co-operating with the light parties, should
the retreat to Staten Island afford an opportunity of striking at the

[Sidenote: Endeavors to cut off the retreat of the American army to
Middlebrook, but is disappointed.]

Believing it now practicable to bring on an engagement, and probably
hoping to turn the left of the American army, and gain the heights in
its rear, General Howe, in the night of the 25th, recalled the troops
from Staten Island; and, early next morning, made a rapid movement, in
two columns, towards Westfield. The right, under the command of Lord
Cornwallis, took the route by Woodbridge to the Scotch Plains; and the
left, led by Sir William Howe in person, marched by Metucking Meeting
House, to fall into the rear of the right column. It was intended that
the left should take a separate road, soon after this junction, and
attack the left flank of the American army at Quibbletown; while Lord
Cornwallis should gain the heights on the left of the camp at
Middlebrook. Four battalions with six pieces of cannon were detached
to Bonhamtown.[60]

     [Footnote 60: General Howe's letter.]

[Sidenote: Lord Cornwallis skirmishes near the Scotch Plains with Lord

{June 30.}

About Woodbridge, the right column fell in with one of the American
parties of observation which gave notice of this movement. General
Washington discerned his danger, put the whole army instantly in
motion, and regained the camp at Middlebrook. Lord Cornwallis fell in
with Lord Stirling, and a sharp skirmish ensued, in which the
Americans were driven from their ground with the loss of three field
pieces, and a few men. They retreated to the hills about the Scotch
Plains, and were pursued as far as Westfield. Perceiving the passes in
the mountains on the left of the American camp to be guarded, and the
object of this skilful manoeuvre to be, consequently, unattainable,
his lordship returned through Rahway to Amboy; and the whole army
crossed over to Staten Island.

{July 2.}

General Washington was now again left to his conjectures respecting
the plan of the campaign. Before Sir William Howe had, in any degree
disclosed his views, intelligence was received of the appearance of
Burgoyne on Lake Champlain, and that Ticonderoga was threatened. This
intelligence strengthened the opinion that the design of Howe must be
to seize the passes in the mountains on the Hudson, secure the command
of that river, and effect a junction between the two armies. Yet he
could not permit himself to yield so entirely to this impression, as
to make a movement which might open the way by land to Philadelphia.
His army therefore maintained its station at Middlebrook; but
arrangements were made to repel any sudden attack on the posts which
defended the Hudson.

Some changes made in the stations of the British ships and troops
having relieved the American general from his apprehensions of a
sudden march to Philadelphia, he advanced Sullivan's division to
Pompton Plains, on the way to Peekskill; and proceeded with the main
body of his army, to Morristown;--thus approaching the highlands of
New York, without removing so far from Middlebrook as to be unable to
regain that camp should General Howe indicate an intention to seize

Meanwhile, the British General prosecuted, diligently, his plan of
embarkation, which was, necessarily, attended with circumstances
indicating a much longer voyage than that up the North River. These
circumstances were immediately communicated to the eastern states, and
congress was earnestly pressed to strengthen the fortifications on the
Delaware, and to increase the obstructions in that river.

{July 16.}

In the midst of these appearances, certain intelligence was received
that Burgoyne was in great force on the lakes, and was advancing
against Ticonderoga. This intelligence confirmed the opinion that the
main object of Howe must be to effect a junction with Burgoyne on the
North River. Under this impression, General Washington ordered
Sullivan to Peekskill, and advanced, himself, first to Pompton Plains,
and afterwards to the Clove, where he determined to remain until the
views of the enemy should be disclosed.

While the General thus anxiously watched the movements of his
adversary, an agreeable and unexpected piece of intelligence was
received from New England. The command of the British troops in Rhode
Island had devolved on General Prescot. Thinking himself perfectly
secure in an island, the water surrounding which was believed to be
entirely guarded by his cruisers, and at the head of an army greatly
superior to any force then collected in that department, he indulged
himself in convenient quarters, rather distant from camp; and was
remiss with respect to the guards about his person. Information of
this negligence was communicated to the main, and a plan was formed to
surprise him. This spirited enterprise was executed, with equal
courage and address, by Lieutenant Colonel Barton of the Rhode Island

[Sidenote: General Prescot surprised and taken.]

On the night of the 10th, he embarked on board four whale boats, at
Warwick Neck, with a party consisting of about forty persons,
including Captains Adams and Philips, and several other officers.
After proceeding about ten miles by water, unobserved by the British
guard-boats, although several ships of war lay in that quarter, he
landed on the west of the island, about midway between Newport and
Bristol ferry, and marching a mile to the quarters of Prescot,
dexterously seized the sentinel at his door, and one of his aids. The
general himself was taken out of bed, and conveyed to a place of

The success of this intrepid enterprise diffused the more joy
throughout America, because it was supposed to secure the liberation
of General Lee, by enabling General Washington to offer an officer of
equal rank in exchange for him.

Congress expressed a high sense of the gallant conduct of Colonel
Barton, and his party; and presented him with a sword as a mark of

As the fleet fell down towards Sandy Hook, General Washington withdrew
slowly from the Clove, and disposed his army in different divisions,
so as to march to any point which might be attacked.

[Sidenote: The British army embarks.]

At length, the embarkation was completed, and the fleet put to sea.


     General Washington commences his march to the Delaware....
     Takes measures for checking Burgoyne.... British army lands
     at Elk River.... General Washington advances to
     Brandywine.... Retreat of Maxwell.... Defeat at
     Brandywine.... Slight skirmish near the White Horse, and
     retreat to French Creek.... General Wayne surprised....
     General Howe takes possession of Philadelphia.... Removal of
     Congress to Lancaster.



[Sidenote: General Washington commences his march to the Delaware.]

On receiving intelligence that the British fleet had sailed from New
York, the American army commenced its march to the Delaware. About the
time of its departure, a letter from Sir William Howe, directed to
General Burgoyne at Quebec, was delivered to General Putnam by the
person who had received it, as was said, for the purpose of carrying
it to Quebec, and was transmitted by Putnam to the Commander-in-chief.
In this letter, General Howe said that "he was exhibiting the
appearance of moving to the southward, while his real intent was
against Boston, from whence he would co-operate with the army of
Canada." This stratagem entirely failed. General Washington, at once,
perceived that the letter was written with a design that it should
fall into his hands, and mislead him with respect to the views of the

[Sidenote: He takes measures for checking Burgoyne.]

While the utmost vigilance and judgment were required to conduct the
operations of the army under the immediate command of General
Washington, the transactions in the north were too vitally interesting
not to engage a large share of his attention. He not only hastened the
march of those generals who were designed to act in that department,
and pressed the governors of the eastern states to reinforce the
retreating army with all their militia, but made large detachments of
choice troops from his own;--thus weakening himself in order to
strengthen other generals whose strength would be more useful. The
fame of being himself the leader of the victorious army did not, with
false glare, dazzle his judgment, or conceal the superior public
advantage to be derived from defeating the plans of Burgoyne.

On the 30th of July, all doubts respecting the destination of the
British fleet were supposed to be removed by its appearance off the
capes of Delaware; and orders were immediately given for assembling
the detached parts of the army in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia.
Scarcely were these orders given, when the aspect of affairs was
changed, and they were countermanded. An express from Cape May brought
the information that the fleet had sailed out of the bay of Delaware,
and was proceeding eastward. From this time, no intelligence
respecting it was received until about the 7th of August, when it
appeared a few leagues south of the capes of Delaware, after which it
disappeared, and was not again seen until late in that month. The fact
was, that on entering the capes of Delaware, the difficulties
attending an attempt to carry his fleet up that bay and river,
determined General Howe to relinquish his original design, and to
transport his army to the Chesapeake. Contrary winds prevented his
gaining the mouth of that bay until the 16th of August.

The several divisions of the army were immediately ordered[61] to
unite in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia, and the militia of
Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and the northern counties of
Virginia, were directed to take the field.

     [Footnote 61: These orders were received by General
     Sullivan, who had been encamped about Hanover, in Jersey, on
     his return from an expedition to Staten Island. The British
     force on that island amounted to between two and three
     thousand men, of whom nearly one thousand were provincials,
     who were distributed along the coast, opposite the Jersey
     shore. The Europeans occupied a fortified camp near the
     watering place; and General Sullivan thought it practicable
     to surprise the provincials, and bring them off before they
     could be supported by the Europeans. Only six boats had been
     procured for the conveyance of his troops; yet they crossed
     over into the island before day undiscovered, and completely
     surprised two of the provincial parties, commanded by
     Colonels Lawrence and Barton, both of whom, with several
     officers and men were taken. The alarm being given, Sullivan
     attempted to withdraw from the island. The number of boats
     not being sufficient for the embarkation of all his troops
     at the same time, some confusion obtained among them.
     General Campbell advanced in force on the rear guard while
     waiting for the return of the boats, which was captured
     after making a gallant resistance.

     This enterprise was well planned, and in its commencement,
     happily executed; but ought not to have been undertaken
     without a number of boats sufficient to secure the retreat.

     The loss of the British in prisoners amounted to eleven
     officers, and one hundred and thirty privates. That of the
     Americans, is stated by Sullivan, at one major, one captain,
     one lieutenant, and ten privates killed, and fifteen
     wounded, and nine officers, and one hundred and twenty-seven
     privates prisoners. General Campbell, in his account of the
     action says, that he made two hundred and fifty-nine
     prisoners, among whom were one lieutenant colonel, three
     majors, two captains, and fifteen inferior officers.]

[Sidenote: British fleet comes up the Chesapeake and lands an army
under Sir William Howe at Elk River.]

The British fleet, after entering the Chesapeake, sailed up it with
favourable winds, and entered Elk River, up which the admiral
proceeded as high as it was safely navigable; and on the 25th of
August the troops were landed at the ferry.

The British army, at its disembarkation, has been generally computed
at eighteen thousand men. They were in good health and spirits,
admirably supplied with all the implements of war, and led by an
experienced general, of unquestionable military talents.

[Sidenote: General Washington advances to Brandywine.]

The day before Sir William Howe landed, the American army marched
through Philadelphia, and proceeded to the Brandywine. The divisions
of Greene and Stephen were advanced nearer to the Head of Elk, and
encamped behind White Clay creek.

Congress had directed General Smallwood and Colonel Girt to take
command of the militia of Maryland, who had been ordered by General
Washington to assemble near the head of the bay. The militia of the
lower counties of Delaware, commanded by General Rodney, were directed
also to assemble in the British rear, and to co-operate with those of
Maryland. Colonel Richardson's continental regiment, which had been
stationed on the Eastern shore, was ordered to join this corps.

The militia of Pennsylvania, commanded by Major General Armstrong,
were united with the main body of the army. Great exertions were used
to bring them promptly into the field, and they came forward generally
with some degree of alacrity. Although the numbers required by
congress did not assemble, more appeared than could be armed.

The real strength of the American army can not be accurately stated.
It was estimated by Sir William Howe at fifteen thousand, including
militia; and this estimate did not far exceed their real total, as
exhibited by the returns. But it is a fact, attributable in some
degree to the badness of their clothing, and scarcity of tents, and in
some degree to the neglect of the commissary department, to provide
those articles of food which contribute to the preservation of health,
that the effective force was always far below the total number. The
effectives, including militia, did not exceed eleven thousand.

Morgan's regiment of riflemen having been detached to the northern
army, a corps of light infantry was formed for the occasion, the
command of which was given to General Maxwell. This corps was advanced
to Iron Hill, about three miles in front of White Clay creek. The
cavalry, consisting of four regiments, amounting to about nine hundred
men, including persons of every description, were employed principally
on the lines.

[Sidenote: Lord Cornwallis attacks Maxwell's corps, and compels them
to retreat.]

One division of the British army, commanded by Sir William Howe in
person, had taken post at Elkton, with its van advanced to Gray's
Hill. General Knyphausen, with a second division, had crossed the
ferry and encamped at Cecil Court House. He was directed to march up
on the eastern side of the river, and to join Sir William Howe seven
or eight miles south of Christiana. The intention to make this
movement being disclosed by the preparatory arrangements, General
Washington advised Maxwell to post a choice body of men in the night
on an advantageous part of the road, in order to annoy him on his
march. In the morning of the third of September, the two divisions
under Lord Cornwallis and General Knyphausen, moved forward and formed
a junction at Pencader, or Atkins' tavern, where they encamped. In
their way, the column led by Lord Cornwallis fell in with and attacked
Maxwell, who retreated over White Clay creek, with the loss of about
forty killed and wounded.

{September 5.}

The whole American army, except the light infantry, took a position
behind Red Clay creek, on the road leading from the camp of Sir
William Howe to Philadelphia. On this ground, the General thought it
probable that the fate of Philadelphia, and of the campaign, might be
decided; and he resorted to all the means in his power to encourage
his troops, and stimulate them to the greatest exertions.

{September 8.}

On the 8th of September, the British army was again put in motion. The
main body advanced by Newark, upon the right of the Americans, and
encamped within four miles of that place, extending its left still
farther up the country. Meanwhile, a strong column made a show of
attacking in front, and, after manoeuvring some time, halted at
Milton, within two miles of the centre.

{September 9.}

General Washington was soon convinced that the column in front was
designed only to amuse, while the left should effect the principal and
real object. Believing that object to be to turn his right, and cut
off his communication with Philadelphia, he changed his ground, and,
crossing the Brandywine early in the night, took post behind that
river, at Chadd's Ford. General Maxwell was advanced in front, and
placed, advantageously, on the hills south of the river, on the road
leading over the ford. The militia, under General Armstrong, were
posted at a ford two miles below Chadd's; and the right extended some
miles above, with a view to other passes deemed less practicable. In
this position, General Washington attended the movements of the
adverse army.

In the evening, Howe marched forward in two columns, which united,
early the next morning, at Kennet's Square; after which he advanced
parties on the roads leading to Lancaster, to Chadd's Ford, and to

The armies were now within seven miles of each other, with only the
Brandywine between them, which opposed no obstacle to a general
engagement. This was sought by Howe, and not avoided by Washington. It
was impossible to protect Philadelphia without a victory, and this
object was deemed throughout America, and especially by congress, of
such magnitude as to require that an action should be hazarded for its

In the morning of the 11th, soon after day, information was received
that the whole British army was in motion, advancing on the direct
road leading over Chadd's Ford. The Americans were immediately under
arms, and placed in order of battle, for the purpose of contesting the
passage of the river. Skirmishing soon commenced between the advanced
parties; and, by ten, Maxwell's corps, with little loss on either
side, was driven over the Brandywine below the ford. Knyphausen, who
commanded this column, paraded on the heights, reconnoitred the
American army, and appeared to be making dispositions to force the
passage of the river. A skirt of woods, with the river, divided him
from Maxwell's corps, small parties of whom occasionally crossed over,
and kept up a scattering fire, by which not much execution was done.
At length one of these parties, led by Captains Waggoner and
Porterfield, engaged the British flank guard very closely, killed a
captain with ten or fifteen privates, drove them out of the wood, and
were on the point of taking a field piece. The sharpness of the
skirmish soon drew a large body of the British to that quarter, and
the Americans were again driven over the Brandywine.[62]

     [Footnote 62: The author was an eye-witness of this

About eleven in the morning, information reached General Washington
that a large column with many field pieces, had taken a road leading
from Kennet's Square, directly up the country, and had entered the
great valley road, down which they were marching to the upper fords of
the Brandywine. This information was given by Colonel Ross of
Pennsylvania, who was in their rear, and estimated their numbers at
five thousand men.

On receiving this information, Washington is said to have determined
to detach Sullivan and Lord Stirling to engage the left division of
the British army, and with the residue of his troops, to cross Chadd's
Ford in person, and attack Knyphausen. Before this plan could be
executed, counter intelligence was received inducing an opinion that
the movement of the British on their left was a feint, and that the
column under Lord Cornwallis, after making demonstrations of crossing
the Brandywine above its forks, had marched down the southern side of
that river to reunite itself with Knyphausen.

Not long after the first communication was made by Colonel Ross,
information was received from Colonel Bland of the cavalry, which
produced some doubt respecting the strength of this column. He saw
only two brigades; but the dust appeared to rise in their rear for a
considerable distance. A major of the militia came in, who alleged
that he left the forks of the Brandywine so late in the day that it
was supposed Lord Cornwallis must have passed them by that time, had
he continued his march in that direction, and who asserted that no
enemy had appeared in that quarter. Some light horsemen who had been
sent to reconnoitre the road, returned with the same information.

The uncertainty produced by this contradictory intelligence was at
length removed; and about two in the afternoon, it was ascertained
that the column led by Lord Cornwallis, after making a circuit of
about seventeen miles, had crossed the river above its forks, and was
advancing in great force.

A change of disposition was immediately made. The divisions commanded
by Sullivan, Stirling, and Stephen, took new ground, advanced farther
up the Brandywine, and fronted the British column marching down that
river. The division commanded by Wayne remained at Chadd's Ford, to
keep Knyphausen in check; in which service Maxwell was to co-operate.
Greene's division, accompanied by General Washington in person, formed
a reserve, and took a central position between the right and left

The divisions detached against Lord Cornwallis formed hastily on an
advantageous piece of ground, above Birmingham Meeting House, with
their left near the Brandywine, and having both flanks covered by a
thick wood. The artillery was judiciously posted, and the disposition
of the whole was well made. Unfortunately, Sullivan's division, in
taking its ground, made too large a circuit, and was scarcely formed
when the attack commenced.

[Sidenote: The American army defeated at Brandywine, and retreat to

On perceiving the Americans, the British army was formed in order of
battle; and, about half past four, the action began. It was kept up
warmly for some time. The American right first gave way, and by its
flight exposed the flank of the remaining divisions to a galling fire.
The line continued to break from the right, and, in a short time, was
completely routed. The right wing made some attempts to rally, but,
being briskly charged, again broke, and the flight became general.

On the commencement of the action on the right, General Washington
pressed forward with Greene, to the support of that wing; but, before
his arrival, its rout was complete, and he could only check the
pursuit. For this purpose, the 10th Virginia regiment commanded by
Colonel Stevens, and a regiment of Pennsylvania commanded by Colonel
Stewart, neither of which had been in action, were posted
advantageously on the road taken by the defeated army. The impression
made by the fire of these regiments, and the approach of night,
induced Sir William Howe, after dispersing them, to give over the

When the American right was found to be fully engaged with Lord
Cornwallis, Knyphausen made real dispositions for crossing the river.
Chadd's Ford was defended by an intrenchment and battery, with three
field pieces, and a howitzer. After some resistance, the work was
forced; and, the defeat of the right being known, the left wing also
withdrew from its ground. The whole army retreated that night to
Chester, and the next day to Philadelphia.

The loss sustained by the Americans in this action has been estimated
at three hundred killed, and six hundred wounded. Between three and
four hundred, principally the wounded, were made prisoners.

As must ever be the case in new raised armies, unused to danger, and
from which undeserving officers have not been expelled, their conduct
was not uniform. Some regiments, especially those which had served the
preceding campaign, maintained their ground with the firmness and
intrepidity of veterans, while others gave way as soon as they were
pressed. The authors of a very correct history of the war,[63]
speaking of this action, say, "a part of their troops, among whom were
particularly numbered some Virginia[64] regiments, and the whole corps
of artillery, behaved exceedingly well in some of the actions of this
day, exhibiting a degree of order, firmness, and resolution, and
preserving such a countenance in extremely sharp service, as would not
have discredited veterans. Some other bodies of their troops behaved
very badly."[65]

     [Footnote 63: Annual Register.]

     [Footnote 64: The third Virginia regiment commanded by
     Colonel Marshall, which had performed extremely severe duty
     in the campaign of 1776, was placed in a wood on the right,
     and in front of Woodford's brigade, and Stephen's division.
     Though attacked by much superior numbers, it maintained its
     position without losing an inch of ground, until both its
     flanks were turned, its ammunition nearly expended, and more
     than half the officers, and one third of the soldiers were
     killed and wounded. Colonel Marshall, whose horse had
     received two balls, then retired in good order to resume his
     position on the right of his division; but it had already

     [Footnote 65: Deboore's brigade broke first; and, on an
     inquiry into his conduct being directed, he resigned. A
     misunderstanding existed between him and Sullivan, on whose
     right he was stationed.]

The official letter of Sir William Howe stated his loss at rather less
than one hundred killed, and four hundred wounded. As the Americans
sustained very little injury in the retreat, this inequality of loss
can be ascribed only to the inferiority of their arms. Many of their
muskets were scarcely fit for service; and, being of unequal calibre,
their cartridges could not be so well fitted, and, consequently, their
fire could not do as much execution as that of the enemy. This radical
defect was felt in all the operations of the army.

From the ardour with which the Commander-in-chief had inspired his
troops before this action, it is probable that the conflict would have
been more severe, had the intelligence respecting the movement on the
left of the British army been less contradictory. Raw troops, changing
their ground in the moment of action, and attacked in the agitation of
moving, are easily thrown into confusion. This was the critical
situation of a part of Sullivan's division, and was the cause of the
right's breaking before Greene could be brought up to support it;
after which, it was impossible to retrieve the fortune of the day.

But had the best disposition of the troops been made at the time,
which subsequent intelligence would suggest, the action could not have
terminated in favour of the Americans. Their inferiority in numbers,
in discipline, and in arms, was too great to leave them a probable
prospect of victory. A battle, however, was not to be avoided. The
opinion of the public, and of congress, demanded it. The loss of
Philadelphia, without an attempt to preserve it, would have excited
discontents which, in the United States, might be productive of
serious mischief; and action, though attended with defeat, provided
the loss be not too great, must improve an army in which, not only the
military talents, but even the courage, of officers, some of them of
high rank, remained to be ascertained.

Among the wounded was the Marquis de la Fayette, and Brigadier General

The battle of Brandywine was not considered as decisive by congress,
the General, or the army. The opinion was carefully cherished that the
British had gained only the ground; and that their loss was still more
considerable than had been sustained by the Americans. Congress
appeared determined to risk another battle for the metropolis of
America. Far from discovering any intention to change their place of
session, they passed vigorous resolutions for reinforcing the army,
and directed General Washington to give the necessary orders for
completing the defences of the Delaware.

{September 12.}

From Chester, the army marched through Darby, over the Schuylkill
bridge, to its former ground, near the falls of that river. General
Greene's division, which, having been less in action, was more entire
than any other, covered the rear; and the corps of Maxwell remained at
Chester until the next day, as a rallying point for the small parties,
and straggling soldiers, who might yet be in the neighbourhood.

Having allowed his army one day for repose and refreshment, General
Washington recrossed the Schuylkill, and proceeded on the Lancaster
road, with the intention of risking another engagement.

Sir William Howe passed the night of the 11th on the field of battle.
On the succeeding day, he detached Major General Grant with two
brigades to Concord meeting-house; and on the 13th, Lord Cornwallis
joined General Grant, and marched towards Chester. Another detachment
took possession of Wilmington; to which place the sick and wounded
were conveyed.

To prevent a sudden movement to Philadelphia by the lower road, the
bridge over the Schuylkill was loosened from its moorings, and General
Armstrong was directed, with the Pennsylvania militia to guard the
passes over that river.

On the 15th, the American army, intending to gain the left of the
British, reached the Warren tavern, on the Lancaster road,
twenty-three miles from Philadelphia. Intelligence was received, early
next morning, that Howe was approaching in two columns. It being too
late to reach the ground he had intended to occupy, Washington
resolved to meet and engage him in front.

{September 16.}

Both armies prepared, with great alacrity, for battle. The advanced
parties had met, and were beginning to skirmish, when they were
separated by a heavy rain, which, becoming more and more violent,
rendered the retreat of the Americans a measure of absolute necessity.
The inferiority of their arms never brought them into such imminent
peril as on this occasion. Their gun-locks not being well secured,
their muskets soon became unfit for use. Their cartridge-boxes had
been so inartificially constructed, as not to protect their ammunition
from the tempest. Their cartridges were soon damaged; and this
mischief was the more serious, because very many of the soldiers were
without bayonets.

[Sidenote: After a slight skirmish compelled again to retire, cross
the Schuylkill, and proceed to French Creek.]

The army being thus rendered unfit for action, the design of giving
battle was reluctantly abandoned, and a retreat commenced. It was
continued all the day, and great part of the night, through a cold and
most distressing rain, and very deep roads. A few hours before day,
the troops halted at the Yellow Springs, where their arms and
ammunition were examined, and the alarming fact was disclosed, that
scarcely a musket in a regiment could be discharged, and scarcely one
cartridge in a box was fit for use. This state of things suggested the
precaution of moving to a still greater distance, in order to refit
their arms, obtain a fresh supply of ammunition, and revive the
spirits of the army. The General therefore retired to Warwick furnace,
on the south branch of French Creek, where ammunition and a few
muskets might be obtained in time to dispute the passage of the
Schuylkill, and make yet another effort to save Philadelphia.

The extreme severity of the weather had entirely stopped the British
army. During two days, General Howe made no other movement than to
unite his columns.

From French Creek, General Wayne was detached with his division, into
the rear of the British, with orders to join General Smallwood; and,
carefully concealing himself and his movements, to seize every
occasion which this march might offer, of engaging them to advantage.
Meanwhile, General Washington crossed the Schuylkill at Parker's
ferry, and encamped on both sides of Perkyomy Creek.

{September 19.}

[Sidenote: General Wayne surprised, and after a sharp action compelled
to retreat.]

General Wayne lay in the woods near the entrance of the road from
Darby into that leading to Lancaster, about three miles in the rear of
the left wing of the British troops encamped at Trydruffin, where he
believed himself to be perfectly secure. But the country was so
extensively disaffected that Sir William Howe received accurate
accounts of his position and of his force. Major General Gray was
detached to surprise him, and effectually accomplished his purpose.
About eleven, in the night of the 20th, his pickets, driven in with
charged bayonets, gave the first intimation of Gray's approach. Wayne
instantly formed his division; and while his right sustained a fierce
assault, directed a retreat by the left, under cover of a few
regiments who, for a short time, withstood the violence of the shock.
In his letter to the Commander-in-chief, he says that they gave the
assailants some well-directed fires which must have done considerable
execution; and that, after retreating from the ground on which the
engagement commenced, they formed again, at a small distance from the
scene of action; but that both parties drew off without renewing the
conflict. He states his loss at about one hundred and fifty[66] killed
and wounded. The British accounts admit, on their part, a loss of only

     [Footnote 66: The British accounts represent the American
     loss to have been much more considerable. It probably
     amounted to at least three hundred men.]

When the attack commenced, General Smallwood, who was on his march to
join Wayne, a circumstance entirely unexpected by General Gray, was
within less than a mile of him; and, had he commanded regulars, might
have given a very different turn to the night. But his militia thought
only of their own safety; and, having fallen in with a party returning
from the pursuit of Wayne, fled in confusion with the loss of only one

Some severe animadversions on this unfortunate affair having been made
in the army, General Wayne demanded a court martial, which, after
investigating his conduct, was unanimously of opinion, "that he had
done every thing to be expected from an active, brave, and vigilant
officer;" and acquitted him with honour.

{September 21.}

Having secured his rear, by compelling Wayne to take a greater
distance, Sir William Howe marched along the valley road to the
Schuylkill, and encamped on the bank of that river, from the Fatland
ford up to French Creek, along the front of the American army. To
secure his right from being turned, General Washington again changed
his position, and encamped with his left near, but above the British

[Sidenote: Washington marches to Pottsgrove.]

{September 22.}

General Howe now relinquished his plan of bringing Washington to
another battle; and, thinking it adviseable, perhaps, to transfer the
seat of war to the neighbourhood of his ships, determined to cross the
Schuylkill, and take possession of Philadelphia. In the afternoon, he
ordered one detachment to cross at Fatland ford which was on his
right, and another to cross at Gordon's ford, on his left, and to take
possession of the heights commanding them. These orders were executed
without much difficulty, and the American troops placed to defend
these fords were easily dispersed.

This service being effected, the whole army marched by its right,
about midnight, and crossing at Fatland without opposition, proceeded
a considerable distance towards Philadelphia, and encamped, with its
left near Sweed's ford, and its right on the Manatawny road, having
Stony run in its front.

It was now apparent that only immediate victory could save
Philadelphia from the grasp of the British general, whose situation
gave him the option of either taking possession of that place, or
endeavouring to bring on another engagement. If, therefore, a battle
must certainly be risked to save the capital, it would be necessary to
attack the enemy.

Public opinion, which a military chief finds too much difficulty in
resisting, and the opinion of congress required a battle; but, on a
temperate consideration of circumstances, Washington came to the wise
decision of avoiding one for the present.

His reasons for this decision were conclusive. Wayne and Smallwood had
not yet joined the army. The continental troops ordered from
Peekskill, who had been detained for a time by an incursion from New
York, were approaching; and a reinforcement of Jersey militia, under
General Dickenson, was also expected.

To these powerful motives against risking an engagement, other
considerations of great weight were added, founded on the condition of
his soldiers. An army, manoeuvring in an open country, in the face of
a very superior enemy, is unavoidably exposed to excessive fatigue,
and extreme hardship. The effect of these hardships was much increased
by the privations under which the American troops suffered. While in
almost continual motion, wading deep rivers, and encountering every
vicissitude of the seasons, they were without tents, nearly without
shoes, or winter clothes, and often without food.

A council of war concurred in the opinion the Commander-in-chief had
formed, not to march against the enemy, but to allow his harassed
troops a few days for repose, and to remain on his present ground
until the expected reinforcements should arrive.

Immediately after the battle of Brandywine, the distressed situation
of the army had been represented to congress, who had recommended it
to the executive of Pennsylvania to seize the cloths and other
military stores in the ware houses of Philadelphia, and, after
granting certificates expressing their value, to convey them to a
place of safety. The executive, being unwilling to encounter the odium
of this strong measure, advised that the extraordinary powers of the
Commander-in-chief should be used on the occasion. Lieutenant Colonel
Hamilton, one of the General's aids, a young gentleman already in high
estimation for his talents and zeal, was employed on this delicate
business. "Your own prudence," said the General, in a letter to him
while in Philadelphia, "will point out the least exceptionable means
to be pursued; but remember, delicacy and a strict adherence to the
ordinary mode of application must give place to our necessities. We
must, if possible, accommodate the soldiers with such articles as they
stand in need of, or we shall have just reason to apprehend the most
injurious and alarming consequences from the approaching season."

All the efforts, however, of this very active officer could not obtain
a supply, in any degree, adequate to the pressing and increasing wants
of the army.

[Sidenote: General Howe takes possession of Philadelphia.]

[Sidenote: Congress removes to Lancaster.]

Colonel Hamilton was also directed to cause the military stores which
had been previously collected to a large amount in Philadelphia, and
the vessels which were lying at the wharves, to be removed up the
Delaware. This duty was executed with so much vigilance, that very
little public property fell, with the city, into the hands of the
British general, who entered it on the 26th of September. The members
of congress separated on the eighteenth, in the evening, and
reassembled at Lancaster on the twenty-seventh of the same month.

From the 25th of August, when the British army landed at the Head of
Elk, until the 26th of September when it entered Philadelphia, the
campaign had been active, and the duties of the American general
uncommonly arduous. The best English writers bestow high encomiums on
Sir William Howe for his military skill, and masterly movements during
this period. At Brandywine especially, Washington is supposed to have
been "outgeneraled, more outgeneraled than in any action during the
war." If all the operations of this trying period be examined, and the
means in possession of both be considered, the American chief will
appear, in no respect, inferior to his adversary, or unworthy of the
high place assigned to him in the opinions of his countrymen. With an
army decidedly inferior, not only in numbers, but in every military
requisite except courage, in an open country, he employed his enemy
near thirty days in advancing about sixty miles. In this time he
fought one general action; and, though defeated, was able to
reassemble the same undisciplined, unclothed, and almost unfed army;
and, the fifth day afterwards, again to offer battle. When the armies
were separated by a storm which involved him in the most distressing
circumstances, he extricated himself from them, and still maintained a
respectable and imposing countenance.

The only advantage he is supposed to have given was at the battle of
Brandywine; and that was produced by the contrariety and uncertainty
of the intelligence received. A general must be governed by his
intelligence, and must regulate his measures by his information. It is
his duty to obtain correct information; and among the most valuable
traits of a military character, is the skill to select those means
which will obtain it. Yet the best selected means are not always
successful; and, in a new army, where military talent has not been
well tried by the standard of experience, the general is peculiarly
exposed to the chance of employing not the best instruments. In a
country, too, which is covered with wood, precise information of the
numbers composing different columns is to be gained with difficulty.

It has been said "that the Americans do not appear to have made all
the use that might be expected of the advantages which the country
afforded for harassing and impeding the British army."

In estimating this objection, it ought to be recollected that General
Smallwood was directed, with the militia of Maryland and Delaware,
supported by a regiment of continental troops, to hang on and harass
the rear of the enemy: that General Maxwell, with a select corps
consisting of a thousand men, was ordered to seize every occasion to
annoy him on his march: that General Wayne, with his division, was
afterwards detached to unite with Smallwood, and command the whole
force collected in the rear, which would have been very respectable.

If the militia did not assemble in the numbers expected, or effect the
service allotted to them, their failure is not attributable to General
Washington. His calls on them had been early and energetic; and the
state of his army did not admit of his making larger detachments from
it to supply the place they had been designed to fill.

Loud complaints had been made against General Maxwell by the officers
of his corps; and a court was ordered to inquire into his conduct, by
whom he was acquitted. Whether that officer omitted to seize the
proper occasions to annoy the enemy, or the cautious and compact
movements of Sir William Howe afforded none, can not be easily
ascertained. General Washington felt the loss of Morgan, and wrote
pressingly to Gates, after his success against Burgoyne, to restore
him that officer, with his regiment, as soon as possible.


     Measures to cut off the communication between the British
     army and fleet.... Battle of Germantown.... Measures to
     intercept supplies to Philadelphia.... Attack on fort
     Mifflin.... On Red Bank.... The Augusta blows up.... Fort
     Mifflin evacuated.... Fort Mercer evacuated.... The British
     open the communication with their fleet.... Washington urged
     to attack Philadelphia.... General Howe marches out to
     Chestnut Hill.... Returns to Philadelphia.... General
     Washington goes into winter quarters.



[Sidenote: Measures taken to prevent a communication between the
British army in Philadelphia and their fleet.]

Philadelphia being lost, General Washington sought to make its
occupation inconvenient and insecure, by rendering it inaccessible to
the British fleet. With this design, works had been erected on a low
marshy island in the Delaware, near the junction of the Schuylkill,
which, from the nature of its soil, was called Mud Island. On the
opposite shore of Jersey, at a place called Red Bank, a fort had also
been constructed which was defended with heavy artillery. In the deep
channel between, or under cover of these batteries, several ranges of
frames had been sunk, to which, from their resemblance to that
machine, the name of chevaux-de-frise had been given. These frames
were so strong and heavy as to be destructive of any ship which might
strike against them, and were sunk in such a depth of water as
rendered it equally difficult to weigh them or cut them through; no
attempt to raise them, or to open the channel in any manner could be
successful until the command of the shores on both sides should be

Other ranges of these machines had been sunk about three miles lower
down the river; and some considerable works were in progress at
Billingsport on the Jersey side, which were in such forwardness as to
be provided with artillery. These works and machines were farther
supported by several galleys mounting heavy cannon, together with two
floating batteries, a number of armed vessels, and some fire ships.

The present relative situation of the armies gave a decisive
importance to these works. Cutting off the communication of General
Howe with his fleet, they prevented his receiving supplies by water,
while the American vessels in the river above fort Mifflin, the name
given to the fort on Mud Island, rendered it difficult to forage in
Jersey, General Washington hoped to render his supplies on the side of
Pennsylvania so precarious, as to compel him to evacuate Philadelphia.

The advantages of this situation were considerably diminished by the
capture of the Delaware frigate.

