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glad tidings arrived the last of April, and bonfires, illuminations, the firing of cannon and ringing of bells announced the joy with which it was received by the people. The army was wild with excitement, and the bright May morning that dawned over the huts at Valley Forge did not more certainly promise a coming summer than did this alliance with one of the strongest powers on the globe assure our
Washington set apart the 7th of May to celebrate this important event in form. At nine in the morning,
, the troops were all assembled to hear divine service and offer up their thanksgiving. A signal-gun, fired at halfpast ten, summoned the men to the field.
At half-past eleven, another signal-gun was fired, and the columns began their march. At a third signal, a running fire of musketry went down the first line and back the second. A moment's silence followed, when at a given signal a loud shout went up, and “ Long live the King of France,” rolled like thunder over the field. Before the echo had died
away, the artillery broke in, shaking the earth with its deep reverberations, and sending its sullen roar of joy far over the spring-clad hills and valleys. After thirteen rounds, it ceased, and the loud rattle of musketry succeeded, and then the deepening shout of “Long live the friendly European powers," again arose from the whole army. As a finale, thirteen cannon were fired, followed by a discharge of musketry and a loud huzza to “ The American States. All the officers of the army then assembled to partake of a collation provided by Washington, and for once, plenty reigned in the camp. When he took his leave, the officers arose and began to huzza and shout “ Long live Washington.” They kept it up till he and his suite had gone a quarter of a mile. The latter, his heart swelling with joy and gratitude at the bright prospect so suddenly opened before his country, and his face lit up at the enthusiasm manifested on every side, would often turn, and swinging his hat above his head, echo back the wild huzza. The uproar would then be redoubled -hats flew into the air, and “ Washington, long live Washington,” was echoed and re-echoed over the field, and taken up by the army till the whole atmosphere seemed an element
The troops at this time presented a very different appearance than when they went into winter-quarters. Better clad, they had with the opening of spring been subject to constant and severe discipline, by Baron Steuben, who had joined the army during the winter. This generous stranger had been aid to Frederic the Great, and was afterward made grand-marshal of the court of Prince HohenzollernHechingen. The King of Sardinia, anxious to obtain his services, had made him flattering offers to enter his army, but the baron was well settled, with ample means, and refused to accept them. In 1777, he passed though France, on his way to England, to visit some English noblemen. Count Germain, the French minister of war, was an old companion-in-arms of Steuben, and he immediately began to press the latter to enter the American service. The wary French minister knew that our weakness lay in our want of discipline, and ignorance of military tactics, and that there could be no one found better fitted to render us aid in this department than he. For a long time Steuben steadily refused, but the indefatigable Germain finally overcame all his scruples, and he embarked for this country, where he arrived on the 1st of December (1777]. Congress received him with distinction, and at his own request, he joined the army at Valley Forge, as a volunteer. His astonishment at its aspect was unbounded. Such a famished, half-naked, miserable collection of human beings he never before saw dignified with the title of soldiers, and he declared that no European army could be kep: together a week under such privations and sufferings. His amazement at the condition of the army gave way to pity and respect for men who, for a principle, would endure so much. As soon as spring opened he commenced, as inspector-general, to which office he had been appointed by Congress, to drill the men. Ignorance of our language crippled him sadly at first, but undiscouraged, he threw his whole soul into his work, determined that such noble patriots should also become good soldiers. Though choleric and impetuous, he was generous as the day, and possessed a heart full of the tenderest sympathy. The men, notwithstanding his tempestuous moods, soon learned to love him. The good effects of his instructions were quickly apparent, and now, when Washington was about to open the summer campaign, he saw with pride an army before him that could be wielded, and that had confidence in its own skill. Still it was small, and recruits came in slowly. The committee sent by Congress to Valley Forge, to confer with Washington, agreed that the whole force in the field should be forty thousand men, exclusive of artillery and cavalry; but when, the next day after the grand celebration of the alliance with France, a council of war was called, it appeared that there were, including the detachments in the Highlands, only fifteen thousand troops, and no prospect of increasing the total number to more than twenty thousand. At Valley Forge were eleven thousand eight hundred, while nineteen thousand five hundred British occupied Philadelphia, and ten thousand four hundred more New York, not to mention between three and four thousand in Rhode Island. Over thirty-three thousand British soldiers were on American soil; a force which Congress had nothing adequate to oppose. In this council it was resolved almost unanimously that it would be unwise, under the circumstances, to commence offensive operations. The army, therefore, remained quiet. Meanwhile, Howe began to make preparations for evacuating Philadelphia.
