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forcibly taken.-The sound judgment and upright principles of the commander-in-chief, gave a decided preference to the mode of supplying his army by fair contract, but its necessities, proceeding from bad management in the commissary department; the depreciation of the congress bills of credit; the selfishness of the farmers, in preferring British metallic to American paper money, together with the eagerness of congress to starve the British army in Philadelphia, compelled him to extort supplies for his army at the point of the bayonet. In obedience to congress, he issued a proclamation, “ calling on the farmers within seventy miles of head quarters, to thrash out one half of their grain by the first of February, and the residue by the first of March, under the penalty of having the whole seized as straw.”
Great, were the difficulties with which Washington had to contend, in feeding and clothing his army; but they were not the only vexations which at this time pressed upon him. The states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey were importunate with him to cover them from the incursions of the enemy. In both, there were many discontented individuals, who, regretting their past losses and present danger from the vicinity of a conquering army, were so far misled by their feelings, as to suppose it to be the fault of General Washington that the inferior destitute army under his immediate command had not been as successful as the superior well supported northern army under general Gates.—The legislature of Pennsylvania, probably sore from the loss of their capital, on hearing that Washington was about to retire into winter-quarters, presented a remonstrance to congress on that subject, in which their dissatisfaction with the general was far from being concealed. A copy of this being sent to him, he addressed congress in terms very different from his usual style. -He stated, that though every thing in his power had been done for supporting his army, yet their inactivity, arising from their manifold wants, was charged to his account; that the
army seldom had provisions for two days in advance ; that few of his men had more than one shirt, many only a moiety of one, and some none at all; that soap, vinegar, and such articles, though allowed by congress, had not been seen
for several weeks; that, by a field return, two thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight of his army were unfit for duty, because they were barefooted, and otherwise naked ,
that his whole effective force in camp amounted to no more than eight thousand two hundred men, fit for duty; that, notwithstanding these complicated wants, the remonstrance of the Pennsylvania legislature reprobated the measure of his going into winter-quarters, as if its authors thought the soldiers were made of stocks or stones, and as if they conceived it easily practicable for an inferior army, circumstanced as his was, to confine a superior one, well appointed, and every way provided for a winter's campaign, within the city of Philadelphia, and to cover all the circumjacent country from their depredation.”—He assured the complainers, " that it was much easier to draw up remonstrances in a comfortable room by a good fire-side, than to occupy a cold bleak hill, and sleep under frost and snow, without clothes or blankets.”
To the other vexations which crowded upon General Washington, at the close of the campaign of 1777, was added one of a peculiar nature. Though he was conscious he had never solicited, and that it was neither from motives of interest nor of ambition, he had accepted the command of the army, and that he had with clean hands and a pure heart, to the utmost of his power, steadily pursued what his best judgment informed him was for the interest of his country; yet he received certain information that a cabal, consisting of some members of congress, and a few general officers of the army, was plotting, to supersede him in his command. The scheme was, to obtain the sanction of some of the state legislatures to instruct their delegates to move in congress for an inquiry into the causes of the failures of the campaigns of 1776 and 1777, with the hope that some intemperate resolution passed by them would either lead to the removal of the general, or wound his military feelings, so as to induce his resignation. Anonymous papers, containing high charges against him, and urging the necessity of putting some more energetic officer at the head of the army, were sent to Henry Laurens, president of congress, Patrick Henry, governor of Virginia, and others. These were forwarded to General Washington. In his reply to Mr. Laurens, he wrote as follows: "I cannot sufficiently express the obligation I feel towards you, for your friendship and politeness, upon an occasion in which I am so deeply interested. I was not unapprized that a malignant faction had been for some time forming to my prejudice, which, conscious as I am of having
ever done all in my power to answer the important purpose of the trust reposed in me, could not but give me some pain on a personal account; but my chief concern arises from an apprehension of the dangerous consequences, which intestine dissentions may prove to the common cause.
“ As I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am unambitious of honours not founded in the approbation of my country, I would not desire, in the least degree, to suppress a free spirit of inquiry into any part of my conduct, that even faction itself may deem reprehensible. The anonymous paper handed you, exhibits many serious charges, and it is my wish that it may be submitted to congress. This, I am the more inclined to, as the suppression or concealment may possibly involve you in embarrassments hereafter, since it is uncertain how many, or who may be privy to the contents.
