Slike strani

This destructive course was pursued until they arrived at Manchester, a small place opposite Richmond, where the tobacco warehouses were immediately in a blaze. Richmond was a leading object of this desolating enterprise, for there a great part of the military stores of the State had been collected. Fortunately, Lafayette, with his detachment of two thousand men, had arrived there by forced marches, the evening before, and being joined by about two thousand militia and sixty dragoons (the latter principally young Virginians of family), had posted himself strongly on the high banks on the north side of the river.

There being no bridge across the river at that time, General Phillips did not think it prudent to attempt a passage in face of such a force so posted; but was extremely irritated at being thus foiled by the celerity of his youthful opponent, who now assumed the chief command of the American forces in Virginia.

Returning down the south bank of the river, to the place where his vessels awaited him, General Phillips reëmbarked on the 2d of May, and dropped slowly down the river below the confluence of the Chickahominy. He was followed cautiously, and his movements watched by Lafayette, who posted himself behind the last-named river.

Dispatches from Cornwallis now informed Phillips that his lordship was advancing with all speed from the South to effect a junction with him. The general immediately made a rapid move to regain possession of Petersburg, where the junc


tion was to take place. Lafayette attempted by forced marches to get there before him, but was too late. Falling back, therefore, he recrossed James River and stationed himself some miles below Richmond, to be at hand for the protection of the public stores collected there.

During this main expedition of Phillips, some of his smaller vessels had carried on the plan of plunder and devastation in other of the rivers emptying into the Chesapeake Bay; setting fire to the houses where they met with resistance. One had ascended the Potomac and menaced Mount Vernon. Lund Washington, who had charge of the estate, met the flag which the enemy sent on shore, and saved the property from ravage, by furnishing the vessel with provisions. Lafayette, who heard of the circumstance, and was sensitive for the honor of Washington, immediately wrote to him on the subject. "This conduct of the person who represents you on your estate," writes he, "must certainly produce a bad effect, and contrast with the courageous replies of some of your neighbors, whose houses in consequence have been burnt. You will do what you think proper, my dear general, but friendship makes it my duty to give you confidentially the facts."

Washington, however, had previously received a letter from Lund himself, stating all the circumstances of the case, and had immediately written him a reply. He had no doubt that Lund had acted from his best judgment, and with a view to preserve the property and buildings from impend

ing danger, but he was stung to the quick by the idea that his agent should go on board of the enemy's vessel, carry them refreshments, and " commune with a parcel of plundering scoundrels," as he termed them. "It would have been a less painful circumstance to me to have heard," writes he, "that in consequence of your non-compliance with their request, they had burnt my house and laid my plantation in ruins. You ought to have considered yourself as my representative, and should have reflected on the bad example of communicating with the enemy and making a voluntary offer of refreshments to them, with a view to prevent a conflagration."

In concluding his letter, he expresses his opinion that it was the intention of the enemy to prosecute the plundering plan they had begun; and that it would end in the destruction of his property, but adds, that he is "prepared for the event." He advises his agent to deposit the valuable and least bulky articles in a place of safety. "Such and so many things as are necessary for common and present use must be retained, and must run their chance through the fiery trial of this summer."

Such were the steadfast purposes of Washington's mind when war was brought home to his door, and threatening his earthly paradise of Mount Vernon.

In the mean time the desolating career of General Phillips was brought to a close. He had been ill for some days previous to his arrival at Petersburg, and by the time he reached there, was


no longer capable of giving orders. He died four days afterwards, honored and deeply regretted by his brothers in arms, as a meritorious and welltried soldier. What made his death to be more sensibly felt by them at this moment, was, that it put the traitor, Arnold, once more in the general command.

He held it, however, but for a short time, as Lord Cornwallis arrived at Petersburg on the 20th of May, after nearly a month's weary marching from Wilmington. His lordship, on taking command, found his force augmented by a considerable detachment of Royal Artillery, two battalions of light infantry, the 76th and 80th British regiments, a Hessian regiment, Lieutenant-colonel Simcoe's corps of Queen's rangers, cavalry and infantry, one hundred yagers, Arnold's legion of royalists, and the garrison of Portsmouth. He was cheered also by intelligence that Lord Rawdon had obtained an advantage over General Greene before Camden, and that three British regiments had sailed from Cork for Charleston. His mind, we are told, was now set at ease with regard to Southern affairs; his spirits, so long jaded by his harassing tramps about the Carolinas, were again lifted up by his augmented strength, and Tarleton assures us, that his lordship indulged in "brilliant hopes of a glorious campaign in those parts of America where he commanded." 1 How far these hopes were realized, we shall show in a future page.

1 Tarleton. History of the Campaign, p. 291.



Inefficient State of the Army. - Maraud of Delancey. Death of Colonel Greene. Arrival of the Count de Barras. - French Naval Force expected. - Interview of Washington and De Rochambeau at Weathersfield. - Plan of Combined Operations. - Financial Arrangement of Robert Morris. Scheme to attack the Works on New York Island and capture Delancey's Corps. - Encampments of American and French Armies in Westchester County. - Reconnoitering Expeditions.

HILE affairs were approaching a crisis in Virginia, troubles were threatening from the North. There were rumors of invasion from Canada; of war councils and leagues among the savage tribes; of a revival of the territorial feuds between New York and Vermont. Such, however, was the deplorable inefficiency of the military system, that though, according to the resolves of Congress, there were to have been thirty-seven thousand men under arms at the beginning of the year, Washington's whole force on the Hudson in the month of May did not amount to seven thousand men, of whom little more than four thousand were effective.

He still had his head-quarters at New Windsor, just above the Highlands, and within a few miles of West Point. Here he received intelli

« PrejšnjaNaprej »