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for a general. At the capture of Fort Washington he had gained much honor while under the command of a great general, but he lost all his renown at Trenton where he himself was general. He had courage to dare the hardiest enterprise; but he alone wanted the cool presence of mind necessary in a surprise like that at Trenton. His vivacity was too great; one thought crowded on another so that he could come to no decision. Considered as a private man, he was deserving of high regard. He was generous, open-handed, hospitable; never cringing to his superiors, nor arrogant to his inferiors, but courteous to all. Even his domestics were treated more like friends than servants."
The loyal corporal, too, contributes his mite of praise to his dying commander. "In his last agony," writes the grateful soldier, "he yet thought of his grenadiers, and entreated General Washington that nothing might be taken from them but their arms. A promise was given," adds the corporal, "and was kept."
Even the satirical lieutenant half mourns over his memory. "He died," says he, "on the following evening, and lies buried in this place which he has rendered so famous, in the graveyard of the Presbyterian church. Sleep well! dear Commander! (theurer Feldherr). The Americans will hereafter set up a stone above thy grave with this inscription:
"Hier liegt der Oberst Rahl,
Mit ihm ist alles all!
(Here lies the Colonel Rahl,
TREATMENT OF THE HESSIAN PRISONERS THEIR INTERVIEWS WITH WASHINGTON THEIR RECEPTION BY THE PEOPLE.
THE Hessian prisoners were conveyed across the Delaware by Johnson's Ferry into Pennsylvania; the private soldiers were marched off immediately to Newtown; the officers, twentythree in number, remained in a small chamber in the Ferry House, where, according to their own account, they passed a dismal night; sore at heart that their recent triumphs at White Plains and Fort Washington should be so suddenly eclipsed.
On the following morning they were conducted to Newtown under the escort of Colonel Weedon. His exterior, writes Lieutenant Piel, spoke but little in his favor, yet he won ali our hearts by his kind and friendly conduct.
At Newtown the officers were quartered in inns and private houses, the soldiers in the church and jail. The officers paid a visit to Lord Stirling, whom some of them had known from his being captured at Long Island. He received them with great kindness. "Your general, Van Heister," said he, treated me like a brother when I was a prisoner, and so, gentlemen, will you be treated by me."
"We had scarce seated ourselves," continues Lieutenant Piel, "when a long, meagre, dark-looking man, whom we took for the parson of the place, stepped forth and held a discourse in German, in which he endeavored to set forth the justice of the American side in this war. He told us he was a Hanoverian born; called the king of England nothing but the Elector of Hanover, and spoke of him so contemptuously that his garrulity became intolerable. We answered that we had not come to America to inquire which party was in the right; but to fight for the king.
"Lord Stirling, seeing how little we were edified by the preacher, relieved us from him by proposing to take us with him to visit General Washington. The latter received us very courteously, though we understood very little of what he said, as he spoke nothing but English, a language in which none of us at that time were strong. In his aspect shines forth nothing of the great man that he is universally considered. His eyes have scarce any fire. There is, however, a smiling expression on his countenance when he speaks, that wins affection and respect. He invited four of our officers to dine with him; the rest dined with Lord Stirling. One of those officers who dined with the commander-in-chief, was the satirical lieutenant whom we have so often quoted, and who was stationed at the picket on the morning of the attack. However disparagingly he may have thought of his unfortunate commander, he evidently had a very good opinion of himself.
"General Washington," writes he in his journal, “did me the honor to converse a good deal with me concerning the unfortunate affair. I told him freely my opinion that our dispositions had been bad, otherwise we should not have fallen into his hands. He asked me if I could have made better dispositions, and in what manner? I told him yes; stated all the faults of our arrangements, and showed him how I would
have done; and would have managed to come out of the affair with honor."
We have no doubt, from the specimens furnished in the lieutenant's journal, that he went largely into his own merits and achievements, and the demerits and shortcomings of his luckless commander. Washington, he added, not only ap plauded his exposition of what he would have done, but made him a eulogy thereupon, and upon his watchfulness and the defence he had made with his handful of men when his picket was attacked. Yet according to his own account, in his journal, with all his watchfulness, he came near being caught napping.
"General Washington," continues he, "is a courteous and polite man, but very cautious and reserved; talks little; and has a crafty (listige) physiognomy." We surmise the lieutenant had the most of the talk on that occasion, and that the crafty or sly expression in Washington's physiognomy may have been a lurking but suppressed smile, provoked by the lieutenant's selflaudation and wordiness.
