But there were other kinds of mischief afoot in these times. It might often
appear surprising that -the American army should have been the victim of so much suffering, knowing as we do that
the country was not poor, but had enjoyed the comforts and many of the luxuries of life at the time the war broke
out. How happened it, then, that our soldiers went shoeless and ill clad; that they lacked blankets, tents, and
the commonest necessaries of a campaign? A soldier does not expect to fare as sumptuously, on the march as he does
at home; but there is a wide margin between severe simplicity, and nakedness and starvation. The same men who in
1777 walked barefoot through ice and snow, slept on the bare earth, lacked even a pair of breeches, and sometimes
had but one ragged suit of clothes between two of them-had, the year before, enjoyed whatever is requisite for
reasonable ease and convenience. Why this sudden change?
The explanation is to be found in the widespread and monstrous corruption that prevailed. It was not, nor is it
ever, the case that a majority, or even a large proportion, of the people were dishonest. But those who were willing
to make money out of the needs and perils of the country were sufficiently numerous, and forced themselves into
positions, to produce the effect of a prevailing moral rottenness. We of this age, unfortunately, do not need to
be told of the thievishness of Government contractors, or of the selfish rapacity of individuals who have control
of supplies. Yet it seems almost incredible that citizens of the States who were being defended by other citizens
at the cost of comfort, property, and life, should find it in their hearts to cheat them out of things essential
to their support in the field; should sell food which would keep them from starving to the British troops and mercenaries
who were brought to the country to destroy them; and should actually, on some occasions, destroy supplies rather
than sell them to the patriot army at a Government valuation. It seems improbable that officers of the commissary
department should be so intent on filling their own pockets as to neglect to distribute supplies intended for the
troops; so that while the latter were marching and fighting unshod and unclad, abundance of shoes and clothing
should be rotting in cases and barrels by the roadside. We shrink from believing that, at this crisis of the national
history, when the righting of the wrongs of a hundred years was on the point of being accomplished, soldiers and
their officers should be found who would take money and bounties for services which they never meant to render,
or use their positions not to fight for their country, but to defraud and dishonor it. We are slow to admit: that
officers of the army could be selected and appointed, not for any knowledge or ability in war, or any personal
merits or intelligence which might render them worthy at least of the respect which is due to personal character-but
solely because by ill-smelling intrigue and bribery they had wormed their way into places which were meant for
posts of honor, but which they coveted only in order to use them as the means of thievish gains. Desertions and
treason occur in all armies and we could not expect the American army to be free from them; but neither should
we expect the American army to be, as for a time it was, conspicuous above all others for these disgraceful crimes.
All the abuses here enumerated, and many others, existed in appalling profusion; and it might safely be maintained
that, had they not existed, the war of the Revolution would have lasted but a third or a fourth as long as it did.
The enemy in the field was far less dangerous and deadly than the enemy in our own house. At the very time when
patriotism was being displayed by some in its purest and noblest forms, all the vices and meannesses that are most
opposite, to patriotism were being exhibited by others. Even among the ranks of the leaders of the nation men were
found, whose virtue in the ordinary sense was beyond suspicion or cavil, who yet were so infected by envy, selfish
ambition, prejudice and malice that they did not scruple to strike at the vitals of the State, if so they might
injure or destroy the objects of their private animosity. There has never been a war more just in its object than
that of our Revolution; and if, nevertheless, such evils could spring up in its footsteps, there seems reason in
the common saying that war demoralizes a country.
But a truer discrimination perceives that though war forces to the surface the latent crime and corruption in a
community, it does at the same time lay deep the foundations of virtues which endure after the noxious but transient
growths of evil have passed away. We have long since forgotten the creatures who lied and stole and stabbed in
the back and betrayed; but we shall never forget Washington, Jefferson, Greene, Stark, the two Adamses in their
nobler aspects, Lafayette, Gadsden, Hamilton, and the rest of that conclave; nor shall we ever cease to benefit
by what they thought and did for their country and ours. It was the war which transfigured them out of simple country
gentlemen or humble yeomen into statesmen and heroes, and, through their statesmanship and heroism, brought the
great Republic into being. The evil passed away like a miasma; but the good lasted, and can never pass away. It
was faith that made America; it was lack of faith that hindered her making.
