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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, 

By G. p. PUTNAM & CO., 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the 

Southern District of New York. 

John F. Trow, 

Printer, Stereotyper, and Electrotyper, 

377 & 379 Broadway, 

Cor. White Street, New York. 



^^ PAGE 

Sufferings of the Army at Momstown — Rigorous Winter — Derangement 
of the Currency — Confusion in the Commissariat — Impressment of 
Supplies — Patriotic Conduct of the People of New Jersey — The Bay 
of New York Frozen over — Lord Stirling's Expedition against Staten 
Island — Knyphausen's Incursion into the Jerseys — Caldwell's Church 
at Elizabethtown burnt — Character of its Pastor — Foray into West- 
chester County — Burning of Young's House in the Valley of the 
Neperan, 1 


Arnold in Command of Philadelphia — Unpopular Measures — Arnold's 
Style of Living — His Schemes and Speculations — His Collisions with 
the Executive Council — His Land Project — Charges sent against him 
to Congress — His Address to the Public —Charges referred to a Court- 
Martial — His ^larriage — Verdict of the Court-Martial — Arnold Repri- 
manded — Obtains Leave of Absence from the Army, 



South Carolina Threatened — Its Condition and Population — Stormy 
Voyage of Sir Henry Clinton — Loss of Horses — Character of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Tarleton — Fleet Arrives at Tybee — Sir Henry Clinton 
Advances upon Charleston — Lincoln Prepares for Defence — Commo- 
dore Whipple — Governor Rutledge — Forebodings of Washington — 
Embarkation of British Troops at New York — Washington sends De 
Kalb with Reinforcements — His hopeful Letter to Steuben, 



Evils of the Continental Currency — Military Reforms proposed by Wash- 
ington — Congress Jealous of Military Power — Committee of Three 



sent to Confer with Washington — Losses hy Depreciation of the Cur- 
rency to be made good to the Troops — Arrival of Lafayette — Scheme 
for a Combined Attack upon New York— Arnold has Debts and Dif- 
ficulties — His Proposals to the French Minister — Anxious to Return 
to the Army — Mutiny of the Connecticut Troops — Washington writes 
to Reed for Aid from Pennsylvania — Good Effects of his Letter, . 34 


Siege of Charleston continued — British Ships enter the Harbor — British 
Troops march from Savannah — Tarleton and his Dragoons — His brush 
with Colonel Washington — Charleston Reinforced by Woodford — 
Tarleton's Exploits at Monk's Corner — At Laneau's Ferry — Sir Henry 
Clinton Reinforced — Charleston Capitulates — Affair of Tarleton and 
Buford on the Waxhaw — Sir Henry Clinton Embarks for New York, . 47 


Knyphausen Marauds the Jerseys — Sacking of Connecticut Farms — Mur- 
der of Mrs. Caldwell — Arrival and Movements of Sir Henry Clinton 
— Springfield Burnt — The Jerseys Evacuated, . . . . .61 


Washington applies to the State Legislatures fbr Aid — Subscriptions of the 
Ladies of Philadelphia — Gates appointed to Command the Southern 
Department — French Fleet arrives at Newport — Preparation for a 
Combined Movement against New York — ^Arnold obtains Command 
at West Point — Greene Resigns the Office of Quartermaster-General, 73 


North Carolina — Difficulties of its Invasion — Character of the People 
and Country — Sumter, his Character and Story — Rocky Mount — 
Hanging Rock — Slow Advance of De Kalb — Gates takes Command 
— Desolate March — Battle of Camden — ^Flight of Gates — Sumter sur- 
prised by Tarleton at the Waxhaws — Washington's Opinion of Militia 
— His Letter to Gates, ..... ... 86 


Treason of Arnold — His Correspondence > with the Enemy — ^His Negotia- 
tions with Andre — ^Parting Scene with Washington — Midnight Con- 
ference on the Banks of the Hudson — Return of Andre by Land — 
Circumstances of his Capture, . » 105 




Interview of Washington with the French Officers at Hartford — Plan of 
Attack disconcerted — Washington's Return — Scenes at Arnold's Head- 
Quarters in the Highlands — Tidings of Andre's Capture — Flight of 
Arnold — Letters from the Traitor — Washington's Precautions — Situa- 
tion of Mrs. Arnold, 128 


Andre's Conduct as a Prisoner — His Conversations with Colonel Tallmadge 
— Story of Nathan Hale — Andre's Prison at Tappan — Correspondence 
on his Behalf — His Trial — Execution — Reward of the Captors — Re- 
ward of Arnold — His Proclamation — After Fortunes of Mrs, Arnold, 139 


Greene takes Command at West Point — Insidious Attempts to shake 
the Confidence of Washington in his Officers — Plan to Entrap Arnold 
— Character of Sergeant Champe — Court of Inquiry into the Conduct 
of Gates — Greene appointed to the Southern Department — Washing- 
ton's Instructions to him — Incursions from Canada — Mohawk Val- 
ley Ravaged — State of the Army — Reforms Adopted — Enlistment for 
the War— Half Pay, 165 


The Marquis Eafayette and his Light-Infantry — Proposes a brilliant 
Stroke — Preparations for an Attack on the British Posts of New 
York Island — Visit of the Marquis of Chastellux to the American 
Camp — Washington at Head-Quarters — Attack on the British Posts 
given up — Stark forages Westchester County — Exploit of Tallmadge 
on Long Island, 174 


Rigorous Measures of Comwallis in South Carolina — Ferguson sent to 
scour the Mountain Country between the Catawba and the Yadkin — 
CornwaUis in a Hornet's Nest — Movements of Ferguson— Mountain 
Men and Fierce Men from Kentucky — Battle of King's Mountain — 
Retrograde March of Cornwallis, 183 


Marion — His Character — Bye Names — Haunts— Tarleton in quest of him 
— Sumter on the West Side of the Santee — His Aflfair with Tarleton 
at Black Stock Hill — Gates at Hillsborough — His domestic Misfortunes 



— Arrival of Greene — His Considerate Conduct — Gates retires to his 
Estate — Condition of the Ai-my — Stratagem of Colonel "Washington 
at Clermont — Morgan detached to the District of Ninety-Six — Greene 
posts himself on the Pedee, 196 


Hostile Embarkations to the South — Arnold in command — Necessitous 
State of the Country — Washington urges a Foreign Loan — Mission of 
Colonel Laurens to France to seek Aid in Men and Money — Grievan- 
ces of the Pennsylvania Line — Mutiny — Negotiations with the Muti- 
neers — Articles of Accommodation — Policy doubted by Washington — 
Rigorous Course adopted by him with other Malcontents — Successful 
— Ratification of the Articles of Confederation of the States, . . 208 


Expedition of Arnold into Virginia — Buccaneering Ravages — Checked by 
Steuben — Arnold at Portsmouth — Congress resolves to form Heads of 
Departments — Hamilton suggested by Sullivan for Department of Fi- 
nance — High Opinion of him expressed by Washington — Misunder- 
standing between Hamilton and the Commander-in-Chief, . . 224 


Comwallis prepares to invade North Carolina — Tarleton sent against 
Morgan — Battle at Cowpens — Morgan pushes for the Catawba with 
Spoils and Prisoners — Cornwallis endeavors to intercept him — The 
Rising of the River — Cornwallis at Ramsour's Mills, . . . 234 


Greene joins Morgan on the Catawba — Adopts the Fabian Policy — Move- 
ment of Cornwallis to cross the Catawba — Affair at McGowan's Ford 
— Militia surprised by Tarleton at Tarrant's Tavern — Cornwallis 
checked by the Rising of the Yadkin — Contest of Skill and Speed of 
the two Armies in a March to the Banks of the Dan, . . . 246 


Cornwallis takes Post at Hillsborough — His Proclamation — Greene re- 
crosses the Dan — Country scoured by Lee and Pickens — Affair with 
Colonel Pyle — Manoeuvres of Comwallis to bring Greene to Action — 
Battle of Guilford Court-House — Greene retreats to Troublesome 
Creek— Comwallis marches toward Cape Fear — Greene pursues him 



— ^Is brought to a Stand at Deep River — Determines to face about 
and carry the War into South Carolina — Cornwallis marches for Vir- 
ginia, 257 


Arnold at Portsmouth in Virginia — Expeditions sent against him — In- 
structions to Lafayette^r-Washington at Newport — Consultations with 
De Rochambeau — Sailing of the French Fleet — Pursued by the Eng- 
lish — Expedition of Lafayette to Virginia — Engagement between the 
English and French Fleets — Failure of the Expedition against Arnold 
— Letter of Washington to Colonel Laurens — Measures to reinforce 
Greene — General Phillips in Command at Portsmouth — Marauds the 
Countrj' — Checked by Lafayette — Mount Vernon menaced — Death of 
Phillips, 279 


Inefficient State of the Army — Maraud of Delancey — Death of Colonel 
Greene— Arrival of the Count de Barras — French Xaval Force ex- 
pected — Interview of Washington and De Rochambeau at Weathers- 
field — Plan of combined Operations — Financial Arrangement of Rob- 
ert Morris — Scheme to attack the Works on New York Island and 
capture Delancey's Corps — Encampments of American and French 
Armies in Westchester County — Reconnoitring Expeditions, . . 295 


Movements and Counter-Movements of Cornwallis and Lafayette in Vir- 
ginia — Tarleton and his Troopers scour the Country — ^A Dash at the 

State Legislature — Attempt to surprise the Governor at Monticello 

Retreat of Jefferson to Carter's Mountain — Steuben Outwitted by 
. Simcoe — Lafayette joined by Wayne and Steuben — Acts on the Ag- 
gressive — Desperate Melee of Macpherson and Simcoe — Cornwallis 
pursued to Jamestown Island — Mad Anthony in a Morass — His im- 
petuous Valor — Alertness of Lafayette — Washington's Opinion of the 
Virginia Campaign, 3J0 


Greene's retrograde operation in South Carolina — Appears before Cam- 
den — ^Affair at Hobkirk's Hill — Rawdon abandons Camden — Rapid 
Successes of the Americans — Greene's Attack on the Fortress of 
Ninety-Six — Operations against Lord Rawdon — Greene on the High 
Hills of Santee — Sumter scours the Lower Country — Dash of Colonel 
Wade Hampton at the Gates of Charleston— Exploits of Lee and 



Hampton — Of Captain Armstrong at Quimby Bridge — ^Action in the 
Neighborhood — ^End of the Campaign, 320 


Washington Disappointed as to Reinforcements — French Armament des- 
tined for the Chesapeake — ^Attempts on New York postponed — March 
of the Armies to the Chesapeake — Stratagems to deceive the Enemy 
— Arnold Ravages New London — Washington at Philadelphia — March 
of the two Armies through the City — Cornwallis at Yorktown — Pre- 
parations to proceed against him — Visit to Mount Vernon, . . 332 


Cornwallis aroused to his Danger — His Retreat to the Carolinas cut off 
— Strengthens his Works — Action between the French and British 
Fleets — Washington and De Rochambeau visit the French Fleet — 
Operations before Yorktown, 349 


Greene on the High Hills of Santee — The Enemy Harassed — Greene 
Marches against Stuart — Battle near Eutaw Springs, . . . 362 

Siege and Surrender of Yorktown, 371 


Dissolution of the combined Armies — Washington at Eltham — Death of 
John Parke Custis — Washington at Mount Vernon — Correspondence 
about the next Campaign — Lafayette sails for France — ^Washington 
stimulates Congress to Military Preparations — ^Project to surprise and 
carry off Prince WilHam Henry from New York — The Case of Cap- 
tain AsgiU, 387 


Washington continues his Precautions — Sir Guy Carleton brings pacific 
News — Discontents of the Army — Extraordinary Letter from Colonel 
Nicola — Indignant Reply of Washington — Joint Letter of Sir Guy 
Carleton and Admiral Digby — Junction of the allied Armies on the 
Hudson — Contemplated Reduction of the Army, .... 399 




Discontents of the Army at Newburg — Memorial of the Officers to Con- 
gress — Anonymous Papers circulated in the Camp — Meeting of Offi- 
cers called — Address of Washington — Resolutions in Consequence — 
Letters of Washington to the President — His Opinion of the Anony- 
mous Addresses and their Author 406 


News of Peace — Letter of Washington in behalf of the Army — Cessa- 
tion of Hostilities proclaimed — Order of the Cincinnati formed — Let- 
ter of Washington to the State Governors— Mutiny in the Pennsyl- 
vania Line — Letter of Washington on the Subject — Tour to the 
Northern Posts, 420 


The Army to be discharged — ^Parting Address of Washington — Evacu- 
ation of New York — Parting Scene of Washington with his Officers 
at New York — Washington resigns his Commission to Congress — Re- 
tires to Mount Vernon, . . . 435 


Washington at Mount Vernon — A Soldier's Repose — Plans of Domestic 
Life — Kind offer of the Council of Pennsylvania — Historical Applica- 
tions — News of Jacob Van Braam — Opening of Spring — Agricultural 
Life resumed — Recollections of the Fairfaxes — Meeting of the Order 
of Cincmnati — Tour of Washington and Dr. Craik to the West — Ideas 
of Internal Improvement — Parting with Lafayette, .... 446 


Scheme of Inland Na\agation — Shares of Stock offered to Washington — 
Declined — Rural Improvements — The Tax of Letter-Writing — The 
Tax of Sitting for Likenesses — Ornamental Gardening — Management 
of the Estate — Domestic Life — Visit of Mr. Watson — Reverential Awe 
Inspired by Washington — Irksome to him — Instances of his Festive 
Gayety — Of his Laughing — Passion for Hunting revived — Death of 
General Greene — His Character — Washington's Regrets and Enco- 
miums—Letters to the French Noblemen, 4G1 


Washington Doubts the Solidity of the Confederation — Correspondence 
with Jolm Jay on the Subject — Plan of a Convention of all the States 



to Revise the Federal System — "Washington heads the Virginia Dele- 
gation — Insurrection in Massachusetts — The Convention — A Federal 
Constitution Organized — Ratified, 483 


Washington talked of for the Presidency — His Letters on the Suhject 
Expressing his Reluctance — His Election — His Progress to the Seat of 
Government — His Reception at New York — The Inauguration, . . 500 












The dreary encampment at Valley Torge has become 
proverbial for its hardships ; yet they were scarcely more 
severe than those suffered by Washington's army during 
the present winter, while hutted among the heights of 
Morristown. The winter set in early, and was uncom- 
monly rigorous. The transportation of supplies was 
obstructed; the magazines were exhausted, and the 
commissaries had neither money nor credit to enable 
them to replenish them. Por weeks at a time the army 
was on half allowance ; sometimes without meat, some- 
times without bread, sometimes without both. There 
was a scarcity, too, of clothing and blankets, so that 

TOL. IV. — 1 


the poor soldiers were starving with cold as well as 

Washington wrote to President Reed of Pennsyl- 
vania, entreating aid and supplies from that State to 
keep his army from disbanding. " We have never," 
said he, " experienced a like extremity at any period of 
the war."* 

The year 1780 opened upon a famishing camp. 
" For a fortnight past," writes Washington, on the 8th 
of January, " the troops, both officers and men, have 
been almost perishing with want. Yet," adds he, feel- 
ingly, " they have borne their sufferings with a patience 
that merits the approbation, and ought to excite the 
sympathies, of their countrymen." 

The severest trials of the Revolution, in fact, were 
not in the field, where there were shouts to excite and 
laurels to be w^on ; but in the squalid wretchedness of 
ill-provided camps, where there was nothing to cheer 
and every thing to be endured. To suffer was the lot 
of the revolutionary soldier. 

A rigorous winter had much to do with the actual 
distresses of the army, but the root of the evil lay in 
the derangement of the currency. Congress had com- 
menced the war without adequate funds, and without 
the power of imposing direct taxes. To meet pressing 
emergencies, it had emitted paper money, which, for a 
time, passed currently at par ; but sank in value as 
further emissions succeeded, and that, already in circu- 
lation, remained unredeemed. The several States added 
to the evil by emitting paper in their separate capacities : 

' * Life of Reed, ii. 189. 


thus the country gradually became flooded with a " con- 
tmental currency," as it was called ; irredeemable, and 
of no intrinsic value. The consequence was a general 
derangement of trade and finance. The continental 
currency declined to such a degree, that forty dollars 
in paper were equivalent to only one in specie. 

Congress attempted to put a stop to this deprecia- 
tion by making paper money a legal tender, at its nomi- 
nal value, in the discharge of debts, however contracted. 
This opened the door to knavery, and added a new fea- 
ture to the evil. 

The commissaries now found it difficult to purchase 
supplies for the immediate wants of the army, and im- 
possible to provide any stores in advance. They were 
left destitute of funds, and the public credit was pros- 
trated by the accumulating debts suffered to remain 
uncancelled. The changes which had taken place in 
the commissary department added to this confusion. 
The commissary-general, instead of receiving, as hereto- 
fore, a commission on expenditures, was to have a fixed 
salary in paper currency ; and his deputies were to be 
compensated in like manner, without the usual allow- 
ance of rations and forage. No competent agents could 
be procured on such terms ; and the derangement pro- 
duced throughout the department compelled Colonel 
Wads worth, the able and upright commissary- general, 
to resign. 

In the present emergency Washington was reluc- 
tantly compelled, by the distresses of the army, to call 
upon the counties of the State for supplies of grain and 
cattle, proportioned to their respective abilities. These 
supphes were to be brought into the camp within a cer- 

4 LirE OF WASHINGTON. [1780. 

tain time : the grain to be measured and the cattle es- 
timated by any two of the magistrates of the county in 
conjunction with the commissary, and certificates to be 
given by the latter, specifying the quantity of each and 
the terms of payment. 

Wherever a compliance with this call was refused, 
the articles required were to be impressed : it was a 
painful alternative, yet nothing else could save the army 
from dissolution or starving. Washington charged his 
officers to act with as much tenderness as possible, 
graduating the exaction according to the stock of each 
individual, so that no family should be deprived of what 
was necessary to its subsistence. " While your meas- 
ures are adapted to the emergency," writes he to Colo- 
nel Matthias Ogden, " and you consult what you owe 
to the service, I am persuaded you will not forget that, 
as we are compelled by necessity to take the property 
of citizens for the support of an army on which their 
safety depends, we should be careful to manifest that 
we have a reverence for their rights, and wish not to do 
any thing which that necessity, and even their own 
good, do not absolutely require." 

To the honor of the magistrates and people of Jer- 
sey, Washington testifies that his requisitions were 
punctually complied with, and in many counties ex- 
ceeded. Too much praise, indeed, cannot be given to 
the people of this State for the patience with which 
most of them bore these . exactions, and the patriotism 
with which many of them administered to the wants of 
their countrymen in arms. Exhausted as the State 
was by repeated drainings, yet, at one time, when deep 
snows cut off all distant supplies, Washington's army 


was wholly subsisted by it. " Provisions came iu with 
hearty good will from the farmers in Mendham, Chat- 
ham, Hanover, and other rural places, together with 
stockings, shoes, coats, and blankets ; while the women 
met together to knit and sew for the soldiery." * 

As the mnter advanced, the cold increased in se- 
verity. It was the most intense ever remembered in 
the country. The great bay of New York was frozen 
over. No supplies could come to the city by water. 
Provisions grew scanty ; and there was such lack of 
firewood, that old transports were broken up, and un- 
inhabited wooden houses pulled down for fuel. The 
safety of the city was endangered. The ships of war, 
immovably icebound in its harbor, no longer gave it 
protection. The insular security of the place was at an 
end. An army with its heaviest artillery and baggage 
might cross the Hudson on the ice. The veteran 
Knyphausen began to apprehend an invasion, and took 
measures accordingly : the seamen of the ships and 
transports were landed and formed into companies, and 
the inhabitants of the city were embodied, officered, and 
subjected to garrison duty. 

Washington was aware of the opportunity which 
offered itself for a signal coup de main, but was not in a 
condition to profit by it. His troops, hutted among the 
heights of Morristown, were half fed, half clothed, and 

* From manuscript notes by the Rev. Joseph F. Tuttle. This -worthy 
clergyman gives many anecdotes illustrative of the active patriotism of the 
Jersey women. Anna Kitchel, wife of a farmer of Whippany, is repeatedly his 
theme of well-merited eulogium. Her potato bin, meal bag and granary, 
writes he, had always some comfort for the patriot soldiers. \Vhen unable to 
billet them in her house, a huge kettle filled with meat and vegetables was 
hung over the fire, that thej' might not go away hungry. 


inferior in number to the garrison of New York. He 
was destitute of funds necessary to fit tliem for the en- 
terprise, and the quartermaster could not furnish means 
of transportation. 

Still, in the frozen condition of the bay and rivers, 
some minor blow might be attempted, sufficient to rouse 
and cheer the spirits of the people. With this view, 
having ascertained that the ice formed a bridge across 
the strait between the Jersey shore and Staten Island, 
he projected a descent upon the latter by Lord Stir- 
ling with twenty-five hundred men, to surprise and 
capture a British force of ten or twelve hundred. 

His lordship crossed on the night of the 14th of 
January, from De Hart's Point to the island. His ap- 
proach was discovered ; the troops took refuge in the 
works, which were too strongly situated to be attacked ; 
a channel remaining open through the ice across the 
bay, a boat was dispatched to New York for reinforce- 

The projected surprise having thus proved a com- 
plete failure, and his own situation becoming hazard- 
ous. Lord Stirling recrossed to the Jersey shore with a 
number of prisoners whom he had captured. He was 
pm'sued by a party of cavahy, which he repulsed, and 
effected a retreat to Elizabethtown. Some few strag- 
glers fell into the hands of the enemy, and many of his 
men were severely frostbitten. 

By way of retort, Knyphausen, on the 25th of 
January, sent out two detachments to harass the 
American outposts. One crossed to Paulus Hook, and 
being joined by part of the garrison of that post, 
pushed on to Newark, sm^prised and captured a com- 


pany stationed there, set fire to the academy, and re- 
turned without loss. 

The other detachment, consisting of one hundred 
dragoons and between three and four hundred infantry, 
under Lieutenant-colonel Boskirk, crossed from Staten 
Island to Trembly's Point, surprised the picket-guard 
at Elizabethtown, and captured two majors, two cap- 
tains, and forty-two privates. This, likewise, was 
effected without loss. The disgraceful part of the 
expedition was the burning of the town house, a 
church, and a private residence, and the plundering of 
the inhabitants. 

The church destroyed was a Presbyterian place of 
worship, and its pastor, the Rev. James Caldwell, had 
rendered himself an especial object of hostility to both 
Briton and tory. He was a zealous patriot; had 
served as chaplain to those portions of the American 
army that successively occupied the Jerseys; and 
now officiated in that capacity in Colonel Elias Day- 
ton's regiment, beside occasionally acting as commis- 
sary. His church had at times served as hospital to 
the American soldier ; or shelter to the hastily assem- 
bled militia. Its bell was the tocsin of alarm ; from 
its pulpit he had many a time stirred up the patriotism 
of his countrymen by his ardent, eloquent, and pa- 
thetic appeals, laying beside him his pistols before he 
commenced. His popularity in the army, and among 
the Jersey people, was unbounded. He was termed 
by his friends a " rousing gospel preacher," and by the 
enemy a " frantic priest " and a " rebel fire-brand." 
On the present occasion, his church was set on fire by 
a virulent torv of the neighborhood, who, as he saw it 


wrapped in flames, '''regretted that the black-coated 
rebel, Caldwell, was not in bis pulpit." We shall have 
occasion to speak of the fortunes of this pastor and his 
family hereafter. 

Another noted maraud during Knyphausen's mili- 
tary sway, was in the lower part of Westchester 
County, in a hilly region lying between the British and 
American lines, which had been the scene of part of 
the past year's campaign. Being often foraged, its 
inhabitants had become belligerent in their habits, and 
quick to retaliate on all marauders. 

In this region, about twenty miles from the British 
outposts, and not far from White Plains, the Americans 
had established a post of three hundred men at a stone 
building commonly known as Young's house, from the 
name of its owner. It commanded a road which 
passed from north to south down along the narrow but 
fertile and beautiful valley of the Sawmill River, now 
known by its original Indian name of the Neperan. 
On this road the garrison of Young's house kept a 
vigilant eye, to intercept the convoys of cattle and pro- 
visions which had been collected or plundered by the 
enemy, and which passed down this valley toward New 
York. This post had long been an annoyance to the 
enemy, but its distance from the British lines had hith- 
erto saved it from attack. The country now was 
covered with snow ; troops could be rapidly trans- 
ported on sleighs ; and it v»^as determined that Young's 
house should be surprised, and this rebel nest broken 


On the evening of the 2d of February, an expedi- 
tion set out for the pui-pose from King's Bridge, led by 


Lieutenant-colonel Norton, and consisting of four flank 
companies of guards, two coinpanies of Hessians, and 
a party of Yagers, all in sleighs ; beside a body of 
Yager cavalry and a number of mounted Westchester 
refugees, with two three-pounders. 

The snow, being newly fallen, was deep ; the 
sleighs broke their way through it with difficulty. The 
troops at length abandoned them and pushed forward 
on foot. The cannon were left behind for the same 
reason. It was a weary tramp ; the snow in many 
places was more than two feet deep, and they had to 
take by-ways and cross-roads to avoid the American 

The sun rose while they were yet seven miles from 
Young's house. To surprise the post was out of 
the question ; still they kept on. Before they could 
reach the house the country had taken the alarm, and 
the Westchester yeomanry had armed themselves, and 
were hastening to aid the garrison. 

The British hght infantry and grenadiers invested 
the mansion ; the cavalry posted themselves on a neigh- 
boring eminence, to prevent retreat or reinforcement, 
and the house was assailed. It made a brave resist- 
ance, and was aided by some of the yeomanry stationed 
in an adjacent orchard. The garrison, however, was 
overpowered ; numbers were killed, and ninety taken 
prisoners. The house was sacked and set in flames ; 
and thus, having broken up this stronghold of the 
country, the party hastened to effect a safe return to 
the lines with their prisoners, some of whom were so 
badly wounded that they had to be left at different 
farm-houses on the road. The detachment reached 


King's Bridge by nine o'clock the same evening, and 
boasted that, in this enterprise, they had sustained no 
other loss than two killed and twenty -three wounded. 

Of the prisoners many were doubtless farmers and 
farmers' sons, who had turned out in defence of their 
homes, and were now to be transferred to the horrors 
of the jail and sugar-house in New York. We give 
this affair as a specimen of the petite guerre carried on 
in the southern part of Westchester County ; the neu- 
tral GROUND, as it was called, but subjected from its 
vicinity to the city, to be foraged by the royal forces, 
and plundered and insulted by refugees and tories. 
No part of the Union was more harried and trampled 
down by friend and foe, during the Revolution, than 
this debatable region and the Jerseys. 







The most irksome duty that Washington had to per- 
form during this winter's encampment at Morristown, 
regarded General Arnold and his military government 
of Philadelphia in 1778. To explain it requires a 
glance back to that period. 

At the time of entering upon this command, 
Arnold's accounts with government were yet unsettled; 
the committee appointed by Congress, at his own re- 
quest, to examine them, having considered some of his 
charges dubious, and others exorbitant. Washington, 
however, still looked upon him mth favor, and, but a 
month previously, had presented him with a pau^ of 
epaulettes and a sw^ord knot, " as a testimony of his 
sincere regard and approbation." 

The command of Philadelphia, at this time, was a 
deUcate and difficult one, and required to be exercised 


with extreme circumspection. The boundaries between 
the powers vested in the miUtary commander, and 
those inherent in the State government, were ill defined. 
Disaffection to the American cause prevailed both 
among the permanent and casual residents, and re- 
quired to be held in check with firmness but toleration. 
By a resolve of Congress, no goods, wares, or mer- 
chandise were to be removed, transferred, or sold, until 
the ownership of them could be ascertained by a joint 
committee of Congress and of the Council of Penn- 
sylvania ; any public stores belonging to the enemy 
were to be seized and converted to the use of the army. 

Washington, in his letter of instructions, left it to 
Arnold's discretion to adopt such measures as should 
appear to him most effectual and least offensive in exe- 
cuting this resolve of Congress ; in which he was to be 
aided by an assistant quartermaster-general, subject to 
his directions. " You will take every prudent step in 
your power," writes Washington, " to preserve tranquil- 
lity and order in the city and give security to individ- 
uals of every class and description, restraining, as far 
as possible, till the restoration of civil government, 
every species of persecution, insult or abuse, either from 
the soldiery to the inhabitants, or among each other." 

One of Arnold's first measures was to issue a pro- 
clamation enforcing the resolve of Congress. In so 
doing, he was countenanced by leading personages of 
Philadelphia, and the proclamation was drafted by 
General Joseph Reed. The measure excited great dis- 
satisfaction, and circumstances attending the enforce- 
ment of it gave rise to scandal. Former instances of a 
mercenary spirit made Arnold Hable to suspicions, and 


it was alleged that, while by the proclamation he shut 
up the stores and shops so that even the oificers of the 
army could not procure necessary articles of merchan- 
dise, he was privately making large purchases for his 
own enrichment. 

His style of hving gave point to this scandal. He 
occupied one of the finest houses in the city ; set up a 
splendid establishment ; had his carriage and four 
horses and a train of domestics ; gave expensive enter- 
tainments, and indulged in a luxury and parade, which 
were condemned as little befitting a republican general ; 
especially one whose accounts with government were 
yet unsettled, and who had imputations of mercenary 
rapacity still hangiag over him. 

Ostentatious prodigality, in fact, was Arnold's be- 
setting sin. To cope with his overwhelming expenses 
he engaged in various speculations, more befitting the 
trafiicking habits of his early life than his present ele- 
vated position. Nay, he availed himself of that posi- 
tion to aid his speculations, and sometimes made tem- 
porary use of the pubhc moneys passing through his 
hands. In his impatience to be rich, he at one time 
thought of taking command of a privateer, and making 
lucrative captures at sea. 

In the exercise of his military functions, he had be- 
come involved in disputes with the president (Whar- 
ton), and executive council of Pennsylvania, and by his 
conduct, which was deemed arbitrary and arrogant, had 
drawn upon hunself the hostility of that body, which 
became stem and unsparing censors of his conduct. 

He had not been many weeks in Philadelphia before 
he became attached to one of its reigning belles, Miss 


Margaret Shippen, daughter of Mr. Edward Shippen, 
in after years chief justice of Pennsylvania. Her fam- 
ily were not considered well affected tb the American 
cause ; the young lady herself, during the occupation 
of the city by the enemy, had been a " toast " among 
the British officers, and selected as one of the beauties 
of the Mischianza. 

Arnold paid his addresses in an open and honorable 
style, first obtaining by letter the sanction of the father. 
Party feeling at that time ran high in Philadelphia on 
local subjects connected with the change of the State 
government. Arnold's connection with the Shippen 
family, increased his disfavor mth the president and 
executive council, who were whigs to a man ; and it 
was sneeringly observed that, *4ie had courted the 
loyalists from the start." 

General Joseph Reed, at that time one of the exec- 
utive committee, observes in a letter to General Grreene, 
" will you not think it extraordinary that General Arnold 
made a public entertainment the night before last, of 
which, not only common tory ladies, but the wives and 
daughters of persons proscribed by the State, and now 
with the enemy at New York, formed a very considera- 
ble number? The fact is literally true." 

Regarded from a different point of view, this conduct 
might have been attributed to the courtesy of a gallant 
soldier; who scorned to carry the animosity of the 
field into the drawing-room ; or to proscribe and perse- 
cute the wives and daughters of political exiles. 

In the beginning of December, General Reed be- 
came president of the executive council of Pennsylva- 
nia, and under his administration the ripening hostility 


to Arnold was brought to a crisis. Among the various 
schemes of the latter for bettering his fortmie, and se- 
curing the means of living when the war should come 
to an end, was one for forming a settlement in the 
western part of the State of New York, to be composed, 
principally, of the officers and soldiers who had served 
under him. His scheme was approved by Mr. John 
Jay, the pure-minded patriot of New York, at that 
time President of Congress, and was sanctioned by the 
New Y^ork delegation. Provided with letters from them, 
Arnold left Philadelphia about the 1st of January 
(1779), and set out for Albany to obtain a grant of 
land for the purpose, from the New York Legislatiu-e. 

Within a day or two after his departure, his public 
conduct was discussed in the executive council of Penn- 
sylvania, and it was resolved unanimously, that the 
com'se of his mDitaiy command in the city had been in 
many respects oppressive, unworthy of his rank and 
station, and highly discouraging to the liberties and in- 
terests of America, and disrespectful to the supreme 
executive authority of the State. 

As he was an officer of the United States, the com- 
plaints and grievances of Pennsylvania were set forth 
by the executive council in eight charges and forwarded 
to Congress, accompanied by documents, and a letter 
from President Reed. 

Information of these facts, Avith 'u printed copy of 
the charges, reached Arnold at Washington's camp on 
the Raritan, which he had visited while on the way to 
Albany. His first solicitude was about the effect they 
might have upon Miss Shippen, to whom he was now 
engaged. In a letter dated February 8th, he entreated 


her not to suffer these rude attacks on him to give her 
a moment's uneasiness — ^they could do him no injury. 

On the following day he issued an address to the 
public, recalhng his faithful services of nearly four 
years, and inveighing against the proceedings of the 
president and council ; who, not content with injuring 
him in a cruel and unprecedented manner with Con- 
gress, had ordered copies of their charges to be printed 
and dispersed throughout the several States, for the 
purpose of prejudicing the public mind against him, 
while the matter was yet in suspense. " Their conduct," 
writes he, " appears the more cruel and malicious, in 
making the charges after I had left the city ; as my 
intention of leaving it was known for five weeks before." 
This complaint, we must observe, was rebutted, on their 
part, by the assertion that, at the time of his departure, 
he knew of the accusation that was impending. 

In conclusion, Arnold informed the public that he 
had requested Congress to direct a court-martial to in- 
quire into his conduct, and trusted his countrymen 
would suspend their judgment in the matter, until he 
should have an opportunity of being heard. 

Public opinion was divided. His brilliant services 
spoke eloquently in his favor. His admirers repined 
that a fame won by such daring exploits on the field 
should be stifled down by cold calumnies in Philadel- 
phia, and many thought, dispassionately, that the State 
authorities had acted vdth excessive harshness towards 
a meritorious officer, in widely spreading their charges 
against him, and thus, in an unprecedented way, putting 
a pubhc brand upon him. 

On the 16th of Pebruary, Arnold's appeal to Con- 


gress was referred to the cominittee whicli had under 
consideration the letter of President Reed and its accom- 
panying documents, and it was charged to make a re- 
port with all convenient despatch. A motion was made 
to suspend Arnold from all command during the in- 
quiry. To the credit of Congress it was negatived. 

Much contrariety of feehng prevailed on the subject 
in the committee of Congress and the executive council 
of Pennsylvania, and the correspondence between those 
legislative bodies was occasionally tinctured with need- 
less acrimony. 

Arnold, in the course of January, had obtained per- 
mission from Washington to resign the command of 
Philadelphia, but deferred to act upon it, until the 
charges against him should be examined, lest, as he said, 
his enemies should misinterpret his motives, and ascribe 
his resignation to fear of a disgraceful suspension in 
consequence of those charges. 

About the middle of March, the committee brought 
in a report exculpating him from all criminality in the 
matters charged against him. As soon as the report 
was brought in, he considered his name vindicated, and 

Whatever exultation he may have felt was short- 
lived. Congress did not call up and act upon the re- 
port, as, in justice to him, they should have done, 
whether to sanction it or not ; but referred the subject 
anew to a joint committee of their body and the assem- 
bly and council of Pennsylvania. Arnold was, at this 
time, on the eve of marriage with Miss Shippen, and, 
thus circumstanced, it must have been peculiarly gall- 

VOL. IV. — 2 


ing to his pride to be kept under tlie odium of imputed 

The report of the joint committee brought up ani- 
mated discussions in Congress. Several resolutions 
recommended by the committee were merely of a formal 
nature, and intended to soothe the wounded sensibilities 
of Pennsylvania ; these were passed without dissent ; 
but it was contended that certain charges advanced by 
the executive council of that State were only cognizable 
by a court-martial, and, after a warm debate it was re- 
solved (April 3d), by a large majority, that the com- 
mander-in-chief should appoint such a court for the 
consideration of them. 

Arnold inveighed bitterly against the injustice of 
subjecting him to a trial before a military tribunal for 
alleged offences of which he had been acquitted by 
the committee of Congress. He was sacrificed, he 
said, to avoid a breach with Pennsylvania. In a letter 
to Washington he charged it all to the hostility of 
President Reed, who, he affirmed, had by his address, 
kept the affair in suspense for two months, and at last 
obtained the resolution of Congress directing the 
court-martial. He urged Washington to appoint a 
speedy day for the trial, that he might not linger under 
the odium of an unjust pubhc accusation. " I have no 
doubt of obtaining justice from a court-martial," writes 
he, " as every officer in the army must feel himself in- 
jured by the cruel and unprecedented treatment I have 
met with. * * * * When your Excellency con- 
siders my sufferings, and the cruel situation I am in, 
your own humanity and feeling as a soldier will render 


every thing I can say further on the subject un- 

It was doubtless soothing to his irritated pride, 
that the woman on whom he had placed his affections 
remained true to him ; for his marriage with Miss 
Shippen took place just five days after the mortifying 
vote of Congress. 

Washington sympathized with Arnold's impatience, 
and appointed the 1st of May for the trial, but it was 
repeatedly postponed ; first, at the request of the Penn- 
sylvania councU, to allow time for the arrival of wit- 
nesses from the South ; afterwards, in consequence of 
threatening movements of the enemy, which obliged 
every officer to be at his post. Arnold, in the mean 
time, continued to reside at Philadelphia, holding his 
commission in the army but filling no public office ; 
getting deeper and deeper in debt, and becoming more 
and more unpopular. 

Having once been attacked in the street in the 
course of some popular tumult, he affected to consider 
his life in danger, and applied to Congress for a guard 
of Continental soldiers, " as no protection was to be 
expected from the authority of the State for an honest 

He was told in reply, that his application ought to 
have been made to the executive authority of Pennsyl- 
vania ; " in whose disposition to protect every honest 
citizen. Congress had full confidence, and Jiiglily disap- 
proved the insinuation of every individual to the con- 

For months, Arnold remained in this anxious and 
irritated state. His situation, he said, was cruel. His 


character would continue to suffer until lie should be 
acquitted by a court-martial, and he would be effectu- 
ally prevented from joining the army, which he wished 
to do as soon as his wounds would permit, that he 
might render the country every service in his power in 
this critical time. " For though I have been ungrate- 
fully treated," adds he, " I do not consider it as from 
my countrymen in general, but from a set of men, who, 
void of principle, are governed entirely by private in- 

At length, when the campaign was over and the 
army had gone into winter- quarters, the long delayed 
court-martial was assembled at Morristown. Of the 
eight charges originally advanced against Arnold by 
the Pennsylvania council, four only came under cogni- 
zance of the court. Of two of these he was entirely 
acquitted. The remaining two were. 

First. That while in the camp at Valley Forge, 
he, without the knowledge of the commander-in-chief, 
or the sanction of the State government, had granted 
a written permission for a vessel belonging to disaf- 
fected persons, to proceed from the port of Philadel- 
phia, then in possession of the enemy, to any port of 
the United States. 

Second. That, availing himself of his official author- 
ity, he had appropriated the pubhc waggons of Penn- 
sylvania, when called forth on a special emergency, to 
the transportation of private property, and that of per- 
sons who voluntarily remained with the enemy, and 
were deemed disaffected to the interests and indepen- 
dence of America. 

In regard to the first of these charges, Arnold 


alleged that the person who applied for the protection 
of the vessel, had taken the oath of allegiance to the 
State of Pennsylvania required by the laws ; that he 
was not residing in Philadelphia at the time, but had 
appUed on behalf of himself and a company, and that 
the intentions of that person and his associates with 
regard to the vessel and cargo appeared to be upright. 

As to his having granted the permission without 
the knowledge of the commander-in-chief, though pres- 
ent in the camp, Arnold alleged that it was customary 
in the army for general officers to grant passes and 
protections to inhabitants of the United States, friend- 
ly to the same, and that the protection was given in the 
present instance, to prevent the soldiery from plunder- 
ing the vessel and cargo, coming from a place in pos- 
session of the enemy, until the proper authority could 
take cognizance of the matter. 

In regard to the second charge, while it was proved 
that under his authority public waggons had been so 
used, it was allowed in extenuation, that they had 
been employed at private expense and without any 
design to defraud the public or impede the military 

In regard to both charges, nothing fraudulent on 
the part of Arnold was proved, but the transactions 
involved in the first were pronounced irregular, and 
contrary to one of the articles of war; and in the 
second, imprudent and reprehensible, considering the 
high station occupied by the general at the time, and 
the court sentenced him to be reprimanded by the 
commander-in-chief. The sentence was confirmed by 
Congress on the 12th of February (1780). 


We have foreborne to go into all the particulars of 
this trial, but we have considered them attentively, 
discharging from our minds, as much as possible, all 
impressions produced by Arnold's subsequent history, 
and we are surprised to find, after the hostility mani- 
fested against him by the council of Pennsylvania, and 
their extraordinary measure to possess the public mind 
against him, how venial are the trespasses of which he 
stood convicted. 

He may have given personal offence by his assum- 
ing vanity ; by the arrogant exercise of his military 
authority ; he may have displeased by his ostentation, 
and awakened distrust by his speculating propensities ; 
but as yet his patriotism was unquestioned. No tur- 
pitude had been proved against him; his brilliant 
exploits shed a splendor round his name, and he 
appeared before the public, a soldier crippled in their 
service. All these should have pleaded in his favor, 
should have produced indulgence of his errors, and 
mitigated that animosity which he always contended 
had been the cause of his ruin. 

The reprimand adjudged by the court-martial was 
administered by Washington with consummate deli- 
cacy. The following were his words, as repeated by 
M. de Marbois, the French secretary of legation. 

" Our profession is the chastest of all : even the 
shadow of a fault tarnishes the lustre of our finest 
achievements. The least inadvertence may rob us of 
the public favor, so hard to be acquired. I reprehend 
you for having forgotten, that, in proportion as you 
had rendered yourself formidable to our enemies, you 


should have been guarded and temperate in your 
deportment towards your fellow-citizens. 

"Exhibit anew those noble qualities which have 
placed you on the list of oiu* most valued commanders. 
I will myself furnish you, as far as it may be in my 
power, with opportunities of regaining the esteem of 
your country." 

A reprimand so mild and considerate, accompanied 
by such high eulogiums and generous promises, might 
have had a favorable effect upon Arnold, had he been 
in a different frame of mind ; but he had persuaded 
himself that the court would incline in his favor and 
acquit him altogether; and he resented deeply a sen- 
tence, which he protested against as unmerited. His 
resentment was aggravated by delays in the settlement 
of his accounts, as he depended upon the sums he 
claimed as due to him, for the payment of debts by 
which he was harassed. In following the matter up 
he became a weary, and probably irritable, applicant 
at the halls of Congress, and, we are told, gave great 
offence to members by his importunity, while he wore 
out the patience of his friends ; but pubHc bodies are 
prone to be offended by the importunity of baffled 
claimants, and the patience of friends is seldom proof 
against the reiterated story of a man's prolonged diffi- 

In the month of March, we find him intent on a 
new and adventurous project. He had proposed to the 
Board of Admiralty an expedition, requiring several 
ships of war and three or four hundred land troops, 
offering to take command of it should it be carried 
into effect, as his wounds still disabled him from duty 


on land. Washington, who knew his abilities in either 
service, was disposed to favor his proposition, but the 
scheme fell through from the impossibihty of sparing 
the requisite number of men from the army. What 
Arnold's ultimate designs might have been in seeking 
such a command, are rendered problematical by his 
subsequent conduct. On the failure of the project, he 
requested and obtained from Washington leave of ab- 
sence from the army for the summer, there being, he 
said, little prospect of an active campaign, and his 
wounds unfitting him for the field. 





The return of spring brought little alleviation to the 
sufferings of the army at Morristown. All means of 
supplying its wants or recruiting its ranks were para- 
lyzed by the continued depreciation of the currency. 
While Washington saw his forces gradually diminish- 
ing, his solicitude was intensely excited for the safety 
of the Southern States. The reader will recall the 
departure from New York, in the latter part of Decem- 
ber, of the fleet of Admiral Arbuthnot with the army 
of Sir Henry CUnton, destined for the subjugation of 
South Carolina. " The richness of the country,'' says 
Colonel Tarleton, in his history of the campaign, " its 
vicinity to Georgia, and its distance from General 
Washington, pointed out the advantage and facility 
of its conquest. While it would be an unspeakable 


loss to the Americans, the possession of it would 
tend to secure to the crown the southern part of the 
continent which stretches beyond it." It was pre- 
sumed that the subjugation of it would be an easy 
task. The population was scanty for the extent of 
the country, and was made up of emigrants, or the 
descendants of emigrants, from various lands and of 
various nations : Huguenots, who had emigrated from 
Prance after the revocation of the Edict of Nantz ; 
Germans, from the Palatinate ; Irish Protestants, who 
had received grants of land from the crown; Scotch 
Highlanders, transported hither after the disastrous 
battle of Culloden ; Dutch colonists, who had left New 
York after its submission to England, and been settled 
here on bounty lands. 

Some of these foreign elements might be hostile to 
British domination, but others would be favorable. 
There was a large class too, that had been born or had 
passed much of their lives in England, who retained for 
it a filial affection, spoke of it as home^ and sent their 
children to be educated there. 

The number of slaves within the province and of 
savages on its western frontier, together with its wide 
extent of unprotected sea coast, were encouragements 
to an invasion by sea and land. Little combination 
of militia and yeomanry need be apprehended from a 
population sparsely scattered, and where the settlements 
were widely separated by swamps and forests. Wash- 
ington was in no condition to render prompt and effec- 
tual relief, his army being at a vast distance, and con- 
sidered as "in a great measure broken up." The 
British, on the contrary, had the advantage of their 


naval force, " there being nothing then in the American 
seas which could even venture to look at it." * 

Such were some of the considerations which had 
prompted the enemy to this expedition; and which 
gave Washington great anxiety concerning it. 

General Lincoln was in command at Charleston, 
but uncertain as yet of the designs of the enemy, and 
at a loss what course to pursue. Diffident of himself, 
and accustomed to defer to the wisdom of Washing- 
ton, he turns to him in his present perplexity. " It 
is among my misfortunes," writes he, modestly (Jan. 
23d), " that I am not near enough to your Excellency 
to have the advantage of your advice and direction. 
I feel my own insufficiency and want of experience. I 
can promise you nothing but a disposition to serve my 
country. If this town should be attacked, as now 
threatened, I know my duty will call me to defend it, 
as long as opposition can be of any avail. I hope my 
inclination will coincide with my duty." 

The voyage of Sir Henry Chnton proved long and 
tempestuous. The ships were dispersed. Several fell 
into the hands of the Americans. One ordnance ves- 
sel foundered. Most of the artillery horses, and aU 
those of the cavalry perished. The scattered ships 
rejoined each other about the end of January, at Tybee 
Bay on Savannah River ; where those that had sustained 
damage were repaired as speedily as possible. The 
loss of the cavalry horses was especially felt by Sir 
Henry. There was a corps of two hundred and fifty 
dragoons, on which he depended greatly in the kind of 

* Ana Register 1780, p. 217. 


guerilla warfare he was likely to pursue, in a country 
of forests and morasses. Lieutenant-colonel Banastre 
Tarleton, wlio commanded them, was one of those dogs 
of war, which Sir Henry was prepared to let slip on 
emergencies, to scour and maraud the country. This 
"bold dragoon," so noted in Southern warfare, was 
about twenty-six years of age, of a swarthy complexion, 
with small, black, piercing eyes. He is described as 
being rather below the middle size, square-built and 
strong, '^ with large muscular legs." It will be found 
that he was a first-rate partisan officer, prompt, ardent, 
active, but somewhat unscrupulous. 

Landing from the fleet, perfectly dismounted, he 
repaired with his dragoons, in some of the quarter- 
master's boats, to Port Royal Island, on the seabord 
of South Carolina, "to collect at that place, from 
Mends or enemies, by money or by force, all the horses 
belonging to the islands in the neighborhood." He 
succeeded in procuring horses, though of an inferior 
quality to those he had lost, but consoled himself with 
the persuasion that he would secure better ones in the 
course of the campaign, by " exertion and enterprise," 
— a vague phrase, but very significant in the partisan 

In the mean time, the transports having on board a 
great part of the army, sailed under convoy on the 
10th of February, from Savannah to North Edisto 
Sound, where the troops disembarked on the 11th, on 
St. Johns Island, about thirty miles below Charleston. 
Thence, Sir Henry Clinton set out for the banks of 
Ashley River opposite to the city, while a part of the 
fleet proceeded round by sea, for the purpose of block- 


ading the harbor. The advance of Sir Henry was 
slow and cautious. Much time was consumed by 
him in fortifying intermediate ports, to keep up a 
secure communication with the fleet. He ordered 
from Savannah all the troops that could be spared, and 
wrote to Knyphausen, at New York, for reinforcements 
from that place. Every precaution was taken by him 
to insure against a second repulse from before Charles- 
ton, which might prove fatal to his mihtary reputation. 

General Lincoln took advantage of this slowness 
on the part of his assailant, to extend and strengthen 
the works. Charleston stands at the end of an isthmus 
formed by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. Beyond 
the main works on the land side he cut a canal, from 
one to the other of the swamps which border these 
rivers. In advance of the canal were two rows of 
abatis and a double picketed ditch. Within the canal, 
and between it and the main works, were strong re- 
doubts and batteries, to open a flanking fire on any 
approaching column, 'while an inclosed hornwork of 
masonry formed a kind of citadel. 

A squadron, commanded by Commodore Whipple, 
and composed of nine vessels of war of various sizes, 
the largest mounting forty-four guns, was to co-operate 
with Forts Moultrie and Johnston and the various bat- 
teries, in the defence of the harbor. They were to He 
before the bar so as to command the entrance of it. 
Great rehance also was placed on the bar itself, which 
it was thought no ship-of-the-line could pass. 

Governor Rutledge, a man eminent for talents, 
patriotism, firmness and decision, was clothed with 
dictatorial powers during the present crisis; he had 


called out the militia of the State, and it was supposed 
they would duly obey the call. Large reinforcements 
of troops also were expected from the North. Under 
all these circumstances, General Lincoln yielded to 
the entreaties of the inhabitants, and, instead of 
remaining mth his army in the open country, as he 
had intended, shut himself up with them in the place 
for its defence, leaving merely his cavalry and two hun- 
dred light troops outside, who were to hover about 
the enemy and prevent small parties from marauding. 

It was not until the 12th of March that Sir Henry 
Clinton effected his tardy approach, and took up a posi- 
tion on Charleston Neck, a few miles above the town. 
Admiral Arbuthnot soon showed an intention of intro- 
ducing his ships into the harbor; barricading their 
waists, anchoring them in a situation where they might 
take advantage of the first favorable spring-tide, and 
fixing buoys on the bar for their guidance. Commodore 
Whipple had by this time ascertained by sounding, 
that a wrong idea had prevailed of the depth of water 
in the harbor and that his ships could not anchor nearer 
than within three miles of the bar, so that it would be 
impossible for him to defend the passage of it. He 
quitted his station within it, therefore, after having 
destroyed a part of the enemy's buoys, and took a 
position where his ships might be abreast, and form a 
cross-fire with the batteries of Eort Moultrie, where 
Colonel Pinckney commanded. 

Washington was informed of these facts, by letters 
from his former aide-de-camp, Colonel Laurens, who 
was in Charleston at the time. The information caused 
anxious forebodings. " The impracticabihty of defend- 


ing the bar, I fear, amounts to the loss of the town 
and garrison," writes he in reply. " It really appears 
to me, that the propriety of attempting to defend the 
town, depended on the probability of defending the 
bar, and that when this ceased, the attempt ought to 
have been relinquished." The same opinion was ex- 
pressed by him in a letter to Baron Steuben ; " but at 
this distance," adds he considerately, "we can form a 
very imperfect judgment of its propriety or necessity. 
I have the greatest reliance in General Lincoln's pru- 
dence, but I cannot forbear dreading the event." 

His solicitude for the safety of the South was 
increased, by hearing of the embarkation at New York 
of two thousand five hundred British and Hessian 
troops, under Lord Bawdon, reinforcements for Sir 
Henry Clinton. It seemed evident the enemy intended 
to push their operations with vigor at the South ; per- 
haps, to make it the principal theatre of the war. 
"We are now beginning," said Washington, "to 
experience the fatal consequences of the policy which 
delayed calling upon the States for their quotas of 
men in time to arrange and prepare them for the 
duties of the field. What to do for the Southern 
States, without involving consequences equally alarming 
in this quarter, I know not." 

Gladly would he have hastened to the South in 
person, but at this moment his utmost vigilance was 
required to keep watch upon New York and maintain 
the security of the Hudson, the vital part of the con- 
federacy. The weak state of the American means of 
warfare in both quarters, presented a choice of diffi- 
culties. The South needed support. Could the North 


give it without exposing itself to ruin, since the 
enemy, by means of their ships, could suddenly unite 
their forces, and fall upon any point that they might 
consider weak ? Such were the perplexities to which 
he was continually subjected, in having, with scanty 
means, to provide for the security of a vast extent of 
country, and with land forces merely, to contend with 
an amphibious enemy. 

" Congress vriU better conceive in how delicate a 
situation we stand," writes he, " when I inform them, 
that the whole operating force present on this and the 
other side of the North River, amounts only to ten 
thousand four hundred rank and file, of which about 
two thousand eight hundred will have completed their 
term of service by the last of May ; while the enemy's 
regular force at New York and its dependencies, must 
amount, upon a moderate calculation, to about eleven 
thousand rank and file. Our situation is more critical 
from the impossibihty of concentrating our force, as 
weU as for the want of the means of taking the field, 
as on account of the early period of the season." * 

Looking, however, as usual, to the good of the 
whole Union, he determined to leave something at haz- 
ard in the Middle States, where the country was inter- 
nally so strong, and yield further succor to the South- 
em States, which had not equal military advantages. 
With the consent of Congress, therefore, he put the 
Maryland line under marching orders, together with 
the Delaware regiment, which acted with it, and the 
first regiment of artillery. 

* Letter to the President, April 2d. 


The Baron de Kalb, now at the head of the Maiy- 
land division, was instructed to conduct this detach- 
ment with all haste to the aid of General Lincoln. He 
might not arrive in time to prevent the fall of Charles- 
ton, but he might assist to arrest the progress of the 
enemy and save the Carolinas. 

Washington had been put upon his guard of late 
against intrigues, forming by members of the old Con- 
way cabal, who intended to take advantage of every 
miUtary disaster to destroy confidence in him. His 
steady mind, however, was not to be shaken by suspi- 
cion. " Against intrigues of this kind incident to 
every man of a public station," said he, " his best sup- 
port will be a faithful discharge of his duty, and he 
must rely on the justice of his country for the event." 

His feelings at the present juncture are admirably 
expressed in a letter to the Baron de Steuben. " The 
prospect, my dear Baron, is gloomy, and the storm 
threatens, but I hope we shall extricate ourselves, and 
bring every thing to a prosperous issue. I have been 
so inured to difficulties in the course of this contest, 
that I have learned to look upon them with more tran- 
quillity than formerly. Those which now present them- 
selves, no doubt require vigorous exertions to overcome 
them, and I am far from despairing of doing it." * 

* Washington's Writings, vii. 10. 
VOL. IT. — 3 





We have cited the depreciation of the currency as a 
main cause of the difficulties and distresses of the army. 
The troops were paid in paper money at its nominal 
value. A memorial of the officers of the Jersey line 
to the legislature of their State, represented the depre- 
ciation to be so great, that four months' pay of a private 
soldier would not procure for his family a single 
bushel of wheat ; the pay of a colonel would not pur- 
chase oats for his horse, and a common laborer or 
express rider could earn four times the pay in paper 
of an American officer. 

Congress, too, in its exigencies, being destitute of 
the power of levying taxes, which vested in the State 
governments, devolved upon those governments, in 


their separate capacities, the business of supporting 
the army. This produced a great inequality in the 
condition of the troops ; according to the means and 
the degree of HberaUty of their respective States. 
Some States furnished their troops amply, not only 
with clothing, but with many comforts and conven- 
iencies ; others were more contracted in their supplies ; 
while others left their troops almost destitute. Some 
of the States, too, undertook to make good to their 
troops the loss in their pay caused by the depreciation 
of the currency. As this was not general, it increased 
the inequality of condition. Those who fared worse 
than others were incensed, not only against their own 
State, but against the confederacy. They were dis- 
gusted with a service that made such injurious distinc- 
tions. Some of the officers resigned, finding it impos- 
sible, under actual circumstances, to maintain an 
appearance suitable to their rank. The men had not 
this resource. They murmured and showed a tendency 
to seditious combinations. 

These, and other defects in the mihtary system, 
were pressed by Washington upon the attention of 
Congress in a letter to the President : "It were 
devoutly to be wished," observed he, " that a plan could 
be devised by which every thing relating to the army 
could be conducted on a general principle, under the 
direction of Congress. This alone can give harmony 
and consistency to our military establishment, and I 
am persuaded it will be infinitely conducive to public 
economy." * 

* Washington's Writings, Sparks, vol. vii. p. ii* 


In consequence of this letter it was proposed in 
Congress to send a committee of three of its members 
to head-quarters to consult with the commander-in-chief, 
and, in conjunction with him, to effect such reforms 
and changes in the various departments of the army 
as might be deemed necessary. Warm debates ensued. 
It was objected that this would put too much power 
into a few hands, and especially into those of the com- 
mander-in-chief ; ^^that Ms influence was already too 
great ; that even his virtues afforded motives for alarm ; 
that the enthusiasm of the army, joined to the hind 
of dictatorship already confided to him, put Congress 
and the United States at his mercy ; that it was not ex- 
pedient to expose a man of the highest virtues to such 
temptations." * 

The foregoing passage from a despatch of the 
French minister to his government, is strongly illustra- 
tive of the cautious jealousy still existing in Congress 
with regard to military power, even though wielded 
by Washington. 

After a prolonged debate, a committee of three was 
chosen by ballot ; it consisted of General Schuyler and 
Messrs. John Mathews, and Nathaniel Peabody. It 
was a great satisfaction to Washington to have his old 
friend and coadjutor, Schuyler, near him in this capa- 
city, in which, he declared, no man could be more use- 
ful, " from his perfect knowledge of the resources of 
the country, the activity of his temper, his fruitfulness 
of expedients and his sound military sense." f 

The committee on arriving at the camp found the 

* Washington's Writings, Sparks, vol. vii. p. 15. 
■j- Washington to James Duane, Sparks, vii. 34. 


disastrous state of affairs had not been exaggerated. 
For five months the army had been unpaid. Every 
department was destitute of money or credit; there 
were rarely provisions for six days in advance ; on 
some occasions the troops had been for several succes- 
sive days without meat; there was no forage; the 
medical department had neither tea, chocolate, wine, 
nor spirituous liquors of any kind. " Yet the men," 
said Washington, " have borne their distress in gen- 
eral, with a firmness and patience never exceeded, and 
every commendation is due to the officers for encourag- 
ing them to it by exhortation and example. They 
have suffered equally with the men, and, their relative 
situations considered, rather more.'' Indeed, we have 
it from another authority, that many officers for some 
time lived on bread and cheese, rather than take any 
of the scanty allowance of meat from the men.* 

To soothe the discontents of the army, and coun- 
teract the alarming effects of the depreciation of the 
currency. Congress now adopted the measure already 
observed by some of the States, and engaged to make 
good to the Continental and the independent troops 
the difference in the value of their pay caused by this 
depreciation ; and that all moneys or other articles here- 
tofore received by them, should be considered as 
advanced on account, and comprehended at their just 
value in the final settlement. 

At this gloomy crisis came a letter from the Mar- 
quis de Lafayette, dated April 27th, announcing his 
arrival at Boston. Washington's eyes, we are told, 

* Gen. William Lrvine to Joseph Reed. Reed's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 201. 


were suffused with tears as he read this most welcome 
epistle, and the warmth with which he replied to it, 
showed his affectionate regard for this young nobleman. 
" I received your letter," writes he, " with all the joy 
that the sincerest friendship could dictate, and with 
that impatience which an ardent desire to see you could 
not fail to inspire. * * * I most sincerely con- 
gratulate you on your safe arrival in America, and shall 
embrace you with all the warmth of an affectionate 
friend when you come to head- quarters, where a bed 
is prepared for you." 

He would immediately have sent a troop of horse 
to escort the marquis through the tory settlements be- 
tween Morristown and the Hudson, had he known the 
route he intended to take ; the latter, however, arrived 
safe at head-quarters on the 12th of May, where he 
was welcomed with acclamations, for he was popular 
with both officers and soldiers. Washington folded 
him in his arms in a truly paternal embrace, and they 
were soon closeted together to talk over the state of 
affairs, when Lafayette made known the result of his 
visit to Prance. His generous efforts at court had 
been crowned with success, and he brought the animat- 
ing intelligence, that a Prench fleet, under the Cheva- 
lier de Ternay, was to put to sea early in April, bring- 
ing a body of troops under the Count de Rochambeau, 
and might soon be expected on the coast to co-operate 
with the American forces ; this, however, he was at 
liberty to make known only to Washington and Con- 

Remaining but a single day at head-quarters, he 
liastened on to the seat of government, where he met 


the reception which his generous enthusiasm in the 
cause of American Independence had so fully merited. 
Congress, in a resolution on the 16th of May, pro- 
nounced his return to America to resume his command 
a fresh proof of the disinterested zeal and persevering 
attachment which had secured him the public confi- 
dence and applause, and received with pleasure a " ten- 
der of the further services of so gallant and meritori- 
ous an officer." 

Within three days after the departure of the mar- 
quis from Morristown, Washington, in a letter to him, 
gave his idea of the plan which it woidd be proper for 
the French fleet and army to pursue on their arrival 
upon the coast. The reduction of New York he 
considered the first enterprise to be attempted by the 
co-operating forces. The whole effective land force of 
the enemy he estimated at about eight thousand regu- 
lars and four thousand refugees, with some militia, on 
which no great dependence could be placed. Their 
naval force consisted of one seventy-four gun-ship, and 
three or four small frigates. In this situation of affairs 
the Prench fleet might enter the harbor and gain pos- 
session of it without difficulty, cut off its communica- 
tions, and, with the co-operation of the American 
army, oblige the city to capitulate. He advised Lafay- 
ette, therefore, to write to the French commanders, 
urging them, on their arrival on the coast, to proceed 
with their land and naval forces, with aU expedition, to 
Sandy Hook, and there await further advices ; should 
they learn, however, that the expedition under Sir 
Henry Clinton had returned from the South to New 
York, they were to proceed to Rhode Island. 


General Arnold was at this time in Philadelphia, 
and his connection with subsequent events requires a 
few words concerning his career, daily becoming more 
perplexed. He liad again petitioned Congress on the 
subject of his accounts. The Board of Treasury had 
made a report far short of his wishes. He had 
appealed, and his appeal, together with all the documents 
connected with the case, was referred to a committee of 
three. The old doubts and difficulties continued : there 
was no prospect of a speedy settlement; he was in 
extremity. The French minister, M. de Luzerne, was 
at hand ; a generous-spirited man, who had manifested 
admiration of his military character. To him Ar- 
nold now repaired in his exigency; made a pas- 
sionate representation of the hardships of his case; 
the inveterate hostility he had experienced from Penn- 
sylvania; the ingratitude of his country ; the disorder 
brought into his private affairs by the war, and the 
necessity he should be driven to of abandoning his 
profession, unless he could borrow a sum equal to the 
amount of his debts. Such a loan, he intimated, it 
might be the interest of the King of France to grant, 
thereby securing the attachment and gratitude of an 
American general of his rank and influence. 

The French minister was too much of a diplomatist 
not to understand the bearing of the intimation, but 
he shrank from it, observing, that the service re- 
quired would degrade both parties. " When the 
envoy of a foreign power," said he, " gives, or if you 
will, lends, money, it is ordinarily to corrupt those who 
receive it, and to make them the creatures of the sove- 
reign whom he serves ; or rather, he corrupts without 


persuading ; he buys and does not secure. But the 
league entered into between the king and the United 
States, is the work .of justice and of the Avisest pohcy. 
It has for its basis a reciprocal interest and good-will. 
In the mission with which I am charged, my true glory 
consists in fulfilling it without intrigue or cabal; 
without resorting to any secret practices, and by the 
force alone of the conditions of the alliance." 

M. de Luzerne endeavored to soften this re- 
pulse and reproof, by complimenting Arnold on the 
splendor of his past career, and by alluding to the field 
of glory still before him; but the pressure of debts 
was not to be lightened by compliments, and Arnold 
retired from the interview, a mortified and desperate 

He was in this mood when he heard of the expected 
arrival of aid from Erance, and the talk of an active 
campaign. It seemed as if his military ambition was 
once more aroused. To General Schuyler, who was 
about to visit the camp as one of the committee, he 
wrote on the 25th of May, expressing a determination 
to rejoin the army, although his wounds still made it 
painful to walk or ride, and intimated, that, in his 
present condition, the command at West Point would 
be best suited to him. 

In reply. General Schuyler wrote from Morristown, 
June 2d, that he had put Arnold's letter into Washing- 
ton's hands, and added : " He expressed a desire to do 
whatever was agreeable to you, dwelt on your abihties, 
your merits, your sufferings, and on the well-earned 
claims you have on your country, and intimated, that 

42 ^ LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [1780. 

as soon as his arrangements for the campaign should 
take place, he would properly consider you." 

In the mean time, the army with which Washington 
was to co-operate in the projected attack upon New 
York, was so reduced by the departure of troops whose 
term had expired, and the tardiness in furnishing 
recruits, that it did not amount quite to four thousand 
rank and file, fit for duty. Among these was a 
prevalent discontent. Their pay was five months in 
arrear ; if now paid it would be in Continental cur- 
rency, without allowance for depreciation, consequently, 
almost worthless for present purposes. 

A long interval of scarcity and several days of 
actual famine, brought matters to a crisis. On the 25th 
of May, in the dusk of the evening, two regiments 
of the Connecticut line assembled on their parade by 
beat of drum, and declared their intention to march 
home bag and baggage, " or, at best, to gain subsist- 
ence at the point of the bayonet." Colonel Meigs, 
while endeavoring to suppress the mutiny, was struck 
by one of the soldiers. Some officers of the Pennsyl- 
vania line came to his assistance, parading their regi- 
ments. Every argument and expostulation was used 
with the mutineers. They were reminded of their 
past good conduct, of the noble objects for which they 
were contending, and of the future indemnifications 
promised by Congress. Their answer was, that their 
sufferings were too great to be allayed by promises, in 
which they had Httle faith ; they wanted present reUef, 
and some present substantial recompense for their 

It was with difficulty they could be prevailed upon 


to return to their huts. Indeed, a few turned out a 
second time, with their packs, and were not to be paci- 
fied. These were arrested and confined. 

This mutiny, Washington declared, had given him 
infinitely more concern than any thing that had ever 
happened, especially as he had no means of paying the 
troops excepting in Continental money, which, said he, 
" is evidently impracticable from the immense quantity 
it would require to pay them as much as would make 
up the depreciation." His uneasiness was increased 
by finding that printed handbills were secretly dissem- 
inated in his camp by the enemy, containing addresses 
to the soldiery, persuading them to desert.* 

In this alarming state of destitution, Washington 
looked round anxiously for bread for his famishing 
troops. New York, Jersey, Pennsylvania and Mary- 
land, were what he termed his " flour country." Vir- 
ginia was sufficiently tasked to supply the South. 
New York, by legislative coercion, had already given 
all that she could spare from the subsistence of her 
inhabitants. Jersey was exhausted by the long resi- 
dence of the army. Maryland had made great exer- 
tions, and might still do somethmg more, and Dela- 
ware might contribute handsomely, in proportion to 
her extent : but Pennsylvania was now the chief 
dependence, for that State was represented to be full 
of flour. Washington's letter of the 16th of Decem- 
ber, to President Reed, had obtained temporary relief 
from that quarter ; he now wrote to him a second time 
and still more earnestly. " Every idea you can form 

* Letter to the President of Cong., May 27. Sparks vii. 64. 

44 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. . [1780. 

of our distresses, will fall short of the reality. There 
is such a combination of circumstances to exhaust the 
patience of the soldiery, that it begins at length to be 
worn out, and we see in every line of the army, fea- 
tures of mutiny and sedition. All our departments, 
all our operations are at a stand, and unless a system 
very different from that which has a long time pre- 
vailed, be immediately adopted throughout the States, 
our affairs must soon become desperate beyond the pos- 
sibility of recovery." 

Nothing discouraged Washington more than the 
lethargy that seemed to deaden the public mind. He 
speaks of it with a degree of despondency scarcely 
ever before exhibited. " I have almost ceased to hope. 
The country is in such a state of insensibility and 
indifference to its interests, that I dare not flatter my- 
self with any change for the better." And again, — 
" The present juncture is so interesting, that if it does 
not produce correspondent exertions, it will be a proof 
that motives of honor, public good, and even self-pres- 
ervation, have lost their influence on our minds. 
This is a decisive moment ; one of the most, I will go 
further, and say, the most important America has seen. 
The court of Prance has made a glorious effort for our 
deliverance, and if we disappoint its intentions by our 
supineness, we must become contemptible in the eyes 
of all mankind, nor can we after that venture to con- 
fide that our allies will persist in an attempt to estab- 
lish what, it will appear, we want inclination or abihty 
to assist them in." With these and similar observations, 
he sought to rouse President Reed to extraordinaiy 
exertions. " This is a time," writes he, " to hazard 


and to take a tone of energy and decision. All par- 
ties but the disaffected will acquiesce in the necessity 
and give it their support." He urges Reed to press 
upon the legislature of Pennsylvania the policy of 
investing its executive with plenipotentiary powers. 
" I should then," writes he, " expect every thing from 
your ability and zeal. This is no time for formality or 
ceremony. The crisis in every point of view is extra- 
ordinary, and extraordinary expedients are necessary. 
I am decided in this opinion." 

His letter procured relief for the army from the 
legislature, and a resolve empowering the president 
and council, during its recess, to declare martial law, 
should circumstances render it expedient. "This," 
observes Reed, " gives us a power of doing what may 
be necessary without attending to the ordinary course 
of law, and we shall endeavor to exercise it mth pru- 
dence and moderation." * 

In like manner, Washington endeavored to rouse 
the dormant fire of Congress, and impart to it his own 
indomitable energy. " Certain I am," writes he to 
a member of that body, " unless Congress speak in a 
more decisive tone, unless they are vested with powers 
by the several States, competent to the purposes of 
war, or assume them as matters of right, and they and 
the States respectively act with more energy than they 
have hitherto done, that our cause is lost. We can no 
longer drudge on in the old way. By ill-timing the 
adoption of measures, by delays in the execution of 
them, or by unwarrantable jealousies, we incur enor- 

* Spaxks, Corr. of the Rev., voL ii. p. 466. 


mous expenses and derive no benefit from them. One 
State will comply with a requisition of Congress ; 
another neglects to do it; a third executes it by- 
halves ; and all differ, either in the manner, the matter, 
or so much in point of time, that we are always work 
ing up-hill ; and, while such a system as the present 
one, or rather want of one, prevails, we shall ever be 
unable to apply our strength or resources to any advan- 
tage — I see one head gradually changing into thirteen. 
I see one army branching into thirteen, which, instead 
of looking up to Congress as the supreme controlling 
power of the United States, are considering themselves 
dependent on their respective States : In a word, I see 
the powers of Congress declining too fast for the con- 
sideration and respect which are due to them as the 
great representative body of America, and I am fearful 
of the consequences." * 

At this juncture came official intelligence from the 
South, to connect which with the general course of 
events, requires a brief notice of the operations of 
Sir Henry Clinton in that quarter. 

* Letter to Joseph Jones. Sparks, vii. 67. 







In a preceding chapter we left the British fleet under 
Admiral Arbuthnot, preparing to force its way into the 
harbor of Charleston. Several days elapsed before the 
ships were able, by taking out their guns, provisions 
and water, and availing themselves of wind and tide, 
to pass the bar. They did so on the 20th of March, 
with but slight opposition from several galleys. Com- 
modore Whipple, then, seeing the vast superiority of 
their force, made a second retrograde move, station- 
ing some of his ships in Cooper River, and sinking the 
rest at its mouth so as to prevent the enemy from run- 
ning up that river, and cutting off communication with 
the country on the east : the crews and heavy cannon 
were landed to aid in the defence of the town. 

The reinforcements expected from the North were 
not yet arrived ; the militia of the State did not appear 


at Governor Rutledge's command, and other reliances 
were failing. " Many of the North Carolina militia 
whose terms have expired leave us to-day," writes Lin- 
coln to Washington on the 20th of March. " They 
cannot be persuaded to remain longer, though the ene- 
my are in our neighborhood." * 

At this time the reinforcements which Sir Henry 
Clinton had ordered from Savannah were marching 
toward the Cambayee under Brigadier-general Patter- 
son. On his flanks moved Major Ferguson with a 
corps of riflemen, and Major Cochrane with the infan- 
try of the British legion ; two brave and enterprising 
officers. It was a toilsome march, through swamps 
and difficult passes. Being arrived in the neighbor- 
hood of Port Royal, where Tarleton had succeeded, 
though indifferently, in remounting his dragoons, Pat- 
terson sent orders to that officer to join him. Tarleton 
hastened to obey the order. His arrival was timely. 
The Carolina militia having heard that all the British 
horses had perished at sea, made an attack on the front of 
General Patterson's force, supposing it to be without 
cavalry. To their surprise, Tarleton charged them 
with his dragoons, routed them, took several prisoners, 
and what was more acceptable, a number of horses, 
some of the militia, he says, " being accoutred as cav- 

Tarleton had soon afterwards to encounter a worthy 
antagonist in Colonel William Washington, the same 
cavalry officer who had distinguished himself at Tren- 
ton, and was destined to distinguish himself still more 

♦ Correspondence of the Rev., voL^iL p. 419. 


in this Southern campaign. He is described as being 
six feet in height, broad, stout and corpulent. Bold in 
the fidd, careless in the camp ; kind to his soldiers ; 
harassing to his enemies ; gay and good-humored ; with 
an upright heart and a generous hand, a universal 
favorite. He was now at the head of a body of Con- 
tinental cavalry, consisting of his own and Bland's 
light-horse, and Pulaski's hussars. A brush took place 
in the neighborhood of Rantoul's Bridge. Colonel 
Washington had the advantage, took several prisoners, 
and drove back the dragoons of the British legion, but 
durst not pursue them for want of infantry.* 

On the 7th of April, Brigadier-general Woodford 
with seven hundred Virginia troops, after a forced 
march of five hundred miles in thirty days, crossed 
from the east side of Cooper River, by the only pas- 
sage now open, and threw himself into Charleston. 
It was a timely reinforcement and joyfully welcomed ; 
for the garrison, when in greatest force, amounted to 
little more than two thousand regulars and one thou- 
sand North Carolina militia. 

About the same time Admiral Arbuthnot, in the 
Roebuck, passed Sullivan's Island, with a fresh soutli- 
eriy breeze, at the head of a squadron of seven armed 
vessels and two transports. " It was a magnificent 
spectacle, satisfactory to the royalists," writes the 
admiral. The whigs regarded it with a rueful eye. 
Colonel Pinckney opened a heavy cannonade from the 
batteries of Port Moultrie. The ships thundered in 
reply, and clouds of smoke were raised, under the 

* Gordon, iii. p. 362 — see also Tarleton, Hist. Campaign, p. 8. 
TOL. IT. — 4 


cover of which they slipped by, with no greater loss 
than twenty-seven men killed and wounded. A store- 
ship which followed the squadron ran aground, was set 
on fire and abandoned, and subsequently blew up. 
The ships took a position near Port Johnston, just 
without the range of the shot from the American bat- 
teries. After the passage of the ships, Colonel Pinck- 
ney and a part of the garrison withdrew from Port 

The enemy had by this time completed his first 
parallel, and the town being almost entirely invested 
by sea and land, received a joint summons from the 
British general and admiral to surrender. " Sixty 
days have passed," writes Lincoln in reply, " since it 
has been known that your intentions against this town 
were hostile, in which, time has been afforded to aban- 
don it, but duty and inclination point to the propriety 
of supporting it to the last extremity." 

The British batteries were now opened. The siege 
was carried on deliberately by regular parallels, and on 
a scale of magnitude scarcely warranted by the moder- 
ate strength of the place. A great object with the 
besieged was to keep open the channel of communi- 
cation with the country by the Cooper River, the last 
that remained by which they could receive reinforce- 
ments and supplies, or could retreat, if necessary. Por 
this purpose. Governor Rutledge, leaving the town in 
the care of Lieutenant- governor Gadsden, and one half 
of the executive council, set ofP with the other half, 
and endeavored to rouse the militia between the Cooper 
and Santee Rivers. His success was extremely limited. 
Two militia posts were established by him ; one between 


these rivers, the other at a ferry on the Santee ; some 
regular troops, also, had been detached by Lincoln to 
throw up works about nine miles above the town, on 
the Wando, a branch of Cooper River, and at Lempri- 
ere's Point; and Brigadier-general Huger,* with a force 
of militia and Continental cavalry, including those of 
Colonel William Washington, was stationed at Monk's 
Comer, about thirty miles above Charleston, to guard 
the passes at the head waters of Cooper River. 

Sir Henry Clinton, when proceeding with his 
second parallel, detached Lieutenant-colonel Webster 
with fourteen hundred men to break up these posts. 
The most distant one was that of Huger's cavalry at 
Monk's Comer. The surprisal of this was entrusted 
to Tarleton, who, with his dragoons, was in Webster's 
advanced guard. He was to be seconded by Major 
Patrick Perguson with his riflemen. 

Perguson was a fit associate for Tarleton, in har- 
dy, scrambHng, partisan enterprise ; equally intrepid 
and determined, but cooler and more open to impulses 
of humanity. He was the son of an eminent Scotch 
judge, had entered the army at an early age, and served 
in the German wars. The British extolled him as 
superior to the American Indians in the use of the 
rifle, in short, as being the best marksman living. He 
had invented one which could be loaded at the breech 
and discharged seven times in a minute. It had been 
used with effect by his corps. Washington, according 
to British authority, had owed his life at the battle of 
Germantown, solely to Perguson's ignorance of his 

♦ PronoTinced Hugee^f French Huguenot descent. 


person, having repeatedly been within reach of the col- 
onel's unerring rifle.* 

On the evening of the IBth of April, Tarleton 
moved with the van toward Monk's Corner. A night 
march had been judged the most advisable. It was 
made in profound silence and by unfrequented roads. 
In the course of the march, a negro was descried 
attempting to avoid notice. He was seized. A letter 
was found on him from an officer in Huger's camp, 
from which Tarleton learned something of its situation 
and the distribution of the troops. A few dollars 
gained the services of the negro as a guide. The sur 
prisal of General Huger's camp was complete. ' Sev 
era! officers and men who attempted to defend them 
selves, were killed or wounded. General Huger, Col 
onel Washington, with many others, officers and men 
escaped in the darkness to the neighboring swamps 
One hundred officers, dragoons and hussars,were taken 
A\dth about four hundred horses and near fifty waggons 
laden with arms, clothing and ammimition. 

Biggins Bridge on Cooper River was likewise 
secured, and the way opened for Colonel "Webster to 
advance nearly to the head of the passes, in such a 
manner as to shut up Charleston entirely. 

In the course of the maraud which generally 
accompanies a surprisal of the kind, several dragoons 
of the British legion broke into a house in the neighbor- 
hood of Monk's Corner, and maltreated and attempted 
violence upon ladies residing there. The ladies escaped 
to Monk's Comer, where they were protected, and a 

* Annual Register, 1781, p. 52. 

1780.] FIAT OF FERGUSON. 58 

carriage furnislied to convey them to a place of safety. 
The dragoons were apprehended and brought to Monk's 
Corner, where by this time Colonel Webster had ar- 
rived. Major Ferguson, we are told, was for putting 
the dragoons to instant death, but Colonel Webster 
did not think his powers warranted such a measure. 
" They were sent to head-quarters," adds the historian, 
" and, I beheve, afterwards tried and whipped." * 

We gladly record one instance in which the atroci- 
ties which disgraced this invasion met with some 
degree of punishment ; and we honor the rough sol- 
dier, Eerguson, for the fiat of " instant death," with 
which he would have requited the most infamous and 
dastardly outrage that brutalizes warfare. 

During the progress of the siege. General Lincoln 
held repeated councils of war, in which he manifested 
a disposition to evacuate the place. This measure was 
likewise urged by General Du Portail, who had pene- 
trated, by secret ways, into the town. The inhabitants, 
however, in an agony of alarm, implored Lincoln not 
to abandon them to the mercies of an infuriated and 
licentious soldiery, and the general, easy and kind- 
hearted, yielded to their entreaties. 

The American cavalry had gradually reassembled 
on the north of the Santee, under Colonel White of 
New Jersey, where they were joined by some militia 
infantry, and by Colonel William Washington, with 
such of his dragoons as had escaped at Monk's Corner. 
Comwallis had committed the country between Cooper 
and Wando Rivers to Tarleton's charge, with orders to 

* Stedman, ii. 183. 


be continually on the move with the cavalry and infan- 
try of the legion ; to watch over the landing-places ; 
obtain intelhgence from the town, the Santee River 
and the back country, and to burn such stores as might 
fall into his hands rather than risk their being retaken 
by the enemy. 

Hearing of the fortuitous assemblage of American 
troops, Tarleton came suddenly upon them by surprise 
at Laneau's Perry. It was one of his bloody exploits. 
Five officers and thirty-six men were killed and 
wounded, and seven officers and six dragoons taken, 
with horses, arms and equipments. Colonels White, 
Washington and Jamieson, with other officers and men, 
threw themselves into the river and escaped by swim- 
ming ; while some, who followed their example, per- 

The arrival of a reinforcement of three thousand 
men from New York, enabled Sir Henry Clinton to 
throw a powerful detachment, under Lord Cornwalhs, 
to the east of Cooper River, to complete the investment 
of the town and cut off all retreat. Port Moultrie 
surrendered. The batteries of the third parallel were 
opened upon the town. They were so near, that the 
Hessian yagers, or sharp-shooters, could pick off the 
garrison while at their guns or on the parapets. This 
fire was kept up for two days. The besiegers crossed 
the canal ; pushed a double sap to the inside of the 
abatis, and prepared to make an assault by sea and 

All hopes of successful defence were at an end. 
The works were in ruins ; the guns almost all dis- 
mounted ; the garrison exhausted with fatigue, the pro- 


visions nearly consumed. The inhabitants, dreading 
the horrors of an assault, joined in a petition to Gen- 
eral Lincoln, and prevailed upon him to offer a surren- 
der on terms which had already been offered and 
rejected. These terms were still granted, and the 
capitulation was signed on the 12th of May. The 
garrison were allowed some of the honors of war. 
They were to march out and deposit their arms, between 
the canal and the works, but the drums were not to 
beat a British march nor the colors to be uncased. 
The Continental troops and seamen were to be allowed 
their baggage, but were to remain prisoners of war. 
The officers of the army and navy were to retain their 
servants, swords and pistols, and their baggage un- 
searched ; and were permitted to sell their horses ; but 
not to remove them out of the town. The citizens 
and the mihtia were to be considered prisoners on 
parole ; the latter to be permitted to return home, and 
both to be protected in person and property as long as 
they kept their parole. Among the prisoners, were 
the lieutenant-governor and five of the council. 

The loss of the British in the siege was seventy-six 
killed and one hundred and eighty -nine wounded ; 
that of the Americans nearly the same. The prison- 
ers taken by the enemy, exclusive of the sailors, 
amounted to five thousand six hundred and eighteen 
men ; comprising every male adult in the city. The 
Continental troops did not exceed two thousand, five 
hundred of whom were in the hospital ; the rest were 
citizens and militia. 

Sir Henry Clinton considered the fall of Charles- 
ton decisive of the fate of South Carolina. To com- 


plete the subjugation of the country, he planned three 
expeditions into the interior. One, under Lieutenant- 
colonel Brown, was to move up the Savannah River to 
Augusta, on the borders of Georgia. Another, under 
Lieutenant-colonel Cruger, was to proceed up the south- 
west side of the Santee River to the district of Ninety 
Six,* a fertile and salubrious region, between the Savan- 
nah and the Saluda rivers ; while a third, under Corn- 
walHs, was to cross the Santee, march up the northeast 
bank, and strike at a corps of troops under Colonel 
Buford, which were retreating to North Carolina with 
artillery and a number of waggons, laden with arms, 
ammunition and clothing. 

Colonel Buford, in fact, had arrived too late for 
the relief of Charleston, and was now making a retro- 
grade move ; he had come on with three hundred and 
eighty troops of the Virginia line, and two field-pieces, 
and had been joined by Colonel Washington with a 
few of his cavalry that had smwed the surprisal by 
Tarleton. As Buford was moving with celerity and 
had the advantage of distance, Cornwallis detached 
Tarleton in pursuit of him, with one hundred and sev- 
enty dragoons, a hundred mounted infantry, and a 
three pounder. The bold partisan pushed forward 
with his usual ardor and l-apidity. The weather was 
sultry, many of his horses gave out through fatigue 
and heat ; he pressed others by the way, leaving behind 
such of his troops as could not keep pace with him. 
After a day and night of forced march he arrived about 
dawn at Bugeley's Mills. Buford, he was told, was 

* So called in early times from being ninety-six miles from the principal 
town of the Cherokee nation. 


about twenty miles in advance of him, pressing on 
with all diligence to join another corps of Americans. 
Tarleton continued his march ; the horses of the three- 
pounder were knocked up and unable to proceed ; his 
wearied troop were continually dropping in the rear. 
Still he urged forward, anxious to overtake Buford 
before he could form a junction with the force he was 
seeking. To detain him he sent forward Captain Kin- 
lock of his legion with a flag, and the following letter : 

" Sir, — Resistance being vain, to prevent the efiusion 
of blood, I make ofiers which can never be repeated. 
You are now almost encompassed by a corps of seven 
hundred light troops on horseback ; half of that num- 
ber are infantry with cannons. Earl Cornwallis is like- 
wise within reach with nine British regiments. I warn 
you of the temerity of further inimical proceedings." 

He concluded by offering the same conditions 
granted to the troops at Charleston ; "if you are rash 
enough to reject them," added he, " the blood be upon 
your head." 

Kinlock overtook Colonel Buford in full march on 
the banks of the Waxhaw, a stream on the border of 
North Carolina, and delivered the summons. The col- 
onel read the letter without coming to a halt, detained 
the flag for some time in conversation, and then returned 
the following note : 

" Sir, — I reject your proposals, and shall defend 
myself to the last extremity. 

" I have the honor, &c." 

Tarleton, who had never ceased to press forward, 


came upon Buford's rear-guard about three o'clock in 
the afternoon, and captured a sergeant and four dra- 
goons. Buford had not expected so prompt an appear- 
ance of the enemy. He hastily drew up his men in 
•order of battle, in an open wood, on the right of the 
road. His artillery and waggons, which were in the 
advance escorted by part of his infantry, were ordered 
to continue on their march. 

There appears to have been some confusion on the 
part of the Americans, and they had an impetuous foe 
to deal with. Before they were well prepared for 
action they were attacked in front and on both flanks 
by cavalry and mounted infantry. Tarleton, who 
advanced at the head of thirty chosen dragoons and 
some infantry, states that when within fifty paces of 
the Continental infantry they presented, but he heard 
their officers command them to retain their fire until 
the British cavalry were nearer. It was not until the 
latter were within ten yards that there was a partial 
discharge of musketry. Several of the dragoons suf- 
fered by this fire. Tarleton himself was unhorsed, 
but his troopers rode on. The American battalion 
was broken ; most of the men threw down their arms 
and begged for quarter, but were cut down without 
mercy. One hundred and thirteen were slain on the 
spot, and one hundred and fifty so mangled and 
maimed that they could not be removed. Colonel Bu- 
ford and a few of the cavalry escaped, as did about a 
hundred of the infantry, who were with the baggage 
in the advance. Fifty prisoners were aU that were in 
a condition to be carried off by Tarleton as trophies of 
this butchery. 