“My enemies take an ungenerous advantage of me. They know the delicacy of my situation, and that motives of policy deprive me of the defence I might otherwise make against their insidious attacks. They know I cannot combat insinuations, however injurious, without disclosing secrets it is of the utmost moment to conceal. But why should I expect to be exempt from censure, the unfailing lot of an elevated station ? Merit and talents, which I cannot pretend to rival, have ever been subject to it; my heart tells me it has been my unremitted aim to do the best which circumstances would permit, yet I may have been very often mistaken in my judgment of the means, and may in many instances deserve the imputation of error."
About the same time, it was reported that Washington had determined to resign his command. On this occasion, he wrote to a gentleman in New England as follows. “I can assure you that no person ever heard me drop an expression that had a tendency to resignation. The same principles that led me to embark in the opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain, operate with additional force at this day; nor is it my desire to withdraw my services, while they are considered of importance in the present contest; but to report a design of this kind, is amongst the arts, which those who are endeavouring to effect a change, are practising to bring it to pass.—I have said, and I still do say, that there is not an officer in the United States that would return to the sweets
GEORGE WASHINGTON. of domestic life with more heart-felt joy than I should. But I would have this declaration accompanied by these sentiments, that, while the public are satisfied with my endeavours, I mean not to shrink from the cause ; but the moment her voice, not that of faction, calls upon me to resign, I shall do it with as much pleasure as ever the weary traveller retired to rest.'
These machinations did not abate the ardour of Washington in the common cause. His patriotism was too solid to be shaken either by envy or ingratitude. Nor was the smallest effect produced in diminishing his well-earned reputation Zeal, the most active, and services the most beneficial, ana at the same time disinterested, had riveted him in the affections of his country and the army. Even the victorious troops under general Gates, though comparisons highly flattering to their vanity had been made between them and the army in Pennsylvania, clung to Washington as their political saviour. The resentment of the people was generally excited against those, who were supposed to be engaged in, or friendly to the scheme of appointing a new commander-in-chief over the American army:
CAMPAIGN OF 1778. General Washington prepares for the campaign of 1778.
Surprises the British, and defeats them at Monmouth.Arrests general Lee.-Calms the irritation, excited by the departure of the French fleet from Rhode Island to Boston.-Dissuades from an invasion of Canada.
WASHINGTON devoted the short respite from field duty, which followed the encampment of the army at Valley Forge, to prepare for an early and active campaign in the year 1778. He laboured to impress on congress the necessity of having in the field a regular army, at least equal to that of the enemy. He transmitted to the individual states a return of the troops furnished severally by them for the continental army. While this exhibited to each its deficiency, it gave the gene.
ral an opportunity to urge on them respectively the necessity of completing their quotas.
Congress deputed a committee of their body to reside in camp, and, in concert with General Washington, to investigate the state of the army, and to report such reforms as might be deemed expedient. This committee, known by the name of “ The Committee of Arrangements,” repaired to Valley Forge, in January, 1778. Washington laid before them a statement, in which he took a comprehensive view of the army, and minutely pointed out what he deemed necessary for the correction of existing abuses, and the advancement of the service.--He recommended, “as essentially necessary, that, in addition to present compensation, provision should be made, by half pay, and a pensionary establishment, for the future support of the officers, so as to render their commissions valuable. He pointed out “the insufficiency of their pay, especially in its present state of depreciation, for their decent subsistence; the sacrifices which they had already made, and the unreasonableness of expecting that they would continue patiently to bear such an overproportion of the common calamities, growing out of the necessary war, in which all were equally interested; the many resignations that had already taken place, and the probability that more would follow, to the great injury of the service; the impossibility of keeping up a strict discipline amongst officers, whose com missions, in a pecuniary view, were so far from being worth holding, that they were the means of impoverishing them."These, and other weighty considerations, were accompanied with a declaration by General Washington, “ that he neither could nor would receive the smallest benefit from the proposed establishment, and that he had no other inducement in urging it, but a full conviction of its utility and propriety."
In the same statement, the commander-in-chief explained to the committee of congress the defects in the quarter-mas. ter's, and other departments connected with the support and comfort of the army; and also urged the necessity of each state completing its quota, by draughts from the militia. The statement concludes with these impressive words : " Upon the whole, gentlemen, I doubt not you are fully impressed with the defects of our present military system, and with the necessity of speedy and decisive measures to place it on a satisfactory footing.--This disagreeable picture I have given