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490

GENEROUS LETTER OF LEE TO GENERAL WAYNE.

[1779.

be judged by the havoc made in their forlorn | and the imminent danger of Fort Lafayette, hope; out of twenty-two men, seventeen were reached Sir Henry Clinton just after his coneither killed or wounded. The whole loss of ference with Sir George Collier at Throg's the Americans was fifteen killed and eighty- Neck. The expedition against New London three wounded. Of the garrison, sixty-three was instantly given up; the transports and were slain, including two officers; five hundred troops were recalled; a forced march was and fifty-three were taken prisoners, among made to Dobbs' Ferry on the Hudson; a dewhom were a lieutenant-colonel, four captains, tachment was sent up the river in transports and twenty-three subaltern officers. to relieve Fort Lafayette, and Sir Henry followed with a greater force, hoping Washington might quit his fastnesses, and risk a battle for the possession of Stony Point.

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Wayne, in his despatches, writes: "The humanity of our brave soldiery, who scorned to take the lives of a vanquished foe when calling for mercy, reflects the highest honor on them; and accounts for the few of the enemy killed on the occasion." His words reflect honor on himself.

A British historian confirms his eulogy. "The conduct of the Americans upon this occasion was highly meritorious," writes he; "for they would have been fully justified in putting the garrison to the sword; not one man of which was put to death but in fair combat."*

We are happy to record an instance of generous feeling on the part of General Charles Lee, in connection with Stony Point. When he heard of Wayne's achievement, he wrote to him as follows: "What I am going to say, you will not, I hope, consider as paying my court in this hour of your glory; for, as it is at least my present intention to leave this continent, I can have no interest in paying my court to any individual. What I shall say, therefore, is dictated by the genuine feelings of my heart. I do most sincerely declare, that your assault of Stony Point is not only the most brilliant, in my opinion, throughout the whole course of the war on either side, but that it is the most brilliant I am acquainted with in history; the assault of Schweidnitz by Marshal Laudon, I think inferior to it. I wish you, therefore, most sincerely, joy of the laurels you have deservedly acquired, and that you may long live to wear them."

Again the Fabian policy of the American commander-in-chief disappointed the British general. Having well examined the post in company with an engineer and several general officers, he found that at least fifteen hundred men would be required to maintain it, a number not to be spared from the army at present.

The works, too, were only calculated for defence on the land side, and were open towards the river, where the enemy depended upon protection from their ships. It would be necessary to construct them anew, with great labor. The army, also, would have to be in the vicinity, too distant from West Point to aid in completing or defending its fortifications, and exposed to the risk of a general action on unfavorable terms.

For these considerations, in which all his officers concurred, Washington evacuated the post on the 18th, removing the cannon and stores, and destroying the works; after which he drew his forces together in the Highlands, and established his quarters at West Point, not knowing but that Sir Henry might attempt a retaliatory stroke on that most important fortress. The latter took possession of Stony Point, and fortified and garrisoned it more strongly than ever, but was too wary to risk an attempt upon the strongholds of the Highlands. Finding Washington was not to be tempted out of them, he ordered the transports to fall once more down the river, and returned to his former encampment at Philipsburg.

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This is the more magnanimous on the part of Lee, as Wayne had been the chief witness against him in the court-martial after the affair of Monmouth, greatly to his annoyance. While Stony Point, therefore, stands a lasting monument of the daring courage of "Mad Anthony," let it call up the remembrance of this freak of generosity on the part of the eccentric Lee. Tidings of the capture of Stony Point, result of an enterprise at the eastward, under

* Stedman, vol. i., p. 145.]

CHAPTER XL.