.. The whole British loss was two officers and three 
privates killed, and one officer and fourteen privates 
wounded. What then could excuse this horrible car- 
nage of an almost prostrate enemy? We give Tarle- 
ton's own excuse for it. It commenced, he says, at the 
time he was dismounted and before he could mount 
another horse ; and his cavalry were exasperated by a 
report that he was slain. Comwallis apparently ac- 
cepted this excuse, for he approved of his conduct in the 
expedition, and recommended him as worthy of some 
distinguished mark of royal favor. The world at large, 
however, have not been so easily satisfied, and the mas- 
sacre at the Waxhaw has remained a sanguinary stain 
on the reputation of that impetuous soldier. 

The two other detachments which had been sent 
out by Clinton, met with nothing but submission. 
The people in general, considering resistance hopeless, 
accepted the proffered protection, and conformed to its 
humiliating terms. One class of the population in 
this colony seems to have regarded the invaders as de- 
liverers. " All the negroes," writes Tarleton, " men, 
women and children, upon, the appearance of any 
detachment of king's troops, thought themselves ab- 
solved from all respect to their American masters, and 
entirely released from servitude. They quitted the 
plantations and followed the army." * 

Sir Henry now persuaded himself that South Caro- 
lina was subdued, and proceeded to station garrisons 
in various parts, to maintain it in subjection. In the 
fulness of his confidence, he issued a proclamation on 

* Tarleton's Hist, of Campaign, p. 89. 


the 3d of June, discharging all the military prisoners 
from their paroles after the 20th of the month, except- 
ing those captured in Fort Moultrie and Charleston. 
All thus released from their parole were reinstated in the 
rights and duties of British subjects ; but, at the same 
time, they were bound to take an active part in support 
of the government hitherto opposed by them. Thus the 
protection afforded them while prisoners was annulled 
by an arbitrary fiat — neutrality was at an end. All 
were to be ready to take up arms at a moment's notice. 
Those who had families were to form a militia for home 
defence. Those who had none, were to serve with the 
royal forces. All who should neglect to return to 
their allegiance or should refuse to take up arms against 
the independence of their country, were to be consid- 
ered as rebels and treated accordingly. 

Having struck a blow, which, as he conceived, was 
to ensure the subjugation of the South, Sir Henry em- 
barked for New York on the 5th of June, with a part 
of his forces, leaving the residue under the command 
of Lord Cornwallis, who was to carry the war into 
North Carolina, and thence into Virginia. 



A HANDBILL published by the Britisb authorities in 
New York, reached Washington's camp on the 1st of 
June, and made known the surrender of Charleston. 
A person from Amboy reported, moreover, that on the 
30th of May he had seen one hundred sail of vessels 
enter Sandy Hook. These might bring Sir Henry 
CHnton with the whole or part of his force. In that 
case, flushed with his recent success, he might proceed 
immediately up the Hudson, and make an attempt 
upon West Point, in the present distressed condition 
of the garrison. So thinking, Washington wrote to 
General Howe, who commanded that important post, to 
put him on his guard, and took measures to have him 
furnished with supplies. 

The report concerning the fleet proved to be erro- 
neous, but on the 6th of June came a new alarm. The 
enemy, it was said, were actually landing in force at 
Ehzabethtown Point, to cany fire and sword into the 
Jerseys ! 


It was even so. Knyphausen, through spies and 
emissaries, had received exaggerated accounts of the re- 
cent outbreak in Washington's camp, and of the gen- 
eral discontent among the people of New Jersey ; and 
was persuaded that a sudden show of military protec- 
tion, following up the news of the capture of Charles- 
ton, would produce a general desertion among Wash- 
ington's troops, and rally back the inhabitants of the 
Jerseys to their allegiance to the crown. 

In this belief he projected a descent into the Jer- 
seys with about five thousand men, and some light ar- 
tillery, who were to cross in divisions in the night of 
the 5th of June from Staten Island to Elizabethtown 

The first division led by Brigadier-general Sterling, 
actually landed before dawn of the 6th, and advanced 
as silently as possible. The heavy and measured tramp 
of the troops, however, caught the ear of an American 
sentinel stationed at, a fork where the roads from the 
old and new point joined. He challenged the dimly 
descried mass as it approached, and recei\dng no an- 
swer, fired into it. ^ That shot wounded General Ster- 
ling in the thigh, and ultimately proved mortal. The 
wounded general was carried back, and Knyphausen 
took his place. 

This delayed the march until sunrise, and gave time 
for the troops of the Jersey line, under Colonel EHas 
Dayton, stationed in Elizabethtown, to assemble. They 
were too weak in numbers, however, to withstand the 
enemy, but retreated in good order, skirmishing occa- 
sionally. The invading force passed through the vil- 
lage ; in the advance, a squadron of dragoons of Sim- 


coe's regiment of Queen's Rangers, with drawn swords 
and glittering helmets ; followed by British and Hes- 
sian infantry.* 

Signal guns and signal fires were rousing the coun- 
try. The militia and yeomanry armed themselves with 
such weapons as were at hand, and hastened to their 
alarm posts. The enemy took the old road, by what 
was called Galloping Hill, toward the village of Con- 
necticut Parms; fired upon from behind walls and 
thickets by the hasty levies of the country. 

At Connecticut Farms, the retreating troops under 
Dayton fell in with the Jersey brigade, under General 
Maxwell, and a few militia joining them, the Americans 
were enabled to make some stand, and even to hold the 
enemy in check. The latter, however, brought up sev- 
eral field-pieces, and being reinforced by a second divi- 
sion which had crossed from Staten Island some time 
after the first, compelled the Americans again to re- 
treat. Some of the enemy, exasperated at the unex- 
pected opposition they had met with throughout their 
march, and pretending that the inhabitants of this vil- 
lage had fired upon them from their windows, began to 
pillage and set fire to the houses. It so happened that 
to this village the reverend James Caldwell, " the rous- 
ing gospel preacher," had removed his family as to a 
place of safety, after his church at Elizabethtown had 
been burnt down by the British in January. On the 
present occasion he had retreated with the regiment to 
which he was chaplain. His wife, however, remained 
at the parsonage with her two youngest children, con- 

* Passages in tte Hist, of Elizabethtown, Capt. W. C. De Hart. 


fiding in the protection of Providence, and the human- 
ity of the enemy. 

When the sacking of the village took place, she re- 
tired with her children into a back room of the house. 
Her infant of eight months was in the arms of an attend- 
ant ; she herself was seated on the side of a bed hold- 
ing a child three years by the hand, and was engaged 
in prayer. All was terror and confusion in the village ; 
when suddenly a musket was discharged in at the win- 
dow. Two balls struck her in the breast and she fell 
dead on the floor. The parsonage and church were set 
on fire, and it was with difficulty her body was rescued 
from the flames. 

In the mean time Knyphausen was pressing on with 
his main force towards Morristown. The booming of 
alarm guns had roused the country ; every valley was 
pouring out its yeomanry. Two thousand were said to 
be already in arms below the mountains. 

Within half a mile of Springfield Knyphausen halted 
to reconnoitre. That village, through which passes the 
road to Springfield, had been made the American ral- 
lying point. It stands at the foot of what are called 
the Short Hills, on the west side of Rahway River, which 
runs in front of it. On the bank of the river. General 
Maxwell's Jersey brigade and the militia of the neigh- 
borhood were drawn up to dispute the passage ; and 
on the Short Hills in the rear was Washington with the 
main body of his forces, not mutinous and in confusion, 
but all in good order, strongly posted, and ready for ac- 

Washington had arrived and taken his position that 
afternoon, prepared to withstand an encounter, though 


not to seek one. All niglit his camp fires lighted up 
the Short Hills, and he remained on the alert expecting 
to be assailed in the morning ; but in the morning no 
enemy was to be seen. 

Knyphausen had experienced enough to convince 
him that he had been completely misinformed as to the 
disposition of the Jersey people and of the army. Dis- 
appointed as to the main objects of his enterprise, he 
had retreated under cover of the night, to the place of 
his debarkation, intending to recross to Staten Island 

In the camp at the Short Hills was the reverend 
James Caldwell, whose home had been laid desolate. 
He was still ignorant of the event, but had passed a 
night of great anxiety, and, procuring the protection of 
a flag, hastened back in the morning to Connecticut 
Farms. He found the village in ashes, and his wife a 
mangled corpse ! 

In the course of the day Washington received a let- 
ter from Colonel Alexander Hamilton, who was recon- 
noitring in the neighborhood of Elizabethtown Point. 
" I have seen the enemy," writes he. " Those in view 
I calculate at about three thousand. There may be^ 
and probably are, enough others out of sight. They 
have sent all their horses to the other side except about 
fifty or sixty. Their baggage has also been sent across, 
and their wounded. It is not ascertained that any of 
their infantry have passed on the other side. * * '^' 
The present movement may be calculated to draw us 
down and betray us into an action. They may have de- 
sisted from their intention of passing till night, for fear 
of our falhng upon their rear." 

VOL. IV.— 5 


As Washington was ignorant of tlie misinformation 
which had beguiled Knyphausen into this enterprise, 
the movements of that general, his sudden advance, 
and as sudden retreat, were equally inexplicable. At 
one time, he supposed his inroad to be a mere foraging 
incursion ; then, as Hamilton had suggested, a device to 
draw him down from his stronghold into the plain, where 
the superiority of the British force would give them the 

Knyphausen in fact had been impeded in crossing 
his troops to Staten Island, by the low tide and deep 
muddy shore, which rendered it difficult to embark the 
cavalry ; and by a destructive fire kept up by militia 
posted along the river banks, and the adjacent woods. 
In the mean while he had time to reflect on the ridi- 
cule that would await him in New York, should his ex- 
pedition prove fruitless, and end in what might appear 
a precipitate flight. This produced indecision of mind, 
and induced him to recall the troops which had already 
crossed, and which were necessary, he said, to protect 
his rear. 

Por several days he lingered with his troops at EHz- 
abethtoAvn and the Point beyond ; obliging Washington 
to exercise unremitting vigilance for the safety of the 
Jerseys and of the Hudson. It was a great satisfaction 
to the latter to be joined by Major Henry Lee, who 
with his troop of horse had hastened on from the vi- 
cinity of Philadelphia, where he had recently been sta- 

In the mean time, the tragical fate of Mrs. Caldwell 
produced almost as much excitement throughout the 
country as that which had been caused in a preceding 


year, by the massacre of Miss McCrea. She was con- 
nected with some of the first people of New Jersey ; 
was winning in person and character, and universally 
beloved. Knyphausen was vehemently assailed in the 
American papers, as if responsible for this atrocious 
act. The enemy, however, attributed her death to a 
random shot, discharged in a time of confusion, or to 
the vengeance of a menial who had a deadly pique 
against her husband ; but the popular voice persisted 
in execrating it as the wilful and wanton act of a 
British soldier. 

On the 17th of June the fleet from the South ac- 
tually arrived in the bay of New York, and Sir Henry 
Clinton landed his troops on Staten Island, but almost 
immediately re-embarked them; as if meditating an 
expedition up the river. 

Fearing for the safety of West Point, Washington 
set off on the 21st June, with the main body of his 
troops, towards Pompton ; while General Greene, mth 
Maxwell and Stark's brigades, Lee's dragoons and the 
militia of the neighborhood, remained encamped on 
the Short Hills, to cover the country and protect the 
stores at Morristown. 

Washington's movements were slow and wary, 
unwilling to be far from Greene until better informed 
of the designs of the enemy. At Rockaway Bridge, 
about eleven miles beyond Morristown, he received 
word on the 23d, that the enemy were advancing from 
Elizabethtown against Springfield. Supposing the mih- 
tary depot at Morristown to be their ultimate object, 
he detached a brigade to the assistance of Greene, 


and fell back five or six miles, so as to be in supporting 
distance of him. 

The re-embarkation of the troops at Staten Island, 
had, in fact, been a stratagem of Sir Henry Clinton to 
divert the attention of Washington, and enable Knyp- 
hausen to carry out the enterprise v^hich had hitherto 
huno; fire. No sooner did the latter ascertain that the 
American commander-in-chief had moved off with his 
main force towards the Highlands, than he sallied from 
Elizabethtown five thousand strong, with a large body 
of cavalry, and fifteen or twenty pieces of artillery ; 
hoping not merely to destroy the public stores at Mor- 
ristown, but to get possession of those difiicult hills 
and defiles, among which Washington's army had been 
so securely posted, and which constituted the strength 
of that part of the country. 

It was early on the morning of the 23d that Knyp- 
hausen pushed forward toward Springfield. Beside the 
main road which passes directly through the village 
toward Morristown, there is another, north of it, called 
the Vauxhall road, crossing several smaU streams, the 
confluence of which forms the Railway. These two 
roads unite beyond the village in the principal pass of 
the Short Hills. The enemy's troops advanced rapidly 
in two compact columns, the right one by the Vauxhall 
road, the other, by the main or direct road. General 
Greene was stationed among the Short HiUs, about a 
mile above the town. His troops were distributed at 
various posts, for there were many passes to guard. 

At five o'clock in the morning, signal-guns gave 
notice of the approach of the enemy. The drums beat 
to »rms throughout the camp. The troops were hastily 


called in from their posts among the mountain passes, 
and preparations were made to defend the village. 

Major Lee, with his dragoons and a picket-guard, 
was posted on the Vauxhall road, to check the right 
column of the enemy in its advance. Colonel Dayton 
with his regiment of New Jersey militia, was to check 
the left column on the main road. Colonel Angel of 
Rhode Island, with about two hundred picked men, 
and a piece of artillery, was to defend a bridge over 
the Rah way, a little west of the town. Colonel Shreve, 
stationed with his regiment at a second bridge over a 
branch of the Rahway east of the town, was to cover, 
if necessary, the retreat of Colonel Angel. Those 
parts of Maxwell and Stark's brigades which were not 
thus detached, were drawn up on high grounds in the 
rear of the town, having the militia on their flanks. 

There was some sharp fighting at a bridge on the 
Vauxhall road, where Major Lee with his dragoons 
and picket-guard held the right column at bay ; a part 
of the column, however, forded the stream above the 
bridge, gained a commanding position, and obhged 
Lee to retire. 

The left column met with similar opposition from 
Dayton and his Jersey regiment. None showed more 
ardor in the fight than Caldwell the chaplain. The 
image of his murdered wife was before his eyes. Find- 
ding the men in want of wadding, he galloped to the 
Presbyterian church and brought thence a quantity of 
Watts's psalm and hymn books, which he distributed 
for the purpose among the soldiers. " Now/' cried he, 
" put Watts into them, boys ! " 

The severest fighting of the day was at the bridge 


over the Railway. For upwards of half an hoiir Col- 
onel Angel defended it with his handful of men against 
a vastly superior force. One fourth of his men were 
either killed or disabled : the loss of the enemy was stiH 
more severe. Angel was at length compelled to retire. 
He did so in good order, carrying off his wounded and 
making his way through the village to the bridge 
beyond it. Here his retreat was bravely covered by 
Colonel Shreve, but he too was obliged to give way 
before the overwhelming force of the enemy, and join 
the brigades of Maxwell and Stark upon the hill. 

General Greene, finding his front too much ex- 
tended for his small force, and that he was in danger 
of being outflanked on the left by the column pressing 
forv/ard on the Yauxhall road, took post with his main 
body on the first range of hUls, where the roads were 
brought near to a point, and passed between him and 
the height occupied by Stark and Maxwell. He then 
threw out a detachment which checked the further 
advance of the right column of the enemy along the 
Vauxhall road, and secured that pass through the Short 
Hills. Feeling himself now strongly posted, he awaited 
with confidence the expected attempt of the enemy to 
gain the height. No such attempt was made. The 
resistance already experienced, especially at the bridge, 
and the sight of militia gathering from various points, 
dampened the ardor of the hostile commander. He 
saw that, should he persist in pushing for Morristown, 
he would have to fight his way through a country 
abounding with difficult passes, every one of which would 
be obstinately disputed ; and that the enterprise, even 
if successful, might cost too much, beside taking him 


too far from New York, at a time when a Frencli arma- 
ment might be expected. 

Before the brigade detached by Washington arrived 
at the scene of action, therefore, the enemy had re- 
treated. Previous to their retreat they wreaked upon 
Springfield the same vengeance they had inflicted on 
Connecticut Earms. The whole village, excepting four 
houses, was reduced to ashes. Their second retreat 
was equally ignoble with their first. They were pur- 
sued and harassed the whole way to Ehzabethtown by 
light scouting parties and by the militia and yeomanry 
of the country, exasperated by the sight of the burn- 
ing village. Lee, too, came upon their rear-guard 
with his dragoons ; captured a quantity of stores aban- 
doned by them in the hurry of retreat, and made pris- 
oners of several refugees. 

It was sunset when the enemy reached Elizabeth- 
town. During the night they passed over to Staten 
Island by their bridge of boats. By six o'clock in the 
morning all had crossed, and the bridge had been 
removed — and the State of New Jersey, so long harassed 
by the campaignings of either army, was finally evacu- 
ated by the enemy. It had proved a school of war to 
the American troops. The incessant marchings and 
counter-marchings ; the rude encampments ; the expo- 
sures to all kinds of hardship and privation; the 
alarms ; the stratagems ; the rough encounters and 
adventurous enterprises of which this had been the 
theatre for the last three or four years, had rendered 
the patriot soldier hardy, adroit, and long-sufiering ; had 
accustomed him to danger, inm:ed him to discipline, and 
brought him nearly on a level with the European mer- 


cenary in the habitudes and usages of arms, while he 
had the superior incitements of home, country, and 
independence. The ravaging incursions of the enemy 
had exasperated the most peace-loving parts of the 
country ; made soldiers of the husbandmen, acquainted 
them with their own powers, and taught them that the 
foe was vulnerable. The recent ineffectual attempts of 
a veteran general to penetrate the fastnesses of Morris- 
town, though at the head of a veteran force, " which 
would once have been deemed capable of sweeping the 
whole continent before it," was a lasting theme of tri- 
umph to the inhabitants ; and it is still the honest 
boast among the people of Morris County, that " the 
enemy never were able to get a footing among our 
hills." At the same time the conflagration of villages 
by which they sought to cover or revenge their repeated 
failures, and their precipitate retreat, harassed and 
insulted by half-disciplined militia, and a crude, rustic 
levy, formed an ignominious close to the British cam- 
paigns in the Jerseys. 



Apprehensive that the next move of the enemy would 
be up the Hudson, Washington resumed his measures 
for the security of West Point; moving towards the 
Highlands in the latter part of June. Circumstances 
soon convinced him that the enemy had no present in- 
tention of attacking that fortress, but merely menaced 
him at various points, to retard his operations, and 
oblige him to call out the militia ; thereby interrupting 
agriculture, distressing the country, and rendering his 
cause unpopular. Having, therefore, caused the mili- 
tary stores in the Jerseys to be removed to more remote 
and secure places ; he countermanded by letter the mi- 
Htia, which were marching to camp from Connecticut 
and Massachusetts. 

He now exerted himself to the utmost to procure 
from the different State Legislatures, their quotas and 
suppUes for the regular army. " The sparing system," 


said he, " has been tried until it has brought us to a cri- 
sis Httle less than desperate." This was the time, by 
one great exertion, to put an end to the war. The 
basis of every thing was the completion of the Conti- 
nental battalions to their full establishment, otherwise, 
nothing decisive could be attempted, and this campaign, 
like all the former, must be chiefly defensive. He warned 
against those "indolent and narrow politicians, who, 
except at the moment of some signal misfortune, are 
continually crying all is loell, and who to save a little 
present expense, and avoid some temporary inconve- 
nience, with no ill designs in the main, would protract 
the war, and risk the perdition of our liberties."* 

The desired relief, however, had to be effected 
through the ramifications of General and State govern- 
ments, and their committees. The operations were 
tardy and unproductive. Liberal contributions were 
made by individuals, a bank was established by the in- 
habitants of Philadelphia to facilitate the supplies of the 
army, and an association of ladies of that city raised by 
subscription between seven and eight thousand dollars, 
which were put at the disposition of Washington, to be 
laid out in such a manner as he might think "most 
honorable and gratifying to the brave old soldiers who 
had borne so great a share of the burden of the war." 

The capture of General Lincoln at Charleston, had 
left the Southern department without a commander-in- 
chief. As there were hkely to be important military 
operations in that«quarter, Washington had intended to 
recommend General Greene for the appointment. He 

* Letter to Gov. TrumbulL Sparks, vii. 93. 


was an officer on whose abilities, discretion, and disin- 
terested patriotism lie had the fullest rehance, and whom 
he had always found thoroughly disposed to act in uni- 
son with him in his general plan of carrying on the 
war. Congress, however, with unbecoming precipitan- 
cy, gave that important command to General Gates 
(June 13th), without waiting to consult Washington's 
views or wishes. 

Gates, at the time, was on his estate in Virginia, 
and accepted the appointment with avidity, anticipating 
new triumphs. His old associate General Lee, gave 
him an ominous caution at parting. " Beware that your 
Northern laurels do not change to Southern willows ! " 

On the 10 th of July a Erench fleet, under the 
Chevalier de Ternay, arrived at Newport, in Rhode 
Island. It was composed of seven ships of the line, two 
frigates and two bombs, and convoyed transports on 
board of which were upwards of five thousand troops. 
This was the first division of the forces promised by 
Prance, of which Lafayette had spoken. The second 
division had been detained at Brest for want of trans- 
ports, but might soon be expected. 

The Count de Rochambeau, Lieutenant-general of 
the royal armies, was commander-in-chief of this aux- 
iliary force. He was a veteran, fifty -five years of age, 
who had early distinguished himself, when colonel of 
the regiment of Auvergne, and had gained laurels in va- 
rious battles, especially that of Kloster camp, of which 
he decided the success. Since then, he had risen from 
one post of honor to another, until entrusted with his 
present important command.* 

* Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, was born at 
Vendome, in France, 1725. 


Another officer of rank and distinction in this force, 
was Major-general the Marquis de Chastellux, a friend 
and relative of Lafayette, but much his senior, being 
now forty-six years of age. He was not only a soldier 
but a man of letters, and one familiar with courts as 
well as camps. 

Count Rochambeau's first despatch to Vergennes,the 
French minister of State (July 16th), gave a discourag- 
ing picture of affairs. " Upon my arrival here," writes 
he, " the country was in consternation, the paper money 
had fallen to sixty for one, and even the government 
takes it up at forty for one. Washington had for a long 
time only three thousand men under his command. 
The arrival of the Marquis de Lafayette, and the an- 
nouncement of succors from Prance, afforded some en- 
couragement ; but the tories, who are very numerous, 
gave out that it was only a temporary assistance, like 
that of Count d'Estaing. In describing to you our re- 
ception at this place, we shall show you the feehng of 
all the inhabitants of the continent. This town is of 
considerable size, and contains, like the rest, both whigs 
and tories. I landed with my staff, without troops ; 
nobody appeared in the streets ; those at the windows 
looked sad and depressed. I spoke to the principal 
persons of the place, and told them, as I wrote to Gen- 
eral Washington, that this was merely the advanced 
guard of a greater force, and that the king was deter- 
mined to support them with his whole power. In twen- 
ty-four hours their spirits rose, and last night all the 
streets, houses, and steeples were illuminated, in the 
midst of fireworks, and the greatest rejoicings. I am 
now here with a single company of grenadiers, until 


wood and straw shall have been collected ; my camp is 
marked out, and I hope to have the troops landed to- 

Still, however, there appears to have been ahngering 
feehng of disappointment in the public bosom. " The 
whigs are pleased," writes de Rochambeau, " but they 
say that the king ought to have sent twenty thou- 
sand men, and twenty ships, to drive the enemy from 
New York ; that the country was infallibly ruined ; that 
it is impossible to find a recruit to send to General 
Washington's army, without giving him one hundred 
hard dollars to engage for six months' service, and they 
beseech his majesty to assist them with all his strength. 
The war will be an expensive one ; we pay even for our 
quarters, and for the land covered with the camp."* 

The troops were landed to the east of the town ; 
their encampment was on a fine situation, and extended 
nearly across the island. Much was said of their gal- 
lant and martial appearance. There was the noted re- 
giment of Auvergne, in command of w^hich the Count 
de Rochambeau had first gained his laurels, but w^hich 
was now commanded by his son the viscount, thirty years 
of age. A legion of six hundred men also w^as espe- 
cially admired ; it was commanded by the Duke de 
Lauzun (Lauzun-Biron) ; who had gained reputation in 
the preceding year by the capture of Senegal. A feel- 
ing of adventm-e and romance, associated with the 
American struggle, had caused many of the young no- 
bility to seek this new field of achievement, who to use 
de Rochambeau's words, " brought out with them the 

* Sparks. Writings of Waslungton, vii. 504. 


heroic and chivalrous courage of the ancient French 
nobihty." To their credit be it spoken also, they 
brought with them the ancient French politeness, for it 
was remarkable how soon they accommodated them- 
selves to circumstances, made light of all the privations 
and inconveniences of a new country, and conformed to 
the familiar simplicity of republican manners. General 
Heath, who, by Washington's orders, was there to offer 
his services, was, by his own account, " charmed with 
the officers,'* who, on their part, he said, expressed the 
highest satisfaction with the treatment they received. 

The instructions of the French ministry to the 
Count de Rochambeau placed him entirely under the 
command of General Washington. The French troops 
were to be considered as auxiliaries, and as such were 
to take the left of the American troops, and, in all 
cases of ceremony, to yield them the preference. This 
considerate arrangement had been adopted at the sug- 
gestion of the Marquis de Lafayette, and was intended 
to prevent the recurrence of those questions of rank 
and etiquette which had heretofore disturbed the com- 
bined service. 

Washington, in general orders, congratulated the 
army on the arrival of this timely and generous succor, 
which he hailed as a new tie between France and 
America ; anticipating that the only contention between 
the two armies would be to excel each other in good 
offices, and in the display of every military virtue. 
The American cockade had hitherto been black, that 
of the French was white ; he recommended to his offi- 
cers a cockade of black and white intermingled in com- 


pliment to their allies, and as a symbol of friendship 
and union. 

His joy at this important reinforcement was dashed 
by the mortifying reflection, that he was still unprovided 
with the troops and military means requisite for the 
combined operations meditated. Still he took upon 
himself the responsibility of immediate action, and 
forthwith despatched Lafayette to have an interview 
with the French commanders, explain the circumstances 
of the case, and concert plans for the proposed attack 
upon New York. 

" Pressed on all sides by a choice of difliculties," 
writes he to the President, " I have adopted that line 
of conduct which suited the dignity and faith of Con- 
gress, the reputation of these States, and the honor of 
our arms. Neither the season nor a regard to decency 
would permit delay. The die is cast, and it remains 
with the States either to fulfil their engagements, pre- 
serve their credit and support their independence, or 
to involve us in disgrace and defeat. ***** 
* I shall proceed on the supposition that they will 
ultimately consult their own interest and honor, and 
not suffer us to fail for want of means, which it is evi- 
dently in their power to afford. What has been done, 
and is doing, by some of the States, confirms the opin- 
ion I have entertained of the sufiicient resources of the 
country. As to the disposition of the people to submit 
to any arrangements for bringing them forth, I see no 
reasonable grounds to doubt. If we fail for want of 
proper exertions in any of the governments, I trust the 
responsibihty will fall where it ought, and that I shall 

80 LIFE or WASHINGTON. [1780. 

stand justified to Congress, to my country, and to the 

The arrival, however, of the British Admiral Graves 
at New York, on the 13th of July, with six ships-of- 
the-line, gave the enemy such a superiority of naval 
force, that the design on New York was postponed 
until the second French division should make its ap- 
pearance, or a squadron under the Count de Guichen, 
which was expected from the West Indies. 

In the mean time, Sir Henry Clinton, who had in- 
formation of all the plans arid movements of the allies, 
determined to forestall the meditated attack upon New 
York, by beating up the French quarters on Rhode 
Island. This he was to do in person at the head of six 
thousand men, aided by Admiral Arbuthnot with his 
fleet. Sir Henry accordingly proceeded with his troops 
to Throg's Neck on the Sound ; there to embark on 
board of transports which Arbuthnot was to provide. 
No sooner did Washington learn that so large a force 
had left New York, than he crossed the Hudson to 
Peekskill, and prepared to move towards King's Bridge 
with the main body of his troops, which had recently 
been reinforced. His intention was, either to oblige 
Sir Henry to abandon his project against Uhode Island, 
or to strike a blow at New York during his absence. 
As Washington was on horseback, observing the crossing 
of the last division of his troops, General Arnold ap- 
proached, having just arrived in the camp. Arnold had 
been manoeuvring of late to get the command of West 
Point, and, among other means, had induced Mr. 
Robert R. Livingston, then a New York member of 
Congress, to suggest it in a letter to Washington as a 


measure of great expediency. Arnold now accosted 
the latter to know whether any place had been assigned 
to him. He was told, that he was to command the left 
wing, and Washington added that they would have fur- 
ther conversation on the subject when he returned to 
head-quarters. The silence and evident chagrin with 
which the reply was received surprised Washington, 
and he was still more surprised when he subsequently 
learned that Arnold was more desirous of a garrison 
post than of a command in the field, although a post 
of honor had been assigned him, and active service 
was anticipated. Arnold's excuse was that his wounded 
leg still unfitted him for action either on foot or 
horseback ; but that at West Point he might render 
himself useful. 

The expedition of Sir Henry was delayed by the 
tardy arrival of transports. In the mean time he heard 
of the sudden move of Washington, and learned more- 
over, that the position of the Prench at Newport had 
been strengthened by the militia from the neighboring 
country. These tidings disconcerted his plans. He 
left Admiral Arbuthnot to proceed with his squadron 
to Newport, blockade the Prench fleet and endeavor to 
intercept the second division, supposed to be on its way, 
while he with his troops hastened back to New York. 

In consequence of their return Washington again 
withdrew his forces to the west side of the Hudson ; 
first establishing a post and throwing up some small 
works at Dobbs Perry, about ten miles above King's 
Bridge, to secure a communication across the river for 
the transportation of troops and ordnance, should the 
design upon New York be prosecuted. 

VOL. IV. — 6 


Arnold now received the important command which 
he had so earnestly coveted. It included the fortress 
at West Point and the posts from Fishkill to King's 
Ferry, together with the corps of infantry and cavalry 
advanced towards the enemy's line on the east side of 
the river. He was ordered to have the works at the 
Point completed as expeditiously as possible, and to 
keep all his posts on their guard against surprise; 
there being constant apprehensions that the enemy 
might make a sudden effort to gain possession of the 

Having made these arrangements, Washington re- 
crossed to the west side of the Hudson, and took post 
at Orangetown or Tappan, on the borders of the Jer- 
seys, and opposite to Dobbs Perry, to be at hand for 
any attempt upon New York. 

The execution of this cherished design, however, 
was again postponed by intelligence that the second 
division of the French reinforcements was blockaded 
in the harbor of Brest by the British : Washington stiU 
had hopes that it might be carried into effect by the 
aid of the squadron of the Count de Guichen from the 
West Indies ; or of a fleet from Cadiz. 

At this critical juncture, an embarrassing derange- 
ment took place in the quartermaster-general's depart- 
ment, of which General Greene was the head. The 
reorganization of this department had long been in 
agitation. A system had been digested by Washing- 
ton, Schuyler and Greene, adapted, as they thought, 
to the actual situation of the country. Greene had 
offered, should it be adopted, to continue in the dis- 
charge of the duties of the department, without any 

1780.] Greene's difficulty with congress. 83 

extra emolument other than would cover the expenses 
of his family. Congress devised a different scheme. 
He considered it incapable of execution, and Hkely to 
be attended with calamitous and disgraceful results ; he 
therefore tendered his resignation. Washington en- 
deavored to prevent its being accepted. " Unless effec- 
tual measures are taken," said he, " to induce General 
Greene and the other principal officers of that depart- 
ment to continue their services, there must of necessity 
be a total stagnation of military business. We not 
only must cease from the preparations for the campaign, 
but in all probability, shall be obliged to disperse, if 
not disband the army for want of subsistence." 

The tone and manner, however, assumed by General 
Greene in offering his resignation, and the time chosen, 
when the campaign was opened, the enemy in the field, 
and the French commanders waiting for co-operation, 
were deeply offensive to Congress. His resignation 
was promptly accepted : there was a talk even of sus- 
pending him from his command in the line. 

Washington interposed his sagacious and considerate 
counsels to allay this irritation, and prevent the infliction 
of such an indignity upon an officer, for whom he en- 
tertained the highest esteem and friendship. " A pro- 
cedure of this kind without a proper trial," said he, 
" must touch the feelings of every officer. It will show 
in a conspicuous point of view the uncertain tenure by 
which they hold their commissions. In a word, it will 
exhibit such a specimen of power, that I question much 
if there is an officer in the whole Hue that will hold a 
commission beyond the end of the campaign, if he does 
tiU then. Such an act in the most despotic govern- 


ment would be attended at least with loud com- 

The counsels of Washington prevailed ; the indig- 
nity was not inflicted, and Congress was saved from 
the error, if not disgrace, of discarding from her service 
one of the ablest and most meritorious of her generals. 

Colonel Pickering was appointed to succeed Greene 
as quartermaster-general, but the latter continued for 
some time, at the request of Washington, to aid in con- 
ducting the business of the department. Colonel Pick- 
ering acquitted himself in his new office with zeal, 
talents and integrity, but there were radical defects in 
the system which defied all abihty and exertion. 

The commissariat was equally in a state of derange- 
ment. " At this very juncture," writes Washington 
(Aug. 20th), " I am reduced to the painful alternative, 
either of dismissing a part of the militia now assembling, 
or of letting them come forward to starve ; which it will 
be extremely difficult for the troops already in the field 
to avoid. ^ * * * Every day's experience proves 
more and more that the present mode of supplies is 
the most uncertain, expensive and injurious, that could 
be devised. It is impossible for us to form any calcu- 
lations of what we are to expect, and consequently, to 
concert any plans for future execution. No adequate 
provision of forage having been made, we are now 
obhged to subsist the horses of the army by force, 
which, among other evils, often gives rise to civil dis- 
putes and prosecutions, as vexatious as they are bur- 
densome to the public." In his emergencies he was 
forced to empty the magazines at West Point ; yet 
these afforded but temporary rehef ; scarcity continued 


to prevail to a distressing degree, and on the 6tli of 
September, he complains that the army has for two 
or three days been entirely destitute of meat. " Snch 
injury to the discipline of the army," adds he, " and 
such distress to the inhabitants, result from these fre- 
quent events, that my feeUngs are hurt beyond descrip- 
tion at the cries of the one and at seeing the other." 

The anxiety of Washington at this moment of 
embarrassment was heightened by the receipt of dis- 
astrous intelligence from the South ; the purport of 
which we shall succinctly relate in another chapter. 







Lord Cornwallis, when left in militaiy command at 
the South by Sir Henry Clinton, was charged, it will 
be recollected, with the invasion of North Carolina. It 
was an enterprise in which much difficulty was to be 
apprehended, both from the character of the people and 
the country. The original settlers were from various 
parts, most of them men who had experienced political 
or religious oppression, and had brought with them a 
quick sensibility to wrong, a stern appreciation of their 
rights, and an indomitable spirit of freedom and inde- 
pendence. In the heart of the State was a hardy Pres- 
byterian stock, the Scotch Irish, as they were called, 
having emigrated from Scotland to Ireland, and thence 
to America ; and who were said to possess the impul- 
siveness of the Irishman, with the dogged resolution of 
the Covenanter. 

The early history of the colony abounds with in- 


stances of this spirit among its people. " They always 
behaved insolently to their governors," complains Gov- 
ernor Barrington in 1731; " some they have driven out 
of the country — at other times they set up a govern- 
ment of their own choice, supported by men under 
arms." It was in fact the spirit of popular liberty and 
self-government which stirred withm them, and gave 
birth to the glorious axiom ; " the rights of the many 
against the exactions of the few." So ripe was this 
spirit at an early day, that when the boundary line was 
run, in 1727, between North Carolina and Virginia, the 
borderers were eager to be included vrithin the former 
province, " as there they payed no tribute to God or 

It was this spirit which gave rise to the confederacy, 
called the Regulation, formed to withstand the abuses 
of power ; and the first blood shed in our country, in 
resistance to arbitrary taxation, was at Alamance in this 
province, in a conflict between the regulators and Gov- 
ernor Try on. Above all, it should never be forgotten, 
that at Mecklenburg, in the heart of North Carolina, 
was fulminated the first declaration of independence of 
the British crown, upwards of a year before a like de- 
claration by Congress. 

A population so characterized presented formidable 
difficulties to the invader. The physical difficulties 
arising from the nature of the country consisted in its 
mountain fastnesses in the north-western, part, its vast 
forests, its sterile tracts, its long rivers, destitute of 
bridges, and which, though fordable in fair weather, 
were liable to be swollen by sudden storms and freshes, 
and rendered deep, turbulent and impassable. These 


rivers, in fact, which rushed down from the moun- 
tain, but wound sluggishly through the plains, were 
the military strength of the country, as we shall have 
frequent occasion to show in the course of our nar- 

Lord Cornwallis forbore to attempt the invasion of 
North Carolina until the summer heats should be over 
and the harvests gathered in. In the mean time he 
disposed of his troops in cantonments, to cover the 
frontiers of South Carolina and Georgia and maintain 
their internal quiet. The command of the frontiers 
was given by him to Lord Rawdon, who made Camden 
his principal post. This town, the capital of Kershaw 
District, a fertile, fruitful country, was situated on the 
east bank of the Wateree River, on the road leading to 
North Carolina. It was to be the grand military depot 
for the projected campaign. 

Having made these dispositions, Lord CornwaUis 
set up his head-quarters at Charleston, where he occu- 
pied himself in regulating the civil and commercial 
affairs of the province, in organizing the militia of the 
lower districts, and in forwarding provisions and muni- 
tions of war to Camden. 

The proclamation of Sir Henry Clinton putting an 
end to all neutrality, and the rigorous penalties and 
persecutions with which all infractions of its terms 
were punished, had for a time quelled the spirit of the 
country. By degrees, however, the dread of British 
power gave way to impatience of British exactions. 
Symptoms of revolt manifested themselves in various 
parts. They were encouraged by intelligence that De 
Kalb, sent by Washington, was advancing through 

1780.] THOMAS SUMTER. 89 

North Carolina at the head of two thousand men, and 
that the militia of that State and of Virginia were join- 
ing his standard. This was soon followed by tidings 
that Gates, the conqueror of Burgoyne, was on his way 
to take command of the Southern forces. 

The prospect of such aid from the North reani- 
mated the Southern patriots. One of the most emi- 
nent of these was Thomas Sumter, whom the Carolini- 
ans had sumamed the Game Cock. He was between 
forty and fifty years of age, brave, hardy, vigorous, 
resolute. He had served against the Indians in his 
boyhood during the old Prench war, and had been pre- 
sent at the defeat of Braddock. In the present war 
he had held the rank of lieutenant-colonel of riflemen 
in the Continental line. After the fall of Charleston, 
when patriots took refuge in contiguous States, or in 
the natural fastnesses of the country, he had retired 
with his family into one of the latter. 

The lower part of South Carolina for upwards of 
a hundred miles back from the sea is a level country, 
abounding with swamps, locked up in the windings 
of the rivers which flow down from the Appalachian 
Mountains. Some of these swamps are mere cane- 
brakes, of little use until subdued by crJtivation, when 
they yield abundant crops of rice. Others are covered 
with forests of cypress, cedar and laurel, green all the 
year and odoriferous, but tangled with vines and almost 
impenetrable. In their bosoms, however, are fine sa- 
vannahs ; natural lawns, open to cultivation and yield- 
ing abundant pasturage. It requires local knowledge, 
however, to penetrate these wildernesses, and hence 
they formed strongholds to the people of the country. 


In one of tliese natural fastnesses, on the borders of 
the Santee, Sumter had taken up his residence, and 
hence he would sally forth in various directions. Dur- 
ing a temporary absence his retreat had been invaded, 
his house burnt to the ground, his wife and children 
driven forth without shelter. Private injury had thus 
been added to the incentives of patriotism. Emerging 
from his hiding-place he had thrown himself among a 
handful of his fellow-sufferers who had taken refuge in 
North Carolina. They chose him at once as a leader, 
and resolved on a desperate struggle for the deliverance 
of their native State. Destitute of regular weapons, 
they forged rude substitutes out of the implements of 
husbandry. Old mill saws were converted into broad- 
swords ; knives at the ends of poles served for lances ; 
while the country housewives gladly gave up their pew- 
ter dishes and other utensils, to be melted down and 
cast into bullets for such as had fire-arms. 

When Sumter led this gallant band of exiles over 
the border, they did not amount in number to two 
hundred : yet, with these, he attacked and routed a 
well-armed body of British troops and tories, the ter- 
ror of the frontier. His followers supplied themselves 
with weapons from the slain. In a little while his 
band was augmented by recruits. Parties of militia, 
also, recently embodied under the compelling measures 
of Cornwallis, deserted to the patriot standard. Thus 
reinforced to the amount of six hundred men, he made, 
on the 30th of July, a spirited attack on the British 
post at Bocky Mount, near the Catawba, but was re- 
pulsed. A more successful attack was made by him, 
eight days afterwards, on another post at Hanging 

1780.] ADVANCE OF DE KALB. 91 

Rock. The Prince of Wales regiment which defended 
it was nearly annihilated, and a large body of North 
Carolina loyalists, under Colonel Brian, was routed and 
dispersed. The gallant exploits of Sumter were emu- 
lated in other parts of the country, and the partisan 
war thus commenced was carried on with an audacity 
that soon obliged the enemy to call in their outposts, 
and collect their troops in large masses. 

The advance of De Kalb with reinforcements from 
the North, had been retarded by various difficulties, 
the most important of which was want of provisions. 
This had been especially the case, he said, since his 
arrival in North Carolina. The legislative or executive 
power, he complained gave him no assistance, nor could 
he obtain supplies from the people but by military force. 
There was no flour in the camp, nor were dispositions 
made to furnish any. His troops were reduced for a 
time to short allowance, and at length, on the 6th of 
July, brought to a positive halt at Deep River.* The 
North Carolina militia, under General Caswell, were 
abeady in the field, on the road to Camden, beyond 
the Pedee River. He was anxious to form a junction 
with them, and with some Virginia troops under Colo- 
nel Porterfield, reliques of the defenders of Charleston ; 
but a wide and sterile region lay between him and 
them, difficult to be traversed, unless magazines were 
established in advance, or he were supplied with provi- 
sions to take with him. Thus circumstanced, he wrote 
to Congress and to the State Legislature, representing 
his situation, and entreating rehef. Por three weeks 

* A branch of Cape Fear river. The aboriginal name Sapporah. 


he remained in this encampment, foraging an exhausted 
country for a meagre subsistence, and was thinking of 
deviating to the right, and seeking the fertile counties 
of Mecklenburg and Rowan, when, on the 25th of 
July, General Gates arrived at the camp. 

The baron greeted him with a Continental salute 
from his little park of artillery, and received him with 
the ceremony and deference due to a superior officer 
who was to take the command. There was a contest 
of politeness between the two generals. Gates ap- 
proved of De Kalb's standing orders, but at the first 
review of the troops, to the great astonishment of the 
baron, gave orders for them to hold themselves in readi- 
ness to march at a moment's warning. It was evident 
he meant to signalize himself by celerity of move- 
ment in contrast with protracted delays. 

It was in vain the destitute situation of the troops 
was represented to him, and that they had not a day's 
provision in advance. His reply was, that waggons 
laden with supplies were coming on, and would over- 
take them in two days. 

On the 27th, he actually put the army in motion 
over the Buffalo Ford, on the direct road to Camden. 
Colonel Williams, the adjutant-general of De Kalb, 
warned him of the sterile nature of that route, and 
recommended a more circuitous one further north, 
which the baron had intended to take, and which 
passed through the abundant county of Mecklenburg. 
Gates persisted in taking the direct route, observing 
that he should the sooner form a junction with Caswell 
and the North Carolina militia ; and as to the sterility 
of the country, his supplies would soon overtake him. 


The route proved all that had been represented. 
It led through a region of pine barrens, sand hills 
and swamps, with few human habitations, and those 
mostly deserted. The supplies of which he had spoken 
never overtook him. His army had to subsist itself 
on lean cattle, roaming almost wild in the woods ; and 
to supply the want of bread with green Indian corn, 
unripe apples, and peaches. The consequence was, a 
distressing prevalence of dysentery. 

Having crossed the Pedee River on the 3d of Au- 
gust, the army was joined by a handful of brave Virgi- 
nia regulars, under Lieutenant-colonel Porterfield, who 
had been wandering about the country since the disas- 
ter of Charleston ; and, on the 7th, the much-desired 
junction took place with the North Carolina militia. 
On the 13th they encamped at Rugeley's Mills, other- 
wise called Clermont, about twelve miles from Camden, 
and on the following day were reinforced by a brigade 
of seven hundred Virginia militia, under General 

On the approach of Gates, Lord Rawdon had con- 
centrated his forces at Camden. The post was flanked 
by the Wateree River and Pine-tree Creek, and 
strengthened with redoubts. Lord CornwaUis had 
hastened hither from Charleston on learning that affairs 
in this quarter were drawing to a crisis, and had arrived 
here on the 13th. The British effective force thus 
collected was something more than two thousand, 
including officers. About five hundred were militia 
and tory refugees from North Carohna. 

The forces under Gates, according to the return of 
his adjutant-general, were three thousand and fifty-two 


fit for duty ; more than two-thirds of them, however, 
were miUtia. 

On the 14th, he received an express from General 
Sumter, who, with his partisan corps, after harassing 
the enemy at various points, was now endeavoring to 
cut off their supphes from Charleston. The object of 
the express was to ask a reinforcement of regulars to 
aid him in capturing a large convoy of clothing, am- 
munition and stores, on its way to the garrison, and 
which would pass Wateree Perry, about a mile from 

Gates accordingly detached Colonel Woolford of 
the Maryland line, with one hundred regulars, a party 
of artillery, and two brass field-pieces. On the same 
evening he moved with his main force to take post at 
a deep stream about seven miles from Camden, intend- 
ing to attack Lord Rawdon or his redoubts, should he 
march out in force to repel Sumter. 

It seems hardly credible that Gates should have 
been so remiss in collecting information concerning the 
movements of his enemy as to be utterly unaware that 
Lord CornwaUis had arrived at Camden. Such, how- 
ever, we are assured by his adjutant-general, was the 

By a singular coincidence. Lord CornwaUis on the 
very same evening saUied forth from Camden to attack 
the American camp at Clermont. 

About two o'clock at night, the two forces blun- 
dered, as it were, on each other about half way. A 
skirmish took place between their advanced guards, in 

* Narrative of Adjutant-General Williams. 

1780.] BATTLE OF CAMDEN. 95 

which Porterfield of the Virginia regulars was mortally 
wounded. Some prisoners were taken on either side. 
From these the respective commanders learnt the nature 
of the forces each had stumbled upon. Both halted, 
formed their troops for action, but deferred further hos- 
tilities until dayhght. 

Gates was astounded at being told that the enemy 
at hand was Comwallis with three thousand men. 
CaUing a council of war, he demanded what was best 
to be done ? For a moment or two there was blank 
silence. It was broken by General Stevens of the 
Virginia militia, with the significant question, " Gen- 
tlemen, is it not too late now to do any thing but 
fight ? " No other advice was asked or offered, and 
aU were required to repair to their respective com- 
mands,* though General de Kalb, we are told, was of 
opinion that they should regain their position at Cler- 
mont, and there await an attack. 

In forming the line, the first Maryland division, 
including the Delawares, was on the right, commanded 
by De Kalb. The Virginia militia under Stevens, were 
on the left. Caswell with the North Carolinians formed 
the centre. The artillery was in battery on the road. 
Each flank was covered by a marsh. The second Mary- 
land brigade formed a reserve, a few himdred yards in 
rear of the first. 

At daybreak (Aug. 16th), the enemy were dimly 
descried advancing in column ; they appeared to be 
displaying to the right. The deputy adjutant-general 
ordered the artillery to open a fire upon them, and then 

* Williams' Narrative. 


rode to General Gates, who was in the rear of the line, 
to inform him of the cause of the firing. Gates ordered 
that Stevens should advance briskly with his brigade 
of Virginia militia and attack them while in the act of 
displaying. No sooner did Stevens receive the order 
than he put his brigade in motion, but discovered that 
the right wing of the enemy was already in line. A 
few sharp shooters were detached to run forward, post 
themselves behind trees within forty or fifty yards of the 
enemy to extort their fire while at a distance, and render 
it less terrible to the militia. The expedient failed. 
The British rushed on, shouting and firing. Stevens 
called to his men to stand firm, and put them in mind 
of their bayonets. Hi^ words were unheeded. The 
inexperienced militia, dismayed and confounded by 
this impetuous assault, threw down their loaded mus- 
kets and fled. The panic spread to the North Caro- 
lina militia. Part of them made a temporary stand, 
but soon joined with the rest in flight, rendered head- 
long and disastrous by the charge and pursuit of Tarle- 
ton and his cavalry. 

Gates, seconded by his oflicers, made several at- 
tempts to rally the militia, but was borne along with 
them. The day was hazy ; there was no wind to carry 
off the smoke, which hung over the field of battle in a 
thick cloud. Nothing could be seen distinctly. Sup- 
posing that the regular troops were dispersed like the 
militia. Gates gave all up for lost, and retreated from 
the field. 

The regulars, however, had not given way. The 
Maryland brigades and the Delaware regiment, uncon- 
scious that they were deserted by the militia, stood their 

1780.] DEATH OF DE KALB. 97 

ground, and bore the brunt of the battle. Though 
repeatedly broken, they as often rallied, and braved 
even the deadly push of the bayonet. At length a 
charge of Tarleton's cavalry on their flank threw them 
into confusion, and drove them into the woods and 
swamps. None showed more gallantry on this disas- 
trous day than the Baron de Kalb ; he fought on foot 
with the second Maryland brigade, and fell exhausted 
after receiving eleven wounds. His aide-de-camp, De 
Buysson, supported him in his arms and was repeatedly 
wounded in protecting him. He announced the rank 
and nation of his general, and both were taken prison- 
ers. De Kalb died in the course of a few days, dictat- 
ing in his last moments a letter expressing his aifection 
for the officers and men of his division who had so 
nobly stood by him in this deadly strife. 

If the militia fled too soon in this battle, said the 
adjutant-general, the regulars remained too long ; fight- 
ing when there was no hope of victory.* 

General Gates in retreating had hoped to rally a 
sufficient force at Clermont to cover the retreat of the 
regulars, but the further they fled, .the more the militia 
were dispersed, until the generals were abandoned by 
all but their aids. To add to the mortification of 
Gates, he learned in the course of his retreat that 
Sumter had been completely successful, and having 
reduced the enemy's redoubt on the Wateree, and cap- 
tured one hundred prisoners and forty loaded waggons, 
was marching off with his booty on the opposite side 
of that river ; apprehending danger from the quarter 

* Williams' Narrative. 
YOL. IV. — 7 


in which he had heard firing in the morning. Gates 
had no longer any means of co-operating with him; 
he sent orders to him, therefore, to retire in the best 
manner he could ; while he himself proceeded with 
General Caswell towards the village of Charlotte, about 
sixty miles distant. 

Cornwallis was apprehensive that Sumter's corps 
might form a rallying point to the routed army. On 
the morning of the 17th of August, therefore, he 
detached Tarleton in pursuit with a body of cavalry 
and light infantry, about three hundred and fifty strong. 
Sumter was retreating up the western side of the 
^^ateree, much encumbered by his spoils and prisoners. 
Tarleton pushed up by forced and concealed marches 
on the eastern side. Horses and men suffered from 
the intense heat of the weather. At dusk Tarleton 
descried the fires of the American camp about a mile 
from the opposite shore. He gave orders to secure all 
boats on the river, and to light no fire in the camp. 
In the morning his sentries gave word that the Ameri- 
cans were quitting their encampment. It was evident 
they knew nothing of a British force being in pursuit 
of them. Tarleton now crossed the Wateree; the 
infantry with a three-pounder passed in boats ; the 
cavalry swam their horses where the river was not 
fordable. The delay in crossing, and the dihgence of 
Sumter's march, increased the distance between the 
pursuers and the pursued. About noon a part of 
Tarleton's force gave out through heat and fatigue. 
Leaving them to repose on the bank of Pishing Creek, 
he pushed on with about one hundred dragoons, the 
freshest and most able ; still marching with great cir- 


cumspection. As lie entered a valley, a discharge of 
smaU-arms from a thicket tumbled a dragoon from his 
saddle. His comrades galloped up to the place, and 
found two American videttes whom they sabred before 
Tarleton could interpose. A sergeant and five dra- 
goons rode up to the summit of a neighboring hill to 
reconnoitre. Crouching on their horses they made 
signs to Tarleton. He cautiously approached the crest 
of the hill, and looking over, beheld the American 
camp on a neighboring height, and apparently in a most 
negligent condition. 

Sumter, in fact, having pressed his retreat to the 
neighborhood of the Catawba Ford, and taken a strong 
position at the mouth of Eishing Creek, and his patrols 
having scoured the road without discovering any 
signs of an enemy, considered himself secure from sur- 
prise. The two shots fired by his videttes had been 
heard, but were supposed to have been made by militia 
shooting cattle. The troops having for the last four 
days been almost without food or sleep, were now 
indulged in complete relaxation. Their arms were 
stacked, and they were scattered about, some strolling, 
some lying on the grass under the trees, some bathing 
in the river. Sumter himself had thrown off part of 
his clothes on account of the heat of the weather. 

Having well reconnoitred this negligent camp, 
indulging in summer supineness and sultry repose, 
Tarleton prepared for instant attack. His cavalry and 
infantry formed into one line dashed forward with a 
general shout, and, before the Americans could recover 
from their surprise, got between them and the parade 
ground on which the muskets were stacked. 


All was confusion and consternation in the Ameri- 
can camp. Some opposition was made from behind 
baggage waggons, and there was skirmishing in vari- 
ous quarters, but in a little while there was a universal 
flight to the river and the woods. Between three and 
four himdred were killed and wounded ; all their arms 
and baggage with two brass field-pieces fell into the 
hands of the enemy, who also recaptured the prisoners 
and booty taken at Camden. Sumter with about three 
hundred and fifty of his men effected a retreat ; he 
galloped off, it is said, without saddle, hat or coat. 

Gates, on reaching the village of Charlotte, had 
been joined by some fugitives from his army. He con- 
tinued on to Hillsborough, one hundred and eighty 
miles from Camden, where he made a stand and endea- 
vored to rally his scattered forces. His regular troops, 
however, were little more than one thousand. As to 
the mihtia of North and South Carolina, they had dis- 
persed to their respective homes, depending upon the 
patriotism and charity of the farmers along the road 
for food and shelter. 

It was not until the beginning of September that 
Washington received word of the disastrous reverse at 
Camden. The shock was the greater, as previous re- 
ports fi-om that quarter had represented the operations 
a few days preceding the action as much in our favor. 
It was evident to Washington that the course of war 
must ultimately tend to the Southern States, yet the 
situation of affairs in the North did not permit him 
to detach any sufficient force for their relief. All that 
he could do for the present was to endeavor to hold the 
enemy in check in that quarter. For this purpose, he 


gave orders that some regular troops, enlisted in Mary- 
land for the war, and intended for the main army, 
should be sent to the southward. He wrote to Gover- 
nor Rutledge of South Carolina (12th September), to 
raise a permanent, compact, well-organized body of 
troops, instead of depending upon a numerous anuy 
of mihtia, always " inconceivably expensive, and too 
fluctuating and undisciplined " to oppose a regular 
force. He was still more urgent and explicit on this 
head in his letters to the President of Congress (Sept. 
15th). "Regular troops alone," said he, "are equal 
to the exigencies of modern war, as well for defence as 
offence ; and whenever a substitute is attempted, it 
must prove illusory and ruinous. No militia will ever 
acquire the habits necessary to resist a regular force. 
The firmness requisite for the real business of fighting 
is only to be attained by a constant course of discipline 
and service. I have never yet been witness to a single 
instance, that can justify a different opinion ; and it is 
most earnestly to be wished, that the liberties of 
America may no longer be trusted, in any material 
degree, to so precarious a dependence. * * * * 
In my ideas of the true system of war at the south- 
ward, the object ought to be to have a good army, 
rather than a large one. Every exertion should be 
made by North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Dela- 
ware, to raise a permanent force of six thousand men, 
exclusive of horse and artillery. These, with the occa- 
sional aid of the mihtia in the vicinity of the scene of 
action, will not only suffice to prevent the further pro- 
gress of the enemy, but, if properly supplied, to obhge 
them to compact their force and relinquish a part of 


what they now hold. To expel them from the country 
entirely is what we cannot aim at, till we derive more 
effectual support from abroad ; and by attempting too 
much, instead of going forward, we shall go backward. 
Could such a force be once set on foot, it would im- 
mediately make an inconceivable change in the face of 
affairs, not only in the opposition to the enemy, but in 
expense, consumption of provisions, and waste of arms 
and stores. No magazines can be equal to the demands 
of an army of militia, and none need economy more 
than ours." 

He had scarce written the foregoing, when he 
received a letter from the now unfortunate Gates, dated 
at Hillsborough, Aug. 30th and Sept. 3d, giving par- 
ticulars of his discomfiture. No longer vaunting and 
vainglorious, he pleads nothing but his patriotism, and 
deprecates the fall which he apprehends awaits him. 
The appeal which he makes to Washington's magna- 
nimity to support him in this day of his reverse, is the 
highest testimonial he could give to the exalted charac- 
ter of the man whom he once affected to underrate, 
and aspired to supplant. 

" Anxious for the public good," said he, " I shall 
continue my unwearied endeavors to stop the progress 
of the enemy, reinstate our affairs, recommence an 
offensive war, and recover all our losses in the Southern 
States. But if being unfortunate is solely a reason 
sufficient for removing me from command, I shall most 
cheerfully submit to the orders of Congress, and resign 
an office which few generals would be anxious to pos- 
sess, and where the utmost skill and fortitude are 
subject to be baffled by difficulties, which must for a 


time surround the chief in command here. That your 
Excellency may meet with no such difficulties, that 
your road to fame and fortune may be smooth and easy, 
is the sincere wish of your most humble servant." 

Again : " If I can yet render good service to the 
United States, it wiU be necessary it should be seen 
that I have the support of Congress and of your 
Excellency; otherwise, some men may think they 
please my superiors by blaming me, and thus recom- 
mend themselves to favor. But you, sir, will be too 
generous to lend an ear to such men, if such there be, 
and will show your greatness of soul rather by pro- 
tecting than slighting the unfortunate.'' 

Washington in his reply, while he acknowledged 
the shock and surprise caused by the first account of 
the unexpected event, did credit to the behavior of the 
Continental troops. "The accounts," added he, " which 
the enemy give of the action, show that their victory 
was dearly bought. Under present circumstances, the 
system which you are pursuing seems to be extremely 
proper. It would add no good purpose to take a posi- 
tion near the enemy while you are so far inferior in 
force. If they can be kept in check by the light irregu- 
lar troops under Colonel Sumter and other active offi- 
cers, they will gain nothing by the time which must be 
necessarily spent by you in collecting and arranging 
the new army, forming magazines, and replacing the 
stores which were lost in the action." 

Washington still cherished the idea of a combined 
attack upon New York as soon as a Erench naval force 
should arrive. The destruction of the enemy here 
would relieve this part of the Union from an internal 


war, and enable its troops and resources to be united 
with those of Erance in vigorous efforts against the 
common enemy elsewhere. Hearing, therefore, that 
the Count de Guichen, with his West India squadron, 
was approaching the coast, Washington prepared to 
proceed to Hartford in Connecticut, there to hold a 
conference with the Count de Rochambeau and the 
Chevalier de Ternay, and concert a plan for future 
operations, of which the attack on New York was to 
form the principal feature. 



We have now to enter upon a sad episode of our revo- 
lutionary history — ^the treason of Arnold. Of the miH- 
tary skill, daring enterprise, and indomitable courage 
of this man — ample evidence has been given in the fore- 
going pages. Of the imphcit confidence reposed in his 
patriotism by Washington, sufficient proof is manifested 
in the command with which he was actually entrusted. 
But Arnold was false at heart, and, at the very time of 
seeking that command, had been for many months in 
traitorous correspondence with the enemy. 

The first idea of proving recreant to the cause he 
had vindicated so bravely, appears to have entered his 
mind when the charges preferred against him by the 
council of Pennsylvania were referred by Congress to a 
court-martial. Before that time he had been incensed 
against Pennsylvania ; but now his wrath was excited 
against his coimtry, which appeared so insensible to his 
services. Disappointment in regard to the settlement 


of his accounts, added to his irritation, and mingled 
sordid motives with his resentment ; and he began to 
think how, while he wreaked his vengeace on his coun- 
try, he might do it with advantage to his fortunes. 
With this view he commenced a correspondence with 
Sir Henry Clinton in a disguised handwriting, and, 
under the signature of Gustavus, representing himself 
as a person of importance in the American service, who, 
being dissatisfied with the late proceedings of Congress, 
particularly the alliance with Prance, was desirous of 
joining the cause of Great Britain, could he be certain 
of personal security, and indemnification for whatever 
loss of property he might sustain. His letters occa- 
sionally communicated articles of intelligence of some 
moment which proved to be true, and induced Sir 
Henry to keep up the correspondence ; which was con- 
ducted on his part by his aide-de-camp, Major John 
Andre, likewise in a disguised hand, and under the sig- 
nature of John Anderson. 

Months elapsed before Sir Henry discovered who 
was his secret correspondent. Even after discovering 
it he did not see fit to hold out any very strong induce- 
ments to Arnold for desertion. The latter was out of 
command, and had nothing to offer but his services ; 
which in his actual situation were scarcely worth buy- 

In the mean time the circumstances of Arnold were 
daily becoming more desperate. Debts were accumulat- 
ing, and creditors becoming more and more importunate, 
as his means to satisfy them decreased. The public 
reprimand he had received was rankling in his mind, 
and filling his heart with bitterness. Still he hesitated 


on the brink of absolute infamy, and attempted a half- 
way leap. Such was his proposition to M. de Luzerne 
to make himself subservient to the policy of the French 
government, on condition of receiving a loan equal to 
the amount of his debts. This he might have recon- 
ciled to his conscience by the idea that France was an 
ally, and its policy Hkely to be friendly. It was his 
last card before resorting to utter treachery. Failing 
in it, his desperate alternative was to get some impor- 
tant command, the betrayal of which to the enemy 
might obtain for him a munificent reward. 

He may possibly have had such an idea in his mind 
some time previously, when he sought the command of 
a naval and military expedition, which failed to be car- 
ried into effect ; but such certainly was the secret of 
his eagerness to obtain the command of West Point, 
the great object of British and American solicitude, on 
the possession of which were supposed by many to 
hinge the fortunes of the war. 

He took command of the post and its dependencies 
about the beginning of August, fixing his head-quar- 
ters at Beverley, a country-seat a little below West 
Point, on the opposite or eastern side of the river. It 
stood in a lonely part of the Highlands, high up from 
the river, yet at the foot of a mountain covered with 
woods. It was commonly called the Robinson House, 
having formerly belonged to Washington's early friend, 
Colonel Beverley Robinson, who had obtained a large 
part of the Phillipse estate in this neighborhood, by 
marrying one of the heiresses. Colonel Robinson was 
a royahst ; had entered into the British service, and was 


now residing in New York, and Beverley with its sur- 
rounding lands had been confiscated. 

Prom this place Arnold carried on a secret corres- 
pondence with Major Andre. Their letters, still in 
disguised hands, and under the names of Gustavus 
and John Anderson, purported to treat merely of com- 
mercial operations, but the real matter in negotiation 
was the betrayal of West Point and the Highlands to 
Sir Henry Clinton. This stupendous piece of treach- 
ery was to be consummated at the time when Washing- 
ton, with the main body of his army, would be drawn 
down towards King's Bridge, and the Prench troops 
landed on Long Island, in the projected co-operation 
against New York. At such time, a flotilla under 
Rodney, having on board a large land force, was to 
ascend the Hudson to the Highlands, which would be 
surrendered by Arnold almost without opposition, under 
pretext of insufficient force to make resistance. The 
immediate result of this surrender, it was anticipated, 
would be the defeat of the combined attempt upon 
New York ; and its ultimate effect might be the dis- 
memberment of the Union, and the dislocation of the 
whole American scheme of warfare. 

We have before had occasion to mention Major 
Andre, but the part which he took in this dark transac- 
tion, and the degree of romantic interest subsequently 
thrown around his memory, call for a more specific 
notice of him. He was born in London, 1751, but his 
parents were of Geneva in Switzerland, where he was 
educated. Being intended for mercantile life, he en- 
tered a London counting-house, but had scarce attained 
his eighteenth year when he formed a romantic attach- 


£ncampmcntt, t. 

1780.] MAJOR ANDRE. 109 

ment to a beautiful girl, Miss Honora Sneyd, by wbom 
his passion was returned, and they became engaged. 
This sadly unfitted him for the sober routine of the 
counting-house. "All my mercantile calculations," 
writes he in one of his boyish letters, *' go to the tune 
of dear Honora." 

The father of the young lady interfered, and the 
premature match was broken off. Andre abandoned 
the counting-house and entered the army. His first 
commission was dated March 4, 1771 ; but he sub- 
sequently visited Germany, and returned to England in 
1773, still haunted by his early passion. His lady 
love, in the mean time, had been wooed by other 
admirers, and in the present year became the second 
wife of Richard LoveU Edgeworth, a young widower of 

Andre came to America in 1774, as lieutenant of 
the Royal English Eusileers ; and was among the offi- 
cers captured at Saint Johns, early in the war, by Mont- 
gomery. He still bore about with him a memento of 
his boyish passion, the " dear talisman," as he called it, 
a miniature of Miss Sneyd painted by himself in 1769. 
In a letter to a friend, soon after his capture, he writes, 
"I have been taken prisoner by the Americans, and 
stripped of every thing except the picture of Honora, 
which I concealed in my mouth. Preserving that, I 
yet think myself fortunate." 

His temper, however, appears to have been natu- 
rally light and festive ; and if he still cherished this 
" tender remembrance," it was but as one of those doc- 

* Father, by his first marriage, of the celebrated Maria Edgeworth. 


uments of early poetry and romance, which serve to 
keep the heart warm and tender among the gay and 
cold realities of life. What served to favor the idea 
was a little song which he had composed when in Phil- 
adelphia, commencing with the lines, 

Return enraptured hours 

When Delia's heart was mine ; 

and which was supposed to breathe the remembrance 
of his early and ill-requited passion.* 

His varied and graceful talents, and his engaging 
manners, rendered him generally popular ; while his 
devoted and somewhat subservient loyalty recommend- 
ed him to the favor of his commander, and obtained 
him, without any distinguished military services, the 
appointment of adjutant-general with the rank of 
major. He was a prime promoter of elegant amuse- 
ment in camp and garrison ; manager, actor, and scene- 
painter in those amateur theatricals in which the British 
officers delighted. He was one of the principal devi- 
sers of the Mischianza in Philadelphia, in which semi- 
effeminate pageant he had figured as one of the knights 
champions of beauty ; Miss Shippen, afterwards Mrs. 
Arnold, being the lady whose peerless charms he under- 
took to vindicate. He held, moreover, a facile, and at 
times, satirical pen, and occasionally amused himself 
with caricaturing in rhyme the appearance and exploits 
of the " rebel officers." 

Andre had already employed that pen in a furtive 
manner, after the evacuation of Philadelphia by the 

* Composed at the request of Miss Rebecca Redman. 

1780.] MAJOR ANDRE. Ill 

British ; having carried on a correspondence with the 
leaders of a body of loyahsts near the waters of the 
Chesapeake, who were conspiring to restore the royal 
government.* In the present instance he had engaged, 
nothing loth, in a service of intrigue and manoeuvre, 
which, however sanctioned by military usage, should 
hardly have invited the zeal of a high-minded man. 
We say manoeuvre, because he appears to have availed 
himself of his former intimacy with Mrs. Arnold, to 
make her an unconscious means of facilitating a corre- 
spondence with her husband. Some have inculpated 
her in the guilt of the transaction, but we think, un- 
justly. It has been alleged that a correspondence had 
been going on between her and Andre previous to her 
marriage, and was kept up after it ; but as far as we 
can learn, only one letter passed between them, written 
by Andre in August 16th, 1779, in which he solicits 
her remembrance, assures her that respect for her and 
the fair circle in which he had become acquainted with 
her, remains unimpaired by distance or political broils, 
reminds her that the Mischianza had made him a com- 
plete milliner, and offers his services to furnish her with 
supphes in that department. " I shall be glad," adds 
he sportively, " to enter into the whole detail of cap 
wire, needles, gauze, &c., and to the best of my abih- 
ties render you, in these trifles, services from which I 
hope you would infer a zeal to be further employed." 
The apparent object of this letter was to open a conve- 
nient medium of communication, which Arnold might 
use without exciting her suspicion. 

• ■ * Simcoe> ISIilitary Journal, p. 153. 4. 


Various circumstances connected with this nefari- 
ous negotiation, argue hghtness of mind and something 
of debasing alloy on the part of Andre. The corre- 
spondence carried on for months in the jargon of traffic, 
savored less of the camp than the counting-house ; 
the protracted tampering with a brave but necessitous 
man for the sacrifice of his fame and the betrayal of 
his trust, strikes us as being beneath the range of a 
truly chivalrous nature. 

Correspondence had now done its part in the busi- 
ness ; for the completion of the plan and the adjust- 
ment of the traitor's recompense, a personal meeting 
was necessary between Arnold and Andre. The former 
proposed that it should take place at his own quarters 
at the Eobinson House, where Andre should come in 
disguise, as a bearer of intelligence, and under the 
feigned name of John Anderson. Andre positively 
objected to entering the American lines ; it was ar- 
ranged, therefore, that the meeting should take place 
on neutral ground, near the American out-posts, at 
Dobbs Perry, on the 11th of September, at 12 o'clock. 
Andre attended at the appointed place and time, accom- 
panied by Colonel Beverley Robinson, who was ac- 
quainted with the plot. An application of the latter 
for the restoration of his confiscated property in the 
Highlands, seems to have been used occasionally as a 
blind in these proceedings. 

Arnold had passed the preceding night at what was 
called the White House, the residence of Mr. Joshua 
Hett Smith, situated on the west side of the Hudson, 
in Haverstraw Bay, about two miles below Stony 
Point. He set ofP thence in his barge for the place of 


rendezvous ; but, not being protected by a flag, was 
fired upon and pursued by the British guard-boats 
stationed near Dobbs Perry. He took refuge at an 
American post on the western shore, whence he re- 
turned in the night to his quarters in the Robinson 
House. Lest his expedition should occasion some sur- 
mise, he pretended, in a note to Washington, that he 
had been down the Hudson to arrange signals in case 
of any movement of the enemy upon the river. 

New arrangements were made for an interview, but 
it was postponed imtil after Washington should depart 
for Hartford, to hold the proposed conference with 
Count Rochambeau and the other French officers. In 
the mean time, the British sloop of war. Vulture, 
anchored a few miles below Teller's Point, to be at 
hand in aid of the negotiation. On board was Colonel 
Robinson, who, pretending to believe that General Put- 
nam still commanded in the Highlands, addressed a 
note to him requesting an interview on the subject of 
his confiscated property. This letter he sent by a flag, 
enclosed in one addressed to Arnold ; soliciting of him 
the same boon should General Putnam be absent. 

On the 18th Sept., Washington with his suite 
crossed the Hudson to Verplanck's Point, in Arnold's 
barge, on his way to Hartford. Arnold accompanied 
him as far as Peekskill, and on the way, laid before 
him with affected frankness, the letter of Colonel Rob- 
inson, and asked his advice. Washington disapproved 
of any such interview, observing, that the civil authori- 
ties alone had cognizance of these questions of confis- 
cated property. 

Arnold now openly sent a flag on board of the 

VOL. IV. — 8 


Vulture, as if bearing a reply to tlie letter he had com- 
municated to the commander-in-chief. By this occa- 
sion he informed Colonel Robinson, that a person with 
a boat and flag would be alongside of the Vulture, on 
the night of the 20th ; and that any matter he might 
wish to communicate, would be laid before General 
VTashington on the following Saturday, when he might 
be expected back from Newport. 

On the faith of the information thus covertly con- 
veyed, Andre proceeded up the Hudson on the 20th, 
and went on board of the Vulture, where he found 
Colonel Robinson, and expected to meet Arnold. The 
latter, however, had made other arrangements, probably 
with a view to his personal security. About half-past 
eleven, of a still and starhght night (the 21st), a boat 
was descried from on board, gliding silently along, 
rowed by two men with liiufiled oars. She was hailed 
by an officer on watch and called to account. A man, 
seated in the stem, gave out that they were from 
King's Ferry, bound to Dobbs Ferry. He was ordered 
alongside, and soon made his way on board. He 
proved to be Mr. Joshua Hett Smith, already men- 
tioned, whom Arnold had prevailed upon to go on 
board of the Vulture, and bring a person on shore who 
was coming from New York with important intelli- 
gence. He had given him passes to protect him and 
those with him, in case he should be stopped, either in 
going or returning, by the American water guard, 
which patrolled the river in whale-boats. He had 
made him the bearer of a letter addressed to Colonel 
Beverley Robinson, which was to the following purport : 
" This will be delivered to you by Mr. Smith, who 


will conduct you to a place of safety. Neither Mr. 
Smith nor any other person shall be made acquainted 
with your proposals ; if they (which I doubt not) are 
of such a nature, that I can officially take notice of 
them, I shall do it with pleasure. I take it for granted 
Colonel Robinson will not propose any thing, that is 
not for the interest of the United States as well as of 
himself." All this use of Colonel Robinson's name 
was intended as a blind, should the letter be inter- 

Robinson introduced Andre to Smith by the name 
of John Anderson, who was to go on shore in his 
place (he being unweU), to have an interview with Gen- 
eral Arnold. Andre wore a blue great coat which cov- 
ered his uniform, and Smith always declared that at 
the time he was totally ignorant of his name and mili- 
tary character. Robinson considered this whole noc- 
turnal proceeding full of peril, and would have dis- 
suaded Andre, but the latter was zealous in executing 
his mission, and, embarking in the boat with Smith, 
was silently rowed to the western side of the river, 
about six miles below Stony Point. Here they landed 
a little after midnight, at the foot of a shadowy moun- 
tain called the Long Clove ; a solitary place, the haunt 
of the owl and the whippoorwiU, and well fitted for 
a treasonable conference. 

Arnold was in waiting, but standing aloof among 
thickets. He had come hither on horseback from 
Smith's house, about three or four miles distant, attended 
by one of Smith's servants, likewise mounted. The 
midnight negotiation between Andre and Arnold was 
carried on in darkness among the trees. Smith remained 


in the boat, and the servant drew off to a distance with 
the horses. One hour after another passed away, when 
Smith approached the place of conference, and gave 
warning that it was near daybreak, and if they lingered 
much longer the boat would be discovered. 

The nefarious bargain was not yet completed, and 
Arnold feared the sight of a boat going to the Vulture 
might cause suspicion. He prevailed therefore upon 
Andre to remain on shore until the foUovring night. 
The boat was accordingly sent to a creek higher up the 
river, and Andre, mounting the servant's horse, set off 
with Arnold for Smith's house. The road passed 
through the village of Haverstraw. As they rode 
along in the dark, the voice of a sentinel demanding 
the countersign startled Andre with the fearful convic- 
tion that he was within the American lines, but it was 
too late to recede. It was daybreak when they arrived 
at Smith's house. 

They had scarcely entered when the booming of 
cannon was heard from down the river. It gave Andre 
uneasiness, and with reason. Colonel Livingston, who 
commanded above at Verplanck's Point, learning that 
the Vulture lay within shot of Teller's Point, which di- 
vides Haverstraw Bay from the Tappan Sea, had sent 
a party vrith cannon to that point in the night, and 
they were now firing upon the sloop of war. Andre 
watched the cannonade with an anxious eye from an 
upper window of Smith's house. At one time he 
thought the Vulture was on fire. He was reheved from 
painful sohcitude when he saw the vessel weigh anchor, 
and drop down the river out of reach of cannon shot. 

After breakfast, the plot for the betrayal of West 


Point and its dependent posts was adjustefd, and the 
sum agreed upon that Arnold was to receive, should it 
be successful. Andre was furnished with plans of the 
works, and explanatory papers, which, at Arnold's re- 
quest, he placed between his stockings and his feet ; pro- 
mising, in case of accident, to destroy them. 

All matters being thus arranged, Arnold prepared to 
return in his own barge to his head-quarters at the Ro- 
binson House. As the Vulture had shifted her ground, 
he suggested to Andre a return to New York by land, 
as most safe and expeditious ; the latter, however, insisted 
upon being put on board of the sloop of war, on the 
ensuing night. Arnold consented; but, before his de- 
parture, to provide against the possible necessity of a 
return by land, he gave Andre the following pass, dated 
from the Robinson House : 

" Permit Mr. John Anderson to pass the guards to 
the White Plains, or below if he chooses ; he being on 
pubhc business by my direction. 

B. Arnold, M. Genl." 

Smith also, who was to accompany him, was fur- 
nished with passports to proceed either by water or by 

Arnold departed about ten o'clock. Andre passed 
a lonely day, casting many a wistful look toward the 
Vulture. Once on board of that ship he would be safe ; 
he would have fulfilled his mission ; the capture of West 
Point would be certain, and his triumph would be com- 
plete. As evening approached he grew impatient, and 
spoke to Smith about departure. To his surprise, he 


found the latter had made no preparation for it ; he had 
discharged his boatmen, who had gone home : in short, 
he refused to take him on board of the Vulture. The 
cannonade of the morning had probably made him fear 
for his personal safety, should he attempt to go on 
board, the Vulture having resumed her exposed position. 
He offered, however, to cross the river vdth Andre at 
King's Ferry, put him in the way of returning to New 
York by land, and accompany him some distance on 

Andre was in an agony at finding himself, notwith- 
standing all his stipulations, forced within the American 
lines ; but there seemed to be no alternative, and he 
prepared for the hazardous journey. 

He wore, as we have noted, a military coat under a 
long blue surtout ; he was now persuaded to lay it aside 
and put on a citizen's coat of Smith's ; thus adding dis- 
guise to the other humiliating and hazardous circum- 
stances of the case. 

It was about sunset when Andre and Smith, attended 
by a negro servant of the latter, crossed from King's 
Eerry to Verplanck's Point. After proceeding about 
eight miles on the road toward Wliite Plains, they were 
stopped between eight and nine o'clock, near Crompond, 
by a patrolling party. The captain of it was uncom- 
monly inquisitive and suspicious. The passports with 
Arnold's signature satisfied him. He warned them, 
however, against the danger of proceeding further in 
the night. Cow Boys from the British lines were scour- 
ing the country, and had recently marauded the neigh- 
borhood. Smith's fears were again excited, and Andre 
was obliged to yield to them. A bed was furnished 


them in a neighboring house, where Andre passed an 
anxious and restless night, under the very eye, as it 
were, of an American patrol. 

At daybreak he awoke Smith, and hurried their 
departure, and his mind was hghtened of a load of care 
when he found himself out of the reach of the patrol 
and its inquisitive commander. 

They were now approaching that noted part of the 
country, heretofore mentioned as the Neutral Ground, 
extending north and south about thirty miles, between 
the British and American hues. A beautiful region of 
forest-clad hills, fertile valleys, and abundant streams, 
but now almost desolated by the scourings of Skinners 
and Cow Boys ; the former professing allegiance to the 
American cause, the latter to the British, but both ar- 
rant marauders. 

One who had resided at the time in this region, gives 
a sad picture of its state. Houses plundered and dis- 
mantled ; enclosures broken down ; cattle carried away ; 
fields lying waste ; the roads grass-gro\^Ti ; the country 
mournful, solitary, silent — ^reminding one of the desola- 
tion presented in the song of Deborah. " In the days 
of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the 
highways were unoccupied and the travellers walked in 
by-paths. The inhabitants of the villages ceased ; they 
ceased in Israel." * 

About two and a half miles from Pine's Bridge, on 
the Croton-River, Andre and his companion partook of 
a scanty meal at a farm-house which had recently been 
harried by the Cow Boys. Here they parted. Smith to 

* See Dwight's Travels, voL iii 


return home, Andre to pursue his journey alone to New 
York. His spirits, however, were cheerful ; for, having 
got beyond the patrols, he considered the most perilous 
part of his route accomplished. 

About six miles beyond Pine's Bridge he came to a 
place where the road forked, the left branch leading to- 
ward White Plains in the interior of the country, the 
right inclining toward the Hudson. He had originally 
intended to take the left-hand road, the other being 
said to be infested by Cow Boys. These, however, were 
not to be apprehended by him, as they belonged to the 
lower party or British ; it led, too, more directly to 
New York ; so he turned down it, and took his course 
along the river road. 

He had not proceeded far, when coming to a place 
where a small stream crossed the road and ran into a 
woody dell, a man stepped out from the trees, levelled a 
musket and brought him to a stand, while two other 
men similarly armed, showed themselves prepared to 
second their comrade. 

The man who had first stepped out wore a refugee 
uniform. At sight of it Andre's heart leapt, and he 
felt himself secure. Losing all caution, he exclaimed 
eagerly : " Gentlemen, I hope you belong to our party ? " 
— "What party?" was asked. — -"The lower party," 
said Andre. — " We do," was the reply. AU reserve was 
now at an end. Andr^ declared himself to be a British 
officer ; that he had been up the country on particular 
business, and must not be detained a single moment. 
He drew out Ms watch as he spoke. It was a gold one, 
and served to prove to them that he was what he repre- 


sented himself, gold watches being seldom worn in those 
days, excepting by persons of consequence. 

To his consternation, the supposed refugee now 
avowed himself and his companions to be Americans, 
and told Andre he was their prisoner ! 

It was even so. The sacking and burning of Young's 
House, and the carrying of its rustic defenders into cap- 
tivity, had roused the spirit of the Neutral Ground. 
The yeomanry of that harassed country had turned out 
in parties to intercept freebooters from the British lines, 
who had recently been on the maraud, and might be re- 
turning to the city with their spoils. One of these par- 
ties, composed of seven men of the neighborhood, had 
divided itself. Pour took post on a hiH above Sleepy 
Hollow, to watch the road which crossed the country ; 
the other three, John Paulding, Isaac Van Wart, and 
David Williams by name, stationed themselves on the 
road which runs parallel to the Hudson. Two of them 
were seated on the grass playing at cards to pass away 
the time, while one mounted guard. 

The one in refugee garb who brought Andre to a 
stand, was John Paulding, a stout-hearted youngster, 
who, like most of the young men of this outraged neigh- 
borhood, had been repeatedly in arms to repel or resent 
aggressions, and now belonged to the militia. He had 
twice been captured and confined in the loathsome mil- 
itary prisons, where patriots suffered in New York, 
first in the North Dutch Church, and last in the noted 
Sugar House. Both times he had made his escape ; 
the last time, only four days previous to the event of 
which we are treating. The ragged refugee coat, which 
had deceived Andre, and been the cause of his betray- 


ing himself, had been given to Paulding by one of his 
captors, in exchange for a good yeoman garment of 
which they stripped him.* This slight circumstance 
may have produced the whole discovery of the treason. 

Andre was astounded at finding into what hands he 
had fallen ; and how he had betrayed himself by his 
heedless avowal. Promptly, however, recovering his 
self-possession, he endeavored to pass off his previous 
account of himself as a mere subterfuge. " A man must 
do any thing," said he laughingly, " to get along." He 
now declared himself to be a Continental officer, going 
down to Dobbs Perry to get information from below ; 
so saying he drew forth, and showed them the pass of 
General Arnold. 

This, in the first instance, would have been suffi- 
cient ; but his unwary tongue had ruined him. The 
suspicions of his captors were completely roused. Seiz- 
ing the bridle of his horse, they ordered him to dismount. 
He warned them that he was on urgent business for 
the general, and that they would get themselves into 
trouble should they detain him. " We care not for 
that," was the reply, as they led him among the thick- 
ets, on the border of the brook. 

Paulding asked whether he had any letters about 
him. He answered, no. They proceeded to search him. 
A minute description is given of his dress. He wore 
a round hat, a blue surtout, a crimson close-bodied coat, 
somewhat faded : the button-holes worked with gold, 
and the buttons covered with gold lace, a nankeen vest, 
and small-clothes and boots. 

* Stated on the authority of Commodore Hiram Paulding, a son of the 
captor, who heard it repeatedly from the lips of his father. 

1780.] ANDRE SEARCHED. 123 

They obliged him to take off his coat and vest, and 
found on him eighty dollars in Continental money, but 
nothing to warrant suspicion of any thing sinister, and 
were disposed to let him proceed, when Paulding 
exclaimed : " Boys, I am not satisfied — -his boots must 
come off." 

At this Andre changed color. His boots, he said, 
came off with difficulty and he begged he might not 
be subjected to the inconvenience and delay. His 
remonstrances were in vain. He was obliged to sit 
down : his boots were drawn off and the concealed 
papers discovered. Hastily scanning them, Paulding 
exclaimed, " My God ! He is a spy ! " 

He demanded of Andre where he had gotten these 

" Of a man at Pine's Bridge, a stranger to me," was 
the reply. 

While dressing himself, Andre endeavored to ran- 
som himself from his captors ; rising from one offer to 
another. He would give any sum of money, if they 
would let him go. He would give his horse, saddle, 
bridle and one hundred guineas, and would send them 
to any place that might be fixed upon. 

WiUiams asked him if he would not give more. 

He replied, that he would give any reward they 
might name either in goods or money, and would 
remain with two of their party while one went to New 
York to get it. 

Here Paulding broke in and declared with an oath, 
that if he would give ten thousand guineas he should 
not stir one step.* 

* Testimony of David Williams. 


The unfortunate Andre now submitted to his fate, 
and the captors set off with their prisoner for North 
Castle, the nearest American post, distant ten or twelve 
miles. They proceeded across a hilly and woody 
region, part of the way by the road, part across fields. 
One strode in front, occasionally holding the horse by 
the bridle, the others walked on either side. Andre 
rode on in silence, declining to answer further questions 
until he should come before a military officer. About 
noon, they halted at a farm house where the inhabit- 
ants were taking their mid-day repast. The worthy 
housewife, moved by Andre's prepossessing appearance 
and dejected air, kindly invited him to partake. He 
declined, alleging that he had no appetite. Glancing 
at his gold-laced crimson coat, the good dame apolo- 
gized for her rustic fare. " Oh, madam," exclaimed 
poor Andre with a melancholy shake of the head, " it 
is all very good — ^but, indeed, I cannot eat 1 " 

This was related to us by a venerable matron, who 
was present on the occasion, a young girl at the time, 
but who in her old days could not recall the scene and 
the appearance of Andre without tears. 

The captors with their prisoner being arrived at 
North Castle, Lieutenant-colonel Jameson, who was in 
command there, recognized the handwriting of Arnold 
in the papers found upon Andre, and, perceiving that 
they were of a dangerous nature, sent them off by 
express to General Washington, at Hartford. 