Lafayette at Barren Hill—The Oath of Allegiance taken by the Officers-Strange
Conduct of Lee-Evacuation of Philadelphia-Determination of WashingtonBattle of Moninouth and Conduct of Lee---Arrival of the French Fleet-Attack on New York planned-Failure of the Attempt against Newport, and Displeasure of the French Commander-Massacre of Baylor's Dragoons and American Troops at Egg Harbor-Destitute Condition of the Army, and Opinions of Washington as to the Result of it-The Army in Winter-quarters-Miserable Condition of Congress-Sickness of Lafayette-Washington Consults with Congress on the Plan of the Summer Campaign-Resolves to act solely against the Indians -Sullivan's Expedition-Taking of Stony and Verplanck's Points-Governor Tryon's Foray-Successful Attack of Wayne on Stony Point-Wretched state of the Currency-Washington's Indignation against Speculators--Count Vergennes' Views of Washington-Suffering of the Troops in Winter-quarters at Morristown—The Life Guard-Death of the Spanish Agent-Washington partakes of the Communion in a Presbyterian Church--National Bankruptcy threatened --Arrival of Lafayette with the News of a large French Force having Sailed — Noble Conduct of the Ladies of Philadelphia, and of Robert Morris, in Supplying the Soldiers with Clothing.
THERE was much truth in the reply of Dr. Franklin, when told in London that Howe had taken Philadelphia, “Say, rather, that Philadelphia has taken General Howe.” He had lost more than three thousand men in the attempt to reach the city, and having accomplished nothing toward the real conquest of the country, was now about to march back again. He had, in fact, been to this amazing expense, loss of soldiers, and labor, to get into quarters which he could have obtained quite as well in New York.
In the meantime, Washington, in order to restrain the depredations of the British foraging parties, which were of almost daily occurrence, and to watch more narrowly the movements of Howe, sei.t forward Lafayette, with abc .. two thousand men, who took post on Barren Hill, nin ten miles from Valley Forge. This hill was across Schuylkill, and furnished an advantageous position. A I ry Quaker, however, at whose house Lafayette had at first ta zen
IP his head-quarters, informed Howe of the state of affairs, who immediately sent out five thousand troops to seize him. The plan was to pass along the banks of the Schuylkill, between Lafayette and the river, and while two detachments held the only two fords he could cross in his retreat to camp, a third, constituting the main body, should advance to the attack. This plan was well laid, and promised complete success. Lafayette was taken by surprise, and nearly surrounded before he was aware of the presence of the enemy. Only one ford lay open to him, and the column advancing to occupy it was nearer to it than he. Yet it was his last desperate resource. The road he took ran behind a forest, and was invisible to the enemy. Along this he hurried his troops, while, at the same time, he sent across the interval between him and the enemy heads of columns, which, showing themselves through the woods, deceived Grant, the British commander, and he ordered a halt and prepared for an attack. This produced a delay which enabled Lafayette to reach the ford first, and cross it in safety, while his baffled pursuers returned, chagrined and mortified, to Philadelphia. Washington, who had been informed in some way of this movement, hurried forward, but as he rose a hill, he saw that he was too late. The woods and shores between him and Lafayette seemed alive with the red-coats, and the long line of gleaming bayonets that almost surrounded the American detachment, left scarcely a hope for its deliverance. Washington was exceedingly agitated. It was Lafayette's first essay at a separate command, and he would feel the failure of his favorite boy-general more than of his
Besides, he could ill afford to lose two thousand men in his present condition. He watched every movement with his glass, and, at last, to his inexpressible joy and astonishment, saw Lafayette lead his swiftly-marching columns up to the ford and across it, in safety. The intensest excitement prevailed in camp. The danger, indeed