Slike strani

ET. 44.]



and offered the letter. It was addressed to George Washington, Esquire. He was informed that it could not be received with such

sioners for restoring peace; and inviting communities as well as individuals, who, in the tumult and disasters of the times, had deviated from their allegiance to the crown, to merita direction. The lieutenant expressed much and receive pardon, by a prompt return to their duty. It was added, that proper consideration would be had of the services of all who should contribute to the restoration of public tranquillity.

His lordship really desired peace. According to a contemporary, he came to America 66 as a mediator, not as a destroyer," and had founded great hopes in the efficacy of this document in rallying back the people to their allegiance; it was a sore matter of regret to him, therefore, to find that, in consequence of his tardy arrival, his invitation to loyalty had been forestalled by the Declaration of Independence.

concern. The letter, he said, was of a civil, rather than a military nature-Lord Howe regretted he had not arrived sooner-he had great powers-it was much to be wished the letter could be received.

While the lieutenant was embarrassed and agitated, Reed maintained his coolness, politely declining to receive the letter, as inconsistent with his duty. They parted; but after the lieutenant had been rowed some little distance, his barge was put about, and Reed waited to hear what further he had to say. It was to ask by what title General-but, catching himself, Mr. Washington chose to be addressed.

Reed replied that the general's station in the army was well known; and they could not be at a loss as to the proper mode of addressing him, especially as this matter had been discussed in the preceding summer, of which, he

Still it might have an effect in bringing adherents to the royal standard; he sent a flag on shore, therefore, bearing a circular letter, written in his civil and military capacity, to the colonial governor, requesting him to pub-presumed, the admiral could not be ignorant. lish his address to the people as widely as possible.

The lieutenant again expressed his disappointment and regret, and their interview closed.

On the 19th, an aide-de-camp of General Howe came with a flag, and requested to know, as there appeared to be an obstacle to a corre

Colonel Patterson, the British adjutant-general, could be admitted to an interview with General Washington. Colonel Reed, who met the flag, consented in the name of the general, and pledged his honor for the safety of the adjutant-general during the interview, which was fixed for the following morning.

We have heretofore shown the tenacity with which Washington, in his correspondence with Generals Gage and Howe, exacted the consideration and deference due to him as commander-spondence between the two generals, whether in-chief of the American armies; he did this not from official pride and punctilio, but as the guardian of American rights and dignities. A further step of the kind was yet to be taken. The British officers, considering the Americans in arms rebels without valid commissions, were in the habit of denying them all military title. Washington's general officers had urged him not to submit to this tacit indignity, but to reject all letters directed to him without a specification of his official rank.

An occasion now presented itself for the adjustment of this matter. Within a day or two an officer of the British navy, Lieutenant Brown, came with a flag from Lord Howe, seeking a conference with Washington. Colonel Reed, the adjutant-general, embarked in a barge, and met him half way between Governor's and Staten Islands. The lieutenant informed him that he was the bearer of a letter from Lord Howe to Mr. Washington. Colonel Reed replied, that he knew no such person in the American army. The lieutenant produced * Letter of Mr. Dennis do Berdt, to Mr. Joseph Reed.

Am. Archives, 5th Series, i. 372.

At the appointed time, Col. Reed and Colonel Webb, one of Washington's aides, met the flag in the harbor, took Colonel Patterson into their barge, and escorted him to town, passing in front of the grand battery. The customary precaution of blindfolding was dispensed with; and there was a lively and sociable conversation the whole way. Washington received the adjutant-general at head-quarters with much form and ceremony, in full military array, with his officers and guards about him.

Colonel Patterson, addressing him by the title of your excellency, endeavored to explain the address of the letter as consistent with propriety, and founded on a similar address in the previous summer, to General Howe. That General Howe did not mean to derogate from the respect or rank of General Washington,



but conceived such an address consistent with what had been used by ambassadors or plenipotentiaries where difficulties of rank had arisen. He then produced, but did not offer, a letter addressed to George Washington, Esquire, &c., &c., hoping that the et ceteras, which implied every thing, would remove all impediments.

Washington replied, that it was true, the et ceteras implied every thing, but they also implied any thing. His letter alluded to, of the previous summer, was in reply to one addressed in like manner. A letter, he added, addressed to a person acting in a public character, should have some inscriptions to designate it from a mere private letter; and he should absolutely decline any letter addressed to himself as a private person, when it related to his public station.

Colonel Patterson, finding the letter would not be received, endeavored, as far as he could recollect, to communicate the scope of it in the course of a somewhat desultory conversation, What he chiefly dwelt upon was, that Lord Howe and his brother had been specially nominated commissioners for the promotion of peace, which was esteemed a mark of favor and regard to America; that they had great powers, and would derive the highest pleasure from effecting an accommodation; and he concluded by adding, that he wished his visit to be considered as making the first advance toward that desirable object.

