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Life And Times Of Washington, Volume 2 by John Frederick Schroeder and Benson John Lossing

Part 4 out of 16

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Previous to evacuating Philadelphia, Clinton had received notice from
his government that, in consequence of the alliance between France and
the United States, a new plan of operations had been determined on. The
French were to be attacked in their West Indian possessions by way of
diversion from the main scene of action. Five thousand men were
detached from his army to aid in the execution of this purpose, and
3,000 were sent to Florida. Clinton was also apprised that a French
fleet would probably appear in the Delaware and thus prevent any
possibility of his leaving Philadelphia by water. Hence his sudden
departure from Philadelphia with the remainder of his forces. He was
only just in time to save his army and Lord Howe's fleet.

On the 5th of July (1778), the day on which the British army arrived at
New York, the Count D'Estaing, with a French fleet, appeared on the
coast of Virginia.

In the month of March the French ambassador in London, by order of his
government, notified to the British court the treaties entered into
between France and America. In a few days afterward he quitted London
without the ceremony of taking leave, and about the same time the
British ambassador left Paris in a similar manner. This was considered
equivalent to a declaration of war, and although war was not actually
declared, yet both parties diligently prepared for hostilities.

The French equipped at Toulon a fleet of twelve sail of the line and
six frigates, and gave the command to Count D'Estaing, who, with a
considerable number of troops on board, sailed on the 13th of April
(1778); but meeting with contrary winds he did not reach the coast of
America till the 5th of July. He expected to find the British army in
Philadelphia and the fleet in the Delaware, and if this expectation had
been realized the consequences to Britain must have been calamitous.
But the British fleet and army were at Sandy Hook or New York before
the French fleet arrived on the coast. Count D'Estaing touched at the
capes of the Delaware on the 5th of July, and on learning that the
British had evacuated Philadelphia, he dispatched one of his frigates
up the river with M. Gerard, the first minister from France to the
United States, and then sailed for Sandy Hook.

Washington received intelligence of D'Estaing's arrival in a letter
from the President of Congress while he was at Paramus. The next day he
received a second letter on the same subject, enclosing two
resolutions--one directing him to cooperate with the French admiral and
the other authorizing him to call on the States from New Hampshire to
New Jersey, inclusive, for such aids of militia as he might deem
necessary for the operations of the allied arms. He determined to
proceed immediately to White Plains, whence the army might cooperate
with more facility in the execution of any attempt which might be made
by the fleet, and dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens, one of his
aides-de-camp, with all the information relative to the enemy, as well
as to his own army, which might be useful to D'Estaing.
Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens was authorized to consult on future conjoint
operations, and to establish conventional signals for the purpose of
facilitating the communication of intelligence.

The French admiral, on arriving off the Hook, dispatched Major de
Choisi, a gentleman of his family, to Washington for the purpose of
communicating fully his views and his strength. His first object was to
attack New York. If this should be found impracticable, he was desirous
of turning his attention to Rhode Island. To assist in coming to a
result on these enterprises, Washington dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel
Hamilton, another of his aides-de-camp, with such further
communications as had been suggested by inquiries made since the
departure of Laurens.

Fearing that the water on the bar at the entrance of the harbor was not
of sufficient depth to admit the passage of the largest ships of the
French fleet without much difficulty and danger, Washington had turned
his attention to other objects which might be eventually pursued.
General Sullivan, who commanded the troops in Rhode Island, was
directed (July 21, 1778) to prepare for an enterprise against Newport,
and Lafayette was detached with two brigades to join him at Providence.
The next day Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton returned to camp with the
final determination of the Count D'Estaing to relinquish the meditated
attack on the fleet in the harbor of New York, in consequence of the
impracticability of passing the bar.

General Greene was immediately ordered to Rhode Island, of which State
he was a native, and Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens was directed to attach
himself to the French admiral and to facilitate all his views by
procuring whatever might give them effect, after which he was to act
with the army under Sullivan.

Writing to the President of Congress (August 3, 1778), Washington says:
"As the army was encamped and there was no great prospect of a sudden
removal, I judged it advisable to send General Greene to the eastward
on Wednesday last, being fully persuaded his services, as well in the
quartermaster line as in the field, would be of material importance in
the expedition against the enemy in that quarter. He is intimately
acquainted with the whole of that country, and, besides, he has an
extensive interest and influence in it. And, in justice to General
Greene, I take occasion to observe that the public is much indebted to
him for his judicious management and active exertions in his present
department. When he entered upon it, he found it in a most confused,
distracted, and destitute state. This, by his conduct and industry, has
undergone a very happy change and such as enabled us, with great
facility, to make a sudden move, with the whole army and baggage, from
Valley Forge, in pursuit of the enemy, and to perform a march to this
place. In a word, he has given the most general satisfaction, and his
affairs carry much the face of method and system. I also consider it as
an act of justice to speak of the conduct of Colonel Wadsworth,
commissary-general. He has been indefatigable in his exertions to
provide for the army, and, since his appointment, our supplies of
provision have been good and ample."

We copy this extract from Washington's correspondence because it does
justice to Greene and gives us information of the favorable change
which had taken place in the condition of the army since its dreary
sojourn at Valley Forge.

The resolution being taken to proceed against Rhode Island, the fleet
got under way and on the 25th of July (1778) appeared off Newport and
cast anchor about five miles from that place; soon after which General
Sullivan visited D'Estaing and concerted with him a plan of operations.
The fleet was to enter the harbor and land the French troops on the
west side of the island, a little to the north of Dyer's Island. The
Americans were to land at the same time on the opposite coast under
cover of the guns of a frigate.

A delay of several days now took place on account of the tardiness of
the neighboring militia in joining Sullivan's army.

As the militia of New Hampshire and Massachusetts approached, Sullivan
joined Greene at Tiverton and it was agreed with the admiral that the
fleet should enter the main channel immediately (August 8th), and that
the descent should be made the succeeding day. The French fleet passed
the British batteries and entered the harbor without receiving or doing
any considerable damage.

The militia not arriving precisely at the time they were expected,
Sullivan could not hazard the movement which had been concerted, and
stated to the Count the necessity of postponing it till the next day.
Meanwhile the preparations for the descent being perceived, General
Pigot drew the troops which had been stationed on the north end of the
island into the lines at Newport.

On discovering this circumstance the next morning, Sullivan determined
to avail himself of it and to take immediate possession of the works
which had been abandoned. The whole army crossed the east passage and
landed on the north end of Rhode Island. This movement gave great
offense to D'Estaing who resented the indelicacy supposed to have been
committed by Sullivan in landing before the French and without
consulting him.

Unfortunately some difficulties on subjects of mere punctilio had
previously arisen. D'Estaing was a land as well as sea officer, and
held the high rank of lieutenant-general in the service of France.
Sullivan being only a major-general, some misunderstanding on this
delicate point had been apprehended, and Washington had suggested to
him the necessity of taking every precaution to avoid it. This, it was
supposed, had been effected in their first conference, in which it was
agreed that the Americans should land first, after which the French
should land to be commanded by D'Estaing in person. The motives for
this arrangement are not stated. Either his own after-reflections or
the suggestions of others dissatisfied D'Estaing with it and he
insisted that the descent should be made on both sides of the island
precisely at the same instant, and that one wing of the American army
should be attached to the French and land with them. He also declined
commanding in person and wished Lafayette to take charge of the French
troops as well as of the Americans attached to them.

It being feared that this alteration of the plan might endanger both
its parts D'Estaing was prevailed on to reduce his demand from one wing
of the American army to 1,000 militia. When afterward Sullivan crossed
over into the island before the time to which he had himself postponed
the descent, and without giving previous notice to the count of this
movement, considerable excitement was manifested. The count refused to
answer Sullivan's letter, and charged Lieutenant-Colonel Fleury, who
delivered it, with being more an American than a Frenchman.

At this time a British fleet appeared which, after sailing close into
the land and communicating with General Pigot, withdrew some distance
and came to anchor off Point Judith, just without the narrow inlet
leading into the harbor.

After it had been ascertained that the destination of the Count
D'Estaing was America, he was followed by a squadron of twelve ships of
the line under Admiral Byron who was designed to relieve Lord Howe,
that nobleman having solicited his recall. The vessels composing this
squadron meeting with weather unusually bad for the season, and being
separated in different storms, arrived, after lingering through a
tedious passage in various degrees of distress, on different and remote
parts of the American coast. Between the departure of D'Estaing from
the Hook on the 23d of July (1778) and the 30th of that month, four
ships of sixty-four and fifty guns arrived at Sandy Hook.

This addition to the British fleet, though it left Lord Howe
considerably inferior to the Count D'Estaing, determined him to attempt
the relief of Newport. He sailed from New York on the 6th of August and
on the 9th appeared in sight of the French fleet before intelligence of
his departure could be received by the admiral.

At the time of his arrival the wind set directly into the harbor so
that it was impossible to get out of it, but it shifted suddenly to the
northeast the next morning and the count determined to stand out to sea
and give battle. Previous to leaving port (August 10th) he informed
General Sullivan that on his return he would land his men as that
officer should advise.

Not choosing to give the advantage of the weather-gauge Lord Howe also
weighed anchor and stood out to sea. He was followed by D'Estaing, and
both fleets were soon out of sight.

The militia were now arrived and Sullivan's army amounted to 10,000
men. Notwithstanding some objections made by Lafayette to his
commencing operations before the return of D'Estaing, Sullivan
determined to commence the siege immediately. Before this determination
could be executed a furious storm blew down all the tents, rendered the
arms unfit for immediate use, and greatly damaged the ammunition, of
which fifty rounds had just been delivered to each man. The soldiers
having no shelter suffered extremely, and several perished in the storm
which continued three days. On the return of fair weather the siege was
commenced and continued without any material circumstance for several

As no intelligence had been received from the admiral the situation of
the American army was becoming very critical. On the evening of the
19th their anxieties were relieved for a moment by the reappearance of
the French fleet.

The two admirals, desirous the one of gaining and the other of
retaining the advantage of the wind, had employed two days in
maneuvering without coming to action. Toward the close of the second
they were on the point of engaging when they were separated by the
violent storm which had been so severely felt on shore and which
dispersed both fleets. Some single vessels afterward fell in with each
other, but no important capture was made, and both fleets retired in a
very shattered condition, the one to the harbor of New York and the
other to that of Newport.

A letter was immediately dispatched by D'Estaing to Sullivan, informing
him that, in pursuance of orders from the King and of the advice of all
his officers, he had taken the resolution to carry the fleet to Boston.
His instructions directed him to sail for Boston should his fleet meet
with any disaster or should a superior British fleet appear on the

To be abandoned by the fleet in such critical circumstances and not
only deprived of the brilliant success which they thought within their
reach, but exposed to imminent hazard, caused much disappointment,
irritation, and alarm in the American camp. Lafayette and Greene were
dispatched to D'Estaing to remonstrate with him on the subject and to
press his cooperation and assistance for two days only, in which time
they flattered themselves the most Brilliant success would crown their
efforts. But the count was not popular in the fleet; he was a military
officer as well as a naval commander, and was considered as belonging
to the army rather than to the navy. The officers of the sea service
looked on him with a jealous and envious eye and were willing to thwart
him as far as they were able with safety to themselves. When, on the
pressing application of Lafayette and Greene, he again submitted the
matter to their consideration, they took advantage of the letter of the
admiral's instructions and unanimously adhered to their former
resolution, sacrificing the service of their prince to their own petty
jealousies and animosities. D'Estaing, therefore, felt himself
constrained to set sail for Boston.

