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was "silent as a rock," excepting when naval affairs were under discussion; when he spoke briefly and to the point. "My Lord Howe," said George II., "your life has been a continued series of services to your country." He was now about fifty-one years of age, tall, and well-proportioned like his brother; but wanting his ease of deportment. His complexion was dark, his countenance grave and strongly marked, and he had a shy reserve, occasionally mistaken for haughtiness. As a naval officer, he was esteemed resolute and enterprising, yet cool and firm. In his younger days he had contracted a friendship for Wolfe; "it was like the union of cannon and gunpowder," said Walpole. Howe, strong in mind, solid in judgment, firm of purpose, was said to be the cannon; Wolfe, quick in conception, prompt in execution, impetuous in action-the gunpowder.* The bravest man, we are told, could not wish for a more able or more gallant commander than Howe, and the sailors used to say of him, "Give us Black Dick, and we fear nothing.
Such is his lordship's portrait as sketched by English pencils; we shall see hereafter how far his conduct conforms to it. At present we must consider the state of the American army, in the appointment and commands of which various changes had recently taken place.
It was presumed the enemy, in the ensuing campaign, would direct their operations against the Middle and Southern colonies. Congress divided those colonies into two departments; one, comprehending New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, was to be under the command of a major-general and two brigadier-generals; the other, comprising Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, to
* Barrow's Life of Earl Howe, p. 400.
be under the command of a major-general and four brigadiers.
In this new arrangement, the orders destining General Lee to Canada were superseded, and he was appointed to the command of the Southern department, where he was to keep watch upon the movements of Sir Henry Clinton. He was somewhat dissatisfied with the change in his destination. "As I am the only general officer on the continent," writes he to Washington, "who can speak or think in French, I confess I think it would have been more prudent to have sent me to Canada; but I shall obey with alacrity, and I hope with success."
In reply, Washington observes, "I was just about to congratulate you on your appointment to the command in Canada when I received the account that your destination was altered. As a Virginian, I must rejoice at the change, but, as an American, I think you would have done more essential service to the common cause in Canada. For, besides the advantage of speaking and thinking in French, an officer who is acquainted with their manners and customs, and has traveled in their country, must certainly take the strongest hold of their affection and confidence."
The command in Canada was given to General Thomas, who had distinguished himself at Roxbury, and was promoted to the rank of major-general. It would have been given to Schuyler, but for the infirm state of his health; still Congress expressed a reliance on his efforts to complete the work "so conspicuously begun and well conducted" under his orders in the last campaign; and as not merely the success but the very existence of the army in Canada would depend on supplies sent from these colonies across the lakes, he was required, until further orders, to fix his headquarters
at Albany, where, without being exposed to the fatigue of the camp until his health was perfectly restored, he would be in a situation to forward supplies; to superintend the operations necessary for the defense of New York and the Hudson River, and the affairs of the whole middle department.
Lee set out for the South on the 7th of March, carrying with him his bold spirit, his shrewd sagacity, and his whimsical and splenetic humors. The following admirably impartial sketch is given of him by Washington, in a letter to his brother Augustine: "He is the first in military knowledge and experience we have in the whole army. He is zealously attached to the cause; honest and well-meaning, but rather fickle and violent, I fear, in his temper. However, as he possesses an uncommon share of good sense and spirit, I congratulate my countrymen on his appointment to that department.
We give by anticipation a few passages from Lee's letters, illustrative of his character and career. The news of the evacuation of Boston reached him in Virginia. In a letter to Washington, dated Williamsburg, April 5, he expresses himself on the subject with generous warmth. "My dear general," writes he, "I most sincerely congratulate you; I congratulate the public on the great and glorious event, your possession of Boston. It will be a most bright page in the annals of America, and a most abominable black one in those of the beldam Britain. Go on, my dear general; crown yourself with glory, and establish the liberties and luster of your country on a foundation more permanent than the Capitol Rock."
*Force's Am. Archives, 4th Series, v. 562.
Then reverting to himself, his subacid humors work up, and he shows that he had been as much annoyed in Williamsburg, by the interference of committees, as he had been in New York. "My situation," writes he, "is just as I expected. I am afraid I shall make a shabby figure, without any real demerits of my own. I am like a dog in a dancingschool; I know not where to turn myself, where to fix myself. The circumstances of the country, intersected with navigable rivers; the uncertainty of the enemy's designs and motions, who can fly in an instant to any spot they choose, with their canvas wings, throw me, or would throw Julius Cæsar, into this inevitable dilemma; I may possibly be in the north, when, as Richard says, I should serve my sovereign in the west. I can only act from surmise, and have a very good chance of surmising wrong. I am sorry to grate your ears with a truth, but must, at all events, assure you that the Provincial Congress of New York are angels of decision when compared with your countrymen, the committee of safety assembled at Williamsburg. Page, Lee, Mercer, and Payne, are, indeed, exceptions; but from Pendleton, Bland, the Treasurer, and Co.-Libera nos domine!"
Lee's letters from Virginia, written at a later date, were in a better humor. "There is a noble spirit in this province pervading all orders of men; if the same becomes universal, we shall be saved. I am, fortunately for my own happiness, and, I think, for the well-being of the community, on the best terms with the senatorial part, as well as the people at large. I shall endeavor to preserve their confidence and good opinion.
And in a letter to Washington:
"I have formed two companies of grenadiers to each
*Force's Am. Archives, 4th Series, v. 792.
regiment, and with spears thirteen feet long. Their rifles (for they are all riflemen) sling over their shoulders, their appearance is formidable, and the men are conciliated to the I am likewise furnishing myself with fourounced rifled amusettes, which will carry an infernal distance; the two-ounced hit a half sheet of paper at five hundred yards' distance."
On Lee's departure for the South, Brigadier-general Lord Stirling had remained in temporary command at New York. Washington, however, presuming that the British fleet had steered for that port with the force which had evacuated Boston, hastened detachments thither under Generals Heath and Sullivan, and wrote for three thousand additional men to be furnished by Connecticut. command of the whole he gave to General Putnam, who was ordered to fortify the city and the passes of the Hudson, according to the plans of General Lee. In the meantime, Washington delayed to come on himself until he should have pushed forward the main body of his army by divisions.
Lee's anticipations that laxity and confusion would prevail after his departure were not realized. The veteran Putnam, on taking command, put the city under rigorous military rule. The soldiers were to retire to their barracks and quarters at the beating of the tattoo, and remain there until the reveille in the morning. The inhabitants were subjected to the same rule. None were permitted to pass a sentry without the countersign, which would be furnished to them on applying to any of the brigade majors. All communication between the "ministerial fleet" and the shore was stopped; the ships were no longer to be furnished with provisions. Any person taken in the act of holding comVOL. XIII. *** 4