THE brilliant affair of the storming of Stony Point, was somewhat overshadowed by the

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ET. 47.] EXPEDITION AGAINST PENOBSCOT-EXPLOIT OF MAJOR HENRY LEE. 491 hundred men, had founded in June a military | Thus fairly entrapped, he endeavored to extripost on the eastern side of the Bay of Penob-cate his force with as little loss as possible. scot, nine miles below the river of that name, and were erecting a fort there, intended to protect Nova Scotia, control the frontiers of Massachusetts, and command the vast wooded regions of Maine; whence inexhaustible supplies of timber might be procured for the royal shipyards at Halifax and elsewhere.

The people of Boston, roused by this movement, which invaded their territory, and touched their pride and interests, undertook, on their own responsibility, a naval and military expedition intended to drive off the invaders. All Boston was in a military bustle, enrolling militia and volunteers. An embargo of forty days was laid on the shipping, to facilitate the equipment of the naval armament; a squadron of armed ships and brigantines under Commodore Saltonstall, at length put to sea, convoying transports, on board of which were near four thousand land troops under General Lovel.

Arriving in the Penobscot on the 25th of May, they found Colonel Maclean posted on a peninsula, steep and precipitous toward the bay and deeply trenched on the land side, with three ships of war anchored before it.

Lovel was repulsed, with some little loss, in an attempt to effect a landing on the peninsula; but finally succeeded before daybreak on the 28th. The moment was propitious for a bold and vigorous blow. The fort was but half finished; the guns were not mounted; the three armed vessels could not have offered a formidable resistance; but, unfortunately, the energy of a Wayne was wanting to the enterprise. Lovel proceeded by regular siege. He threw up works at seven hundred and fifty yards distance, and opened a cannonade, which was continued from day to day, for a fortnight. The enemy availed themselves of the delay to strengthen their works, in which they were aided by men from the ships. Distrustful of the efficiency of the militia and of their continuance in camp, Lovel sent to Boston for a reinforcement of Continental troops. He only awaited their arrival to carry the place by storm. A golden opportunity was lost by this excess of caution. It gave time for Admiral Collier at New York to hear of this enterprise, and take measures for its defeat.

On the 18th of August, Lovel was astounded by intelligence that the admiral was arrived before the bay with a superior armament.

Before news of Collier's arrival could reach the fort, he re-embarked his troops in the transports to make their escape up the river. His armed vessels were drawn up in a crescent as if to give battle, but it was merely to hold the enemy in check. They soon gave way; some were captured, others were set on fire or blown up, and abandoned by their crews. The transports being eagerly pursued and in great danger of being taken, disgorged the troops and seamen on the wild shores of the river: whence they had to make the best of their way to Boston, struggling for upwards of a hundred miles through a pathless wilderness, before they reached the settled parts of the country; and several of them perishing through hunger and exhaustion.

If Washington was chagrined by the signal failure of this expedition, undertaken without his advice, he was cheered by the better fortune of one set on foot about the same time, under his own eye, by his young friend, Major Henry Lee of the Virginia dragoons. This active and daring officer had frequently been employed by him in scouring the country on the west side of the Hudson to collect information; keep an eye upon the enemy's posts; cut off their supplies, and check their foraging parties. The coup de main at Stony Point had piqued his emulation. In his communications to headquarters he intimated that an opportunity presented for an exploit of almost equal daring. In the course of his reconnoitring, and by means of spies, he had discovered that the British post at Paulus Hook, immediately opposite to New York, was very negligently guarded. Paulus Hook is a long low point of the Jersey shore, stretching into the Hudson, and connected to the mainland by a sandy isthmus. A fort had been erected on it, and garrisoned with four or five hundred men, under the command of Major Sutherland. It was a strong position. A creek fordable only in two places rendered the hook difficult of access. Within this, a deep trench had been cut across the isthmus, traversed by a drawbridge with a barred gate; and still within this was a double row of abatis, extending into the water. The whole position, with the country immediately adjacent, was separated from the rest of Jersey by the Hackensack River, running parallel to the Hudson, at the distance of a very few miles, and only traversable in boats, excepting

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492

NIGHT SURPRISAL OF PAULUS HOOK.

