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Title: The Life of George Washington, Vol. 3 (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 #18593]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Linda Cantoni, David Widger,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


The Sponsors'
George Washington
by John Marshall
Henry H. Kimball

[Illustration: George Washington

_From the portrait by Gilbert Stuart_

_This canvas, valued at $60,000, hangs in the Masonic Lodge rooms at
Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is one of the several portraits of
Washington which the artist began executing in 1795 and which are the
most famous of both artist and sitter. Of our First President, this
celebrated painter has also given us his interesting pen-picture of
his subject: "All of his features were indications of the strongest
and most ungovernable passions, and had he been born in the forest, he
would have been the fiercest man among the savage tribes."_]




























Printed in the U.S.A.

[Transcriber's Note: In the original book, some proper names are
spelled inconsistently. The inconsistencies have been preserved in
this e-text. For the reader's information, the first of each of the
following pairs of names is the correct spelling: Wemys/Wemyss,
Tarleton/Tarlton; Dundass/Dundas; M'Lane/M'Clane; Viominel/Viominil.]



Incursion into Jersey.... General Lacy surprised.... Attempt on
Lafayette at Barren hill.... General Howe resigns the command of the
British army.... Is succeeded by Sir H. Clinton.... He evacuates
Philadelphia, and marches through the Jerseys.... A council of war
which decides against attacking the British on their march.... Battle
of Monmouth.... General Lee arrested.... Sentenced to be suspended for
one year.... Thanks of Congress to General Washington and his army.


Count D'Estaing arrives with a French fleet.... Meditates an attack on
the British fleet in New York harbour.... Relinquishes it.... Sails to
Rhode Island.... Lord Howe appears off Rhode Island.... Both fleets
dispersed by a storm.... General Sullivan lays siege to Newport....
D'Estaing returns.... Sails for Boston.... Sullivan expresses his
dissatisfaction in general orders.... Raises the siege of Newport....
Action on Rhode Island.... The Americans retreat to the Continent....
Count D'Estaing expresses his dissatisfaction with Sullivan in a
letter to congress.... General Washington labours successfully to heal
these discontents.... Lord Howe resigns the command of the British
fleet.... Colonel Baylor's regiment surprised.... Captain Donop
defeated by Colonel Butler.... Expedition of the British against Egg
Harbour.... Pulaski surprised.


Arrival of the British commissioners.... Terms of conciliation
proposed.... Answer of congress to their propositions.... Attempts of
Mr. Johnson to bribe some members of congress.... His private letters
ordered to be published.... Manifesto of the commissioners, and
counter-manifesto of congress.... Arrival of Monsieur Girard, minister
plenipotentiary of France.... Hostilities of the Indians.... Irruption
into the Wyoming settlement.... Battle of Wyoming.... Colonel Dennison
capitulates for the inhabitants.... Distress of the settlement....
Colonel Clarke surprises St. Vincent.... Congress determines to invade
Canada.... General Washington opposes the measure.... Induces congress
to abandon it.


Divisions in Congress.... Letters of General Washington on the state
of public affairs.... Invasion of Georgia.... General Howe defeated by
Colonel Campbell.... Savannah taken.... Sunbury surrenders.... Georgia
reduced.... General Lincoln takes command of the Southern army....
Major Gardener defeated by General Moultrie.... Insurrection of the
Tories in South Carolina.... They are defeated by Colonel Pickens....
Ash surprised and defeated.... Moultrie retreats.... Prevost marches
to Charleston.... Lincoln attacks the British at Stono Ferry
unsuccessfully.... Invasion of Virginia.


Discontents in a part of the American army.... Letter from General
Washington on the subject.... Colonel Van Schaick destroys an Indian
settlement.... Expedition against the Indians meditated.... Fort
Fayette surrendered to the British.... Invasion of Connecticut....
General Wayne storms Stony Point.... Expedition against Penobscot....
Powles Hook surprised by Major Lee.... Arrival of Admiral
Arbuthnot.... Of the Count D'Estaing.... Siege of Savannah....
Unsuccessful attempt to storm that place.... Siege raised.... Victory
of General Sullivan at Newtown.... Spain offers her mediation to the
belligerents.... Declares war against England.... Letter from General
Washington to congress respecting the annual formation of the army....
The army goes into winter quarters.


South Carolina invaded.... The British fleet passes the bar, and gets
possession of the harbour of Charleston.... Opinion of General
Washington on the propriety of defending that place.... Sir Henry
Clinton invests the town.... Tarleton surprises an American corps at
Monk's Corner.... Fort Moultrie surrendered.... Tarleton defeats
Colonel White.... General Lincoln capitulates.... Buford defeated....
Arrangements for the government of South Carolina and Georgia.... Sir
Henry Clinton embarks for New York.... General Gates takes command of
the Southern army.... Is defeated near Camden.... Death of De Kalb....
Success of General Sumpter.... He is defeated.


Distress in the American camp.... Expedition against Staten Island....
Requisitions on the states.... New scheme of finance.... Committee of
congress deputed to camp.... Resolution to make up depreciation of
pay.... Mutiny in the line of Connecticut.... General Knyphausen
enters Jersey.... Sir Henry Clinton returns to New York.... Skirmish
at Springfield.... Exertions to strengthen the army.... Bank
established in Philadelphia.... Contributions of the ladies....
Farther proceedings of the states.... Arrival of a French armament in
Rhode Island.... Changes in the quartermaster's department....
Enterprise against New York abandoned.... Naval superiority of the


Treason and escape of Arnold.... Trial and execution of Major
Andre.... Precautions for the security of West Point.... Letter of
General Washington on American affairs.... Proceedings of congress
respecting the army.... Major Talmadge destroys the British stores at
Coram.... The army retires into winter quarters.... Irruption of Major
Carleton into New York.... European transactions.


Transactions in South Carolina and Georgia.... Defeat of Ferguson....
Lord Cornwallis enters North Carolina.... Retreat out of that
state.... Major Wemys defeated by Sumpter.... Tarleton repulsed....
Greene appointed to the command of the Southern army.... Arrives in
camp.... Detaches Morgan over the Catawba.... Battle of the
Cowpens.... Lord Cornwallis drives Greene through North Carolina into
Virginia.... He retires to Hillsborough.... Greene recrosses the
Dan.... Loyalists under Colonel Pyle cut to pieces.... Battle of
Guilford.... Lord Cornwallis retires to Ramsay's mills.... To
Wilmington.... Greene advances to Ramsay's mills.... Determines to
enter South Carolina.... Lord Cornwallis resolves to march to


Virginia invaded by Arnold.... He destroys the stores at Westham and
at Richmond.... Retires to Portsmouth.... Mutiny in the Pennsylvania
line.... Sir H. Clinton attempts to negotiate with the mutineers....
They compromise with the civil government.... Mutiny in the Jersey
line.... Mission of Colonel Laurens to France.... Propositions to
Spain.... Recommendations relative to a duty on imported and prize
goods.... Reform in the Executive departments.... Confederation
adopted.... Military transactions.... Lafayette detached to
Virginia.... Cornwallis arrives.... Presses Lafayette.... Expedition
to Charlottesville, to the Point of Fork.... Lafayette forms a
junction with Wayne.... Cornwallis retires to the lower country....
General Washington's letters are intercepted.... Action near


Farther state of affairs in the beginning of the year 1781....
Measures of Mr. Morris, the superintendent of finances.... Designs of
General Washington against New York.... Count Rochambeau marches to
the North River.... Intelligence from the Count de Grasse.... Plan of
operations against Lord Cornwallis.... Naval engagement.... The
combined armies march for the Chesapeake.... Yorktown invested....
Surrender of Lord Cornwallis.





     Incursion into Jersey.... General Lacy surprised.... Attempt
     on Lafayette at Barren Hill.... General Howe resigns the
     command of the British army.... Is succeeded by Sir H.
     Clinton.... He evacuates Philadelphia, and marches through
     the Jerseys.... A council of war which decides against
     attacking the British on their march.... Battle of
     Monmouth.... General Lee arrested.... Sentenced to be
     suspended for one year.... Thanks of congress to General
     Washington and his army.

[Sidenote: 1778]

The position at Valley Forge had been taken for the purposes of
covering the country, protecting the magazines, and cutting off all
supplies to Philadelphia. Although the intercourse of the inhabitants
with that place could not be entirely prevented; the sufferings of the
British army from the scarcity of fresh provisions and forage were
considerable; and, as the spring opened, several expeditions were
undertaken both to relieve their own wants, and to distress the army
of the United States.

About the middle of March, Colonel Mawhood and Major Simcoe, who were
detached into Jersey at the head of about twelve hundred men, landed
at Salem, nearly opposite Reedy Island, and dispersed the small bodies
of militia who were stationed in that part of the country.

[Sidenote: March 23.]

General Washington had given early intelligence of this expedition to
Governor Livingston; and had requested that he would immediately order
out the militia to join Colonel Shreve, whose regiment was detached
into Jersey; but the legislature had neglected to make provision for
paying them; and the governor could not bring them into the field.
Colonel Shreve, on his arrival at Haddonfield, the place at which they
had been directed to assemble, found less than one hundred men.
Colonel Ellis, their commanding officer, remarked, in a letter to the
governor, that "without some standing force, little was to be expected
from the militia, who, being alone not sufficient to prevent the
incursions of the enemy, each one naturally consults his own safety,
by not being found in arms."

Mawhood, of course, was unrestrained; and the devastation committed by
his party was wantonly distressing. Its course of destruction was
preceded by a summons to Colonel Hand, the commanding officer of the
militia, to lay down his arms, which was accompanied with a threat of
the consequences to result from his refusal. This threat was too
faithfully executed.

After completing his forage, without molestation, Mawhood returned to
Philadelphia. During the continuance of this incursion, which lasted
six or seven days, not more than two hundred men could be collected to
reinforce Colonel Shreve, who was consequently unable to effect any
thing, and did not even march to the lower parts of Jersey, which were
plundered without restraint.[1]

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

[Sidenote: May 1.]

Not long after this incursion into Jersey, an enterprise was
undertaken against General Lacy, who, with a small number of
Pennsylvania militia, seldom amounting to six hundred, and sometimes
not exceeding fifty, watched the roads leading to Philadelphia on the
north side of the Schuylkill, and was generally posted within twenty
miles of that town.

[Sidenote: General Lacy surprised.]

This expedition was entrusted to Colonel Abercrombie and Major Simcoe,
who avoided all the posts Lacy had established for his security, and
threw a body of troops into his rear before he discovered their
approach. After a short resistance, he escaped with the loss of a few
men killed, and all his baggage. His corps were entirely dispersed,
and he was soon afterwards relieved by General Potter.

To maintain the command of the water as far as was practicable,
congress had ordered impediments to be sunk in many of the rivers of
common use, so as to obstruct the passage up them, and had
constructed frigates, and other smaller vessels, to be employed above
those impediments or elsewhere, as the occasion might require. Several
of them had been commenced above Philadelphia, but were not completed
when the British obtained the command of the river. General Washington
then became apprehensive for their safety, and repeatedly expressed
his desire that they should be sunk in such a manner as to be weighed
with difficulty, should any attempt be made to raise them. The
persons, however, who were entrusted by congress with this business,
supposed it would be equally secure to put plugs in their bottoms,
which might be drawn out on the approach of danger.

Against these vessels, and some stores collected at Bordentown, an
expedition was planned which ended in their total destruction. General
Dickenson was in the neighbourhood, but his force was too small to
interrupt the execution of the design; and General Maxwell, who had
been ordered to his assistance, was retarded in his march by a heavy
rain, which did not obstruct the movement of the British, who passed
up the river in vessels.

[Sidenote: May 18.]

To cover the country more effectually on the north of the Schuylkill,
to form an advance guard for the security of the main army, and to be
in readiness to annoy the rear of the enemy, should he evacuate
Philadelphia, an event believed to be in contemplation, General
Washington detached the Marquis de Lafayette, with more than two
thousand choice troops, to take post near the lines. As this corps
formed a very valuable part of the army, the Commander-in-chief
recommended in his instructions to General Lafayette the utmost
attention to its safety; and, particularly, to avoid any permanent
station, as a long continuance in one position would facilitate the
execution of measures which might be concerted against him.

[Sidenote: Attempt on Lafayette at Barren Hill.]

The Marquis crossed the Schuylkill and took post near Barren Hill
church, eight or ten miles in front of the army. Immediate notice[2]
of his arrival was given to Sir William Howe, who reconnoitred his
position, and formed a plan to surprise and cut him off.

[Footnote 2: General Wilkinson, in his memoirs, says that this notice
was given by a person formerly a lieutenant in Proctor's regiment of
artillery, who, disgusted at being discarded from the American
service, became a spy to Sir William Howe; and, the better to fulfil
his new engagements, kept up his acquaintance with his former
comrades, and frequently visited the camp at Valley Forge. To avoid
the suspicion which would be excited by his going into Philadelphia, a
rendezvous had been established on Frankford Creek, where he met a
messenger from General Howe, to whom his communications were
delivered. This statement is certainly correct.]

[Sidenote: May 20.]

On the night of the 19th of May, General Grant with five thousand
select troops, took the road which leads up the Delaware, and
consequently diverges from Barren Hill. After marching some distance,
he inclined to the left, and passing White Marsh, where several roads
unite, took one leading to Plymouth meeting-house, the position he was
directed to occupy, something more than a mile in the rear of the
Marquis, between him and Valley Forge. He reached his point of
destination rather before sunrise. Here the roads fork; the one
leading to the camp of Lafayette, and the other to Matron's ford over
the Schuylkill.

In the course of the night, General Gray, with a strong detachment,
had advanced up the Schuylkill on its south side, along the ridge
road, and taken post at a ford two or three miles in front of the
right flank of Lafayette, while the residue of the army encamped on
Chestnut hill.

Captain M'Clane, a vigilant partisan of great merit, was posted on the
lines some distance in front of Barren Hill. In the course of the
night, he fell in with two British grenadiers at Three Mile Run, who
informed him of the movement made by Grant, and also that a large body
of Germans was getting ready to march up the Schuylkill. Immediately
conjecturing the object, M'Clane detached Captain Parr, with a company
of riflemen across the country to Wanderers hill, with orders to
harass and retard the column advancing up the Schuylkill, and hastened
in person[3] to the camp of Lafayette. He arrived soon after daybreak,
and communicated the intelligence he had received. It was, not long
afterwards, confirmed by the fire of Parr on the Ridge road, and by an
inhabitant who had escaped from White Marsh as the British column
passed that place.[4]

[Footnote 3: Extracts of letters from the adjutant general and the
officer of the day to Captain M'Clane.

_Camp Valley Forge, May 21st, 1778._

Dear Captain,--I am happy you have with your brave little party
conducted with so much honour to yourself. The Marquis effected, owing
to your vigilance, a glorious retreat as well as a difficult one.

Signed ALEX. SCAMMELL, _Adj. Gen._

_Camp Valley Forge, May 23d, 1778._

Dear Captain,--I am pleased to hear you are still doing something to
distinguish yourself in the eyes of your country. I have the pleasure
to inform you that your conduct with the Marquis has been very
pleasing to his Excellency and the whole army.

I am your obedient servant,

CHARLES SCOTT, _Brig. Gen. and officer of the day._]

[Footnote 4: The danger with which this detachment was threatened, was
perceived from the camp at Valley Forge, soon after it had been
communicated to Lafayette. Alarm-guns were fired to announce it to
him, and the whole army was put under arms, to act as circumstances
might require. It has been erroneously stated that General Washington
was unapprised of this movement of the British army until its object
was defeated. The author was in camp at the time, saw the
Commander-in-chief, accompanied by his aids and some of the general
officers ride, soon after sun-rise, to the summit of the hill on the
side of which the huts were constructed, and look anxiously towards
the scene of action through a glass. He witnessed too the joy with
which they returned after the detachment had crossed the Schuylkill.]

Thus surrounded with danger, Lafayette took with promptitude and
decision the only course which could preserve him. He instantly put
his troops in motion, and passed over at Matron's ford, which was
rather nearer to General Grant, than to himself, without being
intercepted by that officer, or sustaining a greater loss than nine

General Grant, who reached the ground lately occupied by Lafayette
soon after it was abandoned, followed his rear, and appeared at the
ford just after the Americans had crossed it; but, finding them
advantageously posted, did not choose to attack them; and the whole
army returned to Philadelphia, having effected nothing.

He did not escape censure for having allowed the great advantage he
had acquired, to slip through his hands unused. He might with the
utmost certainty have reached Matron's ford before the Marquis, and
have cut off the only retreat which remained for him. But the same
skill and address were not displayed in executing this plan as in
forming it.[5]

[Footnote 5: It has been said that his troops were excessively
fatigued by a march of upwards of twenty miles, and that he waited,
confident that the Marquis could not escape him, for information that
Gray had reached his position.]

In the statement of this affair made by General Lafayette, he
represents himself to have advanced the head of a column towards
Grant, as if to attack him, while the rear filed off rapidly towards
the Schuylkill. This movement gained ground even for the front, which,
while it advanced towards the enemy, also approached the river, and at
the same time induced General Grant to halt, in order to prepare for

While this manoeuvre was performing in the face of the detachment
under Grant, a small party was thrown into the church yard, on the
road towards General Gray, which also gave the appearance of an
intention to attack in that quarter. By these dispositions, happily
conceived, and executed with regularity, the Marquis extricated
himself from the destruction which had appeared almost inevitable. In
a letter to congress, General Washington termed it "a timely and
handsome retreat," and certainly the compliment was merited.

It might be supposed that this young nobleman had not displayed the
same degree of military talent in guarding against the approach of
danger, as in extricating himself from it. But the imputation which
generally attaches to an officer who permits an enemy to pass
unobserved into his rear, is removed by a circumstance stated by
Lafayette. The Pennsylvania militia were posted on his left flank with
orders to guard the roads about White Marsh. Without his knowledge,
they changed their position, and retired into the rear, leaving that
important pass open to the enemy.

[Sidenote: General Howe resigns his command and returns to England; is
succeeded by Sir Henry Clinton.]

This was the last enterprise attempted by Sir William Howe. He
resigned the command of the army into the hands of Sir Henry Clinton,
and embarked for Great Britain. About the same time, orders were
received for the evacuation of Philadelphia. The part it was now
evident France was about to take in the war, and the naval force which
had been prepared by that power before she declared herself, rendered
that city a dangerous position, and determined the administration to
withdraw the army from the Delaware.

The preparations for this movement could not be made unobserved; but
they indicated equally an embarkation of the whole army, or an
intention to march to New York through Jersey. The last was believed
by the American chief to be most probable; and he made every exertion
to take advantage of the movement. His detachments were called in, and
the state governments were pressed to expedite the march of their

In the mean time Sir Henry Clinton hastened his preparations for the
evacuation of Philadelphia; and the opinion that he intended to reach
New York through Jersey, gained ground.

General Maxwell, with the Jersey brigade, was ordered over the
Delaware to take post at Mount Holly, and to join Major General
Dickenson, who was assembling the militia of that state for the
purpose of co-operating with the continental troops, in breaking down
the bridges, felling trees in the roads, and otherwise embarrassing
the march of the British General.

[Sidenote: June 17.]

In this state of things intelligence was received that a great part of
the British army had crossed the Delaware, and that the residue would
soon follow.

The opinion of the general officers was required on the course now to
be pursued. General Lee, who had been lately exchanged, and whose
experience gave great weight to his opinions, was vehement against
risking either a general or partial engagement. The British army was
computed at ten thousand effective men, and that of the Americans
amounted to between ten and eleven thousand. General Lee was decidedly
of opinion that, with such an equality of force, it would be
"criminal" to hazard an action. He relied much on the advantageous
ground on which their late foreign connexions had placed the United
States, and contended that defeat alone could now endanger their
independence. To this he said the army ought not to be exposed. It
would be impossible he thought to bring on a partial action, without
risking its being made general, should such be the choice of the
enemy, since the detachment which might engage must be supported, or
be cut to pieces. A general action ought not to be fought unless the
advantage was manifestly with the American army. This at present was
not the case. He attributed so much to the superior discipline of the
enemy as to be of opinion that the issue of the engagement would be,
almost certainly, unfavourable.

General Du Portail, a French officer of considerable reputation,
maintained the same opinions; and the Baron de Steuben concurred in
them. The American officers seem to have been influenced by the
councils of the Europeans; and, of seventeen generals, only Wayne and
Cadwallader were decidedly in favour of attacking the enemy. Lafayette
appeared inclined to that opinion without openly embracing it; and
General Greene was inclined to hazard more than the councils of the
majority would sanction. The country, he thought, must be protected;
and if, in doing so, an engagement should become unavoidable, it would
be necessary to fight.

[Sidenote: The British army evacuate Philadelphia and march through
the Jerseys.]

On the morning of the 18th, Philadelphia was evacuated;[6] and, by two
in the afternoon, all the British troops were encamped on the Jersey
shore, from Cooper's Creek to Red Bank. Although they availed
themselves to a great extent of the transportation by water, yet their
line of march was so lengthened and encumbered by baggage, and the
weather was so intensely hot, that they were under the necessity of
proceeding slowly. Indeed their movements wore the appearance of
purposed delay; and were calculated to favour the opinion that Sir
Henry Clinton was willing to be overtaken, and wished for a general

[Footnote 6: As the British army moved down Second street, Captain
M'Lane, with a few light horse and one hundred infantry, entered the
city, and cut off, and captured one Captain, one Provost Marshal, one
guide to the army, and thirty privates, without losing a man.]

As his line of march, until he passed Crosswicks, led directly up the
Delaware, General Washington found it necessary to make an extensive
circuit, and to cross the river at Coryell's Ferry; after which he
kept possession of the high grounds in Jersey, thereby retaining the
choice of bringing on, or avoiding an action.

[Sidenote: June 24.]

As Sir Henry Clinton encamped at, and about, Allentown, the main body
of the American army lay in Hopewell township, about five miles from
Princeton, Major General Dickenson, with about one thousand militia,
and Maxwell's brigade, hung on Sir Henry Clinton's left flank. General
Cadwallader, with Jackson's regiment and a few militia, was in his
rear; and Colonel Morgan with a regiment of six hundred men watched
his right.

[Sidenote: Council of war called by General Washington; decide
against attacking the enemy on the march.]

Notwithstanding the almost concurrent opinion of his general officers
against risking an action, Washington appears to have been strongly
inclined to that measure. He could not be persuaded that, with an army
rather superior in point of numbers to his enemy, too much was
hazarded by fighting him. The situation of the two armies was,
therefore, once more submitted to the consideration of the general
officers, who were asked whether it would be adviseable, of choice, to
hazard a general action? And, if it would, whether it should be
brought on by an immediate general attack, by a partial attack, or by
taking such a position as must compel the enemy to become the

If the council should be of opinion that it was unadviseable to hazard
an engagement, then he asked what measures could be taken with safety
to the army, to annoy the enemy in his march, should he proceed
through the Jerseys?

The proposition respecting a general action was decidedly negatived.
But it was proposed to strengthen the corps on the left flank of the
enemy with a reinforcement of fifteen hundred men, and to preserve,
with the main body of the army, a relative position which would enable
it to act as circumstances might require.

In pursuance of this opinion, the troops on the lines were
strengthened with a detachment of fifteen hundred select men,
commanded by General Scott; and the army moved forward the next day to

[Sidenote: The opinion of the general against this decision.]

[Sidenote: June 25.]

Though the council had been almost unanimous against a general action,
several officers, whose opinions were highly valued, secretly wished
for something more than light skirmishing. Knowing this, General
Washington, who was still in favour of an engagement, determined to
take his measures on his own responsibility. As the British army moved
towards Monmouth court-house, he ordered Brigadier General Wayne, with
an additional detachment of one thousand select men, to join the
advanced corps. As the continental troops, now constituting the front
division, amounted to at least four thousand men, he deemed it proper
that they should be commanded by a major general. Lee had a right to
claim this tour of duty; but, as he had declared himself openly and
strongly against hazarding even a partial engagement, and supposed
that nothing further would be attempted than merely to reconnoitre
the enemy, and restrain plundering parties, he showed no inclination
to assert his claim. Unintentionally promoting the private wishes of
General Washington, that the command should be given to an officer
whose view of the service comported more with his own, Lee yielded
this important tour of duty to Lafayette. The orders given to this
general were, to proceed immediately with the detachment; and, after
forming a junction with General Scott, and taking command of the
troops on the lines, to gain the enemy's left flank and rear; give him
every practicable annoyance; and attack by detachment, or with his
whole force, as the occasion might require.

These dispositions and orders could scarcely fail to bring on an
engagement. Wayne had openly supported that measure; and Lafayette,
though against seeking a general action, had been in favour of a
partial one. Of consequence, should any proper occasion offer, he
would certainly attack with his whole force, which would as certainly
produce such a state of things as would render it proper to support
him with the whole army.

[Sidenote: June 26.]

Immediately after the march of this detachment, General Washington
moved to Cranberry, that he might be in readiness to support his front

The intense heat of the weather; a heavy storm; and a temporary want
of provisions, prevented the army from continuing its march that day.
The advanced corps had pressed forward, and taken a position about
five miles in rear of the British army, with the intention of
attacking it next morning on its march. Thinking this corps too remote
to be supported in case of action, General Washington ordered the
Marquis to file off by his left towards Englishtown. These orders were
executed early in the morning of the twenty-seventh.

[Sidenote: June 27.]

Lafayette had scarcely taken command of the advanced party, when
General Lee began to regret having yielded it to him. He perceived
that, in the opinion of all the general officers, great importance was
attached to it, and that his reputation was in danger of being
impaired by connecting his strenuous opposition to even a partial
action, with his declining the command of a very strong detachment,
which, it was believed, would engage the rear of the enemy. He
therefore solicited earnestly for the command he had before declined.

To relieve the feelings of Lee, without wounding those of Lafayette,
General Washington detached him with two additional brigades to
Englishtown, to support the Marquis. He would, of course, have the
direction of the whole front division, which would now amount to five
thousand continental troops; but it was expressly stipulated, that if
any enterprise had been already formed by Lafayette, it should be
carried into execution, as if the commanding officer had not been
changed. Lee acceded to this condition; and, with two additional
brigades, joined the front division of the army, encamped at
Englishtown. The rear division also moved forward, and encamped about
three miles in his rear. Morgan's corps still hovered on the right
flank of the British, and General Dickenson on their left.

Sir Henry Clinton occupied the high grounds about Monmouth
court-house, having his right flank in the skirt of a small wood,
while his left was secured by a very thick one, and a morass running
towards his rear. His whole front was also covered by a wood, and for
a considerable distance towards his left, by a morass.

This position seemed unassailable; and the British were within twelve
miles of the high grounds about Middletown, after reaching which they
would be perfectly secure.

Under these circumstances, General Washington ordered Lee to attack
the British rear the moment it should move from its ground.

[Sidenote: June 28.]

About five in the morning, intelligence was received from General
Dickenson that the front of the enemy was in motion. The troops were
immediately put under arms, and Lee was ordered to attack the rear,
"unless there should be powerful reasons to the contrary." He was at
the same time informed that the rear division would be on its march to
support him.

Sir Henry Clinton had observed the appearances on his flanks and rear
on the twenty-seventh; and, conjecturing that the American army was in
his neighbourhood, had changed the order of his march. The baggage was
placed under the care of General Knyphausen, while the strength and
flower of his army, entirely unincumbered, formed the rear division,
under the particular command of Lord Cornwallis, who was accompanied
by the Commander-in-chief.

To avoid pressing on Knyphausen, Cornwallis remained on his ground
until about eight; and then, descending from the heights of Freehold
into an extensive plain, took up his line of march in rear of the
front division.[7]

[Footnote 7: Letter of Sir Henry Clinton.]

General Lee had made dispositions for executing the orders given the
preceding evening, and repeated in the morning; and, soon after the
British rear had moved from its ground, prepared to attack it. General
Dickenson had been directed to detach some of his best troops, to take
such a position as to co-operate with him; and Morgan was ordered to
act on the right flank.

Lee appeared on the heights of Freehold soon after Lord Cornwallis had
left them; and, following the British into the plain, ordered General
Wayne to attack the rear of their covering party with sufficient
vigour to check it, but not to press it so closely as either to force
it up to the main body, or to draw reinforcements to its aid. In
the mean time, he intended to gain the front of this party by a
shorter road, and, intercepting its communication with the line, to
bear it off before it could be assisted.

[Illustration: Martha Washington

_From the portrait by Gilbert Stuart_

_After studying under Benjamin West, the American painter who
succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as (second) president of the Royal
Academy in London, Gilbert Stuart established a studio in Philadelphia
where he met and painted the first of his famous portraits of George
Washington. This one of Martha Washington, the best known likeness of
her in existence, was painted in the city of Washington, where the
artist had a studio between 1800 and 1802. She gave him several
sittings at Mount Vernon._]

While in the execution of this design, a gentleman in the _suite_ of
General Washington came up to gain intelligence; and Lee communicated
to him his present object.

Before he reached the point of destination, there was reason to
believe that the British rear was much stronger than had been
conjectured. The intelligence on this subject being contradictory, and
the face of the country well calculated to conceal the truth, he
deemed it adviseable to ascertain the fact himself.

Sir Henry Clinton, soon after the rear division was in full march,
received intelligence that an American column had appeared on his left
flank. This being a corps of militia was soon dispersed, and the march
was continued. When his rear guard had descended from the heights, he
saw it followed by a strong corps, soon after which a cannonade was
commenced upon it; and, at the same time, a respectable force showed
itself on each of his flanks. Suspecting a design on his baggage, he
determined to attack the troops in his rear so vigorously, as to
compel a recall of those on his flanks; and, for this purpose, marched
back his whole rear division. This movement was in progress as Lee
advanced for the purpose of reconnoitring. He soon perceived his
mistake respecting the force of the British rear, but still determined
to engage on that ground, although his judgment disapproved the
measure; there being a morass immediately in his rear, which would
necessarily impede the reinforcements which might be advancing to his
aid, and embarrass his retreat should he be finally overpowered.

This was about ten. While both armies were preparing for action,
General Scott (as stated by General Lee) mistook an oblique march of
an American column for a retreat; and, in the apprehension of being
abandoned, left his position, and repassed the ravine in his rear.

Being himself of opinion that the ground was unfavourable, Lee did not
correct the error he ascribed to Scott, but ordered the whole
detachment to regain the heights. He was closely pressed, and some
slight skirmishing ensued without much loss on either side.

As soon as the firing announced the commencement of the action, the
rear division of the army advanced rapidly to the support of the
front. As they approached the scene of action, General Washington, who
had received no intelligence from Lee giving notice of his retreat,
rode forward, and, to his utter astonishment and mortification, met
the advanced corps retiring before the enemy, without having made a
single effort to maintain its ground. The troops he first saw neither
understood the motives which had governed General Lee, nor his present
design; and could give no other information than that, by his orders,
they had fled without fighting.

General Washington rode to the rear of the division, where he met
General Lee, to whom he spoke in terms of some warmth, implying
disapprobation of his conduct.

Orders were immediately given to Colonel Stewart and Lieutenant
Colonel Ramsay to form their regiments for the purpose of checking the
pursuit; and General Lee was directed to take proper measures with the
residue of his force to stop the British column on that ground. The
Commander-in-chief then rode back to arrange the rear division of the

[Sidenote: He attacks the enemy at Monmouth Court-house.]

These orders were executed with firmness; and, when forced from his
ground, Lee brought off his troops in good order, and was directed to
form in the rear of Englishtown.

This check afforded time to draw up the left wing and second line of
the American army on an eminence, covered by a morass in front. Lord
Stirling, who commanded the left wing, brought up a detachment of
artillery under Lieutenant Colonel Carrington, and some field pieces,
which played with considerable effect on a division of the British
which had passed the morass, and was pressing on to the charge. These
pieces, with the aid of several parties of infantry, effectually
stopped the advance of the enemy.

[Sidenote: The action severe but not decisive.]

Finding themselves warmly opposed in front, the British attempted to
turn the left flank of the American army, but were repulsed. They then
attempted the right with as little success. General Greene had
advanced a body of troops with artillery to a commanding piece of
ground in his front, which not only disappointed the design of turning
the right, but enfiladed the party which yet remained in front of the
left wing. At this moment, General Wayne was advanced with a body of
infantry to engage them in front, who kept up so hot and well directed
a fire, that they soon withdrew behind the ravine, to the ground on
which the action had commenced immediately after the arrival of
General Washington.[8]

[Footnote 8: General Lafayette, in a communication made to the author
respecting this battle, expresses himself thus: "Never was General
Washington greater in war than in this action. His presence stopped
the retreat. His dispositions fixed the victory. His fine appearance
on horseback, his calm courage, roused by the animation produced by
the vexation of the morning, (le depit de la matinee) gave him the air
best calculated to excite enthusiasm."]

The position now taken by the British army was very strong. Both
flanks were secured by thick woods and morasses; and their front was
accessible only through a narrow pass. The day had been intensely hot,
and the troops were much fatigued. Notwithstanding these
circumstances, General Washington resolved to renew the engagement.
For this purpose he ordered Brigadier General Poor, with his own and
the North Carolina brigade, to gain their right flank, while Woodford
with his brigade should turn their left. At the same time the
artillery was ordered to advance, and play on their front. These
orders were obeyed with alacrity; but the impediments on the flanks of
the British were so considerable that, before they could be overcome,
it was nearly dark. Farther operations were therefore deferred until
next morning; and the brigades which had been detached to the flanks
of the British army continued on their ground through the night, and
the other troops lay on the field of battle with their arms in their
hands. General Washington passed the night in his cloak in the midst
of his soldiers.

The British employed the early part of the night in removing their
wounded; and, about midnight, marched away in such silence that their
retreat was not perceived until day.

As it was certain that they must gain the high grounds about
Middletown before they could be overtaken; as the face of the country
afforded no prospect of opposing their embarkation; and as the battle
already fought had terminated in a manner to make a general impression
favourable to the American arms; it was thought proper to relinquish
the pursuit, leaving a detachment to hover about the British rear, the
main body of the army moved towards the Hudson.

The Commander-in-chief was highly gratified with the conduct of his
troops in this action. Their behaviour, he said, after recovering from
the first surprise occasioned by the unexpected retreat of the
advanced corps, could not be surpassed. General Wayne was particularly
mentioned; and the artillery were spoken of in terms of high praise.

The loss of the Americans in the battle of Monmouth was eight officers
and sixty-one privates killed, and about one hundred and sixty
wounded. Among the slain were Lieutenant Colonel Bonner of
Pennsylvania, and Major Dickenson of Virginia, both of whom were much
regretted. One hundred and thirty were missing; but a considerable
number of these afterwards rejoined their regiments.

In his official letter, Sir Henry Clinton states his dead and missing
at four officers, and one hundred and eighty-four privates. His
wounded at sixteen officers and one hundred and fifty-four privates.
This account, so far as respects the dead, can not be correct, as four
officers and two hundred and forty-five privates were buried on the
field by persons appointed for the purpose, who made their report to
the Commander-in-chief; and some few were afterwards found, so as to
increase the number to nearly three hundred. The uncommon heat of the
day proved fatal to several on both sides.

As usual, when a battle has not been decisive, both parties claimed
the victory. In the early part of the day, the advantage was certainly
with the British; in the latter part, it may be pronounced with equal
certainty to have been with the Americans. They maintained their
ground, repulsed the enemy, were prevented only by the night, and by
the retreat of the hostile army from renewing the action, and suffered
less in killed and wounded than their adversaries.

It is true that Sir Henry Clinton effected what he states to have been
his principal object,--the safety of his baggage. But when it is
recollected that the American officers had decided against hazarding
an action, that this advice must have trammeled the conduct, and
circumscribed the views of the Commander-in-chief, he will be admitted
to have effected no inconsiderable object in giving the American arms
that appearance of superiority which was certainly acquired by this

Independent of the loss sustained in the action, the British army was
considerably weakened in its march from Philadelphia to New York.
About one hundred prisoners were made, and near one thousand soldiers,
chiefly foreigners, deserted while passing through Jersey.

The conduct of Lee was generally disapproved. As however he had
possessed a large share of the confidence and good opinion of the
Commander-in-chief, it is probable that explanations might have been
made which would have rescued him from the imputations that were cast
on him, and have restored him to the esteem of the army, could his
haughty temper have brooked the indignity he believed to have been
offered him on the field of battle. General Washington had taken no
measures in consequence of the events of that day, and would probably
have come to no resolution concerning them without an amicable
explanation, when he received from Lee a letter expressed in very
unbecoming terms, in which he, in the tone of a superior, required
reparation for the injury sustained "from the very singular
expressions" said to have been used on the day of the action by the

[Sidenote: June 30.]

[Sidenote: General Lee arrested for his behavior in this action, and
afterwards to the commander-in-chief.]

This letter was answered by an assurance that, so soon as
circumstances would admit of an inquiry, he should have an opportunity
of justifying himself, to the army, to America, and to the world in
general; or of convincing them that he had been guilty of disobedience
of orders, and misbehaviour before the enemy. On his expressing a wish
for a speedy investigation of his conduct, and for a court-martial
rather than a court of inquiry, he was arrested.

First. For disobedience of orders in not attacking the enemy on the
28th of June, agreeably to repeated instructions.

Secondly. For misbehaviour before the enemy on the same day, in making
an unnecessary, disorderly, and shameful retreat.

Thirdly. For disrespect to the Commander-in-chief in two letters.

[Sidenote: Court-martial appointed to try him. Sentenced to be
suspended for one year.]

Before this correspondence had taken place, strong and specific
charges of misconduct had been made against General Lee by several
officers of his detachment, and particularly by Generals Wayne and
Scott. In these, the transactions of the day, not being well
understood, were represented in colours much more unfavourable to Lee,
than facts, when properly explained, would seem to justify. These
representations, most probably, induced the strong language of the
second article in the charge. A court-martial, over which Lord
Stirling presided, after a tedious investigation, found him guilty of
all the charges exhibited against him, and sentenced him to be
suspended for one year. This sentence was, afterwards, though with
some hesitation, approved, almost unanimously, by congress. The court
softened, in some degree, the severity of the second charge, by
finding him guilty, not in its very words, but "of misbehaviour before
the enemy, by making an unnecessary, and, in some few instances, a
disorderly retreat."

Lee defended himself with his accustomed ability. He proved that,
after the retreat had commenced, in consequence of General Scott's
repassing the ravine, on the approach of the enemy, he had designed to
form on the first advantageous piece of ground he could find; and
that, in his own opinion, and in the opinion of some other officers,
no safe and advantageous position had presented itself until he met
General Washington; at which time it was his intention to fight the
enemy on the very ground afterwards taken by that officer. He
suggested a variety of reasons in justification of his retreat, which,
if they do not absolutely establish its propriety, give it so
questionable a form as to render it probable that a public examination
never would have taken place, could his proud spirit have stooped to
offer explanation instead of outrage, to the Commander-in-chief.

His suspension gave general satisfaction through the army. Without
being masters of his conduct as a military man, they perfectly
understood the insult offered to their general by his letters; and,
whether rightly or not, believed his object to have been to disgrace
Washington, and to obtain the supreme command for himself. So
devotedly were all ranks attached to their general, that the mere
suspicion of such a design, would have rendered his continuance in the
army extremely difficult.

Whatever judgment may be formed on the propriety of his retreat, it is
not easy to justify, either the omission to keep the
Commander-in-chief continually informed of his situation and
intentions, or the very rude letters written after the action was

[Sidenote: The thanks of congress presented to General Washington and
his army for their conduct in the battle at Monmouth.]

The battle of Monmouth gave great satisfaction to congress. A
resolution was passed unanimously, thanking General Washington for the
activity with which he marched from the camp at Valley Forge, in
pursuit of the enemy; for his distinguished exertions in forming the
line of battle, and for his great good conduct in the action; and he
was requested to signify the thanks of congress to the officers and
men under his command, who distinguished themselves by their conduct
and valour in the battle.

[Sidenote: July 5.]

After remaining a few days on the high grounds of Middletown, Sir
Henry Clinton proceeded to Sandy Hook, whence his army passed over to
New York.


     Count D'Estaing arrives with a French fleet.... Meditates an
     attack on the British fleet in New York harbour....
     Relinquishes it.... Sails to Rhode Island.... Lord Howe
     appears off Rhode Island.... Both fleets dispersed by a
     storm.... General Sullivan lays siege to Newport....
     D'Estaing returns.... Sails for Boston.... Sullivan
     expresses his dissatisfaction in general orders.... Raises
     the siege of Newport.... Action on Rhode Island.... The
     Americans retreat to the Continent.... Count D'Estaing
     expresses his dissatisfaction with Sullivan in a letter to
     congress.... General Washington labours successfully to heal
     these discontents.... Lord Howe resigns the command of the
     British fleet.... Colonel Baylor's regiment surprised....
     Captain Donop defeated by Colonel Butler.... Expedition of
     the British against Egg Harbour.... Pulaski surprised.

[Sidenote: 1778 July.]

[Sidenote: Count D'Estaing arrives on the coast of Virginia with a
French fleet under his command.]

Before General Washington could reach the ground he designed to
occupy, intelligence was received that a powerful French fleet, under
the command of the Count D'Estaing, had appeared off Chingoteague
inlet, the northern extremity of the coast of Virginia.

The Count had sailed from Toulon on the 13th of April, with twelve
ships of the line and six frigates, having on board a respectable body
of land forces. His destination was the Delaware; and he hoped to find
the British fleet in that river, and their army in Philadelphia. An
uncommon continuance of adverse winds, protracted his voyage across
the Atlantic to the extraordinary length of eighty-seven days. This
unusual circumstance saved the British fleet and army.

[Sidenote: He meditates an attack on the British fleet at New York,
but is obliged to relinquish it.]

On reaching the capes of the Delaware, the Count announced his arrival
to congress; and, having failed in accomplishing his first object,
proceeded along the coast to New York, in the hope of being able to
attack the British fleet in the harbour of that place.

Sir Henry Clinton was again indebted to some fortunate incidents for
his safety.

The violent storms of the preceding winter had broken through the
narrow isthmus by which Sandy Hook was connected with the continent,
and had converted the peninsula into an island. This rendered it
necessary for the army to pass from the main to the Hook on a bridge
of boats, which would have been impracticable, if obstructed by a
superior fleet. It was effected the very day on which D'Estaing
appeared off Chingoteague inlet.

[Sidenote: July 13.]

At Paramus, in Jersey, General Washington received a letter from the
president of congress, advising him of this important event, and
requesting that he would concert measures with the Count for conjoint
and offensive operations.

The next day he received a second letter on the same subject,
enclosing two resolutions, one directing him to co-operate with the
French admiral, and the other authorizing him to call on the states
from New Hampshire to New Jersey inclusive, for such aids of militia
as he might deem necessary for the operations of the allied arms.

He determined to proceed immediately to the White Plains, whence the
army might co-operate with more facility in the execution of any
attempt which might be made by the fleet, and despatched Lieutenant
Colonel Laurens, one of his aids de camp, with all the information
relative to the enemy, as well as to his own army, which might be
useful to D'Estaing. Lieutenant Colonel Laurens was authorized to
consult on future conjoint operations, and to establish conventional
signals for the purpose of facilitating the communication of

The French admiral, on arriving off the Hook, despatched Major de
Choisi, a gentleman of his family, to General Washington, for the
purpose of communicating fully his views and his strength. His first
object was to attack New York. If this should be found impracticable,
he was desirous of turning his attention to Rhode Island. To assist in
coming to a result on these enterprises, General Washington despatched
Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton with such farther communications as had
been suggested, by inquiries made since the departure of Lieutenant
Colonel Laurens.

[Sidenote: July 21.]

Fearing that the water on the bar at the entrance of the harbour was
not of sufficient depth to admit the passage of the largest ships of
the French fleet without much difficulty and danger, General
Washington had turned his attention to other objects which might be,
eventually, pursued. General Sullivan, who commanded the troops in
Rhode Island, was directed to prepare for an enterprise against
Newport; and the Marquis de Lafayette was detached with two brigades
to join him at Providence. The next day Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton
returned to camp with the final determination of the Count D'Estaing
to relinquish the meditated attack on the fleet in the harbour of New
York, in consequence of the impracticability of passing the bar.

General Greene was immediately ordered to Rhode Island, of which state
he was a native; and Lieutenant Colonel Laurens was directed to attach
himself to the French admiral, and to facilitate all his views by
procuring whatever might give them effect; after which he was to act
with the army under Sullivan.

[Sidenote: Sails out to Rhode Island and arrives off Newport.]

The resolution being taken to proceed against Rhode Island, the fleet
got under way, and, on the 25th of July, appeared off Newport, and
cast anchor about five miles from that place, just without Brenton's
ledge; soon after which, General Sullivan went on board the Admiral,
and concerted with him a plan of operations for the allied forces. The
fleet was to enter the harbour, and land the troops of his Christian
Majesty on the west side of the island, a little to the north of
Dyer's island. The Americans were to land at the same time on the
opposite coast, under cover of the guns of a frigate.

Although the appearance of the French fleet had animated the whole
country, and had produced a considerable degree of alacrity for the
service; although the success of the enterprise essentially depended
on maintaining a superiority at sea, which there was much reason to
apprehend would soon be wrested from them; yet such are the delays
inseparable from measures to bring husbandmen into the field as
soldiers, that the operations against Newport were suspended for
several days on this account.

[Sidenote: August 8.]

As the militia of New Hampshire and Massachusetts approached, General
Sullivan joined General Greene at Tiverton, and it was agreed with the
Admiral that the fleet should enter the main channel immediately, and
that the descent should be made the succeeding day. The ships of war
passed the British batteries and entered the harbour, without
receiving or doing any considerable damage.

The militia not arriving precisely at the time they were expected,
General Sullivan could not hazard the movement which had been
concerted, and stated to the Count the necessity of postponing it till
the next day. Meanwhile, the preparations for the descent being
perceived, General Pigot drew the troops which had been stationed on
the north end of the island into the lines at Newport.

[Sidenote: August 9.]

On discovering this circumstance the next morning, Sullivan determined
to avail himself of it, and to take immediate possession of the works
which had been abandoned. The whole army crossed the east passage, and
landed on the north end of Rhode Island. This movement gave great
offence to the Admiral, who resented the indelicacy supposed to have
been committed by Sullivan in landing before the French, and without
consulting him.

Unfortunately, some difficulties, on subjects of mere punctilio, had
previously arisen. The Count D'Estaing was a land as well as sea
officer; and held the high rank of lieutenant general in the service
of France. Sullivan being only a major general, some misunderstanding
on this delicate point had been apprehended; and General Washington
had suggested to him the necessity of taking every precaution to avoid
it. This, it was supposed, had been effected in their first
conference, in which it was agreed that the Americans should land
first, after which the French should land, to be commanded by the
Count D'Estaing in person. The motives for this arrangement are not
stated; but it was most probably made solely with a view to the
success of the enterprise. Either his own after-reflections or the
suggestions of others dissatisfied the Count with it, and he insisted
that the descent should be made on both sides of the island precisely
at the same instant, and that one wing of the American army should be
attached to the French, and land with them. He also declined
commanding in person, and wished the Marquis de Lafayette to take
charge of the French troops as well as of the Americans attached to

It being feared that this alteration of the plan might endanger both
its parts, D'Estaing was prevailed on to reduce his demand from one
wing of the American army to one thousand militia. When, afterwards,
General Sullivan crossed over into the island before the time to which
he had himself postponed the descent, and without giving previous
notice to the Count of this movement, some suspicions seem to have
been excited, that the measure was taken with other views than were
avowed, and no inconsiderable degree of excitement was manifested. The
Count refused to answer Sullivan's letter, and charged Lieutenant
Colonel Fleury, who delivered it, with being more an American than a

At this time a British fleet appeared, which, after sailing close into
the land, and communicating with General Pigot, withdrew some
distance, and came to anchor off point Judith, just without the narrow
inlet leading into the harbour.

After it had been ascertained that the destination of the Count
D'Estaing was America, he was followed by a squadron of twelve ships
of the line under Admiral Byron, who was designed to relieve Lord
Howe, that nobleman having solicited his recall. The vessels composing
this squadron meeting with weather unusually bad for the season, and
being separated in different storms, arrived, after lingering through
a tedious passage, in various degrees of distress, on different and
remote parts of the American coast. Between the departure of D'Estaing
from the Hook on the 23d of July, and the 30th of that month, four
ships of sixty-four and fifty guns arrived at Sandy Hook.

This addition to the British fleet, though it left Lord Howe
considerably inferior to the Count D'Estaing, determined him to
attempt the relief of Newport. He sailed from New York on the 6th of
August; and, on the 9th, appeared in sight of the French fleet, before
intelligence of his departure could be received by the Admiral.

[Sidenote: Sails to attack Lord Howe, who appears off Rhode Island.]

[Sidenote: August 10.]

At the time of his arrival the wind set directly into the harbour, so
that it was impossible to get out of it; but it shifted suddenly to
the north-east the next morning, and the Count determined to stand out
to sea, and give battle. Previous to leaving port, he informed General
Sullivan that, on his return, he would land his men as that officer
should advise.

Not choosing to give the advantage of the weather-gage, Lord Howe also
weighed anchor and stood out to sea. He was followed by D'Estaing;
and both fleets were soon out of sight.

The militia were now arrived; and Sullivan's army amounted to ten
thousand men. Some objections were made by Lafayette to his commencing
operations before the return of D'Estaing. That officer advised that
the army should be advanced to a position in the neighbourhood of
Newport, but should not break ground until the Count should be in
readiness to act in concert with them. It was extremely desirable to
avoid whatever might give offence to the great ally on whose
assistance so much depended; but time was deemed of such importance to
an army which could not be kept long together, that this advice was
overruled, and it was determined to commence the siege immediately.

[Sidenote: August 12.]

[Sidenote: Fifteenth.]

[Sidenote: General Sullivan lays siege to Newport.]

Before this determination could be executed, a furious storm blew down
all the tents, rendered the arms unfit for immediate use, and greatly
damaged the ammunition, of which fifty rounds had just been delivered
to each man. The soldiers, having no shelter, suffered extremely; and
several perished in the storm, which continued three days. On the
return of fair weather the siege was commenced, and continued without
any material circumstance for several days.

As no intelligence had been received from the Admiral, the situation
of the American army was becoming very critical. On the evening of
the 19th, their anxieties were relieved for a moment by the
reappearance of the French fleet.

[Sidenote: Both fleets dispersed by a storm.]

The two Admirals, desirous the one of gaining, and the other of
retaining the advantage of the wind, had employed two days in
manoeuvring, without coming to action. Towards the close of the
second, they were on the point of engaging, when they were separated
by the violent storm which had been felt so severely on shore, and
which dispersed both fleets. Some single vessels afterwards fell in
with each other, but no important capture was made; and both fleets
retired in a very shattered condition, the one to the harbour of New
York, and the other to that of Newport.

[Sidenote: D'Estaing returns to Newport, and against the solicitations
of Sullivan, sails for Boston.]

A letter was immediately despatched by D'Estaing to Sullivan,
informing him that, in pursuance of orders from the King, and of the
advice of all his officers, he had taken the resolution to carry the
fleet to Boston. His instructions directed him to sail for Boston
should his fleet meet with any disaster, or should a superior British
fleet appear on the coast.

This communication threw Sullivan and his army into despair. General
Greene and the Marquis de Lafayette were directed to wait on the
Admiral with a letter from Sullivan remonstrating against this
resolution, and to use their utmost endeavors to induce him to change

They represented to him the certainty of carrying the garrison if he
would co-operate with them only two days, urged the impolicy of
exposing the fleet at sea, in its present condition, represented the
port of Boston as equally insecure with that of Newport, and added
that the expedition had been undertaken on condition that the French
fleet and army should co-operate with them; that confiding in this
co-operation, they had brought stores into the island to a great
amount, and that to abandon the enterprise in the present state of
things, would be a reproach and disgrace to their arms. To be deserted
at such a critical moment would have a pernicious influence on the
minds of the American people, and would furnish their domestic foes,
as well as the common enemy, with the means of animadverting severely
on their prospects from an alliance with those who could abandon them
under circumstances such as the present. They concluded with wishing
that the utmost harmony and confidence might subsist between the two
nations, and especially between their officers; and entreated the
Admiral, if any personal indiscretions had appeared in conducting the
expedition, not to permit them to prejudice the common cause.

Whatever impression these observations may have made on the Count,
they could not change the determination he had formed.

General Greene, in his representation of this conversation, stated
that the principal officers on board the fleet were the enemies of
D'Estaing. He was properly a land officer, and they were dissatisfied
with his appointment in the navy. Determined to thwart his measures,
and to prevent, as far as could be justified, his achieving any
brilliant exploit, they availed themselves of the letter of his
instructions, and unanimously persevered in advising him to relinquish
the enterprise, and sail for Boston. He could not venture, with such
instructions, to act against their unanimous opinion; and, although
personally disposed to re-enter the harbour, declined doing so, and
sailed from the island.

On the return of Greene and Lafayette, Sullivan made yet another
effort to retain the fleet. He addressed a second letter to the
Admiral, pressing him, in any event, to leave his land forces. The
bearer of this letter was also charged with a protest signed by all
the general officers in Rhode Island except Lafayette, the only effect
of which was to irritate D'Estaing, who proceeded, without delay, on
his voyage to Boston.

[Sidenote: In consequence of the departure of the French fleet,
Sullivan raises the siege of Newport.]

Thus abandoned by the fleet, Sullivan called a council of general
officers, who were in favour of attempting an assault if five thousand
volunteers who had seen nine months service could be obtained for the
enterprise; but the departure of the fleet had so discouraged the
militia, that this number could not be procured; and, in a few days,
the army was reduced by desertion to little more than five thousand
men. As the British were estimated at six thousand, it was determined
to raise the siege, and retire to the north end of the island, there
to fortify, and wait the result of another effort to induce D'Estaing
to return.

[Sidenote: August 28.]

In the night of the 28th, the army retired by two roads leading to the
works on the north end of the island, having its rear covered by
Colonels Livingston and Laurens, who commanded light parties on each.

[Sidenote: August 29.]

Early next morning the retreat was discovered by the British, who
followed in two columns, and were engaged on each road by Livingston
and Laurens, who retreated slowly and kept up the action with skill
and spirit until the English were brought into the neighbourhood of
the main body of the Americans, drawn up in order of battle on the
ground of their encampment. The British formed on Quaker Hill, a very
strong piece of ground, something more than a mile in front of the
American line.

[Sidenote: Action between Sullivan and the British army.]

Sullivan's rear was covered by strong works; and in his front, rather
to the right, was a redoubt. In this position, the two armies
cannonaded each other for some time, and a succession of skirmishes
was kept up in front of both lines until about two in the afternoon,
when the British advanced in force, attempted to turn the right
flank, and made demonstrations of an intention to carry the redoubt in
front of the right wing. General Greene, who commanded that wing,
advanced to its support, and a sharp engagement was continued for
about half an hour, when the British retreated to Quaker Hill. The
cannonade was renewed, and kept up intermingled with slight
skirmishing until night.

According to the return made by General Sullivan, his loss in killed,
wounded and missing was two hundred and eleven. That of the British,
as stated by General Pigot, amounted to two hundred and sixty.

[Sidenote: August 30.]

The next day, the cannonade was renewed, but neither army was inclined
to attack the other. The British waited for reinforcements, and
Sullivan had at length determined to retire from the island.

The Commander-in-chief had observed some movements among the British
transports indicating the embarkation of troops, and had suggested to
Sullivan the necessity of securing his retreat. A fleet of transports
soon put to sea with a large body of troops, of which immediate notice
was given to Sullivan in a letter recommending his retreat to the
continent. This reinforcement, which consisted of four thousand men,
commanded by Sir Henry Clinton in person, was delayed by adverse winds
until the letter of General Washington was received, and the
resolution to evacuate the island was taken. The whole army passed
over to the continent unobserved by the enemy, and disembarked about
Tiverton by two in the morning.

[Sidenote: Sullivan retreats with his army to the continent.]

Never was retreat more fortunate. Sir Henry Clinton arrived the next
day; and the loss of the American army would have been inevitable.

[Sidenote: Sullivan, in one of his general orders, makes use of
expressions which offend the count.]

The complete success of this expedition had been confidently
anticipated throughout America; and the most brilliant results had
been expected from the capture of so important a part of the British
army as the garrison of Newport. The chagrin produced by
disappointment was proportioned to the exaltation of their hopes. In
general orders issued by Sullivan, soon after the departure of
D'Estaing, he permitted some expressions to escape him which were
understood to impute to the Count D'Estaing, and to the French nation,
an indisposition to promote the interests of the United States. These
insinuations wounded the feelings of the French officers, and added,
in no small degree, to the resentments of the moment. In subsequent
orders, the General sought to correct this indiscretion; and alleged
that he had been misunderstood by those who supposed him to blame the
Admiral, with whose orders he was unacquainted, and of whose conduct
he was, consequently, unable to judge. He also stated explicitly the
important aids America had received from France, aids of which he
ought not to be unmindful under any disappointment; and which should
prevent a too sudden censure of any movement whatever.

[Sidenote: Count D'Estaing expresses to congress his dissatisfaction
with General Sullivan.]

The Count D'Estaing, on his part, addressed a letter to congress
containing a statement of all the movements of his fleet subsequent to
its arrival on the coast, in which his chagrin and irritation were but
ill concealed.

In congress, after approving the conduct of Sullivan and his army, an
indiscreet proposition was made to inquire into the causes of the
failure of the expedition; but this was set aside by the previous

In the first moments of vexation and disappointment, General Sullivan
had addressed some letters to the governor of Rhode Island,
complaining bitterly of being abandoned by the fleet. These despatches
were transmitted by the governor to the speaker of the assembly, and
were on the point of being submitted publicly to the house, when they
were fortunately arrested by General Greene, who had been introduced
on the floor, and placed by the side of the chair; and to whom they
were shown by the speaker.

The discontent in New England generally, and in Boston particularly,
was so great as to inspire fears that the means of repairing the
French ships would not be supplied. To guard against the mischief
which might result from this temper, as well as for other objects,
General Hancock had repaired from camp to Boston, and Lafayette had
followed him on a visit to D'Estaing.

[Sidenote: General Washington labours to heal these discontents, in
which he succeeds.]

The consequences to be apprehended from this unavailing manifestation
of ill temper, soon induced all reflecting men to exert themselves to
control it. In the commencement of its operation, General Washington,
foreseeing the evils with which it was fraught, had laboured to
prevent them. He addressed letters to General Sullivan, to General
Heath, who commanded at Boston, and to other individuals of influence
in New England, urging the necessity of correcting the intemperance of
the moment, and of guarding against the interference of passion with
the public interest.

Soon after the transmission of these letters, he received a resolution
of congress, directing him to take every measure in his power to
prevent the publication of the protest entered into by the officers of
Sullivan's army. In his letter communicating this resolution, he said,
"the disagreement between the army under your command and the fleet,
has given me very singular uneasiness. The continent at large is
concerned in our cordiality, and it should be kept up by all possible
means, consistent with our honour and policy. First impressions, you
know, are generally longest retained, and will serve to fix, in a
great degree, our national character with the French. In our conduct
towards them, we should remember that they are a people old in war,
very strict in military etiquette, and apt to take fire when others
scarcely seem warm. Permit me to recommend in the most particular
manner, the cultivation of harmony and good agreement, and your
endeavours to destroy that ill humour which may have found its way
among the officers. It is of the utmost importance too, that the
soldiers and the people should know nothing of this misunderstanding,
or, if it has reached them, that means may be used to stop its
progress, and prevent its effects." In a letter to General Greene,
after expressing his fears that the seeds of dissension and distrust
might be sown between the troops of the two nations, he added, "I
depend much on your temper and influence, to conciliate that animosity
which, I plainly perceive by a letter from the Marquis, subsists
between the American and French officers in our service. This, you may
be assured, will extend itself to the Count, and to the officers and
men of his whole fleet, should they return to Rhode Island, unless a
reconciliation shall have taken place. The Marquis speaks kindly of a
letter from you to him on this subject. He will therefore take any
advice from you in a friendly way; and, if he can be pacified, the
other French gentlemen will, of course, be satisfied; since they look
up to him as their head. The Marquis grounds his complaint on a
general order of the 24th of August, and upon the universal clamour
that prevailed against the French nation.

"I beg you will take every measure to keep the protest entered into by
the general officers from being made public. Congress, sensible of the
ill consequences that will flow from our differences being known to
the world, have passed a resolve to that purpose. Upon the whole, my
dear sir, you can conceive my meaning,[9] better than I can express
it, and I therefore fully depend on your exerting yourself to heal all
private animosities between our principal officers and the French, and
to prevent all illiberal expressions and reflections that may fall
from the army at large."

[Footnote 9: Alluding, it is presumed, to the delicacy of suggesting
to General Sullivan the mischief to be apprehended from any
intemperate expressions.]

The General also seized the first opportunity to recommence his
correspondence with the Count; and his letters, without noticing the
disagreement which had taken place, were calculated to soothe every
angry sensation which might have been excited. A letter from the
admiral stating the whole transaction, was answered by General
Washington in a manner so perfectly satisfactory, that the irritation
which threatened such serious mischief, appears to have entirely

Congress also, in a resolution which was made public, expressed their
perfect approbation of the conduct of the Count, and directed the
president to assure him, in the letter which should transmit it, that
they entertained the highest sense of his zeal and attachment.