{September 27.}

The day after Lord Cornwallis entered Philadelphia, three batteries
were commenced for the purpose of acting against any American ships
which might appear before the town. While yet incomplete, they were
attacked by two frigates, assisted by several galleys and gondolas.
The Delaware, being left by the tide while engaged with the battery,
grounded and was captured; soon after which, the smaller frigate, and
the other vessels, retired under the guns of the fort. This
circumstance was the more interesting, as it gave the British General
the command of the ferry, and, consequently, free access to Jersey,
and enabled him to intercept the communication between the forts
below, and Trenton, from which place the garrisons were to have drawn
their military stores.

{September 28.}

{September 30.}

{September 29.}

{October 3.}

All the expected reinforcements, except the state regiment and militia
from Virginia, being arrived, and the detached parties being called
in, the effective strength of the army amounted to eight thousand
continental troops, and three thousand militia. With this force,
General Washington determined to approach the enemy, and seize the
first favourable moment to attack him. In pursuance of this
determination, the army took a position on the Skippack road, about
twenty miles from Philadelphia, and sixteen from Germantown,--a long
village stretching on both sides the great road leading northward from
Philadelphia, which forms one continued street nearly two miles in
length. The British line of encampment crossed this village at right
angles near the centre, and Lord Cornwallis, with four regiments of
grenadiers, occupied Philadelphia. The immediate object of General
Howe being the removal of the obstructions in the river, Colonel
Stirling, with two regiments, had been detached to take possession of
the fort at Billingsport, which he accomplished without opposition.
This service being effected, and the works facing the water destroyed,
Colonel Stirling was directed to escort a convoy of provisions from
Chester to Philadelphia. Some apprehensions being entertained for the
safety of this convoy, another regiment was detached from Germantown,
with directions to join Colonel Stirling.[67]

     [Footnote 67: Annual Register.--Stedman.]

This division of the British force appeared to Washington to furnish a
fair opportunity to engage Sir William Howe with advantage.
Determining to avail himself of it, he formed a plan for surprising
the camp at Germantown, and attacking both wings, in front and rear,
at the same instant.

The divisions of Sullivan and Wayne, flanked by Conway's brigade, were
to march down the main road, and, entering the town by the way of
Chesnut Hill, to attack the left wing; while General Armstrong, with
the Pennsylvania militia, was to move down the Manatawny road[68] by
Vanduring's mill, and turning the left flank to attack in the rear.
The Commander-in-chief accompanied this column.

     [Footnote 68: Better known as the Ridge road.]

The divisions of Greene and Stephen, flanked by M'Dougal's brigade,
were to take a circuit by the Lime Kiln road, and, entering the town
at the market house, to attack the right wing.

The militia of Maryland and Jersey, under Generals Smallwood and
Forman, were to march down the old York road, and turning the right to
fall upon its rear.

The division of Lord Stirling, and the brigades of Nash and Maxwell,
were to form a corps de reserve.

Parties of cavalry were silently to scour the roads to prevent
observation, and to keep up the communication between the heads of the
several columns.

{October 4.}

[Sidenote: Royal army attacked at Germantown.]

The necessary arrangements being made, the army moved from its ground
at seven in the afternoon. Before sunrise the next morning, the
advance of the column led by Sullivan, encountered and drove in a
picket placed at Mount Airy, the house of Mr. Allen.[69] The main body
followed close in the rear, and engaging the light infantry and the
40th regiment, posted at the head of the village, soon forced them to
give way, leaving their baggage behind them. Though closely pursued,
Lieutenant Colonel Musgrave threw himself with five companies of the
40th regiment into a large stone house belonging to Mr. Chew, which
stood directly in the way of Wayne's division, and poured on the
Americans an incessant and galling fire of musketry from its doors and
windows. After making some unsuccessful, and bloody attempts to carry
this house by storm, and then battering it for a few minutes with
field artillery, which was found too light to make any impression on
its walls, a regiment was left to observe the party within it, while
the troops who had been checked by Colonel Musgrave again moved
forward, passing to the left of the house.

     [Footnote 69: Since Robinson's.]

In rather more than half an hour after Sullivan had been engaged, the
left wing, having formed the line, came also into action; and,
attacking the light infantry posted in front of the British right
wing, soon drove it from its ground. While rapidly pursuing the flying
enemy, Woodford's brigade,[70] which was on the right of this wing,
was arrested by a heavy fire from Chew's house, directed against its
right flank. The inefficiency of musketry against troops thus
sheltered being instantly perceived, the brigade was drawn off to the
left by its commanding officer, and the field-pieces attached to it
were ordered up to play on the house, but were too light to be of
service. Some time was consumed in this operation, and the advance of
the brigade was, of course, retarded. This part of the line was
consequently broken, and the two brigades composing the division of
Stephen were not only separated from each other, but from the other
division which was led by General Greene in person. That division,
consisting of the brigades of Muhlenberg and Scott, pressing forward
with eagerness, encountered and broke a part of the British right
wing, entered the village, and made a considerable number of

     [Footnote 70: The author was in this brigade, and describes
     this part of the action from his own observation.]

Thus far the prospect was flattering. The attack had been made with
great spirit; several brigades had entered the town; and such an
impression had been made on the British army as to justify the
expectation that its wings might be separated from each other, and a
complete victory be obtained. Had the American troops possessed the
advantages given by experience; had every division of the army
performed with precision the part allotted to it, there is yet reason
to believe that the hopes inspired by this favourable commencement
would not have been disappointed. But the face of the country, and the
darkness of the morning produced by a fog of uncommon density,
co-operating with the want of discipline in the army, and the
derangements of the corps from the incidents at Chew's house, blasted
their flattering appearances, and defeated the enterprise.

The grounds over which the British were pursued abounded with small
and strong enclosures, which frequently broke the line of the
advancing army. The two divisions of the right wing had been separated
at Chew's house; and immediately after their passing it, the right of
the left wing was stopped at the same place, so as to cause a division
of that wing also. The darkness of the morning rendered it difficult
to distinguish objects even at an inconsiderable distance; and it was
impossible for the Commander-in-chief to learn the situation of the
whole, or to correct the confusion which was commencing. The divisions
and brigades separated at Chew's house could not be reunited; and,
even among those parts which remained entire, a considerable degree of
disorder was soon introduced by the impediments to their advance. Some
regiments pursuing with more vivacity than others, they were separated
from each other, their weight lessened, and their effect impaired. The
darkness which obstructed the reunion of the broken parts of the
American army, also prevented their discerning the real situation of
the enemy, so as to improve the first impression; and, in some
instances, some corps being in advance of others, produced uncertainty
whether the troops, seen indistinctly, were friends or foes.

The attacks on the flanks and rear, which formed a part of the
original plan, do not appear ever to have been made. The Pennsylvania
militia came in view of the chasseurs who flanked the left of the
British line, but did not engage them closely. The Maryland and Jersey
militia just showed themselves on the right flank, about the time
Greene was commencing a retreat.

[Sidenote: The Americans repulsed.]

These embarrassments gave the British time to recover from the
consternation into which they had been thrown. General Knyphausen, who
commanded their left, detached two brigades to meet the right of
Sullivan which had penetrated far into the village, before his left,
which had been detained at Chew's house, could rejoin him; and the
action became warm in this quarter. The British right also recovered
from its surprise, and advanced on that part of Greene's division
which had entered the town. After a sharp engagement these two
brigades began to retreat, and those which were most in advance were
surrounded and compelled to surrender. About the same time the right
wing also began to retreat. It is understood that they had expended
their ammunition.

Every effort to stop this retrograde movement proved ineffectual. The
division of Wayne fell back on that of Stephen, and was for an instant
mistaken for the enemy. General confusion prevailed, and the
confidence felt in the beginning of the action was lost. With infinite
chagrin General Washington was compelled to relinquish his hopes of
victory, and turn his attention to the security of his army. The enemy
not being sufficiently recovered to endanger his rear, the retreat was
made without loss, under cover of the division of Stephen, which had
scarcely been in the engagement.

In this battle, about two hundred Americans were killed, near three
times that number wounded, and about four hundred were made prisoners.
Among the killed was General Nash of North Carolina; and among the
prisoners was Colonel Matthews of Virginia, whose regiment had
penetrated into the centre of the town.

The loss of the British, as stated in the official return of General
Howe, did not much exceed five hundred in killed and wounded, of whom
less than one hundred were killed; among the latter were Brigadier
General Agnew and Colonel Bird.

The American army retreated the same day, about twenty miles, to
Perkyomy Creek, where a small reinforcement, consisting of fifteen
hundred militia and a state regiment, was received from Virginia;
after which it again advanced towards Philadelphia, and encamped once
more on Skippack Creek.

The plan of the battle of Germantown must be admitted to have been
judiciously formed; and, in its commencement, to have been happily
conducted. But a strict adherence to it by those who were entrusted
with the execution of its several parts, was indispensable to its

Major General Stephen, who commanded the right division of the left
wing, was cashiered for misconduct on the retreat, and for

Congress expressed, in decided terms, their approbation both of the
plan of this enterprise, and of the courage with which it was
executed; for which their thanks were given to the general and the

     [Footnote 71: On hearing that General Howe had landed at the
     head of the Chesapeake, Sir Henry Clinton, for the purpose
     of averting those aids which Washington might draw from the
     north of the Delaware, entered Jersey at the head of three
     thousand men. On the approach of General M'Dougal with a
     body of continental troops from Peekskill, and on hearing
     that the militia were assembling under General Dickinson, he
     returned to New York and Staten Island with the cattle he
     had collected, having lost in the expedition only eight men
     killed and twice as many wounded.

     M'Dougal continued his march towards the Delaware; and the
     utmost exertions were made both by Governor Livingston and
     General Dickinson to collect the militia for the purpose of
     aiding the army in Pennsylvania. The success of their
     exertions did not equal their wishes. The militia being of
     opinion that there was danger of a second invasion from New
     York, and that their services were more necessary at home
     than in Pennsylvania, assembled slowly and reluctantly. Five
     or six hundred crossed the Delaware at Philadelphia, about
     the time Sir William Howe crossed the Schuylkill, and were
     employed in the removal of stores. On the approach of the
     British army, they were directed to avoid it by moving up
     the Frankford road; but the commanding officer, having
     separated himself from his corps, was taken by a party of
     British horse employed in scouring the country; on which the
     regiment dispersed, and returned by different roads to
     Jersey. With much labour General Dickinson assembled two
     other corps amounting to about nine hundred men, with whom
     he was about to cross the Delaware when intelligence was
     received of the arrival at New York of a reinforcement from
     Europe. He was detained in Jersey for the defence of the
     state, and the militia designed to serve in Pennsylvania
     were placed under General Forman. About six hundred of them
     reached the army a few days before the battle of Germantown,
     immediately after which they were permitted to return.]

The attention of both armies was most principally directed to the
forts below Philadelphia.

The loss of the Delaware frigate, and of Billingsport, greatly
discouraged the seamen by whom the galleys and floating batteries were
manned. Believing the fate of America to be decided, an opinion
strengthened by the intelligence received from their connexions in
Philadelphia, they manifested the most alarming defection, and several
officers as well as sailors deserted to the enemy. This desponding
temper was checked by the battle of Germantown, and by throwing a
garrison of continental troops into the fort at Red Bank, called fort
Mercer, the defence of which had been entrusted to militia. This fort
commanded the channel between the Jersey shore and Mud Island; and the
American vessels were secure under its guns. The militia of Jersey
were relied on to reinforce its garrison, and also to form a corps of
observation which might harass the rear of any detachment investing
the place.

[Sidenote: Measures taken by General Washington for cutting off
supplies from Philadelphia.]

To increase the inconvenience of General Howe's situation by
intercepting his supplies, six hundred militia, commanded by General
Potter, crossed the Schuylkill, with orders to scour the country
between that river and Chester; and the militia on the Delaware, above
Philadelphia, were directed to watch the roads in that vicinity.

The more effectually to stop those who were seduced by the hope of
gold and silver to supply the enemy at this critical time, congress
passed a resolution subjecting to martial law and to death, all who
should furnish them with provisions, or certain other enumerated
articles, who should be taken within thirty miles of any city, town or
place, in Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware, occupied by British

These arrangements being made to cut off supplies from the country,
General Washington reoccupied the ground from which he had marched to
fight the battle of Germantown.

[Sidenote: Attack upon Fort Mifflin.]

Meanwhile, General Howe was actively preparing to attack fort Mifflin
from the Pennsylvania shore. He erected some batteries at the mouth of
the Schuylkill, in order to command Webb's ferry, which were attacked
by Commodore Hazlewood, and silenced; but, the following night, a
detachment crossed over Webb's ferry into Province Island, and
constructed a slight work opposite fort Mifflin, within two musket
shots of the block-house, from which they were enabled to throw shot
and shells into the barracks. When day-light discovered this work,
three galleys and a floating battery were ordered to attack it, and
the garrison surrendered. While the boats were bringing off the
prisoners, a large column of British troops were seen marching into
the fortress, upon which the attack on it was renewed, but without
success; and two attempts made by Lieutenant Colonel Smith to storm
it, failed. In a few nights, works were completed on the high ground
of Province Island which enfiladed the principal battery of fort
Mifflin, and rendered it necessary to throw up some cover on the
platform to protect the men who worked the guns.

The aids expected from the Jersey militia were not received. "Assure
yourself," said Lieutenant Colonel Smith, in a letter pressing
earnestly for a reinforcement of continental troops, "that no
dependence is to be put on the militia; whatever men your excellency
determines on sending, no time is to be lost." The garrison of fort
Mifflin was now reduced to one hundred and fifty-six effectives, and
that of Red Bank did not much exceed two hundred.

In consequence of these representations, Colonel Angel, of Rhode
Island, with his regiment, was ordered to Red Bank, and Lieutenant
Colonel John Greene, of Virginia, with about two hundred men, to fort

Immediately after the battle of Brandywine, Admiral Howe sailed for
the Delaware, where he expected to arrive in time to meet and
co-operate with the army in and about Philadelphia. But the winds were
so unfavourable, and the navigation of the bay of Delaware so
difficult, that his van did not get into the river until the 4th of
October. The ships of war and transports which followed, came up from
the sixth to the eighth, and anchored from New Castle to Reedy Island.

The frigates, in advance of the fleet, had not yet succeeded in their
endeavours to effect a passage through the lower double row of
chevaux-de-frise. Though no longer protected by the fort at
Billingsport, they were defended by the water force above, and the
work was found more difficult than had been expected. It was not until
the middle of October that the impediments were so far removed as to
afford a narrow and intricate passage through them. In the mean time,
the fire from the Pennsylvania shore had not produced all the effect
expected from it; and it was perceived that greater exertions would be
necessary for the reduction of the works than could safely be made in
the present relative situation of the armies. Under this impression,
General Howe, soon after the return of the American army to its former
camp on the Skippack, withdrew his troops from Germantown into
Philadelphia, as preparatory to a combined attack by land and water on
forts Mercer and Mifflin.

After effecting a passage through the works sunk in the river at
Billingsport, other difficulties still remained to be encountered by
the ships of war. Several rows of chevaux-de-frise had been sunk about
half a mile below Mud Island, which were protected by the guns of the
forts, as well as by the moveable water force. To silence these works,
therefore, was a necessary preliminary to the removal of these
obstructions in the channel.


[Sidenote: Attack upon Red Bank.]

[Sidenote: Colonel Donop killed and his party repulsed with
considerable loss.]

On the 21st of October, a detachment of Hessians, amounting to twelve
hundred men, commanded by Colonel Count Donop, crossed the Delaware at
Philadelphia, with orders to storm the fort at Red Bank. The
fortifications consisted of extensive outer works, within which was an
intrenchment eight or nine feet high, boarded and fraized. Late in the
evening of the twenty-second. Count Donop appeared before the fort,
and attacked it with great intrepidity. It was defended with equal
resolution. The outer works being too extensive to be manned by the
troops in the fort, were used only to gall the assailants while
advancing. On their near approach, the garrison retired within the
inner intrenchment, whence they poured upon the Hessians a heavy and
destructive fire. Colonel Donop received a mortal wound; and
Lieutenant Colonel Mengerode, the second in command, fell about the
same time. Lieutenant Colonel Minsing, the oldest remaining officer,
drew off his troops, and returned next day to Philadelphia. The loss
of the assailants was estimated by the Americans at four hundred men.
The garrison was reinforced from fort Mifflin, and aided by the
galleys which flanked the Hessians in their advance and retreat. The
American loss, in killed and wounded, amounted to only thirty-two men.

[Sidenote: The Augusta frigate blows up.]

The ships having been ordered to co-operate with Count Donop, the
Augusta, with four smaller vessels, passed the lower line of
chevaux-de-frise, opposite to Billingsport, and lay above it, waiting
until the assault should be made on the fort. The flood tide setting
in about the time the attack commenced, they moved with it up the
river. The obstructions sunk in the Delaware had in some degree
changed its channel, in consequence of which the Augusta and the
Merlin grounded, a considerable distance below the second line of
chevaux-de-frise and a strong wind from the north so checked the
rising of the tide, that these vessels could not be floated by the
flood. Their situation, however, was not discerned that evening, as
the frigates which were able to approach the fort, and the batteries
from the Pennsylvania shore, kept up an incessant fire on the
garrison, till night put an end to the cannonade. Early next morning
it was recommenced, in the hope that, under its cover, the Augusta and
the Merlin might be got off. The Americans, on discovering their
situation, sent four fire ships against them, but without effect.
Meanwhile, a warm cannonade took place on both sides, in the course of
which the Augusta took fire, and it was found impracticable to
extinguish the flames. Most of the men were taken out, the frigates
withdrawn, and the Merlin set on fire; after which the Augusta blew
up, and a few of the crew were lost in her.

This repulse inspired congress with flattering hopes for the permanent
defence of the posts on the Delaware. That body expressed its high
sense of the merits of Colonel Greene of Rhode Island, who had
commanded in fort Mercer; of Lieutenant Colonel Smith of Maryland, who
had commanded in fort Mifflin; and of Commodore Hazlewood, who
commanded the galleys; and presented a sword to each of these
officers, as a mark of estimation in which their services were held.

The situation of these forts was far from justifying this confidence
of their being defensible. That on Mud Island had been unskilfully
constructed, and required at least eight hundred men fully to man the
lines. The island is about half a mile long. Fort Mifflin was placed
at the lower end, having its principal fortifications in front for the
purpose of repelling ships coming up the river. The defences in the
rear consisted only of a ditch and palisade, protected by two
block-houses, the upper story of one of which had been destroyed in
the late cannonade. Above the fort were two batteries opposing those
constructed by the British on Province and Carpenter's Islands, which
were separated from Mud Island only by a narrow passage between four
and five hundred yards wide.

The vessels of war, engaged in the defence of the Delaware, were
partly in the service of the continent, and partly in that of the
state of Pennsylvania, under a Commodore who received his commission
from the state. A misunderstanding took place between him and
Lieutenant Colonel Smith, and also between him and the officers of the
continental navy; and it required all the authority of the
Commander-in-chief to prevent these differences from essentially
injuring the service.

The garrison of fort Mifflin consisted of only three hundred
continental troops, who were worn down with fatigue, and constant
watching, under the constant apprehension of being attacked from
Province Island, from Philadelphia, and from the ships below.

{October 29.}

Having failed in every attempt to draw the militia of Jersey to the
Delaware, General Washington determined to strengthen the garrison by
farther drafts from his army. Three hundred Pennsylvania militia were
detached, to be divided between the two forts; and, a few days
afterwards, General Varnum was ordered, with his brigade, to take a
position about Woodbury, near Red Bank, and to relieve and reinforce
the garrisons of both forts as far as his strength would permit. The
hope was entertained that the appearance of so respectable a
continental force might encourage the militia to assemble in greater

Aware of the advantage to result from a victory over the British army
while separated from the fleet, General Washington had been uniformly
determined to risk much to gain one. He had, therefore, after the
battle of Germantown, continued to watch assiduously for an
opportunity to attack his enemy once more to advantage. The
circumspect caution of General Howe afforded none. After the repulse
at Red Bank, his measures were slow but certain; and were calculated
to insure the possession of the forts without exposing his troops to
the hazard of an assault.

In this state of things, intelligence was received of the successful
termination of the northern campaign, in consequence of which great
part of the troops who had been employed against Burgoyne, might be
drawn to the aid of the army in Pennsylvania. But it was feared that,
before these reinforcements could arrive, Sir William Howe would gain
possession of the forts, and remove the obstructions to the navigation
of the Delaware. This apprehension furnished a strong motive for
vigorous attempts to relieve fort Mifflin. But the relative force of
the armies, the difficulty of acting offensively against Philadelphia,
and, above all, the reflection that a defeat might disable him from
meeting his enemy in the field even after the arrival of the troops
expected from the north, determined General Washington not to hazard a
second attack under existing circumstances.

To expedite the reinforcements for which he waited, Colonel Hamilton
was despatched to General Gates with directions to represent to him
the condition of the armies in Pennsylvania; and to urge him, if he
contemplated no other service of more importance, immediately to send
the regiments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to aid the army of
the middle department. These orders were not peremptory, because it
was possible that some other object (as the capture of New York) still
more interesting than the expulsion of General Howe from Philadelphia,
might be contemplated by Gates; and Washington meant not to interfere
with the accomplishment of such object.

On reaching General Putnam, Colonel Hamilton found that a considerable
part of the northern army had joined that officer, but that Gates had
detained four brigades at Albany for an expedition intended to be made
in the winter against Ticonderoga.

Having made such arrangements with Putnam as he supposed would secure
the immediate march of a large body of continental troops from that
station, Colonel Hamilton proceeded to Albany for the purpose of
remonstrating to General Gates against retaining so large and valuable
a part of the army unemployed at a time when the most imminent danger
threatened the vitals of the country. Gates was by no means disposed
to part with his troops. He could not believe that an expedition then
preparing at New York, was designed to reinforce General Howe; and
insisted that, should the troops then embarked at that place, instead
of proceeding to the Delaware, make a sudden movement up the Hudson,
it would be in their power, should Albany be left defenceless, to
destroy the valuable arsenal which had been there erected, and the
military stores captured with Burgoyne, which had been chiefly
deposited in that town.

Having, after repeated remonstrances, obtained an order directing
three brigades to the Delaware, Hamilton hastened back to Putnam, and
found the troops which had been ordered to join General Washington,
still at Peekskill. The detachment from New York had suggested to
Putnam the possibility of taking that place; and he does not appear to
have made very great exertions to divest himself of a force he deemed
necessary for an object, the accomplishment of which would give so
much splendour to his military character. In addition to this
circumstance, an opinion had gained ground among the soldiers that
their share of service for the campaign had been performed, and that
it was time for them to go into winter quarters. Great discontents too
prevailed concerning their pay, which the government had permitted to
be more than six months in arrear; and in Poor's brigade, a mutiny
broke out, in the course of which a soldier who was run through the
body by his captain, before he expired, shot the captain dead who gave
the wound. Colonel Hamilton came in time to borrow money from the
governor of New York, to put the troops in motion; and they proceeded
by brigades to the Delaware. But these several delays retarded their
arrival until the contest for the forts on that river was terminated.


The preparations of Sir William Howe being completed, a large battery
on Province Island of twenty-four and thirty-two pounders, and two
howitzers of eight inches each, opened, early in the morning of the
10th of November, upon fort Mifflin, at the distance of five hundred
yards, and kept up an incessant fire for several successive days. The
block-houses were reduced to a heap of ruins; the palisades were
beaten down; and most of the guns dismounted and otherwise disabled.
The barracks were battered in every part, so that the troops could not
remain in them. They were under the necessity of working and watching
the whole night to repair the damages of the day, and to guard against
a storm, of which they were in perpetual apprehension. If in the day,
a few moments were allowed for repose, it was taken on the wet earth,
which, in consequence of heavy rains, had become a soft mud. The
garrison was relieved by General Varnum every forty-eight hours; but
his brigade was so weak that half the men were constantly on duty.

Colonel Smith was decidedly of opinion, and General Varnum concurred
with him, that the garrison could not repel an assault, and ought to
be withdrawn; but General Washington still cherished the hope that the
place might be maintained until he should be reinforced from the
northern army. Believing that an assault would not be attempted until
the works were battered down, he recommended that the whole night
should be employed in making repairs. His orders were that the place
should be defended to the last extremity; and never were orders more
faithfully executed.

{November 11.}


Several of the garrison were killed, and among them Captain Treat, a
gallant officer, who commanded the artillery. Colonel Smith received a
contusion on his hip and arm which compelled him to give up the
command, and retire to Red Bank. Major Fleury, a French officer of
distinguished merit, who served as engineer, reported to the
Commander-in-chief that, although the block-houses were beaten down,
all the guns in them, except two, disabled, and several breaches made
in the walls, the place was still defensible; but the garrison was so
unequal to the numbers required by the extent of the lines, and was so
dispirited by watching, fatigue, and constant exposure to the cold
rains which were almost incessant, that he dreaded the event of an
attempt to carry the place by storm. Fresh troops were ordered to
their relief from Varnum's brigade, and the command was taken, first
by Colonel Russell, and afterwards by Major Thayer. The artillery,
commanded by Captain Lee, continued to be well served. The besiegers
were several times thrown into confusion, and a floating battery which
opened on the morning of the 14th, was silenced in the course of the


The defence being unexpectedly obstinate, the assailants brought up
their ships as far as the obstructions in the river permitted, and
added their fire to that of the batteries, which was the more fatal as
the cover for the troops had been greatly impaired. The brave
garrison, however, still maintained their ground with unshaken
firmness. In the midst of this stubborn conflict, the Vigilant and a
sloop of war were brought up the inner channel, between Mud and
Province Islands, which had, unobserved by the besieged, been deepened
by the current in consequence of the obstructions in the main channel;
and, taking a station within one hundred yards of the works, not only
kept up a destructive cannonade, but threw hand grenades into them;
while the musketeers from the round top of the Vigilant killed every
man that appeared on the platform.

Major Thayer applied to the Commodore to remove these vessels, and he
ordered six galleys on the service; but, after reconnoitring their
situation, the galleys returned without attempting any thing. Their
report was that these ships were so covered by the batteries on
Province Island as to be unassailable.

[Sidenote: Fort Mifflin evacuated and possession taken by the

{November 16.}

It was now apparent to all that the fort could be no longer defended.
The works were in ruins. The position of the Vigilant rendered any
farther continuance on the island a prodigal and useless waste of
human life; and on the 16th, about 11 at night, the garrison was

     [Footnote 72: In stating the defence of Mud Island, the
     author has availed himself of the journal of Major Fleury.]

A second attempt was made to drive the vessels from their stations
with a determination, should it succeed, to repossess the island; but
the galleys effected nothing; and a detachment from Province Island
soon occupied the ground which had been abandoned.

{November 17.}

The day after receiving intelligence of the evacuation of fort
Mifflin, General Washington deputed Generals De Kalb, and Knox, to
confer with General Varnum and the officers at fort Mercer on the
practicability of continuing to defend the obstructions in the
channel, to report thereon, and to state the force which would be
necessary for that purpose. Their report was in favour of continuing
the defence. A council of the navy officers had already been called by
the Commodore in pursuance of a request of the Commander-in-chief made
before the evacuation had taken place, who were unanimously of opinion
that it would be impracticable for the fleet, after the loss of the
island, to maintain its station, or to assist in preventing the
chevaux-de-frise from being weighed by the ships of the enemy.

General Howe had now completed a line of defence from the Schuylkill
to the Delaware; and a reinforcement from New York had arrived at
Chester. These two circumstances enabled him to form an army in the
Jerseys sufficient for the reduction of fort Mercer, without weakening
himself so much in Philadelphia as to put his lines in hazard. Still
deeming it of the utmost importance to open the navigation of the
Delaware completely, he detached Lord Cornwallis about one in the
morning of the 17th, with a strong body of troops to Chester. From
that place, his lordship crossed over to Billingsport, where he was
joined by the reinforcement from New York.

{November 17.}

General Washington received immediate intelligence of the march of
this detachment, which he communicated to General Varnum with orders
that fort Mercer should be defended to the last extremity. With a view
to military operations in that quarter, he ordered one division of the
army to cross the river at Burlington, and despatched expresses to the
northern troops who were marching on by brigades, directing them to
move down the Delaware on its northern side until they should receive
farther orders.

[Sidenote: Fort Mercer evacuated.]

Major General Greene, an officer who had been distinguished early in
the war by the Commander-in-chief for the solidity of his judgment and
his military talents, was selected for this expedition. A hope was
entertained that he would be able, not only to protect fort Mercer,
but to obtain some decisive advantage over Lord Cornwallis; as the
situation of the fort, which his lordship could not invest without
placing himself between Timber and Manto Creeks, would expose the
assailants to great peril from a respectable force in their rear. But,
before Greene could cross the Delaware, Lord Cornwallis approached
with an army rendered more powerful than had been expected by the
junction of the reinforcement from New York; and fort Mercer was

A few of the smaller galleys escaped up the river, and the others were
burnt by their crews.

Washington still hoped to recover much of what had been lost. A
victory would restore the Jersey shore, and this object was deemed so
important, that General Greene's instructions indicated the
expectation that he would be in a condition to fight Lord Cornwallis.

That judicious officer feared the reproach of avoiding an action less
than the just censure of sacrificing the real interests of his country
by engaging the enemy on disadvantageous terms. The numbers of the
British exceeded his, even counting his militia as regulars; and he
determined to wait for Glover's brigade, which was marching from the
north. Before its arrival, Lord Cornwallis took post on Gloucester
Point, a point of land making deep into the Delaware, which was
entirely under cover of the guns of the ships, from which place he was
embarking his baggage and the provisions he had collected for

     [Footnote 73: While Lord Cornwallis lay on Gloucester Point,
     about one hundred and fifty men of Morgan's rifle corps
     under Lieutenant Colonel Butler, and an equal number of
     militia, the whole under the Marquis de la Fayette, who
     still served as a volunteer, attacked a picket consisting of
     about three hundred men, and drove them with the loss of
     twenty or thirty killed, and a greater number wounded, quite
     into their camp; after which the Americans retired without
     being pursued.]

Believing that Lord Cornwallis would immediately follow the magazines
he had collected, and that the purpose of Sir William Howe was, with
his united forces, to attack the American army while divided, General
Washington ordered Greene to recross the Delaware, and join the army.

[Sidenote: The enemy succeeds in opening a free communication with his

Thus after one continued struggle of more than six weeks, in which the
continental troops displayed great military virtues, the army in
Philadelphia secured itself in the possession of that city, by opening
a free communication with the fleet.[74]

     [Footnote 74: While these transactions were passing on the
     Delaware, General Dickinson projected another expedition
     against the post on Staten Island. He collected about two
     thousand men, and requested General Putnam to make a
     diversion on the side of Kingsbridge, in order to prevent a
     reinforcement from New York.

     Knowing that success depended on secrecy, he had concealed
     his object even from his field-officers, until eight of the
     night in which it was to be executed. Yet by three next
     morning, information of his design was given to General
     Skinner, who, being on his guard, saved himself and his
     brigade, by taking refuge, on the first alarm, in some works
     too strong to be carried by assault. A few prisoners were
     made and a few men killed, after which General Dickinson
     brought off his party with the loss of only three killed and
     ten slightly wounded.]

[Sidenote: Washington urged to attack Philadelphia.]

While Lord Cornwallis was in Jersey, and General Greene on the
Delaware above him, the reinforcements from the north being received,
an attack on Philadelphia was strongly pressed by several officers
high in rank; and was in some measure urged by that torrent of public
opinion, which, if not resisted by a very firm mind, overwhelms the
judgment, and by controlling measures not well comprehended, may
frequently produce, especially in military transactions, the most
disastrous effects.

It was stated to the Commander-in-chief, that his army was now in
greater force than he could expect it to be at any future time; that
being joined by the troops who had conquered Burgoyne, his own
reputation, the reputation of his army, the opinion of congress, and
of the nation, required some decisive blow on his part. That the rapid
depreciation of the paper currency, by which the resources for
carrying on the war were dried up, rendered indispensable some grand
effort to bring it to a speedy termination.

The plan proposed was, that General Greene should embark two thousand
men at Dunks' ferry, and descending the Delaware in the night, land in
the town just before day, attack the enemy in the rear, and take
possession of the bridge over the Schuylkill. That a strong corps
should march down on the west side of that river, occupy the heights
enfilading the works of the enemy, and open a brisk cannonade upon
them, while a detachment from it should march down to the bridge, and
attack in front at the same instant, that the party descending the
river should commence its assault on the rear.

Not only the Commander-in-chief, but some of his best officers, those
who could not be impelled by the clamours of the ill-informed to ruin
the public interests, were opposed to this mad enterprise.

The two armies, they said, were now nearly equal in point of numbers,
and the detachment under Lord Cornwallis could not be supposed to have
so weakened Sir William Howe as to compensate for the advantages of
his position. His right was covered by the Delaware, his left by the
Schuylkill, his rear by the junction of those two rivers, as well as
by the city of Philadelphia, and his front by a line of redoubts
extending from river to river, and connected by an abattis, and by
circular works. It would be indispensably necessary to carry all these
redoubts; since to leave a part of them to play on the rear of the
columns, while engaged in front with the enemy in Philadelphia, would
be extremely hazardous.

Supposing the redoubts carried, and the British army driven into the
town, yet all military men were agreed on the great peril of storming
a town. The streets would be defended by an artillery greatly superior
to that of the Americans, which would attack in front, while the brick
houses would be lined with musketeers, whose first must thin the ranks
of the assailants.

A part of the plan, on the successful execution of which the whole
depended, was, that the British rear should be surprised by the corps
descending the Delaware. This would require the concurrence of too
many favourable circumstances to be calculated on with any confidence.
As the position of General Greene was known, it could not be supposed
that Sir William Howe would be inattentive to him. It was probable
that not even his embarkation would be made unnoticed; but it was
presuming a degree of negligence which ought not to be assumed, to
suppose that he could descend the river to Philadelphia undiscovered.
So soon as his movements should be observed, the whole plan would be
comprehended, since it would never be conjectured that General Greene
was to attack singly.

If the attack in front should fail, which was not even improbable, the
total loss of the two thousand men in the rear must follow; and
General Howe would maintain his superiority through the winter.

The situation of America did not require these desperate measures. The
British general would be compelled to risk a battle on equal terms, or
to manifest a conscious inferiority to the American army. The
depreciation of paper money was the inevitable consequence of immense
emissions without corresponding taxes. It was by removing the cause,
not by sacrificing the army, that this evil was to be corrected.

Washington possessed too much discernment to be dazzled by the false
brilliant presented by those who urged the necessity of storming
Philadelphia, in order to throw lustre round his own fame, and that of
his army; and too much firmness of temper, too much virtue and real
patriotism, to be diverted from a purpose believed to be right, by the
clamours of faction or the discontents of ignorance. Disregarding the
importunities of mistaken friends, the malignant insinuations of
enemies, and the expectations of the ill-informed; he persevered in
his resolution to make no attempt on Philadelphia. He saved his army,
and was able to keep the field in the face of his enemy; while the
clamour of the moment wasted in air, and is forgotten.

The opinion that Sir William Howe meditated an attack on the American
camp, was not ill founded. Scarcely had Lord Cornwallis returned to
Philadelphia, and Greene to the American army, when unquestionable
intelligence was received that the British general was preparing to
march out in full strength, with the avowed object of forcing
Washington from his position, and driving him beyond the mountains.

[Sidenote: General Howe marches out to Chestnut Hill.]