[1779.

at the New Bridge, about fourteen miles from | fortunately, that Major Sutherland, the British Paulus Hook.

Confident in the strength of his position, and its distance from any American force, Major Sutherland had become remiss in his military precautions; the want of vigilance in a commander soon produces carelessness in subalterns, and a general negligence prevailed in the garrison.

All this had been ascertained by Major Lee; and he now proposed the daring project of surprising the fort at night, and thus striking an insulting blow "within cannon shot of New York." Washington was pleased with the project; he had a relish for signal enterprises of the kind; he was aware of their striking and salutary effect upon both friend and foe; and he was disposed to favor the adventurous schemes of this young officer. The chief danger in the present one, would be in the evacuation and retreat after the blow had been effected, owing to the proximity of the enemy's force at New York. In consenting to the enterprise, therefore, he stipulated that Lee should not undertake it unless sure, from previous observation, that the post could be carried by instant | surprise; when carried, no time was to be lost in attempting to bring off cannon or any other articles; or in collecting stragglers of the garrison who might skulk and hide themselves. He was "to surprise the post; bring off the garrison immediately, and effect a retreat."

commander, had, the day before, detached a foraging party under a Major Buskirk, to a part of the country called the English Neighborhood. As Lee and his men approached, they were mistaken by the sentinel for this party on its return. The darkness of the night favored the mistake. They passed the creek and ditch, entered the works unmolested, and had made themselves masters of the post before the negligent garrison were well roused from sleep. Major Sutherland and about sixty Hessians threw themselves into a small block-house on the left of the fort and opened an irregular fire. To attempt to dislodge them would have cost too much time. Alarm guns from the ships in the river and the forts at New York threatened speedy reinforcements to the enemy. Having made one hundred and fifty-nine prisoners, among whom were three officers, Lee commenced his retreat, without tarrying to destroy either barracks or artillery. He had achieved his object: a coup de main of signal audacity. Few of the enemy were slain, for there was but little fighting, and no massacre. His own loss was two men killed and three wounded.

His retreat was attended by perils and perplexities. Through blunder or misapprchension, the boats which he was to have found at Dow's Ferry on the Hackensack, disappointed him; and he had to make his way with his On the 18th of August Lee set out on the weary troops up the neck of land between that expedition, at the head of three hundred men river and the Hudson, in imminent danger of of Lord Stirling's division, and a troop of dis- being cut up by Buskirk and his scouting demounted dragoons under Captain McLane. The tachment. Fortunately Lord Stirling heard of attack was to be made that night. Lest the his peril, and sent out a force to cover his reenemy should hear of their movement, it was treat, which was effected in safety. Washinggiven out that they were on a mere foraging ton felt the value of this hardy and brilliant excursion. The road they took lay along that exploit. "The increase of confidence," said he, belt of rocky and wooded heights which bor-"which the ariny will derive from this affair ders the Hudson, and forms a rugged neck be- and that of Stony Point, though great, will be tween it and the Hackensack. Lord Stirling among the least of the advantages resulting followed with five hundred men, and encamped from these events." In a letter to the Presiat the New Bridge on that river, to be at hand dent of Congress, he extolled the prudence, adto render aid if required. As it would be per- dress, enterprise, and bravery displayed on the ilous to return along the rugged neck just men- occasion by Major Lee; in consequence of which tioned, from the number of the enemy en- the latter received the signal reward of a gold camped along the Hudson, Lee, after striking medal. the blow, was to push for Dow's Ferry on the Hackensack, not far from Paulus Hook, where boats would be waiting to receive him.

It was between two and three in the morning when Lee arrived at the creek which rendered Paulus Hook difficult of access. It happened,

Washington was now at West Point, diligently providing for the defence of the Highlands against any farther attempts of the onemy. During the time that he made this his head-quarters, the most important works, we are told, were completed, especially the fort at

ET. 47.]