These prudent and temperate measures restored harmony to the allied

[Sidenote: Lord Howe resigns command of the British fleet.]

The storm under which the French fleet had suffered so severely did
considerable damage also to that of Lord Howe. The British, however,
had sustained less injury than the French, and were soon in a
condition to put again to sea. Having received information that the
Count D'Estaing had made for Boston, Lord Howe sailed for the same
port, in the hope of reaching it before him. But in this he was
disappointed. On entering the bay he found the French fleet already in
Nantasket Road, where such judicious dispositions had been made for
its defence, that he relinquished the idea of attacking it, and
returned to New York; where he resigned the command to Admiral
Gambier, who was to retain it till the arrival of Admiral Byron.

Finding that General Sullivan had retreated to the continent, Sir
Henry Clinton returned to New York, leaving the command of the troops
on board the transports with Major General Gray, who was directed to
conduct an expedition to the eastward, as far as Buzzards bay.

[Sidenote: September 5.]

Gray entered Acushnet River, where he destroyed a number of privateers
with their prizes, and some merchant vessels. He also reduced part of
the towns of Bedford and Fairhaven to ashes, in which some military
and naval stores had been collected. The troops re-embarked the next
day, before the militia could be assembled in sufficient force to
oppose them, and sailed to Martha's Vineyard, where they destroyed
several vessels, and some salt works, and levied a heavy contribution
of live stock on the inhabitants.

While so large a detachment from the British army was depredating the
coasts of New England, preparations were making in New York for some
distant expedition; and many were of opinion that the French fleet was
its object. To be in readiness to oppose a combined attack by sea and
land on the fleet, General Gates was directed with three brigades, to
proceed by easy marches as far as Danbury, in Connecticut. And
Washington moved northward to Fredericksburg; while General Putnam was
detached with two brigades to the neighbourhood of West Point, and
General M'Dougal, with two others, to join General Gates at Danbury.

[Sidenote: September 22.]

Soon after the return of General Gray from New England, the British
army moved up the North River on each side in great force. The column
on the west side, commanded by Lord Cornwallis, consisting of about
five thousand men, took a position with its right on the river, and
its left extending to Newbridge, on the Hackensack; while the other
division, which was commanded by General Knyphausen, consisting of
about three thousand men, was advanced about the same distance on the
east side of the Hudson. The command of the river enabled these two
columns to communicate freely with each other; and, at any time, to
reunite. Although General Washington conjectured that this movement
was made for the purpose of foraging, yet it was possible that the
passes in the Highlands might be its object; and orders were given to
the detachments on the lines to hold themselves in readiness to
anticipate the execution of such a design.

Colonel Baylor, with his regiment of cavalry, had crossed the
Hackensack early in the morning of the 27th of September, and taken
quarters at Taupaun, or Herringtown, a small village near New Taupaun,
where some militia were posted. Immediate notice of his position was
given to Lord Cornwallis, who formed a plan to surprise and cut off
both the cavalry and militia. The party designed to act against
Colonel Baylor was commanded by General Gray, and that against the
militia, by Lieutenant Colonel Campbell.

[Sidenote: September 28.]

[Sidenote: Colonel Baylor's regiment surprised.]

That part of the plan which was to be executed by Campbell was
defeated by delays in passing the river, during which a deserter gave
notice of his approach, and the militia saved themselves by flight.
But the corps commanded by General Gray, guided by some of the country
people, eluded the patrols, got into the rear of the sergeant's guard
which had been posted at a bridge over the Hackensack, cut it off
without alarming Baylor, and completely surprised his whole regiment.
The British troops rushed into a barn where the Americans slept; and,
refusing to give quarter, bayoneted for a time all they saw. Of one
hundred and four privates, sixty-seven were killed, wounded, and
taken. The number of prisoners, amounting to about forty, is stated to
have been increased by the humanity of one of Gray's captains, who,
notwithstanding his orders, gave quarter to the whole of the fourth
troop. Colonel Baylor and Major Clough, who were both wounded with the
bayonet, the first dangerously, the last mortally, were among the

[Sidenote: September 30.]

[Sidenote: Captain Donop, with his corps, attacked by Colonel Butler,
and defeated.]

Three days after this affair, Colonel Richard Butler, with a
detachment of infantry, assisted by Major Lee with a part of his
cavalry, fell in with a small party of chasseurs and yagers under
Captain Donop, which he instantly charged, and, without the loss of a
man, killed ten on the spot, and took the officer commanding the
chasseur, and eighteen of the yagers, prisoners. Only the extreme
roughness of the country, which impeded the action of the cavalry, and
prevented part of the infantry from coming up, enabled a man of the
enemy to escape. Some interest was taken at the time in this small
affair, because it seemed, in some measure, to revenge the loss of
Colonel Baylor.

After completing their forage, the British army returned to New York.

[Sidenote: Expedition of the British against Egg Harbour.]

This movement had been, in part, designed to cover an expedition
against Little Egg Harbour, which was completely successful; and the
works and store-houses at the place, as well as the merchandise and
vessels, were entirely destroyed.

[Sidenote: Pulaski surprised, and his infantry cut off.]

It has been already stated that Count Pulaski had been appointed
general of the American cavalry. The dissatisfaction given by this
appointment to the officers, had induced him to resign his commission;
but, thirsting for military fame, and zealous in the American cause,
he obtained permission to raise a legionary corps, which he officered
chiefly with foreigners, and commanded in person. In this corps, one
Juliet, a deserter, had been admitted as an officer. The Count had
been ordered to march from Trenton towards Little Egg Harbour, and was
lying eight or ten miles from the coast, when this Juliet again
deserted, carrying with him intelligence of Pulaski's strength and
situation. A plan was formed to surprise him, which succeeded
completely so far as respected his infantry, who were put to the
bayonet. The British accounts of this expedition assert that the whole
corps was destroyed. Pulaski stated his loss at about forty; and
averred that on coming up with his cavalry to the relief of his
infantry, he repulsed the enemy. It is probable that the one account
diminishes the importance of this enterprise as much as the other
magnifies it.

[Sidenote: October 12.]

Admiral Byron reached New York, and took command of the fleet about
the middle of September. After repairing his shattered vessels, he
sailed for the port of Boston. Soon after his arrival in the bay,
fortune disconcerted all his plans. A furious storm drove him out to
sea, and damaged his fleet so much that he found it necessary to put
into the port of Rhode Island to refit. This favourable moment was
seized by the Count D'Estaing, who sailed, on the 3d of November, for
the West Indies.

Thus terminated an expedition from which the most important advantages
had been anticipated. A variety of accidents had defeated plans
judiciously formed, which had every probability in their favour.

The Marquis de Lafayette, ambitious of fame on another theatre, was
desirous of returning to France. Expecting war on the continent of
Europe, he was anxious to tender his services to his king, and to his
native country.

From motives of real friendship as well as of policy, General
Washington was desirous of preserving the connexion of this officer
with the army, and of strengthening his attachment to America. He
therefore expressed to congress his wish that Lafayette, instead of
resigning his commission, might have unlimited leave of absence, to
return when it should be convenient to himself; and might carry with
him every mark of the confidence of the government.

This policy was adopted by congress in its full extent. The partiality
of America for Lafayette was well placed. Never did a foreigner, whose
primary attachments to his own country remained undiminished, feel
more solicitude for the welfare of another, than was unceasingly
manifested by this young nobleman, for the United States.

There being no prospect of an active winter campaign in the northern
or middle states, and the climate admitting of military operations
elsewhere, a detachment from the British army, consisting of five
thousand men commanded by Major General Grant, sailed, early in
November, under a strong convoy, for the West India Islands; and,
towards the end of the same month, another embarkation was made for
the southern parts of the continent. This second detachment was
commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, who was escorted by
Commodore Hyde Parker, and was destined to act against the southern

[Sidenote: December.]

As a force sufficient for the defence of New York yet remained, the
American army retired into winter quarters. The main body was cantoned
in Connecticut, on both sides the North River, about West Point, and
at Middlebrook. Light troops were stationed nearer the lines; and the
cavalry were drawn into the interior to recruit the horses for the
next campaign. The distribution, the protection of the country, the
security of important points, and a cheap and convenient supply of
provisions, were consulted.

The troops again wintered in huts; but they were accustomed to this
mode of passing that inclement season. Though far from being well
clothed, their condition in that respect was so much improved by
supplies from France, that they disregarded the inconveniences to
which they were exposed.


     Arrival of the British commissioners.... Terms of
     conciliation proposed.... Answer of congress to their
     propositions.... Attempts of Mr. Johnson to bribe some
     members of congress.... His private letters ordered to be
     published.... Manifesto of the commissioners, and
     counter-manifesto of congress.... Arrival of Monsieur
     Girard, minister plenipotentiary of France.... Hostilities
     of the Indians.... Irruption into the Wyoming settlement....
     Battle of Wyoming.... Colonel Dennison capitulates for the
     inhabitants.... Distress of the settlement.... Colonel
     Clarke surprises St. Vincent.... Congress determines to
     invade Canada.... General Washington opposes the measure....
     Induces congress to abandon it.

[Sidenote: 1778]

About the time that Commodore Parker sailed for the southern
states, the commissioners appointed to give effect to the late
conciliatory acts of Parliament, embarked for Europe. They had exerted
their utmost powers to effect the object of their mission, but without
success. Great Britain required that the force of the two nations
should be united under one common sovereign; and America was no longer
disposed, or even at liberty to accede to this condition. All those
affections, which parts of the same empire should feel for each other,
had been eradicated by a distressing war; the great body of the people
were determined, at every sacrifice, to maintain their independence;
and the treaty with France had pledged the honour and the faith of
the nation, never to consent to a reunion with the British empire.

[Sidenote: Arrival of the British commissioners.]

[Sidenote: Terms of conciliation proposed.]

The commissioners arrived in Philadelphia while that place was yet in
possession of their army, and are understood to have brought positive
orders for its evacuation. Their arrival was immediately announced to
General Washington by Sir Henry Clinton, who was joined with them in
the commission, and a passport was requested for their secretary,
Doctor Ferguson, as the bearer of their first despatches to congress.
The Commander-in-chief declined granting this passport until he should
receive the instructions of his government; on which a letter
addressed "To the president and other the members of congress," was
forwarded in the usual manner. Copies of their commission, and of the
acts of Parliament on which it was founded, together with propositions
conforming to those acts, drawn in the most conciliatory language,
were transmitted with this letter.

[Sidenote: Answer of Congress to these propositions.]

Some observations having been introduced into it reflecting on the
conduct of France,[10] the reading was interrupted, and a motion made
to proceed no farther in consequence of this offensive language to his
most Christian Majesty. This motion producing some debate, an
adjournment was moved and carried. When congress reassembled, the
warmth of the preceding day had not entirely subsided; but, after
several ineffectual motions to prevent it, the letter was read and
committed. The answer which was reported by the committee, and
transmitted to the commissioners, declared that "nothing but an
earnest desire to spare the farther effusion of human blood, could
have induced them to read a paper containing expressions so
disrespectful to his most Christian Majesty, the good and great ally
of these states, or to consider propositions so derogatory to the
honour of an independent nation.

[Footnote 10: The offensive words were "insidious interposition of a
power which has, from the first settlement of the colonies, been
actuated with enmity to us both; and notwithstanding the pretended
date or present form of the French offers."]

"That the acts of the British Parliament, the commission from their
sovereign, and their letter, supposed the people of the United States
to be subjects of the crown of Great Britain, and were founded on the
idea of dependence, which is totally inadmissible.

"That congress was inclined to peace, notwithstanding the unjust
claims from which this was originated, and the savage manner in which
it was conducted. They would therefore be ready to enter upon the
consideration of a treaty of peace and commerce, not inconsistent with
treaties already subsisting, when the King of Great Britain should
demonstrate a sincere disposition for that purpose. The only solid
proof of this disposition would be an explicit acknowledgment of the
independence of these states, or the withdrawing his fleets and

[Sidenote: July 13.]

On the 13th of July, after arriving at New York, the commissioners
addressed a second letter to congress, expressing their regrets that
any difficulties were raised which must prolong the calamities of war;
and reviewing the letter of congress in terms well calculated to make
an impression on those who had become weary of the contest, and to
revive ancient prejudices in favour of England and against France.

This letter being read, congress resolved that, as neither the
independence of the United States was explicitly acknowledged, nor the
fleets and armies withdrawn, no answer should be given to it.

It would seem that the first letter of congress must have convinced
the British commissioners that no hope could be indulged of restoring
peace on any other terms than the independence of the United States.
Congress must have been equally certain that the commissioners were
not empowered to acknowledge that independence, or to direct the
fleets and armies of Great Britain to be withdrawn. The intercourse
between them therefore, after the first communications were exchanged,
and all subsequent measures, became a game of skill, in which the
parties played for the affections and passions of the people; and was
no longer a diplomatic correspondence, discussing the interests of two
great nations with the hope of accommodation.

[Sidenote: Attempts of Mr. Johnson to bribe influential members of

The first packet addressed by the commissioners to congress, contained
several private letters, written by Governor Johnson to members of
that body, in which he blended, with flattering expressions of respect
for their characters and their conduct, assurances of the honours and
emoluments to which those would be entitled who should contribute to
restore peace and harmony to the two countries and to terminate the
present war.

[Sidenote: Congress orders the publication of the private letters
from Johnson to the members of that body.]

A few days before the receipt of the letter of the 13th of July,
congress passed a resolution requiring that all letters of a public
nature received by any member from any subject of the British crown,
should be laid before them. In compliance with this resolution, the
letters of Governor Johnson were produced; and, some time afterwards,
Mr. Read stated, in his place, a direct offer which had been made him
by a third person, of a considerable sum of money, and of any office
in the gift of the crown, as an inducement to use his influence for
the restoration of harmony between the two countries. Congress
determined to communicate these circumstances to the American people,
and made a solemn declaration, in which, after reciting the offensive
paragraphs of the private letters, and the conversation stated by Mr.
Read, they expressed their opinion "that these were direct attempts to
corrupt and bribe the congress of the United States, and that it was
incompatible with their honour to hold any manner of correspondence
or intercourse with the said George Johnson, Esquire, especially to
negotiate with him upon affairs in which the cause of liberty is
interested." After an unsuccessful attempt to involve the other
commissioners in the same exclusion, this declaration was transmitted
to them while they were expecting an answer to a remonstrance on the
detention of the army of General Burgoyne.

On receiving it, Mr. Johnson withdrew from the commission, declaring
that he should be happy to find congress inclined to retract their
former declaration, and to negotiate with others on terms equally
conducive to the happiness of both countries. This declaration was
accompanied by one signed by the other commissioners, in which,
without admitting the construction put by congress on his letters, or
the authority of the person who held the conversation with Mr. Read,
they denied all knowledge of those letters or of that conversation.
They at the same time detailed the advantages to be derived by America
from the propositions they had made, "advantages," they added,
"decidedly superior to any which could be expected from an unnatural
alliance with France, only entered into by that nation for the purpose
of prolonging the war, after the full knowledge on their part of the
liberal terms intended to be offered by Great Britain." With this
declaration was transmitted a copy of the former remonstrance[11]
against the detention of the convention troops, without the signature
of Governor Johnson, and an extract from the instructions given by the
Secretary of State to Sir Henry Clinton, authorizing him to demand, in
express terms, a performance of the convention made with General
Burgoyne, and, if required, to renew and ratify all its conditions in
the name of the king.

[Footnote 11: Some expressions having been used in the letter,
respecting the convention troops, which were deemed disrespectful, no
other reply was made to it than that "congress gave no answer to
insolent letters."]

All the publications of the British commissioners indicate an opinion
that they could be more successful with the people than with congress;
and, not unfrequently betray the desire that the constituents of that
body might be enabled to decide on the measures taken by their

On the part of congress, it was decreed of the utmost importance to
keep the public mind correct, and to defeat all attempts to make
unfavourable impressions on it. Several members of that body entered
the lists as disputants, and employed their pens with ability and
success, as well in serious argument, as in rousing the various
passions which influence the conduct of men. The attempt to accomplish
the object of the mission by corruption was wielded with great effect;
and it was urged with equal force that should the United States now
break their faith with France, and treat on the footing of dependence,
they would sacrifice all credit with foreign nations, would be
considered by all as faithless and infamous, and would forfeit all
pretensions to future aid from abroad; after which the terms now
offered might be retracted, and the war be recommenced. To these
representations were added the certainty of independence, and the
great advantages which must result from its establishment. The letters
of the commissioners were treated as attempts to sow divisions among
the people of which they might afterwards avail themselves, and thus
effect by intrigue, what had been found unattainable by arms.

These essays were read with avidity, and seem to have produced all the
effect which was expected from them among the friends of the

[Sidenote: October 8.]

[Sidenote: Manifesto of the commissioners, and counter-manifestos by

The commissioners appear still to have cherished the hope, that a
complete knowledge of the terms they had offered, operating on the
disappointment of the extravagant hopes which had been founded on the
arrival of a French fleet, would make a great impression on a large
portion of the American people. This opinion induced them, before
their departure, to publish a manifesto, addressed, not only to
congress, but to all the provincial assemblies, and all the
inhabitants of the colonies of whatever denomination, briefly
recapitulating the several steps they had taken to accomplish the
object of their mission, and the refusal of congress even to open a
conference with them. They declared their readiness still to proceed
in the execution of the powers contained in their commission, and to
treat either with deputies from all the colonies conjointly, or with
any provincial assembly or convention individually, at any time within
the space of forty days from the date of their manifesto. They also
proclaimed a general pardon for all treasons and rebellious practices
committed at any time previous to the date of their manifesto, to such
as should, within the term of forty days, withdraw from their
opposition to the British government, and conduct themselves as
faithful and loyal subjects. To enable all persons to avail themselves
of this proffered pardon, thirteen copies of the manifesto were
executed, one of which was transmitted by a flag of truce to each
state. A vast number of copies were printed, and great exertions were
made by flags and other means to disperse them among the people.

On being informed of these proceedings, congress, without hesitation,
adopted the course which the government of an independent nation is
bound to pursue, when attempts are made by a foreign power to open
negotiations with unauthorized individuals. They declared the measure
"to be contrary to the law of nations, and utterly subversive of that
confidence which could alone maintain those means which had been
invented to alleviate the horrors of war; and, therefore, that the
persons employed to distribute such papers, were not entitled to the
protection of a flag." They recommended it to the executive
departments in the respective states, "to secure, in close custody,
every person who, under the sanction of a flag, or otherwise, was
found employed in circulating those manifestoes." At the same time, to
show that these measures were not taken for the purpose of
concealment, they directed a publication of the manifesto in the
American papers. Care, however, was taken to accompany it with
comments made by individuals, calculated to counteract its effect. A
vessel containing a cargo of these papers being wrecked on the coast,
the officers and crew were made prisoners; and the requisition of
Admiral Gambier for their release, in consequence of the privilege
afforded by his flag, was answered by a declaration that they had
forfeited that privilege by being charged with seditious papers.

[Sidenote: October 30.]

Not long after the publication of this paper, a counter-manifesto was
issued by congress, in which, after touching on subjects which might
influence the public mind, they "solemnly declare and proclaim, that
if their enemies presume to execute their threats, or persist in their
present course of barbarity, they will take such exemplary vengeance
as shall deter others from a like conduct."

Thus ended this fruitless attempt to restore a connexion which had
been wantonly broken, the reinstatement of which had become
impracticable. With the war, and with independence, a course of
opinion had prevailed in America, which not only opposed great
obstacles to a reunion of the two countries under one common
sovereign, but, by substituting discordant materials in the place of
the cement which formerly bound them together, rendered such an event
undesirable even to the British themselves. The time was arrived when
the true interest of that nation required the relinquishment of an
expensive war, the object of which was unattainable, and which, if
attained, could not be long preserved; and the establishment of those
amicable relations which reciprocal interests produce between
independent states, capable of being serviceable to each other by a
fair and equal interchange of good offices.

This opinion, however, was not yet embraced by the cabinet of London;
and great exertions were still to be made for the reannexation of the
American states to the British empire. Even the opposition was not
united against a continuance of the war for the object now proposed;
and the Earl of Chatham, who had endeavoured first to prevent the
conflict, and afterwards to produce conciliation, closed his splendid
life in unavailing efforts to prevent that dismemberment which had
become inevitable.[12]

[Footnote 12: The author has been favoured by his estimable friend,
Major General Scott, with the perusal of an introduction written by
Mr. L. De Sevelinges, to Botta's "History of the war of the
independence of the United States of America," translated into French.

Mr. De Sevelinges professes to have received the most precious
explanations, relative to incidents and motives, from a gentleman
equally distinguished for his knowledge and his character, whose
situation enabled him to become acquainted with facts which were
concealed from the public. Speaking of the attempt made by Mr.
Johnson, he says, p. 19, it was essential "to break off all
communication with the agents of the British minister. Mr. Girard
directed all his efforts to this object, and had the good fortune to
effect it.

"But the English faction of tories subsisted. It was powerful from the
credit of its chiefs."

In a note on this passage, he says, "The most influential were Samuel
Adams and Richard Lee, (Richard H. Lee,) the brother of Arthur Lee,
one of the deputies of congress in France. He was convicted of having
secret intelligence with the British minister."

It would be injustice to the memoirs of these distinguished patriots
to attempt their vindication against this atrocious and unfounded
calumny. A calumny supported by no testimony, nor by a single
circumstance wearing even the semblance of probability, and confuted
by the whole tenour of their lives. The annals of the American
revolution do not furnish two names more entirely above suspicion than
Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee. With the first gentleman the
author was not personally acquainted. With the last he was; and can
appeal with confidence to every man who knew him, to declare the
conviction, that he died as he lived, a pure and devoted, as well as
enlightened friend of American independence. The same character was
maintained by Mr. Adams.

In casting about for the foundation of this calumny, the author is
inclined to look for it in the opinions entertained by these
gentlemen, on subjects connected with the negotiations for peace.

Since the publication of the secret journals of congress, it is
generally known that France countenanced the claim of Spain to
circumscribe the western boundary of the United States, by the line
prescribed in the royal proclamation of 1763, for settlement of vacant
lands. After Great Britain had consented to acknowledge the
independence of the United States, it was understood by those who were
acquainted with the views of the belligerents, that a disposition
existed on the part of France and Spain, to continue the war for
objects in which the United States felt no interest,--among others,
for Gibraltar and Jamaica. Some American statesmen, and the Lees were
of the number, probably Mr. Adams also, were extremely apprehensive
that the miseries of their country would be prolonged for these
objects. It is not impossible that the sentiments of these gentlemen
on these subjects, being in opposition to the views of France, might,
though founded entirely in American policy, be attributed to British

[Sidenote: July 14.]

[Sidenote: Arrival of Girard, minister plenipotentiary from the King
of France.]

In the midst of these transactions with the commissioners of Great
Britain, the Sieur Girard arrived at Philadelphia, in the character of
Minister Plenipotentiary of his Most Christian Majesty.

The joy produced by this event was unbounded; and he was received by
congress with great pomp.

While these diplomatic concerns employed the American cabinet, and
while the war seemed to languish on the Atlantic, it raged to the west
in its most savage form.

[Sidenote: June 11.]

The difficulties which the inability of the American government to
furnish the neighbouring Indians with those European articles which
they were accustomed to use, opposed to all the efforts of congress to
preserve their friendship, have already been noticed. Early in 1778,
there were many indications of a general disposition among those
savages to make war on the United States; and the frontiers, from the
Mohawk to the Ohio, were threatened with the tomahawk and the scalping
knife. Every representation from that country supported the opinion
that a war with the Indians should never be defensive; and that, to
obtain peace, it must be carried into their own country. Detroit,
whose governor was believed to have been particularly active in
exciting hostilities, was understood to be in a defenceless condition;
and congress resolved on an expedition against that place. This
enterprise was entrusted to General M'Intosh, who commanded at
Pittsburg, and was to be carried on with three thousand men, chiefly
militia, to be drawn from Virginia. To facilitate its success, the
resolution was also taken to enter the country of the Senecas at the
same time, by the way of the Mohawk. The officer commanding on the
east of the Hudson was desired to take measures for carrying this
resolution into execution; and the commissioners for Indian affairs,
at Albany, were directed to co-operate with him.

Unfortunately, the acts of the government did not correspond with the
vigour of its resolutions. The necessary preparations were not made,
and the inhabitants of the frontiers remained without sufficient
protection, until the plans against them were matured, and the storm
which had been long gathering, burst upon them with a fury which
spread desolation wherever it reached.

[Sidenote: Colonel John Butler, with a party of Indians, breaks into
the Wyoming settlement.]

About three hundred white men, commanded by Colonel John Butler, and
about five hundred Indians, led by the Indian chief Brandt, who had
assembled in the north, marched late in June against the settlement of
Wyoming. These troops embarked on the Chemung or Tyoga, and
descending the Susquehanna, landed at a place called the Three
Islands, whence they marched about twenty miles, and crossing a
wilderness, and passing through a gap in the mountain, entered the
valley of Wyoming near its northern boundary. At this place a small
fort called Wintermoots had been erected, which fell into their hands
without resistance, and was burnt. The inhabitants who were capable of
bearing arms assembled on the first alarm at Forty fort, on the west
side of the Susquehanna, four miles below the camp of the invading

The regular troops, amounting to about sixty, were commanded by
Colonel Zebulon Butler;[13] the militia by Colonel Dennison. Colonel
Butler was desirous of awaiting the arrival of a small reinforcement
under Captain Spalding, who had been ordered by General Washington to
his aid on the first intelligence of the danger which threatened the
settlement; but the militia generally, believing themselves
sufficiently strong to repel the invading force, urged an immediate
battle so earnestly, that Colonel Butler yielded to their
remonstrances, and on the 3d of July marched from Forty fort at the
head of near four hundred men to attack the enemy.

[Footnote 13: This gentleman is stated not to have been of the same
family with the leader of the invading army.]

The British and Indians were prepared to receive him. Their line was
formed a small distance in front of their camp, in a plain thinly
covered with pine, shrub oaks, and under growth, and extended from the
river about a mile to a marsh at the foot of the mountain. The
Americans advanced in a single column, without interruption, until
they approached the enemy, when they received a fire which did not
much mischief. The line of battle[14] was instantly formed, and the
action commenced with spirit. The Americans rather gained ground on
the right where Colonel Butler commanded, until a large body of
Indians passing through the skirt of the marsh turned their left
flank, which was composed of militia, and poured a heavy and most
destructive fire on their rear. The word "retreat" was pronounced by
some person, and the efforts of the officers to check it were
unavailing. The fate of the day was decided, and a flight commenced on
the left which was soon followed by the right. As soon as the line was
broken, the Indians, throwing down their rifles and rushing upon them
with the tomahawk, completed the confusion. The attempt of Colonel
Butler and of the officers to restore order were unavailing, and the
whole line broke and fled in confusion. The massacre was general, and
the cries for mercy were answered by the tomahawk. Rather less than
sixty men escaped, some to Forty fort, some by swimming the river, and
some to the mountain. A very few prisoners were made, only three of
whom were preserved alive, who were carried to Niagara.

[Footnote 14: The representation of this battle, and of the
circumstances attending the destruction of the Wyoming settlement,
have been materially varied from the statement made of them in the
first edition. The papers of General Washington furnished allusions to
the transaction, but no particular account of it. The author therefore
relied on Mr. Gordon and Mr. Ramsay, whose authority was quoted. Soon
after the work was published, he received a letter from a gentleman
then residing in that country, (Mr. Charles Miner,) who asserted with
confidence that the statement was incorrect, and gave himself a minute
detail of events, collected from persons who were in the settlement at
the time, and witnessed them.

The author has been since indebted to the same gentleman for a
statement of the battle, and of the events which followed it, drawn up
by one of the descendants of Colonel Zebulon Butler, to which the
certificates of several gentlemen are annexed, who were engaged in the
action. These documents, with one which will be mentioned, convince
him that the combined treachery and savage ferocity which have been
painted in such vivid colours, in the narratives that have been given
of this furious and desolating irruption, have been greatly
exaggerated. Historic truth demands that these misstatements should be

The other document alluded to, is a letter from Zebulon Butler to the
board of war, making his report of the transaction. The letter has
been lately found among his papers, and is copied below.

_Grandenhutten, Penn Township, July 10th, 1778._

Honoured Sir,--On my arrival at Westmoreland, (which was only four
days after I left Yorktown,) I found there was a large body of the
enemy advancing on that settlement. On the first of July we mustered
the militia, and marched towards them by the river above the
settlement,--found and killed two Indians at a place where the day
before they had murdered nine men engaged in hoeing corn. We found
some canoes, &c. but finding we were above their main body, it was
judged prudent to return. And as every man had to go to his own house
for his provision, we could not muster again till the 3d of July. In
the mean time, the enemy had got possession of two forts, one of which
we had reason to believe was designed for them, though they burnt them
both. The inhabitants had seven forts for the security of their women
and children, extending about ten miles on the river, and too many men
would stay in them to take care of them; but after collecting about
three hundred of the most spirited of them, including Captain Hewitt's
company, I held a council with the officers, who were all agreed that
it was best to attack the enemy before they got any farther. We
accordingly marched,--found their situation,--formed a front of the
same extension of the enemy's, and attacked from right to left at the
same time. Our men stood the fire well for three or four shots, till
some part of the enemy gave way; but unfortunately for us, through
some mistake, the word _retreat_ was understood from some officer on
the left, which took so quick that it was not in the power of the
officers to form them again, though I believe, if they had stood three
minutes longer, the enemy would have been beaten. The utmost pains
were taken by the officers, who mostly fell. A lieutenant colonel, a
major and five captains, who were in commission in the militia, all
fell. Colonel Durkee, and Captains Hewitt and Ransom were likewise
killed. In the whole, about two hundred men lost their lives in the
action on our side. What number of the enemy were killed is yet
uncertain, though I believe a very considerable number. The loss of
these men so intimidated the inhabitants, that they gave up the matter
of fighting. Great numbers ran off, and others would comply with the
terms that I had refused. The enemy sent flags frequently--the terms
you will see in the enclosed letter. They repeatedly said they had
nothing to do with any but the inhabitants, and did not want to treat
with me. Colonel Dennison, by desire of the inhabitants, went and
complied,--which made it necessary for me and the little remains of
Captain Hewitt's company to leave the place. Indeed it was determined
by the enemy to spare the inhabitants after their agreement, and that
myself and the few continental soldiers should be delivered up to the
savages. Upon which I left the place, and came scarcely able to move,
as I have had no rest since I left Yorktown. It has not been in my
power to find a horse or man to wait on the board till now. I must
submit to the board what must be the next step. The little remains of
Hewitt's company (which are about fifteen) are gone to Shamoken, and
Captain Spalding's company, I have heard, are on the Delaware. Several
hundred of the inhabitants are strolling in the country destitute of
provisions, who have large fields of grain and other necessaries of
life at Westmoreland. In short, if the inhabitants can go back, there
may yet be saved double the quantity of provisions to support
themselves, otherwise they must be beggars, and a burthen to the

I have heard from men that came from the place since the people gave
up, that the Indians have killed no person since, but have burnt most
of the buildings, and are collecting all the horses they can, and are
moving up the river. They likewise say the enemy were eight hundred,
one-half white men. I should be glad that, if possible, there might be
a sufficient guard sent for the defence of the place, which will be
the means of saving thousands from poverty--but must submit to the
wisdom of congress. I desire farther orders from the honourable board
of war with respect to myself, and the soldiers under my direction.

I have the honour to be

Your Honour's most obedient, humble servant,


[Sidenote: Colonel Dennison capitulates for the inhabitants.]

Further resistance was impracticable, Colonel Dennison proposed terms
of capitulation, which were granted to the inhabitants. It being
understood that no quarter would be allowed to the continental troops,
Colonel Butler with his few surviving soldiers fled from the valley.

[Sidenote: Distress of the settlement.]

The inhabitants generally abandoned the country, and, in great
distress, wandered into the settlements on the Lehigh and the
Delaware. The Indians, as is the practice of savages, destroyed the
houses and improvements by fire, and plundered the country. After
laying waste the whole settlement, they withdrew from it before the
arrival of the continental troops, who were detached to meet them.

[Sidenote: July 15.]

To cover every part of the United States would have required a much
greater number of men than could be raised. Different districts were
therefore unavoidably exposed to the calamities ever to be experienced
by those into the bosom of whose country war is carried. The militia
in every part of the Union, fatigued and worn out by repeated tours of
duty, required to be relieved by continental troops. Their
applications were necessarily resisted; but the danger which
threatened the western frontier had become so imminent; the appeal
made by its sufferings to national feeling was so affecting, that it
was determined to spare a more considerable portion of the army for
its defence, than had been allotted to that part of the Union, since
the capture of Burgoyne. On the first intelligence of the destruction
of Wyoming, the regiments of Hartley and Butler, with the remnant of
Morgan's corps, commanded by Major Posey, were detached to the
protection of that distressed country. They were engaged in several
sharp skirmishes, made separate incursions into the Indian
settlements, broke up their nearest villages, destroyed their corn,
and by compelling them to retire to a greater distance, gave some
relief to the inhabitants.

While the frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania were thus suffering
the calamities incident to savage warfare, a fate equally severe was
preparing for Virginia. The western militia of that state had made
some successful incursions into the country north-west of the Ohio,
and had taken some British posts on the Mississippi. These were
erected in the county of Illinois; and a regiment of infantry, with a
troop of cavalry, were raised for its protection. The command of these
troops was given to Colonel George Rogers Clarke, a gentleman whose
courage, hardihood, and capacity for Indian warfare, had given
repeated success to his enterprises against the savages.

This corps was divided into several detachments, the strongest of
which remained with Colonel Clarke at Kaskaskia. Colonel Hamilton, the
Governor of Detroit, was at Vincennes with about six hundred men,
principally Indians, preparing an expedition, first against Kaskaskia,
and then up the Ohio to Pittsburg; after which he purposed to
desolate the frontiers of Virginia. Clarke anticipated and defeated
his design by one of those bold and decisive measures, which, whether
formed on a great or a small scale, mark the military and enterprising
genius of the man who plans and executes them.

[Sidenote: 1779 February.]

[Sidenote: Colonel Clarke surprises St. Vincents, and takes
possession of it.]

He was too far removed from the inhabited country to hope for support,
and was too weak to maintain Kaskaskia and the Illinois against the
combined force of regulars and Indians by which he was to be attacked
so soon as the season for action should arrive. While employed in
preparing for his defence, he received unquestionable information that
Hamilton had detached his Indians on an expedition against the
frontiers, reserving at the post he occupied only about eighty
regulars, with three pieces of cannon and some swivels. Clarke
instantly resolved to seize this favourable moment. After detaching a
small galley up the Wabash with orders to take her station a few miles
below Vincennes, and to permit nothing to pass her, he marched in the
depth of winter with one hundred and thirty men, the whole force he
could collect, across the country from Kaskaskia to Vincennes. This
march, through the woods, and over high waters, required sixteen days,
five of which were employed in crossing the drowned lands of the
Wabash. The troops were under the necessity of wading five miles in
water, frequently up to their breasts. After subduing these
difficulties, this small party appeared before the town, which was
completely surprised, and readily consented to change its master.
Hamilton, after defending the fort a short time, surrendered himself
and his garrison prisoners of war. With a few of his immediate agents
and counsellors, who had been instrumental in the savage barbarities
he had encouraged, he was, by order of the executive of Virginia, put
in irons, and confined in a jail.

This expedition was important in its consequences. It disconcerted a
plan which threatened destruction to the whole country west of the
Alleghany mountains; detached from the British interest many of those
numerous tribes of Indians south of the waters immediately
communicating with the great lakes; and had, most probably,
considerable influence in fixing the western boundary of the United

[Sidenote: Congress determine to attack Canada, and the other British
possessions in North America.]

We have already seen that congress, actuated by their wishes rather
than governed by a temperate calculation of the means in their
possession, had, in the preceding winter, planned a second invasion of
Canada, to be conducted by the Marquis de Lafayette; and that, as the
generals only were got in readiness for this expedition, it was
necessarily laid aside. The design, however, seems to have been
suspended, not abandoned. The alliance with France revived the latent
wish to annex that extensive territory to the United States. That
favourite subject was resumed; and, towards autumn, a plan was
completely digested for a combined attack to be made by the allies on
all the British dominions on the continent, and on the adjacent
islands of Cape Breton and Newfoundland. This plan was matured about
the time the Marquis de Lafayette obtained leave to return to his own
country, and was ordered to be transmitted by that nobleman to Doctor
Franklin, the minister of the United States at the court of
Versailles, with instructions to induce, if possible, the French
cabinet to accede to it. Some communications respecting this subject
were also made to the Marquis, on whose influence in securing its
adoption by his own government, much reliance was placed; and, in
October, 1778, it was, for the first time, transmitted to General
Washington, with a request that he would inclose it by the Marquis,
with his observations on it, to Doctor Franklin.

This very extensive plan of military operations for the ensuing
campaign, prepared entirely in the cabinet, without consulting, so far
as is known, a single military man, consisted of many parts.

Two detachments, amounting, each, to sixteen hundred men, were to
march from Pittsburg and Wyoming against Detroit, and Niagara.

A third body of troops, which was to be stationed on the Mohawk during
the winter, and to be powerfully reinforced in the spring, was to
seize Oswego, and to secure the navigation of Lake Ontario with
vessels to be constructed of materials to be procured in the winter.

A fourth corps was to penetrate into Canada by the St. Francis, and to
reduce Montreal, and the posts on Lake Champlain, while a fifth should
guard against troops from Quebec.

Thus far America could proceed unaided by her ally. But, Upper Canada
being reduced, another campaign would still be necessary for the
reduction of Quebec. This circumstance would require that the army
should pass the winter in Canada, and, in the mean time, the garrison
of Quebec might be largely reinforced. It was therefore essential to
the complete success of the enterprise, that France should be induced
to take a part in it.

The conquest of Quebec, and of Halifax, was supposed to be an object
of so much importance to France as well as to the United States, that
her aid might be confidently expected.

It was proposed to request his Most Christian Majesty to furnish four
or five thousand troops, to sail from Brest, the beginning of May,
under convoy of four ships of the line and four frigates; the troops
to be clad as if for service in the West Indies, and thick clothes to
be sent after them in August. A large American detachment was to act
with this French army; and it was supposed that Quebec and Halifax
might be reduced by the beginning or middle of October. The army
might then either proceed immediately against Newfoundland, or remain
in garrison until the spring, when the conquest of that place might be

It had been supposed probable that England would abandon the farther
prosecution of the war on the continent of North America, in which
case the government would have a respectable force at its disposal,
the advantageous employment of which had engaged in part the attention
of the Commander-in-chief. He had contemplated an expedition against
the British posts in Upper Canada as a measure which might be
eventually eligible, and which might employ the arms of the United
States to advantage, if their troops might safely be withdrawn from
the sea board. He had, however, considered every object of this sort
as contingent. Having estimated the difficulties to be encountered in
such an enterprise, he had found them so considerable as to hesitate
on the extent which might safely be given to the expedition, admitting
the United States to be evacuated by the British armies.

In this state of mind, he received the magnificent plan already
prepared by congress. He was forcibly struck with the impracticability
of executing that part of it which was to be undertaken by the United
States, should the British armies continue in their country; and with
the serious mischief which would result to the common cause, as well
from diverting so considerable a part of the French force from other
objects to one which was, in his opinion, so unpromising, as from the
ill impression which would be made on the court and nation by the
total failure of the American government to execute its part of a plan
originating with itself; a failure which would, most probably,
sacrifice the troops and ships employed by France.

On comparing the naval force of England with that of France in the
different parts of the world, the former appeared to him to maintain a
decided superiority, and consequently to possess the power of shutting
up the ships of the latter which might be trusted into the St.
Lawrence. To suppose that the British government would not avail
itself of this superiority on such an occasion, would be to impute to
it a blind infatuation, or ignorance of the plans of its adversary,
which could not be safely assumed in calculations of such serious

[Sidenote: General Washington urges reasons against the plan.]

A plan too, consisting of so many parts, to be prosecuted both from
Europe and America, by land and by water; which, to be successful,
required such a harmonious co-operation of the whole, such a perfect
coincidence of events, appeared to him to be exposed to too many
accidents, to risk upon it interests of such high value.

[Illustration: George Washington

_From the portrait by John Trumbull_

_Colonel Trumbull, whose portraits of Washington, Hamilton, Jay,
Adams, George Clinton and other Revolutionary contemporaries form a
notable gallery, was General Washington's aide-de-camp at the outbreak
of the War for Independence, and during its progress became a pupil of
Benjamin West, in London. The news of Andre's execution fastened upon
him the suspicion of being a spy, and he spent eight months in an
English prison. Returning to America he painted this and other
portraits of Washington, as well as a number of historical pictures,
including the "Resignation of Washington at Annapolis," which hangs in
the Capitol at Washington._]

In a long and serious letter to congress, he apologized for not
obeying their orders to deliver the plan with his observations upon it
to the Marquis; and, entering into a full investigation of all its
parts, demonstrated the mischiefs, and the dangers, with which it was
replete. This letter was referred to a committee, whose report admits
the force of the reasons urged by the Commander-in-chief against the
expedition, and their own conviction that nothing important could be
attempted unless the British armies should be withdrawn from the
United States; and that, even in that event, the present plan was far
too complex.

Men, however, recede slowly and reluctantly from favourite and
flattering projects on which they have long meditated; and the
committee, in their report, proceeded to state the opinion that the
posts held by the British in the United States would probably be
evacuated before the active part of the ensuing campaign; and that,
therefore, eventual measures for the expedition ought to be taken.

This report concludes with recommending "that the general should be
directed to write to the Marquis de Lafayette on that subject; and
also to write to the minister of these states at the court of
Versailles very fully, to the end that eventual measures may be taken,
in case an armament should be sent from France to Quebec, for
co-operating therewith, to the utmost degree, which the finances and
resources of these states will admit."

This report also was approved by congress, and transmitted to the
Commander-in-chief; who felt himself greatly embarrassed by it. While
his objections to the project retained all their force, he found
himself required to open a correspondence for the purposes of
soliciting the concurrence of France in an expedition he disapproved,
and of promising a co-operation he believed to be impracticable. In
reply to this communication, he said, "The earnest desire I have
strictly to comply in every instance, with the views and instructions
of congress, can not but make me feel the greatest uneasiness, when I
find myself in circumstances of hesitation or doubt, with respect to
their directions. But the perfect confidence I have in the justice and
candour of that honourable body, emboldens me to communicate, without
reserve, the difficulties which occur in the execution of their
present order; and the indulgence I have experienced on every former
occasion, induces me to imagine that the liberty I now take will not
meet with disapprobation."

After reviewing the report of the committee, and stating his
objections to the plan, and the difficulties he felt in performing the
duty assigned to him, he added, "But if congress still think it
necessary for me to proceed in the business, I must request their more
definitive and explicit instructions, and that they will permit me,
previous to transmitting the intended despatches, to submit them to
their determination.

"I could wish to lay before congress more minutely the state of the
army, the condition of our supplies, and the requisites necessary for
carrying into execution an undertaking that may involve the most
serious events. If congress think this can be done more satisfactorily
in a personal conference, I hope to have the army in such a situation
before I can receive their answer, as to afford me an opportunity of
giving my attendance."

[Sidenote: Induces Congress to abandon it.]

Congress acceded to his request of a personal interview; and, on his
arrival in Philadelphia, a committee was appointed to confer with him,
as well on this particular subject as on the general state of the army
and of the country.

The result of these conferences was, that the expedition against
Canada was entirely, though reluctantly,[15] given up, and every
arrangement recommended by the Commander-in-chief, received the
attention to which his judgment and experience gave all his opinions
the fairest claim.

[Footnote 15: See note No. II. at the end of the volume.]


     Divisions in Congress.... Letters of General Washington on
     the state of public affairs.... Invasion of Georgia....
     General Howe defeated by Colonel Campbell.... Savannah
     taken.... Sunbury surrenders.... Georgia reduced.... General
     Lincoln takes command of the Southern army.... Major
     Gardiner defeated by General Moultrie.... Insurrection of
     the Tories in South Carolina.... They are defeated by
     Colonel Pickens.... Ash surprised and defeated.... Moultrie
     retreats.... Prevost marches to Charleston.... Lincoln
     attacks the British at Stono Ferry unsuccessfully....
     Invasion of Virginia.

[Sidenote: 1779]

After the relinquishment of that extensive plan of conquest which
had been meditated against Canada, no other object seemed to call
forth the energies of the nation, and a general languor appeared to
diffuse itself through all the civil departments. The alliance with
France was believed to secure independence; and a confidence that
Britain could no longer prosecute the war with any hope of success--a
confidence encouraged by communications from Europe--prevented those
exertions which were practicable, but which it was painful to make.
This temper was seen and deplored by the Commander-in-chief, who
incessantly combated the opinion that Britain was about to relinquish
the contest, and insisted that great and vigorous exertions on the
part of the United States were still necessary to bring the war to a
successful termination.

It being no longer practicable to engage soldiers by voluntary
enlistment, and government not daring to force men into the service
for three years, or during the war, the vacant ranks were scantily
supplied with drafts for nine, twelve, and eighteen months. A great
proportion of the troops were discharged in the course of each year;
and, except that the old officers remained, almost a new army was to
be formed for every campaign.

Although the Commander-in-chief pressed congress and the state
governments continually and urgently, to take timely measures for
supplying the places of those who were leaving the service, the means
adopted were so slow and ineffectual in their operation, that the
season for action never found the preparations completed; and the
necessity of struggling against superior numbers was perpetual.

The pleasing delusion that the war was over, to which the public mind
delighted to surrender itself, made no impression on the judgment of
Washington. Viewing objects through a more correct medium, he
perceived that Great Britain had yet much to hope, and America much to
fear, from a continuance of hostilities. He feared that the impression
which the divisions, and apparent inertness of the United States had
made on the British commissioners, would be communicated to their
government; and this consideration increased his anxiety in favour of
early and vigorous preparations for the next campaign. Yet it was not
until the 23d of January that congress passed the resolution,
authorizing the Commander-in-chief to re-enlist the army, nor, until
the 9th of March, that the requisition was made on the several states
for their quotas. The bounty offered by the first resolution being
found insufficient, the government was again under the necessity of
resorting to the states. Thus, at a season when the men ought to have
been in camp, the measures for raising them were still to be adopted.

About this period, several circumstances conspired to foment those
pernicious divisions and factions in congress, which, in times of
greater apparent danger, patriotism would have suppressed.

[Sidenote: Divisions in congress.]

The ministers of the United States, in Europe, had reciprocally
criminated each other, and some of them had been recalled. Their
friends in congress supported their respective interests with
considerable animation; and, at length, Mr. Deane published a
manifesto, in which he arraigned at the bar of the public, the conduct
not only of those concerned in foreign negotiations, but of the
members of Congress themselves.

The irritation excited by these and other contests was not a little
increased by the appearance, in a New York paper, of an extract from
a letter written by Mr. Laurens, the president of congress, to
Governor Huiston, of Georgia, which, during the invasion of that
state, was found among his papers. In this letter, Mr. Laurens had
unbosomed himself with the unsuspecting confidence of a person
communicating to a friend the inmost operations of his mind. In a
gloomy moment, he had expressed himself with a degree of severity,
which even his own opinion, when not under the immediate influence of
chagrin, would not entirely justify, and had reflected on the
integrity and patriotism of members, without particularizing the
individuals he designed to censure.

These altercations added much to the alarm with which General
Washington viewed that security which had insinuated itself into the
public mind; and his endeavours were unremitting to impress the same
apprehensions on those who were supposed capable of removing the
delusion. In his confidential letters to gentlemen of the most
influence in the several states, he represented in strong terms the
dangers which yet threatened the country, and earnestly exhorted them
to a continuance of those sacrifices and exertions which he still
deemed essential to the happy termination of the war. The dissensions
in congress; the removal of individuals of the highest influence and
character from the councils of the nation to offices in the respective
states; the depreciation of the currency; the destructive spirit of
speculation which the imaginary gain produced by this depreciation had
diffused throughout the Union; a general laxity of principles; and an
unwillingness to encounter personal inconvenience for the attainment
of the great object, in pursuit of which so much blood and treasure
had been expended; were the rocks on which, he apprehended, the state
vessel might yet split, and to which he endeavoured, incessantly, to
point the attention of those whose weight of political character
enable them to guide the helm.

[Sidenote: Letters from General Washington on the state of public

"I am particularly desirous of a free communication of sentiments with
you at this time," says the General in a letter written to a gentleman
of splendid political talents, "because I view things very
differently, I fear, from what people in general do, who seem to think
the contest at an end, and that to make money, and get places, are the
only things now remaining to be done. I have seen without despondency,
even for a moment, the hours which America has styled her gloomy ones;
but I have beheld no day since the commencement of hostilities, when I
have thought her liberties in such imminent danger as at present.
Friends and foes seem now to combine to pull down the goodly fabric we
have hitherto been raising at the expense of so much time, blood, and

After censuring with some freedom the prevailing opinions of the day,
he added, "To me it appears no unjust simile to compare the affairs
of this great continent to the mechanism of a clock, each state
representing some one or other of the smaller parts of it, which they
are endeavouring to put in fine order, without considering how useless
and unavailing their labour is, unless the great wheel, or spring,
which is to set the whole in motion, is also well attended to, and
kept in good order. I allude to no particular state, nor do I mean to
cast reflections upon any one of them, nor ought I, it may be said, to
do so on their representatives; but, as it is a fact too notorious to
be concealed, that congress is rent by party; that much business of a
trifling nature and personal concernment, withdraws their attention
from matters of great national moment at this critical period; when it
is also known that idleness and dissipation take place of close
attention and application, no man who wishes well to the liberties of
this country, and desires to see its rights established, can avoid
crying out--where are our men of abilities? Why do they not come forth
to save their country? Let this voice, my dear sir, call upon you,
Jefferson, and others. Do not, from a mistaken opinion that we are to
sit down under our vine and our own fig-tree, let our hitherto noble
struggle end in ignominy. Believe me when I tell you there is danger
of it. I have pretty good reasons for thinking that administration, a
little while ago, had resolved to give the matter up, and negotiate a
peace with us upon almost any terms; but I shall be much mistaken if
they do not now, from the present state of our currency, dissensions,
and other circumstances, push matters to the utmost extremity. Nothing
I am sure will prevent it but the intervention of Spain, and their
disappointed hope from Russia."

The circumstances in the situation and temper of America, which made
so deep an impression on the Commander-in-chief, operated with equal
force on the British commissioners, and induced them to think that, by
continuing the war, more favourable terms than were now demanded might
be obtained. They seem to have taken up the opinion that the mass of
the people, fatigued and worn out by the complicated calamities of the
struggle, sincerely desired an accommodation on the terms proposed by
Great Britain; and that the increasing difficulties resulting from the
failure of public credit, would induce them to desert congress, or
compel that body to accede to those terms. These opinions, when
communicated to the government, most probably contributed to protract
the war.

The narrative of military transactions will now be resumed.

The British arms had heretofore been chiefly directed against the
northern and middle states. The strongest parts of the American
continent were pressed by their whole force; and, with the exception
of the attempt on Sullivan's island in 1776, no serious design had
yet been manifested to make an impression in the south. Entertaining
the most confident hopes of recovering all the colonies, the British
government had not prosecuted the war with a view to partial conquest.
But the loss of the army commanded by Burgoyne, the alliance of
America with France, and the unexpected obstinacy with which the
contest was maintained, had diminished their confidence; and, when the
pacific propositions made in 1778 were rejected, the resolution seems
to have been taken to change, materially, the object of their military
operations; and, maintaining possession of the islands of New York, to
direct their arms against the southern states, on which, it was
believed, a considerable impression might be made.

It was not unreasonable to suppose that the influence of this
impression might extend northward; but, however this might be, the
actual conquest and possession of several states would, when
negotiations for a general peace should take place, give a complexion
to those negotiations, and afford plausible ground for insisting to
retain territory already acquired. The most active and interesting
operations therefore of the succeeding campaigns, were in the southern

Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, who sailed from the Hook about the last
of November, 1778, escorted by a small squadron commanded by
Commodore Hyde Parker, reached the isle of Tybee, near the Savannah,
on the 23d of December; and, in a few days, the fleet and the
transports passed the bar, and anchored in the river.

The command of the southern army, composed of the troops of South
Carolina and Georgia, had been committed to Major General Robert Howe,
who, in the course of the preceding summer, had invaded East
Florida.[16] The diseases incident to the climate made such ravages
among his raw soldiers, that, though he had scarcely seen an enemy, he
found himself compelled to hasten out of the country with considerable
loss. After this disastrous enterprise, his army, consisting of
between six and seven hundred continental troops, aided by a few
hundred militia, had encamped in the neighbourhood of the town of
Savannah, situated on the southern bank of the river bearing that
name. The country about the mouth of the river is one tract of deep
marsh, intersected by creeks and cuts of water, impassable for troops
at any time of the tide, except over causeways extending through the
sunken ground.

[Footnote 16: So early as January, 1776, congress had recommended the
reduction of St. Augustine to the southern colonies.--_Secret Journals
of Congress, page 38._]

[Sidenote: Invasion of Georgia.]

Without much opposition, Lieutenant Colonel Campbell effected a
landing on the 29th, about three miles below the town; upon which Howe
formed his line of battle. His left was secured by the river; and
along the whole extent of his front was a morass which stretched to
his right, and was believed by him to be impassable for such a
distance, as effectually to secure that wing.

After reconnoitring the country, Colonel Campbell advanced on the
great road leading to Savannah; and, about three in the afternoon,
appeared in sight of the American army. While making dispositions to
dislodge it, he accidentally fell in with a negro, who informed him of
a private path leading through the swamp, round the right of the
American lines to their rear. Determining to avail himself of this
path, he detached a column under Sir James Baird, which entered the
morass unperceived by Howe.

[Sidenote: General Howe defeated by the British under Colonel
Campbell, who takes possession of Savannah.]

As soon as Sir James emerged from the swamp, he attacked and dispersed
a body of Georgia militia, which gave the first notice to the American
general of the danger which threatened his rear. At the same instant,
the British troops in his front were put in motion, and their
artillery began to play upon him. A retreat was immediately ordered;
and the continental troops were under the necessity of running across
a plain, in front of the corps which had been led into their rear by
Sir James Baird, who attacked their flanks with great impetuosity, and
considerable effect. The few who escaped, retreated up the Savannah;
and, crossing that river at Zubly's ferry, took refuge in South

The victory was complete, and decisive in its consequences. About one
hundred Americans were either killed in the field, or drowned in
attempting to escape through a deep swamp. Thirty-eight officers, and
four hundred and fifteen privates, were taken. Forty-eight pieces of
cannon, twenty-three mortars, the fort with all its military-stores, a
large quantity of provisions collected for the use of the army, and
the capital of Georgia, fell into the hands of the conqueror. These
advantages were obtained at the expense of only seven killed, and
nineteen wounded.

No military force now remained in Georgia, except the garrison of
Sunbury, whose retreat to South Carolina was cut off. All the lower
part of that state was occupied by the British, who adopted measures
to secure the conquest they had made. The inhabitants were treated
with a lenity as wise as it was humane. Their property was spared, and
their persons protected. To make the best use of victory, and of the
impression produced by the moderation of the victors, a proclamation
was issued, inviting the inhabitants to repair to the British
standard, and offering protection to those who would return to their

The effect of these measures did not disappoint those who adopted
them. The inhabitants flocked in great numbers to the royal standard;
military corps for the protection of the country were formed; and
posts were established for a considerable distance up the river.

[Sidenote: Sunbury surrenders to General Prevost.]

The northern frontier of Georgia being supposed to be settled into a
state of quiet, Colonel Campbell turned his attention towards Sunbury,
and was about to proceed against that place, when he received
intelligence that it had surrendered to General Prevost.

[Sidenote: The State of Georgia reduced.]

Sir Henry Clinton had ordered that officer to co-operate from East
Florida, with Colonel Campbell. On hearing that the troops from the
north were off the coast, he entered the southern frontier of Georgia,
and invested Sunbury, which, after a slight resistance, surrendered at
discretion. Having placed a garrison in the fort, he proceeded to
Savannah, took command of the army, and detached Colonel Campbell with
eight hundred regulars and a few provincials to Augusta, which fell
without resistance, and thus the whole state of Georgia was reduced.

While the expedition conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Campbell was
preparing at New York, congress was meditating the conquest of East

[Sidenote: General Lincoln takes the command of the southern army.]

The delegates of South Carolina and Georgia, anxious that a general of
more experience than Howe should command in the southern department,
had earnestly pressed that he should be recalled, and that General
Lincoln, whose military reputation was high, should be appointed to
succeed him. In compliance with their solicitations, Howe was ordered
in September, 1778, to repair to the head quarters of General
Washington, and Lincoln was directed to proceed immediately to
Charleston, in South Carolina, in order to take command in the
southern department. In pursuance of this resolution, General Lincoln
repaired to Charleston, where he found the military affairs of the
country in a state of utter derangement. Congress had established no
continental military chest in the southern department. This omission
produced a dependence on the government of the state for supplies to
move the army on any emergency, and consequent subjection of the
troops in continental service to its control. The militia, though
taken into continental service, considered themselves as subject only
to the military code of the state. These regulations threatened to
embarrass all military operations, and to embroil the general with the
civil government.

While Lincoln was labouring to make arrangements for the ensuing
campaign, he received intelligence of the appearance of the enemy off
the coast. The militia of North Carolina, amounting to two thousand
men, commanded by Generals Ash and Rutherford, had already reached
Charleston; but were unarmed, and congress had been unable to provide
magazines in this part of the Union. These troops were, therefore,
entirely dependent on South Carolina for every military equipment; and
arms were not delivered to them until it was too late to save the
capital of Georgia.

So soon as it was ascertained that the British fleet had entered the
Savannah river, General Lincoln proceeded with the utmost expedition
towards the scene of action. On his march, he received intelligence of
the victory gained over General Howe; and was soon afterwards joined
by the remnant of the defeated army at Purysburg, a small town on the
north side of the Savannah, where he established his head quarters.

The regular force commanded by General Prevost must have amounted to
at least three thousand effective men; and this number was increased
by irregulars who had joined him in Georgia. The American army rather
exceeded three thousand six hundred men, of whom not quite two
thousand five hundred were effective. Something more than one thousand
were continental troops, part of whom were new levies; the rest were

[Sidenote: Major Gardiner defeated by General Moultrie.]

The theatre of action was so well adapted to defensive war, that,
although General Prevost was decidedly superior to his adversary, it
was difficult to extend his conquests into South Carolina. With the
view of entering that state by the way of the sea coast, he detached
Major Gardiner with about two hundred men, to take possession of the
island of Port Royal. That officer, soon after reaching his place of
destination, was attacked by General Moultrie, and compelled to
retreat with considerable loss. This repulse checked the designs of
Prevost on South Carolina.

[Sidenote: Insurrection of the Tories in South Carolina, who are
defeated by Colonel Pickens.]

From the commencement of the war, a considerable proportion of the
western inhabitants of the three southern states had been attached to
the royal cause. The first successes of the British were soon
communicated to them, and they were invited to assemble and join the
king's standard at Augusta. About seven hundred embodied themselves on
the frontiers of South Carolina, and began their march to that place.
They were overtaken by Colonel Pickens at the head of the neighbouring
militia, near Kittle Creek, and defeated with considerable loss.
Colonel Boyd, their leader, was among the slain; and several of those
who escaped were apprehended, tried, and five of them executed as
traitors. About three hundred reached the British out-posts, and
joined the royal standard. This defeat broke the spirits of the Tories
for a time; and preserved quiet in the west.

As the American army gained strength by reinforcements of militia,
General Lincoln began to contemplate offensive operations. A
detachment had been stationed nearly opposite to Augusta under General
Ash, and he purposed joining that officer so soon as a sufficient
force could be collected, and attempting to recover the upper parts of
Georgia. Before he was able to execute this plan, General Prevost
withdrew his troops from Augusta to Hudson's Ferry. Ash was then
ordered to cross the Savannah, and take post near the confluence of
Briar Creek with that river. This camp was thought unassailable. Its
left was covered by a deep swamp, and by the Savannah. The front was
secured by Briar Creek, which is unfordable several miles, and makes
an acute angle with the river.

[Sidenote: Ash surprised and defeated by Prevost.]

Having determined to dislodge the Americans from this position,
Prevost kept up the attention of General Lincoln by the semblance of a
design to cross the Savannah; and, at the same time amused General Ash
with a feint on his front, while Lieutenant Colonel Prevost made a
circuit of about fifty miles, and, crossing Briar Creek fifteen miles
above the ground occupied by Ash, came down, unperceived and
unsuspected, on his rear. Ash, unused to the stratagems of war, was so
completely engaged by the manoeuvres in his front, that Lieutenant
Colonel Prevost was almost in his camp before any intelligence of his
approach was received. The continental troops under General Elbert
were drawn out to oppose him, and commenced the action with great
gallantry; but most of the militia threw away their arms and fled in
confusion. As they precipitated themselves into the swamp and swam the
river, not many of them were taken. General Elbert and his small band
of continental troops, aided by one regiment of North Carolina
militia, were soon overpowered by numbers, and the survivors were
compelled to surrender themselves prisoners of war. The killed and
taken amounted to between three and four hundred men. General Elbert
and Colonel M'Intosh were among the latter. But the loss sustained by
the American army was much more considerable. The dispersed militia
returned to their homes; and not more than four hundred and fifty of
them could be reassembled.