Andre, still adhering to his assumed name, begged 
that the commander at West Point might be informed 
that John Anderson, though bearing his passport, was 


Jameson appears completely to have lost his head 
on the occasion. He wrote to Arnold, stating the 
circumstances of the arrest, and that the papers found 
upon the prisoner had been despatched by express to 
the commander-in-chief, and at the same time, he sent 
the prisoner himself, under a strong guard, to accom- 
pany the letter.* 

Shortly afterwards, Major Tallmadge, next in com- 
mand to Jameson, but of a much clearer head, arrived 
at North Castle, having been absent on duty to White 
Plains. When the circumstances of the case were 
related to him, he at once suspected treachery on the 
part of Arnold. At his earnest entreaties, an express 
was sent after the officer who had Andre in charge, 
ordering him to bring the latter back to North Castle ; 
but by singular perversity or obtuseness in judgment, 
Jameson neglected to countermand the letter which he 
had written to Arnold. 

When Andre was brought back, and was pacing 
up and down the room, Tallmadge saw at once by his 
air and movements, and the mode of turning on his 
heel, that he was a miUtary man. By his advice, and 
under his escort, the prisoner was conducted to Colonel 
Sheldon's post at Lower Salem, as more secure than 
North Castle. 

Here Andre, being told that the papers found upon 
his person had been forwarded to Washington, ad- 
dressed to him immediately the following lines : 

" I beg your Excellency will be persuaded that no 
alteration in the temper of my mind or apprehensions 

* Sparks' Arnold. We would note generally, that we are indebted to Mr. 
Sparks' work for many particulars given by us of this tale of treason. 


for my safety, induces me to take the step of addressing 
you ; but that it is to secure myself from the imputa- 
tion of having assumed a mean character for treacherous 
purposes or self-interest. * * It is to vindicate 
my fame that I speak, and not to solicit security. 

"The person in your possession is Major John 
Andre, adjutant-general of the British army. 

" The influence of one commander in the army of 
his adversary is an advantage taken in war. A corre- 
spondence for this purpose I held ; as confidential (in 
the present instance,) with his Excellency, Sir Henry 
Clinton. To favor it, I agreed to meet upon ground 
not within the posts of either army, a person who was 
to give me intelligence. I came up in the Vulture 
man-of-war for this efffect, and was fetched from the 
shore to the beach. Being there, I was told that the 
approach of day would prevent my return, and that I 
must be concealed until the next night. I was in my 
regimentals and had fairly risked my person. 

" Against my stipulation, my intention, and without 
my knowledge beforehand, I was conducted within one 
of your posts. Thus was I betrayed into the vile con- 
dition of an enemy within your posts. 

" Having avowed myself a British officer, I have 
nothing to reveal but what relates to myself, which is 
true, on the honor of an officer and a gentleman. 

" The request I have made to your Excellency, and 
I am conscious that I address myself well, is, that in 
any rigor policy may dictate, a decency of conduct 
towards me may mark, that, though unfortunate, I am 
branded with nothing dishonorable ; as no motive could 

1780.] ANDRE A PRISONER. 127 

be mine, but the service of my king, and as I was 
involuntarily an impostor." 

This letter he submitted to the perusal of Major 
Tallmadge, who was surprised and agitated at finding 
the rank and importance of the prisoner he had in 
charge. The letter being despatched, and Andre's 
pride relieved on a sensitive point, he resumed his 
serenity, apparently unconscious of the awful responsi- 
bility of his situation. Having a talent for caricature, he 
even amused himself in the course of the day by mak- 
ing a ludicrous sketch of himself and his rustic escort 
under march, and presenting it to an officer in the room 
with him. " This," said he gayly, " will give you an 
idea of the style in which I have had the honor to be 
conducted to my present abode." 


Andre's propensity for caricature had recently been indulged in a 
mock heroic poem in three cantos, celebrating an attack upon a Brit- 
ish picket by Wayne, with the driving into the American camp of a 
drove of cattle by Lee's dragoons. It is written with great humor, and 
is full of grotesque imagery, "Mad Anthony" especially is in broad 
caricature, and represented to have lost his horse " upon the great oc- 

His horse that carried all his prog, 
His military speeches, 

His corn-stalk whiskey for his grog- 
Blue stockings and brown breeches. 

The cantos were published at different times in Eivington's Ga- 
zette. It so happened that the last canto appeared on the very day of 
Andre's capture, and ended with the following stanza, which might be 
considered ominous. 

And now I've closed my epic strain, 

I tremble as I show it, 
Lest this same warrio-drover, "Wayne, 

Should ever catch the poet 


nrrEEViEW of Washington with the feenoh officers at haetfoed 


AT Arnold's head-quarters in the highlands — tidings of an- 


— Washington's peeoautions — situation of mes. Arnold. 

On the very day that the treasonable conference between 
Arnold and Andre took place on the banks of Haver- 
straw Bay, Washington had his interview with the 
French officers at Hartford. It led to no important 
result. Intelhgence was received that the squadron of 
the Count de Guichen, on which they had relied to 
give them superiority by sea, had sailed for Europe. 
This disconcerted their plans, and Washington, in con- 
sequence, set out two or three days sooner than had 
been anticipated on his return to his head-quarters on 
the Hudson. He was accompanied by Lafayette and 
General Knox with their suites ; also, part of the way, 
by Count Matthew Dumas, aide-de-camp to Rocham- 
beau. The count, who regarded Washington mth an 
enthusiasm which appears to have been felt by many 
of the young French officers, gives an animated picture 
of the manner in which he was greeted in one of the 


towns through which they passed. " We arrived there," 
says he, " at night ; the whole population had sallied 
forth beyond the suburbs. We were surrounded by a 
crowd of children carrying torches, and reiterating the 
acclamations of the citizens ; all were eager to touch 
the person of him whom they hailed with loud cries as 
their father, and they thronged before us so as almost 
to prevent our moving onward. General Washington, 
much affected, paused a few moments, and pressing my 
hand, ' We may be beaten by the English,' said he, 
' it is the chance of war ; but there is the army they 
will never conquer ! ' " 

These few words speak that noble confidence in the 
enduring patriotism of his countrymen, which sustained 
him throughout all the fluctuating fortunes of the Re- 
volution ; yet at this very moment it was about to re- 
ceive one of the cruellest of wounds. 

On approaching the Hudson Washington took a 
more circuitous route than the one he had originally in- 
tended, striking the river at Pishkill just above the 
Highlands, that he might visit West Point, and show 
the marquis the works which had been erected there 
during his absence in France. Circumstances detained 
them a night at Pishkill. Their baggage was sent on 
to Arnold's quarters in the Robinson House, with a 
message apprising the general that they would break- 
fast there the next day. In the morning (Sept. 24th) 
they were in the saddle before break of day, having 
a ride to make of eighteen miles through the moun- 
tains. It was a pleasant and animated one. Washing- 
ton was in excellent spirits, and the buoyant marquis, 

VOL. lY. 9 


and genial, warm-hearted Knox, were companions with 
whom he was always disposed to unbend. 

When within a mile of the Robinson House, Wash- 
ington turned down a cross road leading to the banks 
of the Hudson. Lafayette apprised him that he was 
going out of the way, and hinted that Mrs. Arnold 
must be waiting breakfast for him. " Ah, marquis ! " 
replied he good humoredly, " you young men are all in 
love with Mrs. Arnold. I see you are eager to be with 
her as soon as possible. Go you and breakfast with 
her, and tell her not to wait for me. I must ride down 
and examine the redoubts on this side of the river, but 
will be with her shortly." 

The marquis and General Knox, however, turned 
off and accompanied him down to the redoubts, while 
Colonel Hamilton and Lafayette's aide-de-camp. Major 
James McHenry, continued along the main road to the 
Robinson House, bearing Washington's apology, and 
request that the breakfast might not be retarded. 

The family with the two aides-de-camp sat down to 
breakfast. Mrs. Arnold had arrived but four or five 
days previously from Philadelphia, with her infant child, 
then about six months old. She was bright and amia- 
ble as usual. Arnold was silent and gloomy. It was 
an anxious moment with him. This was the day ap- 
pointed for the consummation of the plot, when the 
enemy's ships were to ascend the river. The return of 
the commander-in-chief from the East two days sooner 
than had been anticipated, and his proposed visit to the 
forts, threatened to disconcert every thing. What might 
be the consequence Arnold could not conjecture. An 
interval of fearful imaginings was soon brought to a 

1780.] FLIGHT OF ARNOLD. 131 

direful close. In the midst of the repast a horseman 
alighted at the gate. It was the messenger bearing 
Jameson's letter to Arnold, stating the capture of Andre, 
and that dangerous papers found on him had been for- 
warded to Washington. 

The mine had exploded beneath Arnold's feet ; yet 
in this awful moment he gave an evidence of that quick- 
ness of mind which had won laurels for him when in 
the path of duty. Controlling the dismay that must 
have smitten him to the heart, he beckoned Mrs. Arnold 
from the breakfast table, signifying a wish to speak 
with her in private. When alone with her in her room 
up stairs, he announced in hurried words that he was 
a ruined man, and must instantly fly for his life ! Over- 
come by the shock, she fell senseless on the floor. 
Without pausing to aid her, he hurried down stairs, 
sent the messenger to her assistance, probably to keep 
him from an interview with the other officers ; returned 
to the breakfast room, and informed his guests that he 
must haste to West Point to prepare for the reception 
of the commander-in-chief ; and mounting the horse of 
the messenger, which stood saddled at the door, gal- 
lopped down by what is still called Arnold's Path, to 
the landing-place, where his six-oared barge was 
moored. Throwing himself into it, he ordered his men 
to pull out into the middle of the river, and then made 
down with all speed for Teller's Point, which divides 
Haverstraw Bay from the Tappan Sea, saying he must 
be back soon to meet the commander-in-chief. 

Washington arrived at the Robinson House shortly 
after the flight of the traitor. Being informed that 
Mrs. Arnold was in her room, unwell, and that Arnold 


had gone to West Point to receive him, he took a hasty 
breakfast and repaired to the fortress, leaving word 
that he and his suite would return to dinner. 

In crossing the river he noticed that no salute was 
fired from the fort, nor was there any preparation to 
receive him on his landing. Colonel Lamb, the officer 
in command, Avho came down to the shore, manifested 
surprise at seeing him, and apologized for this want 
of military ceremony, by assuring him he had not been 
apprised of his intended visit. 

" Is not General Arnold here ? " demanded Wash- 

" No, sir. He has not been here for two days 
past ; nor have I heard from him in that time." 

This was strange and perplexing, but no sinister 
suspicion entered AVashington's mind. He remained 
at the Point throughout the morning inspecting the for- 
tifications. In the mean time, the messenger whom 
Jameson had despatched to Hartford with a letter cov- 
ering the papers taken on Andre, arrived at the Robin- 
son House. He had learnt, while on the way to Hart- 
ford, that Washington had left that place, whereupon 
he turned bridle to overtake him, but missed him in 
c^onsequence of the general's change of route. Com- 
ing by the lower road, the messenger had passed 
through Salem, where Andre was confined, and brought 
with him the letter written by that unfortunate officer 
to the commander-in-chief, the purport of which has 
already been given. These letters being represented 
as of the utmost moment, were opened and read by 
Colonel Hamilton, as Washington's aide-de-camp and 
confidential officer. He maintained silence as to theii 

1780.] FLIGHT OF ARNOLD. 133 

contents ; met Washington, as lie and his companions 
were coming up from the river, on their return from 
West Point, spoke to him a few words in a low voice, 
and they retired together into the house. Whatever 
agitation Washington may have felt when these docu- 
ments of deep-laid treachery were put before him, he 
wore his usual air of equanimity when he rejoined his 
companions. Taking Knox and Lafayette aside, he 
communicated to them the intelligence, and placed the 
papers in their hands. " Whom can we trust now ! " 
was his only comment, but it spoke volumes. 

His first idea was to arrest the traitor. Conjectur- 
ing the direction of his flight, he despatched Colonel 
Hamilton on horseback to spur with all speed to Ver- 
planck's Point, which commands the narrow part of 
the Hudson, just below the Highlands, with orders to 
the commander to intercept Arnold should he not 
abeady have passed that post. This done, when din- 
ner was announced, he invited the company to table. 
" Come, gentlemen ; since Mrs. Arnold is unwell and 
the general is absent, let us sit down without cere- 
mony." The repast was a quiet one, for none but La- 
fayette and Knox, beside the general, knew the purport 
of the letters just received. 

In the mean time, Arnold, panic-stricken, had sped 
his caitiff flight through the Highlands ; infamy howl- 
ing in his rear ; arrest threatening him in the advance ; 
a fugitive past the posts which he had recently com- 
manded; shrinking at the sight of that flag which 
hitherto it had been his glory to defend ! Alas ! how 
changed from the Arnold, who, but two years previ- 
ously, when repulsed, wounded and crippled before 


the walls of Quebec, could yet write proudly from a 
shattered camp, "I am in the way of my duty and I 
know no fear ! " 

He had passed through the Highlands in safety, 
but there were the batteries at Verplanck's Point yet 
to fear. Fortunately for him, Hamilton, with the order 
for his arrest, had not arrived there. 

His barge was known by the garrison. A white 
handkerchief displayed gave it the sanction of a flag 
of truce : it was suffered to pass without question, 
and the traitor effected his escape to the Vulture sloop- 
of-war, anchored a few miles below. As if to con- 
summate his degradation by a despicable act of treach- 
ery and meanness, he gave up to the commander his 
coxswain and six bargemen as prisoners of war. We 
are happy to add, that this perfidy excited the scorn of 
the British officers ; and, when it was found that the 
men had supposed they were acting under the protec- 
tion of a flag, they were released by order of Sir Henry 

Colonel Hamilton returned to the Robinson House 
and reported the escape of the traitor. He brought 
two letters also to Washington, which had been sent 
on shore from the Vulture, under a flag of truce. One 
was from Arnold, of which the following is a tran- 

" Sir, — The heart which is conscious of its own 
rectitude, cannot attempt to palliate a step which the 
world may censure as wrong ; I have ever acted from 
a principle of love to my country, since the commence- 
ment of the present unhappy contest between Great 
Britain and the colonies ; the same principle of love to 

1780.] LETTER OF ARNOLD. 135 

my country actuates my present conduct, however it 
may appear inconsistent to the world, who seldom 
judge right of any man's actions. 

" I ask no favor for myself. I have too often experi- 
enced the ingratitude of my country to attempt it ; 
but, from the known humanity of your Excellency, I 
am induced to ask your protection for Mrs. Arnold 
from every insult and injury that a mistaken vengeance 
of my country may expose her to. It ought to fall 
only on me ; she is as good and as innocent as an 
angel, and is incapable of doing wrong. I beg she 
may be permitted to return to her friends in Philadel- 
phia, or to come to me as she may choose ; from your 
Excellency I have no fears on her account, but she may 
suffer from the mistaken fury of the country." 

The other letter was from Colonel Beverley Robin- 
son, interceding for the release of Andre, on the plea 
that he was on shore under the sanction of a flag of 
truce, at the request of Arnold. Robinson had hoped 
to find favor with Washington on the score of their 
early intimacy. 

Notwithstanding Washington's apparent tranquiUi- 
ty and real self-possession, it was a time of appalling dis- 
trust. How far the treason had extended ; who else 
might be implicated in it, was unknown. Arnold had 
escaped, and was actually on board of the Vulture ; 
he knew every thing about the condition of the posts : 
might he not persuade the enemy, in the present weak 
state of the garrisons, to attempt a coup de main ? 
Washington instantly, therefore, despatched a letter to 
Colonel Wade, who was in temporary command at 
West Point. " General Arnold is gone to the enemy/' 


writes he. " I have just now received a line from him en- 
closing one to Mrs. Arnold, dated on board of the Vul- 
ture. I request that you will be as vigilant as possible, 
and as the enemy may have it in contemplation to 
attempt some enterprise, even to-nigld, against these 
posts, I wish you to make, immediately after the receipt 
of this, the best disposition you can of your force, so 
as to have a proportion of men in each work on the 
west side of the river." 

A regiment stationed in the Highlands was ordered 
to the same duty, as well as a body of the Massachu- 
setts militia from Fishkill. At half-past seven in the 
evening Washington wrote to General Greene, who, 
in his absence, commanded the army at Tappan ; urg- 
ing him to put the left division in motion as soon as 
possible, with orders to proceed to King's Ferry, where, 
or before they should arrive there, they would be met 
with fiu-ther orders. " The division," writes he, " will 
come on light, leaving their heavy baggage to follow. 
You will also hold all the troops in readiness to move 
on the shortest notice. Transactions of a most inter- 
esting nature, and such as will astonish you, have been 
just discovered." 

His next thought was about Andre. He was not 
acquainted with him personally, and the intrigues in 
which he had been engaged and the errand on Avhich 
he had come, made him consider him an artful and 
resolute person. He had possessed himself of dan- 
gerous information, and in a manner had been arrested 
with the key of the citadel in his pocket. On the 
same evening, therefore, Washington wrote to Colonel 
Jameson, charging that every precaution should be 


taken to prevent Major Andre from making his escape. 
" He will no doubt effect it, if possible, and in order 
that he may not have it in his power, you will send 
him under the care of such a party and so many offi- 
cers as to preclude him from the least opportunity of 
doing it. That he may be less liable to be recaptured 
by the enemy, who mil no doubt make every effort to 
regain him, he had better be conducted to this place 
by some upper road, rather than by the route of 
Crompond. I would not wish Mr. Andre to be treated 
with insult ; but he does not appear to stand upon the 
footing of a common prisoner of war, and therefore, 
he is not entitled to the usual indulgences which they 
receive, and is to be most closely and narrowly 

In the mean time, Mrs. Arnold remained in her room 
in a state bordering on frenzy. Arnold might well 
confide in the humanity and delicacy of Washington in 
respect to her. He regarded her with the sincerest 
commiseration, acquitting her of all previous knowledge 
of her husband's guilt. On remitting to her by one of 
his aides-de-camp the letter of her husband, written 
from on board of the Vulture, he informed her that he 
had done all that depended upon himself to have him 
arrested, but not having succeeded, he experienced a 
pleasure in assuring her of his safety.* 

A letter of Hamilton's written at the time, with 
all the sympathies of a young man, gives a touching 
picture of Washington's first interview with her. " She 
for a time entirely lost herself. The general went up to 

* Memoirs of Lafayette, i., p. 264. 


see her, and she upbraided him with being in a plot to 
murder her child. One moment she raved, another 
she melted into tears, sometimes she pressed her infant 
to her bosom, and lamented its fate occasioned by the 
imprudence of its father, in a manner that would have 
pierced insensibility itself. All the sweetness of beauty, 
all the loveliness of innocence, all the tenderness of a 
wife, and all the fondness of a mother, showed them- 
selves in her appearance and conduct." 

During the brief time she remained at the Robin- 
son House, she was treated with the utmost deference 
and delicacy, but soon set off, under a passport of 
Washington, for her father's house in Philadelphia. 





On the 26tli of September, the day after the treason 
of Arnold had been revealed to Washington, Andre 
arrived at the Robinson House, having been brought 
on in the night, under escort and in charge of Major 
Tallmadge. Washington made many inquiries of the 
major, but declined to have the prisoner brought into 
his presence, apparently entertaining a strong idea of 
his moral obliquity, from the nature of the scheme in 
which he had been engaged and the circumstances 
under which he had been arrested. 

The same evening he transmitted him to West 
Point, and shortly afterwards, Joshua H. Smith, who 
had likewise been arrested. Still, not considering 
them secure even there, he determined on the following 
day to send them on to the camp. In a letter to 
Greene, he writes : " They will be under an escort of 
horse, and I wish you to have separate houses in camp 
ready for their reception, in which they may be kept 


perfectly secure ; and also strong, trusty guards, trebly 
officered, that a part may be constantly in the room 
with them. They have not been permitted to be 
together, and must be kept apart. I would wish the 
room for Mr. Andre to be a decent one, and that he 
may be treated with civility ; but that he may be so 
guarded as to preclude a possibility of his escaping, 
which he will certainly attempt to effect, if it shall 
seem practicable in the most distant degree." 

Major Tallmadge continued to have charge of 
Andre. Not regarding him from the same anxious 
point with ■ the commander-in-chief, and having had 
opportunities of acquiring a personal knowledge of 
him, he had become fascinated by his engaging quali- 
ties. " The ease and affability of his manners," writes 
he, "polished by the refinement of good society and a 
finished education, made him a most delightful com- 
panion. It often drew tears from my eyes, to find him 
so agreeable in conversation on different subjects, when 
I reflected on his future fate, and that too, as 1 feared, 
so near at hand." 

Early on the morning of the 28th, the prisoners 
were embarked in a barge to be conveyed from West 
Point to King's Ferry. Tallmadge placed Andre by 
his side on the after seat of the barge. Being both 
young, of equal rank, and prepossessing manners, a 
frank and cordial intercourse had grown up between 
them. By a cartel, mutually agreed upon, each 
might put to the other any question not involving 
a third person. They were passing below the rocky 
heights of West Point and in full view of the fortress, 
when Tallmadge asked Andre whether he would have 


.taken an active part in the attack on it, should Arnold's 
plan have succeeded. Andre promptly answered in the 
affirmative ; pointed out a table of land on the west 
shore, where he would have landed at the head of a 
select corps, described the route he would have taken 
up the mountain to a height in the rear of Port Put- 
nam, overlooking the whole parade of West Point — > 
"and this he did," writes Tallmadge, "with much 
greater exactness than I could have done." This em- 
inence he would have reached without difficulty, as 
Arnold would have disposed of the garrison in such 
manner as to be capable of little or no opposition — 
and then the key of the country loould have been in his 
hands, and he would have had the glory of the splendid 

Tallmadge fairly kindled into admiration as Andre, 
with hereditary Prench vivacity, acted the scene he 
was describing. " It seemed to him," he said, " as 
if Andre were entering the fort sword in hand." 

He ventured to ask what was to have been his 
reward had he succeeded. " Mihtary glory was all he 
sought. The thanks of his general and the approba- 
tion of his king would have been a rich reward for 
such an undertaking." 

Tallmadge was perfectly charmed, but adds quietly, 
"I think he further remarked, that, if he had suc- 
ceeded, he was to have been promoted to the rank of a 
brigadier -general!' 

While thus the prisoner, confident of the merit of 
what he had attempted, kindled with the idea of an 
imaginary triumph, and the youthful officer who had 
him in charge, caught fire from his enthusiasm, the 


barge glided through that solemn defile of mountains, 
through which, but a few days previously, Arnold, the 
panic-stricken traitor of the drama, had fled like a 

After disembarking at King's Perry near Stony 
Point, they set off for Tappan under the escort of a 
body of horse. As they approached the Clove, a deep 
defile in the rear of the Highlands, Andre, who rode 
beside Tallmadge, became solicitous to know the opin- 
ion of the latter as to what would be the result of his 
capture, and in what light he would be regarded by 
General AVashington and by a military tribunal, should 
one be ordered. Tallmadge evaded the question as 
long as possible, but being urged to a full and explicit 
reply, gave it, he says, in the following words. " I had 
a much-loved classmate in Yale College, by the name 
of Nathan Hale, who entered the army in 1775. Im- 
mediately after the battle of Long Island, General 
Washington wanted information respecting the strength, 
position, and probable movements of the enemy. Cap- 
tain Hale tendered his services, went over to Brooklyn 
and was taken, just as he was passing the outposts of 
the enemy on his return ; said I with emphasis — ' Do 
you remember the sequel of the story ? ' ' Yes,' said 
Andre. ' He was hanged as a spy ! But you surely 
do not consider his case and mine alike ? ' ' Yes, pre- 
cisely similar ; and similar will be your fate.' " 


* The fate of the heroic youth here alluded to, deserves a more ample no- 
tice. Born in Coventry, Connecticut, June 6th, 1755, he entered Yale College 
in 1770, and graduated with some distinction in September, 1773, having pre- 
viously contracted an engagement of marriage ; not unlike Andr6 in this re- 
spect, who wooed his " Honora " at eighteen. On quitting college he engaged 
as a teacher, as is common with young men in New England, while studying 


" He endeavored," adds Tallmadge, " to answer my 
remarks, but it was manifest he was more troubled in 
spirit than I had ever seen him before." 

" We stopped at the Clove to dine and let the horse- 

for a profession. His half-formed purpose was to devote himself to the minis- 
try. As a teacher of youth, he was eminently skilful, and equally appreci- 
ated hy parents and pupils. He became universally popular. " Every body 
loved him," said a lady of his acquaintance, "he was so sprightly, intelligent 
and kind, and so handsome." 

He was teaching at New London, when an express arrived, bringing tidings 
of the outbreak at Lexington. A town meeting was called, and Hale was 
among the most ardent of the speakers, proposing an instant march to the 
scene of hostilities, and offering to volunteer. " A sense of duty," writes he to 
his father, " urges me to sacrifice every thing for my country." 

He served in the army before Boston as a Lieutenant ; prevailed on his com- 
pany to extend their term of service by offering them his own pay, and for his 
good conduct received from Congress the commission of captain. He com- 
manded a company in Colonel Knowlton's regiment in the following year. After 
the disastrous battle of Long Island, Washington applied to that officer for a 
competent person to penetrate the enemy's camp, and procure intelligence of 
their designs ; a service deemed vital in that dispiriting crisis. Hale, in the 
ardor of patriotism, volunteered for the unen\'iable enterprise, though fully 
aware of its peril, and the consequences of capture. 

Assuming his old character as schoolmaster, he crossed the Sound at night 
from Norwalk to Huntington on Long Island, visited the British encampments 
unsuspected, made drawings of the enemy's works, and noted down memoranda 
in Latin of the information he gathered, and then retraced his steps to Hunting- 
ton, where a boat was to meet him and convey him back to the Connecticut 
shore. Unfortunately a British guard ship was at that time anchored out of 
view in the Sound, and had sent a boat on shore for water. Hale mistook it 
for the expected boat, and did not discover his mistake until he found himself 
in the hands of enemies. He was stripped and searched, the plans and memo- 
randa were found concealed in the soles of his shoes, and proved him to be a spy. 

He was conveyed to the guard ship, and thence to New York, where he 
was landed on the 21st of September, the day of the great fire. He was taken 
to General Howe's head-quarters, and, after brief parley with his judge, or- 
dered for execution the next morning at daybreak — a sentence carried out by 
the provost marshal, the brutal and infamous Cunningham, who refused his 
request for a Bible, and destroyed a letter he had addressed to his mother, for 
the reason afterwards given by himself, " that the rebels should never know 
they had a man who could die with such firmness." His patriot spirit shone 
forth in his dying words, — " I only regret that I have but one life to lose for 
my country." 


guard refresh," continues TaUmadge. " While there, 
Andre kept reviewing his shabby dress, and finally 
remarked to me, that he was positively ashamed to go 
to the head-quarters of the American army in such a 
plight. I called my servant and directed him to bring 
my dragoon cloak, which I presented to Major Andre. 
This he refused to take for some time ; but I insisted 
on it, and he finally put it on and rode in it to Tappan." 

The place which had been prepared to receive 
Major Andre, is still pointed out as the "76 Stone 
House." The caution which Washington had given as 
to his safe keeping, was strictly observed by Colonel 
Scammel, the adjutant-general, as may be seen by his 
orders to the officer of the guards. 

" Major Andre, the prisoner under your guard, is 
not only an ofiicer of distinction in the British army, 
but a man of infinite art and address, who will leave 
no means unattempted to make his escape and avoid 
the ignominious death which awaits him. You are, 
therefore, in addition to your sentries, to keep two 
ofiicers constantly in the room with him, with their 
swords drawn, whilst the other ofiicers who are out of 
the room are constantly to keep walking the entry and 
round the sentries, to see that they are alert. No per- 
son whatever to be permitted to enter the room, or 
speak with him, unless by direction of the commander- 
in-chief. You are by no means to suffer him to go out 
of the room on any pretext whatever." * 

The capture of Andre caused a great sensation at 
New York. He was universally popular with the army, 

* From a copy among the papers <of General Hand. 


and an especial favorite of Sir Henry Clinton. The 
latter addressed a letter to Washington on the 26th, 
claiming the release of Andre on similar ground to that 
urged by Colonel Kobinson ; his having visited Arnold 
at the particular request of that general officer, and 
under the sanction of a flag of truce ; and his having 
been stopped while travelling under Arnold's passports. 
The same letter inclosed one addressed by Arnold to 
Sir Henry, and intended as a kind of certificate of the 
innocence of Andre. " I commanded at the time at 
West Point," writes the renegade, " had an undoubted 
right to send my flag of truce to Major Andre, who 
came to me under that protection, and, having held 
conversation With him, I dehvered him confidential 
papers in my own handwriting to deliver to your 
Excellency. Thinking it much properer he should 
return by land, I directed him to make use of the 
feigned name of John Anderson, under which he had, 
by my direction, come on shore, and gave him my pass- 
ports to go to the White Plains, on his way to New 
York. * * * * AH which I had then a right to 
do, being in the actual service of America, under the 
orders of General Washington, and commanding-gen- 
eral at West Point and its dependencies." He con- 
cludes, therefore, that Andre cannot fail of being imme- 
diately sent to New York. 

Neither the official demand of Sir Henry Clinton, 
nor the impudent certificate of Arnold, had any effect 
on the steady mind of Washington. He considered 
the circumstances under which Andre had been taken 
such as would have justified the most summaiy pro- 
ceedings, but he determined to refer the case to the 

TOL. IV. — 10 


examination and decision of a board of general officers, 
which he convened on the 29th of September, the day 
after his arrival at Tappan. It was composed of six 
major-generals, Greene, Stirling, St. Clair, Lafayette, 
R. Howe, and Steuben ; and eight brigadiers, Parsons, 
James Clinton, Knox, Glover, Paterson, Hand, Hunt- 
ingdon, and Stark. General Greene, who was well 
versed in military law, and was a man of sound head 
and kind heart, was president, and Colonel John Law- 
rence, judge advocate-general. 

Colonel Alexander Hamilton, who, like Tallmadge, 
had drawn to Andre in his misfortunes, as had most of 
the young American officers, gives, in letters to his 
friends, many interesting particulars concerning the 
conduct of the prisoner. " When brought before the 
board of officers," writes he, " he met with every mark 
of indulgence, and was required to answer no interrog- 
atory which would even embarrass his feelings. On 
his part, while he carefully concealed every thing that 
might implicate others, he frankly confessed all the 
facts relating to himself, and upon his confession, with- 
out the trouble of examining a witness, the board made 
up their report." 

It briefly stated the circumstances of the case, and 
concluded with the opinion of the court, that Major 
Andre, adjutant-general of the British army, ought to 
be considered a spy from the enemy, and, agreeably to 
the law and usage of nations, ought to suffer death. 
In a conversation with Hamilton, Andre acknowledged 
the candor, liberality and indulgence with which the 
board had conducted themselves in their painful in- 
quiry. He met the result with manly finuness. " I 


foresee my fate," said he, " and though I pretend not 
to play the hero, or to be indifferent about hfe, yet I 
am reconciled to whatever may happen ; conscious that 
misfoi-tune, not guilt, has brought it upon me." 

Even in this situation of gathering horrors, he 
thought of others more than of himself. "There is 
only one thing that disturbs my tranquillity," said he 
to Hamilton. " Sir Henry Clinton has been too good 
to me; he has been lavish of his kindness. I am 
bound to him by too many obhgations, and love him 
too well, to bear the thought that he should reproach 
himself, or others should reproach him, on the suppo- 
sition of my having conceived myself obliged, by his 
instructions, to run the risk I did. I would not for 
the world leave a sting in his mind that should embit- 
ter his future days." He could scarce finish the sen- 
tence ; bursting into tears, in spite of his efforts to 
suppress them, and with difficulty collected himself 
enough afterwards to add, " I wish to be permitted to 
assure him that I did not act under this impression, 
but submitted to a necessity imposed upon me, as con- 
tvary to my own incHnation, as to his wishes." 

His request was complied with, and he wrote a 
letter to Sir Henry Clinton to the above purport. He 
made mention also of his mother and three sisters, to 
whom the value of his commission would be an object. 
" It is needless," said he, " to be more explicit on this 
subject ; I am persuaded of your Excellency's good- 
ness." * 

* The commission was sold by Sir Hemy Clinton, for the benefit of Andr6's 
mother and sisters. The King, also, settled a pension on the mother, and of- 
fered to confer the honor of knighthood on Andr6's brother, in order to wipe 
uway all stain from the family, that the circumstance of his fate might be 
thought to occasion. 


He concluded by saying, " I receive the greatest 
attention from his Excellency, General Washington, 
and from every person under whose charge I happen 
to be placed." 

This letter accompanied one from Washington to 
Sir Henry Clinton, stating the report of the board of 
inquiry, omitting the sentence. " Prom these pro- 
ceedings," observes he, " it is evident that Major Andre 
was employed in the execution of measures very for- 
eign to the objects of flags of truce, and such as they 
were never meant to authorize in the most distant 
degree ; and this gentleman confessed with the great- 
est candor, in the course of his examination, that it 
was impossible for him to suppose that he came on 
shore under the sanction of a flag." 

Captain Aaron Ogden, a worthy oflicer of the New 
Jersey line, was selected by Washington to bear these 
despatches to the enemy's post at Paulus Hook, thence 
to be conveyed across the Hudson to New York. Be- 
fore his departure, he called by Washington's request 
on the Marquis Lafayette, who gave him instructions 
to sound the oflicer commanding at that post whether 
Sir Henry Chnton might not be willing to deliver up 
Arnold in exchange for Andre. Ogden arrived at 
Paulus Hook in the evening, and made the suggestion, 
as if incidentally, in the course of conversation. The 
oflicer demanded if he had any authority from Wash- 
ington for such an intimation. " I have no such assur- 
ance from General Washington," replied he, " but I 
am prepared to say, that if such a proposal were made, 
I believe it would be accepted, and Major Andre set at 


The officer crossed the river before morning, and 
communicated the matter to Sir Henry CHnton, but 
the latter instantly rejected the expedient as incompat- 
ible with honor and military principle. 

In the mean time, the character, appearance, de- 
portment and fortunes of Andre, had interested the 
feelings of the oldest and sternest soldiers around him, 
and completely captivated the sjmipathies of the young- 
er ones. He was treated with the greatest respect and 
kindness throughout his confinement, and his table was 
supplied from that of the commander-in-chief. 

Hamilton, who was in daily intercourse with him, 
describes him as well improved by education and travel, 
with an elegant turn of mind, and a taste for the fine 
arts. He had attained some proficiency in poetry, 
music, and painting. His sentiments were elevated, 
his elocution was fluent, his address easy, polite and 
engaging, with a softness that conciliated affection. His 
talents and accomplishments were accompanied, says 
Hamilton, by a diffidence that induced you to give him 
credit for more than appeared. 

No one felt stronger sympathy in his case than 
Colonel Tallmadge, no doubt from the consideration 
that he had been the means of bringing him into this 
awful predicament, by inducing Colonel Jameson to 
have him conducted back when on the way to Arnold's 
quarters. A letter lies before us, written by Tallmadge 
to Colonel Samuel B. Webb, one of Washington's 
aides-de-camp. " Poor Andre, who has been under my 
charge almost ever since he was taken, has yesterday 
bad his trial, and though his sentence is not known, 
a disgraceful death is undoubtedly allotted him. By 


heavens, Colonel Webb, I never saw a man whose fate 
I foresaw whom I so sincerely pitied. He is a young 
fellow of the greatest accomplishments, and was the 
prime minister of Sir Harry on all occasions. He has 
unbosomed his heart to me so fully, and indeed let me 
know almost every motive of his actions since he came 
out on his late mission, that he has endeared me to 
him exceedingly. Unfortunate man ! He wiU un- 
doubtedly suffer death to-morrow ; and though he 
knows his fate, seems to be as cheerful as if he were 
going to an assembly. I am sure he will go to the 
gallows less fearful for his fate, and with less concern 
than I shall behold the tragedy. Had he been tried 
by a court of ladies, he is so genteel, handsome, polite 
a young gentleman, that I am confident they would 
have acquitted him. But enough of Andre, who, 
though he dies lamented, falls justly." 

The execution was to have taken place on the 1st 
of October, at five o'clock in the afternoon ; but in the 
interim Washington received a second letter from Sir 
Henry Clinton, dated September 30th, expressing an 
opinion that the board of inquiry had not been rightly 
informed of all the circumstances on which a judgment 
ought to be formed, and that, in order that he might 
be perfectly apprised of the state of the matter before 
he proceeded to put that judgment in execution, he 
should send a commission on the following day, com- 
posed of Lieutenant-governor Elliot, William Smith, 
chief justice of the province, and Lieutenant-general 
Robertson, to wait near Dobbs Terry for permission 
and safe conduct to meet Washington, or such persons 


as he should appoint to converse with them on the 

This letter caused a postponement of the execution, 
and General Greene was sent to meet the commissioners 
at Dobbs Perry. They came up in the morning of the 
1st of October, in a schooner, with a flag of truce, and 
were accompanied by Colonel Beverley Robinson. 
General Robertson, however, was the only commissioner 
permitted to land, the others not being mihtary officers. 
A long conference took place between him and General 
Greene, without any agreement of opinion upon the 
question at issue. Greene returned to camp promising 
to report faithfully to Washington the arguments urged 
by Robertson, and to inform the latter of the result. 

A letter also was delivered to Greene for Washing- 
ton, which Arnold had sent by the commissioners, in 
which the traitor reasserted the right he had possessed, 
as commanding officer of the department, to transact 
all the matters with which Andre was inculpated, and 
insisted that the latter ought not to suffer for them. 
" But," added he, " if after this just and candid repre- 
sentation of Major Andre's case, the board of general 
officers adhere to their former opinion, I shall suppose 
it dictated by passion and resentment ; and if that 
gentleman should suffer the severity of their sentence, 
I shall think myself bound, by every tie of duty and 
honor, to retaliate on such unhappy persons of your 
army as may fall within my power, that the respect due 
to flags, and to the laws of nations, may be better un- 
derstood and observed. I have further to observe, that 
forty of the principal inhabitants of South Carolina 
have justly forfeited their hves, which have hitherto 


been spared by the clemency of his Excellency, Sir 
Henry Clinton, who cannot in justice extend his mercy 
to them any longer, if Major Andre suffers ; which, in 
all probability, will open a scene of blood at which hu- 
manity shudders. 

" Suffer me to entreat your Excellency, for your own 
sake and the honor of humanity, and the love you have 
of justice, that you suffer not an unjust sentence to 
touch the life of Major Andre. But if this warning 
should be disregarded, and he suffer, I call Heaven 
and earth to witness that your Excellency will be justly 
answerable for the torrent of blood that may be spilt 
in consequence." 

Beside this impudent and despicable letter, there 
was another from Arnold containing the farce of a 
resignation, and concluding with the following sentence : 
" At the same time I beg leave to assure your Excel- 
lency, that my attachment to the true interest of my 
country is invariable, and that I am actuated by the 
same principle which has ever been the governing rule 
of my conduct in this unhappy contest." 

The letters of Arnold were regarded with merited 
contempt. Greene, in a brief letter to General Robert- 
son, informed him that he had made as full a report of 
their conference to the commander-in-chief, as his 
memory would serve, but that it had made no alteration 
in Washington's opinion and determination. Robertson 
was piqued at the brevity of the note, and professed to 
doubt whether Greene's memory had served him with 
sufficient fulness and exactness ; he addressed therefore 
to Washington his own statement of his reasoning on 


the subject ; after despatching which he and the other 
commissioners returned in the schooner to New 

During this day of respite Andre had conducted 
himseK with his usual tranquillity. A Hkeness of him- 
self, seated at a table in his guard-room, which he 
sketched with a pen and gave to the officer on guard, 
is stni extant. It being announced to him that one 
o'clock on the following day was fixed on for his ex- 
ecution, he remarked, that since it was his lot to die, 
there was stiU a choice in the mode ; he therefore ad- 
dressed the following note to Washington. 

Sir : — " Buoyed above the terror of death by the 
consciousness of a life devoted to honorable pursuits, 
and stained with no action that can give me remorse, 
I trust that the request I make to your Excellency at 
this serious period, and which is to soften my last mo- 
ments, will not be rejected. Sympathy towards a 
soldier will surely induce your Excellency and a military 
tribunal to adapt the mode of my death to the feelings 
of a man of honor. 

" Let me hope, sir, that if aught in my character 
impresses you with esteem towards me ; if aught in 
my misfortuiies marks me as the victim of policy and 
not of resentment, I shall experience the operation of 
these feelings in your breast by being informed that I 
am not to die on a gibbet." 

Had Washington consulted his feelings merely, this 
affecting appeal might not have been in vain, for, though 
not impulsive, he was emmently benevolent. Andre 
himself had testified to the kind treatment he had ex- 
perienced from the commander-in-chief since his cap- 


ture, though no personal interview had taken place. 
Washington had no popular censure to apprehend 
should he exercise indulgence, for the popular feeling 
was with the prisoner. But he had a high and tena- 
cious sense of the duties and responsibilities of his po- 
sition, and never more than in this trying moment, 
when he had to elevate himself above the contagious 
sympathies of those around him, dismiss all personal 
considerations, and regard the peculiar circumstances 
of the case. The long course of insidious operations 
which had been pursued to undermine the loyalty of one 
of his most trusted officers ; the greatness of the evil 
which the treason would have effected, if successful ; 
the uncertainty how far the enemy had carried, or 
might still be carrying, their scheme of corruption, 
for anonymous intimations spoke of treachery in other 
quarters ; all these considerations pointed this out as a 
case in which a signal example was required. 

And what called for particular indulgence to the 
agent, if not instigator of this enormous crime, who 
had thus been providentially detected in disguise, and 
with the means of its consummation concealed upon 
his person ? His errand, as it has been eloquently 
urged, " viewed in the light of morahty, and even of 
that chivalry from which modern war pretends to de- 
rive its maxims, was one of infamy. He had been 
commissioned to buy with gold what steel could not 
conquer ; to drive a bargain with one ready for a price 
to become a traitor ; to count out the thirty pieces of 
silver by which British generals and British gentlemen 
were not ashamed to purchase the betrayal of a cause, 


whose shining virtue repelled their power, and dimmed 
the glory of their arms." * 

Even the language of traffic in which this negotia- 
tion had been carried on between the pseudo-Gustavus 
and John Anderson, had, as has before been observed, 
something ignoble and debasing to the chivalrous aspi- 
rant who stooped to use it ; especially when used as a 
crafty covering in bargaining for a man's soul.f 

It has been alleged in Andre's behalf, as a mitigat- 
ing circumstance, that he was involuntarily a spy. It 
is true, he did not come on shore in borrowed garb, 
nor with a design to pass himself off for another, and 
procure secret information ; but he came, under cloak 
of midnight, in supposed safety, to effect the betrayal 
of a holy trust ; and it was his undue eagerness to 
secure the objects of this clandestine interview, that 
brought him into the condition of an undoubted spy. 
It certainly should not soften our view of his mission, 
that he embarked in it without intending to subject 
himself to danger. A spice of danger would have given 
it a spice of heroism, however spurious. When the 
rendezvous was first projected, he sought, through an 
indirect channel, to let Arnold know that he would 
come out vvdth a flag. (We allude to a letter written by 
him from New York on the 7th of September, under 
his feigned signature, to Colonel Sheldon; evidently 

* Speech of the Hon. Henry J. Raymond, at the dedication of the Andr6 

t See letter of Gustavus to John Anderson. " My partner of whom I hinted 
in a former letter, has ahout ten thousand pounds cash in hand, ready for a 
speculation, if any should oflFer ; I have also one thousand pounds in hand, and 
can collect fifteen hundred more in two or three days. Add to this, I have 
some credit. From these hints you can judge of the purchase that can be 


intended to be seen by Arnold ; " I will endeavor to 
obtain permission to go out with a flag.") If an in- 
terview had taken place under that sacred protection, 
and a triumphant treason had been the result, what a 
brand it would have affixed to Andre's name, that he 
had prostituted a flag of truce to such an end. 

We dwell on these matters, not to check the senti- 
ment of sympathy awakened in Andre's behalf by his 
personal qualities, but to vindicate the fair name of 
Washington from that "blot" which some have at- 
tempted to cast upon it, because, in exercising his 
stern duty as protector of the public weal, during a 
time of secret treason, he listened to policy and justice 
rather than mercy. In doing so, he took counsel with 
some of his general officers. Their opinions coincided 
with his own — ^that under present circumstances, it was 
important to give a signal warning to the enemy, by a 
rigorous observance of the rules of war and the usages 
of nations in like cases.* 

But although Andre's request as to the mode of his 
death was not to be granted, it was thought best to let 
him remain in uncertainty on the subject ; no answer, 
therefore, was returned to his note. On the morning 

* We subjoin a British officer's view of Andre's case. " He was tried by a 
board of general officers as a spy, and condemned to be hanged. The Ameri- 
can general has been censured for directing this ignominious sentence to bo 
carried into execution ; but doubtless Major Andre was well aware when he 
undertook the negotiation, of the fate that awaited him should he fall into the 
hands of the enemy. The laws of war award to spies the punishment of death. 
It would, therefore, be difficult to assign a reason why Major Andre should 
have been exempted from that fate to which all others are doomed under simi- 
lar circumstances, although the amiable qualities of the man rendered the in- 
dividual case a subject of peculiar commiseration." — Origin and Services of the 
Coldstream Guards : by Col. MacKinnon, vol. ii., p. 9. 

1780.] THE EXECUTION. 157 

of the 2d, he maintained a calm demeanor, though all 
aromid him were gloomy and silent. He even rebuked 
his servant for shedding tears. Having breakfasted, 
he dressed himself with care in the full uniform of a 
British officer, which he had sent for to New York, 
placed his hat upon the table, and accosting the officers 
on guard — " I am ready," said he, " at any moment, 
gentlemen, to wait upon you." 

He walked to the place of execution between two 
subaltern officers, arm in arm, with a serene counte- 
nance, bowing to several gentlemen whom he knew. 
Colonel Tallmadge accompanied him, and we quote his 
words. " When he came within sight of the gibbet, 
he appeared to be startled, and inquired with some 
emotion whether he was not to be shot. Being in- 
formed that the mode first appointed for his death 
could not consistently be altered, he exclaimed, ' How 
hard is my fate ! ' but immediately added, * it will 
soon be over.' I then shook hands with him under 
the gallows, and retired." * 

While waiting near the gallows until preparations 
were made, says another authority, who was present, 
he evinced some nervousness, putting his foot on a 
stone and rolling it ; and making an effi)rt to swallow, 
as if checking an hysterical affection of the throat. 
All things being ready, he stepped into the waggon ; 
appeared to shrink for an instant, but recovering him- 
self, exclaimed : " It will be but a momentary pang ! " 

Taking off his hat and stock, and opening his shirt 
collar, he deliberately adjusted the noose to his neck, 

* MSS. of Col. B. Tallmadge in possession of Ms daughter, Mrs. J. P. Cush- 
man, of Troy, N. Y. 


after which he took out a handkerchief and tied it over 
his eyes. Being told by the officer in command that 
his arms must be bound, he drew out a second hand- 
kerchief with which they were pinioned. Colonel 
Scammel now told him that he had an opportunity to 
speak, if he desired it. His only reply was, " I pray 
you to bear witness that I meet my fate like a brave 
man." The waggon moved from under him, and left 
him suspended. He died almost without a struggle. f 
He remained suspended for about half an hour, during 
which time a deathlike stillness prevailed over the sur- 
rounding multitude. His remains were interred within 
a few yards of the place of his execution ; whence they 
were transferred to England in 1821, by the British 
consul, then resident in New York, and were buried in 
Westminster Abbey, near a mural monument which 
had been erected to his memory. 

Never has any man, suffering under like circum- 
stances, awakened a more universal sympathy even 
among those of the country against which he had prac- 
tised. His story is one of the touching themes of the 
Bevolution, and his name is still spoken of with kind- 
ness in the local traditions of the neighborhood where 
he was captured. 

Washington, in a letter to the President of Con- 
gress, passed a high eulogium on the captors of Andre, 
and recommended them for a handsome gratuity ; for 
having, in all probability, prevented one of the severest 
strokes that could have been meditated by the enemy. 
Congress accordingly expressed, in a formal vote, a high 

* Thatcher's Military Journal, p. 275. 


sense of their virtuous and patriotic conduct ; award- 
ed to each of them a farm, a pension for Ufe of two 
hundred dollars, and a silver medal, bearing on one 
side an escutcheon on which was engraved the word 
Fidelity, and on the other side the motto, Vincit amor 
Patrice. These medals were delivered to them by- 
General Washington at head-quarters, with impressive 

Isaac Van Wart, one of the captors, had been pres- 
ent at the execution of Andre, and was deeply affected 
by it. He was not fond of recalling the subject, and, 
in after life, could rarely speak of Andre without tears. 

Joshua H. Smith, who aided in bringing Andre 
and Arnold together, was tried by a court-martial, on 
a charge of participating in the treason, but was ac- 
quitted, no proof appearing of his having had any 
knowledge of Arnold's plot, though it was thought he 
must have been conscious of something wrong in an 
interview so mysteriously conducted. 

Arnold was now made brigadier-general in the Brit- 
ish service, and put on an official level with honorable men 
who scorned to associate with the traitor. What golden 
reward he was to have received had his treason been 
successful, is not known ; but six thousand three hun- 
dred and fifteen pounds sterling were paid to him, as a 
compensation for losses which he pretended to have 
sufiered in going over to the enemies of his country. 

The vilest culprit, however, shrinks from sustaining 
the obloquy of his crimes. Shortly after his arrival in 
New York, Arnold published an address to the Inhab- 
itants of America, in which he endeavored to vindicate 
his conduct. He alleged that he had originally taken up 


arms merely to aid in obtaining a redress of grievances. 
He had considered the Declaration of Independence 
precipitate, and the reasons for it obviated, by the sub- 
sequent proffers of the British government; and he 
inveighed against Congress for rejecting those offers, 
without submitting them to the people. 

Finally, the treaty with France, a proud, ancient and 
crafty foe, the enemy of the Protestant faith and of 
real liberty, had completed, he said, the measure of his 
indignation, and determined him to abandon a cause 
sustained by iniquity and controlled by usurpers. 

Beside this address, he issued a proclamation in- 
viting the officers and soldiers of the American army, 
who had the real interest of their country at heart, and 
who were determined to be no longer the tools and 
dupes of Congress and of France, to rally under the 
royal standard, and fight for true American liberty ; 
holding out promises of large bounties and liberal sub- 
sistence, with compensation for all the implements 
and accoutrements of war they might bring with 

Speaking of this address, " I am at a loss," said 
Washington, " which to admire most, the confidence of 
Arnold in publishing it, or the folly of the enemy in 
supposing that a production signed by so infamous a 
character will have any weight with the people of these 
States, or any influence upon our officers abroad." He 
was right. Both the address and the proclamation 
were regarded by Americans with the contempt they 
merited. None rallied to the standard of the renegade 
but a few deserters and refugees, who were already 


within the British lines, and prepared for any desperate 
or despicable service.* 

Colonel John Laurens, former aide-de-camp to 
Washington, in speaking of Andre's fate, observed, 
'' Arnold must undergo a punishment comparatively 
more severe, in the permanent, increasing torment of a 
mental hell." Washington doubted it. " He wants 
feeling," said he. " Erom some traits of his character 
which have lately come to my knowledge, he seems to 
have been so hackneyed in villainy, and so lost to all 
sense of honor and shame, that, while his faculties 

* The following passages of a letter written hy Sir Thomas Romilly in 
London, Dec. 12, 1780, to the Rev. John Roget, are worthy of citation: 

" What do you think of Arnold's conduct ? you may well suppose he does 
not want advocates here. I cannot join with them. If he thought the Amer- 
icans not justified in continuing the war, after the offer of such favorable terms 
as the commissioners held out to them, why did he keep his command for two 
years afterwards ? * * * * 

" The arguments used by Clinton and Arnold in their letters to Washington, 
to prove that Andr6 could not be considered as a spy, are, first, that he had 
with him, when he was taken, a protection of Arnold, who was at that time 
acting under a commission of the Congress, and, therefore, competent to give 
protections. Certainly he was, to all strangers to his negotiations with Clin- 
ton, but not to Andre, who knew him to be at that time a traitor to the Con- 
gress — nay, more, whose protection was granted for no other purpose but to 
promote and give effect to his treachery. In the second place, they say that 
at the time he was taken he was upon neutral ground ; but they do not deny 
that he had been within the American lines in disguise. The letters written 
by Andr6 himself, show a firm, cool intrepidity, worthy a more glorious end. 

" The fate of this unfortunate young man, and the manly style of his letters, have 
raised more compassion here than the loss of thousands in battle, and have ex- 
cited a warmer indignation against the Americans, than any former act of the 
Congress. When the passions of men are so deeply affected, you will not ex- 
pect to find them keep within the boimds of reason. Panegyrics of the gal- 
lant Andr6 are unbounded ; they call him the English Mutius, and talk of 
erecting monuments to his memory. Certainly, no man in his situation could 
have behaved with more determined courage ; but his situation was by no 
means such as to admit of these exaggerated praises." 
VOL. IV. 11 


will enable him to continue his sordid pursuits, there 
will be no time for remorse." And in a letter to 
Governor Reed, Washington writes, " Arnold's con- 
duct is so villanously perfidious, that there are no 
terms that can describe the baseness of his heart. 
That overruling Providence which has so often and 
so remarkably interposed in our favor, never manifested 
itself more conspicuously than in the timely discovery 
of his horrid intention to surrender the post and 
garrison of West Point into the hands of the enemy. 
***** (ji]^g confidence and folly which 
have marked the subsequent conduct of this man, are 
of a piece with his villainy, and all three are perfect in 
their kind." 


The following fragment of a letter from Arnold's mother to him in early 
life, was recently put into our hands. Well would it have been for him had he 
adhered to its pious, though humble counsels. 

Norwich April 12 1754. 
" dear childe. I received yours of 1 instant and was glad to hear that you 
was well : pray my dear let your first consern be to make your pease with 
god as itt is of all consems of y« greatest importence. Keep a stedy watch 
over your thoughts, words and actions, be dutifull to superiors obliging to 
equalls and affibel to inferiors. ***** 

from your afectionate 

Hannah Arnold. 

P. S. I have sent you fifty shillings youse itt prudently as you are 
acountabeU to God and your father. Your father and aunt joyns with me in 
love and servis to Mr Cogswell and ladey and yourself Your sister is from 


benedict arnold 
your father put at 

twenty more canterbury 


Mrs. Arnold, on arriving at her father's house in 
Philadelphia, had decided on a separation from her hus- 
band, to whom she could not endure the thoughts of 
returning after his dishonor. This course, however, 
was not allowed her. The executive council, wrong- 
fully suspecting her of having aided in the correspond- 
ence between her husband and Andre, knowing its 
treasonable tendency, ordered her to leave the State 
within fourteen days, and not to return during the con- 
tinuance of the war. " We tried every means," writes 
one of her connections, " to prevail on the council to 
permit her to stay among us, and not to compel her to 
go to that infernal villain, her husband.* Mr. Shippen 
(her father) had promised the council, and Mrs. Arnold 
had signed a writing to the same purpose, engaging 
not to write to General Arnold any letters whatever, 
and to receive no letters without showing them to the 
council, if she was permitted to stay." It was all in 
vain, and strongly against her will, she rejoined her 
husband in New York. His fear for her personal 
safety from the fury of the people proved groundless. 
That scrupulous respect for the female sex, so prevalent 
throughout the United States, was her safeguard. 
While the whole country resounded with e:xecrations 
of her husband's guilt ; while his effigy was dragged 
through the streets of town and village, burnt at the 
stake, or swung on the gibbet, she passed on secure from 
injury or insult. The execrations of the populace were 
silenced at her approach. Arriving at nightfall at a 
village where they were preparing for one of these 

* Letters and Papers relating to the Provincial Hist, of Pennsylvania, 
p. Ixiv. 


burnings in effigy, the pyre remained unkindled, the 
people dispersed quietly to their homes, and the wife of 
the traitor was suffered to sleep in peace. 

She returned home but once, about five years after 
her exile, and was treated with such coldness and neg- 
lect that she declared she never could come again. In 
England her charms and virtues, it is said, procured 
her sympathy and friendship, and helped to sustain 
the social position of her husband, who, however, was 
"generally slighted, and sometimes insulted.""^ She 
died in London, in the winter of 1796. In recent 
years it has been maintained that Mrs. Arnold was 
actually cognizant and participant of her husband's 
crime ; but, after carefully examining all the proofs ad- 
duced, we remain of opinion that she was innocent. 

We have been induced to enter thus largely into 
the circumstances of this story, from the undiminished 
interest taken in it by the readers of American history. 
Indeed, a romance has been thrown around the mem- 
ory of the unfortunate Andre, which increases with the 
progress of years ; while the name of Arnold will stand 
sadly conspicuous to the end of time, as the only 
American officer of note, throughout all the trials and 
vicissitudes of the Revolution, who proved traitor to 
the glorious cause of his country. 

* Letters and Papers of Prov. Hist. Pennsjlyania, Ixvi. 







As the enemy would now possess the means, through 
Arnold, of informing themselves thoroughly about 
West Point, Washington hastened to have the works 
completed and strongly garrisoned. Major-general 
Greene was ordered to march with the Jersey, New 
York, New Hampshire, and Stark's brigades, and 
take temporary command (ultimately to be transferred 
to General Heath), and the Pennsylvania troops, which 
had been thrown into the fortress at the time of 
Arnold's desertion, were relieved. Washington himself 
took post with his main army, at Prakeness, near Pas- 
saic Palls in New Jersey. 

Insidious attempts had been made by anonymous 
papers, and other means, as we have already hinted, to 
shake the confidence of the commander-in-chief in his 


officers, and especially to implicate General St. Clair in 
the late conspiracy. Washington was exceedingly dis- 
turbed in mind for a time, and engaged Major Henry 
Lee, who was stationed with his dragoons on the lines, 
to probe the matter through secret agents in New 
York. The result proved the utter falsehood of these 

At the time of making this inquiry, a plan was 
formed at Washington's suggestion to get possession of 
the person of Arnold. The agent pitched upon by Lee 
for the purpose, was the sergeant-major of cavalry in 
his legion, John Champe by name, a young Virginian 
about twenty -four years of age, whom he describes as 
being rather above the middle size — ^full of bone and 
muscle ; with a saturnine countenance, grave, thought- 
ful, and taciturn, of tried loyalty and inflexible courage. 
By many promises and much persuasion, Lee brought 
him to engage in the attempt. " I have incited his 
thirst for fame," writes he, " by impressing on his mind 
the virtue and glory of the act." 

Champe was to make a pretended desertion to the 
enemy at New York. There he was to enlist in a corps 
which Arnold was raising, insinuate himself into some 
menial or military situation about his person, and, 
watching for a favorable moment, was, with the aid of 
a confederate from Newark, to seize him in the night, 
gag him, and bring him across the Hudson into Ber- 
gen woods in the Jerseys. 

Washington, in approving the plan, enjoined and 
stipulated that Arnold should be brought to him alive. 
" No circumstance whatever," said he, " shall obtain 
my consent to his being put to death. The idea which 


would accompany such an event, would be, that ruf- 
fians had been hired to assassinate him. My aim is to 
make a pubhc example of him, and this should be 
strongly impressed upon those who are employed to 
bring him off." 

The pretended desertion of the sergeant took place 
on the night of October 20th, and was attended with 
difficulties. He had to evade patrols of horse and 
foot, beside stationary guards and irregular scouting 
parties. Major Lee could render him no assistance 
other than to delay pursuit, should his departure be 
discovered. About eleven o'clock the sergeant took his 
cloak, valise, and orderly book, drew his horse from the 
picket, and mounting, set out on his hazardous course, 
while the major retired to rest. 

He had not been in bed half an hour, when Cap- 
tain Carnes, officer of the day, hurrying into his quar- 
ters, gave word that one of the patrols had fallen in 
with a dragoon, who, on being challenged, put spm's to 
his horse, and escaped. Lee pretended to be annoyed 
by the intrusion, and to believe that the pretended dra- 
goon was some countryman of the neighborhood. The 
captain was piqued ; made a muster of the dragoons, 
and returned with word that the sergeant-major was 
missing, who had gone off with horse, baggage, arms, 
and orderly book. 

Lee was now compelled to order out a party in 
pursuit under Cornet Middleton, but in so doing, he 
contrived so many delays, that, by the time they were 
in the saddle, Champe had an hour's start. His pur- 
suers, too, were obliged in the course of the night, to 
halt occasionally, dismount and examine the road, to 


guide themselves by the horses' tracks. At daybreak 
they pressed forward more rapidly, and from the sum- 
mit of a hill descried Champe, not more than half a 
mile in front. The sergeant at the same moment 
caught sight of his pursuers, and now the chase be- 
came desperate. Champe had originally intended to 
make for Paulus Hook, but changed his course, threw 
his pursuers at fault, and succeeded in getting abreast 
of two British galleys at anchor near the shore beyond 
Bergen. He had no time to lose. Cornet Middleton 
was but two or three hundred yards behind him. 
Throwing himself off his horse, and running through 
a marsh, he plunged into the river, and called to the 
galleys for help. A boat was sent to his assistance, 
and he was conveyed on board of one of those vessels. 

Por a time, the whole plan promised to be success- 
ful. Champe enlisted in Arnold's corps ; was employed 
about his person ; and every arrangement was made to 
surprise him at night in a garden in the rear of his 
quarters, convey him to a boat, and ferry him across 
the Hudson. On the appointed night, Lee, with three 
dragoons and three led horses, was in the woods of 
Hoboken on the Jersey shore, waiting to receive the 
captive. Hour after hour passed away, — no boat ap- 
proached, — day broke ; and the major, with his dra- 
goons and his led horses, returned perplexed and dis- 
appointed to the camp. 

Washington was extremely chagrined at the issue 
of the undertaking, fearing that the sergeant had been 
detected in the last scene of his perilous and difficult 
enterprise. It subsequently proved, that on the day 
preceding the night fixed on for the capture, Arnold 


had removed his quarters to another part of the town, 
to superintend the embarkation of troops, preparing 
(as was rumored) for an expedition to be directed by 
himself, and that the American legion, consisting chiefly 
of American deserters, had been transferred from their 
barracks to one of the transports. Among the troops 
thus transferred was John Champe ; nor was he able 
for a long time to effect his escape, and resume his real 
character of a loyal and patriotic soldier. He was 
rewarded when he did so, by the munificence of the 
commander-in-chief, and the admiration of his old 
comrades in arms ; having so nobly braved, in his 
country's cause, not merely danger, but a long course 
of obloquy. 

We have here to note the altered fortunes of the 
once prosperous General Gates. His late defeat at 
Camden had withered the laurels snatched at Saratoga. 
As in the one instance he had received exaggerated 
praise, so in the other, he suffered undue censure. 
The sudden annihilation of an army from which so 
much had been expected, and the retreat of the gene- 
ral before the field was absolutely lost, appeared to 
demand a strict investigation. Congress therefore 
passed a resolution (October 5th), requiring Washing- 
ton to order a court of inquiry into the conduct of 
Gates as commander of the Southern army, and to 
appoint some other officer to the command until the 
inquiry should be made. Washington at once selected 
Greene for the important trust, the well-tried officer 
whom he would originally have chosen, had his opinion 
been consulted, when Congress so unadvisedly gave 
the command to Gates. In the present instance, his 


choice was in concurrence with the expressed wishes 
of the delegates of the three Southern States, conveyed 
to him by one of their number. 

Washington's letter of instructions to Greene (Oc- 
tober 22d) showed the implicit confidence he reposed 
in the abilities and integrity of that excellent officer. 
" Uninformed as I am," writes he, " of the enemy's 
force in that quarter, of our own, or of the resources 
which it will be in our power to command, for carrying 
on the war, I can give you no particular instructions, but 
must leave you to govern yourself entirely according to 
your own prudence and judgment, and the circum- 
stances in which you find yourself. I am aware that 
the nature of the command will offer you embarrass- 
ments of a singular and complicated nature, but I rely 
upon your abilities and exertions for every thing your 
means will enable you to effect." 

With regard to the court of inquiry, it was to be 
conducted in the quarter in which Gates had acted, 
where all the witnesses were, and where alone the 
requisite information could be obtained. Baron Steu- 
ben, who was to accompany Greene to the South, was 
to preside, and the members of the court were to be 
such general and field-officers of the Continental troops 
as were not present at the battle of Camden, or, hav- 
ing been present, were not wanted as witnesses, or 
were persons to whom General Gates had no objection. 
The affair was to be conducted with the greatest im- 
partiality, and with as much despatch as circumstan- 
ces would permit. 

Washington concludes his letter of instructions to 
Greene, with expressions dictated by friendship as well 


as official duty. " You will keep me constantly ad- 
vised of the state of your affairs, and of every material 
occurrence. My warmest wishes for your success, 
reputation, health and happiness accompany you." 

Ravaging incursions from Canada had harassed 
the northern parts of the State of New York of late, 
and laid desolate some parts of the country from which 
Washington had hoped to receive great supplies of flour 
for the armies. Major Carleton, a nephew of Sir Guy, 
at the head of a motley force, European, Tory, and 
Indian, had captured Forts Anne and George. Sir 
John Johnson also, with Joseph Brant, and a mongrel 
half-savage crew, had laid waste the fertile region of 
the Mohawk River, and burned the villages of Scho- 
harie and Caughnawaga. The greatest alarm prevailed 
throughout the neighboring country. Governor Clin- 
ton himself took the field at the head of the miHtia, 
but before he arrived at the scene of mischief, the ma- 
rauders had been encountered and driven back by 
General Van Rensselaer and the militia of those parts : 
not, however, until they had nearly destroyed the set- 
tlements on the Mohawk. Washington now put 
Brigadier-general James CHnton (the governor's broth- 
er), in command of the Northern department. 

The state of the army was growing more and more 
a subject of solicitude to the commander-in-chief. He 
felt weary of struggling on, with such scanty means, 
and such vast responsibility. The campaign, which, at 
its commencement, had seemed pregnant with favor- 
able events, had proved sterile and inactive, and was 
drawing to a close. The short terms for which most of 
the troops were enhsted must soon expire, and then the 


present army would be reduced to a mere shadow. 
The saddened state of his mind may be judged from his 
letters. An ample one addressed to General Sullivan, 
fully lays open his feehngs and his difficulties. " I had 
hoped," writes he, " but hoped in vain, that a pros 
pect was displaying which would enable me to fix a 
period to my military pursuits, and restore me to 
domestic life. The favorable disposition of Spain; 
the promised succor from Prance ; the combined force 
in the West Indies ; the declaration of Russia (acceded 
to by other governments of Europe, and humiliating 
to the naval pride and power of Great Britain) ; the 
superiority of Prance and Spain by sea in Europe ; the 
Irish claims and English disturbances, formed, in the 
aggregate, an opinion in my breast, which is not very 
susceptible of peaceful dreams, that the hour of deliv- 
erance was not far distant ; since, however unwilling 
Great Britain might be to yield the point, it would not 
be in her power to continue the contest. But, alas ! 
these prospects, flattering as they were, have proved 
delusory, and I see nothing before us but accumulating 

" We have been half of our time without provisions, 
and are hkely to continue so. We have no magazines, 
nor money to form them ; and in a httle time we shaU 
have no men, if we have no money to pay them. In a 
word, the history of the war is a history of false hopes 
and temporary devices, instead of system and economy. 
It is in vain, however, to look back, nor is it our busi- 
ness to do so. Our case is not desperate if virtue 
exists in the people, and there is wisdom among our 
rulers. But to suppose that this great Revolution can 


be accomplished by a temporary army, that this army 
will be subsisted by State supplies, and that taxation 
alone is adequate to our wants, is in my opinion absurd, 
and as unreasonable as to expect an inversion in the 
order of nature to accommodate itself to our views. 
If it was necessary, it could be proved to any person 
of a moderate understanding, that an annual army, 
raised on the spur of the occasion, besides being 
unqualified for the end designed, is, in various ways 
which could be enumerated, ten times more expensive 
than a permanent body of men under good organiza- 
tion and military discipline, which never was nor ever 
wiU be the case with new troops. A thousand argu- 
ments resulting from experience and the nature of 
things, might also be adduced to prove that the army, 
if it is dependent upon State supplies, must disband or 
starve, and that taxation alone, especially at this late 
hour, cannot furnish the means to carry on the war." * 
We wiU here add, that the repeated and elaborate 
reasonings of Washington, backed by dear-bought 
experience, slowly brought Congress to adopt a system 
suggested by him for the organization and support of 
the army, according to which, troops were to be en- 
listed to serve throughout the war, and all officers who 
continued in service until the return of peace were to 
receive half pay during life. 

* Writings of Washington, vii., 228. 





The Marquis Lafayette at this time commanded the 
advance guard of Washington's army, composed of six 
battaUons of Hght-infantry. They were better clad 
than the other soldiery; in trim uniforms, leathern hel- 
mets, with crests of horse-hair. The officers were armed 
with spontoons, the non-commissioned officers with 
fusees ; both with short sabres which the marquis had 
brought from Trance, and presented to them. He was 
proud of his troops, and had a young man's ardor for 
active service. The inactivity which had prevailed for 
some time past was intolerable to him. To satisfy his 
impatient longings, Washington had permitted him in 
the beginning of October to attempt a descent at night 
on Staten Island, to surprise two Hessian encampments. 
It had fallen through for want of boats, and other re- 
quisites, but he saw enough, he said, to convince him 


that the Americans were altogether fitted for such en- 
terprises. * 

The marquis saw with repining the campaign draw- 
ing to a close, and nothing done that would rouse the 
people in America, and be spoken of at the Court of 
Versailles. He was urgent with Washington that the 
campaign should be terminated by some brilliant stroke. 
" Any enterprise," writes he, " will please the people of 
this country, and show them that we do not mean to 
remain idle when we have men ; even a defeat, pro- 
vided it were not disastrous, would have its good 

Complaints, he hinted, had been made in France of 
the prevaiUng inactivity. " If any thing could decide 
the ministry to yield us the succor demanded," writes 
he, " it would be our giving the nation a proof that we 
are ready." 

The brilliant stroke, suggested with some detail by 
the marquis, was a general attack upon Fort Washing- 
ton, and the other posts at the north end of the island 
of New York, and, under certain circumstances, which 
he specified, to make a push for the city. 

Washington regarded the project of his young and 
ardent friend with a more sober and cautious eye. " It 
is impossible, my dear marquis," replies he, " to desire 
more ardently than I do to terminate the campaign by 
some happy stroke ; but we must consult our means 
rather than our wishes, and not endeavor to better our 
affairs by attempting things, which for want of success 
may make them worse. We are to lament that there 

* Memoires de Lafayette, T. 1. p. 337. 


has been a misapprehension of our circumstances in 
Europe ; but to endeavor to recover our reputation, we 
should take care that we do not injure it more. Ever 
since it became evident that the aUied arms could not 
co-operate this campaign, I have had an eye to the 
point you mention, determined, if a favorable opening 
should offer, to embrace it : but, so far as my informa- 
tion goes, the enterprise would not be warranted. It 
would, in my opinion, be imprudent to throw an army 
of ten thousand men upon an island, against nine thou- 
sand, exclusive of seamen and militia. This, from the 
accounts we have, appears to be the enemy's force. All 
we can do at present, therefore, is to endeavor to gain 
a more certain knowledge of their situation, and act ac- 

The British posts in question were accordingly re- 
connoitred from the opposite banks of the Hudson, by 
Colonel Gouvion, an able Erench engineer. Preparations 
were made to carry the scheme into effect, should it be 
determined upon, in which case Lafayette was to lead 
the attack at the head of his light troops, and be sup- 
ported by Washington with his main force ; while a 
strong foraging party sent by General Heath from West 
Point to White Plains in Westchester county, to draw 
the attention of the enemy in that direction, and mask 
the real design, was, on preconcerted signals, to advance 
rapidly to King's Bridge, and co-operate. 

Washington's own officers were kept in ignorance 
of the ultimate object of the preparatory movements. 
" Never," writes his aide-de-camp. Colonel Humphreys, 
" never was a plan better arranged, and never did cir- 
cumstances promise more sure or complete success. 


The British were not only unalarmed, but our own 
troops were misguided in their operations." As the 
plan was not carried into effect, we have forborne to 
give many of its details. 

At this juncture, the Marquis de Chastellux arrived 
m camp. He was on a tour of curiosity, while the 
French troops at Rhode Island were in winter-quarters, 
and came on the invitation of his relative, the Marquis 
Lafayette, who was to present him to Washington. 
In after years he published an account of his tour, in 
which we have graphic sketches of the camp and the 
commanders. He arrived with his aides-de-camp on 
the afternoon of November 23d, and sought the head- 
quarters of the commander-in-chief. They were in a 
large farm-house. There was a spacious tent in the 
yard before it for the general, and several smaller tents 
in an adjacent field for his guards. Baggage waggons 
were arranged about for the transportation of the gen- 
eral's effects, and a number of grooms were attending 
to very fine horses belonging to general officers and 
their aides-de-camp. Every thing was in perfect order. 
As de Chastellux rode up, he observed Lafayette in 
front of the house, conversing with an officer, tall of stat- 
ure, with a mild and noble countenance. It was Wash- 
ington. De Chastellux alighted and was presented by 
Lafayette. His reception was frank and cordial. Wash- 
ington conducted him into the house. Dinner was 
over, but Generals Knox, Wayne, and Howe, and Col- 
onels Hamilton, Tilghman, and other officers, were still 
seated round the board. Washington introduced De 
Chastellux to them, and ordered a repast for the former 
and his aides-de-camp : all remained at table, and a 

VOL. IV. 12 


few glasses of claret and madeira promoted sociability. 
The marquis soon found himself at his ease with Wash- 
ington. " The goodness and benevolence which char- 
acterize him," observes he, " are felt by all around him ; 
but the confidence he inspires is never familiar; it 
springs from a profound esteem for his virtues and a 
great opinion of his talents." 

In the evening, after the guests had retired, Wash- 
ington conducted the marquis to a chamber prepared 
for him and his aides-de-camp, apologizing with nobly 
frank and simple politeness, that his scanty quarters 
did not afford more spacious accommodation. 

The next morning, horses were led up after break- 
fast ; they were to review the troops and visit Lafayette's 
encampment seven miles distant. The horses which 
De ChasteUux and Washington rode, had been pre- 
sented to the latter by the State of Virginia. There 
were fine blood horses also for the aides-de-camp. 
" Washington's horses," writes De Chastellux, " are as 
good as they are beautiful, and all perfectly trained. Pie 
trains them all himself. He is a very good and a very 
hardy cavalier, leaping the highest barriers, and riding 
very fast, without rising in the stirrups, bearing on 
the bridle, or suffering his horse to run as if wild." 

In the camp of artillery where General Knox 
received them, the marquis found every thing in per- 
fect order, and conducted in the European style. 
Washington apologized for no salute being fired. De- 
tachments were in movement at a distance, in the plan 
of operations, and the boommg of guns might give an 
alarm or be mistaken for signals. 

Incessant and increasing rain obliged Washington 


to make but a short visit to Lafayette's camp, whence, 
putting spurs to his horse, he conducted his Erench 
visitors back to head-quarters on as fast a gallop as 
bad roads would permit. 

There were twenty guests at table that day at 
head-quarters. The dinner was in the Enghsh style, 
large dishes of butcher's meat and poultry, with differ- 
ent kinds of vegetables, followed by pies and puddings 
and a dessert of apples and hickory nuts. Washing- 
ton's fondness for the latter was noted by the marquis, 
and indeed was often a subject of remark. He would 
sit picking them by the hour after dinner, as he sipped 
his wine and conversed. 

One of the general's aides-de-camp sat by him at 
the end of the table according to custom, to carve the 
dishes and circulate the wine. Healths were drunk 
and toasts were given ; the latter were sometimes given 
by the general through his aide-de-camp. 

The conversation was tranquil and pleasant. Wash- 
ington willingly entered into some details about the 
principal operations of the war, " but always," says the 
marquis, "with a modesty and conciseness, which 
proved sufficiently that it was out of pure complaisance 
he consented to talk about himself." 

Wayne was pronounced agreeable and animated in 
conversation, and possessed of wit ; but Knox, with 
his genial aspect and cordial manners, seems to have 
won De Chastellux's heart. " He is thirty-five years of 
age," writes he, " very stout but very active ; a man of 
talent and intelligence, amiable, gay, sincere and loyal. 
It is impossible to know him without esteeming him, 
and to see him without loving him." 


It was about half-past seven when the company 
rose from table, shortly after which, those who were 
not of the household departed. There was a light 
supper of three or four dishes, with fruit, and abun- 
dance of hickory nuts ,• the cloth was soon removed ; 
Bordeaux and Madeira wine were placed upon the 
table, and conversation went on. Colonel Hamilton 
was the aide-de-camp who officiated, and announced 
the toasts as they occurred. " It is customary," writes 
the marquis, " towards the end of the supper to call 
upon each one for a sentiment, that is to say, the name 
of some lady to whom he is attached by some senti- 
ment either of love, friendship, or simple preference." 

It is evident there was extra gayety at the table of 
the commander-in-chief during this visit, in compli- 
ment to his Prench guests ; but we are told, that gay 
conversation often prevailed at the dinners at head- 
quarters among the aides-de-camp and young officers, 
in which Washington took little part, though a quiet 
smile would show that he enjoyed it. 

We have been tempted to quote freely the remarks 
of De Chastellux, as they are those of a cultivated man 
of society, whose position and experience made him 
a competent judge, and who had an opportunity of 
observing Washington in a familiar point of view. 

Speaking of his personal appearance, he writes : 
"His form is noble and elevated, well-shaped and 
exactly proportioned ; his physiognomy mild and agree- 
able, but such, that one does not speak in particular of 
any one of his traits ; and that in quitting him there 
remains simply the recollection of a fine countenance. 
His air is neither grave nor familiar ; one sees some- 


times on his forehead the marks of thought, but never 
of inquietude ; while inspiring respect he inspires con- 
fidence, and his smile is always that of benevolence. 

" Above all, it is interesting," continues the mar- 
quis, " to see him in the midst of the general officers 
of his army. General in a republic, he has not the 
imposing state of a marshal of France who gives the 
order ; hero in a republic, he excites a different sort of 
respect, which seems to originate in this sole idea, that 
the welfare of each individual is attached to his 

He sums up his character in these words : *' Brave 
without temerity ; laborious without ambition ; gene- 
rous without prodigality ; noble without pride ; vir- 
tuous without severity; he seems always to stop short 
of that limit, where the virtues, assuming colors more 
vivid, but more changeable and dubious, might be 
taken for defects." 

During the time of this visit of the marquis to 
head-quarters, news was received of the unexpected 
and accidental appearance of several British armed ves- 
sels in the Hudson ; the effect was to disconcert the 
complicated plan of a coup -de-main upon the British 
posts, and finally, to cause it to be abandoned. 

Some parts of the scheme were attended with suc- 
cess. The veteran Stark, with a detachment of twenty- 
five hundred men, made an extensive forage in West- 
chester county, and Major Tallmadge with eighty men, 
chiefly dismounted dragoons of Sheldon's regiment, 
crossed in boats from the Connecticut shore to Long 
Island, where the Sound was twenty miles wide ; trav- 
ersed the island on the night of the 22d of Novem- 


ber, surprised Port George at Coram, captured the gar- 
rison of fifty-two men, demolished the fort, set fire to 
magazines of forage, and recrossed the Sound to Fair- 
field, without the loss of a man : an achievement 
which drew forth a high eulogium from Congress. 

At the end of November, the army went into winter- 
quarters ; the Pennsylvania line in the neighborhood 
of Morristown, the Jersey line about Pompton, the 
New England troops at West Point, and the other posts 
of the Highlands ; and the New York line was stationed 
at Albany, to guard against any invasion from Canada. 

The Prench army remained stationed at Newport, 
excepting the Duke of Lauzun's legion, which was can- 
toned at Lebanon in Connecticut. Washington's head- 
quarters were established at New Windsor, on the 

AVe will now turn to the South, to note the course 
of affairs in that quarter during the last few months. 



CoRNWALLis having, as he supposed, entirely crushed 
the " rebel cause " in South Carolina by the defeats of 
Gates and Sumter, remained for some time at Camden, 
detained by the excessive heat of the weather and the 
sickness of part of his troops, broken down by the hard- 
ships of campaigning under a southern sun. He 
awaited also supplies and reinforcements. 

Immediately after the victory at Camden, he had 
ordered the friends to royalty in North Carohna " to 
arm and intercept the beaten army of General Gates," 
promising that he would march directly to the 
borders of that province in their support; he now. 
detached Major Patrick Ferguson to its western con- 
fines, to keep the war alive in that quarter. Thi» 
resolute partisan had with him his own corps of Ught 
infantry, and a body of royalist mihtia of his ovm 
training. His whole force was between eleven and 


twelve hundred men, noted for activity and alertness, 
and unincumbered with baggage or artillery. 

His orders were to skirr the mountain country be- 
tween the Catawba and the Yadkin, harass the whigs, 
inspirit the tories, and embody the militia under the 
royal banner. This done, he was to repair to Charlotte, 
the capital of Mecklenburg County, where he would 
find Lord Cornwallis, who intended to make it his ren- 
dezvous. Should he, however, in the course of his tour, 
be threatened by a superior force, he was immediately 
to return to the main army. No great opposition, how- 
ever, was apprehended, the Americans being considered 
totally broken up and dispirited. 

. During the suspense of his active operations in the 
field, Cornwallis instituted rigorous measures against 
Americans who continued under arms, or, by any other 
acts, manifested what he termed '' a desperate perseve- 
rance in opposing His Majesty's Government." Among 
these were included many who had taken refuge in North 
Carolina. A commissioner was appointed to take pos- 
session of their estates and property; of the annual 
product of which a part was to be allowed for the sup- 
port of their families, the residue to be applied to the 
maintenance of the war. Letters from several of the 
principal inhabitants of Charleston having been found 
in the baggage of the captured American generals, the 
former were accused of breaking their parol, and hold- 
ing a treasonable correspondence with the armed ene- 
mies of England ; they were in consequence confined 
on board of prison ships, and afterwards transported to 
St. Augustine in Tlorida. 

Among the prisoners taken in the late combats, 


many, it was discovered, had British protections in their 
pockets ; these were deemed arrant runagates, amen- 
able to the penalties of the proclamation issued by Sir 
Henry Clinton on the 3d of June ; they were therefore 
led forth from the provost and hanged, almost without 
the form of an inquiry. 

These measures certainly were not in keeping with 
the character for moderation and benevolence usually 
given to Lord Cornwallis ; but they accorded with the 
rancorous spirit manifested toward each other both by 
whigs and tories in Southern warfare. If they were 
intended by his lordship as measures of policy, their 
efPect was far different from what he anticipated : oppo- 
sition was exasperated into deadly hate, and a -cry of 
vengeance was raised throughout the land. Cornwalhs 
decamped from Camden, and set out for North Caro- 
lina. In the subjugation of that province, he counted 
on the co-operation of the troops which Sir Henry Clin- 
ton was to send to the lower part of Virginia, which, 
after reducing the Virginians to obedience, were to join 
his lordship's standard on the confines of North Caro- 

Advancing into the latter province ComwaUis took 
post at Charlotte, where he had given rendezvous to Fer- 
guson. Mecklenburg, of which this was the capital, 
was, as the reader may recollect, the " heady high-minded" 
county, where the first declaration of independence had 
been made, and his lordship from uncomfortable expe- 
rience soon pronounced Charlotte " the Hornet's nest of 
North Carolina." 

The surrounding country was wild and rugged, 
covered with close and thick woods, and crossed in 


every direction by narrow roads. All attempts at 
foraging were worse than useless. The plantations 
were small and afforded scanty supplies. The inhabit- 
ants were staunch whigs, with the pugnacious spirit of 
the old Covenanters. Instead of remaining at home 
and receiving the king's money in exchange for their 
produce, they turned out with their rifles, stationed 
themselves in covert places, and fired upon the foraging 
parties ; convoys of provisions from Camden had to 
fight their way, and expresses were shot down and their 
despatches seized. 

The capture of his expresses was a sore annoyance 
to Cornwallis, depriving him of all intelligence concern- 
ing the movements of Colonel Eerguson, whose arrival 
he was anxiously awaiting. The expedition of that 
doughty partisan officer here calls for especial notice. 
He had been chosen for this military tour as being cal- 
culated to gain friends by his conciliating disposition 
and manners, and his address to the people of the 
country was in that spirit : " We come not to make war 
upon women and children, but to give them money and 
relieve their distresses." Ferguson, however, had a 
loyal hatred of whigs, and to his standard flocked many 
rancorous tories, beside outlaws and desperadoes, so that 
with all his conciliating intentions, his progress through 
the country was attended by many exasperating ex- 

He was on his way to join Cornwallis when a chance 
for a signal exploit presented itself. An American 
force under Colonel Elijah Clarke, of Georgia, was 
retreating to the mountain districts of North Carolina, 
after an unsuccessful attack upon the British post at 


Augusta. Ferguson resolved to cut off their retreat. 
Turning towards the mountains, he made his way 
through a rugged wilderness and took post at Gilbert- 
town, a small frontier village of log-houses. He was 
encouraged to this step, say the British chroniclers, by 
the persuasion that there was no force in that part of 
the country able to look him in the face. He had no 
idea that the marauds of his followers had arrayed the 
very wilderness against him. " All of a sudden," say 
the chroniclers just cited, "a numerous, fierce and 
unexpected enemy sprung up in the depths of the 
desert. The scattered inhabitants of the mountains 
assembled without noise or warning, under the conduct 
of six or seven of their militia colonels, to the number 
of six hundred strong, daring, well-mounted and excel- 
lent horsemen." * 

These, in fact, were the people of the mountains 
which form the frontiers of the Carolinas and Georgia, 
" mountain men," as they were commonly called, a 
hardy race, half huntsmen, half herdsmen, inhabiting 
deep nan^ow valleys, and fertile slopes, adapted to graz- 
ing, watered by the coldest of springs and brightest of 
streams, and embosomed in mighty forest trees. Being 
subject to inroads and surprisals from the Chickasaws, 
Cherokees and Creeks, a tacit league existed among 
them for mutual defence, and it only needed, as in the 
present instance, an alarm to be circulated through 
their settlements by swift messengers, to bring them at 
once to the point of danger. Beside these, there were 
other elements of war suddenly gathering in Fergu- 

* Annnal Register, 1781, p. 52. 


son's vicinity. A band of what were termed "the 
wild and fierce" inhabitants of Kentucky, with men 
from other settlements west of the Alleghanies, had 
crossed the mountains, led by Colonels Campbell and 
Boone, to pounce upon a quantity of Indian goods at 
Augusta ; but had pulled up on hearing of the repulse 
of Clarke. The stout yeomen, also, of the district of 
Ninety-Six, roused by the marauds of Ferguson, had 
taken the field, under the conduct of Colonel James 
Williams, of Granville County. Here, too, were 
hard-riders and sharp-shooters, from Holston River, 
Powers Valley, Botetourt, Pincastle, and other parts of 
Virginia, commanded by Colonels Campbell, Cleveland, 
Shelby and Sevier. Such were the different bodies of 
mountaineers and backwoodsmen, suddenly drawing 
together from various parts to the number of three 

Threatened by a force so superior in numbers and 
fierce in hostility, Perguson issued an address to rouse 
the tories. " The Backwater men have crossed the 
mountain," said he, " McDowell, Hampton, Shelby and 
Cleveland are at their head. If you choose to be trod- 
den upon forever and ever by a set of mongrels, say so 
at once, and let women look out for real men to pro- 
tect them. If you desire to live and bear the name of 
men, grasp your arms in a moment and run to camp." 