From a narrower point of view the hindrance also was due to imperfect conceptions of what a real republic is and
demands. The people and their Congress could not enough free themselves from the nightmare memories of the past
to build with steady hands and unbiased eyes the edifice of the future. All felt the need of a strong government;
yet none would venture to take measures to give their Government strength. While the King of England was acknowledged
as their King, the colonies bad, through his kingship, been implicitly one organism. Now that the King had, for
them, ceased to be, their Congress was his only successor; but though, between the King and the Congress, there
was the difference between one man ruling another and the same man ruling himself, yet the people were so far misled
by names that they feared to trust their Congress with power. There had, indeed, been a marked distinction between
the powers that the King arrogated to himself and those which the colonies had been willing to allow him; it was
the existence of this distinction which had brought on the war. But now the aggregate of the States were afraid
to concede to Congress-that is, to themselves-even so much authority as they had been prepared to concede to the
King. They could not hear the words "a central government" -without misgiving. They wanted liberty, in
general and in particular; they were the inheritors of a fight for individual and local liberties which had been
going on ever since Magna Charta, and had not yet schooled themselves to reconcile the ideas of liberty of the
parts and authority of the whole. They could not yet see themselves as a whole; they could see themselves as individuals
or families, as villages, as townships, as counties, and as States; but at the State their vision stopped; a union
of States transcended their compass; it was a form of words, but the concrete fact which it implied was beyond
their present grasp. They were not made uneasy by the sovereignty of the State; but the sovereignty of the collective
State over the constituent States they regarded with suspicion. It did not satisfy them that each constituent State
was to retain the management of its own affairs; they wanted it also to be uncontrolled in its course as to collective
affairs; though at the same time common sense forced them to admit that a union required. that there should be
an authority to order and pass upon matters of common concern. Their instinct was centrifugal; their reason was
contripetal. If their reason did not overcome their instinct, they would crumble to pieces; but unless their instinct
stifled their reason they would be apt to tear themselves apart. The logical conclusion would be that the United
States of America would be still-born, or commit suicide before they had fairly tried the experiment of life.
The successive Congresses of the war time studied the problem, and voted this way and that, without reaching any
satisfactory solution; the goal could only be attained by the experience of mistakes. It is need less to enter
into the details of Dickinson's scheme of, confederation, and why and how it failed. By reading between the lines
of our Constitution as it stands we may discover why the trial constitutions collapsed. The latter embodied several
principles which were indispensable to a republic; but the vital spark to make the organism live was wanting; it
was a machine in which the forces were so carefully balanced that it could do no work. As soon as it was realized
that central authority need not involve any danger of central despotism, the dynamic deadlock would be overthrown,
and all would be well.
Howe had originally intended to approach Philadelphia by the Delaware, but had been forced by stress of weather
into the Chesapeake. In order to secure his position in Philadelphia, it was now necessary to clear the Delaware
of the forts and channel obstructions placed there by the Americans. There were three forts: Fort Mercer at Red
Bank, on the New Jersey shore, below the mouth of the Schuylkill; and Fort Mifflin at Mud Island; the third was
not a regular fort, but a group of fortifications at Billingsport. The latter was captured by a detachment from
Chester on the 2d of October, and the retreat of the garrison, without striking a blow, produced a feeling of discouragement.
By way of reviving the spirits of the patriots, Washington conceived the bold scheme of attacking Howe in his camp
at Germantown. The main street of the village was crossed at right angles by his encampment, the right of which
was protected by a wood, and the left, on the Schuylkill, by Hessian yaegers. Battalions of light infantry were
placed in advance of the main line, and Chew's big stone house, at the village entrance, was surrounded by the
regiment of Musgrave. Cornwallis was in Philadelphia with the rest of the British army, some miles distant. Howe
was incredulous of any attack. But on October 3, Washington moved. designing to attack the British right with Greene
and Stephen supported by Macdougall. The left was to be engaged by Sullivan and Wayne, with Conway on the flank,
and Washington himself assisted by Stirling asreserve supporting them. A force of Maryland and New Jersey militia
were meanwhile to get to the rear of the British right, and the Pennsylvanians were to amuse the yaegers on the
left. The combined attach was to be made at five in the morning, following a rest. after the fourteen miles march
from the American camp. The morning came on with a thick fog, which, though it shrouded the first movements of
the Americans, proved the cause of their undoing later.