The departure of the French marine force left Sullivan's army in a
critical situation. It was in a firm reliance on the cooperation of the
French fleet that the expedition was undertaken, and its sudden and
unexpected departure not only disappointed the sanguine hopes of speedy
success, but exposed the army to much hazard, for the British troops
under General Pigot might have been reinforced and the fleet might have
cut off Sullivan's retreat.

The departure of the French fleet greatly discouraged the American
army, and in a few days Sullivan's force was considerably diminished by
desertion. On the 26th of August he therefore resolved to raise the
siege and retreat to the north end of the island, and took the
necessary precautions for the successful execution of that movement.

In the night of the 28th, Sullivan silently decamped and retired
unobserved. Early in the morning the British discovered his retreat and
instantly commenced a pursuit. They soon overtook the light troops who
covered the retreat of the American army, and who continued skirmishing
and retreating till they reached the north end of the island, where the
army occupied a strong position at a place where the British formerly
had a fortified post, the works of which had been strengthened during
the two preceding days. There a severe conflict for about half an hour
ensued, when the combatants mutually withdrew from the field. The loss
of the armies was nearly equal, amounting to between two and three
hundred killed or wounded in the course of the day.

On the 30th of August there was a good deal of cannonading, but neither
party ventured to attack the other. The British were expecting
reinforcements, and Sullivan, although he made a show of resolutely
maintaining his post, was busily preparing for the evacuation of the
island. In the evening he silently struck his tents, embarked his army,
with all the artillery, baggage, and stores, on board a great number of
boats and landed safely on the continent before the British suspected
his intention to abandon the post. General Sullivan made a timely
escape, for Sir Henry Clinton was on his way, with 4,000 men, to the
assistance of General Pigot. He was detained four days in the Sound by
contrary winds, but arrived on the day after the Americans left the
island. A very short delay would probably have proved fatal to their

The most sanguine expectations had been entertained throughout the
United States of the reduction of Rhode Island and the capture of the
British force which defended it, so that the disappointment and
mortification on the failure of the enterprise were exceedingly bitter.
The irritation against the French, who were considered the authors of
the miscarriage, was violent. Sullivan was confident of success; and
his chagrin at the departure of the French fleet made him use some
expressions, in a general order, which gave offense to D'Estaing.

Washington foresaw the evils likely to result from the general and
mutual irritation which prevailed, and exerted all his influence to
calm the minds of both parties. He had a powerful coadjutor in
Lafayette, who was as deservedly dear to the Americans as to the
French. His first duties were due to his King and country, but he loved
America, and was so devoted to the Commander-in-Chief of its armies, as
to enter into his views and second his softening conciliatory measures
with truly filial affection. Washington also wrote to General Heath,
who commanded at Boston, and to Sullivan and Greene, who commanded at
Rhode Island. In his letter to General Heath he stated his fears "that
the departure of the French fleet from Rhode Island at so critical a
moment, would not only weaken the confidence of the people in their new
allies, but produce such prejudice and resentment as might prevent
their giving the fleet, in its present distress, such zealous and
effectual assistance as was demanded by the exigency of affairs and the
true interests of America;" and added "that it would be sound policy to
combat these effects and to give the best construction of what had
happened; and at the same time to make strenuous exertions for putting
the French fleet, as soon as possible, in a condition to defend itself
and be useful." He also observed as follows: "The departure of the
fleet from Rhode Island is not yet publicly 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 succors 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 public good."

Writing to General Sullivan he observed: "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 honor
and policy. First impressions are generally longest retained, and will
serve to fix in a great degree our national character with the French.
In our conduct toward them we should remember that they are a people
old in war, very strict in military etiquette, and apt to take fire
when others seem scarcely warmed. Permit me to recommend, in the most
particular manner, the cultivation of harmony and good agreement, and
your endeavors to destroy that ill-humor which may have found its way
among the officers. It is of the utmost importance, too, that the
soldier 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."

To General Greene, Washington wrote: "I have not now time to take
notice of the several arguments which were made use of, for and against
the count's quitting the harbor of Newport and sailing for Boston.
Right or wrong, it will probably disappoint our sanguine expectations
of success and which I deem a still worse consequence, I fear it will
sow the seeds of dissension and distrust between us and our new allies,
unless the most prudent measures be taken to suppress the feuds and
jealousies that have already arisen. I depend much on your temper and
influence to conciliate that animosity which, subsists between the
American and French officers in our service. I beg you will take every
measure to keep the protest entered into by the general officers from
being made public. Congress, sensible of the ill consequences that will
flow from our differences being known to the world, have passed a
resolve to that purpose. Upon the whole, my dear sir, you can conceive
my meaning better than I can express it; and I therefore fully depend
on your exerting yourself to heal all private animosities between our
principal officers and the French, and to prevent all illiberal
expression and reflections that may fall from the army at large."

Washington also improved the first opportunity of recommencing his
correspondence with Count D'Estaing, in a letter to him, which, without
noticing the disagreements that had taken place, was well calculated to
soothe every unpleasant sensation which might have disturbed his mind.
In the course of a short correspondence, the irritation which
threatened serious mischiefs gave way to returning good understanding
and cordiality; although here and there popular ill-will manifested
itself in rather serious quarrels and disputes with the French sailors
and marines.

Meantime, in the storm which had separated the fleets of D'Estaing and
Howe when just about to engage, the British fleet had suffered
considerably, but had not sustained so much damage as the French. In a
short time Lord Howe was again ready for sea; and having learned that
D'Estaing had sailed for Boston, he left New York with the intention of
reaching that place before him, or of attacking him there, if he found
it could be done with advantage. But on entering the bay of Boston he
perceived the French fleet in Nantasket Roads, so judiciously stationed
and so well protected by batteries that there was no prospect of
attacking it with success. He therefore returned to New York, where,
finding that by fresh arrivals his fleet was decidedly superior to that
of the French, he availed himself of the permission which he had
received some time before and resigned the command to Admiral Gambier,
who was to continue in the command till the arrival of Admiral Byron,
who was daily expected from Halifax.

Sir Henry Clinton, finding that General Sullivan had effected his
retreat from Rhode Island, set out on his return to New York; but that
the expedition might not be wholly ineffectual, he meditated an attack
on New London, situated on a river which falls into the Sound. The
wind, however, being unfavorable to the enterprise, he gave the command
of the troops on board the transports to Maj.-Gen. Sir Charles Grey,
with orders to proceed in an expedition against Buzzard's Bay, and
continued his voyage to New York. [1]

In obedience to the orders which he had received, General Grey sailed
to Acushnet river where he landed on the 5th of September (1778), and
destroyed all the shipping in the river, amounting to more than seventy
sail. He burned a great part of the towns of Bedford and Fairhaven, the
one on the west and the other on the east bank, destroying a
considerable quantity of military and naval stores, provisions, and
merchandise. He landed at six in the evening, and so rapid were his
movements that the work of destruction was accomplished and the troops
re-embarked before noon the next day. He then proceeded to the island
called Martha's Vineyard, a resort of privateers, where he took or
burned several vessels, destroyed the salt works, compelled the
inhabitants to surrender their arms, and levied from them a
contribution of 1,000 sheep and 300 oxen.

Having mercilessly ravaged the seacoast, the hero of the Paoli massacre
returned, heavily laden with plunder, to New York.

The return of the British fleet and of the troops under Grey relieved
the Americans from the anxious apprehension of an attack on their
allies at Boston. Under that apprehension, Washington had broken up his
camp at White Plains, and proceeding northward taken a position at
Fredericksburg, thirty miles from West Point near the borders of
Connecticut. He detached Generals Gates and M'Dougall to Danbury, in
Connecticut, in order that they might be in readiness to move as
circumstances might require, and he sent General Putnam to West Point
to watch the North river and the important passes in the Highlands. But
the return of the fleet and troops to New York quieted those

Meanwhile Washington received intelligence that an expedition was
preparing at New York, the object of which was not clearly apparent;
but soon after the return of the troops under Grey the British army
advanced in great force on both sides of the North river. The column on
the west bank, consisting of 5,000 men commanded by Cornwallis,
extended from the Hudson to the Hackensack. The division on the east
side consisting of about 3,000 men under Knyphausen, stretched from the
North river to the Bronx. The communication between them was kept up by
flat-bottomed boats, by means of which the two divisions could have
been readily united if the Americans had advanced against either of

Washington sent out several detachments to observe the movements of
those columns. Colonel Baylor, who with his regiment of cavalry
consisting of upwards of a hundred men had been stationed near Paramus,
crossed the Hackensack on the morning of the 27th of September and
occupied Tappan or Herringtown, a small village near New Tappan, where
some militia were posted. Of these circumstances Cornwallis received
immediate notice and he formed a plan to surprise and cut off both the
cavalry and militia. The execution of the enterprise against Baylor was
entrusted to the unscrupulous General Grey, and Colonel Campbell with a
detachment from Knyphausen's division was to cross the river and attack
the militia at New Tappan. Colonel Campbell's part of the plan failed
by some delay in the passage of the river, during which a deserter
informed the militia of their danger and they saved themselves by
flight. But Grey completely surprised Baylor's troops and killed,
wounded, or took the greater part of them. Colonel Baylor was wounded
and made prisoner. The slaughter on that occasion which as at the
Paoli, was a literal massacre of surprised and defenseless men excited
much indignation and was the subject of loud complaints throughout the
United States.

Three days after the surprise of Baylor, Col. Richard Butler with a
detachment of infantry assisted by Maj. Henry Lee with part of his
cavalry, fell in with a party of 15 chasseurs and about 100 yagers
under Captain Donop, on whom they made such a rapid charge that without
the loss of a man, they killed ten of them on the spot and took about
twenty prisoners.

The movement of the British army up the North river already mentioned,
was made for the purpose of foraging and also to cover a meditated
attack on Little Egg Harbor, and having accomplished its object it
returned to New York. Little Egg Harbor, situated on the coast of
Jersey, was a rendezvous of privateers, and being so near the entrance
to New York ships bound to that port were much exposed to their
depredations. An expedition against it was therefore planned and the
conduct of the enterprise entrusted to Capt. Patrick Ferguson of the
Seventeenth regiment with about 300 men, assisted by Captain Collins of
the navy. He sailed from New York, but short as the passage was he was
detained several days by contrary winds and did not arrive at the place
of his destination till the evening of the 5th of October (1778). The
Americans had got notice of his design and had sent to sea such of
their privateers as were ready for sailing. They had also hauled the
largest of the remaining vessels, which were chiefly prizes, twenty
miles up the river to Chestnut Neck, and had carried their smaller
vessels still further into the country. Ferguson proceeded to Chestnut
Neck, burned the vessels there, destroyed the storehouses and public
works of every sort, and in returning committed many depredations on
private property.

Count Pulaski with his legionary corps composed of three companies of
foot and a troop of horse, officered principally by foreigners, had
been detached by Washington into Jersey to check these depredations. He
was ordered toward Little Egg Harbor and lay without due vigilance
eight or ten miles from the coast. One Juliet, a Frenchman, who had
deserted from the British service and obtained a commission in
Pulaski's corps redeserted, joined Captain Ferguson at Little Egg
Harbor after his return from Chestnut Neck and gave him exact
information of the strength and situation of Pulaski's troops.