This victory was supposed to give the British such complete possession
of Georgia, that a proclamation was issued the succeeding day by
General Prevost, establishing civil government, and appointing
executive and judicial officers to administer it.

These disasters, instead of terrifying South Carolina into submission,
animated that state to greater exertions. Mr. John Rutledge, a
gentleman of great talents and decision, was elected governor; and the
legislature passed an act empowering him and the council to do every
thing that appeared to him and them necessary for the public good. All
the energies of the state were drawn forth. The militia were called
out in great numbers, and the laws for their government were rendered
more severe.[17]

[Footnote 17: Ramsay.]

Thus reinforced, General Lincoln resumed his plan for recovering the
upper parts of Georgia; and marched the main body of his army up the

This river was now swelled greatly beyond its usual limits; and the
swamps, marshes, and creeks which intersect the country being full,
seemed to present an almost impassable barrier to an invading army. A
small military force being deemed sufficient to arrest the progress of
an enemy through a route which, if at all practicable, was so
difficult, about eight hundred of the state militia, aided by two
hundred continental troops, were left with General Moultrie for the
defence of the country.

[Sidenote: Prevost compels Moultrie to retreat.]

Aware of the importance of this movement, and hoping to recall Lincoln
by alarming him for the safety of Charleston, General Prevost suddenly
crossed the Savannah with three thousand men; and, advancing rapidly
on General Moultrie, obliged him to retreat with precipitation. The
militia could not be prevailed on to defend the passes with any degree
of firmness; and Moultrie, instead of drawing aid from the surrounding
country, sustained an alarming diminution of numbers by desertion.

On the passage of the river by Prevost, an express had been despatched
to Lincoln with the intelligence. Persuaded that the British general
could meditate no serious attempt on Charleston, and that the real
object was to induce him to abandon the enterprise in which he was
engaged, he detached a reinforcement of three hundred light troops to
aid Moultrie, and crossing the Savannah himself, continued his march
down the south side of that river towards the capital of Georgia.

[Sidenote: Prevost marches to Charleston.]

Though the original purpose of General Prevost had been limited to the
security of Georgia, the opposition he encountered was so much less
than he had expected; the tenour of the country was so apparent; the
assurances of those who flocked to his standard; of the general
disposition of the people to terminate the calamities of war by
submission, were so often and so confidently repeated, that he was
emboldened to extend his views, and to hazard the continuation of his
march to Charleston.

On receiving intelligence of this threatening aspect of affairs in
South Carolina, Lincoln recrossed the Savannah, and hastened to the
relief of that state.

The situation of Charleston was extremely critical. The inhabitants,
entirely unapprehensive of an attack by land, had directed their whole
attention to its protection against an invasion by sea. Had Prevost
continued his march with the rapidity with which it was commenced, the
place must have fallen. But, after having gained more than half the
distance, he halted, and consumed two or three days in deliberating on
his future measures. While his intelligence determined him to proceed,
and assured him of a state of things which rendered success almost
certain, that state of things was rapidly changing. Fortifications on
the land side were commenced and prosecuted with unremitting labour;
the neighbouring militia were drawn into the town; the reinforcements
detached by General Lincoln, and the remnant of the legion of Pulaski
arrived; and the governor also entered the city, at the head of some
troops which had been stationed at Orangeburg.

The next morning Prevost crossed Ashly River, and encamped just
without cannon shot of the works. The town was summoned to surrender,
and the day was spent in sending and receiving flags. The neutrality
of South Carolina during the war, leaving the question whether that
state should finally belong to Great Britain or the United States, to
be settled in the treaty of peace, was proposed by the garrison, and
rejected by Prevost; who required that they should surrender
themselves prisoners of war. This proposition being also rejected, the
garrison prepared to sustain an assault. But an attempt to carry the
works by storm was too hazardous to be made; and Prevost came to the
prudent resolution of decamping that night, and recrossing Ashly

[Sidenote: Lincoln attacks the British at the ferry but without

The British army passed into the island of St. James, and thence to
that of St. John's, which lies south of Charleston harbour; soon after
which General Lincoln encamped in the neighbourhood, so as to confine
them in a great degree to the island they occupied. This island is
separated from the main land by an inlet, to which the name of Stono
River has been given; and the communication is preserved by a ferry. A
British post was established upon the main land at this ferry, and
works were thrown up in front for its defence. When Prevost commenced
his retreat, and the troops were moving from island to island, the
occasion seemed a fair one for attacking it. Only eight hundred men,
commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Maitland, defended it; but a large
corps still lay on the island. To prevent these troops from supporting
those on the main land, General Moultrie, who commanded in Charleston,
was ordered to pass over a body of militia into James's island, who
should amuse the enemy in St. John's, while a real attack should be
made on the post at the ferry. About seven in the morning, General
Lincoln commenced this attack with about one thousand men; and
continued it with great spirit, until he perceived that strong
reinforcements were crossing over from the island; when he called off
his troops, and retreated, unmolested, to his old ground.

General Moultrie had been unable to execute that part of the plan
which devolved on him. Boats were not in readiness to convey the men
into James's island, and consequently the feint on St. John's was not

The loss of the Americans, in killed and wounded, amounted to
twenty-four officers, and one hundred and twenty-five privates. That
of the British was stated to be rather less.

Three days after this action, the posts at Stono and St. John's were
evacuated. The heat now became too excessive for active service; and
the British army, after establishing a post on the island contiguous
to Port Royal and St. Helena, retired into Georgia and St. Augustine.

The American militia dispersed, leaving General Lincoln at the head of
about eight hundred men; with whom he retired to Sheldon, where his
primary object was to prepare for the next campaign, which it was
supposed would open in October.

The invasion of the southern states wore so serious an aspect, that
Bland's regiment of cavalry, and the remnant of that lately Baylor's,
now commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Washington, with the new levies of
Virginia, were ordered to repair to Charleston, and to place
themselves under the command of General Lincoln. The execution of
these orders was for a time suspended by the invasion of Virginia.

[Sidenote: Invasion of Virginia by General Matthews.]

An expedition against that state had been concerted in the spring
between Sir Henry Clinton and Sir George Collier, the
Commander-in-chief of the British naval force on the American station.
The land troops assigned to this service were commanded by General
Matthews. The transports, on board of which they embarked, were
convoyed by the Admiral in person. On the 9th of May the fleet entered
the Chesapeake, and the next day anchored in Hampton Roads.

Virginia had raised a regiment of artillery for the performance of
garrison duty in the state, which had been distributed along the
eastern frontier; and slight fortifications had been constructed in
the most important situations, which were defensible on the side of
the water, but were not tenable against a military force strong enough
to act on land. Fort Nelson, on the west side of Elizabeth river,
garrisoned by about one hundred and fifty soldiers, commanded by Major
Matthews, was designed to protect the towns of Norfolk and Portsmouth,
which were on each side of the river just above it; and the town of
Gosport, which lies still higher up on a point of land intervening
between two branches of the river. Norfolk and Portsmouth were places
of the most considerable commerce in Virginia. Large supplies for the
army were deposited in them; and the state government had established
at Gosport a marine yard, where ships of war and other vessels were
building, for which naval stores were collected to a very great
amount. The destruction of these vessels and stores, constituted the
principal object of General Matthews.

On the morning of the tenth, the fleet entered Elizabeth river, and
the troops were landed about three miles below the fort, without
opposition. Foreseeing that the works would be attacked the next
morning on the land side, the garrison evacuated the fort in the
night, and took refuge in a deep and extensive swamp, called the
Dismal, which could not be penetrated without difficulty, even by
single persons.

The whole sea-board, on the south side of James' river, being now in
possession of General Matthews, he fixed his head quarters at
Portsmouth, whence small parties were detached to Norfolk, Gosport,
Kemps' landing, and Suffolk, where military and naval stores to a
great amount, and several vessels richly laden, fell into his hands.

This invasion was of short duration. General Matthews, after
destroying the magazines which had been collected in the small towns
near the coast, and the vessels in the rivers, was ordered by Sir
Henry Clinton to return to New York, where he arrived towards the last
of May.

The Admiral and General were both so impressed with the importance of
Portsmouth as a permanent station, that they united in representing to
the Commander-in-chief the advantages to be derived from keeping
possession of it. But, in the opinion of Sir Henry Clinton, the army
did not at that time admit of so many subdivisions; and, with a view
to more interesting objects, Portsmouth was evacuated.


     Discontents in a part of the American army.... Letter from
     General Washington on the subject.... Colonel Van Schaick
     destroys an Indian settlement.... Expedition against the
     Indians meditated.... Fort Fayette surrendered to the
     British.... Invasion of Connecticut.... General Wayne storms
     Stony Point.... Expedition against Penobscot.... Powles Hook
     surprised by Major Lee.... Arrival of Admiral Arbuthnot....
     Of the Count D'Estaing.... Siege of Savannah....
     Unsuccessful attempt to storm that place.... Siege
     raised.... Victory of General Sullivan at Newtown.... Spain
     offers her mediation to the belligerents.... Declares war
     against England.... Letter from General Washington to
     congress respecting the annual formation of the army.... The
     army goes into winter quarters.

[Sidenote: 1779]

The barbarities committed by the Indians, in the course of the
preceding year, on the inhabitants of the western frontiers, had added
motives of mingled resentment and humanity to those of national
interest, for employing a larger force in the protection of that part
of the Union than had heretofore been devoted to it.

General Washington had always believed that it was impossible to
defend the immense western frontier by any chain of posts which could
be established; and that the country would be protected much more
certainly by offensive than by defensive war. His plan was to
penetrate into the heart of the Indian settlements with a force
competent to the destruction of their towns; and also to reduce the
British post at Niagara, which gave its possessors an almost
irresistible influence over the six nations. This plan constituted one
of the various subjects of conference with the committee of congress
in Philadelphia, and received the entire approbation of that body.

The state governments also took a strong interest in the protection of
their western settlements. Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania,
applied, severally, to congress, urging the adoption of such vigorous
measures as would secure the frontiers against a repetition of the
horrors which had been already perpetrated. These papers were referred
to the committee which had been appointed to confer with General
Washington, in conformity with whose report it was resolved, "that the
Commander-in-chief be directed to take efficient measures for the
protection of the inhabitants, and chastisement of the savages."

The Six Nations had made some advances towards acquiring the comforts
of civilized life. Several comfortable houses were to be seen in their
populous villages; and their fertile fields and orchards yielded an
abundant supply of corn and fruit. Some few of their towns were
attached to the United States; but, in general, they were under the
influence of the British. Many of the loyalists had taken refuge among
them, and had added to their strength without diminishing their
ferocity. It was determined to lead a force into these villages,
sufficient to overpower any numbers they could possibly bring into the
field, and to destroy the settlements they had made. To guard against
reinforcements from Canada, means were used to inspire that colony
with fears for itself.

[Sidenote: Discontents in a part of the American army.]

As the army destined for this expedition was about to move, alarming
symptoms of discontent appeared in a part of it. The Jersey brigade,
which had been stationed during the winter at Elizabethtown, was
ordered early in May, to march by regiments. This order was answered
by a letter from General Maxwell, stating that the officers of the
first regiment had delivered a remonstrance to their Colonel,
addressed to the legislature of the state, declaring that, unless
their complaints on the subjects of pay and support should obtain the
immediate attention of that body, they were, at the expiration of
three days, to be considered as having resigned; and requesting the
legislature, in that event, to appoint other officers to succeed them.
They declared, however, their readiness to make every preparation for
obeying the orders which had been given, and to continue their
attention to the regiment until a reasonable time should elapse for
the appointment of their successors. "This," added the letter of
General Maxwell, "is a step they are extremely unwilling to take, but
it is such as I make no doubt they will all take; nothing but
necessity--their not being able to support themselves in time to come,
and being loaded with debts contracted in time past, could have
induced them to resign at so critical a juncture."

The intelligence conveyed in this letter made a serious impression on
the Commander-in-chief. He was strongly attached to the army and to
its interests; had witnessed its virtue and its sufferings; and
lamented sincerely its present distresses. The justice of the
complaints made by the officers could no more be denied, than the
measure they had adopted could be approved. Relying on their
patriotism and on his own influence, he immediately wrote a letter to
General Maxwell, to be laid before them, in which, mingling the
sensibility of a friend with the authority of a general, he addressed
to their understanding and to their love of country, observations
calculated to invite their whole attention to the consequences which
must result from the step they were about to take.

[Sidenote: Letter from General Washington on this subject.]

"The patience and perseverance of the army," proceeds the letter,
"have been, under every disadvantage, such as to do them the highest
honour both at home and abroad, and have inspired me with an unlimited
confidence of their virtue, which has consoled me amidst every
perplexity and reverse of fortune, to which our affairs, in a struggle
of this nature, were necessarily exposed. Now that we have made so
great a progress to the attainment of the end we have in view, so
that we can not fail without a most shameful desertion of our own
interests, any thing like a change of conduct would imply a very
unhappy change of principles, and a forgetfulness, as well of what we
owe to ourselves, as to our country. Did I suppose it possible this
could be the case, even in a single regiment of the army, I should be
mortified and chagrined beyond expression. I should feel it as a wound
given to my own honour, which I consider as embarked with that of the
army at large. But this I believe to be impossible. Any corps that was
about to set an example of the kind, would weigh well the
consequences; and no officer of common discernment and sensibility
would hazard them. If they should stand alone in it, independent of
other consequences, what would be their feelings on reflecting that
they had held themselves out to the world in a point of light inferior
to the rest of the army. Or if their example should be followed, and
become general, how could they console themselves for having been the
foremost in bringing ruin and disgrace upon their country. They would
remember that the army would share a double portion of the general
infamy and distress, and that the character of an American officer
would become as infamous as it is now glorious.

"I confess the appearances in the present instance are disagreeable,
but I am convinced they seem to mean more than they really do. The
Jersey officers have not been outdone by any others in the qualities
either of citizens or soldiers; and I am confident, no part of them
would seriously intend any thing that would be a stain on their former
reputation. The gentlemen can not be in earnest; they have only
reasoned wrong about the means of obtaining a good end, and, on
consideration, I hope and flatter myself they will renounce what must
appear to be improper. At the opening of a campaign, when under
marching orders for an important service, their own honour, duty to
the public and to themselves, and a regard to military propriety, will
not suffer them to persist in a measure which would be a violation of
them all. It will even wound their delicacy, coolly to reflect that
they have hazarded a step, which has an air of dictating terms to
their country, by taking advantage of the necessity of the moment.

"The declaration they have made to the state, at so critical a time,
that unless they obtain relief in the short period of three days, they
must be considered out of the service, has very much that aspect; and
the seeming relaxation of continuing until the state can have a
reasonable time to provide other officers, will be thought only a
superficial veil. I am now to request that you will convey my
sentiments to the gentlemen concerned, and endeavour to make them
sensible that they are in an error. The service for which the
regiment was intended will not admit of delay. It must at all events
march on Monday morning, in the first place to camp, and farther
directions will be given when it arrives. I am sure I shall not be
mistaken in expecting a prompt and cheerful obedience."

The representations of this letter did not completely produce the
desired effect. The officers did not recede from their claims. In an
address to the Commander-in-chief, they expressed their unhappiness
that any act of theirs should give him pain, but proceeded to justify
the step they had taken. Repeated memorials had been presented to
their legislature, which had been received with promises of attention,
but had been regularly neglected. "At length," said they, "we have
lost all confidence in our legislature. Reason and experience forbid
that we should have any. Few of us have private fortunes; many have
families who already are suffering every thing that can be received
from an ungrateful country. Are we then to suffer all the
inconveniences, fatigues, and dangers of a military life, while our
wives and our children are perishing for want of common necessaries at
home;--and that without the most distant prospect of reward, for our
pay is now only nominal? We are sensible that your excellency can not
wish nor desire this from us.

"We are sorry that you should imagine we meant to disobey orders. It
was and still is our determination to march with our regiment, and to
do the duty of officers until the legislature should have a reasonable
time to appoint others, but no longer.

"We beg leave to assure your Excellency, that we have the highest
sense of your ability and virtues;--that executing your orders has
ever given us pleasure;--that we love the service, and we love our
country;--but when that country gets so lost to virtue and justice as
to forget to support its servants, it then becomes their duty to
retire from its service."

This letter was peculiarly embarrassing. To adopt a stern course of
proceeding might hazard the loss of the Jersey line, an event not less
injurious to the service, than painful to himself. To take up the
subject without doing too much for the circumstances of the army,
would be doing too little for the occasion. He therefore declined
taking any other notice of the letter, than to declare through General
Maxwell that, while they continued to do their duty in conformity with
the determination they had expressed, he should only regret the part
they had taken, and should hope they would perceive its impropriety.

The legislature of New Jersey, alarmed at the decisive step taken by
the officers, was at length induced to pay some attention to their
situation; they consenting, on their part, to withdraw their
remonstrance. In the meantime, they continued to perform their duty;
and their march was not delayed by this unpleasant altercation.

In communicating this transaction to congress, General Washington took
occasion to remind that body of his having frequently urged the
absolute necessity of some general and adequate provision for the
officers of the army. "I shall only observe," continued the letter,
"that the distresses in some corps are so great, either where they
were not until lately attached to any particular state, or where the
state has been less provident, that the officers have solicited even
to be supplied with the clothing destined for the common soldiery,
coarse and unsuitable as it was. I had not power to comply with the

"The patience of men animated by a sense of duty and honour, will
support them to a certain point, beyond which it will not go. I doubt
not congress will be sensible of the danger of an extreme in this
respect, and will pardon my anxiety to obviate it."

[Sidenote: Colonel Van Schaick surprises and destroys one of the
Indian settlements.]

Before the troops destined for the grand expedition were put in
motion, an enterprise of less extent was undertaken, which was
completely successful. A plan for surprising the towns of the
Onondagas, one of the nearest of the hostile tribes, having been
formed by General Schuyler, and approved by the Commander-in-chief,
Colonel Van Schaick, assisted by Lieutenant Colonel Willet, and Major
Cochran, marched from fort Schuyler on the morning of the 19th of
April, at the head of between five and six hundred men; and, on the
third day, reached the point of destination. The whole settlement was
destroyed, after which the detachment returned to fort Schuyler
without the loss of a single man. For this handsome display of talents
as a partisan, the thanks of congress were voted to Colonel Van
Schaick, and the officers and soldiers under his command.

[Sidenote: Expedition against the Indians meditated.]

The cruelties exercised by the Indians in the course of the preceding
year, had given a great degree of importance to the expedition now
meditated against them; and the relative military strength and
situation of the two parties, rendered it improbable that any other
offensive operations could be carried on by the Americans in the
course of the present campaign. The army under the command of Sir
Henry Clinton, exclusive of the troops in the southern department, was
computed at between sixteen and seventeen thousand men. The American
army, the largest division of which lay at Middlebrook, under the
immediate command of General Washington, was rather inferior to that
of the British in real strength. The grand total, except those in the
southern and western country, including officers of every description,
amounted to about sixteen thousand. Three thousand of these were in
New England under the command of General Gates; and the remaining
thirteen thousand were cantoned on both sides the North River. The
bare statement of numbers, must show the incompetency of the American
army to the expulsion of the British from either New York or Rhode
Island. On their part, therefore, the plan of the campaign was,
necessarily, defensive; and the hazards and difficulties attending the
execution of even a defensive plan were considerable.

Independent of an extensive coast, at all places accessible to the
invading army, the Hudson, penetrating deep into the country which was
to be the theatre of action, gave great advantages in their military
operations to those who commanded the water.

After the destruction of forts Clinton and Montgomery in 1777, it had
been determined to construct the fortifications intended for the
future defence of the North River, at West Point, a position which,
being more completely embosomed in the hills, was deemed more
defensible. The works had been prosecuted with unremitting industry,
but were far from being completed.

Some miles below West Point, about the termination of the Highlands,
is King's Ferry, where the great road, affording the most convenient
communication between the middle and eastern states, crosses the North
River. The ferry is completely commanded by the two opposite points of
land. That on the west side, a rough and elevated piece of ground, is
denominated Stony Point; and the other, on the east side, a flat neck
of land projecting far into the water, is called Verplank's Point. The
command of King's Ferry was an object worth the attention of either
army; and Washington had comprehended the points which protect it
within his plan of defence for the Highlands. A small but strong work,
termed fort Fayette, was completed at Verplank's, and was garrisoned
by a company commanded by Captain Armstrong. The works on Stony Point
were unfinished. As the season for active operations approached, Sir
Henry Clinton formed a plan for opening the campaign with a brilliant
_coup de main_ up the North River; and, towards the latter end of May,
made preparations for the enterprise.

[Sidenote: May.]

These preparations were immediately communicated to General
Washington, who was confident that the British general meditated an
attack on the forts in the highlands, or designed to take a position
between those forts and Middlebrook, in order to interrupt the
communication between the different parts of the American army, to
prevent their reunion, and to beat them in detail. Measures were
instantly taken to counteract either of these designs. The
intelligence from New York was communicated to Generals Putnam and
M'Dougal, who were ordered to hold themselves in readiness to march;
and, on the 29th of May, the army moved by divisions from Middlebrook
towards the highlands. On the 30th, the British army, commanded by Sir
Henry Clinton in person, and convoyed by Sir George Collier, proceeded
up the river; and General Vaughan, at the head of the largest
division, landed next morning, about eight miles below Verplank's. The
other division, under the particular command of General Patterson, but
accompanied by Sir Henry Clinton, advancing farther up, landed on the
west side within three miles of Stony Point.

[Sidenote: June 1.]

[Sidenote: Fort Fayette surrendered to the British.]

That place being immediately abandoned, General Patterson took
possession of it on the same afternoon. He dragged some heavy cannon
and mortars to the summit of the hill in the course of the night; and,
at five next morning, opened a battery on fort Fayette, at the
distance of about one thousand yards. During the following night, two
galleys passed the fort, and, anchoring above it, prevented the escape
of the garrison by water; while General Vaughan invested it closely by
land. No means of defending the fort, or of saving themselves
remaining, the garrison became prisoners of war. Immediate directions
were given for completing the works at both posts, and for putting
Stony Point, in particular, in a strong state of defence.

It is scarcely supposable that the views of Sir Henry Clinton in
moving up the river, were limited to this single acquisition. The
means employed were so disproportioned to the object, as to justify a
belief that he contemplated farther and more important conquests.
Whatever may have been his plans, the measures of precaution taken by
Washington counteracted their execution; and before Clinton was in a
situation to proceed against West Point, General M'Dougal was so
strengthened, and the American army took such a position on the strong
grounds about the Hudson, that the enterprise became too hazardous to
be farther prosecuted.

[Sidenote: July.]

[Sidenote: Invasion of Connecticut.]

After completing the fortifications on both sides the river, at King's
Ferry, Sir Henry Clinton placed a strong garrison in each fort, and
proceeded down the river to Philipsburg. The relative situation of the
hostile armies presenting insuperable obstacles to any grand
operation, they could be employed offensively only on detached
expeditions. Connecticut from its contiguity to New York, and its
extent of sea coast, was peculiarly exposed to invasion. The numerous
small cruisers which plied in the Sound, to the great annoyance of
British commerce, and the large supplies of provisions drawn from the
adjacent country, for the use of the continental army, furnished great
inducements to Sir Henry Clinton to direct his enterprises
particularly against that state. He also hoped to draw General
Washington from his impregnable position on the North River into the
low country, and thus obtain an opportunity of striking at some part
of his army, or of seizing the posts, which were the great object of
the campaign. With these views, he planned an expedition against
Connecticut, the command of which was given to Governor Tryon, who
reached New Haven bay on the 5th of July, with about two thousand six
hundred men.

General Washington was at the time on the lines, examining in person
the condition of the works on Stony and Verplank's Points; in
consequence of which, the intelligence which was transmitted to head
quarters that the fleet had sailed, could not be immediately
communicated to the governor of Connecticut, and the first intimation
which that state received of its danger, was given by the appearance
of the enemy. The militia assembled in considerable numbers with
alacrity; but the British effected a landing, and took possession of
the town. After destroying the military and naval stores found in the
place, they re-embarked, and proceeded westward to Fairfield, which
was reduced to ashes. The good countenance shown by the militia at
this place is attested by the apology made by General Tryon for the
wanton destruction of private property, which disgraced his conduct.
"The village was burnt," he says, "to resent the fire of the rebels
from their houses, and to mask our retreat."

[Sidenote: July.]

From Fairfield the fleet crossed the Sound to Huntingdon bay, where it
remained until the eleventh, when it recrossed that water, after
which the troops were landed in the night on the low pasture, a
peninsula on the east side of the bay of Norwalk. About the same time,
a much larger detachment from the British army directed its course
towards Horse Neck, and made demonstrations of a design to penetrate
into the country in that direction.

[Sidenote: July.]

On the first intelligence that Connecticut was invaded, General
Parsons, a native of that state, had been directed by General
Washington to hasten to the scene of action. Placing himself at the
head of about one hundred and fifty continental troops, who were
supported by considerable bodies of militia, he attacked the British
in the morning of the twelfth, as soon as they were in motion, and
kept up an irregular distant fire throughout the day. But being too
weak to prevent the destruction of any particular town on the coast,
Norwalk was reduced to ashes; after which the British re-embarked, and
returned to Huntingdon bay, there to wait for reinforcements. At this
place, however, Tryon received orders to return to the White Stone;
where, in a conference between Sir Henry Clinton and Sir George
Collier, it was determined to proceed against New London with an
increased force.

On the invasion of Connecticut, the Commander-in-chief was prompt in
his exertions to send continental troops from the nearest encampments
to its aid; but, before they could afford any real service, Sir Henry
Clinton found it necessary to recall Tryon to the Hudson.

General Washington had planned an enterprise against the posts at
King's Ferry, comprehending a double attack, to be made at the same
time, on both. But the difficulty of a perfect co-operation of
detachments, incapable of communicating with each other, determined
him to postpone the attack on Verplank's, and to make that part of the
plan dependent on the success of the first. His whole attention
therefore was turned to Stony Point; and the troops destined for this
critical service, proceeded on it as against a single object.

[Sidenote: July.]

The execution of the plan was entrusted to General Wayne, who
commanded the light infantry of the army. Secrecy was deemed so much
more essential to success than numbers, that no addition was made to
the force already on the lines. One brigade was ordered to commence
its march, so as to reach the scene of action in time to cover the
troops engaged in the attack, should any unlooked-for disaster befall
them; and Major Lee of the light dragoons, who had been eminently
useful in obtaining the intelligence which led to the enterprise, was
associated with General Wayne, as far as cavalry could be employed in
such a service. The night of the fifteenth, and the hour of twelve,
were chosen for the assault.

Stony Point is a commanding hill, projecting far into the Hudson,
which washes three-fourths of its base. The remaining fourth is, in a
great measure, covered by a deep marsh, commencing near the river on
the upper side, and continuing into it below. Over this marsh there is
only one crossing place; but at its junction with the river, is a
sandy beach, passable at low tide. On the summit of this hill stood
the fort, which was furnished with heavy ordnance. Several
breast-works and strong batteries were advanced in front of the main
work; and, about half way down the hill, were two rows of abattis. The
batteries were calculated to command the beach and the crossing place
of the marsh, and to rake and enfilade any column which might be
advancing from either of those points towards the fort. In addition to
these defences, several vessels of war were stationed in the river,
and commanded the ground at the foot of the hill. The garrison
consisted of about six hundred men, commanded by Colonel Johnson.

General Wayne arrived about eight in the afternoon at Spring Steel's,
one and a half miles from the fort; and made his dispositions for the

[Sidenote: General Wayne surprises and takes Stony Point.]

It was intended to attack the works on the right and left flanks at
the same instant. The regiments of Febiger and of Meigs, with Major
Hull's detachment, formed the right column; and Butler's regiment,
with two companies under Major Murfree, formed the left. One hundred
and fifty volunteers, led by Lieutenant Colonel Fleury and Major
Posey, constituted the van of the right; and one hundred volunteers
under Major Stewart, composed the van of the left. At half past eleven
the two columns moved to the assault, the van of each with unloaded
muskets, and fixed bayonets. They were each preceded by a forlorn hope
of twenty men, the one commanded by Lieutenant Gibbon, and the other
by Lieutenant Knox. They reached the marsh undiscovered; and, at
twenty minutes after twelve, commenced the assault.

Both columns rushed forward under a tremendous fire. Surmounting every
obstacle, they entered the works at the point of the bayonet; and,
without discharging a single musket, obtained possession of the fort.

The humanity displayed by the conquerors was not less conspicuous, nor
less honourable than their courage. Not an individual suffered after
resistance had ceased.

All the troops engaged in this perilous service manifested a degree of
ardour and impetuosity, which proved them to be capable of the most
difficult enterprises; and all distinguished themselves, whose
situation enabled them to do so. Colonel Fleury was the first to enter
the fort and strike the British standard. Major Posey mounted the
works almost at the same instant, and was the first to give the watch
word--"The fort's our own."--Lieutenants Gibbon and Knox performed
the service allotted to them with a degree of intrepidity which could
not be surpassed. Of twenty men who constituted the party of the
former, seventeen were killed or wounded.

Sixty-three of the garrison were killed, including two officers. The
prisoners amounted to five hundred and forty-three, among whom were
one lieutenant colonel, four captains, and twenty subaltern officers.
The military stores taken in the fort were considerable.[18]

[Footnote 18: The author was in the covering party, visited the fort
next day, and conversed with the officers who had been engaged in
storming the works.]

The loss sustained by the assailants was not proportioned to the
apparent danger of the enterprise. The killed and wounded did not
exceed one hundred men; General Wayne, who marched with Febiger's
regiment in the right column, received a slight wound in the head
which stunned him for a time, but did not compel him to leave the
column. Being supported by his aids, he entered the fort with a
regiment. Lieutenant Colonel Hay was also among the wounded.

Although the design upon fort Fayette had yielded to the desire of
securing the success of the attack on Stony Point, it had not been
abandoned. Two brigades under General M'Dougal had been ordered to
approach the works on Verplank's, in which Colonel Webster commanded,
and be in readiness to attack them the instant General Wayne should
obtain possession of Stony Point. That this detachment might not
permit the favourable moment to pass unimproved, Wayne had been
requested to direct the messenger who should convey the intelligence
of his success to the Commander-in-chief, to pass through M'Dougal's
camp, and give him advice of that event. He was also requested to turn
the cannon of the fort against Verplank's, and the vessels in the
river. The last orders were executed, and a heavy cannonade was opened
on fort Fayette, and on the vessels, which compelled them to fall down
the river. Through some misconception, never explained, the messenger
despatched by General Wayne did not call on M'Dougal, but proceeded
directly to head quarters. Thus, every advantage expected from the
first impression made by the capture of Stony Point was lost; and the
garrison had full leisure to recover from the surprise occasioned by
that event, and to prepare for an attack. This change of circumstances
made it necessary to change the plan of operation. General Howe was
directed to take the command of M'Dougal's detachment, to which some
pieces of heavy artillery were to be annexed. He was ordered, after
effecting a breach in the walls, to make the dispositions for an
assault, and to demand a surrender; but not to attempt a storm until
it should be dark. To these orders, explicit instructions were
added not to hazard his party by remaining before Verplank's, after
the British should cross Croton River in force.

[Illustration: The Ruins of Stony Point--On the Hudson

_Here, on the night of July 16, 1779, Brigadier-General (Mad Anthony)
Wayne led his troops up the hill in darkness, surprised the British
garrison and captured this British stronghold at the point of the
bayonet. Not a shot was fired by the Americans, who lost fifteen
killed and eighty-three wounded; the British sixty-three killed and
533 prisoners. The fortifications were destroyed and the place, being
untenable, was abandoned shortly afterwards by the Americans._]

Through some unaccountable negligence in the persons charged with the
execution of these orders, the battering artillery was not accompanied
with suitable ammunition; and the necessary intrenching tools were not
brought. These omissions were supplied the next day; but it was then
too late to proceed against Verplank's.

On receiving intelligence of the loss of Stony Point, and of the
danger to which the garrison of fort Fayette was exposed, Sir Henry
Clinton relinquished his views on Connecticut, and made a forced march
to Dobbs' Ferry. Some troops were immediately embarked to pass up the
river, and a light corps was pushed forward to the Croton. This
movement relieved fort Fayette.

The failure of the attempt to obtain possession of Verplank's Point
leaving that road of communication still closed, diminished the
advantages which had been expected to result from the enterprise so
much, that it was deemed unadviseable to maintain Stony Point. On
reconnoitring the ground, General Washington believed that the place
could not be rendered secure with a garrison of less than fifteen
hundred men; a number which could not be spared from the army without
weakening it too much for farther operations. He determined therefore
to evacuate Stony Point, and retire to the Highlands. As soon as this
resolution was executed, Sir Henry Clinton repossessed himself of that
post, repaired the fortifications, and placed a stronger garrison in
it; after which he resumed his former situation at Philipsburg.

The two armies watched each other for some time. At length, Sir Henry
Clinton, finding himself unable to attack Washington in the strong
position he had taken, or to draw him from it, and being desirous of
transferring the theatre of active war to the south, withdrew into
York Island, and was understood to be strengthening the fortifications
erected for its defence, as preparatory to the large detachments he
intended making to reinforce the southern army.

Although this movement was made principally with a view to southern
operations, it was in some degree hastened by the opinion, that New
York required immediate additional protection during the absence of
the fleet, which was about to sail for the relief of Penobscot.

[Sidenote: Expedition against Penobscot.]

Early in June, Colonel M'Clean, with six hundred and fifty men, had
penetrated from Nova Scotia into the eastern parts of Maine, and taken
possession of a strong piece of ground on the Penobscot, which he had
begun to fortify.

[Sidenote: July 25.]

The state of Massachusetts, alarmed at an invasion which threatened a
serious diminution of territory, determined to dislodge him. A
respectable fleet, commanded by Commodore Saltonstal, and an army of
near four thousand men, under General Lovell, were prepared with so
much celerity, that the whole armament appeared in the Penobscot as
early as the 25th of July.

M'Clean had taken possession of a peninsula on the eastern side of
Penobscot, and had intrenched the isthmus connecting it with the
continent. The part towards the river was steep and difficult of
access; and was also defended by his frigates and batteries, the
principal of which was constructed about the centre of the peninsula.

After being repulsed in his first attempt, General Lovell effected a
landing on the western part of the peninsula, where he ascended a
precipice of two hundred feet; and, with the loss of only fifty men
killed and wounded, drove the party which defended it from the ground.
A battery was erected within seven hundred and fifty yards of the main
work of the besieged, and a warm cannonade was kept up for several
days on both sides.

Perceiving the difficulty of carrying the place with a militia
impatient to return to their homes, General Lovell represented his
situation to the government of Massachusetts, who applied to General
Gates, then commanding at Providence, for a reinforcement of four
hundred continental troops. This request was readily granted, and
Jackson's regiment was ordered to Penobscot. In the mean time an
ineffectual cannonade was continued, and preparations were made to
storm the works on the arrival of the expected reinforcements.

Such was the posture of affairs on the 13th of August, when Lovell
received information that Sir George Collier had entered the river
with a superior naval force. He re-embarked his whole army the
following night, and drew up his flotilla in a crescent across the
river, as if determined to maintain its position. This show of
resistance was made in the hope of stopping Sir George Collier until
the land forces on board the transports could be conveyed up the
river, and disembarked on the western shore. But the British general
was too confident in his strength to permit this stratagem to succeed;
and, as he approached, the Americans sought for safety in flight. A
general chase and unresisted destruction ensued. The ships of war were
blown up, and the transports fled in the utmost confusion up the
river. Being pursued by the British squadron, the troops landed in a
wild uncultivated country; and were obliged to explore their way,
without provisions, through a pathless wilderness, for more than a
hundred miles. Exhausted with famine and fatigue, they at length
gained the settled parts of the country, after having lost several men
who perished in the woods.

While Sir Henry Clinton continued encamped just above Haerlem, with
his upper posts at Kingsbridge, and the American army preserved its
station in the Highlands, a bold plan was formed for surprising a
British post at Powles Hook, which was executed with great address by
Major Lee.

This officer was employed on the west side of the river with
directions to observe the situation of the British in Stony Point,
but, principally, to watch the motions of their main army. While his
parties scoured the country, he obtained intelligence which suggested
the idea of surprising and carrying off the garrison at Powles Hook, a
point of land on the west side of the Hudson, immediately opposite the
town of New York, penetrating deep into the river. On the point
nearest New York, some works had been constructed, which were
garrisoned by four or five hundred men.

A deep ditch, into which the water of the river flowed, having over it
a drawbridge connected with a barred gate, had been cut across the
isthmus, so as to make the Hook, in reality, an island. This ditch
could be passed only at low water. Thirty paces within it was a row of
abattis running into the river; and some distance in front of it, is a
creek fordable only in two places.

This difficulty of access, added to the remoteness of the nearest
corps of the American army, impressed the garrison with the opinion
that they were perfectly secure; and this opinion produced an
unmilitary remissness in the commanding officer, which did not escape
the vigilance of Lee.

On receiving his communications, General Washington was inclined to
favour the enterprise they suggested; but withheld his full assent,
until he was satisfied that the assailants would be able to make good
their retreat.

The Hackensack, which communicates with the waters of the Hudson below
New York, runs almost parallel with that river quite to its source,
and is separated from it only a few miles. This neck is still farther
narrowed by a deep creek which divides it, and empties into the
Hackensack below fort Lee. West of that river runs the Passaick, which
unites with it near Newark, and forms another long and narrow neck of
land. From Powles Hook to the new bridge, the first place where the
Hackensack could be crossed without boats, the distance is fourteen
miles; and from the North River to the road leading from the one place
to the other, there are three points of interception, the nearest of
which is less than two miles, and the farthest not more than three.
The British were encamped in full force along the North River,
opposite to these points of interception. To diminish the danger of
the retreat, it was intended to occupy the roads leading through the
mountains of the Hudson to the Hackensack with a select body of

Every preparatory arrangement being made, the night of the eighteenth
of August was fixed on for the enterprise. A detachment from the
division of Lord Stirling, including three hundred men designed for
the expedition, was ordered down as a foraging party. As there was
nothing unusual in this movement, it excited no suspicion. Lord
Stirling followed with five hundred men, and encamped at the new

[Sidenote: The British post at Powles Hook surprised by Major Lee and
the garrison made prisoners.]

Major Lee, at the head of three hundred men, took the road through the
mountains which ran parallel to the North River; and, having secured
all the passes into York Island, reached the creek which surrounds the
Hook between two and three in the morning. He passed first the creek,
and then the ditch undiscovered; and, about three in the morning,
entered the main work, and with the loss of only two killed and three
wounded, made one hundred and fifty-nine prisoners, including three
officers. Very few of the British were killed. Major Sutherland, who
commanded the garrison, threw himself with forty or fifty Hessians
into a strong redoubt, which it was thought unadviseable to attack,
because the time occupied in carrying it might endanger the retreat.
Wasting no time in destroying what could easily be replaced, Major Lee
hastened to bring off his prisoners and his detachment.

To avoid the danger of retreating up the narrow neck of land which has
already been described, some boats had been brought in the course of
the night to Dow's Ferry on the Hackensack, not far from Powles Hook.
The officer who guarded them was directed to remain until the arrival
of the troops engaged in the expedition, which, it was understood,
would happen before day. The light having made its appearance without
any intelligence from Major Lee, the officer having charge of the
boats conjectured that the attack had been postponed; and, to avoid
discovery, retired with them to Newark. The head of the retreating
column soon afterwards reached the ferry; and, fatigued as they were
by the toilsome march of the preceding night, were compelled to pass
as rapidly as possible up the narrow neck of land between the two
rivers to the new bridge. A horseman was despatched with this
information to Lord Stirling, and the line of march was resumed.

About nine in the preceding evening, Major Buskirk had been detached
up the North River with a considerable part of the garrison of Powles
Hook, and some other troops, for the purpose of falling in with the
American party supposed to be foraging about the English

On receiving intelligence of the disappointment respecting the boats,
Lord Stirling took the precaution to detach Colonel Ball with two
hundred fresh men to meet Lee, and cover his retreat. Just after Ball
had passed, Buskirk entered the main road, and fired on his rear.
Taking it for granted that this was only the advanced corps of a large
detachment sent to intercept the party retreating from Powles Hook,
Ball made a circuit to avoid the enemy; and Buskirk, finding a
detachment he had not expected, took the same measure to secure his
own retreat. The two parties, narrowly missing each other, returned to
their respective points of departure; and Lee reached the new bridge
without interruption.[19]

[Footnote 19: The author states these facts from his own observation,
and conversations with other officers of the detachment.]

This critical enterprise reflected much honour on the partisan with
whom it originated, and by whom it was conducted. General Washington
announced it to the army in his orders with much approbation; and
congress bestowed upon it a degree of applause more adapted to the
talent displayed in performing the service than to its magnitude.

[Sidenote: Arrival of Admiral Arbuthnot.]

A few days after the surprise of Powles Hook, the long expected fleet
from Europe, under the command of Admiral Arbuthnot, having on board a
reinforcement for the British army, arrived at New York. This
reinforcement however did not enable Sir Henry Clinton to enter
immediately on that active course of offensive operations which he
had meditated. It was soon followed by the Count D'Estaing, who
arrived on the southern coast of America with a powerful fleet; after
which the British general deemed it necessary to turn all his
attention to his own security. Rhode Island, and the posts up the
North River were evacuated, and the whole army was collected in New
York, the fortifications of which were carried on with unremitting

[Sidenote: St. Lucia taken by the British. St. Vincents and Grenada
by the French.]

The Count D'Estaing and Admiral Byron, having sailed about the same
time from the coast of North America, met in the West Indies, where
the war was carried on with various success. St. Lucia surrendered to
the British, in compensation for which the French took St. Vincents
and Grenada. About the time of the capture of the latter island,
D'Estaing received reinforcements which gave him a decided naval
superiority; after which a battle was fought between the two hostile
fleets, in which the Count claimed the victory, and in which so many
of the British ships were disabled that the Admiral was compelled to
retire into port in order to refit.

The earnest representations made on the part of the United States had
prevailed on the cabinet of Versailles to instruct the Count D'Estaing
to afford them all the aid in his power; and the present moment seemed
a fit one for carrying these orders into execution. Letters from
General Lincoln, from the executive of South Carolina, and from the
French consul at Charleston, urged him to pay a visit to the southern
states; and represented the situation of the British in Georgia to be
such that his appearance would insure the destruction of the army in
that quarter, and the recovery of the state.

[Sidenote: Count D'Estaing with his fleet arrives on the southern
coast of America.]

Yielding to these solicitations, the Count sailed with twenty-two
ships of the line, and eleven frigates, having on board six thousand
soldiers, and arrived so suddenly on the southern coast of America,
that the Experiment of fifty guns, and three frigates, fell into his
hands. A vessel was sent to Charleston with information of his
arrival, and a plan was concerted for the siege of Savannah. D'Estaing
was to land three thousand men at Beaulieu on the 11th of September,
and Lincoln was to cross the Savannah on the same day with one
thousand Americans, and effect a junction with him.

The town of Savannah was, at that time, the head quarters of General
Prevost. Apprehending no immediate danger, he had weakened the
garrison by establishing several out-posts in Georgia; and by leaving
Colonel Maitland with a strong detachment in the island of Port Royal,
in South Carolina.

On the appearance of the French fleet, expresses were despatched to
Colonel Maitland and to all the out-posts, directing the troops to
repair without loss of time to Savannah. These orders were promptly
obeyed; and, on the 10th of September, the several detachments in
Georgia had all arrived in safety, except the sick and convalescents
of the garrison of Sunbury, who were intercepted.

[Sidenote: September.]

[Sidenote: Siege of Savannah by the combined armies.]

On the 11th, General Lincoln reached Zubly's Ferry, and, on the 15th,
was assured that the French had disembarked in force. A junction of
the two armies was formed the next day before the town of Savannah.

On the night of the 12th, the Count D'Estaing had landed about three
thousand men at Beaulieu; and the next day, before the arrival of
General Lincoln, had summoned the garrison to surrender to the arms of
the King of France. Being desirous of gaining time, General Prevost
answered the summons in such a manner as to encourage the opinion that
he designed to capitulate; in the expectation of which a suspension of
hostilities for twenty-four hours was granted. In that important
interval, Colonel Maitland arrived from Beaufort, with the troops
which had been stationed at that place.

As the French were in possession of the main channel by which the
Savannah communicates with the sea, Colonel Maitland entered the town
by a route which had been deemed impracticable. He came round by
Dawfuskie, an island north of the mouth of the river, and landing in a
deep marsh, drew his boats through it into the Savannah, above the
place where the ships lay at anchor, and thence made his way by small
parties into the town.

On receiving this reinforcement, the resolution was taken to defend
the place to the last extremity; and, the next day, this determination
was communicated to the Count D'Estaing.

[Sidenote: September.]

After bringing up the heavy ordnance and stores from the fleet, the
besieging army broke ground; and, by the first of October, had pushed
their sap within three hundred yards of the abattis on the left of the
British lines. Several batteries were opened on the besieged which
played almost incessantly upon their works, but made no impression on

The situation of D'Estaing was becoming critical. More time had
already been consumed on the coast of Georgia than he had supposed
would be necessary for the destruction of the British force in that
state. He became uneasy for the possessions of France in the West
Indies, and apprehensive for the safety of the ships under his
command. The naval officers remonstrated strenuously against longer
exposing his fleet on an insecure coast, at a tempestuous season of
the year, and urged the danger of being overtaken by a British
squadron, when broken and scattered by a storm, with a degree of
persevering earnestness which the Count found himself incapable of

In a few days the lines of the besiegers might have been carried by
regular approaches, into the works of the besieged, which would have
rendered the capture of the town and garrison inevitable. But
D'Estaing declared that he could devote no more time to this object;
and it only remained to raise the siege, or to attempt the works by
storm. The latter part of the alternative was adopted.

On the left of the allied army, was a swampy hollow way which afforded
a cover for troops advancing on the right flank of the besieged, to a
point within fifty yards of their principal work. It was determined to
march to the main attack along this hollow; and, at the same time, to
direct feints against other parts of the lines.

[Sidenote: Unsuccessful attempt to storm it.]

On the morning of the 9th of October, before day, a heavy cannonade
and bombardment were commenced from all the batteries, as preliminary
to the assault. About three thousand five hundred French, and one
thousand Americans, of whom between six and seven hundred were
regulars, and the residue militia of Charleston, advanced in three
columns, led by D'Estaing and Lincoln, aided by the principal officers
of both nations, and made a furious assault on the British lines.
Their reception was warmer than had been expected. The fire from the
batteries of the besieged reached every part of the columns of the
assailants which had emerged from the swamp, and did great execution.
Yet the allied troops advanced with unabated ardour, passed through
the abattis, crossed the ditch, and mounted the parapet. Both the
French and Americans planted their standards on the walls, and were
killed in great numbers, while endeavouring to force their way into
the works. For about fifty minutes, the contest was extremely
obstinate. At length, the columns of the assailants began to relax,
and a pause was manifested in the assault.

In this critical moment, Major Glaziers, at the head of a body of
grenadiers and marines, rushing suddenly from the lines, threw himself
on those who had made their way into the redoubts, and drove them over
the ditch and abattis into the hollow which they had marched to the
attack. It became apparent that farther perseverance could produce no
advantage, and a retreat was ordered.

In this unsuccessful attempt, the French lost in killed and wounded,
about seven hundred men. Among the latter, were the Count D'Estaing
himself, Major General De Fontanges, and several other officers of
distinction. The continental troops lost two hundred and thirty-four
men, and the Charleston militia, who, though associated with them in
danger, were more fortunate, had one captain killed, and six privates

The loss of the garrison was astonishingly small. In killed and
wounded, it amounted only to fifty-five. So great was the advantage
of the cover afforded by their works.

[Sidenote: The siege raised.]

[Sidenote: October 18.]

After this repulse, the Count D'Estaing announced to General Lincoln,
his determination to raise the siege. The remonstrances of that
officer were ineffectual; and the removal of the heavy ordnance and
stores was commenced. This being accomplished, both armies moved from
their ground on the evening of the 18th of October. The Americans,
recrossing the Savannah at Zubly's Ferry, again encamped in South
Carolina, and the French re-embarked.

Although the issue of this enterprise was the source of severe chagrin
and mortification, the prudence of General Lincoln suppressed every
appearance of dissatisfaction, and the armies separated with
manifestations of reciprocal esteem.

The hopes which had brought the militia into the field being
disappointed, they dispersed; and the affairs of the southern states
wore a more gloomy aspect than at any former period.

On receiving intelligence of the situation of Lincoln, congress passed
a resolution requesting General Washington to order the North Carolina
troops, and such others as could be spared from the northern army, to
the aid of that in the south; and assuring the states of South
Carolina and Georgia of the attention of government to their
preservation; but requesting them, for their own defence, to comply
with the recommendations formerly made respecting the completion of
their continental regiments, and the government of their militia while
in actual service.

During these transactions in the south, the long meditated expedition
against the Indians was prosecuted with success.

The largest division of the western army was to assemble at Wyoming,
on the main branch of the Susquehanna, and General Sullivan expected
to leave that place in the month of June. Such, however, were the
delays in procuring provisions and military stores, that it was the
last of July[20] before he could move from the place of rendezvous.

[Footnote 20: While Sullivan was preparing to invade their country,
the savages were not inactive. At the head of a small party of whites
and Indians, Joseph Brandt fell upon the frontiers of New York,
murdered several of the inhabitants, carried others into captivity,
and burnt several houses. He was pursued by about one hundred and
fifty militia, whom he drew into an ambuscade, and entirely defeated.
A few days afterwards, Captain M'Donald, at the head of a small party,
of whom a third were British, took a fort on the west branch of the
Susquehanna, and made the garrison, amounting to thirty men, prisoners
of war. The women and children, contrary to the usage of Indians, were
permitted to retire into the settled country.--_Gordon._]

[Sidenote: August.]

Another body of troops, designed to compose a part of the western
army, had passed the winter on the Mohawk. On the 22d of August, these
two divisions united, and the whole army, amounting to five thousand
men, marched up the Tyoga, which led into the heart of the Indian

Such extensive and tedious preparations could not be made unobserved.
The plan of operations contemplated by Sullivan seems to have been
completely understood; and, notwithstanding the vast superiority of
his force, the Indians determined to defend their country. They
resolved to risk a general action for its preservation, and selected
the ground for the conflict with judgment.

About a mile in front of Newtown, they collected their whole force,
estimated by General Sullivan at fifteen hundred men, but by
themselves at only eight hundred, commanded by the two Butlers, Grey,
Johnson, M'Donald, and Brandt. Five companies of whites, calculated at
two hundred men, were united with them. They had constructed a
breast-work about half a mile in length, on a piece of rising ground.
The right flank of this work was covered by the river, which, bending
to the right, and winding round their rear, exposed only their front
and left to an attack. On the left, was a high ridge nearly parallel
to the general course of the river, terminating somewhat below the
breast-work; and still farther to the left, was another ridge running
in the same direction, and leading to the rear of the American army.
The ground was covered with pine interspersed with low shrub-oaks,
many of which, for the purpose of concealing their works, had been cut
up and stuck in front of them, so as to exhibit the appearance of
being still growing. The road, after crossing a deep brook at the foot
of the hill, turned to the right, and ran nearly parallel to the
breast-work, so as to expose the whole flank of the army to their
fire, if it should advance without discovering their position.

Parties communicating with each other were stationed on both hills, so
as to fall on the right flank and rear of Sullivan, as soon as the
action should commence.

[Sidenote: August.]

About eleven in the morning of the 29th of August, this work was
discovered by Major Par, who commanded the advance guard of the army;
upon which, General Hand formed the light infantry in a wood, about
four hundred yards distant from the enemy, and stood upon his ground
until the main body should arrive. In the mean time, a continual
skirmishing was kept up between Par's rifle corps, and small parties
of Indians who sallied from their works, and suddenly retreated,
apparently with the hope of being incautiously pursued.

Conjecturing that the hills on his right were occupied by the savages,
Sullivan ordered General Poor to take possession of that which led
into his rear, and, thence, to turn the left, and gain the rear, of
the breast-work; while Hand, aided by the artillery, should attack in
front. These orders were promptly executed. While the artillery played
on the works, Poor pushed up the mountain, and a sharp conflict
commenced, which was sustained for some time, with considerable spirit
on both sides. Poor continued to advance rapidly, pressing the
Indians before him at the point of the bayonet, and occasionally
firing on them. They retreated from tree to tree, keeping up an
irregular fire, until he gained the summit of the hill. Perceiving
that their flank was completely uncovered by this movement, and that
they were in danger of being surrounded, the savages abandoned their
breast-work, and, crossing the river, fled with the utmost

[Sidenote: Victory of General Sullivan at Newtown.]

This victory cost the Americans about thirty men. The ascertained loss
of the Indians was also inconsiderable. But they were so intimidated,
that every idea of farther resistance was abandoned. As Sullivan
advanced, they continued to retreat before him without harassing his
main body, or even skirmishing with his detachments, except in a
single instance.

He penetrated far into the heart of their country, which his parties
scoured, and laid waste in every direction. Houses, corn-fields,
gardens, and fruit trees, shared one common fate; and Sullivan
executed strictly the severe but necessary orders he had received, to
render the country completely uninhabitable for the present, and thus
to compel the hostile Indians, by want of food, to remove to a greater

The objects of the expedition being accomplished, Sullivan returned to
Easton in Pennsylvania, having lost only forty men by sickness and
the enemy.

The devastation of the country has been spoken of with some degree of
disapprobation; but this sentiment is the result rather of an amiable
disposition in the human mind to condemn whatever may have the
appearance of tending to aggravate the miseries of war, than of
reflection. Circumstances existed which reconciled to humanity this
seeming departure from it. Great Britain possessed advantages which
ensured a controlling influence over the Indians, and kept them in
almost continual war with the United States. Their habitual ferocity
seemed to have derived increased virulence from the malignity of the
whites who had taken refuge among them; and there was real foundation
for the opinion that an annual repetition of the horrors of Wyoming
could be prevented only by disabling the savages from perpetrating
them. No means in the power of the United States promised so certainly
to effect this desirable object, as the removal of neighbours whose
hostility could be diminished only by terror, and whose resentments
were to be assuaged only by fear.

While Sullivan laid waste the country on the Susquehanna, another
expedition under Colonel Brodhead, was carried on from Pittsburg up
the Alleghany, against the Mingo, Munscy, and Seneca tribes. At the
head of between six and seven hundred men, he advanced two hundred
miles up the river, and destroyed the villages and corn-fields on its
head branches. Here too the Indians were unable to resist the invading

After one unsuccessful skirmish, they abandoned their villages to a
destruction which was inevitable, and sought for personal safety in
their woods.

On receiving the communications of General Sullivan, congress passed a
vote approving his conduct, and that of his army. That approbation,
however, seems not to have extended beyond his conduct in the Indian
country. His demands for military stores for the expedition had been
so high; in his conversations with his officers, he had so freely
censured the government for its failure to comply with those demands;
in general orders, he had so openly complained of inattention to the
preparations necessary to secure the success of the enterprise; that
considerable offence was given to several members of congress, and
still more to the board of war. From the operation of these causes,
when Sullivan, at the close of the campaign, complained of ill health,
and offered, on that account, to resign his commission, the endeavours
of his friends to obtain a vote requesting him to continue in the
service, and permitting him to retire from actual duty until his
health should be restored, were overruled; and his resignation was
accepted. The resolution permitting him to resign was, however,
accompanied with one thanking him for his past services.

Although these great exertions to terminate Indian hostility did not
afford complete security to the western frontiers, they were attended
with considerable advantages. The savages, though not subdued, were
intimidated; and their incursions became less formidable, as well as
less frequent.

The summer of 1779 passed away without furnishing any circumstance in
America which could be supposed to have a material influence on the
issue of the war. In Europe, however, an event took place which had
been long anxiously expected, and was believed to be of decisive
importance. Spain at length determined to make one common cause with
France against Great Britain. It was supposed that the two powers
would be able to obtain a complete ascendency at sea; and that their
combined fleets would maintain a superiority on the American coast, as
well as in Europe.

From the first determination of France to take part in the war, it
appears to have been the earnest wish of the cabinet of Versailles to
engage Spain likewise in the contest.

Her resentments against England, her solicitude to diminish the naval
strength of that nation, and her wish to recover Jamaica, Gibraltar,
and the Floridas, urged her to seize the fair occasion now offered of
dismembering the British empire, and accomplishing these favourite
objects. But her dread of the effect which the independence of the
United States might produce on her own colonies, mingled with some
apprehensions of danger from the contest she was about to provoke, had
produced an appearance of irresolution, which rendered her future
course, for a time, uncertain. In this conflict of opposite interests,
the influence of the cabinet of Versailles, and the jealousy of the
naval power of Britain, at length obtained the victory; and his
Catholic Majesty determined to prevent the reannexation of the United
States to their mother country; but to effect this object by
negotiation rather than by the sword.

[Sidenote: Spain offers her mediation to the belligerent powers.]

In pursuance of this pacific system, he offered his mediation to the
belligerent powers. This proposition was readily accepted by France;
but the minister of his Britannic Majesty evaded any explicit
arrangements on the subject, while he continued to make general verbal
declarations of the willingness of his sovereign to give peace to
Europe under the mediation of his Catholic Majesty. In consequence of
these declarations, the Spanish minister proposed a truce for a term
of years, and that a congress of deputies from the belligerent powers
should assemble at Madrid to adjust the terms of a permanent treaty;
into which deputies from the United States were to be admitted, as
the representatives of a sovereign nation. Although an explicit
acknowledgment of their independence was not to be required, it was to
be understood that they should be independent in fact, and should be
completely separated from the British empire.

This negotiation was protracted to a considerable length; and in the
mean time, all the address of the cabinet of London was used to detach
either France or the United States from their alliance with each
other. Notice of it was given to the American government by the
minister of France at Philadelphia, as well as by Mr. Arthur Lee, one
of their agents in Europe; and congress was repeatedly urged by the
former, to furnish those who might be authorized to represent them in
the conferences for a general treaty, with ample powers and
instructions to conclude it. An extraordinary degree of solicitude was
manifested to hasten the full powers, and to moderate the claims of
the United States.

It seems to have been the policy of the cabinet of Versailles to
exclude the American States from a share of the fisheries, and to
limit their western boundary to the settlements then made. Either from
a real apprehension that the war might be protracted should the United
States insist on the acknowledgment of their independence as a
preliminary to any treaty, or from an opinion that such preliminary
acknowledgment would leave the terms of the treaty less under the
control of France, and the American plenipotentiaries more masters of
their own conduct, Monsieur Girard laboured to persuade congress to
recede from that demand. If they could be independent in fact, he
thought the form not worth contending for.[21]

[Footnote 21: The author has seen notes taken by a member of congress,
of communications made by Mr. Girard, when admitted to an audience,
which avow these sentiments. The secret journals of congress sustain
this statement.]

While congress was employed in debating the instructions to their
ministers, the negotiation was brought to a close. As Spain became
prepared for hostilities, the offered mediation was pressed in such
terms as to produce the necessity of either accepting or rejecting it.
This drew from the cabinet of London a declaration that the
independence of the United States was inadmissible; upon which his
Catholic Majesty determined to take part in the war.

[Sidenote: War between Spain and England.]

On the departure of his minister from London without taking leave, the
British government issued letters of marque and reprisal against the
vessels and subjects of the Spanish crown; and a powerful Spanish
fleet, which had been preparing during the negotiation, was expedited,
to co-operate with that of France. Yet the independence of the United
States was not acknowledged, nor was their minister accredited.
Despatches, giving notice of the hostilities meditated by his
Catholic Majesty, were forwarded to Don Galvez, the governor of
Louisiana, who collected a considerable military force at New Orleans,
and reduced the settlements held by the British crown on the
Mississippi, which had not been apprised of the war.

Intelligence of this important event was given to congress while that
body was deliberating on the instructions to their negotiators. It is
not impossible that this information had some influence on those
deliberations; and, rendering the American government less solicitous
about the future conduct of Spain, diminished the motives for making
territorial sacrifices to that power. Their ministers were ordered to
make it a preliminary article to any negotiation, that Great Britain
should agree to treat with the United States, as sovereign, free, and
independent; and that their independence should be expressly assured
and confirmed by the terms of the treaty itself.

That the United States might be enabled to avail themselves without
further delays, of any occasion which might be presented for
terminating the war, Mr. John Adams, who was already in Europe, was
authorized to negotiate a treaty of peace, and a commercial treaty
with Great Britain; and Mr. Jay, at that time president of congress,
was appointed minister plenipotentiary to the court of Madrid, with
instructions to insist on the free navigation of the Mississippi;--a
claim to which Spain objected, and which was discountenanced by

As the campaign drew to a close without affording any solid foundation
for the hope that the war was about to terminate, General Washington
repeated those efforts which he had made so often and so
unsuccessfully, to induce early preparations for the ensuing year. He
submitted to the view of his government a detailed report of the whole
army, which exhibited the alarming fact, that by the last of the
following June, the terms of service of nearly one-half the men under
his command would expire.

