Slike strani





and Cooper Rivers. Beyond the main works | cross-fire with the batteries of Fort Moultrie, on the land side he cut a canal, from one to the where Colonel Pinckney commanded. other of the swamps which border these rivers. In advance of the canal were two rows of abatis and a double picketed ditch. Within the canal, and between it and the main works, were strong redoubts and batteries, to open a flanking fire on any approaching column, while an inclosed horn work of masonry formed a kind of citadel.

A squadron, commanded by Commodore Whipple, and composed of nine vessels of war of various sizes, the largest mounting fortyfour guns, was to co-operate with Forts Moultrie and Johnston, and the various batteries, in the defence of the harbor. They were to lie before the bar so as to command the entrance of it. Great reliance also was placed on the bar itself, which it was thought no ship-of-theline could pass.

Governor Rutledge, a man eminent for talents, patriotism, firmness, and decision, was clothed with dictatorial powers during the present crisis; he had called out the militia of the State, and it was supposed they would duly obey the call. Large reinforcements of troops also were expected from the North. Under all these circumstances, General Lincoln yielded to the entreaties of the inhabitants, and, instead of remaining with his army in the open country, as he had intended, shut himself up with them in the place for its defence, leaving merely his cavalry and two hundred light troops outside, who were to hover about the enemy and prevent small parties from marauding.

It was not until the 12th of March that Sir Henry Clinton effected his tardy approach, and took up a position on Charleston Neck, a few miles above the town. Admiral Arbuthnot soon showed an intention of introducing his ships into the harbor, barricading their waists, anchoring them in a situation where they might take advantage of the first favorable spring-tide, and fixing buoys on the bar for their guidance. Commodore Whipple had by this time ascertained by sounding, that a wrong idea had prevailed of the depth of water in the harbor, and that his ships could not anchor nearer than within three miles of the bar, so that it would be impossible for him to defend the passage of it. He quitted his station within it, therefore, after having destroyed a part of the enemy's buoys, and took a position where his ships might be abreast, and form a

Washington was informed of these facts, by letters from his former aide-de-camp, Colonel Laurens, who was in Charleston at the time. The information caused anxious forebodings. "The impracticability of defending the bar, I fear, amounts to the loss of the town and garrison," writes he in reply. "It really appears to me, that the propriety of attempting to defend the town, depended on the probability of defending the bar, and that when this ceased, the attempt ought to have been relinquished." The same opinion was expressed by him in a letter to Baron Steuben; "but at this distance," adds he considerately, we can form a very imperfect judgment of its propriety or necessity. I have the greatest reliance in General Lincoln's prudence, but I cannot forbear dreading the event."

[ocr errors]

His solicitude for the safety of the South was increased, by hearing of the embarkation at New York of two thousand five hundred British and Hessian troops, under Lord Rawdon, reinforcements for Sir Henry Clinton. It seemed evident the enemy intended to push their operations with vigor at the South; perhaps, to make it the principal theatre of the war. "We are now beginning," said Washington, "to experience the fatal consequences of the policy which delayed calling upon the States for their quotas of men in time to arrange and prepare them for the duties of the field. What to do for the Southern States, without involving consequences equally alarming in this quarter, I know not."

Gladly would he have hastened to the South in person, but at this moment his utmost vigilance was required to keep watch upon New York and maintain the security of the Hudson, the vital part of the confederacy. The weak state of the American means of warfare in both quarters, presented a choice of difficulties. The South needed support. Could the North give it without exposing itself to ruin, since the enemy, by means of their ships, could suddenly unite their forces, and fall upon any point that they might consider weak? Such were the perplexities to which he was continually subjected, in having, with scanty means, to provide for the security of a vast extent of country, and with land forces merely, to contend with an amphibious enemy.

"Congress will better conceive in how delicate a situation we stand," writes he, "when I




inform them, that the whole operating force pres-
ent on this and the other side of the North River,
amounts only to ten thousand four hundred rank
and file, of which about two thousand eight
hundred will have completed their term of ser-
vice by the last of May; while the enemy's
regular force at New York and its dependen-morial of the officers of the Jersey line to the
cies, must amount, upon a moderate calculation,
to about eleven thousand rank and file. Our

situation is more critical from the impossibility
of concentrating our force, as well for the want
of the means of taking the field, as on account
of the early period of the season." *

We have cited the depreciation of the currency as a main cause of the difficulties and distresses of the army. The troops were paid in paper money at its nominal value. A me

legislature of their State, represented the deof a private soldier would not procure for his preciation to be so great, that four months' pay colonel would not purchase oats for his horse, family a single bushel of wheat, the pay of a and a common laborer or express rider could carn four times the pay in paper of an American officer.

