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ET. 50.] DISCONTENTS OF THE ARMY-EXTRAORDINARY LETTER FROM COL. NICOLA. 625

CHAPTER XXX.

In disposing of the case of Captain Asgill, we have anticipated dates, and must revert to the time when Washington again established his head-quarters at Newburg on the Hudson. The solicitude felt by him on account of the universal relaxation of the sinews of war, was not allayed by reports of pacific speeches, and motions made in the British parliament, which might be delusive. "Even if the nation and parliament," said he, "are really in earnest to obtain peace with America, it will, undoubtedly, be wisdom in us to meet them with great caution and circumspection, and by all means to keep our arms firm in our hands; and instead of relaxing one iota in our exertions, rather to spring forward with redoubled vigor, that we may take the advantage of every favorable opportunity, until our wishes are fully obtained. No nation ever yet suffered in treaty by preparing, even in the moment of negotiation, most vigorously for the field."

lutely in want of provisions. The pay of the officers, too, was greatly in arrear; many of them doubted whether they would ever receive the half pay decreed to them by Congress for a term of years after the conclusion of the war, and fears began to be expressed that, in the event of peace, they would all be disbanded with their claims unliquidated, and themselves cast upon the community penniless, and unfitted, by long military habitudes, for the gainful pursuits of peace.

At this juncture, Washington received an extraordinary letter from Colonel Lewis Nicola, a veteran officer, once commandant of Fort Mifflin, who had been in habits of intimacy with him, and had warmly interceded in behalf of the suffering army. In this letter he attributed all the ills experienced and anticipated by the army and the public at large to the existing form of government. He condemned a republican form as incompatible with national prosperity, and advised a mixed government like that of England; which, he had no doubt, on its benefits being properly pointed out, would

same abilities which have led us through difficulties apparently insurmountable by human power, to victory and glory; those qualities that have merited and obtained the universal esteem and veneration of an army, would be most likely to conduct and direct us in the smoother paths of peace. Some people have so connected the idea of tyranny and monarchy, as to find it very difficult to separate them. It may, therefore, be requisite to give the head of such a constitution as I propose, some title apparently more moderate; but, if all other things were once adjusted, I believe strong arguments might be produced for admitting the title of KING, which, I conceive, would be attended with some material advantages."

Sir Guy Carleton arrived in New York early be readily adopted. "In that case," he adds, in May to take the place of Sir Henry Clinton," it will, I believe, be uncontroverted, that the who had solicited his recall. In a letter dated May 7th, Sir Guy informed Washington of his being joined with Admiral Digby in the commission of peace; he transmitted at the same time printed copies of the proceedings in the House of Commons on the 4th of March, respecting an address to the king in favor of peace; and of a bill reported in consequence thereof, authorizing the king to conclude a peace or truce with the revolted provinces of North America. As this bill, however, had not passed into a law when Sir Guy left England, it presented no basis for a negotiation; and was only cited by him to show the pacific disposition of the British nation, with which he professed the most zealous concurrence. Still, though multiplied circumstances gradually persuaded Washington of a real disposition on the part of Great Britain to terminate the war, he did not think fit to relax his preparations for hostilities.

Washington saw at once that Nicola was but the organ of a military faction, disposed to make the army the basis of an energetic government, and to place him at the head. The suggestion, backed by the opportunity, might have tempted a man of meaner ambition: from him it drew the following indignant letter:

Great discontents prevailed at this time in the army, both among officers and men. The neglect of the States to furnish their proportions of the sum voted by Congress for the "With a mixture of great surprise and asprosecution of the war, had left the army al- tonishment, I have read with attention the senmost destitute. There was scarce money suf-timents you have submitted to my perusal. Be ficient to feed the troops from day to day; assured, sir, no occurrence in the course of the indeed, there were days when they were abso-war has given me more painful sensations, than

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626 JUNCTION OF THE ALLIED ARMIES-PROPOSED REDUCTION OF THE ARMY. [1782.

your information of there being such ideas ex- | part of their force to the West Indies to act isting in the army, as you have expressed, and I must view with abhorrence, and reprehend with severity. For the present, the communication of them will rest in my own bosom, unless some further agitation of the matter shall make a disclosure necessary.

"I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my conduct could have given encouragement to an address, which to me seems big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my country. If I am not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable. At the same time, in justice to my own feelings, I must add, that no man possesses a more sincere wish to see ample justice done to the army than I do; and as far as my powers and influence, in a constitutional way, extend, they shall be employed to the utmost of my abilities to effect it, should there be any occasion. Let me conjure you, then, if you have any regard for your country, concern for yourself, or posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind, and never communicate, as from yourself or any one else, a sentiment of the like nature."

against the French possessions in that quarter. With these considerations he wrote to the Count de Rochambeau, then at Baltimore, advising him, for the good of the common cause, to march his troops to the banks of the Hudson, and form a junction with the American army.