On the 4th of December, Captain M'Lane, a vigilant officer on the
lines, discovered that an attempt to surprise the American camp at
White Marsh was about to be made, and communicated the information to
the Commander-in-chief. In the evening of the same day, General Howe
marched out of Philadelphia with his whole force; and, about eleven at
night, M'Lane, who had been detached with one hundred chosen men,
attacked the British van at the Three Mile Run, on the Germantown
road, and compelled their front division to change its line of march.
He hovered on the front and flank of the advancing army, galling them
severely until three next morning, when the British encamped on
Chestnut Hill, in front of the American right, and distant from it
about three miles. A slight skirmish had also taken place between the
Pennsylvania militia under General Irvine, and the advanced light
parties of the enemy, in which the general was wounded, and the
militia, without much other loss, were dispersed.

The range of hills on which the British were posted, approached nearer
to those occupied by the Americans, as they stretched northward.

Having passed the day in reconnoitring the right, Sir William Howe
changed his ground in the course of the night, and moving along the
hills to his right, took an advantageous position, about a mile in
front of the American left. The next day he inclined still farther to
his right, and, in doing so, approached still nearer to the left wing
of the American army. Supposing a general engagement to be
approaching, Washington detached Gist with some Maryland militia, and
Morgan with his rifle corps, to attack the flanking and advanced
parties of the enemy. A sharp action ensued, in which Major Morris, of
Jersey, a brave officer in Morgan's regiment, was mortally wounded,
and twenty-seven of his men were killed and wounded. A small loss was
also sustained in the militia. The parties first attacked were driven
in; but the enemy reinforcing in numbers, and Washington, unwilling to
move from the heights, and engage on the ground which was the scene of
the skirmish, declining to reinforce Gist and Morgan, they, in turn,
were compelled to retreat.

[Sidenote: Returns to Philadelphia.]

Sir William Howe continued to manoeuvre towards the flank, and in
front of the left wing of the American army. Expecting to be attacked
in that quarter in full force, Washington made such changes in the
disposition of his troops as the occasion required; and the day was
consumed in these movements. In the course of it, the American chief
rode through every brigade of his army, delivering, in person, his
orders, respecting the manner of receiving the enemy, exhorting his
troops to rely principally on the bayonet, and encouraging them by the
steady firmness of his countenance, as well as by his words, to a
vigorous performance of their duty.[75] The dispositions of the
evening indicated an intention to attack him the ensuing morning; but
in the afternoon of the eighth, the British suddenly filed off from
their right, which extended beyond the American left, and retreated to
Philadelphia. The parties detached to harass their rear could not
overtake it.

     [Footnote 75: The author states this on his own

The loss of the British in this expedition, as stated in the official
letter of General Howe, rather exceeded one hundred in killed,
wounded, and missing; and was sustained principally in the skirmish of
the 7th, in which Major Morris fell.

On no former occasion had the two armies met, uncovered by works, with
superior numbers on the side of the Americans. The effective force of
the British was then stated at twelve thousand men. It has been since
declared by an author[76] who then belonged to it, but who, though a
candid writer, appears to have imbibed prejudices against Sir William
Howe, to have amounted to fourteen thousand. The American army
consisted of precisely twelve thousand one hundred and sixty-one
continental troops, and three thousand two hundred and forty-one
militia. This equality in point of numbers, rendered it a prudent
precaution to maintain a superiority of position. As the two armies
occupied heights fronting each other, neither could attack without
giving to its adversary some advantage in the ground; and this was an
advantage which neither seemed willing to relinquish.

     [Footnote 76: Stedman.]

The return of Sir William Howe to Philadelphia without bringing on an
action, after marching out with the avowed intention of fighting, is
the best testimony of the respect which he felt for the talents of his
adversary, and the courage of the troops he was to encounter.

The cold was now becoming so intense that it was impossible for an
army neither well clothed, nor sufficiently supplied with blankets,
longer to keep the field in tents. It had become necessary to place
the troops in winter quarters; but in the existing state of things the
choice of winter quarters was a subject for serious reflection. It was
impossible to place them in villages without uncovering the country,
or exposing them to the hazard of being beaten in detachment.

To avoid these calamities, it was determined to take a strong position
in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia, equally distant from the
Delaware above and below that city; and there to construct huts, in
the form of a regular encampment, which might cover the army during
the winter. A strong piece of ground at Valley Forge, on the west side
of the Schuylkill, between twenty and thirty miles from Philadelphia,
was selected for that purpose; and some time before day on the morning
of the 11th of December, the army marched to take possession of it. By
an accidental concurrence of circumstances, Lord Cornwallis had been
detached the same morning at the head of a strong corps, on a foraging
party on the west side of the Schuylkill. He had fallen in with a
brigade of Pennsylvania militia commanded by General Potter, which he
soon dispersed; and, pursuing the fugitives, had gained the heights
opposite Matron's ford, over which the Americans had thrown a bridge
for the purpose of crossing the river, and had posted troops to
command the defile called the Gulph, just as the front division of the
American army reached the bank of the river. This movement had been
made without any knowledge of the intention of General Washington to
change his position, or any design of contesting the passage of the
Schuylkill; but the troops had been posted in the manner already
mentioned for the sole purpose of covering the foraging party.

Washington apprehended, from his first intelligence, that General Howe
had taken the field in full force. He therefore recalled the troops
already on the west side, and moved rather higher up the river, for
the purpose of understanding the real situation, force, and designs of
the enemy. The next day Lord Cornwallis returned to Philadelphia; and,
in the course of the night, the American army crossed the river.

[Sidenote: General Washington goes into winter quarters.]

Here the Commander-in-chief communicated to his army, in general
orders, the manner in which he intended to dispose of them during the
winter. He expressed, in strong terms, his approbation of their
conduct, presented them with an encouraging state of the future
prospects of their country, exhorted them to bear with continuing
fortitude the hardships inseparable from the position they were about
to take, and endeavoured to convince their judgments that those
hardships were not imposed on them by unfeeling caprice, but were
necessary for the good of their country.

The winter had set in with great severity, and the sufferings of the
army were extreme. In a few days, however, these sufferings were
considerably diminished by the erection of logged huts, filled up with
mortar, which, after being dried, formed comfortable habitations, and
gave content to men long unused to the conveniences of life. The order
of a regular encampment was observed; and the only appearance of
winter quarters, was the substitution of huts for tents.


     Inquiry into the conduct of General Schuyler.... Burgoyne
     appears before Ticonderoga.... Evacuation of that place,...
     of Skeensborough.... Colonel Warner defeated.... Evacuation
     of fort Anne.... Proclamation of Burgoyne....
     Counter-proclamation of Schuyler.... Burgoyne approaches
     fort Edward.... Schuyler retires to Saratoga,... to
     Stillwater.... St. Leger invests fort Schuyler.... Herkimer
     defeated.... Colonel Baum detached to Bennington.... is
     defeated.... Breckman defeated.... St. Leger abandons the
     siege of fort Schuyler.... Murder of Miss M'Crea.... General
     Gates takes command.... Burgoyne encamps on the heights of
     Saratoga.... Battle of Stillwater.... Burgoyne retreats to
     Saratoga.... Capitulates.... The British take forts
     Montgomery and Clinton.... The forts Independence and
     Constitution evacuated by the Americans.... Ticonderoga
     evacuated by the British.


While, with inferior numbers, General Washington maintained a stubborn
contest in the middle states, events of great variety and importance
were passing in the north.

After Sir Guy Carleton had distributed his army, for winter quarters,
in the several villages from the Isle Aux Noix and Montreal to Quebec,
General Burgoyne, who had served under him, embarked for England, in
order to communicate a full statement of affairs in the northern
department; and to assist in making arrangements for the ensuing
campaign. The American army, having been formed for only one year,
dissolved of itself at the expiration of that term, and could scarcely
furnish even the appearance of garrisons in their forts.

The defence of this frontier was assigned to the regiments directed to
be raised in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and the northwestern parts
of New York; but the recruiting service advanced so slowly, and so
much difficulty was found in clothing and arming those who were
enlisted, that it became indispensable to call in the aid of the
militia; and the plan of the campaign on the part of the British was
involved in so much obscurity that General Washington deemed it
adviseable to direct eight of the regiments of Massachusetts to
rendezvous at Peekskill.

[Sidenote: An inquiry into the conduct of General Schuyler, which
terminates to his honour.]

{May 22.}

The service of General Schuyler in the northern department had been
more solid than brilliant. Dissatisfied with his situation, and
disgusted with the injustice[77] he supposed himself to experience, he
had for some time meditated a resignation, and had been retained in
the service only by the deep interest he felt in the struggle of his
country for independence. So soon as his fears for Ticonderoga were
removed by the partial opening of Lake Champlain, he waited in person
on congress for the purpose of adjusting his accounts, obtaining an
inquiry into his conduct, and supporting those necessary measures of
defence in the north, which were suggested by his perfect knowledge of
the country. At his request, a committee, consisting of a member from
each state, was appointed to inquire into his conduct during the time
he had held a command in the army. The arduous services performed by
this meritorious officer, when investigated, were found so far to
exceed any estimate which had been made of them, that congress deemed
it essential to the public interest to prevail on him to retain his
commission. The resolution which fixed his head quarters at Albany was
repealed, and he was directed to proceed forthwith to the northern
department, and to take the command of it.

     [Footnote 77: When the command of the operating army was
     given to General Thomas in March 1776, the head quarters of
     General Schuyler had been fixed by congress at Albany, and
     that resolution remained in force. General Gates was now
     directed to repair to Ticonderoga and take command of the
     army; and Major General St. Clair was ordered to the same
     place to serve under him.]

On his arrival, he found the army of the north not only too weak for
the objects entrusted to it, but badly supplied with arms, clothes,
and provisions. From a spy who had been seized near Onion River, he
obtained information that General Burgoyne was at Quebec, and was to
command the British forces in that department so soon as they should
march out of Canada. That while Ticonderoga should be attacked by the
main army, Sir John Johnson, with a strong body of British, Canadians,
and Indians, was to penetrate to the Mohawk by Oswego, and place
himself between fort Stanwix and fort Edward.

[Sidenote: Burgoyne appears before Ticonderoga.]

General Schuyler was sensible of the danger which threatened him, and
made every exertion to meet it. After completing his arrangements at
Ticonderoga for sustaining a siege, he had proceeded to Albany, for
the purpose of attending to his supplies, and of expediting the march
of reinforcements, when he received intelligence from General St.
Clair, who was entrusted with the defence of Ticonderoga, that
Burgoyne had appeared before that place.

In the course of the preceding winter, a plan for penetrating to the
Hudson, from Canada, by the way of the lakes, had been digested in the
cabinet of London. General Burgoyne, who assisted in forming it, was
entrusted with its execution, and was to lead a formidable army
against Ticonderoga as soon as the season would permit. At the same
time a smaller party under Colonel St. Leger, composed of Canadians,
newly raised Americans, and a few Europeans, aided by a powerful body
of Indians, was to march from Oswego, to enter the country by the way
of the Mohawk, and to join the grand army on the Hudson.

{January 22.}

Burgoyne reached Quebec as soon as it was practicable to sail up the
St. Lawrence, and appeared in full force on the river Bouquet, on the
western banks of lake Champlain, much earlier than the American
general had supposed to be possible. At this place he met the Indians
in a grand council, after which he gave them a war feast. Much of the
cruelty afterwards perpetrated by the savages has been attributed to
this unfortunate officer; but justice requires the admission that his
speech was calculated rather to diminish than increase their habitual
ferocity. He endeavoured to impress on them the distinction between
enemies in the field, and the unarmed inhabitants, many of whom were
friends; and, addressing himself to their avarice, promised rewards
for prisoners, but none for scalps. It was perhaps fortunate for
America, that, in some instances, peculiarly calculated to excite and
interest the human feelings, these feeble restraints were disregarded.

After publishing a manifesto at Putnam River, designed to act on the
hopes and fears of the people of the country through which he was to
pass, he halted a few days at Crown Point, to make the necessary
dispositions for investing Ticonderoga.

{June 30.}

{July 1.}

From Crown Point, the royal army advanced on both sides the lake,
keeping up a communication between its divisions, by means of the
fleet; and on the 1st of July encamped within four miles of the
American works. A strong party was pushed forward to Three Mile Point;
and the fleet anchored just beyond the range of the guns of the fort.
The next day they took possession, without opposition, of the
important post at Mount Hope, which commanded, in part, the lines on
the northern side, and entirely cut off the communication with lake

The weakness of his garrison induced General St. Clair to give up this
post without a struggle. Believing it to be impracticable to support
it without hazarding a general action, he determined to concentrate
his force about Ticonderoga and Mount Independence.

After taking possession of Mount Hope, the British lines were extended
on the western side of Champlain, from the mountain quite to the lake,
so as completely to inclose the garrison on that side. The German
division under Major General Reidisel, which occupied the eastern
shore of the lake, was encamped at Three Mile Point, and had pushed
forward a detachment near the rivulet, which runs east of Mount


The besiegers laboured assiduously to bring up their artillery and
complete their works. Sugar Hill, a rugged mountain standing at the
confluence of the waters that unite at Ticonderoga, which overlooks
the fortress and had been thought inaccessible, was examined; and the
report being that the ascent, though extremely difficult, was
practicable, the work was immediately commenced, and was pressed with
so much vigour that the batteries might have opened next day. The
garrison was not in a condition to check these operations.

The situation of St. Clair was now at its crisis. Only the ground
between the Eastern run and the South River remained open; and this he
was informed would be occupied the next day, so that the investment
would be complete. The place must be immediately evacuated, or
maintained at the hazard of losing the garrison when it should be no
longer tenable.

Between these cruel alternations, General St. Clair did not hesitate
to choose the first; but deeming it prudent to take the advice of a
council of war, he convened the general officers, who unanimously
advised the immediate evacuation of the fort.

[Sidenote: Evacuation of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence.]

{July 5.}

Preparations for the retreat were instantly commenced. The invalids,
the hospital, and such stores as could be moved in the course of the
night, were put on board the batteaux, which proceeded under the guard
of Colonel Long, up the South River to Skeensborough; and, before day
on the morning of the 6th of July, the main body of the army directed
its march to the same place.

In the hope of making considerable progress before his retreat should
be discovered, General St. Clair had ordered the troops to observe the
most profound silence, and, particularly, to set nothing on fire.
These judicious orders were disobeyed; and, before the rear guard was
in motion, the house which had been occupied by General De Fermoy was
in flames. This served as a signal to the besiegers, who immediately
entered the works. The main body of the retreating army was rapidly
pursued by Generals Frazer and Reidisel, while General Burgoyne, in
person, followed the detachment under Colonel Long.

{July 6.}

The bridge, the boom, and those other works, the construction of which
had employed the labour of ten months, were cut through by nine in the
morning, so as to afford a passage for the Royal George and Inflexible
frigates, as well as for the gun boats, which engaged the American
galleys, about three in the afternoon, near the falls of

[Sidenote: The American army evacuate Skeensborough and retire to fort

In the mean time, three regiments had disembarked at some distance
from the fort, with the intention of attacking it by land, and cutting
off the retreat of the garrison, as well as that of the detachment in
the boats and galleys. This manoeuvre being discovered, the works and
batteaux were set on fire, and the troops retired to fort Anne. On
this occasion, the baggage of the army, and a great quantity of
military stores, were either destroyed by the Americans, or taken by
the British.

Knowing that he could save his army only by the rapidity of his march,
General St. Clair reached Castletown, thirty miles from Ticonderoga,
on the night succeeding the evacuation of the fort. The rear guard
under Colonel Warner halted six miles short of that place. Having been
augmented by those who from excessive fatigue had fallen out of the
line of march, it amounted to rather more than one thousand men.

{July 7.}

[Sidenote: Colonel Warner attacked by General Frazer and obliged to

The next morning at five, they were overtaken and attacked by General
Frazer with eight hundred and fifty men. The action was warm and well
contested. In its commencement, two regiments of militia, which lay
within two miles of Colonel Warner, were ordered to his assistance.
Instead of obeying these orders, they consulted their own safety, and
hastened to Castletown. Had these orders been executed, the corps
which attacked Warner would probably have been cut to pieces. While
the action was maintained with equal spirit on both sides, General
Reidisel arrived with his division of Germans, and the Americans were

In this action, Colonel Francis, several other officers, and upwards
of two hundred men were left dead on the field; and one colonel, seven
captains, ten subalterns, and two hundred and ten privates were made
prisoners. Near six hundred are supposed to have been wounded, many of
whom must have perished in attempting to escape through the woods
towards the inhabited country. The British state their own loss at
thirty-five killed, among whom was one field officer, and one hundred
and forty-four wounded, including two majors, and five inferior
officers. It is scarcely credible, notwithstanding the difference in
arms, that in a well contested action, the disparity in the killed
could have been so considerable. It is the less probable, as the
pursuit was not of long continuance.

To avoid that division of the British army which had proceeded up the
North River, St. Clair changed his route; and directed his march to
Rutland, to which place he ordered Warner also to retire. At Rutland
he fell in with several soldiers who had been separated from their
corps, and, two days afterwards, at Manchester, was joined by Warner
with about ninety men. From this place he proceeded to fort Edward,
where he met General Schuyler.

After taking possession of Skeensborough, Burgoyne had found it
necessary to suspend the pursuit, and to give his army refreshment.
The troops were in some disorder; distinct corps were intermingled,
and his detachments were far apart from each other. He determined
therefore to halt a few days at that place, in order to reassemble and
arrange his army.

{July 7.}

[Sidenote: Colonel Long evacuates Fort Anne and retires to Fort

Colonel Long having been directed to defend fort Anne, the ninth
regiment of British, under Lieutenant Colonel Hill, had been detached
against that place. It being understood that the Americans were in
some force, two other regiments, under Brigadier Powell, were ordered
to support the first party. Before the arrival of this reinforcement,
Colonel Long attacked the ninth regiment, and a sharp skirmish ensued,
in which the British kept their ground, and the advantage was claimed
by both parties. Hearing that a reinforcement was approaching, Long
set fire to the works at fort Anne, and retired to fort Edward.

{July 7.}

At Stillwater, on his way to Ticonderoga, General Schuyler was
informed of the evacuation of that place; and, on the same day, at
Saratoga, of the loss of the stores at Skeensborough. He had heard
nothing from General St. Clair; and was seriously apprehensive for
that officer and his army, which, after the junction of Colonel Long,
consisted of about fifteen hundred continental troops, and the same
number of militia. They were dispirited by defeat, without tents,
badly armed, and had lost great part of their stores and baggage. The
country was generally much alarmed; and even the well affected
discovered more inclination to take care of themselves than to join
the army. In this gloomy state of things, no officer could have
exerted more diligence and skill than were displayed by Schuyler.
Having fixed his head quarters at fort Edward, he employed to the
utmost advantage the short respite from action which Burgoyne
unavoidably gave. The country between Skeensborough and fort Edward
was almost entirely unsettled, was covered with thick woods, and of a
surface extremely rough, and much intersected with creeks and
morasses. Wood creek was navigable with batteaux as far as fort Anne;
and military stores of every description might be transported up it.
He obstructed its navigation by sinking numerous impediments in its
course, broke up the bridges, and rendered the roads impassable. He
was also indefatigable in driving the live stock out of the way, and
in bringing from fort George to fort Edward, the ammunition and other
military stores which had been deposited at that place. Still farther
to delay the movements of the British, he posted Colonel Warner on
their left flank, with instructions to raise the militia in that
quarter. The hope was entertained, that the appearance of a
respectable force, threatening the flank and rear of the invading
army, would not only retard its advance, but would induce General
Burgoyne to weaken it, in order to strengthen the garrison of

While thus endeavoring to obstruct the march of the enemy, Schuyler
was not less attentive to the best means of strengthening his own
army. Reinforcements of regular troops were earnestly solicited; the
militia of New England and New York were required to take the field,
and all his influence in the surrounding country was exerted to
reanimate the people, and to prevent their defection from the American

[Sidenote: Proclamation of Burgoyne and counter-proclamation of

While at Skeensborough General Burgoyne issued a second
proclamation[78] summoning the people of the adjacent country to send
ten deputies from each township to meet Colonel Skeene at Castletown,
in order to deliberate on such measures as might still be adopted to
save those who had not yet conformed to his first, and submitted to
the royal authority. General Schuyler apprehending some effect from
this paper, issued a counter proclamation, stating the insidious
designs of the enemy. Warning the inhabitants, by the example of
Jersey, of the danger to which their yielding to this seductive
proposition would expose them, and giving them the most solemn
assurances that all who should send deputies to this meeting, or in
any manner aid the enemy, would be considered traitors, and should
suffer the utmost rigour of the law.

     [Footnote 78: Remem.]

The evacuation of Ticonderoga was a shock for which no part of the
United States was prepared. Neither the strength of the invading army,
nor of the garrison had been understood. When therefore intelligence
was received that a place, on the fortifications of which much money
and labour had been expended, which was considered as the key to the
whole northwestern country, and supposed to contain a garrison nearly
equal to the invading army, had been abandoned without a siege; that
an immense train of artillery, and all the military stores, had either
fallen into the hands of the enemy, or been destroyed; that the army,
on its retreat, had been attacked, defeated, and dispersed;
astonishment pervaded all ranks of men; and the conduct of the
officers was universally condemned. Congress recalled all the generals
of the department, and directed an inquiry into their conduct.
Throughout New England especially, the most bitter aspersions were
cast on them and General Schuyler, who, from some unknown cause, had
never been viewed with favour in that part of the continent, was
involved in the common charge of treachery, to which this accumulation
of unlooked-for calamity was generally attributed by the mass of the

On the representations of General Washington, the recall of the
officers was suspended, until he should be of opinion that the service
would not suffer by the measure; and, on a full inquiry afterwards
made into their conduct, they were acquitted of all blame.

In a letter of St. Clair to the Commander-in-chief, stating his
motives for evacuating Ticonderoga, he represented the strength of his
garrison, including nine hundred militia, who would consent to stay
but a few days, at only three thousand effective rank and file, many
of whom were without bayonets. The lines required ten thousand to man
them properly. He also affirmed, that his supply of provisions was
sufficient for only twenty days, and that the works on the Ticonderoga
side were incomplete, with their flanks undefended. He justified his
having failed to call in a larger reinforcement of militia, by the
scarcity of provisions, the supply on hand not having been procured
until General Schuyler had resumed the command in the department; and
attributed his not having evacuated the place in time to preserve his
army and stores, to the prevalent opinion that there was not a
sufficient force in Canada to attempt so hardy an enterprise, and to
his not being at liberty to adopt that measure but in the last

A court of inquiry justified his conduct, and he retained the
confidence of the Commander-in-chief.

On learning the distressed state of the remnant of the army, General
Washington made great exertions to repair its losses, and to reinforce
it. The utmost industry was used to procure a supply of tents;
artillery and ammunition were forwarded from Massachusetts; the
remaining troops of that state were ordered to that department; and
General Lincoln, who possessed, in a high degree, the confidence of
the New England militia, was directed to raise and command them.
General Arnold, so often distinguished for his gallantry in the field,
was ordered to the northern army, in the hope that his presence and
reputation might reanimate the troops; and Colonel Morgan, with his
corps of riflemen, was detached on the same service. Through the
present dark gloom, Washington discerned a ray of light, and already
cherished the hope that much good might result from present evil. "The
evacuation of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence," said he in a letter
of the 15th of July, to General Schuyler, "is an event of chagrin and
surprise, not apprehended, nor within the compass of my reasoning.
This stroke is severe indeed, and has distressed us much. But,
notwithstanding, things at present wear a dark and gloomy aspect, I
hope a spirited opposition will check the progress of General
Burgoyne's arms, and that the confidence derived from success will
hurry him into measures that will, in their consequences, be
favourable to us. We should never despair. Our situation has before
been unpromising, and has changed for the better. So, I trust, it will
again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new
exertions, and proportion our efforts to the exigency of the times."

On receiving a letter from General Schuyler of the seventeenth,
stating the divided situation of the British army, he seemed to
anticipate the event which afterwards occurred, and to suggest the
measure in which originated that torrent of misfortune with which
Burgoyne was overwhelmed. "Though our affairs," he said in reply to
this information, "have for some days past worn a dark and gloomy
aspect, I yet look forward to a fortunate and happy change. I trust
General Burgoyne's army will meet, sooner or later, an effectual
check; and, as I suggested before, that the success he has met with
will precipitate his ruin. From your accounts, he appears to be
pursuing that line of conduct which, of all others, is most favourable
to us. I mean acting in detachment. This conduct will certainly give
room for enterprise on our part, and expose his parties to great
hazard. Could we be so happy as to cut one of them off, though it
should not exceed four, five, or six hundred men, it would inspirit
the people, and do away much of their present anxiety. In such an
event, they would lose sight of past misfortunes; and, urged at the
same time by a regard for their own security, would fly to arms, and
afford every aid in their power."

After allowing a short repose to his army, General Burgoyne proceeded
with ardour to the remaining objects of the campaign. The toils and
delays which must be encountered in reaching the Hudson were soon
perceived. He found it necessary to open Wood creek, and to repair the
roads and bridges which Schuyler had broken up. Such was the
unavoidable delay of this difficult operation, that the army did not
arrive on the Hudson, in the neighbourhood of fort Edward, till the
fourteenth of July. At this place it was necessary again to halt, in
order to bring artillery, provisions, batteaux, and other articles
from fort George.

[Sidenote: Burgoyne approaches Fort Edward and Schuyler retires to

[Sidenote: From thence to Stillwater.]

The time afforded by this delay had been employed by Schuyler to the
utmost advantage. Some reinforcements of continental troops had
arrived from Peekskill, and the militia had been assembled; but his
strength did not yet afford a reasonable prospect of success in a
contest with the enemy opposed to him. On this account, as Burgoyne
approached fort Edward, Schuyler retired over the Hudson to Saratoga,
and soon afterwards to Stillwater, not far from the mouth of the
Mohawk. At this place, General Lincoln, who had been detached to take
command of the militia assembling at Manchester, was ordered to rejoin
him, and he fortified his camp in the hope of being strong enough to
defend it.

{August 15}

At Stillwater, information was obtained that Burgoyne had evacuated
Castletown; so that the only communication with Ticonderoga, whence
nearly all his supplies were drawn, was through Lake George; and that
the garrison of that important place had been reduced to three hundred
men. In consequence of this intelligence, the orders to General
Lincoln were countermanded, and he was directed with the militia of
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and of the Grants, making, as was
understood, a total of between two and three thousand men, to place
himself in the rear of the British army, and cut off its communication
with the lakes. Here too he was informed that Colonel St. Leger, with
a large body of Indians, in addition to his regulars, had penetrated
from Oswego, by the way of the Oneida lake and Wood creek, to the
Mohawk, where he had laid siege to fort Schuyler, and had totally
defeated General Herkimer, who had raised the militia of Tryon county,
in order to relieve the fort. The importance of protecting the
inhabitants from the savages, and of preventing a junction between St.
Leger and Burgoyne, and the consequent loss of the country on the
Mohawk, determined Schuyler, weak as he was, to detach Major General
Arnold with three continental regiments to raise the siege. The army
was so enfeebled by this measure, that its removal to a place of
greater security became necessary, and it was withdrawn to some
islands in the confluence of the Hudson and the Mohawk, where the camp
was deemed more defensible. Burgoyne had now marched down the east
side of the Hudson, and his advanced parties had crossed the river,
and occupied the ground at Saratoga.

[Sidenote: St. Leger invests Fort Schuyler.]

On the 3d of August, after a message vaunting of his strength, and
demanding a surrender, which was answered by a declaration that the
fort would be defended to the last extremity, St. Leger invested fort
Schuyler. The garrison amounted to six hundred men, all continental
troops, who were commanded by Colonel Gansevoort. The besieging army
rather exceeded fifteen hundred, of whom from six to nine hundred were

On the approach of the enemy, General Herkimer, who commanded the
militia of Tryon county, assembled them in considerable numbers, and
gave information to the garrison, about eleven in the morning of the
sixth, of his intention to force a passage that day through the
besieging army. Gansevoort determined to favour the execution of this
design by a vigorous sortie; and upwards of two hundred men, to be
commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Willet, were drawn out for that

[Sidenote: Herkimer, advancing to the relief of the fort, falls into
an ambuscade, and is defeated with loss.]

Unfortunately St. Leger received information the preceding day of
Herkimer's approach, and, early in the morning, placed a strong party,
composed of regulars and Indians, in ambuscade on the road along which
he was to march. His first notice of it was given by a heavy discharge
of small arms, which was followed by a furious attack from the Indians
with their tomahawks. He defended himself with resolution; but was
defeated with great slaughter. The general and several of the field
officers were wounded; and many others, among whom were several
persons of distinction, were killed or taken prisoners. The loss was
estimated at four hundred men. The destruction was prevented from
being still more complete, by the very timely sortie made by
Lieutenant Colonel Willet, which checked the pursuit, and recalled
those engaged in it to the defence of their own camp.

As soon as Gansevoort understood that Herkimer was advancing, the
sortie which he had planned was made. Lieutenant Colonel Willet fell
on the camp of the besiegers, and routed them at the first onset.
After driving them, some into the woods, and others over the river, he
returned to the fort without the loss of a man.

Burgoyne had received early intimation of the arrival of St. Leger
before fort Schuyler; and was aware of the advantage to be derived
from an immediate and rapid movement down the Hudson. But the
obstacles to his progress multiplied daily, and each step produced new
embarrassments. Not more than one-third of the horses expected from
Canada had arrived; and Schuyler had been active in removing the draft
cattle of the country. With unremitting exertion, he had been able to
transport from fort George to the Hudson, a distance of eighteen
miles, only twelve batteaux, and provisions for four days in advance.
The defectiveness of his means to feed his army until it should reach
the abundant country below him, presented an impediment to his farther
progress, not readily to be surmounted. The difficulty of drawing
supplies from fort George would increase every day with the increasing
distance; and the communications, already endangered by a considerable
body of militia assembling at White Creek, could be secured only by
larger detachments from his army than he was in a condition to make.
These were strong inducements to attempt some other mode of supply.

[Sidenote: Colonel Baum is detached to seize the magazines at

It was well known that large magazines of provisions for the use of
the American army were collected at Bennington, which place was
generally guarded by militia, whose numbers varied from day to day.
The possession of these magazines would enable him to prosecute his
ulterior plans without relying for supplies from Lake George; and he
determined to seize them.

To try the affections of the country, to complete a corps of
loyalists, and to mount Reidisel's dragoons, were subordinate objects
of the expedition.[79] Lieutenant Colonel Baum with five hundred
Europeans, and a body of American loyalists, was detached on this

     [Footnote 79: Letter of Burgoyne.]

To facilitate the enterprise, and be ready to take advantage of its
success, Burgoyne moved down the east side of the Hudson, and threw a
bridge of rafts over that river for the passage of his van, which took
post at Saratoga. At the same time Lieutenant Colonel Brechman, with
his corps, was advanced to Batten Hill, in order, if necessary, to
support Colonel Baum.[80]

     [Footnote 80: Letter of Burgoyne.]

On approaching Bennington, Baum discovered that he should have to
encounter a much more considerable force than had been suspected. The
New Hampshire militia, commanded by General Starke, had reached that
place on their way to camp; and, uniting with Colonel Warner, made in
the whole about two thousand men.

Perceiving his danger, Baum halted about four miles from Bennington,
and despatched an express for a reinforcement. In the mean time, he
strengthened his position by intrenchments.

Lieutenant Colonel Brechman was immediately ordered to his assistance;
but, such was the state of the roads that, though the distance was
only twenty-four miles, and his march was pressed unremittingly from
eight in the morning of the 15th, he did not reach the ground on which
Baum had encamped, until four in the afternoon of the next day.[81]

     [Footnote 81: Ibid.]

[Sidenote: Is attacked in his intrenchments by General Starke, and
entirely routed.]

In the mean time, General Starke determined to attack him in his
intrenchments. So confident were the provincials belonging to this
party, of the attachment of the country to the royal cause, that the
American troops, while making their dispositions for the attack, were
mistaken for armed friends coming to join them. On discovering his
error, Baum prepared for the contest, and made a gallant defence. His
works however were carried by storm, and great part of his detachment
killed, or taken prisoners. A few escaped into the woods, and saved
themselves by flight.

[Sidenote: Brechman advances to Baum's aid, is attacked by Colonel
Warner, and defeated.]

Brechman arrived during the pursuit, and obtained from the fugitives,
the first intelligence of the disaster which had befallen them. He
immediately attacked the parties of militia who were engaged in the
pursuit, and gained some advantage over them. Fortunately for the
Americans, Colonel Warner[82] came up at this critical juncture with
his continental regiment, and restored, and continued the action,
until the main body of the militia re-assembled, and came to support
him. Brechman in turn was compelled to retire; but he maintained the
engagement until dark, when, abandoning his artillery and baggage, he
saved his party under cover of the night.

     [Footnote 82: Gordon.]

One thousand stand of arms, and nine hundred swords were taken in this
battle. General Burgoyne represented his loss in men at about four
hundred; but thirty-two officers, and five hundred and sixty-four
privates, including Canadians and loyalists, were made prisoners. The
number of the dead was not ascertained, because the action with
Brechman had been fought in the woods, and been continued for several

The British general therefore must have included in his estimate of
loss, only his European troops.

This important success was soon followed by another of equal influence
on the fate of the campaign.

Fort Schuyler had been fortified with more skill, and was defended
with more courage, than St. Leger had expected. His artillery made no
impression on its walls; and his Indians, who were much better pleased
with obtaining plunder and scalps, than besieging fortresses, became
intractable, and manifested great disgust with the service. In this
temper, they understood that Arnold was advancing with a large body of
continental troops; and, soon afterwards were told that Burgoyne and
his army had been totally defeated; a report probably founded on the
affair at Bennington. Unwilling to share the misfortune of their
friends, they manifested a determination not to await the arrival of
Arnold. The efforts of St. Leger to detain them being ineffectual,
many of them decamped immediately, and the rest threatened to follow.

[Sidenote: St. Leger abandons the siege of Fort Schuyler, and retreats
to Ticonderoga.]

The time for deliberation was past. The camp was broken up with
indications of excessive alarm. The tents were left standing; and the
artillery, with great part of the baggage, ammunition, and provisions,
fell into the hands of the Americans. The retreating army was pursued
by a detachment from the garrison; and it was stated by deserters,
that the Indians plundered the remaining baggage of the officers, and
massacred such soldiers as could not keep up with the line of march.
St. Leger returned to Montreal, whence he proceeded to Ticonderoga,
with the intention of joining General Burgoyne by that route.

The decisive victory at Bennington, and the retreat of St. Leger from
fort Schuyler, however important in themselves, were still more so in
their consequences. An army, which had spread terror and dismay in
every direction, which had, previously, experienced no reverse of
fortune, was considered as already beaten; and the opinion became
common, that the appearance of the great body of the people in arms,
would secure the emancipation of their country. It was too an
advantage of no inconsiderable importance resulting from this change
of public opinion, that the disaffected became timid, and the wavering
who, had the torrent of success continued, would have made a merit of
contributing their aid to the victor, were no longer disposed to put
themselves and their fortunes in hazard, to support an army whose fate
was so uncertain.

The barbarities which had been perpetrated by the Indians belonging to
the invading armies, excited still more resentment than terror. As the
prospect of revenge began to open, their effect became the more
apparent; and their influence on the royal cause was the more sensibly
felt because they had been indiscriminate.

[Sidenote: The murder of Miss M'Crea.]

The murder of Miss M'Crea passed through all the papers of the
continent: and the story, being retouched by the hand of more than one
master, excited a peculiar degree of sensibility.[83] But there were
other causes of still greater influence in producing the events which
afterwards took place. The last reinforcements of continental troops
arrived in camp about this time, and added both courage and strength
to the army. The harvest, which had detained the northern militia upon
their farms, was over; and General Schuyler, whose continued and
eminent services had not exempted him from the imputation of being a
traitor, was succeeded by General Gates, who possessed a large share
of the public confidence.

