FROM 1492 TO 1920
BY JULIAN HAWTHORNE
P F COLLIER & SONS COMPANY, NEW YORK 1920
GENERAL, CONGRESS, AND PEOPLE
THE story of the succeeding four months does not furnish agreeable reading to Americans. We see Washington suffering the consequences of the conditions which he had used his utmost efforts to avoid by pointing them out beforehand to Congress. We see his army demoralized; it no longer has the temper of the men who chased the British out of Concord and Boston, and drove them bleeding back from Fort Moultrie. The shortterm militia have lost their faith in their officers and their respect for themselves; heedless of dishonor, they plundered, stole, peculated, deserted in droves, and even ran before the enemy. With the winter upon them, they were half clad and half fed; they must march without shoes and fight without proper arms. There was in them none of the spirit of an army; none of the pride of regiments in their organization; how could there be, since the army was as a shifting sand, of which the elements were never twice the same? The lesser officers set the men au example of dissoluteness and insubordination; and on all sides, both among soldiers and civilians, there was a tendency toward treason ; men in positions of trust, as well as the common sort, went over to the enemy;, and this disposition was encouraged by the Howes, who issued alluring proclamations of pardon and favor to all -,vho would give up the cause. The view was fostered that, in serious warfare in the field, it was hopeless for the Americans to contend against the British; they might repulse them, by good luck, from strong fortifications, but to maneuver against them, to conduct extended operations with success, was impossible. The Englishman, Lee, whose sole aim was to gain distinction by some move involving no peril to himself, and who openly declared that the defeat of the American force was merely a question of time, omitted no opportunity of thwarting and insulting Washington, and magnifying his own empty importance. He spoke of the American soldiers as a low rabble, of their officers as very bad company, unfit for a gentleman like himself; said that, if his advice had been followed, the war would have been over long ago; affirmed that the only object of the war was to get "something to cede" when the inevitable surrender came; and spoke of Congress as "a stable of cattle, stumbling at every step." Yet he was regarded by Congress and by perhaps a majority of the people as the only man on their side thoroughly conversant with military matters; and the British were so far deceived by this reputation, that when they captured him, under circumstances disgraceful to himself, they rejoiced at having overthrown "the American Palladium." Meanwhile the legislatures of several of the States were occupied with squabblings over their powers and constitutions, crippling themselves for action, and breeding apathy or disaffection among their members. In Congress, such a man as John Adams, the most unfaltering and the earliest friend of independence, could as chief of the war board disregard the plans and desires of the Commander in Chief, and pull an additional prop from under an apparently already collapsing structure. Disintegration, deterioration of moral tone, seemed to be present everywhere. The first enthusiasm for liberty had passed away; the daring of the spirit was being daunted by the disabilities of the body; there was no prospect but of continued defeats, of the laying waste of towns and fields, of slaughters and imprisonments, and of the total impoverishment of the nation. It is hard to kick against the pricks; the pricks are sharp enough without kicking against them. The tyranny of England was a great evil; but was it any worse than a war first and the tyranny afterward?