The junction took place about the middle of September. The French army crossed the Hudson at King's Ferry to Verplanck's Point, where the American forces were paraded under arms to welcome them. The clothing and arms recently received from France or captured at Yorktown, enabled them to make an unusually respectable appearance. Two lines were formed from the landing-place to head-quarters, between which Count Rochambeau passed, escorted by a troop of cavalry; after which he took his station beside General Washington: the music struck up a French march, and the whole army passed in review before them.

The French army encamped on the left of the American, near Crompond, about ten miles from Verplanck's Point. The greatest good will continued to prevail between the allied forces, though the Americans had but little means of showing hospitality to their gay Gallic friends.

On the 2d of August, Sir Guy Carleton and Admiral Digby wrote a joint letter to Washing- "Only conceive the mortification they must ton, informing him that they were acquainted, suffer, even the general officers," says Washby authority, that negotiations for a general ington in a letter to the secretary of war, peace had already been commenced at Paris," when they cannot invite a French officer, a and that the independence of the United States visiting friend, or a travelling acquaintance, to would be proposed in the first instance by the a better repast than whiskey hot from the still, British commissioner, instead of being made a and not always that, and a bit of beef without condition of a general treaty." vegetables will afford them."

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Even yet, Washington was wary. "From the former infatuation, duplicity, and perverse system of British policy," said he, "I confess I am induced to doubt every thing; to suspect every thing." * "Whatever the real intention of the enemy may be, I think the strictest attention and exertion, which have ever been exercised on our part, instead of being diminished, ought to be increased. Jealousy and precaution at least can do no harm. Too much confidence and supineness may be pernicious in the exteme."

What gave force to this policy was, that as yet no offers had been made on the part of Great Britain, for a general cessation of hostilities, and, although the British commanders were in a manner tied down by the resolves of the House of Commons, to a defensive war, only in the United States, they might be at liberty to transport

Speaking of a contemplated reduction of the army to take place on the 1st of January: "While I premise," said he, "that no one I have seen or heard of appears opposed to the principle of reducing the army as circumstances may require; yet I cannot help fearing the result of the measure in contemplation, under present circumstances, when I see such a number of men, goaded by a thousand stings of reflection on the past, and of anticipation on the future, about to be turned into the world, soured by penury, and what they call the ingratitude of the public, involved in debts, without one farthing of money to carry them home, after having spent the flower of their days, and many of them their patrimonies, in establishing the freedom and independence of their country, and suffered every thing that human nature is capable of enduring on this side of death:-I

ET. 51.]

DISCONTENTS OF THE ARMY AT NEWBURG-ANONYMOUS PAPERS

repeat it, that when I consider these irritating circumstances, without one thing to soothe their feelings or dispel the gloomy prospects, I cannot avoid apprehending that a train of evils will follow, of a every serious and distressing nature.

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The result of these boding conferences was a memorial to Congress in December, from the officers in camp, on behalf of the army, representing the hardships of the case, and proposing that a specific sum should be granted them for the money actually due, and as a commutation for half pay. Three officers were deputed to present the memorial to Congress, and watch

"I wish not to heighten the shades of the picture so far as the reality would justify me in doing it. I could give anecdotes of patriot-over and promote its success. ism and distress, which have scarcely ever been paralleled, never surpassed in the history of mankind. But you may rely upon it, the patience and long-suffering of this army are almost exhausted, and that there never was so great a spirit of discontent as at this instant. While in the field, I think it may be kept from breaking out into acts of outrage; but when we retire into winter-quarters, unless the storm is previously dissipated, I cannot be at ease respecting the consequences. It is high time for & peace."

The memorial gave rise to animated and long discussions in Congress. Some members were for admitting the claims as founded on engagements entered into by the nation; others were for referring them to the respective States of the claimants. The winter passed away without any definite measures on the subject.

CHAPTER XXXI.

