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pelled, right or wrong, to make circumstances chap. iv. yield to a secondary consideration. Since the 1776. first of December, I have been devising every means in my power to secure these encampments; and, though I am sensible that we never have since that period, been able to act on the offensive, and at times not in a condition to defend; yet the cost of marching home one. set of men, and bringing in another, the havoc and waste occasioned by the first, the repairs necessary for the second, with a thousand inci. dental charges and inconveniences which have arisen, and which it is scarcely possible either to recollect or describe, amount to near as much as the keeping up a respectable body of troops the whole time ready for any emergency would have done.
“ To this may be added, that you never can have a well disciplined army.
“ To make men well acquainted with the duties of a soldier requires time. To bring them under proper discipline and subordination not only requires time, but is a work of great difficulty; and in this army, where there is so little distinction between officers and soldiers, requires an uncommon degree of attention. To expect then the same service from raw and undisciplined recruits, as from veteran soldiers, is to expect what never did, and perhaps, never will happen
CHAP. IV. “Men who are familiarized to danger, ap. 1776. proach it without thinking, whereas, troops
unused to service apprehend danger where no danger exists.
“ Three things prompt men to a regular discharge of their duty in time of action,....natural bravery, hope of reward, and fear of punish. ment. The two first are common to the untutored, and the disciplined soldier; but the last most obviously distinguishes one from the other. A coward taught to believe that, if he breaks his ranks and abandons his colours, he will be punished with death by his own party, will take his chance against the enemy; but the man who thinks little of the one, and is fearful of the other, acts from present feelings, regardless of consequences.
“ Again, men of a day's standing will not look forward; and, from experience we find that, as the time approaches for their discharge, they grow careless of their arms, ammunition, camp utensils &c. nay, even the barracks themselves have felt uncommon marks of wan. ton depredation, and we are laid under fresh trouble and additional expense in providing for every fresh party, at a time when we find it next to impossible to procure the articles absolutely necessary, in the first instance. To this may be added the seasoning which new recruits must have to a camp, and the loss consequent thereupon.
“ But this is not all. Men engaged for a chap. IV. short limited time only, have the officers too 1776. much in their power. To obtain a degree of popularity in order to induce a second inlistment, a kind of familiarity takes place which brings on a relaxation of discipline, unlicensed furloughs, and other indulgencies, incompatible with order and good government, by which means the latter part of the time for which the soldier was engaged, is spent in undoing what it required much labour to inculcate in the first.
“ To go into an enumeration of all the evils we have experienced in this late great change of the army, and the expense incidental to it, to say nothing of the hazard we have run and must run, between the discharging of one army and the inlistment of another (unless an enormous expense of militia is incurred) would greatly exceed the bounds of a letter. What I have already taken the liberty of saying will serve to convey a general idea of the matter, and therefore, I shall with all due deference, take the freedom to give it as my opinion that, if congress have any reason to believe there will be occasion for troops another year, and consequently for another inlistment, they would save money, and have infinitely better troops, if they were, even at the bounty of twenty, thirty, or more dollars, to engage the men already in. listed until January next, and such others as may be wanted to complete the establishment,
CHẠP. IV. for and during the war. I will not undertake 1776. to say that the men may be had on these terms,
but I am satisfied that it will never do to let the matter alone, as it was last year, until the time of service is near expiring. In the first place, the hazard is too great: in the next, the trouble and perplexity of disbanding one army and raising another at the same instant, and in such a critical situation as the last was, is scarcely in the power of words to describe, and such as no man who has once experienced it, will ever undergo again.
Unfortunately, congress did not feel so sen. sibly as their general, the incapacity of tempo. rary armies, to oppose those which are permanent. Nor were his officers of high rank, as yet, sufficiently impressed on this subject. In a council held previous to the new modelling of the army, they had been of opinion that the inlistments might be only for one year.
Very early in January, general Washington received unquestionable intelligence, that an armament was equipping in Boston to sail under general Clinton, on a secret expedition. From the season of the year, he counted certainly on its being designed for some southern service; and a variety of considerations induced him to believe that New York was its destination. He thought it of great importance to the enemy to obtain possession of the Hudson, as they would thereby open to themselves the best
channel of intercourse with Canada, and would CHAP. IV. · render extremely difficult all communication 1776. between the northern and southern colonies. In addition to this, the royal cause had more adherents in New York, especially on Long Island, where a party of tories were said to be embodying themselves, than in any other colony, and this was believed to furnish a motive for taking possession of that country, by no means without its influence. .
The same considerations which appeared to render this position so essential to the enemy, made it an object, not of less consequence to the American army, to maintain it. Whilst deliberating on this subject, and doubting his power and the propriety of taking such a step without the previous approbation of congress, he received a letter from general Lee, requesting to be detached under his authority to Connecticut, there to collect a body of volunteers, and march them to New York, to be employed both for the security of that place, and the expulsion or suppression of a banditti of tories collecting on Long Island. Though greatly inclined to the adoption of this measure, of the utility of which he felt the most positive conviction, the delicacy which it was necessary for him to observe with the civil authority, produced some suspense of his decision. Mr. John Adams, a very influential member of congress, was then at Watertown, attending the