The advanced light infantry of the British, surprised by Wayne and Sullivan, fell back, in spite of the remonstrances
of Howe, jumping out of bed under the impression that there was but a scouting party to deal with. But the grape
shot led him to revise his opinion; and it also set Cornwallis moving from Philadelphia. A part of Musgrave's regiment
supported the light infantry; he occupied Chew's house with the remainder. The American fieldpieces were too light
to breach its walls.
At this juncture, Greene was due with his attack on the enemy's right; but he was nearly an hour late, and his
line was disordered by difficult ground in its advance. By the time it began to fight, the British were ready for
it: and it was driven back. The other brigades became confused in the fog, and mistook one another for the enemy.
When Sullivan had expended his ammunition, the reenforcements from Philadelphia under Cornwallis came up on the
double-quick; and Washington, who had been in the midst of the fire from the beginning, ordered a retreat, which
was conducted in good order, at half-past eight. Howe had not been dislodged, but the depression caused by the
loss at Billingsport was in a measure counteracted.
The forts Mercer and Mifflin were garrisoned by troops under the command of Colonel Greene and Lieutenant Colonel
Smith; before moving against them, Howe transferred his army from Germantown to Philadelphia, and sent to Clinton,
on the Hudson, for six thousand men. The news of the surrender of Burgoyne caused Howe to give hurried orders to
the German Dunop to capture Fort Mercer by assault. Thick woods rendered it accessible on three sides to within
four hundred yards. Dunop, after a grandiloquent summons to the garrison to surrender, attacked under cover of
a cannonade. They entered the outer works with little opposition, but were then exposed to a heavy fire of muskets
and grape in front and, flank, in spite of which they pressed on. At the fort ramparts, however, they were met
hand to hand; Dunop, his staff, and more than half the other officers were killed, and the survivors gave up the
enterprise. Some British ships which had meant to take part ran aground, and were blown up or burned. The Hessians
had lost more than four hundred men, with two colonels; Howe asked leave to resign, and reported that at least
another campaign, with heavy reenforcements, would be needed to finish the war.
But the defense of the Delaware could be but temporarily successful. Fort Mifflin with three hundred men, under
command, of Major Simeon Thayer of Rhode Island (Lieutenant Colonel Smith having abandoned his trust), was attacked
by a fleet of ships and five batteries, and bombarded all day, until nearly every gun in the works was silenced.
Howe postponed the assault till next morning, and during the night Thayer evacuated, after a defense faithful to
the last. This was on the 16th of November. The opening of the Delaware was completed by Cornwallis with five battalions,
vainly opposed by Greene a few days later. Washington's army was too weak for offensive operations, Gates and Putnam
having refused to send the reenforcements demanded, though there was nothing for the men to do in northern New
York. A plot to depose Washington from his position as Commander in Chief was already on foot, and was soon to
be developed. By the time the northern troops reached him, the British force in Philadelphia was nearly twenty
thousand, strongly intrenched. In a council of war, Washington, with a majority of officers, decided not to commit
the suicide of an attack; and Washington, fortifying himself in Whitemarsh, waited for Howe to attack him. The
latter attempted to do this by surprise on the 5th of December; but word had been conveyed to the Americans by
Lydia Darrah, in whose house in Philadelphia the British Adjutant General had been quartered, and who had overheard
his plans. Fourteen thousand of the enemy marched to the attack, but found the Americans so strongly entrenched
that they dared not risk an engagement. Except a skirmish between Morgan's riflemen and British troops under Grey
in which the latter were defeated with a loss of about a hundred, nothing was done, and Howe retired to Philadelphia
on December 8th. Washington had belt seven thousand effective men, but behind breastworks they were sufficient.