The Hessian prisoners were subsequently transferred from place to place, until they reached Winchester in the interior of Virginia. Wherever they arrived, people thronged from far and near to see these terrible beings of whom they had received such formidable accounts; and were surprised and disappointed to find them looking like other men. At first they had to endure the hootings and revilings of the multitude, for having hired themselves out to the trade of blood; and they especially speak of the scoldings they received from old women in the villages, who upbraided them for coming to rob them of their liberty. "At length," writes the corporal in his journal, "General Washington had written notices put up in town and country, that we were innocent of this war and had joined in it not of our free will, but through compulsion. We should, therefore, be treated not as enemies, but friends. From this time," adds he, "things went better with us. Every day came many out of the towns, old and young, rich and poor, and brought us provisions, and treated us with kindness and humanity."1
1 Tagebuch des Corporals Johannes Reuber.➡ MS.
COLONEL GRIFFIN IN THE JERSEYS DONOP DECOYED INROAD OF CADWALADER AND REED — RETREAT AND CONFUSION OF THE ENEMY'S OUTPOSTS WASHINGTON RECROSSES THE DELAWARE WITH HIS TROOPS -THE GAME REVERSED THE HESSIANS HUNTED BACK THROUGH THE COUNTRY INGTON MADE MILITARY DICTATOR.
THERE was a kind of episode in the affair at Trenton. Colonel Griffin, who had thrown himself previously into the Jerseys with his detachment of Pennsylvania militia, found himself, through indisposition and the scanty number of his troops, unable to render efficient service in the proposed attack. He sent word to Cadwalader, therefore, that he should probably render him more real aid by making a demonstration in front of Donop, and drawing him off so far into the interior as to be out of the way of rendering support to Colonel Rahl.
He accordingly presented himself in sight of Donop's cantonment on the 25th of December, and succeeded in drawing him out with nearly his whole force of two thousand men. He then retired slowly before him, skirmishing, but avoiding any thing like an action, until he had lured him as far as Mount Holly; when he left him to find his way back to his post at his leisure. The cannonade of Washington's attack in Trenton on the morning of the 26th, was distinctly heard at Cadwalader's camp at Bristol. Imperfect tidings of the result reached there about eleven o'clock, and produced the highest exultation and excitement. Cadwalader made another attempt to cross the river and join Washington, whom he supposed to be still in the Jerseys, following up the blow he had struck. He could not effect the passage of the river with the most of the troops, until mid-day of the 27th, when he received from Washington a detailed account of his success, and of his having recrossed into Pennsylvania.
Cadwalader was now in a dilemma. Donop, he presumed, was still at Mount Holly, whither Griffin had decoyed him; but he might soon march back. His forces were equal, if not superior in number to his own, and veterans instead of raw militia. But then there was the glory of rivalling the exploit at Trenton, and the importance of following out the effort for the relief of the Jerseys, and the salvation of Philadelphia
Besides, Washington, in all probability, after disposing of his prisoners, had again crossed into the Jerseys and might be acting offensively.
Reed relieved Cadwalader from his dilemma, by proposing that they should push on to Burlington, and there determine. according to intelligence, whether to proceed to Bordentown or Mount Holly. The plan was adopted. There was an alarm that the Hessian yagers lurked in a neighboring wood. Reed, accompanied by two officers, rode in advance to reconnoitre. He sent word to Cadwalader that it was a false alarm, and the latter took up his line of march. Reed and his companions spurred on to reconnoitre the enemy's outposts, about four miles from Burlington, but pulled up at the place where the picket was usually stationed. There was no smoke, nor any sign of a human being. They rode up and found the place deserted. From the country people in the neighborhood they received an explanation. Count Donop had returned to his post from the pursuit of Griffin, only in time to hear of the disaster at Trenton. He immediately began a retreat in the utmost panic and confusion, calling in his guards and parties as he hurried forward. The troops in the neighborhood of Burlington had decamped precipitately the preceding evening.
Colonel Reed sent back intelligence of this to Cadwalader, and still pushed on with his companions. As they rode along, they observed the inhabitants pulling down red rags which had been nailed to their doors; tory signs to insure good-will from the British. Arrived at Bordentown not an enemy was to be seen; the fugitives from Trenton had spread a panic on the 26th, and the Hessians and their refugee adherents had fled in confusion, leaving their sick behind them. The broken and haggard looks of the inhabitants showed what they had suffered during the Hessian occupation. One of Reed's companions returned to Cadwalader, who had halted at Burlington, and advised him to proceed.
Cadwalader wrote in the night to Washington, informing him of his whereabouts, and that he should march for Bordentown in the morning. "If you should think proper to cross over," added he, "it may easily be effected at the place where we passed; a pursuit would keep up the panic. They went off with great precipitation, and pressed all the wagons in their reach; I am told many of them are gone to South Amboy. If we can drive them from West Jersey, the success will raise an army next spring, and establish the credit of the Continental money to support it."