It was not the least considerable of the inconveniences attending the
complex system of government then prevailing in the United States,
that measures essential to the safety of the nation were never taken
in season. Thus, when the time for raising the quotas of the
respective states by voluntary enlistment had passed away, and the
necessity of resorting to coercive means had become absolute, those
means were so delayed, and so irregularly put in execution, that the
terms of service of different portions of the army expired almost
every month in the year; and raw troops, ignorant of the first
rudiments of military duty, were introduced in the most critical
moments of a campaign. Had timely and correspondent measures been
taken by the states to raise their respective quotas by a specified
time in the depth of winter, the recruits would have received the
advantage of a few months training before they were brought into
actual service, and the General, that of a certain uninterrupted force
for each campaign. This course of proceeding had been continually
recommended, and the recommendation had been as continually neglected.

[Sidenote: Letter from General Washington to Congress.]

"In the more early stages of the contest," said the Commander-in-chief
to congress, in a letter of the 8th of November, "when men might have
been enlisted for the war, no man, as my whole conduct, and the
uniform tenor of my letters will evince, was ever more opposed to
short enlistments than I was; and while there remained a prospect of
obtaining recruits on a permanent footing in the first instance, as
far as duty and a regard to my station would permit, I urged my
sentiments in favour of it. But the prospect of keeping up an army by
voluntary enlistments being changed, or at least standing on too
precarious and uncertain a footing to depend on for the exigency of
our affairs, I took the liberty in February, 1778, in a particular
manner, to lay before the committee of arrangement then with the army
at Valley Forge, a plan for an annual draught, as the surest and most
certain, if not the only means left us, of maintaining the army on a
proper and respectable ground. And, more and more confirmed in the
propriety of this opinion by the intervention of a variety of
circumstances, unnecessary to detail, I again took the freedom of
urging the plan to the committee of conference in January last; and,
having reviewed it in every point of light, and found it right, at
least the best that has occurred to me, I hope I shall be excused by
congress in offering it to them, and in time for carrying into
execution for the next year; if they should conceive it necessary for
the states to complete their quotas of troops.

"The plan I would propose is, that each state be informed by congress
annually of the _real deficiency_ of its troops, and called upon to
make it up, or such less specific number as congress may think proper,
by a draught. That the men draughted join the army by the first of
January, and serve until the first of January in the succeeding year.
That from the time the draughts join the army, the officers of the
states from which they come, be authorized and directed to use their
endeavours to enlist them for the war, under the bounties granted to
the officers themselves, and to the recruits, by the act of the 23d of
January, 1779, viz: ten dollars to the officer for each recruit, and
two hundred to the recruits themselves. That all state, county, and
town bounties to draughts, if practicable, be entirely abolished, on
account of the uneasiness and disorders they create among the
soldiery, the desertions they produce, and for other reasons which
will readily occur. That on or before the first of October annually,
an abstract, or return, similar to the present one, be transmitted to
congress, to enable them to make their requisitions to each state with
certainty and precision. This I would propose as a general plan to be
pursued; and I am persuaded that this, or one nearly similar to it,
will be found the best now in our power, as it will be attended with
the least expense to the public, will place the service on the footing
of order and certainty, and will be the only one that can advance the
general interest to any great extent."

These representations on the part of the Commander-in-chief were not
more successful than those which had before been made. Although the
best dispositions existed in congress, the proceedings of that body
were unavoidably slow; and the difficulty of effecting a concert of
measures among thirteen sovereign states, was too great to be
surmounted. In consequence of these radical defects in the system
itself, the contributions of men made by the states continued to be
irregular, uncertain, and out of season; and the army could never
acquire that consistency and stability, which would have resulted from
an exact observance of the plan so often recommended.

On receiving information of the disaster which had been sustained by
the allied arms at Savannah, Sir Henry Clinton resumed his plan of
active operations against the southern states. A large embarkation
took place soon after that event had been announced to him, which
sailed from the Hook towards the end of December. The troops were
commanded by himself in person, and the fleet by Admiral Arbuthnot.
The defence of New York and its dependencies were entrusted to General

The preparations made in New York for some distant enterprise were
immediately communicated by his faithful intelligencers to General
Washington, who conjectured its object, and hastened the march of the
troops designed to reinforce General Lincoln.

The season for action in a northern climate being over, the General
turned his attention to the distribution of his troops in winter
quarters. Habit had familiarized the American army to the use of huts
constructed by themselves; and both officers and men were content to
pass the winter in a hutted camp. In disposing of the troops,
therefore, until the time for action should return, wood and water, a
healthy situation, convenience for supplies of provisions, stations
which would enable them to cover the country, and to defend particular
positions, were the objects taken into consideration, and were all to
be consulted.

[Sidenote: The American army goes into winter quarters.]

With a view to these various circumstances, the army was thrown into
two great divisions. The northern was to be commanded by General
Heath; and its chief object was the security of West Point, and of the
posts on the North River, as low as King's Ferry. Subordinate to
this, was the protection of the country on the Sound, and down the
Hudson to the neighbourhood of Kingsbridge. The other and principal
division, under the immediate command of General Washington, was put
under cover, late in December, in the neighbourhood of Morristown.


     South Carolina invaded.... The British fleet passes the bar,
     and gets possession of the harbour of Charleston.... Opinion
     of General Washington on the propriety of defending that
     place.... Sir Henry Clinton invests the town.... Tarlton
     surprises an American corps at Monk's Corner.... Fort
     Moultrie surrendered.... Tarlton defeats Colonel White....
     General Lincoln capitulates.... Buford defeated....
     Arrangements for the government of South Carolina and
     Georgia.... Sir Henry Clinton embarks for New York....
     General Gates takes command of the Southern army.... Is
     defeated near Camden.... Death of De Kalb.... Success of
     General Sumpter.... He is defeated.

[Sidenote: 1780.]

The departure of the French fleet produced a sudden change in the
prospects of the southern states. The sanguine hopes which had been
entertained of the recovery of Georgia, gave place to gloomy and well
founded apprehensions for South Carolina.

The facility with which General Prevost had passed through the state,
and the assurances he had received of the indisposition of a large
portion of the people to defend themselves, disclosed too certainly
the true situation of the country, not to convince all discerning men
that a real attempt at conquest would be made the ensuing year.
General Lincoln perceived the approaching danger, without being able
to provide against it. His power, as a military commander, was too
limited, and his influence on the government of the state too weak, to
draw forth even the means it possessed in time for its protection.

Though the preservation of its metropolis was of vast importance to
the state, no preparations were making to put it in a condition to
stand a siege. The forts on the islands were in ruins, and the works
across the neck remained unfinished. The representations made on this
subject to the governor by General Lincoln were not disregarded; but
from some defect in the existing law, the executive found it
impracticable to obtain labour for these interesting objects.

[Sidenote: January 23.]

Admiral Arbuthnot arrived at Savannah on the 31st of January. One of
his transports, which had been separated from the fleet in a storm,
was brought into Charleston harbour on the 23d of that month; and the
prisoners gave the first certain intelligence that the expedition from
New York was destined against the capital of South Carolina.

[Sidenote: Sir Henry Clinton invests Charleston.]

Before the middle of February, the fleet entered the harbour, or
inlet, of North Edisto; and landed the troops without opposition on
St. John's Island. A part of the fleet was sent round to blockade the
harbour of Charleston, while the army proceeded slowly and cautiously
from Stono Creek to Wappoo Cut, and through the islands of St. John
and St. James.

This delay, in the event so fatal, but then deemed so propitious to
the American arms, was employed to the utmost advantage in improving
the defence of Charleston. The legislature had enabled the executive
to employ slaves to work on the fortifications; and had passed an act
delegating great powers to the Governor and such of his council as he
could conveniently consult. Under these acts, six hundred slaves were
employed on the works, and vigorous, though not very successful
measures were taken by the executive to assemble the militia of the
country. The fallacious hope was entertained that, if the town could
be rendered defensible, the garrison would be made sufficiently strong
by reinforcements from the north, and by the militia of the state, to
maintain the place and compel Sir Henry Clinton to raise the siege.

The American army being too weak to make any serious opposition to the
progress of the British through the country, the cavalry, with a small
corps of infantry, were directed to hover on their left flank; and the
other troops, consisting of about fourteen hundred regulars fit for
duty, aided by the militia, were drawn into the town, and employed on
the works.

[Sidenote: Colonel Washington defeats Tarlton.]

Understanding that great exertions were making to improve the
fortifications, and that the garrison was gaining strength, Sir Henry
Clinton ordered General Patterson to join him with the troops which
could be spared from Georgia, and directed Lieutenant Colonel
Tarlton, after supplying the horses which had been lost during a very
stormy voyage from New York, to cover his march through South
Carolina. In one of the excursions of that active officer to disperse
the militia who assembled to oppose the progress of Patterson through
the country, his cavalry encountered Lieutenant Colonel Washington,
who commanded the remnant of Baylor's regiment, and were driven back
with some loss; but the want of infantry disabled Washington from
pressing his advantage.

In defending Charleston, the command of the harbour is of great
importance. To preserve this advantage, congress had ordered four
frigates to South Carolina, which, with the marine force belonging to
the state, and two French vessels, were placed under the command of
Commodore Whipple.

General Washington was the more sanguine in the hope of defending the
harbour, because it was understood that the bar was impassable by a
ship of the line, and that even a large frigate could not be brought
over it, without first taking out her guns, or careening her so much
that the crew would be unable to work her.

On sounding within the bar it was discovered that the water was too
shallow for the frigates to act with any effect, and that, in making
the attempt, they would be exposed to the fire of the batteries which
the assailants had erected. Under these circumstances, the officers
of the navy were unanimously of opinion that no successful opposition
could be made at the bar, and that the fleet might act more
advantageously in concert with the fort on Sullivan's Island.

The intention of disputing the passage over the bar being abandoned,
Commodore Whipple moored his squadron in a line with fort Moultrie, in
a narrow passage between Sullivan's Island and the middle ground; and
the British ships, without their guns, passed the bar, and anchored in
five fathom hole.

It being now thought impossible to prevent the fleet from passing fort
Moultrie, and taking such stations in Cooper River as would enable
them to rake the batteries on shore, and to close that communication
between the town and country, the plan of defence was once more
changed, and the armed vessels were carried into the mouth of Cooper
River, and sunk in a line from the town to Shute's folly.

This was the critical moment for evacuating the town. The loss of the
harbour rendered the defence of the place, if not desperate, so
improbable, that the hope to maintain it, could not have been
rationally entertained by a person, who was not deceived by the
expectation of aids much more considerable than were actually

[Sidenote: Opinion of General Washington on the subject of defending

When this state of things was communicated to General Washington, by
Lieutenant Colonel Laurens, he said in reply, "The impracticability
of defending the bar, I fear, amounts to the loss of the town and
garrison. At this distance it is impossible to judge for you. I have
the greatest confidence in General Lincoln's prudence; but it really
appears to me, that the propriety of attempting to defend the town,
depended on the probability of defending the bar; and that when this
ceased, the attempt ought to have been relinquished. In this, however,
I suspend a definitive judgment, and wish you to consider what I say
as confidential." Unfortunately, this letter did not arrive in time to
influence the conduct of the besieged.

[Sidenote: April 1.]

Having crossed Ashley River, Sir Henry Clinton moved down the neck,
and, on the night of the first of April, broke ground within eight
hundred yards of the American lines.

The defences of Charleston had been constructed under the direction of
a Mr. Laumay, a French gentleman in the American service; and,
although not calculated to resist a regular siege, were far from being

While the besiegers were employed on their first parallel, the
garrison received a considerable reinforcement. General Woodford, who
had marched from Morristown in December, entered the town with the old
continental troops of the Virginia line, now reduced to seven hundred
effectives. General Hogan, with the line of North Carolina, had
arrived before him. The garrison consisted of rather more than two
thousand regular troops, of about one thousand North Carolina militia,
and of the citizens of Charleston. The exertions of the Governor to
bring in the militia of South Carolina had not succeeded.

[Sidenote: April 9.]

By the 9th of April, Sir Henry Clinton completed his first parallel
extending across the neck, and mounted his guns in battery. His works
formed an oblique line, from six to seven hundred yards distant from
those of the besieged. About the same time, Admiral Arbuthnot passed
Sullivan's Island, under a heavy and well directed fire from fort
Moultrie, then commanded by Colonel Pinckney, and anchored under
James' Island near fort Johnson, just out of gunshot of the batteries
of the town.

Being now in complete possession of the harbour, the British General
and Admiral sent a joint summons to General Lincoln, demanding the
surrender of the town, to which he returned this firm and modest
answer. "Sixty days have elapsed since it has been known that your
intentions against this town were hostile, in which, time has been
afforded to abandon it; but duty and inclination point to the
propriety of supporting it to the last extremity."

On receiving this answer, the besiegers opened their batteries, but
seemed to rely principally on proceeding by sap quite into the
American lines.

About this time, the Governor with half the members of the council,
went into the country, in the hope of collecting a respectable force
in the rear, and on the left flank of the besieging army. The
Lieutenant Governor, and the other members of the council remained in

Hitherto, Sir Henry Clinton had not extended his lines north of
Charleston neck, and the communication of the garrison with the
country north-east of Cooper remained open. The American cavalry,
under the command of General Huger, had passed that river, and was
stationed in the neighbourhood of Monk's corner, about thirty miles
above Charleston. As an additional security to this, the only
remaining communication, two posts of militia were established, one
between the Cooper and the Santee rivers, to which the Governor
repaired in person; and another at a ferry on the Santee, where boats
were to be collected for the purpose of facilitating the passage of
the American army over that river, should it be deemed adviseable to
evacuate the town.

Such importance was attached to this object, that Lincoln, after
Woodford had entered Charleston, detached a part of his regular
troops, to throw up some works about nine miles above the town, on
Wando, the eastern branch of Cooper, and on Lamprere's point. The
militia, it was hoped, though unwilling to enter Charleston, might be
drawn to these posts.

[Sidenote: April 14.]

[Sidenote: Tarlton surprises and defeats an American corps at Monk's

After the fleet had entered the harbour, Sir Henry Clinton turned his
attention to the country on the east of Cooper, to acquire the
possession of which it was necessary to disable the American cavalry.
This service was committed to Lieutenant Colonel Webster, who detached
Tarlton with the horse and a corps of infantry to execute it. He
succeeded completely. Conducted in the night through unfrequented
paths to the American videttes, he entered the camp with them, killed
and took about one hundred men, and dispersed the residue, who saved
themselves on foot in a swamp. Near fifty wagons loaded with military
stores, and about four hundred horses, fell into the hands of the

This decisive blow gave Lieutenant Colonel Webster possession of the
whole country between Cooper and Wando; and closed the only route by
which the garrison could have retreated.

The besiegers had now commenced their second parallel, and it became
every day more apparent that the town must ultimately yield to their
regular approaches. An evacuation was proposed, and Lincoln is
understood to have been in favour of that measure; but the
remonstrances of the principal inhabitants, who entreated him not to
abandon them to the fury of a disappointed enemy, added to the great
difficulty which must attend such an attempt, especially when opposed
by the civil government, deterred him from adopting the only course
which afforded even a probability, by saving his army, of saving the
southern states.

Soon after the affair at Monk's corner, Sir Henry Clinton received a
reinforcement of three thousand men from New York. This addition to
his strength enabled him to detach largely to the aid of Lieutenant
Colonel Webster, after which Lord Cornwallis took command of the
troops on that side of Cooper River.

[Sidenote: April 20.]

Upon this change of situation, Lincoln called another council of war.
Notwithstanding the multiplied difficulties attending an evacuation of
Charleston, he appears to have been still inclined to it. But a number
of fortunate circumstances must have concurred to render a retreat
possible; and the attempt was effectually prevented by the opposition
of the civil government. The opinion seems to have prevailed, that the
escape of the garrison would be followed by the destruction of the
town, and the ruin of its inhabitants.

The council advised that a capitulation should be proposed, and that
the town should be surrendered on condition that the garrison should
be at liberty still to bear arms, and that the inhabitants should be
secured in their persons and property. These propositions being
rejected, hostilities recommenced.

The besiegers had completed their second parallel, and had begun the
third, when Colonel Henderson made a vigorous sally on their right,
which was attended with some success. That this was the only sortie
made during the siege, is to be ascribed to the weakness of the
garrison. General Lincoln deemed it necessary to reserve all his
strength to man his lines in the event of an assault, or to force a
retreat, should he determine to evacuate the city.

In this state of things, General Du Portail, who had been directed to
join the southern army, was conducted by secret ways into the town. He
perceived the impossibility of defending the place, and repeated the
proposition for attempting a retreat. This proposition was again
rejected; and it only remained to defer the surrender as long as
possible, in the vain hope that some fortunate occurrence might bring

[Sidenote: The garrison of fort Moultrie surrender themselves
prisoners of war.]

Every day diminished this hope, and added to the difficulties of the
besieged. The admiral took possession of Mount Pleasant, which induced
the immediate evacuation of Lamprere's point; soon after which the
garrison of fort Moultrie, amounting to about two hundred men,[22]
surrendered themselves prisoners of war. On the same day, the cavalry
which had escaped the disaster at Monk's corner, and had been
reassembled under the command of Colonel White, of New Jersey, was
again surprised and defeated by Lieutenant Colonel Tarlton at
Lanneau's ferry.

[Footnote 22: After the fleet passed the fort, Colonel Pinckney and a
part of the garrison were withdrawn.]

The investment of the town was now complete; the advances were rapid;
and it became obvious that the place could be defended only a few days
longer. The besiegers had finished their third parallel; and by a sap
pushed to the dam that supplied the canal with water, had drained it
in many places to the bottom. The garrison, fatigued and worn out with
constant duty, was too weak to man the lines sufficiently; their guns
were almost all dismounted; most of the embrasures demolished; their
shot nearly expended; their provisions, with the exception of a few
cows, entirely consumed; and the approaches of the besiegers so near,
that their marksmen frequently picked off the men from the guns, and
killed[23] any person who showed himself above the works.

[Footnote 23: Colonel Parker and Captain Peyton, two valuable officers
from Virginia, fell in this manner.]

In this state of things, the garrison was summoned, a second time, to
surrender; on which a council was again called, which advised a
capitulation. In pursuance of this advice, General Lincoln proposed
terms which were refused, and hostilities recommenced.

The besiegers now advanced their works in front of their third
parallel, crossed the canal, pushed a double sap to the inside of the
abattis, and approached within twenty yards of the American works.
Preparations for an assault by sea and land were making. With less
than three thousand men, many of whom were militia, lines three miles
in extent were to be defended against the flower of the British army,
assisted by a powerful maritime force. Convinced that success was not
possible, the citizens prepared a petition to General Lincoln,
entreating him to surrender the town on the terms which had been
offered by the besiegers.

[Sidenote: General Lincoln capitulates.]

This proposition was made and accepted; and the capitulation was
signed on the 12th of May.

[Sidenote: May 12.]

The town, and all public stores were surrendered. The garrison, as
well the citizens who had borne arms as the continental troops,
militia, and sailors, were to be prisoners of war. The garrison were
to march out of town, and to deposite their arms in front of their
works; but their drums were not to beat a British march, nor their
colours to be reversed. The militia were to retire to their homes on
parole, and their persons and property, as well as the persons and
property of the inhabitants of the town, to be secure while they
adhered to their paroles.

These terms being agreed on, the garrison laid down their arms, and
General Leslie was appointed to take possession of the town.

The defence of Charleston was obstinate, but not bloody. The besiegers
conducted their approaches with great caution; and the besieged, too
weak to hazard repeated sorties, kept within their lines. The loss on
both sides was nearly equal. That of the British was seventy-six
killed and one hundred and eighty-nine wounded; and that of the
Americans, excluding the inhabitants of the town not bearing arms, was
ninety-two killed, and one hundred and forty-eight wounded.

From the official returns made to Sir Henry Clinton by his deputy
adjutant general, the number of prisoners, exclusive of sailors,
amounted to five thousand six hundred and eighteen men. This report,
however, presents a very incorrect view of the real strength of the
garrison. It includes every male adult inhabitant of the town. The
precise number of privates in the continental regiments, according to
the report made to congress by General Lincoln, was one thousand nine
hundred and seventy-seven; of whom five hundred were in the hospital.

The unfortunate are generally condemned; and the loss of the garrison
of Charleston so maimed the force, and palsied the operations of the
American government in the south, that censure was unsparingly
bestowed on the officer who had undertaken and persevered in the
defence of that place. In his justificatory letter to the
Commander-in-chief, General Lincoln detailed at large the motives of
his conduct, and stated the testimony on which those delusive hopes of
substantial assistance were founded, which tempted him to remain in
town, until the unexpected arrival of the reinforcement from New York
deprived him of the power to leave it.

The importance of that great mart of the southern states, which had
become the depot for the country to a considerable extent around it;
the magazines and military stores there collected, which, from the
difficulty of obtaining wagons, could not be removed; the ships of
war, which must be sacrificed should the town be evacuated; the
intention of congress that the place should be defended; the
assurances received that the garrison should be made up to ten
thousand men, of whom nearly one half would be regular troops; the
anxious solicitude of the government of South Carolina; all concurred
to induce the adoption of a measure which, in its consequences, was
extremely pernicious to the United States. In the opinion of those who
were best enabled to judge of his conduct, General Lincoln appears to
have been completely justified. The confidence of his government, and
the esteem of the Commander-in-chief, sustained no diminution.

Sir Henry Clinton was aware of the impression his conquest had made,
and of the value of the first moments succeeding it. Calculating on
the advantages to be derived from showing an irresistible force in
various parts of the country at the same time, he made three large
detachments from his army;--the first and most considerable, towards
the frontiers of North Carolina; the second to pass the Saluda to
Ninety-Six; and the third up the Savannah towards Augusta.

[Sidenote: Buford defeated.]

Lord Cornwallis, who commanded the northern detachment, received
intelligence, soon after passing the Santee, that Colonel Buford, with
about four hundred men, was retreating in perfect security towards
North Carolina. He detached Lieutenant Colonel Tarlton with his
legion, the infantry being mounted, in pursuit of this party. That
officer, by making a movement of near one hundred miles in two days,
overtook Buford, in a line of march, at the Waxhaws, and demanded a
surrender on the terms which had been granted to the garrison of
Charleston. This was refused. While the flags were passing, Tarlton
continued to make his dispositions for the assault, and, the instant
the truce was over, his cavalry made a furious charge on the
Americans, who had received no orders to engage, and who seem to have
been uncertain whether to defend themselves or not. In this state of
dismay and confusion, some fired on the assailants, while others threw
down their arms and begged for quarter. None was given. Colonel Buford
escaped with a few cavalry; and about one hundred infantry, who were
in advance, saved themselves by flight; but the regiment was almost
demolished. Tarlton, in his official report, says that one hundred and
thirteen were killed on the spot, one hundred and fifty so badly
wounded as to be incapable of being moved, and fifty-three were
brought away as prisoners. The loss of the British was five killed and
fourteen wounded.

Tarlton gives a very different account of the circumstances which
preceded this massacre. He says that the demand for a surrender was
made long before Buford was overtaken, and was answered by a defiance;
that, on overtaking him, the British vanguard made prisoners of a
sergeant and four light dragoons, in the presence of the two
commanders, who immediately prepared for action; that as he advanced
to the charge, when within fifty paces, the American infantry
presented, and were commanded by their officers to retain their fire
until the British cavalry should be nearer.[24]

[Footnote 24: Lieutenant Bowyer, an American officer who was in the
engagement, near the person of Colonel Buford, in a letter which the
author has lately seen, states this affair in a manner not much
conflicting with the statement made of it by Colonel Tarlton.]

The American officers who survived the carnage of the day, generally
assert that flags passed after being overtaken, that they had received
no orders from Colonel Buford when the charge was made, and that the
fire of their troops was retained until the enemy was upon them,
because they did not think themselves authorized to give it. The facts
that Buford's field pieces were not discharged, and that the loss was
so very unequal, are not to be reconciled with the idea of deliberate
preparation for battle, and justify the belief that the statement
made by the American officers is correct.

After the defeat of Buford, scarcely the semblance of opposition
remained in South Carolina and Georgia. The military force employed by
congress was nearly destroyed; the spirit of resistance seemed
entirely broken; and a general disposition to submit to the victor
displayed itself in almost every part of the country.

The two other detachments saw no appearance of an enemy. They received
the submission of the inhabitants, who either became neutral by giving
their paroles, not to bear arms against his Britannic Majesty, or took
the oaths of allegiance, and resumed the character of British

To keep up this disposition, garrisons were posted in different
stations, and a series of measures was pursued for the purpose of
settling the civil affairs of the province, and of giving stability to
the conquest which had been made.

[Sidenote: Sir Henry Clinton takes measures for settling the
government of South Carolina and Georgia.]

[Sidenote: June 3.]

So entirely did the present aspect of affairs convince Sir Henry
Clinton of the complete subjugation of the state, and of the
favourable disposition of the people towards the British government,
that he ventured to issue a proclamation, in which he discharged the
militia who were prisoners from their paroles, with the exception of
those who were taken in Charleston and fort Moultrie, and restored
them to all the rights and duties of British subjects; declaring, at
the same time, that such of them as should neglect to return to their
allegiance, should be considered and treated as enemies and rebels.

This proclamation disclosed to the inhabitants their real situation.
It proved that a state of neutrality was not within their reach; that
the evils of war were unavoidable; that they must arrange themselves
on the one side or the other; and that the only alternative presented
to them was, to drive the enemy out of their country, or take up arms
against their countrymen.

[Sidenote: June 5.]

With the most sanguine hopes that the southern states would be
reunited to the British empire, Sir Henry Clinton embarked for New
York, leaving about four thousand British troops in South Carolina,
under the command of Lord Cornwallis.

His lordship found it necessary to suspend the expedition he had
meditated against North Carolina. The impossibility of supporting an
army in that state before harvest, as well as the intense heat of the
season, required this delay. His first care was to distribute his
troops through South Carolina and the upper parts of Georgia, so as to
promote the great and immediate objects of enlisting the young men who
were willing to join his standard, of arranging the plan of a militia,
and of collecting magazines at convenient places.

In the mean time, he despatched emissaries to his friends in North
Carolina, to inform them of the necessary delay of his expedition
into their country, and to request them to attend to their harvest,
collect provisions, and remain quiet until late in August or early in
September, when the King's troops would be ready to enter the

The impatience of the royalists, stimulated by the triumph of their
friends in a neighbouring state, and by the necessary severities of a
vigilant government, could not be restrained by this salutary counsel.
Anticipating the immediate superiority of their party, they could not
brook the authority exercised over them, and broke out into premature
and ill concerted insurrections, which were vigorously encountered,
and generally suppressed. One body of them, however, amounting to
about eight hundred men, led by Colonel Bryan, marched down the east
side of the Yadkin to a British post at the Cheraws, whence they
proceeded to Camden.

Having made his dispositions, and fixed on Camden as the place for his
principal magazines, Cornwallis left the command of the frontiers to
Lord Rawdon, and retired to Charleston for the purpose of making those
farther arrangements of a civil nature, which the state of affairs and
the interest of his sovereign might require.

His lordship, as well as Sir Henry Clinton, seems to have supposed the
state of South Carolina to be as completely subdued in sentiment as
in appearance. Impatient to derive active aids from the new conquest,
his measures were calculated to admit of no neutrality. For some time
these measures seemed to succeed, and professions of loyalty were made
in every quarter. But under this imposing exterior, lurked a mass of
concealed discontent, to which every day furnished new aliment, and
which waited only for a proper occasion to show itself.

The people of the lower parts of South Carolina, though far from being
united, were generally attached to the revolution, and had entered
into the war with zeal. They were conducted by a high spirited and
intelligent gentry, who ardently sought independence as a real and
permanent good.

Several causes had combined to suspend the operation of this
sentiment. Many of their leaders were prisoners; and the brilliant
successes of the British arms had filled numbers with despair. Others
were sensible of the inutility of present resistance; and a still
greater number, fatigued and harassed with militia duty, were willing
to withdraw from the conflict, and, as spectators, to await its issue.
To compel these men to share the burdens of the war, was to restore
them to their former friends.

Late in March, General Washington had obtained the consent of congress
to reinforce the southern army with the troops of Maryland and
Delaware, and with the first regiment of artillery. This detachment
was to be commanded by the Baron De Kalb, a German veteran who had
engaged early in the service of the United States.

Such, however, was the deranged state of American finances, and such
the depression of public credit, that these troops could not be put
immediately in motion. They were at length embarked at the Head of
Elk, and conveyed by water to Petersburg, in Virginia, whence they
marched towards South Carolina. Their progress was delayed by that
difficulty of obtaining subsistence which had induced Lord Cornwallis
to suspend the invasion of North Carolina until harvest should be
gathered. No preparations having been made for them, they were reduced
to the necessity of spreading themselves over the country in small
detachments, to collect corn, and grind it for their daily food. In
this manner they proceeded through the upper parts of North Carolina
to Deep River, and encamped near Buffalo Ford in July. At this place
the Baron halted for a few days, in some uncertainty respecting his
future course.[25]

[Footnote 25: Journal of Colonel Williams.]

The militia of North Carolina, commanded by General Caswell, were
beyond the Pedee, on the road to Camden, and had nearly consumed the
scanty supplies which could be gleaned from a country that was far
from being productive. The Baron was premeditating on a plan for
leaving the direct road and moving up the country to the fertile
banks of the Yadkin, when the approach of Major General Gates was
announced by the arrival of his aid-de-camp, Major Armstrong.[26]

[Footnote 26: Journal of Colonel Williams.]

[Sidenote: General Gates appointed to the command of the southern

[Sidenote: July.]

Aware of the danger to which the loss of Charleston had exposed that
part of the confederacy, congress deemed it of the utmost importance
to select a general for that department, in whom great military
talents should be combined with that weight of character which might
enable him to draw out the resources of the country. They turned their
eyes on Gates;[27] and sanguine hopes were entertained that the
conqueror of Burgoyne would prove the saviour of the southern states.
On the 13th of June, he was called to the command in the southern
department, and was directed to repair immediately to the army. He
entered, without loss of time, on the duties of his station; and, on
the 25th of July, reached the camp, where he was received by the Baron
De Kalb with the utmost cordiality and respect.

[Footnote 27: This appointment was made without consulting the
Commander-in-chief. He had determined, if consulted, to recommend
General Greene.]

The approach of this army, and the information that great exertions
were making in Virginia to augment it, revived the hopes of South
Carolina, and brought again into action a spirit supposed to be
extinguished. The British troops having occupied the north-western
parts of the state, the most active friends of the revolution in that
quarter had fled from their homes, and sought an asylum in North
Carolina and Virginia. As the discontents of their countrymen
increased, and the prospect of being supported by regular troops
brightened, a small body of these exiles, amounting to less than two
hundred, assembled together, and choosing Colonel Sumpter, an old
continental officer, for their chief, entered South Carolina. They
skirmished with the royal militia and small corps of regulars on the
frontiers, sometimes successfully, and always with the active courage
of men fighting for the recovery of their property. The followers of
Sumpter were soon augmented to six hundred men; and a disposition once
more to take up arms showed itself in various parts of the state. Some
corps of militia, which had been embodied under the authority of Lord
Cornwallis, deserted his standard, and joined their countrymen.
Perceiving this change of temper, the British general thought it
necessary to draw in his out-posts, and to collect his troops into
larger bodies.

On taking command of the southern army, General Gates directed the
troops to hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's warning;
and, on the morning of the 27th, put the whole in motion. Disregarding
the judicious remonstrances which were made to him against pursuing
the direct road, he determined on taking the nearest route to the
advanced post of the British on Lynch's Creek, a few miles from
Camden. The motives assigned by himself for passing through this
barren country were, the necessity of uniting with Caswell, who had
evaded the orders repeatedly given him to join the army, the danger of
dispiriting the troops, and intimidating the people of the country, by
pursuing a route not leading directly towards the enemy, and the
assurances he had received that supplies would overtake him, and would
be prepared for him on the road.

[Sidenote: August 13.]

These assurances were not fulfilled; and, the country being still more
barren than had been anticipated, the distress of the army was
extreme. The soldiers subsisted on a few lean cattle found in the
woods, and a very scanty supply of green corn and peaches. Encouraged
by the example of their officers, who shared all their sufferings, and
checked occasional murmurs, they struggled through these difficulties,
and, after effecting a junction with General Caswell and with
Lieutenant Colonel Porterfield,[28] the army reached Clermont,
sometimes called Rugely's mills, on the 13th of August. Possession was
taken of this place without any opposition from Lord Rawdon, who, on
the approach of the American army, drew in his out-posts, and
assembled all his forces at Camden.[29]

[Footnote 28: This valuable officer was pressing forward to Charleston
when that place surrendered. Continuing to advance, he was within one
day's march of Colonel Buford, when that officer was defeated. Colonel
Porterfield still remained on the frontiers of the Carolinas; and had
the address not only to avoid the fate of every other corps sent to
the relief of Charleston, but to subsist his men; and keep up the
semblance of holding that part of South Carolina.]

[Footnote 29: Journal of Colonel Williams.]

The day after the arrival of Gates at Clermont, he was joined by seven
hundred militia from Virginia, commanded by Brigadier General Stevens,
an officer of considerable merit, who, during the campaigns of 1777
and 1778, had commanded a continental regiment. On the same day, an
express arrived from Colonel Sumpter, with information that an escort
of clothing, ammunition, and other stores for the garrison at Camden,
was on the way from Ninety-Six, and must pass the Wateree at a ferry
about a mile from Camden, which was covered by a small redoubt on the
opposite side of the river. One hundred regular infantry with two
brass field-pieces, were immediately detached to join Colonel Sumpter,
who was ordered to reduce the redoubt, and to intercept the

[Footnote 30: Journal of Colonel Williams.]

To attract the attention of the garrison in Camden, and thus
co-operate with the expedition under Sumpter, it was determined in a
council of general officers to put the army in motion that evening,
and to take a post about seven miles from Camden with a deep creek in

The sick, the heavy baggage, and the military stores were ordered
under a guard to Waxhaws,[31] and the army was directed to be in
readiness to march precisely at ten in the evening in the following

[Footnote 31: Colonel Williams says these orders were not executed.]

Colonel Armand's legion composed the van. Porterfield's light
infantry, reinforced by a company of picked men from Stevens's
brigade, covered the right flank of the legion; while Major
Armstrong's light infantry of North Carolina militia, reinforced in
like manner from Caswell's division, covered the left. The Maryland
division, followed by the North Carolina and Virginia militia, with
the artillery, composed the main body and rear guard; and the
volunteer cavalry were equally distributed on the flanks of the

In the event of an attack in front by the British cavalry, the
infantry on the flanks were directed to march up, and to continue
their fire on the assailants. It was supposed they would enable
Colonel Armand to resist the shock; and his orders were positive to
maintain his ground against the cavalry, whatever their numbers might

[Footnote 32: Journal of Colonel Williams.]

At the time of communicating these orders to Colonel Otho H. Williams,
the Deputy Adjutant General, Gates, showed him a rough estimate of the
army, making it upwards of seven thousand. Convinced that this
estimate was exaggerated, Colonel Williams availed himself of his
means of information to make an abstract of the whole, which he
presented to the general, and which exhibited exactly three thousand
and fifty-two in the column of present fit for duty, of whom more than
two-thirds were militia. Gates expressed some surprise at the numbers,
but said, "there are enough for our purpose," and directed the orders
to be issued to the army. About ten at night, the line of march was
taken up, and the army had advanced about half way to Camden, when a
firing commenced in front.[33]

[Footnote 33: Journal of Colonel Williams.]

Intelligence of the approach of the American army, and of the
defection of the country between Pedee and the Black River, had been
communicated to Lord Cornwallis, and had induced him to hasten in
person to Camden, which place he reached the day Gates arrived at

The British army did not much exceed two thousand men, of whom about
nineteen hundred were regulars; but, as the whole country was rising,
Lord Cornwallis apprehended that every day would strengthen his enemy,
and therefore determined to attack him in his camp; hoping, by a
prompt execution of this resolution, to surprise him. By one of those
caprices of fortune on which great events often depend, he marched
from Camden to attack Gates in Clermont, at the very hour that Gates
moved from that place towards Camden.[34]

[Footnote 34: Journal of Colonel Williams.]

[Sidenote: August 16.]

About half past two in the morning, the advanced parties of the
hostile armies, to their mutual surprise, met in the woods, and began
to skirmish with each other. Some of Armand's cavalry being wounded
by the first fire, threw the others into disorder, and the whole
recoiled so suddenly that the first Maryland regiment, composing the
front of the column was broken, and the whole line thrown into
consternation. From this first impression, the raw troops never
recovered. The light infantry, however, particularly Porterfield's
corps, behaved so well as to check the advance of the British.
Unfortunately, their gallant commander received a mortal wound, which
compelled him to leave his regiment. Yet a part of it kept its ground;
and, with the aid of the legion infantry, stopped the British van;
upon which order was restored to the American army.

The officers were immediately employed in forming a line of battle in
front. The Maryland division, including the troops of Delaware, were
on the right, the North Carolina militia in the centre, and the
Virginia militia on the left.

In this rencounter some prisoners were made, from one of whom Colonel
Williams drew the information that the British army, consisting of
near three thousand men, commanded by Lord Cornwallis in person, was
in full march five or six hundred yards in front. This intelligence
was immediately communicated to General Gates, who had supposed Lord
Cornwallis to be still in Charleston. The general officers were
assembled in the rear of the line, and this information submitted to
them. After a short silence, Stevens said, "Gentlemen, is it not too
late to do any thing but fight?" No other advice being given, General
Gates, who seems to have been himself disposed to risk a battle,
directed the officers to repair to their respective commands.

The ground on which the army was drawn up was so narrowed by a marsh
on each flank, as to admit of removing the first Maryland brigade, so
as to form a second line about two hundred yards in rear of the first.
The artillery was placed in the centre of the first line, and
Armstrong's light infantry was ordered to cover a small interval
between the flank of the left wing and the marsh.

Frequent skirmishes occurred during the night between the advanced
parties, with scarcely any other effect than to discover the situation
of the armies, evince the intention of the generals, and serve as a
prelude to the events of the succeeding morning.

At dawn of day the British appeared in front, advancing in column.
Lieutenant Colonel Webster commanded on the right, and Lord Rawdon on
the left. The seventy-first regiment composed the reserve. Four field
pieces were attached to the left, and one to the corps de reserve.

Captain Singleton opened some field pieces on the front of the column,
at the distance of about two hundred yards, soon after which the
American left was ordered to commence the action. It was then
perceived that the British right was advancing in line; and as Stevens
led on his brigade in good order, Colonel Williams advanced in front
with a few volunteers, intending by a partial fire to extort that of
the enemy at some distance, and thereby diminish its effect on the
militia. The experiment did not succeed. The British rushed forward
with great impetuosity, firing and huzzaing at the same time; and the
terrified militia, disregarding the exertions of Stevens, who, in the
firm tone of courage, endeavoured to inspire them with confidence in
the bayonets they had just received, threw down their loaded muskets,
fled from the field with the utmost precipitation, and were followed
by the light infantry of Armstrong. The whole North Carolina division,
except one regiment commanded by Colonel Dixon, an old continental
officer, which was posted nearest the continental troops, followed the
shameful example. Other parts of the same brigade, which was commanded
by Gregory, paused for an instant; but the terror of their brethren
was soon communicated to them, and they also threw away their arms,
and sought for safety in flight. Their general, while endeavouring to
rally them, was dangerously wounded.

Tarlton's legion charged them as they broke, and pursued them in their
flight. Gates, in person, assisted by their generals, made several
efforts to rally the militia; but the alarm in their rear still
continuing, they poured on like a torrent, and bore him with them. He
hastened with General Caswell to Clermont, in the hope of stopping a
sufficient number of them at their old encampment, to cover the
retreat of the continental troops; but this hope was entirely
disappointed. Believing the continental troops also to be dispersed,
he gave up all as lost, and retreated with a few friends to Charlotte,
about eighty miles from the field of battle, where he left General
Caswell to assemble the neighbouring militia, and proceeded himself to
Hillsborough, in order to concert some plan of farther defence with
the government.

Entirely deserted by the militia who composed the whole centre and
left wing of the army, the continental troops, with the Baron De Kalb
at their head, were left without orders, under circumstances which
might have justified a retreat. But taking counsel from their courage,
and seeing only the path of duty, they preferred the honourable and
dangerous part of maintaining their position. They were charged by
Lord Rawdon about the time the militia on their left were broken by
Webster; but the charge was received with unexpected firmness. The
bayonet was occasionally resorted to by both parties, and the conflict
was maintained for near three quarters of an hour with equal
obstinacy. During this time, the regiment on the left of the second
Maryland brigade being covered by the reserve, so that it could be
only engaged in front, gained ground and made prisoners.

The reserve, having its left entirely exposed, was flanked by the
British right wing under Webster; who, after detaching a part of his
cavalry and light infantry in pursuit of the flying militia, wheeled
on that brigade, and attacking it in front and round the left flank,
threw it into some disorder. The soldiers were, however, quickly
rallied, and renewed the action with unimpaired spirit. Overpowered by
numbers, they were again broken, and by the exertion of their officers
were again formed, so as still to maintain the combat, and still to
cover the flank of their brethren of the second brigade, who were in a
manner blended with the enemy, and who kept up a desperate conflict in
the hope of yet obtaining the victory.

[Sidenote: Death of De Kalb.]

The fire of the whole British army was now directed against these two
devoted brigades. They had not lost an inch of ground when Lord
Cornwallis, perceiving that they were without cavalry, pushed his
dragoons upon them, and at the same instant, charged them with the
bayonet. These gallant troops were no longer able to keep the field.
They were at length broken; and, as they did not give way until
intermingled with the enemy, they dispersed and fled in confusion.
Before they were reduced to this last extremity, the Baron De Kalb,
who fought on foot with the second Maryland brigade, fell under eleven
wounds. His aid-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel Du Buysson, received him
in his arms, announced his rank and nation to the surrounding foe, and
begged that they would spare his life. While thus generously exposing
himself to save his friend, he received several wounds, and, with his
general, was taken prisoner. The Baron expired in a few hours, and
spent his last breath in dictating a letter, expressing the warmest
affection for the officers and men of his division, and the most
exalted admiration of their courage and good conduct.[35]

[Footnote 35: Journal of Colonel Williams.]

Never was a victory more complete. Every corps was broken and
dispersed in the woods. The general officers were divided from their
men; and, except Rutherford of the North Carolina militia who was made
a prisoner, reached Charlotte at different times. Colonel Williams,
who witnessed the whole battle, and bore a conspicuous part in it,
concludes his very animated description of it, with the observation,
that "if in this affair the militia fled too soon, the regulars may be
thought almost as blameable for remaining too long on the field;
especially after all hope of victory must have been despaired of." He
censures freely the conduct of the brigadiers, who gave, he says, no
orders whatever to their brigades.

About two hundred wagons, with a great part of the baggage, military
stores, small arms, and all the artillery, fell into the hands of the
conqueror. The loss of men could never be accurately ascertained, as
no returns were received from the militia. Of the North Carolina
division, between three and four hundred were made prisoners, and
between sixty and one hundred were wounded. Of the Virginia militia,
three were wounded on the field; and, as they were the first to fly,
not many were taken.

For the numbers engaged, the loss sustained by the regulars was
considerable. It amounted to between three and four hundred men, of
whom a large portion were officers. The British accounts state the
loss of the American army at eight or nine hundred killed, and about
one thousand prisoners; while their own is said to be only three
hundred and twenty-five, of whom two hundred and forty-five were
wounded. Although many of the militia were killed during the flight,
this account is probably exaggerated. It would seem too, that while
the continental troops kept the field, the loss on both sides, in that
part of the action, must have been nearly equal.

On his retreat, the day of the battle, General Gates received
information of the complete success of Sumpter. That officer had, on
the evening that Lord Cornwallis marched from Camden, reduced the
redoubt on the Wateree, captured the guard, and intercepted the
escort with the stores.

This gleam of light cheered the dark gloom which enveloped his affairs
but for a moment. He was soon informed that this corps also was
defeated, and entirely dispersed.

[Sidenote: August 18.]

On hearing of the disaster which had befallen Gates, Sumpter began to
retreat up the south side of the Wateree. Believing himself out of
danger, he had halted on the twenty-eighth, during the heat of the
day, near the Catawba Ford, to give his harassed troops some repose.
At that place he was overtaken by Tarlton, who had been detached in
pursuit of him on the morning of the 17th, and who, advancing with his
accustomed celerity, entered the American camp so suddenly, as in a
great measure to cut off the men from their arms. Some slight
resistance made from behind the wagons was soon overcome, and the
Americans fled precipitately to the river and woods. Between three and
four hundred of them were killed and wounded; their baggage,
artillery, arms, and ammunition were lost; and the prisoners and
stores they had taken, were recovered. This advantage was gained with
the loss of only nine men killed and six wounded.

Two videttes had been placed by Sumpter, on the road along which
Tarlton had advanced, who fired upon his van and killed one of his
dragoons, upon which they were both sabred. We are informed by
Colonel Tarlton that the inquiries made by Sumpter respecting the two
shots, were answered by an assurance from an officer, just returned
from the advanced sentries, that the militia were firing at cattle.

[Sidenote: August 19.]

Intelligence of this disaster reached Charlotte next day. Generals
Smallwood and Gist were then arrived at that place, and about one
hundred and fifty straggling, dispirited, half famished officers and
soldiers had also dropped in. It was thought adviseable to retreat
immediately to Salisbury. From that place, General Gates directed the
remnant of the troops to march to Hillsborough, where he was
endeavouring to assemble another army, which might enable him yet to
contend for the southern states.


     Distress in the American camp.... Expedition against Staten
     Island.... Requisitions on the states.... New scheme of
     finance.... Committee of congress deputed to camp....
     Resolution to make up depreciation of pay.... Mutiny in the
     line of Connecticut.... General Knyphausen enters Jersey....
     Sir Henry Clinton returns to New York.... Skirmish at
     Springfield.... Exertions to strengthen the army.... Bank
     established in Philadelphia.... Contributions of the
     ladies.... Farther proceedings of the states.... Arrival of
     a French armament in Rhode Island.... Changes in the
     quartermaster's department.... Enterprise against New York
     abandoned.... Naval superiority of the British.

[Sidenote: 1780.]

While disasters thus crowded on each other in the southern states,
the Commander-in-chief found himself surrounded with difficulties,
which required his utmost exertions to avoid calamities equally
distressing. His urgent requisitions for men to supply the places of
those who were leaving the service, were not complied with, and the
soldiers who remained, could scarcely be preserved from either
perishing with cold and hunger, or dispersing and living on plunder.

General Greene and Colonel Wadsworth, who had, for the preceding year,
been at the head of the quartermaster and commissary departments,
possessed distinguished merit, and had employed assistants of
unquestionable ability and integrity. Yet, for a great part of the
campaign, the rations were frequently reduced, and the army was
rarely supplied with provisions for more than a few days in advance.
Soon after coming into winter quarters, the magazines were exhausted,
and afforded neither meat nor flour to be delivered to the men.

This state of things had been long foreseen; and all the means in the
power of the Commander-in-chief had been used to prevent it. Repeated
representations of the actual famine with which the army was
threatened, had been made to congress, and to the state governments;
but no adequate relief was afforded; and such was the condition of the
finances, so embarrassing the state of affairs, that it was perhaps
attainable only by measures which the governments could not venture to

The rapid depreciation of the continental currency, had long been
viewed with apprehensive anxiety by the enlightened friends of the
revolution, and various unsuccessful expedients had been essayed for
the purpose of checking its progress. All perceived that the great
quantity in circulation was the principal cause of the diminution of
its value; and congress had resolved not to exceed two hundred
millions of dollars in their emissions. In the mean time, the utmost
endeavours were used to defer an evil so justly dreaded, and among the
expedients employed, was that of withholding from the public agents,
the money which was necessary for public purposes. This unwise
experiment, while it defeated its own object, threatened the
dissolution of the American army.

The difference between the value of the article at the times of
contract and of payment was soon perceived, and, of course, influenced
its price. But this was the least mischievous consequence of this
mistaken policy. The public agents contracted enormous debts which
they were unable to discharge. Repeated disappointments destroyed
their credit; and, towards the close of the year 1779, they found it
impracticable to obtain supplies for the subsistence of the army.

From these causes, the contracts entered into could not be
co-extensive with the public wants; and many of those which were made
were not complied with.

In this critical state of things, an entire revolution was made in the
commissary department. Such was the prejudice against the system
adopted by Great Britain, for supplying by contract, that it had been
usual to allow, as a compensation to the commissary, a stipulated
commission on all the monies expended on public account. After some
time, this allowance was supposed to be an inducement to purchase at
high prices; and an arrangement was made on the first of January, by
which the commissary general was to receive a fixed nominal salary in
the paper currency, and was permitted to appoint assistants whose
compensations were also fixed, and who were to defray, out of those
compensations, all the expenses attending the transactions of the
business. The practice of allowing them rations and forage was

This new system was unfortunately so modified as to increase the
embarrassments of the department. It was found difficult to obtain
assistants and agents for the compensation allowed; and those who were
willing to be employed, were unequal to the duties assigned them.

For several days, the soldiers were reduced to half allowance, and
sometimes to less. At length, affairs came to the crisis which had
long been threatened; and, early in January, a letter was received
from Colonel Wadsworth, informing the general that it was absolutely
out of his power to supply the army longer with meat, as he was
without money, and had totally exhausted his credit. About the same
time, the assistant commissary, residing in camp, gave notice that his
stock of provisions was on the point of being expended, and that he
had no immediate prospect of a farther supply.

This state of things compelled the Commander-in-chief to adopt
efficacious measures, to relieve the immediate and pressing wants of
his soldiers. He required from each county in the state of Jersey, a
quantity of meat and flour proportioned to its resources, to be raised
and forwarded to the army within a limited time, not exceeding six
days. In a circular letter addressed to the magistrates, he stated the
pressing wants of the army, and the necessity of resorting to coercion
should his requisition fail.

To the honour of the magistrates and people of New Jersey, although
their country was much exhausted, the supplies required were instantly
furnished, and a temporary relief obtained.

The patient and uncomplaining fortitude with which the soldiers bore
their sufferings, was strong evidence of their patriotism, and could
not fail to make a deep impression on their general. But while their
virtues excited his sensibilities, he expressed his fears very freely
to congress, that they might be too severely tried.

The unusual severity of the winter, seemed to furnish an opportunity
for active enterprise, which the Commander-in-chief observed, without
being able to improve. The garrison of New York and its immediate
dependencies, was supposed to be reduced to ten or eleven thousand
effectives; and the security heretofore derived from its insular
situation no longer existed. The ice was so strong that the whole
army, with its train of wagons and artillery, might pass over without
danger. This circumstance afforded a glorious occasion for striking a
blow, which, if successful, would most probably terminate the war.
The effort would seem not to have exceeded the strength of America,
could that strength have been exerted in proper season; but the
government possessed neither sufficient energy nor concentration of
power to call it forth; and this opportunity passed away, as many
which present themselves in the course of human affairs, must pass
away, if those who should take advantage of them, only begin to
deliberate about making preparations in the season for action.

The force under the immediate command of General Washington, was
decidedly inferior to that in New York; and so far was he from having
reason to expect immediate reinforcements, that congress had not
agreed on making a requisition for them. In addition to this
feebleness in point of numbers, the soldiers were not half clothed;
provisions for immediate use could be obtained only by contributions
from the people; the quartermaster's department was unable to put an
army in motion; and the military chest did not contain a dollar.

Under the pressure of this combination of discouraging circumstances,
the active mind of Washington still looked forward to the possibility
of deriving some advantage from the exposed situation of his

The troops on Staten Island were computed at one thousand or twelve
hundred men; and the firm bridge of ice now uniting that island to
the Jersey shore, seemed to furnish an opportunity for bearing off
this corps. General Washington determined to make the attempt with two
thousand five hundred men, to be commanded by Major General Lord
Stirling. The more distant troops moved down on sleds; and, to favour
a surprise, the opinion was inculcated that they only constituted a
relief for the detachment already on the lines.

[Sidenote: January.]

On the night of the 14th of January, Lord Stirling moved over from De
Hart's point; and, detaching Lieutenant Colonel Willet to Decker's
house, where Buskirk's regiment was stationed, proceeded himself to
the watering place, where the main body was posted. Notwithstanding
the precautions which had been taken, the alarm had been given at each
post, and the troops had saved themselves in their works; so that only
a few prisoners were made. Contrary to the intelligence previously
received, the communication with New York was still open; and the
works appeared too strong to justify the hazard of attempting to carry
them by assault.

[Sidenote: January 17.]

The object of the expedition being unattainable, Lord Stirling
commenced his retreat, which was effected with inconsiderable loss. A
body of cavalry, which charged his rear, was repulsed; but, from the
intenseness of the cold, and the defectiveness of his means to protect
his men from it, some of them were frost bitten, and a few stragglers
were made prisoners.

The excessive cold continuing, the rivers were soon afterwards
completely blocked up. Even arms of the sea were passable on the ice;
and the islands about the mouth of the Hudson, presented the
appearance of one whole and unbroken continent. This state of things
produced a great degree of suffering among all classes in New York.
The supplies usually received by water failed totally, and a great
scarcity of provisions and of fuel was the consequence. To increase
this scarcity, the American troops on the lines were so disposed as to
interrupt the communication between the country and the town; and
these arrangements produced a partisan war, in which the advantage was
rather on the side of the British.

In one of the most important of these skirmishes, Captain Roberts, of
Massachusetts, with fourteen of his men, were killed on the spot;
seventeen were wounded, of whom three died in a few days; and
Lieutenant Colonel Thompson, of Massachusetts, who commanded the
party, two captains, four subalterns, and ninety non-commissioned
officers and privates were made prisoners.

The emission of the full sum of two hundred millions of dollars in
continental bills of credit, which congress had solemnly resolved not
to exceed, had been completed in November, 1779, and the money was
expended. The requisitions on the states to replenish the treasury by
taxes were not fully complied with; and, had they even been strictly
observed, would not have produced a sum equal to the public
expenditure. It was therefore necessary to devise other measures for
the prosecution of the war. During the distresses which brought the
army to the brink of dissolution, these measures were under
consideration. So early as December, 1779, congress had determined to
change the mode of supplying the army from purchases to requisitions
of specific articles on the several states. As preliminary to this
system, commissioners were appointed to make the estimates, and to
introduce every practicable reform in the expenditures. This subject
was under deliberation until the 25th of February, when sundry
resolutions were passed, apportioning on the states their respective
quotas of provisions, spirits, and forage, for the ensuing campaign.
The value of the several articles was estimated in specie; and
assurances were given that accounts between the states should be
regularly kept, and finally settled in Spanish milled dollars.

For the purpose of inducing and facilitating a compliance with these
requisitions, congress also resolved, "that any state which shall have
taken the necessary measures for furnishing its quota, and have given
notice thereof to congress, shall be authorized to prohibit any
continental quartermaster or commissary from purchasing within its

These resolutions, constituting the basis of a new system on which the
future subsistence of the army was essentially to depend, were too
deeply interesting not to receive the anxious attention of the
Commander-in-chief. With regret, he communicated to congress the
radical defects he perceived in their arrangements, with his
apprehensions that this untried scheme would fail in practice.

His judgment, and the judgment of all men engaged in high and
responsible situations, was decidedly in favour of conducting the war
on a national rather than on a state system. But, independent of this
radical objection, economy had been so much more consulted than the
probable necessities of the army, that, in almost every article, the
estimate had fallen far short of the demand to be reasonably expected.

The total omission to provide means for supplying occasional
deficiencies from the surplus resources of any particular state, was
an error of still greater magnitude. It was obvious that the demand in
any state which should become the theatre of war, would be much
greater than its quota; and experience had shown that the carriage of
specific articles from distant places was always difficult and
expensive, and sometimes impracticable. Yet no means were adopted to
supply such extraordinary demand, whatever might be the resources of
the country. A still more radical objection to the system was the
principle, enabling any state which should take means to comply with
the requisition, and should notify those means to the government of
the United States, to prohibit the continental agents from making any
purchases within its territory. Among the states which adopted the
proposition of congress was New Jersey, in which the largest division
of the army was stationed. Its legislature passed an act prohibiting
the purchase of provisions within its jurisdiction by the staff of the
continental line, under severe penalties; and refused to authorize its
own agents to provide for any emergency however pressing. It was an
additional objection to these requisitions, that they specified no
periods of the year within which certain portions of the articles
demanded should be raised, and consequently might be complied with,
although the army should be left destitute of every necessary for a
considerable part of the campaign.

These suggestions, however, with others less material to the military
operations, did not receive the attention which was due to their
importance. A disposition in the members of congress, growing
inevitably out of the organization of the government, to consult the
will of their respective states, and to prefer that will to any other
object, had discovered itself at an early period, and had gained
strength with time. The state of the national treasury was calculated
to promote this disposition. It was empty, and could be replenished
only by taxes, which congress had not the power to impose; or by new
emissions of bills of credit, which the government had pledged the
public faith not to make, and which would rest for their redemption
only on that faith, which would be violated in the very act of their
emission. Under these circumstances, it required a degree of energy
seldom found, to struggle with surrounding difficulties for the
preservation of a general system, and to resist the temptation to
throw the nation at the feet of the states, in whom the vital
principle of power, the right to levy taxes, was exclusively vested.
While the continental currency preserved its value, this essential
defect of the constitution was, in some measure, concealed. The
facility with which money was obtained from the press, was a temporary
substitute for the command of the resources of the country. But when
this expedient failed, it was scarcely possible to advance a single
step, but under the guidance of the respective states.

[Sidenote: Financial regulations.]

Whatever might be the future effect of this system, it was
impracticable to bring it into immediate operation. The legislatures
of the several states, by whom it was to be adopted, and carried into
execution, were, many of them, not then in session; and were to meet
at different times through the ensuing spring. It was consequently to
be expected that great part of the summer would pass away before the
supplies to be raised by the measure, could be brought into use. In
the mean time, and until a new scheme of finance, which accompanied
the requisition of specific articles, should be tried, there was no
regular provision for the army. Bills to the amount of L100,000
sterling, payable at six months' sight, were drawn on Mr. Jay, and
others to the same amount, on Mr. Laurens, who were empowered to
negotiate loans in Europe. These bills were sold in small sums on
pressing occasions; and the loan offices remained open for the purpose
of borrowing from individuals.

This new scheme of finance was a second essay to substitute credit
unsupported by solid funds, and resting solely on the public faith,
for money.

The vast quantity of bills unavoidably emitted before the
establishment of regular governments possessing sufficient energy to
enforce the collection of taxes, or to provide for their redemption,
and before the governments of Europe were sufficiently confident of
their stability to afford them aid or credit, was assigned by congress
as the principal cause of that depreciation which had taken place in
the continental currency. The United States were now, they said, under
different circumstances. Their independence was secure; their civil
governments were established and vigorous; and the spirit of their
citizens ardent for exertion. The government being thus rendered
competent to the object, it was necessary to reduce the quantity of
paper in circulation, and to appropriate funds that should ensure the
punctual redemption of the bills.

For these purposes, the several states were required to continue to
bring into the continental treasury, monthly, from February to April
inclusive, their full quotas of fifteen millions of dollars. In
complying with this requisition, one Spanish milled dollar was to be
received in lieu of forty dollars of the paper currency.

The bills so brought in were not to be reissued, but destroyed; and
other bills, not to exceed one dollar for every twenty received in
discharge of taxes, were to be emitted.

These bills were to be redeemable within six years, and were to bear
an interest of five _per centum per annum_, to be paid at the time of
their redemption in specie, or, at the election of the holder,
annually, in bills of exchange drawn by the United States on their
commissioners in Europe, at four shillings and six pence sterling for
each dollar. They were to be issued in ascertained proportions on the
funds of the several states, with a collateral security on the part of
the government, to pay the quota of any particular state, which the
events of the war might render incapable of complying with its own
engagements. The bills were to be deposited in the continental
loan-offices of the several states, and were to be signed only as the
money then in circulation should be brought in by taxes or otherwise.
After being signed, six-tenths of them were to be delivered to the
states on whose funds they were to be issued, and the remaining
four-tenths to be retained for the use of the continent.

The operation of this scheme of finance was necessarily suspended by
the same causes which suspended that for requiring specific articles.
It depended on the sanction and co-operation of the several state
legislatures, many of which were yet to convene.

As it would be impracticable to maintain the value of the money about
to be emitted, should the states continue to issue bills of credit,
they were earnestly requested to suspend future emissions, and to call
the current paper out of circulation. But the time for this measure
was not yet arrived, and many of the states continued the use of the
press till late in the following year.

The establishment of the army for the ensuing campaign was fixed at
thirty-five thousand two hundred and eleven men, and the measures for
recruiting it were founded on the state system, which was become
entirely predominant.

The few intelligent statesmen who could combine practical good sense
with patriotism, perceived the dangerous inefficacy of a system which
openly abandoned the national character, and proceeded on the
principle that the American confederacy was no more than an alliance
of independent nations.

That great delays would be experienced, that the different parts of
the plan would be acted on too unequally and too uncertainly to
furnish a solid basis for military calculations, that the system would
be totally deranged in its execution, were mischiefs foreseen and
lamented by many, as resulting inevitably from a course of measures to
which the government of the Union was under the painful necessity of

"Certain I am," said the Commander-in-chief, in a confidential letter
to a member of the national legislature, "that unless congress speaks
in a more decisive tone; unless they are vested with powers by the
several states, competent to the great purposes of the war, or assume
them as matter of right, and they and the states respectively act with
more energy than they hitherto have done, our cause is lost. We can no
longer drudge on in the old way. By ill-timing the adoption of
measures; by delays in the execution of them, or by unwarrantable
jealousies; we incur enormous expenses, and derive no benefit from
them. One state will comply with a requisition from congress; another
neglects to do it; a third executes it by halves; and all differ in
the manner, the matter, or so much in point of time, that we are all
working up hill; and, while such a system as the present one, or
rather want of one, prevails, we ever shall be unable to apply our
strength or resources to any advantage.

