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1777.] CONTRAST OF THE GENERALS AND ARMIES.
War, with him, was a career. The camp was, for the time, country and home. Easy and indolent by nature, of convivial and luxurious habits, and somewhat addicted to gaming, he found himself in good quarters at New York, and was in no hurry to leave them. The tories rallied around him. The British merchants residing there regarded him with profound devotion. His officers, too, many of them young men of rank and fortune, gave a gayety and brilliancy to the place; and the wealthy royalists forgot in a round of dinners, balls and assemblies, the hysterical alarms they had once experienced under the military sway of Lee.
Washington, on the contrary, was a patriot soldier, grave, earnest, thoughtful, self-sacrificing. War, to him, was a painful remedy, hateful in itself, but adopted for a great national good. To the prosecution of it all his pleasures, his comforts, his natu ral inclinations and private interests were sacrificed; and his chosen officers were earnest and anxious like himself, with their whole thoughts directed to the success of the magnanimous struggle in which they were engaged.
So, too, the armies were contrasted. The British troops, many of them, perchance, slightly metamorphosed from vagabonds into soldiers, all mere men of the sword, were well clad, well housed, and surrounded by all the conveniences of a thoroughly appointed army with a "rebel country" to forage. The American troops for the most part were mere yeomanry, taken from their rural homes; ill sheltered, ill clad, ill fed, and ill paid, with nothing to reconcile them to their hardships but love for the soil they were defending, and the inspiring thought that it was their country. Washington, with paternal care, endeavored to protect them from the depraving influences of the camp. VOL. III.-1*
"Let vice and immorality of every kind be discouraged as much as possible in your brigade," writes he in a circular to his brigadier-generals; and, as a chaplain is allowed to each regiment, see that the men regularly attend divine worship. Gaming of every kind is expressly forbidden, as being the foundation of evil, and the cause of many a brave and gallant officer's ruin."
NEGOTIATIONS FOR EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS-CASE OF COLONEL ETHAN AL LEN OF GENERAL LEE-COBRESPONDENCE OF WASHINGTON WITH SIR WILLIAM HOWE ABOUT EXCHANGES OF PRISONERS-REFEREES APPOINTED→
LETTERS OF LEE FROM NEW YORK-CASE OF COLONEL CAMPBELL-WASH
INGTON'S ADVICE TO CONGRESS ON THE SUBJECT OF RETALIATION-HIS CORRESPONDENCE WITH LORD HOWE ABOUT THE TREATMENT OF PRISONERS THE HORRORS OF THE JERSEY PRISON-SHIP AND THE SUGAR-HOUSE.
A CARTEL for the exchange of prisoners had been a subject of negotiation previous to the affair of Trenton, without being adjusted. The British commanders were slow to recognize the claims to equality of those they considered rebels; Washington was tenacious in holding them up as patriots ennobled by their
Among the cases which came up for attention was that of Ethan Allen, the brave, but eccentric captor of Ticonderoga. His daring attempts in the "path of renown" had cost him a world of hardships. Thrown into irons as a felon; threatened with a halter; carried to England to be tried for treason; confined in Pendennis Castle; retransported to Halifax, and now a prisoner in New York. "I have suffered every thing short of death," writes he to the Assembly of his native State, Connecticut. He had, however, recovered health and suppleness of limb, and with
"I am fired,"
them all his swelling spirit and swelling rhetoric. writes he, "with adequate indignation to revenge both my own and my country's wrongs. I am experimentally certain I have fortitude sufficient to face the invaders of America in the place of danger, spread with all the horrors of war." And he concludes with one of his magniloquent, but really sincere expres sions of patriotism: "Provided you can hit upon some measure to procure my liberty, I will appropriate my remaining days, and freely hazard my life in the service of the colony, and maintaining the American Empire. I thought to have enrolled my name in the list of illustrious American heroes, but was nipped in the bud!"*
Honest Ethan Allen! his name will ever stand enrolled on that list; not illustrious, perhaps, but eminently popular.
His appeal to his native State had produced an appeal to Congress, and Washington had been instructed, considering his long imprisonment, to urge his exchange. This had scarce been urged, when tidings of the capture of General Lee presented a case of still greater importance to be provided for. “I feel much for his misfortune," writes Washington, "and am sensible that in his captivity our country has lost a warm friend and an able officer." By direction of Congress, he had sent in a flag to inquire about Lee's treatment, and to convey him a sum of money. This was just previous to the second crossing of the Delaware.
Lee was now reported to be in rigorous confinement in New York, and treated with harshness and indignity. The British professed to consider him a deserter, he having been a lieutenant-colonel in their service, although he alleged that he had resigned his commission before joining the American army.
CORRESPONDENCE ABOUT LEE.
Two letters which he addressed to General Howe, were returnedto him unopened, enclosed in a cover directed to Lieutenantcolonel Lee.
On the 13th of January, Washington addressed the following letter to Sir William Howe. "I am directed by Congress to propose an exchange of five of the Hessian field-officers taken at Trenton for Major-general Lee; or if this proposal should not be accepted, to demand his liberty upon parole, within certain bounds, as has ever been granted to your officers in our custody. I am informed, upon good authority, that your reason for keeping him hitherto in stricter confinement than usual is, that you do not look upon him in the light of a common prisoner of war, but as a deserter from the British service, as his resignation has never been accepted, and that you intend to try him as such by a court-martial. I will not undertake to determine how far this doctrine may be justifiable among yourselves, but I must give you warning that Major-general Lee is looked upon as an officer belonging to, and under the protection of the United Independent States of America, and that any violence you may commit upon his life and liberty, will be severely retaliated upon the lives or liberties of the British officers, or those of their foreign allies in our hands."
In this letter he likewise adverted to the treatment of Amer ican prisoners in New York; several who had recently been released, having given the most shocking account of the barbarities they had experienced, "which their miserable, emaciated countenances confirmed."--" I would beg," added he, “that some certain rule of conduct towards prisoners may be settled; and, if you are determined to make captivity as distressing as possible, let me know it, that we may be upon equal terms, for your conduct shall regulate mine."