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A NOTEWORTHY INCIDENT.
brought off three of the principal inhabitants prisoners; one of whom, Mr. Callbeck, was president of the council, and acted as governor.
These gentlemen made a memorial to Washington of this scandalous maraud. He instantly ordered a restoration of the effects which had been pillaged of his conduct towards the gentlemen personally, we may judge by the following note addressed to him by Mr. Callbeck :
"I should ill deserve the generous treatment which your Excellency has been pleased to show me, had I not the gratitude to acknowledge so great a favor. I cannot ascribe any part of it to my own merit, but must impute the whole to the philanthropy and humane disposition that so truly characterize General Washington. Be so obliging, therefore, as to accept the only return in my power, that of my most grateful thanks." *
Shortly after the foregoing occurrence, information was received of the indignities which had been heaped upon Colonel Ethan Allen, when captured at Montreal by General Prescott, who, himself, was now a prisoner in the hands of the Americans. It touched Washington on a point on which he was most sensitive and tenacious, the treatment of American officers when cap-. tured; and produced the following letter from him to General Howe :
* Sparks. Washington's Writings, vol. iii. p. 194.
"SIR,-We have just been informed of a circumstance which, were it not so well authenticated, I should scarcely think credible. It is that Colonel Allen, who, with his small party, was defeated and made prisoner near Montreal, has been treated without regard to decency, humanity, or the rules of war; that he has been thrown into irons, and suffers all the hardships inflicted upon common felons.
"I think it my duty, sir, to demand, and do expect from you, an eclaircissement on this subject. At the same time, I flatter myself, from the character which Mr. Howe bears as a man of honor, gentleman, and soldier, that my demand will meet with his approbation. I must take the liberty, also, of informing you that I shall consider your silence as a confirmation of the report, and further assuring you, that whatever treatment Colonel Allen receives, whatever fate he undergoes, such exactly shall be the treatment and fate of Brigadier Prescott, now in our hands. The law of retaliation is not only justifiable in the eyes of God and man, but absolutely a duty, which, in our present circumstances, we owe to our relations, friends, and fellow. citizens.
"Permit me to add, sir, that we have all here the highest regard and reverence for your great personal qualities and attainments, and the Americans in general esteem it as not the least of their misfortunes, that the name of Howe, a name so dear to them, should appear at
GENERAL HOWE'S RESENTMENT.
the head of the catalogue of the instruments employed by a wicked ministry for their destruction."
General Howe felt acutely the sorrowful reproach in the latter part of the letter. It was a reiteration of what had already been expressed by Congress; in the present instance it produced irritation, if we may judge from the reply.
"SIR,-In answer to your letter, I am to acquaint you that my command does not extend to Canada. Not having any accounts wherein the name of Allen is mentioned, I cannot give you the smallest satisfaction upon the subject of your letter. But trusting Major-general Carleton's conduct will never incur censure upon any occasion, I am to conclude in the instance of your inquiry, that he has not forfeited his past pretensions to decency and humanity.
"It is with regret, considering the character you have always maintained among your friends, as a gentleman of the strictest honor and delicacy, that I find cause to resent a sentence in the conclusion of your letter, big with invective against my superiors, and insulting to myself, which should obstruct any further intercourse between I am, sir, etc."
In transmitting a copy of his letter to the President of Congress, Washington observed: "My reason for pointing out Brigadier-general Prescott as the object who is
to suffer for Mr. Allen's fate, is, that by letters from General Schuyler and copies of letters from General Montgomery to Schuyler, I am given to understand that Prescott is the cause of Allen's sufferings. I thought it best to be decisive on the occasion, as did the generals whom I consulted thereon."
For the sake of continuity we will anticipate a few facts connected with the story of Ethan Allen. Within a few weeks after the preceding correspondence, Washington received a letter from Levi Allen, a brother to the colonel, and of like enterprising and enthusiastic character. It was dated from Salisbury in Connecticut; and inclosed affidavits of the harsh treatment his brother had experienced, and of his being confined on board of the Gaspee, "with a bar of iron fixed to one of his legs and iron to his hands." Levi was bent upon effecting his deliverance, and the mode proposed was in unison with the bold, but wild schemes of the colonel. We quote his crude, but characteristic letter.
"Have some thoughts of going to England, incognito, after my brother; but am not positively certain he is sent there, though believe he is. Beg your Excellency will favor me with a line, and acquaint me of any intelligence concerning him, and if your Excellency please, your opinion of the expediency of going after him, and whether your Excellency would think proper to advance any money for that purpose, as my brother was a man blessed with more fortitude than fortune. Your Excellency may
think, at first thought, I can do nothing by going to England; I feel as if I could do a great deal, by raising a mob in London, bribing the jailer, or by getting into some servile employment with the jailer, and over-faithfulness make myself master of the key, or at least be able to lay my hand on it some night. I beg your Excellency will countenance my going; can muster more than one hundred pounds, my own property; shall regard spending that no more than one copper. Your Excellency must know Allen was not only a brother, but a real friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
In a postscript he adds, "cannot live without going to England, if my brother is sent there."
In reply, Washington intimated a belief that the colonel had been sent to England, but discountenanced Levi's wild project of following him thither; as there was no probability of its success, and he would be running himself into danger without a prospect of rendering service to his brother.
The measure of retaliation mentioned in Washington's letter to Howe, was actually meted out by Congress on the arrival of General Prescott in Philadelphia. He was ordered into close confinement in the jail; though not put in irons. He was subsequently released from confinement, on account of ill-health, and was treated by some Philadelphia families with unmerited hospitality.*
*Thomas Walker, a merchant of Montreal, who, accused of traitorous dealings with the Americans, had been thrown into prison during Pres