The taunting appeal produced but little effect. In 
this exigency, Ferguson remembered the instructions 
of CornwaUis, that he should rejoin him should he find 
himself threatened by a superior force ; breaking up 
his quarters, therefore, he pushed for the British army, 
sending messengers ahead to apprise his lordship of 


his danger. Unfortunately for him, his missives were 

Gilbert-town had not long been vacated by Fergu- 
son and his troops, when the motley host we have 
described thronged in. ' Some were on foot, but the 
greater part on horseback. Some were in homespun 
garb ; but the most part in hunting-shirts, occasionally 
decorated with colored fringe and tassels. Each man 
had his long rifle and hunting-knife, his wallet, or 
knapsack and blanket, and either a buck's tail or sprig 
of evergreen in his hat. Here and there an officer 
appeared in the Continental uniform of blue and buff*, 
but most preferred the half-Indian hunting-dress. 
There was neither tent nor tent equipage, neither bag- 
gage nor baggage waggon to encumber the movements 
of that extemporaneous host. Prompt warriors of the 
wilderness, with them it was " seize the weapon — spring 
into the saddle — and away ! " In going into action, 
it was their practice to dismount, tie their horses to the 
branches of trees, or secure them in some other way, 
so as to be at hand for use when the battle was over, 
either to pursue a flying enemy, or make their own 
escape by dint of hoof. 

There was a clamor of tongues for a time at Gil- 
bert-town ; groups on horseback and foot in every part, 
holding hasty council. Being told that Ferguson had 
retreated by the Cherokee road toward North Carolina, 
about nine hundred of the hardiest and best mounted 
set out in urgent pursuit ; leaving those who were on 
foot, or weakly mounted, to follow on as fast as pos- 
sible. Colonel WilUam Campbell, of Virginia, having 
come from the greatest distance, was allowed to have 


command of the whole party ; but there was not much 
order nor subordination. Each colonel led his own 
men in his own way. 

In the evening they arrived at the Cowpens, a graz- 
ing neighborhood. Here two beeves were killed and 
given to be cut up, cooked and eaten as quick as pos- 
sible. Before those who were slow or negligent had 
half prepared their repast, marching orders were given 
and all were again in the saddle. A rapid and irregu- 
lar march was kept up all night in murky darkness 
and through a heavy rain. About daybreak, they 
crossed Broad River, where an attack was apprehended. 
Not finding the enemy, they halted, lit their fires, made 
their morning's meal, and took a brief repose. By 
nine o'clock they were again on the march. The 
rainy night had been succeeded by a bright October 
morning, and all were in high spirits. Ferguson, they 
learnt, had taken the road towards King's Mountain, 
about twelve miles distant. When within three miles 
of it their scouts brought in word that he had taken 
post on its summit. The officers now held a short con- 
sultation on horseback, and then proceeded. The 
position taken by Ferguson was a strong one. King's 
Mountain rises out of a broken country, and is de- 
tached, on the north, from inferior heights by a deep 
valley, so as to resemble an insulated promontory about 
half a mile in length, with sloping sides, excepting on 
the north. The mountain was covered for the most 
part with lofty forest trees, free from underwood, inter- 
spersed with boulders and masses of gray rock. The 
forest was sufficiently open to give free passage to 

1780.] BATTLE OP king's MOUNTAIN. 191 

As the Americans drew nearer, they could occa- 
sionally, through openings of the woodland, descry the 
ghttering of arms along a level ridge, forming the crest 
of King's Mountain. This, Eerguson had made his 
stronghold ; boasting that " if all the rebels out of 
hell should attack him, they would not drive him 
from it." 

Dismounting at a small stream which runs through 
a ravine, the Americans picketed their horses or tied 
them to the branches of the trees, and gave them in 
charge of a smaU guard. They then formed them- 
selves into three divisions of nearly equal size, and 
prepared to storm the heights on three sides. Camp- 
bell, seconded by Shelby, was to lead the centre divi- 
sion ; Sevier with McDowell, the right, and Cleve- 
land and Williams, the left. The divisions were to 
scale the mountain as nearly as possible at the same 
time. The fighting directions were in frontier style. 
When once in action, every one must act for him- 
self. The men were not to wait for the word of com- 
mand, but to take good aim and fire as fast as possible. 
When they could no longer hold their ground they 
were to get behind trees, or retreat a little, and return 
to the fight, but never to go quite off. 

Campbell allowed time for the flanking divisions to 
move to the right and left along the base of the moun- 
tain, and take their proper distances ; he then pushed 
up in front with the centre division, he and Shelby, 
each at the head of his men. The first firing was 
about four o'clock, when a picket was driven in by 
Cleveland and WiUiams on the left, and pursued up 
the mountain. Campbell soon arrived within rifle dis- 


tance of the crest of the mountain, whence a sheeted 
fire of musketry was opened upon him. He instantly 
deployed his men, posted them behind trees, and 
returned the fire with deadly efiect. 

Ferguson, exasperated at being thus hunted into 
this mountain fastness, had been chafing in his rocky 
lair and meditating a furious sally. He now rushed 
out with his regulars, made an impetuous charge with 
the bayonet, and dislodging his assailants from their 
coverts, began to drive them down the mountain, 
they not having a bayonet among them. He had not 
proceeded far, when a flanking fire was opened by one 
of the other divisions ; facing about and attacking this 
he was again successful, when a third fire was opened 
from another quarter. Thus, as fast as one division 
gave way before the bayonet another came to its relief ; 
while those who had given way rallied and returned to 
the charge. The nature of the fighting ground was 
more favorable to the rifle than the bayonet, and this 
was a kind of warfare in which the frontier men were 
at home. The elevated position of the enemy also 
was in favor of the Americans, securing them from the 
danger of their ovm cross-fire. Ferguson found that 
he was completely in the hunter's toils, beset on every 
side ; but he stood bravely at bay, until the ground 
around him was strewed with the kiUed and wounded, 
picked off by the fatal rifle. His men were at length 
broken, and retreated in confusion along the ridge. 
He galloped from place to place endeavoring to rally 
them, when a rifle ball brought him to the ground, and 
his white horse was seen careering down the mountain 
without a rider. 


This closed the bloody fight ; for Ferguson's sec- 
ond in command, seeing all further resistance hopeless, 
hoisted a white flag, beat a parley and sued for quar- 
ters. One hundred and fifty of the enemy had fallen 
and as many been wounded ; while of the Americans, 
but twenty were killed, though a considerable number 
were wounded. Among those slain was Colonel James 
Wilhams, who had commanded the troops of Ninety- 
Six, and proved himself one of the most daring of 
the partisan leaders. 

Eight hundred and ten men were taken prisoners, 
one hundred of whom were regulars, the rest royalists. 
The rancor awakened by civil war was shown in the 
treatment of some of the prisoners. A court-martial 
was held the day after the battle, and a number of tory 
prisoners who had been bitter in their hostility to the 
American cause, and flagitious in their persecution of 
their countrymen, were hanged. This was to revenge 
the death of American prisoners hanged at Camden 
and elsewhere. 

The army of mountaineers and frontier men, thus 
fortuitously congregated, did not attempt to follow up 
their signal blow. They had no general scheme, no plan 
of campaign ; it was the spontaneous rising of the sons 
of the soil, to revenge it on its invaders, and, having ef- 
fected their purpose, they returned in triumph to their 
homes. They were little aware of the importance of 
their achievement. The battle of King's Mountain, in- 
considerable as it was in the numbers engaged, turned 
the tide of Southern warfare. The destruction of Fer- 
guson and his corps gave a complete check to the ex- 
pedition of Cornwallis. He began to fear for the safety 

VOL. IV. — 13 


of South Carolina, liable to such sudden irruptions frorc 
the mountains; lest, while he was facing to the north, 
these hordes of stark-riding warriors might throw them- 
selves behind him, and produce a popular combustion 
in the province he had left. He resolved, therefore, 
to return with all speed to that province and provide 
for its security. 

On the 14th of October he commenced his retro- 
grade and mortifying march, conducting it in the night, 
and with such hurry and confusion, that nearly twenty 
waggons, laden with baggage and supplies, were lost. 
As he proceeded, the rainy season set in ; the brooks and 
rivers became swollen, and almost impassable ; the roads 
deep and miry ; provisions and forage scanty ; the 
troops generally sickly, having no tents. Lord Cornwal- 
lis himself was seized with a bilious fever, which obliged 
him to halt two days in the Catawba settlement, and 
afterwards to be conveyed in a waggon, giving up the 
command to Lord Rawdon. 

In the course of this desolate march, the British 
suffered as usual from the vengeance of an outraged 
country, being fired upon from behind trees and other 
coverts by the yeomanry ; their sentries shot down at 
their encampments ; their foraging parties cut off. 
"The enemy," writes Lord Rawdon, "are mostly 
mounted militia, not to be overtaken by our infantry, 
nor to be safely pursued in this strong country by our 

Por two weeks were they toihng on this retrograde 
march, through deep roads, and a country cut up by 
water-courses, with the very elements arrayed against 
them. At length, after fording the Catawba where it 


was six hundred yards wide, and three and a half deep, 
and where a handful of riflemen might have held them 
in check, the army arrived at Winnsborough in South 
Carolina. Hence, by order of Cornwallis, Lord Raw- 
don wrote on the 24th of October to Brigadier-general 
Leslie, who was at that time in the Chesapeake, with the 
force detached by Sir Henry Clinton for a descent upon 
Virginia, suggesting the expediency of his advancing 
to North Carolina, for the purpose of co-operation with 
CornwaUis, who feared to proceed far from South Caro- 
lina, lest it should be again in insurrection. 

In the mean time his lordship took post at Winnsbo- 
rough. It was a central position where he might cover 
the country from partisan incursions, obtain forage and 
supplies, and await the co-operation of General Leslie. 





The victory at King's Mountain had set the partisan 
spirit throughout the country in a blaze. Francis Ma- 
rion was soon in the field. He had been made a briga- 
dier-general by Governor Rutledge, but his brigade, as it 
was called, was formed of neighbors and friends, and was 
continually fluctuating in numbers. He was nearly fifty 
years of age, and small of stature, but hardy, healthy 
and vigorous. Brave but not braggart, never avoid- 
ing danger, but never rashly seeking it. Taciturn and 
abstemious ; a strict disciplinarian : careful of the lives 
of his men, but little mindful of his own life. Just in 
his dealings, free from every thing selfish or mercenary, 
and incapable of a meanness. He had his haunts and 
strongholds in the morasses of the Pedee and Black 
River. His men were hardy and abstemious as himself ; 


they ate their meat without salt, often subsisted on 
potatoes, were scantily clad, and almost destitute of 
blankets. Marion was full of stratagems and expe- 
dients. Sallying forth from his morasses, he would 
overrun the lower districts, pass the Santee, beat up 
the small posts in the vicinity of Charleston, cut up the 
communication between that city and Camden ; and 
having struck some signal blow, so as to rouse the ven- 
geance of the enemy, would retreat again into his fenny 
fastnesses. Hence the British gave him the bye name 
of the Swamp Fox, but those of his countrymen who 
knew his courage, his loftiness of spirit and spotless 
integrity, considered him the Bayard of the South. 

Tarleton, who was on duty in that part of the 
country, undertook, as he said, to draw the swamp fox 
from his cover. He accordingly marched cautiously 
down the east bank of the Wateree with a body of dra- 
goons and infantry, in compact order. The fox, how- 
ever, kept close ; he saw that the enemy was too strong 
for him. Tarleton now changed his plan. By day he 
broke up his force into small detachments or patroles, 
giving them orders to keep near enough to each other 
to render mutual support if attacked, and to gather to- 
gether at night. 

The artifice had its effect. Marion sallied forth 
from his covert just before daybreak to make an attack 
upon one of these detachments, when, to his surprise, 
he found himself close upon the British camp. Per- 
ceiving the snare that had been spread for him, he 
made a rapid retreat. A close pursuit took place. For 
seven hours Marion was hunted from one swamp and 
fastness to another ; several stragglers of his band were 


captured, and Tarleton was in strong hope of bringing 
him into action, when an express came spurring from 
CornwaUis, calling for the immediate services of himself 
and his dragoons in another quarter. 

Sumter was again in the field ! That indefatigable 
partisan having recruited a strong party in the moun- 
tainous country, to which he retreated after his defeat 
on the Wateree, had reappeared on the west side of the 
Santee, repulsed a British party sent against him, killing 
its leader ; then, crossing Broad River, had effected a 
junction with Colonels Clark and Brannan, and now 
menaced the British posts in the district of Ninety-Six. 

It was to disperse this head of partisan war that 
Tarleton was called off from beleaguering Marion. Ad- 
vancing with his accustomed celerity he thought to sur- 
prise Sumter on the Enoree River. A deserter apprised 
the latter of his danger. He pushed across the river, 
but was hotly pursued, and his rear-guard roughly 
handled. He now made for the Tyger River, noted for 
turbulence and rapidity ; once beyond this, he might 
disband his followers in the woods. Tarleton, to pre- 
vent his passing it unmolested, spurred forward in ad- 
vance of his main body with one hundred and seventy 
dragoons and eighty mounted men of the infantry. 
Before five o'clock (Nov. 20) his advanced guard over- 
took and charged the rear of the Americans, who re- 
treated to the main body. Sumter finding it impos- 
sible to cross Tyger River in safety, and being infonned 
that the enemy, thus pressing upon him, were without 
infantry or cannon, took post on Black Stock Hill, with 
a rivulet and rail fence in front, the Tyger River in the 
rear and on the right flank, and a large log bam on the 


left. The barn was turned into a fortress, and a part 
of the force stationed in it to fire through the apertures 
between the logs. 

Tarleton halted on an opposite height to await the 
arrival of his infantry, and part of his men dismounted 
to ease their horses. Sumter seized this moment for 
an attack. He was driven back after some sharp fight- 
ing. The enemy pursued, but were severely galled by 
the fire from the log barn. Enraged at seeing his men 
shot down, Tarleton charged with his cavalry, but found 
it impossible to dislodge the Americans from their rustic 
fortress. At the approach of night he fell back to join 
his infantry, leaving the ground strewed with his killed 
and wounded. The latter were treated with, great hu- 
manity by Sumter. The loss of the Americans was 
only three killed and four wounded. 

Sumter, who had received a severe wound in the 
breast, remained several hours on the field of action ; 
but, understanding the enemy would be powerfully re- 
inforced in the morning, he crossed the Tyger River in 
the night. He was then placed on a litter between two 
horses, and thus conducted across the country by a few 
faithful adherents. The rest of his little anny dispersed 
themselves through the woods. Tarleton, finding his 
enemy had disappeared, claimed the credit of a victory ; 
but, those who considered the affkir rightly, declared 
that he had received a severe check. 

While the attention of the enemy was thus engaged 
by the enterprises of Sumter and Marion and their 
swamp warriors. General Gates was gathering together 
th*e scattered fragments of his army at Hillsborough. 
When all were collected, his whole force, exclusive of 


militia, did not exceed fourteen hundred men. It was, 
as he said, " rather a shadow than a substance." His 
troops, disheartened by defeat, were in a forlorn state, 
without clothing, without pay, and sometimes without 
provisions. Destitute of tents, they constructed hovels 
of fence-rails, poles, brushwood, and the stalks of Indian 
corn, the officers faring no better than the men. 

The vanity of Gates was completely cut down by 
his late reverses. He had lost, too, the confidence of 
his officers, and was unable to maintain discipline 
among his men ; who through their irregularities be- 
came a terror to the country people. 

On the retreat of Cornwallis from Charlotte, Gates 
advanced to that place to make it his winter-quarters. 
Huts were ordered to be built, and a regular encamp- 
ment was commenced. Smallwood, with a body of 
militia, was stationed below on the Catawba to guard 
the road leading through Camden ; and further down 
was posted Brigadier-general Morgan with a corps of 
light troops. 

To add to his depression of spirits. Gates received 
the melancholy intelligence of the death of an only 
son, and, while he was yet writhing under the blow, 
came official despatches informing him of his being su- 
perseded in command. A letter from Washington, we 
are told, accompanied them, sympathizing with him in 
his domestic misfortunes, adverting with peculiar deli- 
cacy to his reverses in battle, assuring him of his un- 
diminished confidence in his zeal and capacity, and his 
readiness to give him the command of the left wing of 
his army as soon as he could make it convenient to join 


The effect of this letter was overpowering. Gates 
was found walking about his room in the greatest agi- 
tation, pressing the letter to his lips, breaking forth 
into ejaculations of gratitude and admiration, and when 
he could find utterance to his thoughts, declared that 
its tender sympathy and considerate delicacy had con- 
veyed more consolation and delight to his heart than 
he had believed it possible ever to have felt again.* 

General Greene arrived at Charlotte, on the 2d of 
December. On his way from the North, he had made 
arrangements for supplies from the different States; 
and had left the Baron Steuben in Virginia to defend 
that State and procure and send on reinforcements and 
stores for the Southern army. On the day following 
his arrival, Greene took formal command. The deli- 
cacy with which he conducted himself towards his 
unfortunate predecessor is said to have been " edifying 
to the army." Consulting with his officers as to the 
court of inquiry on the conduct of General Gates, 
ordered by Congress ; it was determined that there 
was not a sufficient number of general officers in camp 
to sit upon it ; that the state of General Gates's feel- 
ings, in consequence of the death of his son, disquali- 
fied him from entering upon the task of his defence ; 
and that it would be indelicate in the extreme to press 
on him an investigation, which his honor would not 
permit him to defer. Beside, added Greene, his is a 
case of misfortune, and the most honorable course to 
be pursued, both with regard to General Gates and 

* Related by Dr. Wm. Read, at that time superintendent of the Hospital 
department at Hillsborough, to Alex. Garden, aide-de-camp to Greene. — Gar- 
derCs Anecdotes, p. 350. 


the government, is to make sucli representations as 
may obtain a revision of the order of Congress direct- 
ing an inquiry into his conduct. In this opinion all 
present concurred. 

Gates, in fact, when informed in the most deUcate 
manner of the order of Congress, was urgent that a 
court of inquiry should be immediately convened : he 
acknowledged there was some important evidence that 
could not at present be procured ; but he relied on the 
honor and justice of the court to make allowance for 
the deficiency. He was ultimately brought to acqui- 
esce in the decision of the council of war for the post- 
ponement, but declared that he could not think of 
serving until the matter should have been properly 
investigated. He detennined to pass the interim on 
his estate in Virginia. Greene, in a letter to Washing- 
ton (December 7th), writes : " General Gates sets out 
to-morrow for the northward. Many officers think 
very favorably of his conduct, and that, whenever an 
inquiry takes place, he will honorably acquit himself.'' 

The kind and considerate conduct of Greene on 
the present occasion, completely subdued the heart of 
Gates. The coldness, if not ill-will, with which he had 
hitherto regarded him, was at an end, and, in all his 
subsequent correspondence with him he addressed him 
in terms of affection. 

We take pleasure in noting the generous conduct 
of the General Assembly of Virginia towards Gates. 
It was in session when he arrived at Richmond. 
" Those fathers of the commonwealth," writes Col. 
H. Lee, in his Memoirs, " appointed a committee of 
their body to wait on the vanquished general and assure 

1780.] Greene's aphorisms. 203 

him of their high regard and esteem, that their remem- 
brance of his former glorious services was never to be 
obhterated by any reverse of fortune ; but, ever mind- 
ful of his great merit, they would omit no opportunity 
of testifying to the world the gratitude Avhich Virginia, 
as a member of the American Union, owed to him in 
his military character." 

Gates was sensibly affected and comforted by this 
kind reception, and retired with a lightened heart to 
his farm in Berkeley County. 

The whole force at Charlotte, when Greene took 
command, did not much exceed twenty-three hundred 
men, and more than half of them were militia. It 
had been broken in spirit by the recent defeat. The 
officers had fallen into habits of negligence ; the sol- 
diers were loose and disorderly, without tents and 
camp equipage ; badly clothed and fed, and prone to 
relieve their necessities by depredating upon the inhab- 
itants. Greene's letters written at the time, abound 
with military aphorisms suggested by the squalid scene 
around him. " There must be either pride or princi- 
ple," said he, " to make a soldier. No man will think 
himself bound to fight the battles of a State that 
leaves him perishing for want of coveruig ; nor can 
you inspire a soldier with the sentiment of pride while 
his situation renders him an object of pity, rather than 
of envy. Good feeding is the first principle of good 
service. It is impossible to preserve discipline where 
troops are in want of every thing — ^to attempt severity 
will only thin the ranks by a more hasty desertion." 

The state of the country in which he was to act 
was equally discouraging. " It is so extensive," said 


he, "and the powers of government so weak, that 
every body does as he pleases. The inhabitants are 
much divided in their pohtical sentiments, and the 
whigs and tories pursue each other with httle less than 
savage fury. The back country people are bold and 
daring ; but the people upon the sea shore are sickly, 
and but indifferent militia." 

"War here," observes he in another letter, "is 
upon a very different scale to what it is at the North- 
ward. It is a plain business there. The geography 
of the country reduces its operations to two or three 
points. But here it is every where ; and the country is 
so full of deep rivers and impassable creeks and swamps, 
that you are always liable to misfortunes of a capital na- 
ture. The whigs and tories," adds he, " are continually 
out in small parties, and all the middle country is so dis- 
affected that you cannot lay in the most trifling maga- 
zine, or send a waggon through the country with the 
least article of stores without a guard." 

A recent exploit had given some animation to the 
troops. Lieutenant-colonel Washington, detached with 
a troop of light-horse to check a foraging party of the 
enemy, scoured the country within thirteen miles of 
Camden. Here he found a body of loyalist militia 
strongly posted at Clermont, the seat of Colonel 
Rugeley, their tory commander. They had ensconced 
themselves in a large barn, built of logs, and had forti- 
fied it by a slight intrenchment and a line of abatis. 
To attack it with cavalry was useless. Colonel Wash- 
ington dismounted part of his troops to appear like 
infantry ; placed on two waggon- wheels the trunk of 
a pine-tree, shaped and painted to look like a field- 


piece, brought it to bear upon the enemy, and, display- 
ing his cavalry, sent in a flag summoning the garrison 
to surrender instantly, on pain of having their log castle 
battered about their ears. The garrison, to the num- 
ber of one hundred and twelve men, with Colonel Ruge- 
ley at their head, gave themselves up prisoners of war.* 
Cornwallis, mentioning the ludicrous affair in a letter 
to Tarleton, adds sarcastically : " Rugeley will not be 
made a brigadier." The unlucky colonel never again 
appeared in arms. 

The first care of General Greene was to reorganize 
his army. He went to work quietly but resolutely : 
called no councils of war ; communicated his plans 
and intentions to few, and such only as were able and 
willing to aid in executing them. " If I cannot inspire 
respect and confidence by an independent conduct," 
said he, " it will be impossible to instil discipline and 
order among the troops." His efforts were successful ; 
the army soon began to assume what he termed a mili- 
tary complexion. 

He was equally studious to promote harmony 
among his officers, of whom a number were young, 
gallant, and intelligent. It was his delight to have them 
at his genial but simple table, where parade and re- 
straint were banished, and pleasant and instructive 
conversation was promoted ; which, next to reading, 
was his great enjoyment. The manly benignity of his 
manners diffused itself round his board, and a common 
sentiment of affection for their chief united the young 
men in a kind of brotherhood. 

* Williams' Narrative. 


Finding the country round Charlotte exhausted by 
repeated foragings, he separated the army into two 
divisions. One, about one thousand strong, was com- 
manded by Brigadier-general Morgan, of rifle renown, 
and was composed of four hundred Continental infan- 
try, under Lieutenant-colonel Howard of the Maryland 
line, two companies of Virginia militia under Captains 
Triplet and Tate, and one hundred dragoons, under 
Lieutenant-colonel Washington. With these Morgan 
was detached towards the district of Ninety-Six, in 
South Carolina, with orders to take a position near the 
confluence of the Pacolet and Broad Bivers, and 
assemble the militia of the country. With the other 
division, Greene made a march of toilful difliculty 
through a barren country, with waggons and horses 
quite unfit for service, to Hicks' Creek in Chesterfield 
district, on the east side of the Pedee Biver, opposite 
the Cheraw Hills. There he posted himself on the 
26th, partly to discourage the enemy from attempting 
to possess themselves of Cross Creek, which would give 
them command of the greatest part of the provisions of 
the lower country — ^partly to form a camp of repose ; 
" and no army," writes he, "ever wanted one more, the 
troops having totally lost their discipline." 

" I will not pain your Excellency," writes he to 
Washington, " with further accounts of the wants and 
sufierings of this army ; but I am not without great 
apprehension of its entire dissolution, unless the com- 
missary's and quartermaster's departments can be ren- 
dered more competent to the demands of the service. 
Nor are the clothing and hospital departments upon a 
better footing. Not a shilling in the pay chest, nor a 


prospect of any for months to come. This is really 
making bricks without straw." 

Governor Rutledge also wrote to Washington from 
Greene's camp, on the 28th of December, imploring 
aid for South Carolina. " Some of the stanch inhab- 
itants of Charleston," writes he, " have been sent to St. 
Augustine, and others are to follow. The enemy have 
hanged many people, who, from fear, or the impractica- 
bility of removing, had received protections or given 
paroles, and from attachment to, had afterwards taken 
part with us. They have burnt a great number of 
houses, and tm-ned many women, formerly of good for- 
tune, with their children (whom their husbands or par- 
ents, from an unwillingness to join the enemy, had left) 
almost naked into the woods. Their cruelty and the 
distresses of the people are indeed beyond description. 
I entreat your Excellency, therefore, seriously to con- 
sider the unhappy state of South Carolina and Geor- 
gia ; and I rely on your humanity and your knowledge 
of their importance to the Union, for such speedy and 
effectual support, as may compel the enemy to evacuate 
every part of these countries." * 

* Correspondence of the Revolution, iii., 188. 



The occurrences recorded in the last few chapters made 
Washington apprehend a design on the part of the ene- 
my to cany the stress of war into the Southern States. 
Conscious that he was the man to whom all looked in 
time of emergency, and who was, in a manner, respon- 
sible for the general course of military affairs, he deeply 
felt the actual impotency of his position. 

In a letter to Pranklin, who was minister-plenipo- 
tentiary at the court of Versailles, he strongly expresses 
his chagrin. " Disappointed of the second division of 
French troops, but more especially in the expected naval 
superiority, which was the pivot upon which every thing 
turned ; we have been compelled to spend an inactive 
campaign, after a flattering prospect at the opening of 
it, and vigorous struggles to make it a decisive one on 


our part. Latterly, we have been obliged to become 
spectators of a succession of detachments from the army 
at New York in aid of Lord Comwallis, while our naval 
weakness, and the political dissolution of a great part of 
our army, put it out of our power to counteract them 
at the southward, or to take advantage of them here." 

The last of these detachments to the South took 
place on the 20th of December, but was not destined, as 
Washington had supposed, for Carolina. Sir Henry 
Chnton had received information that the troops already 
mentioned as being under General Leslie in the Chesa- 
peake, had, by orders from Cornwallis, sailed for Charles- 
ton, to reinforce his lordship; and this detachment 
was to take their place in Virginia. It was composed 
of British, German, and refugee troops, about seven- 
teen hundred strong, and was commanded by Benedict 
Arnold, now a brigadier-general in his majesty's service. 
Sir Henry Clinton, who distrusted the fidelity of the man 
he had corrupted, sent with him Colonels Dundas and 
Simcoe, experienced officers, by whose advice he was to 
be guided in every important measure. He was to 
make an incursion into Virginia, destroy the public mag- 
azines, assemble and arm the loyalists, and hold him- 
self ready to co-operate with Lord Cornwallis. He em- 
barked his troops in a fleet of small vessels, and de- 
parted on his enterprise animated by the rancorous 
spirit of a renegade, and prepared, as he vaunted, to 
give the Americans a blow "that would make the 
whole continent shake." We shall speak of his expedi- 
tion hereafter. 

As Washington beheld one hostile armament after 
another winging its way to the South, and received 

TOL. IV. — 14 


applications from that quarter for assistance, which he 
had not the means to furnish, it became painfully appa- 
rent to him, that the efforts to carry on the war had 
exceeded the natural capabilities of the country. Its 
widely diffused population, and the composition and 
temper of some of its people, rendered it difficult to 
draw together its resources. Commerce was almost ex- 
tinct ; there was not sufficient natural wealth on which 
to found a revenue ; paper currency had depreciated 
through want of funds for its redemption, until it was 
nearly worthless. The mode of supplying the army by 
assessing a proportion of the productions of the earth, 
had proved ineffectual, oppressive, and productive of an 
alarming opposition. Domestic loans yielded but tri- 
fling assistance. The patience of the army was nearly 
exhausted ; the people were dissatisfied with the mode 
of supporting the war, and there was reason to appre- 
hend, that, under the pressure of impositions of a new 
and odious kind, they might imagine they had only ex- 
changed one kind of tyranny for another. 

We give but a few of many considerations which 
Washington was continually urging upon the attention 
of Congress in his full and perspicuous manner ; the 
end of which was to enforce his opinion that a foreign 
loan was indispensably necessary to a continuance of 
the war. 

His earnest counsels and entreaties were at length 
successful in determining Congress to seek aid both in 
men and money from abroad. Accordingly on the 28th 
of December they commissioned Lieutenant-colonel 
John Laurens, special minister at the court of Versailles, 
to apply for such aid. The situation he had held, as 


aide-de-camp to the commander-in-chief, had given him 
an opportunity of observing the course of affairs, and 
acquainting himself with the wants and resources of 
the country ; and he was instructed to confer with Wash- 
ington, previous to his departure, as to the objects of 
his mission. Not content with impressing him verbal- 
ly with his policy, Washington gave him a letter of in- 
structions for his government, and to be used as occa- 
sion might require. In this he advised him to solicit a 
loan sufficiently large to be a foundation for substantial 
arrangements of finance, to revive public credit, and give 
vigor to future operations ; — next to a loan of money, a 
naval force was to be desired, sufficient to maintain a 
constant superiority on the American coast ; also addi- 
tional succor in troops. In a word, a means of co-opera- 
tion by sea and land, with purse and sword, competent by 
a decided effort to attain once for all, the great objects 
of the alliance, the liberty and independence of the 
United States. 

He was to show, at the same time, the ample means 
possessed by the nation to repay the loan, from its com- 
parative freedom from debt, and its vast and valuable 
tracts of unsettled lands, the variety and fertility of its 
chmates and soils, and its advantages of every kind for 
a lucrative commerce, and rapid increase of popula- 
tion and prosperity. 

Scarce had Colonel Laurens been appointed to this 
mission, when a painful occurrence proved the urgent 
necessity of the required aid. 

In the arrangement for winter-quarters, the Penn- 
sylvania, hne, consisting of six regiments, was hutted 
near Morristown. These troops had experienced the 


hardships and privations common to the whole army. 
General Wayne, who commanded them, had a soldier's 
sympathy in the sufferings of his men, and speaks of 
them in feeling language : " Poorly clothed, badly fed, 
and worse paid," writes he, " some of them not having 
received a paper dollar for near twelve months ; exposed 
to winter's piercing cold, to drifting snows and chilling 
blasts, with no protection but old worn-out coats, tat- 
tered linen overalls, and but one blanket between three 
men. In this situation, the enemy begin to work upon 
their passions, and have found means to circulate some 
proclamations among them. * * * The officers in 
general, as well as myself, find it necessary to stand for 
hours every day exposed to wind and weather among 
the poor naked fellows, while they are working at their 
huts and redoubts, often assisting with our own hands, 
in order to produce a conviction to their minds that we 
share, and more than share, every vicissitude in common 
vrith them : sometimes asking to participate their bread 
and water. The good effect of this conduct is very 
conspicuous, and prevents their murmuring in public ; 
but the delicate mind and eye of humanity are hurt, 
very much hurt, at their visible distress and private 

How strongly is here depicted the trials to which 
the soldiers of the Revolution were continually sub- 
jected. But the Pennsylvania line had an additional 
grievance peculiar to themselves. Many of them had 
enlisted to serve " for three years or during war," that 
is to say, for less than three years should the war cease 
in less time. When, however, having served for three 
years, they sought their discharge, the officers, loth to 


lose such experienced soldiers, interpreted the terms of 
enlistment to mean three years, or to the end of the war 
should it continue for a longer time. 

This chicanery naturally produced great exaspera- 
tion. It was heightened by the conduct of a deputa- 
tion from Pennsylvania, which, while it left veteran 
troops unpaid, distributed gold by handsful among raw 
six-month levies, whose time was expiring, as bounties 
on their re-enlisting for the war. 

The first day of the New Year arrived. The men 
were excited by an extra allowance of ardent spirits. 
In the evening, at a preconcerted signal, a great part 
of the Pennsylvania line, non-commissioned officers in- 
cluded, turned out under arms, declaring their intention 
to march to Philadelphia, and demand redress from 
Congress. Wayne endeavored to pacify them ; they 
were no longer to be pacified by words. He cocked 
his pistols ; in an instant their bayonets were at his 
breast. " We love, we respect you," cried they, " but 
you are a dead man if you fire. Do not mistake us ; we 
are not going to the enemy : were they now to come 
out you would see us fight under your orders with as 
much resolution and alacrity as ever."* 

Their threat was not an idle one. In an attempt 
to suppress the mutiny there was a bloody affray, in 
which numbers were wounded on both sides ; among 
whom were several officers. One captain was killed. 

Three regiments which had taken no part in the mu- 
tiny were paraded under their officers. The mutineers 
compelled them to join their ranks. Their number being 

* Qtuncy's Memoir of Major Shaw, p. 85. 


increased to about thirteen hundred, they seized upon 
six field-pieces, and set out in the night for Philadelphia 
under command of their sergeants. 

Fearing the enemy might take advantage of this out- 
break, Wayne detached a Jersey brigade to Chatham, 
and ordered the militia to be called out there. Alarm 
fires were kindled upon the hills ; alarm guns boomed 
from post to post ; the country was soon on the alert. 

Wayne was not " Mad Anthony" on the present occa- 
sion. All his measures were taken with judgment and 
forecast. He sent provisions after the mutineers, lest 
they should supply their wants from the country people 
by force. Two officers of rank spurred to Philadelphia, 
to apprise Congress of the approach of the insurgents 
and put it upon its guard. Wayne sent a despatch 
with news of the outbreak to Washington ; he then 
mounted his horse, and accompanied by Colonels Butler 
and Stewart, two officers popular Avith the troops, set 
off after the mutineers, either to bring them to a halt, 
or to keep with them, and seek every occasion to exert 
a favorable influence over them. 

Washington received Wayne's letter at his head- 
quarters at New Windsor on the 3d of January. His 
first impulse was to set out at once for the insurgent 
camp. Second thoughts showed the impolicy of such 
a move. Before he could overtake the mutineers, they 
would either have returned to their duty or their affair 
would be in the hands of Congress. How far, too, 
could his own troops be left with safety, distressed as 
they were for clothing and provisions ? Beside, the na- 
vigation of the Hudson was still open ; sho^ild any dis- 
affection appeal in the neighboring garrison of West 


Point, the British might send up an expedition from 
New York to take advantage of it. Under these cir- 
cmnstances, he determined to continue at New Windsor. 

He wrote to Wayne, however, approving of his in- 
tention to keep with the troops, and improve every fa- 
vorable interval of passion. His letter breathes that 
paternal spirit with which he watched over the army ; 
and that admirable moderation mingled with discipline 
with which he managed and moulded their wayward 
moods. " Opposition," said he, " as it did not succeed 
in the first instance, cannot be effectual while the men 
remain together, but will keep alive resentment, and 
may tempt them to turn about and go in a body to the 
enemy ; who, by their emissaries, will use every argu- 
ment and means in their power to persuade them that 
it is their only asylum ; which, if they find their passage 
stopped at the Delaware, and hear that the Jersey mi- 
litia are collecting in their rear, they may think but too 
probable. I would, therefore, recommend it to you to 
cross the Delaware mth them, draw from them what 
they conceive to be their principal grievances, and pro- 
mise faithfully to represent to Congress and to the 
State the substance of them, and endeavor to obtain a 
redress. If they could be stopped at Bristol or German- 
town, the better. I look upon it that if you can bring 
them to a negotiation, matters may be afterwards ac- 
commodated ; but that an attempt to reduce them by 
force wiU either drive them to the enemy, or dissipate 
them in such a manner that they will never be recov- 

How clearly one reads in this letter that temperate 
and magnanimous spirit which moved over the troubled 


waters of the Revolution, allayed the fury of the 
storms, and controlled every thing into peace. 

Having visited the Highland posts of the Hudson 
and satisfied himself of the fidelity of the garrisons, 
Washington ordered a detachment of eleven hundred 
men to be ready to march at a moment's warning. 
General Knox, also, was despatched by him to the 
Eastern States, to represent to their governments the 
alarming crisis produced by a long neglect of the sub- 
sistence of the army, and to urge them to send on 
immediately money, clothing, and other supplies for 
their respective lines. 

In the mean time, as Washington had apprehended. 
Sir Henry Clinton received intelligence at New York 
of the mutiny, and hastened to profit by it. Emissa- 
ries were despatched to the camp of the mutineers, 
holding out offers of pardon, protection, and ample pay, 
if they would return to their allegiance to the crown. 
On the 4th of January, although the rain poured in 
torrents, troops and cannon were hurried on board of 
vessels of every description, and transported to Staten 
Island, Sir Henry accompanying them. There they 
were to be held in readiness, either to land at Amboy 
in the Jerseys, should the revolters be drawn in that 
direction, or to make a dash at West Point, should the 
departure of Washington leave that post assailable. 

General Wayne and his companions. Colonels But- 
ler and Stewart, had overtaken the insurgent troops on 
the 3d of January, at Middlebrook. They were pro- 
ceeding in military form, under the control of a self- 
constituted board of sergeants, whose orders were im- 
plicitly obeyed. A sergeant-major, who had formerly 


deserted from the British army, had the general com- 

Conferences were held by Wayne with sergeants 
delegated from each regiment. They appeared to be 
satisfied with the mode and promises of redress held 
out to them ; but the main body of the mutineers per- 
sisted in revolt, and proceeded on the next day to 
Princeton. "Wayne hoped they might continue further 
on, and would gladly have seen them across the Dela- 
ware, beyond the influence of the enemy ; but their 
leaders clung to Princeton, lest in further movements 
they might not be able to keep their followers together. 
Their proceedings continued to be orderly; military 
forms were still observed ; they obeyed their leaders, 
behaved well to the people of the country, and com- 
mitted no excesses. 

General Wayne and Colonels Butler and Stewart 
remained with them in an equivocal position ; popular, 
but without authority and almost in durance. The 
insurgents professed themselves still ready to march 
under them against the enemy, but would permit none 
other of their former officers to come among them. 
The Marquis de Lafayette, General St. Clair and Colo- 
nel Laurens, the newly appointed minister to France, 
arrived at the camp and were admitted; but after- 
wards were ordered away at a short notice. 

The news of the revolt caused great consternation 
in Philadelphia. A committee of Congress set oflP to 
meet the insurgents, accompanied by Reed, the presi- 
dent of Pennsylvania, and one or two other officers, 
^nd escorted by a city troop of horse. The com- 
mittee halted at Trenton, whence President Reed wrote 


to Wayne, requesting a personal interview at four 
o'clock in tlie afternoon, at four miles' distance from 
Princeton. Wayne was moreover told to inform the 
troops, that he (Reed) would be there to receive any 
propositions from them, and redress any injuries they 
might have sustained ; but that, after the indignities 
they had offered to the marquis and General St. Clair, 
he could not venture to put himself in their power. 

Wayne, knowing that the letter was intended for 
his troops more than for himself, read it publicly on the 
parade. It had a good effect upon the sergeants and 
many of the men. The idea that the president of 
their State should have to leave the seat of government 
and stoop to treat with them, touched their sectional 
pride and their home feelings. They gathered round 
the horseman who had brought the letter, and inquired 
anxiously whether President Reed was unkindly dis- 
posed towards them ; intimating privately their dislike 
to the business in which they were engaged. 

Still, it was not thought prudent for President 
Reed to trust himself within their camp. Wayne 
promised to meet him on the following day (7th), 
though it seemed uncertain whether he was master of 
himself, or whether he was not a kind of prisoner. 
Tidings had just been received of the movements of 
Sir Henry Clinton, and of tempting overtures he in- 
tended to make, and it was feared the men might Hsten 
to them. Three of the light-horse were sent in the 
direction of Amboy to keep a look-out for any landing 
of the enemy. 

At this critical juncture, two of Sir Henry's emis- 
saries arrived in the camp, and delivered to the leaders 


of the malcontents, a paper containing his seductive 
proposals and promises. The mutineers, though openly 
arrayed in arms against their government, spurned at 
the idea of turning "Arnolds,'' as they termed it. 
The emissaries were seized and conducted to General 
Wayne, who placed them in confinement, promising 
that they should be hberated, should the pending nego- 
tiation fail. 

This incident had a great effect in inspiring hope 
of the ultimate loyalty of the troops ; and the favor- 
able representations of the temper of the men, made 
by General Wayne in a personal interview, determined 
President Reed to venture among them. The conse- 
quences of their desertion to the enemy were too alarm- 
ing to be risked. " I have but one life to lose," said 
he, " and my country has the first claim to it." * 

As he approached Princeton with his suite, he 
found guards regularly posted, who turned out and 
saluted him in military style. The whole line was 
drawn out under arms near the college and the artillery 
on the point of firing a salute. He prevented it, lest 
it should alarm the country. It was a hard task for 
him to ride along the line as if reviewing troops regu- 
larly organized ; but the crisis required some sacrifice 
of the kind. The sergeants were aU in the places of 
their respective officers, and saluted the president as he 
passed; never were mutineers more orderly and de- 

The propositions now ofiered to the troops were : 
— ^To discharge all those who had enhsted indefinitely 

* Letter to the Executive Council. 


for three years or during the war ; the fact to be in- 
quired into by three commissioners appointed by the 
executive — ^where the original enhstment could not be 
produced in evidence, the oath of the soldier to suffice. 

To give immediate certificates for the deficit in 
their pay caused by the depreciation of the currency, 
and the arrearages to be settled as soon as circum- 
stances would permit. 

To furnish them immediately with certain specified 
articles of clothing which were most wanted. 

These propositions proving satisfactory, the troops 
set out for Trenton, where the negotiation was con- 

Most of the artillerists and many of the infantry 
obtained their discharges ; some on their oaths, others 
on account of the vague terms under which they had 
been enlisted ; forty days' furlough was given to the 
rest, and thus, for a time, the whole insurgent force 
was dissolved. 

The two spies who had tampered with the fidelity 
of the troops were tried by a court-martial, found 
guilty, and hanged at the cross-roads near Trenton. A 
reward of fifty guineas each, was offered to two ser- 
geants who had arrested and delivered them up. They 
declined accepting it ; saying, they had merely acted 
by order of the board of sergeants. The hundred 
guineas were then offered to the board. Their reply 
is worthy of record. " It was not," said they, " for 
the sake or through any expectation of reward, but for 
the love of our country, that we sent the spies immedi- 
ately to General Wayne ; we therefore do not consider 
ourselves entitled to any other reward but the love of 


our country, and do jointly agree, to accept of no 

The accommodation entered into with the mutineers 
of the Pennsylvania hne appeared to Washington of 
doubtful policy, and likely to have a pernicious effect 
on the whole army. His apprehensions were soon jus- 
tified by events. On the night of the 20th of Janu- 
ary, a part of the Jersey troops, stationed at Pompton, 
rose in arms, claiming the same terms just yielded to 
the Pennsylvanians. Por a time, it was feared the 
revolt would spread throughout the line. 

Sir Henry Clinton was again on the alert. Troops 
were sent to Staten Island to be ready to cross into the 
Jerseys, and an emissary was despatched to tempt the 
mutineers with seductive offers. 

In this instance, Washington adopted a more rigor- 
ous course than in the other. The present insurgents 
were not so formidable in point of numbers as the 
Pennsylvanians ; the greater part of them, also, were 
foreigners, for whom he felt less sympathy than for 
native troops. He was convinced too of the fidelity 
of the troops under his immediate command, who were 
from the Eastern States. A detachment from the Mas- 
sachusetts line was sent under Major-general Howe, 
who was instructed to compel the mutineers to uncon- 
ditional submission ; to grant them no terms while in 
arms, or in a state of resistance ; and on their surren- 
der, instantly to execute a few of the most active and 
incendiary leaders. "You will also try," added he, 
" to avail yourself of the services of the militia, repre- 
senting to them how dangerous to civil liberty, is the 
precedent of anned soldiers dictating to their comitry." 


His orders were punctually obeyed, and were 
crowned with complete success. Howe had the good 
fortune, after a tedious night-march, to surprise the 
mutineers napping in their huts just at daybreak. 
Pive minutes only were allowed them to parade with 
out their arms and give up their ringleaders. This 
was instantly complied with, and two of them were 
executed on the spot. Thus, the mutiny was quelled, 
the officers resumed their command, and all things 
were restored to order.* 

Thus terminated an insurrection, which, for a time, 
had spread alarm among the friends of American 
liberty, and excited the highest hopes of its foes. The 
circumstances connected with it had ultimately a bene- 
ficial efiect in strengthening the confidence of those 
friends, by proving that however the Americans might 
quarrel with their own government, nothing could 
again rally them under the royal standard. 

A great cause of satisfaction to Washington was 
the ratification of the articles of confederation between 
the States, which took place not long after this agita- 
ting juncture. A set of articles had been submitted 
to Congress by Dr. Franklin, as far back as 1775. A 
form had been prepared and digested by a committee 
in 1776, and agreed upon, with some modifications in 
1777, but had ever since remained in abeyance, in con- 
sequence of objections made by individual States. 
The confederation was now complete, and Washington, 
in a letter to the President of Congress, congratulated 
him and the body over which he presided, on an event 

* Memoir of Major Shaw, by Hon. Josiah Quincy, p. 89. 


long wished for, and which he hoped would have the 
happiest effects upon the politics of this country, and 
be of essential service to our cause in Europe. 

It was, after all, an instrument far less efficacious 
than its advocates had anticipated ; but it served an 
important purpose in binding the States together as a 
nation, and keeping them from falling asunder into 
individual powers, after the pressure of external danger 
should cease to operate. 





The armament with whicli Arnold boasted he was " to 
shake the continent," met with that boisterous weather 
which often rages along our coast in the winter. 
His ships were tempest-tost and scattered, and half of 
his cavalry horses and several of his guns had to be 
thrown overboard. It was the close of the year when 
he anchored in the Chesapeake. 

Virginia, at the time, was almost in a defenceless 
state. Baron Steuben, who had the general command 
there, had recently detached such of his regular troops 
as were clothed and equipped, to the South, to reinforce 
General Greene. The remainder, five or six hundred 
in number, deficient in clothing, blankets, and tents, 
were scarcely fit to take the field, and the volunteers and 
mihtia lately encamped before Portsmouth, had been 
disbanded. Governor Jefierson, on hearing of the arrival 
of the fieet, caUed out the mihtia from the neighboring 


counties ; but few could be collected on the spur of the 
moment, for the whole country was terror-stricken and 
in confusion. Having land and sea forces at his com- 
mand, Arnold opened the new year with a buccaneering 
ravage. Ascending James River with some small vessels 
which he had captured, he landed on the fourth of Janu- 
ary with nine hundred men at Westover, about twenty- 
five miles below Richmond, and pushed for the latter 
place, at that time little more than a village, though the 
metropolis of Virginia. Halting for the night within 
twelve miles of it, he advanced on the following day 
with as much military parade as possible, so as to strike 
terror into a militia patrol, which fled back to Rich- 
mond, reporting that a British force, fifteen hundred 
strong, w^as at hand. 

It was Arnold's hope to capture the governor ; but 
the latter, after providing for the security of as much 
as possible of the public stores, had left Richmond the 
evening before on horseback to join his family at Tuck- 
ahoe, whence, on the following day, he conveyed them 
to a place of safety. Governor Jefferson got back by 
noon to Manchester on the opposite side of James River, 
in time to see Arnold's marauders. march into the town. 
Many of the inhabitants, had fled to the country ; some 
stood terrified spectators on the hills ; not more than 
two hundred men were in arms for the defence of the 
place ; these, after firing a few volleys, retreated to Rich- 
mond and Shockoe Hills, whence they were driven by 
the cavalry, and Arnold had possession of the capital. 
He sent some of the citizens to the governor, offering 
to spare the town, provided his ships might come up 
James River to be laden with tobacco from the ware- 

VOL. IT. — 15 


houses. His offer was indignantly rejected, whereupon 
fire was set to the pubhc edifices, stores, and work- 
shops ; private houses were pillaged, and a great quan- 
tity of tobacco consumed. 

While this was going on, Colonel Simcoe had been 
detached to Westham, six miles up the river, where he 
destroyed a cannon foundry and sacked a public maga- 
zine ; broke off the trunnions of the cannon, and threw 
into the river the powder which he could not carry aAvay, 
and, after effecting a complete devastation, rejoined 
Arnold at Richmond, which during the ensuing night 
resounded with the drunken orgies of the soldiery. 

Having completed his ravage at Richmond, Arnold 
re-embarked at Westover and fell slowly down the river, 
landing occasionally to burn, plunder, and destroy ; 
pursued by Steuben Avith a few Continental troops and 
all the militia that he could muster. General Nelson, 
also, with similar levies opposed him. Lower down the 
river some skirmishing took place, a few of Arnold's 
troops were killed and a number wounded, but he made 
his way to Portsmouth, opposite Norfolk, where he took 
post on the 20th of January and proceeded to fortify. 

Steuben would have attempted to drive him from 
this position, but his means were totally inadequate. 
Collecting from various parts of the country all the force 
that could be mustered, he so disposed it at different 
points as to hem the traitor in, prevent his making 
further incursions, and drive him back to his intrench- 
ments should he attempt any. 

Governor Jefferson returned to Richmond after 
the enemy had left it, and wrote thence to the com- 
mander-in-chief an account of this ravaging incursion 


of " the parricide Arnold." It was mortifying to Wash- 
ington to see so inconsiderable a party committing such 
extensive depredations with impunity, but it was his 
opinion that their principal object was to make a diver- 
sion in favor of Cornwallis ; and as the evils to be ap- 
prehended from Arnold's predatory incursions were not 
to be compared with the injury to the common cause, 
and the danger to Virginia in particular, which would 
result from the conquest of the States to the southward, 
he adjured Jefferson not to permit attention to imme- 
diate safety so to engross his thoughts as to divert him 
from measures for reinforcing the Southern army. 

About this time an important resolution was adopted 
in Congress. Washington had repeatedly, in his com- 
munications to that body, attributed much of the dis- 
tress and disasters of the war to the congressional mode of 
conducting business through committees and "boards," 
thus causing irregularity and delay, preventing secrecy 
and augmenting expense. He was greatly rejoiced, 
therefore, when Congress decided to appoint heads of 
departments ; secretaries of foreign affairs, of war and of 
marine, and a superintendent of finance. " I am happy, 
thrice happy, on private as well as public account," 
writes he, " to find that these are in train. For it will 
ease my shoulders of an immense burthen, which the 
deranged and perplexed situation of our affairs and the 
distresses of every department of the army, had placed 
upon them." 

General Sullivan, to whom this was written, and 
who was in Congress, was a warm friend of Washing- 
ton's aide-de camp. Colonel Hamilton, and he sounded 
the commander-in-chief as to the qualifications of the 


colonel to take charge of the department of finance. 
" I am unable to answer," replied Washington, "because 
I never entered upon a discussion with him, but this I 
can venture to advance, from a thorough knowledge of 
him, that there are few men to be found of his age, who 
have more general knowledge than he possesses ; and 
none whose soul is more firmly engaged in the cause, 
or who exceeds him in probity and sterling virtue." 

This was a warm eulogium for one of Washington's 
circumspect character, but it was sincere. Hamilton 
had been four years in his military family, and always 
treated by him with marked attention and regard. In- 
deed it had surprised many to see so young a man ad- 
mitted like a veteran into his counsels. It was but a 
few days after Washington had penned the eulogium 
just quoted, when a scene took place between him and 
the man he had praised so liberally, that caused him 
deep chagrin. We give it as related by Hamilton him- 
self in a letter to General Schuyler, one of whose daugh- 
ters he had recently married. 

" An unexpected change has taken place in my situa- 
tion," writes Hamilton (Feb. 18). *'I am no longer 
a member of the general's family. This information 
will surprise you, and the manner of the change will 
surprise you more. Two days ago the general and I 
passed each other on the stairs : — ^lie told me he wanted 
to speak to me. I answered that I would wait on him 
immediately. I went below and delivered Mr. Tilgh- 
man a letter to be sent to the commissary, containing 
an order of a pressing and interesting nature. 

" Returning to the general, I was stopped on the 
way by the Marquis de Lafayette, and we conversed 


together about a minute on a matter of business. He 
can testify how impatient I was to get back, and that 
I left him in a manner, which, but for our intimacy, 
would have been more than abrupt. Instead of finding 
the general, as is usual, in his room, I met him at the 
head of the stairs, where accostnig me in an angry tone, 
" Colonel Hamilton (said he), you have kept me waiting 
at the head of the stairs these ten minutes ; — I must 
tell you, sir, you treat me with disrespect." I replied, 
without petulancy, but with decision. " I am not con- 
scious of it, sir, but since you have thought it necessary 
to tell me so, we part." " Very well, sir (said he), if 
it be your choice," or something to this effect, and we 
separated. I sincerely believe my absence, which gave 
so much umbrage, did not last two minutes. 

" In less than an hour after, Tilghman came to me 
in the general's name, assuring me of his great confi- 
dence in my abilities, integrity, usefulness, &c., and of 
his desire, in a candid conversation, to heal a difference 
which could not have happened but in a moment of 
passion. I requested Mr. Tilghman to tell him, — 1st. 
That I had taken my resolution in a manner not to be 
revoked. 2d. That as a conversation could serve no 
other purpose than to produce explanations, mutuaQy 
disagreeable, though I certainly would not refuse an 
interview, if he desired it, yet I would be happy, if he 
would permit me to decline it. 3d. That though de- 
termined to leave the family, the same principles which 
had kept me so long in it, would continue to direct my 
conduct towards him when out of it. 4th. That, how- 
ever, I did not wish to distress him, or the public busi- 
ness, by quitting him before he could derive other 


assistance by the return of some of the gentlemen who 
were absent. 5th. And that, in the mean time, it de- 
pended on him to let our behaviour to each other be 
the same as if nothing had happened. He consented 
to decline the conversation, and thanked me for my of- 
fer of continuing my aid in the manner I had men- 

" I have given you so particular a detail of our differ- 
ence from the desire I have to justify myself in your 
opinion. Perhaps you may think I was precipitate in 
rejecting the overture made by the general to an accom- 
modation. I assure you, my dear sir, it was not the 
effect of resentment ; it was the deliberate result of 
maxims I had long formed for the government of my 
own conduct." 

In considering this occurrence, as stated by Ham- 
ilton himself, we think he was in the wrong. His 
hurrying past the general on the stairs without pausing, 
although the latter expressed a wish to speak with him ; 
his giving no reason for his haste, having in fact no ob- 
ject in hurrying down stairs but to deliver a letter to a 
fellow aide-de-camp ; his tarrying below to chat with the 
Marquis de Lafayette, the general all this tune remain- 
ing at the head of the stairs, had certainly an air of 
great disrespect, and we do not wonder that the com- 
mander-in-chief was deeply offended at being so treated 
by his youthful aide-de-camp. His expression of dis- 
pleasure was measured and dignified, however irritated 
he may have been, and such an explanation, at least, was 
due to him, as Hamilton subsequently rendered to 
General Schuyler, through a desire to justify himself in 
that gentleman's opinion. The reply of Hamilton, on 


the contrary,. savored very much of petulance, however 
devoid he may have considered it of that quaUty, and 
his avowed determination " to part," simply because 
taxed by the general with want of respect, was sin- 
gularly curt and abrupt. 

Washington's subsequent overture, intended to 
soothe the wounded sensitiveness of Hamilton and 
soften the recent rebuke, by assurances of unaltered 
confidence and esteem, strikes us as in the highest 
degree noble and gracious, and furnishes another in- 
stance of that magnanimity which governed his whole 
conduct. We trust that General Schuyler, in reply to 
Hamilton's appeal, intimated that he had indeed been 
precipitate in rejecting such an overture. 

The following passage in Hamilton's letter to 
Schuyler gives the real key to his conduct on this occa- 

"I always disliked the office of an aide-de-camp, 
as having in it a kind of personal dependence. I re- 
fused to serve in this capacity with two Major-generals, 
at an early period of the war. Infected, however, with 
the enthusiasm of the times, an idea of the General's 
character overcame my scruples, and induced me to 
accept his invitation to enter into his family. * * It 
has been often with great difficulty that I have prevailed 
on myself not to renounce it ; but while, from motives of 
public utihty, I was doing violence to my feelings, I 
was always determined, if there should ever happen a 
breach between us, never to consent to an accommoda- 
tion. I was persuaded that when once that nice bar- 
rier which marked the boundaries of what we owed to 


each other should be thrown down, it might be propped 
again, but could never be restored." 

Hamilton, in fact, had long been ambitious of an 
independent position, and of some opportunity, as he 
said, " to raise his character above mediocrity." When 
an expedition by Lafayette against Staten Island had 
been meditated in the autumn of 1780, he had applied 
to the commander-in-chief, through the Marquis, for 
the command of a battalion, which was without a field 
officer. Washington had declined on the ground that 
giving him a whole battalion might be a subject of 
dissatisfaction, and that should any accident happen 
to him in the actual state of affairs at head- quarters, 
the commander-in-chief would be embarrassed for want 
of his assistance. 

He had next been desirous of the post of adjutant- 
general, which Colonel Alexander Scammel was about 
to resign, and was recommended for that office by Lafay- 
ette and Greene, but, before their recommendations 
reached W^ashington, he had already sent in to Con- 
gress the name of Brigadier-general Hand, who re- 
ceived the nomination. 

These disappointments may have rendered Hamilton 
doubtful of his being properly appreciated by the com- 
mander-in-chief ; impaired his devotion to him, and de- 
termined him, as he says, " if there should ever happen 
a breach between them, never to consent to an accom- 
modation." It almost looks as if, in his high-strung 
and sensitive mood, he had been on the v/atch for an 
offence, and had grasped at the shadow of one. 

Some short time after the rupture had taken place, 
Washington received a letter from Lafayette, then ab- 


sent in Virginia, in which the Marquis observes, " con- 
sidering the footing I am upon with your Excellency, 
it would, perhaps, appear strange to you that I never 
mentioned a circumstance which lately happened in 
your family. I was the first who knew of it, and from 
that moment exerted every means in my power to pre- 
vent a separation, Avhich I knew was not agreeable to 
your Excellency. To this measure I was prompted by 
aflPection to you ; but I thought it was improper to 
mention any thing about it, until you were pleased to 
impart it to me." 

The following was Washington's reply : " The event, 
which you seem to speak of with regret, my friendship 
for you would most assuredly have induced me to im- 
part to you the moment it happened, had it not been 
for the request of Hamilton, who desired that no men- 
tion should be made of it. Why this injunction on 
me, while he was communicating it himself, is a little 
extraordinary. But I complied, and religiously fulfilled 

We are happy to add that though a temporary 
coolness took place between the commander-in-chief 
and his late favorite aide-de-camp, it was but temporary. 
The friendship between these illustrious men was des- 
tined to survive the revolution and to signalize itself 
through many eventful years, and stands recorded in 
the correspondence of Washington almost at the last 
moment of his life.* 

* His last letter to Hamilton, in which he assures him of " his very great 
esteem and regard," was written by Washington but two days before his death, 
Spabks, xi., 469. 


ooexwallis peepaees to inyade koeth caeolixa — tarleton sent 
against moegan — battle at cowpens — ^morgan pushes foe the 
catawba with spoils and peisonees — coenwallis endeavoes to 
inteecept him — the ei3ing of the eivee — coenwallis at eam- 
soue's mills. 

The stress of war, as Wasliington apprehended, was at 
present shifted to the South. In a former chapter, we 
left General Greene, in the latter part of December, 
posted with one division of his army on the east side of 
the Pedee river in North Carolina, having detached 
General Morgan with the other division, one thousand 
strong, to take post near the confluence of the Pacolet 
and Broad rivers in South Carolina. 

Cornwallis lay encamped about seventy miles to the 
south-west of Greene, at Winnsborough in Fairfield 
district. General Leslie had recently arrived at Charles- 
ton from Virginia, and was advancing to reinforce him 
with fifteen hundred men. This would give Corn- 
wallis such a superiority of force that he prepared for 
a second invasion of North Carohna. His plan was to 
leave Lord Rawdon at the central post of Camden with 
a considerable body of troops to keep all quiet, while 
his lordship by rapid marches would throw himself be- 


tween Greene and Virginia, cut him off from all rein- 
forcements from that quarter, and oblige him either to 
make battle with his present force, which would be 
ruinous to him, or retreat precipitately from North 
Carolina, which would be disgraceful.* In either case 
Cornwallis counted on a general rising of the Royalists ; 
a re-establishment of regal government in the Carohnas, 
and the clearing away of all impediments to further 
triumphs in Virginia and Maryland. 

By recent information, he learnt that Morgan had 
passed both the Catawba and Broad Rivers, and was 
about seventy miles to the northwest of him, on his 
way to the district of Ninety-six. As he might prove 
extremely formidable if left in his rear, Tarleton was 
sent in quest of him with about three hundred and 
fifty of his famous cavalry, a corps of legion and light 
infantry and a number of the royal artillery with two 
field-pieces ; about eleven hundred choice troops in all. 
His instructions were to pass Broad River for the pro- 
tection of Ninety-six, and either to strike at Morgan 
and push him to the utmost ; or to drive him out of 
the country, so as to prevent his giving any trouble on 
that side. 

Cornwallis moved with his main force on the 12th 
of December, in a northwest direction between the 
Broad River and the Catawba, leading toward the 
back country. This was for the purpose of crossing 
the great rivers at their fords near theu' sources ; for 
they are fed by innumerable petty streams which drain 
the mountains, and are apt in the winter time, when 

* Cornwallis to Lord George Germain, March 17. 


storms of rain prevail, to swell and become impassable 
below their forks. He took this route also, to cut off 
Morgan's retreat, or prevent his junction with Greene, 
should Tarleton's expedition fail of its object. General 
Leslie, whose arrival was daily expected, was to move 
up along the eastern side of the Wateree and Catawba, 
keeping parallel with his lordship and joining him 
above. Every thing on the part of Cornwallis was 
well planned and seemed to promise him a successful 

Tarleton, after several days' hard marching, came 
upon the traces of Morgan, who was posted on the 
north bank of the Pacolet, to guard the passes of that 
river. He sent word to Cornwallis of his intention to 
force a passage across the river and compel Morgan 
either to fight or retreat, and suggested that his lordship 
should proceed up the eastern bank of Broad River so 
as to be at hand to co-operate. His lordship, in conse- 
quence, took up a position at Turkey Creek on Broad 

Morgan had been recruited by North Carolina and 
Georgia militia, so that his force was nearly equal in 
number to that of Tarleton, but, in point of cavalry 
and discipline, vastly inferior. Cornwallis, too, was on 
his left and might get in his rear ; checking his impulse, 
therefore, to dispute the passage of the Pacolet, he 
crossed that stream and retreated towards the upper 
fords of Broad River. 

Tarleton reached the Pacolet on the evening of the 
15th, but halted on observing some troops on the oppo- 
site bank. It was merely a party of observation which 
Morgan had left there, but he supposed that officer to 


be there in full force. After some manoeuvring to 
deceive his adversary, he crossed the river before day- 
light at Easterwood shoals. There was no opposition. 
Still he proceeded warily, until he learnt that Morgan, 
instead of being in his neighborhood, was in full march 
toward Broad River. Tarleton now pressed on in pur- 
suit. At ten o'clock at night he reached an encamp- 
ment which Morgan had abandoned a few hours previ- 
ously, apparently in great haste, for the camp fires 
were still smoking, and provisions had been left behind 
half-cooked. Eager to come upon his enemy while in 
the confusion of a hurried flight, Tarleton allowed his 
exhausted troops but a brief repose, and, leaving 
his baggage under a guard, resumed his dogged march 
about two o'clock in the night; tramping forward 
through swamps and rugged broken grounds, round 
the western side of Thickety Mountain. A little before 
daylight of the 17th, he captured two videttes, from 
whom he leamt to his surprise, that Morgan, instead 
of a headlong retreat, had taken a night's repose, and 
was actually preparing to give him battle. 

Morgan, in fact, had been urged by his officers to 
retreat across Broad River, which was near by, and 
make for the mountainous country ; but, closely pressed 
as he was, he feared to be overtaken while fordinsj the 
river, and while his troops were fatigued and in confu- 
sion ; beside, being now nearly equal in number to the 
enemy, military pride would not suffer him to avoid a 

The place where he came to halt, was known in 
•the early grants by the name of Hannah's Cowpens, 
being part of a grazing establishment of a man named 


Hannali. It was in an open wood, favorable to the 
action of cavalry. There were two eminences of 
unequal height, and separated from each other by an 
interval about eighty yards wide. To the first emi- 
nence, which was the highest, there was an easy ascent 
of about three hundred yards. On these heights Mor- 
gan had posted himself. His flanks Avere unprotected, 
and the Broad River, running parallel on his rear, about 
six miles distant, and winding round on the left, would 
cut off retreat, should the day prove unfortunate. 

The ground, in the opinion of tacticians, was not 
well chosen ; Morgan, a veteran bush-fighter, vindi- 
cated it in after times in his own characteristic way. 
" Had I crossed the river, one half of the militia would 
have abandoned me. Had a swamp been in view, 
they would have made for it. As to covering my 
wings, I knev/ the foe I had to deal with, and that 
there would be nothing but downright fighting. As 
to a retreat, I wished to cut off all hope of one. 
Should Tarleton surround me with his cavalry, it would 
keep my troops from breaking away, and make them 
depend upon their bayonets. When men are forced to 
fight, they will sell their lives dearly." 

In arranging his troops for action, he drew out his 
infantry in two lines. The first was composed of the 
North and South Carolina militia, under Colonel Pick- 
ens, having an advanced corps of North Carolina and 
Georgia volunteer riflemen. This line, on which he 
had the least dependence, was charged to wait until the 
enemy were within dead shot ; then to take good aim, 
fire two volleys and fall back. 

The second fine, drawn up a moderate distance in 


the rear of the first, and near the brow of the main 
eminence, was composed of Colonel Howard's hght 
infantry and the .Virginia riflemen ; all Continental 
troops. They were informed of the orders which had 
been given to the first line, lest they shonld mistake 
their falling back for a retreat. Colonel Howard had 
the command of this line, on Avhich the greatest reli- 
ance was placed. 

About a hundred and fifty yards in the rear of the 
second line, and on the slope of the lesser eminence, 
was Colonel Washington's troop of cavalry, about 
eighty strong; with about fifty mounted Carolinian 
volunteers, under Major McCall, armed with sabres 
and pistols. 

British writers of the day gave Morgan credit for 
uncommon ability and judgment in the disposition of 
his force ; placing the militia, in whom he had no great 
confidence, in fall view on the edge of the wood, and 
keeping his best troops out of sight, but drawn up in 
excellent order and prepared for all events.* 

It was about eight o'clock in the morning, (Jan. 
17th,) when Tarleton came up. The position of the 
Americans seemed to him to give great advantage to 
his cavalry, and he made hasty preparation for immedi- 
ate attack, anticipating an easy victory. Part of his 
infantry he formed into a line, with dragoons on each 
flank. The rest of the infantry and cavalry were to 
be a reserve and to wait for orders. 

There was a physical difference in the condition of 
the adverse troops. The British were haggard from 

* Annual Register, 1781, p. 56. 


want of sleep and a rough niglit-tramp ; the Ameri- 
cans, on the contrary, were fresh from a night's rest, 
invigorated by a morning's meal, and dehberately 
drawn up. Tarleton took no notice of these circmn- 
stances, or disregarded them. Impetuous at all times, 
and now confident of victory, he did not even wait 
until the reserve could be placed, but led on his first 
line, which rushed shouting to the attack. The North 
Carolina and Georgia riflemen in the advance, delivered 
their fire with efi'ect, and fell back to the flanks of 
Pickens' militia. These, as they had been instructed, 
waited until the enemy were within fifty yards and then 
made a destructive volley, but soon gave way before 
the push of the bayonet. The British infantry pressed 
up to the second line, while forty of their cavalry 
attacked it on the right, seeking to turn its flank. 
Colonel Howard made a brave stand, and for some 
time there was a bloody conflict ; seeing himself, how- 
ever, in danger of being outflanked, he endeavored to 
change his front to the right. His orders were misun- 
derstood, and his troops were falling into confusion, 
when Morgan rode up and ordered them to retreat over 
the hill, where Colonel Washington's cavalry were hur- 
ried forward for their protection. 

The British, seeing the troops retiring over the 
hill, rushed forward irregularly in pursuit of what they 
deemed a routed foe. To their astonishment, they 
were met by Colonel Washington's dragoons, who 
spurred on them impetuously, while Howard's infantry 
facing about, gave them an eSective volley of musketry 
and then charged with the bayonet. 

The enemy now fell into complete confusion. Some 


few artillery-men attempted to defend their guns, but 
were cut down or taken prisoners, and the cannon 
and colors were captured. A panic seized upon the 
British troops, aided no doubt by fatigue and exhaus- 
tion. A general flight took place. Tarleton endeavored 
to bring his legion cavalry into action to retrieve the 
day. They had stood aloof as a reserve, and now, 
infected by the panic, turned their backs upon their 
commander, and galloped off through the woods, riding 
over the flying infantry. 

Fourteen of his officers, however, and forty of his 
dragoons remained true to him ; with these he attempted 
to withstand the attack of Washington's cavalry and a 
fierce melee took place, but on the approach of How- 
ard's infantry Tarleton gave up all for lost, and spurred 
off with his few but faithful adherents, trusting to the 
speed of their horses for safety. They made for Ham- 
ilton's ford on Broad River, thence to seek the main 
army under Comwallis. 

The loss of the British in this action was ten offi- 
cers and above one hundred men killed, two hundred 
wounded, and between five and six hundred rank and 
file made prisoners ; while the Americans had but 
twelve men killed and sixty wounded. The disparity 
of loss shows how complete had been the confusion 
and defeat of the enemy. " During the whole period 
of the war," says one of their own writers, " no other 
action reflected so much dishonor on the British 
arms." * 

The spoils taken by Morgan, according to his own 

* Stedman, iL p. 324. 
VOL. IV. — 16 


account, were two field-pieces, two standards, eight hun- 
dred muskets, one traveUing forge, thirty -five waggons, 
seventy negroes, upwards of one hundred dragoon- 
horses, and all the music. The enemy, however, had 
destroyed most of their baggage, which was immense. 

Morgan did not linger on the field of battle. Leav- 
ing Colonel Pickens with a body of militia under the 
protection of a flag, to bury the dead and provide for 
the wounded of both armies, he set out the same day 
about noon, with his prisoners and spoils. Lord Corn- 
waUis, with his main force, was at Turkey Creek, 
only twenty-five miles distant, and must soon hear 
of the late battle. His object was to get to the 
Catawba before he could be intercepted by his lord- 
ship, who lay nearer than he did to the fords of that 
river. Before nightfall he crossed Broad Biver at the 
Cherokee ford and halted for a few hours on its 
northern bank. Before dayhght of the 18th he was 
again on the march. Colonel Washington, who had 
been in pursuit of the enemy, rejoined him in the 
coui'se of the day, as also did Colonel Pickens, who 
had left such of the wounded as could not be moved, 
under the protection of the flag of truce. 

Still fearing that he might be intercepted before he 
could reach the Catawba, he put his prisoners in 
charge of Colonel Washington and the cavalry, with 
orders to move higher up into the country and cross 
the main Catawba at the Island ford ; while he himself 
pushed forward for that river by the direct route ; thus 
to distract the attention of the enemy should they be 
in pursuit, and to secure his prisoners from being 


Corawallis, on the eventful day of the 17th, was at 
his camp on Turkey Creek, confidently waiting for 
tidings from Tarleton of a new triumph, when, towards 
evening, some of his routed dragoons came straggling 
into camp, haggard and forlorn, to teU the tale of his 
defeat. It was a thunder-stroke. Tarleton defeated ! 
and by the rude soldier he had been so sure of 
entrapping ! It seemed incredible. It was confirmed, 
however, the next morning by the arrival of Tarleton 
himself, discomfited and crest-fallen. In his account 
of the recent battle, he represented the force under 
Morgan to be two thousand. This exaggerated esti- 
mate, together with the idea that the mihtia would 
now be out in great force, rendered his lordship 
cautious. Supposing that Morgan, elated by his vic- 
tory, would linger near the scene of his triumph, or 
advance toward Ninety-six, CornwaUis remained a 
day or two at Turkey Creek to collect the scattered 
remains of Tarleton's forces and to await the arrival of 
General LesHe, whose march had been much retarded 
by the waters, but who "was at last out of the 

On the 19th, having been rejoined by Leslie, his 
lordship moved towards King's Creek, and thence in 
the direction of King's Mountain, until informed of 
Morgan's retreat toward the Catawba. CornwaUis 
now altered his course in that direction, and, trusting 
that Morgan, encumbered as he supposed him to be, 
by prisoners and spoils, might be overtaken before he 
could cross that river, detached a part of his force, 
without baggage, in pursuit of him, while he followed 
on with the remainder. 


Nothing, say the British chroniclers, could exceed 
the exertions of the detachment ; but Morgan suc- 
ceeded in reaching the Catawba and crossing it in the 
evening just two hours before those in pursuit of him 
arrived on its banks. A heavy rain came on and fell 
aU night, and by daybreak the river was so swollen as 
to be impassable.* 

This sudden swelling of the river was considered 
by the Americans as something providential. It con- 
tinued for several days, and gave Morgan time to send 
off his prisoners who had crossed several miles above, 
and to call out the militia of Mecklenburg and Rowan 
Counties to guard the fords of the river, f 

Lord Cornwallis had moved slowly with his main 
body. He was encumbered by an immense train of 
baggage ; the roads were through deep red clay and 
the country was cut up by streams and morasses. It 
was not until the 25th, that he asembled his whole 
force at Uamsour's Mills, on the Little Catawba, as 
the south fork of that river is called, and learnt that 
Morgan had crossed the main stream. Now he felt 
the loss he had sustained in the late defeat of Tarleton, 
of a great part of his light troops, which are the life 
and spirit of an army, and especially efficient in a thinly 
peopled country, of swamps and streams, and forests, 
like that he was entangled in. 

* Stedman, ii. 326. Cornwallis to Sir H. Clinton ; see also Remembrancer, 
1781, part 1. 303. 

f This sudden swelling of the river has been stated by some writers as 
having taken place on the 29th, on the approach of Cornwallis's main force, 
whereas it took place on the 23d, on the approach of the detachment sent by 
his lordship in advance in pursuit of Morgan. The inaccuracy as to date has 
given rise to disputes among historians. 


In this crippled condition, he determined to reheve 
his army of every thing that could impede rapid 
movement in his future operations. Two days, there- 
fore, were spent by him at Ramsour's MiUs, in destroy- 
ing all such baggage and stores as could possibly 
be spared. He began with his own. His officers 
followed his example. Superfluities of all kinds were 
sacrificed without flinching. Casks of wine and spir- 
ituous liquors were staved ; quantities even of provisions 
were sacrificed. No waggons were spared but those 
laden with hospital stores, salt and ammunition, and 
four empty ones, for the sick and wounded. The 
alacrity with which these sacrifices of comforts, conve- 
niences, and even necessaries, were made, was honorable 
to both officers and men.* 

The whole expedient was subsequently sneered at' 
by Sir Henry Clinton, as being " something too like a 
Tartar move ; " but his lordship was preparing for a 
trial of speed, where it was important to carry as light 
weight as possible. 

* Annual Register, 1781, p. 58. 



General Greene was gladdened by a letter from Mor- 
gan, written shortly after his defeat of Tarleton, and 
transmitted the news to Washington with his own gen- 
erous comments. " The victory was complete," writes 
he, " and the action glorious. The brilliancy and suc- 
cess with which it was fought, does the highest honor 
to the American arms, and adds splendor to the char- 
acter of the general and his officers. I must beg leave 
to recommend them to your excellency's notice, and 
doubt not but from your representation. Congress will 
receive pleasure from testifying their approbation of 
their conduct." 

Another letter from Morgan, written on the 25th, 
spoke of the approach of Cornwallis and his forces. 
" My numbers," writes he, " are at this time too weak 
to fight them. I intend to move towards Salisbury, to 
get near the main army. I think it would be advisa- 


ble to join our forces, and fight them before they join 
PhiUips, which they certainly will do if they are not 

Greene had recently received intelligence of the land- 
ing of troops at Wilmington, from a British squadron, 
supposed to be a force under Arnold, destined to push 
up Cape Fear River, and co-operate with Cornwallis ; 
he had to prepare, therefore, not only to succor Morgan, 
but to prevent this co-operation. He accordingly de- 
tached General Stevens vdth his Virginian militia (whose 
term of service was nearly expired) to take charge of 
Morgan's prisoners, and conduct them to Charlottesville 
in Virginia. At the same time he wrote to the Gover- 
nors of "North Carolina and Virginia, for all the aid they 
could furnish; to Steuben, to hasten forward his recruits, 
and to Shelby, Campbell and others, to take arms once 
more, and rival their achievements at King's Moun- 

This done, he left General Huger in command of 
the division on the Pedee, with orders to hasten on by 
forced marches to Salisbury, to join the other division ; 
in the mean time he set off on horseback for Morgan's 
camp, attended merely by a guide, an aide-de-camp, 
and a sergeant's guard of dragoons. His object was to 
aid Morgan in assembling militia and checking the 
enemy until the junction of his forces could be effected. 
It was a hard ride of upwards of a hundred miles 
through a rough country. On the last day of January 
he reached Morgan's camp at Sherrard's ford on the 
east side of the Catawba. The British army lay on the 
opposite side of the river, but a few miles distant from 
it, and appeared to be making preparations to force a 


passage across, as it was subsiding, and would soon be 
fordable. Greene supposed Cornwallis bad in view a 
junction witb Arnold at Cape Pear ; be wrote, tberefore, 
to General Huger to burry on, so tbat witb tbeir united 
forces tbey could give bis lordsbip a defeat before be 
could effect tbe junction. " / am not without liopes^ 
writes be, '' of ruining Lord Cornwallis if he persists in 
his mad scheme of pushing through the country ; and it 
is my earnest desire to form a junction as early for tins 
purpose as possible. Desire Colonel Lee to force a 
marcb to join us. Here is a fine field, and great glory 

More correct information relieved bim from tbe ap- 
prebension of a co-operation of Arnold and CornwaUis. 
Tbe Britisb troops wbicb bad landed at Wilmington, 
were merely a small detacbment sent from Cbarleston 
to establisb a military depot for tbe use of CornwaUis 
in bis soutbern campaign. Tbey bad taken possession 
of Wilmington witbout opposition. 

Greene now cbanged bis plans. He was aware of 
tbe ill-provided state of tbe Britisb army, from tbe vol- 
untary destruction of tbeir waggons, tents and baggage. 
Indeed wben be first beard of tbis measure, on bis arriv- 
ing at Sberrard's ford, be bad exclaimed : " Tben Corn- 
wallis is ours." His plan now was to tempt tbe enemy 
continually witb tbe prospect of a battle, but continually 
to elude one ; to barass tbem by a long pursuit, draw 
tbem bigber into tbe country, and gain time for tbe di- 
vision advancing under Huger to join bim. It was tbe 
Fabian policy tbat be bad learnt under Wasbington, 
of wbom be prided bimself on being a disciple. 

As tbe subsiding of tbe Catawba would enable 


Corawallis to cross, Greene ordered Morgan to move 
off silently with his division, on the evening of the 31st, 
and to press his march all night, so as to gain a good 
start in advance, while he (Greene) would remain to 
bring on the militia, who were employed to check the 
enemy. These militia, assembled from the neighboring 
counties, did not exceed five hundred. Two hundred 
of them were distributed at different fords ; the remain- 
ing three hundred, forming a corps of mounted riflemen 
under General Davidson, were to watch the movements 
of the enemy, and attack him wherever he should make 
his main attempt to cross. When the enemy should 
have actually crossed, the different bodies of militia 
were to make the best of their way to a rendezvous, six- 
teen miles distant, on the road to Salisbury, where 
Greene would be waiting to receive them, and conduct 
their further movements. 

While these dispositions were being made by the 
American commander, Cornwallis was preparing to cross 
the river. The night of the 31st was chosen for the 
attempt. To divert the attention of the Americans, he 
detached Colonels Webster and Tarleton with a part of 
the army to a public ford called Beattie's ford, where 
he supposed Davidson to be stationed. There they 
were to open a cannonade, and make a feint of forcing 
a passage. The main attempt, however, was to be made 
six miles lower down, at McGowan's, a private and un- 
frequented ford, where little, if any, opposition was an- 

Cornwallis set out for that ford, with the main body 
of his array, at one o'clock in the morning. The 
night was dark and rainy. He had to make his way 


through a wood and swamp where there was no road. 
His artillery stuck fast. The line passed on without 
them. It was near daybreak by the time the head of 
the column reached the ford. To their surprise, they 
beheld numerous camp fires on the opposite bank. 
Word was hastily carried to Comwallis that the ford 
was guarded. It was so indeed : Davidson was there 
with his riflemen. 

His lordship would have waited for his artillery, 
but the rain was still falling, and might render the 
river unfordable. At that place, the Catawba was 
nearly five hundred yards wide, about three feet deep, 
very rapid, and full of large stones. The troops entered 
the river in platoons, to support each other against the 
current, and were ordered not to fire until they should 
gain the opposite bank. Colonel Hall, of the light in- 
fantry of the guards, led the way ; the grenadiers fol- 
lowed. The noise of the water and the darkness 
covered their movements until they were nearly half- 
way across, when they were descried by an American 
sentinel. He challenged them three times, and receiv- 
ing no answer, fired. Terrified by the report, the man 
who was guiding the British turned and fled. Colonel 
Hall, thus abandoned, led the way directly across the 
river ; whereas the true ford inclined diagonally further 
down. Hall had to pass through deeper water, but he 
reached a part of the bank where it was unguarded. 
The American pickets, too, which had turned out at the 
alarm given by the sentinel, had to deliver a distant and 
slanting fire. Still it had its efiect. Three of the 
British were kiUed, and thirty-six wounded. Colonel 
Hall pushed on gallantly, but was shot down as he as- 


cended the bank. The horse on which Comwallis rode 
was wounded, but the brave animal carried his lordship 
to the shore, where he sank under him. The steed of 
Brigadier-general O'Hara rolled over with him into the 
water, and General Leslie's horse was borne away by 
the tumultuous current and with difficulty recovered. 

General Davidson hastened with his men towards 
the place where the British were landing. The latter 
formed as soon as they found themselves on firm ground, 
charged Davidson's men before he had time to get them 
in order, killed and wounded about forty, and put the 
rest to flight. 

General Davidson was the last to leave the ground, 
and was killed just as he was mounting his horse. 
When the enemy had effected the passage, Tarleton 
was detached with his cavalry in pursuit of the militia, 
most of whom dispersed to their homes. Eager to 
avenge his late disgrace, he scoured the country, and 
made for Tarrant's tavern, about ten miles distant, 
where about a hundred of them had assembled from 
different fords, on their way to the rendezvous, and 
were refreshing themselves. As Tarleton came clatter- 
ing upon them with his legion, they ran to their horses, 
dehvered a hasty fire, which emptied some of his saddles, 
and then made for the woods ; a few of the worst 
mounted were overtaken and slain. Tarleton in his 
account of his campaigns made the number nearly 
fifty ; but the report of a British officer, who rode over 
the ground shortly afterwards, reduced it to ten. The 
truth probably lay between. The survivors were dis- 
persed beyond rallying. Tarleton, satisfied with his 
achievement, rejoined the main body. Had he scoured 


the country a few miles furtlier, General Greene and 
his suite might have fallen into his hands. 

The general, informed that the enemy had crossed 
the Catawba at daybreak, awaited anxiously at the ren- 
dezvous the arrival of the militia. It was not until 
after midnight that he heard of their utter dispersion, 
and of the death of Davidson. Apprehending the rapid 
advance of Cornwallis, he hastened to rejoin Morgan, 
who with his division was pushing forward for the 
Yadkin, first sending orders to General Huger to con- 
duct the other division by the most direct route to 
Guilford Court-house, where the forces were to be 
united. Greene spurred forward through heavy rain 
and deep miry roads. It was a dreary ride and a lonely 
one, for he had detached his aides-de-camp in different 
directions, to collect the scattered militia. At mid-day 
he alighted, weary and travel-stained, at the inn at 
Salisbury, where the army physician who had charge 
of the sick and wounded prisoners received him at the 
door, and enquired after his well-being : " Patigued, 
hungry, alone, and penniless," was Greene's heavy- 
hearted reply. The landlady, Mrs. Elizabeth Steele, 
overheard his desponding words. While he was seated 
at table, she entered the room, closed the door, and 
drawing from under her apron two bags of money, 
which she had carefully hoarded in those precarious 
times, " Take these," said the noble-hearted woman ; " 
" you will want them, and I can do without them." 
This is one of the numberless instances of the devoted 
patriotism of our women during the revolution. Their 
patriotism was apt to be purer and more disinterested 
than that of the men. 


Comwallis did not advance so rapidly as had been 
apprehended. After crossing the Catawba he had to 
wait for his waggons and artillery, which had remained 
on the other side in the woods ; so that by nightfall of 
the 1st of February he was not more than five miles on 
the road to Sahsbury. Eager to come up with the 
Americans, he mounted some of the infantry upon the 
baggage horses, joined them to the cavalry, and sent the 
whole forward under General O'Hara. They arrived 
on the banks of the Yadkin at night, between the 2d 
and 3d of February, just in time to capture a few wag- 
gons lingering in the rear of the American army, which 
had passed. The riflemen who guarded them retreated 
after a short skirmish. There were no boats with 
which to cross ; the Americans had secured them on 
the other side. The rain which had fallen throughout 
the day had overflooded the ford by which the Ameri- 
can cavalry had passed. The pursuers were again 
brought to a stand. After some doubt and delay, 
Comwallis took his course up the south side of the Yad- 
kin, and crossed by what is still called the Shallow 
ford, while Greene continued on unmolested to Guil- 
ford Court-house, where he was joined by General 
Huger and his division on the 9th. 

Comwallis was now encamped about twenty-five 
miles above them, at the old Moravian town of Salem. 
Greene summoned a council of war (almost the only 
time he was known to do so), and submitted the ques- 
tion whether or not to offer battle. There was an unan- 
imous vote in the negative. A fourth part of the force 
was on the sick hst, from nakedness and exposure. 
The ofiicial returns gave but two thousand and thirty- 


six, rank and file, fit for duty. Of these upwards of six 
hundred were miUtia. 

CornwaUis had from twenty-five hundred to three 
thousand men, including three hundred cavalry, all 
thoroughly disciphned and well equipped. It was de- 
termined to continue the retreat. 

The great object of Greene now was to get across 
the river Dan, and throw himself into Virginia. 
With the reinforcements and assistance he might there 
expect to find, he hoped to effect the salvation of the 
South, and prevent the dismemberment of the Union. 
The object of Cornwallis was to get between him and 
Virginia, force him to a combat before he could receive 
those reinforcements, or enclose him in between the 
great rivers on the west, the sea on the east, and the 
two divisions of the British army under himself and 
Lord Rawdon on the north and south. His lordship 
had been informed that the lower part of the Dan, at 
present, could only be crossed in boats, and that the 
country could not afford a sufficient number for the 
passage of Greene's army ; he trusted, therefore, to cut 
him off from the upper part of the river where alone it 
was fordable. Greene, however, had provided against 
such a contingency. Boats had been secured at vari- 
ous places by his agents, and could be collected at a few 
hours' notice at the lower ferries. Instead, therefore, 
of striving with his lordship for the upper fords, Greene 
shaped his course for Boyd's and Irwin's fords, just 
above the confluence of the Dan and Staunton rivers 
which forms the Roanoke, and about seventy miles from 
Guilford Court-house. This would give him twenty- 
five miles advantage of Lord Cornwallis at the outset. 

