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Br. 44.]

DISPARAGING CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN LEE AND REED.

a stand at Brunswick on the Raritan, or, at all events, of disputing the passage of the Delaware; and in this intrepid resolution he was warmly seconded by Greene.

Breaking up his camp once more, therefore, he continued his retreat towards New Brunswick; but so close was Cornwallis upon him, that his advance entered one end of Newark, just as the American rear-guard had left the other.

From New Brunswick, Washington wrote on the 29th to William Livingston, governor of the Jerseys, requesting him to have all boats and river craft for seventy miles along the Delaware, removed to the western bank out of the reach of the enemy, and put under guard. He was disappointed in his hope of making a stand on the banks of the Raritan. All the force he could muster at Brunswick, including the New Jersey militia, did not exceed four thousand men. Colonel Reed had failed in procuring aid from the New Jersey legislature. That body, shifted from place to place, was on the eve of dissolution. The term of the Maryland and New Jersey troops in the flying camp had expired. General Mercer endeavored to retain them, representing the disgrace of turning their back upon the cause when the enemy was at hand: his remonstrances were fruitless. As to the Pennsylvania levies, they deserted in such numbers, that guards were stationed on the roads and ferries to intercept them.

At this moment of care and perplexity, a letter, forwarded by express, arrived at headquarters. It was from General Lee, dated from his camp at Northcastle, to Colonel Reed, and was in reply to the letter written by that officer from Hackensack on the 21st, which we have already laid before the reader. Supposing that it related to official business, Washington opened it, and read as follows:

"MY DEAR REED:-I received your most obliging, flattering letter; lament with you that fatal indecision of mind, which in war is a much greater disqualification than stupidity, or even want of personal courage. Accident may put a decisive blunderer in the right; but eternal defeat and miscarriage must attend the man of the best parts, if cursed with indecision. The General recommends in so pressing a manner as almost to amount to an order, to bring over the continental troops under my command; which recommendation, or order, throws me into the greatest dilemma from

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After stating these

several considerations." considerations, he adds: "My reason for not having marched already is, that we have just received intelligence that Rogers' corps, the light-horse, part of the Highlanders, and another brigade, lie in so exposed a situation as to give the fairest opportunity of being carried. I should have attempted it last night, but the rain was too violent, and when our pieces are wet, you know our troops are hors du combat. This night I hope will be better. *I only wait myself for this business of Rogers and company being over. I shall then fly to you; for, to confess a truth, I really think our chief will do better with me than without me."

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A glance over this letter sufficed to show Washington that, at this dark moment, when he most needed support and sympathy, his character and military conduct were the subject of disparaging comments, between the friend in whom he had so implicitly confided, and a sarcastic and apparently self-constituted rival. Whatever may have been his feelings of wounded pride and outraged friendship, he restrained them, and enclosed the letter to Reed, with the following chilling note:

"DEAR SIR,-The enclosed was put into my hands by an express from White Plains. Having no idea of its being a private letter, much less suspecting the tendency of the correspondence, I opened it; as I have done all other letters to you from the same place, and Peekskill, upon the business of your office, as I conceived, and found them to be. This, as it is the truth, must be my excuse for seeing the contents of a letter, which neither inclination nor intention would have prompted me to," &c.

The very calmness and coldness of this note must have had a greater effect upon Reed, than could have been produced by the most vehement reproaches. In subsequent communications, he endeavored to explain away the offensive paragraphs in Lee's letter, declaring there was nothing in his own inconsistent with the respect and affection he had ever borne for Washington's person and character.

Fortunately for Reed, Washington never saw that letter. There were passages in it beyond the reach of softening or explanation. As it was, the purport of it, as reflected in Lee's reply, had given him a sufficient shock. His magnanimous nature, however, was incapable of harboring long resentments; especially in matters relating solely to himself. His per

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WASHINGTON ARRIVES AT TRENTON-DESPONDENCY OF THE COUNTRY. [1776. sonal respect for Colonel Reed continued; he | and General Adam Stephen, to cover the couninvariably manifested a high sense of his merits, and consulted him, as before, on military af fairs; but his hitherto affectionate confidence in him, as a sympathizing friend, had received an incurable wound. His letters, before so frequent, and such perfect outpourings of heart and mind, became few and far between, and confined to matters of business.