     [Footnote 83: See note No. IX. at the end of the volume.]

[Sidenote: General Gates takes command of the Northern Army.]

When Schuyler was directed by congress to resume the command of the
northern department, Gates withdrew himself from it. When the
resolution passed recalling the general officers who had served in
that department, General Washington was requested to name a successor
to Schuyler. On his expressing a wish to decline this nomination, and
representing the inconvenience of removing all the general officers,
Gates was again directed to repair thither and take the command, and
their resolution to recall the brigadiers was suspended until the
Commander-in-chief should be of opinion that it might be carried into
effect with safety.

Schuyler retained the command until the arrival of Gates, which was on
the 19th of August, and continued his exertions to restore the affairs
of the department, though he felt acutely the disgrace of being
recalled in this critical and interesting state of the campaign. "It
is," said he, in a letter to the Commander-in-chief, "matter of
extreme chagrin to me to be deprived of the command at a time when,
soon if ever, we shall probably be enabled to face the enemy; when we
are on the point of taking ground[84] where they must attack to a
disadvantage, should our force be inadequate to facing them in the
field; when an opportunity will, in all probability, occur, in which I
might evince that I am not what congress have too plainly insinuated
by taking the command from me."

     [Footnote 84: The islands in the mouth of the Mohawk.]

If error be attributable to the evacuation of Ticonderoga, no portion
of it was committed by Schuyler. His removal from the command was
probably severe and unjust as respected himself; but perhaps wise as
respected America. The frontier towards the lakes was to be defended
by the troops of New England; and, however unfounded their prejudices
against him might be, it was prudent to consult them.

Notwithstanding the difficulties which multiplied around him, Burgoyne
remained steady to his purpose. The disasters at Bennington and on the
Mohawk produced no disposition to abandon the enterprise and save his

{September 14.}

[Sidenote: Burgoyne encamps on the heights of Saratoga.]

It had now become necessary to recur to the slow and toilsome mode of
obtaining supplies from fort George. Having, with persevering labour,
collected provision for thirty days in advance, he crossed the Hudson
on the 13th and 14th of September, and encamped on the heights and
plains of Saratoga, with a determination to decide the fate of the
expedition in a general engagement.

General Gates, having been joined by all the continental troops
destined for the northern department, and reinforced by large bodies
of militia, had moved from his camp in the islands, and advanced to
the neighbourhood of Stillwater.

[Sidenote: He attacks Gates at Stillwater.]

{September 19.}

The bridges between the two armies having been broken down, the roads
being excessively bad, and the country covered with wood, the progress
of the British army down the river was slow. On the night of the 17th,
Burgoyne encamped within four miles of the American army, and the next
day was employed in repairing the bridges between the two camps.[85]
In the morning of the 19th he advanced in full force towards the
American left. Morgan was immediately detached with his corps to
observe the enemy, and to harass his front and flanks. He fell in with
a picket in front of the right wing, which he attacked with vivacity,
and drove in upon the main body. Pursuing with too much ardour, he was
met in considerable force, and, after a severe encounter, was
compelled, in turn, to retire in some disorder. Two regiments being
advanced to his assistance, his corps was rallied, and the action
became more general. The Americans were formed in a wood, with an open
field in front, and invariably repulsed the British corps which
attacked them; but when they pursued those corps to the main body,
they were in turn driven back to their first ground. Reinforcements
were continually brought up, and about four in the afternoon, upwards
of three thousand American troops[86] were closely engaged with the
whole right wing of the British army commanded by General Burgoyne in
person. The conflict was extremely severe, and only terminated with
the day. At dark, the Americans retired to their camp, and the
British, who had found great difficulty in maintaining their ground,
lay all night on their arms near the field of battle.

     [Footnote 85: Letter of Burgoyne.]

     [Footnote 86: The accounts of the day stated that the
     Americans were commanded by General Arnold, but General
     Wilkinson says that no general officer was in the field.]

In this action the killed and wounded on the part of the Americans
were between three and four hundred. Among the former were Colonels
Coburn and Adams, and several other valuable officers. The British
loss has been estimated at rather more than five hundred men.

Each army claimed the victory; and each believed itself to have beaten
near the whole of the hostile army with only a part of its own force.
The advantage, however, taking all circumstances into consideration,
was decidedly with the Americans. In a conflict which nearly consumed
the day, they found themselves at least equal to their antagonists. In
every quarter they had acted on the offensive; and, after an encounter
for several hours, had not lost an inch of ground. They had not been
driven from the field, but had retired from it at the close of day, to
the camp from which they had marched to battle. Their object, which
was to check the advancing enemy, had been obtained; while that of the
British general had failed. In the actual state of things, to fight
without being beaten was, on their part, victory; while, on the part
of the British, to fight without a decisive victory, was defeat. The
Indians, who found themselves beaten in the woods by Morgan, and
restrained from scalping and plundering the unarmed by Burgoyne, who
saw before them the prospect of hard fighting without profit, grew
tired of the service, and deserted in great numbers. The Canadians and
Provincials were not much more faithful; and Burgoyne soon perceived
that his hopes must rest almost entirely on his European troops.

With reason, therefore, this action was celebrated throughout the
United States as a victory, and considered as the precursor of the
total ruin of the invading army. The utmost exultation was displayed,
and the militia were stimulated to fly to arms, and complete the work
so happily begun.

General Lincoln, in conformity with directions which have been stated,
had assembled a considerable body of New England militia in the rear
of Burgoyne, from which he drew three parties of about five hundred
men each. One of these was detached under the command of Colonel
Brown, to the north end of Lake George, principally to relieve a
number of prisoners who were confined there, but with orders to push
his success, should he be fortunate, as far as prudence would admit.
Colonel Johnson, at the head of another party, marched towards Mount
Independence, and Colonel Woodbury, with a third, was detached to
Skeensborough to cover the retreat of both the others. With the
residue, Lincoln proceeded to the camp of Gates.

Colonel Brown, after marching all night, arrived, at the break of day,
on the north end of the lake, where he found a small post which he
carried without opposition. The surprise was complete; and he took
possession of Mount Defiance, Mount Hope, the landing place, and about
two hundred batteaux. With the loss of only three killed and five
wounded, he liberated one hundred American prisoners, and captured two
hundred and ninety-three of the enemy. This success was joyfully
proclaimed through the northern states. It was believed confidently
that Ticonderoga and Mount Independence were recovered; and the
militia were exhorted, by joining their brethren in the army, to
insure that event if it had not already happened.

The attempt on those places however failed. The garrison repulsed the
assailants; who, after a few days, abandoned the siege. On their
return through Lake George in the vessels they had captured, the
militia made an attack on Diamond Island, the depot of all the stores
collected at the north end of the lake. Being again repulsed, they
destroyed the vessels they had taken, and returned to their former

     [Footnote 87: Remem.]

{September 21.}

The day after the battle of Stillwater, General Burgoyne took a
position almost within cannon shot of the American camp, fortified his
right, and extended his left to the river. Directly after taking this
ground he received a letter from Sir Henry Clinton, informing him that
he should attack fort Montgomery about the 20th of September. The
messenger returned with information that Burgoyne was in extreme
difficulty, and would endeavour to wait for aid until the 12th of

     [Footnote 88: Letter of Burgoyne.]

Both armies retained their position until the 7th of October.
Burgoyne, in the hope of being relieved by Sir Henry Clinton; and
Gates, in the confidence of growing stronger every day.

{October 7.}

Having received no farther intelligence from Sir Henry, and being
reduced to the necessity of diminishing the ration issued to his
soldiers, the British general determined to make one more trial of
strength with his adversary. In execution of this determination, he
drew out on his right fifteen hundred choice troops, whom he commanded
in person, assisted by Generals Philips, Reidisel, and Frazer.

The right wing was formed within three-quarters of a mile of the left
of the American camp; and a corps of rangers, Indians, and
provincials, was pushed on through secret paths, to show themselves in
its rear, and excite alarm in that quarter.[89]

     [Footnote 89: Remem.]

These movements were perceived by General Gates, who determined to
attack their left, and, at the same time, to fall on their right
flank. Poor's brigade, and some regiments from New Hampshire, were
ordered to meet them in front; while Morgan with his rifle corps made
a circuit unperceived, and seized a very advantageous height covered
with wood on their right. As soon as it was supposed that Morgan had
gained the ground he intended to occupy, the attack was made in front
and on the left, in great force. At this critical moment Morgan poured
in a deadly and incessant fire on the front and right flank.

While the British right wing was thus closely pressed in front, and on
its flank, a distinct division of the American troops was ordered to
intercept its retreat to camp, and to separate it from the residue of
the army. Burgoyne perceived the danger of his situation, and ordered
the light infantry under General Frazer, with part of the 24th
regiment, to form a second line, in order to cover the light infantry
of the right, and secure a retreat. While this movement was in
progress, the left of the British right was forced from its ground,
and the light infantry was ordered to its aid. In the attempt to
execute this order, they were attacked by the rifle corps, with great
effect; and Frazer was mortally wounded. Overpowered by numbers, and
pressed on all sides by a superior weight of fire, Burgoyne, with
great difficulty, and with the loss of his field pieces, and great
part of his artillery corps, regained his camp. The Americans followed
close in his rear; and assaulted his works throughout their whole
extent. Towards the close of day, the intrenchments were forced on
their right; and General Arnold, with a few men, actually entered
their works; but his horse being killed under him, and himself
wounded, the troops were forced out of them; and it being nearly dark,
they desisted from the assault. The left of Arnold's division was
still more successful. Jackson's regiment of Massachusetts, then led
by Lieutenant Colonel Brooks, turned the right of the encampment, and
stormed the works occupied by the German reserve. Lieutenant Colonel
Brechman who commanded in them was killed, and the works were carried.
The orders given by Burgoyne to recover them were not executed; and
Brooks maintained the ground he had gained.

Darkness put an end to the action; and the Americans lay all night
with their arms in their hands, about half a mile from the British
lines, ready to renew the assault with the return of day. The
advantage they had gained was decisive. They had taken several pieces
of artillery, killed a great number of men, made upwards of two
hundred prisoners, among whom were several officers of distinction,
and had penetrated the lines in a part which exposed the whole to
considerable danger.

Unwilling to risk the events of the next day on the same ground,
Burgoyne changed his position in the course of the night, and drew his
whole army into a strong camp on the river heights, extending his
right up the river. This movement extricated him from the danger of
being attacked the ensuing morning by an enemy already in possession
of part of his works.

{October 8.}

General Gates perceived the strength of this position, and was not
disposed to hazard an assault. Aware of the critical situation of his
adversary, he detached a party higher up the Hudson for the purpose of
intercepting the British army on its retreat, while strong corps were
posted on the other side of the river to guard its passage.

[Sidenote: Retreats to Saratoga.]

This movement compelled Burgoyne again to change his position, and to
retire to Saratoga. About nine at night the retreat was commenced, and
was effected with the loss of his hospital, containing about three
hundred sick, and of several batteaux laden with provision and
baggage. On reaching the ground to be occupied, he found a strong
corps already intrenched on the opposite side of the river, prepared
to dispute its passage.

{October 10.}

From Saratoga, Burgoyne detached a company of artificers, under a
strong escort, to repair the roads and bridges towards fort Edward.
Scarcely had this detachment moved, when the Americans appeared in
force on the heights south of Saratoga creek, and made dispositions
which excited the apprehension of a design to cross it and attack his
camp. The Europeans escorting the artificers were recalled, and a
provincial corps, employed in the same service, being attacked by a
small party, ran away and left the workmen to shift for themselves.

No hope of repairing the roads remaining, it became impossible to move
the baggage and artillery.

The British army was now almost completely environed by a superior
force. No means remained of extricating itself from difficulties and
dangers which were continually increasing, but fording a river, on the
opposite bank of which a formidable body of troops was already posted;
and then escaping to fort George, through roads impassable by
artillery or wagons, while its rear was closely pressed by a
victorious enemy.[90]

     [Footnote 90: Mr. Gordon, in his history of the war, states
     himself to have received from General Glover an anecdote,
     showing, that all these advantages were on the point of
     being exposed to imminent hazard. "On the morning of the
     eleventh, Gates called the general officers together, and
     informed them of his having received certain intelligence,
     which might be depended upon, that the main body of
     Burgoyne's army was marched off for fort Edward with what
     they could take; and that the rear guard only was left in
     the camp, who, after awhile, were to push off as fast as
     possible, leaving the heavy baggage behind. On this it was
     concluded to advance and attack the camp in half an hour.
     The officers repaired immediately to their respective
     commands. General Nixon's being the eldest brigade, crossed
     the Saratoga creek first. Unknown to the Americans, Burgoyne
     had a line formed behind a parcel of brush-wood, to support
     the park of artillery where the attack was to be made.
     General Glover was upon the point of following Nixon. Just
     as he entered the water, he saw a British soldier making
     across, whom he called and examined." This soldier was a
     deserter, and communicated the very important fact that the
     whole British army were in their encampment. Nixon was
     immediately stopped: and the intelligence conveyed to Gates,
     who countermanded his orders for the assault, and called
     back his troops, not without sustaining some loss from the
     British artillery.

     Gordon is confirmed by General Wilkinson, who was adjutant
     general in the American army. The narrative of the general
     varies from that of Gordon only in minor circumstances.]

A council of general officers called to deliberate on their situation,
took the bold resolution to abandon every thing but their arms and
such provisions as the soldiers could carry; and, by a forced march in
the night up the river, to extricate themselves from the American
army; and crossing at fort Edward, or at a ford above it, to press on
to fort George.

Gates had foreseen this movement, and had prepared for it. In addition
to placing strong guards at the fords of the Hudson, he had formed an
intrenched camp on the high grounds between fort Edward and fort
George. The scouts sent to examine the route returned with this
information, and the plan was abandoned as impracticable.

Nothing could be more hopeless than the condition of the British army,
or more desperate than that of their general, as described by himself.
In his letter to Lord George Germain, secretary of state for American
affairs, he says, "A series of hard toil, incessant effort, stubborn
action, until disabled in the collateral branches of the army by the
total defection of the Indians; the desertion, or timidity of the
Canadians and provincials, some individuals excepted; disappointed in
the last hope of any co-operation from other armies; the regular
troops reduced by losses from the best parts, to three thousand five
hundred fighting men, not two thousand of which were British; only
three days provisions, upon short allowance, in store; invested by an
army of sixteen thousand men; and no appearance of retreat remaining;
I called into council all the generals, field officers, and captains
commanding corps, and by their unanimous concurrence and advice, I was
induced to open a treaty with Major General Gates."

A treaty was opened with a general proposition, stating the
willingness of the British general to spare the further effusion of
blood, provided a negotiation could be effected on honourable terms.

[Sidenote: Surrender of the army under Burgoyne.]

{October 17.}

This proposition was answered by a demand that the whole army should
ground their arms in their encampment, and surrender themselves
prisoners of war. This demand was instantly rejected, with a
declaration that if General Gates designed to insist on it, the
negotiation must immediately break off, and hostilities recommence. On
receiving this decided answer, Gates receded from the rigorous terms
at first proposed; and a convention was signed, in which it was agreed
that the British army, after marching out of their encampment with all
the honours of war, should lay down their arms, and not serve against
the United States till exchanged. They were not to be detained in
captivity, but to be permitted to embark for England.

The situation of the armies considered,[91] these terms were highly
honourable to the British general, and favourable to his nation. They
were probably more advantageous than would have been granted by
General Gates, had he entertained no apprehension from Sir Henry
Clinton, who was, at length, making the promised diversion on the
North River, up which he had penetrated as far as Æsopus.

     [Footnote 91: The American army consisted of nine thousand
     and ninety-three continental troops. The number of the
     militia fluctuated; but amounted, at the signature of the
     convention, to four thousand one hundred and twenty-nine.
     The sick exceeded two thousand five hundred men.]

The drafts made from Peekskill for both armies had left that post in a
situation to require the aid of militia for its security. The
requisitions of General Putnam were complied with; but the attack upon
them being delayed, the militia, who were anxious to seed their farms,
became impatient; many deserted; and General Putnam was induced to
discharge the residue.

Governor Clinton immediately ordered out half the militia of New York,
with assurances that they should be relieved in one month by the other
half. This order was executed so slowly that the forts were carried
before the militia were in the field.

Great pains had been taken, and much labour employed, to render this
position, which is naturally strong, still more secure. The principal
defences were forts Montgomery and Clinton. They had been constructed
on the western bank of the Hudson, on very high ground, extremely
difficult of access, and were separated from each other by a small
creek which runs from the mountains into the river. These forts were
too much elevated to be battered from the water, and the hills on
which they stood were too steep to be ascended by troops landing at
the foot of them. The mountains, which commence five or six miles
below them, are so high and rugged, the defiles, through which the
roads leading to them pass, so narrow, and so commanded by the heights
on both sides, that the approaches to them are extremely difficult and

To prevent ships from passing the forts, chevaux-de-frise had been
sunk in the river, and a boom extended from bank to bank, which was
covered with immense chains stretched at some distance in its front.
These works were defended by the guns of the forts, and by a frigate
and galleys stationed above them, capable of opposing with an equal
fire in front any force which might attack them by water from below.

Fort Independence is four or five miles below forts Montgomery and
Clinton, and on the opposite side of the river, on a high point of
land; and fort Constitution is rather more than six miles above them,
on an island near the eastern shore. Peekskill, the general head
quarters of the officer commanding at the station, is just below fort
Independence, and on the same side of the river. The garrisons had
been reduced to about six hundred men; and the whole force under
General Putnam did not much exceed two thousand. Yet this force,
though far inferior to that which General Washington had ordered to be
retained at the station, was, if properly applied, more than competent
to the defence of the forts against any numbers which could be spared
from New York. To insure success to the enterprise, it was necessary
to draw the attention of Putnam from the real object, and to storm the
works before the garrisons could be aided by his army. This Sir Henry
Clinton accomplished.

{October 6.}

Between three and four thousand men embarked at New York, and landed
on the 5th of October at Verplank's Point, on the east side of the
Hudson, a short distance below Peekskill, upon which General Putnam
retired to the heights in his rear. On the evening of the same day, a
part of these troops re-embarked, and the fleet moved up the river to
Peekskill Neck, in order to mask King's ferry, which was below them.
The next morning, at break of day, the troops destined for the
enterprise, landed on the west side of Stony Point, and commenced
their march through the mountains, into the rear of forts Clinton and
Montgomery.[92] This disembarkation was observed; but the morning was
so foggy that the numbers could not be distinguished; and a large
fire, which was afterwards perceived at the landing place, suggested
the idea that the sole object of the party on shore was the burning of
some store houses. In the mean time, the manoeuvres of the vessels,
and the appearance of a small detachment left at Verplank's Point,
persuaded General Putnam that the meditated attack was on fort

     [Footnote 92: Letter of Sir Henry Clinton.]

[Sidenote: Forts Montgomery and Clinton taken by the British.]

His whole attention was directed to this object; and the real designs
of the enemy were not suspected, until a heavy firing from the other
side of the river announced the assault on forts Clinton and
Montgomery. Five hundred men were instantly detached to reinforce the
garrisons of those places; but before this detachment could cross the
river the forts were in possession of the British.

Having left a battalion at the pass of Thunderhill, to keep up a
communication, Sir Henry Clinton had formed his army into two
divisions; one of which consisting of nine hundred men, commanded by
Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, made a circuit by the forest of Deane, in
order to fall on the back of fort Montgomery; while the other,
consisting of twelve hundred men, commanded by General Vaughan, and
accompanied by Sir Henry Clinton in person, advanced slowly against
fort Clinton.[93]

     [Footnote 93: Letter of Sir Henry Clinton.]

Both posts were assaulted about five in the afternoon. The works were
defended with resolution, and were maintained until dark, when, the
lines being too extensive to be completely manned, the assailants
entered them in different places. The defence being no longer
possible, some of the garrison were made prisoners, while their better
knowledge of the country enabled others to escape. Governor Clinton
passed the river in a boat, and General James Clinton, though wounded
in the thigh by a bayonet, also made his escape. Lieutenant Colonels
Livingston and Bruyn, and Majors Hamilton and Logan were among the
prisoners. The loss sustained by the garrisons was about two hundred
and fifty men. That of the assailants, was stated by Sir H. Clinton,
at less than two hundred. Among the killed were Lieutenant Colonel
Campbell, and two other field officers.

[Sidenote: Peekskill, together with Forts Independence and
Constitution evacuated by the Americans.]

As the boom and chains drawn across the river could no longer be
defended, the continental frigates and galleys lying above them were
burnt, to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy. Fort
Independence and fort Constitution were evacuated the next day, and
Putnam retreated to Fishkill. General Vaughan, after burning
Continental village, where stores to a considerable amount had been
deposited, proceeded, at the head of a strong detachment, up the river
to Æsopus, which he also destroyed.[94]

     [Footnote 94: Intelligence of the success of Sir Henry
     Clinton on the North River was received by General Burgoyne,
     in the night after the convention at Saratoga had been
     agreed upon, but before the articles had been signed and
     executed. The British general had serious thoughts of
     breaking off the treaty.]

{October 8.}

General Putnam, whose army had been augmented by reinforcements of
militia to six thousand men, detached General Parsons with two
thousand, to repossess himself of Peekskill, and of the passes in the
highlands; while, with the residue, he watched the progress of the
enemy up the river. The want of heavy artillery prevented his annoying
their ships in the Hudson.

On the capitulation of Burgoyne, near five thousand men had been
detached by Gates to his aid. Before their arrival, General Vaughan
had returned to New York, whence a reinforcement to General Howe was
then about to sail.

Great as was the injury sustained by the United States from this
enterprise, Great Britain derived from it no solid advantage. It was
undertaken at too late a period to save Burgoyne; and though the
passes in the highlands were acquired, they could not be retained. The
British had reduced to ashes every village, and almost every house
within their power; but this wanton and useless destruction served to
irritate, without tending to subdue. A keenness was given to the
resentment of the injured, which outlasted the contest between the two

The army which surrendered at Saratoga exceeded five thousand men. On
marching from Ticonderoga, it was estimated at nine thousand. In
addition to this great military force, the British lost, and the
Americans acquired, a fine train of artillery, seven thousand stand of
excellent arms, clothing for seven thousand recruits, with tents, and
other military stores, to a considerable amount.

The thanks of congress were voted to General Gates and his army; and a
medal of gold, in commemoration of this great event, was ordered to be
struck, and presented to him by the President, in the name of the
United States. Colonel Wilkinson, his Adjutant General, whom he
strongly recommended, was appointed Brigadier General by brevet.

[Illustration: The Saratoga Battle Monument

_Schuylerville, New York_

_"Nothing bespeaks more strongly the consummate tragedy of Benedict
Arnold's career than the Battle Monument which rises on the banks of
the Hudson to commemorate the victory of Saratoga. In the square shaft
are four high Gothic arches, and in these are placed heroic statues of
the generals who won the victory. Horatio Gates, unworthy though he
was, stands there in bronze. The gallant Schuyler, the intrepid
Morgan, honor the other two. But where is he whose valor turned back
the advancing Saint-Leger? whose prompt decision saved the Continental
position at Bemis Heights? whose military genius truly gained the day?
A vacant niche--empty as England's rewards, void as his own
life--speaks more eloquently than words, more strongly than
condemnation, more pitifully than tears, of a mighty career blighted
by treason and hurled into the bottomless pit of despair. This is
America's way of honoring Arnold in his dishonor."_

--From The Real America in Romance.]

In the opinion that the British would not immediately abandon the
passes in the highlands, congress ordered Putnam to join General
Washington with a reinforcement not exceeding two thousand five
hundred men, and directed Gates to take command of the army on the
Hudson, with unlimited powers to call for aids of militia from the New
England States, as well as from New York and New Jersey.

A proposition to authorize the Commander-in-chief, after consulting
with General Gates and Governor Clinton, to increase the detachment
designed to strengthen his army, if he should then be of opinion that
it might be done without endangering the objects to be accomplished by
Gates, was seriously opposed. An attempt was made to amend this
proposition so as to make the increase of the reinforcement to depend
on the assent of Gates and Clinton; but this amendment was lost by a
considerable majority, and the original resolution was carried. These
proceedings were attended with no other consequences than to excite
some degree of attention to the state of parties.

[Sidenote: Ticonderoga and Mount Independence evacuated by the enemy.]

Soon after the capitulation of Burgoyne, Ticonderoga and Mount
Independence were evacuated, and the garrison retired to Isle Aux
Noix, and St. Johns.

The effect produced by this event on the British cabinet and nation
was great and immediate. It seemed to remove the delusive hopes of
conquest with which they had been flattered, and suddenly to display
the mass of resistance which must yet be encountered. Previous to the
reception of this disastrous intelligence, the employment of savages
in the war had been the subject of severe animadversion. Parliament
was assembled on the 20th of November; and, as usual, addresses were
proposed in answer to the speech from the throne, entirely approving
the conduct of the administration. In the House of Lords, the Earl of
Chatham moved to amend the address by introducing a clause
recommending to his Majesty, an immediate cessation of hostilities,
and the commencement of a treaty of conciliation, "to restore peace
and liberty to America, strength and happiness to England, security
and permanent prosperity to both countries." In the course of the very
animated observations made by this extraordinary man in support of his
motion, he said,[95] "But, my Lords, who is the man that, in addition
to the disgraces and mischiefs of war, has dared to authorize and
associate to our arms the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage?
to call into civilized alliance the wild and inhuman inhabitant of the
woods? to delegate to the merciless Indian the defence of disputed
rights, and to wage the horrors of his barbarous war against our
brethren? My Lords, these enormities cry aloud for redress and
punishment. Unless thoroughly done away they will be a stain on the
national character. It is not the least of our national misfortunes
that the strength and character of our army are thus impaired.
Familiarized to the horrid scenes of savage cruelty, it can no longer
boast of the noble and generous principles which dignify a soldier. No
longer sympathize with the dignity of the royal banner, nor feel the
pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war that makes ambition
virtue. What makes ambition virtue? the sense of honour. But is this
sense of honour consistent with the spirit of plunder, or the practice
of murder? Can it flow from mercenary motives? or can it prompt to
cruel deeds?"[96]

     [Footnote 95: Life of Chatham.--Belsham.]

     [Footnote 96: See note No. X. at the end of the volume.]

The conduct of administration, however, received the full approbation
of large majorities; but the triumph these victories in Parliament
afforded them was of short duration. The disastrous issue of an
expedition from which the most sanguine expectations had been formed,
was soon known, and the mortification it produced was extreme. A
reluctant confession of the calamity was made by the minister, and a
desire to restore peace on any terms consistent with the integrity of
the empire found its way into the cabinet.


     Defects in the Commissary department.... Distress of the
     army at Valley Forge.... The army subsisted by
     impressments.... Combination in congress against General
     Washington.... Correspondence between him and General
     Gates.... Distress of the army for clothes.... Washington's
     exertions to augment the army.... Congress sends a committee
     to camp.... Attempt to surprise Captain Lee.... Congress
     determines on a second expedition to Canada.... Abandons
     it.... General Conway resigns.... The Baron Steuben
     appointed Inspector General.... Congress forbids the
     embarkation of Burgoyne's army.... Plan of reconciliation
     agreed to in Parliament.... Communicated to congress and
     rejected.... Information of treaties between France and the
     United States.... Great Britain declares war against
     France.... The treaties with France ratified by congress....
     Complaints of the treatment of prisoners.... A partial
     exchange agreed to.


The army under the immediate command of General Washington was engaged
through the winter in endeavouring to stop the intercourse between
Philadelphia and the country. To effect this object General Smallwood
was detached with one division to Wilmington; Colonel Morgan was
placed on the lines on the west side of the Schuylkill; and General
Armstrong, with the Pennsylvania militia, was stationed near the old
camp at White Marsh. Major Jameson, with two troops of cavalry, and
M'Lane's infantry, was directed to guard the east, and Captain Lee
with his troop, the west side of that river. General Count Pulaski, a
Polish nobleman who commanded the horse, led the residue of the
cavalry to Trenton, where he trained them for the ensuing campaign.

{December 22.}

One of the first operations meditated by General Washington after
crossing the Schuylkill was the destruction of a large quantity of hay
which remained in the islands above the mouth of Derby Creek, within
the power of the British. Early in the morning after his orders for
this purpose had been given, Sir William Howe marched out in full
force, and encamped between Derby and the middle party, so as
completely to cover the islands; while a foraging party removed the
hay. Washington, with the intention of disturbing this operation, gave
orders for putting his army in motion, when the alarming fact was
disclosed, that the commissary's stores were exhausted, and that the
last ration had been delivered and consumed.

Accustomed as were the continental troops to privations of every sort,
it would have been hazarding too much to move them, under these
circumstances, against a powerful enemy. In a desert, or in a garrison
where food is unattainable, courage, patriotism, and habits of
discipline, enable the soldier to conquer wants which, in ordinary
situations, would be deemed invincible. But to perish in a country
abounding with provisions, requires something more than fortitude; nor
can soldiers readily submit, while in such a country, to the
deprivation of food. It is not therefore surprising that, among a few
of the troops, some indications of a mutiny appeared. It is much more
astonishing that the great body of the army bore a circumstance so
irritating, and to them so unaccountable, without a murmur.

On receiving intelligence of the fact, General Washington ordered the
country to be scoured, and provisions, for supplying the pressing
wants of the moment, to be seized wherever found. In the mean time,
light parties were detached to harass the enemy about Derby, where Sir
William Howe, with his accustomed circumspection, kept his army so
compact, and his soldiers so within the lines, that an opportunity to
annoy him was seldom afforded even to the vigilance of Morgan and Lee.
After completing his forage, he returned, with inconsiderable loss, to

That the American army, while the value still retained by paper bills
placed ample funds in the hands of government, should be destitute of
food, in the midst of a state so abounding with provisions as
Pennsylvania, is one of those extraordinary facts which can not fail
to excite attention.

[Sidenote: Defects in the Commissary Department.]

Early in the war, the office of commissary general had been confirmed
on Colonel Trumbull, of Connecticut, a gentleman fitted by his
talents, activity and zeal, for that important station. Yet, from the
difficulty of arranging so complicated a department in its
commencement, without the advantages of experience, complaints were
repeatedly made of the insufficiency of supplies.

The subject was taken up by congress; but the remedy administered, as
well from the time of its application, as from the ingredients of
which it was composed, served only to increase the disease. The system
was not completed until near midsummer; and then its arrangements were
such that Colonel Trumbull refused to accept the office assigned to
him; and new men were to be called into service at a time when the
strongest necessity required the exertions of those who understood the
plan of supplies for the campaign in all its modifications. In
addition to the commissary of purchases, and a commissary general of
issues, each to be appointed by congress, the new plan contemplated
four deputies in each department, also to be appointed by that body,
who were not accountable to, nor removeable by the head of the
department, but might be suspended, and accused before congress who
should examine the charge, and either remove the accused from his
office, or reinstate him in it.

[Sidenote: Distress of the American army at Valley Forge for

This _imperium in imperio_, erected in direct opposition to the
opinion of the Commander-in-chief, drove Colonel Trumbull from the
army. Congress, however, persisted in the system; and the effects of
deranging so important a department as that which feeds the troops, in
the midst of a campaign, were not long in unfolding themselves. In
every military division of the continent, loud complaints were made of
the deficiency of supplies. The success of Gates appears to have been
more endangered by this cause, than by the movement of Sir Henry
Clinton up the Hudson. The army of General Washington was often
greatly embarrassed, and his movements not unfrequently suspended, by
the want of provisions. The present total failure of all supply was
preceded, for a few days, by the issuing of meat unfit to be eaten.
Representations on this subject were made to the Commander-in-chief,
who, on the morning that Sir William Howe moved out to Derby, and
before intelligence of that movement had been received, communicated
them to congress.

[Sidenote: The army subsisted in a great measure by impressments.]

That body had authorized the Commander-in-chief to seize provisions
for the use of his army within seventy miles of head quarters; and
either to pay for them in money, or in certificates, for the
redemption of which the faith of the United States was pledged. The
odium of this measure was increased by the failure of the government
to provide funds to take up these certificates when presented.

At the same time, the provisions carried into Philadelphia were paid
for in specie at a good price. The inhabitants of that part of
Pennsylvania were not zealous in support of the war, and the
difference between prompt payment in gold or silver, and a
certificate, the value of which was often diminished by depreciation
before its payment, was too great not to influence their wishes and
their conduct. Such was the dexterity they employed that,
notwithstanding the rigour of the laws, and the vigilance of the
troops stationed on the lines, they often succeeded in concealing
their provisions from those who were authorized to impress for the
army, and in conveying them privately into Philadelphia.

{December 10.}

General Washington exercised the powers confided to him with caution,
but he did exercise them; and by doing so, acquired considerable
supplies. Congress appeared as much dissatisfied with the lenity of
the Commander-in-chief, as the people were with his rigour, in
consequence of which the subject was taken into consideration, his
forbearance disapproved, and instructions given for the rigorous
exertions in future of the powers with which he was invested. In reply
to the letter communicating these resolves, the General stated the
conduct he had observed, insisted that provisions had been taken very
extensively, and repeated his opinion, that such measures would be
much more readily submitted to if executed by the civil authority.

In obedience, however, to the will of congress, he issued a
proclamation, requiring the farmers within seventy miles of head
quarters, to thrash out one half of their grain by the first of
February, and the residue by the first of March, under the penalty of
having the whole seized as straw.

The success of this experiment did not correspond with the wishes of
congress. It was attended with the pernicious consequences which had
been foreseen by the General, to avoid which he had considered this
system as a dernier ressort, of which he was to avail himself only in
extreme cases. In answer to a letter on this subject from the board of
war, he said, "I shall use every exertion that may be expedient and
practicable for subsisting the army, and keeping it together; but I
must observe, that this never can be done by coercive means. Supplies
of provisions and clothing must be had in another way, or it can not
exist. The small seizures that were made of the former some time ago,
in consequence of the most pressing and urgent necessity--when the
alternative was to do that or dissolve--excited the greatest alarm and
uneasiness imaginable, even among some of our best and warmest
friends. Such procedures may relieve for an instant, but eventually
will prove of the most pernicious consequence. Besides spreading
disaffection and jealousy among the people, they never fail, even in
the most veteran armies, to raise in the soldiery a disposition to
licentiousness, plunder, and robbery, which it has ever been found
exceeding difficult to suppress; and which has not only proved ruinous
to the inhabitants, but, in many instances, to the armies themselves."
In a subsequent letter to congress, he added, "I regret the occasion
which compelled us to the measure the other day, and shall consider it
as among the greatest of our misfortunes to be under the necessity of
practising it again. I am now obliged to keep several parties from the
army thrashing grain, that our supplies may not fail; but this will
not do."

[Sidenote: Combination formed in Congress against General Washington.]

About this time, a strong combination was forming against the
Commander-in-chief, into which several members of congress, and a very
few officers of the army are believed to have entered.

[Sidenote: General Gates supposed to be concerned in it.]

[Sidenote: Correspondence on this subject between the two generals.]

