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be under the command of a major-general and four brigadiers.
In this new arrangement, the orders destining General Lee to Canada were superseded, and he was appointed to the command of the Southern department, where he was to keep watch upon the movements of Sir Henry Clinton. He was somewhat dissatisfied with the change in his destination. "As I am the only general officer on the continent," writes he to Washington, "who can speak or think in French, I confess I think it would have been more prudent to have sent me to Canada; but I shall obey with alacrity, and I hope with success.
In reply, Washington observes, "I was just about to congratulate you on your appointment to the command in Canada when I received the account that your destination was altered. As a Virginian, I must rejoice at the change, but, as an American, I think you would have done more essential service to the common cause in Canada. For, besides the advantage of speaking and thinking in French, an officer who is acquainted with their manners and customs, and has traveled in their country, must certainly take the strongest hold of their affection and confidence."
The command in Canada was given to General Thomas, who had distinguished himself at Roxbury, and was promoted to the rank of major-general. It would have been given to Schuyler, but for the infirm state of his health; still Congress expressed a reliance on his efforts to complete the work "so conspicuously begun and well conducted" under his orders in the last campaign; and as not merely the success but the very existence of the army in Canada would depend on supplies sent from these colonies across the lakes, he was required, until further orders, to fix his headquarters
at Albany, where, without being exposed to the fatigue of the camp until his health was perfectly restored, he would be in a situation to forward supplies; to superintend the operations necessary for the defense of New York and the Hudson River, and the affairs of the whole middle department.
Lee set out for the South on the 7th of March, carrying with him his bold spirit, his shrewd sagacity, and his whimsical and splenetic humors. The following admirably impartial sketch is given of him by Washington, in a letter to his brother Augustine: "He is the first in military knowledge and experience we have in the whole army. He is zealously attached to the cause; honest and well-meaning, but rather fickle and violent, I fear, in his temper. However, as he possesses an uncommon share of good sense and spirit, I congratulate my countrymen on his appointment to that department." *
We give by anticipation a few passages from Lee's letters, illustrative of his character and career. The news of the evacuation of Boston reached him in Virginia. In a letter to Washington, dated Williamsburg, April 5, he expresses himself on the subject with generous warmth. "My dear general," writes he, "I most sincerely congratulate you; I congratulate the public on the great and glorious event, your possession of Boston. It will be a most bright page in the annals of America, and a most abominable black one in those of the beldam Britain. Go on, my dear general; crown yourself with glory, and establish the liberties and luster of your country on a foundation more permanent than the Capitol Rock."
*Force's Am. Archives, 4th Series, v. 562.
Then reverting to himself, his subacid humors work up, and he shows that he had been as much annoyed in Williamsburg, by the interference of committees, as he had been in New York. "My situation," writes he, "is just as I expected. I am afraid I shall make a shabby figure, without any real demerits of my own. I am like a dog in a dancingschool; I know not where to turn myself, where to fix myself. The circumstances of the country, intersected with navigable rivers; the uncertainty of the enemy's designs and motions, who can fly in an instant to any spot they choose, with their canvas wings, throw me, or would throw Julius Cæsar, into this inevitable dilemma; I may possibly be in the north, when, as Richard says, I should serve my sovereign in the west. I can only act from surmise, and have a very good chance of surmising wrong. I am sorry to grate your ears with a truth, but must, at all events, assure you that the Provincial Congress of New York are angels of decision when compared with your countrymen, the committee of safety assembled at Williamsburg. Page, Lee, Mercer, and Payne, are, indeed, exceptions; but from Pendleton, Bland, the Treasurer, and Co.-Libera nos domine!"
Lee's letters from Virginia, written at a later date, were in a better humor. "There is a noble spirit in this province pervading all orders of men; if the same becomes universal, we shall be saved. I am, fortunately for my own happiness, and, I think, for the well-being of the community, on the best terms with the senatorial part, as well as the people at large. I shall endeavor to preserve their confidence and good opinion.
And in a letter to Washington:
"I have formed two companies of grenadiers to each
*Force's Am. Archives, 4th Series, v. 792.
regiment, and with spears thirteen feet long. Their rifles
On Lee's departure for the South, Brigadier-general Lord Stirling had remained in temporary command at New York. Washington, however, presuming that the British fleet had steered for that port with the force which had evacuated Boston, hastened detachments thither under Generals Heath and Sullivan, and wrote for three thousand additional men to be furnished by Connecticut. command of the whole he gave to General Putnam, who was ordered to fortify the city and the passes of the Hudson, according to the plans of General Lee. In the meantime, Washington delayed to come on himself until he should have pushed forward the main body of his army by divisions.
Lee's anticipations that laxity and confusion would prevail after his departure were not realized. The veteran Putnam, on taking command, put the city under rigorous military rule. The soldiers were to retire to their barracks and quarters at the beating of the tattoo, and remain there until the reveille in the morning. The inhabitants were subjected to the same rule. None were permitted to pass a sentry without the countersign, which would be furnished to them on applying to any of the brigade majors. All communication between the "ministerial fleet" and the shore was stopped; the ships were no longer to be furnished with provisions. Any person taken in the act of holding comVOL. XIII.-* ***4
munication with them would be considered an enemy and treated accordingly.
We have a lively picture of the state of the city in letters written at the time, and already cited. "When you are informed that New York is deserted by its old inhabitants and filled with soldiers from New England, Philadelphia, Jersey, etc., you will naturally conclude the environs of it are not very safe from so undisciplined a multitude as our Provincials are represented to be; but I do believe there are very few instances of so great a number of men together with so little mischief done by them. They have all the simplicity of plowmen in their manners, and seem quite strangers to the vices of older soldiers; they have been employed in creating fortifications in every part of the town. Governor Tryon loses his credit with the people here prodig iously; he has lately issued a proclamation, desiring the deluded people of this colony to return to their obedience, promising a speedy support to the friends of government, declaring a door of mercy open to the penitent, and a rod for the disobedient, etc. The friends of government were provoked at being so distinguished, and the friends to liberty hanged him in effigy and printed a dying speech for him. A letter, too, was intercepted from him, hastening Lord Howe to New York, as the rebels were fortifying. These have entirely lost him the good will of the people. . . . .. You cannot think how sorry I am the governor has so lost himself, a man once so much beloved. Oh, Lucifer, once the son of morn, how fallen! General Washington is expected hourly; General Putnam is here, with several other generals and some of their ladies. . . . The variety of reports keeps one's mind always in agitation. Clinton and Howe have set the continent a-racing from Boston to Carolina. Clinton