It must have been consoling to Washington, at this moment of bitterness, to receive the following letter (dated Nov. 27th) from William Livingston, the intelligent and patriotic governor of New Jersey. It showed that while many misjudged him, and friends seemed falling from his side, others appreciated him truly, and the ordeal he was undergoing.

"I can easily form some idea of the difficulties under which you labor," writes Livingston, "particularly of one for which the public can make no allowance, because your prudence, and fidelity to the cause, will not suffer you to reveal it to the public; an instance of magnanimity, superior, perhaps, to any that can be shown in battle. But depend upon it, my dear sir, the impartial world will do you ample justice before long. May God support you under the fatigue, both of body and mind, to which you must be constantly exposed."*

try, and watch the motions of the enemy. Stephen was the same officer that had served as a colonel under Washington in the French war, as second in command of the Virginia troops, and had charge of Fort Cumberland. In consideration of his courage and military capacity, he had, in 1764, been intrusted with the protection of the frontier. He had recently brought a detachment of Virginia troops to the army, and received from Congress, in September, the commission of brigadier-general.

The harassed army reached Trenton on the 2d of December. Washington immediately proceeded to remove his baggage and stores across the Delaware. In his letters from this place to the President of Congress, he gives his reasons for his continued retreat. "Nothing but necessity obliged me to retire before the enemy, and leave so much of the Jerseys unprotected. Sorry am I to observe that the frequent calls upon the militia of this State, the want of exertion in the principal gentlemen of the country, and a fatal supineness and insensibility of danger, till it is too late to prevent an evil that was not only foreseen, but foretold, have been the causes of our late disgraces.

"If the militia of this State had stepped forth in season (and timely notice they had), we might have prevented the enemy's crossing the Hackensack. We might, with equal possibility of success, have made a stand at Bruns

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were fordable in a variety of places, being knee deep only, it required many men to guard the passes, and these we had not."

Washington lingered at Brunswick until the 1st of December, in the vain hope of being reinforced. The enemy, in the mean time, advanced through the country, impressing wag-wick on the Raritan. But as both these rivers gons and horses, and collecting cattle and sheep, as if for a distant march. At length their vanguard appeared on the opposite side of the Raritan. Washington immediately broke down the end of the bridge next the village, and after nightfall resumed his retreat. In the mean time, as the river was fordable, Captain Alexander Hamilton planted his field-pieces on high, commanding ground, and opened a spirited fire to check any attempt of the enemy to cross.

At Princeton, Washington left twelve hundred men in two brigades, under Lord Stirling

* We cannot dismiss this painful incident in Washington's life, without a prospective note on the subject. Reed

was really of too generous and intelligent a nature not to be aware of the immense value of the friendship he had put at hazard. He grieved over his mistake, especially as after ovents showed more and more the majestic greatness

of Washington's character. A letter in the following year, in which he sought to convince Washington of his sincere and dévoted attachment, is really touching in its appeals. We are happy to add, that it appears to have boen successful, and to have restored, in a great measure, their relations of friendly confidence.

In excuse for the people of New Jersey, it may be observed, that they inhabited an open, agricultural country, where the sound of war had never been heard. Many of them looked upon the Revolution as rebellion; others thought it a ruined enterprise; the armies engaged in it had been defeated and broken up. They beheld the commander-in-chief retreating through their country with a handful of men, weary, way worn, dispirited; without tents, without clothing, many of them barefooted, exposed to wintry weather, and driven from post to post, by a well-clad, well-fed, triumphaut force, tricked out in all the glittering bravery of war. Could it be wondered at, that peaceful husbandmen, seeing their quiet fields thus suddenly overrun by adverse hosts, and their very hearthstones threatened with outrage, should, instead of flying to arms, seek for

BT. 44.]