The splendour with which the capture of a British army had surrounded
the military reputation of General Gates, acquired some advocates for
the opinion that the arms of America would be more fortunate, should
that gentleman be elevated to the supreme command. He could not be
supposed hostile himself to the prevalence of this opinion; and some
parts of his conduct would seem to warrant a belief that, if it did
not originate with him, he was not among the last to adopt it. After
the victory of the seventh of October had opened to him the prospect
of subduing the arms of Burgoyne, he not only omitted to communicate
his success to General Washington, but carried on a correspondence
with General Conway, in which that officer expressed great contempt
for the Commander-in-chief. When the purport of this correspondence
was disclosed to General Washington, Gates demanded the name of the
informer in a letter far from being conciliatory in its terms, which
was accompanied with the very extraordinary circumstance of being
passed through congress.[97] The state of Pennsylvania too, chagrined
at the loss of its capital, and forgetful of its own backwardness in
strengthening the army, which had twice fought superior numbers in its
defence, furnished many discontented individuals. They imputed it to
General Washington as a fault that, with forces inferior to his enemy
in numbers, and in every equipment, he had not effected the same
result which had been produced in the north, by a continental army, in
itself, much stronger than its adversary, and so reinforced by militia
as to treble his numbers. On the report that General Washington was
moving into winter quarters, the legislature of that state addressed a
remonstrance to congress on the subject, manifesting, in very
intelligible terms, their dissatisfaction with the Commander-in-chief.
About the same time, a new board of war was created, of which General
Gates was appointed the President; and General Mifflin, who was
supposed to be of the party unfriendly to Washington, was one of its
members. General Conway, who was probably the only brigadier in the
army that had joined this faction, was appointed inspector general,
and was promoted, above senior brigadiers, to the rank of major
general. These were evidences that, if the hold which the
Commander-in-chief had taken of the affections and confidence of the
army and of the nation could be loosened, the party in congress
disposed to change their general, was far from being contemptible in
point of numbers. But to loosen this hold was impossible. The
indignation with which the idea of such a change was received even by
the victorious troops who had conquered under Gates, forms the most
conclusive proof of its strength. Even the northern army clung to
Washington as the saviour of his country.

     [Footnote 97: See note No. XI. at the end of the volume.]

These machinations to diminish the well-earned reputation of the
Commander-in-chief, could not escape his notice. They made, however,
no undue impression on his steady mind, nor did they change one of his
measures. His sensibilities seem to have been those of patriotism, of
apprehension for his country, rather than of wounded pride. His desire
to remain at the head of the army seemed to flow from the conviction
that his retaining that station would be useful to his country, rather
than from the gratification his high rank might furnish to ambition.
When he unbosomed himself to his private friends, the feelings and
sentiments he expressed were worthy of Washington. To Mr. Laurens, the
president of congress, and his private friend, who, in an unofficial
letter, had communicated an anonymous accusation made to him as
president, containing heavy charges against the Commander-in-chief, he
said, "I can not sufficiently express the obligation I feel towards
you for your friendship and politeness upon an occasion in which I am
deeply interested. I was not unapprised that a malignant faction had
been for some time forming to my prejudice, which, conscious as I am
of having ever done all in my power to answer the important purposes
of the trusts reposed in me, could not but give me some pain on a
personal account; but my chief concern arises from an apprehension of
the dangerous consequences which intestine dissensions may produce to
the common cause.

"As I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am
unambitious of honours not founded in the approbation of my country, I
would not desire, in the least degree, to suppress a free spirit of
inquiry into any part of my conduct that even faction itself may deem
reprehensible. The anonymous paper handed you exhibits many serious
charges, and it is my wish that it may be submitted to congress. This
I am the more inclined to, as the suppression or concealment may
possibly involve you in embarrassment hereafter, since it is uncertain
how many, or who, may be privy to the contents.

"My enemies take an ungenerous advantage of me. They know the delicacy
of my situation, and that motives of policy deprive me of the defence
I might otherwise make against their insidious attacks. They know I
can not combat their insinuations, however injurious, without
disclosing secrets it is of the utmost moment to conceal. But why
should I expect to be free from censure, the unfailing lot of an
elevated station? Merit and talents which I can not pretend to rival,
have ever been subject to it. My heart tells me it has been my
unremitted aim to do the best which circumstances would permit. Yet I
may have been very often mistaken in my judgment of the means, and may
in many instances deserve the imputation of error."[98]

     [Footnote 98: See note No. XII. at the end of the volume.]

Fortunately for America, these combinations only excited resentment
against those who were believed to be engaged in them.


{December 23.}

Soon after being informed of the unfavourable disposition of some
members of congress towards him, and receiving the memorial of the
legislature of Pennsylvania against his going into winter quarters,
the General also discovered the failure already mentioned in the
commissary department. On this occasion, he addressed congress in
terms of energy and plainness which he had used on no former occasion.
In his letter to that body he said, "Full as I was in my
representation of the matters in the commissary's department
yesterday, fresh and more powerful reasons oblige me to add that I am
now convinced beyond a doubt that, unless some great and capital
change suddenly takes place in that line, this army must inevitably be
reduced to one or other of these three things--to starve, dissolve, or
disperse in order to obtain subsistence. Rest assured, sir, that this
is not an exaggerated picture, and that I have abundant reason to
suppose what I say.

"Saturday afternoon, receiving information that the enemy, in force,
had left the city, and were advancing towards Derby with apparent
design to forage, and draw subsistence from that part of the country,
I ordered the troops to be in readiness, that I might give every
opposition in my power; when, to my great mortification, I was not
only informed, but convinced, that the men were unable to stir on
account of a want of provisions; and that a dangerous mutiny, begun
the night before, and which with difficulty was suppressed by the
spirited exertions of some officers, was still much to be apprehended
from the want of this article.

"This brought forth the only commissary in the purchasing line in this
camp, and with him this melancholy and alarming truth, that he had not
a single hoof of any kind to slaughter, and not more than twenty-five
barrels of flour! From hence, form an opinion of our situation, when I
add that he could not tell when to expect any.

[Sidenote: Distress of the American army for clothes.]

"All I could do under these circumstances, was to send out a few light
parties to watch and harass the enemy, whilst other parties were
instantly detached different ways to collect, if possible, as much
provision as would satisfy the present pressing wants of the soldiers;
but will this answer? No, sir. Three or four days of bad weather would
prove our destruction. What then is to become of the army this winter?
And if we are now as often without provisions as with them, what is to
become of us in the spring, when our force will be collected, with the
aid perhaps of militia, to take advantage of an early campaign before
the enemy can be reinforced? These are considerations of great
magnitude, meriting the closest attention, and will, when my own
reputation is so intimately connected with, and to be affected by the
event, justify my saying, that the present commissaries are by no
means equal to the execution of the office, or that the disaffection
of the people surpasses all belief. The misfortune, however, does, in
my opinion, proceed from both causes; and, though I have been tender
heretofore of giving any opinion, or of lodging complaints, as the
change in that department took place contrary to my judgment, and the
consequences thereof were predicted; yet, finding that the inactivity
of the army, whether for want of provisions, clothes, or other
essentials, is charged to my account, not only by the common vulgar,
but by those in power; it is time to speak plain in exculpation of
myself. With truth, then, I can declare that no man, in my opinion,
ever had his measures more impeded than I have, by every department of
the army. Since the month of July, we have had no assistance from the
quartermaster general; and to want of assistance from this department,
the commissary general charges great part of his deficiency. To this I
am to add that, notwithstanding it is a standing order (often
repeated) that the troops shall always have two days provisions by
them, that they may be ready at any sudden call; yet, scarcely any
opportunity has ever offered of taking advantage of the enemy, that
has not been either totally obstructed, or greatly impeded, on this
account; and this, the great and crying evil is not all. Soap,
vinegar, and other articles allowed by congress, we see none of, nor
have we seen them, I believe, since the battle of Brandywine. The
first, indeed, we have little occasion for; few men having more than
one shirt, many, only the moiety of one, and some, none at all. In
addition to which, as a proof of the little benefit from a clothier
general, and at the same time, as a farther proof of the inability of
an army under the circumstances of this to perform the common duties
of soldiers, we have, by a field return this day made, besides a
number of men confined to hospitals for want of shoes, and others in
farmers' houses on the same account, no less than two thousand eight
hundred and ninety-eight men, now in camp, unfit for duty, because
they are bare-foot, and otherwise naked. By the same return, it
appears that our whole strength in continental troops, including the
eastern brigades, which have joined us since the surrender of General
Burgoyne, exclusive of the Maryland troops sent to Wilmington, amounts
to no more than eight thousand two hundred in camp fit for duty;
notwithstanding which, and that since the fourth instant, our number
fit for duty, from the hardships and exposures they have undergone,
particularly from the want of blankets, have decreased near two
thousand men, we find gentlemen, without knowing whether the army was
really going into winter quarters or not, (for I am sure no resolution
of mine would warrant the remonstrance), reprobating the measure as
much as if they thought the soldiers were made of stocks or stones,
and equally insensible of frost and snow; and moreover, as if they
conceived it easily practicable for an inferior army, under the
disadvantages I have described ours to be, which are by no means
exaggerated, to confine a superior one, in all respects well appointed
and provided for a winter's campaign, within the city of Philadelphia,
and to cover from depredation and waste the states of Pennsylvania,
Jersey, &c. But what makes this matter still more extraordinary in my
eye is, that these very gentlemen, who were well apprised of the
nakedness of the troops from ocular demonstration, who thought their
own soldiers worse clad than others, and advised me, near a month ago,
to postpone the execution of a plan I was about to adopt, in
consequence of a resolve of Congress for seizing clothes, under strong
assurances that an ample supply would be collected in ten days,
agreeably to a decree of the state; (not one article of which by the
by is yet to come to hand,) should think a winter's campaign, and the
covering of their states from the invasion of an enemy, so easy and
practicable a business. I can assure those gentlemen, that it is a
much easier and less distressing thing to draw remonstrances in a
comfortable room, by a good fireside, than to occupy a cold bleak
hill, and sleep under frost and snow, without clothes or blankets.
However, although they seem to have little feeling for the naked and
distressed soldiers, I feel superabundantly for them, and from my soul
pity those miseries which it is not in my power either to relieve or
to prevent."

The representations made in this letter were not exaggerated. The
distresses of the army, however, so far as respected clothing, did not
arise from the inattention of congress. Measures for the importation
of clothes had been adopted early in the war, but had not produced the
effect expected from them. Vigorous but ineffectual means had also
been taken to obtain supplies from the interior. The unfortunate
non-importation agreements which preceded the commencement of
hostilities, had reduced the quantity of goods in the country below
the ordinary amount, and the war had almost annihilated foreign
commerce. The progress of manufactures did not equal the consumption;
and such was the real scarcity, that exactions from individuals
produced great distress, without relieving the wants of the army. A
warm blanket was a luxury in which not many participated, either in
the camp or in the country.

In the northern states, where the sea coast was too extensive, and the
ports too numerous to be completely guarded, and where the people were
more inclined to maritime enterprise, supplies both of arms and
clothes were attainable in a more considerable degree than in those
farther south; but the large sums of money expended in that part of
the union for the support of the army, had lessened the value of the
currency there more rapidly than elsewhere, and a consequent high
nominal price was demanded for imported articles. Congress deemed the
terms on which some large contracts had been made by the clothier
general in Massachusetts, so exorbitant, as to forbid their execution;
and at the same time, addressed a letter to the state government,
requesting that the goods should be seized for the use of the army, at
prices to be fixed by the legislature, in pursuance of a resolution of
the 22d of November.

These recommendations from congress, so far as they exhorted the
states to supply the wants of the soldiers, were strongly supported by
the General. In his letters to the several governors, he represented
the very existence of the army, and the continuance of the contest, as
depending on their exertions in this respect.


[Sidenote: General Washington's exertions to increase his force, and
to place it on a respectable footing before the ensuing campaign.]

To recruit the army for the ensuing campaign became again an object of
vital importance; and the Commander-in-chief again pressed its
necessity on congress, and on the states. To obtain a respectable
number of men by voluntary enlistment had, obviously, become
impossible. Coercion could be employed only by the state governments;
and it required all the influence of General Washington to induce the
adoption of a measure so odious in itself, but so indispensable to the
acquirement of means to meet the crisis of the war, which, in his
judgment, had not yet passed away. He enclosed to each state a return
of its troops on continental establishment, thereby exhibiting to each
its own deficiency. To those who had not resorted to coercive means,
he stated the success with which they had been used by others; and he
urged all, by every motive which could operate on the human mind, to
employ those means early enough to enable him to anticipate the enemy
in taking the field.

To the causes which had long threatened the destruction of the army,
the depreciation of paper money was now to be added. It had become so
considerable that the pay of an officer would not procure even those
absolute necessaries which might protect his person from the extremes
of heat and cold. The few who possessed small patrimonial estates
found them melting away; and others were unable to appear as
gentlemen. Such circumstances could not fail to excite disgust with
the service, and a disposition to leave it. Among those who offered
their commissions to the Commander-in-chief, were many who, possessing
a larger portion of military pride, and therefore feeling with
peculiar sensibility the degradation connected with poverty and rags,
afforded the fairest hopes of becoming the ornaments of the army. This
general indifference about holding a commission; this general opinion
that an obligation was conferred, not received by continuing in the
service, could not fail to be unfavourable, not only to that spirit of
emulation which stimulates to bolder deeds than are required, but to a
complete execution of orders, and to a rigid observance of duty.

An officer whose pride was in any degree wounded, whose caprice was
not indulged, who apprehended censure for a fault which his
carelessness about remaining in the army had probably seduced him to
commit, was ready to throw up a commission which, instead of being
valuable, was a burden almost too heavy to be borne. With extreme
anxiety the Commander-in-chief watched the progress of a temper which,
though just commencing, would increase, he feared, with the cause that
produced it. He was, therefore, early and earnest in pressing the
consideration of this important subject on the attention of congress.

{January 10.}

[Sidenote: Congress send a committee of their own body to the army.]

The weak and broken condition of the continental regiments, the strong
remonstrances of the General, the numerous complaints received from
every quarter, determined congress to depute a committee to reside in
camp during the winter, for the purpose of investigating the state of
the army, and reporting such reforms as the public good might require.

This committee repaired to head quarters in the month of January. The
Commander-in-chief laid before them a general statement, taking a
comprehensive view of the condition of the army, and detailing the
remedies necessary for the correction of existing abuses, as well as
those regulations which he deemed essential to its future prosperity.

This paper, exhibiting the actual state of the army, discloses defects
of real magnitude in the existing arrangements. In perusing it, the
reader is struck with the numerous difficulties, in addition to those
resulting from inferiority of numbers, with which the American general
was under the necessity of contending. The memorial is too long to be
inserted, but there are parts which ought not to be entirely
overlooked. The neglect of the very serious representation it
contained respecting a future permanent provision for the officers,
threatened, at an after period, to be productive of such pernicious
effects, that their insertion in this place will not, it is presumed,
be unacceptable.

He recommended as the basis of every salutary reform, a comfortable
provision for the officers, which should render their commissions
valuable; to effect which the future, as well as the present, ought to
be contemplated.

"A long and continual sacrifice of individual interest for the general
good, ought not," he said, "to be expected or required. The nature of
man must be changed, before institutions built on the presumptive
truth of such a principle can succeed.

"This position," he added, "is supported by the conduct of the
officers of the American army, as well as by that of all other men. At
the commencement of the dispute, in the first effusions of zeal, when
it was believed the service would be temporary, they entered into it
without regard to pecuniary considerations. But finding its duration
much longer than had been at first expected, and that, instead of
deriving advantage from the hardships and dangers to which they are
exposed, they were, on the contrary, losers by their patriotism, and
fell far short of even a competency for their wants, they have
gradually abated in their ardour; and, with many, an entire
disinclination to the service, under present circumstances, has taken
place. To this, in an eminent degree, must be ascribed the frequent
resignations daily happening, and the more frequent importunities for
permission to resign, from some officers of the greatest merit.

"To this also may be ascribed the apathy, inattention, and neglect of
duty, which pervade all ranks; and which will necessarily continue and
increase, while an officer, instead of gaining any thing, is
impoverished by his commission, and conceives he is conferring, not
receiving a favour, in holding it. There can be no sufficient tie on
men possessing such sentiments. Nor can any method be adopted to
compel those to a punctual discharge of duty, who are indifferent
about their continuance in the service, and are often seeking a
pretext to disengage themselves from it. Punishment, in this case,
would be unavailing. But when an officer's commission is made valuable
to him, and he fears to lose it, you may exact obedience from him.

"It is not indeed consistent with reason or justice that one set of
men should make a sacrifice of property, domestic ease, and happiness;
encounter the rigours of the field, the perils and vicissitudes of
war, without some adequate compensation, to obtain those blessings
which every citizen will enjoy in common with them. It must also be a
comfortless reflection to any man, that, after he may have contributed
to secure the rights of his country, at the risk of his life, and the
ruin of his fortune, there will be no provision made to prevent
himself and his family, from sinking into indigence and wretchedness."
With these and other arguments, General Washington recommended, in
addition to present compensation, a half pay and pensionary
establishment for the army.

"I urge my sentiments," said he, "with the greater freedom, because I
can not, and shall not, receive the smallest benefit from the
establishment; and can have no other inducement for proposing it, than
a full conviction of its utility and propriety."

The wants and distresses of the army, when actually seen by the
committee of congress, made a much deeper impression than could have
been received from any statement whatever. They endeavoured to
communicate to congress the sentiments felt by themselves, and to
correct the errors which had been committed. But a numerous body, if
it deliberate at all, proceeds slowly in the conduct of executive
business; and will seldom afford a prompt corrective to existing
mischiefs, especially to those growing out of its own measures.

{February 5.}

Much of the sufferings of the army was attributed to mismanagement in
the quartermaster's department, which, notwithstanding the repeated
remonstrances of the Commander-in-chief, had long remained without a
head. This subject was taken up early by the committee, and proper
representations made respecting it. But congress still remained under
the influence of those opinions which had already produced such
mischievous effects, and were still disposed to retain the subordinate
officers of the department in a state of immediate dependence on their
own body. In this temper, they proposed a plan which, not being
approved in camp, was never carried into execution.

While congress was deliberating on the reforms proposed, the
distresses of the army approached their acme, and its dissolution was
threatened. Early in February, the commissaries gave notice that the
country, to a great distance, was actually exhausted; and that it
would be impracticable to obtain supplies for the army longer than to
the end of that month. Already the threatened scarcity began to be
felt, and the rations issued were often bad in quality, and
insufficient in quantity. General Washington found it necessary again
to interpose his personal exertions to procure provisions from a

In the apprehension that the resources of the commissary department
would fail before the distant supplies he had taken measures to obtain
could reach him, and that the enemy designed to make another incursion
into the country around Philadelphia, for the purpose of gleaning what
yet remained in possession of the inhabitants, he detached General
Wayne, with orders to seize every article proper for the use of an
army within fifteen miles of the Delaware, and to destroy the forage
on the islands between Philadelphia and Chester.

To defeat the object of this foraging party, the inhabitants concealed
their provisions and teams, and gave to the country every appearance
of having been entirely pillaged. Before any sufficient aid could be
obtained by these means, the bread, as well as the meat, was
exhausted, and famine prevailed in camp.

In an emergency so pressing, the Commander-in-chief used every effort
to feed his hungry army. Parties were sent out to glean the country;
officers of influence were deputed to Jersey, Delaware and Maryland;
and circular letters were addressed to the governors of states by the
committee of congress in camp and by the Commander-in-chief,
describing the wants of the army, and urging the greatest exertions
for its immediate relief.

Fortunately for America, there were features in the character of
Washington which, notwithstanding the discordant materials of which
his army was composed, attached his officers and soldiers so strongly
to his person, that no distress could weaken their affection, nor
impair the respect and veneration in which they held him. To this
sentiment is to be attributed, in a great measure, the preservation of
a respectable military force, under circumstances but too well
calculated for its dissolution.

Through this severe experiment on their fortitude, the native
Americans persevered steadily in the performance of their duty; but
the conduct of the Europeans, who constituted a large part of the
army, was, to a considerable extent, less laudable; and at no period
of the war was desertion so frequent as during this winter. Aided by
the disaffected, deserters eluded the vigilance of the parties who
watched the roads, and great numbers escaped into Philadelphia with
their arms.

In a few days, the army was rescued from the famine with which it had
been threatened, and considerable supplies of provisions were laid up
in camp. It was perceived that the difficulties which had produced
such melancholy effects, were created more by the want of due exertion
in the commissary department, and by the efforts of the people to save
their stock for a better market, than by any real deficiency of food
in the country.

This severe demonstration seems to have convinced congress that their
favourite system was radically vicious, and the subject was taken up
with the serious intention of remodeling the commissary department on
principles recommended by experience. But such were the delays
inherent in the organization of that body, that the new system was not
adopted until late in April.

At no period of the war had the situation of the American army been
more perilous than at Valley Forge. Even when the troops were not
entirely destitute of food, their stock of provisions was so scanty
that a quantity sufficient for one week was seldom in store.
Consequently, had General Howe moved out in force, the American army
could not have remained in camp; and their want of clothes disabled
them from keeping the field in the winter. The returns of the first of
February exhibit the astonishing number of three thousand nine hundred
and eighty-nine men in camp, unfit for duty for want of clothes.
Scarcely one man of these had a pair of shoes. Even among those
returned capable of doing duty, many were so badly clad, that exposure
to the cold of the season must have destroyed them. Although the total
of the army exceeded seventeen thousand men, the present effective
rank and file amounted to only five thousand and twelve.

While the sufferings of the soldiers filled the hospitals, a dreadful
mortality continued to prevail in those miserable receptacles of the
sick. A violent putrid fever swept off much greater numbers than all
the diseases of the camp.

If then during the deep snow which covered the earth for a great part
of the winter, the British general had taken the field, his own army
would indeed have suffered greatly, but the American loss is not to be

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge

_Here on December 17, 1777, after the Battles of Brandywine and
Germantown and the occupation of Philadelphia by the British,
Washington established his headquarters for what may be paradoxically
termed the darkest winter of the Revolutionary War. The American
Commander-in-Chief chose this place partly for its defensibility and
partly to protect Congress, then in session at York, Pennsylvania,
from a sudden British attack. It was here that Washington and Baron
Steuben planned the reorganization of the American army, and it was
here, May 1, 1778, that news reached Washington of the consummation of
the French alliance._]

[Sidenote: Attempt to surprise Captain Lee's corps, and the gallant
resistance made by him.]

{March 28.}

Happily, the real condition of Washington was not well understood by
Sir William Howe; and the characteristic attention of that officer to
the lives and comfort of his troops, saved the American army.
Fortunately, he confined his operations to those small excursions that
were calculated to enlarge the comforts of his own soldiers, who,
notwithstanding the favourable dispositions of the neighbouring
country, were much distressed for fuel, and often in great want of
forage and fresh provisions. The vigilance of the parties on the
lines, especially on the south side of the Schuylkill, intercepted a
large portion of the supplies intended for the Philadelphia market;
and corporal punishment was frequently inflicted on those who were
detected in attempting this infraction of the laws. As Captain Lee was
particularly active, a plan was formed, late in January, to surprise
and capture him in his quarters. An extensive circuit was made by a
large body of cavalry, who seized four of his patrols without
communicating an alarm. About break of day the British horse appeared;
upon which Captain Lee placed his troopers that were in the house, at
the doors and windows, who behaved so gallantly as to repulse the
assailants without losing a horse or man. Only Lieutenant Lindsay and
one private were wounded. The whole number in the house did not exceed
ten.[99] That of the assailants was said to amount to two hundred.
They lost a sergeant and three men with several horses, killed; and an
officer and three men wounded.

     [Footnote 99: Major Jameson was accidentally present, and
     engaged in this skirmish.]

The result of this skirmish gave great pleasure to the
Commander-in-chief, who had formed a high opinion of Lee's talents as
a partisan. He mentioned the affair in his orders with strong marks of
approbation; and, in a private letter to the captain, testified the
satisfaction he felt. For his merit through the preceding campaign,
congress promoted him to the rank of major, and gave him an
independent partisan corps to consist of three troops of horse.

[Sidenote: Congress determine upon a second expedition against

While the deficiency of the public resources, arising from the
alarming depreciation of the bills of credit, manifested itself in all
the military departments, a plan was matured in congress, and in the
board of war, without consulting the Commander-in-chief, for a second
irruption into Canada. It was proposed to place the Marquis de
Lafayette at the head of this expedition, and to employ Generals
Conway and Starke, as the second and third in command.

This young nobleman, possessing an excellent heart, and all the
military enthusiasm of his country, had left France early in 1777, in
opposition to the will of his sovereign, to engage in the service of
the United States. His high rank, and supposed influence at the court
of Versailles, secured him the unlimited respect of his countrymen in
America; and, added to his frankness of manners and zeal in their
cause, recommended him strongly to congress. While the claims of
others of the same country to rank were too exorbitant to be
gratified, he demanded no station in the army; would consent to
receive no compensation, and offered to serve as a volunteer. He had
stipulated with Mr. Deane for the rank of major general without
emolument; and, on his arrival in America, that rank was conferred on
him, but without any immediate command. In that capacity, he sought
for danger, and was wounded at the battle of Brandywine. He attached
himself with the ardour of youth to the Commander-in-chief, who
smoothed the way to his receiving a command in the army equal to his

The first intimation to General Washington that the expedition was
contemplated, was given in a letter from the president of the board of
war of the 24th of January, inclosing one of the same date to the
Marquis, requiring the attendance of that nobleman on congress to
receive his instructions. The Commander-in-chief was requested to
furnish Colonel Hazen's regiment, chiefly composed of Canadians, for
the expedition; and in the same letter, his advice and opinion were
asked respecting it. The northern states were to furnish the necessary

Without noticing the manner in which this business had been conducted,
and the marked want of confidence it betrayed, General Washington
ordered Hazen's regiment to march towards Albany; and the Marquis
proceeded immediately to the seat of congress. At his request, he was
to be considered as an officer detached from the army of Washington,
to remain under his orders, and Major General the Baron de Kalb was
added to the expedition; after which the Marquis repaired in person to
Albany to take charge of the troops who were to assemble at that place
in order to cross the lakes on the ice, and attack Montreal.

[Sidenote: Before its execution, it is abandoned.]

On arriving at Albany, he found no preparations made for the
expedition. Nothing which had been promised being in readiness, he
abandoned the enterprise as impracticable. Some time afterward,
congress also determined to relinquish it; and General Washington was
authorized to recall both the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Baron de

{February 27.}

While the army lay at Valley Forge, the Baron Steuben arrived in camp.
This gentleman was a Prussian officer, who came to the United States
with ample recommendations. He was said to have served many years in
the armies of the great Frederick; to have been one of the aids de
camp of that consummate commander; and to have held the rank of
lieutenant general. He was, unquestionably, versed in the system of
field exercise which the king of Prussia had introduced, and was well
qualified to teach it to raw troops. He claimed no rank, and offered
to render his services as a volunteer. After holding a conference with
congress, he proceeded to Valley Forge.

[Sidenote: General Conway resigns. Duel between him and General

[Sidenote: The Baron Steuben appointed inspector general.]

Although the office of inspector general had been bestowed on Conway,
he had never entered on its duties; and his promotion to the rank of
major general had given much umbrage to the brigadiers, who had been
his seniors. That circumstance, in addition to the knowledge of his
being in a faction hostile to the Commander-in-chief, rendered his
situation in the army so uncomfortable, that he withdrew to York, in
Pennsylvania, which was then the seat of congress. When the expedition
to Canada was abandoned, he was not directed, with Lafayette and De
Kalb, to rejoin the army. Entertaining no hope of being permitted to
exercise the functions of his new office, he resigned his commission
about the last of April, and, some time afterwards, returned to
France.[100] On his resignation, the Baron Steuben, who had, as a
volunteer, performed the duties of inspector general, much to the
satisfaction of the Commander-in-chief, and of the army, was, on the
recommendation of General Washington, appointed to that office with
the rank of major general, without exciting the slightest murmur.

     [Footnote 100: General Conway, after his resignation,
     frequently indulged in expressions of extreme hostility to
     the Commander-in-chief. These indiscretions were offensive
     to the gentlemen of the army. In consequence of them, he was
     engaged in an altercation with General Cadwallader, which
     produced a duel, in which Conway received a wound, supposed
     for some time to be mortal. While his recovery was despaired
     of, he addressed the following letter to General Washington.

     _Philadelphia, July 23d, 1778._

     Sir,--I find myself just able to hold the pen during a few
     minutes, and take this opportunity of expressing my sincere
     grief for having done, written, or said any thing
     disagreeable to your excellency. My career will soon be
     over, therefore, justice and truth prompt me to declare my
     last sentiments. You are, in my eyes, the great and good
     man. May you long enjoy the love, veneration, and esteem of
     these states, whose liberties you have asserted by your

     I am with the greatest respect, sir,

     Your excellency's most obedient humble servant,

     PHS. CONWAY.]

This gentleman was of real service to the American troops. He
established one uniform system of field exercise; and, by his skill
and persevering industry, effected important improvements through all
ranks of the army during its continuance at Valley Forge.


While it was encamped at that place, several matters of great interest
engaged the attention of congress. Among them, was the stipulation in
the convention of Saratoga for the return of the British army to
England. Boston was named as the place of embarkation. At the time of
the capitulation, the difficulty of making that port early in the
winter was unknown to General Burgoyne. Consequently, as some time
must elapse before a sufficient number of vessels for the
transportation of his army could be collected, its embarkation might
be delayed until the ensuing spring.

{November 25.}

On receiving this unwelcome intelligence, he applied to General
Washington to change the port of embarkation, and to substitute
Newport, in Rhode Island, or some place on the Sound, for Boston. If
any considerations not foreseen should make this proposal
objectionable, he then solicited this indulgence for himself and his
suite. This request was communicated to congress, in terms favourable
to that part of the application which respected General Burgoyne and
his suite; but the objections to any change in the convention which
might expedite the transportation of the army, were too weighty to be
disregarded; and the General pressed them earnestly on congress. This
precaution was unnecessary. The facility with which the convention
might be violated by the British, and the captured army be united to
that under General Howe, seems to have suggested itself to the
American government, as soon as the first rejoicings were over; and
such was its then existing temper, that the faith and honour of
British officers were believed to be no securities against their
appearing again in the field. Under this impression, a resolution had
passed early in November, directing General Heath to transmit to the
board of war a descriptive list of all persons comprehended in the
convention, "in order that, if any officer, soldier, or other person
of the said army should hereafter be found in arms against these
states in North America, during the present contest, he might be
convicted of the offence, and suffer the punishment in such case
inflicted by the law of nations."

No other notice was taken of the application made by General Burgoyne
to congress through the Commander-in-chief, than to pass a resolution
"that General Washington be directed to inform General Burgoyne that
congress will not receive, nor consider, any proposition for
indulgence, nor for altering the terms of the convention of Saratoga,
unless immediately directed to their own body."


Contrary to expectation, a fleet of transports for the reception of
the troops reached Rhode Island, on its way to Boston, in the month of
December. But, before its arrival, the preconceived suspicions of
congress had ripened into conviction several circumstances combined to
produce this result. General Burgoyne, dissatisfied with the
accommodations prepared for his officers in Boston, had, after a
fruitless correspondence with General Heath, addressed a letter to
General Gates, in which he complained of the inconvenient quarters
assigned his officers, as a breach of the articles of the convention.
This complaint was considered by congress as being made for the
purpose of letting in the principle, that the breach of one article of
a treaty discharges the injured party from its obligations.

This suspicion was strengthened by the indiscreet hesitation of
General Burgoyne to permit the resolution requiring a descriptive list
of his troops to be executed. His subsequent relinquishment of the
objection did not remove the impression it had made.

It was also alleged, that the number of transports was not sufficient
to convey the troops to Europe; nor was it believed possible that Sir
William Howe could have laid in, so expeditiously, a sufficient stock
of provisions for the voyage.

These objections to the embarkation of Burgoyne's troops were
strengthened by some trivial infractions of the convention, which, it
was contended, gave congress a strict right to detain them. It was
stipulated that "the arms" should be delivered up; and it appeared
that several cartouch boxes and other military accoutrements, supposed
to be comprehended in the technical term _arms_, had been detained.
This was deemed an infraction of the letter of the compact, which, on
rigid principle, justified the measures afterwards adopted by

[Sidenote: Congress forbid the embarkation of the British troops taken
at Saratoga.]

The whole subject was referred to a committee who reported all the
circumstances of the case, whereupon congress came to several
resolutions, enumerating the facts already mentioned, the last of
which was in these words: "Resolved, therefore, that the embarkation
of Lieutenant General Burgoyne, and the troops under his command, be
suspended, until a distinct and explicit ratification of the
convention of Saratoga shall be properly notified by the court of
Great Britain to congress."

These resolutions, together with the report on which they were
founded, were transmitted to the several states, and to General
Washington. Two copies of them were sent to General Heath, with
directions to deliver one of them to General Burgoyne, and with
farther directions, "to order the vessels which may have arrived, or
which shall arrive, for the transportation of the army under
Lieutenant General Burgoyne, to quit, without delay, the port of

[Sidenote: Burgoyne permitted to depart.]

On receiving these resolutions, General Burgoyne addressed a letter to
congress, containing papers, on which he founded a defence of his
conduct, and insisted on the embarkation of his army, as stipulated in
the convention; but the committee, to whom these papers were referred,
reported their opinion, after the most attentive consideration of
them, to be, "that nothing therein contained was sufficient to induce
congress to recede from their resolves of the 8th of January last,
respecting the convention of Saratoga." This application was
accompanied by another letter from General Burgoyne, to be delivered
if the army should still be detained, in which, in consideration of
the state of his health, he solicited permission to return to England.
This request was readily granted.

The impression made on the British nation by the capitulation of
Burgoyne, notwithstanding the persevering temper of the king, at
length made its way into the cabinet, and produced resolutions in
favour of pacific measures.



After the rejection of repeated motions made by the opposition members
tending to the abandonment of the American war, Lord North gave
notice, in the House of Commons, that he had digested a plan of
reconciliation which he designed shortly to lay before the house.

[Sidenote: Plan of reconciliation with America agreed to in

In conformity with this notice, he moved for leave to bring in,
"first, A bill for removing all doubts and apprehensions concerning
taxation by the Parliament of Great Britain in any of the colonies and
plantations of North America.

"Second. A bill to enable his Majesty to appoint commissioners with
sufficient powers to treat, consult, and agree upon the means of
quieting the disorders now subsisting in certain of the colonies of
North America."

The first contained a declaration that Parliament will impose no tax
or duty whatever payable within any of the colonies of North America,
except only such duties as it may be expedient to impose for the
purposes of commerce, the net produce of which should always be paid
and applied to and for the use of the colonies in which the same shall
be respectively levied, in like manner as other duties collected under
the authority of their respective legislatures are ordinarily paid and

The second authorized the appointment of commissioners by the crown,
with power to treat either with the existing governments, or with
individuals, in America; provided that no stipulations which might be
entered into should have any effect until approved in Parliament,
other than is afterward mentioned.

It is then enacted, that the commissioners may have power "to proclaim
a cessation of hostilities in any of the colonies, to suspend the
operation of the non-intercourse law; and farther, to suspend, during
the continuance of the act, so much of all or any of the acts of
Parliament which have passed since the 10th day of February, 1763, as
relates to the colonies.

"To grant pardon to any number or description of persons, and to
appoint a governor in any colony in which his majesty had heretofore
exercised the power of making such appointments."

These bills passed both houses of Parliament with inconsiderable

Intelligence of the treaty between the United States and France having
been received by the minister about the time of their being
introduced, copies of them, before they had gone through the requisite
forms, were hurried to America, to be laid before congress and the
public, in the hope and expectation that they might counteract the
effects which it was feared the treaty with France would produce.


General Washington received early information of their arrival, and
entertained serious fears of their operation. He was apprehensive that
the publication of a proposition for the restoration of peace on the
terms originally required by America, would greatly increase the
numbers of the disaffected; and immediately forwarded the bills to
congress in a letter suggesting the policy of preventing their
pernicious influence on the public mind by all possible means, and
especially through the medium of the press.

[Sidenote: Communicated to, and rejected by Congress.]

{April 22.}

This letter was referred to a committee, consisting of Messrs. Morris,
Drayton, and Dana, by whom a report was made, investigating the bills
with great acuteness as well as asperity. This report, and the
resolutions upon it, were ordered to be published. Other resolutions
were passed the succeeding day, recommending it to the states to
pardon under such limitations as they might think proper to make, such
of their misguided fellow-citizens as had levied war against the
United States.

