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SCHU YLER IN PHILADELPHIA.
“ Has Schuyler been superseded, or is he to be 80, or has he resigned ?” For a time all was rumor and conjecture. A report reached his family that he was to be divested of all titles and rank other than that of Philip Schuyler, Esquire. They heard it with joy, knowing the carking cares and annoyances that had beset him in his command. His military friends deprecated it as a great loss to the service.1
When Gates arrived in Albany, Colonel Varick, Schuyler's secretary, waited on him with a message from Mrs. Schuyler, inviting him to take up his quarters at the general's house, which was in the vicinity. He declined, as the dispatch of affairs required him to be continually in town; but took his breakfast with Mrs. Schuyler the next morning. He remained in Albany, unwilling to depart for Ticonderoga until there should be sufficient troops there to support him.
Schuyler arrived in Philadelphia in the sccond week in April, and found himself superseded in effect by General Gates in the Northern department. He inclosed to the committee of Albany the recent resolutions of Congress, passed before his arrival. By these," writes he, “ you will readily perceive that I shall not return a general. Under what influence it has been brought about, I am not at liberty now to mention. On my return to Albany, I shall give the committee the fullest information.” 2
1 Letter of Colonel Richard Varick. Schuyler's Letter Book.
2 Schuyler's Letter Book.
Taking his seat in Congress as a delegate from New York, he demanded the promised investigation of his conduct during the time he had held a command in the army. It was his intention, when the scrutiny had taken place, to resign his commission, and retire from the serrice. On the 18th, a committee of inquiry was appointed, as at his request, composed of a member from each State.
In the mean time, as second major-general of the United States (Lee being the first), he held active command at Philadelphia, forming a camp on the western side of the Delaware, completing the works on Fort Island, throwing up works on Red Bank, and accelerating the dispatch of troops and prorisions to the commander-in-chief. During his sojourn at Philadelphia, also, he contributed essentially to reorganize the commissary department; digesting rules for its regulation, which were mainly adopted by Congress.
Foreign Officers Candidates for Situations in the Army.
- Difficulties in adjusting Questions of Rank. — Ducoudray. – Conway. – Kosciuszko. — Washington's Guards. - Arnold omitted in the Army Promotions. Washington takes his Part. Pritish Expedition against Danbary. – Destruction of American Stores. — Connecticut Yeomanry in Arms. Skirmish at Ridgefield. – Death of General Wooster. – Gallant Services of Arnold. — Rewarded by Congress. — Exploit of Colonel Meigs at Sag Harbor.
HE fame of the American struggle for
independence was bringing foreign of
ficers as candidates for admission into the patriot army, and causing great embarrassment to the commander-in-chief.
They seldom,” writes Washington, “ bring more than a commission and a passport; which we know may belong to a bad as well as a good officer. Their ignorance of our language, and their inability to recruit men, are insurmountable obstacles to their being engrafted in our continental battalions; for our officers, who have raised their men, and have served through the war upon pay that has not hitherto borne their expenses, would be disgusted if foreigners were put over their heads; and I assure you, few or none of these gentlemen look lower than field-officers' commissions.
Some general mode of disposing of them mus: be adopted, for it is ungenerous to keep them in suspense, and a great charge to themselves ; but I am at a loss to know how to point out this mode."
Congress determined that no foreign officers should receive commissions who were not well acquainted with the English language, and did not bring strong testimonials of their abilities. Still there was embarrassinent. Some came with brevet commissions from the French government, and had been assured by Mr. Deane, American commissioner at Paris, that they would have the same rank in the American army.
This would put them above American officers of merit and hard service, whose commissions were of more recent date. One Monsieur Ducoudray, on the strength of an agreement with Mr. Deane, expected to have the rank of major-general, and to be put at the head of the artillery. Washington deprecated the idea of intrusting a department on which the very salvation of the army might depend, to a foreigner, who had no other tie to bind him to the interests of the country than honor ; besides, he observed, it would endanger the loss to the service of General Knox, “a man of great military reading, sound judgment, and clear perceptions. He has conducted the affairs of that department with honor to himself and advantage to the public, and will resign if any one is put over him.”
In fact, the report that Ducoudray was to be a major-general, with a commission dated in the preceding year, caused a commotion among the
American officers of that rank, but whose commissions were of later date. Congress eventually determined not to ratify the contract entered into between Mr. Deane and Monsieur Ducoudray, and resolved that the commissions of foreign officers received into the service, should bear date on the day of their being filled up by Washington.
Among the foreign candidates for appointments was one Colonel Conway, a native of Ireland, but who, according to his own account, had been thirty years in the service of France, and claimed to be à chevalier of the order of St. Louis, of which he wore the decoration. Mr. Deane had recommended him to Washington as an officer of merit, and had written to Congress that he considered him well qualified for the office of adjutant or brigadier-general, and that he had given him reason to hope for one or the other of these appoint
Colonel Conway pushed for that of brigadier-general. It had been conferred some time before by Congress on two French officers, De Fermois and Deborre, who, he had observed, had been inferior to him in the French service, and it would be mortifying now to hold rank below them.
" I cannot pretend," writes Washington to the president, " to speak of Colonel Conway's merits or abilities of my own knowledge. He appears to be a man of candor, and, if he has been in service as long as he says, I should suppose him infinitely better qualified to serve us than many who have been promoted ; as he speaks our language.”
Conway accordingly received the rank of brigadier-general, of which he subsequently proved