Looking, however, as usual, to the good of the whole Union, he determined to leave something at hazard in the Middle States, where the country was internally so strong, and yield fur-tute of the power of levying taxes, which Congress, too, in its exigencies, being destither succor to the Southern States, which had vested in the State governments, devolved not equal military advantages. With the conupon sent of Congress, therefore, he put the Mary-pacities, the business of supporting the army. those governments, in their separate caland line under marching orders, together with This produced a great inequality in the condi the Delaware regiment, which acted with it, tion of the troops; according to the means and and the first regiment of artillery. the degree of liberality of their respective States. Some States furnished their troops amply, not only with clothing, but with many contracted in their supplies; while others left comforts and conveniences; others were more their troops almost destitute. Some of the States, too, undertook to make good to their

The Baron De Kalb, now at the head of the Maryland division, was instructed to conduct this detachment with all haste to the aid of General Lincoln. He might not arrive in time to prevent the fall of Charleston, but he might assist to arrest the progress of the enemy and save the Carolinas.

Washington had been put upon his guard of late against intrigues, forming by members of the old Conway cabal, who intended to take advantage of every military disaster to destroy confidence in him. His steady mind, however, was not to be shaken by suspicion. "Against intrigues of this kind incident to every man of a public station," said he, "his best support will be a faithful discharge of his duty, and he must rely on the justice of his country for the event."

His feelings at the present juncture are admirably expressed in a letter to the Baron de Steuben. "The prospect, my dear Baron, is gloomy, and the storm threatens, but I hope we shall extricate ourselves, and bring every thing to a prosperous issue. I have been so inured to difficulties, in the course of this contest, that I have learned to look upon them with more tranquillity than formerly. Those which

troops the loss in their pay caused by the depreciation of the currency. As this was not Those who fared worse than others were ingeneral, it increased the inequality of condition. censed not only against their own State, but against the confederacy. They were disgusted with a service that made such injurious distinctions. Some of the officers resigned, finding it impossible, under actual circumstances, to maintain an appearance suitable to their rank. The men had not this resource. They mur

mured, and showed a tendency to seditious


These, and other defects in the military systention of Congress in a letter to the President: tem, were pressed by Washington upon the at"It were devoutly to be wished," observed he, "that a plan could be devised by which every thing relating to the army could be conducted on a general principle, under the direction of

now present themselves, no doubt require vig- Congress. This alone can give harmony and

orous exertions to overcome them, and I am
far from despairing of doing it." +

* Letter to the President, April 2d.

† Washington's Writings, vii. 10.

consistency to our military establishment, and I am persuaded it will be infinitely conducive to public economy."

[ocr errors]

* Washington's Writings, Sparks, vol. vii.




To soothe the discontents of the army, and counteract the alarming effects of the depreciation of the currency, Congress now adopted the measure already observed by some of the States, and engaged to make good to the Continental and the independent troops the difference in the value of their pay caused by this depreciation; and that all moneys or other articles heretofore received by them, should be considered as advanced on account, and comprehended at their just value in the final settlement.

In consequence of this letter it was proposed | cheese, rather than take any of the scanty alin Congress to send a committee of three of its lowance of meat from the men.* members to head-quarters to consult with the commander-in-chief, and, in conjunction with him, to effect such reforms and changes in the various departments of the army as might be deemed necessary. Warm debates ensued. It was objected that this would put too much power into a few hands, and especially into those of the commander-in-chief; that his influence was already too great; that even his virtues afforded motives for alarm; that the enthusiasm of the army, joined to the kind of dictatorship already confided to him, put Congress and the United States at his mercy; that it was not expedient to expose a man of the highest virtues to such temptations."

[ocr errors]

The foregoing passage from a despatch of the French minister to his government, is strongly illustrative of the cautious jealousy still existing in Congress with regard to military power, even though wielded by Washington.

After a prolonged debate, a committee of three was chosen by ballot; it consisted of General Schuyler and Messrs. John Mathews and Nathaniel Peabody. It was a great satisfaction to Washington to have his old friend and coadjutor, Schuyler, near him in this capacity, in which, he declared, no man could be more useful, "from his perfect knowledge of the resources of the country, the activity of his temper, his fruitfulness of expedients, and his sound military sense."†

The committee, on arriving at the camp, found the disastrous state of affairs had not been exaggerated. For five months the army had been unpaid. Every department was destitute of money or credit, there were rarely provisions for six days in advance; on some occasions the troops had been for several successive days without meat; there was no forage; the medical department had neither tea, chocolate, wine, nor spirituous liquors of any kind. Yet the men," said Washington, "have borne their distress in general, with a firmness and patience never exceeded, and every commendation is due to the officers for encouraging them to it by exhortation and example. They have suffered equally with the men, and, their relative situations considered, rather more." Indeed, we have it from another authority, that many officers for some time lived on bread and

* Washington's Writings, Sparks, vol. vii., p. 15. † Washington to James Duane, Sparks, vii. 34.