This resolution was accompanied by an order directing it to be printed
in English and in German, and requesting General Washington to take
such measures as he should deem most effectual for circulating the
copies among the American recruits in the enemy's army.[101]

     [Footnote 101: This request afforded the Commander-in-chief
     a fair retort on Major General Tryon. That officer had
     addressed a letter to him enclosing the bills brought into
     Parliament, and containing, to use the language of General
     Washington himself, "the more extraordinary and impertinent
     request" that their contents should be communicated through
     him to the army. General Washington now acknowledged the
     receipt of this letter, and, in return, enclosed to Governor
     Tryon copies of the resolution just mentioned, with a
     request that he would be instrumental in making them known
     to the persons on whom they were to operate.]

During these transactions, the frigate _La Sensible_ arrived with the
important intelligence that treaties of alliance and of commerce, had
been formed between the United States of America and France. The
treaties themselves were brought by Mr. Simeon Deane, the brother of
the American Minister in Paris.

This event had long been anxiously expected, and the delay attending
it had been such as to excite serious apprehension that it would never
take place.

France was still extremely sore under the wounds inflicted during the
war which terminated in 1763. It was impossible to reflect on a treaty
which had wrested from her so fair a part of North America, without
feeling resentments which would seek the first occasion of

The growing discontents between Great Britain and her colonies were,
consequently, viewed at a distance with secret satisfaction; but
rather as a circumstance which might have some tendency to weaken and
embarrass a rival, and which was to be encouraged from motives of
general policy, than as one from which any definite advantage was to
be derived. France appears, at that time, to have required, and wished
for, repose. The great exertions of the preceding disastrous war had
so deranged her finances, that the wish to preserve peace seems to
have predominated in her cabinet. The young monarch, who had just
ascended the throne, possessed a pacific unambitious temper, and the
councils of the nation were governed by men alike indisposed to
disturb the general tranquillity. The advice they gave the monarch
was, to aid and encourage the colonies secretly, in order to prevent a
reconciliation with the mother country, and to prepare privately for
hostilities, by improving his finances, and strengthening his marine;
but to avoid every thing which might give occasion for open war. The
system which for a time regulated the cabinet of Versailles, conformed
to this advice. While the utmost attention was paid to the Minister of
Britain, and every measure to satisfy him was openly taken, intimation
was privately given to those of the United States, that these measures
were necessary for the present, but they might be assured of the good
will of the French government.

During the public demonstration of dispositions favourable to England,
means were taken to furnish aids of ammunition and arms, and to
facilitate the negotiation of loans to the United States; and the
owners of American privateers, though forbidden to sell their prizes,
or to procure their condemnation, found means to dispose of them

Meanwhile, another party was formed in the cabinet, to whose political
system subsequent events gave the ascendency. Its avowed object was to
seize the present moment to revenge past injuries, humble the haughty
rival of France, and dismember her empire.

Matters remained in a fluctuating state until December, 1777.
Privately encouraged, but discountenanced publicly, the prospects of
the American Ministers varied according to the complexion of American

Intelligence of the convention of Saratoga reached France early in
December, 1777. The American deputies took that opportunity to press
the treaty which had been under consideration for the preceding twelve
months; and to urge the importance, at this juncture, when Britain
would, most probably, make proposals for an accommodation,[102] of
communicating to congress, precisely, what was to be expected from
France and Spain.

     [Footnote 102: Congress, in their first instructions to
     their commissioners, directed them to press the immediate
     declaration of France in favour of the United States, by
     suggesting that a reunion with Great Britain might be the
     consequence of delay.--_Secret Journals of Congress_, v. ii.
     p. 30.]

They were informed by M. Girard, one of the secretaries of the king's
council of state, that it was determined to acknowledge the
independence of the United States, and to make a treaty with them.
That his Most Christian Majesty was resolved not only to acknowledge,
but to support their independence. That in doing this, he might
probably soon be engaged in a war; yet he should not expect any
compensation from the United States on that account; nor was it
pretended that he acted wholly for their sakes; since, besides his
real good will to them, it was manifestly the interest of France that
the power of England should be diminished by the separation of her
colonies. The only condition he should require would be that the
United States, in no peace to be made, should give up their
independence, and return to their obedience to the British government.

On determining to take this decisive course, the cabinet of Versailles
had despatched a courier to his Catholic majesty with information of
the line of conduct about to be pursued by France. On his return, the
negotiation was taken up in earnest, and a treaty of friendship and
commerce was soon concluded. This was accompanied by a treaty of
alliance eventual and defensive between the two nations, in which it
was declared, that if war should break out between France and England
during the existence of that with the United States, it should be made
a common cause; and that neither of the contracting parties should
conclude either truce or peace with Great Britain without the formal
consent of the other, first obtained; and they mutually engaged "not
to lay down their arms until the independence of the United States
shall have been formally, or tacitly assured by the treaty, or
treaties that shall terminate the war."

It was the wish of the ministers of the United States to engage France
immediately in the war; and to make the alliance, not eventual, but
positive. This proposition, however, was rejected.

In a few weeks after the conclusion of these negotiations, the Marquis
de Noailles announced officially to the court of London, the treaty of
friendship and commerce France had formed with the United States. The
British government, considering this notification as a declaration of
war, published a memorial for the purpose of justifying to all Europe
the hostilities it had determined to commence.

Soon after their commencement, the Count de Vergennes received private
intelligence that it was contemplated in the cabinet of London to
offer to the United States an acknowledgment of their independence as
the condition of a separate peace. He immediately communicated this
intelligence to the American ministers, requesting them to lose no
time in stating to congress that, though war was not declared in form,
it had commenced in fact; and that he considered the obligations of
the treaty of alliance as in full force; consequently that neither
party was now at liberty to make a separate peace. Instructions of a
similar import were given to the minister of France in the United

[Sidenote: Information received of treaties of alliance and commerce
being entered into between France and the United States.]

The despatches containing these treaties were received by the
president on Saturday the second of May, after congress had adjourned.
That body was immediately convened, the despatches were opened, and
their joyful contents communicated.

In the exultation of the moment, the treaty of alliance, as well as
that of commerce and friendship was published; a circumstance which,
not without reason, gave umbrage to the cabinet of Versailles; because
that treaty, being only eventual, ought not to have been communicated
to the public but by mutual consent.

From this event, which was the source of universal exultation to the
friends of the revolution, the attention must be directed to one which
was productive of very different sensations.

Among the various improvements which struggling humanity has gradually
engrafted on the belligerent code, none have contributed more to
diminish the calamities of war, than those which meliorate the
condition of prisoners. No obligations will be more respected by the
generous and the brave; nor are there any, the violation of which
could wound the national character more deeply, or expose it to more
lasting or better merited reproach.

In wars between nations nearly equal in power, and possessing rights
acknowledged to be equal, a departure from modern usage in this
respect is almost unknown; and the voice of the civilized world would
be raised against the potentate who could adopt a system calculated to
re-establish the rigours and misery of exploded barbarism. But in
contests between different parts of the same empire, those practices
which mitigate the horrors of war yield, too frequently, to the
calculations of a blind and erring resentment. The party which
supports the ancient state of things, often treats resistance as
rebellion, and captives as traitors. The opposite party, supporting
also by the sword principles believed to be right, will admit of no
departure from established usage, to its prejudice; and may be
expected, if possessing the power, to endeavour, by retaliating
injuries, to compel the observance of a more just and humane system.
But they participate in the fault imputable to their adversaries, by
manifesting a disposition to punish those whom they deem traitors,
with the same severity of which they so loudly and justly complain,
when they are themselves its victims.

General Gage, as Commander-in-chief of the British army, in the
harshness of spirit which had been excited while governor of
Massachusetts, not only threw all his prisoners into a common jail,
but rejected every proposition for an exchange of them. When the
command devolved on Sir William Howe, this absurd system was
abandoned, and an exchange[103] took place to a considerable extent.
But the Americans had not made a sufficient number of prisoners to
relieve all their citizens, and many of them still remained in
confinement. Representations were continually received from these
unfortunate men, describing in strong terms, the severity of their
treatment. They complained of suffering almost the extremity of
famine, that even the supply of provisions allowed them was unsound,
and that they were crowded into prison-ships, where they became the
victims of disease.

     [Footnote 103: In the execution of this agreement, the
     inconveniences arising from having committed the custody of
     prisoners to the several states, was severely felt. In
     addition to the delay inseparable from the necessity of
     inquiring for them, and collecting them from different
     places, they were often sent in without the knowledge of
     General Washington; and, in some instances, they passed
     unobserved, with permits from a state government, through
     his camp, into that of the enemy. These irregularities, and
     the remonstrances of the Commander-in-chief, at length,
     induced congress to appoint a commissary of prisoners.]

When charged with conduct so unworthy of his character and station,
Sir William Howe positively denied its truth.

It would be unjust to ascribe this excess of inhumanity to an officer
who, though perhaps severe in his temper, did not mingle cruelties in
his general system, which would excite universal indignation in other
wars. It must be admitted that his supplies of provisions were neither
good nor abundant; and that the American soldiers, in their own camp,
were unhealthy. But the excessive mortality prevailing among the
prisoners can be accounted for on no ordinary principles; and the
candid, who were least inclined to criminate without cause, have ever
been persuaded that, if his orders did not produce the distress which
existed, his authority was not interposed with sufficient energy, to
correct the abuses which prevailed.

The capture of General Lee furnished an additional ground of
controversy on the subject of prisoners. As he had been an officer in
the British service, whose resignation had not, perhaps, been received
when he entered into that of America, a disposition was, at first,
manifested to consider him as a deserter, and he was closely confined.
On receiving information of this circumstance, congress directed
General Howe to be assured that Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, and five
Hessian field-officers, should be detained, and should experience
precisely the fate of General Lee. These officers were taken into
close custody, and informed that the resolution announced to General
Howe should be strictly enforced.

The sentiments of the Commander-in-chief on the subject of
retaliation, seem to have been less severe than those of congress. So
great was his abhorrence of the cruelties such a practice must
generate, that he was unwilling to adopt it in any case not of
absolute and apparent necessity. Not believing that of General Lee to
be such a case, he remonstrated strongly against these resolutions.
But congress remained inflexible; and the officers designated as the
objects of retaliation, were kept in rigorous confinement until
General Lee was declared to be a prisoner of war.[104]

     [Footnote 104: See note No. XIII. at the end of the volume.]

The resolutions of congress respecting the prisoners taken at the
Cedars, were also the source of much embarrassment and chagrin to the
Commander-in-chief. Alleging that the capitulation had been violated
on the part of the enemy, and that the savages had been permitted to
murder some of the prisoners, and to plunder others, they withheld
their sanction from the agreement entered into by General Arnold with
Captain Forster, and refused to allow other prisoners to be returned
in exchange for those liberated under that agreement, until the
murderers should be given up, and compensation made for the baggage
said to have been plundered. As the fact alleged was not clearly
established, Sir William Howe continued to press General Washington on
this subject. Reminding him of the importance of a punctilious
observance of faith, plighted in engagements like that made by General
Arnold, he persisted to hold the Commander-in-chief personally bound
for an honourable compliance with military stipulations entered into
by an officer under his authority.

General Washington, feeling the keenness of the reproach, pressed
congress to change their resolution on this subject; but his
remonstrances were, for a long time, unavailing.

After the sufferings of the prisoners in New York had been extreme,
and great numbers had perished in confinement, the survivors were
liberated for the purpose of being exchanged; but so miserable was
their condition, that many of them died on their way home. For the
dead as well as the living, General Howe claimed a return of
prisoners, while General Washington contended that reasonable
deductions should be made for those who were actually dead, of
diseases under which they laboured when permitted to leave the British

Until this claim should be admitted, General Howe rejected any partial
exchange. General Washington was immoveable in his determination to
repel it; and thus all hope of being relieved in the ordinary mode
appeared to be taken from those whom the fortune of war had placed in
the power of the enemy.

[Sidenote: Complaints made by General Washington of the treatment of
American prisoners in possession of the enemy.]

In the mean time, the sufferings of the American prisoners increased
with the increasing severity of the season. Information continued to
be received, that they suffered almost the extremity of famine.
Repeated remonstrances, made on this subject to the British general,
were answered by a denial of the fact. He continued to aver that the
same food, both in quantity and quality, was issued to the prisoners,
as to British troops when in transports, or elsewhere, not on actual
duty; and that every tenderness was extended to them, which was
compatible with the situation of his army. He yielded to the request
made by General Washington to permit a commissary to visit the jails,
and demanded passports for an agent to administer to the wants of
British prisoners.

When Mr. Boudinot, the American commissary of prisoners, who was
appointed by General Washington to visit the jails in Philadelphia,
met Mr. Ferguson, the British commissary, he was informed that General
Howe thought it unnecessary for him to come into the city, as he would
himself inspect the situation and treatment of the prisoners. There is
reason to believe that their causes of complaint, so far as respected
provisions, did not exist afterwards in the same degree as formerly;
and that the strong measures subsequently taken by congress, were
founded on facts of an earlier date.

But clothes and blankets were also necessary, and the difficulty of
furnishing them was considerable. General Howe would not permit the
purchase of those articles in Philadelphia; and they were not
attainable elsewhere.

[Sidenote: Proceedings of congress on this subject.]

To compel him to abandon this distressing restriction, and to permit
the use of paper money within the British lines, congress resolved,
that no prisoner should be exchanged until all the expenditures made
in paper for the supplies they received from the United States, should
be repaid in specie, at the rate of four shillings and sixpence for
each dollar. They afterwards determined, that from the 1st day of
February, no British commissary should be permitted to purchase any
provisions for the use of prisoners west of New Jersey, but that all
supplies for persons of that description should be furnished from
British stores.

Sir William Howe remonstrated against the last resolution with great
strength and justice, as a decree which doomed a considerable number
of prisoners, far removed into the country, to a slow and painful
death by famine; since it was impracticable to supply them immediately
from Philadelphia. The severity of this order was in some degree
mitigated by a resolution that each British commissary of prisoners
should receive provisions from the American commissary of purchases,
to be paid for in specie, according to the resolution of the 19th of
December, 1777.

About the same time, an order was hastily given by the board of war,
which produced no inconsiderable degree of embarrassment; and exposed
the Commander-in-chief to strictures not less severe than those he had
applied to the British general.

General Washington had consented that a quartermaster, with a small
escort, should come out of Philadelphia, with clothes and other
comforts for the prisoners who were in possession of the United
States. He had expressly stipulated for their security, and had given
them a passport.

{January 26.}

While they were travelling through the country, information was given
to the board of war that General Howe had refused to permit provisions
to be sent in to the American prisoners in Philadelphia by water. This
information was not correct. General Howe had only requested that
flags should not be sent up or down the river without previous
permission obtained from himself. On this information, however, the
board ordered Lieutenant Colonel Smith immediately to seize the
officers, though protected by the passport of General Washington,
their horses, carriages, and the provisions destined for the relief of
the British prisoners; and to secure them until farther orders, either
from the board or from the Commander-in-chief.

General Washington, on hearing this circumstance, despatched one of
his aids with orders for the immediate release of the persons and
property which had been confined; but the officers refused to proceed
on their journey, and returned to Philadelphia.[105]

     [Footnote 105: They alleged that their horses had been
     disabled, and the clothing embezzled.]

This untoward event was much regretted by the Commander-in-chief. In a
letter received some time afterwards, General Howe, after expressing
his willingness that the American prisoners should be visited by
deputy commissaries, who should inspect their situation, and supply
their wants required, as the condition on which this indulgence should
be granted, "that a similar permit should be allowed to persons
appointed by him, which should be accompanied with the assurance of
General Washington, that his authority will have sufficient weight to
prevent any interruption to their progress, and any insult to their
persons." This demand was ascribed to the treatment to which officers
under the protection of his passport had already been exposed.

General Washington lamented the impediment to the exchange of
prisoners, which had hitherto appeared to be insuperable; and made
repeated, but ineffectual efforts to remove it. General Howe had
uniformly refused to proceed with any cartel, unless his right to
claim for all the diseased and infirm, whom he had liberated, should
be previously admitted.

At length, after all hope of inducing him to recede from that high
ground had been abandoned, he suddenly relinquished it of his own
accord, and acceded completely to the proposition of General
Washington for the meeting of commissioners, in order to settle
equitably the number to which he should be entitled for those he had
discharged in the preceding winter. This point being adjusted,
commissaries were mutually appointed, who were to meet on the 10th of
March, in Germantown, to arrange the details of a general cartel.

{March 4.}

The Commander-in-chief had entertained no doubt of his authority to
enter into this agreement. On the fourth of March, however, he had the
mortification to perceive in a newspaper, a resolution of congress
calling on the several states for the amounts of supplies furnished
the prisoners, that they might be adjusted according to the rule of
the 10th of December, before the exchange should take place.

On seeing this embarrassing resolution, General Washington addressed a
letter to Sir William Howe, informing him that particular
circumstances had rendered it inconvenient for the American
commissioners to attend at the time appointed, and requesting that
their meeting should be deferred from the 10th to the 21st of March.
The interval was successfully employed in obtaining a repeal of the

It would seem probable that the dispositions of congress on the
subject of an exchange, did not correspond with those of General
Washington. From the fundamental principle of the military
establishment of the United States at its commencement, an exchange of
prisoners would necessarily strengthen the British, much more than the
American army. The war having been carried on by troops raised for
short times, aided by militia, the American prisoners, when exchanged,
returned to their homes as citizens, while those of the enemy again
took the field.

General Washington, who was governed by a policy more just, and more
permanently beneficial, addressed himself seriously to congress,
urging, as well the injury done the public faith, and his own personal
honour, by this infraction of a solemn engagement, as the cruelty and
impolicy of a system which must cut off for ever all hopes of an
exchange, and render imprisonment as lasting as the war. He
represented in strong terms the effect such a measure must have on the
troops on whom they should thereafter be compelled chiefly to rely,
and its impression on the friends of those already in captivity. These
remonstrances produced the desired effect, and the resolutions were
repealed. The commissioners met according to the second appointment;
but, on examining their powers, it appeared that those given by
General Washington were expressed to be in virtue of the authority
vested in him; while those given by Sir William Howe contained no such

This omission produced an objection on the part of the United States;
but General Howe refused to change the language, alleging that he
designed the treaty to be of a personal nature, founded on the mutual
confidence and honour of the contracting generals; and had no
intention either to bind his government, or to extend the cartel
beyond the limits and duration of his own command.

This explanation being unsatisfactory to the American commissioners,
and General Howe persisting in his refusal to make the required
alteration in his powers, the negotiation was broken off, and this
fair prospect of terminating the distresses of numerous unfortunate
persons passed away, without effecting the good it had promised.

Some time after the failure of this negotiation for a general cartel,
Sir William Howe proposed that all prisoners actually exchangeable
should be sent in to the nearest posts, and returns made of officer
for officer of equal rank, and soldier for soldier, as far as numbers
would admit; and that if a surplus of officers, should remain, they
should be exchanged for an equivalent in privates.

[Sidenote: A partial exchange agreed to.]

On the representations of General Washington, congress acceded to this
proposition, so far as related to the exchange of officer for officer,
and soldier for soldier; but rejected the part which admitted an
equivalent in privates for a surplus of officers, because the officers
captured with Burgoyne were exchangeable within the powers of General
Howe. Under this agreement, an exchange took place to a considerable
extent; but as the Americans had lost more prisoners than they had
taken, unless the army of Burgoyne should be brought into computation,
many of their troops were still detained in captivity.


NOTE--No. I. _See Page 5._

It will not be unacceptable to the reader to peruse this first report
of a young gentleman who afterwards performed so distinguished a part
in the revolution of his country, it is therefore inserted at large.

I was commissioned and appointed by the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, Esq.
Governor &c. of Virginia, to visit and deliver a letter to the
commandant of the French forces on the Ohio, and set out on the
intended journey on the same day: the next, I arrived at
Fredericksburg, and engaged Mr. Jacob Vanbraam to be my French
interpreter, and proceeded with him to Alexandria, where we provided
necessaries. From thence we went to Winchester, and got baggage,
horses, &c. and from thence we pursued the new road to Wills' Creek,
where we arrived the 14th November.

Here I engaged Mr. Gist to pilot us out, and also hired four others as
servitors, Barnaby Currin, and John M'Quire, Indian traders, Henry
Steward, and William Jenkins; and in company with those persons left
the inhabitants the next day.

The excessive rains and vast quantity of snow which had fallen,
prevented our reaching Mr. Frazier's, an Indian trader, at the mouth
of Turtle creek, on Monongahela river, until Thursday the 22d. We were
informed here, that expresses had been sent a few days before to the
traders down the river, to acquaint them with the French general's
death, and the return of the major part of the French army into winter

The waters were quite impassable without swimming our horses, which
obliged us to get the loan of a canoe from Frazier, and to send
Barnaby Currin and Henry Steward down the Monongahela, with our
baggage, to meet us at the forks of Ohio, about ten miles; there, to
cross the Alleghany.

As I got down before the canoe, I spent some time in viewing the
rivers, and the land in the fork, which I think extremely well
situated for a fort, as it has the absolute command of both rivers.
The land at the point is twenty, or twenty-five feet above the common
surface of the water; and a considerable bottom of flat, well timbered
land all around it very convenient for building. The rivers are each a
quarter of a mile or more across, and run here very nearly at right
angles; Alleghany, bearing northeast; and Monongahela, southeast. The
former of these two is a very rapid and swift running water, the other
deep and still, without any perceptible fall.

About two miles from this, on the southeast side of the river, at the
place where the Ohio company intended to erect a fort, lives Shingiss,
king of the Delawares. We called upon him, to invite him to council at
the Loggstown.

As I had taken a good deal of notice yesterday of the situation at the
fork, my curiosity led me to examine this more particularly, and I
think it greatly inferior, either for defence or advantages;
especially the latter. For a fort at the fork would be equally well
situated on the Ohio, and have the entire command of the Monongahela,
which runs up our settlement, and is extremely well designed for water
carriage, as it is of a deep, still nature. Besides, a fort at the
fork might be built at much less expense than at the other places.

Nature has well contrived this lower place for water defence; but the
hill whereon it must stand being about a quarter of a mile in length,
and then descending gradually on the land side, will render it
difficult and very expensive to make a sufficient fortification there.
The whole flat upon the hill must be taken in, the side next the
descent made extremely high, or else the hill itself cut away:
otherwise, the enemy may raise batteries within that distance without
being exposed to a single shot from the fort.

Shingiss attended us to the Loggstown, where we arrived between
sun-setting and dark, the twenty-fifth day after I left Williamsburg.
We travelled over some extremely good and bad land to get to this

As soon as I came into town, I went to Monakatoocha (as the half king
was out at his hunting cabin on Little Beaver creek, about fifteen
miles off) and informed him by John Davidson, my Indian interpreter,
that I was sent a messenger to the French general; and was ordered to
call upon the sachems of the Six Nations to acquaint them with it. I
gave him a string of wampum and a twist of tobacco, and desired him to
send for the half king, which he promised to do by a runner in the
morning, and for other sachems. I invited him and the other great men
present, to my tent, where they stayed about an hour and returned.

According to the best observations I could make, Mr. Gift's new
settlement (which we passed by) bears about west northwest seventy
miles from Wills' creek; Shanapins, or the forks, north by west, or
north northwest about fifty miles from that; and from thence to the
Loggstown, the course is nearly west about eighteen or twenty miles:
so that the whole distance, as we went and computed it, is, at least,
one hundred and thirty-five or one hundred and forty miles from our
back inhabitants.

25th. Came to town, four of ten Frenchmen, who had deserted from a
company at the Kuskuskas, which lies at the mouth of this river. I got
the following account from them. They were sent from New Orleans with
a hundred men, and eight canoe loads of provisions, to this place,
where they expected to have met the same number of men, from the forts
on this side of lake Erie, to convoy them and the stores up, who were
not arrived when they ran off.

I inquired into the situation of the French on the Mississippi, their
numbers, and what forts they had built. They informed me, that there
were four small forts between New Orleans and the Black Islands,
garrisoned with about thirty or forty men, and a few small pieces in
each. That at New Orleans, which is near the mouth of the Mississippi,
there are thirty-five companies of forty men each, with a pretty
strong fort mounting eight carriage guns; and at the Black Islands
there are several companies and a fort with six guns. The Black
Islands are about a hundred and thirty leagues above the mouth of the
Ohio, which is about three hundred and fifty above New Orleans. They
also acquainted me, that there was a small pallisadoed fort on the
Ohio, at the mouth of the Obaish, about sixty leagues from the
Mississippi. The Obaish heads near the west end of lake Erie, and
affords the communication between the French on the Mississippi and
those on the lakes. These deserters came up from the lower Shannoah
town with one Brown, an Indian trader, and were going to Philadelphia.

About three o'clock this evening the half king came to town. I went up
and invited him with Davidson, privately, to my tent; and desired him
to relate some of the particulars of his journey to the French
commandant, and of his reception there; also, to give me an account of
the ways and distance. He told me, that the nearest and levelest way
was now impassable, by reason of many large miry savannas; that we
must be obliged to go by Venango, and should not get to the near fort
in less than five or six nights sleep, good travelling. When he went
to the fort, he said he was received in a very stern manner by the
late commander, who asked him very abruptly, what he had come about,
and to declare his business: which he said he did in the following

"Fathers, I am come to tell you your own speeches; what your own
mouths have declared. Fathers, you, in former days, set a silver basin
before us, wherein there was the leg of a beaver, and desired all the
nations to come and eat of it, to eat in peace and plenty, and not to
be churlish to one another: and that if any such person should be
found to be a disturber, I here lay down by the edge of the dish a
rod, which you must scourge them with; and if your father should get
foolish, in my old days, I desire you may use it upon me as well as

"Now, fathers, it is you who are the disturbers in this land, by
coming and building your towns; and taking it away unknown to us, and
by force.

"Fathers, we kindled a fire a long time ago, at a place called
Montreal, where we desired you to stay, and not to come and intrude
upon our land. I now desire you may despatch to that place; for be it
known to you, fathers, that this is our land and not yours.

"Fathers, I desire you may hear me in civilness; if not, we must
handle that rod which was laid down for the use of the obstreperous.
If you had come in a peaceable manner, like our brothers the English,
we would not have been against your trading with us, as they do; but
to come, fathers, and build houses upon our land, and to take it by
force, is what we can not submit to.

"Fathers, both you and the English are white, we live in a country
between; therefore, the land belongs to neither one nor the other. But
the great Being above allowed it to be a place of residence for us;
so, fathers, I desire you to withdraw, as I have done our brothers the
English; for I will keep you at arm's length. I lay this down as a
trial for both, to see which will have the greatest regard to it, and
that side we will stand by, and make equal sharers with us. Our
brothers, the English, have heard this, and I come now to tell it to
you; for I am not afraid to discharge you off this land." This he said
was the substance of what he spoke to the general, who made this

"Now, my child, I have heard your speech: you spoke first, but it is
my time to speak now. Where is my wampum that you took away, with the
marks of towns in it? This wampum I do not know, which you have
discharged me off the land with: but you need not put yourself to the
trouble of speaking, for I will not hear you. I am not afraid of flies
or musquitoes, for Indians are such as those: I tell you down that
river I will go, and build upon it, according to my command. If the
river was blocked up, I have forces sufficient to burst it open, and
tread under my feet all that stand in opposition, together with their
alliances; for my force is as the sand upon the sea shore: therefore
here is your wampum; I sling it at you. Child, you talk foolish; you
say this land belongs to you, but there is not the black of my nail
yours. I saw that land sooner than you did, before the Shannoahs and
you were at war; Lead was the man who went down and took possession of
that river. It is my land, and I will have it, let who will stand up
for, or say against it. I will buy and sell with the English
(mockingly). If people will be ruled by me, they may expect kindness,
but not else."

The half king told me he had inquired of the general after two
Englishmen, who were made prisoners, and received this answer:

"Child, you think it a very great hardship that I made prisoners of
those two people at Venango. Don't you concern yourself with it: we
took and carried them to Canada, to get intelligence of what the
English were doing in Virginia."

He informed me that they had built two forts, one on lake Erie, and
another on French creek, near a small lake, about fifteen miles
asunder, and a large wagon road between. They are both built after the
same model, but different in size: that on the lake the largest. He
gave me a plan of them of his own drawing.

The Indians inquired very particularly after their brothers in
Carolina gaol.

They also asked what sort of a boy it was who was taken from the south
branch; for they were told by some Indians, that a party of French
Indians had carried a white boy by Kuskuska town, towards the lakes.

26th. We met in council at the long house about nine o'clock, when I
spoke to them as follows:

"Brothers, I have called you together in council, by order of your
brother the governor of Virginia, to acquaint you, that I am sent with
all possible despatch, to visit and deliver a letter to the French
commandant, of very great importance to your brothers the English; and
I dare say to you, their friends and allies.

"I was desired, brothers, by your brother the governor to call upon
you, the sachems of the nations, to inform you of it, and to ask your
advice and assistance to proceed the nearest and best road to the
French. You see, brothers, I have gotten thus far on my journey.

"His honour likewise desired me to apply to you for some of your young
men to conduct and provide provisions for us on our way; and be a
safeguard against those French Indians who have taken up the hatchet
against us. I have spoken thus particularly to you, brothers, because
his honour our governor treats you as good friends and allies, and
holds you in great esteem. To confirm what I have said, I give you
this string of wampum."

After they had considered for some time on the above discourse, the
half king got up and spoke.

"Now, my brother, in regard to what my brother the governor had
desired of me, I return you this answer.

"I rely upon you as a brother ought to do, as you say we are brothers,
and one people. We shall put heart in hand and speak to our fathers,
the French, concerning the speech they made to me; and you may depend
that we will endeavour to be your guard.

"Brother, as you have asked my advice, I hope you will be ruled by it,
and stay until I can provide a company to go with you. The French
speech belt is not here; I have it to go for to my hunting cabin.
Likewise, the people whom I have ordered in are not yet come, and can
not until the third night from this; until which time, brother, I must
beg you to stay.

"I intend to send the guard of Mingos, Shannoahs, and Delawares, that
our brothers may see the love and loyalty we bear them."

As I had orders to make all possible despatch, and waiting here was
very contrary to my inclination, I thanked him in the most suitable
manner I could; and told him that my business required the greatest
expedition, and would not admit of that delay. He was not well pleased
that I should offer to go before the time he had appointed, and told
me, that he could not consent to our going without a guard, for fear
some accident should befall us, and draw a reflection upon him.
Besides, said he, this is a matter of no small moment, and must not be
entered into without due consideration; for I intend to deliver up the
French speech belt, and make the Shannoahs and Delawares do the same.
And accordingly he gave orders to king Shingiss, who was present, to
attend on Wednesday night with the wampum; and two men of their nation
to be in readiness to set out with us next morning. As I found it was
impossible to get off without affronting them in the most egregious
manner, I consented to stay.

I gave them back a string of wampum which I met with at Mr. Frazier's,
and which they sent with a speech to his honour the governor, to
inform him, that three nations of French Indians, viz. Chippoways,
Ottoways, and Orundaks, had taken up the hatchet against the English;
and desired them to repeat it over again. But this they postponed
doing until they met in full council with the Shannoah and Delaware

27th. Runners were despatched very early for the Shannoah chiefs. The
half king set out himself to fetch the French speech belt from his
hunting cabin.

28th. He returned this evening, and came with Monakatoocha, and two
other sachems to my tent; and begged (as they had complied with his
honour the governor's request, in providing men, &c.) to know on what
business we were going to the French? This was a question I had all
along expected, and had provided as satisfactory answers to as I
could; which allayed their curiosity a little.

Monakatoocha informed me, that an Indian from Venango brought news, a
few days ago, that the French had called all the Mingos, Delawares,
&c. together at that place; and told them that they intended to have
been down the river this fall, but the waters were growing cold, and
the winter advancing, which obliged them to go into quarters; but that
they might assuredly expect them in the spring, with a far greater
number; and desired that they might be quite passive, and not
intermeddle unless they had a mind to draw all their force upon them:
for that they expected to fight the English three years (as they
supposed there would be some attempts made to stop them) in which time
they should conquer. But that if they should prove equally strong,
they and the English would join to cut them all off, and divide the
land between them: that though they had lost their general, and some
few of their soldiers, yet there were men enough to reinforce them,
and make them masters of the Ohio.

This speech, he said, was delivered to them by one Captain Joncaire,
their interpreter in chief, living at Venango, and a man of note in
the army.

29th. The half king and Monakatoocha, came very early and begged me to
stay one day more: for notwithstanding they had used all the diligence
in their power, the Shannoah chiefs had not brought the wampum they
ordered, but would certainly be in to night; if not, they would delay
me no longer, but would send it after us as soon as they arrived. When
I found them so pressing in their request, and knew that returning of
wampum was the abolishing of agreements; and giving this up was
shaking off all dependence upon the French, I consented to stay, as I
believed an offence offered at this crisis, might be attended with
greater ill consequence, than another day's delay. They also informed
me, that Shingiss could not get in his men; and was prevented from
coming himself by his wife's sickness; (I believe, by fear of the
French) but that the wampum of that nation was lodged with Kustalogo,
one of their chiefs, at Venango.

In the evening, late, they came again, and acquainted me that the
Shannoahs were not yet arrived, but that it should not retard the
prosecution of our journey. He delivered in my hearing the speech that
was to be made to the French by Jeskakake, one of their old chiefs,
which was giving up the belt the late commandant had asked for, and
repeating nearly the same speech he himself had done before.

He also delivered a string of wampum to this chief, which was sent by
king Shingiss, to be given to Kustalogo, with orders to repair to the
French, and deliver up the wampum.

He likewise gave a very large string of black and white wampum, which
was to be sent up immediately to the Six Nations, if the French
refused to quit the land at this warning; which was the third and last
time, and was the right of this Jeskakake to deliver.

30th. Last night, the great men assembled at their council house, to
consult further about this journey, and who were to go: the result of
which was, that only three of their chiefs, with one of their best
hunters, should be our convoy. The reason they gave for not sending
more, after what had been proposed at council the 26th, was, that a
greater number might give the French suspicions of some bad design,
and cause them to be treated rudely: but I rather think they could not
get their hunters in.

We set out about nine o'clock with the half king, Jeskakake, White
Thunder, and the Hunter; and travelled on the road to Venango, where
we arrived the fourth of December, without any thing remarkable
happening but a continued series of bad weather.

This is an old Indian town, situated at the mouth of French creek, on
Ohio; and lies near north about sixty miles from the Loggstown, but
more than seventy the way we were obliged to go.

We found the French colours hoisted at a house from which they had
driven Mr. John Frazier, an English subject. I immediately repaired to
it, to know where the commander resided. There were three officers,
one of whom, Captain Joncaire, informed me that he had the command of
the Ohio; but that there was a general officer at the near fort, where
he advised me to apply for an answer. He invited us to sup with them,
and treated us with the greatest complaisance.

