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came into our harbor: away flew the women, children, goods, and chattels, and in came the soldiers flocking from every part. No sooner was it known that he was not going to land here than expresses were sent to Virginia and Carolina to put them on their guard; his next expedition was to Virginia; there they were ready to receive him; from thence, without attempting to land, he sailed to Carolina. Now General Howe is leading us another dance."*
Washington came on by the way of Providence, Norwich and New London, expediting the embarkation of troops from these posts, and arrived at New York on the 13th of April. Many of the works which Lee had commenced were by this time finished; others were in progress. It was apprehended the principal operations of the enemy would be on Long Island, the high grounds of which in the neighborhood of Brooklyn commanded the city. Washington saw that an able and efficient officer was needed at that place. Greene was accordingly stationed there, with a division of the army. He immediately proceeded to complete the fortifications of that important post, and to make himself acquainted with the topography and the defensive points of the surrounding country.
The aggregate force distributed at several extensive posts in New York and its environs, and on Long Island, Staten Island and elsewhere, amounted to little more than ten thousand men; some of those were on the sick list, others absent on command, or on furlough; there were but about eight thousand available and fit for duty. These, too, were without pay; those recently enlisted without arms, and no one could say where arms were to be procured.
* Remembrancer, vol. iii., p. 85.
Washington saw the inadequacy of the force to the purpose required, and was full of solicitude about the security of a place, the central point of the Confederacy and the grand deposit of ordnance and military stores. He was aware, too, of the disaffection to the cause among many of the inhabitants, and apprehensive of treachery. The process of fortifying the place had induced the ships of war to fall down into the outer bay, within the Hook, upward of twenty miles from the city; but Governor Tryon was still on board of one of them, keeping up an active correspondence with the tories on Staten and Long Islands and in other parts of the neighborhood.
Washington took an early occasion to address an urgent letter to the committee of safety, pointing out the dangerous and even treasonable nature of this correspondence. He had more weight and influence with that body than had been possessed by General Lee, and procured the passage of a resolution prohibiting, under severe penalties, all intercourse with the king's ships.
Headquarters, at this time, was a scene of incessant toil on the part of the commander-in-chief, his secretaries and aides-de-camp. "I give in to no kind of amusements myself," writes he, "and consequently those about me can have none, but are confined from morning until evening hearing and answering applications and letters." The presence of Mrs. Washington was a solace in the midst of these stern military cares, and diffused a feminine grace and decorum and a cheerful spirit over the domestic arrangements of headquarters, where everything was conducted with simplicity and dignity. The wives of some of the other generals and officers rallied around Mrs. Washington, but social intercourse was generally at an end. "We all live here,"
writes a lady of New York, "like nuns shut up in a nunnery. No society with the town, for there are none there to visit; neither can we go in or out after a certain hour without the countersign."
In addition to his cares about the security of New York, Washington had to provide for the perilous exigencies of the army in Canada. Since his arrival in the city four regiments of troops, a company of riflemen and another of artificers had been detached under the command of Brigadiergeneral Thompson, and a further corps of six regiments under Brigadier-general Sullivan, with orders to join General Thomas as soon as possible.
Still Congress inquired of him whether further re-enforcements to the army in Canada would not be necessary, and whether they could be spared from the army in New York. His reply shows the peculiar perplexities of his situation, and the tormenting uncertainty in which he was kept as to where the next.storm of war would break. "With respect to sending more troops to that country, I am really at a loss what to advise, as it is impossible at present to know the designs of the enemy. Should they send the whole force under General Howe up the river St. Lawrence, to relieve Quebec and recover Canada, the troops gone and now going will be insufficient to stop their progress; and, should they think proper to send that, or an equal force, this way from Great Britain, for the purpose of possessing this city and securing the navigation of Hudson's River, the troops left here will not be sufficient to oppose them; and yet, for anything we know, I think it is not improbable they may attempt both; both being of the greatest importance to them, if they have men. could wish, indeed, that the army in Canada should be more powerfully re-enforced; at the same time, I am conscious
that the trusting of this important post, which is now become the grand magazine of America, to the handful of men remaining here, is running too great a risk. The securing of this post and Hudson's River is to us also of so great importance that I cannot, at present, advise the sending any more troops from hence; on the contrary, the general officers now here, whom I thought it my duty to consult, think it absolutely necessary to increase the army at this place with at least ten thousand men; especially when it is considered that from this place only the army in Canada must draw its supplies of ammunition, provisions, and most probably of men."
Washington at that time was not aware of the extraordinary expedients England had recently resorted to against the next campaign. The Duke of Brunswick, the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, and the Hereditary Prince of Cassel, Count of Hanau, had been subsidized to furnish troops to assist in the subjugation of her colonies. Four thousand three hundred Brunswick troops and nearly thirteen thousand Hessians had entered the British service. Besides the subsidy exacted by the German princes, they were to be paid seven pounds four shillings and fourpence sterling for every soldier furnished by them, and as much more for every one slain.
Of this notable arrangement Washington, as we observed, was not yet aware. "The designs of the enemy," writes he, "are too much behind the curtain for me to form any accurate opinion of their plan of operations for the summer's campaign. We are left to wander, therefore, in the field of conjecture." *
*Letter to the President of Congress, 5th May.
Within a few days afterward he had vague accounts of "Hessians and Hanoverian troops coming over"; but it was not until the 17th of May, when he received letters from General Schuyler, inclosing others from the commanders in Canada, that he knew in what direction some of these bolts of war were lanched; and this calls for some further particulars of the campaign on the banks of the St. Lawrence; which we shall give to the reader in the ensuing chapter.
Arnold blockades Quebec-His Difficulties-Arrival of General Wooster-Of General Thomas-Abortive Attempt on Quebec -Preparations for Retreat-Sortie of Carleton-Retreat of the Americans-Halt at Point Deschambault-Alarm in the Colonies at the Retreat of the Army-Popular Clamor against Schuyler-Slanders Refuted
IN a former chapter, we left Arnold before the walls of Quebec, wounded, crippled, almost disabled, yet not disheartened; blockading that "proud town" with a force inferior, by half, in number to that of the garrison. For his gallant services Congress promoted him in January to the rank of brigadier-general.
Throughout the winter he kept up the blockade with his shattered army; though had Carleton ventured upon a sortie he might have been forced to decamp. That cautious general, however, remained within his walls. He was sure of re-enforcements from England in the spring, and, in the meantime, trusted to the elements of dissolution at work in the besieging army.
Arnold, in truth, had difficulties of all kinds to contend with. His military chest was exhausted; his troops were in