STYLE OF LIVING AT HEAD-QUARTERS CLINTON REINFORCED,

493

West Point, which formed the citadel of those | centre dish, dividing the space, and reducing the distance between dish and dish to about

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twelve feet apart. Of late he has had the surprising sagacity to discover that apples will make pies, and it is a question if, in the violence of his efforts, we do not get one of apples instead of having both of beefsteaks. If the ladies can put up with such entertainment, and will submit to partake of it on plates once tin but now iron (not become so by the labor of scouring), I shall be happy to see them."

Of his singularly isolated situation with re-six feet, which, without them, would be about spect to public affairs, we have evidence in the following passage of a letter to Edmund Randolph, who had recently taken his seat in Congress. "I shall be happy in such communications as your leisure and other considerations will permit you to transmit to me, for I am as totally unacquainted with the political state of 'things, and what is going forward in the great national council, as if I was an alien; when a competent knowledge of the temper and designs of our allies, from time to time, and the frequent changes and complexion of affairs in Europe might, as they ought to do, have a considerable influence on the operations of our army, and would in many cases determine the propriety of measures, which under a cloud of darkness can only be groped at. I say this upon a presumption that Congress, either through their own ministers or that of France, must be acquainted in some degree with the plans of Great Britain, and the designs of France and Spain. If I mistake in this conjecture, it is to be lamented that they have not better information; or, if political motives render disclosures of this kind improper, I am content to remain in ignorance."

Of the style of living at head-quarters, we have a picture in the following letter to Doctor John Cochran, the surgeon-general and physician of the army. It is almost the only instance of sportivo writing in all Washington's correspondence.

"DEAR DOCTOR:-I have asked Mrs. Cochran and Mrs. Livingston to dine with me tomorrow; but am I not in honor bound to apprise them of their fare? As I hate deception, even where the imagination only is concerned, I will. It is needless to premise that my table is large enough to hold the ladies. Of this they had ocular proof yesterday. To say how it is usually covered is more essential; and this shall be the purport of my letter.

"Since our arrival at this happy spot, we have had a ham, sometimes a shoulder of bacon, to grace the head of the table; a piece of roast beef adorns the foot; and a dish of beans or greens, almost imperceptible, decorates the centre. When the cook has a mind to cut a figure, which I presume will be the case tomorrow, we have two beefsteak pies, or dishes of crabs, in addition, one on each side of the

We may add, that, however poor the fare and poor the table equipage at head-quarters, every thing was conducted with strict etiquette and decorum, and we make no doubt the ladies in question were handed in with as much courtesy to the bacon and greens and tin dishes, as though they were to be regaled with the daintiest viands, served up on enamelled plate and porcelain.

The arrival of Admiral Arbuthnot, with a fleet, bringing three thousand troops and a supply of provisions and stores, strengthened the hands of Sir Henry Clinton. Still he had not sufficient force to warrant any further attempt up the Hudson; Washington, by his diligence in fortifying West Point, having rendered that fastness of the Highlands apparently impregnable. Sir Henry turned his thoughts, therefore, towards the South, hoping, by a successful expedition in that direction, to counterbalance ill success in other quarters. As this would require large detachments, he threw up additional works on New York Island and at Brooklyn, to render his position secure with the diminished force that would remain with him. At this juncture news was received of the arrival of the Count D'Estaing, with a formida ble fleet on the coast of Georgia, having made. a successful cruise in the West Indies, in the course of which he had taken St. Vincent's and Granada. A combined attack upon New York was again talked of. In anticipation of it, Washington called upon several of the Middle States for supplies of all kinds, and reinforcements of militia. Sir Henry Clinton, also, changed his plans; caused Rhode Island to be evacuated; the troops and stores to be brought away; the garrisons brought off from Stony and Verplanck's Points, and all his forces to be concentrated at New York, which he endeavored to put in the strongest posture of defence.