It is as vain to talk of what might have been as to predict what will be; but we cannot easily escape the conviction that it would have been all over with America in the same year that saw the signing of the Declaration but for Washington. There have been several generals in history who were said, by a figure of speech, to have been their own armies: such are Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, Frederick II of Prussia. But if we eliminate the figure of Washington from American history between 1776 and 1780, to go no further, what have we left? The story of the Revolution is Washington's biography. The manner in which, at every step, it centers about him, dates from him, refers to him, follows him, is monotonous to tediousness. The reason is that here, for once, we find a man sincerely resolved to give himself unreservedly to the work of helping others (namely, his countrymen), and entirely forgetting all personal claims, ambitions, and sufferings in that single aim. It is not necessary to draw comparisons, to the disad vantage of many noble and heroic men who were eminent in the course of our national development; but it will be noticed that whenever such men as General Greene or John Adams have failed in fulfilling the patriotic ideal it has been precisely where they have
thought of their own merits, resented their own in juries, consulted their own advantage. Often, to their honor, they have subordinated their interests or personal hopes to their country's welfare; but ever and anon they have failed to do so. We can easily forgive them, for are they not men like ourselves? But who will point to a single instance in the public career of Washington when he forgot his country in concern for himself? The thoughts of Washington about his country, and his deeds for her, would fill a library; his thoughts about himself, and activities in his own behalf, could be recorded on the thumb-nail. Inevitably therefore he became the pole on which the Revolution turned; for it is impossible to estimate, or to over estimate, the force for good which is liberated when once a man turns from himself to his fellows. Our acquaintances have not time or inclination to listen to the tale of our troubles, because there are but so many hours in the day, and these they find too short for the consideration of the troubles which afflict themselves. But how should we value a friend who, from his getting up in the morning till his lying down at night-and even, perhaps, all the four and twenty hours round upon occasion had nothing on earth to do but to give us his thoughts, his sympathies, and his hands?-whose every unconsidered word and involuntary act showed him to be wholly saturated with considerations for our welfare? We should scarce believe, at first, in such good fortune; but when we were fully assured of its truth, should we not bring all our affairs to him, shrewdly perceiving that a man great enough to have no selfhood must be great enough to do more good to us than we knew how to do ourselves? Yes, you would go to him; and so too would all the other members of the surrounding community, for he would be not less hospitable to them than to you; it being a strange truth that, when a man has given up caring for himself, the leisure he thus gains suffices not alone for the care of one or two other persons, but for all persons whatever who apply to him; until at last, iii Christ, we find a man who takes upon his shoulders the burdens of all mankind past and to come. In all unselfishness there is an opening into infinity into which all finite matters of selfishness can be poured indefinitely and find comfort.
The only mistakes Washington made were caused by his too much deferring to the opinions and knowledge of others; for, at the outset, he was too ready to believe that a Lee or a Greene or a Gates or an Adams might have more insight and judgment than he. As time went on, however, he learned that such self-distrust was inconsistent with fidelity to the trust which God had manifestly placed in his hands; he enforced his will, and, in measure as he did so, his mistakes decreased. Moreover, the people always instinctively gave their confidence to Washington, and his soldiers put their faith in him; men resisted or hated him only in so far as their own natures or aims were evil. When, consequently, the first dark period of the Revolution was past, the people gave Washington spontaneously the support which so often failed him in Congress and in some of his own officers; and thus an army gradually grew up round him which fairly represented the strength and purpose of the country. There was no authority in Congress to accomplish positive, but only negative actions; they could hinder and thwart, but not help their General. But what Congress could .not or did not do, by regular process of law and regulation, the people of themselves did from natural love and faith. They sent the best of themselves to him, fought beside him, stayed with him, and at last conquered with him. Never was there a feebler government in the world than that which existed in America while the country was performing a deed which the ablest and strongest government might have shrunk from. Indeed, it may well be doubted whether the country would have accorded to any government, however strong, the fealty which they voluntarily gave to the austere and generous promptings of their own hearts.
The reverses which the Americans suffered were salutary. After our first successes there were many who went about saying, "God is helping us." But Franklin, in the days of "Poor Richard's Almanac," had perceived that "God helps those who help themselves." The Revolution was not to succeed by a series of miracles. it was to succeed through the instrumentality of the utmost, long-continued efforts of brave and determined men. The country was to feel that it had deserved to triumph before the triumph came. The operations of Howe and Burgoyne brought the nation to its senses by all but bringing it to its knees. After the limits of mortification had been reached, and after the heights of self-sacrifice had been attained, the cause of liberty began to gain; had it gained sooner, the result would not have been adequately understood or valued. God does not bless man's efforts until He has made man feel that the best of his own strength has been put forth. Without God man's strength is vain; but it would be vain for God to help man, except under the veil of the man's self-help. The chief operations of the latter months of 1776 were confined to the campaign in New York and New Jersey. In the States below the Potomac there was an Indian border war stirred up by English agents but the people rose and put it down; and the Indian had the discrimination to blame England for their de feat, while the Americans felt that through the Indian they were fighting England. In the north, Carleton after careful preparations, and training his German soldiers in forest fighting and maneuvers, cane from the St. Lawrence to Lake Champlain with a great flee of boats and vessels, and an overwhelming force o men. Benedict Arnold, audacious but reckless, me him with an inadequate collection of "gondolas" an( was defeated on the 4th and 5th of October; the sueceeding night he escaped; Carleton occupied Crowi Point, and could have taken Ticonderoga simply b, marching up to it, for it was 'entirely unprovisioned for a siege. Instead of doing so, he turned about, an( on the 3d of November, much to every one's astonishment, returned to Canada for the winter. Carleton was as humane and gentle as he was brave, and one al ways feels that he is half sorry he must fight against people struggling for freedom.
