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1777.]

ATTACK ON PEEKSKILL.

29

taking the field; he now made preparations for the next campaign by detaching troops to destroy the American deposits of military stores. One of the chief of these was at Peekskill, the very place whither Washington had directed Heath to send troops from Massachusetts; and which he thought of making a central point of assemblage. Howe terms it “the port of that rough and moun tainous tract called the Manor of Courtlandt." Brigadiergeneral McDougall had the command of it in the absence of General Heath, but his force did not exceed two hundred and fifty men.

As soon as the Hudson was clear of ice, a squadron of vessels of war and transports, with five hundred troops under Colonel Bird, ascended the river. McDougall had intelligence of the intended attack, and while the ships were making their way across the Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay, exerted himself to remove as much as possible of the provisions and stores to Forts Montgomery and Constitution in the Highlands. On the morning of the 23d, the whole squadron came to anchor in Peekskill Bay; and five hundred men landed in Lent's Cove, on the south side of the bay, whence they pushed forward with four light field-pieces drawn by sailors. On their approach, McDougall set fire to the barracks and principal storehouses, and retreated about two miles to a strong post, commanding the entrance to the Highlands, and the road to Continental Village, the place of the deposits. It was the post which had been noted by Washington in the preceding year, where a small force could make a stand, and hurl down masses of rock on their assailants. Hence Mc Dougall sent an express to Lieutenant-colonel Marinus Willet, who had charge of Fort Constitution, to hasten to his assistance.

The British, finding the wharf in flames where they had intended to embark their spoils, completed the conflagration, beside destroying several small craft laden with provisions. They kept possession of the place until the following day, when a scouting party, which had advanced towards the entrance of the Highlands, was encountered by Colonel Marinus Willet with a detachment from Fort Constitution, and driven back to the main body after a sharp skirmish, in which nine of the marauders were killed. Four more were slain on the banks of Canopas Creek as they were setting fire to some boats. The enemy were disappointed in the hope of carrying off a great deal of booty, and finding the country around was getting under arms, they contented themselves with the mischief they had done, and re-embarked in the evening by moonlight, when the whole squadron swept down the Hudson.

CHAPTER

IV.

SCLUYLER'S AFFAIRS IN THE NORTHERN

DEPARTMENT-MISUNDERSTANDINGS

WIT

CONGRESS-GIVES OFFENCE BY A REPROACHFUL LETTER-OFFICE OF

ADJUTANT-GENERAL OFFERED TO GATES-DECLINED BY HIM-SCHUYLER

REPRIMANDED BY CONGRESS FOR HIS REPROACHFUL LETTER-GATES AP

POINTED TO THE COMMAND AT TICONDEROGA-SCHUYLER CONSIDERS HIM

SELF VIRTUALLY SUSPENDED-TAKES HIS SEAT AS A DELEGATE TO CON

GRESS, AND CLAIMS A COURT OF INQUIRY-HAS COMMAND AT PHILADELPHIA.

We have now to enter upon a tissue of circumstances connected with the Northern department, which will be found materially to influence the course of affairs in that quarter throughout the current year, and ultimately to be fruitful of annoyance to Washington himself. To make these more clear to the reader, it is necessary to revert to events in the preceding year.

The question of command between Schuyler and Gates, when settled as we have shown by Congress, had caused no interruption to the harmony of intercourse between these generals.

Schuyler directed the affairs of the department with energy and activity from his head-quarters at Albany, where they had been fixed by Congress, while Gates, subordinate to him, commanded the post of Ticonderoga.

The disappointment of an independent command, however, still rankled in the mind of the latter, and was kept alive by the officious suggestions of meddling friends. In the course of the autumn, his hopes in this respect revived. Schuyler was again disgusted with the service. In the discharge of his various and harassing duties, he had been annoyed by sectional jealousies and ill will. His motives and measures had been maligned. The failures in Canada had been attributed to him, and he had repeatedly entreated Congress to order an inquiry into the many charges made against him, “ that he might not any longer be insulted."

“I assure you,” writes he to Gates, on the 25th of August, “ that I am so sincerely tired of abuse, that I will let my enemies arrive at the completion of their wishes by retiring, as soon as I shall have been tried; and attempt to serve my injured country in some other

way,
where
envy

and detraction will have no temp. tation to follow me.”

On the 14th of September, he actually offered his resignation of his commission as major-general, and of every other office and appointment; still claiming a court of inquiry on his conduct, and expressing his determination to fulfil the duties of a good citizen, and promote the weal of his native country, but in some other capacity. “I trust," writes he," that my successor, whoever he may be, will find that matters are as prosperously arranged in this department as the nature of the service will admit I shall most readily give him any information and assistance in my power.”

He immediately wrote to General Gates, apprising him of his having sent in his resignation. "It is much to be lamented," writes he, “ that calumny is so much cherished in this unhappy country, and that so few of the servants of the public escape the

1777.]

MISUNDERSTANDINGS WITH CONGRESS.

33

malevolence of a set of insidious miscreants. It has driven me to the necessity of resigning."

As the command of the department, should his resignation be accepted, would of course devolve on Gates, he assures him. he will render every assistance in his power to any officer whom Gates might appoint to command in Albany.

All his letters to Gates, while they were thus in relation in the department, had been kind and courteous; beginning with, “ My dear General," and ending with, “adieu” and “every friendly wish.”

.” Schuyler was a warm-hearted man, and his expressions were probably sincere. . The hopes of Gates, inspired by this proffered resignation, were doomed to be again overclouded. Schuyler was informed by President Hancock,“ that Congress, during the present state of affairs, could not consent to accept of his resignation; but requested that he would continue in the command he held, and be assured that the aspersions thrown out by his enemies against his character, had no influence upon the minds of the members of that House; and that more effectually to put calumny to silence, they would at an early day appoint a committee to inquire fully into his conduct, which they trusted would establish his reputation in the opinion of all good men.”

Schuyler received the resolve of Congress with grim acqui. escence, but showed in his reply that he was but half soothed. “At this very critical juncture," writes he, October 16, “I shall waive those remarks which, in justice to myself, I must make at a future day. The calumny of my enemies has arisen to its height. Their malice is incapable of heightening the injury. In the alarming situation of our affairs, I shall continue to act some time longer, but Congress must prepare to put the care of

VOL. III.--2*

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