Ferguson and Collins immediately resolved to surprise the Polish
nobleman, and for that purpose, on the 15th of October (1778), they
embarked 250 men in boats, rowed ten miles up the river before
daybreak, landed within a small distance of his infantry, left fifty
men to guard their boat, and with the remainder of their force suddenly
fell on the unsuspicious detachment, killed fifty of them among whom
were the Baron de Bosc and Lieutenant de la Borderie, and retreated
with scarcely any loss before they could be attacked by Pulaski's

This was another massacre similar to those of the infamous Grey. [2]
Only five prisoners were taken. The commander pretended to have
received information that Pulaski had ordered his men to give no
quarter, but this was false.

Admiral Byron reached New York and took command of the fleet about the
middle of September (1778). After repairing his shattered vessels he
sailed for the port of Boston. Soon after his arrival in the bay
fortune disconcerted all his plans. A furious storm drove him out to
sea and damaged his fleet so much that he found it necessary to put
into Newport to refit. This favorable moment was seized by the Count
D'Estaing who sailed on the 3d of November for the West Indies.

Thus terminated an expedition from which the most important advantages
had been anticipated. A variety of accidents had defeated plans
judiciously formed which had every probability of success in their

Lafayette, ambitious of fame on another theater, was now desirous of
returning to France. Expecting war on the continent of Europe he was
anxious to tender his services to his King and to his native country.

From motives of real friendship as well as of policy, Washington was
desirous of preserving the connection of this officer with the army and
of strengthening his attachment to America. He therefore expressed to
Congress his wish that Lafayette, instead of resigning his commission,
might have unlimited leave of absence to return when it should be
convenient to himself, and might carry with him every mark of the
confidence of the government. This policy was adopted by Congress in
its full extent. The partiality of America for Lafayette was well
placed. Never did a foreigner, whose primary attachments to his own
country remained undiminished, feel more solicitude for the welfare of
another than was unceasingly manifested by this young nobleman for the
United States.

The French alliance having effected a change in the position of affairs
on the ocean, Congress devoted a good deal of attention to naval
matters; several new vessels were built and others were purchased, and
the present year (1778) gave token of the spirit and ability of some of
our earlier naval officers in contending with a navy usually held to be
invincible. Early in the year Captain Biddle, in the Randolph, a
frigate of thirty-six guns, engaged his majesty's ship the Yarmouth, a
sixty-four, but after an action of twenty minutes the Randolph blew up
and Captain Biddle and crew perished with the exception of only four
men who were picked up a few days after on a piece of wreck. The
celebrated Paul Jones made his appearance on the English coast during
this year, and rendered his name a terror by the bold and daring
exploits which he performed. Captain Barry, off the coast of Maine,
behaved in a most gallant manner in an action with two English ships,
sustaining the contest for seven hours, and at last escaping with his
men on shore. Captain Talbot in October of this year (1778)
distinguished himself by a well-planned and successful attack upon a
British vessel off Rhode Island. The schooner Pigot, moored at the
mouth of Seconset river, effectually barred the passage, broke up the
local trade, and cut off the supplies of provisions and reinforcements
for that part of the colony. Talbot, earnestly desirous of relieving
the country of this annoyance, obtained the consent of General Sullivan
to make the attempt. With his usual alacrity he set about the affair
and was entirely successful. The Pigot was captured and carried off in
triumph by the gallant band under Talbot. In the succeeding November
Captain Talbot received a complimentary letter from the President of
Congress, together with a resolve of Congress, presenting him with the
commission of lieutenant-colonel in the army of the United States.

There being no prospect of an active winter campaign in the northern or
middle States and the climate admitting of military operations
elsewhere, a detachment from the British army consisting of 5,000 men
commanded by Major-General Grant, sailed early in November under a
strong convoy for the West India islands, and toward the end of the
same month another embarkation was made for the southern parts of the
continent. This second detachment was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel
Campbell who was escorted by Com. Hyde Parker, and was destined to act
against the Southern States.

As a force sufficient for the defense of New York yet remained the
American army retired into winter quarters (Dec., 1778). The main body
was cantoned in Connecticut, on both sides the North river, about West
Point, and at Middlebrook. Light troops were stationed nearer the
lines, and the cavalry were drawn into the interior to recruit the
horses for the next campaign. In this distribution the protection of
the country, the security of important points, and a cheap and
convenient supply of provisions were consulted.

The troops again wintered in huts, but they were used to this mode of
passing that inclement season. Though far from being well clothed their
condition in that respect was so much improved by supplies from France
that they disregarded the inconveniences to which they were exposed.

Colonel Campbell, who sailed from the Hook about the last of November,
1778, escorted by a small squadron commanded by Com. Hyde Parker
reached the Isle of Tybee, near the Savannah, on the 23d of December,
and in a few days the fleet and the transports passed the bar and
anchored in the river.

The command of the Southern army, composed of the troops of South
Carolina and Georgia, had been committed to Major-General Robert Howe,
who in the course of the preceding summer had invaded East Florida. The
diseases incident to the climate made such ravages among his raw
soldiers that though he had scarcely seen an enemy he found himself
compelled to hasten out of the country with considerable loss. After
this disastrous enterprise his army, consisting of between six and
seven hundred Continental troops aided by a few hundred militia had
encamped in the neighborhood of the town of Savannah, situated on the
southern bank of the river bearing that name. The country about the
mouth of the river is one track of deep marsh intersected by creeks and
cuts of water impassable for troops at any time of the tide, except
over causeways extending through the sunken ground.

Without much opposition Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell effected a landing
on the 29th (December, 1778), about three miles below the town, upon
which Howe formed his line of battle. His left was secured by the
river, and along the whole extent of his front was a morass which
stretched to his right and was believed by him to be impassable for
such a distance as effectually to secure that wing.

After reconnoitering the country Colonel Campbell advanced on the great
road leading to Savannah, and about 3 in the afternoon appeared in
sight of the American army. While making dispositions to dislodge it he
accidentally fell in with a negro who informed him of a private path
leading through the swamp round the right of the American lines to
their rear. Determining to avail himself of this path he detached a
column under Sir James Baird which entered the morass unperceived by

As soon as Sir James emerged from the swamp he attacked and dispersed a
body of Georgia militia which gave the first notice to the American
general of the danger which threatened his rear. At the same instant
the British troops in his front were put in motion and their artillery
began to play upon him. A retreat was immediately ordered and the
Continental troops were under the necessity of running across a plain
in front of the corps which had been led to the rear by Sir James Baird
who attacked their flanks with great impetuosity and considerable
effect. The few who escaped retreated up the Savannah, and crossing
that river at Zubly's Ferry took refuge in South Carolina.

The victory was complete and decisive in its consequences. About 100
Americans were either killed in the field or drowned in attempting to
escape through a deep swamp. Thirty-eight officers and 415 privates
were taken. Forty-eight pieces of cannon, twenty-three mortars, the
fort, with all its military stores, a large quantity of provisions
collected for the use of the army, and the capital of Georgia fell into
the hands of the conqueror. These advantages were obtained at the
expense of only seven killed and nineteen wounded.

No military force now remained in Georgia except the garrison of
Sunbury whose retreat to South Carolina was cut off. All the lower part
of that State was occupied by the British who adopted measures to
secure the conquest they had made. The inhabitants were treated with a
lenity as wise as it was humane. Their property was spared and their
persons protected. To make the best use of victory and of the
impression produced by the moderation of the victors a proclamation was
issued inviting the inhabitants to repair to the British standard and
offering protection to those who would return to their allegiance.

The effect of these measures was soon felt. The inhabitants flocked in
great numbers to the royal standard; military corps for the protection
of the country were formed, and posts were established for a
considerable distance up the river.

The northern frontier of Georgia being supposed to be settled into a
state of quiet Colonel Campbell turned his attention toward Sunbury and
was about to proceed against that place when he received intelligence
that it had surrendered to General Prevost.

Sir Henry Clinton had ordered that officer from East Florida to
cooperate with Colonel Campbell. On hearing that the troops from the
north were off the coast he entered the southern frontier of Georgia
(Jan. 9, 1779) and invested Sunbury, which, after a slight resistance
surrendered at discretion. Having placed a garrison in the fort he
proceeded to Savannah, took command of the army, and detached Colonel
Campbell with 800 regulars and a few Provincials to Augusta which fell
without resistance, and thus the whole State of Georgia was reduced.

1. Footnote: This officer was the same Grey who had surprised Wayne's
detachment near the Paoli Tavern, in Pennsylvania (Sept. 20, 1777), as
already related in the text. His merciless massacre of Wayne's men,
with the bayonet, will ever be remembered. A monument is erected on the
spot where the massacre took place, consecrated to the memory of the

2. Footnote: The British government rewarded Grey for his cruelty by
making him a peer. He was the father of Earl Grey, who became prime
minister of Great Britain. This reward to Colonel Grey was in strict
consistency with the spirit in which the whole war against the United
States was conducted. Fortunately, the cruel and brutal outrages of the
invaders reacted on themselves, and contributed greatly to the final



While the events were passing which are recorded in the preceding
chapter a terrible war with the Indians was raging on the western
frontier of the United States. While the British were abundantly able
to supply the Indians with all those articles of use and luxury which
they had been accustomed to receive from the whites, Congress was not
in a condition to do anything of this sort to conciliate them or to
secure their neutrality in the existing war. Stimulated by the presents
as well as by the artful representations of British agents the Indians
had consequently become hostile. Early in 1778 there were many
indications of a general disposition among the savages to make war on
the United States, and the frontiers, from the Mohawk to the Ohio, were
threatened with the tomahawk and the scalping-knife. Every
representation from that country supported Washington's opinion that a
war with the Indians should never be defensive and that to obtain peace
it must be carried into their own country. Detroit was understood to be
in a defenseless condition, and Congress resolved on an expedition
against that place. This enterprise was entrusted to General M'Intosh,
who commanded at Pittsburgh, and was to be carried on with 3,000 men,
chiefly militia, to be drawn from Virginia. To facilitate its success
another force was to attack the Senecas, advancing from the east of the

Unfortunately the acts of the government did not correspond with the
vigor of its resolutions. The necessary preparations were not made and
the inhabitants of the frontiers remained without sufficient protection
until the plans against them were matured and the storm which had been
long gathering burst upon them with a fury which spread desolation
wherever it reached.

About 300 white men, commanded by the British Col. John Butler, and
about 500 Indians, led by the Indian Chief Brandt, who had assembled in
the north, marched late in June (1778) against the settlement of
Wyoming. These troops embarked on the Chemung or Tioga and descending
the Susquehanna, landed at a place called the Three Islands, whence
they marched about twenty miles, and crossing a wilderness and passing
through a gap in the mountain, entered the valley of Wyoming near its
northern boundary. At this place a small fort called Wintermoots had
been erected, which fell into their hands without resistance and was
burnt. The inhabitants who were capable of bearing arms assembled on
the first alarm at Forty Fort on the west side of the Susquehanna, four
miles below the camp of the invading army.

