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THE CONWAY LETTER.

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1777.]

following brief note, dated November 9th, that his correspondence was detected.

"SIR-A letter which I received last night contained the following paragraph-' In a letter from General Conway to General Gates, he says, "Heaven has determined to save your country, or a weak general and bad counsellors would have ruined it.": "I am, sir, your humble servant,

"GEORGE WASHINGTON."

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The brevity of this note rendered it the more astounding. It was a hand-grenade thrown into the midst of the cabal. The effect upon other members we shall show hereafter: it seems, at first, to have prostrated Conway. An epistle of his friend Mifflin to Gates intimates, that Conway endeavored to palliate to Washington the censorious expressions in his letter, by pleading the careless freedom of language indulged in familiar letter writing; no other record of such explanation remains, and that probably was not received as satisfactory. Certain it is, he immediately sent in his resignation. To some he alleged, as an excuse for resigning, the disparaging way in which he had been spoken of by some members of Congress; to others he observed, that the campaign was at an end, and there was a prospect of a French war. The real reason he kept to himself, and Washington suffered it to remain a secret. His resignation, however, was not accepted by Congress; on the contrary, he was supported by the cabal, and was advanced to further honors, which we shall specify hereafter.

In the mean time, the cabal went on to make invidious comparisons between the achievements of the two armies, deeply derogatory to that under Washington. Publicly, he took no

notice of them; but they drew from him the following apology for his army, in a noble and characteristic letter to his friend, the celebrated Patrick Henry, then governor of Virginia. "The design of this," writes he, " is only to inform you, and with great truth I can do it, strange as it may seem, that the army which 1 have had under my immediate command, has not, at any one time, since General Howe's landing at the Head of Elk, been equal in point of numbers to his. In ascertaining this, I do not confine myself to Continental troops, but comprehend militia. The disaffected and lukewarm in this State, in whom unhappily it too much abounds, taking advantage of the distraction in the government, prevented those vigorous exertions, which an invaded State ought to have yielded. I was left to fight two battles, in order, if possible, to save Philadelphia, with less numbers than composed the army of my antagonist, whilst the world has given us at least double. This impression, though mortifying in some points of view, I have been obliged to encourage; because, next to being strong, it is best to be thought so by the enemy; and to this cause, principally, I think is

to be attributed the slow movements of General Howe.

"How different the case in the Northern Department! There the States of New York and New England, resolving to crush Burgoyne, continued pouring in their troops, till the surrender of that army; at which time not less than fourteen thousand militia, as I have been informed, were actually in General Gates's camp, and those composed, for the most part, of the best yeomanry in the country, well armed, and in many instances supplied with provisions of their own carrying. Had the same spirit pervaded the people of this and the neighboring States, we might before

1777.]

DIFFICULTIES OF THE CAMPAIGN.

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this time have had General Howe nearly in the situation of Gen.

eral Burgoyne.

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My own difficulties, in the course of the campaign, have been not a little increased by the extra aid of Continental troops, which the gloomy prospect of our affairs in the North immedi ately after the reduction of Ticonderoga, induced me to spare from this army. But it is to be hoped that all will yet end well. IF THE CAUSE IS ADVANCED, INDIFFFRENT IS IT TO ME WHERE OR IN WHAT QUARTER IT HAPPENS.

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We have put the last sentence in capitals, for it speaks the whole soul of Washington. Glory with him is a secondary consideration. Let those who win, wear the laurel-sufficient for him is the advancement of the cause.

NOTE.

We subjoin an earnest appeal of Washington to Thomas Wharton, President of Pennsylvania, on the 17th of October, urging him to keep up the quota of troops demanded of the State by Congress, and to furnish additional aid. "I assure you, sir, "writes he, "it is a matter of astonishment to every part of the continent to hear that Pennsylvania, the most opulent and populous of all the States, has but twelve hundred militia in the field, at a time when the enemy are endeavoring to make themselves completely masters of, and to fix their quarters in, her capital." And Major-general Armstrong, commanding the Pennsylvania militia, writes at the same time to the Council of his State :-"Be not deceived with wrong notions of General Washington's numbers; be assured he wants your aid. Let the brave step forth, their example will animate the many, You all speak well of our commander-in-chief at a distance; don't you want to see nim, and pay him one generous, one martial visit, when kindly invited to his camp near the end of a long campaign? There you will see for yourselves the unremitting zeal and toils of all the day and half the night, multiplied into years, without seeing house or home of his own, without murmur or complaint; but believes and calls this arduous task the service of his country and of his God."

CHAPTER XXVI.

FURTHER HOSTILITIES ON THE DELAWARE-FORT MIFFLIN ATTACKED-BRAVELY DEFENDED-REDUCED-MISSION OF HAMILTON TO GATES--VISITS THE CAMPS OF GOVERNOR CLINTON AND PUTNAM ON THE HUDSON-PUTNAM ON IN PROCURING REINFORCEMENTS-INTRIGUES OF THE CABAL-LETTERS OF LOVELL AND MIFFLIN TO GATESTHE WORKS AT RED BANK DESTROYED THE ENEMY IN POSSESSION OF THE DELAWARE.

HIS

HOBBY-HORSE--DIFFICULTIES

THE non-arrival of reinforcements from the Northern army continued to embarrass Washington's operations. The enemy were making preparations for further attempts upon Forts Mercer and Mifflin. General Howe was constructing redoubts and batteries on Province Island, on the west side of the Delaware, within five hundred yards of Fort Mifflin, and mounting them with heavy cannon. Washington consulted with his general officers what was to be done. Had the army received the expected reinforcements from the North, it might have detached sufficient force to the west side of the Schuykill to dislodge the enemy from Province Island; but at present it would require almost the whole of the army for the purpose. This would leave the public stores at Easton, Bethlehem and Allentown, uncovered, as well as several of the hospitals. It would also leave the post at Red Bank unsupported, through which Fort Mifflin was reinforced and sup

FORT MIFFLIN ATTACKED.

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1777.]

plied. It was determined, therefore, to await the arrival of the expected reinforcements from the North, before making any alteration in the disposition of the army. In the mean time, the garrisons of Forts Mercer and Mifflin were increased, and General Varnum was stationed at Red Bank with his brigade, to 'be at hand to render reinforcements to either of them as occasion might require.

On the 10th of November, General Howe commenced a heavy fire upon Fort Mifflin from his batteries, which mounted eighteen, twenty-four, and thirty-two pounders. Colonel Smith doubted the competency of his feeble garrison to defend the works against a force so terribly effective, and wrote to Washington accordingly. The latter in reply represented the great importance of the works, and trusted they would be maintained to the last extremity. General Varnum was instructed to send over fresh troops occasionally to relieve those in the garrison, and to prevail upon as many as possible of the militia to go over. The latter could be employed at night upon the works to repair the damage sustained in the day, and might, if they desired it, return to Red Bank in the morning.

Washington's orders and instructions were faithfully obeyed. Major Fleury, a brave French officer, already mentioned, acquitted himself with intelligence and spirit as engineer; but an incessant cannonade and bombardment for several days, defied all repairs. The block-houses were demolished, the palisades beaten down; the guns dismounted, the barracks reduced to ruins. Captain Treat, a young officer of great merit, who commanded the artillery, was killed, as were several non-commissioned officers and privates; and a number were wounded.

The survivors, who were not wounded, were exhausted by

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