Washington replied that, by what had appeared (alluding, no doubt, to Lord Howe's circular), their powers, it would seem, were only to grant pardons. Now those who had committed no fault needed no pardon; and such was the case with the Americans, who were only defending what they considered their indisputable rights.

Colonel Patterson avoided a discussion of this matter, which, he observed, would open a very wide field; so here the conference, which had been conducted on both sides with great courtesy, terminated. The colonel took his leave, excusing himself from partaking of a collation, having made a late breakfast, and was again conducted to his boat. He expressed himself highly sensible of the courtesy of his treatment, in having the usual ceremony of blindfolding dispensed with.

Washington received the applause of Congress and of the public for sustaining the dignity of his station. His conduct in this par


ticular was recommended as a model to all American officers in corresponding with the enemy; and Lord Howe informed his government that, thenceforward. it would be politic to change the superscription of his letters.

In the mean time the irruption of the Phonix and the Rose into the waters of the Hudson had roused a belligerent spirit along its borders. The lower part of that noble river is commanded on the eastern side by the bold woody heights of Manhattan Island and Westchester County, and on the western side by the rocky cliffs of the Palisades. Beyond those cliffs, the river expands into a succession of what may almost be termed lakes; first the Tappan Sea, then Haverstraw Bay, then the Bay of Peekskill; separated from each other by long stretching points, or high beetling promontories, but affording ample sea room and safe anchorage. Then come the redoubtable Highlands, that strait, fifteen miles in length, where the river bends its course, narrow and deep, between rocky, forest-clad mountains. "He who has command of that grand defile," said an old navigator, "may at any time throttle the Hudson."

The New York Convention, aware of the impending danger, despatched military envoys to stir up the yeomanry along the river, and order out militia. Powder and ball were sent to Tarrytown, before which the hostile ships were anchored, and yeoman troops were stationed there and along the neighboring shores of the Tappan Sea. In a little while the militia of Dutchess County and Cortlandt's Manor were hastening, rudely armed, to protect the public stores at Peekskill, and mount guard at the entrance of the Highlands.

No one showed more zeal in this time of aların, than Colonel Pierre Van Cortlandt, of an old colonial family, which held its manorial residence at the mouth of the Croton. With his regiment he kept a dragon watch along the eastern shore of the Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay; while equal vigilance was maintained night and day along the western shore, from Nyack quite up to the Donderberg, by Colonel Hay and his regiment of Haverstraw. Sheep and cattle were driven inland, out of the reach of maraud. Sentinels were posted to keep a look-out from heights and headlands, and give the alarm should any boats approach the shore, and rustic marksmen were ready to assemble in a moment, and give them a warm reception.

ET. 44.]


The ships-of-war which caused this alarm and turmoil, lay quietly anchored in the broad expanses of the Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay; shifting their ground occasionally, and keeping out of musket shot of the shore, apparently sleeping in the summer sunshine, with awnings stretched above their decks; while their boats were out taking soundings quite up to the Highlands, evidently preparing for further operations. At night, too, their barges were heard rowing up and down the river on mysterious errands; perriaugers, also, paid them furtive visits occasionally; it was surmised, with communications and supplies from tories on shore.


A private committee sent up by the New York Convention, had a conference with the general, to devise further means of obstructing the passage of ships up the river. Fire rafts were to be brought from Poughkeepsie, and kept at hand ready for action. These were to be lashed two together, with chains, between old sloops filled with combustibles, and sent down with a strong wind and tide, to drive upon the ships. An iron chain, also, was to be stretched obliquely across the river from Fort Montgomery to the foot of Anthony's Nose, thus, as it were, chaining up the gate of the Highlands.

For a protection below the Highlands, it was proposed to station whale-boats about the coves and promontories of Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay; to reconnoitre the enemy, cruise about at night, carry intelligence from post to post, seize any river craft that might bring the ships supplies, and cut off their boats when attempting to land. Galleys, also, were prepared, with nine-pounders mounted at the bows.

While the ships were anchored in Haverstraw Bay, one of the tenders stood into the Bay of Peekskill, and beat up within long shot of Fort Montgomery, where General George Clinton was ensconced with six hundred of the militia of Orange and Ulster counties. As the tender approached, a thirty-two pounder was brought to range upon her. The ball passed through her quarter; whereupon she put about, and ran round the point of the Donderberg, where the boat landed, plundered a solitary house at the foot of the mountain, and left it in flames. The marauders, on their way back to the ships, were severely galled by rustic marksmen, from a neighboring promon-chief theatre of the war. tory.