1781.] A SEVERE MARCH. 255 

General Kosciuszko was sent with a party in advance to 
collect the boats and throw up breastworks at the 

In ordering his march, General Greene took the 
lead with the main body, the baggage, and stores. 
General Morgan would have had the command of the 
rear-guard, composed of seven hundred of the most alert 
and active troops, cavalry and light infantry ; but, being 
disabled by a violent attack of ague and rheumatism, 
it was given to Colonel Otho H. Williams (formerly 
Adjutant-general), who had with him Colonels Howard, 
Washington, and Lee. 

This corps, detached some distance in the rear, did 
infinite service. Being lightly equipped, it could ma- 
noeuvre in front of the British line of march, break down 
bridges, sweep ofi* provisions, and impede its progress 
in a variety of ways, while the main body moved for- 
ward unmolested. It was now that Cornwallis most 
felt the severity of the blow he had received at the battle 
of the Cowpens in the loss of his light troops, having 
so few to cope with the elite corps under Williams. 

Great abilities were shown by the commanders on 
either side in this momentous trial of activity and skill. 
It was a long and severe march for both armies, through 
a wild and rough country, thinly peopled, cut up by 
streams, partly covered by forests, along deep and 
frozen roads, under drenching rains, without tents at 
night, and with scanty supplies of provisions. The 
British suffered the least, for they were well equipped 
and comfortably clad ; whereas the poor Americans were 
badly off for clothing, and many of them without shoes. 
The patriot armies of the revolution, however, were ac- 


customed in their winter marches to leave evidences of 
their hardships in bloody foot-prints. 

We forbear to enter into the details of this masterly- 
retreat, the many stratagems and manoeuvres of the 
covering party to delay and hoodwink the enemy. 
Tarleton himself bears witness in his narrative that 
every measure of the Americans was judiciously de- 
signed and vigorously executed. So much had Corn- 
wallis been misinformed at the outset as to the means 
below of passing the river, and so difficult was it, from 
want of light troops, to gain information while on the 
march, that he pushed on in the firm conviction that 
he was driving the American army into a trap, and 
would give it a signal blow before it could cross the Dan. 

In the mean time, Greene, with the main body, 
reached the banks of the river, and succeeded in cross- 
ing over with ease in the course of a single day at Boyd's 
and Irwin's ferries, sending back word to Williams, 
who with his covering party was far in the rear. That 
intelligent officer encamped, as usual, in the evening, at 
a wary distance in front of the enemy, but stole a march 
upon them after dark, leaving his camp fires burning. 
He pushed on all night, arrived at the ferry in the morn- 
ing of the 1 5th, having marched forty miles within the 
last four and twenty hours ; and made such despatch 
in crossing, that his last troops had landed on the Vir- 
ginia shore by the time the astonished enemy arrived 
on the opposite bank. Nothing, according to their own 
avowal, could surpass the grief and vexation of the 
British at discovering, on their arrival at Boyd's ferry, 
''"that all their toil and exertions had been vain, and 
that all their hopes were frustrated."* 

* Annual Register. 1781. 









For a day the two armies lay panting within sight of 
each other on the opposite banks of the river, which 
had put an end to the race. In a letter to Thomas 
Jefferson, dated the day of the crossing, Greene writes : 
" On the Dan river, almost fatigued to death, having 
had a retreat to conduct of upwards of two hundred 
miles, manoeuvring constantly in the face of the enemy 
to give time for the militia to turn out and get off our 
stores." And to Washington he writes (Feb. 15), 
" Lord ComwaUis has been at pur heels from day to 
day ever since we left Guilford, and our movements 
from thence to this place have been of the most critical 
kind, having a river in our front and the enemy in our 
rear. The miserable condition of the troops for cloth- 
ing has rendered the march the most painful imagina- 

VOL. IV. — 17 


ble, many hundred of the soldiers tracking the ground 
with their bloody feet. Your feelings for the sufferings 
of the soldier, had you been with us, would have been 
severely tried." He concludes by an honorable testi- 
monial in their favor ; " Our army are in good spirits, 
notwithstanding their sufferings and excessive fatigue." 

On the 16th, the river began to subside; the 
enemy might soon be able to cross. Greene prepared 
for a further retreat by sending forward his baggage 
on the road to Halifax, and securing the passage of 
the Staunton. At Halifax he was resolved to make a 
stand, rather than suffer the enemy to take possession 
of it without a struggle. Its situation on the Roanoke 
would make it a strong position for their army, sup- 
ported by a fleet, and would favor their designs both 
on Virginia and the Carolinas. With a view to its 
defence, intrenchments had already been thrown up, 
under the direction of Kosciuszko. 

Lord Cornwallis, however, did not deem it prudent, 
under present circumstances, to venture into Virginia, 
where Greene would be sure of powerful reinforce- 
ments. North Carolina was in a state of the utmost 
disorder and confusion ; he thought it better to remain 
in it for a time and profit by having compelled Greene 
to abandon it. After giving his troops a day's repose, 
therefore, he put them once more in motion on the 
18th, along the road by which he had pursued Greene. 
The latter, who was incessantly on the alert, was 
informed of this retrograde move, by a preconcerted 
signal ; the waving of a white handkerchief, under 
covert of the opposite bank, by a female patriot. 

This changed the game. Lee, with his legion, 


strengthened by two veteran Maryland companies, and 
Pickens, with a corps of South CaroHna mihtia, all 
light troops, were transported across the Dan in the 
boats, with orders to gain the front of Cornwallis, 
hover as near as safety would permit, cut off his 
intercourse with the disaffected parts of the country 
and check the rising of the royalists. " If we can but 
delay him for a day or two," said Greene, " he must 
be ruined." Greene, in the meanwhile, remained with 
his main force on the northern bank of the Dan ; 
waiting to ascertain his lordship's real designs, and 
ready to cross at a moment's warning. 

The movements of Cornwallis, for a day or two, 
were of a dubious nature, designed to perplex his 
opponents ; on the 20th, however, he took post at 
Hillsborough. Here he erected the royal standard, and 
issued a proclamation, stating that, whereas it had 
pleased Divine Providence to prosper the operations of 
his majesty's arms in driving the rebel army out of 
the province, he invited all his loyal subjects to hasten 
to this standard with their arms and ten days' provi- 
sions, to assist in suppressing the remains of rebellion, 
and re-establishing good order and constitutional gov- 

By another instrument, all who could raise inde- 
pendent companies were called upon to give in their 
names at head- quarters, and a bounty in money and 
lands was promised to those who should enlist under 
them. The companies thus raised were to be formed 
into regiments. 

These sounding appeals produced but little effect 
on the people of the surrounding districts. Many 

260 LIFE or WASHINGTON. [1781. 

hundreds, says Tarleton, rode into the camp to talk 
over the proclamation, inquire the news of the day, 
and take a view of the king's troops. The generality 
seemed desirous of peace, but averse from any exertion 
to procure it. They acknowledged that the Continen- 
tals had been chased out of the province, but appre- 
hended they would soon return. " Some of the most 
zealous," adds he, " promised to raise companies and 
even regiments; but their followers and dependents 
were slow to enhst." Tarleton himself, was forthwith 
detached with the cavalry and a small body of infantry, 
to a region of country lying between the Haw and 
Deep Rivers, to bring on a considerable number of 
loyalists who were said to be assembling there. 

Rumor, in the mean time, had magnified the effect 
of his lordship's proclamations. Word was brought 
to Greene, that the tories were flocking from all quar- 
ters to the royal standard. Seven companies, it was 
said, had been raised in a single day. At this time the 
reinforcements to the American camp had been little 
more than six hundred Virginia militia, under General 
Stevens. Greene saw that at this rate, if Cornwallis 
were allowed to remain undisturbed, he would soon 
have complete command of North Carolina ; he boldly 
determined, therefore, to recross the Dan at all hazards 
with the scanty force at his command, and give his 
lordship check. In this spirit he broke up his camp 
and crossed the river on the 23d. 

In the mean time, Lee and Pickens, who were 
scouting the country about Hillsborough, received 
information of Tarleton's recruiting expedition to the 
region, between the Haw and Deep Rivers. There 


was no foe they were more eager to cope with ; and 
they resolved to give him a surprise. Having forded 
the Haw one day about noon, they learnt from a coun- 
tryman that Tarleton was encamped about three miles 
off, that his horses were unsaddled, and that every 
thing indicated confident security. They now pushed 
on under covert of the woods, prepared to give the 
bold partisan a blow after his own fashion. Before 
they reached the place Tarleton had marched on ; they 
captured two of his staff, however, who had remained 
behind, setthng mth the people of a farm-house for 
suppUes furnished to the detachment. 

Being informed that Tarleton was to halt for the 
night at the distance of six miles, they still trusted to 
surprise him. On the way, however, they had an 
encounter with a body of three or four hundred 
mounted royahsts, armed with rifles, and commanded 
by a Colonel Pyle, marching in quest of Tarleton. As 
Lee with his cavalr}' was in the advance, he was mis- 
taken for Tarleton, and hailed with loyal acclamations. 
He favored the mistake and was taking measures to 
capture the royalists, when some of them, seeing the 
infantry under Pickens, discovered their error and fired 
upon the rear-guard. The cavalry instantly charged 
upon them; ninety were cut down and slain and a 
great number wounded ; among the latter was Colonel 
Pyle himself, who took refuge among thickets on the 
borders of a piece of water which still bears his name. 
The Americans alleged in excuse for the slaughter 
that it was provoked by their being attacked ; and that 
the sabre was used, as a continued firing might alarm 
Tarleton's camp. We do not wonder, however, that 


British writers pronounced it a massacre ; though it 
was but following the example set by Tarleton himself, 
in this ruthless campaign. 

After all, Lee and Pickens missed the object of 
their enterprise. The approach of night and the 
fatigue of their troops, made them defer their attack 
upon Tarleton until morning. In the mean time, the 
latter had received an express from Cornwallis, inform- 
ing him that Greene had passed the Dan, and ordering 
him to return to Hillsborough as soon as possible. He 
hastened to obey. Lee with his legion was in the sad- 
dle before daybreak ; but Tarleton's troops were already 
on the march. "The legion," writes Lee, "accus- 
tomed to night expeditions, had been in the habit of 
using pine-torch for flambeau. Supplied with this, 
though the morning was dark, the enemy's trail was 
distinctly discovered, whenever a divergency took place 
in his route." 

Before sunrise, however, Tarleton had forded the 
Haw, and " Light Horse Harry " gave over the pur- 
suit, consoling himself that though he had not effected 
the chief object of his enterprise, a secondary one was 
completely executed, which would repress the tory 
spirit just beginning to burst forth. " Fortune," writes 
he in his magniloquent way, " Fortune, which sways so 
imperiously the affairs of war, demonstrated through- 
out the operation its supreme control.* Nothing was 
omitted on the part of the Americans, to give to the 
expedition the desired termination ; but the very bright 
prospects which for a time presented themselves, were 

* Lee's Memoirs of the War, i, 319. 


suddenly overcast; — ^the capricious goddess gave us 
Pyle and saved Tarleton." 

The re-appearance of Greene and his army in North 
Carohna, heralded by the scourings of Lee and Pick- 
ens, disconcerted the schemes of Lord Comwallis. 
The recruiting service was interrupted. Many royal- 
ists who were on the way to his camp returned home. 
Forage and provisions became scarce in the neighbor- 
hood. He found himself, he said, "amongst timid 
friends and adjoining to inveterate rebels." On the 
26th, therefore, he abandoned Hillsborough, threw 
himself across the Haw and encamped near Alamance 
Creek, one of its principal tributaries, in a country 
favorable to supplies and with a tory population. His 
position was commanding, at the point of concurrence 
of roads from Salisbury, Guilford, High Rockford, 
Cross Creek, and Hillsborough. It covered also the 
communication with Wilmington, where a depot of 
military stores, so important to his half-destitute army, 
had recently been estabhshed. 

Greene, with his main army, took post about fifteen 
miles above him, on the heights between Troublesome 
Creek and Reedy Pork, one of the tributaries of the 
Haw. His plan was to cut the enemy off from the 
upper counties ; to harass him by skirmishes, but to 
avoid a general battle ; thus gaining time for the arrival 
of reinforcements daily expected. He rarely lay more 
than two days in a place, and kept his light troops 
under Pickens and Williams between him and the 
enemy; hovering about the latter; intercepting his 
intelligence ; attacking his foraging parties, and striking 
at his flanks whenever exposed. Sharp skirmishes 


occurred between them and Tarleton's cavalry with 
various success. The country being much of a wilder- 
ness obliged both parties to be on the alert ; but the 
Americans, accustomed to bush-fighting, were not 
easily surprised. 

On the 6th of March, Cornwallis, learning that 
the light troops under Williams were very carelessly 
posted, put his army suddenly in motion and crossed 
the Alamance in a thick fog ; with the design to beat 
up their quarters, drive them in upon the main army, 
and bring Greene to action should he come to their 
assistance. His movement was discovered by the 
American patrols and the alarm given. WilHams 
hastily called in his detachments, and retreated with 
his light troops across Ueedy Fork, while Lee with his 
legion manoeuvred in front of the enemy. A stand 
was made by the Americans at Wetzell's Mill, but 
they were obliged to retire with the loss of fifty killed 
and wounded. Comwallis did not pursue; evening 
was approaching and he had failed in his main object ; 
that of bringing Greene to action. The latter, fixed 
in his resolve of avoiding a conflict, had retreated 
across the Haw, in order to keep up his communication 
with the roads by which he expected his supplies and 
reinforcements. The militia of the country, who occa- 
sionally flocked to his camp, were chiefly volunteers, 
who fell off" after every skirmish, " going home," as he 
said, " to tell the news." " At this time," said he on 
the 10th, " I have not above eight or nine hundred of 
them in the field ; yet there have been upwards of 
five thousand in motion in the course of four weeks. 
A force fluctuating in this manner can promise but 

1781.] GREENE llEINFORCED. 265 

slender hopes of success against an enemy in high dis- 
cipline and made formidable by the superiority of their 
numbers. Hitherto, I have been obliged to effect that 
by finesse which I dare not attempt by force." * 

Greene had scarcely written this letter, when the 
long expected reinforcements arrived, having been hur- 
ried on by forced marches. They consisted of a brig- 
ade of Virginia militia, under General Lawson, two 
brigades of North Carolina militia, under Generals 
Butler and Eaton, and four hundred regulars, enhsted 
for eighteen months. His whole effective force, accord- 
ing to official returns, amounted to four thousand two 
hundred and forty-three foot, and one hundred and 
sixty-one cavalry. Of his infantry, not quite two 
thousand were regulars, and of these, three-fourths 
were new levies. His force nearly doubled in num- 
ber that of Comwallis, which did not exceed two 
thousand four hundred men ; but many of Greene's 
troops were raw and inexperienced, and had never been 
in battle ; those of the enemy were veterans, schooled 
in warfare, and, as it were, welded together by cam- 
paigning in a foreign land, where their main safety 
consisted in standing by each other. 

Greene knew the inferiority of his troops in this 
respect ; his reinforcements, too, fell far short of what 
he had been led to expect, yet he determined to accept 
the battle which had so long been offered. The corps 
of light troops, under WilKams, which had rendered 
such efficient service, was now incorporated with the 
main body, and all detachments were ordered to assem- 

• Letter to Governor Jefferson, March 10. 


ble at Guilford, within eight miles of the enemy, where 
he encamped on the 14th, sending his waggons and 
heavy baggage to the Iron Works at Troublesome 
Creek, ten miles in his rear. 

Cornwallis, from the difficulty of getting correct 
information, and from Greene's frequent change of 
position, had an exaggerated idea of the American 
force, rating it as high as eight thousand men : still he 
trusted in his well-seasoned veterans and determined 
to attack Greene in his encampment, now that he 
seemed disposed for a general action. To provide 
against the possibility of a retreat, he sent his carriages 
and baggage to Bell's Mills, on Deep River, and set 
out at daybreak on the 1 5th for Guilford. 

Within four miles of that place, near the New Gar- 
den Meeting-house, Tarleton with the advanced guard 
of cavalry, infantry, and yagers, came upon the Ameri- 
can advance-guard, composed of Lee's partisan legion, 
and some mountaineers and Virginia mihtia. Tarleton 
and Lee were well-matched in military prowess, and 
the skirmish between them was severe. Lee's horses, 
being from Virginia and Pennsylvania, were superior 
in weight and strength to those of his opponent, which 
had been chiefly taken from plantations in South Caro- 
lina. The latter were borne down by a charge in close 
column ; several of their riders were dismounted, and 
killed or taken prisoners. Tarleton, seeing that his 
weakly mounted men fought to a disadvantage, sounded 
a retreat; Lee endeavored to cut him ofi*: a general 
conflict of the vanguards, horse and foot ensued, when 
the appearance of the main body of the enemy, obliged 
Lee, in his turn, to retire with precipitation. 


During this time Greene was preparing for action 
on a woody eminence, a little more than a mile south 
of Guilford Court House. The neighboring country 
was covered with forest, excepting some cultivated fields 
about the court house, and along the Salisbury road, 
which passed^ through the centre of the place, from 
south to north. 

Greene had drawn out his troops in three lines. The 
first, composed of North Carolina militia, volunteers 
and riflemen, under Generals Butler and Eaton, was 
posted behind a fence, with an open field in front, and 
woods on the flanks and in the rear. About three 
hundred yards behind this, was the second line, composed 
of Virginia militia, under Generals Stevens and Law- 
son, drawn up across the road, and covered by a wood. 
The third line, about four hundred yards in the rear of 
the second, was composed of Continental troops or regu- 
lars ; those of Virginia under General Huger on the right, 
those of Maryland under Colonel Wilhams on the left. 
Colonel Washington with a body of dragoons, Kirkwood's 
Delaware infantry, and a battalion of Virginia militia 
covered the right flank ; Lee's legion, with the Virginia 
riflemen under Colonel Campbell, covered the left. 
Two six pounders were in the road, in advance of the 
first line ; two field pieces with the rear line near the 
court house, where General Greene took his station. 

About noon the head of the British army was des- 
cried advancing spiritedly from the south along the 
Sahsbury road, and defiling into the fields. A cannon- 
ade was opened from the two six pounders in front of 
the first American line. It was answered by the Bri- 
tish artillery. Neither produced much effect. The 


enemy now advanced coolly and steadily in three 
columns ; the Hessians and Highlanders under General 
Leslie, on the right, the Royal artillery and guards in 
the centre, and Webster's brigade on the left. 

The North Carolinians, who formed the first line, 
waited until the enemy were within one hundred and 
fifty yards, when, agitated by their martial array, and 
undaunted movement, they began to fall into confusion ; 
some fired off their pieces without taking aim ; others 
threw them down, and took to flight. A volley from 
the foe, a shout, and a charge of the bayonet, complet- 
ed their discomfiture. Some fled to the woods, others 
fell back upon the Virginians, who formed the second 
line. General Stevens, who commanded the latter, or- 
dered his men to open and let the fugitives pass, pre- 
tending that they had orders to retire. He had taken 
care, however, to post forty riflemen in the rear of his 
own line, with orders to fire upon any one who should 
leave his post. Under his spirited command and ex- 
ample, the Virginians kept their ground and fought 

The action became much broken up and diversified 
by the extent of the ground. The thickness of the 
woods impeded the movements of the cavalry. The 
reserves on both sides were called up. The British 
bayonet again succeeded; the second line gave way, 
and General Stevens, who had kept the field for some 
time, after being wounded in the thigh by a musket- 
ball, ordered a retreat. 

The enemy pressed with increasing ardor against 
the third line, composed of Continental troops, and sup- 
ported by Colonel Washington's dragoons and Kirk- 


wood's Delawares. Greene counted on these to retrieve 
the day. They were regulars ; they were fresh, and in 
perfect order. He rode along the line, calling on them 
to stand firm, and give the enemy a warm reception. 

The first Maryland regiment which was on the right 
wing, was attacked by Colonel Webster, with the Bri- 
tish left. It stood the shock bravely, and being se- 
conded by some Virginia troops and Kirkwood's Del- 
awares, drove Webster across a ravine. The second 
Maryland regiment was not so successful. Impetuous- 
ly attacked by Colonel Stewart, with a battalion of the 
guards, and a company of grenadiers, it faltered, gave 
way, and fled, abandoning two field-pieces which were 
seized by the enemy. Stewart was pursuing, when the 
first regiment which had driven Webster across the ra- 
vine, came to the rescue with fixed bayonets, while 
Colonel Washington spurred up with his cavalry. The 
fight now was fierce and bloody. Stewart was slain ; 
the two field-pieces were retaken, and the enemy in 
their turn gave way and were pursued with slaughter ; 
a destructive fire of grape shot from the enemy's artil- 
lery checked the pursuit. Two regiments approached 
on the right and left; Webster recrossed the ravine 
and fell upon Kirkwood's Delawares. There was in- 
trepid fighting in different parts of the field ; but Greene 
saw that the day was lost ; there was no retrieving the 
effect produced by the first flight of the North Caroh- 
nians. Unwilling to risk the utter destruction of his 
army, he directed a retreat, which was made in good 
order, but they had to leave their artillery on the field, 
most of the horses having been killed. About three 
miles from the field of action he made a halt to collect 


stragglers, and then continued on to the place of ren- 
dezvous at Speedwell's Iron Works on Troublesome 

The British were too much cut up and fatigued to 
follow up their victory. Two regiments with Tarleton's 
cavalry attempted a pursuit, but were called back. Ef- 
forts were made to collect the wounded of both armies, 
but they were dispersed over so wide a space, among 
woods and thickets, that night closed before the task 
was accomplished. It was a dismal night even to the 
victors ; a night of unusual darkness, with torrents of 
rain. The army was destitute of tents ; there were not 
sufficient houses in the vicinity to receive the wounded ; 
provisions were scanty ; many had tasted very little 
food for the last two days ; comforts were out of the 
question. Nearly fifty of the wounded sank under 
their aggravated miseries, and expired before morning. 
The cries of the disabled and dying, who remained on 
the field of battle during the night, exceeded all de- 
scription. Such a complicated scene of horror and dis- 
tress, adds the British writer, whose w^ords we quote, it 
is hoped, for the sake of humanity, rarely occurs, even 
in military life. * 

The loss of the Americans in this hard-fought afikir, 
was never fully ascertained. Their official returns, 
made immediately after the action, give little more than 
four hundred killed and wounded, and between eight 
and nine hundred missing ; but Lord Cornwallis states 
in his despatches, that between two and three hun- 
dred of the Americans were found dead on thfe field of 

* Stedman, vol. ii. p. 346. 


The loss sustained by his lordship, even if numeri- 
cally less, was far more fatal ; for, in the circumstances 
in which he was placed, it was not to be supphed, and 
it completely maimed him. Of his small army, ninety- 
three had fallen, four hundred and thirteen were 
wounded, and twenty-six missing. Among the kOled 
and wounded were several officers of note. Thus, one- 
fourth of his army was either killed or disabled ; his 
troops were exhausted by fatigue and hunger; his 
camp was encumbered by the wounded. His victory, 
in fact, was almost as ruinous as a defeat. 

Greene lay for two days within ten miles of him, 
near the Iron Works on Troublesome Creek, gathering 
up his scattered troops. He had imbibed the spirit of 
Washington and remained undismayed by hardships 
or reverses. Writing to the latter, he says, "Lord 
Cornwallis will not give up this country, without being 
soundly beaten. I wish our force was more competent 
to the business. But I am in hopes, by little and 
little, to reduce him in time. His troops are good, 
well found, and fight with great obstinacy. 

" Virginia," adds he, " has given me every support 
I could wish or expect, since Lord Cornwallis has been 
in North CaroUna ; and nothing has contributed more 
to this, than the prejudice of the people in favor of 
your Excellency, which has extended to me from the 
friendship you have been pleased to honor me with." * 
• And again : " The service here is extremely severe, 
and the officers and soldiers bear it with a degree of 
patience that does them the highest honor. I have 

* Sparks. Correspondence of the Revolution, iii, 267. 


never taken oflp my clotlies since I left the Pedee. I 
was taken with a fainting last night, owing, I suppose, 
to excessive fatigue and constant watching. I am bet- 
ter to-day, but far from well. — I have little prospect of 
acquiring much reputation while I labor under so many 
disadvantages. I hope my friends wiU make full 
allowances ; and as for vulgar opinion, I regard it not." 

In Washington he had a friend whose approbation 
was dearer to him than the applause of thousands, and 
who knew how to appreciate him. To Greene's account 
of the battle he sent a cheering reply. " Although the 
honors of the field do not fall to your lot, I am con- 
vinced you deserve them. The chances of war are 
various, and the best concerted measures and most 
flattering prospects, may and often do deceive ns, espe- 
cially while we are in the power of the mihtia. The 
motives which induced you to risk an action with Lord 
Cornwallis are supported upon the best mihtary princi- 
ple, and the consequence, if you can prevent the dissi- 
pation of your troops, will no doubt be fortunate." 

The consequence, it will be found, was such as 
Washington, with his usual sagacity, predicted. Corn- 
wallis, so far from being able to advance in the career 
of victory, could not even hold the ground he had so 
bravely won, but was obliged to retreat from the scene 
of triumph, to some secure position where he might 
obtain supphes for his famished army. 

Leaving, therefore, about seventy of his officers and 
men, who were too severely wounded to bear travelling, 
together v/ith a number of wounded Americans, in the 
New Garden Meeting House, and the adjacent build- 
ings, under the protection of a flag of truce, and plac- 


ing the rest of his wounded in waggons or on horse- 
back, he set out, on the third day after the action, by 
easy marches, for Cross Creek, otherwise called the 
Haw, an eastern branch of Cape Fear River, where 
was a settlement of Scottish Highlanders, stout adher- 
ents, as he was led to believe, to the royal cause. Here 
he expected to be plentifully suppUed with provisions 
and to have his sick and wounded well taken care of. 
Hence, too, he could open a communication by Cape 
Fear River, with Wilmington, and obtain from the 
depot recently established there, such supplies as the 
country about Cross Creek did not afford. 

On the day on which he began his march, he issued 
a proclamation, setting forth his victory, calling upon 
all loyal subjects to join his standard, and holding out 
the usual promises and threats to such as should obey 
or should continue* in rebellion. 

No sooner did Greene learn that Cornwallis was 
retreating, than he set out to follow him, determined 
to bring him again to action ; and presenting the sin- 
gular spectacle of the vanquished pursuing the victor. 
His troops, however, suffered greatly in this pursuit, 
jfrom wintry weather, deep, wet, clayey roads, and 
scarcity of provisions ; the country through which they 
marched being completely exhausted ; but they ha- 
rassed the enemy's rear-guard with frequent skirmishes. 

On the 28th, Greene arrived at Ramsay's Mills, on 
Deep River, hard on the traces of Cornwallis, who had 
left the place a few hours previously, with such precipi- 
tation, that several of his wounded, who had died 
while on the march, were left behind unburied. Sev- 
eral fresh quarters of beef had likewise been forgotten, 

TOL. IV. — 18 


and were seized upon with eagerness by the hungry 
soldiery. Such had been the urgency of the pursuit 
this day, that many of the American troops sank upon 
the road exhausted with fatigue. 

At Deep River, Greene was brought to a stand. 
CornwalHs had broken down the bridge by which he 
had crossed ; and further pursuit for the present was 
impossible. The constancy of the militia now gave 
way. They had been continually on the march with 
httle to eat, less to drink, and obliged to sleep in the 
woods in the midst of smoke. Every step had led 
them from their homes and increased their privations. 
They were now in want of every thing, for the 
retreating enemy left a famished country behind him. 
The term for which most of them had enlisted 
was expired, and they now demanded their discharge. 
The demand was just and reasonable, , and, after 
striving in vain to shake their determination, Greene 
felt compelled to comply with it. His force thus 
reduced, it would be impossible to pursue the enemy 
further. The halt he was obliged to make to collect 
provisions and rebuild the bridge, would give them 
such a start as to leave no hope of overtaking them 
should they continue their retreat ; nor could he fight 
them upon equal terms should they make a stand. 
The regular troops would be late in the field, if raised 
at all : Virginia, from the unequal operation of the law 
for drafting, was not likely to furnish many soldiers : 
Maryland, as late as the 13th instant, had not got a 
man ; neither was there the least prospect of raising a 
man in North Carolina. In this situation, remote from 
reinforcements, inferior to the enemy in numbers, and 


without hope of support, what was to be done ? "If 
the enemy falls down toward Wilmington," said he, 
" they will be in a position where it would be impos- 
sible for us to injure them if we had a force."* Sud- 
denly he determined to change his course and carry 
the war into South Carolina. This would oblige the 
enemy either to follow him, and thus abandon North 
Carolina ; or to sacrifice all his posts in the upper part 
of North Carolina and Georgia. To Washington, to 
whom he considered himself accountable for all his 
pohcy, and from whose counsel he derived confidence 
and strength, he writes on the present occasion. " AU 
things considered, I think the movement is warranted 
by the soundest reasons, both political and military. 
The manoeuvre will be critical and dangerous, and the 
troops exposed to every hardship. But as I share it 
with them, I may hope they wiU bear up under it with 
that magnanimity which has always supported them, 
and for which they deserve every thing of their coun- 
try." — " I shall take every measure," adds he, " to 
avoid a misfortune. But necessity obliges me to com- 
mit myself to chance, and, I trust, my friends will do 
justice to my reputation, if any accident attends me." 

In this brave spirit he apprised Sumter, Pickens, 
and Marion, by letter, of his intentions, and called 
upon them to be ready to co-operate with all the militia 
they could collect ; promising to send forward cavalry 
and small detachments of light infantry, to aid them in 
capturing outposts before the army should arrive. 

To Lafayette he writes at the same time. " I ex- 

, * Greene to Washington. Cor. Rev. iii. 278. 


pect by this movement to draw Cornwallis out of this 
State, and prevent him from forming a junction with 
Arnold. If you follow to support me, it is not impos- 
sible that we may give him a drubbing, especially if 
General Wayne comes up with the Pennsylvanians." 

In pursuance of his plan, Greene, on the 30th of 
March, discharged all his militia with many thanks for 
the courage and fortitude with which they had followed 
him through so many scenes of peril and hardship ; 
and joyously did the poor fellows set out for their homes. 
Then, after giving his " little, distressed, though suc- 
cessful army," a short taste of the repose they needed, 
and having collected a few days' provision, he set for- 
ward on the 5th of April toward Camden, where Lord 
Rawdon had his head-quarters. 

Cornwallis, in the mean time, was grievously dis- 
appointed in the hopes he had formed of obtaining 
ample provisions and forage at Cross Creek, and strong 
reinforcements from the royalists in that neighborhood. 
Neither could he open a communication by Cape Pear 
River, for the conveyance of his troops to Wilmington. 
The distance by water was upwards of a hundred 
miles, the breadth of the river seldom above one hun- 
dred yards, the banks high, and the inhabitants on each 
side generally hostile. He was compelled, therefore, 
to continue his retreat by land, quite to Wilmington, 
where he arrived on the 7th of April, and his troops, 
w^eary, sick and wounded, rested for the present from 
the " unceasing toils and unspeakable hardships, which 
they had undergone during the past three months." * 

* See Letter of Cornwallis to Lord G. Germain, April 18. Also Ann. 
Register, 1781,. p. 72. 


' It was his lordship's intention, as soon as he should 
have equipped his own corps and received a part of the 
expected reinforcement from Ireland, to return to the 
upper country, in hopes of giving protection to the 
royal interests in South Carolina, and of preserving the 
health of his troops until he should concert new mea- 
sures with Sir Henry Clinton.* His plans were all 
disconcerted, however, by intelligence of Greene's rapid 
m^rch toward Camden. Never, we are told, was his 
lordship more affected than by this news. " My situa- 
tion here is very distressing," writes he. " Greene took 
the advantage of my being obliged to come to this 
place, and has marched to South Carolina. My ex- 
presses to Lord Uawdon on my leaving Cross Creek, 
warning him of the possibility of such a movement, 
have all failed ; mountaineers and militia have poured 
into the back part of that province, and I much fear 
that Lord Rawdon's posts will be so distant from each 
other, and his troops so scattered, as to put him into 
the greatest danger of being beaten in detail, and that 
the worst of consequences may happen to most of the 
troops out of Charleston." f 

It was too late for his lordship to render any aid by 
a direct move towards Camden. Before he could arrive 
there, Greene would have made an attack ; if success- 
ful, his lordship's army might be hemmed in among 
the great rivers, in an exhausted country, revolutionary 
in its spirit, where Greene might cut off their subsist- 
ence and render their arms useless. 

All thoughts of offensive operations against North 

* Answer to Clinton's Narrative, Introduction, p. 
f Letter to Major-General Phillips. 



Carolina were at an end. Sickness, desertion, and the 
loss sustained at Guilford Court-house, had reduced 
his little army to fourteen hundred and thirty-five men. 

In this sad predicament, after remaining several 
days in a painful state of irresolution, he determined 
to take advantage of Greene's having left the back part 
of Virginia open, to march directly into that province, 
and attempt a junction with the force acting there 
under General Phillips. 

By this move, he might draw Greene back to the 
northward, and by the reduction of Virginia, he might 
promote the subjugation of the South. The move, 
however, he felt to be perilous. His troops were worn 
down by upwards of eight hundred miles of marching 
and counter-marching through an inhospitable and im- 
practicable country ; they had now three hundred more 
before them ; under still worse circumstances than 
those in which they first set out ; for, so destitute were 
they, notwithstanding the supplies received at Wilming- 
ton, that his lordship, sadly humorous, declared, " his 
cavalry wanted every thing, and his infantry, every 
thing but shoes." * 

There was no time for hesitation or delay ; Greene 
might return and render the jimction with Phillips 
impracticable : having sent an express to the latter, 
therefore, informing him of his coming, and appointing 
a meeting at Petersburg, his lordship set ofi" on the 
25th of April, on his fated march into Virginia. 

We must now step back in dates to bring up events 
in the more northern parts of the Union, 

* Annnal Register, 1781, p. 90. 





In a former chapter we left Benedict Arnold fortifying 
himself at Portsmouth, after his ravaging incursion. 
At the sohcitation of Governor Jefferson, backed 
by Congress, the Chevalier de la Luzerne had requested 
the French commander at the eastward to send 
a ship of the line and some frigates to Chesapeake 
Bay to oppose the traitor. Fortunately at this junc- 
ture a severe snow storm (Jan. 2 2d) scattered Arbuth- 
not's blockading squadron, wrecking one ship of the line 
and dismasting others, and enabled the French fleet at 
Newport to look abroad ; and Rochambeau wrote to 
Washington that the Chevalier Destouches, who com- 
manded the fleet, proposed to send three or four ships 
to the Chesapeake. 


Washington feared the position of Arnold, and his 
well-known address might enable him to withstand a 
mere attack by sea ; anxious to ensure his capture, he 
advised that Destouches should send his whole fleet ; 
and that De Rochambeau should embark about a 
thousand men on board of it, with artillery and appa- 
ratus for a siege ; engaging, on his own part, to send off 
immediately a detachment of twelve hundred men to 
co-operate. " The destruction of the corps under the 
command of Arnold," writes he, "is of such immense 
importance to the welfare of the Southern States, that I 
have resolved to attempt it with the detachment I now 
send in conjunction with the militia, even if it should 
not be convenient for your Excellency to detach a part 
of your force ; provided M. Destouches is able to pro- 
tect our operations by such a disposition of his fleet as 
will give us the command of the bay, and prevent suc- 
cors from being sent from New York." 

Before the receipt of this letter, the Prench com- 
manders, acting on their first impulse, had, about the 
9th of February, detached M. de Tilly with a sixty gun 
ship and two frigates to make a dash into the Chesa- 
peake. Washington was apprised of their sailing just 
as he was preparing to send off the twelve hundred men 
spoken of in his letter to De Rochambeau. He gave 
the command of this detachment to Lafayette, instructing 
him to act in conjunction with the militia and the ships 
sent by Destouches, against the enemy's corps actually in 
Virginia. As the case was urgent, he was to suffer no 
delay, when on the march, for want either of provisions, 
forage, or waggons, but where ordinary means did 
not suffice, he was to resort to military impress. 


"You are to do no act whatever with Arnold/' 
said the letter of instruction, " that directly or by im- 
plication may screen him from the punishment due to 
his treason and desertion, which, if he should fall into 
your hands, you will execute in the most summary 

Washington wrote at the same time to the Baron 
Steuben, informing him of the arrangements, and 
requesting him to be on the alert. " If the fleet 
should have arrived before this gets to hand," said he, 
" secrecy will be out of the question ; if not, you will 
conceal your expectations and only seem to be prepar- 
ing for defence. Arnold, on the appearance of the fleet, 
may endeavor to retreat through North Carolina. If 
you take any measure to obviate this, the precaution 
will be advisable. Should you be able to capture this 
detachment with its chief, it wiU be an event as pleasing 
as it will be useful." 

Lafayette set out on his march on the 2 2d of Peb- 
ruary, and Washington was indulging the hope that, 
scanty as was the naval force sent to the Chesapeake, 
the combined enterprise might be successful, when, on 
the 27th, he received a letter from the Count de Ro- 
chambeau announcing its failiu-e. De Tilly had made 
his dash into Chesapeake Bay, but Arnold had been 
apprised by the British Admiral Arbuthnot of his ap- 
proach, and had drawn his ships high up Elizabeth 
River. The water was too shallow for the largest 
French ship to get within four leagues of him. One of 
De Tilly's frigates ran aground, and was got off with 
difliculty, and that commander, seeing that Arnold was 
out of his reach, and fearing to be himself blockaded 


should he Hnger, put to sea and returned to Newport ; 
having captured during his cruise a British frigate of 
forty-four guns, and two privateers with their prizes. 

The French commanders now determined to follow 
the plan suggested by Washington, and operate in the 
Chesapeake with their whole fleet and a detachment of 
land troops, being, as they said, disposed to risk every 
thing to hinder Arnold from estabhshing himself at 

Washington set out for Newport to concert opera- 
tions with the French commanders. Before his de- 
parture, he wrote to Lafayette, on the 1st of March, 
giving him intelligence of these intentions, and desiring 
him to transmit it to the Baron Steuben. " I have re- 
ceived a letter," adds he, '' from General Greene, by 
which it appears that Cornwallis, with twenty-five hun- 
dred men, was penetrating the country with very great 
rapidity, and Greene with a much inferior force retir- 
ing before him, having determined to pass the Roanoke. 
This intelligence, and an apprehension that Arnold may 
make his escape before the fleet can arrive in the bay, 
induces me to give you greater latitude than you had 
in your original instructions. You are at liberty to con- 
cert a plan with the French general and naval com- 
mander for a descent into North Carohna, to cut off the 
detachment of the enemy which had ascended Cape 
Fear River, intercept, if possible, Cornwallis, and relieve 
General Greene and the Southern States. This, how- 
ever, ought to be a secondary object, attempted in case 
of Arnold's retreat to New York ; or in case his reduc- 
tion should be attended with too much delay. There 



should be strong reasons to induce a change of our first 
plan against Arnold if he is still in Virginia. 

Washington arrived at Newport on the 6th of March, 
and found the French fleet ready for sea, the troops 
eleven hundred strong, commanded by General the 
Baron de Viomenil, being already embarked. 

Washington went immediately on board of the ad- 
miral's ship, where he had an interview with the Count 
de Rochambeau, and arranged the plan of the campaign. 
Returning on shore he was received by the inhabitants 
with enthusiastic demonstrations of affection ; and was 
gratified to perceive the harmony and good will between 
them and the French army and fleet. Much of this he 
attributed to the wisdom of the commanders, and the 
discipline of the troops, but more to magnanimity on 
the one part, and gratitude on the other ; and he hailed 
it as a happy presage of lasting friendship between the 
two nations. 

On the 8th of March, at ten o'clock at night, he 
writes to Lafayette : " I have the pleasure to inform you 
that the whole fleet went out with a fair wind this even- 
ing about sunset. We have not heard of any move of 
the British in Gardiner's Bay. Should we luckily meet 
with no interruption from them, and Arnold should con- 
tinue in Virginia until the arrival of M. Destouches, I 
flatter myself you will meet with that success which I 
most ardently wish, not only on the public, but your 
own account." 

The British fleet made sail in pursuit, on the morn- 
ing of the 10th ; as the French had so much the start, 
it was hoped they would reach Chesapeake Bay before 
them. Washington felt the present to be a most im- 


portant moment. " The success of the expedition now 
in agitation," said he, " seems to depend upon a naval 
superiority, and the force of the two fleets is so equal, 
that we must rather hope for, than entertain an assur- 
ance of victory. The attempt, however, made by our 
allies to 'dislodge the enemy in Virginia, is a bold one, 
and should it fail, will nevertheless entitle them to the 
thanks of the public." 

On returning to his head-quarters at New Windsor, 
Washington on the 20th of March found letters from 
General Greene, informing him that he had saved aU 
his baggage, artillery, and stores, notwithstanding the 
hot pursuit of the enemy, and was now in his turn fol- 
lowing them, but that he was greatly in need of rein- 

" My regard for the pubHc good, and my inclination 
to promote your success," writes Washington in reply, 
" will prompt me to give every assistance, and to make 
every diversion in your favor. But what can I do if I 
am not furnished with the means ? Prom what I saw 
and learned while at the eastward, I am convinced the 
levies will be late in the field, and I fear far short of the 
requisition. I most anxiously wait the event of the 
present operation in Virginia. If attended with suc- 
cess, it may have the happiest influence on our southern 
afiairs, by leaving the forces of Virginia free to act. For 
while there is an enemy in the heart of a country, you 
can expect neither men nor supplies from it, in that full 
and regular manner in which they ought to be given." 

In the mean time, Lafayette with his detachment 
was pressing forward by forced marches for Virginia. 
Aniving at the Head of Elk on the 3d of March, he 


halted until he should receive tidings respecting the 
French fleet. A letter from the Baron Steuben spoke 
of the preparations he was making, and the facil- 
ity of taking the fortifications of Portsmouth, " sword 
in hand." The youthful marquis was not so sanguine 
as the veteran baron. "Arnold," said he, "has had so 
much time to prepare, and plays so deep a game ; nature 
has made the position so respectable, and some of the 
troops under his orders have been in so many actions, 
that I do not flatter myself to succeed so easily." On 
the 7th he received Washington's letter of the 1st, ap- 
prising him of the approaching departure of the whole 
fleet with land forces. Lafayette now conducted his 
troops by water to Annapolis, and concluding, from the 
time the ships were to sail, and the winds which had 
since prevailed, the French fleet must be already in the 
Chesapeake, he crossed the bay in an open boat to 
Virginia, and pushed on to confer with the American 
and French commanders ; get a convoy for his troops, 
and concert matters for a vigorous co-operation. Ar- 
riving at York on the 14th, he found the Baron Steuben 
in the bustle of military preparations, and confident 
of having five thousand militia ready to operate. These, 
with Lafayette's detachment, would be suflicient for the 
attack by land ; nothing was wanting but a co-opera- 
tion by sea ; and the French fleet had not yet appeared, 
though double the time necessary for the voyage had 
elapsed. The marquis repaired to General Muhlenberg's 
camp near Sufiblk, and reconnoitred with him the ene- 
my's works at Portsmouth ; this brought on a trifling 
shirmish, but every thing appeared satisfactory ; every 
thing promised complete success. 


On the 20th, word was brought that a fleet had 
come to anchor within the capes. It was supposed of 
course to be the French, and now the capture of the 
traitor was certain. He himself from certain signs ap- 
peared to be in great confusion, none of his ships ven- 
tured down the bay. An officer of the French navy 
bore down to visit the fleet, but returned with the as- 
tounding intelKgence that it was British ! 

Admiral Arbuthnot had in fact overtaken Destouches 
on the 16th of March, off the capes of Virginia. Their 
forces were nearly equal ; eight ships of the line, and 
four frigates on each side, the French having more men, 
the English more guns. An engagement took place 
which lasted about an hour. The British van at first 
took the brunt of the action, and was severely handled ; 
the centre came up to its relief. The French line was 
broken and gave way, but rallied, and formed again at 
some distance. The crippled state of some of his ships 
prevented the British admiral from bringing on a second 
encounter ; nor did the French seek one, but shaped 
their course the next day back to Newport. Both 
sides claimed a victory. The British certainly effected 
the main objects they had in view ; the French were 
cut off from the Chesapeake ; the combined enterprise 
against Portsmouth was disconcerted, and Arnold was 
saved. Great must have been the apprehensions of the 
traitor, while that enterprise threatened to entrap him. 
He knew the peculiar peril impending over him ; it had 
been announced in the sturdy reply of an American 
prisoner, to his inquiry what his countrymen would do 
to him if he were captured. — '' They would cut off the 
leg wounded in the service of your country and bury it 


with the honors of war; the rest of you they would 
hang ! " 

The feehngs of Washington, on hearing of the result 
of the enterprise, may be judged from the following 
passage of a letter to Colonel John Laurens, then min- 
ister at Paris. "The failure of this expedition, which 
was most flattering in the commencement, is much to 
be regretted ; because a successful blow in that quarter 
would, in all probability, have given a decisive turn to 
our affairs in all the Southern States ; because it has 
been attended with considerable expense on our part, 
and much inconvenience to the State of Virginia, by 
the assembling of our militia ; because the world is dis- 
appointed at not seeing Arnold in gibbets ; and above 
all, because we stood in need of something to keep us 
afloat till the result of your mission is knoAvn ; for be 
assured, my dear Laurens, day does not follow night 
more certainly, than it brings with it some additional 
proof of the impracticability of carrying on the war, 
without the aids you were directed to solicit. As an 
honest and candid man, as a man whose all depends on 
the final and happy termination of the present contest, 
I assert this, while I give it decisively as my opinion, 
that, without a foreign loan, our present force, which is 
but the remnant of an army, cannot be kept together 
this campaign, much less will it be increased, and in 
readiness for another. ****** jf 
France delays a timely and powerful aid in the critical 
posture of our affairs, it will avail us nothing should 
she attempt it hereafter. We are at this hour sus- 
pended in the balance ; not from choice, but from hard 
and absolute necessity ; and you may rely on it as a 


fact, that we cannot transport the provisions from the 
States in which they are assessed, to the army, because 
we cannot pay the teamsters, who will no longer work 
for certificates. * * * In a word we are at the 
end of our tether, and now or never our deliverance 
must come. * ^^ * How easy would it be to re- 
tort the enemy's own game upon them ; if it could be 
made to comport with the general plan of the war, to 
keep a superior fleet always in these seas, and Prance 
would put us in condition to be active, by advancing us 
money. The ruin of the enemy's schemes would then 
be certain ; the bold game they are now playing would 
be the means of effecting it ; for they would be reduced 
to the necessity of concentrating their force at capital 
points ; thereby giving up all the advantages they have 
gained in the Southern States, or be vulnerable every 

Washington's anxiety was now awakened for the 
safety of General Greene. Two thousand troops had 
sailed from New York under General Phillips, probably 
to join with the force under Arnold, and proceed to re- 
inforce CornwaUis. Should they form a junction, Greene 
would be unable to withstand them. With these con- 
siderations Washington wrote to Lafayette, urging him, 
since he was already three hundred miles, which was 
half the distance, on the way, to push on with all possi- 
ble speed to join the southern army, sending expresses 
ahead to inform Greene of his approach. 

The letter found Lafayette on the 8th of April at 
the Head of Elk, preparing to march back with his 
troops to the banks of the Hudson. On his return 
through Virginia, he had gone out of liis way, and trav- 


elled all night for the purpose of seeing Washington's 
mother at Fredericksburg, and paying a visit to Mount 
Vernon. He now stood ready to obey Washington's 
orders, and march to reinforce General Greene ; but his 
troops, who were chiefly from the Eastern States, mur- 
mured at the prospect of a campaign in a southern cli- 
mate, and desertions began to occur. Upon this he an- 
nounced in general orders, that he was about to enter 
on an enterprise of great difficulty and danger, in which 
he trusted his soldiers would not abandon him. Any. 
however, who were unwilling, should receive permits to 
return home. 

As he had anticipated, their pride was roused by 
this appeal. All engaged to continue forward. So 
great was the fear of appearing a laggard, or a craven, 
that a sergeant, too lame to march, hired a place in a 
cart to keep up with the army. In the zeal of the mo- 
ment, Lafayette borrowed money on his own credit 
from the Baltimore merchants, to purchase summer 
clothing for his troops, in which he was aided, too, by 
the ladies of the city, with whom he was deservedly 

The detachment from New York, under General 
Phillips, arrived at Portsmouth on the 26th of March. 
That officer immediately took command, greatly to the 
satisfaction of the British officers, who had been acting 
under Arnold. The force now collected there amount- 
ed to three thousand five hundred men. The garrison 
of New York had been greatly weakened in furnishing 
this detachment, but Cornwallis had urged the policy 
of transferring the seat of war to Virginia, even at the 
expense of abandoning New York ; declaring that until 

VOL. IT. — 19 


that State was subdued, the British hold upon the Car- 
ohnas must be difficult, if not precarious. 

The disparity in force was now so great, that the 
Baron Steuben had to withdraw his troops, and remove 
the military stores into the interior. Many of the mili- 
tia, too, their term of three months being expired, 
stacked their arms, and set off for their homes, and 
most of the residue had to be discharged. 

General Phillips had hitherto remained quiet in 
Portsmouth, completing the fortifications, but evidently 
making preparations for an expedition. On the 16th 
of April, he left one thousand men in garrison, and, em- 
barking the rest in small vessels of light draught, pro- 
ceeded up James Biver, destroying armed vessels, pub- 
lic magazines, and a ship-yard belonging to the State. 

Landing at City Point, he advanced against Peters- 
burg, a place of deposit of military stores and tobacco. 
He was met about a mile below the town by about 
one thousand militia, under General Muhlenberg, who, 
after disputing the ground inch by inch for nearly two 
hours, with considerable loss on both sides, retreated 
across the Appomattox, breaking down the bridge 
behind them. 

Phillips entered the town, set fire to the tobacco 
warehouses, and destroyed all the vessels lying in the 
river. Repairing and crossing the bridge over the 
Appomattox, he proceeded to Chesterfield Court-house, 
where he destroyed barracks and public stores ; while 
Arnold, with a detachment, laid waste the magazines 
of tobacco in the direction of Warwick. A fire was 
opened by the latter from a few field-pieces on the 
river bank, upon a squadron of small, armed vessels. 


which had been intended to co-operate with the Prench 
fleet against Portsmouth. The crews scuttled or set 
fire to them, and escaped to the north side of the river. 

This destructive course was pursued until they 
arrived at Manchester, a small place opposite Rich- 
mond, where the tobacco warehouses were immediately 
in a blaze. Richmond was a leading object of this 
desolating enterprise, for there a great part of the mili- 
tary stores of the State had been collected, fortu- 
nately, Lafayette with his detachment of two thousand 
men, had arrived there by forced marches, the evening 
before, and being joined by about two thousand militia 
and sixty dragoons, (the latter, principally young Vir- 
ginians of family,) had posted himself strongly on the 
high banks on the north side of the river. 

There being no bridge across the river at that time. 
General Phillips did not think it prudent to attempt a 
passage in face of such a force so posted ; but was 
extremely irritated at being thus foiled by the celerity 
of his youthful opponent, who now assumed the chief 
command of the American forces in Virginia. 

Returning down the south bank of the river, to 
the place where his vessels awaited him, General Phil- 
lips re-embarked on the 2d of May, and dropped 
slowly down the river below the confluence of the 
Chickahomony. He was followed cautiously, and his 
movements watched by Lafayette, who posted himself 
behind the last-named river. 

Despatches from Comwallis now informed Phillips 
that his lordship was advancing with all speed from 
the South to effect a junction with him. The general 
immediately made a rapid move to regain possession of 


Petersburg, where the junction was to take place. La- 
fayette attempted by forced marcbes to get there before 
him, but was too late. Falling back, therefore, he 
recrossed James River and stationed himself some 
miles below Richmond, to be at hand for the protection 
of the public stores collected there. 

During this main expedition of Phillips, some of 
his smaller vessels had carried on the plan of plunder 
and devastation in other of the rivers emptying into 
the Chesapeake Bay ; setting fire to the houses where 
they met with resistance. One had ascended the 
Potomac and menaced Mount Vernon. Lund Wash- 
ington, who had charge of the estate, met the flag 
which the enemy sent on shore, and saved the property 
from ravage, by furnishing the vessel with provisions. 
Lafayette, who heard of the circumstance, and was 
sensitive for the honor of Washington, immediately 
wrote to him on the subject. " This conduct of the per- 
son who represents you on your estate," writes he, 
" must certainly produce a bad effect, and contrast 
with the courageous replies of some of your neighbors, 
whose houses in consequence have been burnt. You 
will do what you think proper, my dear general, but 
friendship makes it my duty to give you confidentially 
the facts." 

Washington, however, had previously received a 
letter from Lund himself, stating all the circumstances 
of the case, and had immediately written him a reply. 
He had no doubt that Lund had acted from his best 
judgment, and with a view to preserve the property 
and buildings from impending danger, but he was 
stung to the quick by the idea that his agent should 


go on board of the enemy's vessels, cany them refresh- 
ments, and "commune with a parcel of plundering 
scoundrels," as he termed them. " It would have been 
a less painful cu^cumstance to me to have heard," writes 
he, " that in consequence of your noncompliance with 
their request, they had burnt my house and laid my 
plantation in ruins. You ought to have considered 
yourself as my representative, and should have reflected 
on the bad example of communicating with the enemy 
and making a voluntary offer of refreshments to them, 
with a view to prevent a conflagration.'' 

In concluding his letter, he expresses his opinion 
that it was the intention of the enemy to prosecute the 
plundering plan they had begun ; and that it would 
end in the destruction of his property, but adds, that 
he is " prepared for the event." He advises his agent 
to deposit the most valuable and least bulky articles in 
a place of safety. " Such and so many things as are 
necessary for common and present use must be retained, 
and must run their chance through the fiery trial of this 

Such were the steadfast purposes of Washington's 
mind when war was brought home to his door and 
threatening his earthly paradise of Mount Vernon. 

In the mean time, the desolating career of Gen- 
eral Phillips was brought to a close. He had been ill 
for some days previous to his arrival at Petersburg, 
and by the time he reached there, was no longer capa- 
ble of giving orders. He died four days afterwards ; 
honored and deeply regretted by his brothers in arms, 
as a meritorious and well-tried soldier. What made 
his death to be more sensibly felt by them at this mo- 


ment, was, that it put the traitor, Arnold, once more in 
the general command. 

He held it, however, but for a short time, as Lord 
Cornwallis arrived at Petersburg on the 20th of May, 
after nearly a month's weary marching from Wilming- 
ton. His lordship on taking command, found his force 
augmented by a considerable detachment of royal 
artillery, two battalions of light infantry, the 76th and 
80th British regiments, a Hessian regiment, Lieuten- 
ant-colonel Simcoe's corps of Queen's rangers, cav- 
alry and infantry, one hundred yagers, Arnold's legion 
of royalists, and the garrison of Portsmouth. He was 
cheered also by inteUigence that Lord Rawdon had 
obtained an advantage over General Greene before Cam- 
den, and that three British regiments had sailed from 
Cork for Charleston. His mind, we are told, was now 
set at ease with regard to Southern affairs ; his spirits, so 
long jaded by his harassing tramps about the Carolinas, 
were again lifted up by his augmented strength, and 
Tarleton assures us, that his lordship indulged in " bril- 
liant hopes of a glorious campaign in those parts of 
America where he commanded." * How far these 
hopes were realized we shall show in a future page. 

* Tarleton. History of the Campaign, p. 291. 






While affairs were approaching a crisis in Virginia, 
troubles were threatening from the north. There were 
rumors of invasion from Canada ; of war councils and 
leagues among the savage tribes ; of a revival of the 
territorial feuds between New York and Vermont. 
Such, however, was the deplorable inefficiency of the 
military system, that though, according to the resolves 
of Congress, there were to have been thirty-seven thou- 
sand men under arms at the beginning of the year, 
Washington's whole force on the Hudson in the month 
of May did not amount to seven thousand men, of 
whom little more than four thousand were effective. 

He still had his head-quarters at New Windsor, just 
above the Highlands, and within a few miles of West 
Point. Here he received intelhgence that the enemy 


were in force on tlie opposite side of the Hudson, ma- 
rauding the country on the north side of Croton River, 
and he ordered a hasty advance of Connecticut troops 
in that direction. 

The Croton River flows from east to west across 
Westchester County, and formed as it were the barrier 
of the American hues. The advanced posts of Wash- 
ington's army guarded it, and by its aid, protected the 
upper country from the incursions of those foraging par- 
ties, and marauders which had desolated the neutral 
ground below it. The incursions most to be guarded 
against were those of Colonel Delancey's Loyalists, a 
horde of tories and refugees which had their stronghold 
in Morris ania, and were the terror of the neighboring 
country. There was a petty war continually going on 
between them and the American outposts, often of a 
ruthless kind. Delancey's horse and Delancey's rangers 
scoured the country, and swept off" forage and cattle from 
its fertile valleys for the British army at New York. 
Hence they were sometimes stigmatized by the oppro- 
brious appellation of Cow Boys. 

The object of their present incursion was to surprise 
an outpost of the American army stationed near a ford- 
able part of the Croton River, not far from Pine's 
Bridge. The post was commanded by Colonel Chris- 
topher Greene, of Rhode Island, the same who had 
successfully defended Port Mercer on the Delaware, 
when assailed by Count Donop. He was a valuable 
officer, highly prized by Washington. The enterprise 
against his post was something like that against the 
post of Young's House ; both had been checks to the 
foragers of this harassed region. 


Colonel Delancey, who led this foray, was successor 
to the unfortunate Andre as Adjutant-general of the 
British army. He conducted it secretly, and in the 
night, at the head of a hundred horse and two hundred 
foot. The Croton was forded at daybreak, just as the 
night-guard had been withdrawn, and the farm houses 
were surprised and assailed in which the Americans 
were quartered. That occupied by Colonel Greene and a 
brother officer. Major Magg, was first surrounded. The 
Major started from his bed, and discharged his pistols 
from a window, but was shot through the head, and 
afterwards despatched by cuts and thrusts of the sabre. 

The door of Greene's room was burst open. He 
defended himself vigorously and effectively with his 
sword, for he had great strength, but he was over- 
powered by numbers, cut down, and barbarously 
mangled. A massacre was going on in other quarters. 
Besides these two officers, there were between thirty 
and forty killed and wounded, and several made priso- 

It is said that Colonel Delancey was not present at 
the carnage, but remained on the south side of the 
Croton to secure the retreat of his party. It may be 
so ; but the present exploit was in the spirit of others 
by which he had contributed to harry this beautiful 
region, and make it a " bloody ground." No foes so 
ruthless had the American patriots to encounter as their 
own tory countrymen in arms. 

Before the troops ordered out by Washington ar- 
rived at the post, the marauders had made a precipitate 
retreat. They had attempted to carry off Greene a pri- 
soner, but he died within three quarters of a mile of the 


house. His captors, as they passed by the farm houses 
told the inhabitants that, should there be any inquiry 
after the colonel, they had left him dead at the edge 
of the woods.* 

Greene was but forty -four years of age at the time 
of his death, and was a model of manly strength and 
comeliness. A true soldier of the Revolution, he had 
served at Lexington and Bunker's Hill; followed 
Arnold through the Kennebec wilderness to Quebec ; 
fought under the walls of that city ; distinguished 
himself by his defence of Port Mercer on the Dela- 
ware, and by his kind treatment of his vanquished and 
wounded antagonist. Colonel Donop. How different 
the treatment experienced by him at the hands of his 
tory countrymen ! 

The commander-in-chief, we are told, heard with 
anguish and indignation the tragical fate of this his 
faithful friend and soldier. On the subsequent day, 
the corpse of Colonel Greene was brought to head- 
quarters, and his funeral solemnized Avith military hon- 
ors and universal grief, f 

At this juncture, Washington's attention was called 
in another direction. A frigate had arrived at Boston, 
bringing the Count de Barras to take command of the 
Trench naval force. He was a veteran about sixty 
years of age, and had commanded D'Estaing's van- 
guard, when he forced the entrance of Newport harbor. 
The count brought the cheering intelligence, that an 
armament of twenty ships of the line, with land forces, 

* Letter of Paymaster Hughes. See Bolton's Westchester Co. Vol. ii., p. 

t Lee's Memoirs of the Wars, vol. i. p. 407. 


was to sail, or had sailed, from Prance, under the Count 
de Grasse for the West Indies, and that twelve of 
these ships were to relieve the squadron at Newport, 
and might be expected on the coast of the United 
States in July or August. 

The Count de Rochambeau, having received de- 
spatches from the court of France, now requested an 
interview with Washington. The latter appointed 
Weathersfield in Connecticut for the purpose ; and met 
the count there on the 2 2d of May, hoping to settle 
a definitive plan of the campaign. Both as yet were 
ignorant of the arrival of Cornwallis in Virginia. The 
policy of a joint expedition to relieve the Carolinas 
was discussed. As the French ships in Newport were 
still blockaded by a superior force, such an expedition 
would have to be made by land. A march to the 
Southern States was long and harassing, and always 
attended with a great waste of life. Such would cer- 
tainly be the case at present, when it would have to be 
made in the heat of summer. The difficulties and 
expenses of land transportation, also, presented a for- 
midable objection. 

On the other hand, an effective blow might be 
struck at New York, the garrison having been reduced 
one-half by detachments to the South. That impor- 
tant post and its dependencies might be wrested from 
the enemy, or, if not, they might be obliged to recall a 
part of their force from the South for their own defence. 

It was determined, therefore, that the French troops 
should march from Ne\\^ort as soon as possible, and 
form a junction with the American army on the Hud- 
son, and that both should move dovm to the vicinity 


of New York to make a combined attack, in which the 
Count de Grasse should be invited to co-operate with 
his fleet and a body of land troops. 

A vessel was despatched by De Rochambeau, to 
inform the Count de Grasse of this arrangement ; ani 
letters were addressed by Washington to the execu- 
tive authorities of New Jersey and the New England 
States, urging them to fill up their battalions and fur- 
nish their quotas of provisions. Notwithstanding all 
his exertions however, when he mustered his forces at 
Peekskill, he was mortified to find not more than five 
thousand effective men. Notwithstanding, too, all the 
resolutions passed in the legislatures of the various 
States for supplying the army, it would, at this critical 
moment, have been destitute of provisions, especially 
bread, had it not been for the zeal, talents, and activity 
of Mr. Uobert Morris, now a delegate to Congress, from 
the State of Pennsylvania, and recently appointed su- 
perintendent of finance. This patriotic and energetic 
man, when public means failed, pledged his own credit 
in transporting military stores and feeding the army. 
Throughout the Revolution, Washington was continu- 
ally baffled in the hopes caused by the resolutions of 
legislative bodies, too often as little alimentary as the 
east wind. 

The Count de Rochambeau and the Duke de Lau- 
zun being arrived with their troops in Connecticut, on 
their way to join the American army, Washington 
prepared for spirited operations; quickened by the 
intelligence that a part of the garrison of New York 
had been detached to forage the Jerseys. Two objects 
were contemplated by him : one, the surprisal of the 

1781.] PLAN OF ATTACK. 301 

British works at the north end of New York Island ; 
the other, the capture or destruction of Delancey's 
corps of refugees in Morrisania. The attack upon 
the posts was to be conducted by General Lincoln, with 
a detachment from the main army, which he was to 
bring down by water — that on Delancey's corps by 
the Duke de Lauzun with his legion, aided by Shel- 
don's dragoons, and a body of Connecticut troops. 
Both operations were to be carried into effect on the 
3d of July. The duke was to march down from 
Ridgebury in Connecticut, for the purpose. Every 
thing was to be conducted with secrecy and by the 
way of surprisal. Should any thing occur to prevent 
Lincoln from attempting the works on New York 
Island, he was to land his men above Spyt den 
Duivel Creek, march to the high grounds in front of 
King's Bridge, lie concealed there until the duke's 
attack on Delancey's corps should be announced by fir- 
ing or other means ; then to dispose of his force in such 
manner as to make the enemy think it larger than it 
really was ; thereby deterring troops from coming over 
the bridge to turn Lauzun's right, while he prevented 
the escape over the bridge of Delancey's refugees when 
routed from Morrisania. 

Washington, at the same time, wrote a confidential 
letter to Governor Clinton, informing him of designs 
upon the enemy's posts. " Should we be happy enough 
to succeed," writes he, " and be able to hold our con- 
quest, the advantages will be greater than can well be 
imagined. But I cannot flatter myself that the enemy 
will permit the latter, unless I am suddenly and con- 
siderably reinforced. I shall march down the remain- 


der of tliis army, and I have hopes that the French 
force will be near at hand at the time. But I shall, 
notwithstanding, direct the alarm-guns and beacons to 
be fired in case of success ; and I have to request, that 
your Excellency will, upon such signals, communicate 
the meaning of them to the militia, and put yourself 
at the head of them, and march with the utmost expe- 
dition to King's Bridge, bringing with you three or 
four days' provision at least." 

It was a service which would have been exactly 
to the humor of George Clinton. 

In pursuance of the plan, Lincoln left the camp 
near Peekskill on the 1st, with eight hundred men, and 
artillery, and proceeded to Teller's Point, where they 
were embarked in boats with muffled oars, and rowed 
silently at night down the Tappan Sea, that region of 
mystery and secret enterprise. At daylight they kept 
concealed under the land. The Duke de Lauzun was 
supposed, at the same time, to be on the way from 
Connecticut. Washington, at three o'clock on the 
morning of the 2d, left his tents standing at Peekskill, 
and commenced his march with his main force, without 
baggage ; making a brief halt at Croton Bridge, about 
nine miles from Peekskill ; another at the Sleepy Hol- 
low Church, near Tarrytown, where he halted until 
dusk, and completed the rest of his march in the night, 
to Valentine's Hill, four miles above King's Bridge, 
where he arrived about sunrise. There he posted him- 
self to cover the detached troops, and improve any 
advantages that might be gained by them. 

Lincoln, on the morning of the 2d, had left his flo- 
tilla concealed under the eastern shore and crossed to 


Port Lee to reconnoitre Port Washington from the cUffs 
on the opposite side of the Hudson. To his surprise 
and chagrin, he discovered a British force encamped on 
the north end of New York Island, and a ship-of-war 
anchored in the river. In fact, the troops which had 
been detached into the Jerseys, had returned, and the 
enemy were on the alert ; the surprisal of the forts, 
therefore, was out of the question. 

Lincoln's thoughts now were to aid the Duke de 
Lauzun's part of the scheme, as he had been instructed. 
Before daylight of the 3d, he landed his troops above 
Spyt den Duivel Creek, and took possession of the 
high ground on the north of Harlem River, where 
Fort Independence once stood. Here he was discov- 
ered by a foraging party of the enemy, fifteen hundred 
strong, who had sallied out at daybreak to scour the 
country. An irregular skirmish ensued. The firing 
was heard by the Duke de Lauzun, who was just ar- 
rived with his troops at East Chester, fatigued by a 
long and forced march in sultry weather. Pinding the 
country alarmed, and all hope of surprising Delancey's 
corps at an end, he hastened to the support of Lin- 
coln. Washington also advanced with his troops from 
Valentine's Hill. The British, perceiving their danger, 
retreated to their boats on the east side of Harlem 
River and crossed over to New York Island. A trifling 
loss in killed and wounded had been sustained on each 
side, and Lincoln had made a few prisoners. 

Being disappointed in both objects, Washington 
did not care to fatigue his troops any more, but suf- 
fered them to remain on their arms, and spent a good 
part of the day reconnoitring the enemy's works. In 


the afternoon he retired to Valentine's Hill and the 
next day marched to Dobbs Perry, where he was joined 
by the Count de Rochambeau on the 6th of July. 
The two armies now encamped ; the American in two 
lines, resting on the Hudson at Dobbs Terry, where it 
was covered by batteries and extending eastward toward 
the Neperan or Sawmill River ; the French in a sin- 
gle line on the hills further east, reaching to the Bronx 
River. The beautiful valley of the Neperan intervened 
between the encampments. It was a lovely country 
for a summer encampment, breezy hills commanding 
wide prospects ; umbrageous valleys watered by bright 
pastoral streams, the Bronx, the Spraine and the Nepe- 
ran, and abounding with never-failing springs. The 
French encampment made a gallant display along the 
Greenburgh hills. Some of the officers, young men 
of rank, to whom this was all a service of romance, 
took a pride in decorating their tents and forming little 
gardens in their vicinity. " We have a charming posi- 
tion among rocks and under magnificent tulip trees ; " 
writes one of them, the Count Dumas. General 
Washington was an object of their enthusiasm. He 
visited the tents they had so gaily embellished ; for, 
with all his gravity, he was fond of the company of 
young men. They were apprised of his coming, and 
set out on their camp-tables plans of the battle of 
Trenton ; of West Point, and other scenes connected 
with the war. The greatest harmony prevailed between 
the armies. The two commanders had their respective 
head-quarters in farm-houses, and occasionally, on fes- 
tive occasions, long tables were spread in the adjacent 
bams, which were converted into banqueting halls. 

1781.] Washington's plans. 305 

The young French officers gained the good graces of 
the country belles, though little acquainted with their 
language. Their encampment was particularly gay, 
and it was the boast of an old lady of the neighbor- 
hood many years after the war, that she had danced at 
head-quarters when a girl with the celebrated Marshal 
Berthier, at that time one of the aides-de-camp of the 
Count de Rochambeau.* 

The two armies lay thus encamped for three or 
four weeks. In the mean time letters urged Washing- 
ton's presence in Virginia. Richard Henry Lee advised 
that he should come with two or three thousand good 
troops and be clothed with dictatorial powers. " There 
is nothing I think more certain," writes Lee, " than 
that your personal call would bring into immediate 
exertion the force and the resources of this State and 
the neighboring ones, which, directed as they would 
be, will effectually disappoint and baffle the deep-laid 
schemes of the enemy." 

"I am fully persuaded, and upon good military 
principles," writes Washington in reply, " that the 
measures I have adopted will give more effectual and 
speedy relief to the State of Virginia, than my march- 
ing thither, with dictatorial powers, at the head of 
every man I could draw from hence, without leaving the 
important posts on the North River quite defenceless 
and these States open to devastation and ruin. My 
present plan of operation which I have been preparing 
with all the zeal and activity in my power, will, I am 
morally certain, with proper support produce one .of 

* Bolton's Hist of Westchester Cj., voL I p. 243. 
VOL. IV. — 20 


two things, either the fall of New York, or a with- 
drawal of the troops from Virginia, excepting a garri- 
son at Portsmouth, at which place I have no doubt of 
the enemy's intention of establishing a permanent post." 

Within two or three days after this letter was 
written, Washington crossed the river at Dobbs Ferry, 
accompanied by the Count de Rochambeau, General de 
Beville, and General Duportail, to reconnoitre the 
British posts on the north end of New York Island. 
They were escorted by one hundred and fifty of the 
New Jersey troops, and spent the day on the Jersey 
heights ascertaining the exact position of the enemy on 
the opposite shore. Their next movement was to re- 
connoitre the enemy's posts at King's Bridge and on 
the east side of New York island, and to cut off, if 
possible, such of Delancey's corps as should be found 
without the British lines. Five thousand troops, 
French and American, led by the Count de Chas- 
tellux and General Lincoln, were to protect this 
reconnoissance, and menace the enemy's posts. Every 
thing was prepared in secrecy. On the 21st of 
July, at eight o'clock in the evening, the troops began 
their march in separate columns ; part doAvn the 
Hudson River road, part down the Sawmill River 
valley ; part by the Eastchester road. Scammel's 
light infantry advanced through the fields to waylay 
the roads, stop all communication, and prevent intelli- 
gence getting to the enemy. Sheldon's cavalry with 
the Connecticut troops were to scour Throg's Neck. 
Sheldon's infantry and Lauzun's lancers were to do the 
same with the refugee region of Morrisania. 

The whole detachment arrived at King's Bridge 


about daylight, and formed on the height back of Fort In- 
pendence. The enemy's forts on New York Island did 
not appear to have the least intelligence of what was 
going on, nor to be aware that hostile troops were upon 
the heights opposite, until the latter displayed them- 
selves in full array, their arms flashing in the morning 
sunshine, and their banners, American and French, un- 
folded to the breeze. 

While the enemy were thus held in check, Wash- 
ington and De Rochambeau, accompanied by engineers 
and by their staffs, set out under the escort of a troop 
of dragoons to reconnoitre the enemy's position and 
works from every point of view. It was a wide recon- 
noissance, extending across the country outside of the 
British lines from the Hudson to the Sound. The 
whole was done slowly and scientifically, exact notes 
and diagrams being made of every thing that might be 
of importance in future operations. As the " cortege" 
moved slowly along, or paused to make observation, it 
was cannonaded from the distant works, or from the 
armed vessels stationed on the neighboring waters, but 
without injuring it or quickening its movements. 

According to De Rochambeau's account, the two 
reconnoitring generals were at one time in an awk- 
ward and hazardous predicament. They had passed, 
he said, to an island separated by an arm of the sea from 
the enemy's post on Long Island, and the engineers 
were employed in making scientific observations, regard- 
less of the firing of small vessels stationed in the Sound. 
During this time, the two generals, exhausted by fa- 
tigue and summer heat, slept under shelter of a hedge. 

308 LIFE or WASHINGTON. [1781. 

De Rochambeau was the first to awake, and was star- 
tled at observing the state of the tide, which during their 
slumber had been rapidly rising. Awakening Wash- 
ington and calling his attention to it, they hastened to 
the causeway by which they had crossed from the main- 
land. It was covered with water. Two small boats 
were brought, in which they embarked with the saddles 
and bridles of the horses. Two American dragoons 
then returned in the boats to the shore of the island, 
where the horses remained under care of their comrades. 
Two of the horses, which were good swimmers, were 
held by the bridle and guided across ; the rest were 
driven into the water by the smack of the whip, and 
followed their leaders ; the boats then brought over the 
rest of the party. De Rochambeau admired this ma- 
noeuvre as a specimen of American tactics in the manage- 
ment of wild horses ; but he thought it lucky that the 
enemy knew nothing of their embarrassment, which 
lasted nearly an hour, otherwise they might literally 
have been caught napping. 

While the enemy's works had been thoroughly re- 
connoitred, light troops and lancers had performed 
their duty in scouring the neighborhood. The refugee 
posts which had desolated the country were broken up. 
Most of the refugees, Washington says, had fled and 
hid themselves in secret places ; some got over by 
stealth to the adjacent islands, and to the enemy's ship- 
ping, and a few were caught. Having effected the 
purposes of their expedition, the two generals set off 
with their troops, on the 23d, for their encampment, 
where they arrived about midnight. 


The immediate effect of this threatening movement 
of Washington appears in a letter of Sir Henry CUnton 
to Comwallis, dated July 26th, requesting him to order 
three regiments to New York from Carolina. " I shall 
probably want them as well as the troops you may be 
able to spare me from the Chesapeake for such offen- 
sive or defensive operations as may offer in this quarter."* 

And Washington writes to Lafayette a few days 
subsequently : " I think we have already effected one 
part of the plan of the campaign settled at Weathers- 
field, that is, giving a substantial relief to the Southern 
States, by obliging the enemy to recall a considerable 
part of their force from thence. Our views must now 
be turned towards endeavoring to expel them totally 
from those States, if we find ourselves incompetent to 
the siege of New York.'' 

We mil now give the reader a view of affairs in 
Virginia, and show how they were ultimately affected 
by these military manoeuvres and demonstrations in the 
neighborhood of King's Bridge. 

* Correspondence relative to operations in Virginia, p. 153. 







The first object of Lord Cornwallis on the junction of 
his forces at Petersburg in May, was to strike a blow 
at Lafayette. The marquis was encamped on the north 
side of James River, between Wilton and Richmond, 
with about one thousand regulars, two thousand militia, 
and fifty dragoons. He was waiting for reinforcements 
of militia, and for the arrival of General Wayne, with 
the Pennsylvania line. The latter had been ordered to 
the South by Washington, nearly three months pre- 
viously ; but unavoidably delayed. Joined by these, 
Lafayette would venture to receive a blow, " that being 
beaten, he might at least be beaten with decency, and 
Cornwallis pay something for his victory." * 

* Letter to HamUton, May 23d. 


His lordship hoped to draw him into an action be- 
fore thus reinforced, and with that view, marched on the 
24th of May, from Petersburg to James River, which he 
crossed at Westover, about thirty miles below Richmond. 
Here he was joined on the 26th by a reinforcement just 
arrived from New York, part of which he sent under 
General Leslie to strengthen the garrison at Portsmouth. 
He was relieved also from military companionship with 
the infamous Arnold, who obtained leave of absence 
to return to New York, where business of importance 
was said to demand his attention. While he was in 
command of the British army in Virginia, Lafayette had 
refused to hold any correspondence, or reciprocate any 
of the civihties of war with him ; for which he was 
highly applauded by Washington. 

Being now strongly reinforced, Comwallis moved 
to dislodge Lafayette from Richmond. The latter, con- 
scious of the inferiority of his forces, decamped as soon 
as he heard his lordship had crossed James River. " I 
am resolved," said he, " on a war of skirmishes, without 
engaging too far, and above all, to be on my guard 
against that numerous and excellent cavalry, which the 
militia dread, as if they were so many savage beasts." 
He now directed his march toward the upper country, 
inclining to the north, to favor a junction with Wayne. 
Cornwallis followed him as far as the upper part of 
Hanover County, destroying public stores wherever 
found. He appears to have undervalued Lafayette, on 
account of his youth. " The boy cannot escape me," 
said he in a letter which was intercepted. The youth 
of the marquis, however, aided the celerity of his move- 
ments ; and now that he had the responsibiUty of an 


independent command, he restrained his youthful fire, 
and love of enterprise. Independence had rendered 
him cautious. " I am afraid of myself," said he, " as 
much as of the enemy." * 

CornwalHs soon found it impossible either to over- 
take Lafayette, or prevent his junction with Wayne ; he 
turned his attention, therefore, to other objects. 

Greene, in his passage through Virginia, had urged 
the importance of removing horses out of the way of the 
enemy ; his caution had been neglected ; the conse- 
quences were now felt. The great number of fine hor- 
ses in the stables of Virginia gentlemen, who are noted 
for their love of the noble animal, had enabled Com- 
wallis to mount many of his troops in . first-rate style. 
These he employed in scouring the country, and de- 
stroying public stores. Tarleton and his legion, it is said, 
were mounted on race-horses. " Under this cloud of 
light troops," said Lafayette, " it is difficult to counter- 
act any rapid movements they may choose to take !" 

The State legislature had been removed for safety 
to Charlottesville, where it was assembled for the pur- 
pose of levying taxes, and drafting militia. Tarleton, 
with one hundred and eighty cavalry and seventy 
mounted infantry, was ordered by Cormvallis to make 
a dash there, break up the legislature, and carry off" mem- 
bers. On his way thither, on the 4th of June, he cap- 
tured and destroyed a convoy of arms and clothing des- 
tined for Greene's army in North Carolina. At ano- 
ther place he surprised several persons of note at the 
house of a Dr. Walker, but lingered so long breakfast- 

* Letter to Col. Alex. Hamilton, May 23, 1780. 


ing, that a person mounted on a fleet horse had time 
to reach Charlottesville before him, and spread the 
alarm. Tarleton crossed the Rivanna, which washes 
the hill on which Charlottesville is situated ; dispersed 
a small force collected on the bank, and galloped into 
the town thinking to capture the whole assembly. 
Seven alone fell into his hand ; the rest had made their 
escape. No better success attended a party of horse un- 
der Captain McLeod, detached to surprise the Governor, 
(Thomas Jefferson), at his residence in Monticello, about 
three miles from Charlottesville, where several members 
of the Legislature were his guests. The dragoons were 
espied winding up the mountain ; the guests dis- 
persed ; the family was hurried off to the residence of 
Colonel Carter, six miles distant, while the governor 
himself made a rapid retreat on horseback to Carter's 

Having set fire to all the public stores at Char- 
lottesville, Tarleton pushed for the point of Fork at 
the confluence of the Rivanna and Fluvanna; to aid, 
if necessary, a detachment of Yagers, infantry and 
hussars sent under Colonel Simcoe to destroy a great 
quantity of military stores collected at that post. The 
Baron Steuben, who was stationed there with five hun- 
dred Virginia regulars and a few militia, and had 
heard of the march of Tarleton, had succeeded in 
transporting the greater part of the stores, as well as 
his troops across the river, and as the water was deep 
and the boats were all on his side, he might have felt 
himself secure. The unexpected appearance of Sim- 
coe's infantry, however, designedly spread out on the 
opposite heights, deceived him into the idea that it was 


the van of the British army. In his alarm he made a 
night retreat of thirty miles, leaving the greater part 
of the stores scattered along the river bank ; which 
were destroyed the next morning by a small detach- 
ment of the enemy sent across in canoes. 

On the 10th of June, Lafayette was at length glad- 
dened by the arrival of Wayne with about nine hun- 
dred of the Pennsylvania line. Thus reinforced he 
changed his whole plan and ventured on the aggres- 
sive. ComwaUis had gotten between him and a large 
deposit of military stores at Albemarle Old Court 

The marquis, by a rapid march at night, through a 
road long disused, threw himself between the British 
army and the stores, and, being joined by a numerous 
body of mountain militia, took a strong position to 
dispute the advance of the enemy. 

CornwalUs did not think it advisable to pursue this 
enterprise, especially as he heard Lafayette would soon 
be joined by forces under Baron Steuben. Yielding 
easy credence, therefore, to a report that the stores had 
been removed from Albemarle Court House, he turned 
his face toward the lower part of Virginia and made 
a retrograde march, first to Richmond, and afterwards 
to Williamsburg. 

Lafayette, being joined by Steuben and his forces, 
had about four thousand men under him, one half of 
whom were regulars. He now followed the British 
army at the distance of eighteen or twenty miles, 
throwing forward his light troops to harass their rear, 
which was covered by Tarleton and Simcoe with their 
cavalry and infantry. 


Cornwallis arrived at Williamsburg on the 25th, 
and sent out Simcoe with his rangers and a company 
of Yagers to destroy some boats and stores on the 
Chickahominy River, and to sweep off the cattle of the 
neighborhood. Lafayette heard of the ravage, and 
detached Lieutenant Colonel Butler of the Pennsylva- 
nia Une with a corps of light troops and a body of 
horse under Major McPherson to intercept the marau- 
ders. As the infantry could not push on fast enough 
for the emergency, McPherson took up fifty of them 
behind fifty of his dragoons and dashed on. He over- 
took a company of Simcoe's rangers under Captain 
Shank, about six miles from Williamsburg foraging at 
a farm ; a sharp encounter took place ; McPherson 
at the outset was unhorsed and severely hurt. The 
action continued. Simcoe with his infantry, who had 
been in the advance convoying a drove of cattle, now 
engaged in the fight. Butler's riflemen began to arrive 
and supported the dragoons. It was a desperate 
melee ; much execution was done on both sides. Nei- 
ther knew the strength of the force they were contend- 
ing with ; but supposed it the advance guard of the 
opposite army. An alarm gun was fired by the British 
on a neighboring hill. It was answered by alarm guns 
at WiUiamsburg. The Americans supposed the whole 
British force coming out to assail them, and began to 
retire. Simcoe imagining Lafayette to be at hand like- 
wise drew off and pursued his march to Williamsburg. 
Both parties fought well; both had been severely 
handled ; both claimed a victory though neither gained 
one. The loss in killed and wounded on both sides was 
severe for the number engai^ed; but the statements 


vary, and were never reconciled. It is certain the 
result gave great satisfaction to the Americans and 
inspired them with redoubled ardor. 

An express was received by Cornwallis at Wil- 
liamsburg which obliged him to change his plans. The 
movements of Washington in the neighborhood of 
New York menacing an attack had produced the desired 
effect. Sir Henry Clinton, alarmed for the safety of 
the place, had written to Cornwallis requiring a part of 
his troops for its protection. His lordship prepared to 
comply with this requisition, but as it would leave him 
too weak to continue at Williamsburg, he set out on 
the 4th of July for Portsmouth. 

Lafayette followed him on the ensuing day, and 
took post within nine miles of his camp ; intending, 
when the main body of the enemy should have crossed 
the ford to the island of Jamestown, to fall upon the 
rear guard. Cornwallis suspected his design and pre- 
pared to take advantage of it. The wheel carriages, 
bat horses and baggage were passed over to the island 
under the escort of the Queen's rangers ; making a 
great display, as if the main body had crossed; his 
lordship, however, with the greater part of his forces, 
remained on the main land, his right covered by ponds, 
the centre and left by morasses over which a few nar- 
row causeways of logs connected his position with the 
country, and James Island lay in the rear. His camp 
was concealed by a skirt of woods and covered by an 

In the morning of the 6th as the Americans were 
advancing, a negro and a dragoon, employed by Tarle- 
ton, threw themselves in their way, pretending to be 


deserters, and informed them that the body of the 
king's troops had passed James River in the night, leav- 
ing nothing behind but the rear guard composed of 
the British legion and a detachment of infantry. Per- 
suaded of the fact, Lafayette with his troops crossed 
the morass on the left of the enemy by a naiTOW 
causeway of logs and halted beyond about sunset. 
Wayne was detached with a body of riflemen, dragoons 
and continental infantry to make the attack, while the 
marquis with nine hundred continentals and some mih- 
tia stood ready to support him. 

Wayne easily routed a patrol of cavalry and drove in 
the pickets, who had been ordered to give Avay readily. 
The outpost which covered the camp defended itself 
more obstinately ; though exceedingly galled by the 
riflemen. Wayne pushed forward with the Pennsylva- 
nia line, eight hundred strong, and three field-pieces, to 
attack it ; at the first discharge of a cannon more than 
two thousand of the enemy emerged from their con- 
cealment, and he found too late that the whole British 
line was in battle array before him. To retreat was 
more dangerous than to go on. So thinking, with 
that impetuous valor which had gained him the name 
of Mad Anthony, he ordered a charge to be sounded, 
and threw himself horse and foot with shouts upon the 
enemy. It was a sanguinary conflict and a desperate 
one, for the enemy were outflanking him right and left. 
Fortunately the heaviness of the fire had awakened the 
suspicions of Lafayette : — it was too strong for the out- 
post of a rear-guard. Spurring to a point of land 
which commanded a view of the British camp, he 
discovered the actual force of the enemy and the peril 


of Wayne. Galloping back, lie sent word to Wayne 
to fall back to General Muhlenberg's brigade, which 
had just arrived, and was forming within half a mile of 
the scene of conflict. Wayne did so in good order, 
leaving behind him his three cannon ; the horses 
which drew them having been killed. 

The whole army then retired across the morass. 
The enemy's cavalry would have pursued them, but 
Cornwallis forbade it. The night was falling. The 
hardihood of Wayne's attack, and his sudden retreat, 
it is said, deceived and perplexed his lordship. He 
thought the Americans more strong than they really 
were, and the retreat a mere feint to draw him into 
an ambuscade. That retreat, if followed close, might 
have been converted into a disastrous flight. 

The loss of the Americans in this brief but severe 
conflict is stated by Lafayette to have been one hun- 
di'ed and eighteen killed, wounded and prisoners, in- 
cluding ten oflicers. The British loss was said to be 
five officers wounded and seventy-five privates killed 
and wounded. " Our field officers," said Wayne, 
"were generally dismounted by having their horses 
either killed or wounded under them. I will not con- 
dole with the Marquis for the loss of two of his, as he 
was frequently requested to keep at a greater distance. 
His natural bravery rendered him deaf to admonition." 