"This, my dear sir, is plain language to a member of congress; but it
is the language of truth and friendship. It is the result of long
thinking, close application, and strict observation. I see one head
gradually changing into thirteen; I see one army branching into
thirteen; and, instead of looking up to congress as the supreme
controlling power of the United States, consider themselves as
dependent on their respective states. In a word, I see the power of
congress declining too fast for the respect which is due to them as
the great representative body of America, and am fearful of the

But whatever might be his objections to the proposed system, General
Washington was unremitting in his endeavours to render the plan
perfect in detail, and to give to its execution all the aid which his
situation and influence enabled him to afford.

The distresses of the army for food, which had found temporary relief
in the particular exertions of the magistrates and people of New
Jersey, soon returned; and it became once more necessary, even after
the magazines had been in some degree replenished, to recur to the
same persons for assistance. The supplies of forage had failed, and a
great proportion of the horses had perished, or been rendered unfit
for use. Neither funds nor credit were possessed for the purchase of
others, and the quarter-master-general found himself unable to
transport provisions from remote magazines into camp. This
circumstance reduced the Commander-in-chief to the painful necessity
of calling on the patriotism of private citizens, under the penalty of
a military impressment, should a voluntary contribution be refused,
for those means of conveyance which the government could not supply.

The want of food was not the only difficulty to be surmounted. Others
of a serious nature presented themselves. The pay of an officer was
reduced by the depreciation of the currency, to such a miserable
pittance as to be unequal to the supply of the most moderate demands.
The pay of a major general would no longer hire an express rider, and
that of a captain would not purchase the shoes in which he marched.
The American officers were not rich; and many of them had expended
their _little all_ in the service. If they had exhausted their private
funds, or if they possessed none, they could rely only on the state to
which they belonged for such clothing as the state might be willing or
able to furnish. These supplies were so insufficient and unequal, as
to produce extreme dissatisfaction. In the lines of some of the
states, the officers gave notice in a body, of their determination to
resign on a given day, if some decent and certain provision should not
be made for them. The remonstrances of the Commander-in-chief produced
an offer to serve as volunteers until their successors should be
appointed; and, on the rejection of this proposition, they were with
difficulty induced to remain in service.

Under these complicated embarrassments, it required all that
enthusiastic patriotism which pre-eminently distinguishes the soldier
of principle; all that ardent attachment to the cause of their country
which originally brought them into the field, and which their
sufferings could not diminish; all the influence of the
Commander-in-chief, whom they almost adored; to retain in the service
men who felt themselves neglected, and who believed themselves to be
the objects of the jealousy of their country, rather than of its

Among the privates, causes of disgust grew out of the very composition
of the army, which increased the dissatisfaction produced by their
multiplied wants.

The first effort made to enlist troops for the war had, in some
degree, succeeded. While these men found themselves obliged to
continue in service without compensation, and often without the common
necessaries of life, they perceived the vacant ranks in their
regiments filled up by men who were to continue only for a few months,
and who received bounties for that short service, from individuals or
from the states, which were of great real value, and which appeared to
soldiers not acquainted with the actual state of depreciation, to be
immense. They could not fail to compare situations, and to repine at
engagements which deprived them of advantages which they saw in
possession of others. Many were induced to contest those
engagements;[36] many to desert a service in which they experienced
such irritating inequalities; and all felt with the more poignant
indignation, those distressing failures in the commissary department,
which so frequently recurred.

[Footnote 36: In some instances, the civil power of the state in which
such soldiers happened to be, attempted to interfere and to discharge
even those belonging to the lines of other states, who asserted their
right to be discharged. It was with some difficulty the general could
arrest this dangerous interposition.]

[Sidenote: Committee of Congress deputed to camp.]

In consequence of the strong representations made to congress on these
various causes of disquiet, a committee of three members repaired to
camp for the purpose of consulting with the Commander-in-chief on such
arrangements as the means in possession of the government would enable
it to make, and the present state of the army might require. In
representing the condition of the troops, they said, "That the army
was unpaid for five months; that it seldom had more than six days'
provisions in advance, and was on several occasions, for several
successive days, without meat; that the army was destitute of forage;
that the medical department had neither tea, chocolate, wine, nor
spirituous liquors of any kind; that every department of the army was
without money, and had not even the shadow of credit left; that the
patience of the soldiers, borne down by the pressure of complicated
sufferings, was on the point of being exhausted."

To relieve this gloomy state of things by transfusing into it a ray of
hope for the future, a resolution was passed, declaring that congress
would make good to the line of the army, and to the independent corps
thereof, the deficiency of their original pay, which had been
occasioned by the depreciation of the continental currency; and that
the money or other articles heretofore received, should be considered
as advanced on account, to be comprehended in the settlement to be
finally made. The benefits of this resolution were confined to those
who were then in actual service, or should thereafter come into it,
and who were engaged for the war or for three years.

This resolution was published in general orders, and had considerable
influence on the army, but not sufficient to remove the various causes
of dissatisfaction which existed, and were continually multiplying.
The engagement to make good the depreciation of their pay, was an act
of justice too long withheld; and no promise for the future, could
supply the place of present comfortable subsistence. No hope was
given that their condition, in this respect, would be improved. For a
considerable time, the troops received only from one-half to
one-eighth of a ration of meat; and, at length, were several days
without a single pound of that necessary article.

This long course of suffering had unavoidably produced some relaxation
of discipline, and had gradually soured the minds of the soldiers to
such a degree, that their discontents broke out into actual mutiny.

[Sidenote: May 25.]

On the 25th of May, two regiments belonging to Connecticut paraded
under arms with a declared resolution to return home, or to obtain
subsistence at the point of the bayonet. The soldiers of the other
regiments, though not actually joining the mutineers, showed no
disposition to suppress the mutiny. By great exertions on the part of
the officers, aided by the appearance of a neighbouring brigade of
Pennsylvania, then commanded by Colonel Stewart, the leaders were
secured, and the two regiments brought back to their duty. Some
sentiments, however, were disclosed by the soldiers, in answer to the
remonstrances of their officers, of a serious and alarming nature.
Their pay was now five months in arrear, and the depreciation of the
money, they said, was such, that it would be worth nothing when
received. When reminded of the late resolution of congress for making
good the loss sustained by depreciation, of the reputation acquired by
their past good conduct, and of the value of the object for which
they were contending; they answered that their sufferings were too
great to be longer supported; that they wanted present relief; and
must have some present substantial recompense for their services. A
paper was found in the brigade, which appeared to have been brought by
some emissary from New York, stimulating the troops to the abandonment
of the cause in which they were engaged.

[Sidenote: June 6.]

[Sidenote: General Knyphausen enters Jersey.]

The discontents of the army, and the complaints excited in the country
by the frequent requisitions on the people of New Jersey, had been
communicated, with such exaggeration, to the officer commanding in New
York, as to induce the opinion that the American soldiers were ready
to desert their standards; and the people of New Jersey to change
their government. To countenance these dispositions, General
Knyphausen embarked at Staten Island, and landed in the night with
about five thousand men at Elizabethtown Point, in New Jersey. Early
next morning he marched towards Springfield, by the way of Connecticut
Farms, but soon perceived that the real temper, both of the country
and the army, had been misunderstood.

On the appearance of the enemy, the militia assembled with alacrity,
and aided the small patrolling parties of continental troops in
harassing him on his march from Elizabethtown to the Connecticut
Farms, a distance of five or six miles, where a halt was made. In a
spirit of revenge, unworthy the general of an army, more in the
character of Tryon who was present, than of Knyphausen who commanded,
this settlement was reduced to ashes.[37]

[Footnote 37: This circumstance would scarcely have deserved notice
had it not been accompanied by one of those melancholy events, which
even war does not authorize, and which made, at the time, a very deep

Mrs. Caldwell, the wife of the clergyman of the village, had been
induced to remain in her house, under the persuasion that her presence
might protect it from pillage, and that her person could not be
endangered, as Colonel Dayton who commanded the militia determined not
to stop in the settlement. While sitting in the midst of her children,
with a sucking infant in her arms, a soldier came up to the window and
discharged his musket at her. She received the ball in her bosom, and
instantly expired.]

From the Farms, Knyphausen proceeded to Springfield. The Jersey
brigade, commanded by General Maxwell, and the militia of the adjacent
country, took an advantageous position at that place, and seemed
determined to defend it. Knyphausen halted in its neighbourhood, and
remained on his ground until night.

Having received intelligence of this movement, General Washington put
his army in motion early in the same morning that Knyphausen marched
from Elizabethtown Point, and advanced to the Short Hills, in the rear
of Springfield, while the British were in the neighbourhood of that
place. Dispositions were made for an engagement the next morning, but
Knyphausen retired in the night to the place of his disembarkation.

General Washington continued on the hills near Springfield, too weak
to hazard an engagement, but on ground chosen by himself. His
continental troops did not exceed three thousand men. A return of the
whole army under his immediate command, made on the 3d of June,
exhibited in the column, of present, fit for duty, only three thousand
seven hundred and sixty, rank and file. So reduced was that force on
which America relied for independence. "You but too well know," said
General Washington in a letter to a friend, giving an account of this
incursion, "and will regret with me the cause which justifies this
insulting manoeuvre on the part of the enemy. It deeply affects the
honour of the states, a vindication of which could not be attempted in
our present circumstances, without most intimately hazarding their
security; at least so far as it may depend on the preservation of the
army. Their character, their interest, their all that is dear, call
upon them in the most pressing manner, to place the army immediately
on a respectable footing."

The long continuance of Knyphausen at Elizabethtown, strengthened a
suspicion that Sir Henry Clinton was about to return from South
Carolina, and intended, without disembarking his troops, to proceed up
the Hudson to West Point; and that the movement into Jersey was a
feint designed to cover the real object.

The letters of the Commander-in-chief, addressed about this period, to
those who might be supposed to possess influence in the government of
the Union, or in those of the states, exhibit his conjectures
respecting the designs of his adversary, as well as his apprehensions
from the condition of his own army. To the committee of congress, in
camp, he observed, "General Knyphausen still continues in the Jerseys
with all the force which can be spared from New York, a force greatly
superior to ours. Should Sir Henry join him, their superiority will be
decided, and equal to almost any thing they may think proper to
attempt. The enemy, it is true, are at this time inactive; but their
continuance in their present position proves that they have some
project of importance in contemplation. Perhaps they are only waiting
until the militia grow tired and return home, (which they are doing
every hour,) to prosecute their designs with the less opposition. This
would be a critical moment for us. Perhaps they are waiting the
arrival of Sir Henry Clinton, either to push up the North River
against the Highland posts, or to bend their whole force against this
army. In either case, the most disastrous consequences are to be
apprehended. You, who are well acquainted with our situation, need no
arguments to evince the danger.

"The militia of this state have run to arms, and behaved with an
ardour and spirit of which there are few examples. But perseverance,
in enduring the rigours of military service, is not to be expected
from those who are not by profession obliged to it. The reverse of
this opinion has been a great misfortune in our affairs, and it is
high time we should recover from an error of so pernicious a nature.
We must absolutely have a force of a different composition, or we must
relinquish the contest. In a few days, we may expect to rely almost
entirely on our continental force, and this, from your own
observation, is totally inadequate to our safety. The exigency calls
loudly on the states to carry all the recommendations of the committee
into the most vigorous and immediate execution; but more particularly
that for completing our batteries by a draught with all possible

[Sidenote: June 18.]

[Sidenote: Sir Henry Clinton returns to New York.]

In this precise state of things, he received intelligence of the
return of Sir Henry Clinton from the conquest of South Carolina.

The regular force in New York and its dependencies was now estimated
at twelve thousand men, great part of whom might be drawn into the
field for any particular purpose, because Sir Henry Clinton could
command about four thousand militia and refugees for garrison duty.

In communicating to congress the appearance of the British fleet off
the Hook, General Washington observed, "a very alarming scene may
shortly open, and it will be happy for us if we shall be able to
steer clear of some serious misfortune in this quarter. I hope the
period has not yet arrived, which will convince the different states
by fatal experience, that some of them have mistaken the true
situation of this country. I flatter myself, however, that we may
still retrieve our affairs if we have but a just sense of them, and
are actuated by a spirit of liberal policy and exertion equal to the
emergency. Could we once see this spirit generally prevailing, I
should not despair of a prosperous issue of the campaign. But there is
no time to be lost. The danger is imminent and pressing; the obstacles
to be surmounted are great and numerous; and our efforts must be
instant, unreserved, and universal."

On the arrival of Sir Henry Clinton, the design of acting offensively
in the Jerseys was resumed; but, to divide the American army,
demonstrations were made of an intention to seize West Point. To be in
readiness for either object, General Greene was left at Springfield
with two brigades of continental troops, and with the Jersey militia;
while, with the greater part of his army, General Washington proceeded
slowly towards Pompton, watching attentively the movements of the
British, and apparently unwilling to separate himself too far from
Greene. He had not marched farther than Rockaway, eleven miles beyond
Morristown, when the British army advanced from Elizabethtown towards
Springfield in great force. General Washington detached a brigade to
hang on their right flank, and returned with the residue of his army
five or six miles, in order to be in a situation to support Greene.

[Sidenote: June.]

[Sidenote: Skirmish at Springfield.]

Early in the morning of the 23d, the British army moved in two
columns, with great rapidity, towards Springfield. Major Lee was
advanced on the Vauxhall road, which was taken by the right column;
and Colonel Dayton on the direct road, which was taken by the left.
Both these corps made every possible exertion to check the advancing
enemy, while General Greene concentrated his little army at
Springfield. Scarcely had he made his dispositions, when the British
front appeared, and a cannonade commenced between their van and the
American artillery which defended a bridge over Rahway, a small river
running east of the town, which was guarded by Colonel Angel with less
than two hundred men. Colonel Shreve was posted at a second bridge,
also over a branch of the Rahway, in order to cover the retreat of
Angel from the first. Major Lee with his dragoons and the piquets
under Captain Walker, supported by Colonel Ogden, was directed to
defend a bridge on the Vauxhall road. The residue of the continental
troops were drawn up on high ground, in the rear of the town, with the
militia on their flanks.

The right column of the British advanced on Lee, who disputed the
passage of the bridge until a considerable body of the enemy forded
the river above him, and gained the point of a hill which endangered
his position. At this instant, their left attacked Colonel Angel, who
defended himself with persevering gallantry. The conflict was sharp,
and was maintained for about half an hour, when, compelled by superior
numbers to give way, he retired in good order, and brought off his
wounded. His retreat was covered by Colonel Shreve, who, after Angel
had passed him, was ordered by General Greene to join his brigade. The
English then took possession of the town and reduced it to ashes.

The obstinate resistance which had been encountered; the gallantry and
discipline displayed by the continental troops who had been engaged;
the strength of Greene's position; the firm countenance maintained by
his troops, small detachments of whom kept up a continual skirmishing
with a view to save a part of the town; all contributed to deter Sir
Henry Clinton from a farther prosecution of his original plan. He
withdrew that afternoon to Elizabethtown; and, in the following night,
passed over to Staten Island. It is probable that the caution
manifested during this expedition is to be ascribed to the
intelligence that a formidable fleet and army from France was daily
expected on the coast.

When the Marquis de Lafayette obtained permission to visit his native
country, he retained, with his rank in the American army, that zeal
for the interests of the United States, which the affectionate
attentions he had received, and the enthusiasm of a soldier in the
cause of those for whom he had made his first campaigns, were
calculated to inspire in a young and generous mind, in favour of an
infant people, struggling for liberty and self-government with the
hereditary rival of his nation.

He was received at the court of Versailles with every mark of favour
and distinction;[38] and all his influence was employed in impressing
on the cabinet, the importance and policy of granting succours to the
United States.

[Footnote 38: After he had visited the ministers, an arrest of eight
days, during which he resided with his relation the Marshal de
Noailles, was imposed on him for the sake of form and in honour of the
royal authority, which he had disregarded by proceeding to America.
After the expiration of this term he presented himself to the King,
who graciously said he pardoned his disobedience, in consideration of
his good conduct and of his services.--_Letter from Gen. Lafayette._]

[Sidenote: Lafayette brings intelligence of aid from France.]

[Sidenote: Exertions of Congress and of the Commander-in-chief to
strengthen the army.]

Having succeeded in this favourite object, and finding no probability
of active employment on the continent of Europe, he obtained
permission to return to America. He arrived late in April at Boston,
and hastened to head quarters; whence he proceeded to the seat of
Government with the information that his most Christian Majesty had
consented to employ a considerable land and naval armament in the
United States, for the ensuing campaign. This intelligence gave a new
impulse both to congress and the state legislatures. The states from
New Hampshire to Virginia inclusive were required to pay, within
thirty days, ten millions of dollars, part of their quotas which
became due on the first of March; and specie bills to the amount of
fifty thousand dollars were drawn on Messieurs Franklin and Jay. These
sums were sacredly appropriated to the objects of bringing the army
into the field, and forwarding their supplies.

The defects in the requisition system, which had been suggested by
General Washington, were corrected; and the committee in camp, at the
head of which was the late General Schuyler, was empowered, at the
request of the Commander-in-chief, to take such measures as were in
the power of congress, for drawing out the resources of the nation.

To give effect to these resolutions, the several state legislatures
from New Hampshire to Virginia inclusive, were requested to invest the
Executives, or some other persons, with powers sufficiently ample to
comply with such applications as might be made to them by the
committee in camp, and a circular letter was addressed to the state
governments, urging them to second the efforts of Congress.

Letters equally stimulating were written by the committee from camp;
and the well earned influence of the Commander-in-chief was also
employed to induce an exertion proportioned to the crisis. In addition
to those incentives which might operate on ardent minds, he
endeavoured, by a temperate review of the situation and resources of
the belligerent powers, to convince the judgment that America would
have real cause to fear the issue of the contest, should she neglect
to improve the advantage to be afforded by the succours expected from

[Footnote 39: See note No. III. at the end of the volume.]

Under the impressions produced by these representations, the state
legislatures, generally, passed the laws which were required; but the
energy displayed in their passage was not maintained in their
execution. In general, the assemblies followed the example of
congress, and apportioned on the several counties or towns within the
state, the quota to be furnished by each. This division of the state
was again to be subdivided into classes, each of which was to furnish
a man by contributions or taxes imposed upon itself.

[Sidenote: Tardy proceedings of the states.]

These operations were slow and unproductive.

It was not on the state sovereignties only that beneficial effects
were produced by a candid statement of public affairs, several
patriotic individuals contributed largely from their private funds to
the aid of the public. The merchants, and other citizens of
Philadelphia, with a zeal guided by that sound discretion which turns
expenditure to the best account, established a bank, for the support
of which they subscribed L315,000, Pennsylvania money, to be paid, if
required, in specie, the principal object of which was to supply the
army with provisions and rum. By the plan of this bank, its members
were to derive no emolument whatever from the institution. For
advancing their credit and their money, they required only that
congress should pledge the faith of the Union to reimburse the costs
and charges of the transaction in a reasonable time, and should give
such assistance to its execution as might be in their power.

The ladies of Philadelphia too gave a splendid example of patriotism,
by large donations for the immediate relief of the suffering army.
This example was extensively followed;[40] but it is not by the
contributions of the generous that a war can or ought to be
maintained. The purse of the nation alone can supply the expenditures
of a nation; and, when all are interested in a contest, all ought to
contribute to its support. Taxes, and taxes only, can furnish for the
prosecution of a national war, means which are just in themselves, or
competent to the object. Notwithstanding these donations, the
distresses of the army, for clothing especially, still continued; and
were the more severely felt when a co-operation with French troops was
expected. So late as the 20th of June, General Washington informed
congress, that he still laboured under the painful and humiliating
embarrassment of having no shirts for the soldiers, many of whom were
destitute of that necessary article. "For the troops to be without
clothing at any time," he added, "is highly injurious to the service,
and distressing to our feelings; but the want will be more peculiarly
mortifying when they come to act with those of our allies. If it be
possible, I have no doubt, immediate measures will be taken to relieve
their distress.

[Footnote 40: This instance of patriotism on the part of our fair and
amiable countrywomen, is far from being single. Their conduct
throughout the war was uniform. They shared with cheerfulness and
gaiety, the privations and sufferings to which the distress of the
times exposed their country. In every stage of this severe trial, they
displayed virtues which have not been always attributed to their sex,
but which it is believed they will, on every occasion calculated to
unfold them, be found to possess. With a ready acquiescence, with a
firmness always cheerful, and a constancy never lamenting the
sacrifices which were made, they not only yielded up all the
elegancies, delicacies, and even conveniences to be furnished by
wealth and commerce, relying on their farms and on domestic industry
for every article of food and raiment, but, consenting to share the
produce of their own labour, they gave up without regret, a
considerable portion of the covering designed for their own families,
to supply the wants of the distressed soldiers; and heroically
suppressed the involuntary sigh which the departure of their brothers,
their sons, and their husbands, for the camp, rended from their

"It is also most sincerely wished, that there could be some supplies
of clothing furnished to the officers. There are a great many whose
condition is still miserable. This is, in some instances, the case
with the whole lines of the states. It would be well for their own
sakes, and for the public good, if they could be furnished. They will
not be able, when our friends come to co-operate with us, to go on a
common routine of duty; and if they should, they must, from their
appearance, be held in low estimation."

This picture presents in strong colours, the real patriotism of the
American army. One heroic effort, though it may dazzle the mind with
its splendour, is an exertion most men are capable of making; but
continued patient suffering and unremitting perseverance, in a service
promising no personal emolument, and exposing the officer unceasingly,
not only to wants of every kind, but to those circumstances of
humiliation which seem to degrade him in the eyes of others,
demonstrate a fortitude of mind, a strength of virtue, and a firmness
of principle, which ought never to be forgotten.

As the several legislative acts for bringing the army into the field,
did not pass until the months of June and July, General Washington
remained uninformed of the force on which he might rely, and was
consequently unable to form any certain plan of operations.

This suspense was the more cruelly embarrassing, as, in the event of
an attempt upon New York, it was of the utmost importance that the
French fleet should, on its arrival, take possession of the harbour,
which was then weakly defended. But, should this measure be followed
by a failure to furnish the requisite support, it would not only be
ineffectual; but, in a very possible state of things, might sacrifice
the fleet itself.

Should it be ascertained that the states were either unable or
unwilling to make the exertions necessary for the siege of New York,
other objects presented themselves against which the allied arms might
be turned to advantage. To avoid the disgrace and danger of attempting
what could not be effected, and the reproach of neglecting any
attainable object, were equally desirable, and equally required a
correct knowledge of the measures which would be taken by the states.

In a letter to congress communicating his anxiety on this interesting
subject, and his total want of information respecting it, General
Washington observed, "The season is come when we have every reason to
expect the arrival of the fleet, and yet, for want of this point of
primary consequence, it is impossible for me to form a system of
co-operation. I have no basis to act upon; and, of course, were this
generous succour of our ally now to arrive, I should find myself in
the most awkward, embarrassing, and painful situation. The general and
the admiral, from the relation in which I stand, as soon as they
approach our coast, will require of me a plan of the measures to be
pursued, and there ought of right to be one prepared; but
circumstanced as I am, I can not even give them conjectures. From
these considerations, I have suggested to the committee, by a letter I
had the honour of addressing them yesterday, the indispensable
necessity of their writing again to the states, urging them to give
immediate and precise information of the measures they have taken and
of the result. The interest of the states, the honour and reputation
of our councils, the justice and gratitude due to our allies, all
require that I should, without delay, be enabled to ascertain and
inform them, what we can or can not undertake. There is a point which
ought now to be determined, on the success of which all our future
operations may depend, on which, for want of knowing our prospects, I
can make no decision. For fear of involving the fleet and army of our
allies in circumstances which would expose them, if not seconded by
us, to material inconvenience and hazard, I shall be compelled to
suspend it, and the delay may be fatal to our hopes."

The tardy proceedings of the states were not less perplexing to
congress than to the Commander-in-chief. To the minister of his most
Christian Majesty, who had in the preceding January communicated the
probability of receiving succour from France, that body, without
calculating accurately the means of complying with its engagements,
had pledged itself unequivocally for effectual co-operation. The
minister was assured, that the United States had expectations on which
they could rely with confidence, of bringing into the field, for the
next campaign, an army of twenty-five thousand men; and that such
numbers of militia might be added to this continental force, as would
render it competent to any enterprise against the posts occupied by
the British within the United States.

Assurances were also given that ample supplies of provisions for the
combined armies should be laid up in magazines under the direction of
congress. The French minister addressed congress on this subject about
the time that General Washington expressed so strongly, the necessity
of knowing with certainty, on what reinforcements he was to calculate.

Thus pressed by their general and their ally, congress renewed their
urgent requisitions on the states, and desired the several governments
to correspond weekly with the committee at head quarters, on the
progress made in complying with them.

In the mean time, General Washington meditated unceasingly on the
course to be pursued in the various contingencies which might happen;
and endeavoured to prepare for any plan of operations which
circumstances might render adviseable. The arrival of Sir Henry
Clinton diminished the variety of aspects in which the relative
situation of the two armies was to be contemplated, and rendered the
success of an attempt on New York more doubtful. It was now thought
adviseable that the armament from France, instead of sailing directly
to the Hook, should proceed in the first instance to Rhode Island;
where, after disembarking the troops, and providing for the sick, it
might wait until a definitive plan of operations should be concerted.

[Sidenote: July 13.]

[Sidenote: Arrival of a French armament in Rhode Island.]

On the 13th of July, while the result of the measures adopted by the
several states remained uncertain, the French fleet entered the
harbour of Newport, and letters were soon afterwards received from the
Count de Rochambeau and the Chevalier Tunay, the officers commanding
the land and naval forces, transmitting to General Washington an
account of their arrival, of their strength, their expectations, and
their orders.

The troops designed to serve in the United States had assembled, early
in the year, at Brest; but the transports at that place having been
chiefly employed for an armament destined for the West Indies; and the
ports from which it had been intended to draw others, being blockaded,
only the first division, consisting of five thousand men, had arrived
at Newport; but letters from France contained assurances that the
second division of the army might soon be expected.

To obviate those difficulties which had occurred on former occasions
respecting rank, the orders given to Lieutenant General Count de
Rochambeau, which were inclosed in his first letter, placed him
entirely under the command of General Washington. The French troops
were to be considered as auxiliaries, and were, according to the
usages of war, to cede the post of honour to the Americans.[41]

[Footnote 41: These orders were given at the instance of General
Lafayette.--_Correspondence with General Lafayette._]

Convinced that cordial harmony between the allied forces was essential
to their success, both generals cultivated carefully the friendly
dispositions felt by the troops towards each other. Warm professions
of reciprocal respect, esteem, and confidence, were interchanged
between them; and each endeavoured to impress on the other, and on all
the military and civil departments, the conviction that the two
nations, and two armies, were united by the ties of interest and
affection. On this occasion, General Washington recommended to his
officers, as a symbol of friendship and affection for their allies, to
engraft on the American cockade, which was black, a white relief, that
being the colour of the French cockade.

Late as was the arrival of the French troops, they found the Americans
unprepared for active and offensive operations. Not even at that time
were the numbers ascertained which would be furnished by the states.
Yet it was necessary for General Washington to communicate a plan of
the campaign to the Count de Rochambeau.

The season was already so far advanced that preparations for the
operations contemplated eventually, on the arrival of the second
division of the French fleet, must be immediately made, or there
would not be time, though every circumstance should prove favourable,
to execute the design against New York. Such a state of things so ill
comported with the engagements of congress, and with the interests of
the nation, that, trusting to his being enabled, by the measures
already taken by the states, to comply with what was incumbent on him
to perform, he determined to hazard much rather than forego the
advantages to be derived from the aids afforded by France. In
communicating this resolution to congress, he said--"Pressed on all
sides by a choice of difficulties in a moment which required decision,
I have adopted that line of conduct which comported with the dignity
and faith of congress, the reputation of these states, and the honour
of our arms. I have sent on definitive proposals of co-operation to
the French general and admiral. Neither the period of the season, nor
a regard to decency, would permit delay. The die is cast, and it
remains with the states either to fulfil their engagements, preserve
their credit, and support their independence, or to involve us in
disgrace and defeat. Notwithstanding the failures pointed out by the
committee, I shall proceed on the supposition that they will,
ultimately, consult their own interest and honour and not suffer us to
fail for the want of means which it is evidently in their power to
afford. What has been done, and is doing, by some of the states,
confirms the opinion I have entertained of sufficient resources in the
country. Of the disposition of the people to submit to any arrangement
for bringing them forth, I see no reasonable ground to doubt. If we
fail for want of proper exertions in any of the governments, I trust
the responsibility will fall where it ought; and that I shall stand
justified to congress, my country, and the world."

[Illustration: Beverly Robinson Mansion at West Point

_Benedict Arnold made this house his headquarters while in command of
the fort and garrison there. It was here that Washington came to
breakfast with Arnold, one September morning in 1780 and made the
discovery that his host had turned traitor and was conspiring to
surrender West Point to the British._]

A decisive naval superiority, however, was considered as the basis of
any enterprise to be undertaken by the allied arms. This naval
superiority being assumed, the outlines of the plan were drawn, and
the 5th of August was named as the day on which the French troops
should re-embark, and the American army assemble at Morrissania.

This plan was committed to Major General the Marquis de la Fayette,
who was authorized to explain the situation of the American army, and
the views of the General, to the Count de Rochambeau. It was to be
considered as preliminary to any operation--that the fleet and army of
France should continue their aid until the enterprise should succeed,
or be abandoned by mutual consent.

The Chevalier de Tunay did not long maintain his superiority at sea.
Three days after he reached Newport, Admiral Greaves arrived with six
ships of the line, and transferred it to the British. On his
appearance off the Hook, Arbuthnot passed the bar with four ships of
the line; and hearing that De Tunay had reached Rhode Island,
proceeded thither, and cruised off the harbour. The Count de
Rochambeau had been put into possession of all the forts and batteries
about Newport, and the fleet had been moved in a line so as to
co-operate with the land forces. This position appearing too
formidable to be attempted by the fleet alone, Arbuthnot continued to
cruise off Block Island.

As the commanders of the allied forces still cherished the hope of
acquiring a superiority at sea, the design on New York was only
suspended. This hope was strengthened by intelligence that the Count
de Guichen had been joined in the West Indies by a powerful Spanish
armament. The Chevalier de Tunay had despatched a packet to inform him
that he was blocked up by a superior force, and to solicit such
reinforcements as the situation of the Count might enable him to
spare. Relying on the success of this application, and on the arrival
of the second division of the squadron from Brest, the American
general impatiently expected the moment when De Tunay would be enabled
to act offensively.

In this crisis of affairs, a derangement took place in a most
important department, which threatened to disconcert the whole plan of
operations, though every other circumstance should prove favourable.

The immense expenditure of the quartermaster's department--the
inadequacy of the funds with which it was supplied--the reciprocal
disgusts and complaints produced by these causes, had determined
congress to make still another radical change in the system. This
subject had been taken up early in the winter; but such were the
delays inseparable from the proceedings of the government, that the
report of the committee was not made until the month of March, nor
finally decided on until the middle of July.

This subject was too interesting to the army, and to the important
operations meditated for the campaign, not to engage the anxious
attention of the Commander-in-chief. At his request, the quartermaster
general, while the army lay in winter quarters, repaired to
Philadelphia for the purpose of giving congress all the information he
possessed. He proposed to withdraw the management of the department
almost entirely from the civil government, and to place it under the
control of the person who should be at its head, subject only to the
direction of the Commander-in-chief.

The views of congress were entirely different. While the subject
remained suspended before that body, it was taken up by the committee
of co-operation at head quarters, where the combined experience and
talents of Generals Washington, Schuyler, and Greene, were employed in
digesting a system adapted to the actual situation of the United
States, which was recommended to congress. To give the more weight to
his opinion by showing its disinterestedness, General Greene offered
to continue in the discharge of the duties assigned to him, without
any other extra emolument than his family expenses. This plan,
whatever might have been its details, was, in its general outlines,
unacceptable to congress. A system was, at length, completed by that
body, which General Greene believed to be incapable of execution.
Resolving not to take upon himself the responsibility of measures the
issue of which must be calamitous and disgraceful, he determined to
withdraw from a station in which he despaired of being useful.

Apprehending the worst consequences from his resignation in so
critical a moment, General Washington pressed him to suspend this
decisive step, until the effect of an application from himself and
from the committee of co-operation should be known. Their
representations produced no effect. The resolution to make this bold
experiment was unalterable. General Greene's resignation was accepted;
and the letter conveying it excited so much irritation, that a design
was intimated of suspending his command in the line of the army. But
these impressions soon wore off, and the resentment of the moment
subsided. Colonel Pickering, who succeeded General Greene, possessed,
in an eminent degree, those qualities which fitted him to combat and
subdue the difficulties of his department. To great energy of mind and
body, he added a long experience in the affairs of the continent, with
an ardent zeal for its interests; and General Greene himself, with
several of the former officers, at the request of the
Commander-in-chief, continued for some time after their resignation,
to render all the services in their power; but there was a defect of
means, for which neither talents nor exertion could compensate.

In the commissary department the same distress was experienced.
General Washington was driven to the necessity of emptying the
magazines at West Point, and of foraging on a people whose means of
subsisting themselves were already nearly exhausted by the armies on
both sides. The inadequate supplies drawn from these sources afforded
but a short relief; and, once more, at a time when the public
imagination was contemplating brilliant plans, the execution of which
required steady courage with persevering labour, and consequently
ample magazines, the army was frequently reduced to the last extremity
by the want of food.

So great were the embarrassments produced by the difficulty of
procuring subsistence that, although the second division of the fleet
from Brest was daily expected, General Washington found it necessary
to countermand the orders under which the militia were marching to

Such was the state of preparation for the campaign, when intelligence
was brought by the Alliance frigate that the port of Brest was
blockaded. In the hope, however, that the combined fleets of France
and Spain would be able to raise the blockade, General Washington
adhered steadily to his purpose respecting New York, and continued his
exertions to provide the means for its execution. The details of the
plan of co-operation continued to be the subject of a correspondence
with the Count de Rochambeau, and the Chevalier de Tunay; and, at
length, a personal interview was agreed upon, to take place on the
21st of September, at Hartford, in Connecticut.

[Sidenote: Enterprise against New York relinquished.]

In this interview, ulterior eventual measures, as well as an explicit
and detailed arrangement for acting against New York, were the
subjects of consideration. No one of the plans, however, then
concerted for the present campaign, was carried into execution. All,
except an invasion of Canada, depended on a superiority at sea, which
was soon rendered almost hopeless by certain information that the
Count de Guichen had sailed for Europe.

[Sidenote: Naval superiority of the British.]

Not long after receiving this information, Admiral Rodney arrived at
New York with eleven ships of the line and four frigates. This
reinforcement not only disconcerted all the plans of the allies, but
put it in the power of the British to prosecute in security their
designs in the south.

[Sidenote: Plans for the campaign abandoned.]

It may well be supposed that the Commander-in-chief did not
relinquish, without infinite chagrin, the sanguine expectations he had
formed of rendering this summer decisive of the war. Never before had
he indulged so strongly the hope of happily terminating the contest.
In a letter to an intimate friend, this chagrin was thus expressed.
"We are now drawing to a close an inactive campaign, the beginning of
which appeared pregnant with events of a very favourable complexion. I
hoped, but I hoped in vain, that a prospect was opening which would
enable me to fix a period to my military pursuits, and restore me to
domestic life. The favourable disposition of Spain, the promised
succour from France, the combined force in the West Indies, the
declaration of Russia, (acceded to by other powers of Europe,
humiliating the naval pride and power of Great Britain) the
superiority of France and Spain by sea in Europe, the Irish claims and
English disturbances, formed in the aggregate an opinion in my breast,
(which is not very susceptible of peaceful dreams) that the hour of
deliverance was not far distant; for that, however unwilling Great
Britain might be to yield the point, it would not be in her power to
continue the contest. But alas! these prospects, flattering as they
were, have proved delusive; and I see nothing before us but
accumulating distress. We have been half of our time without
provisions, and are likely to continue so. We have no magazines, nor
money to form them. We have lived upon expedients until we can live no
longer. In a word, the history of the war is a history of false hopes
and temporary devices, instead of system and economy. It is in vain,
however, to look back, nor is it our business to do so. Our case is
not desperate, if virtue exists in the people, and there is wisdom
among our rulers. But to suppose that this great revolution can be
accomplished by a temporary army; that this army will be subsisted by
state supplies; and that taxation alone is adequate to our wants, is
in my opinion absurd, and as unreasonable as to expect an inversion of
the order of nature to accommodate itself to our views. If it were
necessary, it could be easily proved to any person of a moderate
understanding, that an annual army, or any army raised on the spur of
the occasion, besides being unqualified for the end designed, is, in
various ways that could be enumerated, ten times more expensive than a
permanent body of men under good organization and military discipline;
which never was, nor will be the case with raw troops. A thousand
arguments, resulting from experience and the nature of things, might
also be adduced to prove that the army, if it is to depend upon state
supplies, must disband or starve, and that taxation alone (especially
at this late hour) can not furnish the means to carry on the war. Is
it not time to retract from error, and benefit by experience? Or do we
want farther proof of the ruinous system we have pertinaciously
adhered to."


     Treason and escape of Arnold.... Trial and execution of
     Major Andre.... Precautions for the security of West
     Point.... Letter of General Washington on American
     affairs.... Proceedings of congress respecting the army....
     Major Talmadge destroys the British stores at Coram.... The
     army retires into winter quarters.... Irruption of Major
     Carlton into New York.... European transactions.

[Sidenote: 1780.]

While the public mind was anticipating great events from the
combined arms of France and America, treason lay concealed in the
American camp, and was plotting the ruin of the American cause.

The great services and military talents of General Arnold, his courage
in battle, and patient fortitude under excessive hardships, had
secured to him a high place in the opinion of the army and of his

Not having sufficiently recovered from the wounds received before
Quebec and at Saratoga to be fit for active service, and having large
accounts to settle with the government which required leisure, he was,
on the evacuation of Philadelphia in 1778, appointed to the command in
that place.

Unfortunately, that strength of principle and correctness of judgment,
which might enable him to resist the various seductions to which his
fame and rank exposed him in the metropolis of the Union, were not
associated with the firmness which he had displayed in the field, and
in the most adverse circumstances. Yielding to the temptations of a
false pride, and forgetting that he did not possess the resources of
private fortune, he indulged in the pleasures of a sumptuous table and
expensive equipage, and soon swelled his debts to an amount which it
was impossible to discharge. Unmindful of his military character, he
engaged in speculations which were unfortunate; and with the hope of
immense profit, took shares in privateers which were unsuccessful. His
claims against the United States were great, and he looked to them for
the means of extricating himself from the embarrassments in which his
indiscretions had involved him; but the commissioners to whom his
accounts were referred for settlement, had reduced them considerably;
and, on his appeal from their decision to congress, a committee
reported that the sum allowed by the commissioners was more than he
was entitled to receive.

He was charged with various acts of extortion on the citizens of
Philadelphia, and with peculating on the funds of the continent. Not
the less soured by these multiplied causes of irritation, from the
reflection that they were attributable to his own follies and vices,
he gave full scope to his resentments, and indulged himself in
expressions of angry reproach against, what he termed, the ingratitude
of his country, which provoked those around him, and gave great
offence to congress. Having become peculiarly odious to the government
of Pennsylvania, the Executive of that state exhibited formal charges
against him to congress, who directed that he should be arrested and
brought before a court martial. His trial was concluded late in
January, 1779, and he was sentenced to be reprimanded by the
Commander-in-chief. This sentence was approved by congress and carried
into execution.

From the time the sentence against him was approved, if not sooner,
his proud unprincipled spirit revolted from the cause of his country,
and determined him to seek an occasion to make the objects of his
resentment, the victims of his vengeance. Turning his eyes on West
Point as an acquisition which would give value to treason, and inflict
a mortal wound on his former friends, he sought the command of that
fortress for the purpose of gratifying both his avarice and his

[Footnote 42: The author is informed by General Lafayette that Arnold,
while commanding at West Point, endeavoured to obtain from General
Washington the names of his secret emissaries in New York, and his
means of communicating with them. He pressed Lafayette, who had also
his private intelligencers, for the same information. His applications
were of course unsuccessful. It cannot be doubted that his object was
to commit the additional crime of betraying them to Sir Henry

To New York, the safety of West Point was peculiarly interesting; and,
in that state, the reputation of Arnold was particularly high. To its
delegation he addressed himself; and one of its members had written a
letter to General Washington, suggesting doubts respecting the
military character of Howe, to whom its defence was then entrusted,
and recommending Arnold for that service. This request was not
forgotten. Some short time afterwards, General Schuyler mentioned to
the Commander-in-chief a letter he had received from Arnold intimating
his wish to join the army, but stating his inability, in consequence
of his wounds, to perform the active duties of the field. General
Washington observed that, as there was a prospect of a vigorous
campaign, he should be gratified with the aid of General Arnold. That
so soon as the operations against New York should commence, he
designed to draw his whole force into the field, leaving even West
Point to the care of invalids and a small garrison of militia.
Recollecting however the former application of a member of congress
respecting this post, he added, that "if, with this previous
information, that situation would be more agreeable to him than a
command in the field, his wishes should certainly be indulged."

This conversation being communicated to Arnold, he caught eagerly at
the proposition, though without openly discovering any solicitude on
the subject; and, in the beginning of August, repaired to camp, where
he renewed the solicitations which had before been made indirectly.

At this juncture, Sir Henry Clinton embarked on an expedition he
meditated against Rhode Island, and General Washington was advancing
on New York. He offered Arnold the left wing of the army, which that
officer declined under the pretexts mentioned in his letter to General

Incapable of suspecting a man who had given such distinguished proofs
of courage and patriotism, the Commander-in-chief was neither alarmed
at his refusal to embrace so splendid an opportunity of recovering the
favour of his countrymen, nor at the embarrassment accompanying that
refusal. Pressing the subject no farther, he assented to the request
which had been made, and invested Arnold with the command of West
Point. Previous to his soliciting this station, he had, in a letter to
Colonel Robinson, signified his change of principles, and his wish to
restore himself to the favour of his Prince by some signal proof of
his repentance. This letter opened the way to a correspondence with
Sir Henry Clinton, the immediate object of which, after obtaining the
appointment he had solicited, was to concert the means of delivering
the important post he commanded to the British general.

Major John Andre, an aid-de-camp of Sir Henry Clinton, and adjutant
general of the British army, was selected as the person to whom the
maturing of Arnold's treason, and the arrangements for its execution
should be entrusted. A correspondence was carried on between them
under a mercantile disguise, in the feigned names of Gustavus and
Anderson; and, at length, to facilitate their communications, the
Vulture sloop of war moved up the North River, and took a station
convenient for the purpose, but not so near as to excite suspicion.

[Sidenote: Treason and escape of Arnold.]

The time when General Washington met the Count de Rochambeau at
Hartford was selected for the final adjustment of the plan; and, as a
personal interview was deemed necessary, Major Andre came up the
river, and went on board the Vulture. The house of a Mr. Smith,
without the American posts, was appointed for the interview; and to
that place both parties repaired in the night--Andre being brought
under a pass for John Anderson, in a boat despatched from the shore.
While the conference was yet unfinished, day light approached; and, to
avoid discovery, Arnold proposed that Andre should remain concealed
until the succeeding night. He is understood to have refused
peremptorily to be carried within the American posts; but the promise
to respect this objection was not observed. They continued together
the succeeding day; and when, in the following night, his return to
the Vulture was proposed, the boatmen refused to carry him because she
had shifted her station during the day, in consequence of a gun which
was moved to the shore without the knowledge of Arnold, and brought
to bear upon her. This embarrassing circumstance reduced him to the
necessity of endeavouring to reach New York by land. To accomplish
this purpose, he reluctantly yielded to the urgent representations of
Arnold; and, laying aside his regimentals, which he had hitherto worn
under a surtout, put on a plain suit of clothes, and received a pass
from General Arnold, authorizing him, under the name of John Anderson,
to proceed on the public service to the White Plains, or lower if he
thought proper.

With this permit, he had passed all the guards and posts on the road
unsuspected, and was proceeding to New York in perfect security, when
one of three militia men who were employed between the lines of the
two armies, springing suddenly from his covert into the road, seized
the reins of his bridle, and stopped his horse. Losing his accustomed
self-possession, Major Andre, instead of producing the pass[43] from
General Arnold, asked the man hastily where he belonged? He replied
"to below;" a term implying that he was from New York. "And so," said
Andre, not suspecting deception, "am I." He then declared himself to
be a British officer on urgent business, and begged that he might not
be detained. The appearance of the other militia men disclosed his
mistake, too late to correct it. He offered a purse of gold, and a
valuable watch, with tempting promises of ample reward from his
government, if they would permit him to escape; but his offers were
rejected, and his captors proceeded to search him. They found
concealed in his boots, in Arnold's hand writing, papers containing
all the information which could be important respecting West Point.
When carried before Lieutenant Colonel Jameson, the officer commanding
the scouting parties on the lines, he still maintained his assumed
character, and requested Jameson to inform his commanding officer that
Anderson was taken. Jameson despatched an express with this
communication. On receiving it, Arnold comprehended the full extent of
his danger, and, flying from well merited punishment, took refuge on
board the Vulture.

[Footnote 43: Mr. Johnson says he did produce it; but that, on being
surprised, he had thrust a paper containing a plan of the route in his
boot, which, having been perceived, was demanded, and led to his

[Illustration: Where Washington Stayed During Andre's Trial

_In this brick house at Tappan, Rockland County, New York, the
American Commander-in-Chief, during September, 1780, awaited the
result of the trial of Major John Andre, who conspired with Benedict
Arnold for the betrayal of West Point to the British. Fourteen
American officers sat in judgment on Andre and ordered his execution
on October 2, 1780. In Tappan also is still standing the old Tavern
where Andre was imprisoned._]

When sufficient time for the escape of Arnold was supposed to have
elapsed, Andre, no longer affecting concealment, acknowledged himself
to be the adjutant general of the British army. Jameson, seeking to
correct the mischief of his indiscreet communication to Arnold,
immediately despatched a packet to the Commander-in-chief containing
the papers which had been discovered, with a letter from Andre,
relating the manner of his capture, and accounting for the disguise he
had assumed.

The express was directed to meet the Commander-in-chief, who was then
on his return from Hartford; but, taking different roads,[44] they
missed each other, and a delay attended the delivery of the papers,
which insured the escape of Arnold.

[Footnote 44: General Lafayette adds some circumstances which are not
found among the manuscript papers of General Washington. The
Commander-in-chief with Generals Lafayette and Knox had turned from
the direct route in order to visit a redoubt. Colonels Hamilton and
M'Henry, the aids-de-camp of Generals Washington and Lafayette, went
forward to request Mrs. Arnold not to wait breakfast. Arnold received
Andre's billet in their presence. He turned pale, left them suddenly,
called his wife, communicated the intelligence to her and left her in
a swoon, without the knowledge of Hamilton and M'Henry. Mounting the
horse of his aid-de-camp, which was ready saddled, and directing him
to inform General Washington on his arrival that Arnold was gone to
receive him at West Point, he gained the river shore, and was conveyed
in a canoe to the Vulture.

The Commander-in-chief, on his arrival, was informed that Arnold
awaited him at West Point. Taking it for granted that this step had
been taken to prepare for his reception, he proceeded thither without
entering the house, and was surprised to find that Arnold was not
arrived. On returning to the quarters of that officer he received
Jameson's despatch, which disclosed the whole mystery.]

[Sidenote: Precautions for the security of West Point.]

Every precaution was immediately taken for the security of West Point;
after which, the attention of the Commander-in-chief was turned to
Andre. A board of general officers, of which Major General Greene was
president, and the two foreign generals, Lafayette and Steuben, were
members, was called, to report a precise state of his case, and to
determine the character in which he was to be considered, and the
punishment to which he was liable.

The frankness and magnanimity with which Andre had conducted himself
from the time of his appearance in his real character, had made a
very favourable impression on all those with whom he had held any
intercourse. From this cause he experienced every mark of indulgent
attention which was compatible with his situation; and, from a sense
of justice as well as of delicacy, was informed, on the opening of the
examination, that he was at liberty not to answer any interrogatory
which might embarrass his own feelings. But, as if only desirous to
rescue his character from imputations which he dreaded more than
death, he confessed every thing material to his own condemnation, but
would divulge nothing which might involve others.

[Sidenote: Trial and execution of Major Andre.]

The board reported the essential facts which had appeared, with their
opinion that Major Andre was a spy, and ought to suffer death. The
execution of this sentence was ordered to take place on the day
succeeding that on which it was pronounced.

Superior to the terrors of death, but dreading disgrace, Andre was
deeply affected by the mode of execution which the laws of war decree
to persons in his situation. He wished to die like a soldier, not as a
criminal. To obtain a mitigation of his sentence in this respect, he
addressed a letter[45] to General Washington, replete with the
feelings of a man of sentiment and honour. But the occasion required
that the example should make its full impression, and this request
could not be granted. He encountered his fate with composure and
dignity; and his whole conduct interested the feelings of all who
witnessed it.

[Footnote 45: See note No. IV. at the end of the volume.]

The general officers lamented the sentence which the usages of war
compelled them to pronounce; and never perhaps did the
Commander-in-chief obey with more reluctance the stern mandates of
duty and policy. The sympathy excited among the American officers by
his fate, was as universal as it is unusual on such occasions; and
proclaims alike the merit of him who suffered, and the humanity of
those who inflicted the punishment.

Great exertions were made by Sir Henry Clinton, to whom Andre was
particularly dear, first, to have him considered as protected by a
flag of truce, and afterwards, as a prisoner of war.

Even Arnold had the hardihood to interpose. After giving a certificate
of facts tending, as he supposed, to exculpate the prisoner,
exhausting his powers of reasoning on the case, and appealing to the
humanity of the American general, he sought to intimidate that
officer, by stating the situation of many of the most distinguished
individuals of South Carolina, who had forfeited their lives, but had
hitherto been spared through the clemency of the British general. This
clemency, he said, could no longer be extended to them should Major
Andre suffer.

It may well be supposed that the interposition of Arnold could have no
influence on Washington. He conveyed Mrs. Arnold to her husband in New
York,[46] and also transmitted his clothes and baggage, for which he
had written; but, in every other respect, his letters, which were
unanswered, were also unnoticed.

[Footnote 46: General Lafayette mentions a circumstance not previously
known to the author, which serves to illustrate the character of
Washington, and to mark the delicacy of his feelings towards even the
offending part of that sex which is entitled to all the consolation
and protection man can afford it.

The night after Arnold's escape, when his letter respecting Andre was
received, the general directed one of his aids to wait on Mrs. Arnold,
who was convulsed with grief, and inform her that he had done every
thing which depended on him to arrest her husband, but that, not
having succeeded, it gave him pleasure to inform her that her husband
was safe. It is also honourable to the American character, that during
the effervescence of the moment, Mrs. Arnold was permitted to go to
Philadelphia, to take possession of her effects, and to proceed to New
York under the protection of a flag, without receiving the slightest

The mingled sentiments of admiration and compassion excited in every
bosom for the unfortunate Andre, seemed to increase the detestation in
which Arnold was held. "Andre," said General Washington in a private
letter, "has met his fate with that fortitude which was to be expected
from an accomplished man and a gallant officer; but I am mistaken if
_at this time_ Arnold is undergoing the torments of a mental hell. He
wants feeling. From some traits[47] of his character which have
lately come to my knowledge, he seems to have been so hardened in
crime, so lost to all sense of honour and shame, that, while his
faculties still enable him to continue his sordid pursuits, there will
be no time for remorse."

[Footnote 47: This allusion is thus explained in a private letter from
Colonel Hamilton--"This man (Arnold) is in every sense despicable. In
addition to the scene of knavery and prostitution during his command
in Philadelphia, which the late seizure of his papers has unfolded,
the history of his command at West Point is a history of little as
well as great villanies. He practised every dirty act of peculation,
and even stooped to connexions with the suttlers to defraud the

From motives of policy, or of respect for his engagements, Sir Henry
Clinton conferred on Arnold the commission of a brigadier general in
the British service, which he preserved throughout the war. Yet it is
impossible that rank could have rescued him from the contempt and
detestation in which the generous, the honourable, and the brave,
could not cease to hold him. It was impossible for men of this
description to bury the recollection of his being a traitor, a sordid
traitor, first the slave of his rage, then purchased with gold, and
finally secured at the expense of the blood of one of the most
accomplished officers in the British army.

His representations of the discontent of the country and of the army
concurring with reports from other quarters, had excited the hope that
the loyalists and the dissatisfied, allured by British gold, and the
prospect of rank in the British service, would flock to his standard,
and form a corps at whose head he might again display his accustomed
intrepidity. With this hope he published an address to the inhabitants
of America, in which he laboured to palliate his own guilt, and to
increase their dissatisfaction with the existing state of things.

This appeal to the public was followed by a proclamation addressed "To
the officers and soldiers of the continental army, who have the real
interests of their country at heart, and who are determined to be no
longer the tools and dupes of congress or of France."

The object of this proclamation was to induce the officers and
soldiers to desert the cause they had embraced from principle, by
holding up to them the very flattering offers of the British general,
and contrasting the substantial emoluments of the British service with
their present deplorable condition. He attempted to cover this
dishonourable proposition with a decent garb, by representing the base
step he invited them to take, as the only measure which could restore
peace, real liberty, and happiness, to their country.

These inducements did not produce their intended effect. Although the
temper of the army might be irritated by real suffering, and by the
supposed neglect of government, no diminution of patriotism had been
produced. Through all the hardships, irritations, and vicissitudes of
the war, Arnold remains the solitary instance of an American officer
who abandoned the side first embraced in this civil contest, and
turned his sword upon his former companions in arms.

When the probable consequences of this plot, had it been successful,
were considered, and the combination of apparent accidents by which it
was discovered and defeated, was recollected, all were filled with
awful astonishment; and the devout perceived in the transaction, the
hand of Providence guiding America to independence.

The thanks of congress were voted to the three militia men[48] who had
rendered this invaluable service; and a silver medal, with an
inscription expressive of their fidelity and patriotism, was directed
to be presented to each of them. In addition to this flattering
testimonial of their worth, and as a farther evidence of national
gratitude, a resolution was passed granting to each, two hundred
dollars per annum during life, to be paid in specie or an equivalent
in current money.

[Footnote 48: Their names were John Paulding, David Williams, and
Isaac Vanwert.]

The efforts of General Washington to obtain a permanent military
force, or its best substitute, a regular system for filling the vacant
ranks with draughts who should join the army on the first day of
January in each year, were still continued. Notwithstanding the
embarrassments with which congress was surrounded, it is not easy to
find adequate reasons for the neglect of representations so
interesting, and of recommendations apparently so essential to the
safety of the United States.

[Sidenote: Parties in Congress.]

Private letters disclose the fact that two parties still agitated
congress. One entered fully into the views of the Commander-in-chief.
The other, jealous of the army, and apprehensive of its hostility to
liberty when peace should be restored, remained unwilling to give
stability to its constitution by increasing the numbers who were to
serve during the war. They seemed to dread the danger from the enemy
to which its fluctuations would expose them, less than the danger
which might be apprehended for the civil authority from its permanent
character. They caught with avidity at every intelligence which
encouraged the flattering hope of a speedy peace,[49] but entered
reluctantly into measures founded on the supposition that the war
might be of long duration. Perfectly acquainted with the extent of the
jealousies entertained on this subject, although, to use his own
expressions to a friend, "Heaven knows how unjustly," General
Washington had foreborne to press the necessity of regular and timely
reinforcements to his army so constantly and so earnestly as his own
judgment directed. But the experience of every campaign furnished such
strong additional evidences of the impolicy and danger of continuing
to rely on temporary expedients, and the uncertainty of collecting a
force to co-operate with the auxiliaries from France was so peculiarly
embarrassing, that he at length resolved to conquer the delicacy by
which he had been in some degree restrained, and to open himself fully
on the subject which he deemed more essential than any other to the
success of the war.

[Footnote 49: The following extract from a private letter of General
Washington to a member of congress, shows how sensible he was of the
mischief produced by this temper. "The satisfaction I have in any
successes that attend us, even in the alleviation of misfortunes, is
always allayed by the fear that it will lull us into security.
Supineness, and a disposition to flatter ourselves, seem to make parts
of our national character. When we receive a check and are not quite
undone, we are apt to fancy we have gained a victory; and when we do
gain any little advantage, we imagine it decisive, and expect the war
immediately to end. The history of the war is a history of false hopes
and temporary expedients. Would to God they were to end here! This
winter, if I am not mistaken, will open a still more embarrassing
scene than we have yet experienced, to the southward. I have little
doubt, should we not gain a naval superiority, that Sir Henry Clinton
will detach to the southward to extend his conquests. I am far from
being satisfied that we shall be prepared to repel his attempts."]

[Sidenote: August.]

In August, while looking anxiously for such a reinforcement to the
Chevalier de Tunay as would give him the command of the American seas,
and while uncertain whether the campaign might not pass away without
giving a single advantage promised at its opening, he transmitted a
letter to congress, fully and freely imparting his sentiments on the
state of things.

[Sidenote: Letter of General Washington on American affairs.]

As this letter contains an exact statement of American affairs,
according to the view taken of them by General Washington, and a
faithful picture of the consequences of the ruinous policy which had
been pursued, drawn by the man best acquainted with them, copious
extracts from it will, at least, be excused.

After examining the sources of supplies for the campaign, he proceeds
to say--"But while we are meditating offensive operations which may
not be undertaken at all, or, being undertaken, may fail, I am
persuaded congress are not inattentive to the present state of the
army, and will view in the same light with me the necessity of
providing in time against a period (the first of January) when one
half of our present force will dissolve. The shadow of an army that
will remain, will have every motive, except mere patriotism, to
abandon the service, without the hope which has hitherto supported
them, of a change for the better. This is almost extinguished now, and
certainly will not outlive the campaign, unless it finds something
more substantial to rest upon. This is a truth of which every
spectator of the distresses of the army can not help being convinced.
Those at a distance may speculate differently; but on the spot an
opinion to the contrary, judging human nature on the usual scale,
would be chimerical.

"The honourable the committee of congress, who have seen and heard for
themselves, will add their testimony to mine; and the wisdom and
justice of congress can not fail to give it the most serious
attention. To me it will appear miraculous, if our affairs can
maintain themselves much longer in their present train. If either the
temper or the resources of the country will not admit of an
alteration, we may expect soon to be reduced to the humiliating
condition of seeing the cause of America, in America, upheld by
foreign arms. The generosity of our allies has a claim to all our
confidence, and all our gratitude; but it is neither for the honour of
America, nor for the interest of the common cause, to leave the work
entirely to them."

He then reviewed the resources of Great Britain; and, after showing
her ability still to prosecute the war, added--"The inference from
these reflections is, that we can not count upon a speedy end of the
war; and that it is the true policy of America not to content herself
with temporary expedients, but to endeavour, if possible, to give
consistency and solidity to her measures. An essential step to this
will be immediately to devise a plan and put it in execution, for
providing men in time to replace those who will leave us at the end of
the year; and for subsisting and for making a reasonable allowance to
the officers and soldiers.

"The plan for this purpose ought to be of general operation, and such
as will execute itself. Experience has shown that a peremptory draught
will be the only effectual one. If a draught for the war or for three
years can be effected, it ought to be made on every account; a shorter
period than a year is inadmissible.

"To one who has been witness to the evils brought upon us by short
enlistments, the system appears to have been pernicious beyond
description; and a crowd of motives present themselves to dictate a
change. It may easily be shown that all the misfortunes we have met
with in the military line, are to be attributed to this cause.

"Had we formed a permanent army in the beginning, which, by the
continuance of the same men in service, had been capable of
discipline, we never should have to retreat with a handful of men
across the Delaware in 1776, trembling for the fate of America, which
nothing but the infatuation of the enemy could have saved; we should
not have remained all the succeeding winter at their mercy, with
sometimes scarcely a sufficient body of men to mount the ordinary
guards, liable at every moment to be dissipated, if they had only
thought proper to march against us; we should not have been under the
necessity of fighting at Brandywine with an unequal number of raw
troops, and afterwards of seeing Philadelphia fall a prey to a
victorious army; we should not have been at Valley Forge with less
than half the force of the enemy, destitute of every thing in a
situation neither to resist nor to retire; we should not have seen New
York left with a handful of men, yet an overmatch for the main army of
these states, while the principal part of their force was detached for
the reduction of two of them; we should not have found ourselves this
spring so weak as to be insulted by five thousand men, unable to
protect our baggage and magazines, their security depending on a good
countenance, and a want of enterprise in the enemy; we should not
have been, the greatest part of the war, inferior to the enemy,
indebted for our safety to their inactivity, enduring frequently the
mortification of seeing inviting opportunities to ruin them, pass
unimproved for want of a force which the country was completely able
to afford; to see the country ravaged, our towns burnt, the
inhabitants plundered, abused, murdered, with impunity from the same

After presenting in detail the embarrassments under which the civil
departments of the army also had laboured, in consequence of the
expensiveness and waste inseparable from its temporary character, he
proceeded to observe--"There is every reason to believe, that the war
has been protracted on this account. Our opposition being less, made
the successes of the enemy greater. The fluctuation of the army kept
alive their hopes; and at every period of a dissolution of a
considerable part of it, they have flattered themselves with some
decisive advantages. Had we kept a permanent army on foot, the enemy
could have had nothing to hope for, and would in all probability have
listened to terms long since. If the army is left in its present
situation, it must continue an encouragement to the efforts of the
enemy; if it is put in a respectable one, it must have a contrary
effect; and nothing I believe will tend more to give us peace the
ensuing winter. Many circumstances will contribute to a negotiation.
An army on foot, not only for another campaign, but for several
campaigns, would determine the enemy to pacific measures, and enable
us to insist upon favourable terms in forcible language. An army
insignificant in numbers, dissatisfied, crumbling to pieces, would be
the strongest temptation they could have to try the experiment a
little longer. It is an old maxim that the surest way to make a good
peace is to be well prepared for war.