PROCLAMATION OF LORD HOWE-EXULTATION OF THE ENEMY.

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the safety of their wives and little ones, and | and his presence may have contributed to bring the protection of their humble means, from the desolation which too often marks the course even of friendly armies?

Lord Howe and his brother sought to profit by this dismay and despondency. A proclamation, dated 30th of November, commanded all persons in arms against his majesty's government, to disband and return home, and all Congresses to desist from treasonable acts: offering a free pardon to all who should comply within fifty days.

Many who had been prominent in the cause, hastened to take advantage of this proclamation. Those who had most property to lose, were the first to submit. The middle ranks remained generally steadfast in this time of trial.*

The following extract of a letter from a field-officer in New York, dated Dec. 2d, to his friend in London, gives the British view of affairs: "The rebels continue flying before our army. Lord Cornwallis took the fort opposite Brunswick, plunged into Raritan River, and seized the town. Mr. Washington had orders from the Congress to rally and defend that post, but he sent them word he could not. He was seen retreating with two brigades to Trenton, where they talk of resisting; but such a panic has seized the rebels, that no part of the Jerseys will hold them, and I doubt whether Philadelphia itself will stop their career. The Congress have lost their authority. They are in such consternation that they know not what to do. The two Adamses are in New England; Franklin gone to France; Lynch has lost his senses; Rutledge has gone home disgusted; Dana is persecuting at Albany, and Jay's in the country playing as bad a part; so that the fools have lost the assistance of the knaves. However, should they embrace the enclosed proclamation, they may yet escape the halter. Honest David Mathew, the mayor, has made his escape from them, and arrived here this day."†

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In this dark day of peril to the cause, and to himself, Washington remained firm and undaunted. In casting about for some stronghold, where he might make a desperate stand for the liberties of his country, his thoughts reverted to the mountain regions of his early campaigns. General Mercer was at hand, who had shared his perils among these mountains,

* Gordon's Hist. Am. War, il. 129.
† Am. Archivos, 5th Series, iii. 1037.

them to his mind. "What think you," said Washington; "if we should retreat to the back parts of Pennsylvania, would the Pennsylvanians support us? "

"If the lower counties give up, the back counties will do the same," was the discouraging reply.

"We must then retire to Augusta County in Virginia," said Washington. "Numbers will repair to us for safety, and we will try a predatory war. If overpowered, we must cross the Alleganies."

Such was the indomitable spirit, rising under difficulties, and buoyant in the darkest moment, that kept our tempest-tost cause from foundering.

CHAPTER XLII.

NOTWITHSTANDING the repeated and pressing orders and entreaties of the commander-inchief, Lee did not reach Peekskill until the 80th of November. In a letter of that date to Washington, who had complained of his delay, he simply alleges difficulties, which he would explain when both had leisure. His scheme to entrap Rogers, the renegade, had failed; the old Indian hunter had been too much on the alert; he boasted, however, to have rendered more service by his delay, than he would have done had he moved sooner. His forces were thereby augmented, so that he expected to enter the Jerseys with four thousand firm and willing men, who would make a very important diversion.

"The day after to-morrow," added he, " we shall pass the river, when I should be glad to receive your instructions; but I could wish you would bind me as little as possible; not from any opinion, I do assure you, of my own parts, but from a persuasion that detached generals cannot have too great latitude, unless they are very incompetent indeed."

Lee had calculated upon meeting no further difficulty in obtaining men from Heath. He rode to that general's quarters in the evening, and was invited by him to alight and take tea. On entering the house, Lee took Heath aside, and alluding to his former refusal to supply troops as being inconsistent with the orders of the commander-in-chief, "in point of law," said he, "you are right, but in point of policy I think

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HEATH'S MILITARY PUNCTILIO-LEE CROSSES THE HUDSON.

you are wrong. I am going into the Jerseys for the salvation of America; I wish to take with me a larger force than I now have, and request you to order two thousand of your men to march with me."