Lafayette retreated to Green Springs, where he 
rallied and reposed his troops. Cornwallis crossed over 
to Jamestown Island after dark, and three days after- 
wards, passing James River with his main force, pro- 
ceeded to Portsmouth. His object was in conformity 
to his instructions from the ministry, to establish there 


or elsewhere on the Chesapeake, a permanent post, to 
serve as a central point for naval and military opera- 

In his letters to Washington giving an account of 
these events Lafayette says : " I am anxious to know 
your opinion of the Virginian campaign. The subju- 
gation of this State was incontestably the principal 
object of the ministry. I think your diversion has 
been of more use than any of my manoeuvres ; but the 
latter have been above all directed by political views. 
As long as his lordship desired an action, not a musket 
has been fired ; the moment he would avoid a combat 
we began a war of skirmishes ; but I had always care 
not to compromise the army. The naval superiority 
of the enemy, his superiority in cavalry, in regular 
troops, and his thousand other advantages, make me 
consider myself lucky to have come off safe and sound. 
I had my eye fixed on negotiations in Europe, and I 
made it my aim to give his lordship the disgrace of a 
retreat." * 

We will now turn to resume the course of General 
Greene's campaigning in the Carolinas. 

* Memoires de Lafayette, t i. p. 445. 








It will be recollected that Greene, on the 5th of 
April, set out from Deep River on a retrograde march to 
carry the war again into South Carolina, begiiming by 
an attack on Lord Rawdon's post at Camden. Sum- 
ter and Marion had been keeping alive the revolution- 
ary fire in that State ; the former on the north-east 
frontier, the latter in his favorite fighting ground be- 
tween the Pedee and Santee Rivers. On the re-appear- 
ance of Greene they stood ready to aid him with heart 
and hand. 

On his way to Camden, Greene detached Lee to 
join Marion with his legion, and make an attack upon 
Fort Watson by way of diversion. For himself, he 
appeared before Camden, but finding it too strong and 
too well garrisoned, fell back about two miles, and took 

1781.] AFFAIR AT HOBKIRk's HILL. 321 

post at Hobkirk's Hill, hoping to draw his lordship out. 
He succeeded but too well. His lordship attacked him 
on the 25th of April, coining upon him partly by sur- 
prise. There was a hard-fought battle, but through 
some false move among part of his troops, Greene was 
obliged to retreat. His lordship did not pursue, but 
shut himself up in Camden, waiting to be rejoined by 
part of his garrison which was absent. 

Greene posted himself near Camden ferry on the Wa- 
teree to intercept these reinforcements. Lee and Marion, 
who had succeeded in capturing Fort Watson, also took 
a position on the high hills of San tee for the same pur- 
pose. Their efforts were unavailing. Lord Raw don 
was rejoined by the other part of his troops. His su- 
perior force now threatened to give him the mastery. 
Greene felt the hazardous nature of his situation. His 
troops were fatigued by their long marchings ; he was 
disappointed of promised aid and reinforcements from 
Virginia ; still he was undismayed, and prepared for 
another of his long and stubborn retreats. " We must 
always operate," said he, " on the maxim that your 
enemy will do what he ought to do. Lord Rawdon 
will push us back to the mountains, but we will dispute 
every inch of ground in the best manner we can." 
Such were his Avords to General Davie on the evening 
of the 9th of May, as he sat in his tent with a map be- 
fore him studying the roads and fastnesses of the country. 
An express was to set off for Philadelphia the next 
morning, and he requested General Davie, who was of 
that city, to write to the members of Congress with 
whom he was acquainted, painting in the strongest 
colors their situation and gloomy prospects. 

VOL. IV.— 21 


The very next morning there was a joyful reverse. 
Greene sent for General Davie. " RaAvdon," cried he 
exultingly, " is preparing to evacuate Camden ; that 
place was the key of the enemy's line of posts, they will 
now all fall or be evacuated ; all will now go well. Burn 
your letters. I shall march immediately to the Con- 

His lordship had heard of the march of Cornwallis 
into Virginia, and that all hope of aid from him was 
at an end. His garrison was out of provisions. All 
supplies were cut off by the Americans ; he had no 
choice but to evacuate. He left Camden in flames. 
Immense quantities of stores and baggage were con- 
sumed, together with the court-house, the gaol, and 
many private houses. 

Rapid successes now attended the American arms. 
Fort Motte, the middle post between Camden and 
Ninety Six, was taken by Marion and Lee. Lee next 
captured Granby, and marched to aid Pickens in the 
siege of Augusta; while Greene, having acquired a 
supply of arms, ammunition, and provisions, from the 
captured forts, sat down before the fortress of Ninety 
Six, on the 22d of May. It was the great mart and 
stronghold of the royalists, and was principally garri- 
soned by royalists from New Jersey and New York, 
commanded by Colonel Cruger, a native of New York. 
The siege lasted for nearly a month. The place was 
valiantly defended. Lee arrived with his legion, having 
failed before Augusta, and invested a stockaded fort 
which formed part of the works. 

Word was brought that Lord Rawdon was pressing 
forward with reinforcements, and but a few miles dis- 


tant on the Saluda. Greene endeavored to get up 
Sumter, Marion, and Pickens, to his assistance, but 
they were too far on the right of Lord Rawdon to form 
a junction. The troops were eager to storm the works 
before his lordship should arrive. A partial assault 
was made on the 18th of June. It was a bloody con- 
test. The stockaded fort was taken, but the troops 
. were repulsed from the main works. 

Greene retreated across the Saluda, and halted at 
Bush River, at twenty miles distance, to observe the 
motion of the enemy. In a letter thence to Washing- 
ton, he writes : " My fears are principally from the 
enemy's superior cavalry. To the northward cavalry is 
nothing, from the numerous fences ; but to the southward 
a disorder, by a superior cavalry may be improved into 
a defeat, and a defeat into a rout. Virginia and North 
Carolina could not be brought to consider cavalry of 
such great importance as they are to the security of the 
army and the safety of a country." 

Lord Rawdon entered Ninety Six on the 21st, but 
sallied forth again on the 24th, taking with him all the 
troops capable of fatigue, two thousand in number, 
without wheel carriage of any kind, or even knapsacks, 
hoping by a rapid move to overtake Greene. Want of 
provisions soon obliged him to give up the pursuit and 
return to Ninety Six. Leaving about one half of his 
force there, under Colonel Cruger, he sallied a second 
time from Ninety Six, at the head of eleven hundred 
infantry, with cavalry, artillery, and field-pieces, march- 
ing by the south side of the Saluda for the Congaree. 

He was now pursued in his turn by Greene and 
Lee. In this march more than fifty of his lordship's 


soldiers fell dead from heat, fatigue and privation. At 
Orangeburg, where he arrived on the 8th of July, his 
lordship was joined by a large detachment under Colo- 
nel Stuart. 

Greene had followed him closely, and having col- 
lected all his detachments, and being joined by Sumter, 
appeared within four miles of Orangeburg, on the 10th 
of July, and offered battle. The offer was not accepted, 
and the position of Lord Rawdon was too strong to be 
attacked. Greene remained there two or three days ; 
when, learning that Colonel Cruger was advancing with 
the residue of the forces from Ninety Six, which would 
again give his lordship a superiority of force, he moved 
off with his infantry on the night of the 13th of July, 
crossed the Saluda, and posted himself on the east side 
of the Wateree, at the high hills of Santee. In this sa- 
lubrious and delightful region, where the air was pure 
and breezy, and the water delicate, he allowed his wea- 
ry soldiers to repose and refresh themselves, awaiting 
the arrival of some continental troops and militia from 
North Carolina, when he intended to resume his enter- 
prise of driving the enemy from the interior of the 

At the time when he moved from the neighborhood 
of Orangebm^g, (July 13th,) he detached Sumter with 
about a thousand light troops to scour the lower country, 
and attack the British posts in the vicinity of Charles- 
ton, now left uncovered by the concentration of their 
forces at Orangeburg. Under Sumter acted Marion, 
Lee, the Hamptons, and other enterprising partisans. 
They were to act separately in breaking up the minor 
posts, at and about Dorchester, but to unite at Monk's 


Corner, where Lieutenant-colonel Coates was stationed 
with the ninth regiment. This post carried, they were 
to reunite with Greene's army on the high hills of 

Scarce was Sumter on his march when he received 
a letter from Greene dated July 14th, stating that Cru- 
ger had formed a junction with Lord Rawdon the pre- 
ceding night ; no time therefore was to be lost. " Push 
your operations night and day ; station a party to watch 
the enemy's motions at Orangeburg. Keep Colonel 
Lee and General Marion advised of all matters from 
above, and tell Colonel Lee, to thunder even at the 
gates of Charleston." 

Conformably to these orders, Colonel Henry Hamp- 
ton with a party was posted to keep an eye on Orange- 
burg. Lee with his legion, accompanied by Lieutenant- 
colonel Wade Hampton, and a detachment of cavalry, 
was sent to carry Dorchester, and then press forward 
to the gates of Charleston ; while Sumter with the main 
body, took up his line of march along the road on the 
south side of the Congaree, towards Monk's Corner. 

As Lee approached Dorchester, Colonel Wade 
Hampton, with his cavalry, passed to the east of that 
place, to a bridge on Goose Creek, to cut off all com- 
munication between the garrison and Monk's Corner. 
His sudden appearance gave the alarm, the garrison 
abandoned its post, and when Lee arrived there he 
found it deserted. He proceeded to secure a number 
of horses and waggons, and some fixed ammunition, 
which the garrison had left behind, and to send them 
off to Hampton. Hampton, kept in suspense by this 
delay, lost patience. He feared that the alarm would 


spread through the country, and the dash into the vici- 
nity of Charleston be prevented — or perhaps that Lee 
might intend to make it by himself. Abandoning the 
bridge at Goose Creek, therefore, he set off with his 
cavalry, clattered down to the neighborhood of the lines 
and threw the city into confusion. The bells rang, 
alarm guns were fired, the citizens turned out under 
arms. Hampton captured a patrol of dragoons and a 
guard, at the Quarter House ; completed his bravado 
by parading his cavalry in sight of the sentinels on the 
advanced works, and then retired, carrying off fifty pri- 
soners, several of them officers. 

Lee arrived in the neighborhood on the following 
day, but too late to win any laurels. Hampton had 
been beforehand with him, made the dash, and " thun- 
dered at the gate." Both now hastened to rejoin Sum- 
ter on the evening of the 16th, who was only waiting 
to collect his detachments, before he made an attack on 
Colonel Coates at Monk's Corner. The assault was to 
be made on the following morning. During the night 
Coates decamped in silence ; the first signal of his de- 
parture, was the bursting of flames through the roof of 
a brick church, which he had used as a magazine, and 
which contained stores that could not be carried away. 
A pursuit was commenced ; Lee with his legion, and 
Hampton with the State cavaby took the lead. Sum- 
ter followed with the infantry. The rear-guard of the 
British, about one himdred strong, was overtaken with 
the baggage, at the distance of eighteen miles. They 
were new troops, recently arrived from Ireland, and had 
not seen service. On being charged by the cavalry 
sword in hand, they threw down their arms without fir- 


ing a shot, and cried for quarter, which was granted. 
While Lee was securing them. Captain Armstrong with 
the first section of cavahy pushed on in pursuit of 
Coates and the main body. That officer had crossed a 
wooden bridge over Quimby Creek, loosened the planks, 
and was only waiting to be rejoined by his rear-guard, 
to throw them off, and cut off all pursuit. His troops 
were partly ^on a causeway beyond the bridge, partly 
crowded in a lane. He had heard no alarm guns, and 
knew nothing of an enemy being at hand, until he saw 
Armstrong spurring up with his section. Coates gave 
orders for his troops to halt, form, and march up ; a 
howitzer was brought to bear upon the bridge, and a 
fatigue party rushed forward to throw off the planks. 
Armstrong saw the danger, dashed across the bridge 
with his section, drove off the artillerists, and captured 
the howitzer before it could be discharged. The fatigue 
men, who had been at work on the bridge, snatched up 
their guns, gave a volley and fled. Two dragoons fell 
dead by the howitzer ; others were severely wounded. 
Armstrong's party in crossing the bridge had displaced 
some of the planks, and formed a chasm. Lieutenant 
Carrington with the second section of dragoons leaped 
over it ; the chasm being thus enlarged the horses of 
the third section refused. A pell-mell fight took place 
between the handful of dragoons who had crossed, and 
some of the enemy. Armstrong and Carrington were 
engaged hand to hand with Colonel Coates and his offi- 
cers, who defended themselves from behind a waggon. 
The troops were thronging to their aid from lane and 
causeway. Armstrong, seeing the foe too strong in 
front, and no reinforcement coming on in rear, wheeled 


off with some of his men to the left, galloped into the 
woods, and pushed up along the stream to ford it, 
and seek the main body. 

During the melee Lee had come up and endeavored 
with the dragoons of the third section to replace tlie 
planks of the bridge. Their efforts were vain ; the 
water was deep, the mud deeper ; there was no foot- 
hold, nor was there any firm spot where to swim the 
horses across. 

While they were thus occupied. Colonel Coates, 
with his men, opened a fire upon them from the other 
end of the bridge ; having no fire anus to reply with, 
they were obliged to retire. The remainder of the 
planks were then thrown off from the bridge, after 
which Colonel Coates took post on an adjacent planta- 
tion, made the dwelling-house, which stood on a rising 
ground, his citadel, planted the howitzer before it, and 
distributed part of his men in outhouses and within 
fences, and garden pickets, which sheltered them from 
the attack of cavalry. Here he awaited the arrival of 
Sumter with the main body, determined to make a des- 
perate defence. 

It was not until three o'clock in the afternoon that 
Sumter with his forces appeared upon the ground, 
having had to make a considerable circuit on account of 
the destruction of the bridge. 

By four o'clock the attack commenced. Sumter, 
with part of the troops, advanced in front under cover 
of a line of negro huts, Avhich he wished to secure. 
Marion, with his brigade, much reduced in number, 
approached on the right of the enemy, where there was 
no shelter but fences ; the cavalry, not being able to 


act, remained at a distance as a reserve, and, if neces- 
sary to cover a retreat. 

Sumter's brigade soon got possession of the huts, 
where they used their rifles with sure effect. Marion 
and his men rushed up through a galUng fire to the 
fences on the right. The enemy retired within the 
house and garden, and kept up a sharp fire from doors 
and windows and picketed fence. Unfortunately the 
Americans had neglected to bring on their artillery ; 
their rifles and muskets were not sufficient to force the 
enemy from his stronghold. Having repaired the 
bridge, they sent off for the artillery and a supply of 
powder, which accompanied it. The evening was at 
hand ; their ammunition was exhausted, and they retired 
in good order, intending to renew the combat with ar- 
tillery in the morning. Leaving the cavalry to watch 
and control the movements of the enemy, they drew off 
across Quimby Bridge, and encamped at the distance of 
three miles. 

Here, when they came to compare notes, it was 
found that the loss in killed and wounded had chiefly 
fallen on Marion's corps. His men, from their exposed 
situation, had borne the brunt of the battle ; while 
Sumter's had suffered but little, being mostly sheltered 
in the huts. Jealousy and distrust were awakened, and 
discord reigned in the camp. Partisan and volunteer 
troops readily fall asunder under such circumstances. 
Many moved off in the night. Lee, accustomed to act 
independently, and unwilling, perhaps, to acknowledge 
Sumter as his superior officer, took np his line of march 
for head-quarters without consulting him. Sumter still 
had force enough, now that he was joined by the ar- 

330 LirE OF WASHINGTON. [1781. 

tillery to have held the enemy in a state of siege ; but 
he was short of ammunition, only twenty miles from 
Charleston, at a place accessible by tide water, and he 
apprehended the approach of Lord Rawdon, who, it 
was said, was moving down from Orangeburg. He 
therefore retired across the Santee, and rejoined Greene 
at his encampment. 

So ended this foray, which fell far short of the ex- 
pectations formed from the spirit and activity of the 
leaders and their men. Various errors have been 
pointed out in their operations, but concerted schemes 
are rarely carried out in all their parts by partisan 
troops. One of the best effects of the incursion was the 
drawing down Lord Rawdon from Orangeburg with five 
hundred of his troops. He returned no more to the 
upper country, but sailed not long after from Charles- 
ton for Europe. 

Colonel Stuart, who was left in command at Orange- 
burg, moved forward from that place, and encamped on 
the south side of the Congaree River, near its junction 
with the Wateree, and within sixteen miles of Greene's 
position on the high hills of Santee. The two armies 
lay in sight of each other's fires, but two large rivers 
intervened, to secure each party from sudden attack. 
Both armies, however, needed repose, and military op- 
erations were suspended, as if by mutual consent, dur- 
ing the sultry summer heat. 

The campaign had been a severe and trying one, 
and checkered with vicissitudes ; but Greene had suc- 
ceeded in regaining the greater part of Georgia and the 
two Carolinas, and, as he said, only wanted a little as- 
sistance from the North to complete their recovery. 


He was soon rejoiced by a letter from Washington, in- 
forming him that a detachment from the army of La- 
fayette might be expected to bring him the required 
assistance ; but he was made still more happy by the 
following cordial passage in the letter : " It is with the 
warmest pleasure I express my full approbation of the 
various movements and operations which your military 
conduct has lately exhibited, while I confess to you 
that I am unable to conceive what more could have 
been done under your circumstances than has been dis- 
played by your little, persevering, and determined army/* 



After the grand reconnoissance of the posts on New- 
York Island, related in a former page, the confederate 
armies remained encamped about Dobbs Ferry and the 
Greenburg hills, awaiting an augmentation of force for 
their meditated attack. To Washington's great disap- 
pointment, his army was but tardily and scantily re- 
cruited, while the garrison of New York was augmented 
by the arrival of three thousand Hessian troops from 
Europe. In this predicament he despatched a circular 
letter to the governments of the Eastern States, repre- 
senting his delicate and embarrassed situation. " Un- 
able to advance with prudence beyond my present po- 
sition," writes he, " while, perhaps, in the general opin- 
ion, my force is equal to the commencement of opera- 
tions against New York, my conduct must appear, if 
not blamable, highly mysterious at least. Our allies, 


who were made to expect a very considerable augmen- 
tation of force by this time, instead of seeing a prospect 
of advancing, must conjecture, upon good grounds, that 
the campaign will Avaste fruitlessly away. It will be 
no small degree of triumph to our enemies, and wiU 
have a pernicious influence upon our friends in Europe, 
should they find such a failure of resource, or such 
a want of energy to draw it out, that our boasted and 
extensive preparations end only in idle parade. * "'^ 
The fulfilment of my engagements must depend upon 
the degree of vigor with which the executives of the 
several States exercise the powers with which they have 
been vested, and enforce the laws lately passed for fill- 
ing up and supplying the army. In full confidence 
that the means which have been voted will be obtained, 
I shall continue my operations." 

Until we study Washington's full, perspicuous 
letters, we know little of the difficulties he had to 
struggle with in conducting his campaigns ; how often 
the sounding resolves of legislative bodies disappointed 
him ; how often he had to maintain a bold front when 
his country failed to back him ; how often, as in the 
siege of Boston, he had to carry on the war without 
powder ! 

In a few days came letters from Lafayette, dated 
26th and 30th of July, speaking of the embarkation of 
the greatest part of Cornwallis's army at Portsmouth. 
" There are in Hampton Roads thirty transport ships full 
of troops, most of them red coats, and eight or ten 
brigs with cavalry on board." He supposed their des- 
tination to be New York, yet, though wind and weather 
were favorable, they did not sail. " Should a French 


fleet now come into Hampton Roads," adds the sanguine 
Marquis/' the British army would, I think, be ours." 

At this juncture arrived the Prench frigate Con- 
corde at Newport, bringing despatches from Admiral 
the Count de Grasse. He was to leave St. Domingo 
on the 3d of August, with between twenty-five and 
thirty ships of the line, and a considerable body of land 
forces, and to steer immediately for the Chesapeake. 

This changed the face of affairs, and called for a 
change in the game. All attempt upon New York was 
postponed ; the whole of the French army, and as large 
a part of the Americans as could be spared, were to 
move to Virginia, and co-operate with the Count de 
Grasse for the redemption of the Southern States. 
Washington apprised the Count by letter of this inten- 
tion. He wrote also to Lafayette on the 15th of 
August, " By the time this reaches you, the Count de 
Grasse will either be in the Chesapeake or may be 
looked for every moment. Under these circumstances, 
whether the enemy remain in full force, or whether they 
have only a detachment left, you will immediately take 
such a position as will best enable you to prevent their 
sudden retreat through North Carolina, which, I pre- 
sume they will attempt the instant they perceive so for- 
midable an armament." 

Should General Wayne, with the troops destined 
for South Carolina, still remain in the neighborhood of 
James River, and the enemy have made no detachment 
to the southward, the Marquis was to detain these 
troops until he heard again from Washington, and was 
to inform General Greene of the cause of their deten- 

1781.] CHANGE OF THE GAME. 335 

*' You shall hear farther from me," concludes the 
letter, " as soon as I have concerted plans and formed 
dispositions for sending a reinforcement from hence. 
In the mean time, I have only to recommend a continu- 
ance of that prudence and good conduct which you 
have manifested through the whole of your campaign. 
You will be particularly careful to conceal the expected 
arrival of the Count ; because, if the enemy are not ap- 
prised of it, they will stay on board their transports in 
the bay, which will be the luckiest circumstance in the 

Washington's " soul was now in arms." At length, 
after being baffled and disappointed so often by the in- 
competency of his means, and above all, thwarted by 
the enemy's naval potency, he had the possibility of 
coping with them both on land and sea. The contem- 
plated expedition was likely to consummate his plans, 
and wind up the fortunes of the war, and he determined 
to lead it in person. He would take with him some- 
thing more than two thousand of the American army ; 
the rest, chiefly northern troops, were to remain with 
General Heath, who was to hold command of West 
Point and the other posts of the Hudson. 

Perfect secrecy was maintained as to this change 
of plan. Preparations were still carried on, as if for 
an attack upon New York. An extensive encampment 
was marked out in the Jerseys, and ovens erected, and 
fuel provided for the baking of bread ; as if a part of 
the besieging force was to be stationed there, thence to 
make a descent upon the enemy's garrison on Staten 
Island, in aid of the operations against the city. The 
American troops, themselves, were kept in ignorance of 


their destination. General Washington, observes one of 
the shrewdest of them, matures his great plans and de- 
signs under an impenetrable veil of secrecy, and while we 
repose the fullest confidence in our chief, our opinions 
(as to his intentions) must be founded only on doubtful 

Previous to his decampment, Washington sent for- 
ward a party of pioneers to clear the roads towards 
King's Bridge, as if the posts recently reconnoitred 
were about to be attempted. On the 19th of August 
his troops were paraded with their faces in that direc- 
tion. When aU were ready, however, they were ordered 
to face about, and were marched up along the Hudson 
river road towards King's Perry. 

De Rochambeau, in like manner, broke up his en- 
campment, and took the road by White Plains, North 
Castle, Pine's Bridge, and Crompond, toward the same 
point. All Westchester County was again alive with 
the tramp of troops, the gleam of arms, and the lum- 
bering of artillery and baggage waggons along its 

On the 20th, Washington arrived at King's Perry, 
and his troops began to cross the Hudson with their 
baggage, stores, and cannon, and encamp at Haver- 
straw, tie himself crossed in the evening, and took 
up his quarters at Colonel Hay's, at the White House. 
Thence he wrote confidentially to Lafayette on the 21st, 
now first apprising him of his being on the march with 
the expedition, and repeating his injunctions that the 
land and naval forces, already at the scene of action, 

* See Tliacher's Military Journal, p. 322. 

1781.] move" toward VIRGINIA. 337 

should so combine their operations, that the English, on 
the arrival of the French fleet, might not be able to es- 
cape. He wrote also to the Count de Grasse, (presum- 
ing that the letter would find him in the Chesapeake,) 
urging him to send up all his frigates and transports 
to the Head of Elk, by the 8th of September, for the 
transportation of the combined army, which would be 
there by that time. He informed him, also, that the 
Count de Barras had resolved to join him in the Chesa- 
peake with his squadron. One is reminded of the tis- 
sue of movements planned from a distance, which end- 
ed in the capture of Burgoyne. 

On the 2 2d, the French troops arrived by their cir- 
cuitous route, and began to cross to Stony Point with 
their artillery, baggage, and stores. The operation ocr 
cupied between two and three days ; during v/hich time 
Washington took the Count de Rochambeau on a visit 
to West Point, to show him the citadel of the High- 
lands, an object of intense interest, in consequence of 
having been the scene of Arnold's treason. 

The two armies having safely crossed the Hudson, 
commenced on the 25th, their several lines of march 
towards the Jerseys ; the Americans for Springfield on 
the Rahway, the French for Whippany towards Trenton. 
Both armies were still kept in the dark, as to the ulti- 
mate object of their movement. An intelligent observer, 
already quoted, who accompanied the army, writes: 
" Our situation reminds me of some theatrical exhibition, 
where the interest and expectations of the spectators are 
continually increasing, and where curiosity is wrought 
to the highest point. Our destination has been for 
some time matter of perplexing doubt and uncertainty; 

VOL. lY. — 22 


bets have run higli on one side, that we were to occupy 
the ground marked out on the Jersey shore, to aid in 
the siege of New York ; and on the other, that we are 
steahng a inarch on the enemy, and are actually des- 
tined to Virginia, in pursuit of the army under Cornwal- 
j^g * -» * * ^ number of bateaux mounted on 
carriages have followed in our train ; supposed for the 
purpose of conveying the troops over to Staten Island/'* 

The mystery was at length solved. " We have now 
passed all the enemy's posts," continues the foregoing 
writer, " and are pursuing our route, with increased ra- 
pidity, toward Philadelphia. Waggons have been pre- 
pared to carry the soldiers' packs, that they may press 
forward with greater facility. Our destination can no 
longer be a secret. Cornwallis is unquestionably the 
object of our present expedition. * * * * jjig 
Excellency, General AVashington, having succeeded in a 
masterly piece of generalsMp, has now the satisfaction 
of leaving his adversary to ruminate on his own morti- 
fying situation, and to anticipate the perilous fate which 
awaits his friend, Lord Cornwallis, in a different 
quarter." f 

Washington had in fact reached the Delaware with 
his troops, before Sir Henry Clinton was aware of their 
destination. It was too late to oppose their march, 

* Thacher's Military Journal, p. 323. 

t Washington several years afterwards, speaking of this important march 
in a letter to Noah Webster, writes : " That much trouble was taken, .and 
finesse used, to misguide and bewilder Sir Henry Clinton in regard to the real 
object, by fictitious communications, as well as by making a deceptive provi- 
sion of ovens, forage and boats in his neighborhood, is certain. Nor were less 
pains taken to deceive our own army, for I had always conceived where the 
imposition does not completely take place at home, it would never suflSciently 
STicceed abroad." — Sparks, ix. 404. 


even had his forces been adequate. As a kind of coun- 
terplot, therefore, and in the hope of distracting the 
attention of the American commander, and drawing off a 
part of his troops, he hurried off an expedition to the 
eastward, to insult the State of Connecticut, and attack 
her seaport of New London. 

The command of this expedition, which was to be 
one of ravage and destruction, was given to Arnold, as 
if it was necessary to complete the measure of his infa- 
my, that he should carry fire and sword into his native 
State, and desecrate the very cradle of his infancy. 

On the 6th of September he appeared off the 
harbor of New London with a fleet of ships and trans- 
ports and a force of two thousand infantry and three 
hundred cavalry; partly British troops, but a great 
part made up of American royalists and refugees, and 
Hessian Yagers. 

New London stands on the west bank of the river 
Thames. The approach to it was defended by two 
forts on opposite sides of the river, and about a mile 
below the town ; Port Trumbull on the west and Port 
Griswold on the east side, on a height called Groton 
Hill. The troops landed in two divisions of about 
eight hundred men each ; one under Lieutenant Colo- 
nel Eyre on the east side, the other under Arnold on 
the west, on the same side with New London and 
about three miles below it. Arnold met with but little 
opposition. The few militia which manned an advance 
battery and Port Trumbull abandoned their posts and 
crossed the river to Port Griswold. He pushed on 
and took possession of the town. 

Colonel Eyre had a harder task. The mihtia, about 


one hundred and fifty-seven strong, had collected in 
Fort Griswold, hastily and imperfectly armed it is 
true, some of them merely with spears ; but they 
were brave men and had a brave commander. Colonel 
William Ledyard, brother of the celebrated traveller. 
The fort was square and regularly built. Arnold 
unaware of its strength had ordered Colonel Eyre to 
take it by a coup-de-main. He discovered his mistake 
and sent counter orders, but too late. 

Colonel Eyre forced the pickets ; made his way 
into the fosse and attacked the fort on three sides ; it 
was bravely defended; the enemy were repeatedly 
repulsed ; they returned to the assault, scrambled up 
on each other's shoulders, effected a lodgment on the 
fraise, and made their way with fixed bayonets through 
the embrasures. Colonel Eyre received a mortal wound 
near the works ; Major Montgomery took his place ; a 
negro thrust him through with a spear as he mounted 
the parapet ; Major Bromfield succeeded to the com- 
mand and carried the fort at the point of the bayonet. 
In fact after the enemy were within the walls the fight- 
ing was at an end and the slaughter commenced. 
Colonel Ledyard had ordered his men to lay down 
their arms; 'but the enemy, exasperated by the resist- 
ance they had experienced and by the death of their 
officers, continued the deadly work of the musket and 
the bayonet. Colonel Ledyard, it is said, was thrust 
through with his own sword after yielding it up to 
Major Bromfield. Seventy of the garrison were slain 
and thirty-five desperately wounded; and most of 
them after the fort had been taken. The massacre 
wa^' chiefly perpetrated by the tories, refugees and 


Hessians. Major Bromfield himself was a New Jersey 
loyalist. The rancor of such men against their patriot 
countrymen was always deadly. The loss of the 
enemy was two officers and forty-six soldiers killed, and 
eight officers and one hundred and thirty-five soldiers 
wounded. , 

Arnold in the mean time had carried on the work' 
of destruction at New London. Some of the Ameri- 
can shipping had effected their escape up the river, but 
a number were burnt. Fire too was set to the public 
stores ; it communicated to the dwelling houses, and, 
in a little while, the whole place was wrapped in 
flames. The destruction was immense, not only of 
public but private property : many families once living 
in affluence were ruined and rendered homeless. 

Having completed his ravage, Arnold retreated to 
his boats, leaving the town stiU burning. Alarm guns 
had roused the country; the traitor was pursued by 
the exasperated yeomanry; he escaped their well- 
merited vengeance, but several of his men were kiUed 
and wounded. 

So ended his career of infamy in his native land ; 
a land which had once dehghted to honor him, but in 
which his name was never thenceforth to be pronounced 
without a malediction. 

The expedition, while it added one more hateful 
and disgraceful incident to this unnatural war, failed 
of its main object. It had not diverted Washington 
from the grand object on which he had fixed his mind. 
On the 3'Oth of August he, with his suite, had arrived 
at Philadelphia about noon, and alighted at the city 
tavern amidst enthusiastic crowds, who welcomed him 


with acclamations, but wondered at the object of this 
visit. During his sojourn in the city he was hospitably 
entertained at the house of Mr. Morris, the patriotic 
financier. The greatest difficulty with which he had to 
contend in his present enterprise was the want of 
funds, part of his troops not having received any pay 
for a long time, and having occasionally given evidence 
of great discontent. The service upon which they 
were going was disagreeable to the northern regiments, 
and the douceur of a little hard money would have an 
effect, Washington thought, to put them into a proper 
temper. In this emergency he was accommodated by 
the Count de R-ochambeau with a loan of twenty thou- 
sand hard dollars, which Mr. Robert Morris engaged to 
repay by the first of October. This pecuniary pres- 
sure was relieved by the arrival in Boston on the 25th 
of August of Colonel John Laurens from his mission 
to Trance, bringing with him two and a half millions 
of livres in cash, being part of a subsidy of six mil- 
lions of livres granted by the French King. 

On the 2d of September the American troops 
passed through Philadelphia. Their line of march, 
including appendages and attendants, extended nearly 
two miles. The general officers and their staffs were 
well dressed and well mounted, and followed by ser- 
vants and baggage. In the rear of every brigade were 
several field-pieces with ammunition waggons. The 
soldiers kept step to the sound of the drum and fife. 
In the rear followed a great number of waggons laden 
with tents, provisions and baggage, beside a few sol- 
diers' wives and children. The weather was warm and 
dry. The troops as they marched raised a cloud of 


dust " like a smothering snow storm," which almost 
blinded them. The begriming effect was especially 
mortifying to the campaigner whom we quote, '' as 
ladies were viewing them from the windows of every 
house as they passed." Notwithstanding the dusty 
and somewhat ragged plight of the soldiery, however, 
they were cheered with enthusiasm by the populace, 
who hailed them as the war-worn defenders of the 

The French troops entered on the following day, 
but in different style. Halting within a mile of the 
city they arranged their arms and accoutrements ; 
brushed the dust off of their gay white uniforms faced 
with green, and then marched in with buoyant step and 
brilliant array to the swelling music of a military band. 
The streets were again thronged by the shouting popu- 
lace. The windows were crowded with ladies ; among 
whom probably were some of the beauties who had 
crowned the British knights in the chivalrous mime 
of the Mischianza, now ready to bestow smiles and 
wreaths on their Gallic rivals. 

At Philadelphia Washington received despatches 
from Lafayette, dated the 21st and 24th of August 
from his camp at the Porks of York River in Virginia. 
The embarkation at Portsmouth, which the Marquis 
had supposed might be intended for New York, was 
merely for Yorktown, where Cornwallis had determined 
to establish the permanent post ordered in his instruc- 

Yorktown was a small place situated on a project- 
ing bank on the south side of York River, opposite 
a promontory called Gloucester Point. The river 


between was not more than a mile wide, but deep 
enough to admit ships of a large size and burthen. 
Here concentrating his forces he had proceeded to 
fortify the opposite points, calculating to have the 
works finished by the beginning of October ; at which 
time Sir Henry Clinton intended to recommence opera- 
tions on the Chesapeake. Believing that he had no 
present enemy but Lafayette to guard against, Corn- 
wallis felt so secure in his position that he wrote to 
Sir Henry on the 22d of August, offering to detach a 
thousand or twelve hundred men to strengthen New 
York against the apprehended attack of the combined 

While Comwallis, undervaluing his youthful adver- 
sary, felt thus secure, Lafayette, in conformity to the 
instructions of Washington, was taking measures to 
cut off any retreat by land which his lordship might 
attempt on the arrival of De Grasse. With this view 
he called upon General Thomas Nelson, the governor 
of Virginia, for six hundred of the militia to be col- 
lected upon Blackwater ; detached troops to the south 
of James River, under pretext of a design to dislodge 
the British from Portsmouth, and requested General 
Wayne to move southward, to be ready to cross James 
River at Westover. 

As to himself, Lafayette was prepared, as soon as 
he should hear of the arrival of De Grasse to march at 
once to Williamsburg and form a junction with the 
troops which were to be landed from the fleet. Thus 
a net was quietly drawn round Cornwallis by the 
youthful general, while the veteran felt himself so 

1T81.] Washington's concern about de grasse. 345 

secure that he was talking of detaching troops to New 

Lafayette, at the time of writing his dispatches, was 
ignorant that Washington had taken command of the 
expedition coming to his aid, and expressed an affec- 
tionate sohcitude on the subject. "In the present 
state of affairs, my dear General,'* writes he, " I hope 
you will come yourself to Virginia, and that, if the 
French army moves this way, I will have at least the 
satisfaction of beholding you, myself, at the head of 
the combined armies." In concluding his letter, he 
writes, " Adieu, my dear General. I heartily thank 
you for having ordered me to remain in Virginia ; and 
to your goodness to me I am owing the most beautiful 
prospect I may ever behold." 

The letter of Lafayette gave no account of the 
Count de Grasse, and Washington expressed him- 
self distressed beyond measure to know what had be- 
come of that commander. He had heard of an 
English fleet at sea steering for the Chesapeake, and 
feared it might arrive and frustrate all the flattering 
prospects in that quarter. Still, as usual, he looked to 
the bright side. " Of many contingencies," writes he, 
" we will hope for the most propitious events. Should 
the retreat of Lord Comwallis by water be cut off by 
the arrival of either of the French fleets, I am per- 
suaded you will do-all in your power to prevent his 
escape by land. May that great felicity be reserved 
for you." 

Washington left Philadelphia on the 5th of Sep- 
tember, on his way to the head of Elk. About three 
miles below Chester he was met by an express bearing 


tidings of the arrival of the Count de Grasse in the 
Chesapeake with twenty-eight ships of the Une. Wash- 
ington instantly rode back to Chester to rejoice with 
the Count de Rochambeau, who was coming down to 
that place from Philadelphia by water. They had a 
joyous dinner together, after which Washington pro- 
ceeded in the evening on his destination. 

The express meantime reached Philadelphia most 
opportunely. There had been a grand review of the 
French troops, at which the President of Congress and 
all the fashion of the city were present. It was fol- 
lowed by a banquet given to the officers by the Prench 
minister, the Chevalier de Luzerne. Scarce were the 
company seated at table when dispatches came an- 
nouncing the arrival of De Grasse and the landing of 
three thousand troops under the Marquis St. Simon, 
who, it was added, had opened a communication with 

All now was mutual gratulation at the banquet. 
The news soon went forth and spread throughout the 
city. Acclamations were to be heard on all sides, and 
crowds assembling before the house of the Prench 
Minister rent the air with hearty huzzas for Louis the 

Washington reached the Head of Elk on the 6th. 
The troops and a great part of the stores were already 
arrived and beginning to embark. Thence he wrote 
to the Count de Grasse felicitating him on his arrival ; 
and informing him that the van of the two armies were 
about to embark and fall down the Chesapeake, form a 
junction with the troops under the Count de St. 
Simon and the Marquis de Lafayette, and co-operate 


in blocking up Cornwallis in York River, so as to pre- 
vent his retreat by land or his getting any supplies 
from the country. " As it will be of the greatest im- 
portance/' writes he, "to prevent the escape of his 
lordship from his present position, I am persuaded 
that every measure which prudence can dictate will be 
adopted for that purpose, until the arrival of our com- 
plete force, when I hope his lordship will be compelled 
to yield his ground to the superior power of our com- 
bined forces." 

Every thing had thus far gone on well, but there 
were not vessels enough at the Head of Elk for the 
immediate transportation of all the troops, ordnance 
and stores ; a part of the troops would have to pro- 
ceed to Baltimore by land. Leaving General Heath 
to bring on the American forces, and the Baron de 
Viomenil the French, Washington, accompanied by De 
Rochambeau, crossed the Susquehanna early on the 
8th, and pushed forward for Baltimore. He was met 
by a deputation of the citizens, who made him a pub- 
lic address, to which he replied, and his arrival was 
celebrated in the evening with illuminations. 

On the 9th he left Baltimore a little after daybreak, 
accompanied only by Colonel Humphreys; the rest 
of his suite were to follow at their ease ; for himself 
he was determined to reach Mount Vernon that eve- 
ning. Six years had elapsed since last he was under 
its roof; six wearing years of toil, of danger and con- 
stant anxiety. During all that time, and amid all his 
mihtary cares, he had kept up a regular weekly corres- 
pondence with his steward or agent, regulating all the 


affairs of his rural establishment with as much exact- 
ness as he did those of the army. 

It was a late hour when he arrived at Mount Ver- 
non ; where he was joined by his suite at dinner time on 
the following day and by the Count de Rochambeau ii 
the evening. General Chastellux and his aides-de-camp 
arrived there on the 11th, and Mount Vernon was now 
crowded with guests, who were aU entertained in the 
ample style of old Virginian hospitality. On the 12th, 
tearing himself away once more from the home of his 
heart, Washington with his military associates contin- 
ued onward to join Lafayette at WiUiamsburg. 



Lord Cornwallis had been completely roused from 
his dream of security by the appearance on the 28th 
of August, of the fleet of Count de Grasse within the 
capes of the Delaware. Three Trench ships of the line 
and a frigate soon anchored at the mouth of York 
River. The boats of the fleet were immediately busy 
conveying three thousand three hundred land forces, 
under the Marquis de St. Simon, up James River to 
form the preconcerted junction with those under 

Awakened to his danger, ComwaUis, as Washington 
had foreseen, meditated a retreat to the Carolinas. It 
was too late. York River was blocked up by French 
ships ; James River was filled with armed vessels cov- 
ering the transportation of the troops. His lordship 
reconnoitred Williamsburg; it was too strong to be 
forced, and Wayne had crossed James River to join his 
troops to those under the marquis. Seeing his retreat 


cut off in every direction, Cornwallis proceeded to 
strengthen his works; sending off repeated expresses to 
apprise Sir Henry CHnton of his perilous situation. 

The Count de Grasse, eager to return to the West 
Indies, urged Lafayette to make an immediate attack 
upon the British army, with the American and Trench 
troops under his command, without waiting for the com- 
bined force under Washington and Rochambeau, of- 
fering to aid him with marines and sailors from the 
ships. The admiral was seconded by the Marquis de 
St. Simon. They represented that the works at York- 
town were yet incomplete; and that that place and 
Gloucester, immediately opposite, might be carried by 
storm by their superior force. It was a brilliant achieve- 
ment which they held out to tempt the youthful 
commander, but he remained undazzled. He would 
not, for the sake of personal distinction, lavish the lives 
of the brave men confided to him ; but would await 
the arrival of the combined forces, when success might 
be attained with little loss, and would leave to Wash- 
ington the coup de grace ; in all probabiUty the closing 
triumph of the war. 

The Count de Grasse had been but a few days an- 
chored within the Chesapeake, and fifteen hundred of 
his seamen were absent, conveying the troops up James 
River, when Admiral Graves, who then commanded the 
British naval force on the American coast, appeared 
with twenty sail off the capes of Virginia. De Grasse, 
anxious to protect the squadron of the Count de Barras, 
which was expected from Rhode Island, and which it 
was the object of Graves to intercept, immediately 
slipped his cables and put to sea with twenty-four 


ships, leaving the rest to blockade York and James 

Washington received information of the saihng of 
the fleet from the capes, shortly after his departure from 
Mount Vernon, and instantly despatched missives, or- 
dering the troops who were embarked at the Head of 
Elk to stop until the receipt of further inteUigence, fear- 
ing that the navigation in Chesapeake Bay might not 
be secure. Por two days he remained in anxious un- 
certainty, until, at Bowling Green, he was relieved by 
favorable rumors concerning the fleet, which were con- 
firmed on his arriving at Williamsburg on the evening 
of the 14th. 

Admiral Graves, it appeared, on the sallying forth 
of the French fleet, immediately prepared for action, al- 
though he had five ships less than De Grasse. The 
latter, however, was not disposed to accept the chal- 
lenge, his force being weakened by the absence of so 
many of his seamen, employed in transporting troops. 
His plan was to occupy the enemy by partial actions 
and skilful manoeuvres, so as to retain his possession 
of the Chesapeake, and cover the arrival of De Barras. 

The vans of the two fleets, and some ships of the 
centre, engaged about four o'clock in the afternoon of 
the 7th of September. The conflict soon became ani- 
mated. Several ships were damaged, and many men 
killed and wounded on both sides. 

De Grasse, who had the advantage of the wind, 
drew off" after sunset ; satisfied with the damage done 
and sustained and not disposed for a general action ; 
nor was the British admiral inclined to push the en- 
gagement so near night and on a hostile coast. Among 


his ships that had suffered, one had been so severely 
handled that she was no longer seaworthy and had to 
be burnt. Por four days the fleets remained in sight 
of each other, repairing damages and manoeuvring; 
but the French having still the advantage of the wind 
maintained their prudent policy of avoiding a general 
engagement. At length De Grasse, learning that De 
Barras was arrived within the capes, formed a junction 
with him, and returned with him to his former anchor- 
ing ground, with two English frigates which he had 
captured. Admiral Graves, disappointed in his hope of 
intercepting De Barras, and finding the Chesapeake 
guarded by a superior force with which he could not 
prudently contend ; having moreover to encounter the 
autumnal gales in the battered state of several of his 
ships, left the coast and bore away for New York. 
Under convoy of the squadron of De Barras came a 
fleet of transports, conveying land forces under M. de 
Choisy with siege artillery and military stores. It 
should be mentioned to the credit of De Barras that, 
in his orders from the French minister of marine to 
come to America, he was left at liberty to make a 
cruise on the banks of Newfoundland; so as not to 
be obliged to serve under De Grasse who was his 
inferior in rank, but whom the minister wished to con- 
tinue in the command. " But De Barras," writes 
Lafayette, " nobly took the part of conducting, himself, 
the artillery from Rhode Island, and of coming with all 
his vessels and placing himself under the orders of an 
admiral his junior in service." * 

* Memoires de Lafayette, t L p. 467. 


From Williamsburg, Washington sent forwardr 
Count Tersen, one of the aides-de-camp of De Ro- 
chambeau, to huiTj on the French troops with all possi- 
ble dispatch. He wrote to the same purport to General 
Lincoln : " Every day we now lose," said he, " is com- 
paratively an age ; as soon as it is in our power with 
safety Ave ought to take our position near the enemy. 
Hurry on then, my dear Sir, with your troops on the 
wings of speed. The want of our men and stores is 
now all that retards our immediate operations. Lord 
Cornwallis is improving every moment to the best 
advantage ; and every day that is given him to make 
his preparations may cost us many lives to encounter 

It was with great satisfaction Washington learned 
that Admiral de Barras had anticipated his wishes, in 
sending transports and prize vessels up the bay to 
assist in bringing on the French troops. In the mean 
time he with Count de Rochambeau was desirous of 
having an interview with the admiral on board of his 
ship, provided he could send some fast sailing cutter 
to receive them. A small ship, the Queen Charlotte, 
was furnished by the admiral for the purpose. It 
had been captured on its voyage from Charleston to 
New York, having Lord Rawdon on board, and had 
been commodiously fitted up for his lordship's recep- 

On board of this vessel Washington and De Ro- 
chambeau, with the Chevalier de Chastellux and Generals 
Knox and Duportail, embarked on the 18th, and pro- 
ceeding down James River, came the next morning in 
sight of the French fleet riding at anchor in Lynn 
VOL. IV. — 23 


Haven Bay, just under the point of Cape Henry. 
About noon they got along side of the admiral's ship 
the Ville de Paris, and were received on board with 
great ceremony and naval and military parade. Admi- 
ral de Grasse was a tall, fine-looking man, plain in his 
address and prompt in the discharge of business. A 
plan of co-operation was soon arranged to be carried 
into effect on the arrival of the American and Trench 
armies from the north, which were actually on their 
way down the Chesapeake from the Head of Elk. 
Business being despatched dinner was served, after 
which they were conducted throughout the ship and 
received the visits of the officers of the fleet, almost all 
of whom came on board. 

About sunset Washington and his companions took 
their leave of the admiral and returned on board of 
their own little ship ; when the yards of all the ships 
of the fleet were manned and a parting sahite was 
thundered from the Ville de Paris. Owing to storms 
and contrary winds and to other adverse circumstances 
the party did not reach Williamsburg until the 2 2d, 
when intelhgence was received that threatened to dis- 
concert all the plans formed in the recent council on 
board ship. Admiral Digby, it appeared, had arrived 
in New York with six ships of the line and a reinforce- 
ment of troops. This intelligence Washington in- 
stantly transmitted to the Count de Grasse by one of 
the Count de Rochambeau's aides-de-camp. De Grasse 
in reply expressed great concern, observing that the 
position of affairs was changed by the arrival of Digby. 
" The enemy," writes he, " is now nearly equal to us 
in strength, and it would be imprudent in me to place 


myself in a situation that would prevent my attacking 
them should they attempt to afford succor." He pro- 
posed, therefore, to leave two vessels at the mouth of 
York River, and the corvettes and frigates in James 
River, which, with the French troops on shore, would 
be sufficient assistance ; and to put to sea with the rest, 
either to intercept the enemy and fight them where 
there was good sea room, or to blockade them in New 
York should they not have sailed. 

On reading this letter, Washington dreaded that 
the present plan of co-operation might likewise fall 
through, and the fruits^ of all his schemes and combi- 
nations be lost when within his reach. With the as- 
sistance of the fleet the reduction of Yorktown was 
demonstrably certain, and the surrender of the garri- 
son must go far to terminate the war; whereas the 
departure of the ships, by leaving an opening for suc- 
cor to the enemy, might frustrate these brilliant pros- 
pects and involve the whole enterprise in ruin and dis- 
grace. Even a momentary absence of the French fleet 
might enable Cornwallis to evacuate Yotktown and 
effect a retreat, with the loss merely of his baggage 
and artillery and perhaps a few soldiers. These and 
other considerations were urged in a letter to the 
count, remonstrating against his putting to sea. La- 
fayette was the bearer of the letter, and seconded it 
with so many particulars respecting the situation of 
the armies, and argued the case so earnestly and elo- 
quently, that the count consented to remain. It was, 
furthermore, determined in a council of war of his 
officers, that a large part of the fleet should anchor in 
York River ; four or five vessels be stationed so as to 


pass up and down James River, and a battery for can- 
non and mortars be erected with the aid of the aUied 
troops on Point Comfort. 

By the 25th the American and Prench troops were 
mostly arrived and encamped near Wilhamsburg, and 
preparations were made for the decisive blow. 

Yorktown, as has already been noted, is situated 
on the south side of York River, immediately opposite 
Gloucester Point. Cornwallis had fortified the town 
by seven redoubts and six batteries on the land side, 
connected by intrenchments ; and there was a line of 
batteries along the river. The town was flanked on 
each side by deep ravines and creeks emptying into 
York River ; their heads, in front of the town, being 
not more than half a mile apart. The enemy had 
availed themselves of these natural defences, in the 
arrangement of extensive outworks, with redoubts 
strengthened by abatis ; field-works mounted with can- 
non, and trees cut down and left with the branches 
pointed outward. 

Gloucester Point had likewise been fortified. Its 
batteries, with those of Yorktown, commanded the in- 
tervening river. Ships of war were likewise stationed 
on it, protected by the guns of the forts, and the chan- 
nel was obstructed by sunken vessels. 

The defence of Gloucester Point was confided to 
Lieutenant Colonel Dundas, with six or seven hundred 
men. The enemy's main army was encamped about 
Yorktown within the range of the outer redoubts and 

Washington and his staff bivouacked that night on 
the ground in the open air. He slept under a mul- 

< a ;,' 2 a a « >-. a a s^ Si; c 


berry tree, the root serving for his pillow. On the fol- 
lowing morning the two armies drew out on each side 
of Beaver Dam Creek. The Americans, forming the 
right v/ing, took station on the east side of the creek ; 
the French, forming the left wing, on the west. 

That evening Cornwallis received dispatches from 
Sir Henry Clinton informing him of the arrival of 
Admiral Digby, and that a fleet of twenty-three ships 
of the line, with above five thousand troops would 
sail to his assistance probably on the 5th of October. 
A heavy firing would be made by them on arriving at 
the entrance of the Chesapeake. On hearing it, if all 
went well at Yorktown his lordship was to make three 
separate columns of smoke; and four, should he still 
possess the post at Gloucester Point. 

Cornwallis immediately wrote in reply: "I have 
ventured these last two days to look General Washing- 
ton's whole force in the face in the position on the out- 
side of my works, and have the pleasure to assure your 
Excellency that there is but one wish throughout the 
army, which is that the enemy would advance. * * 
* * I shall retire this night within the works, and 
have no doubt, if relief arrives in any reasonable time, 
York and Gloucester will be both in the possession of 
His Majesty's troops. I believe your Excellency must 
depend more on the sound of our cannon than the sig- 
nal of smokes for information ; however, I will attempt 
it on the Gloucester side." * 

That night his lordship accordingly abandoned his 
outworks and drew his troops within the town; a 

* Correspondence relative to defence of York, p. 199. 

358 LIFE or WASHINGTON. [1781. 

measure strongly censured by Tarleton in his Commen- 
taries as premature ; as cooping up the troops in nar- 
row quarters, and giving up a means of disputing, inch 
by inch, the approaches of the besiegers, and thus gain- 
ing time to complete the fortifications of the town. 

The outworks thus abandoned were seized upon 
the next morning by detachments of American light 
infantry and French troops, and served to cover the 
troops employed in throwing up breastworks. Colo- 
nel Alexander Scammel, officer of the day, while recon- 
noitring the ground abandoned by the enemy, was 
set upon by a party of Hessian troopers. H*e at- 
tempted to escape, but was wounded, captured, and 
carried off to Yorktown. Washington, to whom he 
had formerly acted as aide-de-camp, interested himself 
in his favor, and at his request Cornwallis permitted 
him to be removed to Williamsburg, where he died in 
the course of a few days. He was an officer of much 
merit, and his death was deeply regretted by Washing- 
ton and the army. 

The combined French and American forces were 
now twelve thousand strong, exclusive of the Virginia 
militia which Governor Nelson had brought into the 
field. An instance of patriotic self-devotion on the 
part of this functionary is worthy of special record. 
The treasury of Virginia was empty; the governor, 
fearful that the militia would disband for want of pay, 
had endeavored to procure a loan from a wealthy indi- 
vidual on the credit of the State. In the precarious 
situation of affairs the guarantee was not deemed 
sufficient. The governor pledged his own property, 
and obtained the loan at his individual risk. 

1781.] THE INVESTMENT. ' 359 

On the morning of the 28th of September the 
combined armies marched from WiUiamsburg toward 
Yorktown, about twelve miles distant, and encamped at 
night within two miles of it, driving in the pickets 
and some patrols of cavalry. General de Choisy was 
sent across York River, with Laiizun's legion and Gene- 
ral Weedon's brigade of militia, to watch the enemy on 
the side of Gloucester Point. 

By the first of October the line of the besiegers, 
nearly two miles from the works, formed a semicircle, 
each end resting on the river, so that the investment 
by lend was complete; while the Count de Grasse 
with the main fleet, remained in Lynn Haven Bay, to 
keep off assistance by sea. 

About this time the Americans threw up two re- 
doubts in the night, which, on being discovered in 
the morning, were severely cannonaded. Three of the 
men were killed and several severely wounded. While 
Washington was superintending the works, a shot 
struck the ground close by him throwing up a cloud 
of dust. The Bev. Mr. Evans, chaplain in the army, 
who was standing by him, was greatly agitated. Tak- 
ing off his hat and showing it covered with sand, " See 
here. General," exclaimed he. " Mr. Evans," said 
Washington with grave pleasantry, '* you had bet- 
ter carry that home, and show it to your wife and 

The besieged army began now to be greatly dis- 
tressed for want of forage, and had to kill many of 
their horses, the carcasses of which were continually 

* Thacher's Military Journal, p. 336. 

360 • LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [1781. 

floating down the river. In the evening of the 2d of 
October, Tarleton with his legion and the mounted in- 
fantry were passed over the river to Gloucester Point, 
to assist in foraging. At daybreak Lieutenant-colonel 
Dundas led out part of his garrison to forage the 
neighboring country. About ten o'clock the waggons 
and bat horses laden with Indian corn were returning, 
covered by a party of infantry, with Tarleton and his 
dragoons as a rear-guard. The waggons and infantry 
had nearly reached York River, when word was brought 
that an enemy was advancing in force. The report 
was confirmed by a cloud of dust from which emerged 
Lauzun and the French hussars and lancers. 

Tarleton, with part of his legion, advanced to meet 
them ; the rest, with Simcoe's dragoons, remained as a 
rear-guard in a skirt of woods. A skirmish ensued, 
gallantly sustained on each side, but the superiority of 
Tarleton's horses gave him the advantage. General 
Choisy hastened up with a corps of cavalry and infan- 
try to support the hussars. In the medley fight a 
dragoon's horse, wounded by a lance, plunged and over- 
threw both Tarleton and his steed. The fear-guard 
rushed from their covert to rescue their commander. 
They came galloping up in such disorder, that they 
were roughly received by Lauzun's hussars, who were 
drawn up on the plain. In the mean time Tarleton 
scrambled out of the melee, mounted another horse, 
and ordered a retreat to enable his men to recover 
from their confusion. Dismounting forty infantry he 
placed them in a thicket. Their fire checked the hus- 
sars in their pursuit. The British dragoons rallied 
and were about to charge ; when the hussars retired 


behind their infantry ; and a fire was opened upon the 
British by some mihtia from behind a fence. Tarleton 
again ordered a retreat to be sounded, and the con- 
flict came to an end. The loss of the British in killed 
and wounded was one officer and eleven men ; that of 
the French two officers and fourteen hussars. This 
was the last afikir of Tarleton and his legion in the 
revolutionary war. 

The next day General Choisy being reinforced by 
a detachment of marines from the fleet of De Grasse, 
cut ofl" all communication by land between Gloucester 
and the country. 

At this momentous time, when the first parallel 
before the besieged city was about to be opened, 
Washington received dispatches from his faithful coad- 
jutor General Greene, giving him important intelligence 
of his co-operations in the South ; to consider which 
we will suspend for a moment our narrative of affairs 
before Yorktown. 





For some weeks in the months of July and August, 
General Greene had remained encamped with his main 
force on the high hills of Santee, refreshing and dis- 
ciplining his men, and awaiting the arrival of promised 
reinforcements. He was constantly looking to Wash- 
ington as his polar star by which to steer, and feared 
despatches from him had been intercepted. "I wait 
with impatience for intelligence," said he, " by which I 
mean to govern my own operations. If things are 
flattering in the North, I will hazard less in the South ; 
but, if otherwise there, we must risk more here." In 
the mean time Marion with his light troops, aided by 
Colonel Washington with his dragoons, held control 
over the lower Santee. Lee was detached to operate 
with Sumter's brigade on the Congaree, and Colonel 
Harden with his mounted militia was scouring the 
country about the Edisto. The enemy was thus ha- 
rassed in every quarter \ their convoys and foraging 


parties waylaid ; and Stuart was obliged to obtain all 
his supplies from below. 

Greene was disappointed as to reinforcements. All 
that he received were two hundred North Carolina 
levies and five hundred South Carolina militia ; still he 
prepared for a bold effort to drive the enemy from their 
remaining posts. For that purpose, on the 22d of 
August he broke up his encampment on the " benign 
hills of Santee," to march against Colonel Stuart. 
The latter still lay encamped about sixteen miles dis- 
tant in a straight line ; but the Congaree and Wateree 
lay between, bordered by swamps overflowed by recent 
rains ; to cross them and reach the hostile camp it was 
necessary to make a circuit of seventy miles. While 
Greene was making it, Stuart abandoned his position 
and moved down forty miles to the vicinity of Eutaw 
Springs, where he was reinforced by a detachment 
from Charleston with provisions. 

Greene followed on by easy marches. He had 
been joined by General Pickens with a party of the 
Ninety Six mihtia and by the State troops under Lieut, 
colonel Henderson ; and now moved slowly to give 
time for Marion, who was scouring the country about 
the Edisto, to rejoin him. This was done on the 5th 
of September at Laurens' place, within seventeen miles 
of Stuart's camp. Here baggage, tents, every thing 
that could impede motion was left behind, and on the 
afternoon of the seventh the army was pushed on 
within seven miles of the Eutaws, where it bivouacked 
for the night, Greene lying on the ground wrapped in 
his cloak with the root of a tree for a pillow. 

At four o'clock in the morning his Httle army was 


in motion. His whole force at that time did not 
exceed two thousand men ; that of the enemy he was 
seeking, about twenty-three hundred. The Americans, 
however, were superior in cavalry. Owing to the diffi- 
culty of receiving information and the country being 
covered with forests, the enemy were not aware of 
Greene's approach until he was close upon them. 

His army advanced in two columns, which were to 
form the two lines of battle. The first column, com- 
manded by General Marion, was composed of two 
battalions of North and tAvo of South Carolina militia. 
The second column of three brigades; one of North 
Carolina, one of Virginia, and one of Maryland Conti- 
nental troops. Colonel Lee with his legion covered 
tlie right flank. Colonel Henderson the left. Colonel 
Washington, with his dragoons and the Delaware 
troops, formed the reserve. Each column had two 

Within four miles of Eutaw they met with a British 
detachment of one hundred and fifty infantry and fifty 
cavalry under Major Coffin, sent forward to reconnoitre ; 
it was put to flight after a severe skirmish, in which a 
number were killed and wounded, and several taken 
prisoners. Supposing this to be the van of the enemy, 
Greene halted his columns and formed. The South 
Carolinians in equal divisions formed the right and left 
of the first line, the North Carolinians the centre. 
General Marion commanded the right ; General Pickens, 
the left ; Colonel Malmedy, the centre. Colonel Hen- 
derson with the State troops covered the left of the 
line ; Colonel Lee with his legion, the right. 

Of the second line, composed of regulars, the North 


Carolinians under General Sumner were on the right ; 
the Marylanders, under Colonel Williams, on the left ; 
the Virginians, under Colonel Campbell, in the centre. 

Colonel Washington with his cavalry followed in 
the rear as a corps de reserve. 

Two three-pounders moved on the road in the cen- 
tre of the first line. Two six-pounders in a like posi- 
tion in the second line. 

In this order the troops moved forward, keeping 
their lines as well as they could through open woods, 
which covered the country on each side of the road. 

Within a mile of the camp they encountered a 
body of infantry thrown forward by Colonel Stuart, to 
check their advance while he had time to form his 
troops in order of battle. These were drawn up in 
line in a wood two hundred yards west of Eutaw 
Springs. The right rested on Eutaw Creek (or brook), 
and was covered by a battalion of grenadiers and 
infantry under Major Majoribanks, partly concealed 
among thickets on the margin of the stream. The left 
of the hne extended across the Charleston road, with a 
reserve corps in a commanding situation covering the 
road. About fifty yards in the rear of the British hne 
was a cleared field, in which was their encampment, 
with the tents all standing. Adjoining it was a brick 
house with a paUsadoed garden, which Colonel Stuart 
intended as a protection, if too much pressed by cav- 

The advanced party of infantry, which had retired 
firing before the Americans, formed on the flanks of 
Colonel Stuart's line. The CaroUnian mihtia had 
pressed after them. About nine o'clock the action was 


commenced by the left of the American line, and soon 
became general. The militia fought for a time with 
the spirit and firmness of regulars. Their two field- 
pieces were dismounted; so was one of the enemy's ; 
and there was great carnage on both sides. The mihtia 
fought until they had expended seventeen rounds, 
when they gave way, covered by Lee and Henderson 
who fought bravely on the flanks of the line. 

Sumner, with the regulars who formed the second 
hue, advanced in fine style to take the place of the 
first. The enemy likewise brought their reserve into 
action ; the conflict continued to be bloody and severe. 
Colonel Henderson, who commanded the State troops 
in the second line, was severely wounded ; this caused 
some confusion. Sumner's brigade, formed partly of 
recruits, gave way under the superior fire of the 
enemy. The British rushed forward to secure their 
fancied victory. Greene, seeing their line disordered, 
instantly ordered Williams with his Marylanders to 
"sweep the field with the bayonet." Williams was 
seconded by Colonel Campbell with the Virginians. 
The order was gallantly obeyed. They delivered a 
deadly volley at forty yards' distance, and then advanced 
at a brisk rate, with loud shouts and trailed arms, pre- 
pared to make the deadly thrust. The British recoiled. 
While the Marylanders and Virginians attacked them 
in front, Lee with his legion turned their left flank 
and charged them in rear. Colonel Hampton with the 
State cavalry made a great number of prisoners, and 
Colonel Washington, coming up with his reserve of 
horse and foot, completed their defeat. They were 
driven back through their camp ; many were captured ; 


many fled along the Charleston road, and others threw 
themselves into the brick house. 

Major Majoribanks and his troops could still enfi- 
lade the left flank of the Americans from their covert 
among the thickets on the border of the stream. 
Greene ordered Colonel Washington with his dragoons 
and Kirk wood's Delaware infantry to dislodge them, 
and Colonel Wade Hampton to assist with the State 
troops. Colonel Washington, without waiting for the 
infantry, dashed forward with his dragoons. It was a 
rash move. The thickets were impervious to cavalry. 
The dragoons separated into small squads, and endeav- 
ored to force their way in. Horse and riders were 
shot down or bayoneted ; most of the officers were 
either killed or wounded. Colonel Washington had 
his horse shot under him ; he himself was bayoneted, 
and would have been slain had not a British officer in- 
terposed, who took him prisoner. 

By the time Hampton and Kirkwood came up the 
cavalry were routed ; the ground was strewed with the 
dead and the wounded; horses were plunging and 
struggling in the agonies of death; others galloping 
about without their riders. While Hampton rallied 
the scattered cavalry, Kirkwood with his Delawares 
charged with bayonet upon the enemy in the thickets. 
Majoribanks fell back with his troops, and made a 
stand in the pahsadoed garden of the brick house. 

Victory now seemed certain on the side of the 
Americans. They had driven the British from the 
field, and had taken possession of their camp ; unfor- 
tunately the soldiers thinking the day their own fell to 
plundermg the tents, devouring the food and carousing 


on the liquors found there. Many of them became 
intoxicated and unmanageable — the officers interfered 
in vain ; all was riot and disorder. 

The enemy in the mean time recovered from their 
confusion, and opened a fire from every window of the 
house and from the palisadoed garden. There was a 
scattering fire also from the woods and thickets on the 
right and left. Four cannon, one of which had been 
captured from the enemy, were now advanced by the 
Americans to batter the house. The fire from the 
windows was so severe that most of the officers and 
men who served the cannon were either killed or 
wounded. Greene ordered the survivors to retire ; 
they did so, leaving the cannon behind. 

Colonel Stuart was by this time rallying his left 
wing and advancing to support the right ; when Greene, 
finding his ammunition nearly exhausted, determined 
to give up the attempt to dislodge the enemy from 
their places of refuge, since he could not do it without 
severe loss ; whereas the enemy could maintain their 
posts but a few hours, and he should have a better 
opportunity of attacking them on their retreat. 

He remained on the ground long enough to collect 
his wounded, excepting those who were too much 
under the fire of the house, and then, leaving Colonel 
Hampton with a strong picket on the field, he returned 
to the position seven miles ofi*, which he had left in the 
morning ; not finding water any where nearer. 

The enemy decamped in the night after destroying 
a large quantity of provisions, staving many barrels of 
rum, and breaking upwards of a thousand stand of 
arms which they threw into the springs of the Eutaw ; 


they left behind also seventy of their wounded who 
might have impeded the celerity of their retreat. 
Their loss in killed, wounded, and captured in this 
action was six hundred and thirty-three, of whom five 
hundred were prisoners in the hands of the Ameri- 
cans ; the loss sustained by the latter in killed, wounded 
and missing, was five hundred and thirty -five. One of 
the slain most deplored was Colonel Campbell, who had 
so bravelv led on the Viro;inians. He fell in the shock 
of the charge with the bayonet. It was a glorious 
close of a gallant career. In his dying moments he 
was told of the defeat of the enemy, and is said to 
have uttered the celebrated ejaculation of General 
Wolfe, *' I die contented.'' 

In the morning General Greene, who knew not that 
the enemy had decamped, detached Lee and Marion to 
scour the country between Eutaw Springs and Charles- 
ton, to intercept any reinforcements which might be 
coming to Colonel Stuart and to retard the march of 
the latter should he be retreating. Stuart, however, 
had met with reinforcements about fourteen miles from 
Eutaw, but continued his retreat to Monk's Comer 
within twenty -five miles of Charleston. 

Greene, when informed of the retreat, had followed 
with his main force almost to Monk's Corner ; finding 
the number and position of the enemy too strong to be 
attacked with prudence, he fell back to Eutaw, where 
he remained a day or two to rest his troops, and then 
returned by easy marches to his old position near the 
heights of San tee. 

Thence, as usual, he despatched an account of 
affairs to Washington. " Since I wrote to you before 

VOL. IV. — 24 


we have had a most bloody battle. It was by far the 
most obstinate fight I ever saw. Victory was ours ; 
and had it not been for one of those little incidents 
which frequently happen in the progress of war, we 
should have taken the whole British army. * * * 
I am trying to collect a body of militia to oppose 
Lord Cornwallis should he attempt to escape through 
North Carolina to Charleston. Charleston itself may 
be reduced if you will bend your forces this way, and 
it will give me great pleasure to join your Excellency 
in the attempt ; for I shall be equally happy, whether 
as a principal or subordinate, so that the public good 
is promoted." 

Such was the purport of the intelligence received 
from Greene. Washington considered the affair at 
Eutaw Springs a victory, and sent Greene his congratu- 
lations. "Fortune," writes he, "must have })een 
coy indeed, had she not yielded at last to so parsevering 
a pursuer as you have been." 

" I can say with sincerity, that I feel witli the 
highest degree of pleasure the good effects which you 
mention as resulting from the perfect good understand- 
ing between you, the marquis and myself. I hope it 
will never be interrupted, and I am sure it never can 
be while we are all influenced by the same pure motive, 
that of love to our country and interest in the cause in 
which we are embarked." 

We wDl now resume our narrative of the siege of 



General Lincoln had the honor, on the night of the 
6th of October, of opening the first parallel before 
Yorktown. It was within six hundred yards of the 
enemy ; nearly two miles in extent, and the foundations 
were laid for two redoubts. He had under him a large 
detachment of French and American troops, and the 
work was conducted with such silence and secrecy in a 
night of extreme darkness, that the enemy were not 
aware of it until daylight. A severe cannonade was 
then opened from the fortifications ; but the men were 
under cover and continued working ; the greatest emu- 
lation and good will prevailing between the officers and 
soldiers of the allied armies thus engaged. 

By the afternoon of the 9th the parallel was com- 
pleted, and two or three batteries were ready to fire 
upon the town. " General Washington put the match 
to the first gun," says an observer who was present ; 
" a furious discharge of cannon and mortars immedi- 
ately followed, and Earl CornwalHs received his first 
salutation." * 

♦ Thacher s Military JournaL 


Governor Nelson, who had so nobly pledged his 
own property to raise funds for the public service, gave 
another proof of his self-sacrificing patriotism on this 
occasion. He was asked which part of the town could 
be most effectively cannonaded. He pointed to a large 
handsome house on a rising ground as the probable 
head-quarters of the enemy. It proved to be his own.* 

The governor had an uncle in the town, very old, 
and afflicted with the gout. He had been for thirty 
years secretary under the royal colonial government, 
and was .still called Mr. Secretary Nelson. He had 
taken no part in the Revolution, unfitted perhaps for 
the struggle, by his advanced age and his infinnities ; 
and had remained in Yorktown when taken possession 
of by the English, not having any personal enmity to 
apprehend from them. He had two sons in Washing- 
ton's army, who now were in the utmost alarm for his 
safety. At their request Washington sent in a flag, 
desiring that their father might be pennitted to leave 
the place. " I was a witness," writes the Count de 
Chastellux in his Memoirs, " of the cruel anxiety of 
one of those young men, as he kept his eyes fixed upon 
the gate of the town by which the flag would come 
out. It seemed as if he were awaiting his own sen- 
tence in the reply that was to be received. Lord 
Cornwallis had not the inhumanity to refuse so just a 

The appearance of the venerable secretary, his 
stately person, noble countenance and gray hairs, com- 
manded respect and veneration. " I can never recall 

* Given on the authority of Lafayette. Sparks, viii. 201. 

1V81.] THE CANNONADE. 373 

without emotion," writes the susceptible count, " his 
arrival at the head-quarters of General AVashington. 
He was seated, his attack of the gout still continuing, 
and while we stood around him he related with a 
serene visage, what had been the effect of our bat- 
teries." * 

His house had received some of the first shots ; 
one of his negroes had been killed, and the head-quar- 
ters of Lord Coniwallis had been so battered that he 
had been driven out of them. 

The cannonade was kept up almost incessantly for 
three or four days from the batteries above mentioned, 
and from three others managed by the French. " Being 
m the trenches every other night and day," writes an 
observer already quoted,f " I have a fine opportunity 
of witnessing the sublime and stupendous scene which 
is continually exhibiting. The bomb-shells from the 
besiegers and the besieged are incessantly crossing 
each other's path in the air. They are clearly visible in 
the form of a black ball in the day, but in the night 
they appear like a fiery meteor with a blazing tail, most 
beautifully brilliant, ascending majestically from the 
mortar to a certain altitude, and gradually descending 
to the spot where they are destined to execute their 
work of destruction. When a shell falls it whirls 
round, burrows and excavates the earth to a con- 
siderable extent, and, bursting, makes dreadful havoc 
around." " Some of our shells, over-reaching the 
town, are seen to fall into the- river, and bursting, 
throw up columns of water like the spouting monsters 
of the deep." 

* Chastellux, yol. ii. p. 19—23. t Tliachcr. 


The half-finished works of the enemy suffered 
severely, the guns were dismounted or silenced, and 
many men killed. The red-hot shot from the French 
batteries northwest of the town reached the English 
shipping. The Charon, a forty-four gun ship, and 
three large transports were set on fire by them. The 
flames ran up the rigging to the tops of the masts. 
The conflagration, seen in the darkness of the night, 
with the accompanying flash and thundering of can- 
non, and soaring and bursting of shells; and the 
tremendous explosions of the ships, all presented a 
scene of mingled magnificence and horror. 

On the night of the 11th the second parallel was 
opened by the Baron Steuben's division within three 
hundred yards of the works. The British now made 
new embrasures, and for two or three days kept up a 
galling fire upon those at work. The latter were still 
more annoyed by the flanking fire of two redoubts, 
three hundred yards in front of the British works. 
As they enfiladed the intrenchments, and were sup- 
posed also to command the communication between 
Yorktown and Gloucester, it was resolved to storm 
them both, on the night of the 14th ; the one nearest 
the river by a detachment of Americans commanded 
by Lafayette ; the other by a French detachment led 
by the Baron de Viomenil. The grenadiers of the 
regiment of Gatinais were to be at the head of the 
French detachment. This regiment had been formed 
out of that of Auvergne, of which De Rochambeau 
had been colonel, and which, by its brave and honor- 
able conduct had won the appellation of the regiment 
D'Auverf/ne sans tache (Auvergne without a stain). 


When De Rochambeau assigned the Gatinais grena- 
diers their post in the attack, he addressed to them a few 
soldier-hke words. " My lads, I have need of you this 
night, and hope you will not forget that we have served 
together in that brave regiment of Auvergne sans 
tache." They instantly replied that if he would prom.- 
ise to get their old name restored to them they would 
sacrifice themselves to the last man. The promise was 

In the arrangements for the American assault, La- 
fayette had given the honor of leading the advance to 
his own aide-de-camp, Lieutenant-colonel Gimat. This 
instantly touched the military pride of Hamilton, who 
exclaimed against it as an unjust preference, it being 
his tour of duty. The marquis excused himself by 
alleging that the arrangement had been sanctioned by 
the commander-in-chief, and could not be changed by 
him. Hamilton forthwith made a spirited appeal by 
letter to Washington. The latter, who was ignorant 
of the circumstances of the case, sent for the marquis, 
and, finding that it really was Hamilton's tour of duty, 
directed that he should be reinstated in it, which was 
done.* It was therefore arranged that Colonel Gimat 's 
battalion should lead the van and be followed by that 
of Hamilton, and that the latter should command the 
whole advanced corps. f 

About eight o'clock in the evening rockets were 
sent up as signals for the simultaneous attacks. Hamil- 
ton to his great joy led the advance of the Americans. 
The men, without waiting for the sappers to demolish 

* Lee's Memoirs of the War, ii. 342. 

f Lafayette to Washington. Correspondence of the Rev. iii, 426. 


the ahatis in regular style, pushed them aside or pulled 
them down with their hands, and scrambled over, like 
rouo;h bush fiditers. Hamilton was the first to mount 
the parapet, placing one foot on the shoulder of a 
soldier, wiio knelt' on one knee for the purpose.* The 
men mounted after him. Not a musket was fired. 
The redoubt was carried at the point of the bayonet. 
The loss of the Americans was one sergeant and eight 
privates killed, seven officers and twenty-five non-com- 
missioned officers and privates wounded. The loss of 
the enemy was eight killed and seventeen taken prison- 
ers. Among the latter was Major Campbell, who had 
commanded the redoubt. A New Hampshire captain 
of artillery would have taken his life in revenge of the 
death of his favorite Colonel Scammel, but Colonel 
Hamilton prevented him. Not a man was killed after 
he ceased to resist. f 

The French stormed the other redoubt, which was 
more strongly garrisoned, with equal gallantry, but less 
precipitation. They proceeded according to rule. The 
soldiers paused while the sappers removed the ahatis, 
during which time they were exposed to a destructive 
fire, and lost more men than did the Americans in their 
headlong attack. As the Baron de Viomenil, who led 
the party, was thus waiting, Major Barbour, Lafayette's 

* Leake's Life of John Lamb, p. 259. 

t Thacher, p. 341. 

N.B. — Gordon, in his history of the war, asserts that Lafayette, with the 
consent of Washington, ordered that, in capturing the redoubt, no quarter 
should be shown ; in retaliation of u massacre perpetrated at Fort Griswold. 
It is needless to contradict a statement so opposed to the characters of both. 
It has been denied by both Lafayette and Hamilton. Not one of the enemy 
was killed unless in action. 


aide-de-camp, came througli the tremendous fire of the 
enemy, with a message from the marquis, letting him 
know that he was in his redoubt and wished to know 
where the baron was. " Tell the marquis," replied the 
latter, " that I am not in mine, but will be in it in five 

The abatis being removed, the troops rushed to the 
assault. The Chevalier de Lameth, Lafayette's adju- 
tant-general, was the first to mount the parapet of the 
redoubt, and received a volley at arms' length from the 
Hessians who manned it. Shot through both knees he 
fell back into the ditch, and was conveyed away under 
care of his friend, the Count de Dumas. The Count 
de Deuxponts, leading on the royal grenadiers of the 
same name, was likewise wounded. 

The grenadiers of the Gatinais regiment remem- 
bered the promise of De Rochambeau, and fought with 
true Gallic fire. One third of them were slain, and 
among them Captain de Sireuil, a valiant officer of chas- 
seurs ; but the regiment by its bravery on this occasion 
regained from the king its proud name of the Hoyal 

Washington was an intensely excited spectator of 
these assaults, on the result of which so much de- 
pended. He had dismounted, given his horse to a 
servant, and taken his stand in the grand battery with 
Generals Knox and Lincoln and their staffs. The risk 
he ran of a chance shot, while watching the attack 
through an embrasure, made those about him uneasy. 
One of his aides-de-camp ventured to observe that the 
situation was very much exposed. " If you think so," 
repUed he cn^avely, " you are at liberty to step back." 


Shortly afterwards a musket ball struck the cannon 
in the embrasure, rolled along it and fell at his feet. 
General Knox grasped his arm. " My dear general," 
exclaimed he, " we can't spare you yet." " It is a 
spent ball," replied Washington quietly ; " no harm is 

When all was over and the redoubts were taken, he 
drew a long breath, and turning to Knox observed, 
" The work is done, and well done ! " Then called to 
his servant, " William, bring me my horse." 

In his despatches he declared that in these assaults 
nothing could exceed the firmness and bravery of the 
troops. Lafayette also testified to the conduct of 
Colonel Hamilton, " whose well-known talents and gal- 
lantry," writes he, " were on this occasion most con- 
spicuous and serviceable." * 

The redoubts thus taken were included the same 
night in the second parallel, and howitzers were mounted 
upon them the following day. The capture of them 
reduced Lord Cornwallis almost to despair. Writing 
that same day to Sir Henry Clinton, he observes, " my 
situation now becomes very critical ; we dare not show 
a gun to their old batteries, and I expect that their 
new ones will open to-morrow morning. * * * 
The safety of the place is, therefore, so precarious, that 
I cannot recommend that the fleet and army should 
run great risk in endeavoring to save us," — a generous 
abnegation of self on the part of the beleaguered com- 
mander. Had the fleet and army sailed, as he had 
been given to expect, about the 5th of October, 

* Lafayette to Washington. Cor. of the Rev. iii. 426. 


they might have arrived in time to save his lordship ; 
but at the date of the above letter they were still lin- 
gering in port. Delay of naval succor was fatal to 
British operations in this war. 

The second parallel was now nearly ready to open. 
Cornwallis dreaded the effect of its batteries on his 
almost dismantled works. To retard the danger as 
much as possible, he ordered an attack on two of the 
batteries that were in the greatest state of forwardness, 
their guns to be spiked. It was made a little before 
daybreak of the 16 th by about three hundred and fifty 
men, under the direction of Lieutenant-colonel Aber- 
crombie. He divided his forces ; a detachment of 
guards and a company of grenadiers attacked one 
battery, and a corps of light infantry the other. 

The redoubts which covered the batteries were 
forced in gallant style, and several pieces of artillery 
hastily spiked. By this time the supporting troops 
from the trenches came up, and the enemy were obliged 
to retreat, leaving behind them seven or eight dead and 
six prisoners. The French who had guard of this part 
of the trenches, had four officers and twelve privates 
killed or wounded, and the Americans lost one ser- 
geant. The mischief had been done too hastily. The 
spikes were easily extracted, and before evening all the 
batteries and the parallel were nearly complete. 

At this time the garrison could not show a gun on 
the side of the works exposed to attack, and the shells 
were nearly expended ; the place was no longer tenable. 
Rather than surrender, Cornwallis determined to at- 
tempt an escape. His plan was to leave his sick and 
wounded and his baggage behind, cross over in the 


night to Gloucester Point, attack Choisy's camp before 
daybreak, mount his infantry on the captured cavalry 
horses, and on such other as could be collected on the 
road, push for the upper country by rapid marches 
until opposite the fords of the great rivers, then turn 
suddenly northward, force his way through Maryland, 
Pennsylvania, and the Jerseys, and join Sir Henry 
Clinton in New York. 

It was a wild and daring scheme, but his situation 
was desperate, and the idea of surrender intolerable. 

In pursuance of this design sixteen large boats 
were secretly prepared ; a detachment was appointed to 
remain and capitulate for the town's people, the sick 
and the wounded ; a large part of the troops were trans- 
ported to the Gloucester side of the river before mid- 
night, and the second division had actually embarked, 
when a violent storm of wind and rain scattered the 
boats and drove them a considerable distance down the 
river. They were collected with difficulty. It was 
now too late to effect the passage of the second divi- 
sion before daybreak, and an effort was made to get 
back the division which had already crossed. It was 
not done until the morning was far advanced, and the 
troops in recrossing were exposed to the fire of the 
American batteries. 

The hopes of Lord Cornwallis were now at an end. 
His works were tumbling in ruins about him, under 
an incessant cannonade ; his garrison was reduced in 
number by sickness and death, and exhausted by con- 
stant watching and severe duty. Unwilling to expose 
the residue of the brave troops which had stood by him 
so faithfully, to the dangers and horrors of an assault, 

1^81.] CAPITULATION. 381 

which could not fail to be successful, he ordered a 
parley to be beaten about ten o'clock on the morning 
of the 17th, and despatched a flag with a letter to 
Washington proposing a cessation of hostilities for 
twenty-four hours, and that two officers might be 
appointed by each side to meet and settle terms for the 
surrender of the posts of York and Gloucester. 

Washington felt unwilling to grant such delay, 
when reinforcements might be on the way for Com- 
wallis from New York. In reply, therefore, he re- 
quested that, previous to the meeting of commission- 
ers, his lordship's proposals might be sent in writing to 
the American lines, for which purpose a suspension of 
hostilities, during two hours from the delivery of the 
letter, would be granted. This was complied with, 
but as the proposals ofiered by Cornwallis were not all 
admissible, Washington drew up a schedule of such 
terms as he would grant, and transmitted it to his lord- 

The armistice was prolonged. Commissioners met, 
the Viscount de Noailles and Lieutenant-colonel Lau- 
rens on the part of the allies : Colonel Dundas and 
Major Ross on the part of the British. After much 
discussion, a rough draught was made of the terms 
of capitulation to be submitted to the British general. 
These Washington caused to be promptly transcribed 
and sent to Lord CornwalHs early in the morning of 
the 19th, with a note expressing his expectation that 
they would be signed by eleven o'clock, and that the 
garrison would be ready to march out by two o'clock 
in the afternoon. Lord Cornwallis was fain to comply, 
and, accordingly, on the same day, the posts of Yorktown 


and Gloucester were surrendered to General Washing- 
ton as commander-in-chief of the combined army ; and 
the ships of war, transports and other vessels to the 
Count de Grasse, as commander of the French fleet. 
The garrison of Yorktown and Gloucester, including the 
officers of the navy and seamen of every denomination, 
were to surrender as prisoners of war to the combined 
army ; the land force to remain prisoners to the United 
States, the seamen to the King of France. 

The garrison was to be allowed the same honors 
granted to the garrison of Charleston when it surren- 
dered to Sir Henry Clinton. The officers were to 
retain their side arms ; both officers and soldiers their 
private property, and no part of their baggage or 
papers was to be subject to search or inspection. The 
soldiers were to be kept in Virginia, Maryland, or 
Pennsylvania, as much by regiments as possible, and 
supplied "vvith the same rations of provisions as the 
American soldiers. The officers were to be permitted 
to proceed, upon parole, to Europe or to any maritime 
port on the continent of America in possession of 
British troops. The Bonetta sloop-of-war was to be at 
the disposal of Lord Cornwallis ; to convey an aide-de- 
camp, with despatches to Sir Henry Clinton, with such 


The number of prisoners made by the above capitulation amounted to 7,073, 
of whom 5,950 were rank and file, six commissioned, and twenty-eight non- 
commissioned officers, and privates, had previously been captured in the two re- 
doubts, or in the sortie of the garrison. The loss sustained by the garrison 
during the siege, in killed, wounded, and missing,, amounted to 552. That of 
the combined army in killed was about 300. The combined array to which 
Cornwallis surrendered, was estimated at 16,000, of whom 7000 were French, 
5,500 contmentals, and 3,500 militia. — Holmes* Annals, vol. 2, p. 333. 


soldiers as he miglit think proper to send to New 
York, and was to sail without examination. (We will 
here observe that in this vessel, thus protected from 
scrutiny, a number of royalists, whose conduct had 
rendered them peculiarly odious to their countrymen, 
privately took their departure.) 

It was arranged in the allied camp that General 
Lincoln should receive the submission of the royal 
army, precisely in the manner in which the submission 
of his own army had been received on the surrender 
of Charleston. An eye witness has given us a graphic 
description of the ceremony. 

" At about 12 o'clock the combined army was drawn 
up in two lines more than a mile in length, the Ameri- 
cans on the right side of the road, the French on the left. 
Washington, mounted on a noble steed, and attended 
by his staff, was in front of the former ; the Count de 
Rochambeau and his suite, of the latter. The French 
troops, in complete uniform, and well equipped, made 
a brilliant appearance, and had marched to the ground 
with a band of music playing, which was a novelty in 
the American service. The American troops, but part 
in uniform, and all in garments much the worse for 
wear, yet had a spirited soldier-like air, and were not 
the worse in the eyes of their countrymen for bearing 
the marks of hard service and great privations. The 
concourse of spectators from the country seemed equal 
in number to the military, yet silence and order pre- 

About two o'clock the garrison sallied forth, and 
passed through with shouldered arms, slow and solemn 
step, colors cased, and drums beating a British march. 


They were all well clad, having been furnished with 
ne\v suits prior to the capitulation. They were led by 
General O'llara on horseback, who, riding up to Gen- 
eral Washington, took off his hat and apologized for 
the non-appearance of Lord Cornwallis, on account of 
indisposition. Washington received him with dignified 
courtesy, but pointed to Major-general Lincoln as the 
officer who was to receive the submission of the garri- 
son. By him they were conducted into a field where 
they were to ground their arms. In passing through 
the line formed by the allied army, their march was 
careless and irregular and their aspect sullen, the order 
to " ground arms," was given by their platoon officers 
with a tone of deep chagrin, and many of the soldiers 
threw down their muskets with a violence sufficient to 
break them. This irregularity was checked by General 
Lincoln ; yet it was excusable in brave men in their 
unfortunate predicament. This ceremony over, they 
were conducted back to Yorktown, to remain under 
guard until removed to their places of destination." * 

On the following morning, Washington in general 
orders congratulated the allied armies on the recent 
victory, awarding high praise to the officers and troops 
both French and American, for their conduct during 
the siege, and specifying by name several of the generals 
and other officers who had especially distinguished 
themselves. All those of his army who were under 
arrest were pardoned and set at liberty. " Divine ser- 
vice," it was added, " is to be performed to-morrow in 
the several brigades and divisions. The commander- 

* Thacher, p. 346, 


in-chief earnestly recommends that the troops, not on 
duty, should universally attend, with that seriousness 
of deportment and gratitude of heart which the recog- 
nition of such reiterated and astonishing interpositions 
of Providence demands of us." 