The regular troops, amounting to about sixty, were commanded by Col.
Zebulon Butler, [1] the militia by Colonel Dennison. Colonel Butler was
desirous of awaiting the arrival of a small reinforcement under Captain
Spalding who had been ordered by Washington to his aid on the first
intelligence of the danger which threatened the settlement, but the
militia generally, believing themselves sufficiently strong to repel
the invading force, urged an immediate battle so earnestly that Colonel
Butler yielded to their remonstrances, and on the 3d of July (1778)
marched from Forty Fort at the head of near 400 men to attack the

The British and Indians were prepared to receive him. Their line was
formed a small distance in front of their camp on a plain thinly
covered with pine, shrub-oaks, and under-growth, and extended from the
river about a mile to a marsh at the foot of the mountain. The
Americans advanced in a single column without interruption until they
approached the enemy, when they received a fire which did not much
mischief. The line of battle was instantly formed and the action
commenced with spirit. The Americans rather gained ground on the right
where Colonel Butler commanded, until a large body of Indians passing
through the skirt of the marsh turned their left flank, which was
composed of militia, and poured a heavy and most destructive fire on
their rear. The word "retreat" was pronounced by some person and the
efforts of the officers to check it were unavailing. The fate of the
day was decided, and a flight commenced on the left which was soon
followed by the right. As soon as the line was broken the Indians,
throwing down their rifles and rushing upon them with the tomahawk,
completed the confusion. The attempt of Colonel Butler and of the
officers to restore order was unavailing and the whole line broke and
fled in confusion. The massacre was general and the cries for mercy
were answered by the tomahawk. Rather less than sixty men escaped, some
to Forty Fort, some by swimming the river, and some to the mountain. A
very few prisoners were made, only three of whom were preserved alive,
who were carried to Niagara.

Further resistance was impracticable and Colonel Dennison proposed
terms of capitulation which were granted to the inhabitants. It being
understood that no quarter would be allowed to the Continental troops
Colonel Butler with his few surviving soldiers fled from the valley.

The inhabitants generally abandoned the country and, in great distress,
wandered into the settlements on the Lehigh and the Delaware. The
Indians, according to their usual practice, destroyed the houses and
improvements by fire and plundered the country. After laying waste the
whole settlement they withdrew from it before the arrival of the
Continental troops, who were ordered to meet them. On the 11th of
November (1778) 500 Indians and Loyalists, with a small detachment of
regular troops, under the command of the notorious John Butler, made an
irruption into the settlement at Cherry Valley, in the State of New
York, surprised and killed Colonel Allen, commander of the American
force at that place, and ten of his soldiers. They attacked a fort
erected there, but were compelled to retreat. Next day they left the
place, after having murdered and scalped thirty-two of the inhabitants,
chiefly women and children.

On the first intelligence of the destruction of Wyoming the regiments
of Hartley and Butler with the remnant of Morgan's corps, commanded by
Major Posey, were detached to the protection of that distressed
country. They were engaged in several sharp skirmishes, made separate
incursions into the Indian settlements, broke up their nearest
villages, destroyed their corn, and, by compelling them to retire to a
greater distance, gave some relief to the inhabitants.

While the frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania were thus suffering
the calamities incident to savage warfare, a fate equally severe was
preparing for Virginia. The western militia of that State had made some
successful incursions into the country northwest of the Ohio and had
taken some British posts on the Mississippi. These were erected into
the county of Illinois, and a regiment of infantry with a troop of
cavalry was raised for its protection. The command of these troops was
given to Col. George Rogers Clarke, a gentleman who courage, hardihood,
and capacity for Indian warfare had given repeated success to his
enterprises against the savages.

This corps was divided into several detachments, the strongest of which
remained with Colonel Clarke at Kaskaskia. Colonel Hamilton, the
Governor of Detroit, was at Vincennes with about 600 men, principally
Indians, preparing an expedition, first against Kaskaskia and then up
the Ohio to Pittsburgh, after which he purposed to desolate the
frontiers of Virginia. Clarke anticipated and defeated his design by
one of those bold and decisive measures, which, whether formed on a
great or a small scale, mark the military and enterprising genius of
the man who plans and executes them.

He was too far removed from the inhabited country to hope for support,
and was too weak to maintain Kaskaskia and the Illinois against the
combined force of regulars and Indians by which he was to be attacked
as soon as the season for action should arrive. While employed in
preparing for his defense he received unquestionable information that
Hamilton had detached his Indians on an expedition against the
frontiers, reserving at the post he occupied only about eighty regulars
with three pieces of cannon and some swivels. Clarke instantly resolved
to seize this favorable moment. After detaching a small galley up the
Wabash with orders to take her station a few miles below Vincennes and
to permit nothing to pass her, he marched in the depth of winter with
130 men, the whole force he could collect, across the country from
Kaskaskia to Vincennes. This march through the woods and over high
waters required sixteen days, five of which were employed in crossing
the drowned lands of the Wabash. The troops were under the necessity of
wading five miles in water frequently up to their breasts. After
subduing these difficulties this small party appeared before the town,
which was completely surprised and readily consented to change its

Hamilton, after defending the fort a short time, surrendered himself
and his garrison prisoners of war. With a few of his immediate agents
and counselors, who had been instrumental in the savage barbarities he
had encouraged, he was, by order of the Executive of Virginia, put in
irons and confined in a jail.

This expedition was important in its consequences. It disconcerted a
plan which threatened destruction to the whole country west of the
Allegheny Mountains, detached from the British interest many of those
numerous tribes of Indians south of the waters immediately
communicating with the Great Lakes, and had most probably considerable
influence in fixing the boundary of the United States.

These Indian hostilities on the western border were a subject of
extreme solicitude to Washington, ever alive as he was to the cry of
distress and ever anxious to preserve peace and security to the rural
population of the country. Experience and observation had long since
taught him that the only effectual protection to the inhabitants of the
frontier settlements consisted in carrying the war with severity into
the enemy's own country. Hence we find that from the moment these
atrocities of the Indians commenced in the western country he was
engaged in planning that expedition which, in the next campaign, under
the direction of General Sullivan, carried desolation to their own
homes and taught them a lesson which they could not soon forget. In the
following extract of a letter to Gov. George Clinton of New York, dated
March 4, 1779, it will be perceived that he speaks of his plan as
already matured:

"The President of Congress has transmitted to me your Excellency's
letter to the delegates of New York, representing the calamitous
situation of the northwestern frontier of that State, accompanied by a
similar application from the Pennsylvania Assembly, and a resolve of
the 25th, directing me to take the most effectual measures for the
protection of the inhabitants and chastisement of the Indians. The
resolve has been in some measure anticipated by my previous
dispositions for carrying on offensive operations against the hostile
tribes of savages. It has always been my intention early to communicate
this matter to your Excellency in confidence, and I take occasion, from
the letter above mentioned, to inform you that preparations have some
time since been making, and they will be conducted to the point of
execution at a proper season, if no unexpected accident prevents, and
the situation of affairs on the maritime frontier justifies the

"The greatest secrecy is necessary to the success of such an
enterprise, for the following obvious reasons: That, immediately upon
the discovery of our design, the savages would either put themselves in
condition to make head against us, by a reunion of all their force and
that of their allies, strengthened besides by succors from Canada; or
elude the expedition altogether, which might be done at the expense of
a temporary evacuation of forests which we could not possess, and the
destruction of a few settlements which they might speedily re-

Washington concludes this letter by calling upon Governor Clinton for
an account of the force which New York can furnish for the contemplated
expedition and describing the kind of men most desirable for this
peculiar service--"active rangers, who are at the same time expert
marksmen, and accustomed to the irregular kind of wood-fighting
practiced by the Indians." He concludes by expressing a desire to have
the advantage of any sentiments or advice the Governor might be pleased
to communicate relative to the expedition. This is but one among many
instances which might be cited of the vigilance and unceasing activity
of Washington in everything connected with the national defense.

In addition to this Indian war Washington at this time (1778) had
another cause of deep anxiety continually upon his mind, in the
comparatively weak and inefficient character of the legislative body to
whom he must necessarily look for support and sanction in all measures
for the defense of the country. The Congress of 1774--that Congress
whose proceedings and State papers had elicited the admiration of the
illustrious Earl of Chatham--had comprised the ablest and most
influential men in the country. But most of these men had withdrawn
from Congress or had accepted high offices under their own State
governments, and their places had either not been filled at all or had
been filled by incompetent men. For the year 1778 the average number of
members had been between twenty-five and thirty. Some States were not
represented and others had not sent delegates enough to entitle them to
a vote. But small as the number of delegates in Congress was they were
sufficiently numerous to entertain the fiercest feuds among themselves,
and seriously to embarrass the public service by permitting party
considerations to interfere with the measures most essential to the
safety and efficiency of the army and the preservation of order in the

Washington was acutely sensible to this disastrous state of things.
Full of disinterested zeal for the public service he could hardly
comprehend the apathy prevailing in the different States, which
occasioned their omitting to fill up their "quotas" of representatives
in Congress, and he was embarrassed and distressed with the weak and
inefficient manner in which the military and civil affairs, under the
direction of Congress, were conducted. In a letter to Benjamin Harrison
of Virginia, a member of the Congress of 1774, he expresses frankly his
views on this unpleasant topic as follows:

"It appears as clear to me as ever the sun did in its meridian
brightness, that America never stood in more eminent need of the wise,
patriotic, and spirited exertions of her sons than at this period, and
if it is not a sufficient cause for general lamentation my
misconception of the matter impresses it too strongly upon me that the
States, separately, are too much engaged in their local concerns and
have too many of their ablest men withdrawn from the general council
for the good of the commonweal. In a word I think our political system
may be compared to the mechanism of a clock and that we should derive a
lesson from it, for it answers no good purpose to keep the smaller
wheels in order if the greater one, which is the support and prime
mover of the whole, is neglected. How far the latter is the case it
does not become me to pronounce, but as there can be no harm in a pious
wish for the good of one's country, I shall offer it as mine, that each
would not only choose, but absolutely compel their ablest men to attend
Congress, and that they would instruct them to go into a thorough
investigation of the causes that have produced so many disagreeable
effects in the army and country, in a word, that public abuses should
be corrected. Without this it does not in my judgment require the
spirit of divination to foretell the consequences of the present
administration nor to how little purpose the States individually are
framing constitutions, providing laws, and filling offices with the
abilities of their ablest men. These, if the great whole is mismanaged,
must sink in the general wreck, which will carry with it the remorse of
thinking that we are lost by our own folly and negligence or by the
desire, perhaps, of living in ease and tranquility during the
accomplishment of so great a revolution, in the effecting of which the
greatest abilities and the most honest men our American world affords
ought to be employed.

"It is much to be feared, my dear sir, that the States in their
separate capacities have very inadequate ideas of the present danger.
Many persons removed far distant from the scene of action and seeing
and hearing such publications only as flatter their wishes, conceive
that the contest is at an end and that to regulate the government and
police of their own State is all that remains to be done, but it is
devoutly to be wished that a sad reverse of this may not fall upon them
like a thunderclap that is little expected. I do not mean to designate
particular States. I wish to cast no reflections upon any one. The
public believe (and if they do believe it, the fact might almost as
well be so) that the States at this time are badly represented and that
the great and important concerns of the nation are horribly conducted
for want either of abilities or application in the members, or through
the discord and party views of some individuals. That they should be so
is to be lamented more at this time than formerly, as we are far
advanced in the dispute and, in the opinion of many, drawing to a happy
period; we have the eyes of Europe upon us and I am persuaded many
political spies to watch, who discover our situation and give
information of our weaknesses and wants."