THE anxious fears of Washington in regard to what might take place on the approaching reduction of the army, were in some degree realized. After the meeting with the French army at Verplanck's Point, he had drawn up his forces to his former encampment at Newburg, where he established his head-quarters for the winter. In the leisure and idleness of a winter camp, the discontents of the army had time to ferment. The arrearages of pay became a topic of constant and angry comment, as well as the question, whether the resolution of Congress, granting half pay to officers who should serve to the end of the war, would be carried into effect. Whence were the funds to arise for such half pay? The national treasury was empty; the States were slow to tax themselves; the resources of foreign loans was nearly exhausted. The articles of confederation required the concurrence of nine States to any act appropriating public money. There had never been nine States in favor of the half pay establishment; was it probable that as many would concur in applying any scanty funds that might accrue, and which would be imperiously demanded for many other purposes, to the payment of claims known to be unpopular, and to the support of men, who, the necessity for their services being at an end, might be regarded as drones in the community?

On the 10th of March, 1783, an anonymous paper was circulated through the camp, calling a meeting at eleven o'clock the next day, of the general and field-officers, of an officer from each company, and a delegate from the medical staff, to consider a letter just received from their representatives in Philadelphia, and what measures, if should be adopted to obtain that any, redress of grievances which they seemed to have solicited in vain.

On the following morning an anonymous address to the officers of the army was privately put in circulation. It professed to be from a fellow-soldier, who had shared in their toils and mingled in their dangers, and who till very lately had believed in the justice of his country.

"After a pursuit of seven long years,” observed he, "the object for which we set out is at length brought within our reach. Yes, my friends, that suffering courage of yours was active once; it has conducted the United States of America through a doubtful and bloody war; it has placed her in the chair of independency, and peace returns to bless-whom? a country willing to redress your wrongs, cherish your worth, and reward your services? a country courting your return to private life, with tears of gratitude and smiles of admiration, longing to divide with you that independency which your gallantry has given, and those riches which your wounds have preserved? Is this the case? or is it rather a country that tramples upon your rights, disdains your cries, and insults your distresses? Have you not more than once suggested your wishes, and made known your wants to Congress-wants and wishes, which gratitude and policy should have anticipated, rather than evaded? And have you not lately, in the meek language of

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ANONYMOUS PAPERS-MEETING OF OFFICERS CALLED.

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entreating memorials, begged from their justice | you have asked, and how much of that little what you could no longer expect from their has been denied. Tell them, that, though you favor? How have you been answered? Let were the first, and would wish to be the last, the letter, which you are called to consider to- to encounter danger, though despair itself can morrow, make reply! never drive you into dishonor, it may drive you from the field; that the wound, often irritated and never healed, may at length be come incurable; and that the slightest mark of indignity from Congress now, must operate like the grave, .and part you forever; that, in any political event, the army has its alternative. If peace, that nothing shall separate you from your arms but death; if war, that courting the auspices, and inviting the direction of your illustrious leader, you will retire to some unsettled country, smile in your turn, and 'mock when their fear cometh on.' But let it represent, also, that should they comply with the request of your late memorial, it would make you more happy and them more respectable; that, while war should continue, you would follow their standard into the field; and when it came to an end, you would withdraw into the shade of private life, and give the world another subject of wonder and applause; an army victoricus over its enemies, victorious over itself."

"If this, then, be your treatment, while the swords you wear are necessary for the defence of America, what have you to expect from peace, when your voice shall sink, and your strength dissipate by division; when those very swords, the instruments and companions of your glory, shall be taken from your sides, and no remaining mark of military distinction left but your wants, infirmities, and scars? Can you then consent to be the only sufferers by this Revolution, and, retiring from the field, grow old in poverty, wretchedness, and contempt? Can you consent to wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the miserable remnant of that life to charity, which has hitherto been spent in honor? If you can, go, and carry with you the jest of Tories, and the scorn of Whigs; the ridicule, and what is worse, the pity of the world! Go, starve and be forgotten! But if your spirits should revolt at this; if you have sense enough to discover, and spirit sufficient to oppose tyranny, under whatever garb it may assume, whether it be the plain coat of republicanism, or the splendid robe of royalty; if you have yet learned to discriminate between a people and a cause, between men and principles; awake, attend to your situation, and redress yourselves! If the present moment be lost, every future effort is in vain; and your threats then will be as empty as your entreaties now.

"I would advise you, therefore, to come to some final opinion upon what you can bear, and what you will suffer. If your determination be in any proportion to your wrongs, carry your appeal from the justice to the fears of government. Change the milk-and-water style of your last memorial. Assume a bolder tone, decent, but lively, spirited, and determined; and suspect the man who would advise to more moderation and longer forbearance. Let two or three men, who can feel as well as write, be appointed to draw up your last remonstrance, for I would no longer give it the suing, soft, unsuccessful epithet of memorial. Let it represent in language, that will neither dishonor you by its rudeness, nor betray you by its fears, what has been promised by Congress, and what has been performed; how long and how patiently you have suffered; how little

This bold and eloquent, but dangerous appeal, founded as it was upon the wrongs and sufferings of a gallant army and the shameful want of sympathy in tardy legislators, called for the full exercise of Washington's character istic firmness, caution, and discrimination. In general orders he noticed the anonymous paper, but expressed his confidence that the good sense of officers would prevent them from paying at tention to such an irregular invitation; which he reprobated as disorderly. With a view to counteract its effects, he requested a like meeting of officers on the 15th instant, to hear the report of the committee deputed to Congress. "After mature deliberation," added he, "they will devise what further measures ought to be adopted as most rational and best calculated to obtain the just and important object in view."

On the following day another anonymous address was circulated, written in a more mod erate tone, but to the same purport with the first, and affecting to construe the general or ders into an approbation of the object sought; only changing the day appointed for the meeting. "Till now," it observed, "the commander-in-chief has regarded the steps you have taken for redress with good wishes alone; his ostensible silence has authorized your meet

ET. 51.]

WASHINGTON ADDRESSES THE ARMY.

ings, and his private opinion sanctified your claims. Had he disliked the object in view, would not the same sense of duty which forbade you from meeting on the third day of the week, have forbidden you from meeting on the seventh? Is not the same subject held up to your view? and has it not passed the seal of office, and taken all the solemnity of an order? This will give system to your proceedings, and stability to your resolves." &c., &c.

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of your distresses, and not among the last to feel and acknowledge your merits; as I have ever considered my own military reputation as inseparably connected with that of the army; as my heart has ever expanded with joy when I have heard its praises, and my indignation has arisen when the mouth of detraction has been opened against it; it can scarcely be supposed at this last stage of the war that I am indifferent to its interests." * * * ** * **

"For myself," observes he, in another part of his address, "a recollection of the cheerful assistance and prompt obedience I have experienced from you under every vicissitude of fortune, and the sincere affection I feel for an army I have so long had the honor to command, will oblige me to declare in this public and solemn manner, that for the attainment of complete justice for all your toils and dangers, and the gratification of every wish, so far as

On Saturday, the 15th of March, the meeting took place. Washington had previously sent for the officers, one by one, in private, and enlarged on the loss of character to the whole army, that would result from intemperate resolutions. At the meeting, General Gates was called to the chair. Washington rose and apologized for appearing there, which he had not intended to do when he issued the order directing the assemblage. The diligence, however, which had been used in circulating anony-may be done consistently with the great duty mous writings, rendered it necessary he should give his sentiments to the army, on the nature and tendency of them. He had taken this opportunity to do so, and had committed his thoughts to writing, which, with the indulgence of his brother officers, he would take the liberty of reading to them.

He then proceeded to read a forcible and feeling address, pointing out the irregularity and impropriety of the recent anonymous summons, and the dangerous nature of the anonymous address; a production, as he observed, addressed more to the feelings and passions than to the judgment; drawn with great art, calculated to impress the mind with an idea of premeditated injustice in the sovereign power of the United States, and to rouse all those resentments which must unavoidably flow from such a belief.

On these principles he had opposed the irregular and hasty meeting appointed in the anonymous summons, not from a disinclination to afford officers every opportunity, consistent with their own honor and the dignity of the army, to make known their grievances. "If my conduct heretofore," said he, "has not evinced to you, that I have been a faithful friend to the army, my declaration of it at this time would be equally unavailing and improper. But as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common country; as I have never left your side one moment, but when called from you on public duty; as I have been the constant companion and witness

I owe my country and those powers we are bound to respect, you may fully command my services to the utmost extent of my abilities.

"While I give you these assurances, and pledge myself in the most unequivocal manner to exert whatever abilities I am possessed of in your favor, let me entreat you, gentlemen, on your part, not to take any measures which, viewed in the calm light of reason, will lessen the dignity and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained ;-let me request you to rely on the plighted faith of your country, and place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress; that, previous to your dissolution as an army, they will cause all your accounts to be fairly liquidated, as directed in the resolutions which were published to you two days ago; and that they will adopt the most effectual measures in their power to render ample justice to you for your faithful and meritorious services. And let me conjure you, in the name of our common country, as you value your own sacred honor, as you respect the rights of humanity, and as you regard the military and national character of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation of the man who wishes, under any specious pretences, to overturn the liberties of our country; and who wickedly attempts to open the flood-gates of civil discord, and deluge our rising empire in blood. By thus determining and thus acting, you will pursue the plain and direct road to the attainment of your wishes; you will defeat the insidious designs of our

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