The ships, now acquainted with the channel, moved up within six miles of Fort Montgomery. General Clinton apprehended they might mean to take advantage of a dark night, and slip by him in the deep shadows of the mountains. The shores were high and bold, the river was deep, the navigation of course safe and easy. Once above the Highlands, they might ravage the country beyond, and destroy certain vessels of war which were being constructed at Poughkeepsie.

To prevent this, he stationed a guard at night on the furthest point in view, about two miles and a half below the fort, prepared to kindle a blazing fire should the ships appear in sight. Large piles of dry brushwood mixed with combustibles, were prepared at various places up and down the shore opposite to the fort, and men stationed to set fire to them as soon as a signal should be given from the lower point. The fort, therefore, while it remained in darkness, would have a fair chance with its batteries as the ships passed between it and these conflagrations.

Colonel Hay of Haverstraw, in a letter to Washington, rejoices that the national Congress are preparing to protect this great highway of the country, and anticipates that the banks of the Hudson were about to become the


THE VAN CORTLANDT FAMILY.-Two members of this

old and honorable family were conspicuous patriots
throughout the Revolution. Pierre Van Cortlandt,
the father, at this time about 56 years of age, a stanch
friend and ally of George Clinton, was member of the
first Provincial Congress, and president of the Com-
mittee of Public Safety. Governor Tryon had visited
him in his old manor house at the mouth of the Cro-
ton, in 1774, and made him offers of royal favors,
honors, grants of land, &c., if he would abandon the
popular cause. His offers were nobly rejected. The
Cortlandt family suffered in consequence, being at one
time obliged to abandon their manorial residence;
the head remained true to the cause, and subsequently
filled the office of Lieutenant-Governor with great


His son Pierre, mentioned in the above chapter, the overtures of Tryon, destroying a major's commisand then about 27 years of age, had likewise resisted sion in the Cortlandt militia, which he sent him. Congress, in 1775, made him lieutenant-colonel in the Continental service, in which capacity we now find him, acquitting himself with zeal and ability.





WHILE the security of the Hudson from invading ships was claiming the attention of Washington, he was equally anxious to prevent an irruption of the enemy from Canada. He was grieved, therefore, to find there was a clashing of authorities between the generals who had charge of the Northern frontier. Gates, on his way to take command of the army in Canada, had heard with surprise in Albany, of its retreat across the New York frontier. He still considered it under his orders, and was proceeding to act accordingly; when General Schuyler observed that the resolution of Congress, and the instructions of Washington, applied to the army only while in Canada; the moment it retreated within the limits of New York, it came within his (Schuyler's) command. A letter from Schuyler to Washington, written at the time, says: "If Congress intended that General Gates should command the Northern army, wherever it may be, as he assures me they did, it ought to have been signified to me, and I should then have immediately resigned the command to him; but until such intention is properly conveyed to me, I never can. I must, therefore, entreat your Excellency to lay this letter before Congress, that they may clearly and explicitly signify their intentions, to avert the dangers and evils that may arise from a disputed command."

hastily formed of bushes; scarce one of which but contained a dead or dying man. Two thousand eight hundred were to be sent to a hospital recently established at the south end of Lake George, a distance of fifty miles; when they were gone, with those who were to row them in boats, there would remain but the shadow of an army.*

In a council of war, it was determined that, under present circumstances, the post of Crown Point was not tenable; neither was it capable of being made so this summer, without a force greatly superior to any they might reasonably expect; and that, therefore, it was expedient to fall back, and take a strong position at Ticonderoga.

General Sullivan had been deeply hurt that Gates, his former inferior in rank, should have been appointed over him to the command of the army in Canada; considering it a tacit intimation that Congress did not esteem him competent to the trust which had devolved upon him. He now, therefore, requested leave of absence, in order to wait on the commanderin-chief. It was granted with reluctance. Before departing he communicated to the army, through General Schuyler, his high and grateful sense of their exertions in securing a retreat from Canada, and the cheerfulness with which his commands had been received and obeyed.

On the 9th of July, Schuyler and Gates returned to Ticonderoga, accompanied by Arnold. Instant arrangements were made to encamp the troops, and land the artillery and stores as fast as they should arrive. Great exertions, also, were made to strengthen the defences of the place. Colonel John Trumbull, who was to have accompanied Gates to Canada, as adjutant-general, had been reconnoitring the neighborhood of Ticonderoga, and had pitched upon a place for a fortification on the eastern side of the lake, directly opposite the east point of Ticonderoga, where Fort Inde

