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ing 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 like articles, though allowed by Congress, had not been seen in camp for several weeks; that by a field return two thousand eight hundred and ninety eight of his army were unfit for duty, bea cause 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 l'ennsylvania legisla. ture 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 dep. redation.” - 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 on Gen. 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 ambi. tion 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 inter. est of his country; yet he received certain information that a cabal, consisting of some mem. bers 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 campaigus of 1776 and 1777, with the hope that some intemperate resolutions passed by them would either lead to the removal of the General, or wound his military feelings so as to induce his resignation. Anony. mous 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 Gen. Washington. In his reply to Mr. Laurens, he wrote as follows; “I cannot sufficiently express the obligation I feel toward 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 purposes 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 dissensions may prove to the common cause.
o 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 niy 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 de. fence I might otherwise make against their insidi. ous 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 addi
tional 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 among 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 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 travel. ler 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 dininishing his well earned reputation. Zeal the most active, and services the most beneficial, and at the same time disinterested, had rivetted him in the affections of his country and 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 po. litical 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.....Atrests 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 they had severally furnished for the continental army. While this exhibited to each its deficiency, it gave the General 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 Gen. Washington, to investigate the state of the army, and to report such reforms as might be deemed expe. dient. This committee, known by the name of