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Washington takes Command of the Armies. Sketch of General Lee. Characters of the British Commanders, Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne. - Survey of the Camps from Prospect Hill - The Camps contrasted. - Description of the Revolutionary Army. - Rhode Island Troops. Character of General Greene. - Washington represents the Deficiencies of the Army. - His Apology for the Massachusetts Troops. Governor Trumbull.- Cragie House, Wash
N the 3d of July, the morning after his arrival at Cambridge, Washington took formal command of the army. It was drawn up on the common about half a mile from head-quarters. A multitude had assembled there, for as yet military spectacles were novelties, and the camp was full of visitors, men, women, and children, from all parts of the country, who had relatives among the yeoman soldiery.
An ancient elm is still pointed out, under which Washington, as he arrived from head-quarters accompanied by General Lee and a numerous suite. wheeled his horse, and drew his sword as commander-in-chief of the armies. We have cited
the poetical description of him furnished by the pen of Mrs. Adams; we give her sketch of his military compeer less poetical, but no less graphic.
"General Lee looks like a careless, hardy veteran; and by his appearance brought to my mind his namesake, Charles XII. of Sweden. The elegance of his pen far exceeds that of his person." 1
Accompanied by this veteran campaigner, on whose military judgment he had great reliance, Washington visited the different American posts, and rode to the heights, commanding views over Boston and its environs, being anxious to make himself acquainted with the strength and relative position of both armies: and here we will give a few particulars concerning the distinguished commanders with whom he was brought immediately in competition.
Congress, speaking of them reproachfully, observed, "Three of England's most experienced generals are sent to wage war with their fellowsubjects." The first here alluded to was the Honorable William Howe, next in command to Gage. He was a man of a fine presence, six feet high, well proportioned, and of graceful deportment. He is said to have been not unlike Washington in appearance, though wanting his energy and activity. He lacked also his air of authority; but affability of manners, and a generous disposition, made him popular with both officers and soldiers.
1 Mrs Adams to John Adams, 1775.
There was a sentiment in his favor even among Americans at the time when he arrived at Boston. It was remembered that he was brother to the gallant and generous youth, Lord Howe, who fell in the flower of his days, on the banks of Lake George, and whose untimely death had been lamented throughout the colonies. remembered that the general himself had won reputation in the same campaign, commanding the light infantry under Wolfe, on the famous Plains of Abraham. A mournful feeling had therefore gone through the country, when General Howe was cited as one of the British commanders who had most distinguished themselves in the bloody battle of Bunker's Hill. Congress
spoke of it with generous sensibility, in their address to the people of Ireland already quoted. "America is amazed," said they, "to find the name of Howe on the catalogue of her enemies - she loved his brother!"
General Henry Clinton, the next in command, was grandson of the Earl of Lincoln, and son of George Clinton, who had been governor of the province of New York for ten years, from 1743. The general had seen service on the continent in the Seven Years' War. He was of short stature, and inclined to corpulency; with a full face and prominent nose. His manners were reserved, and altogether he was in strong contrast with Howe, and by no means so popular.
Burgoyne, the other British general of note, was natural son of Lord Bingley, and had entered the army at an early age. While yet a
subaltern, he had made a runaway match with a daughter of the Earl of Derby, who threatened never to admit the offenders to his presence. 1758, Burgoyne was a lieutenant-colonel of light dragoons. In 1761, he was sent with a force to aid the Portuguese against the Spaniards, joined the army commanded by the Count de la Lippe, and signalized himself by surprising and capturing the town of Alcantara. He had since been elected to Parliament for the borough of Middlesex, and displayed considerable parliamentary talents. In 1772, he was made a major-general. His taste, wit, and intelligence, and his aptness at devising and promoting elegant amusements, made him for a time a leader in the gay world; though Junius accuses him of unfair practices at the gaming table. His reputation for talents and services had gradually mollified the heart of his father-inlaw, the Earl of Derby. In 1774, he gave celebrity to the marriage of a son of the Earl with Lady Betty Hamilton, by producing an elegant dramatic trifle, entitled, "The Maid of the Oaks," afterwards performed at Drury Lane, and honored with a biting sarcasm by Horace Walpole. "There is a new puppet-show at Drury Lane," writes the wit, 66 as fine as the scenes can make it, and as dull as the author could not help making it."1
It is but justice to Burgoyne's memory to add, that in after years he produced a dramatic work, "The Heiress," which extorted even Walpole's approbation, who pronounced it the genteelest comedy in the English language.
1 Walpole to the Hon. W. S Conway.