494

FRENCH MINISTER AT HEAD-QUARTERS LETTER TO LAFAYETTE.

The Chevalier de la Luzerne, minister from France, with Mons. Barbé Marbois, his secretary of legation, having recently landed at Boston, paid Washington a visit at his mountain fortress, bringing letters of introduction from Lafayette. The chevalier not having yet announced himself to Congress, did not choose to be received in his public character. "If he had," writes Washington, "except paying him military honors, it was not my intention to depart from that plain and simple manner of living, which accords with the real interest and policy of men struggling under every difficulty for the attainment of the most inestimable blessing of life, liberty."

[1779.

Intelligence recently received, too, that Spain | an officer at the head of a corps of gallant had joined France in hostilities against Eng- Frenchmen, if circumstances should require land, contributed to increase the solicitude and this, whether as a major-general commanding perplexities of the enemy, while it gave fresh a division of the American army, or whether, confidence to the Americans. after our swords and spears have given place to the ploughshare and the pruning-hook, I see you as a private gentleman, a friend and companion, I shall welcome you with all the warmth of friendship to Columbia's shores; and, in the latter case, to my rural cottage, where homely fare and a cordial reception, shall be substituted for delicacies and costly living. This, from past experience, I know you can submit to; and if the lovely partner of your happiness will consent to participate with us in such rural entertainment and amusements, I can undertake, on behalf of Mrs. Washington, that she will do every thing in her power to make Virginia agreeable to the marchioness. My inclination and endeavors to do this cannot be doubted, when I assure you, that I love everybody that is dear to you, and consequently participate in the pleasure you feel in the prospect of again becoming a parent, and do most sincerely congratulate you and your lady on this fresh pledge she is about to give you of her love."

In conformity with this intention, he welcomed the chevalier to the mountains with the thunder of artillery, and received him at his fortress with military ceremonial; but very probably surprised him with the stern simplicity of his table, while he charmed him with the dignity and grace with which he presided at it. The ambassador evidently acquitted himself with true French suavity and diplomatic tact. "He was polite enough," writes Washington, "to approve my principle, and condescended to appear pleased with our Spartan living. In a word, he made us all exceedingly happy by his affability and good humor while he remained in camp.'

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Washington's anticipations of a combined operation with D'Estaing against New York were again disappointed. The French admiral, on arriving on the coast of Georgia, had been persuaded to co-operate with the Southern army, under General Lincoln, in an attempt to recover Savannah, which had fallen into the hands of the British during the preceding year. For three weeks a siege was carried on with great vigor, by regular approaches on land, and cannonade and bombardment from the shipping. On the 9th of October, although the approaches were not complete, and no sufficient breach had been effected, Lincoln and D'Estaing, at the head of their choicest troops, advanced before daybreak to storm the works. The assault was gallant but unsuccessful; both Americans and French had planted their standards on the redoubts, but were finally repulsed. After the repulse, both armies retired from before the place, the French having lost in killed and wounded upwards of six hundred men, the Americans about four hundred. D'Estaing himself was among the wounded, and the gallant Count Pulaski among the slain. The loss of the enemy was trifling, being pro

The letters from Lafayette spoke of his favorable reception at court, and his appointment to an honorable situation in the French army. "I had no doubt," writes Washington, "that this would be the case. To hear it from yourself adds pleasure to the account. And here, my dear friend, let me congratulate you. None can do it with more warmth of affection, or sincere joy than myself. Your forward zeal in the cause of liberty; your singular attachment to this infant world; your ardent and persevering efforts, not only in America, but since your return to France, to serve the United States; your polite attention to Americans, and your strict and uniform friendship for me, have ripened the first impressions of esteem and attachment which I imbibed for you, into such perfect love and gratitude, as neither time nor absence can impair. This will warrant my as-tected by their works. suring you that, whether in the character of The Americans recrossed the Savannah River

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