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jades, which, in the spirit of ancient knighthood, they absolutely refused to descend from; and as the general had no use for cavaliers in his insular operations, they were forthwith dismissed, with suitable acknowledgments for their truly chivalrous ardor."✶
The troops thus satirized were a body of between four and five hundred Connecticut light-horse, under Colonel Thomas Seymour. On an appeal for aid to the governor of their State, they had voluntarily hastened on in advance of the militia to render the most speedy succor. Supposing, from the suddenness and urgency of the call upon their services, that they were immediately to be called into action and promptly to return home, they had come on in such haste that many were unprovided even with a blanket or a change of clothing.
Washington speaks of them as being for the most part, if not all, men of reputation and property. They were, in fact, mostly farmers. As to their sorry jades, they were rough country horses, such as farmers keep, not for show, but service. As to their dingy regimentals, we quote a word in their favor from a writer of that day. "Some of these worthy soldiers assisted in their present uniforms at the reduction of Louisburg, and their 'lank cheeks and war-worn coats' are viewed with more veneration by their honest countrymen than if they were glittering nabobs from India or bashaws with nine tails.".
On arriving, their horses, from scarcity of forage, had to be pastured about King's Bridge. In fact, Washington informed them that, under present circumstances, they could
* Graydon's Memoirs, p. 155.
† Am. Archives, 5th Series, i. 175.
not be of use as horsemen; on which they concluded to stay and do duty on foot till the arrival of the new levies.*
In a letter to Governor Trumbull (July 11th), Washington observes: "The officers and men of that corps have manifested so firm an attachment to the cause we are engaged in that they have consented to remain here till such a body of troops are marched from your colony as will be a sufficient re-enforcement, so as to admit of their leaving this city with safety. . . . They have the additional merit of determining to stay, even if they are obliged to maintain their horses at their own expense." †
In a very few days, however, the troopers, on being requested to mount guard like other soldiers, grew restless and uneasy. Colonel Seymour and his brother field-officers, therefore, addressed a note to Washington, stating that, by the positive laws of Connecticut, the light-horse were expressly exempted from staying in garrison, or doing duty on foot, apart from their horses; and that they found it impossible to detain their men any longer under that idea, they having come "without the least expectation or preparation for such services." They respectfully, therefore, asked a dismission in form. Washington's brief reply shows that he was nettled by their conduct.
"GENTLEMEN-In answer to yours of this date, I can only repeat to you what I said last night, and that is, that if your men think themselves exempt from the common duty of a soldier-will not mount guard, do garrison duty, or service separate from their horses-they can no longer be of any use
* Webb to Gov. Trumbull.
† Am. Archives, 5th Series, i. 192.
here, where horses cannot be brought to action, and I do not care how soon they are dismissed.'
In fact, the assistance of these troops was much needed; yet he apprehended the exemption from fatigue and garrison duty which they demanded as a right, would, if granted, set a dangerous example to others, and be productive of many evil consequences.
In the hurry of various concerns he directed his aid-decamp, Colonel Webb, to write in his name to Governor Trumbull on the subject.
Colonel Seymour, on his return home, addressed a long letter to the governor explanatory of his conduct. "I can't help remarking to your honor," adds he, "that it may with truth be said General Washington is a gentleman of extreme care and caution: that his requisitions for men are fully equal to the necessities of the case. I should have stopped here, but am this moment informed that Mr. Webb, General Washington's aid-de-camp, has written to your honor something dishonorable to the light-horse. Whatever it may be I know not, but this I do know, that it is a general observation, both in camp and country, if the butterflies and coxcombs were away from the army we should not be put to so much difficulty in obtaining men of common sense to engage in the defense of their country.'
As to the Connecticut infantry which had been furnished by Governor Trumbull in the present emergency, they likewise were substantial farmers, whose business, he observed, would require their return when the necessity of their further stay in the army should be over. They were all men of simple rural manners, from an agricultural State, where great * Am. Archives, 5th Series, i. 513.
VOL. XIII.-*** 7
equality of condition prevailed; the officers were elected by the men out of their own ranks, they were their own neighbors, and every way their equals. All this, as yet, was but little understood or appreciated by the troops from the South, among whom military rank was more defined and tenaciously observed, and where the officers were men of the cities and of more aristocratic habits.
We have drawn out from contemporary sources these few particulars concerning the sectional jealousies thus early springing up among the troops from the different States, to show the difficulties with which Washington had to contend at the outset, and which formed a growing object of solicitude throughout the rest of his career.
John Adams, speaking of the violent passions and discordant interests at work throughout the country, from Florida to Canada, observes: "It requires more serenity of temper, a deeper understanding, and more courage than fell to the lot of Marlborough, to ride in this whirlwind.” *
Southern Cruise of Sir Henry Clinton-Fortifications at Charleston -Arrival there of General Lee-Battle at Sullivan's IslandWashington announces the result to the Army
LETTERS from General Lee gave Washington intelligence of the fate of Sir Henry Clinton's expedition to the South; that expedition which had been the subject of so much surmise and perplexity. Sir Henry, in his cruise along the coast, had been repeatedly foiled by Lee. First, as we have shown, when he looked in at New York; next, when he
*Am. Archives, 4th Series, v. 1112.
paused at Norfolk, in Virginia; and lastly, when he made a bold attempt at Charleston, in South Carolina; for scarce did his ships appear off the harbor than the omnipresent Lee was marching his troops into the city.
Within a year past, Charleston had been fortified at various points. Fort Johnson, on James Island, three miles from the city, and commanding the breadth of the channel, was garrisoned by a regiment of South Carolina regulars under Colonel Gadsden. A strong fort had recently been constructed nearly opposite, on the southwest point of Sullivan's Island, about six miles below the city. It was mounted with twenty-six guns, and garrisoned by three hundred and seventy-five regulars and a few militia, and commanded by Colonel William Moultrie, of South Carolina, who had constructed it. This fort, in connection with that on James Island, was considered the key of the harbor.
Cannon had also been mounted on Haddrell's Point, on the mainland, to the northwest of Sullivan's Island, and along the bay in front of the town.
The arrival of General Lee gave great joy to the people of Charleston, from his high reputation for military skill and experience. According to his own account, in a letter to Washington, the town on his arrival was "utterly defenseless." He was rejoiced, therefore, when the enemy, instead of immediately attacking it, directed his whole force against the fort on Sullivan's Island. "He has lost an opportunity," said Lee, "such as I hope will never occur again, of taking the town."
The British ships, in fact, having passed the bar with some difficulty, landed their troops on Long Island, situated to the east of Sullivan's Island, and separated from it by a small creek called the Breach. Sir Henry Clinton meditated