We have already seen that Congress, actuated by their wishes rather
than governed by a temperate calculation of the means in their
possession, had, in the preceding winter, planned a second invasion of
Canada to be conducted by Lafayette and that, as the generals only were
got in readiness for this expedition, it was necessarily laid aside.
The design, however, seems to have been suspended, not abandoned. The
alliance with France revived the latent wish to annex that extensive
territory to the United States. That favorite subject was resumed, and
toward autumn a plan was completely digested for a combined attack to
be made by the allies on all the British dominions on the continent and
on the adjacent islands of Cape Breton and Newfoundland. This plan was
matured about the time Lafayette obtained leave to return to his own
country and was ordered to be transmitted by him to Doctor Franklin,
the minister of the United States at the court of Versailles with
instructions to induce, if possible, the French cabinet to accede to
it. Some communications respecting this subject were also made to
Lafayette, on whose influence in securing its adoption by his own
government much reliance was placed, and in October 1778, it was for
the first time transmitted to Washington, with a request that he would
enclose it by Lafayette, with his observations on it, to Doctor

This very extensive plan of military operations for the ensuing
campaign, prepared entirely in the cabinet without consulting, so far
as is known, a single military man, consisted of many parts.

Two detachments, amounting each to 1,600 men, were to march from
Pittsburgh and Wyoming against Detroit and Niagara. A third body of
troops which was to be stationed on the Mohawk during the winter and to
be powerfully reinforced in the spring, was to seize Oswego and to
secure the navigation of Lake Ontario with vessels to be constructed of
materials to be procured in the winter. A fourth corps was to penetrate
into Canada by the St. Francis and to reduce Montreal and the posts on
Lake Champlain, while a fifth should guard against troops from Quebec.

Thus far America could proceed unaided by her ally. But Upper Canada
being reduced another campaign would still be necessary for the
reduction of Quebec. This circumstance would require that the army
should pass the winter in Canada, and in the meantime the garrison of
Quebec might be largely reinforced. It was therefore essential to the
complete success of the enterprise that France should be induced to
take a part in it.

The conquest of Quebec and of Halifax was supposed to be an object of
so much importance to France as well as to the United States that her
aid might be confidently expected.

It was proposed to request the King of France to furnish four or five
thousand troops, to sail from Brest the beginning of May under convoy
of four ships of the line and four frigates, the troops to be clad as
if for service in the West Indies and thick clothes to be sent after
them in August. A large American detachment was to act with this French
army and it was supposed that Quebec and Halifax might be reduced by
the beginning or middle of October. The army might then either proceed
immediately against New Foundland or remain in garrison until the
spring when the conquest of that place might be accomplished.

It had been supposed probable that England would abandon the further
prosecution of the war on the continent of North America, in which case
the government would have a respectable force at its disposal, the
advantageous employment of which had engaged in part the attention of
Washington. He had contemplated an expedition against the British posts
in Upper Canada as a measure which might be eventually eligible and
which might employ the arms of the United States to advantage if their
troops might safely be withdrawn from the sea-board. He had, however,
considered every object of this sort as contingent. Having estimated
the difficulties to be encountered in such an enterprise he had found
them so considerable as to hesitate on the extent which might safely be
given to the expedition admitting the United States to be evacuated by
the British armies.

In this state of mind Washington received the magnificent plan already
prepared by Congress. He was forcibly struck with the impracticability
of executing that part of it which, was to be undertaken by the United
States should the British armies continue in the country and with the
serious mischief which would result to the common cause as well as from
diverting so considerable a part of the French force from other objects
to one which was, in his opinion, so unpromising as from the ill
impression which would be made on the court and nation by the total
failure of the American government to execute its part of a plan
originating with itself--a failure would most probably sacrifice the
troops and ships employed by France.

On comparing the naval force of England with that of France in
different parts of the world, the former appeared to Washington to
maintain a decided superiority and consequently to possess the power of
shutting up the ships of the latter which might be trusted into the St.
Lawrence. To suppose that the British government would not avail itself
of this superiority on such an occasion would be to impute to it a
blind infatuation or ignorance of the plans of its adversary, which
could not be safely assumed in calculations of such serious import.

A plan, too, consisting of so many parts to be prosecuted both from
Europe and America by land and by water--which, to be successful,
required such an harmonious cooperation of the whole, such a perfect
coincidence of events--appeared to him to be exposed to too many
accidents to risk upon it interests of such high value.

In a long and serious letter to Congress he apologized for not obeying
their orders to deliver the plan with his observations upon it to
Lafayette, and entering into a full investigation of all its parts
demonstrated the mischiefs and the dangers with which it was replete.
This letter was referred to a committee whose report admits the force
of the reasons urged by Washington against the expedition and their own
conviction that nothing important could be attempted unless the British
armies should be withdrawn from the United States and that even in that
event the present plan was far too complex.

Men, however, recede slowly and reluctantly from favorite and
flattering projects on which they have long meditated, and the
committee in their report proceeded to state the opinion that the posts
held by the British in the United States would probably be evacuated
before the active part of the ensuing campaign, and that, therefore,
eventual measures for the expedition ought to be taken.

This report concludes with recommending, "that the general should be
directed to write to the Marquis de Lafayette on that subject, and also
write to the minister of these States at the court of Versailles very
fully, to the end that eventual measures may be taken in case an
armament should be sent from France to Quebec for co-operating
therewith to the utmost degree which the finances and resources of
these States will admit."

This report also was approved by Congress and transmitted to Washington
who felt himself greatly embarrassed by it. While his objections to the
project retained all their force he found himself required to open a
correspondence for the purposes of soliciting the concurrence of France
in an expedition he disapproved, and of promising a cooperation he
believed to be impracticable. In reply to this communication he said:
"The earnest desire I have strictly to comply in every instance with
the views and instructions of Congress cannot but make me feel the
greatest uneasiness when I find myself in circumstances of hesitation
or doubt with respect to their directions. But the perfect confidence I
have in the justice and candor of that honorable body emboldens me to
communicate without reserve the difficulties which occur in the
execution of their present order, and the indulgence I have experienced
on every former occasion induces me to imagine that the liberty I now
take will not meet with disapprobation."

After reviewing the report of the committee and stating his objections
to the plan and the difficulties he felt in performing the duty
assigned to him, he added: "But if Congress still think it necessary
for me to proceed in the business I must request their more definite
and explicit instructions and that they will permit me, previous to
transmitting the intended dispatches, to submit them to their
determination. I could wish to lay before Congress more minutely the
state of the army, the condition of our supplies and the requisites
necessary for carrying into execution an undertaking that may involve
the most serious events. If Congress think this can be done more
satisfactorily in a personal conference I hope to have the army in such
a situation before I can receive their answer as to afford me an
opportunity of giving my attendance."

Congress acceded to his request for a personal interview, and on his
arrival in Philadelphia a committee was appointed to confer with him as
well on this particular subject as on the general state of the army and
of the country.

The result of these conferences was that the expedition against Canada
was entirely, though reluctantly, given up, and every arrangement
recommended by Washington received that attention which was due to his
judgment and experience and which his opinions were entitled to

If anything were necessary to be added to this ridiculous scheme for
the conquest of Canada in order to prove the inefficiency and folly of
the Congress of 1778 we have it in the fact that France was averse to
adding that province to the United States and did not desire to acquire
it for herself. She only sought the independence of this country and
its permanent alliance.

Mr. De Sevelinges in his introduction to Botta's History recites the
private instructions to Mr. Gerard on his mission to the United States.
One article was, "to avoid entering into any formal engagement relative
to Canada and other English possessions which Congress proposed to
conquer." Mr. De Sevelinges adds, that "the policy of the cabinet of
Versailles viewed the possession of those countries, especially of
Canada by England as a principle of useful inquietude and vigilance to
the Americans. The neighborhood of a formidable enemy must make them
feel more sensibly the price which they ought to attach to the
friendship and support of the King of France."


"January I, 1779. The committee appointed to confer with the commander-
in-chief on the operations of the next campaign, report that the plan
proposed by Congress for the emancipation of Canada, in cooperation
with an army from France, was the principal subject of the said
conference. That, impressed with a strong sense of the injury and
disgrace which must attend an infraction of the proposed stipulations,
on the part of these States, your committee have taken a general view
of our finances, of the circumstances of our army, of the magazines of
clothes, artillery, arms and ammunition, and of the provisions in
store, and which can be collected in season.

"Your committee have also attentively considered the intelligence and
observations communicated to them by the commander-in-chief, respecting
the number of troops and strongholds of the enemy in Canada; their
naval force, and entire command of the water communication with that
country; the difficulties, while they possess such signal advantages,
of penetrating it with an army by land; the obstacles which are to be
surmounted in acquiring a naval superiority; the hostile temper of many
of the surrounding Indian tribes towards these States; and above all,
the uncertainty whether the enemy will not persevere in their system of
harassing and distressing our sea-coast and frontiers by a predatory

"That on a most mature deliberation, your committee cannot find room for
a well grounded presumption that these States will be able to perform
their part of the proposed stipulations. That in a measure of such
moment, calculated to call forth, and direct to a single object, a
considerable portion of the force of our ally which may otherwise be
essentially employed, nothing else than the highest probability of
success could justify Congress in making the proposition.

"Your committee are therefore of opinion, that the negotiation in
question, however desirable and interesting, should be deferred until
circumstances render the cooperation of these States more certain,
practicable, and effectual.

"That the minister plenipotentiary of these States at the court of
Versailles, the minister of France in Pennsylvania, and the minister of
France, be respectively informed that the operations of the next
campaign must depend on such a variety of contingencies to arise, as
well from our own internal circumstances and resources as the progress
and movements of our enemy, that time alone can mature and point out
the plan which ought to be pursued. That Congress, therefore, cannot,
with a degree of confidence answerable to the magnitude of the object,
decide on the practicability of their cooperating the next campaign in
an enterprise for the emancipation of Canada; that every preparation in
our power will nevertheless be made for acting with vigor against the
common enemy, and every favorable incident embraced with alacrity to
facilitate and hasten the freedom and independence of Canada, and her
union with these States--events which Congress, from motives of policy
with respect to the United States, as well as of affection to their
Canadian brethren, have greatly at heart."

This report is evidently inspired by Washington, from beginning to end.

1. Footnote: This officer was not of the same family with the Tory



We have seen that Washington had gone from his winter quarters near
Middlebrook in the Jerseys to hold a conference with Congress on the
subject of the invasion of Canada. When this matter had been disposed
of there still remained many subjects demanding the joint attention of
the supreme Legislature and the Commander-in-Chief, and accordingly he
spent a considerable part of the winter of 1778-9 at Philadelphia
consulting with Congress on measures for the general defense and
welfare of the country. Washington felt extreme anxiety at the
inadequate means at his disposal for conducting the campaign of 1779.
The state of Congress itself, as we have already shown, was
sufficiently embarrassing to him, but there were other causes of
uneasiness in the general aspect of affairs. The French alliance was
considered by the people as rendering the cause of independence
perfectly safe; with little or no exertion on our part England was
supposed to be already conquered in America, and, moreover, she was
threatened with a Spanish war. Hence the States were remiss in
furnishing their quotas of men and money. The currency, consisting of
Continental bills, was so much depreciated that a silver dollar was
worth forty dollars of the paper money. The effect of this last
misfortune was soon apparent in the conduct of the officers of the
Jersey brigade.