Cornwallis felt deeply the humiliation of this close 
to all his wide and wild campaigning, and was made the 
more sensitive on the subject by circumstances of 
which he soon became apprised. On the very day 
that he had been compelled to lay down his arms 
before Yorktown, the lingering armament intended for 
his relief, sailed from New York. It consisted of 
twenty-five ships of the line, two-fifty gun ships and 
eight frigates ; with Sir Henry Clinton and seven thou- 
sand of his best troops. Sir Henry arrived off the 
Capes of Virginia on the 24th, and gathered informa- 
tion which led him to apprehend that Lord Cornwallis 
had capitulated. He - hovered off the mouth of the 
Chesapeake until the 29th, when, having fully ascer- 
tained that he had come too late, he turned his tardy 
prows toward New York. 

Cornwallis in a letter written subsequently, renders 
the following testimony to the conduct of his captors. 
"The treatment, in general, that we have received 
from the enemy since our surrender has been perfectly 
good and proper ; but the kindness and attention that 
has been shown to us by the French officers in particu- 
lar, their delicate sensibility of our situation, their 
generous and pressing offer of money, both public and 
private, to any amount, has really gone beyond what I 
can possibly describe, and will, I hope, make an impres- 

voL. IV. — 2b 


sion in the breast of every officer, whenever tlie fortune 
of war should put any of them into our power." 

In the mean time the rejoicings which Washington 
had commenced with appropriate solemnities in the 
victorious camp, had spread throughout the Union. 
" Cornwallis is taken ! " was the universal acclaim. 
It was considered a death-blow to the war. 

Congress gave way to transports of joy. Thanks 
were voted to the commander-in-chief, to the Counts 
De Rochambeau and De Grasse, to the officers of the 
allied armies generally, and to the corps of artillery and 
engineers especially. Two stands of colors, trophies of 
the capitulation, were voted to Washington, two pieces 
of field ordnance to De Rochambeau and De Grasse ; 
and it was decreed that a marble column, commem- 
orative of the alliance between France and the United 
States, and of the victory achieved by their associated 
arms, should be erected in Yorktown. Pinally, Con- 
gress issued a proclamation appointing a day for gen- 
eral thanksgiving and prayer, in acknowledgment of 
this signal interposition of Divine Providence. 

Par different was the feeling of the British ministry 
when news of the event reached the other side of the 
Atlantic. Lord George Germain was the first to an- 
nounce it to Lord North at his office in Downing 
street. "And how did he take it?" was the inquiry. 
" As he would have taken a ball in the breast," replied 
Lord George, " for he opened his arms, exclaiming 
wildly as he paced up and down the apartment, ' Oh 
God! it is aU over!'"* 

* Wraxall's Historical Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 99, 



Washington would have followed up the reduction of 
Yorktown by a combined operation against Charleston, 
and addressed a letter to the Count de Grasse on the 
subject, but the count alleged in reply that the orders 
of his court, ulterior projects, and his engagements 
with the Spaniards rendered it impossible to remam 
the necessary time for the operation. 

The prosecution of the Southern war, therefore, 
upon the broad scale which Washington had contem- 
plated, had to be relinquished ; for, without shipping 
and a convoy, the troops and every thing necessary for a 
siege would have to be transported by land with im- 
mense trouble, expense and delay ; while the enemy by 
means of their fleets could reinforce or withdraw the 
garrison at pleasure. 

Under these circumstances Washington had to 
content himself, for the present, with detaching two 


thousand Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia Conti- 
nental troops, under General St. Clair, for the support of 
General Greene, trusting that, with this aid, he would 
be able to command the interior of South Carolina and 
confine the enemy to the town of Charleston. 

A dissolution of the combined forces now took 
place. The Marquis St. Simon embarked his troops 
on the last of October, and the Count de Grasse made 
sail on the 4th of November, taking with him two 
beautiful horses which Washington had presented to 
him in token of cordial regard. 

Lafayette seeing there was no probability of further 
active service in the present year, resolved to return to 
France on a visit to his family, and, with Washington's 
approbation, set out for Philadelphia to obtain leave of 
absence from Congress. 

The British prisoners were marched to Winchester 
in Virginia and Frederickstown in Maryland, and Lord 
Cornwallis and his principal officers sailed for New York 
on parole. 

The main part of the American army embarked for 
the Head of Elk, and returned northward under the 
command of General Lincoln, to be cantoned for the 
winter in the Jerseys and on the Hudson, so as to be 
ready for operations against New York, or elsewhere in 
the next year's campaign. 

The French army were to remain for the winter, in 
Virginia, and the Count de Rochambeau established his 
head-quarters at Williamsburg. 

Having attended in person to the distribution of 
ordnance and stores, the departure of prisoners, and 
the embarkation of the troops under Lincoln, Wash- 


ington left Yorktown on the 5th of November, and 
arrived the same day at Eltham, the seat of his friend 
Colonel Basset. He arrived just in time to receive the 
last breath of John Parke Custis, the son of Mrs. 
Washington, as he had, several years previously, ren- 
dered tender and pious offices at the death-bed of his 
sister Miss Custis. The deceased had been an object 
of Washington's care from childhood, and been cher- 
ished by him with paternal affection. Formed under 
his guidance and instructions, he had been fitted to 
take a part in the public concerns of his country, and 
had acquitted himself vvdth credit as a member of the 
Virginia legislature. He was but twenty-eight years 
old at the time of his death, and left a widow and four 
young children. It was an unexpected event, and the 
dying scene Avas rendered peculiarly affecting from the 
presence of the mother and wife of the deceased. 
Washington remained several days at Eltham to comfort 
them in their afflictions. As a consolation to Mrs. 
Washington in her bereavement, he adopted the two 
youngest children of the deceased, a boy and girl, who 
thenceforth formed a part of his immediate family. 

From Eltham, Washington proceeded to Mount 
Vernon ; but pubhc cares gave him little leisure to 
attend to his private concerns. We have seen how 
repeatedly his steady mind had been exercised in the 
darkest times of the revolutionary struggle, in buoying 
up the pubhc heart when sinking into despondency. 
He had now an opposite task to perform, to guard 
against an overweening confidence inspired by the recent 
triumph. In a letter to General Greene he writes : " I 
shall remain but a few days here, and shall proceed to 


Philadelphia, when I shall attempt to stimulate Con- 
gress to the best improvement of our late success, by 
taking the most vigorous and effectual measures to be 
ready for an early and decisive campaign the next year. 
My greatest fear is, that Congress, viewing this stroke 
in too important a point of light, may think our work 
too nearly closed, and will fall into a state of languor 
and relaxation. To prevent this error I shall employ 
every means in my power, and if unhappily we sink 
into that fatal mistake, no part of the blame shall be 

In a letter written at the same time to Lafayette, 
who, having obtained from Congress an indefinite leave 
of absence, was about to sail, he says, " I owe it to your 
friendship and to my affectionate regard for you, my 
dear marquis, not to let you leave this country, without 
carrying with you fresh marks of my attachment to 
you, and new expressions of the high sense I entertain 
of your military conduct, and other important services 
in the course of the last campaign." In reply to in- 
quiries which the marquis had made respecting the 
operations of the coming year, he declares that every 
thing must depend absolutely for success upon the 
naval force to be employed in these seas and the 
time of its appearance. " No land force," writes he, 
*' can act decisively unless it is accompanied by a mari- 
time superiority ; nor can more than negative advan- 
tages be expected without it. Por proof of this we 
have only to recur to the instances of the ease and 
facility with which the British shifted their ground, as 
advantages were to be obtained at either extremity of 
the continent, and to their late heavy loss the moment 


they failed in their naval superiority. * * * * 
A doubt did not exist, nor does it at this moment, in 
any man's mind, of the total extirpation of the British 
force in the Carolinas and Georgia, if the Count de 
Grasse could have extended his co-operation two months 

We may add here that Congress, after resolutions 
highly complimentary to the marquis, had, through the 
secretary of foreign affairs, recommended to the minis- 
ters plenipotentiary of the United States, resident in 
Europe, to confer with the marquis, and avail them- 
selves of his information relative to the situation of 
national affairs, which information the various heads 
of departments were instructed to furnish him ; and 
he was furthermore made the bearer of a letter to his 
sovereign, recommending him in the strongest terms to 
the royal consideration. Much was anticipated from 
the generous zeal of Lafayette, and the influence he 
would be able to exercise in Prance in favor of the 
American cause. 

Towards the end of November Washington was in 
Philadelphia, where Congress received him with distin- 
guished honors. He lost no time in enforcing the 
policy respecting the ensuing campaign, which he had 
set forth in his letters to General Greene and the mar- 
quis. His views were met by the military committee 
of Congress, with which he was in frequent consulta- 
tion, and by the secretaries of war, finance, and public 
affairs, who attended their conferences. Under his im- 
pulse and personal supervision, the military arrange- 
ments for 1782 were made with unusual despatch. 
On the 10th of December resolutions were passed in 


Congress for requisitions of men and money from the 
several States ; and Washington backed those requisi- 
tions by letters to the respective governors urging 
prompt compliance. Strenuous exertions, too, were 
made by Dr. Franklin, then minister in Trance, to 
secure a continuance of efficient aid from that power ; 
and a loan of six millions had been promised by the 
king after hearing of the capitulation of Yorktown. 

The persuasion that peace was at hand was, how- 
ever, too prevalent for the public to be roused to new 
sacrifices and toils to maintain what was considered 
the mere shadow of a war. The States were slow in 
furnishing a small part of their respective quotas of 
troops, and still slower in answering to the requisitions 
for money. 

After remaining four months in Philadelphia, Wash- 
ington set out in March to rejoin the army at Newburg 
on the Hudson. He was at Morristown in the Jerseys 
on the 28th, when a bold project was submitted to 
him by Colonel Matthias Ogden, of the Jersey line. 
Prince WlUiam Henry,* son of the king of England, 
who was serving as a midshipman in the fleet of 
Admiral Digby, was at that time in New York with 
the admiral, an object of great attention to the army 
and the tory part of the inhabitants. The project 
of Colonel Ogden was to surprise the prince and 
the admiral at their quarters in the city, and bring 
them off prisoners. He was to be aided in the enter- 
prise by a captain, a subaltern, three sergeants, and 
thirty-six men. They were to embark from the Jersey 

* Afterwards William IV. 


shore on a rainy night in four whaleboats, well manned 
and rowed with muffled oars, and were to land in New 
York at half-past nine, at a wharf not far from the 
quarters of the prince and admiral, which were in 
Hanover Square. Part of the men were to guard the 
boats, while Colonel Ogden with a strong party was to 
proceed to the house, force the doors if necessary, and 
capture the prince and admiral. In returning to the 
boats, part of the men armed with guns and bayonets 
were to precede the prisoners, and part to follow at 
half a gunshot distance, to give front to the enemy 
until all were embarked. 

The plan was approved by Washington, but Col- 
onel Ogden was charged to be careful that no insult or 
indignity be offered to the prince or admiral, should 
they be captured. They were, on the contrary, to be 
treated with all possible respect, and conveyed without 
delay to Congress. 

How far an attempt was made to carry this plan 
into operation is not known. An exaggerated alarm 
seems to have been awakened by extravagant reports 
circulated in New York, as appears by the following 
citation from a paper or letter dated April 23d, and 
transmitted by Washington to Ogden. 

" Great seem to be their apprehensions here. About 
a fortnight ago a number of flat-boats were discovered 
by a sentinel from the bank of the river (Hudson), 
which are said to have been intended to fire the 
suburbs, and in the height of the conflagration to 
make a descent on the lower part of the city, and wrest 
from our embraces his Excellency Sir H. Clinton, 
Prince William Henry, and several other illustrious 


personages — since which, great precautions have been 
taken for the security of those gentlemen, by augment- 
ing the guards, and to render their persons as Httle 
exposed as possible." 

These precautions very probably disconcerted the 
project of Colonel Ogden, of which we find no other 

In a recent letter to General Greene, Washington 
had expressed himself strongly on the subject of retali- 
ation. " Of all laws it is the most difficult to execute, 
where you have not the transgressor himself in your 
possession. Humanity will ever interfere, and plead 
strongly against the sacrifice of an innocent person for 
the guilt of another." 

It was but three or foiu' months after this writing, 
that his judgment and feelings were put to the proof 
in this respect. We have had occasion to notice the 
marauds of the New York refugees in the Jerseys. 
One of their number by the name of Philip White had 
been captured by the Jersey people, and killed in at- 
tempting to escape from those who were conducting 
him to Monmouth jail. His partisans in New York 
determined on a signal revenge. Captain Joseph 
Huddy, an ardent whig, who had been captured when 
bravely defending a block-house in Monmouth County, 
and carried captive to New York, was now drawn forth 
from prison, conducted into the Jerseys by a party of 
refugees headed by a Captain Lippencott, and hanged 
on the heights of Middletown with a label affixed to his 
breast, bearing the inscription " Up goes Huddy for 
Philip White." 

The neighboring coimtry cried out for retaliation. 


Washington submitted the matter, with all the evi- 
dence furnished, to a board of general and field-officers. 
It was unanimously determined that the offender should 
be demanded for execution, and, if not given up, that 
retaliation should be exercised on a British prisoner of 
equal rank. Washington accordingly sent proofs to 
Sir Henry Clinton of what he stigmatized as a murder, 
and demanded that Captain Lippencott, or the officer 
who commanded the execution of Captain Huddy, 
should be given up, or if that officer should be inferior 
in rank, so many of the perpetrators as would, accord- 
ing to the tariff of exchange, be an equivalent. " To 
do this," said he, *' will mark the justice of your Excel- 
lency's character. In failure of it I shall hold myself 
justifiable in the eyes of God and man, for the measure 
to which I will resort." 

Sir Henry declined a compliance, but stated that he 
had ordered a strict inquiry into the circumstances of 
Captain Huddy's death, and would bring the perpetra- 
tors of it to immediate trial. 

Washington about the same time received the copy 
of a resolution of Congress approving of his firm and 
judicious conduct, in his application to the British 
general at New York, and promising to support him 
" in his fixed purpose of exemplary retaliation." 

He accordingly ordered a selection to be made by 
lot, for the above purpose, from among the British offi- 
cers, prisoners at Lancaster in Pennsylvania. To en- 
hance the painful nature of the case, the lot fell upon 
Captain Charles AsgiU of the guards, a youth only 
nineteen years of age, of an amiable character and 


high hopes and expectations, being only son and heir 
of Sir Charles Asgill, a wealthy baronet. 

The youth bore his lot with firmness, but his fellow 
prisoners were incensed at Sir Henry Clinton for ex- 
posing him to such a fate by refusing to deliver up the 
culprit. One of their number, a son of the Earl of 
Ludlow, solicited permission from Washington to pro- 
ceed to New York and lay the case before Sir Guy 
Carleton, who had succeeded in command to Sir Henry 
Clinton. In granting it Washington intimated that, 
though deeply affected by the unhappy fate to which 
Captain Asgill was subjected, and devoutly wishing 
that his life might be spared, there was but one alter- 
native that could save him, of which the British com- 
mander must be aware. 

The matter remained for some time in suspense. 
Washington had ordered that Captain Asgill should be 
treated " with every tender attention and politeness, 
(consistent with his present situation) which his rank, 
fortune and connections, together with his unfortunate 
state demanded," and the captain himself acknowl- 
edged in writing the feeling and attentive manner in 
which those commands were executed. But on the 
question of retaliation Washington remained firm. 

Lippencott was at length tried by a court-martial, 
but, after a long sitting, acquitted, it appearing that he 
had acted under the verbal orders of Governor Frank- 
lin, president of the board of associated loyalists. The 
British commander reprobated the death of Captain 
Huddy, and broke up the board. 

These circumstances changed in some degree the 
ground upon which Washington was proceeding. He 


laid the whole matter before Congress, admitted Cap- 
tain Asgill on parole at Morristown, and subsequently 
intimated to the secretary of war his private opinion 
in favor of his release, with permission to go to his 
friends in Europe. 

In the mean time Lady Asgill, the mother of the 
youth, had written a pathetic letter to the Count de 
Vergennes, the French minister of state, imploring his 
intercession in behalf of her son. The letter was 
shown to the king and queen, and by their direction 
the count wrote to Washington soliciting the liberation 
of Asgill. 

Washington, as has been shown, had already sug- 
gested his release, and was annoyed at the delay of 
Congress in the matter. He now referred to that body 
the communication from the count, and urged a favor- 
able decision. To his great relief, he received their 
directions to set Captain Asgill at liberty. 

This, like the case of the unfortunate Andre, was 
one of the painful and trying predicaments in which a 
strict sense of public duty obliged Washington to do 
violence to his natural impulses, and he declares in one 
of his letters, that the situation of Captain Asgill often 
filled him with the keenest anguish. " I felt for him 
on many accounts ; and not the least when, viewing him 
as a man of honor and sentiment, I considered how 
unfortunate it was for him that a wretch who possessed 
neither should be the means of causing him a single 
pang or a disagreeable sensation." 



While these pages are going through the press, we have heforo ns an in- 
stance of that conscientious regard for justice which governed Washington's 

A favorite aide-de-camp, Colonel Samuel B. Wehh, who had heen woundei. 
in the battles of Bunker's Hill and White Plains, was captured in December 
1777, when commanding a Connecticut regiment, and accompanying General 
Parsons in a descent upon Long Island. He was then but 24 years of age, 
and the youngest colonel in the army. Presuming upon the favor oi General 
Washington, who had pronounced him one of the most accomplished gentle- 
men in the service, he wrote to him, reporting his capture, and begging most 
strenuously for an immediate exchange. He received a prompt, but disap- 
pointing reply. Washington lamented his unfortunate condition. " It would 
give me pleasure," said he, " to render you any services in my power, but it is 
impossible for me to comply with your request, without violating the principles 
of justice, and incurring a charge of partiality." 

In fact, several officers of Colonel Webb's rank had been a long time in 
durance, and it was a rule with Washington that those first captured should 
be first released. To this rule he inflexibly adhered, however his feelings 
might plead for its infringement. Colonel Webb, in consequence, was not ex- 
changed until the present year ; when Washington, still on principles of justice, 
gave him the brevet rank of Brigadier-general and the command of the light 



In disposing of the case of Captain Asgill, we have 
anticipated dates, and must revert to the time when 
Washington again estabhshed his head-quarters at 
Newburg on the Hudson. The soUcitude felt by him 
on account of the universal relaxation of the sinews of 
war, was not allayed by reports of pacific speeches, and 
motions made in the British parliament, which might 
be delusive. " Even if the nation and parliament," 
said he, "are really in earnest to obtain peace with 
America, it will, undoubtedly, be wisdom in us to meet 
them with great caution and circumspection, and by 
all means to keep our arms firm in our hands ; and 
instead of relaxing one iota in our exertions, rather to 
spring forward with redoubled vigor, that we may take 
the advantage of eveiy favorable opportunity, until our 
wishes are fully obtained. No nation yet suffered in 


treaty by preparing, even in the moment of negotiation, 
most vigorously for the field." 

Sir Guy Carleton arrived in New York early in 
May to take the place of Sir Henry Clinton, who had 
solicited his recall. In a letter dated May 7th, Sir Guy 
informed Washington of his being joined with Admiral 
Digby in the commission of peace ; he transmitted at 
the same time printed copies of the proceedings in the 
House of Commons on the 4th of March, respecting an 
address to the king in favor of peace ; and of a bill re- 
ported in consequence thereof, authorizing the king to 
conclude a peace or truce with the revolted provinces 
of North America. As this bill, however, had not 
passed into a law when Sir Guy left England, it pre- 
sented no basis for a negotiation ; and was only cited 
by him to show the pacific disposition of the British 
nation, with which he professed the most zealous con- 
currence. Still, though multiplied circumstances grad- 
ually persuaded Washington of a real disposition on 
the part of Great Britain to terminate the war, he did 
not think fit to relax his preparations for hostilities. 

Great discontents prevailed at this time in the army, 
both among officers and men. The neglect of the 
States to furnish then' proportions of the sum voted by 
Congress for the prosecution of the war, had left the 
army almost destitute. There was scarce money suffi- 
cient to feed the troops from day to day ; indeed there 
were days when they were absolutely in want of provi- 
sions. The pay of the officers, too, was greatly in ar- 
rear ; many of them doubted whether they would ever 
receive the half pay decreed to them by Congress for a 
term of years after the conclusion of the war, and fears 


began to be expressed that, in the event of peace, they 
would all be disbanded with their claims unliquidated, 
and themselves cast upon the community penniless, and 
unfitted, by long military habitudes, for the gainful 
pursuits of peace. 

At this juncture, Washington received an extraordi- 
nary letter from Colonel Lewis Nicola, a veteran officer, 
once commandant of Fort Mifflin, who had been in hab- 
its of intimacy with him, and had warmly interceded in 
behalf of the suffering army. In this letter he attribu- 
ted all the ills experienced and anticipated by the army 
and the public at large, to the existing fonn of govern- 
ment. He condemned a republican form, as incom- 
patible with national prosperity, and advised a mixed 
government, like that of England ; which, he had no 
doubt, on its benefits being properly pointed out, would 
be readily adopted. " In that case,'' adds he, ''' it will, 
I believe, be uncontroverted, that the same abilities 
which have led us through difficulties apparently insur- 
mountable by human power, to victory and glory; 
those quahties that have merited and obtained the uni- 
versal esteem and veneration of an army, would be 
most likely to conduct and direct us in the smoother 
paths of peace. Some people have so connected the 
idea of tyranny and monarchy, as to find it very diffi- 
cult to separate them. It may, therefore, be requisite 
to give the head of such a constitution as I propose, 
some title apparently more moderate ; but, if all other 
things were once adjusted, I believe strong arguments 
might be produced for admitting the title of King, 
which, I conceive, would be attended with some mate- 
rial advantages." 

VOL. IV. — 26 


Washington saw at once that Nicola was but the 
organ of a mihtary faction, disposed to make the army 
the basis of an energetic government, and to place him 
at the head. The suggestion, backed by the opportu- 
nity, might have tempted a man of meaner ambition : 
from him it drew the following indignant letter. 

" With a mixture of great surprise and astonish- 
ment, I have read with attention the sentiments you 
have submitted to my perusal. Be assured, sir, no oc- 
currence in the course of the war has given me more 
painful sensations, than your information of there being 
such ideas existing in the army, as you have expressed, 
and I must view with abhorrence, and reprehend with 
severity. Por the present^ the communication of them 
will rest in my own bosom, unless some further agi- 
tation of the matter shall make a disclosure neces- 

"I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my 
conduct could have given encouragement to an address, 
which to me seems big with the greatest mischiefs that 
can befall my country. If I am not deceived in the 
knowledge of myself, you could not have found a per- 
son to whom your schemes are more disagreeable. At 
the same time, in justice to my own, feelings, I must 
add, that no man possesses a more sincere wish to see 
ample justice done to the army than I do ; and as far 
as my powers and influence, in a constitutional way, 
extend, they shall be employed to the utmost of my 
abilities to effect it, should there be any occasion. 
Let me conjure you, then, if you have any regard for 
your country, concern for yourself or posterity, or re- 
spect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind, 


and never communicate as from yourself or any one 
else, a sentiment of the like nature." 

On the 2d of August, Sir Guy Carleton and Ad- 
miral Digby wrote a joint letter to Washington, inform- 
ing him that they were acquainted, by authority, that 
negotiations for a general peace had already been com- 
menced at Paris, and that the independence of the 
United States would be proposed in the first instance 
by the British commissioner, instead of being made a 
condition of a general treaty. 

Even yet, Washington was wary. " Prom the for- 
mer infatuation, duplicity, and perverse system of Bri- 
tish policy," said he, " I confess I am induced to doubt 
every thing ; to suspect every thing." * * * " What- 
ever the real intention of the enemy may be, I think 
the strictest attention and exertion, which have ever 
been exercised on our part, instead of being diminished, 
ought to be increased. Jealousy and precaution at 
least can do no harm. Too much confidence and su- 
pineness may be pernicious in the extreme." 

What gave force to this policy was, that as yet no 
offers had been made on the part of Great Britain, for 
a general cessation of hostilities, and, although the Bri- 
tish commanders were in a manner tied down by the 
resolves of the House of Commons, to a defensive war, 
only in the United States, they might be at liberty to 
transport part of their force to the West Indies, to act 
against the French possessions in that quarter. With 
these considerations he wrote to the Count de Rocham- 
beau, then at Baltimore, advising him, for the good of 
the common cause, to march his troops to the banks of 


the Hudson, and form a junction with the American 

The junction took place about the middle of Sep- 
tember. The Prench army crossed the Hudson at 
King's Ferry to Verplanck's Point, where the American 
forces were paraded under arms to welcome them. 
The clothing and arms recently received from France 
or captured at YorktoAvn, enabled them to make an 
unusually respectable appearance. Two lines were 
formed from the landing place to head-quarters, between 
which Count Uochambeau passed, escorted by a troop 
of cavalry ; after which he took his station beside Gen- 
eral Washington : the music struck up a French march, 
and the whole army passed in review before them. 

The French army encamped on the left of the 
American, near Crompond, about ten miles from Ver- 
planck's Point. The greatest good will continued to 
prevail between the allied forces, though the Americans 
had but little means of showing hospitality to their gay 
Gallic friends. " Only conceive the mortification they 
must suffer, even the general officers," says Washing- 
ton in a letter to the secretary of war, "when they 
cannot invite a French officer, a visiting friend, or a 
travelling acquaintance, to a better repast than whiskey 
hot from the still, and not always that, and a bit of 
beef without vegetables will afford them." 

Speaking of a contemplated reduction of the army to 
take place on the 1st of January ; " While I premise," said 
he, " that no one I have seen or heard of appears opposed 
to the principle of reducing the army as circumstances 
may require ; yet I cannot help fearing the result of the 
measure in contemplation, under present circumstances, 


when I see sucli a number of men, goaded by a thou- 
sand stings of reflection on the past, and of anticipation 
on the future, about to be turned into the world, soured 
by penury, and what they call the ingratitude of the pub- 
lic, involved in debts, without one farthing of money 
to carry them home, after having spent the flower of 
their days, and many of them their patrimonies, in es- 
tablishing the freedom and independence of their coun- 
try, and suffered every thing that human nature is capa- 
ble of enduring on this side of death : — I repeat it, that 
when I consider these irritating circumstances, without 
one thing to soothe their feelings or dispel the gloomy 
prospects, I cannot avoid apprehending that a train 
of evils Avill follow, of a very serious and distressing 
nature. * * * * 

" I wish not to heighten the shades of the picture 
so far as the reality would justify me in doing it. I 
could give anecdotes of patriotism and distress, which 
have scarcely ever been paralleled, never surpassed in 
the history of mankind. But you may rely upon it, 
the patience and long-sufiering of this army are almost 
exhausted, and that there never was so great a spirit 
of discontent as at this instant. While in the field I 
think it may be kept from breaking out into acts of 
outrage ; but when we retire into winter-quarters, un- 
less the storm is previously dissipated, I cannot be at 
ease respecting the consequences. It is high time for 
a peace.'* 






The anxious fears of Washington in regard to what 
might take place on the approaching reduction of the 
army, were in some degree reahzed. After the meeting 
with the Prench army at Verplanck's Point, he had 
drawn up his forces to his former encampment at New- 
burg, where he estabhshed his head-quarters for the 
winter. In the leisure and idleness of a winter camp 
the discontents of the army had time to ferment. 
The arrearages of pay became a topic of constant and 
angry comment, as well as the question, whether the 
resolution of Congress, granting half pay to officers 
who should serve to the end of the war, would be car- 
ried into effect. Whence were the funds to arise for 
such half pay ? The national treasury was empty ; 
the States were slow to tax themselves ; the resource 
of foreign loans was nearly exhausted. The articles 
of confederation required the concurrence of nine 

rrcfm. the Original (,eut with Scissors) hi Mas Be Hart, -^•^«^f^"^\^;y-' "^*' 
Presented by Mrs. Washington to Mrs. JDuer, Daughter of lord bturlmg. 


States to any act appropriating public money. There 
had never been nine States in favor of the half pay 
establishment; was it probable that as many would 
concur in applying any scanty funds that might accrue, 
and which would be imperiously demanded for many 
other purposes, to the payment of claims known to be 
unpopular, and to the support of men, who, the neces- 
sity for their services being at an end, might be re- 
garded as drones in the community ? 

The result of these boding conferences was a me- 
morial to Congress in December, from the officers in 
camp on behalf of the army, representing the hardships 
of the case, and proposing that a specific sum should 
be granted them for the money actually due, and as a 
commutation for half pay. Three officers were deputed 
to present the memorial to Congress, and watch over 
and promote its success. 

The memorial gave rise to animated and long dis- 
cussions in Congress. Some members were for admit- 
ting the claims as founded on engagements entered into 
by the nation ; others were for referring them to the 
respective States of the claimants. The winter passed 
away without any definite measures on the subject. 

On the 1 0th of March, 1783, an anonymous paper was 
circulated through the camp, calUng a meeting at eleven 
o'clock the next day, of the general and field-officers, 
of an officer from each company, and a delegate from 
the medical stafi", to consider a letter just received from 
their representatives in Philadelphia, and what meas- 
ures, if any, should be adopted to obtain that redress 
of grievances which they seemed to have solicited in 


On the following morning an anonymous address 
to the officers of the army was privately put into circu- 
lation. It professed to be from a fellow-soldier, who 
had shared in their toils and mingled in their dangers, 
and who till very lately had believed in the justice of 
his country. 

" After a pursuit of seven long years," observed he, 
" the object for which we set out is at length brought 
within our reach. Yes, my friends, that suffering 
courage of yours was active once ; it has conducted 
the United States of America through a doubtful and 
bloody war ; it has placed her in the chair of indepen- 
dency, and peace returns to bless — ^whom ? a country 
willing to redress your wrongs, cherish your worth, and 
reward your services ? a country courting your return 
to private life, with tears of gratitude and smiles of 
admiration, longing to divide with you that indepen- 
dency which your gallantry has given, and those riches 
which your wounds have preserved? Is this the 
case ? or is it rather a country that tramples upon yom* 
rights, disdains your cries, and insults your distresses ? 
Have you not more than once suggested your wishes, 
and made known your wants to Congress — wants and 
wishes, which gratitude and policy should have antici- 
pated, rather than evaded ? And have you not lately, 
in the meek language of entreating memorials, begged 
from their justice what you could no longer expect 
from their favor? How have you been answered? 
Let the letter, which you are called to consider to-mor- 
row, make reply ! 

" If this then be your treatment, while the swords 
you wear are necessary for the defence of America, 


what have you to expect from peace, when your voice 
shall sink, and your strength dissipate by division; 
when those very swords, the instruments and compan- 
ions of your glory, shall be taken from your sides, and 
no remaining mark of military distinction left but your 
wants, infirmities, and scars ? Can you then consent 
to be the only sufferers by this Revolution, and, retiring 
from the field, grow old in poverty, wretchedness and 
contempt ? Can you consent to wade through the vile 
mire of dependency, and owe the miserable remnant 
of that life to charity, which has hitherto been spent in 
honor ? If you can, go, and carry with you the jest 
of Tories, and the scorn of Whigs ; the ridicule, and 
what is worse, the pity of the world ! Go, starve and 
be forgotten ! But if your spirits should revolt at 
this ; if you have sense enough to discover, and spirit 
sufficient to oppose tyranny, under whatever garb it 
may assume, whether it be the plain coat of republi- 
canism, or the splendid robe of royalty; if you have 
yet learned to discriminate between a people and a 
cause, between men and principles ; awake, attend to 
your situation, and redress yourselves ! If the present 
moment be lost, every future effort is in vain ; and 
your threats then will be as empty as your entreaties 
. " I would advise you, therefore, to come to some 

II final opinion upon what you can bear, and what you 

will suffer. If your determination be in any proportion 
to your wrongs, carry your appeal from the justice to 
the fears of government. Change the milk-and-water 
style of your last memorial. Assume a bolder tone, 
decent, but lively, spirited, and determined ; and sus- 


pect the man, who would advise to more moderation 
and longer forbearance. Let two or three men, who 
can feel as well as write, be appointed to draw up your 
last remonstrance, for I would no longer give it the 
suing, soft, unsuccessful epithet of memorial. Let it 
represent in language, that will neither dishonor you 
by its rudeness, nor betray you by its fears, what has 
been promised by Congress, and what has been per- 
formed ; how long and how patiently you have suf- 
fered ; how little you have asked, and how much of 
that little has been denied. Tell them, that, though 
you were the first, and would wish to be the last, to 
encounter danger, though despair itself can never drive 
you into dishonor, it may drive you from the field ; 
that the wound, often irritated and never healed, may 
at length become incurable ; and that the slightest 
mark of indignity from Congress now, must operate 
like the grave, and part you for ever ; that, in any politi- 
cal event, the army has its alternative. If peace, that 
nothing shall separate you from your arms but death ; 
if war, that courting the auspices, and inviting the 
direction of yom* illustrious leader, you will retire to 
some unsettled country, smile in your turn, and ' mock 
when their fear cometh on.' But let it represent, also, 
that should they comply with the request of your late 
memorial, it would make you more happy and them 
more respectable; that, while war should continue, 
you would follow their standard into the field ; and 
when it came to an end, you would withdraw into the 
shade of private life, and give the world another sub- 
ject of wonder and applause ; an army victorious over 
its enemies, victorious over itself." 


This bold and eloquent, but dangerous appeal, 
founded as it was upon the wrongs and sufferings of a 
gallant army and the * shameful want of sympathy in 
tardy legislators, called for the full exercise^^^ Wash- 
ington's characteristic firmness, caution anf^^ discrimi- 
nation. In general orders he noticed the i nonymous 
paper, but expressed his confidence that the good sense 
of officers would prevent them from paying attention 
to such an irregular invitation ; which he reprobated as 
disorderly. With a view to counteract its effects, he 
requested a like meeting of officers on the 15th instant 
to hear the report of the committee deputed to Con- 
gress. "After mature deliberation," added he, " they will 
devise what further measures ought to be adopted as 
most rational and best calculated to obtain the just and 
important object in view." 

On the following day another anonymous address 
was circulated, written in a more moderate tone, but 
to the same purport with the first, and affecting to con- 
strue the general orders into an approbation of the 
object sought ; only changing the day appointed for the 
meeting. " Till now," it observed, " the commander- 
in-chief has regarded the steps you have taken for 
redress with good wishes alone ; his ostensible silence 
has authorized your meetings, and his private opinion 
sanctified your claims. Had he disliked the object 
in view, would not the same sense of duty which for- 
bade you from meeting on the third day of the week, 
have forbidden you from meeting on the seventh ? Is 
not the same subject held up to your view ? and has it 
not passed the seal of ofiice, and taken all the solemnity 


of an order ? This will give system to your proceed- 
ings, and stability to your resolves." &c. &c. 

On Saturday, the 15th of March, the meeting took 
place. Washington had previously sent for the officers, 
one by o)'-^^ in private, and enlarged on the loss of char- 
acter to t\h whole army, that would result from intem- 
perate resoLutions. At the meeting General Gates was 
called to the chair. Washington rose and apologized for 
appearing there, which he had not intended to do when 
he issued the order directing the assemblage. The 
diligence, however, which had been used in circulating 
anonymous writings, rendered it necessary he should 
give his sentiments to the army, on the nature and 
tendency of them. He had taken this opportunity to 
do so, and had committed his thoughts to writing, 
which, with the indulgence of his brother officers, he 
would take the liberty of reading to them. 

He then proceeded to read a forcible and feeling 
address, pointing out the irregularity and impropriety 
of the recent anonymous summons, and the dangerous 
nature of the anonymous address ; a production, as he 
observed, addressed more to the feelings and passions 
than to the judgment ; drawn with great art, calculated 
to impress the mind with an idea of premeditated in- 
justice in the sovereign power of the United States, 
and to rouse all those resentments which must unavoid- 
ably flow from such a belief. 

On these principles he had opposed the irregular 
and hasty meeting appointed in the anonymous sum- 
mons, not from a disinclination to affbrd officers every 
opportunity, consistent with their own honor and the 
dignity of the army, to make known their grievances. 


" If my conduct heretofore," said he, " has not evinced 
to you, that I have been a faithful friend to the army, 
my declaration of it at this time would be equally un- 
availing and improper. But as I was among the first 
who embarked in the cause of our common country ; 
as I have never left your side one moment, but when 
called from you on public duty; as I have been the 
constant companion and witness of your distresses, and 
not among the last to feel and acknowledge your mer- 
its ; as I have ever considered my own military reputa- 
tion as inseparably connected with that of the army ; 
as my heart has ever expanded with joy when I have 
heard its praises, and my indignation has arisen when 
the mouth of detraction has been opened against it ; it 
can scarcely be supposed at this last stage of the war 
that I am indifferent to its interests." * * -^* * * 

" For myself," observes he, in another part of his 
address, " a recollection of the cheerful assistance and 
prompt obedience I have experienced from you under 
every vicissitude of fortune, and the sincere affection I 
feel for an army I have so long had the honor to com- 
mand, will oblige me to declare in this public and sol- 
emn manner, that for the attainment of complete justice 
for all your toils and dangers, and the gratification of 
every wish, so far as may be done consistently with the 
great duty I owe my country and those powers we 
are bound to respect, you may fully command my ser- 
vices to the utmost extent of my abilities. 

" While I give you these assurances, and pledge my- 
self in the most unequivocal manner to exert whatever 
abilities I am possessed of in your favor, let me entreat 
you, gentlemen, on your part, not to take any measures 


which, viewed in the calm hght of reason, will lessen 
the dignity and sully the glory you have hitherto main- 
tained ; — ^let me request you to rely on the plighted 
faith of your country, and place a full confidence in 
the purity of the intentions of Congress ; that, previ- 
ous to your dissolution as an army, they will cause all 
your accounts to be fairly liquidated, as directed in the 
resolutions which were published to you two days ago ; 
and that they will adopt the most effectual measures in 
their power to render ample justice to you for your 
faithful and meritorious services. And let me conjure 
you, in the name of our common country, as you value 
your own sacred honor, as you respect the rights of 
humanity, and as you regard the military and national 
character of America, to express your utmost horror 
and detestation of the man who wishes, under any 
specious pretences, to overturn the liberties of our 
country ; and who wickedly attempts to open the flood- 
gates of civil discord, and deluge our rising empire 
in blood. By thus determining and thus acting, you 
will pursue the plain and direct road to the attainment 
of your wishes ; you will defeat the insidious designs 
of our enemies, who are compelled to resort from open 
force to secret artifice ; you will give one more distin- 
guished proof of unexampled patriotism and patient 
virtue, rising superior to the pressure of the most com- 
plicated sufferings ; and you will, by the dignity of 
your conduct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when 
speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to 
mankind ; — ' Had this day been wanting, the world 
had never seen the last stage of perfection to which 
human nature is capable of attaining.' " 


After he had concluded the address, he observed 
that as a corroborating testimony of the good disposi- 
tion in Congress toward the army, he would commu- 
nicate to them a letter received from a worthy member 
of that body, who on all occasions had approved him- 
self their fast friend. He produced an able letter from 
the Hon. Joseph Jones, which while it pointed out the 
difficulties and embarrassments of Congress, held up 
very forcibly the idea that the army would, at all events, 
be generously dealt with. 

Major Shaw, who was present, and from whose 
memoir we note this scene, relates that Washington, 
after reading the first paragraph of the letter, made a 
short pause, took out his spectacles, and begged the 
indulgence of his audience while he put them on, ob- 
serving at the same time that lie had grown gray in 
their service, and now found himself growing blind, 
" There was something," adds Shaw, " so natural, so 
unaffected, in this appeal, as rendered it superior to the 
most studied oratory ; it forced its way to the heart, 
and you might see sensibility moisten every eye." 

" Happy for America," continues Major Shaw, 
"that she has a patriot army, and equally so that 
Washington is its leader. I rejoice in the opportuni- 
ties I have had of seeing this great man in a variety 
of situations ; — calm and intrepid when the battle 
raged ; patient and persevering under the pressure of 
misfortune, moderate and possessing himself in the full 
career of victory. Great as these qualifications de- 
servedly render him, he never appeared to me more 
truly so than at the assembly we have been speaking 
of. On other occasions he has been supported by the 


exertions of an army and the countenance of his 
friends ; but on this he stood single and alone. There 
was no saying where the passions of an army which 
were not a little inflamed, might lead ; but it was gen- 
erally allowed that further forbearance was dangerous, 
and moderation had ceased to be a virtue. Under 
these circumstances he appeared, not at the head of his 
troops, but, as it were, in opposition to them ; and for 
a dreadful moment the interests of the army and its 
general seemed to be in competition ! He spoke, — ■ 
every doubt was dispelled, and the tide of patriotism 
rolled again in its wonted course. Illustrious man ! 
What he says of the army may with equal justice be 
applied to his own character : — ' Had this day been 
wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of 
perfection to which human nature is capable of at- 
taining.' " * 

The moment Washington retired from the assem- 
blage, a resolution was moved by the warm-hearted 
Knox, seconded by Qeneral Putnam, and passed unani- 
mously, assuring him that the officers reciprocated his 
affectionate expressions with the greatest sincerity of 
which the human heart is capable. Then followed 
resolutions, declaring that no circumstances of distress 
or danger should induce a conduct calculated to sully the 
reputation and glory acquired at the price of their 
blood and eight years' faithful services ; that they 
continued to have an unshaken confidence in the jus- 
tice of Congress and their country ; and that the com- 
mander-in-chief should be requested to write to the 

* Qtiincy's Memoir of Major Shaw, p. 104. 


President of Congress, earnestly entreating a speedy 
decision on the late address forwarded by a committee 
of the army. 

A letter was accordingly written by Washington, 
breathing that generous, yet well- tempered spirit, with 
which he ever pleaded the cause of the army. 

" The result of the proceedings of the grand con- 
vention of officers," said he, " which I have the honor of 
enclosing to your Excellency for the inspection of Con- 
gress, will, I flatter myself, be considered as the last 
glorious proof of patriotism which could have been 
given by men who aspired to the distinction of a patriot 
army, and will not only confirm their claim to the jus- 
tice, but will increase their title to the gratitude, of 
their country. 

" Having seen the proceedings on the part of the 
army terminate with perfect unanimity, and in a man- 
ner entirely consonant to my wishes ; being impressed 
with the liveliest sentiments of affection for those who 
have so long, so patiently, and so cheerfully suffered 
and fought under my immediate direction; having, 
from motives of justice, duty and gratitude, spontane- 
ously offered myself as an advocate for their rights ; 
and having been requested to write to your Excellency, 
earnestly entreating the most speedy decision of Con- 
gress upon the subjects of the late address from the 
army to that honorable body ; it only remains for me 
to perform the task I have assumed, and to intercede 
on their behalf, as I now do, that the sovereign power 
will be pleased to verify the predictions I have pro- 
nounced, and the confidence the army have reposed in 
the justice of their country." 

VOL. IV— 27 


After referring to former representations made by 
him to Congress on the subject of a half pay to be 
granted to officers for Hfe, he adds : " If, besides the 
simple payment of their wages, a further compensation 
is not due to the sufferings and sacrifices of the officers, 
then have I been mistaken indeed. If the whole army 
have not merited whatever a grateful people can bestow, 
then have I been beguiled by prejudice and built opin- 
ion on the basis of error. If this country should not, 
in the event, perform every thing which has been re- 
quested in the late memorial to Congress, then will my 
belief become vain, and the hope that has been excited, 
void of foundation. And if, as has been suggested for 
the purpose of inflaming their passions, *the officers 
of the army are to be the only sufferers by the Revolu- 
tion ; if, retiring from the field, they are to grow old in 
poverty, wretchedness, and contempt ; if they are to 
wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe 
the miserable remnant of that life to charity, which 
has hitherto been spent in honor ; ' then shall I have 
learned what ingratitude is, then shall I have realized a 
tale which will embitter every moment of my future 
life. But I am under no such apprehensions. A 
country, rescued by their arms from impending ruin, 
wiU never leave unpaid the debt of gratitude." 

This letter to the president was accompanied by 
other letters to members of Congress ; all making 
similar direct and eloquent appeals. The subject was 
again taken up in Congress, nine States concurred in 
a resolution commuting the half pay into a sum equal 
to five years' whole pay ; and the whole matter, at one 
moment so fraught with danger to the repubhc, through 


the temperate wisdom of Washington, was happily- 

The anonymous addresses to the army, which were 
considered at the time so insidious and inflammatory, 
and which certainly were ill-judged and dangerous, 
have since been avowed by General John Armstrong, 
a man who has sustained with great credit to himself 
various eminent posts under our government. At the 
time of writing them he was a young man, aide-de- 
camp to General Gates, and he did it at the request of 
a number of his fellow-officers, indignant at the neglect 
of their just claims by Congress, and in the belief that 
the tardy movements of that body required the spur 
and the lash. Washington, in a letter dated 23d Jan- 
uary, 1797, says, '* I have since had sufficient reason for 
believing that the object of the author was just, honor- 
able, and friendly to the country, though the means 
suggested by him were certainly liable to much mis- 
understanding and abuse." 



At length arrived the wished-for news of peace. A 
general treaty had been signed at Paris on the 20th of 
January. An armed vessel, the Triumph, belonging to 
the Count d'Estaing's squadron, arrived at Philadelphia 
from Cadiz, on the 23d of March, bringing a letter from 
the Marquis de Lafayette to the President of Congress, 
communicating the intelligence. In a few days Sir 
Guy Carleton informed Washington by letter, that he 
was ordered to proclaim a cessation of hostilities by sea 
and land, 

A similar proclamation issued by Congress, was re- 
ceived by Washington on the 17th of April. Being 
unaccompanied by any instructions respecting the dis- 
charge of the part of the army with him, should the 
measure be deemed necessary, he found himself in a 
perplexing situation. 

The accounts of peace received at different times, 
had raised an expectation in the minds of those of his 


troops that had engaged " for the war," that a speedy 
discharge must be the consequence of the proclamation. 
Most of thena could not distinguish between a procla- 
mation of a cessation of hostihties, and a definitive dec- 
laration of peace, and might consider any further claim 
on their military services an act of injustice. It was 
becoming difficult to enforce the discipline necessary to 
the coherence of an army. Washington represented 
these circumstances in a letter to the president, and 
earnestly entreated a prompt determination on the part 
of Congress, as to what was to be the period of the 
services of these men, and how he was to act respecting 
their discharge. 

One suggestion of his letter is expressive of his 
strong sympathy with the patriot soldier, and his knowl- 
edge of what formed a matter of pride with the poor 
fellows who had served and sufiered under him. He 
urged that, in discharging those who had been engaged 
" for the war," the non-commissioned officers and sol- 
diers should be allowed to take with them, as their own 
property, and as a gratuity, their arms and accoutre- 
ments. ." This act," observes he, "would raise pleasing 
sensations in the minds of these worthy and faithful 
inen, who, from their, early engaging in the war at 
moderate bounties, and from their patient continuance 
under innumerable distresses, have not only deserved 
nobly of their country, but have obtained an honorable 
distinction over those, who, with shorter terms, have 
gained large pecuniary rewards. This, at a compara- 
tively small expense, would be deemed an honorable 
testimonial from Congress of the regard they bear to 


these distinguished worthies, and the sense they have 
of their suffering virtues and services. * * * 

"These constant companions of their toils, preserved 
with sacred attention, would be handed down from the 
present possessors to their children, as honorary badges 
of bravery and military merit ; and would probably be 
brought forth on some future occasion, with pride and 
exultation, to be improved with the same military ardor 
and emulation in the hands of posterity, as they have 
been used by their forefathers in the present establish- 
ment and foundation of our national independence and 

This letter despatched, he notified in general orders 
that the cessation of hostilities should be proclaimed at 
noon on the following day, and read in the evening at 
the head of every regiment and corps of the army, 
"after which," adds he, "the chaplains with the several 
brigades will render thanks to Almighty God for all his 
mercies, particularly for his overruling the wrath of man 
to his own glory, and causing the rage of war to cease 
among the nations." 

Having noticed that this auspicious day, the 19th 
of April, completed the eighth year of the war, and was 
the anniversary of the eventful conflict at Lexington, 
he went on in general orders, to impress upon the army 
a proper idea of the dignified part they were called 
upon to act. 

" The generous task for which we first flew to arms 
being accomplished; the liberties of our country being 
ftdly acknowledged, and firmly secured, and the char- 
acters of those who have persevered through every ex- 
tremity of hardship, suffering, and danger, being im- 


mortalized by the illustrious appellation of the patriot 
army, nothing now remains, but for the actors of this 
mighty scene to preserve a perfect, unvarying consisten- 
cy of character through the very last act, to close the 
drama with applause, and to retire from the military 
theatre with the same approbation of angels and men 
which has crowned all their former virtuous actions." 

The letter which he had written to the president 
produced a resolution in Congress, that the service of 
the men engaged in the war did not expire until the 
ratification of the definitive articles of peace ; but that 
the commander-in-chief might grant furloughs to such 
as he thought proper, and that they should be allowed 
to take their arms with them. 

Washington availed himself freely of this permis- 
sion: furloughs were granted without stint; the men 
set out singly or in small parties for their rustic homes, 
and the danger and inconvenience were avoided of dis- 
banding large masses, at a time, of unpaid soldiery. 
Now and then were to be seen three or four in a group, 
bound probably to the same neighborhood, beguiling 
the way with camp jokes and camp stories. The war- 
worn soldier was always kindly received at the farm- 
houses along the road, where he might shoulder his gun 
and fight over his battles. The men thus dismissed on 
furlough were never called upon to rejoin the army. 
Once at home, they sank into domestic life ; their weap- 
ons were hung up over their fire-places ; mihtary tro- 
phies of the Revolution to be prized by future genera- 

In the mean time Sir Guy Carleton was making pre- 
parations for the evacuation of the City of New York. 


The moment lie had received the royal order for the 
cessation of hostilities, he had written for all the ship- 
ping that could be procured from Europe and the West 
Indies. As early as the 27th of April a fleet had sail- 
ed for different parts of Nova Scotia, carrying off about 
seven thousand persons, with all their effects. A great 
part of these were troops, but many were royalists and 
refugees, exiled by the laws of the United States. They 
looked forward with a dreary eye to their voyage, 
" bound," as one of them said, " to a country where 
there were nine months of vdnter and three months of 
cold weather every year." 

On the 6th of May a personal conference took place 
between Washington and Sir Guy at Orangetown, 
about the transfer of posts in the United States held 
by the British troops, and the delivery of all property 
stipulated by the treaty to be given up to the Ameri- 
cans. On the 8th of May Egbert Benson, William S. 
Smith, and Daniel Parker, were commissioned by Con- 
gress to inspect and superintend at New York the em- 
barkation of persons and property, in fulfilment of the 
seventh article of the provisional treaty. 

While sadness and despair prevailed among the 
tories and refugees in New York, the officers in the pa- 
triot camp on the Hudson were not without gloomy 
feelings at the thought of their approaching separation 
from each other. Eight years of dangers and hard- 
ships, shared in common and nobly sustained, had 
welded their hearts together, and made it hard to rend 
them asunder. Prompted by such feelings. General 
Knox, ever noted for generous impulses, suggested, as 
a mode of perpetuating the friendships thus formed, and 


keeping alive the brotherhood of the camp, the forma- 
tion of a society composed of the officers of the army. 
The suggestion met with universal concurrence, and 
the hearty approbation of Washington. 

Meetings were held, at which the Baron Steuben, 
as senior officer, presided. A plan was drafted by 
a committee composed of Generals Knox, Hand, and 
Huntingdon, and Captain Shaw ; and the society was 
organized at a meeting held on the 13th of May, at 
the baron's quarters in the old Verplanck House, near 

By its formula, the officers of the American army 
in the most solemn manner combined themselves into 
one society of friends : to endure as long as they should 
endure, or any of their eldest male posterity, and in 
failure thereof, the collateral branches who might be 
judged worthy of becoming its supporters and mem- 
bers. In memory of the illustrious Roman, Lucius 
Quintius Cincinnatus, who retired from war to the peace- 
ful duties of the citizen, it was to be called " The So^ 
ciety of the Cincinnati." The objects proposed by it 
were to preserve inviolate the rights and liberties for 
which they had contended; to promote and cherish 
national honor and union between the States ; to 
maintain brotherly kindness toward each other, and 
extend rehef to such officers and their famihes as 
might stand in need of it. 

In order to obtain funds for the purpose, each offi- 
cer was to contribute one month's pay, the interest only 
to be appropriated to the relief of the unfortunate. 
The general society, for the sake of frequent communi- 
cations, was to be divided into State societies, and these 


again into districts. The general society was to meet 
annually on the first Monday in May, the State societies 
on each 4th of July, the districts as often as should be 
agreed on by the State society. 

The society was to have an insignia called " the 
Order of the Cincinnati." It was to be a golden 
American eagle, bearing on its breast emblematical de- 
vices ; this was to be suspended by a deep-blue ribbon 
two inches wide, edged with white ; significative of the 
union of America with Prance. 

Individuals of the respective States, distinguished 
for patriotism and talents, might be admitted as hono- 
rary members for life ; their numbers never to exceed a 
ratio of one to four. The Prench ministers who had 
ofiiciated at Philadelphia, and the Prench admirals, 
generals, and colonels who had served in the United 
States, were to be presented with the insignia of the 
order and invited to become members. 

Washington was chosen unanimously to officiate as 
president of it, until the first general meeting, to be 
held in May, 1784. 

On the 8th of June, Washington addressed a letter 
to the governors of the several States on the subject of 
the dissolution of the army. The opening of it breathes 
that aspiration after the serene quiet of private life, 
which had been his dream of happiness throughout the 
storms and trials of his anxious career, but the full 
fruition of which he was never to realize. 

" The great object," said he, " for which I had the 
honor to hold an appointment in the service of my 
country being accomphshed, I am now preparing to 
return to that domestic retirement which, it is well 


known, I left with the greatest reluctance ; a retirement 
for which I have never ceased to sigh, through a long 
and painful absence, and in which (remote from the 
noise and trouble of the world) I meditate to pass the 
remainder of life in a state of undisturbed repose." 

His letter then described the enviable condition of 
the citizens of America. " Sole lords and proprietors 
of a vast tract of continent, comprehending all the va- 
rious soils and climates of the world, and abounding 
with all the necessaries and conveniences of life ; and 
acknowledged possessors of ' absolute freedom and in- 
dependency.' " This is the time," said he, " of their 
political probation ; this is the moment when the eyes 
of the whole world are turned upon them ; this is the 
moment to establish or ruin their national character 
for ever. This is the favorable moment to give such a 
tone to the federal government, as wiU enable it to an- 
swer the ends of its institution ; or this may be the mo- 
ment for relaxing the powers of the Union, annihilating 
the cement of the confederation, and exposing us to be- 
come the sport of European politics, which may play 
one State against another, to prevent their growing im- 
portance, and to serve their own interested purposes. 

" With this conviction of the importance of the 
present crisis, silence in me would be a crime. I will 
therefore speak the language of freedom and sincerity 
without disguise. 

" I am aware, however," continues he, modestly, 
" that those who differ from me in political sentiment 
may perhaps remark, that I am stepping^out of the 
proper line of my duty, and may possibly ascribe to 
arrogance or ostentation, what I know is the result of 


the purest intention. But the rectitude of my own 
heart, which disdains such unworthy motives ; the part 
I have hitherto acted in Hfe ; the determination I have 
formed of not taking any share in pubUc business here- 
after ; the ardent desire I feel, and ^hall continue to 
manifest, of quietly enjoying, in private life, after all 
the toils of war, the benefits of a wise and liberal gov- 
ernment ; will, I flatter myself, sooner or later convince 
my countrymen that I could have no sinister views in 
delivering with so little reserve, the opinions contained 
in this address." 

He then proceeded ably and eloquently to discuss 
what he considered the four things essential to the well- 
being, and even the existence of the United States as 
an independent power. 

First. An indissoluble union of the States under 
one federal h^d, and a perfect acquiescence of the 
several States, in the full exercise of the prerogative 
vested in such a head by the constitution. 

Second. A sacred regard to public justice in dis- 
charging debts and fulfiUing contracts made by Con- 
gress, for the purpose of carr3dng on the war. 

Third. The adoption of a proper peace establish- 
ment ; in which care should be taken to place the miU- 
tia throughout the Union on a regular, uniform and effi- 
cient footing. " The militia of this country," said he, 
" must be considered as the palladium of our security, 
and the first effectual resort in case of hostility. It is 
essential, therefore, that the same system should pei;- 
vade the whole ; that the formation and discipline of 
the militia of the continent should be absolutely uni- 
form, and that the same species of arms, accoutrements 


and military apparatus should be introduced in every 
part of the United States. 

And fourth. A disposition among the people of the 
United States to forget local prejudices and policies ; 
to make mutual concessions, and to sacrifice individual 
advantages to the interests of the community. 

These four things Washington pronounced the 
pillars on which the glorious character must be sup- 
ported. "Liberty is the basis; and whoever would 
dare to sap the foundation, or overturn the structure, 
under whatever specious pretext he may attempt it, 
wUl merit the bitterest execration and the severest 
punishment which can be inflicted by his injured coun- 

We forbear to go into the ample and admirable 
reasoning with which he expatiates on these heads, 
and above all, enforces the sacred inviolability of the 
Union : they have become familiar with every American 
mind, and ought to govern every American heart. Nor 
will we dwell upon his touching appeal on the subject 
of the half pay and commutation promised to the army, 
and which began to be considered in the odious light 
of a pension. " That provision," said he, " should be 
viewed as it really was — a reasonable compensation 
ofiered by Congress, at a time when they had nothing 
else to give to the officers of the army for services then 
to be performed. It was the only means to prevent a 
total dereliction of the service. It. was a part of 
^heir hire. I may be allowed to say it was the price 
of their blood and of your independency ; it is there- 
fore more than a common debt, it is a debt of honor." 

Although we have touched upon but a part of this 


admirable letter, we cannot omit its affecting close, 
addressed as it was to each individual governor. 

" I have thus freely declared what I wished to 
make known, before I surrendered up my public trust 
to those who committed it to me. The task is now 
accomplished. I now bid adieu to your Excellency, 
as the chief magistrate of your State, at the same time 
I bid a last farewell to the cares of office and all the 
employments of public life. 

" It remains, then, to be my final and only request 
that your Excellency will communicate these sentiments 
to your legislature at their next meeting, and that they 
may be considered the legacy of one, who has ardently 
wished, on all occasions, to be useful to his country, and 
who, even in the shade of retirement, will not fail to 
implore the divine benediction on it. 

" I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would 
have you, and the State over which you preside, in his 
holy protection ; that he would incline the hearts of 
the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and 
obedience to government, to entertain a brotherly affec- 
tion and love for one another, for their fellow-citizens 
of the United States at large, and particularly for 
brethren who have served in the field ; and finally that 
he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us 
all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves 
with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, 
which are the characteristics of the Divine Author of 
our blessed religion, and without whose example in 
those things we can never hope to be a happy nation." 

While the patriot army, encamped under the eye of 
Washington, bore their hardships and privations with- 


out flinching, or returned quietly to their homes with, 
as yet, no actual reward but the weapons with which 
they had vindicated their country's cause ; about eighty 
newly recruited soldiers of the Pennsylvania line, sta- 
tioned at Lancaster, suddenly mutinied and set off in a 
body for Philadelphia, to demand redress of fancied 
grievances from the legislature of the State. Arriving 
at that city, they were joined by about two hundred 
comrades from the barracks, and proceeded on the 2d 
of June with beat of dram and fixed bayonets to the 
State House, where Congress and the supreme executive 
council of Pennsylvania were in session. 

Placing sentinels at every door to prevent egress, 
they sent in a written message to the president and 
council, threatening military violence if their demands 
were not complied with in the course of twenty 

Though these menaces were directed against the 
State government. Congress felt itself outraged by 
being thus surrounded and blockaded for several hours 
by an armed soldiery. Pearing lest the State of Penn- 
sylvania might not be able to furnish adequate protec- 
tion, it adjourned to meet within a few days at Prince- 
ton ; sending information, in the mean time, to Wash- 
ington of this mutinous outbreak. 

The latter immediately detached General Howe 
with fifteen hundred men to quell the mutiny and pun- 
ish the offenders ; at the same time, in a letter to the 
President of Congress, he expressed his indignation 
and distress at seeing a handful of men, " contemptible 
in numbers and equally so in point of service, and not 
worthy to be called soldiers," insulting the sovereign 


authority of the Union, and that of their own State. 
He vindicated the army at large, however, from the 
stain the behavior of these men might cast upon it. 
These were mere recruits, soldiers of a day, who had 
not borne the heat and burden of the war, and had in 
reality few hardships to complain of. He contrasted 
their conduct with that of the soldiers recently fur- 
loughed ; — ^veterans, who had patiently endured hunger, 
nakedness and cold ; who had suffered and bled with- 
out a murmur, and who had retired, in perfect good 
order, to their homes, without a settlement of their 
accounts or a farthing of money in their pockets. 
While he gave vent to this indignation and scorn, 
roused by the "arrogance and folly and wickedness of 
the mutineers," he declared that he could not suffi- 
ciently admire the fidelity, bravery, and patriotism of 
the rest of the army. 

Portunately, before the troops under General Howe 
reached Philadelphia, the mutiny had been suppressed 
without bloodshed. Several of the mutineers were 
tried by a court-martial, two were condemned to death, 
but ultimately pardoned, and four received corporal 

Washington now found his situation at head-quar- 
ters irksome ; there was little to do, and he was liable 
to be incessantly teased with applications and demands, 
which he had neither the means nor power to satisfy. 
He resolved, therefore, to while away part of the time 
that must intervene before the arrival of the definitive 
treaty, by making a tour to the northern and western 
parts of the State, and visiting the places which had 
been the theatre of important military transactions. 


He had another object in view ; he desired to facihtate 
as far as in his power the operations which would be ne- 
cessary for occupying, as soon as evacuated by British 
troops, the posts ceded by the treaty of peace. 

Governor Chnton accompanied him on the expedi- 
tion. They set out by water from Newburg, ascended 
the Hudson to Albany, visited Saratoga and the scene 
of Burgoyne's surrender, embarked on Lake George, 
where light boats had been provideil for them, tra- 
versed that beautiful lake so full of historic interest, 
proceeded to Ticonderoga and Crown Point ; and after 
reconnoitring those eventful posts, returned to S.che- 
nectady, whence they proceeded up the valley of the 
Mohawk River, " to have a view," writes Washington, 
" of that tract of country which is so much celebrated 
for the fertility of its soil and the beauty of its situa- 
tion." Having reached Fort Schuyler, formerly Fort 
Stanwix, they crossed over to Wood Creek, which empties 
into Oneida Lake, and affords the water communica- 
tion with Ontario. They then traversed the country to 
the head of the eastern branch of the Susquehanna, 
and viewed Lake Otsego and the portage between that 
lake and the Mohawk River. 

Washington returned to head-quarters at Newburg 
on the 5th of August, after a tour of at least seven 
hundred and fifty miles, performed in nineteen days, 
and for the most part on horseback. In a letter to the 
Chevalier de Chastellux, written two or three months 
afterwards, and giving a sketch of his tour through 
what was, as yet, an unstudied wilderness, he writes : 
" Prompted by these actual observations, I could not 
help taking a more extensive view of the vast inland 
VOL. IV. — 28 


navigation of these United States from maps and the 
information of others ; and could not but be struck 
with the immense extent and importance of it, and 
with the goodness of that Providence which has dealt 
its favors to us with so profuse a hand ; would to God, 
we may have wisdom enough to improve them. I 
shall not rest contented, till I have explored the western 
country and traversed those lines, or great part of them, 
which have given bounds to a new empire." The vast 
advantages of internal communication between the 
Hudson and the great lakes which dawned upon Wash- 
ington's mind in the course of this tour, have since been 
realized in that grand artery of national wealth, the 
Erie Canal. 



By a proclamation of Congress, dated 18th of Oc- 
tober, all officers and soldiers absent on furlough were 
discharged from further service ; and all others who had 
engaged to serve during the war were to be discharged 
from and after the 3d of November. A small force 
only, composed of those who had enhsted for a definite 
time, were to be retained in service until the peace 
establishment should be organized. 

In general orders of November 2d, Washington, 
after adverting to this proclamation, adds : " It only 
remains for the commander-in-chief to address himself 
once more, and that for the last time, to the armies of 
the United States, however widely dispersed the indi- 
viduals who compose them may be, and to bid them an 
affectionate and a long farewell." 

He then goes on to make them one of those pater- 
nal addresses which so eminently characterize his rela- 
tionship with his army, so different from that of any 


other commander. He takes a brief view of the glori- 
ous but painful struggle from which they had just 
emerged ; the unpromising circumstances under which 
they had undertaken it, and the signal interposition of 
Providence in behalf of their feeble condition ; the 
unparalleled perseverance of the American armies for 
eight long years, through almost every possible suffer- 
ing and discouragement ; a perseverance which he justly 
pronounces to be little short of a standing miracle. 

Adverting then to the enlarged prospects of happi- 
ness opened by the confirmation of national independ- 
ence and sovereignty, and the ample and profitable em- 
ployments held out in a Republic so happily circum- 
stanced, he exhorts them to maintain the strongest at- 
tachment to THE UNION, and to carry with them into 
civil society the most conciliatory dispositions ; proving 
themselves not less virtuous and useful as citizens, than 
they had been victorious as soldiers ; feeling assured 
that the private virtues of economy, prudence, and in- 
dustry would not be less amiable in civil life, than the 
more splendid qualities of valor, perseverance, and 
enterprise were in the field. 

After a warm expression of thanks to the officers 
and men for the assistance he had received from every 
class, and in every instance, he adds : 

" To the various branches of the army the General 
takes this last and solemn opportunity of professing his 
invariable attachment and friendship. He wishes more 
than bare professions were in his power ; that he was 
really able to be useful to them all in future hfe. He 
flatters himself, however, they will do him the justice 


to believe, that whatever could with propriety be at- 
tempted by him has been done. 

" And being now to conclude these his last public 
orders, to take his ultimate leave in a short time of the 
military character, and to bid a final adieu to the armies 
he has so long had the honor to command, he can only 
ofier in their behalf his recommendations to their grate- 
ful country, and his prayers to the God of armies. 
May ample justice be done them here, and may the 
choicest of Heaven's favors, both here and hereafter, 
attend those who, under the Divine auspices, have se- 
cured innumerable blessings for others. With these 
wishes, and this benediction, the commander-in-chief is 
about to retire from service. The curtain of separa- 
tion will soon be drawn, and the military scene to him 
will be closed for ever." 

There was a straightforward simplicity in Washing- 
ton's addresses to his army ; they were so void of tumid 
phrases or rhetorical embellishments ; the counsels given 
in them were so sound and practicable ; the feelings ex- 
pressed in them so kind and benevolent ; and so per- 
fectly in accordance with his character and conduct, that 
they always had an irresistible effect on the rudest and 
roughest hearts. 

A person who was present at the breaking up of 
the army, and whom we have had frequent occasion to 
cite, observes, on the conduct of the troops, " The ad- 
vice of their beloved commander-in-chief, and the re- 
solves of Congress to pay and compensate them in such 
manner as the abihty of the United States would per- 
mit, operated to keep them quiet and prevent tumult, 
but no description would be adequate to the painful 


circumstances of tlie parting scene." ' " Both officers 
and soldiers, long unaccustomed to the affairs of private 
life, turned loose on the world to starve, and to become 
the prey to vulture speculators. Never can that mel- 
,ancholy day be forgotten when friends, companions for 
seven long years in joy and in sorrow, were torn asunder 
without the hope of ever meeting again, and with pros- 
pects of a miserable subsistence in future." * 

Notwithstanding every exertion had been made for 
the evacuation of New York, such was the number of 
persons and the quantity of effects of all kinds to be 
conveyed away, that the month of November was far 
advanced before it could be completed. Sir Guy Carle- 
ton had given notice to Washington of the time he 
supposed the different posts would be vacated, that the 
Americans might be prepared to take possession of 
them. In consequence of this notice General George 
Clinton, at that time Governor of New York, had 
summoned the members of the state council to con- 
vene at East Chester on the 21st of November, for the 
purpose of establishing civil government in the districts 
hitherto occupied by the British ; and a detachment of 
troops was marched from West Point to be ready to 
take possession of the posts as they were vacated. 

On the 21st the British troops were drawn in from 
the oft-disputed post of King's Bridge and from M'Gow- 
an's Pass, also from the various posts on the eastern 
part of Long Island. Paulus Hook was relinquished on 
the following day, and the afternoon of the 25th of 
November was appointed by Sir Guy for the evacuation 
of the city and the opposite village of Brooklyn. 

* Thacher, p. 421. 


Washington, in the mean time, had taken his station 
at Harlem, accompanied by Governor CHnton, who, in 
virtue of his office, was to take charge of the city. 
They found there General Knox with the detachment 
from West Point. Sir Guy Carleton had intimated a 
wish that Washington would be at hand to take imme- 
diate possession of the city and prevent all outrage, as 
he had been informed of a plot to plunder the place 
whenever the king's troops should be withdrawn. He 
had engaged, also, that the guards of the redoubts on 
the East River, covering the upper part of the town, 
should be the first to be withdrawn, and that an officer 
should be sent to give Washington's advanced guard 
information of their retiring. 

Although Washington doubted the existence of any 
such plot as that which had been reported to the Brit- 
ish commander, yet he took precautions accordingly. 
On the morning of the 25th the American troops, 
composed of dragoons, light infantry and artillery, moved 
from Harlem to the Bowery at the upper part of the 
city. There they remained until the troops in that 
quarter were withdrawn, when they marched into the 
city and took possession, the British embarking from 
the lower parts. 

A formal entry then took place of the military and 
civil authorities. General Washington and Governor 
Clinton, with their suites, on horseback, led the proces- 
sion, escorted by a troop of Westchester cavalry. Then 
came the lieutenant-governor and members of the 
council. General Knox and the officers of the army, 
the speaker of the Assembly, and a large number of 
citizens on horseback and on foot. 


An American lady, who was at that time very young 
and had resided during the latter part of the war in the 
city, has given us an account of the striking contrast 
between the American and British troops. " We had 
been accustomed for a long time," said she, " to mili- 
tary display in all the finish and finery of garrison life ; 
the troops just leaving us were as if equipped for show, 
and with their scarlet uniforms and burnished arms, 
made a brilliant display ; the troops that marched in, on 
the contrary, were ill-clad and weather beaten, and made 
a forlorn appearance ; but then they were our troops, 
and as I looked at them and thought upon all they had 
done and sufibred for us, my heart and my eyes were 
full, and I admired and gloried in them the more, be- 
cause they were weather beaten and forlorn." 

The city was now a scene of public festivity and re- 
joicing. The governor gave banquets to the French 
ambassador, the commander-in-chief, the military and 
civil ofiicers, and a large number of the most eminent 
citizens, and at night the public were entertained by 
splendid fireworks. 

In the course of a few days Washington prepared 
to depart for Annapolis, where Congress was assem- 
bling, with the intention of asking leave to resign his 
command. A barge was in waiting about noon on the 
4th of December at Whitehall ferry to convey him across 
the Hudson to Paulus Hook. The principal officers of 
the army assembled at Praunces' Tavern in the neighbor- 
hood of the ferry, to take a final leave of him. On en- 
tering the room, and finding himself surrounded by his 
old companions in arms, who had shared with him 
so many scenes of hardship, difficulty, and danger, his 

1Y83.] Washington's farewell to his officers. 441 

agitated feelings overcame his usual self-command. 
Filling a glass of wine, and turning upon them his be- 
nignant but saddened countenance, " With a heart full 
of love and gratitude," said he, " I now take leave of 
you, most devoutly wishing that your latter days may 
be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have 
been glorious and honorable." 

Having drunk this farewell benediction, he added 
with emotion, " I cannot come to each of you to take 
my leave, but shall be obliged if each of you will come 
and take me by the hand." 

General Knox, who was nearest, was the first to 
advance. Washington, affected even to tears, grasped 
his hand and gave him a brother's embrace. In the 
same affectionate manner he took leave severally of the 
rest. Not a word was spoken. The deep feeling and 
manly tenderness of these veterans in the parting mo- 
ment could find no utterance in words. Silent and 
solemn they followed their loved commander as he left 
the room, passed through a corps of light infantry, and 
proceeded on foot to Whitehall ferry. Having entered 
the barge he turned to them, took off his hat and waved 
a silent adieu. They replied in the same manner, and 
having watched the barge until the intervening point 
of the Battery shut it from sight, returned still solemn 
and silent to the place where they had assembled.* 

On his way to AnnapoHs, Washington stopped for 
a few days at Philadelphia, where with his usual exact- 
ness in matters of business, he adjusted with the Comp- 
troller of the Treasury his accounts from the commence- 

* Marshall's Life of Washington, 


meiit of the war down to the 13th of the actual month 
of December. These were all in his own handwriting, 
and kept in the cleanest and most accurate manner, 
each entry being accompanied by a statement of the 
occasion and object of the charge. 

The gross amount was about fourteen thousand ^\e 
hundred pounds sterling; in which were included 
moneys expended for secret intelligence and service, 
and in various incidental charges. All this, it must be 
noted, was an account of money actually expended in 
the progress of the war ; not for arrearage of pay ; for 
it will be recollected Washington accepted no pay. In- 
deed on the final adjustment of his accounts, he found 
himself a considerable loser, having frequently, in the 
hurry of business, neglected to credit himself with sums 
drawn from his private purse in moments of exigency. 

The schedule of his public account furnishes not 
the least among the many noble and impressive lessons 
taught by his character and example. It stands a touch- 
stone of honesty in office, and a lasting rebuke on that 
lavish expenditure of the public money, too often heed- 
lessly, if not wilfully, indulged by military command- 

In passing through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and 
Maryland, the scenes of his anxious and precarious cam- 
paigns, Washington was every where hailed with en- 
thusiasm by the people, and greeted with addresses by 
legislative assembhes, and learned and religious insti- 
tutions. He accepted them all with that modesty in- 
herent in his nature ; little thinking that this present 
popularity was but the early outbreaking of a fame, 
that was to go on widening and deepening from gener- 


ation to generation, and extending over the whole civil- 
ized world. 

Being arrived at Annapolis, he addressed a letter 
to the President of Congress, on the 20th of December, 
requesting to know in what manner it would be most 
proper to offer his resignation ; whether in writing or 
at an audience. The latter mode was adopted, and the 
Hall of Congress appointed for the ceremonial. 

A letter from Washington to the Baron Steuben, 
written on the 23d, concludes as follows : *' This is 
the last letter I shall write while I contyiue in the ser- 
vice of my country. The hour of my resignation is 
fixed at twelve to-day, after which, I shall become a 
private citizen on the banks of the Potomac." 

At twelve o'clock the gallery, and a great part of 
the floor of the Hall of Congress, were filled with 
ladies, with public functionaries of the state, and with 
general officers. The members of Congress were seated 
and covered, as representatives of the sovereignty of the 
Union. The gentlemen present as spectators were 
standing and uncovered. 

Washington entered, conducted by the secretary 
of Congress, and took his seat in a chair appointed for 
him. After a brief pause, the president (General Mif- 
flin) informed him, that " the United States in Congress 
assembled, were prepared to receive his communica- 

Washington then rose, and in a dignified and im- 
pressive manner, dehvered a short address. 

" The great events," said he, " on which my resig- 
nation depended, having at length taken place, I now 
have the hopor of offering my sincere congratulations 


to Congress, and of presenting myself before tliem, to 
surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, 
and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service 
of my country." 

After expressing his obligations to the army in gen- 
eral, and acknowledging the peculiar services, and dis- 
tinguished merits of the confidential officers who had 
been attached to his person, and composed his family 
during the war, and whom he especially recommended 
to the favor of Congress, he continued — 

" I consid^ it an indispensable duty to close this 
last solemn act of my official life, by commending the 
interests of our dearest country to the protection of 
Almighty God ; and those who have the superintendence 
of them, to his holy keeping. 

" Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire 
from the great theatre of action ; and, bidding an af- 
fectionate farewell to this august body, under whose 
orders I have long acted, I here offer my commis- 
sion, and take my leave of all the employments of pub- 
lic life." 

" Few tragedies ever drew so many tears from so 
many beautiful eyes," says a writer who was present, " as 
the moving manner in which his Excellency took his final 
leave of Congress." * 

Having delivered his commission into the hands of 
the president, the latter, in reply to his address, bore 
testimony to the patriotism with which he had answered 
to the call of his country, and defended its invaded 
rights before it had formed alhances, and while it was 

* Editor of the Maryland Gazette. 


without funds or a government to support him ; to the 
wisdom and fortitude with which he had conducted the 
great miUtary contest, invariably regarding the rights 
of the civil power, through all disasters and changes. 
" You retire," added he, " from the theatre of action 
with the blessings of your fellow-citizens ; but the glory 
of your virtues will not terminate with your military 
command; it will continue to animate remotest ages." 

The very next morning Washington left AnnapoHs, 
and hastened to his beloved Mount Vernon, where he 
arrived the same day, on Christmas-eve, in a frame of 
mind suited to enjoy the sacred and genial festival. 

"The scene is at last closed," said he in a letter to 
Governor Clinton ; " I feel myself eased of a load of 
public care. I hope to spend the remainder of my 
days in cultivating the affections of good men, and in 
the practice of the domestic virtues." 





For some time after his return to Mount Vernon, 
Washington was in a manner locked up by the ice 
and snow of an uncommonly rigorous winter, so that 
social intercourse was interrupted, and he could not 
even pay a visit of duty and affection to his aged 
mother at Fredericksburg. But it was enough for him 
at present that he was at length at home at Mount 
Vernon. Yet the habitudes of the camp still haunted 
him ; he could hardly reahze that he was free from 
military duties ; on waking in the morning he almost 
expected to hear the drum going its stirring rounds and 
beating the reveille. 

" Strange as it may seem," writes he to General 
Knox, " it is nevertheless true, that it was not until 
very lately I could get the better of my usual custom 
of ruminating as soon as I waked in the morning, on 

1T84:.] A soldier's repose. 447 

the business of the ensuing day ; and of my surprise 
at finding, after revolving many things in my mind, 
that I Avas no longer a public man, nor had any thing 
to do with public transactions. I feel now, however, 
as I conceive a weary traveller must do, who, after 
treading many a weary step, with a heavy burthen on 
his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached the 
haven to which all the former were directed, and from 
his house-top is looking back, and tracing, with an eager 
eye, the meanders by which he escaped the quicksands 
and mires which lay in his way ; and into which none 
but the all-powerful Guide and Dispenser of human 
events could have prevented his falling." 

And in a letter to Lafayette he writes : " Tree 
from the bustle of a camp and the busy scenes of 
public life, I am solacing myself with those tranquil 
enjoyments which the soldier, who is ever in pursuit 
of fame ; the statesman, whose watchful days and sleep- 
less nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the 
welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries 
— as if this globe was insufficient for us all ; and the 
courtier, who is always watching the countenance of his 
prince in hopes of catching a gracious smile, can have 
very little conception. I have not only retired from 
all public employments, but I am retiring within my- 
self, and shall be able to view the solitary walk, and 
tread the paths of private life with heartfelt satisfaction. 
Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with 
all ; and this, my dear friend, being the order of my 
march, I will move gently down the stream of life 
until I sleep with my fathers." 

And subsequently, in a letter to the Marchioness 


de Lafayette, inviting her to America to see the 
country, "young, rude, and uncultivated as it is," 
for the Uberties of which her husband had fought, 
bled, and acquired much glory, and where every body 
admired and loved him, he adds : "I am now enjoying 
domestic ease under the shadow of my own vine and 
my own fig-tree, in a small villa, with the implements 
of husbandry and lambkins about me. * * * 
.Come, then, let me entreat you, and call my cottage 
your own ; for your doors do not open to you with more 
readiness than mine would. You will see the plain 
manner in which we live, and meet with rustic civility ; 
and you shall taste the simplicity of rural life. It will 
diversify the scene, and may give you a higher relish 
for the gayeties of the court when you return to Ver- 

During the winter storms, he anticipates the time 
when the return of the sun will enable him to welcome 
his friends and companions in arms to partake of his 
hospitahty ; and lays down his unpretending plan of 
receiving the curious visitors who are likely to throng 
in upon him. "My manner of living," writes he to 
a friend, " is plain, and I do not mean to be put out 
of it. A glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always 
ready ; and such as will be content to partake of them, 
are always welcome. Those who expect more will be 

Some degree of economy was necessary, for his 
financial concerns had suffered during the war, and 
the products of his estate had fallen off during his 
long absence. 

In the mean time, the supreme council of Pennsyl- 


vania, properly appreciating the disinterestedness of 
his conduct, and aware that popular love and popu- 
lar curiosity would attract crowds of visitors to Mount 
Vernon, and subject him to extraordinary expenses, had 
instructed their delegates in Congress to call the atten- 
tion of that body to these circumstances, with a view to 
produce some national reward for his eminent services. 
Before acting upon these instructions, the delegates 
were directed to send a copy of them to Washington 
for his approbation. 

He received the document while buried in accounts 
and calculations, and when, had he been of a merce- 
nary disposition, the offered intervention in his favor 
w^ould have seemed most seasonable ; but he at once 
most gratefully and respectfully declined it, jealously 
maintaining the satisfaction of having served his country 
at the sacrifice of his private interests. 

Applications began to be made to him by persons 
desirous of writing the history of the Revolution, for 
access to the public papers in his possession. He 
excused himself from submitting to their inspection 
those relative to the occuVrences and transactions of 
his late command, until Congress should see fit to open 
their archives to the historian. 

His old friend. Dr. Craik, made a similar application 
to Washington in behalf of a person who purposed to 
write his memoirs. He replied, that any memoir of 
his life distinct and unconnected with the general history 
of the war, w^ould rather hurt his feelings than flatter 
his pride, while he could not furnish the papers and in- 
formation connected with it without subjecting himself 
to the imputation of vanity, adding : " I had rather 
VOL. IV. — 29 


leave it to posterity to think and say what they please 
of me, than, by any act of mine, to have vanity or 
ostentation imputed to me." 

It was a curious circumstance, that scarce had 
Washington retired from the bustle of arms and hung 
up his sword at Mount Vernon, when he received a 
letter from the worthy who had first taught him the 
use of that sword in these very halls. In a Avord, 
Jacob Van Braam, his early teacher of the sword ex- 
ercise, his fellow campaigner and unlucky interpreter in 
the affair of the Great Meadows, turned up once more. 
His letter gave a glance over the current of his life. 
It would appear that after the close of the French war, 
he had been allowed half pay in consideration of his 
services and misadventures ; and, in process of time, 
had married, and settled on a farm in Wales with his 
wife and his wife's mother. He had carried with him 
to England a strong feeling in favor of America, and 
on the breaking out of the Revolution had been very- 
free, and, as he seemed to think, eloquent and effect- 
ive in speaking in all companies and at country meet- 
ings against the American war. Suddenly, as if to 
stop his mouth, he received orders from Lord Amherst, 
then commander-in-chief, to join his regiment (the 
60th), in which he was appointed eldest captain in the 
3d battalion. In vain he pleaded his rural occupations ; 
his farm cultivated at so much cost, for which he was 
in debt, and which must go to ruin should he abandon 
it so abruptly. No excuse was admitted — he must 
embark and sail for East Florida, or lose his half pay. 
He accordingly sailed for St. Augustine in the begin- 
ning of 1776, with a couple of hundred recruits picked 

1784.] JACOB VAN BRAAM. 451 

up in London, resolving to sell out of the army on the 
first opportunity. By a series of cross-purposes he Avas 
prevented from doing so until in 1779, having in the 
interim made a campaign in Georgia. " He quitted 
the service," he adds, '* with as much pleasure as ever 
a young man entered it." 

He then returned to England and took up his resi- 
dence in Devonshire ; but his invincible propensity to 
talk against the ministry made his residence there un- 
comfortable. His next move, therefore, was to the old 
fertile province of Orleannois in Prance, where he was 
still living near Malesherbes, apparently at his ease, 
enjoying the friendship of the distinguished personage 
of that name, and better versed, it is to be hoped, in 
the French language than when he officiated as inter- 
preter in the capitulation at the Great Meadows. The 
worthy major appeared to contemplate with joy and 
pride the eminence to which his early pupil in the 
sword exercise had attained. 

" Give me leave, sir, before I conclude," writes he, 
" to pour out the sentiments of my soul in congratula- 
tions for vour successes in the American contest : and 
in wishing you a long life, to enjoy the blessing of a 
great people whom you have been the chief instrument 
in freeing from bondage." 

So disappears from the scene one of the earliest 
personages of our history. 

As spring advanced, Mount Vernon, as had been 
anticipated, began to attract numerous visitors. They 
were received in the frank, unpretending style Wash- 
ington had determined upon. It was truly edifying to 
behold how easily and contentedly he subsided from the 

452 ' LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [1784. 

authoritative commander-in-cliief of armies, into the 
quiet country gentleman. There was nothing awkward 
or violent in the transition. He seemed to be in his 
natural element. Mrs. Washington, too, who had pre- 
sided with quiet dignity at head-quarters, and cheered 
the wintry gloom of Valley Forge with her presence, 
presided with equal amenity and grace at the simple 
board of Mount Vernon. She had a cheerful good 
sense that always made her an agreeable companion, and 
was an excellent manager. She has been remarked for 
an inveterate habit of knitting. It had been acquired, 
or at least fostered, in the wintry encampments of the 
Revolution, where she used to set an example to her 
lady visitors, by diligently plying her needles, knitting 
stockings for the poor destitute soldiery. 

In entering upon the out-door management of his 
estate, Washington was but doing in person what he 
had long been doing through others. He had never 
virtually ceased to be the agriculturist. Throughout 
all his campaigns he had kept himself informed of the 
course of rural affairs at Mount Vernon. By means 
of maps on which every field was laid down and num- 
bered, he was enabled to give directions for their 
several cultivation, and receive accounts of their several 
crops. No hurry of affairs prevented a correspondence 
with his overseer or agent, and he exacted weekly 
reports. Thus his rural, were interwoven with his 
military cares ; the agriculturist was mingled with the 
soldier ; and those strong sympathies with the honest 
cultivators of the soil, and that paternal care of their 
interests to be noted throughout his military career, 
may be ascribed, in a great measure, to the sweetening 



influences of Mount Vernon. Yet as spring returned, 
and he resumed his rides about the beautiful neighbor- 
hood of this haven of his hopes, he must have been 
mournfully sensible, now and then, of the changes 
which time and events had effected there. 

The Fairfaxes, the kind friends of his boyhood, and 
social companions of his riper years, were no longer at 
hand to share his pleasures and lighten his cares. There 
were no more hunting dinners at Belvoir. He paid a 
sad visit to that happy resort of his youth, and contem- 
plated with a mournful eye its charred ruins, and the 
desolation of its once ornamented grounds. George 
WilUam Fairfax, its former possessor, was in England ; 
his political principles had detained him there during 
the war, and part of his property had been sequestered ; 
still, though an exile, he continued in heart a friend 
to America, his hand had been open to relieve the dis- 
tresses of Americans in England, and he had kept up a 
cordial correspondence with Washington. 