The wine, as they dosed themselves pretty plentifully with it, soon
banished the restraint which at first appeared in their conversation,
and gave a license to their tongues to reveal their sentiments more

They told me, that it was their absolute design to take possession of
the Ohio, and by G-d they would do it: for that, although they were
sensible the English could raise two men for their one, yet they knew
their motions were too slow and dilatory to prevent any undertaking of
theirs. They pretend to have an undoubted right to the river from a
discovery made by one La Salle, sixty years ago: and the rise of this
expedition is, to prevent our settling on the river or waters of it,
as they heard of some families moving out in order thereto. From the
best intelligence I could get, there have been fifteen hundred men on
this side Ontario lake. But upon the death of the general, all were
recalled to about six or seven hundred, who were left to garrison four
forts, one hundred and fifty or thereabout in each. The first of them
is on French creek, near a small lake, about sixty miles from Venango,
near north northwest: the next lies on lake Erie, where the greater
part of their stores are kept, about fifteen miles from the other:
from this it is one hundred and twenty miles to the carrying place, at
the falls of Lake Erie, where there is a small fort, at which they
lodge their goods in bringing them from Montreal, the place from
whence all their stores are brought. The next fort lies about twenty
miles from this, on Ontario lake. Between this fort and Montreal,
there are three others, the first of which is nearly opposite to the
English fort Oswego. From the fort on lake Erie to Montreal is about
six hundred miles, which, they say, requires no more (if good
weather,) than four weeks voyage, if they go in barks or large
vessels, so that they may cross the lake: but if they come in canoes,
it will require five or six weeks, for they are obliged to keep under
the shore.

5th. Rained excessively all day, which prevented our travelling.
Captain Joncaire sent for the half king, as he had but just heard that
he came with me. He affected to be much concerned that I did not make
free to bring them in before. I excused it in the best manner of which
I was capable, and told him, I did not think their company agreeable,
as I had heard him say a good deal in dispraise of Indians in general:
but another motive prevented me from bringing them into his company: I
knew that he was an interpreter, and a person of very great influence
among the Indians, and had lately used all possible means to draw them
over to his interest; therefore, I was desirous of giving him no
opportunity that could be avoided.

When they came in, there was great pleasure expressed at seeing them.
He wondered how they could be so near without coming to visit him,
made several trifling presents, and applied liquor so fast, that they
were soon rendered incapable of the business they came about,
notwithstanding the caution which was given.

6th. The half king came to my tent, quite sober, and insisted very
much that I should stay and hear what he had to say to the French. I
fain would have prevented him from speaking any thing until he came to
the commandant, but could not prevail. He told me, that at this place
a council fire was kindled, where all their business with these people
was to be transacted, and that the management of the Indian affairs
was left solely to Monsieur Joncaire. As I was desirous of knowing the
issue of this, I agreed to stay; but sent our horses a little way up
French creek, to raft over and encamp; which I knew would make it near

About ten o'clock, they met in council. The king spoke much the same
as he had before done to the general; and offered the French speech
belt which had before been demanded, with the marks of four towns on
it, which Monsieur Joncaire refused to receive, but desired him to
carry it to the fort to the commander.

7th. Monsieur La Force, Commissary of the French stores, and three
other soldiers, came over to accompany us up. We found it extremely
difficult to get the Indians off to-day, as every stratagem had been
used to prevent their going up with me. I had last night left John
Davidson (the Indian interpreter) whom I brought with me from town,
and strictly charged him not to be out of their company, as I could
not get them over to my tent; for they had some business with
Kustologa, chiefly to know why he did not deliver up the French speech
belt which he had in keeping: but I was obliged to send Mr. Gist over
to-day to fetch them, which he did with great persuasion.

At twelve o'clock, we set out for the fort, and were prevented from
arriving there until the eleventh by excessive rains, snows, and bad
travelling through many mires and swamps; these we were obliged to
pass to avoid crossing the creek, which was impossible, either by
fording or rafting, the water was so high and rapid.

We passed over much good land since we left Venango, and through
several extensive and very rich meadows, one of which, I believe, was
nearly four miles in length, and considerably wide in some places.

12th. I prepared early to wait upon the commander, and was received,
and conducted to him by the second officer in command. I acquainted
him with my business, and offered my commission and letter: both of
which he desired me to keep until the arrival of Monsieur Reparti,
captain at the next fort, who was sent for and expected every hour.

This commander is a knight of the military order of St. Louis, and
named Legardeur de St. Pierre. He is an elderly gentleman, and has
much the air of a soldier. He was sent over to take the command,
immediately upon the death of the late general, and arrived here about
seven days before me.

At two o'clock, the gentleman who was sent for arrived, when I offered
the letter, &c. again, which they received, and adjourned into a
private apartment for the captain to translate, who understood a
little English. After he had done it, the commander desired I would
walk in and bring my interpreter to peruse and correct it; which I

13th. The chief officers retired to hold a council of war, which gave
me an opportunity of taking the dimensions of the fort, and making
what observations I could.

It is situated on the south, or west fork of French creek, near the
water; and is almost surrounded by the creek, and a small branch of it
which forms a kind of island. Four houses compose the sides. The
bastions are made of piles driven into the ground, standing more than
twelve feet above it, and sharp at top; with port holes cut for
cannon, and loop holes for the small arms to fire through. There are
eight six pound pieces mounted in each bastion, and one piece of four
pound before the gate. In the bastions are a guard house, chapel,
doctor's lodging, and the commander's private store: round which are
laid platforms for the cannon and men to stand on. There are several
barracks without the fort, for the soldiers' dwelling, covered, some
with bark, and some with boards, made chiefly of logs. There are also
several other houses, such as stables, smith's shop, &c.

I could get no certain account of the number of men here; but
according to the best judgment I could form, there are an hundred,
exclusive of officers, of which there are many. I also gave orders to
the people who were with me, to take an exact account of the canoes
which were hauled up to convey their forces down in the spring. This
they did, and told fifty of birch bark, and an hundred and seventy of
pine; besides many others which were blocked out, in readiness for
being made.

14th. As the snow increased very fast, and our horses daily became
weaker, I sent them off unloaded, under the care of Barnaby Currin and
two others, to make all convenient despatch to Venango, and there to
wait our arrival, if there was a prospect of the river's freezing: if
not, then to continue down to Shanapin's town, at the forks of Ohio,
and there to wait until we came to cross the Alleghany; intending
myself to go down by water, as I had the offer of a canoe or two.

As I found many plots concerted to retard the Indians' business, and
prevent their returning with me, I endeavoured all that lay in my
power to frustrate their schemes, and hurried them on to execute their
intended design. They accordingly pressed for admittance this evening,
which at length was granted them, privately, to the commander and one
or two other officers. The half king told me that he offered the
wampum to the commander, who evaded taking it, and made many fair
promises of love and friendship; said he wanted to live in peace and
trade amicably with them, as a proof of which, he would send some
goods immediately down to the Loggstown for them. But I rather think
the design of that is to bring away all our straggling traders they
meet with, as I privately understood they intended to carry an
officer, &c. with them. And what rather confirms this opinion, I was
inquiring of the commander by what authority he had made prisoners of
several of our English subjects. He told me that the country belonged
to them; that no Englishman had a right to trade upon those waters;
and that he had orders to make every person prisoner who attempted it
on the Ohio, or the waters of it.

I inquired of Captain Reparti about the boy that was carried by this
place, as it was done while the command devolved on him, between the
death of the late general, and the arrival of the present. He
acknowledged that a boy had been carried past: and that the Indians
had two or three white men's scalps, (I was told by some of the
Indians at Venango, eight) but pretended to have forgotten the name of
the place where the boy came from, and all the particular facts,
though he had questioned him for some hours, as they were carrying
past. I likewise inquired what they had done with John Trotter and
James M'Clocklan, two Pennsylvania traders, whom they had taken with
all their goods. They told me that they had been sent to Canada, but
were now returned home.

This evening, I received an answer to his honour the governor's
letter, from the commandant.

15th. The commandant ordered a plentiful store of liquor, provision,
&c. to be put on board our canoes, and appeared to be extremely
complaisant, though he was exerting every artifice which he could
invent to set our Indians at variance with us, to prevent their going
until after our departure: presents, rewards, and every thing which
could be suggested by him or his officers. I can not say that ever in
my life I suffered so much anxiety as I did in this affair. I saw that
every stratagem, which the most fruitful brain could invent, was
practised to win the half king to their interest; and that leaving him
there was giving them the opportunity they aimed at. I went to the
half king and pressed him in the strongest terms to go; he told me
that the commandant would not discharge him until the morning. I then
went to the commandant, and desired him to do their business, and
complained of ill treatment; for keeping them, as they were part of my
company, was detaining me. This he promised not to do, but to forward
my journey as much as he could. He protested he did not keep them, but
was ignorant of the cause of their stay; though I soon found it out.
He had promised them a present of guns, &c. if they would wait until
the morning. As I was very much pressed by the Indians to wait this
day for them, I consented, on a promise that nothing should hinder
them in the morning.

16th. The French were not slack in their inventions to keep the
Indians this day also. But as they were obliged, according to promise,
to give the present, they then endeavoured to try the power of liquor,
which I doubt not would have prevailed at any other time than this:
but I urged and insisted with the king so closely upon his word, that
he refrained, and set off with us as he had engaged.

We had a tedious and very fatiguing passage down the creek. Several
times we had like to have been staved against rocks; and many times
were obliged all hands to get out and remain in the water half an hour
or more, getting over the shoals. At one place, the ice had lodged,
and made it impassable by water; we were, therefore, obliged to carry
our canoe across the neck of land, a quarter of a mile over. We did
not reach Venango until the 22d, where we met with our horses.

This creek is extremely crooked. I dare say the distance between the
fort and Venango, can not be less than one hundred and thirty miles to
follow the meanders.

23d. When I got things ready to set off, I sent for the half king, to
know whether he intended to go with us, or by water. He told me that
White Thunder had hurt himself much, and was sick, and unable to walk;
therefore he was obliged to carry him down in a canoe. As I found he
intended to stay here a day or two, and knew that Monsieur Joncaire
would employ every scheme to set him against the English, as he had
before done, I told him, I hoped he would guard against his flattery,
and let no fine speeches influence him in their favour. He desired I
might not be concerned, for he knew the French too well, for any thing
to engage him in their favour; and that though he could not go down
with us, he yet would endeavour to meet at the forks with Joseph
Campbell, to deliver a speech for me to carry to his honour the
governor. He told me he would order the Young Hunter to attend us, and
get provisions, &c. if wanted.

Our horses were now so weak and feeble, and the baggage so heavy, (as
we were obliged to provide all the necessaries which the journey would
require) that we doubted much their performing it. Therefore, myself
and others, except the drivers, who were obliged to ride, gave up our
horses for packs, to assist along with the baggage. I put myself in an
Indian walking dress, and continued with them three days, until I
found there was no probability of their getting home in any reasonable
time. The horses became less able to travel every day; the cold
increased very fast; and the roads were becoming much worse by a deep
snow, continually freezing: therefore, as I was uneasy to get back, to
make report of my proceedings to his honour the governor, I determined
to prosecute my journey, the nearest way through the woods, on foot.

Accordingly, I left Mr. Vanbraam in charge of our baggage, with money
and directions to provide necessaries from place to place for
themselves and horses, and to make the most convenient despatch in

I took my necessary papers, pulled off my clothes, and tied myself up
in a watch coat. Then, with gun in hand, and pack on my back, in which
were my papers and provisions, I set out with Mr. Gist, fitted in the
same manner, on Wednesday the 26th. The day following, just after we
had passed a place called Murdering town, (where we intended to quit
the path and steer across the country for Shanapin's town) we fell in
with a party of French Indians, who had laid in wait for us. One of
them fired at Mr. Gist or me, not fifteen steps off, but fortunately
missed. We took this fellow into custody, and kept him until about
nine o'clock at night, then let him go, and walked all the remaining
part of the night without making any stop, that we might get the
start, so far, as to be out of the reach of their pursuit the next
day, since we were well assured they would follow our track as soon as
it was light. The next day we continued travelling until quite dark,
and got to the river about two miles above Shanapin's. We expected to
have found the river frozen, but it was not, only about fifty yards
from each shore. The ice, I suppose, had broken up above, for it was
driving in vast quantities.

There was no way for getting over but on a raft, which we set about,
with but one poor hatchet, and finished just after sun setting. This
was a whole day's work: we next got it launched, then went on board of
it, and set off; but before we were half way over, we were jammed in
the ice, in such a manner, that we expected every moment our raft to
sink, and ourselves to perish. I put out my setting pole to try to
stop the raft, that the ice might pass by, when the rapidity of the
stream threw it with so much violence against the pole, that it jerked
me out into ten feet water; but I fortunately saved myself by catching
hold of one of the raft logs. Notwithstanding all our efforts, we
could not get to either shore, but were obliged, as we were near an
island, to quit our raft and make to it.

The cold was so extremely severe, that Mr. Gist had all his fingers,
and some of his toes frozen, and the water was shut up so hard, that
we found no difficulty in getting off the island on the ice in the
morning, and went to Mr. Frazier's. We met here with twenty warriors,
who were going to the southward to war; but coming to a place on the
head of the great Kanawa, where they found seven people killed and
scalped, (all but one woman with very light hair) they turned about
and ran back, for fear the inhabitants should rise and take them as
the authors of the murder. They report that the bodies were lying
about the house, and some of them much torn and eaten by the hogs. By
the marks which were left, they say they were French Indians of the
Ottoway nation, &c. who did it.

As we intended to take horses here, and it required some time to find
them, I went up about three miles to the mouth of Yohogany, to visit
queen Alliquippa, who had expressed great concern that we passed her
in going to the fort. I made her a present of a watch coat and a
bottle of rum, which latter was thought much the best present of the

Tuesday, the first of January, we left Mr. Frazier's house, and
arrived at Mr. Gist's, at Monongahela, the second, where I bought a
horse, saddle, &c. The sixth, we met seventeen horses loaded with
materials and stores for a fort at the forks of Ohio, and the day
after, some families going out to settle. This day, we arrived at
Wills' creek, after as fatiguing a journey as it is possible to
conceive, rendered so by excessive bad weather. From the first day of
December to the fifteenth, there was but one day on which it did not
rain or snow incessantly; and throughout the whole journey, we met
with nothing but one continued series of cold, wet weather, which
occasioned very uncomfortable lodgings, especially after we had
quitted our tent, which was some screen from the inclemency of it.

On the 11th, I got to Belvoir, where I stopped one day to take
necessary rest; and then set out and arrived in Williamsburg the 16th,
when I waited upon his honour the governor, with the letter I had
brought from the French commandant, and to give an account of the
success of my proceedings. This I beg leave to do by offering the
foregoing narrative, as it contains the most remarkable occurrences
which happened in my journey.

I hope what has been said will be sufficient to make your honour
satisfied with my conduct; for that was my aim in undertaking the
journey, and chief study throughout the prosecution of it.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. II. _See Page 10._

_The author is indebted, for the letter alluded to, to the Editor of
the Lancaster Journal._

SIR,--I am really sorry that I have it not in my power to answer your
request, in a more satisfactory manner. If you had favoured me with
the journal a few days sooner, I would have examined it carefully, and
endeavoured to point out such errors as might conduce to your use, my
advantage, and the public satisfaction; but now it is out of my power.

I had no time to make any remarks upon that piece which is called my
journal. The enclosed are observations on the French notes. They are
of no use to me separated, nor will they, I believe, be of any to you;
yet I send them unconnected and incoherent as they were taken, for I
have no opportunity to correct them.

In regard to the journal, I can only observe in general, that I kept
no regular one during that expedition: rough minutes of occurrences I
certainly took, and find them as certainly and strangely
metamorphosed--some parts left out which I remember were entered, and
many things added that never were thought of; the names of men and
things egregiously miscalled; and the whole of what I saw Englished,
is very incorrect and nonsensical:--yet, I will not pretend to say
that the little body who brought it to me, has not made a literal
translation, and a good one.

Short as my time is, I can not help remarking on Villiers' account of
the battle of, and transactions at the Meadows, as it is very
extraordinary, and not less erroneous than inconsistent. He says the
French received the first fire. It is well known that we received it
at six hundred paces distance. He also says, our fears obliged us to
retreat in the most disorderly manner after the capitulation. How is
this consistent with his other account? He acknowledges that we
sustained the attack, warmly, from ten in the morning until dark, and
that he called first to parley, which strongly indicates that we were
not totally absorbed in fear. If the gentleman in his account had
adhered to the truth, he must have confessed, that we looked upon his
offer to parley as an artifice to get into and examine our trenches,
and refused on this account, until they desired an officer might be
sent to them, and gave their parole for his safe return. He might
also, if he had been as great a lover of the truth as he was of vain
glory, have said, that we absolutely refused their first and second
proposals, and would consent to capitulate on no other terms than such
as we obtained. That we were wilfully, or ignorantly deceived by our
interpreter in regard to the word _assassination_, I do aver, and will
to my dying moment; so will every officer that was present. The
interpreter was a Dutchman, little acquainted with the English tongue,
therefore might not advert to the tone and meaning of the word in
English; but, whatever his motives were for so doing, certain it is,
he called it the _death_, or the _loss_ of the Sieur Jumonville. So we
received and so we understood it, until to our great surprise and
mortification, we found it otherwise in a literal translation. That we
left our baggage and horses at the Meadows is certain; that there was
not even a possibility to bring them away is equally certain, as we
had every horse belonging to the camp killed or taken away during the
action; so that it was impracticable to bring any thing off that our
shoulders were not able to bear, and to wait there was impossible, for
we had scarce three days provisions, and were seventy miles from a
supply; yet, to say we came off precipitately is absolutely false;
notwithstanding they did, contrary to articles, suffer their Indians
to pillage our baggage, and commit all kinds of irregularity, we were
with them until ten o'clock the next day; we destroyed our powder and
other stores, nay, even our private baggage, to prevent its falling
into their hands, as we could not bring it off. When we had got about
a mile from the place of action, we missed two or three of the
wounded, and sent a party back to bring them up-this is the party he
speaks of. We brought them all safe off, and encamped within three
miles of the Meadows. These are circumstances, I think, that make it
evidently clear, that we were not very apprehensive of danger. The
colours he speaks of to be left, was a large flag of immense size and
weight; our regimental colours were brought off and are now in my
possession. Their gasconades, and boasted clemency, must appear in the
most ludicrous light to every considerate person who reads Villiers'
journal;--such preparations for an attack, such vigour and intrepidity
as he pretends to have conducted his march with, such revenge, as by
his own account, appeared in his attack, considered, it will hardly be
thought that compassion was his motive for calling a parley. But to
sum up the whole, Mr. Villiers pays himself no great compliment, in
saying, we were struck with a panic when matters were adjusted. We
surely could not be afraid without cause, and if we had cause after
capitulation, it was a reflection upon himself.

I do not doubt, but your good nature will excuse the badness of my
paper, and the incoherence of my writing--think you see me in a public
house in a crowd, surrounded with noise, and you hit my case. You do
me particular honour in offering your friendship: I wish I may be so
happy as always to merit it, and deserve your correspondence, which I
should be glad to cultivate.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. III. _See Page 51._

SIR,-We your most obedient and affectionate officers, beg leave to
express our great concern, at the disagreeable news we have received
of your determination to resign the command of that corps, in which we
have under you long served.

The happiness we have enjoyed, and the honour we have acquired
together, with the mutual regard that has always subsisted between you
and your officers, have implanted so sensible an affection in the
minds of us all, that we can not be silent on this critical occasion.

In our earliest infancy you took us under your tuition, trained us up
in the practice of that discipline, which alone can constitute good
troops, from the punctual observance of which you never suffered the
least deviation.

Your steady adherence to impartial justice, your quick discernment,
and invariable regard to merit, wisely intended to inculcate those
genuine sentiments of true honour and passion for glory, from which
the greatest military achievements have been derived, first heightened
our natural emulation and our desire to excel. How much we improved by
those regulations and your own example, with what alacrity we have
hitherto discharged our duty, with what cheerfulness we have
encountered the severest toils, especially while under your particular
directions, we submit to yourself, and natter ourselves that we have
in a great measure answered your expectations.

Judge, then, how sensibly we must be affected with the loss of such an
excellent commander, such a sincere friend, and so affable a
companion. How rare is it to find those amiable qualifications blended
together in one man! How great the loss of such a man! Adieu to that
superiority, which the enemy have granted us over other troops, and
which even the regulars and provincials have done us the honour
publicly to acknowledge! Adieu to that strict discipline and order,
which you have always maintained! Adieu to that happy union and
harmony, which have been our principal cement!

It gives us additional sorrow, when we reflect, to find our unhappy
country will receive a loss no less irreparable than our own. Where
will it meet a man so experienced in military affairs--one so renowned
for patriotism, conduct, and courage? Who has so great a knowledge of
the enemy we have to deal with?--who so well acquainted with their
situation and strength?--who so much respected by the soldiery?--who,
in short, so able to support the military character of Virginia?

Your approved love to your king and country, and your uncommon
perseverance in promoting the honour and true interest of the service,
convince us that the most cogent reasons only could induce you to quit
it; yet we, with the greatest deference, presume to intreat you to
suspend those thoughts for another year, and to lead us on to assist
in the glorious work of extirpating our enemies, towards which, so
considerable advances have been already made. In you, we place the
most implicit confidence. Your presence only will cause a steady
firmness and vigour to actuate in every breast, despising the greatest
dangers, and thinking light of toils and hardships, while led on by
the man we know and love.

But if we must be so unhappy as to part, if the exigencies of your
affairs force you to abandon us, we beg it as our last request, that
you will recommend some person most capable to command, whose military
knowledge, whose honour, whose conduct, and whose disinterested
principles, we may depend on.

Frankness, sincerity, and a certain openness of soul, are the true
characteristics of an officer, and we flatter ourselves that you do
not think us capable of saying any thing contrary to the purest
dictates of our minds. Fully persuaded of this, we beg leave to assure
you, that, as you have hitherto been the actuating soul of our whole
corps, we shall at all times pay the most invariable regard to your
will and pleasure, and will always be happy to demonstrate by our
actions with how much respect and esteem we are, &c.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. IV. _See Page 54._

The delegates of the United Colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts
Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
the counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland,
Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina:

To George Washington, esquire.

We, reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism, valour,
conduct, and fidelity, do, by these presents constitute and appoint
you to be general and commander-in-chief of the army of the United
Colonies, and of all the forces now raised, or to be raised by them,
and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their service, and join
the said army for the defence of American liberty, and for repelling
every hostile invasion thereof: and you are hereby invested with full
power and authority to act as you shall think for the good and welfare
of the service.

And we do hereby strictly charge and require all officers and soldiers
under your command, to be obedient to your orders, and diligent in the
exercise of their several duties.

And we also enjoin and require you to be careful in executing the
great trust reposed in you, by causing strict discipline and order to
be observed in the army, and that the soldiers be duly exercised and
provided with all convenient necessaries.

And you are to regulate your conduct in every respect by the rules and
discipline of war, (as herewith given you) and punctually to observe
and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall
receive from this or a future congress of these United Colonies, or
committee of congress.

This commission to continue in force, until revoked by us, or a future

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. V. _See Page 78._

_This letter is so truly characteristic of the writer, and treats in a
manner so peculiar to himself, the measures of congress on this
subject, that, although it may not be immediately connected with the
Life of General Washington, the reader will not be displeased with its

Stamford, January 22, 1779.

SIR,--As General Washington has informed the congress of his motives
for detaching me, it is needless to trouble you upon the subject. I am
therefore only to inform you that I have collected a body of about
twelve hundred men from the colony of Connecticut, whose zeal and
ardour demonstrated on this occasion can not be sufficiently praised.
With this body I am marching directly to New York to execute the
different purposes for which I am detached. I am sensible, sir, that
nothing can carry the air of greater presumption than a servant
intruding his opinion unasked upon his master, but at the same time
there are certain seasons when the real danger of the master may not
only excuse, but render laudable, the servant's officiousness. I
therefore flatter myself that the congress will receive with
indulgence and lenity the opinion I shall offer. The scheme of simply
disarming the tories seems to me totally ineffectual; it will only
embitter their minds and add virus to their venom. They can, and will,
always be supplied with fresh arms by the enemy. That of seizing the
most dangerous will, I apprehend, from the vagueness of the
instruction, be attended with some bad consequences, and can answer no
good one. It opens so wide a door for partiality and prejudice to the
different congresses and committees on the continent, that much
discord and animosity will probably ensue; it being next to impossible
to distinguish who are, and who are not the most dangerous. The plan
of explaining to these deluded people the justice and merits of the
American cause is certainly generous and humane, but I am afraid, will
be fruitless. They are so riveted in their opinions, that I am
persuaded should an angel descend from heaven with his golden trumpet,
and ring in their ears that their conduct was criminal, he would be
disregarded. I had lately myself an instance of their infatuation
which, if it is not impertinent, I will relate. At Newport I took the
liberty, without any authority but the conviction of necessity, to
administer a very strong oath to some of the leading tories, for which
liberty I humbly ask pardon of the congress. One article of this oath
was to take arms in defence of their country, if called upon by the
voice of the congress. To this Colonel Wanton and others flatly
refused their assent; to take arms against their sovereign, they said,
was too monstrous an impiety. I asked them if they had lived at the
time of the revolution whether they would have been
revolutionists--their answers were at first evasive, circuitous, and
unintelligible, but, by fixing them down precisely to the question, I
at length drew from them a positive confession that no violence, no
provocation on the part of the court, could prevail upon them to act
with the continent. Such, I am afraid, is the creed and principles of
the whole party great and small.--Sense, reason, argument, and
eloquence, have been expended in vain; and in vain you may still argue
and reason to the end of time. Even the common feelings and
resentments of humanity have not aroused them, but rather with a
malignant pleasure they have beheld the destruction of their
fellow-citizens and relations. But I am running into declamation,
perhaps impertinent and presuming, when I ought to confine myself to
the scheme I submit to your consideration. It is, sir, in the first
place, to disarm all the manifestly disaffected, as well of the lower
as the higher class, not on the principle of putting them in a state
of impotence (for this I observed before will not be the case) but to
supply our troops with arms of which they stand in too great need.
Secondly, to appraise their estates and oblige them to deposite at
least the value of one half of their respective property in the hands
of the continental congress as a security for their good behaviour.
And lastly, to administer the strongest oath that can be devised to
act offensively and defensively in support of the common rights. I
confess that men so eaten up with bigotry, as the bulk of them appear
to be, will not consider themselves as bound by this oath;
particularly as it is in some measure forced, they will argue that it
is by no means obligatory; but if I mistake not, it will be a sort of
criterion by which you will be able to distinguish the desperate
fanatics from those who are reclaimable. The former must of course be
secured and carried to some interior parts of the continent where they
can not be dangerous. This mode of proceeding I conceive (if any can)
will be effectual--but whether it meets with the approbation or
disapprobation of the congress, I most humbly conjure them not to
attribute the proposal to arrogance, or self-conceit, or pragmatical
officiousness, but, at worst, to an intemperate zeal for the public

Notwithstanding the apparent slimness of the authority, as I am myself
convinced that it is substantial, I think it my duty to communicate a
circumstance to congress. I have with me here, sir, a deserter from
Captain Wallace's ship before Newport. It is necessary to inform you
that this Captain Wallace has the reputation of being the most
imprudent and rash of all mortals--particularly when he is heated with
wine, which, as reported, is a daily incident: that in these moments
he blabs his most secret instructions even to the common men. This
deserter, then, informs us that the captain a few days ago assembled
the sailors and marines on the quarter-deck, and assured them, by way
of encouragement, that they were to proceed very soon to New York,
where they were to be joined by his majesty's most loyal subjects of
White Plains, Poughkeepsie, and Long Island, and at the same time
bestowed abundantly his curses on the admiral and general for their
dilatoriness and scandalous conduct in not availing themselves sooner
of the invitation they had received from the worthy gentlemen. The
congress will make what comments they please on this information,
which I must repeat I thought it my duty to communicate. Upon the
whole, sir, you may be assured that it is the intention of the
ministerialists to take possession, and immediately, of New York. The
intercepted letters, the unguarded expressions of their officers, in
their interviews with ours on the lines, but above all the manifest
advantages resulting to their cause from this measure, put their
intention beyond dispute. With submission therefore to the wisdom of
the congress, it behooves them, I should think, not to lose a moment
in securing this important post, which, if in the hands of the enemy,
must cut the continent in twain, and render it almost impossible for
the northern and southern colonies to support each other. This crisis,
when every thing is at stake, is not a time to be over complacent to
the timidity of the inhabitants of any particular spot. I have now
under my command a respectable force adequate to the purpose of
securing the place, and purging all its environs of traitors, on which
subject I shall expect with impatience the determination of the
congress. Their orders I hope to receive before or immediately on my

This instant, the enclosed, express from the provincial congress of
New York, was delivered into my hands, but as these gentlemen probably
are not fully apprised of the danger hanging over their heads, as I
have received intelligence from the camp that the fleet is sailed, and
that it is necessary to urge my march, I shall proceed with one
division of the forces under my command to that city. A moment's delay
may be fatal. The force I shall carry with me is not strong enough to
act offensively, but just sufficient to secure the city against any
immediate designs of the enemy. If this is to give umbrage, if the
governor and captain of the man of war are pleased to construe this
step as an act of positive hostility, if they are to prescribe what
number of your troops are and what number are not to enter the city,
all I can say is that New York must be considered as the minister's
place, and not the continent. I must now, sir, beg pardon for the
length of this letter, and more so, for the presumption in offering so
freely my thoughts to the congress, from whom it is my duty simply to
receive my orders, and as a servant and soldier strictly to obey;
which none can do with greater ardour and affection than,


Your most obedient humble servant,


To the honourable John Hancock, esquire, president of the continental

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. VI. _See Page 153._


_New Hampshire._

Josiah Bartlett,
William Whipple,
Matthew Thornton.

_Massachusetts Bay._

Samuel Adams,
John Adams,
Robert Treat Paine,
Elbridge Gerry.

_Rhode Island, &c._

Stephen Hopkins,
William Ellery.


Roger Sherman,
Samuel Huntington,
William Williams,
Oliver Wolcott.

_New York._

William Floyd,
Philip Livingston,
Francis Lewis,
Lewis Morris.

_New Jersey._

Richard Stockton,
John Witherspoon,
Francis Hopkinson,
John Hart,
Abram Clark.


Robert Morris,
Benjamin Rush,
Benjamin Franklin,
John Morton,
George Clymer,
James Smith,
George Taylor,
James Wilson,
George Ross.


Cesar Rodney,
George Reed.


Samuel Chase,
William Paca,
Thomas Stone,
Charles Carroll, _of Carrollton_.


George Wythe,
Richard Henry Lee,
Thomas Jefferson,
Benjamin Harrison,
Thomas Nelson, jun.
Francis Lightfoot Lee,
Carter Braxton.

_North Carolina._

William Hooper,
Joseph Hughes,
John Penn.

_South Carolina._

Edward Rutledge,
Thomas Heyward, jun.
Thomas Lynch, jun.
Arthur Middleton.


Button Gwinn,
George Walton,
Lyman Hall.

The people of the United States have taken such universal interest in
the composition of this celebrated instrument as to excuse a more
minute attention to it than has been bestowed on the other
cotemporaneous state papers.

Mr. Jefferson has preserved a copy of the original draft as reported
by the committee, with the amendments made to it in congress, which
has been published in his correspondence. The following is extracted
from that work.

_Mr. Jefferson's draft as              _As amended by congress._
reported by the committee._

A declaration by the                   A declaration by the
representatives of the                 representatives of the
United States of America               United States of America
in _general_ congress                  in congress assembled.

When in the course of
human events it becomes
necessary for one people to
dissolve the political bonds
which have connected them
with another, and to assume
among the powers of the
earth the separate and equal           Not altered.
station to which the laws of
nature and of nature's God
entitle them, a decent respect
for the opinions of mankind
requires that they should
declare the causes which impel
them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be             We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are         self-evident, that all men are
created equal; that they are           created equal; that they are
endowed by their creator with          endowed by their creator with
_inherent and_ inalienable             _certain_ inalienable rights;
rights; that among these are           that among these are life,
life, liberty, and the pursuit         liberty, and the pursuit of
of happiness; that to secure           happiness; that to secure
these rights, governments are          these rights, governments are
instituted among men, deriving         instituted among men, deriving
their just powers from                 their just powers from
the consent of the governed;           the consent of the governed;
that whenever any form of              that whenever any form of
government becomes destructive         government becomes destructive
of these ends, it is the               of these ends, it is the
right of the people to alter or        right of the people to alter or
to abolish it, and to institute        to abolish it, and to institute
new government, laying its             new government, laying its
foundation on such principles,         foundation on such principles,
and organising its powers in           and organising its powers in
such form, as to them shall            such form, as to them shall
seem most likely to effect their       seem most likely to effect their
safety and happiness. Prudence         safety and happiness. Prudence
indeed will dictate that               indeed will dictate that
governments long established           governments long established
should not be changed for              should not be changed for
light and transient causes;            light and transient causes;
and accordingly all experience         and accordingly all experience
hath shown that mankind are            hath shown that mankind are
more disposed to suffer while          more disposed to suffer while
evils are sufferable, than to          evils are sufferable, than to
right themselves by abolishing         right themselves by abolishing
the forms to which they                the forms to which they
are accustomed. But when a             are accustomed. But when a
long train of abuses and               long train of abuses and
usurpations _begun at a                usurpations pursuing
distinguished period and_              invariably the same object,
pursuing invariably the same           evinces a design to reduce
object, evinces a design to            them under absolute despotism,
reduce them under absolute             it is their right, it is
despotism, it is their right,          their duty to throw off such
it is their duty to throw off          government, and to provide
such government, and to provide        new guards for their future
new guards for their                   security. Such has been the
future security. Such has              patient sufferance of these
been the patient sufferings of         colonies, and such is now the
these colonies; and such is            necessity which constrains
now the necessity which constrains     them to _alter_ their former
them to _expunge_ their                systems of government. The
former systems of government.          history of the present king of
The history of the                     Great Britain is a history of
present king of Great Britain          _repeated_ injuries and
is a history of _unremitting_          usurpations, _all having_
injuries and usurpations               in direct object
_among which appears no                the establishment of an
solitary fact to contradict the        absolute tyranny over these
uniform tenor of the rest, but         states. To prove this let facts
all have_ in direct object the         be submitted to a candid
establishment of an absolute           world.
tyranny over these states. To
prove this let facts be submitted
to a candid world, _for
the truth of which we pledge
a faith yet unsullied by

He has refused his assent
to laws the most wholesome             Not altered.
and necessary for the public

He has forbidden his
governors to pass laws of
immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended           Not altered.
in their operation till his
assent should be obtained;
and when so suspended he
has utterly neglected to
attend to them.

He has refused to pass
other laws for the accommodation
of large districts of
people, unless those people
would relinquish the right of          Not altered.
representation in the
legislature, a right inestimable
to them, and formidable to
tyrants only.

He has called together
legislative bodies at places
unusual, uncomfortable, and
distant from the depositary of         Not altered.
their public records, for the
sole purpose of fatiguing
them into compliance with his

He has dissolved representative        He has dissolved representative
houses repeatedly _and                 houses repeatedly for
continually_, for opposing with        opposing with manly firmness
manly firmness his invasions           his invasions on the rights of
on the rights of the people.           the people.

He has refused for a long
time after such dissolutions to
cause others to be elected,
whereby the legislative
powers, incapable of annihilation,
have returned to the people            Not altered.
at large for their exercise,
the state remaining, in the
mean time, exposed to the
dangers of invasion from
without and convulsions

He has endeavoured to
prevent the population of
these states; for that purpose
obstructing the laws for the
naturalization of foreigners,          Not altered.
refusing to pass others to
encourage their migrations
hither, and raising the
conditions of new appropriations
of lands.

He has _suffered_ the                  He has _obstructed_ the
administration of justice              administration of justice
_totally to cease in some              _by_ refusing his assent
of these states_, refusing his         to laws for establishing
assent to laws for establishing        judiciary powers.
judiciary powers.

He has made _our_ judges               He has made judges dependent
dependent on his will alone            on his will alone for the
for the tenure of their offices,       tenure of their offices, and the
and the amount and payment             amount and payment of their
of their salaries.                     salaries.