[ocr errors]

At this gloomy crisis came a letter from the Marquis de Lafayette, dated April 27th, announcing his arrival at Boston. Washington's eyes, we are told, were suffused with tears as he read this most welcome epistle, and the warmth with which he replied to it, showed his affectionate regard for this young nobleman. I received your letter," writes he, "with all the joy that the sincerest friendship could dictate, and with that impatience which an ardent desire to see you could not fail to inspire. * * *I most sincerely congratulate you on your safe arrival in America, and shall embrace you with all the warmth of an affectionate friend when you come to head-quarters, where a bed is prepared for you."


He would immediately have sent a troop of horse to escort the marquis through the tory settlements between Morristown and the Hudson, had he known the route he intended to take; the latter, however, arrived safe at headquarters on the 12th of May, where he was welcomed by acclamations, for he was popular with both officers and soldiers. Washington folded him in his arms in a truly paternal embrace, and they were soon closeted together to talk over the state of affairs, when Lafayette made known the result of his visit to France. His generous efforts at court had been crowned with success, and he brought the animating intelligence that a French fleet, under the Chevalier de Ternay, was to put to sea early in April, bringing a body of troops under the Count de Rochambeau, and might soon be expected on the coast to co-operate with the American forces; this, however, he was at liberty to make known only to Washington and Congress.

Gen. William Irvine to Joseph Reed. Reed's Mcmoirs, vol. ii., p. 201.

[ocr errors]

ET. 48.]



Remaining but a single day at head-quarters, I made a passionate representation of the hardhe hastened on to the seat of government, ships of his case; the inveterate hostility he where he met the reception which his generous had experienced from Pennsylvania; the inenthusiasm in the cause of American Independ- gratitude of his country; the disorder brought ence had so fully merited. Congress, in a into his private affairs by the war, and the neresolution on the 16th of May, pronounced his cessity he should be driven to of abandoning return to America to resume his command a his profession, unless he could borrow a sum fresh proof of the disinterested zeal and perse- equal to the amount of his debts. Such a loan, vering attachment which had secured him the he intimated, it might be the interest of the public confidence and applause, and received King of France to grant, thereby securing the with pleasure a "tender of the further services attachment and gratitude of an American genof so gallant and meritorious an officer." eral of his rank and influence.

Within three days after the departure of the marquis from Morristown, Washington, in a letter to him, gave his idea of the plan which it would be proper for the French fleet and army to pursue on their arrival upon the coast. The reduction of New York he considered the first enterprise to be attempted by the co-operating forces. The whole effective land force of the enemy he estimated at about eight thousand regulars and four thousand refugees, with some militia, on which no great dependence could be placed. Their naval force consisted❘ of one seventy-four gun ship, and three or four small frigates. In this situation of affairs the French fleet might enter the harbor and gain possession of it without difficulty, cut off its communications, and with the co-operation of the American army, oblige the city to capitulate. He advised Lafayette, therefore, to write to the French commanders, urging them, on their arrival on the coast, to proceed with their land and naval forces, with all expedition, to Sandy Hook, and there await further advices; should they learn, however, that the expedition under Sir Henry Clinton had returned from the South to New York, they were to proceed to Rhode Island.

The French minister was too much of a diplomatist not to understand the bearing of the intimation, but he shrank from it, observing that the service required would degrade both parties. "When the envoy of a foreign power," said he, "gives, or if you will, lends money, it is ordinarily to corrupt those who receive it, and to make them the creatures of the sovereign whom he serves; or rather, he corrupts without persuading; he buys and does not secure. But the league entered into between the king and the United States, is the work of justice and of the wisest policy. It has for its basis a reciprocal interest and good will. In the mission with which I am charged, my true glory consists in fulfilling it without intrigue or cabal; without resorting to any secret practices, and by the force alone of the conditions of the alliance."

M. de Luzerne endeavored to soften this repulse and reproof, by complimenting Arnold on the splendor of his past career, and by alluding to the field of glory still before him; but the pressure of debts was not to be lightened by compliments, and Arnold retired from the interview a mortified and desperate man.

He was in this mood when he heard of the expected arrival of aid from France, and the talk of an active campaign. It seemed as if his military ambition was once more aroused. To General Schuyler, who was about to visit the camp as one of the committee, he wrote on the 25th of May, expressing a determination to rejoin the army, although his wounds still made it painful to walk or ride, and intimated, that, in his present condition, the command at West Point would be best suited to him.