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Heath's military punctilio was satisfied, and he smoothed his ruffled plumes. Early the nex h morning the regiments moved from their can tonments ready to embark, when Lee agains rode up to his door. "Upon further considerable tion," said he, "I have concluded not to tak I the two regiments with me-you may orde ook them to return to their former post." "This conduct of General Lee," adds Heath, o in his Memoirs, "appeared not a little extraor dinary, and one is almost at a loss to account ind for it. He had been a soldier from his youth he and had a perfect knowledge of service in allar its branches, but was rather obstinate in hith temper, and could scarcely brook being crosset in any thing in the line of his profession." * It was not until the 4th of December tha Lee crossed the Hudson, and began a laggan march, though aware of the imminent peril d Washington and his army-how different from the celerity of his movements in his expeditions to the South!

Heath answered that he could not spare that number. He was then asked to order one thousand; to which he replied, that the business might as well be brought to a point at once that not a single man should march from the post by his order. "Then," exclaimed Lee, "I will order them myself." "That makes a wide difference," rejoined Heath. "You are my senior, but I have received positive written instructions from him who is superior to us both, and I will not myself break those orders." In proof of his words, Heath produced the recent letter received from Washington, repeating his former orders that no troops should be removed from that post. Lee glanced over the letter. "The commander-in-chief is now at a distance, and does not know what is necessary here so well as I do." He asked a sight of the return book of the division. It was brought by Major Huntington, the deputy adjutant-general. Lee ran his eye over it, and chose two regiments. "You will order them to march early to-morrow morning to join me," said he to the major. Heath, ruffling with the pride of military law, turned to the major with an air of authority. "Issue such orders at your peril! exclaimed he then addressing Lee, "Sir," said he, "if you come to this post, and mean to issue orders here which will break the positive ones I have received, I pray you do it completely yourself, and through your own deputy adjutant-general, who is present, and not draw me or any of my family in as partners in the guilt."

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In the mean time, Washington, who was a Trenton, had profited by a delay of the enemy at Brunswick, and removed most of the store, and baggage of the army across the Delaware, and, being reinforced by fifteen hundred of the, Pennsylvania militia, procured by Mifflin, pre pared to face about, and march back to Prince, ton with such of his troops as were fit for ser vice, there to be governed by circumstances, and the movements of General Lee. Accordingly, on the 5th of December, he sent about twelve hundred men in the advance, to reinforce Lord Stirling, and the next day set off himself with the residue.

"It is right," said Lee; "Colonel Scammel, do you issue the order." It was done accordingly; but Heath's punctilious scruples were not yet satisfied. "I have one more request to make, sir," said he to Lee, "and that is, that you will be pleased to give me a certificate that you exercise command at this post, and order from it these regiments."

Lee hesitated to comply, but George Clinton, who was present, told him he could not refuse a request so reasonable. He accordingly wrote, "For the satisfaction of General Heath, and at his request, I do certify that I am commanding officer, at this present writing, in this post, and that I have, in that capacity, ordered Prescott's and Wyllis's regiments to march."

"The general has gone forward to Princeton," writes Colonel Reed, "where there are about three thousand men, with which, I fear, he will not be able to make any stand." +

While on the march, Washington received a letter from Greene, who was at Princeton, informing him of a report that Lee was A at the heels of the enemy." I should think," adds Greene, "he had better keep on the flanks than the rear, unless it were possible to concert an attack at the same instant of time in front and rear. * * I think General Lee must be confined within the lines of some general plan, or else his operations will be independent of yours. His own troops, General St. Clair's, and the militia, must form a respectable army."

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*The above scene is given almost literally from General Heath's Memoirs.

↑ Reed to the President of Congress.

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.44.]

WASHINGTON CROSSES THE DELAWARE-PERIL OF PHILADELPHIA.