He has erected a multitude             He has erected a multitude
of new offices, _by a                  of new offices, and sent hither
self-assumed power_, and               swarms of new officers to
sent hither swarms of new              harass our people and eat out
officers to harass our people          their substance.
and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us in                He has kept among us in
times of peace standing armies         times of peace standing armies
_and ships of war_ without             without the consent of our
the consent of our legislatures.       legislatures.

He has affected to render
the military independence of           Not altered.
and superior to the civil

He has combined with                   He has combined with
others to subject us to a              others to subject us to a
jurisdiction foreign to our            jurisdiction foreign to our
constitutions and                      constitutions and
unacknowledged                         unacknowledged
by our laws, giving his assent         by our laws, giving his assent
to their acts of pretended             to their acts of pretended
legislation for quartering             legislation for quartering
large bodies of armed troops           large bodies of armed troops
among us; for protecting by            among us; for protecting by
a mock trial from punishment           a mock trial from punishment
for any murders which they             for any murders which they
should commit on the inhabitants       should commit on the inhabitants
of these states; for cutting           of these states; for cutting
off our trade with all                 off our trade with all
parts of the world; for imposing       parts of the world; for imposing
taxes on us without                    taxes on us without
our consent; for depriving us          our consent; for depriving us
of the benefits of trial by            _in many cases_ of the
jury; for transporting us beyond       benefits of trial by jury;
seas to be tried for pretended         for transporting us beyond
offences; for abolishing               seas to be tried for pretended
the free system of English             offences; for abolishing the
laws in a neighbouring province,       free system of English laws
establishing therein an                in a neighbouring province,
arbitrary government, and              establishing therein an
enlarging its boundaries, so           arbitrary government, and
as to render it at once an             enlarging its boundaries, so
example and fit instrument for         as to render it at once an
introducing the same absolute          example and fit instrument for
rule into these _states_; for          introducing the same absolute
taking away our charters,              rule into these _colonies_;
abolishing our most valuable           for taking away our charters,
laws, and altering fundamentally       abolishing our most valuable
the forms of our governments;          laws, and altering fundamentally
for suspending our                     the forms of our governments;
own legislatures, and declaring        for suspending our own
themselves invested with               legislatures, and declaring
power to legislate for us in           themselves invested with
all cases whatsoever.                  power to legislate for us in
                                       all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government            He has abdicated government
here, _withdrawing his                 here _by declaring us out
governors and declaring us             of his protection and waging
out of his allegiance and              war against us_.

He has plundered our seas,
ravaged our coasts, burnt our          Not altered.
towns and destroyed the lives
of our people.

He is at this time transporting        He is at this time transporting
large armies of foreign                large armies of foreign
mercenaries to complete the            mercenaries to complete the
works of death, desolation             works of death, destruction
and tyranny already begun              and tyranny already begun
with circumstances of cruelty          with circumstances of cruelty
and perfidy unworthy the               and perfidy _scarcely
head of a civilized nation.            paralleled in the most
                                       barbarous ages and totally_
                                       unworthy the head of a
                                       civilized nation.

He has constrained our
fellow-citizens taken captive
on the high seas to bear arms
against their country, to              Not altered.
become the executioners of
their friends and brethren, or
to fall themselves by their

He has endeavoured to                  He has _excited domestic
bring on the inhabitants of            insurrections among us and has_
the frontiers the merciless            endeavoured to bring on the
Indian savages whose known             inhabitants of the frontiers
rule of warfare is an                  the merciless Indian savages
undistinguished destruction of         whose known rule of warfare
all ages, sexes and conditions         is an undistinguished destruction
_of existence_.                        of all ages, sexes, and

He has excited treasonable
insurrections of our
fellow-citizens, with the              Struck out.
allurements of forfeiture and
confiscation of our property.

He has waged cruel war
against human nature itself,
violating its most sacred
rights of life and liberty in
the persons of a distant people
who never offended him,
captivating and carrying them
into slavery in another
hemisphere, or to incur
miserable death in their
transportation thither.
This piratical warfare, the
opprobrium of INFIDEL powers,
is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN
king of Great Britain.
Determined to keep open a
market where MEN should be
bought and sold, he has
prostituted his negative for           Struck out.
suppressing every legislative
attempt to prohibit or to
restrain this execrable commerce.
And that this assemblage
of horrors might want no fact of
distinguished die, he is now
exciting those very people to
rise in arms among us, and to
purchase that liberty of which
he has deprived them, by
murdering the people on whom he
also obtruded them; thus paying
off former crimes committed
against the LIBERTIES of one
people with crimes which he
urges them to commit against
the LIVES of another.

In every stage of these
oppressions we have petitioned
for redress in the most                Not altered.
humble terms; our repeated
petitions have been answered
only by repeated injuries.

A prince whose character is            A prince whose character is
thus marked by every act               thus marked by every act
which may define a tyrant is           which may define a tyrant is
unfit to be the ruler of a             unfit to be the ruler of a
people _who mean to be free.           _free_ people.
Future ages will scarcely
believe that the hardiness of one
man adventured, within the
short compass of twelve years
only, to lay a foundation so
broad and so undisguised for
tyranny over a people fostered
and fixed in principles of

Nor have we been wanting               Nor have we been wanting
in attention to our British            in attention to our British
brethren. We have warned               brethren. We have warned
them from time to time of              them from time to time of
attempts by their legislature to       attempts by their legislature to
extend _a_ jurisdiction over           extend _an unwarrantable_
_these our states_. We have            jurisdiction over _us_. We have
reminded them of the                   reminded them of the
circumstances of our emigration        circumstances of our emigration
and settlement here; _no one of        and settlement here; we _have_
which could warrant so                 appealed to their native justice
strange a pretension; these            and magnanimity, _and we
were effected at the expense           have conjured them by_ the
of our own blood and treasure,         ties of our common kindred
unassisted by the wealth or            to disavow these usurpations
the strength of Great Britain;         which _would inevitably_
that in constituting indeed            interrupt our connexion and
our several forms of government,       correspondence. They too have
we had adopted one                     been deaf to the voice of
common king; thereby laying            justice and of consanguinity.
a foundation for perpetual             _We must therefore_ acquiesce
league and amity with them;            in the necessity which denounces
but that submission to their           our separation, _and hold them_
parliament was no part of our          as we hold the rest of mankind,
constitution, nor ever in idea         enemies in war, in peace
if history may be credited;            friends.
and_ we appealed to their
native justice and magnanimity,
_as well as to_ the ties of our
common kindred, to disavow
these usurpations which _were
likely to_ interrupt our
connexion and correspondence.
They too have been deaf to
the voice of justice and of
consanguinity, _and when
occasions have been given them
by the regular course of their
laws, of removing from their
councils the disturbers of our
harmony, they have by their
free election re-established
them in power. At this very
time too, they are permitting
their chief magistrate to send
over not only soldiers of our
common blood, but Scotch and
foreign mercenaries to invade
and destroy us. These facts
have given the last stab to
agonizing affection, and
manly spirit bids us to renounce
for ever these unfeeling
brethren. We must endeavour
to forget our former
love for them, and hold them
as we hold the rest of mankind,
enemies in war, in
peace friends. We might have
been a free and a great people
together; but a communication
of grandeur and of
freedom, it seems, is below
their dignity. Be it so, since
they will have it. The road
to happiness and to glory is
open to us too. We will tread
it apart from them, and_
acquiesce in the necessity
which denounces our _eternal_

We, therefore, the                     We, therefore, the
representatives of the United          representatives of the United
States of America in general           States of America in general
congress assembled, do, in the         congress assembled, _appealing
name and by the authority of           to the supreme judge of the
the good people of these               world for the rectitude of our
_states, reject and renounce all       intentions_, do in the name,
allegiance and subjection to           and by the good people of
the kings of Great Britain,            these _colonies, solemnly
and all others who may hereafter       publish and declare that these
claim by, through or                   united colonies are and of
under them; we utterly dissolve        right ought to be free and
all political connexion which          independent states; that they
may heretofore have                    are absolved from all
subsisted between us and the           allegiance to the British crown,
people or parliament of Great          and that all political
Britain; and finally we do             connexion between them and the
assert and declare these colonies      state of Great Britain is, and
to be free and independent             ought to be, totally dissolved_;
states_, and that as free and          and that as free and independent
independent states, they have          states they have full
full power to levy war,                power to levy war, conclude
conclude peace, contract alliances,    peace, contract alliances,
establish commerce, and to do          establish commerce, and to do
all other acts and things              all other acts and things
which independent states may           which independent states may
of right do.                           of right do.

And for the support of this            And for the support of this
declaration, we mutually               declaration, _with a firm
pledge to each other our lives,        reliance on the protection of
our fortunes, and our sacred           divine providence_, we mutually
honour.                                pledge to each other our lives,
                                       our fortunes, and our sacred

The words expunged from the original draft are distinguished by
italics, as are the words that were introduced by congress.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. VII. _See Page 229._

"My reasons for this measure," said the Commander-in-chief in his
letter to General Lee, ordering him to cross the Hudson, "and which I
think must have weight with you, are, that the enemy are evidently
changing the seat of war to this side of the North river; that this
country, therefore, will expect the continental army to give what
support they can; and, if disappointed in this, will cease to depend
upon, or support a force by which no protection is given to them. It
is, therefore, of the utmost importance that at least an appearance of
force should be made, to keep this state in connexion with the others.
If that should not continue, it is much to be feared that its
influence on Pennsylvania would be very considerable; and the public
interests would be more and more endangered. Unless, therefore, some
new event should occur, or some more cogent reason present itself, I
would have you move over by the easiest and best passage. I am
sensible your numbers will not be large, and that the movement may not
perhaps be agreeable to your troops. As to the first, report will
exaggerate them, and there will be preserved the appearance of an
army, which will, at least, have the effect of encouraging the
desponding here; and, as to the other, you will doubtless represent to
them, that in duty and gratitude, their service is due wherever the
enemy may make the greatest impression, or seem to intend to do so."

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. VIII. _See Page 268._

In a postscript, it is stated, that an accurate return could not be
obtained, but that from the best estimate he could form, the whole
force in Jersey fit for duty was under three thousand; all of whom,
except nine hundred and eighty-one, were militia, who stood engaged
only until the last of that month. The continental troops under
inoculation, including their attendants, amounted to about one

In a letter of the sixth of March to Governor Trumbull, calling on the
state of Connecticut for two thousand militia to be marched to
Peekskill, after complaining of the militia he had called from the
southern states, who came and went as their own caprice might direct,
he says, "I am persuaded, from the readiness with which you have ever
complied with all my demands, that you will exert yourself in
forwarding the aforementioned number of men, upon my bare request. But
I hope you will be convinced of the necessity of the demand, when I
tell you, in confidence, that after the 15th of this month, when the
time of General Lincoln's militia expires, I shall be left with the
remains of five Virginia regiments, not amounting to more than as many
hundred men, and parts of two or three other continental battalions,
all very weak. The remainder of the army will be composed of small
parties of militia from this state and Pennsylvania, on whom little
dependence can be put, as they come and go when they please. I have
issued peremptory orders to every colonel in the regular service, to
send in what men he has recruited, even if they amount to but one
hundred to a regiment: if they would do this, it would make a
considerable force upon the whole. The enemy must be ignorant of our
numbers and situation, or they would never suffer us to remain
unmolested; and I almost tax myself with imprudence in committing the
secret to paper; not that I distrust you, of whose inviolable
attachment I have had so many proofs; but for fear the letter should
by any accident fall into other hands than those for which it is

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. IX. _See Page 382._

Justice to the unfortunate demands that an extract from the
correspondence between Generals Burgoyne and Gates on this subject
should be inserted.

The British general had complained of the harsh treatment experienced
by the provincial prisoners taken at Bennington, and requested that a
surgeon from his army should be permitted to visit the wounded; and
that he might be allowed to furnish them with necessaries and
attendants. "Duty and principle," he added, "make me a public enemy to
the Americans, who have taken up arms; but I seek to be a generous
one; nor have I the shadow of resentment against any individual, who
does not induce it by acts derogatory to those maxims, upon which all
men of honour think alike." In answer to this letter, General Gates,
who had just taken command of the American army, said, "that the
savages of America should, in their warfare, mangle and scalp the
unhappy prisoners who fall into their hands is neither new nor
extraordinary, but that the famous Lieutenant General Burgoyne, in
whom the fine gentleman is united with the soldier and the scholar,
should hire the savages of America to scalp Europeans, and the
descendants of Europeans; nay more, that he should pay a price for
each scalp so barbarously taken, is more than will be believed in
Europe, until authenticated facts shall, in every gazette, confirm the
truth of the horrid tale.

"Miss M'Crea, a young lady, lovely to the sight, of virtuous
character, and amiable disposition, engaged to an officer of your
army, was, with other women and children, taken out of a house near
fort Edward, carried into the woods, and there scalped and mangled in
a most shocking manner. Two parents with their six children, were all
treated with the same inhumanity, while quietly resting in their once
happy and peaceful dwelling. The miserable fate of Miss M'Crea was
particularly aggravated, by being dressed to receive her promised
husband; but met her murderer employed by you. Upwards of one hundred
men, women and children, have perished by the hands of the ruffians to
whom, it is asserted, you have paid the price of blood."

To this part of his letter, General Burgoyne replied, "I have
hesitated, sir, upon answering the other paragraphs of your letter. I
disdain to justify myself against the rhapsodies of fiction and
calumny, which from the first of this contest, it has been an unvaried
American policy to propagate, but which no longer imposes on the
world. I am induced to deviate from this general rule, in the present
instance, lest my silence should be construed an acknowledgment of the
truth of your allegations, and a pretence be thence taken for
exercising future barbarities by the American troops.

"By this motive, and upon this only, I condescend to inform you, that
I would not be conscious of the acts you presume to impute to me, for
the whole continent of America, though the wealth of worlds was in its
bowels, and a paradise upon its surface.

"It has happened, that all my transactions with the Indian nations,
last year and this, have been clearly heard, distinctly understood,
accurately minuted, by very numerous, and in many parts, very
unprejudiced persons. So immediately opposite to the truth is your
assertion that I have paid a price for scalps, that one of the first
regulations established by me at the great council in May, and
repeated and enforced, and invariably adhered to since, was, that the
Indians should receive compensation for prisoners, because it would
prevent cruelty; and that not only such compensation should be
withheld, but a strict account demanded for scalps. These pledges of
conquest, for such you well know they will ever esteem them, were
solemnly and peremptorily prohibited to be taken from the wounded, and
even the dying, and the persons of aged men, women, children, and
prisoners, were pronounced sacred, even in an assault.

"In regard to Miss M'Crea, her fall wanted not the tragic display you
have laboured to give it, to make it as sincerely abhorred and
lamented by me, as it can be by the tenderest of her friends. The fact
was no premeditated barbarity. On the contrary, two chiefs who had
brought her off for the purpose of security, not of violence to her
person, disputed which should be her guard, and in a fit of savage
passion in one, from whose hands she was snatched, the unhappy woman
became the victim. Upon the first intelligence of this event, I
obliged the Indians to deliver the murderer into my hands, and though
to have punished him by our laws, or principles of justice, would have
been perhaps unprecedented, he certainly should have suffered an
ignominious death, had I not been convinced from my circumstances and
observation, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that a pardon under
the terms which I presented, and they accepted, would be more
efficacious than an execution, to prevent similar mischiefs.

"The above instance excepted, your intelligence respecting the cruelty
of the Indians is false.

"You seem to threaten me with European publications, which affect me
as little as any other threats you could make; but in regard to
American publications, whether your charge against me, which I acquit
you of believing, was penned _from_ a gazette, or _for_ a gazette, I
desire and demand of you, as a man of honour, that should it appear in
print at all this answer may follow it."

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. X. _See Page 405._

Lord Suffolk, secretary of state, contended for the employment of
Indians, in the war. "Besides its policy and necessity," his lordship
said, "that the measure was also allowable on principle, for that it
was perfectly justifiable to use all the means that God and nature had
put into our hands."

This moving the indignation of Lord Chatham, he suddenly rose, and
gave full vent to his feelings in one of the most extraordinary bursts
of eloquence that the pen of history has recorded: "I am astonished,"
exclaimed his lordship, "shocked to hear such principles confessed; to
hear them avowed in this house or even this country. My lords, I did
not intend to have encroached again on your attention, but I can not
repress my indignation. I feel myself impelled to speak. My lords, we
are called upon as members of this house, as men, as christians, to
protest against such horrible barbarity. That God and nature had put
into our hands! what ideas of God and nature that noble lord may
entertain I know not, but I know that such detestable principles are
equally abhorrent to religion and humanity. What, to attribute the
sacred sanction of God and nature to the massacres of the Indian
scalping knife! to the cannibal savage, torturing, murdering,
devouring, drinking the blood of his mangled victims! such notions
shock every precept of morality, every feeling of humanity, every
sentiment of honour. These abominable principles and this more
abominable avowal of them, demand the most decisive indignation. I
call upon that right reverend and this most learned bench to vindicate
the religion of their God, to support the justice of their country. I
call upon the bishops to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their
lawn, upon the judges to interpose the purity of their ermine, to save
us from this pollution. I call upon the honour of your lordships, to
reverence the dignity of your ancestors, and to maintain your own. I
call upon the spirit and humanity of my country, to vindicate the
national character. I invoke the genius of the constitution. From the
tapestry that adorns these walls, the immortal ancestor of this noble
lord, frowns with indignation at the disgrace of his country. In vain
did he defend the liberty, and establish the religion of Britain
against the tyranny of Rome, if these worse than popish cruelties and
inquisitorial practices are endured among us. To send forth the
merciless cannibal thirsting for blood!--against whom?--Your
protestant brethren--to lay waste their country, to desolate their
dwellings, and extirpate their race and name, by the aid and
instrumentality of these horrible hell-hounds of war! Spain can no
longer boast preeminence of barbarity. She armed herself with
blood-hounds to extirpate the wretched natives of Mexico, but we more
ruthless, loose these dogs of war against our countrymen in America,
endeared to us by every tie that should sanctify humanity. My lords, I
solemnly call upon your lordships, and upon every order of men in the
state, to stamp upon this infamous procedure the indelible stigma of
the public abhorrence. More particularly I call upon the holy prelates
of our religion to do away this iniquity; let them perform a
lustration to purify their country from this deep and deadly sin. My
lords, I am old and weak, and at present unable to say more, but my
feelings and indignation were too strong to have said less. I could
not have slept this night in my bed, nor reposed my head upon my
pillow, without giving this vent to my eternal abhorrence of such
enormous and preposterous principles."

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. XI. _See Page 414._

_The following are the letters which passed between the two generals
on this subject:_

Albany, December 18, 1777.

SIR,--I shall not attempt to describe what, as a private gentleman, I
can not help feeling, on representing to my mind the disagreeable
situation which confidential letters, when exposed to public
inspection, may place an unsuspecting correspondent in; but, as a
public officer, I conjure your excellency, to give me all the
assistance you can, in tracing out the author of the infidelity, which
put extracts from General Conway's letters to me into your hands.
Those letters have been stealingly copied; but, which of them, when,
or by whom, is to me, as yet, an unfathomable secret.

There is not one officer in my suite, or amongst those who have a free
access to me, upon whom I could, with the least justification to
myself, fix the suspicion; and yet, my uneasiness may deprive me of
the usefulness of the worthiest men. It is, I believe, in your
excellency's power to do me, and the United States, a very important
service, by detecting a wretch who may betray me, and capitally injure
the very operations under your immediate direction. For this reason,
sir, I beg your excellency will favour me with the proofs you can
procure to that effect. But, the crime being, eventually so important,
that the least loss of time may be attended with the worst
consequences; and, it being unknown to me whether the letter came to
you from a member of congress, or from an officer, I shall have the
honour of transmitting a copy of this to the president, that congress
may, in concert with your excellency, obtain, as soon as possible, a
discovery which so deeply affects the safety of the states. Crimes of
that magnitude ought not to remain unpunished.

I have the honour to be,

Sir, With the greatest respect,

Your excellency's most humble and most obedient servant,


His excellency General Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *

Valley Forge, January 4, 1778.

SIR,--Your letter of the 18th ultimo, came to my hands a few days ago,
and to my great surprise informed me, that a copy of it had been sent
to congress, for what reason, I find myself unable to account; but, as
some end doubtless was intended to be answered by it, I am laid under
the disagreeable necessity of returning my answer through the same
channel, lest any member of that honourable body should harbour an
unfavourable suspicion of my having practised some indiscreet means to
come at the contents of the confidential letters between you and
General Conway.

I am to inform you then, that ----, on his way to congress in the
month of October last, fell in with Lord Stirling at Reading: and, not
in confidence that I ever understood, informed his aid-de-camp, Major
M'Williams, that General Conway had written thus to you, "heaven has
been determined to save your country, or a weak general and bad
counsellors[106] would have ruined it." Lord Stirling, from motives of
friendship, transmitted the account with this remark. "The enclosed
was communicated by ---- to Major M'Williams; such wicked duplicity of
conduct I shall always think it my duty to detect."

     [Footnote 106: One of whom, by the by, he was.]

In consequence of this information, and without having any thing more
in view, than merely to show that gentleman that I was not unapprised
of his intriguing disposition, I wrote him a letter in these words.

"Sir, a letter which I received last night contained the following

"In a letter from General Conway to General Gates, he says, heaven has
been determined to save your country, or a weak general and bad
counsellors would have ruined it. I am, sir, &c."

Neither the letter, nor the information which occasioned it, was ever,
directly, or indirectly, communicated by me to a single officer in
this army (out of my own family) excepting the Marquis de Lafayette,
who having been spoken to on the subject, by General Conway, applied
for, and saw, under injunctions of secrecy, the letter which contained
this information; so desirous was I of concealing every matter that
could, in its consequences, give the smallest interruption to the
tranquillity of this army, or afford a gleam of hope to the enemy by
dissensions therein.

Thus, sir, with an openness and candour, which I hope will ever
characterize and mark my conduct, have I complied with your request.
The only concern I feel upon the occasion, finding how matters stand,
is, that in doing this, I have necessarily been obliged to name a
gentleman, who, I am persuaded, (although I never exchanged a word
with him upon the subject) thought he was rather doing an act of
justice, than committing an act of infidelity; and sure I am, that,
until Lord Stirling's letter came to my hands, I never knew that
General Conway, (whom I viewed in the light of a stranger to you) was
a correspondent of yours, much less did I suspect that I was the
subject of your confidential letters. Pardon me then for adding, that,
so far from conceiving that the safety of the states can be affected,
or in the smallest degree injured, by a discovery of this kind, or
that I should be called upon in such solemn terms to point out the
author, that I considered the information as coming from yourself, and
given with a friendly view to forewarn, and consequently forearm me,
against a secret enemy, or in other words, a dangerous incendiary, in
which character sooner or later, this country will know General
Conway. But, in this, as well as other matters of late, I have found
myself mistaken. I am, sir,

Your most obedient servant,


To Major General Gates.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. XII. _See Page 417._

_During the existence of this faction, an attempt appears to have been
made to alienate the affections of the leading political personages in
the states from the commander-in-chief. The following letters exhibit
a very unsuccessful effort of this sort, which was made on Governor
Henry, of Virginia, by a gentleman not supposed to be a member of
congress from that state._

Williamsburgh, February 20, 1778.

DEAR SIR,--You will no doubt be surprised at seeing the enclosed
letter, in which the encomiums bestowed on me are as undeserved, as
the censures aimed at you are unjust. I am sorry there should be one
man who counts himself my friend, who is not yours.

Perhaps I give you needless trouble in handing you this paper. The
writer of it may be too insignificant to deserve any notice. If I knew
this to be the case, I should not have intruded on your time, which is
so precious. But there may possibly be some scheme or party forming to
your prejudice. The enclosed leads to such a suspicion. Believe me,
sir, I have too high a sense of the obligations America has to you, to
abet or countenance so unworthy a proceeding. The most exalted merit
hath ever been found to attract envy. But I please myself with the
hope, that the same fortitude and greatness of mind which have
hitherto braved all the difficulties and dangers inseparable from your
station, will rise superior to every attempt of the envious partisan.

I really can not tell who is the writer of this letter, which not a
little perplexes me. The hand writing is altogether strange to me.

To give you the trouble of this, gives me pain. It would suit my
inclination better, to give you some assistance in the great business
of the war. But I will not conceal any thing from you, by which you
may be affected, for I really think your personal welfare and the
happiness of America are intimately connected. I beg you will be
assured of that high regard and esteem with which I ever am,

Dear sir,

Your affectionate friend and very humble servant,


His excellency General Washington.

(_Letter enclosed in the preceding._)

Yorktown, January 12, 1778.

DEAR SIR,--The common danger of our country first brought you and me
together. I recollect with pleasure the influence of your conversation
and eloquence upon the opinions of this country in the beginning of
the present controversy. You first taught us to shake off our
idolatrous attachment to royalty, and to oppose its encroachments upon
our liberties with our very lives. By these means you saved us from
ruin. The independence of America is the offspring of that liberal
spirit of thinking, and acting, which followed the destruction of the
sceptres of kings and the mighty power of Great Britain.

But, sir, we have only passed the Red Sea. A dreary wilderness is
still before us, and unless a Moses or a Joshua are raised up in our
behalf, we must perish before we reach the promised land. We have
nothing to fear from our enemies on the way. General Howe, it is true,
has taken Philadelphia; but he has only changed his prison. His
dominions are bounded on all sides by his outsentries. America can
only be undone by herself. She looks up to her councils and arms for
protection; but alas! what are they? her representation in congress
dwindled to only twenty-one members--her Adams--her Wilson--her Henry,
are no more among them. Her councils weak--and partial remedies
applied constantly for universal diseases. Her army--what is it? a
major general belonging to it called it a few days ago in my hearing a
_mob_. Discipline unknown or _wholly_ neglected. The quartermaster and
commissary's departments filled with idleness, ignorance and
peculation--our hospitals crowded with six thousand sick, but half
provided with necessaries or accommodations, and more dying in them in
one month, than perished in the field during the whole of the last

The money depreciating without any effectual measures being taken to
raise it--the country distracted with the Don Quixote attempts to
regulate the prices of provisions, an _artificial_ famine created by
it, and a _real_ one dreaded from it. The spirit of the people failing
through a more intimate acquaintance with the causes of our
misfortunes--many submitting daily to General Howe, and more wishing
to do it, only to avoid the calamities which threaten our country. But
is our case desperate? by no means. We have wisdom, virtue, and
strength _eno'_ to save us if they could be called into action. The
northern army has shown us what Americans are capable of doing with A
GENERAL at their head. The spirit of the southern army is no ways
inferior to the spirit of the northern. A Gates--a Lee, or a Conway
would, in a few weeks, render them an irresistible body of men. The
last of the above officers has accepted of the new office of inspector
general of our army, in order to reform abuses--but the remedy is only
a palliative one. In one of his letters to a friend he says, "a great
and good God hath decreed America to be free--or the ---- and weak
counsellors would have ruined her long ago"--you may rest assured of
_each_ of the facts related in this letter. The author of it is one of
your Philadelphia friends. A hint of his name, if found out by the
hand writing, must not be mentioned to your most intimate friend. Even
the letter _must_ be thrown in the fire. But some of its contents
ought to be made public in order to awaken, enlighten, and alarm our
country. I rely upon your prudence, and am, dear sir, with my usual
attachment to _you_, and to our beloved independence,

Yours, sincerely.

His excellency P. Henry.

       *       *       *       *       *

Williamsburgh, March 5, 1778.

DEAR SIR,--By an express which Colonel Finnie sent to camp, I enclosed
you an anonymous letter, which I hope got safe to hand. I am anxious
to hear something that will serve to explain the strange affair, which
I am now informed is taken up, respecting you. Mr. Custis has just
paid us a visit, and by him I learn sundry particulars concerning
General Mifflin, that much surprise me. It is very hard to trace the
schemes and windings of the enemies to America. I really thought that
man its friend: however, I am too far from him to judge of his present

While you face the armed enemies of our liberty in the field, and, by
the favour of God, have been kept unhurt, I trust your country will
never harbour in her bosom the miscreant who would ruin her best
supporter. I wish not to flatter; but when arts unworthy honest men
are used to defame and traduce you, I think it not amiss, but a duty,
to assure you of that estimation in which the public hold you. Not
that I think any testimony I can bear, is necessary for your support,
or private satisfaction, for a bare recollection of what is past must
give you sufficient pleasure in every circumstance of life. But I can
not help assuring you, on this occasion, of the high sense of
gratitude which all ranks of men, in this your native country, bear to
you. It will give me sincere pleasure to manifest my regards, and
render my best services to you or yours. I do not like to make a
parade of these things, and I know you are not fond of it; however, I
hope the occasion will plead my excuse.

The assembly have at length empowered the executive here to provide
the Virginia troops serving with you, with clothes, &c. I am making
provision accordingly, and hope to do something towards it. Every
possible assistance from government is afforded the commissary of
provisions, whose department has not been attended to. It was taken up
by me too late to do much. Indeed the load of business devolved on me
is too great to be managed well. A French ship, mounting thirty guns,
that has been long chased by the English cruisers, has got into
Carolina, as I hear last night.

Wishing you all possible felicity, I am, my dear sir,

Your ever affectionate friend,

and very humble servant,


His excellency General Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *

Valley Forge, March 27, 1778.

DEAR SIR,--About eight days past, I was honoured with your favour of
the 20th ultimo.

Your friendship, sir, in transmitting me the anonymous letter you had
received, lays me under the most grateful obligations; and, if any
thing could give a still further claim to my acknowledgments, it is
the very polite and delicate terms in which you have been pleased to
make the communication.

I have ever been happy in supposing that I held a place in your
esteem, and the proof of it you have afforded on this occasion makes
me peculiarly so. The favourable light in which you hold me is truly
flattering, but I should feel much regret if I thought the happiness
of America so intimately connected with my personal welfare, as you so
obligingly seem to consider it. All I can say, is, that she has ever
had, and, I trust, she ever will have, my honest exertions to promote
her interest. I can not hope that my services have been the best; but
my heart tells me that they have been the best that I could render.

That I may have erred in using the means in my power for accomplishing
the objects of the arduous, exalted station with which I am honoured,
I can not doubt; nor do I wish my conduct to be exempted from the
reprehension it may deserve. Error is the portion of humanity, and to
censure it, whether committed by this or that public character, is the
prerogative of freemen....

This is not the only secret insidious attempt that has been made to
wound my reputation. There have been others equally base, cruel, and
ungenerous; because conducted with as little frankness and proceeding
from views perhaps as personally interested.

I am, dear sir, &c.


To his excellency Patrick Henry, esquire, Governor of Virginia.

       *       *       *       *       *

Camp, March 28, 1778.

DEAR SIR,--Just as I was about to close my letter of yesterday, your
favour of the fifth instant came to hand.

I can only thank you again, in the language of the most undissembled
gratitude, for your friendship: and assure you, the indulgent
disposition which Virginia in particular, and the states in general
entertain towards me, gives me the most sensible pleasure. The
approbation of my country is what I wish; and, as far as my abilities
and opportunity will permit, I hope I shall endeavour to deserve it.
It is the highest reward to a feeling mind; and happy are they who so
conduct themselves as to merit it.

The anonymous letter with which you were pleased to favour me, was
written by ----, so far as I can judge from a similitude of hands....

My caution to avoid any thing that could injure the service, prevented
me from communicating, except to a very few of my friends, the
intrigues of a faction which I know was formed against me, since it
might serve to publish our internal dissensions; but their own
restless zeal to advance their views has too clearly betrayed them,
and made concealment on my part fruitless. I can not precisely mark
the extent of their views, but it appeared in general, that General
Gates was to be exalted on the ruin of my reputation and influence.
This I am authorized to say from undeniable facts in my own
possession, from publications the evident scope of which could not be
mistaken, and from private detractions industriously circulated. ----,
it is commonly supposed, bore the second part in the cabal; and
General Conway, I know, was a very active and malignant partisan; but
I have good reason to believe that their machinations have recoiled
most sensibly upon themselves. I am, dear sir, &c.


His excellency Patrick Henry, esquire, Gov. of Virginia.

_The following extract is taken from a letter written about the same
time to a gentleman in New England, who had expressed some anxious
apprehensions occasioned by a report that the commander-in-chief had
determined to resign his station in the army:_

"I can assure you that no person ever heard me drop an expression that
had a tendency to resignation. The same principles that led me to
embark in the opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain,
operate with additional force at this day; nor is it my desire to
withdraw my services while they are considered of importance in the
present contest; but to report a design of this kind, is among the
arts, which those who are endeavouring to effect a change are
practising to bring it to pass. I have said, and I still do say, that
there is not an officer in the service of the United States, that
would return to the sweets of domestic life with more heartfelt joy
than I should. But I would have this declaration accompanied by these
sentiments, that while the public are satisfied with my endeavours, I
mean not to shrink from the cause: but the moment her voice, not that
of faction, calls upon me to resign, I shall do it with as much
pleasure as ever the wearied traveller retired to rest."

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE--No. XIII. _See Page 456._

_The following is an extract of a letter addressed on this occasion by
General Washington to congress:_

"Though I sincerely commiserate the misfortune of General Lee, and
feel much for his present unhappy situation; yet, with all possible
deference to the opinion of congress, I fear that their resolutions
will not have the desired effect, are founded in impolicy, and will,
if adhered to, produce consequences of an extensive and melancholy

"Retaliation is certainly just, and sometimes necessary, even where
attended with the severest penalties: but when the evils which may,
and must result from it, exceed those intended to be redressed,
prudence and policy require that it should be avoided.

"Having premised thus much, I beg leave to examine the justice and
expediency of it in the instance before us. From the best information
I have been able to obtain, General Lee's usage has not been so
disgraceful and dishonourable, as to authorize the treatment decreed
to these gentlemen, was it not prohibited by many other important
considerations. His confinement, I believe, has been more rigorous
than has been generally experienced by the rest of our officers, or
those of the enemy who have been in our possession; but if the reports
received on that head be true, he has been provided with a decent
apartment, and with most things necessary to render him comfortable.
This is not the case with one of the officers comprehended in the
resolves, if his letter, of which a copy is transmitted, deserves your
credit. Here retaliation seems to have been prematurely begun, or to
speak with more propriety, severities have been, and are exercised
towards Colonel Campbell, not justified by any that General Lee has
yet received.

"In point of policy, and under the present situation of our affairs,
most surely the doctrine can not be supported. The balance of
prisoners is greatly against us, and a general regard to the happiness
of the whole should mark our conduct. Can we imagine that our enemies
will not mete the same punishments, the same indignities, the same
cruelties, to those belonging to us in their possession, that we
impose on theirs? why should we suppose them to have more humanity
than we possess ourselves? or why should an ineffectual attempt to
relieve the distresses of one brave man, involve many more in misery?
At this time, however disagreeable the fact may be, the enemy have in
their power, and subject to their call, near three hundred officers
belonging to the army of the United States. In this number there are
some of high rank, and the most of them are men of bravery and of
merit. The quota of theirs in our hands bears no proportion, not being
more than fifty. Under these circumstances, we certainly should do no
act to draw upon the gentlemen belonging to us, and who have already
suffered a long captivity, greater punishments than they now
experience. If we should, what will be their feelings, and those of
their numerous and extensive connexions? Suppose the treatment
prescribed for the Hessian officers should be pursued, will it not
establish what the enemy have been aiming to effect by every artifice,
and the grossest misrepresentations? I mean, an opinion of our enmity
towards them, and of the cruel conduct they experience when they fall
into our hands; a prejudice which we, on our part, have heretofore
thought it politic to suppress, and to root out by every act of
kindness and of lenity. It certainly will. The Hessians will hear of
the punishments with all the circumstances of heightened exaggeration,
and would feel the injury without investigating the cause, or
reasoning upon the justice of it. The mischiefs which may, and must
inevitably flow from the execution of the resolves, appear to be
endless and innumerable."


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