In pursuance of Washington's plan of chastising the Indians, to which
we referred in the last chapter, it was resolved to lead a force into
those villages of the Six Nations which were hostile to the United
States and destroy their settlements.

As the army destined for this expedition was about to move alarming
symptoms of discontent appeared in a part of it. The Jersey brigade,
which had been stationed during the winter at Elizabethtown, was
ordered early in May (1779) to march by regiments. This order was
answered by a letter from General Maxwell stating that the officers of
the First regiment had delivered a remonstrance to their colonel,
addressed to the Legislature of the State, declaring that unless their
complaints on the subjects of pay and support should obtain the
immediate attention of that body, they were, at the expiration of three
days, to be considered as having resigned, and requesting the
Legislature, in that event, to appoint other officers to succeed them.
They declared, however, their readiness to make every preparation for
obeying the orders which had been given, and to continue their
attention to the regiment until a reasonable time should elapse for the
appointment of their successors. "This," added the letter of General
Maxwell, "is a step they are extremely unwilling to take, but it is
such as I make no doubt they will all take; nothing but
necessity--their not being able to support themselves in time to come
and being loaded with debts contracted in time past--could have
induced them to resign at so critical a juncture."

The intelligence conveyed in this letter made a serious impression on
Washington. He was strongly attached to the army and to its interests,
had witnessed its virtues and its sufferings, and lamented sincerely
its present distresses. The justice of the complaints made by the
officers could no more be denied than the measure they had adopted
could be approved. Relying on their patriotism and on his own
influence, he immediately wrote a letter to General Maxwell to be laid
before them in which, mingling the sensibility of a friend with the
authority of a general, he addressed to their understanding and to
their love of country, observations calculated to invite their whole
attention to the consequences which must result from the step they were
about to take.

"The patience and perseverance of the army," proceeds the letter, "have
been, under every disadvantage, such as to do them the highest honor
both at home and abroad, and have inspired me with an unlimited
confidence of their virtue, which has consoled me amidst every
perplexity and reverse of fortune to which our affairs, in a struggle
of this nature, were necessarily exposed. Now that we have made so
great a progress to the attainment of the end we have in view, so that
we cannot fail without a most shameful desertion of our own interests,
anything like a change of conduct would imply a very unhappy change of
principles, and a forgetfulness as well of what we owe to ourselves as
to our country. Did I suppose it possible this could be the case, even
in a single regiment of the army, I should be mortified and chagrined
beyond expression. I should feel it as a wound given to my own honor,
which I consider as embarked with that of the army at large. But this I
believe to be impossible. Any corps that was about to set an example of
the kind would weigh well the consequences, and no officer of common
discernment and sensibility would hazard them. If they should stand
alone in it, independent of other consequences, what would be their
feelings on reflecting that they had held themselves out to the world
in a point of light inferior to the rest of the army? Or if their
example should be followed, and become general, how could they console
themselves for having been the foremost in bringing ruin and disgrace
upon their country? They would remember that the army would share a
double portion of the general infamy and distress, and that the
character of an American officer would become as infamous as it is now

"I confess the appearances in the present instance are disagreeable,
but I am convinced they seem to mean more than they really do. The
Jersey officers have not been outdone by any others in the qualities
either of citizens or soldiers; and I am confident no part of them
would seriously intend anything that would be a stain on their former
reputation. The gentlemen cannot be in earnest; they have only reasoned
wrong about the means of obtaining a good end, and, on consideration, I
hope and flatter myself they will renounce what must appear to be
improper. At the opening of a campaign, when under marching orders for
an important service, their own honor, duty to the public and to
themselves, and a regard to military propriety, will not suffer them to
persist in a measure which would be a violation of them all. It will
even wound their delicacy, coolly to reflect that they have hazarded a
step which has an air of dictating terms to their country, by taking
advantage of the necessity of the moment."

This letter did not completely produce the desired effect. The officers
did not recede from their claims. In an address to Washington, they
expressed their unhappiness that any act of theirs should give him
pain, but proceeded to justify the step they had taken. Repeated
memorials had been presented to their Legislature which had been
received with promises of attention, but had been regularly neglected.
"At length," said they, "we have lost all confidence in our
Legislature. Reason and experience forbid that we should have any. Few
of us have private fortunes; many have families, who already are
suffering everything that can be received from an ungrateful country.
Are we then to suffer all the inconveniences, fatigues, and dangers of
a military life, while our wives and our children are perishing for
want of common necessaries at home--and that without the most distant
prospect of reward, for our pay is now only nominal? We are sensible
that your Excellency cannot wish nor desire this from us. We are sorry
that you should imagine we meant to disobey orders. It was and still is
our determination to march with our regiment and to do the duty of
officers until the Legislature should have a reasonable time to appoint
others, but no longer.

"We beg leave to assure your Excellency that we have the highest sense
of your ability and virtues; that executing your orders has ever given
us pleasure; that we love the service, and we love our country--but
when that country gets so lost to virtue and justice as to forget to
support its servants, it then becomes their duty to retire from its

This letter was peculiarly embarrassing to Washington. To adopt a stern
course of proceeding might hazard the loss of the Jersey line, an event
not less injurious to the service than painful to himself. To take up
the subject without doing too much for the circumstances of the army
would be doing too little for the occasion. He therefore declined
taking any other notice of the letter than to declare through General
Maxwell, that while they continued to do their duty in conformity with
the determination they had expressed he should only regret the part
they had taken and should hope they would perceive its impropriety.

The Legislature of New Jersey, alarmed at the decisive step taken by
the officers, was at length induced to pay some attention to their
situation--they consenting on their part to withdraw their
remonstrance. In the meantime they continued to perform their duty and
their march was not delayed by this unpleasant altercation.

In communicating this transaction to Congress Washington took occasion
to remind that body of his having frequently urged the absolute
necessity of some general and adequate provision for the officers of
the army. "I shall only observe," continued the letter, "that the
distresses in some corps are so great, either where they were not until
lately attached to any particular State, or where the State has been
less provident, that the officers have solicited even to be supplied
with the clothing destined for the common soldiery, coarse and
unsuitable as it was. I had not power to comply with the request.

"The patience of men animated by a sense of duty and honor will support
them to a certain point, beyond which it will not go. I doubt not
Congress will be sensible of the danger of an extreme in this respect,
and will pardon my anxiety to obviate it."

Before the troops destined for the grand expedition were put in motion
an enterprise of less extent was undertaken which was completely
successful. A plan for surprising the towns of the Onondagas, one of
the nearest of the hostile tribes, having been formed by General
Schuyler and approved by Washington, Colonel Van Schaick assisted by
Lieutenant-Colonel Willet and Major Cochran marched from Fort Schuyler
on the morning of the 19th of April at the head of between five and six
hundred men and on the third day reached the point of destination. The
whole settlement was destroyed after which the detachment returned to
Fort Schuyler without the loss of a single man. For this handsome
display of talents as a partisan, the thanks of Congress were voted to
Colonel Van Schaick and the officers and soldiers under his command.

The cruelties exercised by the Indians in the course of the preceding
year had given a great degree of importance to the expedition now
meditated against them, and the relative military strength and
situation of the two parties rendered it improbable that any other
offensive operations could be carried on by the Americans in the course
of the present campaign. The army under the command of Sir Henry
Clinton, exclusive of the troops in the southern department, was
computed at between sixteen and seventeen thousand men. The American
army, the largest division of which lay at Middlebrook under the
immediate command of Washington, was rather inferior to that of the
British in real strength. The grand total, except those in the southern
and western country, including officers of every description amounted
to about 16,000. Three thousand of these were in New England under the
command of General Gates, and the remaining 13,000 were cantoned on
both sides of the North river.

After the destruction of Forts Clinton and Montgomery in 1777, it had
been determined to construct the fortifications intended for the future
defense of the North river at West Point, a position which being more
completely embosomed in the hills was deemed more defensible. The works
had been prosecuted with unremitting industry but were far from being

King's Ferry, some miles below West Point, where the great road, the
most convenient communication between the middle and eastern States,
crossed the North river, is completely commanded by two opposite points
of land. That on the west side, a rough and elevated piece of ground,
is denominated Stony Point; and the other, on the east side, a flat
neck of land projecting far into the water, is called Verplanck's
Point. The command of King's Ferry was an object worth the attention of
either army, and Washington had comprehended the points which protect
it within his plan of defense for the Highlands. A small but strong
work called Fort Fayette was completed at Verplanck's and was
garrisoned by a company commanded by Captain Armstrong. The works on
Stony Point were unfinished. As the season for active operations
approached Sir Henry Clinton formed a plan for opening the campaign
with a brilliant _coup de main_ up the North river and toward the
latter end of May made preparations for the enterprise.

These preparations were immediately communicated to Washington who was
confident that Clinton meditated an attack on the forts in the
Highlands or designed to take a position between those forts and
Middlebrook, in order to interrupt the communication between the
different parts of the American army, to prevent their reunion and to
beat them in detail. Measures were instantly taken to counteract either
of these designs. The intelligence from New York was communicated to
Generals Putnam and M'Dougal, who were ordered to hold themselves in
readiness to march, and on the 29th of May (1779) the army moved by
divisions from Middlebrook toward the Highlands. On the 30th the
British army commanded by Clinton in person and convoyed by Sir George
Collier proceeded up the river, and General Vaughan at the head of the
largest division, landed next morning about eight miles below
Verplanck's. The other division under the particular command of General
Patterson, but accompanied by Clinton, advancing further up, landed on
the west side within three miles of Stony Point.

That place being immediately abandoned, General Patterson took
possession of it on the same afternoon. He dragged some heavy cannon
and mortars to the summit of the hill in the course of the night (June
1, 1779), and at five next morning opened a battery on Fort Fayette at
the distance of about 1,000 yards. During the following night two
galleys passed the fort and anchoring above it prevented the escape of
the garrison by water while General Vaughan invested it closely by
land. No means of defending the fort or of saving themselves remaining
the garrisons became prisoners of war. Immediate directions were given
for completing the works at both posts and for putting Stony Point in
particular in a strong state of defense.

Washington determined to check any further advance of the enemy, and
before Clinton was in a situation to proceed against West Point,
General M'Dougal was so strengthened and the American army took such a
position on the strong grounds about the Hudson that the enterprise
became too hazardous to be further prosecuted.

After completing the fortifications on both sides of the river at
King's Ferry, Clinton placed a strong garrison in each fort and
proceeded down the river to Philipsburg. The relative situation of the
hostile armies presenting insuperable obstacles to any grand operation
they could be employed offensively only on detached expeditions.
Connecticut, from its contiguity to New York and its extent of sea
coast, was peculiarly exposed to invasion. The numerous small cruisers
which plied in the sound, to the great annoyance of British commerce,
and the large supplies of provisions drawn from the adjacent country
for the use of the Continental army, furnished great inducements to
Clinton to direct his enterprises particularly against that State. He
also hoped to draw Washington from his impregnable position on the
North river into the low country and thus obtain an opportunity of
striking at some part of his army or of seizing the posts which were
the great object of the campaign. With these views he planned an
expedition against Connecticut, the command of which was given to
Governor Tryon, who reached New Haven bay on the 5th of July (1779)
with about 2,600 men.