No further operations were attempted by Howe during the winter, and Washington had to maintain his troops as best
he could. The winter at Valley Forge has gone down to history as a type of whatever hardship an army can endure
But Washington, in addition to suffering with and for his soldiers, had to encounter the efforts of a cabal of
his own subordinates to discredit and unseat him. He wrote to the historian Gordon, at the time, that he had accepted
the appointment only after much entreaty, and that while "no officer would return to the sweets of domestic
life with more heartfelt joy than I should," yet "I mean not to shrink in the cause." The conspiracy
originated with a French officer by the name of Conway; Gates and Mifflin were its other mainstays, but Sullivan
and Wayne, and several members of Congress, were stained by complicity in it. Gates was to be made Commander in
Chief, and Conway was to have a high and independent command. For a time, the affair seemed likely to succeed;
but the army and the people were with Washington, and a majority of Congress. The cabal tried to win over Lafayette,
but unsuccessfully; he was sent on a wildgoose chase to make a winter attack on Canada, but it collapsed before
it had well begun, and Conway, who had gone with it, had his resignation accepted. He was soon afterward wounded
in a duel with Cadwalader, who had challenged him on account of his slanders on Washington; and thinking himself
about to die, he wrote Washington an apology and retractation. Gates flatly lied himself out of the scrape, and
the others sought cover. Washington emerged from the trial stronger than ever.
Valley Forge was a depression between ridges of hills, thickly wooded; it was twenty-one miles from Philadelphia.
Provisions, blankets, clothing, and tents were lacking; the latter were supplied in a; measure by Washington's
order to make log huts out of the trees in the forest; the former were demanded of Congress, but all it did was
to tell Washington to live on the country. He replied that this plan spread disaffection among the people, and
inclined the soldiers to plunder. Congress then gave directions for the dispatch )f a committee, among whom were
Gates and Mifflin, to make investigations. But later, the membership of the committee was changed, the two generals
being left out: they confirmed the groundlessness of the charges that had been brought against Washington, and
reported that there was danger of the men perishing for lack of food and other necessaries. More paper money was
issued, but it depreciated to such a degree as to lose all value. Congress then thought that the army should serve
on from disinterested patriotism; but Washington told them that human nature would not permit of a body composed
of a great variety of persons serving for a succession of years without regard to equitable interests and just
claims. At length, officers who should serve to the end of the war were promised half pay for seven years, and
privates a sum of eighty dollars. Nothing, however, could induce Congress to amend the short-term enlistment absurdity;
had the people not voluntarily maintained their militia supplies, the army would have evaporated. Washington approved
a law permitting the enlistment of slaves, with the reward of freedom on passing muster. Negroes had fought in
the army from the beginning. In spite of the needy condition of the army, General Greene, on being made head of
the quartermaster's department, did not hesitate to enrich himself by appropriating huge commissions. Baron Steuben,
a Prussian volunteer, showed more patriotism by the regulation and discipline he introduced at Valley Forge, on
being appointed Major General. But Congress, which nn longer contained the men who had made the Independence Congress
great, continued to be jealous of the Commander in Chief, and refused to be enlightened by his arguments.
While these defects and disagreements were shadowing the cause at home, Franklin was reaping the fruits of his
wise industry abroad. The surrender of Burgoyne brought the question of the French alliance to its acute stage.
France, its King excepted, was desirous to give substantial help to America, if it could be done with no risk to
herself. She made inquiries in the various courts of the Continent of Europe to determine whether any of them would
oppose her action or take advantage of it to injure her. But the indications were that no nation would do less
than adhere to a policy of more or less benevolent neutrality. The English Government had no active friends, not
even the English people themselves. Russia, under Catherine, remained avowedly our friend. Our liberty could do
her no harm, and in so far as it might lessen the power of England, it favored her ambition, which was to supplant
the Mohammedan with the Christian rule in the East. Frederick II was not less amiably disposed, though he would
consent to, no overt alliance; he freely expressed hopes for our success, and promised not to permit the marching
of troops intended to fight against us through his dominions. Goethe and Schiller pronounced eulogies on our cause;
the Netherlands were friendly, but were constrained to be neutral; Austria would take no measures hostile to us.