"I can not forbear returning in this place to the necessity of a more
ample and equal provision for the army. The discontents on this head
have been gradually matured to a dangerous extremity. There are many
symptoms that alarm and distress me. Endeavours are using to unite
both officers and men in a general refusal of the money, and some
corps now actually decline receiving it. Every method has been taken
to counteract it, because such a combination in the army would be a
severe blow to our declining currency. The most moderate insist that
the accounts of depreciation ought to be liquidated at stated periods,
and certificates given by government for the sums due. They will not
be satisfied with a general declaration that it shall be made good.

"I have often said, and I beg leave to repeat it, the half pay
provision is in my opinion the most politic and effectual that can be
adopted. On the whole, if something satisfactory be not done, the
army (already so much reduced in officers by daily resignations as not
to have a sufficiency to do the common duties of it) must either cease
to exist at the end of the campaign, or will exhibit an example of
more virtue, fortitude, self-denial, and perseverance, than has
perhaps ever yet been paralleled in the history of human enthusiasm.

"The dissolution of the army is an event that can not be regarded with
indifference. It would bring accumulated distress upon us; it would
throw the people of America into a general consternation; it would
discredit our cause throughout the world; it would shock our allies.
To think of replacing the officers with others is visionary. The loss
of the veteran soldiers could not be replaced. To attempt to carry on
the war with militia against disciplined troops, will be to attempt
what the common sense and common experience of mankind will pronounce
to be impracticable. But I should fail in respect to congress, to
dwell on observations of this kind in a letter to them."

[Sidenote: Proceedings of Congress respecting the army.]

At length the committee presented their report, reorganizing the
regiments, reducing their number, and apportioning on the several
states their respective numbers to complete the establishment. This
report, being approved by congress, was transmitted to the
Commander-in-chief for his consideration. By this arrangement, the
states were required to recruit their quotas for the war, and to
bring them into the field by the first of January; but, if in any
state, it should be found impracticable to raise the men for the war
by the first day of December, it was recommended to such state to
supply the deficiency with men engaged to serve for not less than one

In compliance with the request of congress, General Washington
submitted his objections to the plan, in a long and respectful letter.

He recommended that legionary corps should be substituted in the place
of regiments entirely of cavalry. He thought it more adviseable that
the infantry attached to the cavalry should compose a part of the
corps permanently, than that it should be drawn occasionally from the
regiments of foot.

The reduction in the number of regiments appeared to him a subject of
great delicacy. The last reduction, he said, had occasioned many to
quit the service, independent of those who were discontinued; and had
left durable seeds of discontent among those who remained. The general
topic of declamation was, that it was as hard as dishonourable, for
men who had made every sacrifice to the service, to be turned out of
it, at the pleasure of those in power, without an adequate
compensation. In the maturity to which their uneasiness had now risen
from a continuance of misery, they would be still more impatient under
an attempt of a similar nature.

It was not, he said, the intention of his remarks to discourage a
reform, but to show the necessity of guarding against the ill effects
which might otherwise attend it, by making an ample provision both for
the officers who should remain in the service, and for those who
should be reduced. This should be the basis of the plan; and without
it, the most mischievous consequences were to be apprehended. He was
aware of the difficulty of making a present provision sufficiently
ample to give satisfaction; but this only proved the expediency of
making one for the future, and brought him to that which he had so
frequently recommended as the most economical, the most politic, and
the most effectual, that could be devised; this was half pay for life.
Supported by the prospect of a permanent provision, the officers would
be tied to the service, and would submit to many momentary privations,
and to those inconveniences, which the situation of public affairs
rendered unavoidable. If the objection drawn from the principle that
the measure was incompatible with the genius of the government should
be thought insurmountable, he would propose a substitute, less
eligible in his opinion, but which would answer the purpose. It was to
make the present half pay for seven years, whole pay for the same
period. He also recommended that depreciation on the pay received,
should be made up to the officers who should be reduced.

No objection occurred to the measure now recommended, but the expense
it would occasion. In his judgment, whatever would give consistency to
the military establishment, would be ultimately favourable to economy.
It was not easy to be conceived, except by those who had witnessed it,
what an additional waste and increased consumption of every thing, and
consequently what an increase of expense, resulted from laxness of
discipline in an army; and where officers thought they did a favour by
holding their commissions, and the men were continually fluctuating,
to maintain discipline was impossible. Nothing could be more obvious
to him than that a sound military establishment and real economy were
the same. That the purposes of war would be greatly promoted by it was
too clear to admit of argument. He objected also to the mode of
effecting the reduction. This was by leaving it to the several states
to select the officers who should remain in service. He regretted that
congress had not thought proper to retain the reduction and
incorporation of the regiments under their own discretion. He
regretted that it should be left to the states, not only because it
was an adherence to the state system, which in the arrangements of the
army, he disapproved; but because also he feared it would introduce
much confusion and discontent in a business which ought to be
conducted with the greatest circumspection. He feared also that
professing to _select_ the officers to be retained in service would
give disgust both to those who should be discontinued, and to those
who should remain. The former would be sent away under the public
stigma of inferior merit, and the latter would feel no pleasure in a
present preference, when they reflected that, at some future period,
they might experience a similar fate.

He wished with much sincerity that congress had been pleased to make
no alteration in the term of service, but had confined their
requisition to men who should serve for the war, to be raised by
enlistment, draught, or assessment, as might be found necessary. As it
now stood, there would be very few men for the war, and all the evils
of temporary engagements would still be felt. In the present temper of
the states, he entertained the most flattering hopes that they would
enter on vigorous measures to raise an army for the war, if congress
appeared decided respecting it; but if they held up a different idea
as admissible, it would be again concluded that they did not think an
army for the war essential. This would encourage the opposition of men
of narrow, interested, and feeble tempers, and enable them to defeat
the primary object of the revolution.

This letter was taken into consideration; and the measures it
recommended were pursued in almost every particular. Even the two
great principles which were viewed with most jealousy,--an army for
the war, and half pay for life,--were adopted. It would have greatly
abridged the calamities of America, could these resolutions have been
carried into execution. Every effort for the purpose was made by the

To place the officers of the army in a situation which would render
their commissions valuable, and hold out to them the prospect of a
comfortable old age, in a country saved by their blood, their
sufferings, and the labours of their best years, was an object which
had always been dear to the heart of General Washington, and he had
seized every opportunity to press it on congress. That body had
approached it slowly, taking step after step with apparent reluctance,
as the necessity of the measure became more and more obvious.

The first resolution on the subject, passed in May, 1778, allowed to
all military officers who should continue in service during the war,
and not hold any office of profit under the United States or any of
them, half pay for seven years, if they lived so long. At the same
time the sum of eighty dollars, in addition to his pay, was granted to
every non-commissioned officer and soldier who should serve to the end
of the war. In 1779 this subject was resumed. After much debate, its
farther consideration was postponed; and the officers and soldiers
were recommended to the attention of their several states, with a
declaration that their patriotism, valour, and perseverance, in
defence of the rights and liberties of their country, had entitled
them to the gratitude, as well as the approbation of their fellow

In 1780, a memorial from the general officers, depicting in strong
terms the situation of the army, and requiring present support, and
some future provision, was answered by a reference to what had been
already done, and by a declaration "That patience, self-denial,
fortitude and perseverance, and the cheerful sacrifice of time and
health, are necessary virtues which both the citizen and soldier are
called to exercise, while struggling for the liberties of their
country; and that moderation, frugality, and temperance, must be among
the chief supports, as well as the brightest ornaments of that kind of
civil government which is wisely instituted by the several states in
this Union."

This philosophic lecture on the virtues of temperance to men who were
often without food, and always scantily supplied, was still calculated
to assuage irritations fomented by the neglect which was believed to
have been sustained. In a few days afterwards, the subject was brought
again before congress, and a more conciliating temper was manifested.
The odious restriction, limiting the half pay for seven years to those
who should hold no post of profit under the United States or any of
them, was removed; and the bounty allowed the men was extended to the
widows and orphans of those who had died or should die in the service;
at length, the vote passed which has been stated, allowing half pay
for life to all officers who should serve in the armies of the United
States to the end of the war.

Resolutions were also passed, recommending it to the several states to
make up the depreciation on the pay which had been received by the
army; and it was determined that their future services should be
compensated in the money of the new emission, the value of which, it
was supposed, might be kept up by taxes and by loans.

While the government of the Union was thus employed in maturing
measures for the preservation of its military establishment, the time
for action passed away without furnishing any material event. The
hostile armies continued to watch each other until the season of the
year forced them out of the field.

Just before retiring into winter quarters, a handsome enterprise was
executed by Major Talmadge, of Colonel Sheldon's regiment of light
dragoons. That gentleman had been generally stationed on the lines, on
the east side of the North River, and had been distinguished for the
accuracy of his intelligence.

He was informed that a large magazine of forage had been collected at
Coram, on Long Island, which was protected by the militia of the
country, the cruisers in the Sound, and a small garrison in its

[Sidenote: Major Talmadge destroys the British stores at Coram.]

[Sidenote: Nov. 21.]

At the head of a detachment of eighty dismounted dragoons, under the
command of Captain Edgar, and of eight or ten who were mounted, he
passed the Sound where it was twenty miles wide, marched across the
island in the night, and so completely surprised the fort, that his
troops entered the works on three different sides before the garrison
was prepared to resist them. The British took refuge in two houses
connected with the fortifications, and commenced a fire from the doors
and windows. These were instantly forced open; and the whole party,
amounting to fifty-four, among whom were a lieutenant colonel,
captain, and subaltern, were killed or taken. Stores to a considerable
amount were destroyed, the fort was demolished, and the magazines were
consumed by fire. The objects of the expedition being accomplished,
Major Talmadge recrossed the Sound without having lost a man. On the
recommendation of General Washington, congress passed a resolution,
expressing a high sense of the merit of those engaged in the

[Sidenote: December.]

[Sidenote: The army retires into winter quarters.]

No objects for enterprise presenting themselves, the troops were
placed in winter quarters early in December. The Pennsylvania line was
stationed near Morristown; the Jersey line about Pompton, on the
confines of New York and New Jersey; and the troops belonging to the
New England states, at West Point, and in its vicinity, on both sides
the North River. The line of the state of New York remained at Albany,
to which place it had been detached for the purpose of opposing an
invasion from Canada.

[Sidenote: Irruption of Major Carlton into New York.]

Major Carlton, at the head of one thousand men, composed of Europeans,
Indians, and Tories, had made a sudden irruption into the northern
parts of New York, and taken forts Ann and George, with their
garrisons. At the same time, Sir John Johnson, at the head of a corps
composed of the same materials, appeared on the Mohawk. Several sharp
skirmishes were fought in that quarter with the continental troops,
and a regiment of new levies, aided by the militia of the country.
General Clinton's brigade was ordered to their assistance; but before
he could reach the scene of action, the invading armies had retired,
after laying waste the whole country through which they passed.

[Sidenote: European transactions.]

While the disorder of the American finances, the exhausted state of
the country, and the debility of the government, determined Great
Britain to persevere in offensive war against the United States, by
keeping alive her hopes of conquest, Europe assumed an aspect not less
formidable to the permanent grandeur of that nation, than hostile to
its present views. In the summer of 1780, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark,
entered into the celebrated compact, which has been generally
denominated "THE ARMED NEUTRALITY." Holland had also declared a
determination to accede to the same confederacy; and it is not
improbable that this measure contributed to the declaration of war
which was made by Great Britain against that power towards the close
of the present year.

The long friendship which had existed between the two nations was
visibly weakened from the commencement of the American war. Holland
was peculiarly desirous of participating in that commerce which the
independence of the United States would open to the world: and, from
the commencement of hostilities, her merchants, especially those of
Amsterdam, watched the progress of the war with anxiety, and engaged
in speculations which were profitable to themselves and beneficial to
the United States. The remonstrances made by the British minister at
the Hague against this conduct, were answered in the most amicable
manner by the government, but the practice of individuals continued
the same.

When the war broke out between France and England, a number of Dutch
vessels trading with France, laden with materials for shipbuilding,
were seized, and carried into the ports of Great Britain, although the
existing treaties between the two nations were understood to exclude
those articles from the list of contraband of war. The British cabinet
justified these acts of violence, and persisted in refusing to permit
naval stores to be carried to her enemy in neutral bottoms. This
refusal, however, was accompanied with friendly professions, with an
offer to pay for the vessels and cargoes already seized, and with
proposals to form new stipulations for the future regulation of that

The States General refused to enter into any negotiations for the
modification of subsisting treaties; and the merchants of all the
great trading towns, especially those of Amsterdam, expressed the
utmost indignation at the injuries they had sustained. In consequence
of this conduct, the British government required those succours which
were stipulated in ancient treaties, and insisted that the _casus
foederis_ had now occurred. Advantage was taken of the refusal of
the States General to comply with this demand, to declare the treaties
between the two nations at an end.

The temper produced by this state of things, inclined Holland to enter
into the treaty for an armed neutrality; and, in November, the Dutch
government acceded to it. Some unknown causes prevented the actual
signature of the treaty on the part of the States General, until a
circumstance occurred which was used for the purpose of placing them
in a situation not to avail themselves of the aid stipulated by that
confederacy to its members.

While Mr. Lee, one of the ministers of the United States, was on a
mission to the courts of Vienna and Berlin, he fell in company with a
Mr. John de Neufwille, a merchant of Amsterdam, with whom he held
several conversations on the subject of a commercial intercourse
between the two nations, the result of which was, that the plan of an
eventual commercial treaty was sketched out, as one which might
thereafter be concluded between them. This paper had received the
approbation of the Pensionary Van Berkel, and of the city of
Amsterdam, but not of the States General.

Mr. Henry Laurens, late president of congress, was deputed to the
States General with this plan of a treaty, for the double purpose of
endeavouring to complete it, and of negotiating a loan for the use of
his government. On the voyage he was captured by a British frigate;
and his papers, which he had thrown overboard, were rescued from the
waves by a British sailor. Among them was found the plan of a treaty
which has been mentioned, and which was immediately transmitted to Sir
Joseph Yorke, the British minister at the Hague, to be laid before the

The explanations of this transaction not being deemed satisfactory by
the court of London, Sir Joseph Yorke received orders to withdraw from
the Hague, soon after which war was proclaimed against Holland.

This bold measure, which added one of the first maritime powers in
Europe to the formidable list of enemies with whom Britain was already
encompassed, was perhaps, not less prudent than courageous.

There are situations, to which only high minded nations are equal, in
which a daring policy will conduct those who adopt it, safely through
the very dangers it appears to invite; dangers which a system
suggested by a timid caution might multiply instead of avoiding. The
present was, probably, one of those situations. Holland was about to
become a member of the armed neutrality, after which her immense
navigation would be employed, unmolested, in transporting the property
of the enemies of Britain, and in supplying them with all the
materials for shipbuilding, or the whole confederacy must be

America, however, received with delight the intelligence that Holland
also was engaged in the war; and founded additional hopes of its
speedy termination on that event.


     Transactions in South Carolina and Georgia.... Defeat of
     Ferguson.... Lord Cornwallis enters North Carolina....
     Retreats out of that state.... Major Wemyss defeated by
     Sumpter.... Tarlton repulsed.... Greene appointed to the
     command of the Southern army.... Arrives in camp....
     Detaches Morgan over the Catawba.... Battle of the
     Cowpens.... Lord Cornwallis drives Greene through North
     Carolina into Virginia.... He retires to Hillsborough....
     Greene recrosses the Dan.... Loyalists under Colonel Pyle
     cut to pieces.... Battle of Guilford.... Lord Cornwallis
     retires to Ramsay's mills.... To Wilmington.... Greene
     advances to Ramsay's mills.... Determines to enter South
     Carolina.... Lord Cornwallis resolves to march to Virginia.

[Sidenote: 1780.]

[Sidenote: Transactions in South Carolina and Georgia.]

In the South, Lord Cornwallis, after having nearly demolished the
American army at Camden, found himself under the necessity of
suspending, for a few weeks, the new career of conquest on which he
had intended to enter. His army was enfeebled by sickness as well as
by action; the weather was intensely hot, and the stores necessary for
an expedition into North Carolina had not been brought from
Charleston. In addition, a temper so hostile to the British interests
had lately appeared in South Carolina as to make it unsafe to withdraw
any considerable part of his force from that state, until he should
subdue the spirit of insurrection against his authority. Exertions
were made in other parts of the state, not inferior to those of
Sumpter in the north-west. Colonel Marion, who had been compelled by
the wounds he received in Charleston to retire into the country, had
been promoted by Governor Rutledge to the rank of a brigadier general.
As the army of Gates approached South Carolina, he had entered the
north-eastern parts of that state with only sixteen men; had
penetrated into the country as far as the Santee; and was successfully
rousing the well-affected inhabitants to arms, when the defeat of the
16th of August chilled the growing spirit of resistance which he had
contributed to increase.

With the force he had collected, he rescued about one hundred and
fifty continental troops who had been captured at Camden, and were on
their way to Charleston. Though compelled, for a short time, to leave
the state, he soon returned to it, and at the head of a few spirited
men, made repeated excursions from the swamps and marshes in which he
concealed himself, and skirmished successfully with the militia who
had joined the British standard, and the small parties of regulars by
whom they were occasionally supported.

His talents as a partisan, added to his knowledge of the country,
enabled him to elude every attempt to seize him; and such was his
humanity as well as respect for the laws, that no violence or outrage
was ever attributed to the party under his command.

The interval between the victory of the 16th of August, and the
expedition into North Carolina, was employed in quelling what was
termed the spirit of revolt in South Carolina. The efforts of the
people to recover their independence were considered as new acts of
rebellion, and were met with a degree of severity which policy was
supposed to dictate, but which gave a keener edge to the resentments
which civil discord never fails to engender. Several of the most
active militia men who had taken protections as British subjects, and
entered into the British militia, having been afterwards found in
arms, and made prisoners at Camden, were executed as traitors. Orders
were given to officers commanding at different posts to proceed in the
same manner against persons of a similar description; and these orders
were, in many instances, carried into execution. A proclamation was
issued for sequestering the estates of all those inhabitants of the
province, not included in the capitulation of Charleston, who were in
the service, or acting under the authority of Congress, and of all
those who, by an open avowal of what were termed rebellious
principles, or by other notorious acts should manifest a wicked and
desperate perseverance in opposing the re-establishment of royal

[Footnote 50: Rem.]

While taking these measures to break the spirit of independence, Lord
Cornwallis was indefatigable in urging his preparations for the
expedition into North Carolina.

The day after the battle near Camden, emissaries had been despatched
into that state for the purpose of inviting the friends of the British
government to take up arms. Meanwhile the utmost exertions were
continued to embody the people of the country as a British militia;
and Major Ferguson was employed in the district of Ninety Six, to
train the most loyal inhabitants, and to attach them to his own
corps.[51] After being employed for some time in Ninety Six, he was
directed to enter the western parts of North Carolina, for the purpose
of embodying the royalists in that quarter.

[Footnote 51: Sted.]

The route marked out for the main army was from Camden, through the
settlement of the Waxhaws to Charlottestown, in North Carolina. On the
8th of September Lord Cornwallis moved from Camden, and reached
Charlotte late in that month, where he expected to be joined by
Ferguson. But in attempting to meet him, Ferguson was arrested by an
event as important as it was unexpected.

[Sidenote: September.]

Colonel Clarke, a refugee from Georgia, had formed a plan for the
reduction of Augusta, which was defended only by a few provincials,
under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Brown. About the time Lord
Cornwallis commenced his march from Camden, Clarke advanced against
Augusta, at the head of a body of irregulars whom he had collected in
the frontiers of North and South Carolina, and invested that place.
Brown made a vigorous defence; and the approach of Lieutenant Colonel
Cruger with a reinforcement from Ninety Six, compelled Clarke to
relinquish the enterprise, and to save himself by a rapid retreat.
Intelligence of the transactions at Augusta was given to Ferguson,
who, to favour the design of intercepting Clarke, moved nearer the
mountains, and remained longer in that country than had been intended.
This delay proved fatal to him. It gave an opportunity to several
volunteer corps to unite, and to constitute a formidable force. The
hardy mountaineers inhabiting the extreme western parts of Virginia
and North Carolina, assembled on horseback with their rifles, under
Colonels Campbell, M'Dowell, Cleveland, Shelby, and Sevier, and moved
with their accustomed velocity towards Ferguson. On receiving notice
of their approach, that officer commenced his march for Charlotte,
despatching, at the same time, different messengers to Lord Cornwallis
with information of his danger. These messengers being intercepted, no
movement was made to favour his retreat.

When within about sixteen miles of Gilbert-town, where Ferguson was
then supposed to lie, Colonel M'Dowell deputed to Gates with a
request that he would appoint a general officer to command them; and,
in the mean time, Colonel Campbell of Virginia was chosen for that
purpose. On reaching Gilbert-town, and finding that the British had
commenced their retreat, it was determined to follow them with the
utmost celerity. At the Cowpens, this party was joined by Colonels
Williams, Tracy, and Branan, of South Carolina, with about four
hundred men, who also gave information respecting the distance and
situation of their enemy. About nine hundred choice men were selected,
by whom the pursuit was continued through the night, and through a
heavy rain; and, the next day, about three in the afternoon, they came
within view of Ferguson, who, finding that he must be overtaken, had
determined to await the attack on King's mountain, and was encamped on
its summit,--a ridge five or six hundred yards long, and sixty or
seventy wide.

[Sidenote: October 7.]

The Americans, who had arranged themselves into three columns, the
right commanded by Colonel Sevier and Major Winston, the centre by
Colonels Campbell and Shelby, and the left by Colonels Cleveland and
Williams, immediately rushed to the assault. The attack was commenced
by the centre, while the two wings gained the flanks of the British
line; and, in about five minutes, the action became general. Ferguson
made several impetuous charges with the bayonet, which, against
riflemen, were necessarily successful. But, before any one of them
could completely disperse the corps against which it was directed, the
heavy and destructive fire of the others, who pressed him on all
sides, called off his attention to other quarters, and the broken
corps was rallied, and brought back to the attack.

[Sidenote: Defeat of Ferguson.]

In the course of these successive repulses, the right and centre had
become intermingled, and were both, by one furious charge of the
bayonet, driven almost to the foot of the mountain. With some
difficulty they were rallied and again brought into the action; upon
which the British, in turn, gave way, and were driven along the summit
of the ridge, on Cleveland and Williams, who still maintained their
ground on the left. In this critical state of the action, Ferguson
received a mortal wound, and instantly expired. The courage of his
party fell with him, and quarter was immediately demanded.[52] The
action continued rather more than an hour.

[Footnote 52: The details of this battle are chiefly taken from a
paper signed by Colonels Campbell, Shelby, and Cleveland, and
published in the Virginia Gazette of the 18th of November, 1780.]

In this sharp action one hundred and fifty of Ferguson's party were
killed on the spot, and about the same number were wounded. Eight
hundred and ten, of whom one hundred were British troops, were made
prisoners, and fifteen hundred stand of excellent arms were taken.

The Americans fought under cover of trees, and their loss was
inconsiderable; but among the slain was Colonel Williams, who was
greatly and justly lamented. As cruelty generally begets cruelty, the
example set by the British at Camden was followed, and ten of the most
active of the royalists were selected from the prisoners, and hung
upon the spot. The victorious mountaineers, having accomplished the
object for which they assembled, returned to their homes.

[Sidenote: Lord Cornwallis retreats out of North Carolina.]

The destruction of this party arrested the progress of Lord Cornwallis
in North Carolina, and inspired serious fears for the posts in his
rear. He retreated to Wynnsborough, between Camden and Ninety Six,
where he waited for reinforcements from New York.

The victory obtained on the 16th of August having suggested views of
more extensive conquest in the south, Sir Henry Clinton had determined
to send a large reinforcement to the southern army. In the opinion
that Lord Cornwallis could meet with no effectual resistance in the
Carolinas, he had ordered the officer commanding this reinforcement to
enter the Chesapeake in the first instance, and to take possession of
the lower parts of Virginia, after which he was to obey the orders he
should receive from Lord Cornwallis, to whom a copy of his
instructions had been forwarded.

The detachment amounted to near three thousand men, under the command
of General Leslie. It sailed on the 6th of October, and, entering
James River after a short passage, took possession of the country on
the south side as high as Suffolk. After a short time, Leslie drew in
his out-posts, and began to fortify Portsmouth. At this place he
received orders from Lord Cornwallis to repair to Charleston by water.

While Cornwallis waited at Wynnsborough for this reinforcement, the
light corps of his army were employed in suppressing the parties which
were rising in various quarters of the country, in opposition to his
authority. Marion had become so formidable as to endanger the
communication between Camden and Charleston. Tarlton was detached
against him, and Marion was under the necessity of concealing himself
in the swamps. From the unavailing pursuit of him through marshes
which were scarcely penetrable, Tarlton was called to a different
quarter, where an enemy supposed to be entirely vanquished, had
reappeared in considerable force.

[Sidenote: Major Wemyss attacks and is defeated by Sumpter.]

Sumpter had again assembled a respectable body of mounted militia, at
the head of which he advanced towards the posts occupied by the
British. On receiving intelligence of his approach, Earl Cornwallis
formed a plan for surprising him in his camp on Broad River, the
execution of which was committed to Major Wemyss. That officer marched
from Wynnsborough at the head of a regiment of infantry and about
forty dragoons, reached the camp of Sumpter several hours before day,
and immediately charged the out piquet, which made but a slight
resistance. Only five shots are said to have been fired, but from
these Wemyss received two dangerous wounds which disabled him from the
performance of his duty. The assailants fell into confusion, and were
repulsed with the loss of their commanding officer and about twenty
men. After this action, Sumpter crossed Broad River, and, having
formed a junction with Clarke and Branan, threatened Ninety Six.

Alarmed for the safety of that post, Earl Cornwallis recalled Tarlton,
and ordered him to proceed against Sumpter. So rapid was his movement
that he had nearly gained the rear of his enemy before notice of his
return was received. In the night preceding the day on which he
expected to effect his purpose, a deserter apprised Sumpter of the
approaching danger, and that officer began his retreat. Tarlton,
pursuing with his usual rapidity, overtook the rear guard at the ford
of the Ennoree, and cut it to pieces; after which, fearing that
Sumpter would save himself by passing the Tyger, he pressed forward,
with, as he states, about two hundred and eighty cavalry and mounted
infantry, and, in the afternoon, came within view of the Americans,
who were arranged in order for battle.

Sumpter had reached the banks of the Tyger, when the firing of his
videttes announced the approach of his enemy. He immediately posted
his troops to great advantage on a steep eminence, having their rear
and part of their right flank secured by the river, and their left
covered by a barn of logs, into which a considerable number of his men
were thrown.

Tarlton, without waiting for his infantry, or for a field piece left
with them in his rear, rushed to the charge with his usual
impetuosity. After several ineffectual attempts to dislodge the
Americans, he retired from the field with great precipitation and
disorder, leaving ninety-two dead, and one hundred wounded.

After remaining in possession of the ground for a few hours, Sumpter,
who was severely wounded in the action, crossed the Tyger, after which
his troops dispersed. His loss was only three killed, and four

Availing himself of the subsequent retreat and dispersion of the
American militia, Tarlton denominated this severe check a victory;
while congress, in a public resolution, voted their thanks to General
Sumpter and the militia he commanded, for this and other services
which had been previously rendered.

The shattered remains of the army defeated near Camden, had been
slowly collected at Hillsborough, and great exertions were made to
reorganize and reinforce it. The whole number of continental troops in
the southern army amounted to about fourteen hundred men.

On receiving intelligence that Lord Cornwallis had occupied Charlotte,
Gates detached Smallwood to the Yadkin, with directions to post
himself at the ford of that river, and to take command of all the
troops in that quarter of the country. The more effectually to harass
the enemy, a light corps was selected from the army and placed under
the command of Morgan, now a brigadier general.

As Lord Cornwallis retreated, Gates advanced to Charlotte, Smallwood
encamped lower down the Catawba on the road to Camden; and Morgan was
pushed forward some distance in his front. In the expectation that
farther active operations would be postponed until the spring, Gates
intended to pass the winter in this position. Such was the arrangement
of the troops when their general was removed.

[Sidenote: November 5.]

On the 5th of November, without any previous indications of
dissatisfaction, congress passed a resolution requiring the
Commander-in-chief to order a court of inquiry on the conduct of
General Gates as commander of the southern army, and to appoint some
other officer to that command, until the inquiry should be made.

[Sidenote: Greene appointed to the command of the southern army.]

Washington, without hesitation, selected Greene for that important and
difficult service. In a letter to congress recommending him to their
support, he mentioned General Greene as "an officer in whose
abilities, fortitude, and integrity, from a long and intimate
experience of them, he had the most entire confidence." To Mr.
Matthews, a delegate from South Carolina, he said, "You have your wish
in the officer appointed to the southern command. I think I am giving
you a general; but what can a general do without men, without arms,
without clothing, without stores, without provisions?" About the same
time the legion of Lee was ordered into South Carolina.

[Sidenote: Arrives in camp.]

Greene hastened to the army he was to command; and, on the second of
December, reached Charlotte, then its head quarters. Soon after his
arrival in camp, he was gratified with the intelligence of a small
piece of good fortune obtained by the address of Lieutenant Colonel

Smallwood, having received information that a body of royal militia
had entered the country in which he foraged, for the purpose of
intercepting his wagons, detached Morgan and Washington against them.
Intelligence of Morgan's approach being received, the party retreated;
but Colonel Washington, being able to move with more celerity than the
infantry, resolved to make an attempt on another party, which was
stationed at Rugely's farm, within thirteen miles of Camden. He found
them posted in a logged barn, strongly secured by abattis, and
inaccessible to cavalry. Force being of no avail, he resorted to the
following stratagem. Having painted the trunk of a pine, and mounted
it on a carriage so as to resemble a field piece, he paraded it in
front of the enemy, and demanded a surrender. The whole party,
consisting of one hundred and twelve men, with Colonel Rugely at their
head, alarmed at the prospect of a cannonade, surrendered themselves
prisoners of war.[53]

[Footnote 53: The author received this account both from General
Morgan and Colonel Washington.]

[Sidenote: Detaches Morgan over the Catawba.]

To narrow the limits of the British army, and to encourage the
inhabitants, Greene detached Morgan west of the Catawba, with orders
to take a position near the confluence of the Pacolet with the Broad
River. His party consisted of rather more than three hundred chosen
continental troops, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Howard, of
Maryland, of Washington's regiment of light dragoons, amounting to
about eighty men, and of two companies of militia from the northern
and western parts of Virginia commanded by Captains Triplet and Taite,
which were composed almost entirely of old continental soldiers. He
was also to be joined on Broad River by seven or eight hundred
volunteers and militia commanded by General Davidson, and by Colonels
Clarke and Few.

After making this detachment, Greene, for the purpose of entering a
more plentiful country, advanced lower down the Pedee, and encamped on
its east side, opposite the Cheraw hills. Lord Cornwallis remained at
Wynnsborough, preparing to commence active operations, so soon as he
should be joined by Leslie.

The position he occupied on the Pedee was about seventy miles from
Wynnsborough, and towards the north of east from that place. The
detachment commanded by Morgan had taken post at Grindal's ford on the
Pacolet, one of the south forks of Broad River, not quite fifty miles
north-west of Wynnsborough. The active courage of his troops, and the
enterprising temper of their commander, rendered him extremely
formidable to the parties of royal militia who were embodying in that
quarter of the country.

Supposing Morgan to have designs on Ninety Six, Lord Cornwallis
detached Lieutenant Colonel Tarlton with his legion, part of two
regiments of infantry, and a corps of artillery with two field pieces,
consisting altogether of about one thousand men, across the Broad
River, to cover that important post. As he lay between Greene and
Morgan, he was desirous of preventing their junction, and of striking
at one of them while unsupported by the other. To leave it uncertain
against which division his first effort would be directed, he ordered
Leslie to halt at Camden until the preparations for entering North
Carolina should be completed. Having determined to penetrate into that
state by the upper route, he put his army in motion and directed his
course northwestward, between the Catawba and Broad Rivers. Leslie was
directed to move up the banks of the former, and to join him on the
march; and Tarlton was ordered to strike at Morgan. Should that
officer escape Tarlton, the hope was entertained that he might be
intercepted by the main army.[54]

[Footnote 54: Letter of Lord Cornwallis.--_Stedman._]

High waters delayed Cornwallis and Leslie longer than had been
expected; but Tarlton overcame the same obstacles, and reached Morgan
before a correspondent progress was made by the other divisions.[55]

[Footnote 55: Letter of Lord Cornwallis.--_Stedman._]

[Sidenote: 1781 January 14.]

[Sidenote: Sixteenth.]

The combined movements of the British army were communicated to
General Morgan on the 14th of January. Perceiving the insecurity of
his own position, he retired across the Pacolet, the fords over which
he was desirous of defending. But a passage of that river being
effected at a ford about six miles below him, he made a precipitate
retreat; and, on the evening of the same day, his pursuers occupied
the camp he had abandoned. Morgan retired to the Cowpens, where he
determined to risk a battle. It was believed that he might have
crossed the Broad River, or have reached a mountainous country which
was also near him, before he could have been overtaken; and the
superiority of his adversary was so decided as to induce his best
officers to think that every effort ought to be made to avoid an
engagement. But Morgan had great and just confidence in himself and in
his troops; he was unwilling to fly from an enemy not so decidedly
his superior as to render it madness to fight him; and he also thought
that, if he should be overtaken while his men were fatigued and
retreating, the probability of success would be much less than if he
should exhibit the appearance of fighting from choice.

These considerations determined him to halt earlier than was
absolutely necessary.[56]

[Footnote 56: These reasons for his conduct were given to the author
by General Morgan soon after his return from the southern campaign.]

[Sidenote: Battle of the Cowpens.]

Tarlton, having left his baggage under a strong guard, with orders not
to move until break of day, recommenced the pursuit at three in the

Before day, Morgan was informed of his approach, and prepared to
receive him.

Although censured by many for having determined to fight, and by some
for the ground he chose, all admit the judgment with which his
disposition was made.

On an eminence, in an open wood, he drew up his continental troops,
and Triplet's corps, deemed equal to continentals, amounting to
between four and five hundred men, who were commanded by Lieutenant
Colonel Howard. In their rear, on the descent of the hill, Lieutenant
Colonel Washington was posted with his cavalry, and a small body of
mounted Georgia militia commanded by Major M'Call, as a corps de
reserve. On these two corps rested his hopes of victory, and with them
he remained in person. The front line was composed entirely of
militia, under the command of Colonel Pickens. Major M'Dowell, with a
battalion of North Carolina volunteers, and Major Cunningham, with a
battalion of Georgia volunteers, were advanced about one hundred and
fifty yards in front of this line, with orders to give a single fire
as the enemy approached, and then to fall back into the intervals,
which were left for them in the centre of the first line. The militia,
not being expected to maintain their ground long, were ordered to keep
up a retreating fire by regiments, until they should pass the
continental troops, on whose right they were directed again to form.
His whole force, as stated by himself, amounted to only eight hundred

Soon after this disposition was made, the British van appeared in
sight. Confident of a cheap victory, Tarlton formed his line of
battle, and his troops rushed forward with great impetuosity, shouting
as they advanced.

After a single well directed fire, M'Dowell and Cunningham fell back
on Colonel Pickens, who, after a short but warm conflict, retreated
into the rear of the second line.[57] The British pressed forward with
great eagerness; and, though received by the continental troops with a
firmness unimpaired by the rout of the front line, continued to
advance. Soon after the action with the continental troops had
commenced, Tarlton ordered up his reserve. Perceiving that the enemy
extended beyond him both on the right and left, and that, on the right
especially, his flank was on the point of being turned, Howard ordered
the company on his right to change its front, so as to face the
British on that flank. From some mistake in the officer commanding
this company, it fell back, instead of fronting the enemy, upon which
the rest of the line, supposing a change of ground for the whole to
have been directed, began to retire in perfect order. At this moment
General Morgan rode up, and directed the infantry to retreat over the
summit of the hill, about one hundred yards to the cavalry. This
judicious but hazardous movement was made in good order, and
extricated the flanks from immediate danger. Believing the fate of the
day to be decided, the British pressed on with increased ardour, and
in some disorder; and when the Americans halted, were within thirty
yards of them. The orders then given by Howard to face the enemy were
executed as soon as they were received; and the whole line poured in a
fire as deadly as it was unexpected. Some confusion appearing in the
ranks of the enemy, Howard seized the critical moment, and ordered a
charge with the bayonet. These orders were instantly obeyed, and the
British line was broken.

[Footnote 57: Some of them formed afterwards, and renewed the action
on Howard's right.]

At the same moment the detachment of cavalry on the British right was
routed by Washington. The militia of Pickens, who rode to the ground,
had tied their horses in the rear of Howard's left. When the front
line was broken, many of them fled to their horses, and were closely
pursued by the cavalry, who, while the continental infantry were
retiring, passed their flank, and were cutting down the scattered
militia in their rear. Washington, who had previously ordered his men
not to fire a pistol, now directed them to charge the British cavalry
with drawn swords. A sharp conflict ensued, but it was not of long
duration. The British were driven from the ground with considerable
slaughter, and were closely pursued. Both Howard and Washington
pressed the advantage they had respectively gained, until the
artillery, and great part of the infantry had surrendered. So sudden
was the defeat, that a considerable part of the British cavalry had
not been brought into action; and, though retreating, remained
unbroken. Washington, followed by Howard with the infantry, pursued
them rapidly, and attacked[58] them with great spirit; but, as they
were superior to him in numbers, his cavalry received a temporary
check; and in this part of the action he sustained a greater loss than
in any other. But the infantry coming up to support him, Tarlton
resumed the retreat.[59]

[Footnote 58: In the eagerness of pursuit, Washington advanced near
thirty yards in front of his regiment. Three British officers,
observing this, wheeled about, and made a charge upon him. The officer
on his right aimed a blow to cut him down as an American sergeant came
up, who intercepted the blow by disabling his sword arm. The officer
on his left was about to make a stroke at him at the same instant,
when a waiter, too small to wield a sword, saved him by wounding the
officer with a ball from a pistol. At this moment, the officer in the
centre, who was believed to be Tarlton, made a thrust at him which he
parried; upon which the officer retreated a few paces, and then
discharged a pistol at him, which wounded his horse.]

[Footnote 59: The author has received statements of this action from
General Morgan and from Colonels Howard and Washington.]

In this engagement upwards of one hundred British, including ten
commissioned officers, were killed; twenty-nine commissioned officers,
and five hundred privates were made prisoners. Eight hundred muskets,
two field pieces, two standards, thirty-five baggage wagons, and one
hundred dragoon horses, fell into the hands of the conquerors.

Tarlton retreated towards the headquarters of Lord Cornwallis, then
about twenty-five miles from the Cowpens.

This complete victory cost the Americans less than eighty men in
killed and wounded.

Seldom has a battle in which greater numbers were not engaged, been so
important in its consequences as that of the Cowpens. Lord Cornwallis
was not only deprived of a fifth of his numbers, but lost a most
powerful and active part of his army. Unfortunately, Greene was not in
a condition to press the advantage. The whole southern army did not
much exceed two thousand men, a great part of whom were militia.

[Sidenote: Pursuit of the American army through North Carolina into

The camp of Lord Cornwallis at Turkey Creek on the east side of Broad
River, was as near as the Cowpens to the fords at which Morgan was to
cross the Catawba. Of consequence, that officer had much cause to fear
that, encumbered as he was with prisoners and military stores, he
might be intercepted before he could pass that river. Comprehending
the full extent of his danger, he abandoned the baggage he had taken,
and leaving his wounded under the protection of a flag, detached the
militia as an escort to his prisoners, and brought up the rear in
person with his regulars. Passing Broad River on the evening of the
day on which the battle was fought, he hastened to the Catawba, which
he crossed on the 23d, at Sherald's ford, and encamped on its eastern

[Sidenote: January.]

Lord Cornwallis employed the 18th in forming a junction with Leslie.
Early next morning he put his army in motion, and, on the 25th,
reached Ramsay's mills, where the roads taken by the two armies unite.
At this place, to accelerate his future movements, he destroyed his
baggage; and, after collecting a small supply of provisions, resumed
the pursuit. He reached Sherald's ford in the afternoon of the 29th;
and, in the night, an immense flood of rain rendered the river

[Sidenote: January 31.]

While Morgan remained on the Catawba, watching the motions of the
British army, and endeavouring to collect the militia, General Greene
arrived, and took command of the detachment.

In his camp on the Pedee, opposite the Cheraw hills, Greene had been
joined by Lee's legion, amounting to about one hundred cavalry, and
one hundred and twenty infantry. The day after his arrival, he was
ordered to join Marion for the purpose of attempting to carry a
British post at Georgetown, distant about seventy-five miles from the
American army. The fort was surprised, but the success was only

On receiving intelligence of the victory at the Cowpens, Greene
detached Stevens' brigade of Virginia militia, whose terms of service
were on the point of expiring, to conduct the prisoners to
Charlottesville in Virginia, and turned his whole attention to the
effecting of a junction between the two divisions of his army. It was
principally with a view to this object that he hastened to the
detachment under Morgan, leaving the other division to be commanded by
General Huger.

[Sidenote: February 1.]

Early in the morning of the first of February, Lord Cornwallis forced
a passage over the Catawba, at a private ford which was defended by
General Davidson, with about three hundred North Carolina militia.
Davidson was killed, and his troops dispersed. They were followed by
Tarlton, who, hearing in the pursuit, that several bodies of militia
were assembling at a tavern about ten miles from the ford, hastened to
the place of rendezvous, and charging them with his usual impetuosity,
broke their centre, killed some, and dispersed the whole party.

It was found impracticable to bring the militia into the field, and
Huger, who had been directed to march to Salisbury, was ordered to
effect a junction between the two divisions of the army at some place
farther north.

Greene retreated along the Salisbury road, and, in the evening of the
third, crossed the Yadkin at the trading ford. His passage of the
river, then already much swollen by the rain of the preceding day, was
facilitated by boats which had been previously collected. The rear
guard, which, being impeded by the baggage of the whigs who fled from
Salisbury did not cross till midnight, was overtaken by the van of the
British army, and a skirmish ensued in which some loss was sustained,
but the Americans effected the passage of the river.

[Sidenote: February 3.]

[Sidenote: Ninth.]

The rains having rendered the Yadkin unfordable, and the boats being
collected on the opposite side, the pursuit was necessarily suspended;
but Greene continued his march to Guilford court house where he was
joined by Huger.

After some delay, and apparent hesitation respecting his movements,
Lord Cornwallis marched up the Yadkin, which he crossed near its
source on the morning of the eighth.

After the junction between the divisions of Huger and Morgan, the
infantry of the American army, including six hundred militia, amounted
to about two thousand effectives; and the cavalry to between two and
three hundred. Lord Cornwallis lay twenty-five miles above them at
Salem, with an army estimated from twenty-five hundred to three
thousand men, including three hundred cavalry. Having failed in his
attempt to prevent the junction of the two divisions of the American
army, his object was to place himself between Greene and Virginia, and
force that officer to a general action before he could be joined by
the reinforcements which were known to be preparing for him in that
state. His situation favoured the accomplishment of this object.

Greene, on the other hand, was indefatigable in his exertions to cross
the Dan without exposing himself to the hazard of a battle. To effect
this object, the whole of his cavalry, with the flower of his
infantry, amounting together to rather more than seven hundred men,
were formed into a light corps, for the purpose of harassing and
impeding the advance of the enemy, until the less active part of his
force, with the baggage and military stores should be secured. Morgan
being rendered incapable of duty by severe indisposition, the command
of this corps was conferred on Colonels Otho and Williams.

Lord Cornwallis had been informed that it would be impossible to
obtain boats at the ferries on the Dan in sufficient numbers for the
transportation of the American troops before he could overtake them.
And, as the river could not be forded below, he calculated with
confidence on succeeding in his object by keeping above Greene, and
prevent his reaching those shallow fords by which alone it was thought
possible to escape into Virginia.

Dix's ferry is about fifty miles from Guilford court house, and was
almost equidistant from the two armies. Considerably below, and more
than seventy miles from Guilford court house, were two other ferries,
Boyd's and Irwin's, which were only four miles apart. By directing
their march towards the lower and more remote ferries, the distance
from Lord Cornwallis was so much ground gained; and by despatching an
officer with a few men to Dix's, the boats at that, and at an
intermediate ferry, might be brought down the river in time to meet
the army at the intended crossing place. These facts being suggested
by Lieutenant Colonel Carrington, quartermaster general for the
southern department, the proposition was instantly adopted, and an
officer despatched to bring the boats from above down to Boyd's

[Footnote 60: The author received this fact from Colonel Carrington.]

The next day both armies resumed their line of march. While General
Greene pressed forward to Boyd's, Williams gained an intermediate road
leading to Dix's ferry, and thus placed himself between the two
armies, a small distance in front of the one, and considerably in rear
of the other. Such was the boldness and activity of this corps that
Lord Cornwallis found it necessary to temper the eagerness of his
pursuit with caution. Yet he moved with great rapidity;--marching
nearly thirty miles each day. On the morning of the third day, he
attempted to surprise the Americans by marching from the rear of his
column into the road which had been taken by them, while his van
proceeded slowly on its original route. Information of this movement
was received, and Lieutenant Colonel Lee charged his advanced cavalry
with such impetuosity, as to cut a company nearly to pieces. A captain
and several privates were made prisoners. The whole British army
turned into this road and followed in the rear of Williams, who used
every effort to delay their march.

[Sidenote: February 14.]

The measures adopted by Greene for collecting the boats were
successful; and, on the fourteenth, he effected the passage of his
troops and stores.

When Williams supposed that the American army had reached the Dan, he
left the road leading to Dix's ferry, and entering that which Greene
had taken, urged his march to the lower ferries with the utmost
celerity. Lord Cornwallis, being at length informed that Greene had
taken the lower road, turned into it about the same time by a nearer
way, and his front was in sight of the rear of Williams. So rapid were
the movements of both armies that, in the last twenty-four hours, the
Americans marched forty miles; and the rear had scarcely touched the
northern bank, when the van of the enemy appeared on the opposite

That General Greene was able to effect this retreat without loss,
evidences the judgment with which he improved every favourable

The exertions, the fatigues, the sufferings, and the patience of both
armies, during this long, toilsome, and rapid pursuit, were extreme.
Without tents, without spirits, often without provisions, and always
scantily supplied with them; through deep and frozen roads, high
waters, and frequent rains; each performed, without a murmur, the
severe duties assigned to it. The difference between them consists
only in this,--the British troops were well clothed; the Americans
were almost naked, and many of them barefooted.

Great praise was bestowed by the general on his whole army; but the
exertions of Colonel Williams, and of Lieutenant Colonel Carrington
were particularly noticed.

Although that part of North Carolina through which the armies had
passed, was well affected to the American cause, such was the rapidity
with which they moved, and such the terror inspired by the presence of
the enemy, that no aid was drawn from the militia. Indeed, those who
had joined the army from the more remote parts of the country could
not be retained; and, when it reached the Dan, the militia attached to
it did not exceed eighty men.

[Sidenote: Lord Cornwallis retires to Hillsborough.]

Having driven Greene out of North Carolina, Lord Cornwallis turned his
attention to the re-establishment of regal authority in that state.
For this purpose, he proceeded by easy marches to Hillsborough, at
that time its capital, where he erected the royal standard, and issued
a proclamation inviting the inhabitants to repair to it, and to assist
him in restoring the ancient government.

As soon as it was known that General Greene had entered Virginia, he
was reinforced by six hundred militia drawn from the neighbouring
counties, the command of which was given to General Stevens.

Apprehension that Lord Cornwallis, if left in the undisturbed
possession of North Carolina, would succeed, to the extent of his
hopes, in recruiting his army and procuring the submission of the
people, General Greene determined, on receiving this small
reinforcement, to re-enter that state; and, avoiding a general
engagement, to keep the field against a superior enemy, who had
demonstrated his capacity for rapid movement and hardy enterprise.

[Sidenote: February.]

[Sidenote: Greene recrosses the Dan.]

On the 18th, while Lord Cornwallis remained on the opposite shore, the
legion of Lee had passed the Dan. On the 21st, the light infantry also
recrossed it; and, on the 23d, they were followed by the main body of
the army.

The light infantry hung round the quarters of the enemy, while the
main body advanced slowly, keeping in view the roads to the western
parts of the country, from which a considerable reinforcement of
militia was expected.[61]

[Footnote 61: The western militia had been engaged in a war with the
Cherokee Indians, who, neglected by the United States, and incited by
the British, had determined once more to take up the hatchet. The
militia from the western parts of Virginia and North Carolina entered
their country, burnt their towns, containing near one thousand houses,
destroyed fifty thousand bushels of grain, killed twenty-nine men,
took several prisoners, and compelled the nation to sue for peace.]

General Greene was not mistaken in the consequences of leaving Lord
Cornwallis in the peaceable possession of North Carolina. He was
informed that seven independent companies were raised in one day. A
large body of royalists had begun to embody themselves on the branches
of the Haw River; and Colonel Tarlton, with the cavalry of his legion
and some infantry, was detached from Hillsborough to favour their
rising, and to conduct them to the British army.

Intelligence of the movements of the loyalists and of Tarlton being
received, Greene ordered Lieutenant Colonel Lee with the cavalry of
his legion, and General Pickens with between three and four hundred
militia, who had just formed a junction near Hillsborough, to move
against both parties.

[Sidenote: Party of loyalists commanded by Colonel Pyle, cut to

In a long lane, Lee, whose cavalry was in front of the whole
detachment, came up with the royalists. He was mistaken by them for
Tarlton, whom they had not yet seen, to whose encampment they were
proceeding, and whose corps was then taking refreshment, not much more
than a mile distant from them. Perceiving their mistake, Lee received
their expressions of joy and attachment, and had just reached their
colonel, to whom he was about to make communications which might have
enabled him to proceed on his design of surprising Tarlton, when the
infantry who followed close in his rear, were recognized by the
insurgents; and a firing took place between them. It being apparent
that this circumstance must give the alarm to the British, Lee changed
his plan, and turning on the royalists, who still supposed him to be a
British officer, cut them to pieces while they were making
protestations of loyalty, and asserting that they were "the very best
friends of the king." More than one hundred, among whom was Colonel
Pyle, their leader, fell under the swords of his cavalry. This
terrible but unavoidable carnage broke, in a great measure, the
spirits of the tories in that part of the country. Some who were on
their march to join the British standard, returned, determined to
await the issue of events before they went too far to recede.

The hope of surprising Tarlton being thus disappointed, Pickens and
Lee determined to postpone the attack till the morning; and took a
position for the night between him and a corps of militia which was
advancing from the western counties of Virginia under Colonel Preston.
Tarlton had meditated an attempt on this corps; but at midnight, when
his troops were paraded to march on this design, he received an
express from Lord Cornwallis, directing his immediate return to the
army. In obedience to this order, he began his retreat long before
day, and crossed the Haw, just as the Americans, who followed him,
appeared on the opposite bank. Two pieces of artillery commanded the
ford and stopped the pursuit.

To approach more nearly the great body of the loyalists, who were
settled between Haw and Deep Rivers, and to take a position in a
country less exhausted than that around Hillsborough, Lord Cornwallis
crossed the Haw, and encamped on Allimance creek.

As the British army retired, General Greene advanced. Not being yet in
a condition to hazard an engagement, he changed his ground every
night. In the course of the critical movements, which were made in
order to avoid an action, and at the same time to overawe the
loyalists, and maintain a position favourable to a junction with the
several detachments who were marching from different quarters to his
assistance, he derived immense service from a bold and active light
infantry, and from a cavalry which, though inferior in numbers, was
rendered superior in effect to that of his enemy, by being much better
mounted. They often attacked boldly and successfully, and made sudden
incursions into the country, which so intimidated the royalists, that
Lord Cornwallis found it difficult to obtain intelligence. By these
means, all his attempts to bring the American general to action were
frustrated; and his lordship was under the necessity of keeping his
men close in their quarters.

During this hazardous trial of skill, Lord Cornwallis moved out in
full force towards Rudy fork, where the light infantry lay, in the
hope of surprising that corps under cover of a thick fog; and probably
with ulterior views against General Greene. His approach was
perceived, and a sharp skirmish ensued between a part of the light
infantry, and a much superior body of British troops commanded by
Lieutenant Colonel Webster, in which the loss was supposed to be
nearly equal. The advance of the British army obliged Williams to
retire; and General Greene, by recrossing the Haw and uniting with the
light infantry on its north-eastern bank at the Rocky ford,
disappointed any farther designs which might have been formed against
the army then under his command, or against the reinforcements which
were approaching. Being thus foiled, Lord Cornwallis withdrew to Deep
River, and General Greene fell back to the iron works on Troublesome

At length his reinforcements, though much inferior to the number he
had been taught to expect, were received, and Greene, in his turn,
sought a battle. With this view, he dissolved the corps of light
infantry, advanced towards his enemy, and encamped within eight miles
of him, at Guilford court house.

His army, including officers, amounted to about four thousand five
hundred men, of whom not quite two thousand were continental troops
and the residue consisted of Virginia and North Carolina militia.
Those of Virginia were commanded by Generals Stevens and Lawson, and
by Colonels Preston, Campbell, and Lynch; and those of North Carolina,
by Generals Butler and Eaton.

Of the four regiments which composed the continental infantry, only
one, the first of Maryland, was veteran. The other three consisted of
new levies, with a few old continental soldiers interspersed among
them. The legion of Lee, and the cavalry of Washington, like the first
regiment of Maryland, added every advantage of experience to approved
courage; and nearly all the officers commanding the new levies were

[Sidenote: March 15.]

[Sidenote: Battle of Guilford.]

Having determined to risk an action, Greene chose his ground with
judgment. Early in the morning of the 15th, the fire of his
reconnoitring parties announced the approach of the enemy on the great
Salisbury road, and his army was immediately arranged in order of
battle. It was drawn up in three lines, on a large hill, surrounded by
other hills, chiefly covered with trees and underwood.

The front line was composed of the two brigades of North Carolina
militia, who were posted to great advantage on the edge of the wood,
behind a strong rail fence, with an extensive open field in front.

The two brigades of Virginia militia formed the second line. They were
drawn up entirely in the wood, about three hundred yards in rear of
the first, and on either side of the great Salisbury road.

The third line was placed about three hundred yards in rear of the
second, and was composed of continental troops. The Virginia brigade,
commanded by General Huger, was on the right; that of Maryland,
commanded by Colonel Williams, was on the left. They were drawn up
obliquely, with their left diverging from the second line, and partly
in open ground.

The first and third regiments of dragoons, amounting to one hundred
and two troopers, Kirkwood's company of light infantry, and a
regiment of militia riflemen under Colonel Lynch, formed a corps of
observation for the security of the right flank, which was commanded
by Lieutenant Colonel Washington. The legion, consisting of one
hundred and sixty-eight horse and foot, and a body of riflemen
commanded by Colonels Campbell and Preston, formed a corps of
observation for the security of the left flank, which was placed under
Lieutenant Colonel Lee. The artillery was in the front line, in the
great road leading through the centre, with directions to fall back as
the occasion should require.

Though Lord Cornwallis was sensible that the numbers of the American
army were greatly augmented by troops whose continuance in service
would be of short duration, he deemed it so important to the interests
of his sovereign to maintain the appearance of superiority in the
field, that he was unwilling to decline the engagement now offered

[Sidenote: March 14.]

[Sidenote: Fifteenth.]

On the advance of Greene, therefore, he prepared for action; and early
in the morning moved from his ground, determined to attack the adverse
army wherever it should be found. About four miles from Guilford court
house, the advance, led by Lieutenant Colonel Tarlton, fell in with
Lee, and a sharp skirmish ensued, which was terminated by the
appearance of such large bodies of British troops, as rendered it
prudent for Lee to retire. His lordship continued to advance until he
came within view of the American army. His disposition for the attack
was then made in the following order.

The seventy-first British regiment, with the German regiment of Bose,
led by General Leslie, and supported by the first battalion of the
guards under Colonel Norton, formed the right, and the twenty-third
and thirty-third regiments, led by Lieutenant Colonel Webster, and
supported by Brigadier General O'Hara with the grenadiers and second
battalion of the guards, formed the left. The light infantry of the
guards and the Yagers, posted in the wood on the left of the
artillery, and the cavalry in column behind it in the road, formed a
corps of observation.[62]

[Footnote 62: Letter of Lord Cornwallis.--_Stedman._]

This disposition being made, the British troops advanced to the
charge, with the cool intrepidity which discipline inspires.

The North Carolina militia were not encouraged by the great advantages
of their position to await the shock. They broke instantly; and,
throwing away their arms and flying through the woods, sought their
respective homes.

The British then advanced on the second line, which received them with
more firmness; and maintained their ground for some time with great
resolution. Lord Cornwallis perceiving the corps on his flanks,
brought the whole of his reserved infantry into the line. On the
right, General Leslie brought up the guards to oppose Lee; and, on the
left, Webster changed his front to the left, and attacked Washington,
while the grenadiers and second battalion of guards moved forward to
occupy the place which he had just quitted.[63]

[Footnote 63: Letter of Lord Cornwallis.--_Stedman._]

The ground being unfavourable to the action of horse, Washington had
posted Lynch's riflemen, with whom he remained in person, on a height
covered with thick woods; and had drawn up his cavalry and continental
infantry about one hundred yards in their rear. On being attacked by
Webster, the riflemen broke; and Washington, finding it impossible to
rally them, rejoined his cavalry.

The British continuing to advance, and it being well understood that
the militia could not stand the bayonet, General Stevens, who had
received a ball in his right thigh, ordered his brigade to retreat.
Lawson's brigade having given way a short time before, the second line
was entirely routed; and the enemy advanced boldly on the third.

The several divisions of the British army had been separated from each
other by extending themselves to the right and left in order to
encounter the distinct corps which threatened their flanks; and by
advancing in regiments at different times, as the different parts of
the second line had given way. The thickness of the wood increased
the difficulty of restoring order. They pressed forward with great
eagerness, but with a considerable degree of irregularity.

Greene, in this state of the action, entertained the most sanguine
hopes of a complete victory. His continental troops were fresh, in
perfect order, and upon the point of engaging an enemy, broken into
distinct parts, and probably supposing the severity of the action to
be over. This fair prospect was blasted by the misconduct of a single
corps. The second regiment of Maryland was posted at some distance
from the first, in open ground; its left forming almost a right angle
with the line, so as to present a front to any corps which might
attack on that flank. The British in advancing, inclined to the right;
and the second battalion of guards entered the open ground immediately
after the retreat of Stevens, and rushed on the second regiment of
Maryland while the first was engaged with Webster. Without waiting to
receive the charge, that regiment broke in confusion. By pursuing
them, the guards were thrown into the rear of the first regiment, from
which they were concealed by the unevenness of the ground, and by a
skirt of wood.

Greene was himself on the left, and witnessed the misfortune without
being able to remedy it. His militia being entirely routed, the flight
of one-fourth of his continental troops would most probably decide
the fate of the day. Unwilling to risk his remaining three regiments,
only one of which could be safely relied on, without a man to cover
their retreat should the event prove unfortunate, he ordered Colonel
Greene of Virginia to withdraw his regiment from the line, and to take
a position in the rear, for the purpose of affording a rallying point,
and of covering the retreat of the two regiments which still continued
in the field.

The guards were soon called from the pursuit of the second Maryland
regiment, and led by Lieutenant Colonel Stuart against the first.
About this time Webster, finding himself overpowered by the first
Maryland regiment, then commanded by Colonel Gunby, and by Kirkwood's
company and the remaining regiment of Virginia, with whom he was
engaged at the same time, had in a great measure withdrawn from the
action, and retired across a ravine into an adjoining wood. This
critical respite enabled Gunby to provide for the danger in his rear.
Facing about, he met the guards, and a very animated fire took place
on both sides, during which the Americans continued to advance.

In this critical moment, Lieutenant Colonel Washington, who was drawn
to this part of the field by the vivacity of the fire, made a furious
charge upon the guards and broke their ranks. At this juncture,
Gunby's horse was killed under him, and the command devolved on
Lieutenant Colonel Howard. The regiment advanced with such rapidity
that Gunby could not overtake it, and was within thirty yards of the
guards when they were charged by the cavalry. Almost at the same
instant the Maryland infantry rushed upon them with the bayonet, and
following the horse through them, were masters of the whole battalion.
In passing through it, Captain Smith of the infantry killed its
commanding officer.

