Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

all payments theretofore made, as simply applying on the gross indebtedness to each. Thus, at last, there was a prospect for placing the army upon an efficient footing

Early in May, Washington received a letter from the Marquis de Lafayette, announcing his arrival at Boston, and that he would at once push on to headquarters. The commander was greatly affected when he received this welcome announcement, and, upon the arrival of Lafayette, folded the young officer in his arms in the most affectionate manner,—an act of demonstrative affection quite foreign to his custom. The newcomer could not long remain with his older friend, for he was the bearer of important tidings—that a French fleet, under Chevalier de Ternay, was to put to sea early in April, bound for service in America, and convoying a fleet of transports bringing a land force, under the Count de Rochambeau. Having communicated this glad news, he at once hastened to Philadelphia, to report the same to Congress, while Washington turned his attention to preparing for co-operation with the allies against New York. At his suggestion, Lafayette had dispatched letters to Rochambeau and Ternay, apprising them of Washington's opinion, that a campaign against that point would be advisable, and requesting them to make with all speed for Sandy Hook. Washington had little fear that, with the slender garrison and small naval force at New York, he could have trouble in capturing that city, by the aid of the French. His principal anxiety arose from the inefficiency of his own army, and he turned all his energies to finding a remedy.

Washington's first knowledge of the surrender of Charleston, was conveyed on June ist, by a hand-bill, circulated in New York, and, almost at the same time, he was informed that a fleet of about one hundred war vessels and transports had appeared at Sandy Hook. This latter he took to be a portion of the British force which had been employed in the South, and his fear for the safety of the Hudson was aroused. He soon learned, however, that the report regarding the flotilla was false ; but, on the 6th of June, came news that the British were landing at Elizabethtown point, for an incursion into New Jersey. Knyphausen had, in fact, received exaggerated reports of the discontents of the American army, and deemed that a timely demonstration might draw largely from its ranks, and also lead to the re-establishment of British influence in the Jerseys. He had made a grand mistake in accepting these reports at their face value. No sooner was his intention manifest, than signal guns and fires gave warning, and, along every road, by twos and threes, hurried the hardy yeomanry of the colony, to the danger stations. At Connecticut Farms he met his first opposition. This amounted only to a momentary stand; the British, with artillery and reinforcements, soon broke the provincial line, and revenged its temerity by sacking and burning the village. During this barbarous retaliation, Mrs. Caldwell, wife of a fighting chaplain in the American army,

ing them.

while sitting in a house, with her children beside her, was killed by two musket balls discharged through an open window. Yet this expedition had for one of its objects, the bringing of New Jersey colonists back to fealty to the crown! The death of Mrs. Caldwell drove many a doubtful yeoman to the rebel ranks, and the British paid for her life a hundred times over.

Springfield, on the road to Morristown, had been made the rallying-point of the American army. There was posted in advance, General Maxwell, with his brigade and the levies of the vicinity, while on the heights behind, was Washington, with the main body of the army. Knyphausen halted, reconnoitered, and very wisely turned about, and made the best of his way to Elizabethtown point, his place of debarkation. There he lingered, in indecision, sending a portion of his troops across the channel; then recall

On June 18th, Clinton, with a portion of his southern army, actually arrived at New York, and Washington, leaving behind Greene, and Henry Lee, with his light horse, began a weary march toward the Highlands. He had advanced but a short distance, when he received news that the enemy was again moving from Elizabethtown, whereupon he sent reinforcements to Greene, and, himself, fell back to a point where he might at once watch the Hudson, and be in a position to co-operate with the Jersey troops. Knyphausen, five thousand strong, with cavalry and artillery, moved forward, in two columns, one by each road leading from Elizabethtown to Springfield. Both roads were guarded by American advanced parties, while a bridge over the Rahway, a little west of the town, was held by Colonel Angel, with two hundred picked men and artillery. The remainder of the army was thrown upon high ground in the rear of the town. Lee was obliged to retire his advanced party from the Vauxhall road, after making a sharp defense; the British left was met, and held with great determination, by Colonel Dayton, while Angel at the bridge, opposed the vastly superior force of the enemy for more than an hour, and until above one-fourth of his men had been either killed or wounded. Greene finally withdrew to stronger ground, in the rear of Springfield, where the two roads approached each other more nearly, and permitted of his guarding both, without presenting so extended a front. Knyphausen saw that, should he gain Morristown, it would be after fighting every inch of the way, and at the cost of many men; hence, having sacked and burned Springfield, he retired, on the night of the 23d, to Elizabethtown, having lost many more men than had the Americans ; having gained nothing but more bitter enmity for himself and his British employers. By 6 o'clock in the morning, his rear had reached Staten island, and the last British mission to New Jersey was at an end.

The evident design of Howe was to menace Washington in several directions, and the latter soon became convinced that the enemy would not immediately take any active steps against him. Hence, he so placed his force as

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

to be able readily to move it to any endangered point, removed his stores to more secure depots, and set about the tedious and difficult task of procuring the increase of his army. On the roth of July a portion of the promised French fleet reached Providence, Rhode Island, under command of Chevalier de Ternay. It consisted of seven ships of the line, two frigates and two bombs. The remainder of the fleet had been detained at Brest by lack of transports for the troops which accompanied it. Convoyed by De Ternay's squadron, were somewhat more than five thousand troops, under command of Count de Rochambeau, with the Marquis de Chastellux second in command. The army was largely officered by young members of the nobility of France, who were attracted by the romantic and adventurous nature of the service in a new country. Through the intervention of Lafayette, it had been arranged that Rochambeau should place himself under the orders of Washington, and that the place of the French, when serving with the American troops, should be on the left of the line, thus preventing the possibility of jealousy or misunderstanding.

Rochambeau only waited to collect fuel and forage, before landing his army, which he placed in a fortified camp without the town. The fleet remained in the harbor, its temporary inferiority to that of the English forbidding offensive measures. Washington was much mortified that the condition of his army prevented immediate and effective co-operation with Rochambeau, and thus wrote the president of Congress: “Pressed on all sides by a choice of difficulties, I have adopted that line of policy which suited the dignity and faith of Congress, the reputation of these States and the honor of our arms. Neither the season nor a regard for decency, would permit delay. The die is cast, and it remains with the States either to fulfil their engagements, preserve their credit and support their independence, or to involve us in disgrace and defeat.

I shall proceed on the supposition that they will ultimately support their own interest and honor, and not suffer us to fail for want of means, which it is evidently in their power to afford. What has been done, and is doing by some of the States, confirms the opinion I have entertained of the sufficient resources of the country. As to the disposition of the people to submit to any arrangements for bringing them forth, I see no reasonable grounds to doubt. If we fail for want of exertions in any of the governments, I trust the responsibility will fall where it ought and that I shall stand justified to Congress, to my country, and to the world."

This history now brings us to the consideration of the saddest episode of the War of Independence, the treason of Arnold and the death of Major Andre. It is difficult to reconcile the action of the former with his past career and services—so difficult that one can scarcely resist the belief that disappointment, imaginary injustice, and the black spectre which stands ever at the elbow of the spendthrift, must have combined to unseat his

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »