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QUESTIONS OF MILITARY RANK-POPULARITY OF PUTNAM-ARRANGEMENTS AT HEAD-QUARTERS-COLONEL MIFFLIN AND JOHN TRUMBULL, AIDES-DE-CAMP-JOSEPH REED, WASHINGTON'S SECRETARY AND CON
FIDENTIAL FRIEND-GATES AS ADJUTANT-GENERAL-HAZARDOUS SITUATION OF THE ARMY-STRENGTHENING OF THE DEFENCES-EFFICIENCY OF PUTNAM-RAPID CHANGES-NEW DISTRIBUTION OF THE FORCES-RIGID DISCIPLINE-LEE AND HIS CANE-HIS IDEA AS TO STRONG BATTALIONS-ARRIVAL OF RIFLE COMPANIES-DANIEL MORGAN AND HIS SHARP SHOOTERS-WASHINGTON DECLINES TO DETACH TROOPS TO DISTANT POINTS FOR THEIR PROTECTION-HIS REASONS FOR SO DOING.
THE justice and impartiality of Washington were called into exercise as soon as he entered upon his command, in allaying discontents among his general officers, caused by the recent appointments and promotions made by the Continental Congress. General Spencer was so offended that Putnam should be promoted over his head, that he left the army, without visiting the commander-in-chief; but was subsequently induced to return. General Thomas felt aggrieved by being outranked by the veteran Pomeroy; the latter, however, declining to serve, he found himself senior brigadier, and was appeased.
The sterling merits of Putnam soon made every one acquiesce in his promotion. There was a generosity and buoyancy about the brave old man that made him a favorite throughout the army; especially with the
younger officers, who spoke of him familiarly and fondly as "Old Put; a soubriquet by which he is called even in one of the private letters of the commanderin-chief.
The Congress of Massachusetts manifested considerate liberality with respect to head-quarters. According to their minutes, a committee was charged to procure a steward, a housekeeper, and two or three women cooks; Washington, no doubt, having brought with him none but the black servants who had accompanied him to Philadelphia, and who were but little fitted for New England housekeeping. His wishes were to be consulted in regard to the supply of his table. This his station, as commander-in-chief, required should be kept up in ample and hospitable style. Every day a number of his officers dined with him. As he was in the neighborhood of the seat of the Provincial Government, he would occasionally have members of Congress and other functionaries at his board. Though social, however, he was not convivial in his habits. He received his guests with courtesy ; but his mind and time were too much occupied by grave and anxious concerns, to permit him the genial indulgence of the table. His own diet was extremely simple. Sometimes nothing but baked apples or berries, with cream and milk. He would retire early from the board, leaving an aide-de-camp or one of his officers to take his place. Colonel Mifflin was the first person who officiated as aide-de-camp. He was a Philadelphia gentleman of high respectability, who had accompanied him from that city, and received his appointment shortly after their arrival at Cambridge. The second aide-de
1775.] JOSEPH REED, WASHINGTON's Secretary.
camp, was John Trumbull, son of the Governor of Connecticut. He had accompanied General Spencer to the camp, and had caught the favorable notice of Washington by some drawings which he had made of the enemy's works. "I now suddenly found myself," writes Trumbull, "in the family of one of the most distinguished and dignified men of the age; surrounded at his table by the principal officers of the army, and in constant intercourse with them-it was further my duty to receive company, and do the honors of the house to many of the first people of the country of both sexes." Trumbull was young, and unaccustomed to society, and soon found himself, he says, unequal to the elegant duties of his situation; he gladly exchanged it, therefore, for that of major of brigade.
The member of Washington's family most deserving of mention at present, was his secretary, Mr. Joseph Reed. With this gentleman he had formed an intimacy in the course of his visits to Philadelphia, to attend the sessions of the Continental Congress. Mr. Reed was an accomplished man, had studied law in America, and at the Temple in London, and had gained a high reputation at the Philadelphia bar. In the dawning of the Revolution he had embraced the popular cause, and carried on a correspondence with the Earl of Dartmouth, endeavoring to enlighten that minister on the subject of colonial affairs. He had since been highly instrumental in rousing the Philadelphians to co-operate with the patriots of Boston. A sympathy of views and feelings had attached him to Washington, and induced him to accompany him to
* In after years distinguished as a historical painter.
the camp. He had no definite purpose when he left home, and his friends in Philadelphia were surprised, on receiving a letter from him written from Cambridge, to find that he had accepted the post of secretary to the commander-in-chief.
They expostulated with him by letter. That a man in the thirty-fifth year of his age, with a lucrative profession, a young wife and growing family, and a happy home, should suddenly abandon all to join the hazardous fortunes of a revolutionary camp, appeared to them the height of infatuation. They remonstrated on the peril of the step. "I have no inclination," replied Reed, "to be hanged for half treason. When a subject draws his sword against his prince, he must cut his way through, if he means to sit down in safety. I have taken too active a part in what may be called the civil part of opposition, to renounce, without disgrace, the public cause when it seems to lead to danger; and have a most sovereign contempt for the man who can plan measures he has not the spirit to execute.'
Washington has occasionally been represented as cold and reserved; yet his intercourse with Mr. Reed is a proof to the contrary. His friendship towards him was frank and cordial, and the confidence he reposed in him full and implicit. Reed, in fact, became, in a little time, the intimate companion of his thoughts, his bosom counsellor. He felt the need of such a friend in the present exigency, placed as he was, in a new and untried situation, and having to act with persons hitherto unknown to him.
In military matters, it is true he had a shrewd counsellor in General Lee; but Lee was a wayward char
ARRIVAL OF GATES.
acter; a cosmopolite, without attachment to country, somewhat splenetic, and prone to follow the bent of his whims and humors, which often clashed with propriety and sound policy. Reed on the contrary, though less informed on military matters, had a strong common sense, unclouded by passion or prejudice, and a pure 'patriotism, which regarded every thing as it bore upon the welfare of his country.
Washington's confidence in Lee had always to be measured and guarded in matters of civil policy.
The arrival of Gates in camp, was heartily welcomed by the commander-in-chief, who had received a letter from that officer, gratefully acknowledging his friendly influence in procuring him the appointment of adjutant-general. Washington may have promised himself much cordial co-operation from him, recollecting the warm friendship professed by him when he visited at Mount Vernon, and they talked together over their early companionship in arms; but of that kind of friendship there was no further manifestation. Gates was certainly of great service, from his practical knowledge and military experience at this juncture, when the whole army had in a manner to be organized; but from the familiar intimacy of Washington he gradually estranged himself. A contemporary has accounted for this, by alleging that he was secretly chagrined at not having received the appointment of major-general, to which he considered himself well fitted by his military knowledge and experience, and which he thought Washington might have obtained for him had he used his influence with Congress. We shall have to advert to this estrangement of Gates on subsequent occasions.