Washington was at the time on the lines examining in person the
condition of the works on Stony and Verplanck's Points, in consequence
of which the intelligence which was transmitted to headquarters that
the fleet had sailed could not be immediately communicated to the
Governor of Connecticut, and the first intimation which that State
received of its danger was given by the appearance of the enemy. The
militia assembled in considerable numbers with alacrity, but the
British effected a landing and took possession of the town. After
destroying the military and naval stores found in the place, they re-
embarked and proceeded westward to Fairfield which was reduced to
ashes. The spirited resistance made by the militia at this place is
attested by the apology made by General Tryon for the wanton
destruction of private property which disgraced his conduct. "The
village was burnt," he says, "to resent the fire of the rebels from
their houses and to mask our retreat."

From Fairfield the fleet crossed the sound to Huntington bay where it
remained until the 9th (July, 1779), when it recrossed that water. The
troops were landed in the night on a peninsula on the east side of the
Bay of Norwalk. About the same time a much larger detachment from the
British army directed its course towards Horse Neck and made
demonstrations of a design to penetrate into the country in that

On the first intelligence that Connecticut was invaded, General
Parsons, a native of that State, had been directed by Washington to
hasten to the scene of action. Placing himself at the head of about 150
Continental troops who were supported by considerable bodies of
militia, he attacked the British on the morning of the twelfth as soon
as they were in motion and kept up an irregular distant fire throughout
the day. But, being too weak to prevent the destruction of any
particular town on the coast, Norwalk was reduced to ashes, after which
the British re-embarked and returned to Huntington bay there to await
for reinforcements. At this place, however, Tryon received orders to
return to Whitestone where in a conference between Clinton and Sir
George Collier it was determined to proceed against New London with an
increased force.

On the invasion of Connecticut, Washington was prompt in his exertions
to send Continental troops from the nearest encampments to its aid, but
before they could afford any real service Clinton found it necessary to
recall Tryon to the Hudson.

Washington had planned an enterprise against the posts at King's Ferry,
comprehending a double attack to be made at the same time on both. But
the difficulty of a perfect cooperation of detachments, incapable of
communicating with each other, determined him to postpone the attack on
Verplanck's and to make that part of the plan dependent on the success
of the first. His whole attention, therefore, was turned to Stony Point
and the troops destined for this critical service proceeded on it as
against a single object.

The execution of the plan was entrusted by Washington to General Wayne
who commanded the light infantry of the army. His daring courage had
long since obtained for him the sobriquet of "Mad Anthony." He accepted
the command with alacrity. Secrecy was deemed so much more essential to
success than numbers that no addition was made to the force already on
the lines. One brigade was ordered to commence its march so as to reach
the scene of action in time to cover the troops engaged in the attack
should any unlooked-for disaster befall them, and Maj. Henry Lee of
the light dragoons, who had been eminently useful in obtaining the
intelligence which led to the enterprise, was associated with Wayne as
far as cavalry could be employed in such a service. The night of the
15th (July, 1779), and the hour of twelve, were chosen for the assault.

Stony Point is a commanding hill projecting far into the Hudson which
washes three-fourths of its base. The remaining fourth was in a great
measure covered by a deep marsh, commencing near the river on the upper
side and continuing into it below. Over this marsh there was only one
crossing place, but at its junction with the river was a sandy beach
passable at low tide. On the summit of this hill stood the fort which
was furnished with heavy ordnance. Several breastworks and strong
batteries were advanced in front of the main work, and about half way
down the hill were two rows of abattis. The batteries were calculated
to command the beach and the crossing place of the marsh, and to rake
and enfilade any column which might be advancing from either of those
points toward the fort. In addition to these defenses several vessels
of war were stationed in the river and commanded the ground at the foot
of the hill. The garrison consisted of about 600 men commanded by
Colonel Johnson.

Wayne arrived about eight in the evening at Springsteel's, one and a
half miles from the fort and made his dispositions for the assault.

It was intended to attack the works on the right and left flanks at the
same instant. The regiments of Febiger and of Meigs with Major Hull's
detachment formed the right column, and Butler's regiment, with two
companies under Major Murfree, formed the left. One hundred and fifty
volunteers led by Lieutenant-Colonel Fleury and Major Posey constituted
the van of the right, and 100 volunteers under Major Stewart composed
the van of the left. At 11:30 the two columns moved to the assault, the
van of each with unloaded muskets and fixed bayonets. They were each
preceded by a forlorn hope of twenty men, the one commanded by
Lieutenant Gibbon and the other by Lieutenant Knox. They reached the
marsh undiscovered and at 12:20 commenced the assault.

Both columns rushed forward under a tremendous fire of grape-shot and
musketry. Surmounting every obstacle, they entered the works at the
point of the bayonet and without discharging a single musket obtained
possession of the fort.

The humanity displayed by the conquerors was not less conspicuous nor
less honorable than their courage. Not an individual suffered after
resistance had ceased.

All the troops engaged in this perilous service manifested a degree of
ardor and impetuosity which proved them to be capable of the most
difficult enterprises, and all distinguished themselves whose situation
enabled them to do so. Colonel Fleury, who had distinguished himself in
defense of the forts on the Delaware in 1777, was the first to enter
the fort and strike the British standard. Major Posey mounted the works
almost at the same instant and was the first to give the watch-word,
"The fort's our own." Lieutenants Gibbon and Knox performed the service
allotted to them with a degree of intrepidity which could not be
surpassed. Of twenty men who constituted the party of the former,
seventeen were killed or wounded. [1] Sixty-three of the garrison were
killed, including two officers. The prisoners amounted to 543, among
whom were 1 lieutenant-colonel, 4 captains, and 20 subaltern officers.
The military stores taken in the fort were considerable.

The loss sustained by the assailants was not proportioned to the
apparent danger of the enterprise. The killed and wounded did not
exceed 100 men. Wayne, who marched with Febiger's regiment in the right
column received a wound in the head which stunned him. Recovering
consciousness, but believing the wound to be mortal, he said to his
aids, "Carry me into the fort and let me die at the head of my column."
Being supported by his aids he entered the fort with the regiment.
Lieutenant-Colonel Hay was also among the wounded.

Although the design upon Fort Fayette had yielded to the desire of
securing the success of the attack on Stony Point it had not been
abandoned. Two brigades under General M'Dougal had been ordered to
approach the works on Verplanck's, in which Colonel Webster commanded,
and be in readiness to attack them the instant Wayne should obtain
possession of Stony Point. That this detachment might not permit the
favorable moment to pass unimproved Wayne had been requested to direct
the messenger who should convey the intelligence of his success to
Washington to pass through M'Dougal's camp and give him advice of that
event. He was also requested to turn the cannon of the fort against
Verplanck's and the vessels in the river. The last orders were executed
and a heavy cannonade was opened on Fort Fayette and on the vessels,
which compelled them to fall down the river. Through some
misconception, never explained, the messenger dispatched by Wayne did
not call on M'Dougal, but proceeded directly to headquarters. Thus,
every advantage expected from the first impression made by the capture
of Stony Point was lost, and the garrison had full leisure to recover
from the surprise occasioned by that event and to prepare for an
attack. This change of circumstances made it necessary to change the
plan of operation. Washington ordered General Howe to take the command
of M'Dougal's detachment to which some pieces of heavy artillery were
to be annexed. He was directed, after effecting a breach in the walls,
to make the dispositions for an assault and to demand a surrender, but
not to attempt a storm until it should be dark. To these orders
explicit instructions were added not to hazard his party by remaining
before Verplanck's after the British should cross Croton river in

Through some unaccountable negligence in the persons charged with the
execution of these orders the battering artillery was not accompanied
with suitable ammunition, and the necessary entrenching tools were not
brought. These omissions were supplied the next day, but it was then
too late to proceed against Verplanck's.

On receiving intelligence of the loss of Stony Point and of the danger
to which the garrison of Fort Fayette was exposed, Sir Henry Clinton
relinquished his views on Connecticut and made a forced march to Dobb's
Ferry. Some troops were immediately embarked to pass up the river and a
light corps was pushed forward to the Croton. This movement relieved
Fort Fayette.

The failure of the attempt to obtain possession of Verplanck's Point,
leaving that road of communication still closed, diminished the
advantages which had been expected to result from the enterprise so
much that it was deemed unadvisable to maintain Stony Point. On
reconnoitering the ground Washington believed that the place could not
be rendered secure with a garrison of less than 1,500 men--a number
which could not be spared from the army without weakening it too much
for further operations. He determined, therefore, to evacuate Stony
Point and retire to the Highlands. As soon as this resolution was
executed Clinton repossessed himself of that post, repaired the
fortifications, and placed a stronger garrison in it, after which he
resumed his former situation at Philipsburg.

The two armies watched each other for some time. At length, Clinton,
finding himself unable to attack Washington in the strong position he
had taken or to draw him from it, and being desirous of transferring
the theater of active war to the south, withdrew to New York and was
understood to be strengthening the fortifications erected for its
defense, as preparatory to the large detachments he intended making to
reinforce the southern army.

Although this movement was made principally with a view to southern
operations, it was in some degree hastened by the opinion that New York
required immediate additional protection during the absence of the
fleet, which was about to sail for the relief of Penobscot.

Scarcely had Sir George Collier, who had accompanied Clinton up the
Hudson to take possession of Stony Point, returned to New York, when he
was informed that a fleet of armed vessels with transports and troops
had sailed from Boston to attack a post which General M'Lean was
establishing at Penobscot in the eastern part of the province of
Massachusetts bay. He immediately got ready for sea that part of the
naval force which was at New York, and on the 3d of August sailed to
relieve the garrison of Penobscot.

In the month of June (1779) General M'Lean, who commanded the royal
troops in Nova Scotia, arrived in the bay of Penobscot with nearly 700
men, in order to establish a post which might at once be a means of
checking the incursions of the Americans into Nova Scotia and of
supplying the royal yards at Halifax with ship timber, which abounded
in that part of the country. This establishment alarmed the government
of Massachusetts bay, which resolved to dislodge M'Lean, and, with
great promptitude, equipped a fleet and raised troops for that purpose.
The fleet, which consisted of fifteen vessels of war, carrying from
thirty-two to twelve guns each with transports, was commanded by
Commodore Saltonstall; the army, amounting to between three and four
thousand militia, was under the orders of General Lovell.

General M'Lean chose for his post a peninsula on the east side of
Penobscot bay, which is about seven leagues wide and seventeen deep,
terminating at the point where the river Penobscot flows into it.
M'Lean's station was nine miles from the bottom of the bay. As that
part of the country was then an unbroken forest he cleared away the
wood on the peninsula and began to construct a fort in which he was
assisted and protected by the crews of three sloops-of-war which had
escorted him thither. M'Lean heard of the expedition against him on the
21st of July (1779), when he had made little progress in the erection
of his fort. On the 25th the American fleet appeared in the bay, but,
owing to the opposition of the British sloops-of-war and to the bold
and rugged nature of the shore, the troops did not effect a landing
until the 28th. This interval M'Lean improved with such laborious
diligence that his fortifications were in a state of considerable
forwardness. Lovell erected a battery within 750 yards of the works,
and for nearly a fortnight a brisk cannonade was kept up and
preparations were made to assault the fort. But, on the 13th of August
(1779), Lovell was informed that Sir George Collier with a superior
naval force had entered the bay; therefore in the night he silently
embarked his troops and cannon, unperceived by the garrison, which was
every moment in expectation of being assaulted.