Old Lord Fairfax, the Nimrod of Greenway Court, 
Washington's early friend and patron, with whom he 
had first learned to follow the hounds, had lived on in 
a green old age at his sylvan retreat in the beautiful 
valley of the Shenandoah ; popular with his neighbors 
and unmolested by the Whigs, although frank and 
open in his adherence to Great Britain. He had at- 
tained his ninety-second year, when tidings of the sur- 
render of Yorktown wounded the national pride of the 
old cavalier to the quick, and snapped the attenuated 
thread of his existence.* 

* So, at least, records in homely prose and verse a reverend historiogra- 
glier of Mount Vernon. " When old Lord Fairfax heard that Washington had 


The time was now approaching when the first gen- 
eral meeting of the Order of Cincinnati was to,be held, 
and Washington saw with deep concern a popular jea- 
lousy awakened concerning it. Judge Burke, of South 
Carolina, had denounced it in a pamphlet as an attempt 
to elevate the military above the civil classes, and to in- 
stitute an order of nobility. The Legislature of Mas- 
sachusetts sounded an alarm that was echoed in Con- 
necticut, and prolonged from State to State. The whole 
Union was put on its guard against this effort to form 
a hereditary aristocracy out of the military chiefs and 
powerful families of the several States. 

Washington endeavored to allay this jealousy. In 
his letters to the presidents of the State societies, notify- 
ing the meeting which was to be held in Philadelphia 
on the 1st of May, he expressed his earnest solicitude 
that it should be respectable for numbers and abilities, 
and wise and deliberate in its proceedings, so as to con- 
vince the public that the objects of the institution were 
patriotic and praiseworthy. 

The society met at the appointed time and place. 
Washington presided, and by his sagacious counsels ef- 
fected modifications of its constitution. The hereditary 
principle, and the power of electing honorary members, 

captured Lord Cornwallis and all his army, he called to his black waiter, 
' Come, Joe ! carry me to bed, for it is high time for me to die ! ' " 

Then up rose Joe, all at the word, 

And took his master's arm, 
And thus to bed he softly led 

The lord of Greenway farm. 

There oft he called on Britain's name, 

And oft he wept full sore, 
Then sighed— thy will, oh Lord, be done— 

And word spake never more. 

See Weems' Life of Washinffion. 


were abolished, and it was reduced to the harmless, but 
highly respectable footing on which it still exists. 

In notifying the French military and naval officers 
included in the Society of the changes which had taken 
place in its constitution, he expressed his ardent hopes 
that it would render permanent those friendships and 
connections which had happily taken root between the 
officers of the two nations. All clamors against the 
order now ceased. It became a rallying place for old 
comrades in arms, and Washington continued to pre- 
side over it until his death. 

In a letter to the Chevalier de Chastellux, for whom 
he felt an especial regard, after inviting him to the meet- 
ing, he adds : " I will only repeat to you the assurances 
of my friendship, and of the pleasure I should feel in 
seeing you in the shade of those trees which my hands 
have planted ; and which, by their rapid growth, at 
once indicate a knowledge of my declining years, and 
their disposition to spread their mantles over me, before 
I go hence to return no more." 

On the 17th of August he was gladdened by hav- 
ing the Marquis de Lafayette under his roof, who had 
recently arrived from France. The marquis passed a 
fortnight with him, a loved and cherished guest, at the 
end of w^hich he departed for a time to, be present at 
the ceremony of a treaty with the Indians. 

Washington now prepared for a tour to the west 
of the Apallachian Mountains, to visit his lands on the 
Ohio and Kanawha rivers. Dr. Craik, the companion 
of his various campaigns, and who had accompanied 
him in 1770 on a similar tour, was to be his fellow-trav- 
eUer. The way they were to travel may be gathered 


from Washington's directions to the doctor : — " You 
will have occasion to take nothing from home but a 
servant to look after your horses, and such bedding as 
you may think proper to make use of. I will carry a 
marquee, some camp utensils, and a few stores. A 
boat, or some other kind of vessel, will be provided for 
the voyage down the river, either at my place on the 
Youghiogheny or Tort Pitt, measures for this purpose 
having already been taken. A few medicines, and 
hooks and lines, you may probably want." 

This soldier-like tour, made in hardy military style, 
with tent, pack-horses, and frugal supplies, took him 
once more among the scenes of his youthful expeditions 
when a land suit ey or in the employ of Lord Fairfax ; a 
leader of Virginia militia, or an aide-de-camp of the un- 
fortunate Braddock. A veteran now in years, and a 
general renowned in arms, he soberly permitted his 
steed to pick his way across the mountains by the old 
military route, still called Braddock's Road, over which 
he had spurred in the days of youthful ardor. His ori- 
ginal intention had been to survey and inspect his lands 
on the Monongahela River ; then to descend the Ohio 
to the great Kanawha, where also he had large tracts 
of wild land. On arriving on the Monongahela, how- 
ever, he heard such accounts of discontent and irrita- 
tion among the Indian tribes, that he did not consider 
it prudent to venture among them. Some of his land 
on the Monongahela was settled ; the rest was in the 
wilderness, and of little value in the present unquiet 
state of the country. He abridged his tour, therefore ; 
proceeded no further w^est than the Monongahela ; as- 
cended that river, and then struck southward through 


the wild, unsettled regions of the AUeganies, until he 
came out into the Shenandoah Valley near Staunton. 
He returned to Mount Vernon on the 4th of October ; 
having since the 1st of September travelled on horse- 
back six hundred and eighty miles, for a great part 
of the time in Avild, mountainous country, where he was 
obliged to encamp at night. This, like his tour to the 
northern forts Avith Governor Clinton, gave proof of his 
unfailing vigor and activity. 

During all this tour he had carefully observed the 
course and character of the streams flowing from the 
west into the Ohio, and the distance of their navigable 
parts from the head navigation of the rivers east of 
the mountains, with the nearest and best portage 
between them. For many years he had been convinced 
of the practicability of an easy and short communica- 
tion between the Potomac and James River, and the 
waters of the Ohio, and thence on to the great chain of 
lakes ; and of the vast advantages that Avould result 
therefrom to the States of Virginia and Maryland. 
He had even attempted to set a company on foot to 
undertake at their own expense the opening of such a 
communication, but the breaking out of the Revolution 
had put a stop to the enterprise. One object of his 
recent tour was to make observations and collect infor- 
mation on this subject ; and all that he had seen and 
heard quickened his solicitude to carry the scheme into 

Political as well as commercial interests, he con- 
ceived, were involved in the enterprise. He had ' 
noticed that the flanks and rear of the United States 
were possessed by foreign and formidable powers, who 


might lure the western people into a trade and alliance 
with them. The Western States, he observed, stood 
as it were upon a pivot, so that the touch of a feather 
might turn them any way. They had looked down 
the Mississippi, and been tempted in that direction by 
the facilities of sending every thing down the stream ; 
whereas they had no means of coming to us but by long 
land transportations and rugged roads. The jealous 
and untoward disposition of the Spaniards, it was true, 
almost barred the use of the Mississippi; but they 
might change their policy, and invite trade in that 
direction. The retention by the British government, 
also, of the posts of Detroit, Niagara and Oswego, 
though contrary to the spirit of the treaty, shut up the 
channel of trade in that quarter. These posts, how- 
ever, would eventually be given up ; and then, he was 
persuaded, the people of New York would lose no time 
in removing every obstacle in the way of a water com- 
munication ; and '' I shall be mistaken," said he, " if 
they do not build vessels for the navigation of the 
lakes, which will supersede the necessity of coasting on 
either side." 

It behooved Virginia, therefore, to lose no time in avail- 
ing herself of the present favorable conjuncture to secure 
a share of western trade by connecting the Potomac and 
James rivers with the waters beyond the mountains. 
The industry of the western settlers had hitherto been 
checked by the want of outlets to their products, owing 
to the before -mentioned obstacles : " But smooth the 
road," said he, " and make easy the way for them, and 
then see what an influx of articles will pour upon us ; 
how amazingly our exports will be increased by them, 


and how amply all shall be compensated for any trou- 
ble and expense we may encounter to effect it." 

Such were some of the ideas ably and amply set 
forth by him in a letter to Benjamin Harrison, Gover- 
nor of Virginia, who, struck with his plan for opening 
the navigation of the western waters, laid the letter 
before the State legislature. The favor with which it 
was received induced Washington to repair to Rich- 
mond and give his personal support to the measure. 
He arrived there on the 1 5th of November. On the 
following morning a committee of five members of the 
House of Assembly, headed by Patrick Henry, waited 
on him in behalf of that body, to testify their rever- 
ence for his character and affection for his person, and 
their sense of the proofs given by him since his return 
to private life, that no change of situation could tiu-n 
his thoughts from the welfare of his country. The 
suggestions of Washington in his letter to the gover- 
nor, and his representations, during this visit to Rich- 
mond, gave the first impulse to the great system of 
internal improvement since pursued throughout the 
United States. 

At Richmond he was joined by the Marquis de 
Lafayette ; who since their separation had accompanied 
the commissioners to Fort Schuyler, and been present 
at the formation of a treaty with the Indians ; after 
which he had made a tour of the Eastern States, 
"crowned every where," writes Washington, "with 
wreaths of love and respect." * 

They returned together to Mount Vernon^ where 

* Letter of Washington to the Marchioness de Lafayette. 


Lafayette again passed several days, a cherished inmate 
of the domestic circle. 

When his visit was ended, Washington, to defer 
the parting scene, accompanied him to Annapolis. On 
returning to Mount Vernon, he wrote a farewell letter 
to the marquis, bordering more upon the sentimental 
than almost any other in his multifarious correspond- 

" In the moment of our separation, upon the road as 
I travelled and every hour since, I have felt all that love, 
respect and attachment for you, with which length of 
years, close connection, and your merits have inspired 
me. I often asked myself, as our carriages separated, 
whether that was the last sight I ever should have of 
you ? And though I wished to answer no, my fears 
answered yes. I called to mind the days of my youth, 
and found they had long since fled to return no more ; 
that I was now descending the hill I had been fifty-two 
years climbing, and that, though I was blessed with a 
good constitution, I was of a short-lived family, and 
might soon expect to be entombed in the mansion of 
my fathers. These thoughts darkened the shades, and 
gave a gloom to the picture, and consequently, to my 
prospect of ever seeing you again." 







Washington's zeal for the public good had now found 
a new channel ; or, rather, his late tours into the inte- 
rior of the Union had quickened ideas long existing in 
his mind on the subject of internal navigation. In a 
letter to Richard Henry Lee, recently chosen President 
of Congress, he urged it upon his attention ; suggest- 
ing that the western waters should be explored, their 
navigable capabilities ascertained, and that a complete 
map should be made of the country : that in all 
grants of land by the United States, there should 
be a reserve made for special sale of all mines, 
mineral ahd salt springs : that a medium price should 
be adopted for the western lands sufficient to pre- 
vent monopoly, but not to discourage useful settlers. 


He had a salutary horror of " land jobbers/' and, 
" roaming speculators," prowling about the country 
like wolves ; marking and surveying valuable spots to 
the great disquiet of the Indian tribes. " The spirit 
of emigration is great," said he ; " people have got 
impatient, and though you cannot stop the road, it is 
yet in your power to mark the way ; a little while, and 
you will not be able to do either." 

In the latter part of December he was at An- 
napolis, at the request of the Assembly of Virginia, 
to arrange matters with the Assembly of Maryland 
respecting the communication between the Potomac 
and the western waters. Through his indefatigable 
exertions two companies were formed under the patron- 
age of the governments of these States, for opening the 
navigation of the Potomac and James rivers, and he 
was appointed president of both. By a unanimous 
vote of the Assembly of Virgiuia, fifty shares in the 
Potomac, and one hundred in the James River com- 
pany, were appropriated for his benefit, to the end that, 
while the great works he had promoted would remain 
monuments of his glory, they might also be monuments 
of the gratitude of his country. The aggregate 
amount of these shares was about forty thousand 

Washington was exceedingly embarrassed by the 
appropriation. To decline so noble and unequivocal a 
testimonial of the good opinion and good wiU of his 
countrymen might be construed into disrespect, yet he 
wished to be perfectly free to exercise his judgment 
and express his opinions in the matter, without being 
liable to the least suspicion of interested motives. It 


had been his fixed determination, also, when he surren- 
dered his miUtary command, never to hold any other 
office under government to which emolument might 
become a necessary appendage. From this resolution 
his mind had never swerved. 

While, however, he declined to receive the proffered 
shares for his own benefit, he intimated a disposition 
to receive them in trust, to be applied to the use of 
some object or institution of a public nature. His 
wishes were complied with, and the shares were ulti- 
mately appropriated by him to institutions devoted to 
public education. Yet, though the love for his coun- 
try would thus interfere with his love for his home, 
the dream of rural retirement at Mount Vernon still 
went on. 

" The more I am acquainted with agricultural 
affairs," he says, in a letter to a friend in England, 
" the better I am pleased with them ; insomuch that I 
can nowhere find so much satisfaction as in those in- 
nocent and useful pursuits. While indulging these 
feelings, I am led to reflect, how much more delightful 
to an undebauched mind is the task of making im- 
provements on the earth, than all the vainglory that 
can be acquired from ravaging it by the most uninter- 
rupted career of conquest." 

" How pitiful, in the age of reason and religion, is 
that false ambition which desolates the world with fire 
and sword for the purpose of conquest and fame, com- 
pared to the milder virtues of making om* neighbors 
and our fellow-men as happy as their frail convictions 
and perishable natures will permit them to be." 

He had a congenial correspondent in his quondam 


brother-soldier, Governor Clinton of New York, whose 
spear, like his own, had been turned into a pruning- 

" Whenever the season is proper and an opportu- 
nity offers," writes he to the governor, " I shall be 
glad to receive the balsam trees or others which you 
may think curious and exotic with us, as I am endeav- 
oring to improve the grounds about my house in this 
way." He recommends to the governor's care certain 
grape-vines of the choicest kinds for the table, w^hich 
an uncle of the Chevalier de Luzerne had engaged to 
send from Prance, and which must be about to arrive 
at New York. He is literally going to sit under his 
own vine and his own fig-tree, and devote himself to 
the quiet pleasures of rural life. 

At the opening of the year (1785) the entries in 
his diary show him diligently employed in preparations 
to improve his groves and shrubbery. On the 10th of 
January he notes that the white thorn is full in berry. 
On the 20th he begins to clear the pine groves of 

In February he transplants ivy under the walls of 
the garden to which it still clings. In March he is 
planting hemlock trees, that most beautiful species of 
American evergreen, numbers of which had been 
brought hither from Occoquan. In April he is sowing 
holly berries in drills, some adjoining a green -briar 
hedge on the north side of the garden gate ; others in 
a semicircle on the lawn. Many of the holly bushes 
thus produced, are still flourishing about the place in 
full vigor. He had learnt the policy, not sufficiently 
adopted in our country, of clothing his ornamented 


grounds as much as possible with evergreens, which 
resist the rigors of our winter and keep up a cheering 
verdure throughout the year. Of the trees fitted for 
shade in pasture land he notes the locust, maple, black 
mulberry, black walnut, black gum, dogwood and sas- 
safras, none of which, he observes, materially injure 
the grass beneath them. 

Is then for once a soldier's dream realized ? Is he 
in perfect enjoyment of that seclusion from the world 
and its distractions, which he had so often pictured to 
himself amid the hardships and turmoils of the camp ? 
Alas, no ! The " post," that " herald of a noisy world," 
invades his quiet and loads his table with letters, until 
correspondence becomes an intolerable burthen. 

He looks in despair at the daily accumulating mass 
of unanswered letters. "Many mistakenly think," 
writes he, ^' that I am retired to ease, and to that kind 
of tranquiUity which would grow tiresome for want of 
employment ; but at no period of my life, not in the 
eight years I served the public, have I been obliged to 
write so much myself, as I have done since my retire- 
ment." * Again — " It is not the letters from my 
friends which give me trouble, or add aught to my per- 
plexity. It is references to old matters, with wliich I 
have nothing to do; apphcations which often cannot 
be compHed with ; inquiries which would require the 
pen of a historian to satisfy ; letters of ccnnphment as 
unmeaning perhaps as they are troublesome, but 
which must be attended to; and the commonplace 
business which employs my pen and my time often 

* Letter to Richard Henry Lee. 
VOL. rv — 30 


disagreeably. These, with company, deprive me of 
exercise, and unless I can obtain rehef, must be pro- 
ductive of disagreeable consequences." 

Prom much of this drudgery of the pen he was 
subsequently relieved by Mr. Tobias Lear, a young 
gentleman of New Hampshire, and graduate of Har- 
vard College, who acted as his private secretary, and at 
the same time took charge of the instruction of the 
two children of the late Mr. Parke Custis, whom 
Washington had adopted. 

There was another tax imposed by his celebrity 
upon his time and patience. Apphcations were con- 
tinually made to him to sit for his likeness. The fol- 
lowing is his sportive reply to Mr. Prancis Hopkinson, 
who applied in behalf of Mr. Pine. 

" ^ In for a penny in for a pound ^ is an old adage. 
I am so hackneyed to the touches of the painters' pen- 
cil, that I am altogether at their beck, and sit ' like 
Patience on a monument,' whilst they are delineating 
the lines of my face. It is a proof among many others, 
of what habit and custom can accomplish. At first I 
was impatient at the request, and as restive under the 
operation, as a colt is under the saddle. The next 
time I submitted very reluctantly, but with less floun- 
cing. Now no dray-horse moves more readily to his 
thill than I to the painter's chair. It may easily be 
conceived, therefore, that I yield a ready obedience to 
your request, and to the views of Mr. Pine." 

It was not long after this that M. Houdon, an 
artist of great merit, chosen by Mr. Jefferson and Dr. 
Pranklin, arrived from Paris to make a study of Wash- 
ington for a statue, for the Legislature of Virginia. 


He remained a fortnight at Mount Vernon, and having 
formed his model, took it with him to Paris, where he 
produced that excellent statue and likeness to be seen 
in the State House in Richmond, Virginia. 

Being now in some measure relieved from the 
labors of the pen, Washington had more time to de- 
vote to his plan for ornamental cultivation of the 
grounds about his dwelling. 

We find in his diary noted down with curious 
exactness, each day's labor and the share he took in it ; 
his frequent rides to the Mill Swamp; the Dogue 
Creek; the "Plantation on the Neck," and other 
places along the Potomac in quest of young elms, ash 
trees, white thorn, crab-apples, maples, mulberries, 
willows and lilacs ; the winding walks which he lays 
out, and the trees and shrubs which he plants along 
them. Now he sows acorns and buck-eye nuts brought 
by himself from the Monongahela ; now he opens vistas 
through the Pine Grove, commanding distant views 
through the woodlands ; and now he twines round his 
columns scarlet honeysuckles, which his gardener tells 
him will blow all the summer. 

His care-worn spirit freshens up in these employ- 
ments. With him Mount Vernon is a kind of idyl. 
The transient glow of poetical feeling which once visited 
his bosom, when in boyhood he rhymed beneath its 
groves, seems about to return once more ; and we please 
ourselves with noting among the trees set out by him, 
a group of young horse-chestnuts from Westmoreland, 
his native county, the haunt of his schoolboy days; 
which had been sent to him by Colonel Lee (Light 
Horse Harry), the son of his " Lowland Beauty." 


A diagram of the plan in whicli he had laid out 
his grounds, still remains among the papers at Mount 
Vernon ; the places are marked on it for particular trees 
and shrubs. Some of those trees and shrubs are still 
to be found in the places thus assigned to them. In 
the present neglected state of Mount Vernon its walks 
are overgrown, and vegetation runs wild; but it is 
deeply interesting still to find traces of these toils in 
which Washington delighted, and to know that many 
of the trees which give it its present umbrageous 
beauty were planted by his hand. 

The ornamental cultivation of which we have 
spoken, was confined to the grounds appertaining to 
what was called the mansion-house farm ; but his 
estate included four other farms, all lying contiguous, 
and containing three thousand two hundred and sixty 
acres ; each farm having its bailiff or overseer, with a 
house for his accommodation, bams and outhouses for 
the produce, and cabins for the negroes. On a general 
map of the estate, drawn out by Washington himself, 
these farms were all laid down accurately and their several 
fields numbered ; he knew the soil and local qualities 
of each, and regulated the culture of them accordingly. 

In addition to these five farms there were several 
hundred acres of fine woodland, so that the estate pre- 
sented a beautiful diversity of land and water. In the 
stables near the mansion-house were the carriage and 
saddle horses, of which he was very choice ; on the 
four farms there were 54 draught horses, 12 mules, 317 
head of black cattle, 360 sheep, and a great number 
of swine, which last ran at large in the woods. 

He now read much on husbandry and gardening, 


and copied out treatises on those subjects. He corre- 
sponded also with the celebrated Arthur Young ; from 
whom he obtained seeds of all kinds, improved ploughs, 
plans for laying out farm yards and advice on various 
parts of rural economy. 

" Agriculture," writes he to him, " has ever been 
among the most favored of my amusements, though I 
have never possessed much skill in the art, and nine 
years' total inattention to it has added nothing to a 
knowledge, which is best understood from practice ; 
but with the means you have been so obliging as to 
furnish me, I shall return to it, though rather late in 
the day, with more alacrity than ever." 

In the management of his estate he was remark- 
ably exact. No negligence on the part of the over- 
seers or those under them was passed over unnoticed. 
He seldom used many words on the subject of his 
plans ; rarely asked advice ; but, when once deter- 
mined, carried them directly and silently into execu- 
tion ; and was not easily dissuaded from a project 
when once commenced. 

We have shown, in a former chapter, his mode of 
apportioning time at Mount Vernon, prior to the Revo- 
lution. The same system was, in a great measure, 
resumed. His active day began some time before the 
dawn. Much of his correspondence was despatched 
before breakfast, which took place at half-past seven. 
After breakfast he mounted his horse which stood 
ready at the door, and rode off to different parts of his 
estate, as he used to do to various parts of the camp, 
to see that all was right at the outposts, and every one 
at his duty. At half-past two he dined. 


If there was no company lie would write until 
dark, or, if pressed by business until nine o'clock in 
the evening ; otherwise he read in the evening, or 
amused himself with a game of whist. 

His secretary, Mr. Lear, after two years' residence in 
the family on the most confidential footing, says, — 
" General Washington is, I believe, almost the only 
man of an exalted character, who does not lose some 
part of his respectability by an intimate acquaintance. 
I have never found a single thing that could lessen my 
respect for him. A complete knowledge of his hon- 
esty, uprightness and candor in all his private transac- 
tions, has sometimes led me to think him more than a 

The children of Parke Custis formed a lively part 
of his household. He was fond of children and apt to 
unbend with them. Miss Custis, recalling in after life 
the scenes of her childhood, writes, " I have sometimes 
made him laugh most heartily from sympathy with my 
joyous and extravagant spirits ; " she observes, however, 
that "he was a silent, thoughtful man. He spoke 
little generally ; never of himself. I never heard him 
relate a single act of his life diu-ing the war. I have 
often seen him perfectly abstracted, his lips moving ; 
but no sound was perceptible." 

An observant traveller, Mr. Elkanah Watson, who 
visited Mount Vernon in the winter of 1785, bearer of 
a letter of introduction from General Greene and 
Colonel Fitzgerald, gives a home picture of Washing- 
ton in his retirement. Though sure that his creden- 
tials w^ould secure him a respectful reception, he says, 
" I trembled with awe, as I came into the presence of 


this great man. I found him at table with Mrs. 
Washington and his private family, and was received in 
the native dignity, and with that urbanity so peculiarly 
combined in the character of a soldier and an eminent 
private gentleman. He soon put me at my ease, by 
unbending, in a free and affable conversation. 

" The cautious reserve which wisdom and policy 
dictated, whilst engaged in rearing the glorious fabric 
of our independence, was evidently the result of con- 
summate prudence and not characteristic of his nature. 
I observed a peculftirity in his smile, which seemed to 
illuminate his eye ; his whole countenance beamed 
with intelUgence, while it commanded confidence and 

" I found him kind and benignant in the domestic 
circle ; revered and beloved by all around him ; agree- 
ably social, without ostentation ; delighting in anecdote 
and adventures ; without assumption ; his domestic ar- 
rangements harmonious and systematic. His servants 
seemed to watch his eye, and to anticipate his every 
wish; hence a look was equivalent to a command. 
His servant Billy, the faithful companion of his military 
career, was always at his side. Smiling content ani- 
mated and beamed on every countenance in his pres- 

In the evening Mr. Watson sat conversing for a full 
hour with Washington after all the family had retired, 
expecting, perhaps, to hear him fight over some of his 
battles ; but, if so, he was disappointed, for he observes : 
"He modestly waived all allusions to the events in 
which he had acted so glorious and conspicuous a part. 
Much of his conversation had reference to the interior 


country, and to the opening of the navigation of the 
Potomac by canals and locks, at the Seneca, the Great 
and Little Ealls. His mind appeared to be deeply ab- 
sorbed by that object, then in earnest contemplation." 

Mr. "Watson had taken a severe cold in the course 
of a harsh winter journey, and coughed excessively. 
Washington pressed him to take some remedies, but he 
declined. After retiring for the night his coughing in- 
creased. " When some time had elapsed," writes he, 
" the door of my room was gently opened, and, on 
drawing my bed curtains, I beheld Washington him- 
self, standing at my bedside with a bowl of hot tea in 
his hand. I was mortified and distressed beyond ex- 
pression. This little incident, occurring in common Hfe 
with an ordinary man, would not have been noticed ; 
but as a trait of the benevolence and private virtue of 
Washington, deserves to be recorded." 

The late Bishop White, in subsequent years, speak- 
ing of Washington's unassuming manners, observes : 
" I know no man who so carefully guarded against the 
discoursing of himself or of his acts, or of any thing that 
pertained to him ; and it has occasionally occurred to 
me when in his company, that, if a stranger to his per- 
son were present, he would never have known from any 
thing said by him that he was conscious of having dis- 
tinguished himself in the eye of the world." 

An anecdote is told of Washington's conduct while 
commander-in-chief; illustrative of his benignant at- 
tention to others, and his freedom from all assumption. 
While the army was encamped at Morristown, he one 
day attended a religious meeting where divine service 
was to be celebrated in the open air. A chair had been 


set out for his use. Just before the service commenced 
a woman with a child in her arms approached. All the 
seats were occupied. Washington immediately rose, 
placed her in the chair which had been assigned to him, 
and remained standing during the whole service.* 

The reverential awe which his deeds and elevated 
position threw around him was often a source of annoy- 
ance to him in private life ; especially when he perceived 
its effect upon the young and gay. We have been told 
of a case in point, when he made his appearance at a 
private ball where all were enjoying themselves with 
the utmost glee. The moment he entered the room 
the buoyant mirth was checked ; the dance lost* its ani- 
mation ; every face was grave ; every tongue was silent. 
He remained for a time, endeavoring to engage in con- 
versation with some of the young people, and to break 
the spell ; finding it in vain, he retired sadly to the com- 
pany of the elders in an adjoining room, expressing his 
regret that his presence should operate as such a damper. 
After a little while light laughter and happy voices 
again resounded from the ball-room ; upon which he 
rose cautiously, approached on tip-toe the door, which 
was ajar, and there stood for some time a delighted 
spectator of the youthful revelry. 

Washington in fact, though habitually grave and 
thoughtful, was of a social disposition, and loved cheer- 
ful society. He was fond of the dance ; and it was the 
boast of many ancient dames in our day, who had been 
belles in the time of the Revolution, that they had danced 
minuets with him, or had him for a partner in contra- 

* MS. notes of the Rev. Geo. F. Tuttle. 


dances. There were balls in camp, in some of the 
dark times of the Revolution. " We had a little dance 
at my quarters," writes General Greene from Middle- 
brook, in March, 1779. " His Excellency and Mrs. 
Greene danced upwards of three hours without once 
sitting down. Upon the whole we had a pretty little 
frisk." * 

A letter of Colonel Tench Tilghman, one of Wash- 
ington's aides-de-camp, gives an instance of the general's 
festive gayety, when in the above year the army was 
cantoned near Morristown. A large company, of which 
the general and Mrs. Washington, general and Mrs. 
Greene; and Mr. and Mrs. Olney were part, dined with 
colonel and Mrs. Biddle. Some little time after the 
ladies had retired from table, Mr. Olney followed them 
into the next room. A clamor was raised against him 
as a deserter, and it was resolved that a party should 
be sent to demand him, and that if the ladies refused 
to give him up, he should be brought by force. Wash- 
ington humored the joke, and offered to head the party. 
He led it with great formality to the door of the draw- 
ing-room, and sent in a summons. The ladies refused 
to give up the deserter. An attempt was made to cap- 
ture him. The ladies came to the rescue. There was 
a melee ; in the course of which his Excellency seems 
to have had a passage at arms with Mrs. Olney. The 
ladies were victorious, as they always ought to be, says 
the gallant Tilghman. f 

* Greene to Col. Wadsworth, MS. 

f This sportive occurrence gave rise to a piece of camp scandal. It was 
reported at a distance that Mrs. Olney had been in a violent rage, and had 


More than one instance is told of Washington's 
being surprised into hearty fits of laughter, even^during 
the war. We have recorded one produced by the 
sudden appearance of old General Putnam on horse- 
back, with a female prisoner en croupe. The following 
is another which occurred at the camp at Morristown. 
Washington had purchased a yoimg horse of great 
spirit and power. A braggadocio of the army, vain of 
his horsemanship, asked the privilege of breaking it. 
Washington gave his consent, and with some of his 
officers attended to see the horse receive his first lesson. 
After much preparation, the pretender to equitation 
mounted into the saddle and was making a great dis- 
play of his science, when the horse suddenly planted 
his forefeet, threw up his heels, and gave the unlucky 
Gambado a somerset over his head. Washington, a 
thorough horseman, and quick to perceive the ludicrous 
in these matters, was so convulsed with laughter that 
we are told the tears ran down his cheeks.* 

Still another instance is given, which occurred at 
the return of peace, when he was sailing in a boat on 
the Hudson, and was so overcome by the drollery of a 
story told by Major Fairlie of New York, of facetious 
memory, that he fell back in the boat in a paroxysm 
of laughter. In that fit of laughter, it was sagely pre- 

told Washington that, " if he did not let go her hand she would tear his eyes out, 
and that though he was a general, he was but a man." 

Mr. Olney wrote to Colonel Tilghman, begging him to refute the scandal. 
The latter gave a true statement of the affair, declaring that the whole was 
done in jest, and that in the mock contest Mrs. Olney had made use of no ex- 
pressions unbecoming a lady of her good breeding, or such as were taken the 
least amiss by the general 

* Notes of the Rev. Mr. Tuttle. MS. 


sumed that he threw off the burthen of care which had 
been weighing down his spirits throughout the war. He 
certainly relaxed much of his thoughtful gravity of 
demeanor when he had no longer the anxieties of a 
general command to harass him. The late Judge 
Brooke, who had served as an officer in the legion of 
Light-horse Harry, used to tell of having frequently 
met Washington on his visits to Predericksburg after 
the revolutionary war, and how " hilarious " the gen- 
eral was on those occasions with " Jack Willis, and 
other friends of his young days," laughing heartily at 
the comic songs which were sung at table. 

Colonel Henry Lee, too, who used to be a favored 
guest at Mount Vernon, does not seem to have been 
much under the influence of that " reverential awe " 
which Washington is said to have inspired ; if we 
may judge from the following anecdote. Washington 
one day at table mentioned his being in want of car- 


Another instance is on record of one of Washington's fits of laughter, which 
occurred in subsequent years. Judge Marshall and Judge Washington, a re- 
lative of the general, were on their way on horseback to visit Mount Vernon, 
attended by a black servant, who had charge of a large portmanteau contain- 
ing their clothes. As they passed through a wood on the skirts of the Mount 
Vernon grounds, they were tempted to make a hasty toilet beneath its shade ; 
being covered with dust from the state of the roads. , Dismounting, they 
threw off their dusty garments, while the servant took down the portmanteau. 
As he opened it, out flew cakes of Windsor soap and fancy articles of all kinds. 
The man by mistake had changed their portmanteau at the last stopping place 
for one which resembled it, belonging to a Scotch pedlar. The consternation 
of the negro, and their own dismantled state, struck them so ludicrously as to 
produce loud and repeated bursts of laughter. Washington, who happened to 
be out upon his grounds, was attracted by the noise, and so overcome by the 
strange plight of his friends, and the whimsicality of the whole scene, that he 
is said to have actually rolled on the grass with laughter. — See Life of Judge 
J. Smith. 


riage horses, and asked Lee if he knew where 1^ could 
get a pair. 

" I have a fine pair, general," rephed Lee, " but 
you cannot get them." 

"Why not?" 

" Because you wiU never pay more than half price 
for any thing ; and I must have full price for ray horses." 

The bantering reply set Mrs. Washington laughing, 
and her parrot, perched beside her, joined in the laugh. 
The general took this familiar assault upon his dignity 
in great good part. "Ah, Lee, you are a funny fellow," 
said he, — " see, that bird is laughing at you." * 

Hearty laughter, however, was rare with Washing- 
ton. The sudden explosions we hear of were the result 
of some sudden and ludicrous surprise. His general 
habit v/as a calm seriousness, easily softening into a 
benevolent smile. 

In some few of his familiar letters, yet preserved, and 
not relating to business, there is occasionally a vein of 
pleasantry and even of humor ; but almost invariably, 
they treat of matters of too grave import to admit of any 
thing of the kind. It is to be deeply regretted that 
most of his family letters have been purposely destroyed. 

The passion for hunting had revived with Wash- 
ington on returning to his old hunting-grounds ; but 
he had no hounds. His kennel had been broken up 
when he went to the wars, and the dogs given away, 
and it was not easy to replace them. After a time he 
received several hounds from France, sent out by La- 
fayette and other of the Trench officers, and once more 

* Comnramcated to ns in a letter from a son of Colonel Lee. 


sallied iprth. to renew his ancient sport. The Erench 
hounds, however, proved indifferent ; he was out with 
them repeatedly, putting other hounds with them bor- 
rowed from gentlemen of the neighborhood. They 
improved after a while, but were never stanch, and 
caused him frequent disappointments. Probably he was 
not as stanch himself as formerly ; an interval of sev- 
eral years may have blunted his keenness, if we may 
judge from the following entry in his diary : 

" Out after breakfast with my hounds, found a fox 
and ran him sometimes hard, and sometimes at cold 
hunting from 11 till near 2 — when I came home and 
left the huntsmen with them, who followed in .the same 
manner two hours or more, and then took the dogs off 
without killing." 

He appears at one time to have had an idea of 
stocking part of his estate with deer. In a letter to 
his friend, George William Fairfax, in England, a letter 
expressive of kind recollections of former companion- 
ship, he says : " Though envy is no part of my com- 
position, yet the picture you have drawn of your 
present habitation and mode of living, is enough to 
create a strong desire in me to be a participator of the 
tranquilhty and rural amusements you have described. 
I am getting into the latter as fast as I can, being de- 
termined to make the remainder of my life easy, let 
the world or the affairs of it go as they may. I am 
not a little obliged to you for contributing to this, by 
procuring me a buck and doe of the best English deer ; 
but if you have not already been at this trouble, I 
would, my good sir, now wish to relieve you from it, as 
Mr. Ogle of Maryland has been so obhging as to present 


me six fawns from his park of English deer at Bellair. 
With -these, and tolerable care, I shall soon have a full 
stock for my small paddock.* 

While Washington was thus calmly enjoying him- 
self, came a letter from Henry Lee, who was now in 
Congress, conveying a mournful piece of intelligence : 
" Your friend and second, the patriot and noble Greene, 
is no more. Universal grief reigns here." Greene 
died on the 18th of June, at his estate of Mulberry 
Grove, on Savannah River, presented to him by the 
State of Georgia. His last illness was brief; caused 
by a stroke of the sun ; he was but forty -four years 
of age. 

The news of his death struck heavily on Washing- 
ton's heart, to whom, in the most arduous trials of the 
Revolution, he had been a second self. He had taken 
Washington as his model, and possessed naturally many 
of his great qualities. Like him he was sound in judg- 
ment ; persevering in the midst of discouragements ; 
calm and self-possessed in time of danger ; heedful of 
the safety of others ; heedless of his own. Like him he 
was modest and unpretending, and like him he had a 
perfect command of temper. 

He had Washington's habits of early rising, and 
close and methodical despatch of business, "never 
suffering the day to crowd upon the morrow." In 
private intercourse he was frank, noble, candid and in- 

* George William Fairfax resided in Bath, where he died on the 3d of 
April, 1787, in the sixty-third year of his age. Though his iucome was 
greatly reduced by the confiscation of his property in Virginia, he contributed 
generously during the revolutionary war to the relief of American prisoners. 
— Sparks' Washingtcm's Writings^ v. ii., p. 53. 


telligent ; in the hurry of business he was free from 
petulance, and had, we are told, " a winning blandness 
of manner that won the affections of his officers." 

His campaigns in the Carolinas showed him to be 
a worthy disciple of Washington, keeping the war alive 
by his own persevering hope and inexhaustible energy, 
and, as it were, fighting almost without weapons. His 
great contest of generalship with the veteran Corn- 
wallis, has ensured for him a lasting renown. 

" He was a great and good man ! " was Washing- 
ton's comprehensive eulogy on him ; and in a letter to 
Lafayette he writes : " Greene's death is an event which 
has given such general concern, and is so much regretted 
by his numerous friends, that I can scarce persuade 
myself to touch upon it, even so far as to say that in 
him you lost a man who affectionately regarded, and 
was a sincere admirer of you." * 

Other deaths pressed upon Washington's sensibility 
about the same time. That of General McDougall, 
who had served his country faithfully through the war, 
and since with equal fidehty in Congress. That, too, 
of Colonel Tench Tilghman, for a long time one of 
Washington's aides-de-camp, and " who left," writes 
he, " as fair a reputation as ever belonged to a human 
character." " Thus," adds he, " some of the pillars of 
the Revolution fall. Others are mouldering by insensi- 
ble degrees. May our country never want props to 
support the glorious fabric ! " 

* We are happy to learn that a complete collection of the correspondence 
of General Greene is ahont to be published by his worthy and highly culti- 
vated grandson, George Washington Greene. It is a work that, like Sparks' 
Writings of Washington, should form a part of every American library. 


In his correspondence about this time with several 
of the French noblemen who had been his associates 
in arms, his letters breathe the spirit of peace which 
was natural to him ; for war with him had only been 
a matter of patriotism and public duty. To the Mar- 
quis de la Rouerie, who had so bravely but modestly 
fought under the title of Colonel Armand, he writes : 
"I never expect to draw my sword again. I can 
scarcely conceive the cause that would induce me to 
do it. My time is now occupied by rural amusements 
in which I have great satisfaction ; and my first wish 
is (although it is against the profession of arms, and 
would clip the wings of some of our young soldiers 
who are soaring after glory) to see the whole world in 
peace, and the inhabitants of it as one band of brothers, 
striving who should contribute most to the happiness 
of mankind." 

So, also, in a letter to Count Rochambeau, dated 
July 31st, 1786 : "It must give pleasure,'' writes he, 
" to the friends of humanity, even in this distant sec- 
tion of the globe, to find that the clouds which threat- 
ened to burst in a storm of war on Europe, have dis- 
sipated, and left' a still brighter horizon. ***** 
As the rage of conquest, which in times of barbarity 
stimulated nations to blood, has in a great measure 
ceased ; as the objects which formerly gave birth to 
wars are daily diminishing ; and as mankind are be- 
coming more enlightened and humanized, I cannot but 
flatter myself with the pleasing prospect, that a more 
liberal policy and more pacific systems wiU take place 
amongst them. To indulge this idea affords a soothing 
consolation to a philanthropic mind; insomuch that, 

VOL. IV. — 31 


althougli it should be found an illusion, one would 
hardly wish to be divested of an error so grateful in 
itself and so innocent in its consequences." 

And in another letter, — " It is thus, you see, my 
dear Count, in retirement upon my farm I speculate 
upon the fate of nations, amusing myself with innocent 
reveries that mankind will one day grow happier and 

How easily may the wisest of men be deceived in 
their speculations as to the future, especially when 
founded on the idea of the perfectibility of human 
nature. These halcyon dreams of universal peace were 
indulged on the very eve, as it were, of the Prench 
Revolution, which was to deluge the world in blood, 
and when the rage for conquest was to have unbounded 
scope under the belligerent sway of Napoleon. 




From his quiet retreat of Mount Vernon Washington, 
though ostensibly withdrawn from pubhc affairs, was 
watching with intense solicitude the working together 
of the several parts in the great political confederacy ; 
anxious to know whether the thirteen distinct States, 
under the present organization, could form a sufficiently 
efficient general government. He was daily becoming 
more and more doubtful of the solidity of the fabric 
he had assisted to raise. The form of confederation 
which had bound the States together and met the pub- 
lic exigencies during the Revolution, when there was a 
pressure of external danger, was daily proving more 
and more incompetent to the purposes of a national 
government. Congress had devised a system of credit 
to provide for the national expenditure and the extinc- 
tion of the national debts, which amounted to some- 
thing more than forty millions of dollars. The system 


experienced neglect from some States and opposition 
from others ; each consulting its local interests and 
prejudices, instead of the interests and obligations of 
the whole. In like manner treaty stipulations, which 
bound the good faith of the whole, were slighted, if not 
violated by individual States, apparently unconscious 
that they must each share in the discredit thus brought 
upon the national name. 

In a letter to James Warren, who had formerly been 
President of the Massachusetts provincial Congress, 
Washington writes ; " The confederation appears to me 
to be little more than a shadow without the substance, 
and Congress a nugatory body ; their ordinances being 
little attended to. To me it is a solecism in politics, 
indeed it is one of the most extraordinary things in 
nature, that we should confederate as a nation, and yet 
be afraid to give the rulers of that nation (who are 
creatures of our own making, appointed for a limited 
and short duration, and who are amenable for every 
action and may be recalled at any moment, and are 
subject to aU the evils which they may be instrumental 
in producing) sufficient powers to order and direct the 
affairs of the same. By such policy as this the wheels 
of government are clogged, and our brightest pros- 
pects, and that high expectation which was entertained 
of us by the wondering world, are turned into aston- 
ishment; and from the high ground on which we 
stood, we are descending into the vale of confusion 
and darkness." * 

Not long previous to the writing of this letter, Wash- 

* Sparks, ix. 139. 


ington had been visited at Mount Vernon by commis- 
sioners, who had been appointed by the legislatures of 
Virginia and Maryland to form a compact relative to 
the navigation of the rivers Potomac and Pocomoke, 
and of part of the Chesapeake Bay, and who had met 
at Alexandria for the purpose. During their visit at 
Mount Vernon the policy of maintaining a naval force 
on the Chesapeake, and of establishing a tariff of 
duties on imports to which the laws of both States 
should conform, was discussed, and it was agreed, that 
the commissioners should propose to the governments 
of their respective States the appointment of other 
commissioners, with powers to make conjoint arrange- 
ments for the above purposes ; to which the assent of 
Congress was to be solicited. 

The idea of conjoint arrangements between States, 
thus suggested in the quiet councils of Mount Vernon, 
was a step in the right direction, and will be found to 
lead to important results. 

Prom a letter, written two or three months subse- 
quently, we gather some of the ideas on national policy 
which were occupying Washington's mind. " I have 
ever been a friend to adequate powers in Congress, 
without which it is evident to me we never shall estab- 
Hsh a national character, or be considered as on a re- 
spectable footing by the powers of Europe. — We are 
either a united people under one head and for federal 
purposes, or we are thirteen independent sovereignties, 
eternally counteracting each other. — If the former, 
whatever such a majority of the States as the constitu- 
tion points out, conceives to be for the benefit of the 
whole, should, in my humble opinion, be submitted to 


by the minority. — I can foresee no evil greater than 
disunion ; than those unreasonable jealousies (I say 
unreasonable because I would have a ^ro;?er jealousy 
always awake, and the United States on the watch to 
prevent individual States from infracting the constitu- 
tion with impunity) which are continually poisoning 
our minds and filling them with imaginary evils for the 
prevention of real ones." '^ 

An earnest correspondence took place some months 
subsequently between Washington and the illustrious 
patriot, John Jay, at that time Secretary of Foreign 
Affairs, wherein the signs of the times were feelingly 

" Our affairs," writes Jay, " seem to lead to some 
crisis, something that I cannot foresee or conjecture. 
I am uneasy and apprehensive, more so than during 
the war. Then we had a fixed object, and though the 
means and time of obtaining it were problematical, yet 
I did firmly believe that we should ultimately succeed, 
because I did firmly believe that justice was with us. 
The case is now altered. We are going and doing 
wrong, and therefore I look forward to evils and calami- 
ties, but without being able to guess at the instrument, 
nature, or measure of them. * ^ '^ ^'' '^ * * 
What I most fear is, that the better kind of people, by 
which I mean the people who are orderly and industri- 
ous, who are content with their situatioiis, and not 
uneasy in their circumstances, will be led by the inse- 
curity of property, the loss of public faith and rectitude, 
to consider the charms of liberty as imaginary and delu- 

* See Letter to James McHenry. Sparks, ix, 121. 


sive. A state of uncertainty and fluctuation must dis- 
gust and alarm." Washington, in reply, coincided in 
opinion that public affairs were drawing rapidly to a 
crisis, and he acknowledged the event to be equally 
beyond his foresight. " We have errors," said he, " to 
correct. We have probably had too good an opinion 
of human nature in forming our confederation. Expe- 
rience has taught us that men will not adopt and carry 
into execution measures the best calculated for their 
own good, Avithout the intervention of coercive power. 
I do not conceive Ave can exist long as a nation, with- 
out lodging, somewhere, a power which will pervade 
the whole Union in as energetic a manner, as the 
authority of the State governments extends over the 
several States. To be fearful of investing Congress, 
constituted as that body is, with ample authorities for 
national purposes, appears to me the very climax 
of popular absurdity and madness. Could Congress 
exert them for the detriment of the people, without 
injuring themselves in an equal or greater proportion ? 
Are not their interests inseparably connected with 
those of their constituents ? By the rotation of appoint- 
ments must they not mingle frequently with the mass 
of the citizens ? Is it not rather to be apprehended, if 
they were not possessed of the poAvers before described, 
that the individual members Avould be induced to use 
them, on many occasions, very timidly and ineffica- 
ciously, for fear of losing their popularity and future 
election ? We must take human nature as Ave find it ; 
perfection falls not to the share of mortals. 

" What then is to be done ? things cannot go on in 
the same strain for ever. It is much to be feared, as 


you observe, that the better kind of people, being dis- 
gusted with these circumstances, will have their minds 
prepared for any revolution whatever. We are apt to 
run from one extreme to another. * * * ^^ I 
am told that even respectable characters speak of a 
monarchical form of government without horror. From 
thinking proceeds speaking, thence acting is often but 
a single step. But how irrevocable and tremendous ! 
What a triumph for our enemies to verify their predic- 
tions ! What a triumph for the advocates of despot- 
ism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, 
and that systems, founded on the basis of equal liberty, 
are merely ideal and fallacious I Would to God that 
wise measures may be taken in time to avert the con- 
sequences we have but too much reason to apprehend. 

"Retired as I am from the world, I frankly ac- 
knowledge I cannot feel myself an unconcerned specta- 
tor. Yet, having happily assisted in bringing the ship 
into port, and having been fairly discharged, it is not 
my business to embark again on the sea of troubles. 

" Nor could it be expected that my sentiments 
and opinions would have much weight in the minds of 
my countrymen. They have been neglected, though 
given as a last legacy, in a most solemn manner. I 
then perhaps had some claims to public attention. I 
consider myself as having none at present." 

His anxiety on this subject was quickened by 
accounts of discontents and commotions in the Eastern 
States produced by the pressure of the times, the pub- 
lic and private indebtedness, and the imposition of 
heavy taxes, at a moment of financial embarrassment. 

General Knox, now Secretary at War, who had 


been sent by Congress to Massachusetts to inquire 
into these troubles, thus writes about the insurgents : 
" Their creed is that the property of the United States 
has been protected from the confiscation of Britain by 
the joint exertions of all, and therefore ought to be the 
common property of all, and he that attempts opposi- 
tion to this creed, is an enemy to equity and justice, 
and ought to be swept from off the face of the earth." 
Again ; " They are determined to annihilate all debts, 
public and private, and have agrarian laws, which are 
easily effected by the means of unfunded paper, which 
shall be a tender in all cases whatever." 

In reply to Col. Henry Lee in Congress, who had 
addressed several letters to him on the subject, Wash- 
ington writes : " You talk, my good sir, of employing 
influence to appease the present tumults in Massachu- 
setts. I know not where that influence is to be found, 
or, if attainable, that it would be a proper remedy for 
the disorders. Influence is not government. Let us 
have a government by which our lives, liberties and 
properties will be secured, or let us know the worst at 
once. There is a call for decision. Know precisely 
what the insurgents aim at. If they have real griev- 
ances, redress them, if*^ possible ; or acknowledge the 
justice of them, and your inability to do it at the 
moment. If they have not, employ the force of gov- 
ernment against them at once. If this is inadequate, 
all will be convinced that the superstructure is bad and 
wants support. To delay one or other of these expe- 
dients is to exasperate on the one hand or to give con- 
fidence on the other. * * * * Let the reins of 
government then be braced and held with a steady 


hand, and every violation of the constitution be repre- 
hended. If defective, let it be amended; but not 
suffered to be trampled upon whilst it has an exist- 

A letter to him from his former aide-de-camp, Colo- 
nel Plumphreys, dated New .Haven, November 1st, says : 
" The troubles in Massachusetts still continue. Gov- 
ernment is prostrated in the dust, and it is much to be 
feared that there is not energy enough in that State to 
re-establish the civil powers. The leaders of the mob, 
whose fortunes and measures are desperate, are strength- 
ening themselves daily ; and it is expected that they 
will soon take possession of the Continental magazine 
at Springfield, in which there are from ten to fifteen 
thousand stand of arms in excellent order. 

" A general want of compliance with the requisi- 
tions of Congress for money seems to prognosticate that 
we are rapidly advancing to a crisis. Congress, I am 
told, are seriously alarmed, and hardly know which way 
to turn or what to expect. Indeed, my dear General, 
nothing but a good Providence can extricate us from 
the present convulsion. 

" In case of civil discord, I have already told you it 
was seriously my opinion that*you could not remain 
neuter, and that you would be obliged, in self-defence, 
to take one part or the other, or withdraw from the 
continent. Your friends are of the same opinion." 

Close upon the receipt of this letter, came intelli- 
gence that the insurgents of Massachusetts, far from 
being satisfied with the redress which had been offered 
by their general court, were still acting in open violation 
of law and government ; and that the chief magistrate 


had been obliged to call upon the mihtia of the nState to 
support the constitution. 

" What, gracious God ! is man," writes Washing- 
ton, " that there should be such inconsistency and per- 
fidiousness in his conduct. It was but the other day, 
that we were shedding our blood to obtain the consti- 
tutions under which we now live ; constitutions of our 
own choice and making ; and now we are unsheathing 
the sword to overturn them. The thing is so unaccount- 
able, that I hardly know how to realize it, or to per- 
suade myself that I am not under the illusion of a 

His letters to Knox show the trouble of his mind. 
" I feel, my dear General Knox, infinitely more than I 
can express to you, for the disorders which have arisen 
in these States. Good God ! who, besides a tory, 
could have foreseen, or a Briton predicted them ? I 
do assure you that, even at this moment, when I reflect 
upon the present prospect of our affairs, it seems to me 
to be like the vision of a dream. * * * * After 
what I have seen, or rather what I have heard, I shall 
be surprised at nothing ; for, if three years since, any 
person had told me that there would have been such a 
formidable rebellion as exists at this day against the 
laws and constitution of our own making, I should have 
thought him a bedlamite, a fit subject for a mad-house. 
* * * In regretting, which I have often done with 
the keenest sorrow, the death of our much lamented 
friend, General Greene, I have accompanied it of late 
with a query, whether he would not have preferred 
such an exit to the scenes which, it is more than proba- 
ble, many of his compatriots may live to bemoan." 


To James Madison, also, he writes in the same 
strain. " How melancholy is the reflection that in so 
short a time we should have made such large strides 
towards fulfilling the predictions of our transatlantic 
foes ! * Leave them to themselves, and their govern- 
ment will soon dissolve.' Will not the wise and good 
strive hard to avert this evil ? Or will their supine- 
ness suffer ignorance and the arts of self-interested and 
designing, disaffected and desperate characters, to in- 
volve this great country in wretchedness and contempt ? 
What stronger evidence can be given of the want of 
energy in our government than these disorders ? If 
there is not power in it to check them, what security 
has a man for hfe, liberty, or property ? To you, I am 
sure I need not add aught on the subject. The conse- 
quences of a lax or inefficient government are too ob- 
vious to be dwelt upon. Thirteen sovereignties pulling 
against each other, and all tugging at the federal head, 
will soon bring ruin on the whole ; whereas, a liberal 
and energetic constitution, well checked and well 
watched, to prevent encroachments, might restore us to 
that degree of respectability and consequence to which 
we had the fairest prospect of attaining." 

Thus Washington, even though in retirement, was 
almost unconsciously exercising a powerful influence on 
national affairs ; no longer the soldier, he was now be- 
coming the statesman. The opinions and counsels given 
in his letters were widely effective. The leading expe- 
dient for federate organization, mooted in his confer- 
ences with the commissioners of Maryland and Virginia 
during their visit to Mount Vernon in the previous year, 
had been extended and ripened in legislative Assem- 


blies, and ended in a plan of a convention composed of 
delegates from all the States, to meet in Philadelphia 
for the sole and express purpose of revising the federal 
system, and correcting its defects ; the proceedings of 
the convention to be subsequently reported to Con- 
gress, and the several Legislatures, for approval and con- 

Washington was unanimously put at the head of 
the Virginia delegation ; but for some time objected to 
accept the nomination. He feared to be charged with 
inconsistency in again appearing in a public situation, 
after his declared resolution to the contrary. " It will 
have also," said he, " a tendency to sweep me back 
into the tide of public affairs, when retirement and 
ease are so much desired by me, and so essentially ne- 
cessary."* Beside, he had just avowed his intention 
of resigning the presidency of the Cincinnati Society, 
which was to hold its triennial meeting in May, in 
Philadelphia, and he could not appear at the same time 
and place on any other occasion, without giving offence 
to his worthy companions in arms, the late officers of 
the American army. 

These considerations were strenuously combated, 
for the weight and influence of his name and counsel 
were felt to be all-important in giving dignity to the 
delegation. Two things contributed to bring him to 
a favorable decision : First, an insinuation that the 
opponents of the convention were monarchists, who 
Avished the distractions of the country should continue, 
until a monarchical government might be resorted to as 

* Letter to Edmund Randolph, governor of Virginia. 


an ark of safety. The other was the insurrection in 

Having made up his mind to serve as a delegate to 
the convention, he went into a course of preparatory 
reading on the history and principles of ancient and 
modern confederacies. An abstract of the general 
principles of each, with notes of their vices or defects, 
exists in his own handwriting, among his papers ; 
though it is doubted by a judicious commentator* 
whether it was originally drawn up by him, as several 
works are cited, which are written in languages that he 
did not understand. 

Before the time arrived for the meeting of the con- 
vention, which was the second Monday in May, his mind 
was relieved from one source of poignant solicitude, 
by learning that the insurrection in Massachusetts had 
been suppressed with but little bloodshed, and that the 
principals had fled to Canada. He doubted, however, 
the policy of the Legislature of that State in disfran- 
chising a large number of its citizens for their rebellious 
conduct ; thinking more lenient measures might have 
produced as good an effect, without entirely alienating 
the affections of the people from the government ; 
beside depriving some of them of the means of gaining 
a livelihood. 

On the 9th of May, Washington set out in his car- 
riage from Mount Vernon to attend the convention. 
At Chester, where he arrived on the 13th, he was met 
by General Mifflin, now speaker of the Pennsylvania 
Assembly, Generals Knox and Vamum, Colonel Hum- 

* Mr. Sparks. For this interesting document see Writings of Washington, 
vol. ix. Appendix, No. iv. 

1787.] THE CONVENTION. 495 

phreys and other personages of note. At Gray's Ferry 
the city light-horse were in attendance, by whom he 
was escorted into Philadelphia. 

It was not until the 25th of May that a sufficient 
number ^f delegates were assembled to form a quorum ; 
when they proceeded to organize the body, and by a 
unanimous vote Washington was called up to the chair 
as President. 

The following anecdote is recorded by Mr. Leigh 
Pierce, who was a delegate from Georgia. When the 
convention first opened, there were a number of prop- 
ositions brought forward as great leading principles 
of the new government to be established. A copy of 
them was given to each member with an injunction of 
profound secrecy. One morning a member, by acci- 
dent, dropped his copy of the propositions. It was 
luckily .picked up by General Mifflin, and handed to 
General Washington, who put it in his pocket. After 
the debates of the day were over, and the question for 
adjournment was called for, Washington rose, and 
previous to putting the question, addressed the com- 
mittee as follows : " Gentlemen, I am sorry to find that 
some one member of this body has been so neglectful 
of the secrets of the convention, as to drop in the State 
House a copy of their proceedings ; which, by accident, 
was picked up and delivered to me this morning. I 
must entreat gentlemen to be more careful, lest our 
transactions get into the newspapers, and disturb the 
public repose by premature speculations. I know not 
whose paper it is, but there it is (throwing it down on 
the table) ; let him who owns it take it." At the same 
time he bowed, took his hat, and left the room with a 


dignity so severe that every person seemed alarmed. 
" Por my part, I was extremely so," adds Mr. Pierce, 
" for, putting my hand in my pocket, I missed my copy 
of the same paper ; but advancing to the table, my 
fears soon dissipated. I found it to be in ^he hand- 
writing of another person." 

Mr. Pierce found his copy at his lodgings, in the 
pocket of a coat which he had changed that morning. 
No person ever ventured to claim the anonymous 

We forbear to go into the voluminous proceedings 
of this memorable convention, which occupied from 
four to seven hours each day for four months ; and in 
which every point was the subject of able and scru- 
pulous discussion by the best talent, and noblest spirits 
of the country. Washington felt restrained by his 
situation as President, from taking a part in the de- 
bates, but his well-known opinions influenced the whole. 
The result was the formation of the constitution of the 
United States, which (with some amendments made in 
after years) still exists. 

As the members on the last day of the session were 
signing the engrossed constitution. Dr. Franklin, look- 
ing towards the President's chair, at the back of which 
a sun was painted, observed to those persons next to 
him, " I have often and often, in the course of the 
session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as 
to its issue, looked at that sun behind the President, 
without being able to tell whether it was rising or set- 
ting ; at length I have the happiness to know it is a 
rising and not a setting sun." * 

* The Madison Papers, iii. 1624. 


" The business being closed," says Washington in 
his diary (Sept. 17), "the members adjourned to the city 
tavern, dined together, and took a cordial leave of each 
other. After which I returned to my lodgings, did 
some business with, and received the papers from, the 
secretary of the convention, and retired to meditate on 
the momentous work which had been executed." 

" It appears to me little short of a miracle," writes 
he to Lafayette, " that the delegates from so many 
States, different from each other, as you know, in their 
manners, circumstances and prejudices, should unite in 
forming a system of national government so little liable 
to well-founded objections. Nor am I such an enthu- 
siastic, partial, or undiscriminating admirer of it, as not 
to perceive it is tinctured with some real, though not 
radical defects. With regard to the two great points, 
the pivots upon which the whole machine must move, 
my creed is simply, Eirst, that the general government 
is not invested with more powers than are indispensably 
necessary to perform the functions of a good govern- 
ment ; and consequently, that no objection ought to be 
made against the quantity of power delegated to it. 

" Secondly, that these powers, as the appointment of 
all rulers will for ever arise from, and at short, stated 
intervals recur to, the free suffrages of the people, are 
so distributed among the legislative, executive, and 
judicial branches into which the general government is 
arranged, that it can never be in danger of degenerating 
into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any 
other despotic or oppressive form, so long as there shall 
remain any virtue in the body of the people. 

" It will at least be a recommendation to the proposed 

VOL. IV. — 32 


constitution, that it is provided with more checks and 
barriers against the introduction of tyranny, and those 
of a nature less Kable to be surmounted, than any gov- 
ernment hitherto instituted among m'ortals. 

. '' We are not to expect perfection in this world ; 
but mankind, in modern times, have apparently made 
some progress in the science of government. Should 
that which is now offered to the people of America, be 
found on experiment less perfect than it can be made, 
a constitutional door is left open for its amelioration." 

The constitution thus formed, was forwarded to 
Congress, and thence transmitted to the State Legisla- 
tures, each of which submitted it to a State convention 
composed of delegates chosen for that express purpose 
by the people. The ratification of the instrument by 
nine States was necessary to carry it into effect ; and 
as the several State conventions would assemble at 
different times, nearly a year must elapse before the 
decisions of the requisite number could be obtained. 

During this time, Washington resumed his re- 
tired life at Mount Vernon, seldom riding, as he says, 
beyond the limits of his own farms, but kept informed 
by his numerous correspondents, such as James Mad- 
ison, John Jay, and Generals Knox, Lincoln and Arm- 
strong, of the progress of the constitution through its 
various ordeals, and of the strenuous opposition which 
it met with in different quarters ; both in debate and 
through the press. A diversity of opinions and inclina- 
tions on the subject had been expected by him. " The 
various passions and motives by which men are influ- 
enced," said he, " are concomitants of fallibihty, and 
ingrafted into our nature." Still he never had a doubt 


that it would ultimately be adopted ; and, in fact, the 
national decision in its favor was more fully and strongly 
pronounced than even he had anticipated. 

His feelings on learning the result were expressed 
with that solemn and rehgious faith in the protection 
of heaven, manifested by him in all the trials and vicis- 
situdes through which his country had passed. " We 
may," said he, " with a kind of pious and grateful ex- 
ultation, trace the finger of Providence through those 
dark and mysterious events, which first induced the 
States to appoint a general convention, and then led 
them, one after another, by such steps as were best 
calculated to effect the. object, into an adoption of the 
system recommended by the general convention ; 
thereby, in all human probability, laying a lasting 
foundation for tranquillity and happiness, when we had 
but too much reason to fear, that confusion and misery 
were coming rapidly upon us." * 

The testimonials of ratification having been received 
by Congress from a sufficient number of States, an act 
was passed by that body on the 13th of September, 
appointing the first Wednesday in January, 1789, for 
the people of the United States to choose electors of a 
President according to the constitution, and the first 
Wednesday in the month of Pebruary following for the 
electors to meet and make a choice. The meeting of" 
the government was to be on the first Wednesday in 
March, and in the City of New York. 

* Letter to Jonathan Trumbull, 20th July, 1788. 



The adoption of the Federal constitution was another 
epoch in the hfe of Washington. Before the official 
forms of an election could be carried into operation a 
unanimous sentiment throughout the Union pronounced 
him the nation's choice to fill the presidential chair. 
He looked forward to the possibility of his election 
with characteristic modesty and unfeigned reluctance ; 
as his letters to his confidential friends bear witness. 
" It has no fascinating allurements for me," writes he 
to Lafayette. " At my time of life and under my cir- 
cumstances, the increasing infirmities of nature and the 
growing love of retirement do not permit me to enter- 
tain a wish beyond that of living and dying an honest 
man on my own farm. Let those follow the pursuits 
of ambition and fame who have a keener relish for 
them, or who may have more years in store for the 

Colonel Henry Lee had written to him warmly and 


eloquently on the subject. " My anxiety is extreme that 
the new government may have an auspicious begin- 
ning. To effect this and to perpetuate a nation formed 
under your auspices, it is certain that again you will 
be called forth. The same principles of devotion to 
the good of mankind which have invariably governed 
your conduct, will no doubt continue to rule your 
mind, however opposite their consequences may be to 
your repose and happiness. If the same success should 
attend your efforts on this important occasion which 
has distinguished you hitherto, then to be sure you will 
have spent a life which Providence rarely, if ever, gave 
to the lot of one man. It is my behef, it is mj 
anxious hope, that this will be the case." 

" The event to which you allude may never hap- 
pen," replies Washington. " This consideration alone 
would supersede the expediency of announcing any 
definitive and irrevocable resolution. You are among 
the small number of those who know my invincible 
attachment to domestic life, and that my sincerest wish 
is to continue in the enjoyment of it solely until my 
final hour. But the world would be neither so well 
instructed, nor so candidly disposed as to believe me 
uninfluenced by sinister motives, in case any circum- 
stance should render a deviation from the line of con- 
duct I had prescribed to myself indispensable. 

" Should my unfeigned reluctance to accept the office 
be overcome by a deference for the reasons and opin- 
ions of my friends ; might I not, after the declarations 
I have made (and heaven knows they were made in 
the sincerity of my heart), in the judgment of the 
impartial world and of posterity, be chargeable with 


levity and inconsistency, if not with rashness and 
ambition? Nay, farther, would there not be some 
apparent foundation for the two former charges ? Now 
justice to myself, and tranquillity of conscience require, 
that I should act a part, if not above imputation, at 
least capable of vindication. Nor will you conceive 
me to be too solicitous for reputation. Though I prize 
as I ought the good opinion of my fellow-citizens, yet, 
if I know myself, I would not seek popularity at the 
expense of one social duty or moral virtue. 

" While doing what my conscience informed me was 
right, as it respected my God, my country and myself, 
I should despise all the party clamor and unjust cen- 
sure, which must be expected from some, whose per- 
sonal enmity might be occasioned by their hostility to 
the government. I am conscious, that I fear alone to 
give any real occasion for obloquy, and that I do not 
dread to meet with unmerited reproach. And certain 
I am, whensoever I shall be convinced the good of 
my country requires my reputation to be put in risk, 
regard for my own fame will not come in competition 
with an object of so much magnitude. 

" If I declined the task, it would lie upon quite 
another principle. Notwithstanding my advanced sea- 
son of life, my increasing fondness for agricultural 
amusements, and my growing love of retirement aug- 
ment and confirm my decided predilection for the char- 
acter of a private citizen, yet it would be no one of 
these motives, nor the hazard to which my former 
reputation might be exposed, nor the terror of encoun- 
tering new fatigues and troubles, that would deter me 
from an acceptance; but a belief, that some other 


person, who had less pretence and less inclination to 
be excused, could execute all the duties full as satisfac- 
torily as myself." 

In a letter to Colonel Alexander v Hamilton he 
writes : " In taking a survey of the subject, in what- 
ever point of light I have been able to place it, I have 
always felt a kind of gloom upon my mind, as often as 
I have been taught to expect I might, and perhaps 
must ere long, be called upon to make a decision. You 
will, I am well assured, believe the assertion, though I 
have little expectation it would gain credit from those 
who are less acquainted with me, that, if I should 
receive the appointment, and if I should be prevailed 
upon to accept it, the acceptance would be attended 
with more diffidence and reluctance than ever I experi- 
enced before in my life. It would be, however, with a 
fixed and sole determination of lending whatever as- 
sistance might be in my power to promote the public 
weal, in hopes that, at a convenient and early period, 
my services might be dispensed with, and that I might 
be permitted once more to retire, to pass an unclouded 
evening, after the stormy day of hfe, in the bosom of 
domestic tranquillity." 

To Lafayette he declares that his difficulties in- 
crease and multiply as he draws toward the period 
when, according to common behef, it will be necessary 
for him to give a definitive answer as to the office in 

" Should circumstances render it in a manner in- 
evitably necessary to be in the affirmative," writes he, 
" I shall assume the task with the most unfeigned 
reluctance, and with a real diffidence, for which I shall 


probably receive no credit from the world. If I know 
my own heart, nothing short of a conviction of duty 
will induce me again to take an active part in pubhc 
affairs ; and in that case, if I can form a plan for my 
own conduct, my endeavors shall be unremittingly 
exerted, even at the hazard of former fame or present 
popularity, to extricate my country from the embarrass- 
ments in which it is entangled through want of credit ; 
and to establish a general system of policy, which if 
pursued will ensure permanent felicity to the common- 
wealth. I think I see a path clear and direct as a ray 
of light, w^hich leads to the attainment of that object. 
Nothing but harmony, honesty, industry and frugality 
are necessary to make us a great and happy people. 
Happily the present posture of affairs, and the prevail- 
ing disposition of my countrymen, promise to co- 
operate in establishing those fom- great and essential 
pillars of public felicity." 

The election took place at the appointed time, and 
it w^as soon ascertained that Washington was chosen 
President for the term of four years from the 4th of 
March. By this time the arguments and entreaties of 
his friends, and his own convictions of public expe- 
diency, had determined him to accept ; and he made 
preparations to depart for the seat of government, as 
soon as he should receive official notice of his election. 
Among other duties, he paid a visit to his mother at 
Tredericksburg ; it was a painful, because likely to be 
a final one, for she was afflicted with a malady which, 
it was evident, must soon terminate her life. Their 
parting was affectionate, but solemn ; she had always 
been reserved and moderate in expressing herself in 


regard to the successes of lier son ; but it must have 
been a serene satisfaction at the close of her life to see 
him elevated by his virtues to the highest honor of his 

From a delay in forming a quorum of Congress the 
votes of the electoral college were not counted until 
early in April, when they were found to be unanimous 
in favor of Washington. " The delay," said he in a 
letter to General Knox, " may be compared to a 
reprieve ; for in confidence I tell you (with the world it 
would obtain little credit), that my movements to the 
chair of government will be accompanied by feelings 
not unlike those of a culprit, who is going to the place 
of his execution ; so unwilling am I, in the evening 
of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a 
peaceful abode for an ocean of difficulties, without that 
competency of poUtical skill, abilities and inclination, 
which are necessary to manage the helm. I am sensi- 
ble that I am embarking the voice of the people, and 
a good name of my own, oif this voyage ; but what 
returns will be made for them, heaven alone can 
foretell. Integrity and firmness are all I can promise. 
These, be the voyage long or short, shall never forsake 
me, although I may be deserted by aU men ; for of 
the consolations, which are to be derived from these, 
under any circumstances, the world cannot deprive me." 

At length on the 14th of April he received a letter 
from the president of Congress, duly notifying him of 
his election ; and he prepared to set out immediately 
for New York, the seat of government. An entry in his 
diary, dated the 16th, says, " About ten o'clock I bade 
adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domes- 


tic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more 
anxious and painful sensations than I have words to 
express, set out for New York with the best disposition 
to render service to my country in obedience to its call, 
but with less hope of answering its expectations." 

At the first stage of his journey a trial of his tender- 
est feelings awaited him in a public dinner given him 
at Alexandria, by his neighbors and personal friends, 
among whom he had lived in the constant interchange 
of kind offices, and who were so aware of the practical 
beneficence of his private character. A deep feeling 
of regret mingled with their festivity. The mayor, who 
presided, and spoke the sentiments of the people of 
Alexandria, deplored in his departure the loss of the 
first and best of their citizens, the ornament of the 
aged, the model of the young, the improver of their 
agriculture ; the friend of their commerce, the protec- 
tor of their infant academy, the benefactor of their 
poor, — ^but " go," added he, " and make a grateful peo- 
ple happy, who will be doubly grateful when they con- 
template this new sacrifice for their interests." 

Washington was too deeply afi*ected for many 
words in reply. " Just after haying bade adieu to my 
domestic connections," said he, " this tender proof of 
your friendship is but too well calculated to awaken 
still further my sensibility and increase my regret at 
parting from the enjoyments of private life. All that 
now remains for me is to commit myself and you to 
the care of that beneficent Being, who, on a former 
occasion, happily brought us together after a long and 
distressing separation. Perhaps the same gracious 
Providence will again indulge me. But words fail me. 


Unutterable sensations must, then, be left to more 
expressive silence, while from an aching heart I bid all 
my affectionate friends and kind neighbors farewell ! " 

His progress to the seat of government was a con- 
tinual ovation. The ringing of bells and roaring of 
cannonry proclaimed his course through the country. 
The old and young, women and children, thronged the 
highways to bless and welcome him. Deputations of 
the most respectable inhabitants from the principal 
places came forth to<^meet and escort him. At Balti- 
more, on his arrival and departure, his carriage was 
attended by a numerous cavalcade of citizens, and he 
was saluted by the thunder of artillery. 

At the frontier of Pennsylvania he was met by his 
former companion in arms, Mifflin, now governor of 
the State, who with Judge Peters and a civil and mili- 
tary escort, was waiting to receive him. Washington 
had hoped to be spared all military parade, but found 
it was not to be evaded. At Chester, where he stopped 
to breakfast, there were preparations for a public en- 
trance into Philadelphia. Cavalry had assembled from 
the surrounding country ; a superb white horse was led 
out for Washington to mount, and a grand procession 
set forward, with General St. Clair of revolutionary no- 
toriety at its head. It gathered numbers as it advanced ; 
passed under triumphal arches entwined with laurel, 
and entered Philadelphia amid the shouts of the mul- 

A day of public festivity succeeded, ended by a 
display of fireworks. Washington's reply to the con- 
gratulations of the mayor at a great civic banquet, spoke 
the genuine feehngs of his modest nature, amid these 


testimonials of a world's applause. " When I contem- 
plate the interposition of Providence, as it was visibly 
manifested in guiding us through the Revolution, in pre- 
paring us for the reception of the general government, 
and in conciliating the good will of the people of Amer- 
ica toward one another after its adoption, I feel my- 
self oppressed and almost overwhelmed with a sense of 
divine munificence. I feel that nothing is due to my 
personal agency in all those wonderful and complicated 
events, except what can be attributed to an honest zeal 
for the good of my country." 

We question whether any of these testimonials of a 
nation's gratitude affected AYashington more sensibly 
than those he received at Trenton. It was on a sunny 
afternoon when he arrived on the banks of the Delaware, 
where, twelve years before, he had crossed in darkness 
and storm, through clouds of snow and drifts of float- 
ing ice, on his daring attempt to strike a blow at a 
triumphant enemy. 

Here at present all was peace and sunshine, the 
broad river flowed placidly along, and crowds awaited 
him on the opposite bank, to hail him with love and 

We will not dwell on the joyous ceremonials with 
which he was welcomed, but there was one too peculiar 
to be omitted. The reader may remember Washing- 
ton's gloomy night on the banks of the Assuiipink, 
which flows through Trenton ; the camp fires of Corn- 
wallis in front of him ; the Delaware full of floating ice 
in the rear ; and his sudden resolve on that midnight 
retreat which turned the fortunes of the campaign. On 
the bridge crossing that eventful stream, the ladies of 


Trenton had caused a triumphal arch to be erected. 
It was entwined with evergreens and laurels, and bore 
the inscription, " The defender of the mothers will be 
the protector of the daughters." At this bridge the 
matrons of the city were assembled to pay him rever- 
ence, and as he passed under the arch, a number of 
young girls, dressed in white and crowned with gar- 
lands, strewed flowers before him, singing an ode ex- 
pressive of their love and gratitude. Never was ova- 
tion more graceful, touching and sincere ; and Washing- 
ton, tenderly afiected, declared that the impression of it 
on his heart could never be effaced. 

His whole progress through New Jersey must have 
afforded a similar contrast to his weary marchings to 
and fro, harassed by doubts arid perplexities, with bale 
fires blazing on its hills, instead of festive illuminations, 
and when the ringing of bells and booming of cannon, 
now so joyous, were the signals of invasion and 

In respect to his reception at New York, Washing- 
ton had signified in a letter to Governor Clinton, that 
none could be so congenial to his feelings as a quiet 
entry devoid of ceremony ; but his modest wishes were 
not complied with. At Elizabethtown Point, a com- 
mittee of both Houses of Congress, with various civic 
functionaries, waited by appointment to receive him. 
He embarked on board of a splendid barge, constructed 
for the occasion. It was manned by thirteen branch 
pilots, masters of vessels, in white uniforms, and com- 
manded by Commodore Nicholson. Other barges fan- 
cifully decorated followed, having on board the heads 
of departments and other public officers, and several 


distinguislied citizens. As they passed tlirougli the 
strait between the Jerseys and Staten Island, called the 
KiUs, other boats decorated with flags fell in their wake, 
until the whole, forming a nautical procession, swept 
up the broad and beautiful bay of New York, to the 
sound of instrumental music. On board of two vessels 
were parties of ladies and gentlemen who sang congrat- 
ulatory odes as Washington's barge approached. The 
ships at anchor in the harbor, dressed in colors, fired 
salutes as it passed. One alone, the Galveston, a Span- 
ish man-of-war, displayed no signs of gratulation until 
the barge of the general v as nearly abreast ; when sud- 
denly as if by magic, the yards were manned, the ship 
burst forth, as it were, into a full array of flags and 
signals, and thundered a salute of thirteen guns. 

He approached the landing-place of Murray's 
Wharf amid the ringing of bells, the roaring of can- 
nonry, and the shouting of multitudes collected on 
every pier-head. On landing, he was received by Gov- 
ernor Clinton. General Knox, too, who had taken such 
affectionate leave of him on his retirement from mil- 
itary life, was there to welcome him in his civil capacity. 
Other of his fellow-soldiers of the Revolution were like- 
wise there, mingled with the civic dignitaries. At this 
juncture, an officer stepped up and requested Wash- , 
ington's orders, announcing himself as commanding 
his guard. Washington desired him to proceed accord- 
ing to the directions he might have received in the 
present arrangements, but that for the future the affec- 
tion of his feUow-citizens was all the guard he wanted. 

Carpets had been spread to a carriage prepared to 
3onvey him to his destined residence, but he preferred 


to walk. He was attended by a long civil and military- 
train. In the streets through which he passed the 
houses were decorated with flags, silken banners, gar- 
lands of flowers and evergreens, and bore his name in 
every form of ornament. The streets were crowded 
with people, so that it was with difliculty a passage 
could be made by the city officers. Washington fre- 
quently bowed to the multitude as he passed, taking 
off his hat to the ladies, who thronged every window, 
waving their handkerchiefs, throwing flowers before him, 
and many of them shedding tears of enthusiasm. 

That day he dined with his old friend Governor 
Clinton, who had invited a numerous company of pub- 
He functionaries and foreign diplomatists to meet him, 
and in the evening the city was brilliantly illuminated. 

Would the reader know the effect upon Washir.g- 
ton's mind of this triumphant entry into New York ? 
It was to depress rather than to excite him. Modestly 
diffident of his abilities to cope with the new duties on 
which he was entering, he was overwhelmed by w^hat 
he regarded as proofs of public expectation. Noting 
in his diary the events of the day, he writes : — 
" The display of boats which attended and joined us 
on this occasion, some with vocal and some with instru- 
mental music on board ; the decorations of the ships, 
the roar of cannon, and the loud acclamations of the 
people which rent the skies, as I passed along the 
wharves, filled my mind with sensations as painful 
(considering the reverse of this scene, which may be 
the case after aU my labors to do good) as they are 

The inauguration was delayed for several days by a 


question which had risen as to the form or title by 
which the President elect was to be addressed ; and this 
had been deliberated in a committee of both Houses, 
The question had been mooted without Washington's 
privity, and contrary to his desire : as he feared that 
any title might awaken the sensitive jealousy of re- 
publicans, at a moment when it was all important to 
conciliate public good-will to the new form of govern- 
ment. It was a relief to him, therefore, when it was 
finally resolved that the address should be simply " the 
President of the United States," without any addition 
of title ; a judicious form which has remained to the 
present day. 

The inauguration took place on the 30 th of April. 
At nine o'clock in the morning, there were religious 
services in all the churches, and prayers put up for the 
blessing of heaven on the new government. At twelve 
o'clock the city troops paraded before Washington's 
door, and soon after the committees of Congress and 
heads of departments came in their carriages. At half- 
past twelve the procession moved forward preceded by 
the troops, next came the committees and heads of de- 
partments in their carriages ; then Washington in a 
coach of state, his aide-de-camp, Colonel Humphreys, 
and his secretary, Mr. Lear, in his own carriage. The 
foreign ministers and a long train of citizens brought 
up the rear. 

About two hundred yards before reaching the hall, 
Washington and his suite- alighted from their carriages, 
and passed through the troops, who were drawn up on 
each side, into the haU and senate-chamber, where the 
Vice President, the Senate and House of Representa- 


tives were assembled. The Vice President, John 
Adams, recently inaugurated, advanced and conducted 
Washington to a chair of state at the upper end of the 
room. A solemn silence prevailed; when the Vice 
President rose, and informed him that all things were 
prepared for him to take the oath of office required by 
the constitution. 

The oath was to be administered by the Chancellor 
of the State of New York in a balcony in front of the 
senate chamber, and in full view of an immense mul- 
titude occupying the street, the windows, and even roofs 
of the adjacent houses. The balcony formed a kind of 
open recess, with lofty columns supporting the roof. 
In the centre was a table with a covering of crimson 
velvet, upon which lay a superbly bound Bible on a 
crimson velvet cushion. This was all the paraphernalia 
for the august scene. 

All eyes were fixed upon the balcony, when, at the 
appointed hour, Washington made ffis appearance, ac- 
companied by various public functionaries, and mem- 
bers of the Senate and House of Representatives. He 
was clad in a full suit of dark -brown cloth, of American 
manufacture, with a steel-hilted dress sword, white silk 
stockings, and silver shoe-buckles. His hair was dressed 
and powdered in the fashion of the day, and worn in a 
bag and solitaire. 

His entrance on the balcony was hailed by univer- 
sal shouts. He was evidently moved by this demon- 
stration of public affection. Advancing to the front 
of the balcony he laid his hand upon his heart, bowed 
several times, and then retreated to an arm-chair near 
the table. The populace appeared to understand that 

TOL. IV. — 33 


the scene had overcome him ; and were hushed at once 
into profound silence. 

After a few moments Washington rose and again 
came forward. John Adams, the Vice President, stood 
on his right ; on his left the Chancellor of the State, 
Robert R. Livingston ; somewhat in the rear were 
Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, Generals Knox, 
St. Clair, the Baron Steuben and others. 

The chancellor advanced to administer the oath 
prescribed by the constitution, and Mr. Otis, the 
secretary of the Senate, held up the Bible on its crim- 
son cushion. The oath was read slowly and distinctly ; 
Washington at the same time laying his hand on the 
open Bible. When it was concluded, he replied sol- 
emnly, " 1 swear — so help me God ! " Mr. Otis 
would have raised the Bible to his lips, but he bowed 
down reverently and kissed it. 

The chancellor now stepped forward, waved his 
hand and exclaimed, '' Long live George Washington, 
President of the United States ! '^ At this moment a 
flag was displayed on the cupola of the hall ; on which 
signal there was a general discharge of artillery on the 
battery. All the bells in the city rang out a joyful 
peal, and the multitude rent the air with acclamations. 

Washington again bowed to the people and re- 
turned into the senate chamber, where he delivered, to 
both Houses of Congress, his inaugural address, char- 
acterized by his usual modesty, moderation and good 
sense, but uttered with a voice deep, slightly tremulous, 
and so low as to demand close attention in the listen- 
ers. After this he proceeded with the whole assem- 
blage on foot to St. Paul's church, where prayers suited 


to the occasion were read by Dr. Prevost, Bishop of 
the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York ; who 
had been appointed by the Senate one of the chaplains 
of Congress. So closed the ceremonies of the inaugu- 

The whole day was one of sincere rejoicing, and in 
the evening there were brilhant illuminations and fire- 

We have been accustomed to look to Washington's 
private letters for the sentiments of his heart. Those 
written to several of his friends immediately after his 
inauguration, show how little he was excited by his 
official elevation. " I greatly fear," writes he, " that 
my countrymen will expect too much from me. I 
fear, if the issue of public measures should not corres- 
pond with their sanguine expectations, they will turn 
the extravagant, and I might almost say undue praises, 
which they are heaping upon me at this momeilt, into 
equally extravagant, though I will fondly hope unmerited 

Little w^as his modest spirit aware that the praises 
so dubiously received were but the opening notes of a 
theme that was to increase from age to age, to pervade 
all lands and endure throughout all generations. 

In the volumes here concluded, we have endeavored 
to narrate faithfully the career of Washington from child- 
hood, through his early surveying expeditions in the 
wilderness, his diplomatic mission to the Prench posts 
on the frontier, his campaigns in the Prench war, his 


arduous trials as commander-in-cliief throughout the 
Revolution, the noble simplicity of his life in retirement, 
until we have shown him elevated to the presidential 
chair, by no effort of his own, in a manner against his 
wishes, by the unanimous vote of a grateful country. 

The plan of our work has necessarily carried us 
widely into the campaigns of the Revolution, even where 
Washington was not present in person ; for his spirit 
pervaded and directed the whole, and a general know- 
ledge of the whole is necessary to appreciate the saga- 
city, forecast, enduring fortitude, and comprehensive 
wisdom with which he conducted it. He himself has 
signified to one who aspired to write his biography, 
that any memoirs of his life distinct and unconnected 
with the history of the war, would be unsatisfactory. 
In treating of the Revolution, we have endeavored 
to do justice to what we consider its most striking 
characteristic ; the greatness of the object and the scan- 
tiness of the means. We have endeavored to keep in 
view the prevailing poverty of resources, the scandalous 
neglects, the squalid miseries of all kinds, with which 
its champions had to contend in their expeditions 
through trackless wildernesses, or thinly peopled re- 
gions ; beneath scorching suns or inclement skies ; 
their wintry marches to be traced by bloody footprints 
on snow and ice ; their desolate wintry encamp- 
ments, rendered still more desolate by nakedness and 
famine. It was in the patience and fortitude with 
which these ills were sustained by a half-disciplined 
yeomanry, voluntary exiles from their homes, destitute 
of all the "pomp and circumstance" of war to excite 
them, and animated solely by their patriotism, that we 


read the noblest and most affecting characteristics of 
that great struggle for human rights. They do wrong 
to its moral grandeur, who seek by common-place ex- 
aggeration, to give a melo- dramatic effect and false 
glare to its military operations, and to place its greatest 
triumphs in the conflicts of the field. Lafayette showed 
a true sense of the nature of the struggle, when Na- 
poleon, accustomed to effect ambitious purposes by 
hundreds of thousands of troops, and tens of thousands 
of slain, sneered at the scanty armies of the American 
Revolution and its " boasted battles." '' Sire," was the 
admirable and comprehensive reply, " it was the 
grandest of causes won by skirmishes of sentinels and 

In regard to the character and conduct of Wash- 
ington, we have endeavored to place his deeds in the 
clearest light, and left them to speak for themselves, 
generally avoiding comment or eulogium. We have 
quoted his own words and writings largely, to ex- 
plain his feelings and motives, and give the true key to 
his policy ; for never did man leave a more truthful 
mirror of his heart and mind, and a more thorough ex- 
ponent of his conduct than he has left in his copious cor- 
respondence. There his character is to be found in all 
its majestic simphcity, its massive grandeur, and quiet 
colossal strength. He was no hero of romance ; there 
was nothing of romantic heroism in his nature. As a 
warrior, he was incapable of fear, but made no merit of 
defying danger. He fought for a cause, but not for 
personal renown. Gladly, when he had won the cause, 
he hung up his sword never again to take it down. 
Glory, that blatant word, which haunts some military 


minds like the bray of the trumpet, formed no part of 
his aspirations. To act justly was his instinct, to pro- 
mote the public weal his constant effort, to deserve the 
" affections of good men" his ambition. With such 
qualifications for the pure exercise of sound judgment 
and comprehensive wisdom, he ascended the presiden- 
tial chair. 

There for the present we leave him. So far our 
work is complete, comprehending the whole military 
life of Washington, and his agency in public affairs, 
up to the formation of our constitution. How well 
we have executed it, we leave to the public to de- 
termine; hoping to find it, as heretofore, far more 
easily satisfied with the result of our labors than we are 
ourselves. Should the measure of health and good 
spirits, with which a kind Providence has blessed us 
beyond the usual term of literary labor, be still contin- 
ued, we may go on, and in another volume, give the 
presidential career and closing life of Washington. 
In the mean time, having found a resting-place in our 
task, we stay our hands, lay by our pen, and seek that 
relaxation and repose which gathering years require. 

Smnyside, 1857. W. I. 

?:nd of vol. IV. 







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