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add, that it was rather owing to inattention, of more properly, too much attention to other matters, which caused me to neglect it."
And in another letter:
"My constant attention to the great and perplexing objects which continually arise to my view, absorbs all lesser considerations; and, indeed, scarcely allows me to reflect that there is such a body as the General Court of this colony, but when I am reminded of it by a committee; nor, can I, upon recollection, discover in what instance I have been inattentive to, or slighted them. They could not surely conceive that there was a propriety in unbosoming the secrets of the army to them; that it was necessary to ask their opinion in throwing up an intrenchment or forming a battalion. It must be, therefore, what I before hinted to you; and how to remedy it I hardly know, as I am acquainted with few of the members, never go out of my own lines, nor see any of them in them."
The presence of Mrs. Washington soon re lieved the general from this kind of perplexity She presided at head-quarters with mingled dig.. nity and affability. We have an anecdote or two of the internal affairs of head-quarters, furnished by the descendant of one who was an occasional inmate there.
Washington had prayers morning and evening, and was regular in his attendance at the church in which he was a communicant. On one occasion, for want of a clergyman, the Episcopal service was read by Colonel William Palfrey, one of
CONVIVIALITY IN THE CAMP.
Washington's aides-de-camp; who substituted a prayer of his own composition in place of the one formerly offered up for the king.
Not long after her arrival in camp, Mrs. Washington claimed to keep Twelfth-night in due style, as the anniversary of her wedding. "The gen eral," says the same informant, was somewhat thoughtful, and said he was afraid he must refuse it." His objections were overcome, and Twelfthnight and the wedding anniversary were duly celebrated.
There seems to have been more conviviality at the quarters of some of the other generals; their time and minds were less intensely engrossed by anxious cares, having only their individual departments to attend to. Adjutant-general Mif
flin's house appears to have been a gay one. "He was a man of education, ready apprehension, and brilliancy," says Graydon; "had spent some time in Europe, particularly in France, and was very easy of access, with the manners of genteel life, though occasionally evolving those of the Quaker." 1
Mrs. Adams gives an account of an evening party at his house. "I was very politely entertained and noticed by the generals," writes she,
more especially General Lee, who was very urgent for me to tarry in town, and dine with him and the ladies present at Hobgoblin Hall; but I excused myself. The general was determined that I should not only be acquainted with him, but with his companions too; and therefore 1 Graydon's Memoirs, p. 154.
placed a chair before me, into which he ordered Mr. Spada (his dog) to mount, and present his paw to me for a better acquaintance. I could not do otherwise than accept it." 1
John Adams, likewise, gives us a picture of festivities at head-quarters, where he was a visitant on the recess of Congress.
"I dined at Colonel Mifflin's with the general (Washington) and lady, and a vast collection of other company, among whom were six or seven sachems and warriors of the French Caughnawaga Indians, with their wives and children. A savage feast they made of it; yet were very polite in the Indian style. I was introduced to them by the general as one of the grand council at Philadelphia, which made them prick up their ears. They came and shook hands with me.'
While giving these familiar scenes and occurrences at the camp, we are tempted to subjoin one furnished from the manuscript memoir of an eyewitness. A large party of Virginia riflemen, who had recently arrived in camp, were strolling about Cambridge, and viewing the collegiate buildings, now turned into barracks. Their half-Indian equipments, and fringed and ruffled hunting garbs, provoked the merriment of some troops from Marblehead, chiefly fishermen and sailors, who thought nothing equal to the round jacket and trowsers. A bantering ensued between them. There was snow upon the ground, and snowballs
1 Letters of Mr. Adams, vol. i. p. 85.
2 Adams' Letters, vol. ii. p. 80. Adams adds, that they made him "low bows and scrapes" - a kind of homage nevei baid by an Indian warrior.
A CAMP BRAWL.
began to fly when jokes were wanting. The parties waxed warm with the contest. They closed, and came to blows; both sides were reinforced, and in a little while at least a thousand were at fisticuffs, and there was a tumult in the camp worthy of the days of Homer. "At this juncture," writes our informant, "Washington made his appearance, whether by accident or design, I never knew. I saw none of his aides with him; his black servant just behind him mounted. He threw the bridle of his own horse into his servant's hands, sprang from his seat, rushed into the thickest of the melée, seized two tall brawny riflemen by the throat, keeping them at arm's-length, talking to and shaking them."
As they were from his own province, he may have felt peculiarly responsible for their good conduct; they were engaged, too, in one of those sectional brawls which were his especial abhorrence; his reprimand must, therefore, have been a vehement one. He was commanding in his serenest moments, but irresistible in his bursts of indignation. On the present occasion, we are told, his appearance and strong-handed rebuke put an instant end to the tumult. The combatants dispersed in all directions, and in less than three minutes none remained on the ground but the two he had collared.
The veteran who records this exercise of military authority, seems at a loss which most to admire, the simplicity of the process or the vigor with which it was administered. "Here," writes he, "bloodshed, imprisonments, trials by court
martial, revengeful feelings between the different corps of the army, were happily prevented by the physical and mental energies of a single person, and the only damage resulting from the fierce encounter was a few torn hunting frocks and round jackets."1
1 From memoranda written at an advanced age, by the late Hon. Israel Trask; who, when but ten years old, was in the camp at Cambridge with his father, who was a lieutenant.