On the approach of the British fleet the Americans, after some show of
preparation for resistance, betook themselves to flight. A general
pursuit and unresisted destruction ensued. The Warren, a fine new
frigate of thirty-two guns, and fourteen other vessels of inferior
force, were either blown up or taken. The transports fled in confusion
and, after having landed the troops in a wild and uncultivated part of
the country, were burnt. The men, destitute of provisions and other
necessaries, had to explore their way for more than 100 miles through
an uninhabited and pathless wilderness and many of them perished before
reaching the settled country. After this successful exploit Sir George
Collier returned to New York, where he resigned the command of the
fleet to Admiral Arbuthnot, who had arrived from England with some
ships of war and with provisions, stores, and reinforcements for the

On descending the river, after replacing the garrison of Stony Point,
Sir Henry Clinton encamped above Harlem, with his upper posts at
Kingsbridge. Washington remained in his strong position in the
Highlands, but frequently detached numerous parties on both sides of
the river in order to check the British foragers and to restrain the
intercourse with the Loyalists. Major Lee ("Light Horse Harry"), who
commanded one of those parties, planned a bold and hazardous enterprise
against the British post at Paulus Hook on the Jersey bank of the
river, opposite New York. That post was strongly fortified and of
difficult access, and therefore the garrison thought themselves secure.
But Lee determined to make an attempt on the place and chose the
morning of the 20th of August (1779) for his enterprise, when part of
the garrison was absent on a foraging excursion. Advancing silently at
the head of 300 men the sentinel at the gate mistook his party for that
which had marched out the preceding day, and allowed them to pass
unchallenged, and almost in an instant they seized the blockhouse and
two redoubts before the alarm was given. Major Sutherland, commandant
of the post, with sixty Hessians, entered a redoubt and began a brisk
fire on the assailants. This gave an extensive notice of the attack,
and the firing of guns in New York, and by the shipping in the roads,
proved that the alarm was widely spread. In order, therefore, not to
hazard the loss of his party, Lee retreated with the loss of two men
killed and three wounded, carrying along with him about 150 prisoners.
Notwithstanding the difficulties and dangers which he had to encounter,
he effected his retreat. It was not his design to keep possession of
the place, but to carry off the garrison, reflect credit on the
American arms, and encourage a spirit of enterprise in the army. [2]

The expedition planned by Washington for chastising the Indians who had
committed such atrocities last year on the frontier and particularly at
Wyoming, was the most important of this campaign. Washington entrusted
the command of it to General Sullivan. The largest division of the army
employed on that service assembled at Wyoming. Another division, which
had wintered on the Mohawk, marched under the orders of Gen. James
Clinton and joined the main body at the confluence of the two great
sources of the Susquehanna. On the 22d. of August (1779), the united
force, amounting to nearly 5,000 men, under the command of General
Sullivan, proceeded up the Cayuga or western branch of the last-named
river which led directly into the Indian country. The preparations for
this expedition did not escape the notice of those against whom it was
directed, and the Indians seem fully to have penetrated Sullivan's plan
of operation. Formidable as his force was they determined to meet him
and try the fortune of a battle. They were about 1,000 strong,
commanded by the two Butlers, Guy Johnson, M'Donald, and Brandt. They
chose their ground with judgment and fortified their camp at some
distance above Chemung and within a mile of Newtown.

There Sullivan attacked them and, after a short but spirited
resistance, they retreated with precipitation. The Americans had thirty
men killed or wounded; the Indians left only eleven dead bodies on the
field, but they were so discouraged by this defeat that they abandoned
their villages and fields to the unresisted ravages of the victor, who
laid waste their towns and orchards, so that they might have no
inducement again to settle so near the settlements of the whites.

The severity of this proceeding has been censured by some writers, but
it requires no apology. Nothing could convince the savages of the
injustice and inhumanity of their usual system of warfare on the
frontier so effectually as to give them a specimen of it, even in a
milder form, in their own country. Sullivan desolated their villages
and farms, but we do not learn that he took any scalps or murdered any
women or children, or tortured any of his prisoners. The measure of
retaliation which he dealt to the miscreants who sacked Wyoming was
gentleness and humanity when compared with their proceedings. It is
only to be regretted that his retaliation could not have been applied
to the homes of the British and Tories who assisted the Indians at
Wyoming. Sullivan and his army received a vote of thanks from Congress,
but the general's health failing, he soon resigned his commission and
retired from the service.

Sullivan's orders from Washington exculpate him from all blame as to
the mode of punishing the Indians. "Of the expedition," Washington
says, in writing to him, "the immediate objects are the total
destruction and devastation of their settlements and the capture of as
many prisoners of every age and sex as possible." Washington knew that
this kind of warfare was the only possible means of putting an end to
Indian wars. Any other mode of proceeding, he was fully aware, was
treachery and cruelty to his own countrymen.

A few days after the surprise of Paulus Hook by Major Lee, the long-
expected fleet from Europe, under the command of Admiral Arbuthnot,
having on board a reinforcement for the British army, arrived at New
York. This reinforcement, however, did not enable Clinton to enter
immediately on that active course of offensive operations which he had
meditated. It was soon followed by the Count D'Estaing, who arrived on
the southern coast of America with a powerful fleet, after which
Clinton deemed it necessary to turn all his attention to his own
security. Rhode Island and the posts up the North river were evacuated
and the whole army was collected in New York, the fortifications of
which were carried on with unremitting industry.

The Count D'Estaing and Admiral Byron having sailed about the same time
from the coast of North America, met in the West Indies, where the war
was carried on with various success. St. Lucia surrendered to the
British in compensation for which the French took St. Vincent's and
Grenada. About the time of the capture of the latter island D'Estaing
received reinforcements which gave him a decided naval superiority,
after which a battle was fought between the two hostile fleets, in
which the count claimed the victory and in which so many of the British
ships were disabled that the admiral was compelled to retire into port
in order to refit.

Early in May (1779) Sir Henry Clinton had dispatched from New York a
squadron under Sir George Collier with 2,500 troops under General
Mathews, who entered Chesapeake Bay, and, after taking possession of
Portsmouth, sent out parties of soldiers to Norfolk, Suffolk, Gosport,
and other places in the neighborhood, where there were large deposits
of provisions and military and naval stores, and many merchant vessels,
some on the stocks and some laden with valuable cargoes. These were all
burnt and the whole neighborhood subjected to plunder and devastation.
This was a severe blow to the commerce on which Congress placed great
dependence for supplies to the army and for sustaining its own credit.

In compliance with the solicitations of General Lincoln and the
authorities of South Carolina, D'Estaing directed his course to the
coast of Georgia with twenty-two ships of the line and eleven frigates
having on board 6,000 soldiers, and arrived so suddenly on the southern
coast of America that the Experiment, of fifty guns, and three
frigates, fell into his hands. A vessel was sent to Charleston with
information of his arrival and a plan was concerted for the siege of

General Lincoln, who, after the fall of Savannah, had been sent to
Charleston to take command of the southern department of the army, was
to cooperate with D'Estaing's fleet and army in the siege. Instead of
assaulting the place at the earliest practicable moment, they granted
Prevost, the British commander at Savannah, an armistice of twenty-four
hours, during which he received reinforcements and set them at
defiance. They then commenced a siege by regular approaches on land and
cannonade and bombardment from D'Estaing's formidable fleet in the
harbor. This lasted for three weeks.

On the 9th of October (1779), without having effected a sufficient
breach, the united French and American forces stormed the works. Great
gallantry was displayed by the assailants. The French and American
standards were both planted on the redoubts. But it was all in vain.
They were completely repulsed, the French losing 700 and the Americans
340 men. Count Pulaski was among the slain.

The loss of the garrison was astonishingly small. In killed and wounded
it amounted only to fifty-five--so great was the advantage of the cover
afforded by their works. After this repulse the Count D'Estaing
announced to General Lincoln his determination to raise the siege. The
remonstrances of that officer were unavailing, and the removal of the
heavy ordnance and stores was commenced. This being accomplished, both
armies moved from their ground on the evening of the 18th of October
(1779). The Americans, recrossing the Savannah at Zubly's Ferry, again
encamped in South Carolina, and the French re-embarked. D'Estaing
himself sailed with a part of his fleet for France; the rest proceeded
to the West Indies.

Although the issue of this enterprise was the source of severe chagrin
and mortification the prudence of General Lincoln suppressed every
appearance of dissatisfaction, and the armies separated with
manifestations of reciprocal esteem. The hopes which had brought the
militia into the field being disappointed they dispersed, and the
affairs of the southern States wore a more gloomy aspect than at any
former period.

During the siege of Savannah an ingenious enterprise of partisan
warfare was executed by Colonel White of the Georgia line. Before the
arrival of the French fleet in the Savannah, a British captain with in
men had taken post near the river Ogeeche, twenty-five miles from
Savannah. At the same place were five British vessels, four of which
were armed, the largest with fourteen guns, the least with four, and
the vessels were manned with forty sailors. Late at night, on the 30th
of September (1779), White, who had only six volunteers, including his
own servant, kindled a number of fires in different places so as to
exhibit the appearance of a considerable encampment, practiced several
other corresponding artifices, and then summoned the captain instantly
to surrender. That officer, believing that he was about to be attacked
by a superior force and that nothing but immediate submission could
save him and his men from destruction, made no defense. The stratagem
was carried on with so much address that the prisoners, amounting to
141, were secured and conducted to the American post at Sunbury,
twenty-five miles distant.

On receiving intelligence of the situation of Lincoln, Congress passed
a resolution requesting Washington to order the North Carolina troops,
and such others as could be spared from the northern army, to the aid
of that in the South and assuring the States of South Carolina and
Georgia of the attention of government to their preservation, but
requesting them, for their own defense to comply with the
recommendations formerly made respecting the completion of their
Continental regiments, and the government of their militia while in
actual service.

Washington had already received (November 1779) intelligence of the
disastrous result of D'Estaing and Lincoln's attack on Savannah, and
had formed his plans of operation before Congress sent assurances of
aid to the South. Giving up all expectation of cooperation from the
French fleet, he disbanded the New York and Massachusetts militia and
made his arrangements for the winter. He ordered one division of the
army under General Heath to the Highlands to protect West Point and the
posts in that neighborhood, and with the other division he went into
winter quarters near Morristown, the army being quartered in huts, as
at Valley Forge. The cavalry were sent to Connecticut.

Washington had already penetrated the design of the enemy to make the
southern States their principal field of operation, and accordingly he
dispatched to Charleston the North Carolina brigade in November, and
the whole of the Virginia line in December. On the other hand, Clinton
and Cornwallis embarked with a large force in transports convoyed by
Admiral Arbuthnot with a fleet of five ships of the line and several
frigates, and sailed on the 26th of December 1779, for Savannah.
Knyphausen was left in command of the garrison of New York. [3]

Washington's own summary of the operations of this campaign (1779) is
contained in a letter to Lafayette in the following terms: "The
operations of the enemy this campaign have been confined to the
establishment of works of defense, taking a post at King's Ferry, and
burning the defenseless towns of New Haven, Fairfield, and Norwalk, on
the Sound, within reach of their shipping, where little else was or
could be opposed to them than the cries of distressed women and
children; but these were offered in vain. Since these notable exploits
they have never stepped out of their works or beyond their lines. How a
conduct of this kind is to effect the conquest of America, the wisdom

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