Spain, strongly appealed to by France, adhered to her medieval policy of hostility to every form of human freedom,
and declined to join France in her crusade. Switzerland gave us her good word; and in England, Lord Chatham's voice
was the true voice of the country, and there was a strong desire to place him in the position of power. But George
III declared with passion that sooner than yield to "him and his crew" he would abdicate the throne;
he cared not, he said, what the country might suffer through the war; not to continue it until America was helpless
would make him "miserable all the rest of his life." It made no difference how miserable Lord North was;
he must continue to exercise the functions of the dispenser of the King's will. Lord North composed his "Conciliation
Bills" offering to go back to the days of 1763; but it was too late for that; America would listen to no terms
of peace that did not recognize her absolute independence; nor would France have assisted her on any less guarantee.
Franklin's position in France was second only to that of .Voltaire; the two men met, and the Frenchman blessed
the nephew of the American in the name of "God and Liberty"; and afterward when they stood together before
the French Academy, gathered in solemn conclave, the two old gentlemen complied with the very Gallic request that
they kiss each other, as a testimony of the freedom of mind. One can imagine the demure amusement which Franklin
must have derived from this incident; but he performed the act with his invariable grave decorum; if one must kiss
a man once in one's life, perhaps it was as well to make the essay upon Voltaire as-upon any other. That venerable
and extraordinary personage, the incarnation of skeptical intellect oddly permeated with sentiment, was at that
period within a few weeks of his decease; he had certainly done as much as any other man in Europe to prepare the
human mind for the Nineteenth Century.
Though North's Conciliatory Bills were, as a foregone conclusion, rejected by America, they served to continue
the ministry in power, and to make the prosecution of the war less obviously rational. On the other hand, the purpose
of France to take sides with America was communicated to the Commissioners in December, 1777, and was formally
announced in February, 1778, The pretty Marie Antoinette, who had as much understanding of human liberty as a pet
fawn, had the whim to be one of the most outspoken advocates of the alliance, and her desire may have had some
weight with the King. "American independence will repay the cost of the war to France," was Frederick's
opinion; and lie denounced the act of the English ambassador Elliott, in stealing Arthur Lee's papers, as flat
burglary, and refused to admit him to an audience. On March 13 France sent a rescriept to England which was in
effect a declaration of war, anal the ambassadors on both sides were recalled. A French fleet sailed from Toulon
on the 10th of April, with Gerard as first minister to the Congress of the United States. To France, then, belongs
the honor of having been the first to "recognize" us; and after making all deductions on the score of
intelligent selfishness, the honor is not a barren one. Were the French nation not as fickle as it is sensitive
to new ideas, it would unite with America in controlling the world to-day. But it is in England, and not in France,
that the principles of human liberty are really rooted; and she, and not France, must be our final companion in
the leadership of mankind.
But in 1778 the time was out of joint; so that the strange spectacle was presented of England governed by men the
name of not one of whom appears among those whom posterity has honored. It was a period of great men in England,
in all branches of art, science, philosophy and politics; and yet only base creatures of the King and of their
own pockets or degraded ambition were counted among her rulers. The truth was that men were in a quandary how to
reconcile the authority of Parliament, which had rescued England from James II, with the ideas of the liberty of
the individual which were gaining ground, and which were now illustrated an the American Revolution. Parliament
was still an aristocratic institution, and the nobles were not prepared to believe that the cause of liberty could
be in any measure intrusted to the common people. The arguments of Chatham, Fox, and Burke appeared to involve
a contradiction; for they advocated the freedom of America, while still claiming the abstract right of Parliament
to make laws binding upon all the empire. Had Parliament been truly representative, the riddle would have been
solved; but it was to our advantage that it had not been so solved at this juncture. Until the solution should
be reached, there was no substitute for Parliamentary government, and there seemed to be no alternative for England
but either to be openly inconsistent, or to prolong the war. Many honest men, therefore, were constrained to suspend
their judgment; and consequently the ministry, which alone was willing to shoulder the odium of continuing the
campaign, held its place. The deed must be given time to overtake the flighty purpose, but, if the purpose be right,
it will overtake it in time.
