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GENERAL SCHU YLER.
It is with pride we have quoted so frequently the correspondence of these two champions of our Revolution, as it lays open their hearts, and shows the lofty patriotism by which they were animated.
A letter from John Adams to General Thomas, alleges as one cause of Schuyler's unpopularity with the eastern troops, the “politeness” shown by him to Canadian and British prisoners; which “ enabled them and their ministerial friends to im
pose upon him.” 1
The “politeness” in fact, was that noble courtesy which a high-minded soldier extends towards a captive foe. If his courtesy was imposed upon, it only proved that, incapable of double-dealing himself, he suspected it not in others. All generous natures are liable to imposition; their warm impulses being too quick for selfish caution. It is the cold, the calculating, and the mean, whose distrustful wariness is never taken in.
1 Letter book of Gen. Thomas. MS.
Difficulties in Filling up the Army. — The Connecticut Troops
Persist in going Home. — Their Reception There. — Timely Arrival of Spoils in the Camp. — Putnam and the Prize Mortar. A Maraud by Americans. - Rebuked by Washington. -- Correspondence of Washington with General Howe about the Treatment of Ethan Allen. — Fraternal Zeal of Levi Allen. — Treatment of General Prescott. Preparations to Bombard Boston. - Battery at Lechmere's Point. — Prayer of Putnam for Powder.
HE forming even of the skeleton of an
army under the new regulations, had
been a work of infinite difficulty ; to fill it up was still more difficult. The first burst of revolutionary zeal had passed away: enthusiasm had been chilled by the inaction and monotony of a long encampment, — an encampment, moreover, destitute of those comforts which, in experienced warfare, are provided by a well-regulated commissariat. The troops bad suffered privations of every kind, want of food, clothing, provisions. They looked forward with dismay to the rigore of winter, and longed for their rustic homes and their family firesides.
Apprehending that some of them would incline to go home when the time of their enlistment expired, Washington summoned the general offi.
vers to head-quarters, and invited a delegation of the General Court to be present, to adopt measures for the defense and support of the lines. The result of their deliberations was an order that three thousand of the minute men and militia of Massachusetts, and two thousand from New Hampshire, should be at Cambridge by the tenth of December, to relieve the Connecticut regiments, and supply the deficiency that would be caused by their departure, and by the absence of others on furlough.
With this arrangement the Connecticut troops were made acquainted, and, as the time of most of them would not be out before the 10th, they were ordered to remain in camp until relieved. Their officers assured Washington that he need apprehend no defection on the part of their men; they would not leave the lines. The officers themselves were probably mistaken in their opinion of their men, for on the 1st of December, many of the latter, some of whom belonged to Putnam's regiment, resolved to go home immediately. Efforts were made to prevent them, but in vain ; several carried off with them their arms and ammunition. Washington sent a list of their names to Governor Trumbull. “I submit it to your judgment," writes he," whether an example should not be made of these men who have deserted the cause of their country at this critical juncture, when the enemy are receiving reinforce ments ? "
We anticipate the reply of Governor Trumbull, receiyod several days subsequently.
late extraordinary and reprehensible conduct of some of the troops of this colony," writes he “impresses me, and the minds of many of our people, with great surprise and indignation, since the treatment they met with, and the order and request made to them, were so reasonable, and apparently necessary for the defense of our common cause, and safety of our rights and privileges, for which they freely engaged."
We will here add, that the homeward-bound warriors seem to have run the gauntlet along the road; for their conduct on quitting the army drew upon them such indignation, that they could hardly get anything to eat on their journey, and when they arrived at home they met with such a reception (to the credit of the Connecticut women be it recorded), that many were soon disposed to return again to the camp.1
On the very day after the departure homeward of these troops, and while it was feared their example would be contagious, a long, lumbering train of wagons, laden with ordnance and military stores, and decorated with flags, came wheeling into the camp escorted by continental troops and country militia.
They were part of the cargo of a large brigantine laden with munitions of war, captured and sent in to Cape Ann by the schooner Lee, Captain Manly, one of the cruisers sent out by Washington. “ Such universal joy ran through the whole camp,” writes an officer
as if each one grasped a victory in his own hands.”
1 See Letter of Gen. Greene to Samuel Ward. Am. Ar chives, 4th Series, vol. iv.
PUTNAM AND THE PRIZE MORTAR. 117
Beside the ordnance captured, there were two thousand stand of arms, one hundred thousand Aints, thirty thousand round shot, and thirty-two tons of musket balls.
Surely nothing," writes Washington, “ever came more apropos.”
It was indeed a cheering incident, and was eagerly turned to account. Among the ordnance was a huge brass mortar of a new construction, weighing near three thousand pounds. considered a glorious trophy, and there was a resolve to christen it. Mifflin, Washington's secretary, suggested the name. The mortar was fixed in a bed; old Putnam mounted it, dashed on it a bottle of rum, and gave it the name of “Congress.” The shouts which rent the air were heard in Boston. When the meaning of them was explained to the British, they observed, that “should their expected reinforcements arrive in tiine, the rebels would pay dear in the spring for all their petty triumphs.”
With Washington, this transient gleam of nautical success was soon overshadowed by the conduct of the cruisers he had sent to the St. Law
Failing to intercept the brigantines, the object of their cruise, they landed on the island of St. John's, plundered the house of the gove ernor and several private dwellings, and brought off three of the principal inhabitants prisoners ; one of whom, Mr. Callbeck, was president of the council, and acted as governor.
These gentlemen made a memorial to Wash. ington of this scandalous maraud