After passing through the guards into the open ground where the second
regiment had been originally posted, Howard perceived several British
columns, with some pieces of artillery. Believing his regiment to be
the sole infantry remaining in the field, he retreated in good order,
and brought off some prisoners. The cavalry also retreated.[64]

[Footnote 64: After passing through the guards into the cleared
ground, Washington, who always led the van, perceived an officer
surrounded by several persons who appeared to be aids-de-camp.
Believing this to be Lord Cornwallis, he rushed forward in the hope of
making him a prisoner, but was arrested by an accident. His cap fell
from his head, and, as he leaped to the ground to recover it, the
officer leading the column was shot through the body, and rendered
incapable of managing his horse. The animal wheeled round with his
rider, and galloped off the field. He was followed by all the cavalry,
who supposed that this movement had been directed.]

About the same time the remaining Virginia regiment commanded by
Colonel Hawes, and Kirkwood's infantry, who were still engaged with
Webster, were directed by General Greene to retreat. The artillery was
unavoidably abandoned; the horses which drew the pieces being killed,
and the woods too thick to admit of their being dragged elsewhere
than along the great road. The retreat was made in good order, and
Greene, in person, brought up the rear.

Though the action was over on the right and centre, Campbell's
riflemen still maintained their ground on the extreme of the American
left, against General Leslie with the regiment of Bose and the first
battalion of guards.

After the guards had routed the brigade commanded by Lawson, they were
attacked on their right flank by the infantry of Lee's legion and by
Campbell's riflemen, and were driven behind the regiment of Bose,
which having moved with less impetuosity, was advancing in compact

This regiment sustained the American fire until Lieutenant Colonel
Norton was able to rally the guards and to bring them back to the
charge; after which the action was maintained with great obstinacy on
both sides until the battle was decided on the right. Lieutenant
Colonel Tarlton was then ordered to the support of Leslie. The legion
infantry had retreated, and only a few resolute marksmen remained in
the rear of Campbell who continued firing from tree to tree. Being
unable to resist a charge of cavalry, they were quickly driven from
the field.

Two regiments of infantry and a detachment of cavalry pursued the
right wing and centre of the Americans for a short distance, but were
soon ordered to return. On examining his situation, Lord Cornwallis
found himself too much weakened, and his troops too much fatigued by
the action, to hazard its renewal, or to continue the pursuit. General
Greene halted about three miles from the field of battle, behind Rudy
fork creek, for the purpose of collecting his stragglers; after which
he retired about twelve miles, to the iron works on Troublesome creek,
the place appointed for the rendezvous of his army in the event of its
being defeated.

The returns made immediately after the action, exhibited a loss in
killed, wounded and missing in the continental troops, of fourteen
commissioned officers, and three hundred and twelve non-commissioned
officers and privates. Major Anderson, a valuable officer of Maryland,
was killed; and General Huger, who commanded the continental troops of
Virginia, was wounded.

The same return states the loss of the militia at four captains and
seventeen privates killed; and, in addition to General Stevens, one
major, three captains, eight subalterns, and sixty privates, were
wounded. A great proportion of this part of the army was missing; but
it seems to have been expected that they would either rejoin their
corps, or be found at their homes.

The victory at Guilford was dearly purchased. Official accounts state
the loss of the British army at five hundred and thirty-two men, among
whom were several officers of high rank and distinguished merit.
Lieutenant Colonel Stuart of the guards was killed, and Lieutenant
Colonel Webster, who was ranked by his enemies among the best officers
in the British service, was mortally wounded. This loss, when compared
with the numbers brought by Lord Cornwallis into the field, was very
considerable. The Americans did not compute his troops at more than
two thousand rank and file, but his own accounts state them at only
fourteen hundred and forty-five.

No battle in the course of the war reflects more honour on the courage
of the British troops, than that of Guilford. On no other occasion
have they fought with such inferiority of numbers, or disadvantage of
ground. Estimating his first line at nothing, General Greene's army
consisted of three thousand two hundred men, posted on ground chosen
by himself; and his disposition was skilfully made.

The American general, expecting to be again attacked, prepared for
another engagement. But the situation of Lord Cornwallis had become
too desperate to hazard a second battle, or to maintain his position.
He found himself under the necessity of retreating to a place of
greater security, where provisions might be obtained.

When the expedition into North Carolina was originally meditated,
Major Craig, at the head of a small military and naval force, took
possession of Wilmington, a town near the mouth of Cape Fear, and
extended his authority several miles up the river. Lord Cornwallis now
looked to a communication with this post for aids which had become
indispensable to the farther operations of the campaign.

On the third day after the battle, he broke up his encampment, and
proceeded by slow and easy marches towards Cross creek.

[Sidenote: Greene advances to Ramsay's mills with a determination to
enter South Carolina.]

General Greene, on hearing that the British army was retreating,
resolved to follow it. The difficulty of subsisting the troops in an
exhausted and hostile country; and the necessity of waiting for a
supply of ammunition, impeded the march of his army so much that he
did not reach Ramsay's mills until the 28th of March.

[Sidenote: April 7.]

At this place Lord Cornwallis had halted, and here General Greene
expected to overtake and attack him. But, on the approach of the
American army, his lordship resumed his march to Cross creek, and
afterwards to Wilmington, where he arrived on the 7th of April.

General Greene gave over the pursuit at Ramsay's mills. So excessive
had been the sufferings of his army from the want of provisions, that
many of the men fainted on the march, and it had become absolutely
necessary to allow them some repose and refreshment. The expiration of
the time for which the Virginia militia had been called into service,
furnished an additional motive for suspending the pursuit.

At this place, the bold and happy resolution was taken to carry the
war into South Carolina.

The motives which induced the adoption of this measure were stated by
himself in a letter communicating his determination to the
Commander-in-chief. It would compel Lord Cornwallis to follow him, and
thus liberate North Carolina, or to sacrifice all his posts in the
upper parts of South Carolina and Georgia.

The Southern army amounted to about seventeen hundred effectives. That
of Lord Cornwallis is understood to have been still less numerous. So
impotent were the means employed for the conquest and defence of
states which were of immense extent and value.

This unexpected movement gave a new aspect to affairs, and produced
some irresolution in the British general respecting his future
operations. After weighing the probable advantages and disadvantages
of following Greene into South Carolina, he decided against this
retrograde movement and determined to advance into Virginia.


     Virginia invaded by Arnold.... He destroys the stores at
     Westham and at Richmond.... Retires to Portsmouth.... Mutiny
     in the Pennsylvania line.... Sir H. Clinton attempts to
     negotiate with the mutineers.... They compromise with the
     civil government.... Mutiny in the Jersey line.... Mission
     of Colonel Laurens to France.... Propositions to Spain....
     Recommendations relative to a duty on imported and prize
     goods.... Reform in the Executive departments....
     Confederation adopted.... Military transactions....
     Lafayette detached to Virginia.... Cornwallis arrives....
     Presses Lafayette.... Expedition to Charlottesville, to the
     Point of Fork.... Lafayette forms a junction with Wayne....
     Cornwallis retires to the lower country.... General
     Washington's letters are intercepted.... Action near

[Sidenote: 1781]

[Sidenote: Virginia invaded by Arnold.]

The evacuation of Portsmouth by Leslie afforded Virginia but a
short interval of repose. So early as the 9th of December, 1780, a
letter from General Washington announced to the governor that a large
embarkation, supposed to be destined for the south, was about taking
place at New York. On the 30th, a fleet of transports under convoy,
having on board between one and two thousand men, commanded by General
Arnold, anchored in Hampton road. The troops were embarked the next
day on board vessels adapted to the navigation, and proceeded up
James' River under convoy of two small ships of war. On the fourth of
January they reached Westover, which is distant about twenty-five
miles from Richmond, the capital of Virginia.

[Sidenote: January 2.]

On receiving intelligence that a fleet had entered the capes, General
Nelson was employed in raising the militia of the lower country; and
on the 2d of January orders were issued to call out those above the
metropolis and in its neighbourhood.

On reaching Westover, Arnold landed with the greater part of his army,
and commenced his march towards Richmond. The few continental troops
at Petersburg were ordered to the capital; and between one and two
hundred militia, who had been collected from the town and its
immediate vicinity, were directed to harass the advancing enemy.

This party was too feeble for its object; and, the day after landing
at Westover, Arnold entered Richmond, where he halted with about five
hundred men. The residue, amounting to about four hundred, including
thirty horse, proceeded under Lieutenant Colonel Simcoe to Westham,
where they burnt a valuable foundry, boring mill, powder magazine, and
other smaller buildings, with military stores to a considerable
amount, and many valuable papers belonging to the government, which
had been carried thither as to a place of safety.

[Sidenote: He destroys valuable stores at Richmond.]

This service being effected, Lieutenant Colonel Simcoe rejoined Arnold
at Richmond; where the public stores, and a large quantity of rum and
salt, the property of private individuals, were entirely destroyed.

[Sidenote: January.]

Leaving Richmond the next day, the army returned to Westover[65] on
the seventh; and, re-embarking on the morning of the tenth, proceeded
down the river. It was followed by the Baron Steuben, who commanded in
Virginia; and, near Hoods, Colonel Clarke drew a party of them into an
ambuscade, and gave them one fire with some effect; but, on its being
partially returned, the Americans broke and fled in the utmost

[Footnote 65: While the army lay at Westover, Lieutenant Colonel
Simcoe, at the head of less than fifty horse, attacked and dispersed a
body of militia at Charles City court house, with the loss of only one
man killed, and three wounded.]

[Footnote 66: The author witnessed this skirmish.]

Arnold proceeded slowly down the river; and on the twentieth reached
Portsmouth, where he manifested the intention of establishing a
permanent post.

The loss of the British in this expedition, was stated in the gazette
of New York, at seven killed, including one subaltern, and
twenty-three wounded, among whom was one captain. This small loss was
sustained almost entirely in the ambuscade near Hoods.

In the north, the year commenced with an event, which, for a time,
threatened the American cause with total ruin.

The accumulated sufferings and privations of the army constitute a
large and interesting part of the history of that war which gave
independence to the United States. Winter, without much lessening
their toils, added to those sufferings. The soldiers were perpetually
on the point of starving, were often entirely without food; were
exposed without proper clothing to the rigours of the season, and had
now served almost twelve months without pay.

This state of things had been of such long continuance that scarcely
the hope of a change could be indulged. It produced, unavoidably, some
relaxation of discipline; and the murmurs, occasionally escaping the
officers, sometimes heard by the soldiers, were not without their

In addition to the general causes of dissatisfaction, the Pennsylvania
line complained of a grievance almost peculiar to itself.

When congress directed enlistments to be made for three years, or
during the war, the recruiting officers of Pennsylvania, in some
instances, instead of engaging their men, definitively, for the one
period or the other, engaged them generally for three years, or the
war. This ambiguity in the terms of enlistment produced its natural
effect. The soldier claimed his discharge at the expiration of three
years, and the officer insisted on retaining him in service during the
war. The soldier submitted with the more reluctance to the supposed
imposition, as he constantly witnessed the immense bounties given to
those who were not bound by a former enlistment.

[Sidenote: Mutiny in the Pennsylvania line.]

The discontents which these various causes had been long fomenting,
broke out on the night of the 1st of January, in an open and almost
universal revolt of the line.

On a signal given, the great body of the non-commissioned officers and
privates paraded under arms, avowing the determination to march to the
seat of congress, and either obtain redress of their complicated
grievances, or serve no longer. In the attempt to suppress the mutiny,
six or seven of the mutineers were wounded on the one side; and on the
other, Captain Billing was killed, and several other officers were
dangerously wounded. The authority of General Wayne availed nothing.
On cocking his pistol, and threatening some of the most turbulent, the
bayonet was presented to his bosom; and he perceived that strong
measures would produce his own destruction, and perhaps the massacre
of every officer in camp. A few regiments who did not at first join
the mutineers, were paraded by their officers; but, had they even been
willing to proceed to extremities, they were not strong enough to
restore order. Infected quickly with the general contagion, or
intimidated by the threats of the mutineers, they joined their
comrades; and the whole body, consisting of about thirteen hundred
men, with six field pieces, marched, under the command of their
sergeants, towards Princeton.

The next day. General Wayne, accompanied by Colonels Butler and
Stewart, officers possessing, in a high degree, the affections of the
soldiery, followed them, in the hope of bringing them back to their
duty, or at least of dividing them. They were overtaken near
Middlebrook, and invited by a written message from General Wayne, to
appoint one man from each regiment to state the grievances of which
they complained.

In consequence of this invitation, a sergeant from each regiment met
the officers at their quarters, and some verbal communications were
made, from the complexion of which sanguine hopes were entertained
that the affair might be terminated without farther hazard, or much
injury to the service.

On the following day, the line of march was resumed, and the soldiers
proceeded to Princeton. The propositions of the general and field
officers were reported to them, and a committee of sergeants, to whom
they were referred, stated their claims. These were,

1st. A discharge for all those who had served three years under their
original engagements, whatever those engagements might have been, and
who had not taken the increased bounty, and re-enlisted for the war.

2nd. An immediate payment of all their arrears of pay and clothing, as
well to those who should be discharged, as to those who should
continue in service.

3rd. The residue of their bounty, and future real pay to those who
should continue in the army.

General Wayne being unwilling to discharge all those who had not
re-enlisted for the war, the subject was referred to the civil power.

On receiving intelligence of the mutiny, congress appointed a
committee to confer with the executive of Pennsylvania respecting it.
The result of this conference was that both the committee, and the
governor with some members of the executive council, left Philadelphia
for the purpose of endeavouring to accommodate this dangerous

At his head quarters, at New Windsor, on the North River, General
Washington received intelligence of this alarming mutiny. Accustomed
as he had been to contemplate hazardous and difficult situations, it
was not easy, under existing circumstances, to resolve instantly on
the course it was most prudent to pursue. His first impression--to
repair to the camp of the mutineers--soon gave place to opinions which
were formed on more mature reflection.

It was almost certain that the business was already in the hands of
the civil government, with whose arrangements it might be improper for
him to interfere. Independent of this consideration, other motives of
irresistible influence detained him on the North River.

The most important among those subjects of complaint which were
alleged as the causes of the mutiny, were true in fact, were common to
the whole army, and were of a nature to disseminate too generally
those seeds of disquiet, which had attained their full growth and
maturity in the Pennsylvania line. Strong symptoms of discontent had
already been manifested; and it was, therefore, impossible to say with
confidence, how far the same temper existed among the other troops; or
how far the contagion of example had or would spread.

The danger arising from this state of things was much increased by the
circumstance that the river was perfectly open, and afforded Sir Henry
Clinton an easy and rapid transportation for his army to West Point,
should the situation of its garrison invite an enterprise against that

It was an additional consideration of great weight, that it might have
a most pernicious influence on the discipline of the whole army,
should the authority of the Commander-in-chief be disregarded. He
ought not to place himself in a situation where his orders might be
disobeyed with impunity; an event much to be apprehended, should he
repair to the camp of the mutineers, unattended by a military force
adequate to the occasion.

Such a force could not be immediately commanded. His effectives in the
Highlands amounted only to thirteen hundred and seventy-six men; and
that whole division of the army, dispersed at various and distant
stations, excluding the sick and those on furlough, did not exceed
four thousand. Assuming therefore the fidelity of the troops, it was
impracticable to march immediately with a force sufficient to reduce
the Pennsylvania line, without leaving the Highlands undefended. Nor
was it unworthy of consideration that, in the actual situation of the
mutineers, the probability of their being attacked by such a force
might drive them to the enemy, or disperse them, events, either of
which would deprive the army of a valuable part of its strength.

It was therefore thought adviseable to leave the negotiation with the
civil power, and to prepare for those measures which ought to be
adopted in the event of its failure. The disposition of the troops on
the North River was sounded, and found to be favourable; after which,
a detachment of eleven hundred men was ordered to be in readiness to
move on a moment's warning. On the first notice of the mutiny, the
militia of Jersey took the field under General Dickenson, and measures
were taken to call out those of New York should the occasion require

[Sidenote: Sir Henry Clinton attempts to negotiate with the

To avail himself of an event appearing so auspicious to the royal
cause, Sir Henry Clinton ordered a large body of troops to be in
readiness to move on the shortest notice; and despatched three
emissaries with tempting offers to the revolters; and instructions to
invite them, while the negotiation should be depending, to take a
position behind the South River, where they should be effectually
covered by detachments from New York. While these measures were
taking, Sir Henry kept his eye on West Point, and held himself in
readiness to strike at that place, should any movement on the part of
General Washington open to him a prospect of success.[67]

[Footnote 67: Letter of Sir Henry Clinton.]

His emissaries were immediately seized by the revolters, and their
proposals communicated to General Wayne, with assurances of the utter
detestation in which every idea of going over to the common enemy was

This favourable symptom, however, was accompanied by suspicious
circumstances. They retained the British emissaries in their own
possession; and could not be induced to cross the Delaware, or to
march from Princeton. They would not permit any of their former
officers, other than those already mentioned, to enter their camp; and
General St. Clair, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Lieutenant Colonel
Laurens, were ordered to leave Princeton.

Such was the state of things when the committee of congress, and
President Read with a part of his executive council, arrived in the
neighbourhood of the revolters. The former having delegated their
power to the latter, a conference was held with the sergeants who now
commanded, after which proposals were made and distributed among the
troops for consideration.

In these proposals the government offered,

1st. To discharge all those who had enlisted indefinitely for three
years or during the war, the fact to be examined into by three
commissioners, to be appointed by the executive; and to be
ascertained, when the original enlistment could not be produced, by
the oath of the soldier.

2dly. To give immediate certificates for the depreciation on their
pay, and to settle the arrearages as soon as circumstances would

3dly. To furnish them immediately with certain specified articles of
clothing which were most wanted.

[Sidenote: They compromise with the civil authority.]

On receiving these propositions, the troops agreed to march to
Trenton. At that place the terms were accepted, with the addition that
three commissioners should also be deputed by the line, who,
conjointly with those of the executive should constitute the board
authorized to determine on the claims of the soldiers to be
discharged; and thereupon the British emissaries were surrendered, who
were tried, condemned, and executed as spies.

Until the investigation should be made, and discharges given to those
who should be found entitled to them, the sergeants retained their
command. In consequence of the irksomeness of this state of things,
the business was pressed with so much precipitation, that before the
enlistments themselves could be brought from the huts, almost the
whole of the artillery, and of the five first regiments of infantry,
were liberated on the testimony of their own oaths. The enlistments
being then produced, it was found that not many of the remaining
regiments had engaged on the terms which, under the compact, would
entitle them to leave the service; and that, of those actually
dismissed, far the greater number had been enlisted absolutely for the
war. The discharges given, however, were not cancelled; and the few
who were to remain in service received furloughs for forty days.

Thus ended, in a temporary dissolution of the whole line of
Pennsylvania, a mutiny, which a voluntary performance of much less
than was extorted, would have prevented; and which, in the actual
condition of the army, was of a nature and extent to inspire the most
serious alarm.

[Sidenote: Mutiny in the Jersey line.]

The dangerous policy of yielding even to the just demands of soldiers
made with arms in their hands, was soon illustrated. The success of
the Pennsylvania line inspired that of Jersey, many of whom were also
foreigners, with the hope of obtaining similar advantages. On the
night of the 20th, a part of the Jersey brigade, which had been
stationed at Pompton, rose in arms; and, making precisely the same
claims which had been yielded to the Pennsylvanians, marched to
Chatham, where a part of the same brigade was cantoned, in the hope of
exciting them also to join in the revolt.

General Washington, who had been extremely chagrined at the issue of
the mutiny in the Pennsylvania line, and who was now assured of the
confidence to be placed in the fidelity of the eastern troops, who
were composed of natives, determined, by strong measures, to stop the
farther progress of a spirit which threatened the destruction of the
army, and ordered a detachment to march against the mutineers, and to
bring them to unconditional submission. General Howe, who commanded
this detachment, was instructed to make no terms with the insurgents
while in a state of resistance; and, as soon as they should surrender,
to seize a few of the most active leaders, and to execute them on the
spot. These orders were promptly obeyed, and the Jersey mutineers
returned to their duty.

In the hope of being more successful with the revolters of Jersey than
he had been with those of Pennsylvania, Sir Henry Clinton offered them
the same terms which had been proposed to the mutineers at Princeton;
and General Robertson, at the head of three thousand men, was
detached to Staten Island with the avowed purpose of crossing over
into Jersey, and covering any movement which they might make towards
New York. The emissary, being in the American interest, delivered his
papers to the officer commanding at the first station to which he
came. Other papers were dispersed among the mutineers; but the mutiny
was crushed too suddenly to allow time for the operation of these

The vigorous measures taken in this instance were happily followed by
such an attention on the part of the states, to the actual situation
of the army, as checked the progress of discontent. Influenced by the
representations of the Commander-in-chief, they raised three months'
pay in specie, which they forwarded to the soldiers, who received it
with joy, considering it as evidence that their fellow citizens were
not entirely unmindful of their sufferings.

Although the army was thus reduced to such extreme distress, the
discontents of the people were daily multiplied by the contributions
which they were required to make, and by the irritating manner in
which those contributions were drawn from them. Every article for
public use was obtained by impressment; and the taxes were either
unpaid, or collected by coercive means. Strong remonstrances were made
against this system; and the dissatisfaction which pervaded the mass
of the community, was scarcely less dangerous than that which had
been manifested by the army.

To the judicious patriots throughout America, the necessity of giving
greater powers to the federal government became every day more
apparent; but the efforts of enlightened individuals were too feeble
to correct that fatal disposition of power which had been made by
enthusiasm uninstructed by experience.

[Sidenote: Mission of Colonel Laurens to France.]

To relieve the United States from their complicated embarrassments, a
foreign loan seemed an expedient of indispensable necessity, and from
France they hoped to obtain it. Congress selected Lieutenant Colonel
Laurens, a gentleman whose situation in the family of the
Commander-in-chief had enabled him to take a comprehensive view of the
military capacities and weaknesses of his country, for this
interesting service; and instructed him also to urge the advantage of
maintaining a naval superiority in the American seas. Before his
departure, he passed some days at headquarters, and received from
General Washington in the form of a letter, the result of his
reflections on the existing state of things.

In this paper he detailed the pecuniary embarrassments of the
government, and represented, with great earnestness, the inability of
the nation to furnish a revenue adequate to the support of the war. He
dwelt on the discontents which the system of impressment had excited
among the people, and expressed his fears that the evils felt in the
prosecution of the war, might weaken the sentiments which began it.

From this state of things, he deduced the vital importance of an
immediate and ample supply of money, which might be the foundation for
substantial arrangements of finance, for reviving public credit, and
giving vigour to future operations; as well as of a decided effort of
the allied arms on the continent to effect the great objects of the
alliance, in the ensuing campaign.

Next to a supply of money, he considered a naval superiority in the
American seas, as an object of the deepest interest.

To the United States, it would be of decisive importance, and France
also might derive great advantages from transferring the maritime war
to the coast of her ally.

The future ability of the United States to repay any loan which might
now be obtained was displayed; and he concluded with assurances that
there was still a fund of inclination and resource in the country,
equal to great and continued exertions, provided the means were
afforded of stopping the progress of disgust, by changing the present
system, and adopting another more consonant with the spirit of the
nation, and more capable of infusing activity and energy into public
measures; of which a powerful succour in money must be the basis.
"The people were discontented, but it was with the feeble and
oppressive mode of conducting the war, not with the war itself."

With reason did the Commander-in-chief thus urge on the cabinet of
Versailles, the policy of advancing a sum of money to the United
States which might be adequate to the exigency. Deep was the gloom
with which their political horizon was overcast. The British, in
possession of South Carolina and of Georgia, had overrun the greater
part of North Carolina also; and it was with equal hazard and address
that Greene maintained himself in the northern frontier of that state.

A second detachment from New York was making a deep impression on
Virginia, where the resistance had been neither so prompt nor so
vigorous[68] as the strength of that state and the unanimity of its
citizens had given reason to expect.

[Footnote 68: A slave population must be unfavourable to great and
sudden exertions by militia.]

The perplexities and difficulties in which the affairs of America were
involved, were estimated by the British government even above their
real value. Intercepted letters of this date from the minister,
expressed the most sanguine hopes that the great superiority of force
at the disposal of Sir Henry Clinton, would compel Washington with his
feeble army to take refuge on the eastern side of the Hudson.

[Sidenote: Propositions to Spain.]

Even congress relaxed for an instant from its habitual firmness; and,
receding from the decisive manner in which that body had insisted on
the territorial and maritime rights of the nation, directed the
American minister at Madrid to relinquish, if it should be absolutely
necessary, the claims of the United States to navigate the Mississippi
below the thirty-first degree of north latitude, and to a free port on
the banks of that river within the Spanish territory. It is remarkable
that only Massachusetts, Connecticut, and North Carolina, dissented
from this resolution; New York was divided.[69] On a subsequent day,
the subject was again brought forward, and a proposition was made for
still farther concessions to Spain; but this proposition was negatived
by all the states.[70]

[Footnote 69: Secret journals of Congress, v. 2, pp. 393, 396, 407.
This measure was moved by the delegation from Virginia, in consequence
of instructions of 2d Jan. 1781. Sec. 10, H. at large, 538.]

[Footnote 70: Secret journals of Congress, v. 2, p. 468.]

Happily for the United States, Mr. Jay, their minister at the court of
Madrid, required as the price of the concessions he was instructed to
make, that the treaty he was labouring to negotiate should be
immediately concluded.

[Sidenote: Recommendations relative to a duty on imported and prize

The establishment of a revenue subject to the exclusive control and
direction of the continental government, was connected inseparably
with the restoration of credit. The efforts therefore to negotiate a
foreign loan were accompanied by resolutions requesting the
respective states to place a fund under the control of congress, which
should be both permanent and productive. A resolution was passed,
recommending to the respective states to vest a power in congress to
levy for the use of the United States a duty of five _per centum ad
valorem_ on all goods imported into any of them; and also on all
prizes condemned in any of the American courts of admiralty.

This fund was to be appropriated to the payment of both the principal
and interest of all debts contracted in the prosecution of the war;
and was to continue until those debts should be completely discharged.

Congress, at that time, contained several members who perceived the
advantages which would result from bestowing on the government of the
nation the full power of regulating commerce, and, consequently, of
increasing the import as circumstances might render adviseable; but
state influence predominated, and they were overruled by great
majorities. Even the inadequate plan which they did recommend was
never adopted. Notwithstanding the greatness of the exigency, and the
pressure of the national wants, never, during the existence of the
confederation, did all the states unite in assenting to this
recommendation; so unwilling are men possessed of power, to place it
in the hands of others.

[Sidenote: Reform in the organization of the executive departments.]

About the same time a reform was introduced into the administration,
the necessity of which had been long perceived. From a misplaced
prejudice against institutions sanctioned by experience, all the great
executive duties had been devolved either on committees of congress,
or on boards consisting of several members. This unwieldy and
expensive system had maintained itself against all the efforts of
reason and public utility. But the scantiness of the national means at
length prevailed over prejudice, and the several committees and boards
yielded to a secretary for foreign affairs, a superintendent of
finance, a secretary of war, and a secretary of marine. But so
miserably defective was the organization of congress, as an executive
body, that the year had far advanced before this measure, the utility
of which all acknowledged, could be carried into complete operation by
making all the appointments.

[Sidenote: Confederation adopted.]

About this time the articles of confederation were ratified. Much
difficulty was encountered in obtaining the adoption of this
instrument. The numerous objections made by the states yielded
successively to the opinion that a federal compact would be of vast
importance in the prosecution of the war. One impediment it was found
peculiarly difficult to remove. Within the chartered limits of several
states, were immense tracts of vacant territory, which, it was
supposed, would constitute a large fund of future wealth; and the
states not possessing that advantage insisted on considering this
territory as a joint acquisition. At length this difficulty also was
surmounted; and, in February, 1781, to the great joy of America, this
interesting compact was rendered complete.[71] Like many other human
institutions, it was productive, neither in war nor in peace, of all
the benefits which its sanguine advocates had expected. Had peace been
made before any agreement for a permanent union was formed, it is far
from being improbable that the different parts might have fallen
asunder, and a dismemberment have taken place. If the confederation
really preserved the idea of union until the good sense of the nation
adopted a more efficient system, this service alone entitles that
instrument to the respectful recollection of the American people, and
its framers to their gratitude.

[Footnote 71: The secret journals of congress, published under the
resolutions of March 27th, 1818, and April 21st, 1820, contain "A
History of the Confederation." The course of public opinion on a most
important point--the nature of the connexion which ought to be
maintained between these United States--may be in some degree
perceived in the progress of this instrument, and may not be entirely
uninteresting to the American reader.

So early as July, 1775, Doctor Franklin submitted "Articles of
Confederation and perpetual union" to the consideration of congress,
which were to continue in force until a reconciliation with Great
Britain should take place on the terms demanded by the colonies. Into
this confederation, not only all the British colonies on the
continent, but Ireland and the West India islands were to be admitted.

Congress was to consist of members chosen by each colony in proportion
to its numbers, and was to sit in each successively. Its powers were
to embrace the external relations of the country, the settling of all
disputes between the colonies, the planting of new colonies; and were
to extend to ordinances on such general subjects as, though necessary
to the general welfare, particular assemblies can not be competent to,
viz. "Those that may relate to our general commerce, or general
currency; the establishment of ports; and the regulation of our common

The executive was to consist of a council of twelve, selected by
congress from its own body, one-third of whom were to be changed

Amendments were to be proposed by congress; and, when approved by a
majority of the colonial assemblies, were to become a part of the

In June, 1776, a committee was appointed to prepare and digest the
form of a confederation to be entered into between the United
Colonies, which brought in a draft (in the hand writing of Mr. John
Dickinson) on the 12th of the succeeding month.

This report was under debate until the 14th of November, 1777, on
which day congress agreed on the articles afterwards adopted by the

In the scheme supposed to be prepared by Mr. Dickinson, the
confederation is considered as an alliance of sovereign states, who
meet as equals by their deputies assembled to deliberate on their
common concerns, each sovereign having a voice. This principle was
retained; but several modifications in the language and principle of
the original scheme were made, which indicate a watchful and growing
jealousy of the powers of congress.

In each, an article is introduced reserving the rights of the states.
That which is found in the report, "reserves to each state the sole
and exclusive regulation and government of its internal police, in all
matters that _shall not interfere with the articles of this

This article was so modified as to declare that "each state retains
its sovereignty," "and every power, jurisdiction and right, which is
not by this confederation _expressly_ delegated to the United States
in congress assembled."

This denial of all incidental powers had vast influence on the affairs
of the United States. It defeated, in many instances, the granted
powers, by rendering their exercise impracticable.

The report permits the states to impose duties on imports and exports;
provided they "do not interfere with any stipulations in treaties
hereafter entered into by the United States."

The confederation confines this restriction on the power of the state
to such duties as interfere with the stipulations in treaties entered
into "in pursuance of any treaties already proposed by congress to the
courts of France and Spain."

Each plan assigns to the state in which troops shall be raised for the
common defence, the power of appointing the field and inferior
officers. The confederation adds the power of filling up such
vacancies as may occur.

The report inhibits a state from endeavouring by force to obtain
compensation for advances made or injuries suffered during the war,
which shall not be allowed by congress.

The confederation omits this inhibition.

The report gives to congress the power of making treaties.

The confederation adds a proviso, "that no treaty of commerce shall be
made whereby the legislative power of the respective states shall be
restrained from imposing such imports and duties on foreigners as
their own people are subjected to, or from prohibiting the exportation
or importation of any species of goods or commodities whatever."

The report authorizes congress to appoint "courts for the trial of all
crimes, frauds, and piracies committed on the high seas, or on any
navigable river not within a county or parish."

The confederation limits the jurisdiction to "piracies and felonies
committed on the high seas."

Both empower congress to appoint courts for the trial of appeals in
cases of capture; but the confederation provides that no member of
congress shall be appointed a judge of any such court.

Both empower congress to settle differences between the states. The
confederation prescribes minutely the manner in which this power shall
be exercised.

Both empower congress "to regulate the trade and manage all affairs
with the Indians." The confederation provides "that the legislative
right of any state within its own limits be not infringed or

The report gives the power of "establishing and regulating post
offices throughout all the United Colonies (states) _on the lines of
communication_ from one colony (state) to another."

The confederation varies the phraseology and adds, "and exacting such
postage on the papers passing through the same as may be requisite to
defray the expenses of the said office."

The report places many important portions of the executive power in a
council of state, to consist of one delegate from each state to be
named annually by the delegates of that state.

The confederation empowers congress to appoint a committee to sit in
the recess of congress, to be denominated "a committee of the states,"
and to consist of one delegate from each state, to exercise such
powers as congress might from time to time vest them with.

A few of the states agreed to ratify the confederation
unconditionally. By many, amendments were proposed which were steadily
rejected by congress. It was obvious that the delays would be almost
interminable should congress relax this determination, because every
change would make it necessary again to submit the instrument as
amended to the several states. It is remarkable that Jersey alone
proposed an enlargement of the powers of congress. That state was
desirous of investing the representatives of the state with the power
of regulating commerce.

The states possessing no vacant lands, or an inconsiderable quantity
within their chartered limits, pressed earnestly and perseveringly
their claim to participate in the advantages of territory, which was,
they said, acquired by the united arms of the whole; and Maryland
refused, on this account, to accede to the confederation. At length,
several of the states empowered their members in congress to ratify
that instrument as forming a union between the twelve states who had
assented to it. Maryland, alarmed at the prospect of being excluded
from the union, gave her reluctant consent to the confederation,
accompanied by a protest, in which she still asserted her claim to her
interest in the vacant territory which should be acknowledged at the
treaty of peace, to be within the United States.

It required the repeated lessons of a severe and instructive
experience to persuade the American people that their greatness, their
prosperity, their happiness, and even their safety, imperiously
demanded the substitution of a government for their favourite league.]

[Sidenote: Military transactions.]

Such was the defensive strength of the positions taken by the adverse
armies on the Hudson, and such their relative force, that no decisive
blow could be given by either in that quarter of the continent. The
anxious attentions of General Washington, therefore, were
unremittingly directed to the south. One of those incidents which
fortune occasionally produces, on the seizing or neglect of which the
greatest military events frequently depend, presented, sooner than was
expected, an opportunity which he deemed capable of being improved to
the destruction of the British army in Virginia.

The French fleet, from its arrival on the American coast, had been
blocked up in the harbour of Newport; and the land forces of that
nation had been reduced to a state of inactivity by the necessity of
defending their ships. Late in January, a detachment from the British
fleet was encountered on the east end of Long Island by a furious
storm, in which such damage was sustained as to destroy for a time the
naval superiority which Arbuthnot had uniformly preserved.

To turn this temporary superiority to advantage, Monsieur Destouches
resolved to detach a ship of the line, with two frigates, to the
Chesapeake; a force which the delegation from Virginia had assured him
would be sufficient for the purpose.

On receiving certain accounts of the loss sustained in the storm,
General Washington conceived the design of improving that
circumstance by immediate and powerful operations against Arnold.
Confident that the critical moment must be seized, or the enterprise
would fail, he ordered a detachment of twelve hundred men, under the
command of the Marquis de Lafayette, to the head of the Chesapeake;
there to embark for that part of Virginia which was to become the
theatre of action, under convoy of a French frigate, for which he
applied to the admiral. He immediately communicated this measure to
the Count de Rochambeau, and to Monsieur Destouches, to whom he also
stated his conviction that no serious advantage could be expected from
a few ships, unaided by land troops. "There were," he said, "a variety
of positions to be taken by Arnold, one of which was Portsmouth, his
present station, where his ships might be so protected by his
batteries on the shore as to defy a mere naval attack; and where he
would certainly be able to maintain himself until the losses sustained
in the late storm should be repaired, and the superiority at sea
recovered, when he would unquestionably be relieved."

To insure the success of the expedition, he recommended that the whole
fleet should be employed on it, and that a detachment of one thousand
men should be embarked for the same service.

[Sidenote: February 9.]

These representations did not prevail. The original plan had already
been put in execution. On the 9th of February, a sixty-four gun ship
with two frigates, under Monsieur de Tilley, had sailed for the
Chesapeake; and, as some of the British ships had been repaired, the
French admiral did not think it prudent to put to sea with the residue
of his fleet.

As had been foreseen by General Washington, de Tilley found Arnold in
a situation not to be assailed with any prospect of success. After
showing himself therefore in the bay, and making an ineffectual
attempt to enter Elizabeth River, he returned to Newport. At the
capes, he fell in with the Romulus, a fifty gun ship, coming from
Charleston to the Chesapeake, which he captured.

Both the Count de Rochambeau, and the Chevalier Destouches, being well
disposed to execute the plans suggested by General Washington, they
determined, on the return of Monsieur de Tilley, to make a second
expedition to the Chesapeake with the whole fleet, and eleven hundred
men. General Washington, therefore, hastened to Newport, that in a
personal conference with them, he might facilitate the execution of an
enterprise from which he still entertained sanguine hopes.

[Sidenote: March 6.]

Early on the 6th of March he reached Newport, and went instantly on
board the Admiral, where he was met by the Count de Rochambeau. It was
determined that a detachment from the army, then in perfect readiness,
should be embarked under the Count de Viominil; and that the fleet
should put to sea as soon as possible. The wind was favourable to the
French, and adverse to the British. Yet the fleet did not sail until
the evening of the eighth. It appears from a letter of Monsieur
Destouches, that this delay was in some measure attributable to a
disaster which befel one of his frigates in getting out of port; and
there is reason to suppose that it may be ascribed to a want of
supplies. Whatever may have been the cause, Arnold is most probably
indebted to it for his escape from the fate which his treason merited.

Two days after Destouches had sailed, he was followed by Arbuthnot,
who overtook him off the capes of Virginia. A partial engagement
ensued which continued about an hour, when the fleets were separated.

The French admiral called a council of war the next day, in which it
was declared unadviseable to renew the action, and he returned to

[Sidenote: March 26.]

The arrival of two thousand men commanded by General Philips, gave the
British a decided superiority in Virginia, and changed the destination
of Lafayette, who had been ordered to join the southern army, but to
whom the defence of that state was now committed. The troops under his
command being taken chiefly from the eastern regiments, had imbibed
strong prejudices against a southern climate; and desertions became so
frequent as to threaten the dissolution of the corps.

This unpromising state of things was completely changed by a happy
expedient adopted by Lafayette. Appealing to the generous principles
of his soldiers, principles on which the feelings of his own bosom
taught him to rely, he proclaimed in orders, that he was about to
enter on an enterprise of great danger and difficulty, in which he
persuaded himself his soldiers would not abandon him. If, however, any
individual of the detachment was unwilling to accompany him, a permit
to return should most assuredly be granted him.

This measure had the desired effect, and put an end to desertion.[72]
To keep up the good dispositions of the moment, this ardent young
nobleman, who was as unmindful of fortune as he was ambitious of fame,
borrowed from the merchants of Baltimore, on his private credit, a sum
of money sufficient to purchase shoes, linen, spirits, and other
articles of immediate necessity for the detachment.[73]

[Footnote 72: The author was assured by General Lafayette that this
was true. Such was the enthusiasm of the moment, that a lame sergeant
hired a place in a cart to keep up with the army.]

[Footnote 73: It is not unworthy of notice, that the ladies of
Baltimore charged themselves with the toil of immediately making up
the summer clothing for the troops. Innumerable instances of their
zeal in the common cause of their country were given in every state in
the union.]

Having made these preparations for the campaign, he marched with the
utmost celerity to the defence of Virginia. That state was in great
need of assistance. The enemy had penetrated deep into its bosom, and
was committing those excesses on its inhabitants to which a country
unable to repel invasion must always be exposed.

General Philips, on his arrival, took command of all the British
troops in Virginia; and, after completing the fortification of
Portsmouth, commenced offensive operations.

[Sidenote: April 24.]

About two thousand five hundred men were embarked on board some small
vessels, and landed at various places in the neighbourhood of
Williamsburg. Different detachments spread themselves over the lower
part of that neck of land which is made by York and James Rivers; and,
after destroying, without opposition, a ship yard belonging to the
state, with some armed vessels and public stores, re-embarked and
proceeded to City Point, where they landed in the afternoon of the
24th. The next day they marched against Petersburg, at which place,
immense quantities of tobacco and other stores were deposited.

Baron Steuben was not in a situation to check their progress. The
levies of Virginia had marched to the aid of General Greene; and the
whole number of militia, at that time in the field, did not much
exceed two thousand men. Unwilling to abandon so important a place as
Petersburg without the semblance of fighting, the baron posted about
one thousand men a mile below the town with orders to skirmish with
the enemy. The British troops, without being able to bring him to a
close engagement, were two or three hours employed in driving him
across the Appomattox, the bridge over which being taken up as soon as
the militia had passed it, farther pursuit became impracticable.

This skirmish having terminated with scarcely any loss on either side,
the baron retreated towards Richmond, and Philips took quiet
possession of Petersburg; where he destroyed a considerable quantity
of tobacco, and all the vessels lying in the river.

This service being accomplished, Arnold was detached through Osbornes
to Warwick, between which place and Richmond, a respectable naval
force, consisting of small armed vessels, had been collected with the
intention of co-operating with the French fleet against Portsmouth;
and a few militia were stationed on the northern bank of the river to
assist in defending the flotilla.

[Sidenote: April 30.]

The crews of the vessels, on receiving a fire from a few field pieces
ordered by Arnold to the bank, scuttled them, escaped to the opposite
shore, and dispersed with the militia. Philips marched with the
residue of the army to Chesterfield court house, the place of
rendezvous for the new levies of Virginia, where he destroyed the
barracks with a few public stores; after which he joined Arnold in the
neighbourhood of Warwick, and marched without interruption to
Manchester, a small town on the southern bank of James River,
immediately opposite to Richmond; where, as was the general practice,
the warehouses were set on fire, and all the tobacco consumed.

On the preceding evening, the Marquis de Lafayette, who had made a
forced march from Baltimore, arrived with his detachment at Richmond;
and that place, in which a great proportion of the military stores of
the state were then collected, was saved, for the time, from a visit
which was certainly designed.

The regular troops composing this detachment were joined by about two
thousand militia, and sixty dragoons. Not thinking it adviseable to
attempt the passage of the river in the presence of so respectable an
army, General Philips retired to Bermuda Hundred, a point of land in
the confluence of the James and Appomatox, [Transcriber's Note: sic]
at which place he re-embarked his troops, and fell down the river to
Hog Island.

The Marquis fixed his head quarters on the north of Chiccahominy,
about eighteen miles from Richmond; where he remained until a letter
from Lord Cornwallis called Philips again up James River.

When that nobleman determined on marching from Wilmington into
Virginia, he signified his wish that the British troops in that state,
should take their station at Petersburg.

On receiving this letter, Philips proceeded to comply with the request
it contained. As soon as the fleet moved up the river, Lafayette
returned to the defence of Richmond. Having, on his arrival, received
intelligence that Lord Cornwallis was marching northward, and finding
Philips landed at Brandon on the south side of the river, he was
persuaded that a junction of the two armies must be intended, and
hastened to take possession of Petersburg[74] before Philips could
reach that place. In this however he was anticipated by the British
general; upon which he recrossed James River, and, encamping a few
miles below Richmond, used his utmost exertions to remove the military
stores in that town to a place of greater security.

[Footnote 74: General Lafayette states that this movement also
facilitated the transportation of some military stores to the southern
army, which were greatly needed.]

[Sidenote: Cornwallis arrives.]

In this position his army was permitted to repose itself but a few
days. Lord Cornwallis, after passing through North Carolina and the
southern parts of Virginia without encountering much opposition, and
effecting a junction with Arnold, who had succeeded by the death of
Philips to the command of the army in Virginia,[75] found himself at
the head of a force which nothing in that state could resist; and
determined on a vigorous plan of offensive operations. His immediate
object was to bring the Marquis to an action; for which purpose he
crossed James River at Westover, where he was joined by a
reinforcement from New York, and attempted, by turning the left flank
of the American army, to get into its rear. Lafayette was not in a
condition to risk an engagement. His objects were the security of the
public stores, the preservation of his small army for future services,
and a junction with the Pennsylvania line which was on its march
southward, under the command of General Wayne. As Lord Cornwallis
crossed James River, he retired towards the upper country, inclining
his route to the north in order to favour a junction with Wayne.

[Footnote 75: General Philips died the day on which the army entered
Petersburg. Arnold on succeeding to the command addressed a letter to
Lafayette, which the American general refused to receive, informing
the officer who brought it, and whom he treated in other respects with
great politeness, that he would receive no letter from Arnold.--_Cor.
of Lafayette._]

The fine horses found in the stables of private gentlemen, gave to the
British general an efficient cavalry; and enabled him to mount so
many infantry, as to move large detachments with unusual rapidity.
With these advantages, he was so confident of overtaking and
destroying his enemy, as to say exultingly in a letter which was
intercepted, "the boy can not escape me." His sanguine hopes, however,
were disappointed. Lafayette moved with so much celerity and caution
as to convince Cornwallis of the impracticability of overtaking him,
or of preventing his junction with Wayne.

After marching some distance up the northern side of Northanora, his
lordship relinquished the pursuit, and turned his attention to other
objects which were more attainable.

Military stores had been collected in various parts of the middle
country, and, among others, at the Point of Fork, a point of land made
by the confluence of the Rivanna and Fluvanna, the two branches of
James' River. Colonel Simcoe was detached with five hundred men
against this post, which was protected by between five and six hundred
new levies, and a few militia. Tarlton, with two hundred and fifty
cavalry and mounted infantry, was ordered at the same time against
Charlottesville, where the general assembly was in session. So rapid
were his movements that a mere accident prevented his entering the
town before any notice of his approach was given. A private gentleman,
Mr. Jouiette, who was acquainted with a nearer route than the great
road, hastened to Charlottesville on a fleet horse with the
interesting intelligence, and entered the town about two hours before
the British cavalry. Nearly all[76] the members of the legislature
made their escape, and reassembled at Staunton, on the western side of
the Blue Ridge. Tarlton, after destroying the stores at
Charlottesville, proceeded down the Rivanna to the Point of Fork.

[Footnote 76: Seven fell into the hands of Tarlton.]

The detachment commanded by Simcoe, being composed chiefly of
infantry, could not move with equal celerity. That officer, however,
conducted his march with so much secrecy and address, that Steuben
seems to have been either unapprized of his approach, or to have had
no accurate information of his numbers. Intelligence of the expedition
to Charlottesville had reached him, and he had prudently employed
himself in removing his stores from the Point of Fork to the south
side of the Fluvanna.

The river was at the time unfordable; and the boats were all secured
on the southern bank. Yet Steuben, suspecting the detachment of Simcoe
to be the van of the British army, or apprehending that Tarlton might
get into his rear, withdrew precipitately in the night, and marched
near thirty miles, leaving behind him such stores as could not be
removed. These were destroyed next morning by a small detachment of
men who crossed the river in a few canoes.

[Sidenote: Presses Lafayette over the Rapidan.]

To secure his junction with Wayne, and to keep open his communication
towards the north, Lafayette had crossed the Rapidan.

[Sidenote: Lafayette forms a junction with Wayne.]

These movements of the two armies had thrown Lord Cornwallis between
Lafayette and the military stores which had been transported from
Richmond up James' River, and deposited at different places, but
principally at Albemarle old court house, high up that river. To this
place Lord Cornwallis directed his march.

The Marquis, having effected a junction with the Pennsylvania line
consisting of eight hundred men, recrossed the Rapidan, and advanced
with so much celerity towards the British army, that he encamped
within a few miles of it, while upwards of a day's march from its
point of destination.

Confident that the object of the American general must be to protect
the magazines on the Fluvanna, Lord Cornwallis encamped at Elk Island,
and advanced his light troops to a position commanding the road, by
which it was supposed the Americans must pass.

Lafayette, however, discovered in the night a nearer road which had
long been disused; and the next morning the British general had the
mortification to perceive that the American army had crossed the
Rivanna, and taken a strong position behind the Mechunk creek, which,
in a great measure, commanded the route leading from the camp of his
lordship to Albemarle old court house. At this place a considerable
reinforcement of mountain militia was received.

[Sidenote: Cornwallis retires to the lower country.]

Apprehending the force opposed to him to be greater than it was in
reality, and probably desirous of transferring the war to the lower
country, Lord Cornwallis abandoned the objects he had pursued, and
retired first to Richmond, and afterwards to Williamsburg.

[Sidenote: June 18.]

The Marquis followed with cautious circumspection. On the 18th of
June, he was reinforced by four or five hundred new levies under the
Baron Steuben, which augmented his army to four thousand men, of whom
two thousand were regulars. That of Lord Cornwallis was, probably,
rather more numerous.

As the British army retreated to Williamsburg, Lafayette, who sought a
partial, though he avoided a general engagement, pressed its rear with
his light parties. Colonel Simcoe, who covered the retreat, was
overtaken by Colonel Butler about six miles from Williamsburg, and a
sharp action ensued. The Americans claimed the advantage; but were
compelled to retire by the approach of the whole British army.

In the bold and rapid course taken by Lord Cornwallis through the
lower and central parts of Virginia, much private as well as public
property[77] was destroyed; and the resources of the state were
considerably diminished; but no solid advantage was obtained.
Although, from various causes, especially from a want of arms, and
from that general repugnance which a harassed, unpaid militia, will
universally manifest to military service, less resistance was
encountered than was to be expected from the strength and population
of the state; no disposition was openly manifested to join the royal
standard, or to withdraw from the contest. The Marquis complained of
"much slowness, and much carelessness in the country; but the
dispositions of the people," he said, "were good, and they required
only to be awakened." This, he thought, would be best effected by the
presence of General Washington, an event for which he expressed the
most anxious solicitude. But Washington deemed it of more importance
to remain on the Hudson, for the purpose of digesting and conducting a
grand plan of combined operations then meditated against New York, by
the execution of which he counted more certainly on relieving the
southern states, than by any other measure it was in his power to

[Footnote 77: While the British army overran the country, their ships
sailed up the rivers, pillaged the farms, received the slaves who fled
from their masters, and, in some instances, reduced the houses to
ashes. While they were in the Potowmac, a flag was sent on shore at
Mount Vernon, requiring a supply of fresh provisions. The steward of
General Washington, believing it to be his duty to save the property
of his principal, and entertaining fears for the magnificent buildings
of the Commander-in-chief, went on board with the flag, carried a
supply of fresh provisions, asked the restoration of the slaves who
had taken refuge in the fleet, and requested that the buildings might
be spared. Mr. Lund Washington, to whom the general had entrusted the
management of his estate, communicated these circumstances to him, and
informed him that he too had sustained considerable losses. "I am
sorry," said the general, in reply, "to hear of your loss; I am a
little sorry to hear of my own. But that which gives me most concern
is, that you should have gone on board the vessels of the enemy and
furnished them with refreshments. It would have been a less painful
circumstance to me to have heard, that in consequence of your
non-compliance with their request, they had burnt my home and laid the
plantation in ruins. You ought to have considered yourself as my
representative, and should have reflected on the bad example of
communicating with the enemy, and making a voluntary offer of
refreshment to them, with a view to prevent a conflagration."]

[Sidenote: General Washington's letters are intercepted.]

An express carrying letters, communicating to congress the result of
his consultations on this subject, with the commanders of the land and
naval forces of France, was intercepted in Jersey. The interesting
disclosure made by these letters, alarmed Sir Henry Clinton for the
safety of New York, and determined him to require the return of a part
of the troops in Virginia. Supposing himself too weak, after complying
with this requisition, to remain at Williamsburg, Lord Cornwallis took
the resolution of retiring to Portsmouth.

In pursuance of this resolution, he marched from Williamsburg and
encamped in such a manner as to cover the ford into the island of
Jamestown. On the same evening, the Queen's rangers crossed over into
the island; and the two succeeding days were employed in passing over
the baggage.

The morning after the evacuation of Williamsburg, Lafayette changed
his position, and pushed his best troops within nine miles of the
British camp, with the intention of attempting their rear, when the
main body should have passed into Jamestown.

[Sidenote: July 6.]

Suspecting his design, Lord Cornwallis encamped the greater part of
his army on the main land as compactly as possible, and displayed a
few troops on the island in such a manner as, in appearance, to
magnify their numbers. All the intelligence received by Lafayette
concurred in the representation that the greater part of the British
army had passed over to the island in the night. Believing this to be
the fact, he detached some riflemen to harass their out-posts, while
he advanced at the head of the continental troops in order to cut off
the rear.

Every appearance was calculated to countenance the opinion he had
formed. The British light parties were drawn in, and the piquets were
forced by the riflemen without much resistance, but an advanced post
which covered the encampment from the view of the Americans, was
perseveringly maintained, though three of the officers commanding it
were successively picked off by the riflemen. Lafayette, who arrived a
little before sunset, suspected from the obstinacy with which this
post was maintained, that it covered more than a rear guard, and
determined to reconnoitre the camp, and judge of its strength from his
own observation.[78] It was in a great measure concealed by woods;
but from a tongue of land stretching into the river, he perceived the
British force to be much more considerable than had been supposed, and
hastened to call off his men.

[Footnote 78: Correspondence with Lafayette.]

[Sidenote: Action near Jamestown.]

He found Wayne closely engaged. A piece of artillery had been left
weakly defended, which Wayne determined to seize. Scarcely was the
attempt made, when he discovered the whole British army, arranged in
order for battle, moving out against him. To retreat was impossible,
and the boldest had become the safest measure. Under this impression
he advanced rapidly, and, with his small detachment, not exceeding
eight hundred men, made a gallant charge on the British line. A warm
action ensued, which was kept up with great spirit until the arrival
of Lafayette, who, perceiving Wayne to be out-flanked both on the
right and left, ordered him to retreat and form in a line with the
light infantry, who were drawn up about half a mile in his rear. The
whole party then saved itself behind a morass.

Fortunately for Lafayette, Lord Cornwallis did not improve the
advantage he had gained. Suspecting this to be a stratagem of the
American general to draw him into an ambuscade, a suspicion equally
favoured by the hardiness and time of the attack, Lord Cornwallis, who
supposed his enemy to be stronger than he was in reality, would allow
no pursuit; and, in the course of the night, crossed over into the
island, whence he, soon afterwards, proceeded to Portsmouth.

In this action, the Americans lost one hundred and eighteen men, among
whom were ten officers; and two pieces of artillery were left on the
field, the horses attached to them being killed. The British loss was
less considerable.

All active operations were now suspended; and the harassed army of
Lafayette was allowed some repose.

Although no brilliant service was performed by that young nobleman,
the campaign in Virginia enhanced his military reputation, and raised
him in the general esteem. That with so decided an inferiority of
effective force, and especially of cavalry, he had been able to keep
the field in an open country, and to preserve a considerable
proportion of his military stores, as well as his army, was believed
to furnish unequivocal evidence of the prudence and vigour of his


     Farther state of affairs in the beginning of the year
     1781.... Measures of Mr. Morris, the superintendent of
     finances.... Designs of General Washington against New
     York.... Count Rochambeau marches to the North River....
     Intelligence from the Count de Grasse.... Plan of operations
     against Lord Cornwallis.... Naval engagement.... The
     combined armies march for the Chesapeake.... Yorktown
     invested.... Surrender of Lord Cornwallis.

[Sidenote: 1781]

[Sidenote: State of affairs at the beginning of the year 1781.]

The deep gloom which had enveloped the prospects of America in the
commencement of the year, which darkened for a time in the south, had
also spread itself over the north. The total incompetency of the
political system adopted by the United States to their own
preservation, became every day more apparent. Each state seemed
fearful of doing too much, and of taking upon itself a larger portion
of the common burden than was borne by its neighbour.

The resolutions of congress had called for an army of thirty-seven
thousand men, to be in camp by the first of January. Had this
requisition been made in time, it is not probable that so large a
force could have been brought into the field; but it was made late,
and then the difficulties and delays on the part of the several
states, exceeded every reasonable calculation. The regular force drawn
from Pennsylvania to Georgia inclusive, at no time, during this
active and interesting campaign, amounted to three thousand effective
men; and the states from New Hampshire to New Jersey inclusive, so
late as the month of April, had furnished only five thousand infantry.
Of these, the returns for that month exhibit, in the northern
department, less than three thousand effectives. The cavalry and
artillery, at no time, amounted to one thousand men. This small army
was gradually and slowly augmented so as, in the month of May, to
exhibit a total of near seven thousand men, of whom rather more than
four thousand might have been relied on for action.

The prospects for the campaign were rendered still more unpromising by
the failure of supplies for the support of the troops. The long
expected clothing from Europe had not arrived; and the want of
provisions[79] furnished a still more serious cause of alarm.

[Footnote 79: See note No. V. at the end of the volume.]

After congress had come to the resolution of emitting no more bills on
the credit of the continent, the duty of supplying the army with
provisions necessarily devolved on the states, who were required to
furnish certain specified articles for the subsistence of the troops,
according to a ratio established by the federal government. These
requisitions had been neglected to such a degree as to excite fears
that the soldiers must be disbanded from the want of food.

To increase the general embarrassment, the quartermaster department
was destitute of funds, and unable to transport provisions or other
stores from place to place, but by means of impressment supported by a
military force. This measure had been repeated, especially in New
York, until it excited so much disgust and irritation among the
people, that the Commander-in-chief was under serious apprehensions of
actual resistance to his authority.

While in this state of deplorable imbecility, intelligence from every
quarter announced increasing dangers.

Information was received that an expedition was preparing in Canada
against Fort Pitt, to be conducted by Sir John Johnston, and Colonel
Conelly; and it was understood that many, in the country threatened
with invasion, were ready to join the British standard. The Indians
too had entered into formidable combinations, endangering the whole
extent of the western frontier.

In addition to these alarming circumstances, some vessels had arrived
at Crown Point from Canada, with information that three thousand men
had been assembled on the lakes, for the purpose of attempting, once
more, an invasion from that quarter.

This information, though unfounded, was believed to be true, and was,
at that critical moment, the more alarming, because a correspondence
of a criminal nature had just been discovered between some persons in
Albany and in Canada. A letter intercepted by Generals Schuyler and
Clinton, stated the disaffection of particular settlements, the
provision made in those settlements for the subsistence of an invading
army, and their readiness to join such army.

This intelligence from the northern frontier derived increased
interest from the ambiguous conduct observed by the inhabitants of
that tract of country which now constitutes the state of Vermont. They
had settled lands within the chartered limits of New York, under
grants from the governor of New Hampshire; and had, early in the war,
declared themselves independent, and exercised the powers of
self-government. The state of New York, however, still continuing to
assert her claim of sovereignty, the controversy on this delicate
subject had become so violent as to justify the apprehension that, in
the opinion of the people of Vermont, the restoration of British
authority was an evil not of greater magnitude, than the establishment
of that of New York. The declaration was openly made that, if not
admitted into the union as an independent state, they held themselves
at liberty to make a separate peace; and some negotiations had been
commenced, which were believed to manifest a disposition in Vermont,
to abandon the common cause of America.

Accustomed to contemplate all public events which might grow out of
the situation of the United States, and to prepare for them while at a
distance, the American chief was not depressed by this state of
American affairs. With a mind happily tempered by nature, and improved
by experience, those fortunate events which had occasionally
brightened the prospects of his country, never relaxed his exertions,
or lessened his precautions; nor could the most disastrous state of
things drive him to despair. Although entirely uncertain what
operation he might be enabled to undertake during the approaching
campaign, he had adopted such preparatory steps as might enable him to
turn to advantage any fortunate incident which might occur. In
consequence of conferences previously held with the Count de
Rochambeau, for the purpose of digesting a system adapted to
contingent events, orders were transmitted to that officer, directing
him to be in readiness to march as large a body of the French troops
to the North River, as could be spared from the protection of the

Early in May, the Count de Barras, who had been appointed to the
command of the French fleet stationed on the American coast, arrived
in Boston accompanied by the Viscount de Rochambeau, and brought the
long expected information from the cabinet of Versailles, respecting
the naval armament designed to act in the American seas. Twenty ships
of the line, to be commanded by the Count de Grasse, were destined for
the West Indies, twelve of which were to proceed to the continent of
America, and might be expected to arrive in the month of July.

[Sidenote: Designs of General Washington against New York.]

An interview between General Washington and the Count de Rochambeau
immediately took place at Weathersfield, in which it was determined to
unite the troops of France to those of America on the Hudson, and to
proceed against New York. The regular army at that station was
estimated at four thousand five hundred men,[80] and though it was
understood that Sir Henry Clinton would be able to reinforce it with
five or six thousand militia, it was believed that the post could not
be maintained without recalling a considerable part of the troops from
the south; in which event, the allied army might be employed
advantageously in that part of the union.

[Footnote 80: Sir H. Clinton in a letter to Lord Cornwallis, dated
June 11, 1781, states his effective force at ten thousand nine hundred
and thirty-one.]

The prospect of expelling the British from New York roused the
northern states from that apathy into which they appeared to be
sinking, and vigorous measures were taken to fill their regiments. Yet
those measures were not completely successful. In the month of June,
when the army took the field, and encamped at Peekskill, its
effective numbers did not exceed five thousand men.

