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fears respecting his reputation, excited only, as he observed, " by an uncommon degree of sensibility.” "It will be no disadvantage to you to have it known in Europe," writes he, “that you have received so manifest a proof of the good opinion and confidence of Congress as an important detached command.

However sensibly your ardor for glory may make you feel this disappointment, you may be assured that your character stands as fair as ever it did, and that no new enterprise is necessary to wipe off this imaginary stain."

The project of an irruption into Canada was at length formally suspended by a resolve of Congress; and Washington was directed to recall the marquis and the Baron de Kalb, the presence of the latter being deemed absolutely necessary to the army at Valley Forge. Lafayette at the same time received assurance of the high sense entertained by Congress of his prudence, activity and zeal, and that nothing was wanting on his part to give the expedition the utmost possible effect.

Gladly the young marquis hastened back to Valley Forge, to enjoy the companionship and find himself once more under the paternal eye of Washington; leaving Conway for the time in command at Albany, "where there would be nothing, perhaps, to be attended to but some disputes of Indians and tories.”

Washington, in a letter to General Armstrong, writes, "I shall say no more of the Canada expedition than that it is at an end. I never was made acquainted with a single circumstance relating to it."

* Sparks' Writings of Washington, vol. v. p. 300.

CHAPTER XXX.

MORE TROUBLE ABOUT THE CONWAY LETTER-CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN LORD STIRLING AND WILKINSON-WILKINSON'S HONOR WOUNDED-HIS PASSAGE AT ARMS WITH GENERAL GATES HIS SEAT AT THE BOARD OF WAR UNCOMFORTABLE-DETERMINES THAT LORD STIRLING SHALL BLEED-HIS WOUNDED HONOR HEALED-HIS INTERVIEW WITH WASHINGTON-SEES THE CORRESPONDENCE OF GATES-DENOUNCES GATES AND GIVES UP THE SECRETARYSHIP-IS THROWN OUT OF EMPLOY-CLOSING REMARKS ON THE CONWAY CABAL.

THE Conway letter was destined to be a further source of trouble to the cabal. Lord Stirling, in whose presence, at Reading, Wilkinson had cited the letter, and who had sent information of it to Washington, was now told that Wilkinson, on being questioned by General Conway, had declared that no such words as those reported, nor any to the same effect, were in the letter.

His lordship immediately wrote to Wilkinson, reminding him of the conversation at Reading, and telling him of what he had recently heard.

"I well know," writes his lordship, "that it is impossible you could have made any such declaration; but it will give great satisfaction to many of your friends to know whether Conway made such inquiry, and what was your answer; they would also be glad to know what were the words of the letter, and I should be very much obliged to you for a copy of it."

VOL. III.-15

Wilkinson found that his tongue had again brought him into difficulty; but he trusted to his rhetoric, rather than his logic, to get him out of it. He wrote in reply, that he perfectly remembered spending a social day with his lordship at Reading, in which the conversation became general, unreserved and copious; though the tenor of his lordship's discourse, and the nature of their situation, made it confidential. "I cannot, therefore," adds he, logically, "recapitulate particulars, or charge my memory with the circumstances you mention; but, my lord, I disdain low craft, subtlety and evasion, and will acknowledge it is possible, in the warmth of social intercourse, when the mind is relaxed and the heart is unguarded, that observations may have elapsed which have not since occurred to me. On my late arrival in camp, Brigadier-general Conway informed me that he had been charged by General Washington with writing a letter to Majorgeneral Gates, which reflected on the general and the army. The particulars of this charge, which Brigadier-general Conway then repeated, I cannot now recollect. I had read the letter alluded to; I did not consider the information conveyed in his Excellency's letter, as expressed by Brigadier-general Conway, to be literal, and well remember replying to that effect in dubious terms. I had no inducement to stain my veracity, were I ever so prone to that infamous vice, as Brigadier Conway informed me he had justified the charge.

"I can scarce credit my senses, when I read the paragraph in which you request an extract from a private letter, which had fallen under my observation. I have been indiscreet, my lord, but be assured I will not be dishonorable.”

This communication of Lord Stirling, Wilkinson gives as the first intimation he had received of his being implicated in the

1778.]

WILKINSON'S HONOR WOUnded.

disclosure of Conway's letter. When he was subsequently on nis way to Yorktown to enter upon his duties as secretary of the Board of War, he learnt at Lancaster that General Gates had denounced him as the betrayer of that letter, and had spoken of him in the grossest language.

"I was shocked by this information," writes he; "I had sacrificed my lineal rank at General Gates's request; I had served him with zeal and fidelity, of which he possesssed the strongest evidence; yet he had condemned me unheard for an act of which I was perfectly innocent, and against which every feeling of my soul revolted with horror. * I worshipped honor as the jewel of my soul, and did not pause for the course to be pursued; but I owed it to disparity of years and rank, to former connection and the affections of my own breast, to drain the cup of conciliation and seek an explanation."

*

The result of these, and other considerations, expressed with that grandiloquence on which Wilkinson evidently prided himself, was a letter to Gates, reminding him of the zeal and devotion with which he had uniformly asserted and maintained his cause; "but, sir," adds he, " in spite of every consideration, you have wounded my honor, and must make acknowledgment or satisfaction for the injury."

"In consideration of our past connection, I descend to that explanation with you which I should have denied any other man The enclosed letters unmask the villain and evince my innocence. My lord shall bleed for his conduct, but it is proper I first see you."

339

The letters enclosed were those between him and Lord Stirling, the exposition of which he alleges ought to acquit him of

sinister intention, and stamp the report of his lordship to General Washington with palpable falsehood.

Grates writes briefly in reply. "Sir,-The following extract of a letter from General Washington to me will show you how your honor has been called in question; which is all the explanation necessary upon that matter; any other satisfaction you may command."

Then followed the extracts giving the information communicated by Wilkinson to Major McWilliams, Lord Stirling's aidede-camp.

"After reading the whole of the above extract,” adds Gates, "I am astonished, if you really gave Major McWilliams such information, how you could intimate to me that it was possible Colonel Troup had conversed with Colonel Hamilton upon the subject of General Conway's letter."

According to Wilkinson's story he now proceeded to Yorktown, purposely arriving in the twilight, to escape observation. There he met with an old comrade, Captain Stoddart, recounted to him his wrongs, and requested him to be the bearer of a message to General Gates. Stoddart refused; and warned him that he was running headlong to destruction: "but ruin," observes Wilkinson, "had no terrors for an ardent young man, who prized his honor a thousand fold more than his life, and who was willing to hazard his eternal happiness in its defence."

He accidentally met with another military friend, Lieutenantcolonel Ball, of the Virginia line, "whose spirit was as independent as his fortune." He willingly became bearer of the following note from Wilkinson to General Gates:

(6

Sir, I have discharged my duty to you, and to my conscience; meet me to-morrow morning behind the English church,

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