Congress ratified the French treaty on the 4th of May. "Long live the King of France!" and "Huzza
for the American States!" shouted Washington's army at Valley Forge, two days later. I'Morituri to saturant!''
Louis and Marie Antoinette might have replied, suggests Bancroft. Meanwhile Howe, who had been spending the winter
in Philadelphia, according to his custom, in unbridled license and profligacy, in sharp contrast with the hardships
of the needy Americans, bethought himself that he should close his American career in a blaze of military glory.
He sent a surprise party of five thousand men under Grant to capture a force of twenty-five hundred under Lafayette
on Barren Hill, on the hither side of the Schuylkill. Not doubting of the success of the expedition, he stood ready
to send the young French adventurer home with his comb cut. But greatly to his mortification, Grant returned with
his mission unachieved; for Lafayette had escaped over a ford unknown to the Englishman. and left the latter with
his mouth open, and nothing in it. Howe now gave, up his command to Clinton and sailed for England, having missed
almost every opportunity for success afforded him by being a little too late. Had his zeal to overthrow Liberty
been equal to his energy in supporting his mistresses, the war might have bad another termination.
Clinton received orders to evacuate Philadelphia and occupy New York. He crossed the Delaware on the 17th of June,
Lord Howe having sailed with the miserable tories in his fleet. Clinton, with whom was Cornwallis, had seventeen
thousand men. Should the American army attack them on their retreat across New Jersey? Washington, Greene, Wayne,
Cadwalader, and Lafayette, said yes; the other generals in council said no; and of these the traitor, Charles Lee,
was the most vociferous. "Rather build bridges for them," said be; "we cannot stand against them."
Washington crossed the Delaware above Trenton, in very different weather from that of the famous Christmas night
two years before; it was now midsummer, and the heat was such that men dropped dead in the ranks from sunstroke.
Heat and cold were alike with out effect upon the American General. His plan was to strike the enemy at right angles
in force. Lee, as the oldest Major General, was offered the command of the advance, but refused it, saying the
plan was madness. Lafayette accepted it with alacrity; but now Lee declared that his honor demanded that it be
given to him. On the 27th of June, Washington ordered an attack the neat morning, the enemy being then near Monmouth;
Clinton had taken that route to avoid the risk of crossing the Raritan. But when, after Washington was gone, the
other generals came to Lee for his plan, he refused to announce any, or in any way to prepare for the movement.
An order from Washington to send a force of eight hundred skirmishers to observe the enemy and delay them, should
they move, was carried out too late to be of use. The British began their march at five in the morning of the 28th;
Washington ordered Lee to attack their rear, promising his support. Lee finally set his force in motion, but without
having attempted to concert anything with the other generals. Lafayette, chafing at this conduct. urged him to
take energetic measures; but "You don't know these British regulars," returned Lee, sagely shaking his
head. Lafayette sent word to Washington that he was needed at the front; meanwhile Lee did his best to confound
the confusion by contradictory orders, and by preventing Wayne from delivering his attack on the British left.
An hour was wasted; and Lee replied to the remonstrances of an officer by the pointblank lie that he was acting
in conformity with orders front Congress and from Washington himself. Clinton bad all the time he needed to prepare
for the attack, should it be made; he sent forward his baggage under the guard of Knyphausen, and came against
Lee with his grenadiers, guards, and Highlanders, and two regiments of cavalry. And backward go the best soldiers
in the American army before him, "in obedience to the commands of a leader who meditated their disgrace."
Now or never the moment for a real leader was come.
Washington was good at need. As the Americans retreat sullenly through the narrow gorge, with a morass on each
side, there comes galloping to meet them a tall man on a sweating horse. The soldiers recognize him at once, and
hope and courage come back to them; here is the man who can tell them what to do, and show them the way to do it.
