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Indies; the declaration of Russia, acceded to by other pow. ers of Europe, humiliating the naval pride and power of Great Britain ; the superiority of France and Spain by sea, in Europe; the Irish claims, and English disturbances; formed, in the aggregate, an opinion in my breast, which is not very susceptible of peaceful dreams, that the hour of deliverance was not far distant; for that, however unwilling Great Britain might be to yield the point, it would not be in her power to continue the contest.—But alas ! these prospects, Aattering as they were, have proved delusory; and I see nothing before us but accumulating distress. We have been half of our time without provisions, and are likely to continue so. We have no magazines, nor money to form them. We have lived upon expedients, until we can live no longer. In a word, the history of the war is a history of false hopes and temporary devices, instead of system and economy. It is in vain, however, to look back, nor is it our business to do so. Our case is not desperate, if virtue exists in the people, and there is wisdom among our rulers. that this great revolution can be accomplished by a temporary army; that this army will be subsisted by state supplies; and that taxation alone is adequate to our wants, is, in my opinion, absurd."
But to suppose
CAMPAIGN OF 1781.
The Pennsylvania line mutinies. The New Jersey troops follow their example, but are quelled by decisive mea
General Washington commences a mili'ary Journal, delailing the wants and distresses of his army. Is invited to the defence of his native siale, Virginia, but declines. Reprimands the nuanager of his privale estate for furnishing the enemy with supplies, to prevent the destruction of his property. Extinguishes the incipient flames of a civil war, respecting the independence of the state of Vermont. Plans a combined operation against the British, and deputes lieulenant-colonel John Laurens to solicit the co-operation of the French. The combined
forces of both nations rendezvous in the Chesapeake, and take lord Cornwallis and his army prisoners of war. Washington returns to the vicinity of New York, and urges the necessity of preparing for a new campaign.
The year 1780 ended in the northern states with disappointment, and the year 1781 commenced with mutiny. In the night of the first of January, about thirteen hundred of the Pennsylvania line paraded under arms, at their encampment near Morristown, avowing a determination to march to the seat of congress, and obtain a redress of their grievances, without which they would serve no longer. The exertions of general Wayne, and the other officers, to quell the mutiny, were in vain. The whole body marched off, with six field-pieces, towards Princeton.—They stated their demands in writing, which were, a discharge to all who had served three years; an immediate payment of all that was due to them; and future pay in real money to all who remained in the service. Their officers, a committee of congress, and a deputation from the executive council of Pennsylvania, endeavoured to effect an accommodation; but the mutineers resolutely refused all terms, of which a redress of their grie vances was not the foundation.
To their demands, as founded in justice, the civil authority of Pennsylvania substantially yielded. Intelligence of this mutiny was communicated to General Washington, at New Windsor, before any accommodation had been effected. Though he had long been accustomed to decide in hazardous and difficult situations, yet it was no easy matter, in this delicate crisis, to determine on the most proper course.--His personal influence had several times extinguished rising muunies. The first scheme that presented itself, was, to repair to the camp of the mutineers, and try to recall them to a sense of their duty ; but on mature reflection this was abandoned. He well knew that their claims were founded in justice, but he could not reconcile himself to wound the discipline of his army, by yielding to their demands, while they were in open revolt with arms in their hands. He viewed the subject in all its relations, and was well apprised that the principal grounds of discontent were not peculiar to the Pennsylvania line, but common to all his troops.
If force were requisite, he had none to spare, without haz.
arding West Point. If concessions were unavoidable, they had better be made by any person than the commander-inchief. After that due deliberation, always given by him to matters of importance, he determined against a personal in terference, and to leave the whole to the civil authorities, which had already discussed it, but at the same time he prepared for those measures which would become necessary is no accommodation were effected. This resolution was communicated to general Wayne, with a caution to regard the situation of the other lines of the army in any concessions which might be made, and with a recommendation to draw the mutineers over the Delaware, with a view to increase the difficulty of communicating with the enemy in New York.
The dangerous policy of yielding even to the just demands of soldiers with arms in their hands, soon became apparent. The success of the Pennsylvania line induced a part of that of New Jersey to hope for similar advantages, from similar conduct. A part of the New Jersey brigade rose in arms, and, making the same claims which had been yielded to the Pennsylvanians, marched to Chatham. Washington, who was far from being pleased with the issue of the mutiny in the Pennsylvania line, determined, by strong measures to stop the progress of a spirit which was destructive to all his hopes. General Howe, with a detachment of the eastern troops, was immediately ordered to march against the mutineers, and instructed to make no terms with them, while they were in a state of resistance; and on their surrender to seize a few of the most active leaders, and to execute them immediately, in the presence of their associates.
These orders were obeyed; two of the ringleaders were shot, and the survivors returned to their duty
Though Washington adopted these decisive measures, yet no man was more sensible of the merits and sufferings of his army, and none more active and zealous in procuring them justice. He endeavoured to make the late events profitable, by writing circular letters to the states, urging them to prevent all future causes of discontent, by fulfilling their engagements with their respective lines. Some good effects were produced, but only temporary, and far short of the well founded claims of the army. Their wants with respect to provisions, were only partially supplied, and by expedients, from one short time to another. The most usual was ordere
ing an officer to seize on provisions, wherever found. This differed from robbing, only in its being done by authority for the public service, and in the officer being always directed to give the proprietor a certificate of the quantity and quality of what was taken from him.--At first, some reliance was placed on these certificates, as vouchers, to support a future demand on the United States ; but they soon became so common, as to be of little value. Recourse was so fre quently had to coercion, both legislative and military, that the people not only lost confidence in public credit, but bemame impatient under all exertions of authority for forcing their property from them.--About this time, General Washing ton was obliged to apply nine thousand dollars sent by the state of Massachusetts for the payment of her troops, to the use of the quarter master's department, to enable him to transport provisions from the adjacent states. Before he consented to adopt this expedient, he had consumed every ounce of provision which had been kept as a reserve in the garrison of West Point, and had strained impressment by military force 0 so great an extent, that there was reason to apprehend that ihe inhabitants, irritated by so frequent calls, would proceed to dangerous insurrections.--Fort Schuyler, West Point, and the other posts on the North River, were on the point of be. ing abandoned by their starving garrisons. At this period there was little or no circulating medium; either in the form of paper or specie ; and in the neighbourhood of the American army, there was a pressing want of necessary provisions. The deficiency of the former occasioned many in. conveniences, but the insufficiency of the latter, had nearly dissolved the army, and laid the country, in every direction, open to British excursions.
On the first of May, 1781, General Washington commenced a military journal. The following statement is extracted from it. " I begin at this epoch a concise journal of military transactions, &c. I lament not having attempted it from the commencement of the war, in aid of my memory; and wish the multiplicity of matter which continually surrounds me, and the embarrassed state of our affairs, which is nomentarily calling the attention to perplexities of one kind or another, may not defeat altogether, or so interrupt my present intention and plan, as to render it of little avail.
" To have the clearer understanding of the entries which
may follow, it would be proper to recite in detail our wants and our prospects; but this alone would be a work of much time and great magnitude. It may suffice to give the sum of them, which i shall do in few words, viz.
“ Instead of having magazines filled with provisions, we have a scanty pittance scattered here and there in the distant states. Instead of having our arsenals well supplied with military stores, they are poorly provided, and the workmen all leaving them. Instead of having the various articles of field equipage in readiness, the quarter master general is but now applying to the several states to provide these things foj their troops respectively. Instead of having a regular sys tem of transportation established upon credit, or funds in the quarter master's hands to defray the contingent expenses thereof, we have neither the one nor the other, and all that business, or a great part of it, being done by impressment, we are daily and hourly oppressing the people, souring their tempers, and alienating their affections.-Instead of having the regiments completed agreeably to the requisitions of con gress, scarcely any state in the union has at this hour one eighth part of its quota in the field, and there is little prospect of ever getting more than half. In a word, instead of having any thing in readiness to take the field, we have no thing; and instead of having the prospect of a glorious offensive campaign before us, we have a bewildered and gloomy prospect of a defensive one; unless we should re ceive a powerful aid of ships, troops, and money, from our generous allies, and these at present are too contingent to build upon.”
While the Americans were suffering the complicated ca lamities which introduced the year 1781, their adversaries were carrying on against them the most extensive plan of operations that had yet been attempted. It had often been objected to the British commanders, that they had not con ducted the war in the manner most likely to effect the subjugation of the revolted provinces. Military critics found fault with them for keeping a large army idle at New York, which they said, if properly applied, would have been suf ficient to make successful impressions at one and the same time on several of the states. The British seem to have calculated the campaign of 1781, with a view to make an experiment of the comparative merit of this mode of CoDri