General Arnold was at this time in Philadelphia, and his connection with subsequent events requires a few words concerning his career, daily becoming more perplexed. He had again petitioned Congress on the subject of his accounts. The Board of Treasury had made a report far short of his wishes. He had appealed, and his appeal, together with all the documents connected with the case, was referred to a committee of three. The old doubts and difficulties continued: there was no pros- In reply, General Schuyler wrote from Morpect of a speedy settlement; he was in extrem- ristown, June 2d, that he had put Arnold's letity. The French minister, M. de Luzerne, was ter into Washington's hands, and added: “He at hand; a generous-spirited man, who had expressed a desire to do whatever was agreemanifested admiration of his military character. able to you, dwelt on your abilities, your merTo him Arnold now repaired in his exigency; | its, your sufferings, and on the well-earned


In the mean time, the army with which Washington was to co-operate in the projected attack upon New York, was so reduced by the departure of troops whose term had expired, and the tardiness in furnishing recruits, that it did not amount quite to four thousand rank and file, fit for duty. Among these was a prevalent discontent. Their pay was five months in arrear; if now paid, it would be in Continental currency, without allowance for depreciation, consequently almost worthless for present purposes.

510 MUTINY OF THE CONNECTICUT TROOPS-WASHINGTON WRITES TO REED. [1780. claims you have on your country, and intimated, In this alarming state of destitution, Washthat as soon as his arrangements for the campaignington looked round anxiously for bread for his should take place, he would properly consider famishing troops. New York, Jersey, Pennyou." sylvania, and Maryland, were what he termed his "flour country." Virginia was sufficiently tasked to supply the South. New York, by legislative coercion, had already given all that she could spare from the subsistence of her inhabitants. Jersey was exhausted by the long residence of the army. Maryland had made great exertions, and might still do something more, and Delaware might contribute handsomely, in proportion to her extent: but Pennsylvania was now the chief dependence, for that State was represented to be full of flour. Washington's letter of the 16th of December, to President Reed, had obtained temporary relief from that quarter; he now wrote to him a second time, and still more earnestly. "Every idea you can form of our distresses, will fall short of the reality. There is such a combination of circumstances to exhaust the patience of the soldiery, that it begins at length to be worn out, and we see in every line of the army, features of mutiny and sedition. All our departments, all our operations, are at a stand, and unless a system very different from that which has a long time prevailed, be immediately adopted throughout the States, our affairs must soon become desperate beyond the possibility of recovery."

A long interval of scarcity and several days of actual famine brought matters to a crisis. On the 25th of May, in the dusk of the evening, two regiments of the Connecticut line assembled on their parade by beat of drum, and declared their intention to march home bag and baggage, "or, at best, to gain subsistence at the point of the bayonet." Colonel Meigs, while endeavoring to suppress the mutiny, was struck by one of the soldiers. Some officers of the Pennsylvania line came to his assistance, parading their regiments. Every argument and expostulation was used with the mutineers. They were reminded of their past good conduct, of the noble objects for which they were contending, and of the future indemnifications promised by Congress. Their answer was, that their sufferings were too great to be allayed by promises, in which they had little faith; they wanted present relief, and some present substantial recompense for their services.

It was with difficulty they could be prevailed upon to return to their huts. Indeed, a few turned out a second time, with their packs, and were not to be pacified. These were arrested and confined.

This mutiny, Washington declared, had given him infinitely more concern than any thing that had ever happened, especially as he had no means of paying the troops excepting in Continental money, which, said he, "is evidently impracticable from the immense quantity it would require to pay them as much as would make up the depreciation." His uneasiness was increased by finding that printed handbills were secretly disseminated in his camp by the enemy, containing addresses to the soldiery, persuading them to desert.*

Nothing discouraged Washington more than the lethargy that seemed to deaden the public mind. He speaks of it with a degree of despondency scarcely ever before exhibited. "I have almost ceased to hope. The country is in such a state of insensibility and indifference to its interests, that I dare not flatter myself with any change for the better." And again"The present juncture is so interesting, that if it does not produce corresponding exertions, it will be a proof that motives of honor, public good, and even self-preservation, have lost their influence on our minds. This is a decisive moment; one of the most, I will go further, and say, the most important America has seen. The court of France has made a glorious effort for our deliverance, and if we disappoint its intentions by our supineness we must become contemptible in the eyes of all mankind, nor can we after that venture to confide that our allies will persist in an attempt to establish what, it will appear, we want inclination or ability to assist them in." With these and

*Letter to the President of Cong., May 27. Sparks, vii. 54. similar observations, he sought to rouse Presi

« PrejšnjaNaprej »