He is recognized, too, by the dastard who has betrayed them, and he blencbes and cringes at the sight. Well he
may; for nothing is more terrible than the man who has been patient long, when at last his patience has been tried
too far. The very aspect of Washington's countenance, aflame with indignation, appals like the thunderbolt. The
terrible fire of his blue eyes smites the liar on the face, and the tones of his voice, resonant and stern as judgment,
strike fear to his soul. The calm, taciturn, longsuffering Washington is gone, and there rides down upon Lee a
vision of the majesty of wrath incarnate. The words are few and simple like the man, but they carry a meaning and
a force which Lee will never forget, till that miserable day, years afterward, when he tosses, burning with fever,
on his foul bed at the low inn, despised and friendless, with death before him and shame behind.
"What is the meaning of this?" thunders the Commander, reining up his horse; and as the other stammers
and stutters, all his impudent assurance gone, the question comes again" What is the meaning of this?"
It can have only one meaning; but Lee, in his degradation, tries to grasp at some escape on the plea of conscientious
conviction. "You know," he whines out, "that-that the attack was contrary to my advice and opinion."
Washington has already recovered his self-command. He has fathomed this scoundrel once and for all, and will not
stoop to tell him what he is; but his calmness is more terrible, if possible, than his anger. "You should
not have undertaken the command unless you meant to carry it through." But here comes Clinton and Cornwallis's
battle, eager in pursuit, and the bullets are screaming through the deadly heat of that glowing day. Onward pour
seven thousand redcoats, amid smoke and dust, crowding down the narrow way, firing and shouting, their bayonets
and the swords of their officers glittering in the blazing sunlight. Their advance must be checked at once. Washington
turns from Lee to his faithful men. A few quick and clear commands, and two of Wayne's regiments have been formed
across the road under the British fire, which is less formidable than it seems, since their column presents but
a narrow front, and those behind must shoot high. Let the Americans hold the pass but for a few minutes, and the
troops that Washington was bringin up will have arrived. Then, as Stewart and Ramsay walk up and down the line,
encouraging the men, he gallops back to array the reserves upon the higher ground in the rear. There is victory
in his look and presence; those who hoped for no more than an orderly retreat now think of nothing but fierce resistance;
those who meant but to die without disgrace, now foresee conquest with honor. The artillery is posted in the center;
Stirling stands on the left, Greene on the right. The soldiers wipe the sweat from their eyes with their ragged
sleeves, and shoot straight; the British cavalry is hurled back, and is seen no more. Now for the infantry. But
as they move forward to turn Stirling's position, out belches the artillery on their flank and down they go, and
back. Greene's own battery. repels the attempt on the other wing, and Wayne meets the grenadiers and guards face
to face, and they fly, rally, and fly again. In that last charge of theirs the Lieutenant Colonel, Monckton, fell.
And many whom no bullet struck dropped lifeless from the invisible missiles of the sun. So, from the midst of defeat,
was snatched victory. And there sits Lee, idle and hangdog on his horse, when the terrible man in blue and buff
rides up to him again. He points with his drawn sword: "Your place is at the rear, sir: go'." Clinton
fell back to a safe position in the rear; the Americans slept upon the battlefield of Monmouth; the next morning
the enemy, leaving his dead unburied, and his wounded to their fate, continued his precipitate retreat to Middleburg.
Thence he gained New York by way of Sandy Hook, and Washington marched to the banks of the Hudson. After that long
and grim endurance at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were free. Washington's total loss was but little
more than two hundred; the British twice as much, and in addition eight hundred by desertion. It was easier to
desert than to run in the ardors of that June weather; and the heart of the British soldier was not in the war.
Lee, court-martialed and suspended for a year, was next year censured for accepting bribes from the enemy, and
dishonorably dismissed the service. The halter would have been his fitting end; but the new republic was lenient,
and left him to find death in his own way, after seeing the triumph of the cause he had tried by treachery to destroy.
But already the tide had turned, and America had left behind her forever the darker days of her struggle. The future
contained, on the whole, more success than failure for her, more good than evil. She had taken the measure of her
enemy, and knew that she must overcome in the end. The nations of Europe, willingly or unwillingly, realized the
same truth. But George of England must complete his destiny, and not only establish the American Commonwealth,
but open the way for a wider freedom in England by striving, for the last time in her history, to erect again the
discredited and obsolete tyranny of the period that ended in the Revolution of 1688.