« ZurückWeiter »
van, he communicated the mode of conduct which he wished might in this delicate transaction be pursued. To Heath, who commanded in Boston, he expressed his apprehension that resentment of the conduct of the Count might prevent the proper exertion to repair and victual the French fleet, and he urged Heath to counteract such prejudices. “It will certainly be sound policy to combat the effects, and whatever private opinions may be entertained, to give the best construction of what has happened to the publick; and at the same time to exert ourselves to put the French fleet, as soon as possible, in a condition to defend itself, and be useful to us The de parture of the fleet from Rhode-Island is not yet publickly announced here; but when it is, I intend to ascribe it to necessity produced by the damage received in the late storm. This, it appears to me, is the idea which ought to be generally propagated. As I doubt not, the force of these reasons will strike you equally with myself, I would recommend to you to use your utmost influence to palliate and soften matters, and to induce those, whose business it is, to provide succours of every kind for the fleet, to employ their utmost zeal and activity in doing it. It is our duty to make the best of our misfortunes, and not suffer passion to interfere with our interest and the publick good.” To General Sullivan he mentioned “his apprehension that should the expedition fail, in consequence of being abandoned by the French fleet, loud complaints might be made by the officers employed on it. Prudence,” he said, “ dictated the propriety of giving this affair the best appearance, and of attributing tho withdrawing the fleet from Rhode-Island to absolute necessity. The reasons,” he added, “for this line of conduct, were too obvious to need explanation. That of most importance was, that their enemies, both in
ternal and external, would seize the first cause of dis gust between the allies, and endeavour to convert it into a serious rupture.” When the General received the resolution of Congress, directing him to take every measure in his power to prevent the publication of the protest entered into by General Sullivan and his officers, he comrhunicated the resolution and with it the following letter. “The disagreement between the army under your command, and the fleet, has given me very singular uneasiness. The continent at large is concerned in our cordiality, and it should be kept up by all possible means consistent with our honour and policy. First impressions, you know, are generally longest retained, and will serve to fix, in a great degree, our national character with the French. In our conduct towards them, we should remember, that they are a people old in war, very strict in military etiquette, and apt to take fire when others scarcely seem warmed. Permit me to recommend, in the most particular manner, the cultivation of harmony and good agreement, and your endeavours to destroy that ill humour which may have found its way among the officers. It is of the utmost importance too, that the soldiers and the people should know nothing of this misunderstanding, or, if it has reached them, that means may be used to stop its progress and prevent its effects.” In a correspondence with Count d'Estaing, General WAshingtoN strove to soften his resentments, to sooth the chagrin of disappointment, and to conciliate his good affections towards the United States. These prudent measures were attended with the most salutary effects. With the battle of Monmouth, active operations for the campaign closed in the Middle States. On the approach of winter, the American army went into quarters in the neighbourhood of the High Lands. Being better clothed and fed than in the preceding winter, their situation was greatly ameliorated, and their sufferings were comparatively nothing.
At the close of the campaign of 1778, the local situation of the hostile armies did not greatly differ from that at the commencement of the campaign of 1776, except the possession of New-York by the British.
This fact is impressively stated by General WAsh Ington, in a letter written to a friend. “It is not a little pleasing, nor less wonderful to contemplate, that after two years manoeuvring, and undergoing the strangest vicissitudes, both armies are brought back to the very point they set out from, and the offending party in the beginning is now reduced to the use of the pickaxe and the spade for defence. The hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked that has not gratitude to acknowledge his obligations.”
Plan formed by Congress and the French Minister for the Invasion of Canada and Nova-Scotia—General Washington's objections to it—Tardiness of the United States to prepare for the approaching Campaign—The exertions of the General—His Letter on the State of the Nation—The Remonstrance of Officers belonging to the New-Jersey Brigade—Letters of the Commander in Chief on the Subject—Expedition against the Indians under General Sullivan—He destroys thcur Towns—The American Army posted for the Defence of the High Lands on the North River, and for the protection of the Country against the Incursions of the British--Sir Henry Clinton moves up the Hudson, takes Possession of Stony and Verplank Points, and fortifies them—Arrangements made for assaulting these Posts—General Wayne carries Stony Point by Storm—The Attack upon Verplank fails–Congress vote their thanks to General Washington and to the brave Troops employed in this service—They vote General Wayne a Medal– Evils of short Enlistments—Plan of the General's to remedy them —The Army in two divisions erect huts for Winter Quarters, The Troops suffer through the scarcity of Provisions—Colonel Wadsworth resigns his Office—Confusion in the Commissary's l)epartment—The Commander in on: supplies of Meat and Flour upon the Counties of New-Jersey–The Winter excessively cold, and the Waters around New-York frozen over —Expedition to Staten Island fails.
1779. The emancipation of Canada had ever been an important object with Congress. By its incorporation with the revolted colonies, the boundaries of the United States would be greatly enlarged, and the country delivered from the destruction and terrour of war from the northern tribes of Indians.
In the winter of 1777–8, an expedition for this purpose had been settled with the Marquis de la Fayette, and in its prosecution he repaired to Ticonderoga. Wanting then the means to accomplish the design, it was relinquished. During the succeeding autumn the scheme was resumed under the auspices of the French Minister. The plan embraced the conquest of Canada, Nova Scotia, and all their dependencies. It was to be carried into effect by the joint operations of distinct detachments of Americans, acting in different points, and all co-operating with a French fleet and army on the river Saint Lawrence. This lofty scheme of military operations had been adopted in Congress without consulting with the Commander in Chief, or any American officer. It was to be communicated to the French Court by the Marquis de la Fayette, and his influence, with that of the French Minister, was to be employed to induce his government to adopt their part of the expedition. In October the plan was communicated to General WASHINGTon, he was desired to give Congress his opinion upon it, and to enclose it with his comments to the Marquis. The General had already revolved in his mind an expedition against the British posts in Upper Canada, with the intention to be prosecuted the next season, on the contingence that the British army should be withdrawn from the United States. Struck with the extravagance of the plan of Congress, instead of complying with their requisition, he wrote to them, stating in strong terms his objections to the scheme. He mentioned the impolicy of entering into any engagements with the Court of France to execute a combined system of operation, without a moral certainty of being able to execute the part assigned to America. It was, the General observed, morally certain in his mind, that if the English should maintain their posts on the continent, it would be impracticable to furnish the men, or the uecessary stores and provisions for the expedition. “If I rightly understand the plan,” he remarked, “it requires for its execution, twelve thousand and six hundred rank and file. Besides these, to open passages through a wilderness, for the march of the several bodies of troops, to provide the means of long and difficult transportation by land and water, to establish posts of communication for the security of our convoys, to build and man vessels of force necessary for acquiring a superiority on the lakes; these