That there might be no delay in the service at this critical juncture, the two generals agreed to refer the question of command to Congress, and in the mean time to act in concert. They accordingly departed together for Lake Champlain, to prepare against an anticipated invasion by Sir Guy Carleton. They arrived at Crown Point on the 6th of July, and found there the wrecks of the army recently driven out of Canada. They had been harassed in their re-pendence was subsequently built. He also adtrent by land; their transportation on the lake had been in leaky boats, without awnings, where the sick, suffering from smallpox, lay on straw, exposed to a burning July sun; no food but salt pork, often rancid, hard biscuit or un-eminence, subsequently called Mount Defiance, baked flour, and scarcely any medicine. Not more than six thousand men had reached Crown Point, and half of those were on the sick list; the shattered remains of twelve or fifteen very fine battalions. Some few were sheltered in tents, some under sheds, and others in huts

vised tho erection of a work on a lofty eminence, the termination of a mountain ridge, which separates Lake George from Lake Champlain. His advice was unfortunately disregarded. The

looked down upon and commanded the narrow
parts of both lakes. We shall hear more of it

Preparations were made, also, to augment the
Col. John Trumbull's Autobiography, p. 285, Ap-


BT. 44.]



naval force on the lakes. Ship carpenters from | Congress; and, although they affect to treat the Eastern States were employed at Skenes- each other with a politeness becoming their borough, to build the hulls of galleys and boats, rank, in my mind altercations between comwhich, when launched, were to be sent down to manders who have pretensions nearly equal (I Ticonderoga for equipment and armament, un- mean in point of command), forbode a repetider the superintendence of General Arnold. tion of misfortune. I sincerely wish my appreSchuyler soon returned to Albany, to super-hensions may prove groundless." * intend the general concerns of the Northern department. He was indefatigable in procuring and forwarding the necessary materials and artillery for the fortification of Ticonderoga.

We have a letter before us, also, written to Gates, by his friend Joseph Trumbull, commissary-general, on whose appointment of a deputy the question of command had arisen. Trumbull's letter was well calculated to inflame the jealousy of Gates. "I find you are in a cursed

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The question of command between him and Gates, was apparently at rest. A letter from the President of Congress, dated July 8th, in-situation," writes he; your authority at an formed General Gates, that according to the end; and commanded by a person who will be resolution of that body under which he had willing to have you knocked in the head, as been appointed, his command was totally inde- General Montgomery was, if he can have the pendent of General Schuyler, while the army money chest in his power." was in Canada, but no longer. Congress had no design to divest General Schuyler of the command while the troops were on this side of Canada."

To Schuyler, under the same date, the president writes: "The Congress highly approve of your patriotism and magnanimity in not suffering any difference of opinion to hurt the public service.

"A mutual confidence and good understand ing are at this time essentially necessary, so that I am persuaded they will take place on all occasions between yourself and General Gates."

Gates professed himself entirely satisfied with the explanation he had received, and perfectly disposed to obey the commands of Schuyler. "I am confident," added he, "we shall, as the Congress wish, go hand in hand to promote the public welfare."

Schuyler, too, assured both Congress and Washington, "that the difference in opinion between Gates and himself had not caused the least ill will, nor interrupted that harmony necessary to subsist between their officers."

Samuel Adams, however, who was at that time in Congress, had strong doubts in the mat


"Schuyler and Gates are to command the troops," writes he, "the former while they are without, the latter while they are within, the bounds of Canada. Admitting these generals to have the accomplishments of a Marlborough, or a Eugene, I cannot conceive that such a disposition of them will be attended with any good effects, unless harmony subsists between them. Alas! I fear this is not the case. Already disputes have arisen, which they have referred to

Governor Trumbull, too, the father of the commissary-general, observes subsequently: "It is justly to be expected that General Gates is discontented with his situation, finding himself limited and removed from command, to be a wretched spectator of the ruin of the army, without power of attempting to save them."† We shall have frequent occasion hereafter to notice the discord in the service caused by this rankling discontent.

As to General Sullivan, who repaired to Philadelphia, and tendered his resignation, the question of rank which had aggrieved him was explained in a manner that induced him to continue in service. It was universally allowed that his retreat had been ably conducted through all kinds of difficulties and disasters.

A greater source of solicitude to Washington than this jealousy between commanders, was the sectional jealousy springing up among the troops. In a letter to Schuyler (July 17th), he says, "I must entreat your attention to do away the unhappy and pernicious distinctions and jealousies between the troops of different governments. Enjoin this upon the officers, and let them inculcate and press home to the soldiery, the necessity of order and harmony among those who are embarked in one common cause, and mutually contending for all that freemen hold dear."

Nowhere were these sectional jealousies more prevalent than in the motley army assembled from distant quarters under Washington's own command. Reed, the adjutant-general, speak

8. Adams to R. H. Lee. Am. Archivos, 5th Series, 1. 847.

† Gov. Trumbull to Mr. William Williams.

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