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EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS.
cartel was then signed, by which the prisoners, consisting of two majors, nine captains, twenty subalterns, and four hundred and forty-three privates, were to be exchanged for an equal number of British prisoners of the same rank, and were to be sent to the south shore of the St. Lawrence, near Caughnawaga, whence to return to their Nine days were allowed for the delivery of the prisoners, during which time hostilities should be suspended.
Arnold, in a letter to the commissioners of Congress then at Montreal, giving an account of this arrangement, expressed his indignation at the conduct of the king's officers, in employing savages to screen their butcheries, and suffering their prisoners to be killed in cold blood. "I intend being with you this evening," added he, "to consult on some effectual measures to take with these savages, and still more savage British troops, who are still at Quinze Chiens. As soon as our prisoners are released, I hope it will be in our power to take ample vengeance, or nobly fall in the attempt." 1
The accounts which reached Washington of these affairs were vague and imperfect, and kept him for some days in painful suspense. The disasters at the Cedars were attributed entirely to the base and cowardly conduct of Bedel and Butterworth, and he wrote to Schuyler to have good courts appointed, and bring them, and every other officer guilty of misconduct to trial.
"The situation of our affairs in Canada," ob
1 Arnold to the Commissioners of Congress 27th May.
serves he, "is truly alarming. I sincerely wish the next letters from the northward may not con. tain the melancholy advices of General Arnold's defeat, and the loss of Montreal. The most vigorous exertions will be necessary to retrieve our circumstances there, and I hope you will strain every nerve for that purpose. Unless it can be done now, Canada will be lost to us forever."
While his mind was agitated by these concerns, letters from Schuyler showed that mischief was brewing in another quarter.
Colonel Guy Johnson, accompanied by Sachem Brant and the Butlers, had been holding councils with the Indians, and designed, it was said, to come back to the Mohawk country, at the head of a British and savage force. A correspondence was carried on between him and his cousin Sir John Johnson, who was said to be preparing to coöperate with his Scotch dependants and Indian
Considering this a breach of Sir John's parole, Schuyler had sent Colonel Elias Dayton with a force to apprehend him. Sir John, with a number of his armed tenants, retreated for refuge among the Indians, on the borders of the lakes. Dayton took temporary possession of Johnson Hall, placed guards about it, seized upon Sir John's papers, and read them in presence of Lady Johnson, and subsequently conveyed her ladyship as a kind of hostage to Albany.
Shortly afterwards came further intelligence of the designs of the Johnsons. Sir John, with his Scotch warriors and Indian allies, was said to
A BLOODY SUMMER EXPECTED.
be actually coming down the valley of the Mohawk, bent on revenge, and prepared to lay everything waste; and Schuyler collecting a force at Albany to oppose him. Washington instantly wrote to Schuyler, to detach Colonel Dayton with his regiment on that service, with instructions to secure a post where Fort Stanwix formerly stood, in the time of the French war. As to Schuyler himself, Washington, on his own responsibility, directed him to hold a conference with the Six Nations, and with any others whom he and his brother commissioners on Indian af fairs might think necessary, and secure their active services, without waiting further directions from Congress that body having recently resolved to employ the Indian allies in the war the enemy having set the example.
"We expect a bloody summer in New York and Canada," writes Washington to his brother Augustine, "and I am sorry to say that we are not, either in men or arms, prepared for it. However, it is to be hoped, that, if our cause is just, as I most religiously believe it, the same Providence which has in many instances appeared for us, will still go on to afford its aid."
Lord Stirling, who, by Washington's orders, had visited and inspected the defenses in the Highlands, rendered a report of their condition, of which we give the purport. Fort Montgomery, at the lower part of the Highlands, was on the west bank of the river, north of Dunderberg (or Thunder Hill). It was situated on a bank one hundred feet high.
The river at that place was
about half a mile wide. Opposite the fort was the promontory of Anthony's Nose, many hun. dred feet high, accessible only to goats, or men expert in climbing. A body of riflemen stationed here, might command the decks of vessels. Fort Montgomery appeared to Lord Stirling the proper place for a guard post.
Fort Constitution was about six miles higher up the river, on a rocky island of the same name, at a narrow strait where the Hudson, shouldered by precipices, makes a sudden bend round West Point. A redoubt, in the opinion of Lord Stirling, would be needed on the point, not only for the preservation of Fort Constitution, but for its own importance.
The garrison of that fort consisted of two companies of Colonel James Clinton's regiment, and Captain Wisner's company of minute men, in all one hundred and sixty rank and file. Fort Montgomery was garrisoned by three companies of the same regiment, about two hundred rauk and file. Both garrisons were miserably armed. The direction of the works of both forts was in the hands of commissioners appointed by the Provincial Congress of New York. The general command of the posts required to be adjusted. Several persons accused of being "notorious tories," had recently been sent into Fort Montgomery by the district committees of the counties of Albany, Dutchess, and Westchester, with directions to the commanding officers, to keep them at hard labor until their further order. They were employed upon the fortifications.
FORTIFICATIONS ON THE HUDSON. 249
In view of all these circumstances, Washington, on the 14th of June, ordered Colonel James Clinton to take command of both posts, and of all the troops stationed at them. He seemed a fit custodian for them, having been a soldier from his youth; brought up on a frontier subject to Indian alarms and incursions, and acquainted with the strong points and fastnesses of the Highlands.
King's Bridge, and the heights adjacent, considered by General Lee of the utmost importance to the communication between New York and the mainland, and to the security of the Hudson, were reconnoitered by Washington on horseback, about the middle of the month; ordering where works should be laid out. Breastworks were to be thrown up for the defense of the bridge, and an advanced work (subsequently called Fort Independence) was to be built beyond it, on a hill commanding Spyt den Duivel Creek, as that inlet of the Hudson is called, which links it with the Harlaem River.
A strong work, intended as a kind of citadel, was to crown a rocky height between two and three miles south of the bridge, commanding the channel of the Hudson; and below it were to be redoubts on the banks of the river at Jeffrey's Point. In honor of the general, the citadel received the name of Fort Washington.
Colonel Rufus Putnam was the principal engi neer, who had the direction of the works. General Mifflin encamped in their vicinity, with part of the two battalions from Pennsylvania, to be employed in their construction, aided by the mi. itia.