Such was the American force in the north, with which the campaign of
1781 was opened. It fell so far short of that on which the
calculations had been made at Weathersfield, as to excite serious
doubts respecting the propriety of adhering to the plan there
concerted, although some compensation was made for this deficiency on
the part of the states by the arrival of a reinforcement of fifteen
hundred men to the army of Rochambeau under convoy of a fifty gun

To supply even this army with provisions, required much greater
exertions than had ever been made since the system of requisitions had
been substituted for that of purchasing. The hope of terminating the
war produced these exertions. The legislatures of the New England
states took up the subject in earnest, and passed resolutions for
raising the necessary supplies. But until these resolutions could be
executed, the embarrassments of the army continued; and, for some time
after the troops had taken the field, there was reason to apprehend,
either that the great objects of the campaign must be relinquished for
want of provisions, or that coercive means must still be used.

New England not furnishing flour, this important article was to be
drawn from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The two first
states were much exhausted; and the application to Pennsylvania did
not promise to be very successful. On this subject, therefore, serious
fears existed.

These were removed, in a great degree, by the activity and exertions
of an individual.

[Sidenote: Superintendent of finances appointed.]

The management of the finances had been lately committed to Mr. Robert
Morris, a delegate to congress from the state of Pennsylvania. This
gentleman united considerable political talents to a degree of
mercantile enterprise, information, and credit, seldom equalled in any
country. He had accepted this arduous appointment on the condition of
being allowed the year 1781 to make his arrangements; during which
time, the department was to be conducted by those already employed,
with the resources which government could command. But the critical
state of public affairs, and the pressing wants of the army, furnished
irresistible motives for changing his original determination, and
entering immediately on the duties of his office. The occasion
required that he should bring his private credit in aid of the public
resources, and pledge himself personally and extensively, for articles
of absolute necessity which could not be otherwise obtained.
Condemning the system of violence and of legal fraud, which had too
long been practised, as being calculated to defeat its own object, he
sought the gradual restoration of confidence by the only means which
could restore it:--a punctual and faithful compliance with his
engagements. Herculean as was this task in the existing derangement of
American finances, he entered upon it courageously; and, if not
completely successful, certainly did more than could have been
supposed possible with the means placed in his hands. It is, in no
inconsiderable degree, to be attributed to him, that the very active
and decisive operations of the campaign were not impeded, perhaps
defeated, by a failure of the means for transporting military stores,
and feeding the army.

On determining to enter on the duties of his office, Mr. Morris laid
before congress the plan of a national bank, whose notes were to be
receivable from the respective states as specie, into the treasury of
the United States. Congress gave its full approbation to this
beneficial institution; and passed an ordinance for its incorporation.

Important as was this measure to the future operations of the army, a
contract entered into with the state of Pennsylvania was of still more
immediate utility.

After furnishing flour to relieve the wants of the moment on his
private credit, Mr. Morris proposed to take on himself the task of
complying with all the specific requisitions made on Pennsylvania, and
to rely for reimbursement on the taxes imposed by law, to be
collected under his direction. This proposition being accepted, the
contract was made; and supplies which the government found itself
unable to furnish, were raised by an individual.

[Sidenote: Count Rochambeau marches to the North River.]

As the French troops approached the North River, intelligence was
received that a large detachment from New York had made an incursion
into Jersey, under appearances indicating an intention not to return
immediately. This being thought a favourable moment for gaining the
posts on the north end of York Island, a plan was formed for seizing
them by a _coup de main_. General Washington fixed on the night of the
second of July for making the attempt; it being supposed that the
Count de Rochambeau might join the American army at Kingsbridge by
that time. An aid-de-camp was therefore despatched to meet that
officer with letters explaining the enterprise, and requesting him to
meet the Commander-in-chief at the time and place appointed.

With the proposed attack on these works, an attempt to cut off some
light troops stationed on the outside of Kingsbridge at Morrissania,
under the command of Colonel Delaney, was to be combined. This part of
the plan was to be executed by the Duke de Lauzun, to whose legion
Sheldon's dragoons, and a small body of continental troops dispersed
on the lines, under the command of General Waterbury, were to be

On the part of the Americans, all that could contribute to the success
of this enterprise was done. A strong detachment commanded by General
Lincoln, which fell down the river in boats with muffled oars, reached
its ground undiscovered on the night of the first of July; and the
army, conducted by General Washington, marched to Valentine's hill.
The next day, Lincoln perceived that the detachment had returned from
Jersey, that the British were encamped in great force on the north end
of the island, and that a ship of war watched the landing place. These
unexpected obstacles having defeated the design upon the works, he
proceeded to execute his eventual orders of co-operation with the Duke
de Lauzun. These were, after landing above Spiken Devil Creek, to
march to the high ground in front of Kingsbridge, and there conceal
his detachment, until the attack on Delaney's corps should commence.

The Duke de Lauzun did not arrive, and the return of day betrayed
Lincoln. A British corps advanced upon him; on hearing which, General
Washington put his troops in motion, and, on his approach, the British
troops retired into the island.

Both parts of the plan having thus failed, the army retreated to
Dobbs' ferry, where it was joined by the Count de Rochambeau on the
sixth of July.

The thanks of the Commander-in-chief were given to that officer in
general orders, for the unremitting zeal with which he had proceeded
to form his so long wished for junction with the American army; and he
was requested to convey to the officers and soldiers under his
command, the grateful sense which the general entertained of the
cheerfulness with which they had performed so long and laborious a
march at so hot a season.

The utmost exertions were made for the grand enterprise against New
York. But as the execution of any plan that could be formed, depended
on events which were uncertain, the Commander-in-chief directed his
attention to other objects, to be pursued if that which was most
desirable should prove unattainable. Should the siege of New York
become unadviseable, his views were turned to Virginia, the Carolinas,
and Georgia.

[Sidenote: Intelligence from the Count de Grasse.]

Early in August, the apprehension that he should be unable to
accomplish his favourite object, began to influence his conduct.
Letters from the Marquis de Lafayette announced that a large portion
of the troops in Virginia were embarked, and that their destination
was believed to be New York. This intelligence induced him to turn his
attention more seriously to the south; but, to conceal from Sir Henry
Clinton this eventual change of plan, his arrangements were made
secretly, and the preparations for acting against New York were
continued. A reinforcement from Europe of near three thousand men,
induced Sir Henry Clinton to countermand the orders he had given to
Lord Cornwallis to detach a part of the army in Virginia to his aid;
and also to direct that nobleman to take a strong position on the
Chesapeake, from which he might execute the designs meditated against
the states lying on that bay, so soon as the storm which threatened
the British power for the moment, should blow over. In a few days
after the arrival of this reinforcement, the Count de Barras gave
General Washington the interesting information, that De Grasse was to
have sailed from Cape Francis for the Chesapeake, on the third of
August, with from twenty-five to twenty-nine ships of the line, having
on board three thousand two hundred soldiers; and that he had made
engagements with the officers commanding the land and naval forces of
Spain in the West Indies, to return to those seas by the middle of

This intelligence manifested the necessity of determining immediately,
and positively, on the object against which the combined forces should
be directed. The shortness of the time appropriated by De Grasse for
his continuance on the American coast, the apparent unwillingness of
the naval officers to attempt to force a passage into the harbour of
New York, and the failure of the states to comply with the
requisitions which had been made on them for men, decided in favour of
operations to the south; and Lafayette was requested to make such a
disposition of his army as should be best calculated to prevent Lord
Cornwallis from saving himself by a sudden march to Charleston.[81]

[Footnote 81: In pursuance of these orders, Wayne was detached to the
south side of James River, under the pretext of reinforcing Greene,
but was ordered to maintain a position which would enable him to
intercept and oppose the march of Lord Cornwallis, should he attempt
to force his way to Charleston. Lafayette was on the alert to
co-operate with Wayne in the event of such a movement.--_Cor. with

Conformably to the intelligence communicated by the Count de Barras,
the Count de Grasse arrived in the Chesapeake late in August with
twenty-eight ships of the line and several frigates. At Cape Henry he
found an officer despatched by Lafayette with full intelligence of the
situation of the armies in Virginia. Lord Cornwallis had collected his
whole force at Yorktown and Gloucester Point, which he was fortifying
assiduously; and the Marquis had taken a position on James River.

In consequence of this information, four ships of the line and several
frigates were detached to block up the mouth of York River, and convey
the land forces brought from the West Indies, under the command of the
Marquis de St. Simon, up the James to join Lafayette, who, on
receiving this reinforcement, took post at Williamsburg. In the mean
time, the fleet lay at anchor just within the capes. On the 25th of
August the Count de Barras[82] sailed from Newport for the Chesapeake.

[Footnote 82: This admiral was the senior of De Grasse, to whom the
command of the expedition had been entrusted, and was therefore
authorized by the minister of marine, to cruise on the coast of
Newfoundland while his ships should join the grand fleet. He preferred
serving under his junior officer.--_Cor. of Lafayette._]

Rodney was apprized of the destination of De Grasse, but seems not to
have suspected that the whole fleet would sail for the continent of
America. Supposing therefore that a part of his squadron would be
sufficient to maintain an equality of naval force in the American
seas, he detached Sir Samuel Hood to the continent with only fourteen
sail of the line. That officer arrived at Sandy Hook on the
twenty-eighth of August.

Admiral Greaves, who had succeeded Arbuthnot in the command of the
fleet on the American station, lay in the harbour of New York with
seven ships of the line, only five of which were fit for service. On
the day that Hood appeared and gave information that De Grasse was
probably on the coast, intelligence was also received that De Barras
had sailed from Newport.

The ships fit for sea were ordered out of the harbour; and Greaves,
with the whole fleet, consisting of nineteen sail of the line,
proceeded in quest of the French.

Not suspecting the strength of De Grasse, he hoped to fall in with one
or the other of their squadrons, and to fight it separately.

Early in the morning of the 5th of September, while the French fleet
lay at anchor just within the Chesapeake, the British squadron was
descried. Orders were immediately given by De Grasse to form the line,
and put to sea. About four in the afternoon, the action commenced
between the headmost ships, and continued until sunset. Several ships
were much damaged, but neither admiral could claim the victory. For
five successive days the hostile fleets continued within view of each
other. After which, De Grasse returned to his former station within
the capes. At his anchorage ground he found De Barras with the
squadron from Newport, and fourteen transports laden with heavy
artillery, and military stores proper for carrying on a siege. The
British admiral approaching the capes, found the entrance of the
Chesapeake defended by a force with which he was unable to contend,
and therefore bore away for New York.

[Sidenote: Plan of operations against Lord Cornwallis.]

[Sidenote: The combined armies march for the Chesapeake.]

General Washington had determined to entrust the defence of the Hudson
to General Heath, and to command the southern expedition in person.
All the French, and a detachment amounting to upwards of two thousand
men from the continental army, were destined for this service. On the
19th of August, Hazen's regiment and the Jersey line, were directed
to pass the Hudson at Dobbs' ferry, and take a position between
Springfield and Chatham, where they were to cover some bake-houses to
be constructed in the neighbourhood, for the purpose of veiling the
real designs of the American chief, and of exciting fears for Staten
Island. On the same day, the whole army was put in motion; and on the
twenty-fifth the passage of the river was completed.

[Sidenote: September 6.]

To conceal as long as possible the real object of this movement, the
march of the army was continued until the thirty-first, in such a
direction as to keep up fears for New York; and a considerable degree
of address was used to countenance the opinion that the real design
was against that place. The letters which had been intercepted by Sir
Henry Clinton favoured this deception; and so strong was the
impression they made that, even after it became necessary for the
combined army to leave the route leading down the Hudson, he is stated
to have retained his fears for New York, and not to have suspected the
real object of his adversary until he had approached the Delaware;[83]
and it had become too late to obstruct the progress of the allied army
towards Virginia. He then resolved to make every exertion in his power
to relieve Lord Cornwallis, and in the mean time to act offensively
in the north. An expedition was planned against New London, in
Connecticut, and a strong detachment, under the command of General
Arnold, was embarked on board a fleet of transports, which landed
early in the morning of the 6th of September on both sides the
harbour, about three miles from the town.

[Footnote 83: The first indication given by Sir Henry Clinton of
suspecting the southern expedition, is in his letter to Lord
Cornwallis of the 2nd of September, in which he says, "By intelligence
I have this day received, it would seem that Washington is moving

New London is a seaport town on the west side of the Thames. A fort
called fort Trumbull, and a redoubt had been constructed just below
it, on the same side of the river; and opposite to it, on Groton hill,
was fort Griswold, a strong square fortification, but not fully
manned. General Arnold, who commanded in person the troops that landed
on the western side of the harbour, advanced immediately against the
posts on that side. These being untenable, were evacuated on his
approach; and he took possession of them with inconsiderable loss. To
prevent the escape of the vessels up the river, Lieutenant Colonel
Eyre, who commanded the division which landed on the Groton side of
the harbour, had been ordered to storm fort Griswold, which had been
represented to Arnold as too incomplete to make any serious
resistance. But the place being of some strength, and the approach to
it difficult, Colonel Ledyard, who commanded it with a garrison of one
hundred and sixty men, determined to defend it. On his refusing to
surrender, the British assaulted it on three sides, and overcoming the
difficulties opposed to them, made a lodgement on the ditch and
fraized work, and entered the embrasures with charged bayonets.
Further resistance being hopeless, the action ceased on the part of
the Americans, and Colonel Ledyard delivered his sword to the
commanding officer of the assailants. Irritated by the obstinacy of
the defence, and the loss sustained in the assault, the British
officer on whom the command had devolved, tarnished the glory of
victory by the inhuman use he made of it. Instead of respecting, with
the generous spirit of a soldier, the gallantry which he had subdued,
he indulged the vindictive feelings which had been roused by the
slaughter of his troops. In the account given of this affair by
Governor Trumbull to General Washington, he says, "The sword presented
by Colonel Ledyard was immediately plunged into his bosom, and the
carnage was kept up until the greater part of the garrison was killed
or wounded."

In this fierce assault, Colonel Eyre was killed, and Major Montgomery,
the second in command, also fell, as he entered the American works.
The total loss of the assailants was not much less than two hundred

The town of New London, and the stores contained in it, were consumed
by fire. To escape the odium which invariably attends the wanton
destruction of private property, this fire was attributed to accident;
but all the American accounts unite in declaring it to have been

[Sidenote: September 6.]

The march of General Washington was not arrested by this excursion
into New England. Having made the arrangements for the transportation
of his army down the Chesapeake, he proceeded in person to Virginia,
attended by the Count de Rochambeau, and the Chevalier de Chatelleux;
and, on the 14th of September, reached Williamsburg[84] accompanied by
Rochambeau, Chatelleux, Knox, and Du Portail, he immediately repaired
to the fleet, and a plan of co-operation was adjusted on board the
Ville de Paris, conforming to his wish in every respect, except that
the Count de Grasse declined complying with a proposition to station
some of his ships in the river above Yorktown, thinking it too

[Footnote 84: While the American troops were encamped at Williamsburg
and the French fleet lay in the bay, the Count de Grasse,
circumscribed in point of time, and therefore, unwilling to await the
arrival of the army from the north, urged Lafayette to attack the
British in Yorktown; offering to aid him not only with all the marines
of the fleet, but with as many seamen as he should require. The
Marquis de St. Simon, an officer of great experience, united himself
with the admiral in pressing this measure. He stated that, the works
of Cornwallis being incomplete, Yorktown and Gloucester might, in all
probability, be carried by storm, if attacked by superior numbers. The
temptation was great for a young general scarcely twenty-four years of
age. A full excuse for the attempt was found in the declaration of De
Grasse, that he could not wait for the arrival of the troops from the
north. Success would have given unrivaled brilliancy to the reputation
of Lafayette, but would necessarily have cost much blood. Lafayette
refused to sacrifice the soldiers which were confided to him to his
personal glory, and persuaded De Grasse to await the arrival of
Washington and Rochambeau, when the capture of Cornwallis would be
certainly made without the waste of human life.--_Cor. with

While the close investment of the British army was delayed, only until
the troops from the north should arrive, serious apprehensions were
excited that the brilliant results confidently anticipated from the
superiority of the land and naval forces of the allies, would be put
in imminent hazard.

Information was received that a reinforcement of six ships of the line
under Admiral Digby had reached New York. Confident that the British
fleet, thus augmented, would attempt every thing for the relief of
Lord Cornwallis, De Grasse expected to be attacked by a force not much
inferior to his own. Thinking his station within the Chesapeake
unfavourable for a naval combat, he designed to change it, and
communicated to General Washington his intention to leave a few
frigates to block up the mouths of James and York Rivers, and to put
to sea with his fleet in quest of the British. If they should not have
left the harbour of New York, he purposed to block them up in that
place; supposing that his operations in that quarter would be of more
service to the common cause, than his remaining in the bay, an idle
spectator of the siege of York.

The Commander-in-chief was much alarmed at this communication. Should
the admiral put to sea, the winds and many accidents might prevent
his return to the Chesapeake. During his absence, a temporary naval
superiority might be acquired by the British in those waters, and the
army of Lord Cornwallis might be placed in perfect security. The
movement would expose to the caprice of fortune, an object of vast
importance, which was now reduced almost to certainty. The admiral was
therefore entreated to preserve his station.

Fortunately, the wishes of the general prevailed, and the admiral
consented to relinquish those plans of active enterprise which his
thirst for military glory had suggested, and to maintain a station
which the American general deemed so conducive to the interests of the

[Sidenote: September 25.]

On the 25th of September, the last division of the allied troops
arrived in James River, and were disembarked at the landing near
Williamsburg; soon after which, the preparations for the siege were

[Sidenote: Yorktown invested.]

York is a small village on the south side of the river which bears
that name, where the long peninsula between the York and the James, is
only eight miles wide. In this broad and bold river, a ship of the
line may ride in safety. Its southern banks are high, and, on the
opposite shore, is Gloucester Point, a piece of land projecting deep
into the river, and narrowing it, at that place, to the space of one
mile. Both these posts were occupied by Lord Cornwallis. The
communication between them was commanded by his batteries, and by some
ships of war which lay under his guns.

The main body of his army was encamped on the open grounds about
Yorktown, within a range of outer redoubts and field works, calculated
to command the peninsula, and impede the approach of the assailants;
and Lieutenant Colonel Dundass, with a small detachment consisting of
six or seven hundred men, held the post at Gloucester Point. He was
afterwards reinforced by Lieutenant Colonel Tarlton.

The legion of Lauzun, and a brigade of militia under General Weedon,
the whole commanded by the French General de Choise, were directed to
watch the enemy on the side of Gloucester; and, on the twenty-eighth,
the grand combined army moved down on the south side of the river, by
different roads, towards Yorktown. About noon, the heads of the
columns reached the ground assigned them respectively; and, after
driving in the piquets and some cavalry, encamped for the evening. The
next day, the right wing, consisting of Americans, extended farther to
the right, and occupied the ground east of Beverdam creek; while the
left wing, consisting of French, was stationed on the west side of
that stream. In the course of the night, Lord Cornwallis withdrew from
his outer lines; and the works he had evacuated were, the next day,
occupied by the besieging army, which now invested the town completely
on that side.

Two thousand men were stationed on the Gloucester side for the purpose
of keeping up a rigorous blockade. On approaching the lines, a sharp
skirmish took place which terminated unfavourably for the British;
after which they remained under cover of their works, making no
attempt to interrupt the blockade.

[Sidenote: October 6.]

[Sidenote: October.]

On the night of the sixth of October, until which time the besieging
army was incessantly employed in disembarking their heavy artillery
and military stores, and drawing them to camp, the first parallel was
commenced within six hundred yards of the British lines. This
operation was conducted with so much silence, that it appears not to
have been perceived until the return of daylight disclosed it to the
garrison; by which time the trenches were in such forwardness as to
cover the men. By the evening of the ninth, several batteries and
redoubts were completed, and the effect of their fire was soon
perceived. New batteries were opened the next day, and the fire became
so heavy that the besieged withdrew their cannon from the embrasures,
and scarcely returned a shot. The shells and red hot balls from the
batteries of the allied army reached the ships in the harbour, and, in
the evening, set fire to the Charon of forty-four guns, and to three
large transports, which were entirely consumed. Reciprocal esteem, and
a spirit of emulation between the French and Americans, being
carefully cultivated by the Commander-in-chief, the siege was carried
on with great rapidity. The second parallel was opened, on the night
of the eleventh, within three hundred yards of the British lines. The
three succeeding days were devoted to the completion of this parallel,
during which the fire of the garrison, which had opened several new
embrasures, became more destructive than at any previous time. The men
in the trenches were particularly annoyed by two redoubts advanced
three hundred yards in front of the British works, which flanked the
second parallel of the besiegers. Preparations were made, on the
fourteenth, to carry them both by storm. The attack of one was
committed to the Americans, and of the other to the French. The
Marquis de Lafayette commanded the American detachment, and the Baron
de Viominel the French. Towards the close of the day, the two
detachments marched with equal firmness to the assault. Colonel
Hamilton, who had commanded a battalion of light infantry throughout
this campaign, led the advanced corps of the Americans; and Colonel
Laurens turned the redoubt at the head of eighty men, in order to take
the garrison in reverse, and intercept their retreat. The troops
rushed to the charge without firing a gun and without giving the
sappers time to remove the abattis and palisades. Passing over them,
they assaulted the works with irresistible impetuosity on all sides at
the same time, and entered them with such rapidity that their loss was
inconsiderable.[85] This redoubt was defended by Major Campbell, with
some inferior officers, and forty-five privates. The major, a captain,
a subaltern, and seventeen privates, were made prisoners, and eight
privates were killed while the assailants were entering the works.

[Footnote 85: One sergeant and eight privates were killed; and one
lieutenant colonel, four captains, one subaltern, one sergeant, and
twenty-five rank and file, were wounded.

The irritation produced by the recent carnage in fort Griswold had not
so far subdued the humanity of the American character as to induce
retaliation. Not a man was killed except in action. "Incapable," said
Colonel Hamilton in his report, "of imitating examples of barbarity,
and forgetting recent provocation, the soldiery spared every man that
ceased to resist." Mr. Gordon, in his History of the American War,
states the orders given by Lafayette, with the approbation of
Washington, to have directed that every man in the redoubt, after its
surrender, should be put to the sword. These sanguinary orders, so
repugnant to the character of the Commander-in-chief and of Lafayette,
were never given. There is no trace of them among the papers of
General Washington; and Colonel Hamilton, who took a part in the
enterprise, which assures his perfect knowledge of every material
occurrence, has publicly contradicted the statement. It has been also
contradicted by Lafayette.]

The redoubt attacked by the French was defended by a greater number of
men; and the resistance, being greater, was not overcome so quickly,
or with so little loss. One hundred and twenty men, commanded by a
lieutenant colonel, were in this work, eighteen of whom were killed,
and forty-two, including a captain and two subaltern officers, were
made prisoners. The assailants lost, in killed and wounded, near one
hundred men.

The Commander-in-chief was highly gratified with the active courage
displayed in this assault. Speaking of it in his diary, he says--"The
bravery exhibited by the attacking troops was emulous and
praiseworthy. Few cases have exhibited greater proofs of intrepidity,
coolness, and firmness, than were shown on this occasion." The orders
of the succeeding day, congratulating the army on the capture of these
important works, expressed a high sense of the judicious dispositions
and gallant conduct of both the Baron de Viominel and the Marquis de
Lafayette, and requested them to convey to every officer and man
engaged in the enterprise, the acknowledgments of the
Commander-in-chief for the spirit and rapidity with which they
advanced to the attack, and for the admirable firmness with which they
supported themselves under the fire of the enemy without returning a
shot. "The general reflects," concluding the orders, "with the highest
degree of pleasure, on the confidence which the troops of the two
nations must hereafter have in each other. Assured of mutual support,
he is convinced there is no danger which they will not cheerfully
encounter, no difficulty which they will not bravely overcome."[86]

[Footnote 86: General Lafayette states a fact which proves in an
eminent degree the good feelings of the American soldiers towards
their allies. While encamped together under his command at
Williamsburg, the Americans, who were _bivouacked_, saw their allies
under tents without a murmur; and saw them supplied regularly with
rations of flour for three days from the American magazines, while
corn meal was measured out very irregularly to themselves. The
superior officers lent their horses to those of France and walked
themselves. Although their general was himself a Frenchman, the
Americans saw not only without jealousy, but with pleasure, every
preference given to their allies.]

[Illustration: The Moore House at Yorktown, Virginia

_Where the terms for the surrender of the British army were arranged
between Washington and Cornwallis. The actual drafting of the terms
was done by the Viscount de Noailles and Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens,
representing the French-American forces, and Colonel Dundas and Major
Ross for the British._]

During the same night, these redoubts were included in the second
parallel; and, in the course of the next day, some howitzers were
placed in them, which, by five in the afternoon, were opened on the

[Sidenote: October 16.]

The situation of Lord Cornwallis was becoming desperate. His works
were sinking, in every quarter, under the fire of the besiegers. The
batteries already playing on him had silenced nearly all his guns, and
the second parallel was about to open, which must in a few hours
render the town untenable. To suspend a catastrophe which appeared
almost inevitable, he resolved on attempting to retard the completion
of the second parallel, by a vigorous sortie against two batteries
which appeared to be in the greatest forwardness, and were guarded by
French troops. The party making this sortie was led by Lieutenant
Colonel Abercrombie, who attacked the two batteries with great
impetuosity about four in the morning, and carried both with
inconsiderable loss; but the guards from the trenches immediately
advancing on the assailants, they retreated without being able to
effect any thing of importance.

About four in the afternoon the besiegers opened several batteries in
their second parallel; and it was apparent that, in the course of the
ensuing day, the whole line of batteries in that parallel would be
ready to play on the town. The works of the besieged were not in a
condition to sustain so tremendous a fire. In this extremity, Lord
Cornwallis formed the bold design of forcing his way to New York.

He determined to leave his sick and baggage behind, and, crossing over
in the night with his effectives to the Gloucester shore, to attack De
Choise. After cutting to pieces or dispersing the troops under that
officer, he intended to mount his infantry on the horses taken from
that detachment, and on others to be seized on the road, and, by a
rapid march to gain the fords of the great rivers, and, forcing his
way through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Jersey, to form a junction
with the army in New York.[87]

[Footnote 87: Stedman, Annual Register, letter of Lord Cornwallis.]

This desperate attempt would be extremely hazardous; but the situation
of the British general had become so hopeless, that it could scarcely
be changed for the worse.

Boats prepared under other pretexts were held in readiness to receive
the troops at ten in the evening, and convey them over the river. The
arrangements were made with such secrecy that the first embarkation
arrived at the point unperceived, and part of the troops were landed,
when a sudden and violent storm interrupted the execution of this
hazardous plan, and drove the boats down the river. The storm
continued till near daylight, when the boats returned. But the plan
was necessarily abandoned, and the boats were sent to bring back the
soldiers, who were relanded on the southern shore in the course of the
forenoon without much loss.

[Sidenote: October 17.]

[Sidenote: October 18.]

[Sidenote: Surrender of Lord Cornwallis.]

In the morning of the seventeenth, several new batteries were opened
in the second parallel, which poured in a weight of fire not to be
resisted. The place being no longer tenable, Lord Cornwallis, about
ten in the forenoon, beat a parley, and proposed a cessation of
hostilities for twenty-four hours, that commissioners might meet at
Moore's house, which was just in the rear of the first parallel, to
settle terms for the surrender of the posts of York and Gloucester. To
this letter General Washington returned an immediate answer declaring
his "ardent desire to spare the further effusion of blood, and his
readiness to listen to such terms as were admissible;" but as in the
present crisis he could not consent to lose a moment in fruitless
negotiations, he desired that "previous to the meeting of the
commissioners, the proposals of his lordship might be transmitted in
writing, for which purpose a suspension of hostilities for two hours
should be granted." The general propositions[88] stated by Lord
Cornwallis as forming the basis of the capitulation, though not all
admissible, being such as led to the opinion that no great difficulty
would occur in adjusting the terms, the suspension of hostilities was
prolonged for the night. In the mean time, to avoid the delay of
useless discussion, the Commander-in-chief drew up and proposed such
articles[89] as he would be willing to grant. These were transmitted
to Lord Cornwallis with the accompanying declaration that, if he
approved them, commissioners might be immediately appointed to digest
them into form. In consequence of this message, the Viscount de
Noailles, and Lieutenant Colonel Laurens, were met next day by Colonel
Dundass and Major Ross; but, being unable to adjust the terms of
capitulation definitively, only a rough draught of them could be
prepared, which was to be submitted to the consideration of the
British general. Determined not to expose himself to those accidents
which time might produce, General Washington could not permit any
suspense on the part of Lord Cornwallis. He therefore immediately
directed the rough articles which had been prepared by the
commissioners to be fairly transcribed, and sent them to his lordship
early next morning, with a letter expressing his expectation that they
would be signed by eleven, and that the garrison would march out by
two in the afternoon. Finding all attempts to obtain better terms
unavailing, Lord Cornwallis submitted to a necessity no longer to be
avoided, and, on the 19th of October, surrendered the posts of
Yorktown and Gloucester Point, with their garrisons, and the ships in
the harbour with their seamen, to the land and naval forces of America
and France.

[Footnote 88: See note No. VI. at the end of the volume.]

[Footnote 89: See note No. VII. at the end of the volume.]

[Sidenote: Nineteenth.]

The army, artillery, arms, military chest, and public stores of every
denomination, were surrendered to General Washington; the ships and
seamen, to the Count de Grasse. The total number of prisoners,[90]
excluding seamen, rather exceeded seven thousand men. The loss
sustained by the garrison during the siege, amounted to five hundred
and fifty-two men, including six officers.

[Footnote 90: The return of prisoners contained two generals,
thirty-one field officers, three hundred and twenty-six captains and
subalterns, seventy-one regimental staff, six thousand five hundred
and twenty-seven non-commissioned officers and privates, and one
hundred and twenty-four persons belonging to the hospital, commissary,
and wagon departments, making in the whole seven thousand and
seventy-three prisoners. To this number are to be added six
commissioned, and twenty-eight non-commissioned officers and privates
made prisoners in the two redoubts which were stormed, and in the
sortie made by the garrison.]

Lord Cornwallis endeavoured to introduce an article into the
capitulation, for the security of those Americans who had joined the
British army; but the subject was declared to belong to the civil
department, and the article was rejected. Its object, however, was
granted without appearing to concede it. His lordship was permitted to
send the Bonetta sloop of war untouched, with despatches to Sir Henry
Clinton; and the Americans whose conduct had been most offensive to
their countrymen were embarked on board this vessel.

The allied army may be estimated, including militia, at sixteen
thousand men. In the course of this siege, they lost, in killed and
wounded, about three hundred. The treaty was opened on the eleventh
day after the ground was broken by the besiegers, and the capitulation
was signed on the thirteenth. The whole army merited great
approbation; but, from the nature of the service, the artillerists and
engineers were enabled to distinguish themselves particularly.
Generals du Portail and Knox were each promoted to the rank of Major
General; and Colonel Govion, and Captain Rochfontaine, of the corps of
engineers, were each advanced a grade by brevet. In addition to the
officers belonging to those departments, Generals Lincoln, De
Lafayette, and Steuben, were particularly mentioned by the
Commander-in-chief, in his orders issued the day after the
capitulation; and terms of peculiar warmth were applied to Governor
Nelson, who continued in the field during the whole siege, at the head
of the militia of Virginia; and also exerted himself, in a particular
manner, to furnish the army with those supplies which the country
afforded. The highest acknowledgments were made to the Count de
Rochambeau; and several other French officers were named with
distinction. So many disasters had attended the former efforts of the
United States to avail themselves of the succours occasionally
afforded by France, that an opinion not very favourable to the
alliance appears to have gained some ground in the country, and to
have insinuated itself into the army. The Commander-in-chief seized
this occasion to discountenance a course of thinking from which he had
always feared pernicious consequences, and displayed the great value
of the aids lately received, in language highly flattering to the
French monarch, as well as to the land and naval forces of that

Knowing the influence which the loss of the army in Virginia must have
on the war, Sir Henry Clinton determined to hazard much for its
preservation. About seven thousand of his best troops sailed for the
Chesapeake, under convoy of a fleet augmented to twenty-five ships of
the line. This armament left the Hook the day on which the
capitulation was signed at Yorktown, and appeared off the capes of
Virginia on the 24th of October. Unquestionable intelligence being
there received that Lord Cornwallis had surrendered, the British
general returned to New York.

The exultation manifested throughout the United States at the capture
of this formidable army was equal to the terror it had inspired. In
congress, the intelligence was received with joy proportioned to the
magnitude of the event; and the sense of that body on this brilliant
achievement was expressed in various resolutions, returning the thanks
of the United States to the Commander-in-chief, to the Count de
Rochambeau, to the Count de Grasse, to the officers of the allied army
generally, and to the corps of artillery, and engineers particularly.
In addition to these testimonials of gratitude, it was resolved that a
marble column should be erected at Yorktown, in Virginia, with emblems
of the alliance between the United States and his Most Christian
Majesty, and inscribed with a succinct narrative of the surrender of
Earl Cornwallis to his Excellency General Washington, the
Commander-in-chief of the combined forces of America and France; to
his Excellency the Count de Rochambeau, commanding the auxiliary
troops of his Most Christian Majesty in America; and to his Excellency
Count de Grasse, commanding in chief the naval army of France in the
Chesapeake. Two stand of colours taken in Yorktown were presented to
General Washington; two pieces of field ordnance to the Count de
Rochambeau; and application was made to his Most Christian Majesty, to
permit the Admiral to accept a testimonial of their approbation
similar to that presented to the Count de Rochambeau. Congress
determined to go in solemn procession to the Dutch Lutheran church, to
return thanks to Almighty God for crowning the allied arms with
success, by the surrender of the whole British army under Lord
Cornwallis; and also issued a proclamation, appointing the 13th day of
December for general thanksgiving and prayer, on account of this
signal interposition of Divine Providence.

It was not by congress only that the public joy at this great event,
and the public approbation of the conduct of General Washington were
displayed. The most flattering and affectionate addresses of
congratulation were presented from every part of the union; and state
governments, corporate towns, and learned institutions, vied with each
other in the testimonials they gave of their high sense of his
important services, and of their attachment to his person and

The superiority of the allied force opened a prospect of still farther
advantages. The remaining posts of the British in the southern states
were too weak to be defended against the army which had triumphed over
Lord Cornwallis; and the troops which occupied them could neither
escape nor be reinforced, if the Count de Grasse could be prevailed on
to co-operate against them. Although, in his first conference, he had
explicitly declared his inability to engage in any enterprise to be
undertaken subsequent to that against Yorktown,[91] the siege of that
place had employed so much less time than the admiral had consented to
appropriate to it, that the general resumed his plan of southern
operations. In a letter addressed to De Grasse, he used every argument
which might operate on his love of fame, or his desire to promote the
interests of the allies, to prevail on him to co-operate in an
expedition against Charleston. If this object should be unattainable,
his attention was next turned to Wilmington, in North Carolina, which
was still occupied by a small detachment of British troops who kept
that state in check. The capture of this detachment, though not an
object of much consequence in itself, was supposed to derive some
importance from the influence which the complete liberation of North
Carolina might have on the future military operations of the United
States, and on their negotiations. General Washington proposed to send
a detachment intended to reinforce General Greene, as far as
Wilmington, under convoy. The reduction of that place, he supposed,
would detain the fleet but a few days, after which it might proceed to
the West Indies.

[Footnote 91: See note No. VIII. at the end of the volume.]

[Sidenote: October 23.]

To enforce the representations contained in his letter, as well as to
pay his respects to the admiral, and to express in person the high
sense entertained of his important services, the Commander-in-chief
repaired on board the Ville de Paris. The Count acknowledged his
conviction of the advantages to be expected from an expedition against
Charleston; but said, that "the orders of his court, ulterior
projects, and his engagements with the Spaniards, rendered it
impossible for him to remain on the coast during the time which would
be required for the operation." As he also declined taking on board
the troops designed to reinforce General Greene, preparations were
made for their march by land; and Major General St. Clair, who
commanded the detachment, was ordered to take Wilmington in his route,
and to gain possession of that post.

[Sidenote: November.]

The Count de Grasse having consented to remain in the bay a few days
for the purpose of covering the transportation of the eastern troops,
and of the ordnance to the Head of Elk, they were embarked in the
beginning of November, under the command of General Lincoln, who was
directed to march them into New Jersey and New York, and to canton
them for the winter in those states.[92] The French troops remained in
Virginia, not only for the protection of that state, but to be in
readiness to march southward or northward, as the exigencies of the
ensuing campaign might require.

[Footnote 92: See note No. IX. at the end of the volume.]

The transportation of the troops and ordnance to the Head of Elk being
effected, the Count de Grasse sailed for the West Indies, and the
Commander-in-chief proceeded to Philadelphia.


NOTE--No. I. _See Page 3_

_The following petition addressed to Governor Livingston, will furnish
some evidence of the situation to which that part of Jersey was

To his excellency William Livingston, esquire, governor, captain
general, and commander-in-chief in and over the state of New Jersey
and the territories thereunto belonging in America, chancellor and
ordinary in the same--the humble petition of the officers, civil and
military, whose names are hereunto subscribed,

Showeth,--That a large detachment of the British army, a few weeks
ago, made an invasion into the lower counties of this state on
Delaware, and plundered a few of the inhabitants. That at present a
large detachment are invading them a second time. That the enemy in
this second incursion, have, as we have been credibly informed, by the
express orders of Colonel Mawhood, the commanding officer, bayoneted
and butchered in the most inhuman manner, a number of the militia who
have unfortunately fallen into their hands. That Colonel Mawhood
immediately after the massacre, in open letters, sent to both officers
and privates by a flag, had the effrontery to insult us with a demand,
that we should lay down our arms, and if not, threatened to burn,
destroy, and lay the whole country waste, and more especially the
property of a number of our most distinguished men, whom he named.
That he has since put his threat into execution, in one instance, by
burning one of the finest dwelling houses in Salem county, and all the
other buildings on the same farm, the property of Colonel Benjamin
Home. That plunder, rapine, and devastation in the most fertile and
populous parts of these counties, widely mark their footsteps wherever
they go. That they are spreading disaffection, they are using every
possible means to corrupt the minds of the people, who, within their
lines, have so little virtue as to purchase from them.

That we are in no state of defence. That we are so exposed by reason
of our situation, that some of our officers, civil and military, have
moved out of the counties for safety. That our militia, during the
last winter, have been so fatigued out by repeated calls and
continued service, and disaffection is now so widely diffused, that
very few can be called out, in some places, none. That we have no
troops of light horse regularly embodied, there is a scarcity of small
arms among us, and no field pieces. That in these two incursions, we
have very sensibly felt the want of field pieces and artillery men,
that the number of us assembled is so small, that though we should use
the greatest conduct and bravery, we could only provoke, not injure
our enemy.

That the extent of our country is so great, that our small number of
men fatigued out, indifferently armed and without field pieces, can
not defend it. That, as Delaware runs all along those counties, we are
liable to be attacked in numberless places.

That the acquisition of these counties would be of great advantage to
the enemy. That they could nearly maintain their whole army a campaign
by the plunder, forage, and assistance they could draw from them. That
although the United States might not need them, yet it might perhaps
be adviseable to defend them, to prevent the advantage the enemy might
receive from them. That our riches, and former virtue, make us a prey
to an enemy, whose tender mercies are cruelties.

That in short, our situation is beyond description deplorable. That
the powers civil and military are daily relaxing, and disaffection
prevailing. That we can neither stay at our houses, go out, nor come
in with safety. That we can neither plough, plant, sow, reap nor
gather. That we are fast falling into poverty, distress, and into the
hands of our enemy. That unless there can be sent to our relief and
assistance a sufficient body of standing troops, we must be under the
disagreeable necessity of leaving the country to the enemy, and
removing ourselves and families to distant places for safety. That
although the present detachment may be fled and gone, before the
relief reaches us, yet a body of troops are necessary for our
protection, as long as the enemy possess Philadelphia. And these are
the sentiments not only of us the subscribers, but of all the rest of
the officers civil and military, and other the good subjects of this
state in these counties.

NOTE--No. II. _See Page 85_

_The following is the report made by the committee:_

"January 1, 1779. The committee appointed to confer with the
Commander-in-chief on the operations of the next campaign, report,
that the plan proposed by congress for the emancipation of Canada, in
co-operation with an army from France, was the principal subject of
the said conference.

"That, impressed with a strong sense of the injury and disgrace which
must attend an infraction of the proposed stipulations, on the part of
these states, your committee have taken a general view of our
finances, of the circumstances of our army, of the magazines of
clothes, artillery, arms and ammunition, and of the provisions in
store, and which can be collected in season.

"Your committee have also attentively considered the intelligence and
observations communicated to them by the Commander-in-chief,
respecting the number of troops and strong holds of the enemy in
Canada; their naval force, and entire command of the water
communication with that country--the difficulties, while they possess
such signal advantages, of penetrating it with an army by land--the
obstacles which are to be surmounted in acquiring a naval
superiority--the hostile temper of many of the surrounding Indian
tribes towards these states, and above all the uncertainty whether the
enemy will not persevere in their system of harassing and distressing
our sea-coast and frontiers by a predatory war.

"That on the most mature deliberation, your committee can not find room
for a well grounded presumption that these states will be able to
perform their part of the proposed stipulations. That in a measure of
such moment, calculated to call forth, and direct to a single object a
considerable portion of the force of our ally, which may otherwise be
essentially employed, nothing else than the highest probability of
success could justify congress in making the proposition.

"Your committee are therefore of opinion that the negotiation in
question, however desirable, and interesting, should be deferred until
circumstances render the co-operation of these states more certain,
practicable, and effectual.

"That the minister plenipotentiary of these states at the court of
Versailles, the minister of France in Pennsylvania, and the minister
of France, be respectively informed that the operations of the next
campaign must depend on such a variety of contingencies to arise, as
well from our own internal circumstances and resources, as the
progress and movements of our enemy, that time alone can mature and
point out the plan which ought to be pursued. That congress,
therefore, can not, with a degree of confidence answerable to the
magnitude of the object, decide on the practicability of their
co-operating the next campaign, in an enterprise for the emancipation
of Canada; that every preparation in our power will nevertheless be
made for acting with vigour against the common enemy, and every
favourable incident embraced with alacrity, to facilitate, and hasten
the freedom and independence of Canada, and her union with these
states--events which congress, from motives of policy with respect to
the United States, as well as of affection for their Canadian
brethren, have greatly at heart."

Mr. de Sevelinges in his introduction to Botta's History, recites the
private instructions given to Mr. Girard on his mission to the United
States. One article was, "to avoid entering into any formal engagement
relative to Canada and other English possessions which congress
proposed to conquer." Mr. de Sevelinges adds that "the policy of the
cabinet of Versailles viewed the possession of those countries,
especially of Canada by England, as a principle of useful inquietude
and vigilance to the Americans. The neighbourhood of a formidable
enemy must make them feel more sensibly the price which they ought to
attach to the friendship and support of the king of France."

The author has reason to believe that this policy was known to the
Marquis de Lafayette when his devotion to the interests of the United
States induced him to add his influence to their solicitations for aid
to this enterprise.

NOTE--No. III. _See Page 233_

_A letter to President Reed of Pennsylvania from which the following
extracts are taken, is selected from many others written with the same

"Morristown, May 28th, 1780.

"DEAR SIR,--I am much obliged to you for your favour of the 23d.
Nothing could be more necessary than the aid given by your state
towards supplying us with provisions. I assure you, every idea you can
form of our distresses, will fall short of the reality. There is such
a combination of circumstances to exhaust the patience of the
soldiery, that it begins at length to be worn out, and we see in every
line of the army, the most serious features of mutiny and sedition:
all our departments, all our operations are at a stand; and unless a
system very different from that which has for a long time prevailed,
be immediately adopted throughout the states, our affairs must soon
become desperate beyond the possibility of recovery. If you were on
the spot, my dear sir, if you could see what difficulties surround us
on every side, how unable we are to administer to the most ordinary
calls of the service, you would be convinced that these expressions
are not too strong: and that we have every thing to dread: Indeed I
have almost ceased to hope. The country in general is in such a state
of insensibility and indifference to its interests, that I dare not
flatter myself with any change for the better.

"The committee of congress in their late address to the several
states, have given a just picture of our situation. I very much doubt
its making the desired impression; and if it does not, I shall
consider our lethargy as incurable. The present juncture is so
interesting, that if it does not produce correspondent exertions, it
will be a proof, that motives of honour, public good, and even
self-preservation, have lost their influence upon our minds. This is a
decisive moment, one of the most, I will go further and say, the most
important America has seen. The court of France has made a glorious
effort for our deliverance, and if we disappoint its intentions by our
supineness, we must become contemptible in the eyes of all mankind;
nor can we, after that, venture to confide that our allies will
persist in an attempt to establish what it will appear we want
inclination or ability to assist them in.

"Every view of our own circumstances ought to determine us to the most
vigorous efforts; but there are considerations of another kind, that
should have equal weight. The combined fleets of France and Spain last
year were greatly superior to those of the enemy; the enemy
nevertheless sustained no material damage, and at the close of the
campaign gave a very important blow to our allies. This campaign, the
difference between the fleets, from every account I have been able to
collect, will be inconsiderable: indeed it is far from clear that
there will be an equality. What are we to expect will be the case if
there should be another campaign? In all probability the advantage
would be on the side of the English, and then what would become of
America? We ought not to deceive ourselves. The maritime resources of
Great Britain are more substantial and real than those of France and
Spain united. Her commerce is more extensive than that of both her
rivals; and it is an axiom, that the nation which has the most
extensive commerce will always have the most powerful marine. Were
this argument less convincing, the fact speaks for itself: her
progress in the course of the last year is an incontestable proof.

"It is true France in a manner created a fleet in a very short space,
and this may mislead us in the judgment we form of her naval
abilities. But if they bore any comparison with those of Great
Britain, how comes it to pass, that with all the force of Spain added,
she has lost so much ground in so short a time, as now to have
scarcely a superiority. We should consider what was done by France, as
a violent and unnatural effort of the government, which, for want of
sufficient foundation, can not continue to operate proportionable

"In modern wars, the longest purse must chiefly determine the event. I
fear that of the enemy will be found to be so. Though the government
is deeply in debt and of course poor, the nation is rich, and their
riches afford a fund which will not be easily exhausted. Besides,
their system of public credit is such, that it is capable of greater
exertions than that of any other nation. Speculatists have been a long
time foretelling its downfall; but we see no symptoms of the
catastrophe being very near. I am persuaded it will at least last out
the war.

"France is in a very different position. The abilities of the present
financier, have done wonders; by a wise administration of the
revenues, aided by advantageous loans, he has avoided the necessity of
additional taxes. But I am well informed if the war continues another
campaign, he will be obliged to have recourse to the taxes usual in
time of war, which are very heavy, and which the people of France are
not in a condition to endure for any length of time. When this
necessity commences, France makes war on ruinous terms, and England,
from her individual wealth, will find much greater facilities in
supplying her exigencies.

"Spain derives great wealth from her mines, but it is not so great as
is generally imagined. Of late years the profit to government is
essentially diminished. Commerce and industry are the best mines of a
nation; both which are wanted by her. I am told her treasury is far
from being so well filled as we have flattered ourselves. She is also
much divided on the propriety of the war. There is a strong party
against it. The temper of the nation is too sluggish to admit of great
exertions; and though the courts of the two kingdoms are closely
linked together, there never has been in any of their wars, a perfect
harmony of measures, nor has it been the case in this; which has
already been no small detriment to the common cause.

"I mention these things to show that the circumstances of our allies,
as well as our own, call for peace, to obtain which we must make one
great effort this campaign. The present instance of the friendship of
the court of France, is attended with every circumstance that can
render it important and agreeable, that can interest our gratitude or
fire our emulation. If we do our duty we may even hope to make the
campaign decisive of the contest. But we must do our duty in earnest,
or disgrace and ruin will attend us. I am sincere in declaring a full
persuasion that the succour will be fatal to us if our measures are
not adequate to the emergency.

"Now, my dear sir, I must observe to you, that much will depend on the
state of Pennsylvania. She has it in her power to contribute, without
comparison, more to our success, than any other state, in the two
essential articles of flour and transportation. I speak to you in the
language of frankness, and as a friend. I do not mean to make any
insinuations unfavourable to the state. I am aware of the
embarrassment the government labours under from the open opposition of
one party and the underhand intrigues of another. I know that with the
best dispositions to promote the public service, you have been obliged
to move with circumspection. But this is a time to hazard, and to take
a tone of energy and decision. All parties but the disaffected will
acquiesce in the necessity and give their support.

"The matter is reduced to a point. Either Pennsylvania must give us
all we ask, or we can undertake nothing. We must renounce every idea
of co-operation, and must confess to our allies that we look wholly to
them for our safety. This will be a state of humiliation and
bitterness against which the feelings of every good American ought to
revolt. Yours I am convinced will, nor have I the least doubt, but
that you will employ all your influence to animate the legislature and
the people at large. The fate of these states hangs upon it. God grant
we may be properly impressed with the consequences.

"I wish the legislature could be engaged to vest the executive with
plenipotentiary powers. I should then expect every thing practicable
from your abilities and zeal. This is not a time for formality and
ceremony. The crisis in every point of view is extraordinary, and
extraordinary expedients are necessary. I am decided in this opinion."

NOTE--No. IV. _See Page 261_

Andre having been unquestionably a spy, and his sentence consequently
just; and the plot in which he had engaged having threatened
consequences the most fatal to America; his execution, had he been an
ordinary person, would certainly have been viewed with cold
indifference. But he was not an ordinary person. In a letter written
at the time by Colonel Hamilton, who in genius, in candour, and in
romantic heroism, did not yield to this unfortunate Englishman, the
character of Andre is thus feelingly and eloquently drawn. "There was
something singularly interesting in the character and fortunes of
Andre. To an excellent understanding, well improved by education and
travel, he united a peculiar elegance of mind and manners, and the
advantages of a pleasing person. It is said he possessed a pretty
taste for the fine arts, and had himself attained some proficiency in
poetry, music, and painting. His knowledge appeared without
ostentation, and embellished by a diffidence that rarely accompanies
so many talents and accomplishments, which left you to suppose more
than appeared. His sentiments were elevated and inspired esteem, they
had a softness that conciliated affection. His elocution was handsome,
his address easy, polite, and insinuating. By his merit he had
acquired the unlimited confidence of his general, and was making rapid
progress in military rank and reputation. But in the height of his
career, flushed with new hopes from the execution of a project the
most beneficial to his party that could be devised, he is at once
precipitated from the summit of prosperity, sees all the expectations
of his ambition blasted, and himself ruined. The character I have
given of him is drawn partly from what I saw of him myself, and partly
from information. I am aware that a man of real merit is never seen in
so favorable a light as through the medium of adversity. The clouds
that surround him are so many shades that set off his good qualities.
Misfortune cuts down little vanities, that in prosperous times, serve
as so many spots in his virtues; and gives a tone to humanity that
makes his worth more amiable.

"His spectators, who enjoy a happier lot, are less prone to detract
from it through envy; and are much disposed by compassion to give the
credit he deserves, and perhaps even to magnify it."

NOTE--No. V. _See Page 377_

On the first of May, 1781, General Washington commenced a military
journal. The following is a brief statement of the situation of the
army at that time. "I begin at this epoch, a concise journal of
military transactions, &c. I lament not having attempted it from the
commencement of the war in aid of my memory: and wish the multiplicity
of matter which continually surrounds me, and the embarrassed state of
our affairs, which is momentarily calling the attention to
perplexities of one kind or another, may not defeat altogether, or so
interrupt my present intention and plan, as to render it of little

"To have the clearer understanding of the entries which may follow, it
would be proper to recite, in detail, our wants, and our prospects;
but this alone would be a work of much time, and great magnitude. It
may suffice to give the sum of them, which I shall do in a few words,

"Instead of having magazines filled with provisions, we have a scanty
pittance scattered here and there in the different states.

"Instead of having our arsenals well supplied with military stores,
they are poorly provided, and the workmen all leaving them.--Instead
of having the various articles of field equipage in readiness to
deliver, the quartermaster general is but now applying to the several
states (as the dernier ressort) to provide these things for their
troops respectively. Instead of having a regular system of
transportation established upon credit--or funds in the
quartermaster's hands to defray the contingent expenses of it--we have
neither the one or the other; and all that business, or a great part
of it, being done by military impressment, we are daily and hourly
oppressing the people, souring their tempers, and alienating their
affections. Instead of having the regiments completed to the new
establishments (and which ought to have been so by the ---- of ----
[Transcriber's Note: end parenthesis missing] agreeably to the
requisitions of congress, scarce any state in the union has, at this
hour, one-eighth part of its quota in the field; and there is little
prospect that I can see of ever getting more than half. In a word,
instead of having every thing in readiness to take the field, we have
nothing. And instead of having the prospect of a glorious offensive
campaign before us, we have a bewildered and gloomy prospect of a
defensive one; unless we should receive a powerful aid of ships, land
troops and money from our generous allies: and these at present are
too contingent to build upon."

NOTE--No. VI. _See Page 405_

York in Virginia, 17th October, 1781, half past four, P.M.

SIR,--I have this moment been honoured with your excellency's letter
dated this day. The time limited for sending my answer will not admit
of entering into the details of articles, but the basis of my
proposals will be, that the garrisons of York and Gloucester shall be
prisoners of war with the customary honours; and for the convenience
of the individuals which I have the honour to command, that the
British shall be sent to Britain, and the Germans to Germany, under
engagements not to serve against France, America, or their allies,
until released or regularly exchanged. That all arms and public stores
shall be delivered up to you, but that the usual indulgence of side
arms to officers and of retaining private property shall be granted to
officers and soldiers; and the interests of individuals in civil
capacities, and connected with us, shall be attended to. If your
excellency thinks that a continuance of the suspension of hostilities
will be necessary to transmit your answer, I shall have no objection
to the hour that you propose. I have the honour to be,

Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,


His excellency General Washington, &c. &c. &c.

NOTE--No. VII. _See Page 406_

Head quarters before York, 18th October, 1781.

MY LORD,--To avoid unnecessary discussions and delays, I shall at
once, in answer to your lordship's letter of yesterday, declare the
general basis upon which a definitive treaty of capitulation must take
place. The garrison of York and Gloucester, including the seamen, as
you propose, will be received prisoners of war. The condition annexed
of sending the British and German troops to the parts of Europe to
which they respectively belong, is inadmissible. Instead of this, they
will be marched to such parts of the country as can most conveniently
provide for their subsistence; and the benevolent treatment of
prisoners, which is invariably observed by the Americans, will be
extended to them. The same honours will be granted to the surrendering
army, as were granted to the garrison of Charleston.

The shipping and boats in the two harbours, with all their guns,
stores, tackling, furniture, and apparel, shall be delivered in their
present state to an officer of the navy appointed to take possession
of them.

The artillery, arms, accoutrements, military chest, and public stores
of every denomination, shall be delivered unimpaired, to the heads of
departments, to which they respectively belong.

The officers will be indulged in retaining their side arms, and the
officers and soldiers may preserve their baggage and effects with this
reserve, that property taken in the country will be reclaimed.

With regard to the individuals in civil capacities, whose interests
your lordship wishes may be attended to, until they are more
particularly described, nothing definitive can be settled.

I have to add, that I expect the sick and wounded will be supplied
with their own hospital stores, and attended by British surgeons
particularly charged with the care of them.

Your lordship will be pleased to signify your determination either to
accept or reject the proposals now offered, in the course of two hours
from the delivery of this letter, that commissioners may be appointed
to digest the articles of capitulation, or a renewal of hostilities
may take place.

I have the honour to be, my lord, &c.


Lieutenant General Earl Cornwallis.

York, in Virginia, 18th October, 1781.

SIR,--I agree to open a treaty of capitulation upon the basis of the
garrisons of York and Gloucester, including seamen, being prisoners of
war without annexing the condition of their being sent to Europe; but
I expect to receive a compensation in arranging the articles of
capitulation for the surrender of Gloucester in its present state of

I shall in particular desire that the Bonetta sloop of war, may be
left entirely at my disposal from the hour the capitulation is signed,
to receive an aid-de-camp to carry my despatches to Sir Henry Clinton
and such soldiers as I may think proper to send as passengers in her,
to be manned with fifty men of her own crew, and to be permitted to
sail without examination when my despatches are ready; engaging on my
part that the ship shall be brought back and delivered to you, if she
escapes the dangers of the sea; that the crew and soldiers sent as
passengers shall be accounted for in future exchanges as prisoners;
that she shall carry off no officer without your consent, nor public
property of any kind; and I shall likewise desire that the traders and
inhabitants may preserve their property, and that no person may be
punished or molested for having joined the British troops.

If you choose to proceed to negotiation on these grounds, I shall
appoint two field officers of my army to meet two officers from you at
any time and place you think proper, to digest the articles of
capitulation. I have the honour to be, sir,

Your most obedient and most humble servant,


His excellency General Washington, &c. &c. &c.

NOTE--No. VIII. _See Page 411_

Head quarters, 20th October, 1781.

SIR,--The surrender of York, from which so much glory and advantage
are derived to the allies, and the honour of which belongs to your
excellency, has greatly anticipated our most sanguine expectations.
Certain of this event under your auspices, though unable to determine
the time, I solicited your excellency's attention in the first
conference with which you honoured me, to ulterior objects of decisive
importance to the common cause. Although your excellency's answer on
that occasion was unfavourable to my wishes, the unexpected
promptness with which our operations have been conducted to their
final success having gained us time, the defect of which was one of
your excellency's principal objections, a perspective of the most
extensive and happy consequences, engages me to renew my

Charleston, the principal maritime port of the British in the southern
parts of the continent, the grand deposite and point of support for
the present theatre of the war, is open to a combined attack, and
might be carried with as much certainty as the place which has just

This capture would destroy the last hope which induces the enemy to
continue the war; for having experienced the impracticability of
recovering the populous northern states, he has determined to confine
himself to the defensive in that quarter, and to prosecute a most
vigorous offensive in the south, with a view of conquering states,
whose spare population and natural disadvantages render them
infinitely less susceptible of defence; although their productions
render them the most valuable in a commercial view. His naval
superiority, previous to your excellency's arrival, gave him decisive
advantages in the rapid transport of his troops and supplies: while
the immense land marches of our succours, too tardy and expensive in
every point of view, subjected us to be beaten in detail.

It will depend upon your excellency, therefore, to terminate the war,
and enable the allies to dictate the law in a treaty. A campaign so
glorious and so fertile in consequences, could be reserved only for
the Count de Grasse.

It rarely happens that such a combination of means, as are in our
hands at present, can be seasonably obtained by the most strenuous of
human exertions.--A decisively superior fleet, the fortune and talents
of whose commander overawe all the naval force that the most
incredible efforts of the enemy have been able to collect; an army
flushed with success, and demanding only to be conducted to new
attacks; and the very season which is proper for operating against the
points in question.

If upon entering into the detail of this expedition, your excellency
should still determine it impracticable, there is an object which
though subordinate to that above mentioned, is of capital importance
to our southern operations, and may be effected at infinitely less
expense; I mean the enemy's post at Wilmington in North Carolina.
Circumstances require that I should at this period reinforce the
southern army under General Greene. This reinforcement transported by
sea under your excellency's convoy, would enable us to carry the post
in question with very little difficulty, and would wrest from the
British a point of support in North Carolina, which is attended with
the most dangerous consequences to us, and would liberate another
state. This object would require nothing more than the convoy of your
excellency to the point of operation, and the protection of the

I intreat your excellency's attention to the points which I have the
honour of laying before you, and to be pleased at the same time to
inform me what are your dispositions for a maritime force to be left
on the American station.

I have the honour to be, &c.


NOTE--No. IX. _See Page 413_

Late in October an irruption was made into the country on the Mohawk,
by Major Ross, at the head of about five hundred men, composed of
regulars, rangers, and Indians. Colonel Willet, with between four and
five hundred men, partly of the troops denominated levies, and partly
militia, immediately marched in quest of them, and fell in with them
at Johnstown, where they were slaughtering cattle, apparently
unapprehensive of an enemy. Before showing himself, he detached Major
Rowley of Massachusetts with the left wing to fall on the rear, while
he should engage the front. On his appearance the British party
retired to a neighbouring wood, and the American advance was just
beginning to skirmish with them, when that whole wing, without any
apparent cause, suddenly fled from the field, leaving a field-piece
posted on a height in order to cover a retreat, to fall into the hands
of the enemy. Fortunately for the party, Rowley appeared in the rear
at this critical juncture, and regained what the right wing had lost.
Night soon coming on, Major Ross retired further into the wood, and
encamped on the top of a mountain. He seems after this skirmish to
have been only intent on repassing the dreary wilderness in his rear,
and securing his party; an object not to be accomplished without
immense fatigue and great suffering, as Colonel Willet had cut off
their return to their boats, and they were to retreat by the way of
Buck island, or Oswegatchie. With a select part of his troops who
were furnished with five days provisions, and about sixty Indians who
had just joined him, and who, he said, "are the best cavalry for the
service of the wilderness," he commenced a rapid pursuit, and in the
morning of the 30th, at a ford on Canada creek, fell in with about
forty whites and some Indians who were left in the rear to procure
provisions. These were attacked and the greater number of them killed
or taken, upon which the main body fled with such rapidity that the
pursuit proved ineffectual. In the party at Canada creek was Major
Walter Butler, the person who perpetrated the massacre at
Cherry-valley. His entreaties for quarter were disregarded, and he
fell the victim of that vengeance which his own savage temper had
directed against himself.


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