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On the 8th, Washington wrote to the President of Congress: "There is not a moment's time to be lost in assembling such a force as can be collected, as the object of the enemy cannot now be doubted in the smallest degree. Indeed, I shall be out in my conjecture, for it is only conjecture, if the late embarkation at New York is not for Delaware River, to co-operate with the army under General Howe, who, I am informed from good authority, is with the British troops, and his whole force upon this route. I have no certain intelligence of General Lee, although I have sent expresses to him, and lately a Colonel Humpton, to bring me some accurate accounts of his situation. I last night despatched another gentleman to him (Major Hoops), desiring he would hasten his march to the Delaware, on which I would provide boats near a place called Alexandria, for the transportation of his troops. I cannot account for the slowness of his march."

Lee had no idea of conforming to a general | in cantonments along the left bank of the river, an; he had an independent plan of his own, and stationed his main force at Brunswick, and was at that moment at Pompton, indulging trusting to be able before long to cross the Delapeculations on military greatness, and the ware on the ice. mentable want of it in his American contemporaries. In a letter from that place to Govmor Cooke of Rhode Island, he imparts his otions on the subject. "Theory joined to Eractice, or a heaven-born genius, can alone onstitute a general. As to the latter, God Alighty indulges the modern world very rarely ith the spectacle; and I do not know, from that I have seen, that he has been more profuse this ethereal spirit to the Americans, than other nations." "While Lee was thus loitering and speculating, ornwallis, knowing how far he was in the ear, and how weak was the situation of Washgton's army, and being himself strongly reinorced, made a forced march from Brunswick, nd was within two miles of Princeton. Stirng, to avoid being surrounded, immediately et out with two brigades for Trenton. Washngton, too, receiving intelligence by express of these movements, hastened back to that place, and caused boats to be collected from all quarters, and the stores and troops transported across the Delaware. He himself crossed with the rear-guard on Sunday morning, and took up his quarters about a mile from the river; causing the boats to be destroyed, and troops to be posted opposite the fords. He was conscious, however, as he said, that with his small force he could make no great opposition, should the enemy bring boats with them. Fortunately, they did not come thus provided. The rear-guard, says an American account, had barely crossed the river, when Lord Corn- Washington's whole force at this time was wallis "came marching down with all the pomp about five thousand five hundred men; one of war, in great expectation of getting boats, thousand of them Jersey militia, fifteen hundred and immediately pursuing." Not one was to militia from Philadelphia, and a battalion of be had there or elsewhere; for Washington had five hundred of the German yeomanry of Penncaused the boats, for an extent of seventy miles sylvania. Gates, however, he was informed, up and down the river, to be secured on the was coming on with seven regiments detached right bank. His lordship was effectually brought by Schuyler from the Northern department; to a stand. He made some moves with two reinforced by these, and the troops under Lee, columns, as if he would cross the Delaware he hoped to be able to attempt a stroke upon above and below, either to push on to Philadel- the enemy's forces, which lay a good deal scatphia, or to entrap Washington in the acute angle tered, and to all appearances, in a state of semade by the bend of the river opposite Bor-curity. "A lucky blow in this quarter," writes dentown. An able disposition of American troops along the upper part of the river, and of a number of galleys below, discouraged any attempt of the kind. Cornwallis, therefore, gave up the pursuit, distributed the German troops

In further letters to Lee, Washington urged the peril of Philadelphia. "Do come on," writes he; "your arrival may be fortunate, and, if it can be effected without delay, it may be the means of preserving a city, whose loss must prove of the most fatal consequence to the cause of America."

Putnam was now detached to take command of Philadelphia, and put it in a state of defence, and General Mifflin to have charge of the munitions of war deposited there. By their advice Congress hastily adjourned on the 12th of December, to meet again on the 20th, at Baltimore.

he, "would be fatal to them, and would most certainly raise the spirits of the people, which are quite sunk by our late misfortunes."*

* Washington to Gov. Trumbull, 14th December.

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