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Winter Cantonments of the American Army. - Washington at Middlebrook. — Plan of Alarm Signals for the Jerseys. Lafayette's Project for an Invasion of Canada. - Favored by Congress. Condemned by Washington. - Relinquished. -Washington in Philadelphia. - The War Spirit declining. Dissensions in Congress. · Sectional Feelings. Patriotic Appeals of Washington. - Plans for the Next Campaign. — Indian Atrocities to be repressed. — Avenging Expedition set on Foot. - Discontents of the Jersey Troops– Appeased by the Interference of Washington. - Successful Campaign against the Indians.
BOUT the beginning of December, Washington distributed his troops for the winter in a line of strong cantonments extending from Long Island Sound to the Delaware. General Putnam commanded at Danbury, General McDougall in the Highlands, while the head-quarters of the commander-in-chief were near Middlebrook in the Jerseys. The objects of this arrangement were the protection of the country, the security of the important posts on the Hudson, and the safety, discipline, and easy subsistence of the army.
In the course of this winter he devised a plan of alarm signals, which General Philemon Dickinson was employed to carry into effect. On Bottle Hill, which commanded a vast map of
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country, sentinels kept watch day and night. Should there be an irruption of the enemy, an eighteen pounder, called the Old Sow, fired every half hour, gave the alarm in the day-time or in dark and stormy nights; an immense fire or beacon at other times. On the booming of that heavy gun, lights sprang up from hill to hill along the different ranges of heights; the country was aroused, and the yeomanry, hastily armed, hurried to their gathering places.
Washington was now doomed to experience great loss in the narrow circle of those about him, on whose attachment and devotion he could place implicit reliance. The Marquis Lafayette, seeing no immediate prospect of active employ. ment in the United States, and anticipating a war on the continent of Europe, was disposed to return to France to offer his services to his sovereign; desirous, however, of preserving a relation with America, he merely solicited from Congress the liberty of going home for the next winter; engaging himself not to depart until certain that the campaign was over. Washington backed his application for a furlough, as an arrangement that would still link him with the service; expressing his reluctance to part with an officer who united “to all the military fire of youth an uncommon maturity of judgment." Congress in consequence granted the marquis an unlimited leave of absence, to return to America whenever he should find it convenient.
The marquis, in truth, was full of a grand project for the following summer's campaign, which
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former connection of government. for a moment, said he, the striking Trance would derive from the posnada; an extensive territory, aboundtes for the use of her islands; a vast
e most beneficial commerce with the ns, which she might then monopolize ; rown on this continent independent arious good-will of an ally; the whole ewfoundland whenever she pleased to the finest nursery for seamen in the A finally, the facility of awing and conese States, the natural and most formidaof every maritime power in Europe. advantages he feared might prove too temptation to be resisted by any power by the common maxims of national policy; hall his confidence in the favorable sentiof France, he did not think it politic to her disinterestedness to such a trial. • To every other consideration,” said he, grandly, conclusion of a letter to the President of ress, "I do not like to add to the number of ational obligations. I would wish, as much ossible, to avoid giving a foreign power new ns of merit for services performed to the ited States, and would ask no assistance that not indispensable."
The strenuous and far-seeing opposition of Vashington was at length effectual; and the nagnificent, but hazardous scheme, was entirely, though slowly and reluctantly abandoned. It appears since, that the cabinet of France had really
manded, to remove obstructions, secure sentries, and drive in the guards. The whole were to advance with fixed bayonets and unloaded muskets, all was to be done with the bayonet. These parties were to be followed by the main body, at a small distance, to support and reinforce them, or to bring them off in case of failure. All were to wear white cockades or feathers, and to have a watchword, so as to be distinguished from the enemy. "The usual time for exploits of this kind," observes Washington, "is a little before day, for which reason a vigilant officer is then more on the watch. I therefore recommend a midnight hour."
On getting possession of Stony Point, Wayne was to turn its guns upon Fort Lafayette and the shipping. A detachment was to march down from West Point by Peekskill, to the vicinity of Fort Lafayette, and hold itself ready to join in the attack upon it, as soon as the cannonade began from Stony Point.
On the 15th of July, about mid-day, Wayne set out with his light infantry from Sandy Beach, fourteen miles distant from Stony Point. The roads were rugged, across mountains, morasses, and narrow defiles, in the skirts of the Dunderberg, where frequently it was necessary to proceed in single file. About eight in the evening, they arrived within a mile and a half of the forts, without being discovered. Not a dog barked to give the alarm all the dogs in the neighborhood had been privately destroyed beforehand. Bringing the men to a halt, Wayne and his principal