America had no navy; but during the year 1776 American privateers captured three hundred and forty two English ships. These prizes were very profitable to those who captured them, and it was an equal inconvenience to the English to lose them; so that it is not surprising that few sailors cared to enlist in American men-of-war, even if there were any. As a matter of fact, besides those which were slowly building at the shipyards here and there, there were but about a dozer merchantmen used as ships of war belonging to the Government. But already there were navy men of quality; one of them was a young fellow of nine and twenty, who had come to Virginia a few years before, under the assumed name of Jones; but he was really the son of a Scotch gardener of Kirkcudbrightshire by the name of John Paul. He was given the command of a small thirty-ton frigate called the Alfred. Nicholas Biddle, who will also not be forgotten, was three years younger than Jones, and was but twenty-eight when lie was blown up in his ship, the Randolph, during her fight with the British Yarmouth. But though there was a good deal of fighting at sea during the Revolution, the war could not be called a naval one; we had not means or opportunity for accomplishing much in that direction, though there `vas nothing to be ashamed of in what little we did do.
When Lord Howe sent home dispatches to the ministry announcing his success in the battle of Brooklyn, he permitted his imagination such freedom that one could see a vast army overthrown by inferior numbers and hurled into annihilation; and the only reasonable inference was that there could be no more men in America left to fight against, and that, consequently, the war must be already at an end. Such, at all events, was the view which Lord Germain hastened to adopt and to promulgate; and Lord North began to talk about tempering justice with mercy, and desiring to "restore to the Americans the blessings of law and liberty." Thereupon, up got Fox, with his terrible knotted brow and flashing eyes, the Mirabeau of England. "Is there not," he inquired, "something a little hypocritical in supposing that a king-a common king should be solicitous to establish anything that depends upon a popular assembly? Kings govern by means of popular assemblies only when they cannot do without them; a king fond of that mode of governing is a chimera. It is contrary to the nature of things. But if this happy time of law and liberty is to be restored to America, why was it ever disturbed? It reigned there till the abominable doctrine of gaining money by taxes infatuated our statesmen. Why did you destroy the fair work of so many ages, in order to reestablish it by the bayonets of disciplined Germans? If we are reduced to the dilemma of conquering or abandoning America, I am for abandoning America."
Lord Howe's nest dispatches made it clear that, notwithstanding the annihilation of the Americans, another campaign would be necessary to dispose of their remnants, and, incidentally, reenforcements would be needed, which Germain did not happen to have at his disposal. In truth, Howe was unreasonable; he already had five times as many men as could be opposed to him. Congress had indeed voted eighty-eight new battalions to take the place of those whose terms were expiring; but, as Washington ventured to hint, "it is one thing to vote battalions, and another to raise men." No bounties were offered, and nobody seemed to think it his duty to respond. Besides, the quotas were assigned to the various States, and they were to get them out, and arm them. It must be an operation of tedious slowness, even if it were carried through at all. Howe's force, in addition to its numbers, had every quality and equipment that could be desired in an army; and either because the General wished to guard against the least chance of miscarriage, or because he was. willing to afford opportunity for voluntary submission, he was extremely deliberate in all his operations. He crawled forward, or sidewise, like some vast animal, which can afford not to be in a hurry Lecause it knows its victim cannot escape. It was the last of August when Washington was driven out of Long Island; he might have been driven out of New York during the next three days; but it was the 16th of November before Magaw surrendered Fort Washington to Knyphausen and Cornwallis, thereby transferring the seat of war to New Jersey. Had Sir William been as circumspect in his gambling as he was in his military maneuvers, he would have been a more edifying example to his subordinate officers.
The island of Manhattan, after proceeding in a northerly direction about eight miles, with a width of two miles, is suddenly narrowed by the course of the Harlem, which communicates with the northern part of East River at one end, and with the Hudson, through Spuyten Duyvil, at the other. Here there is high ground; and on the hill west of the present Highbridge, overlooking the Hudson, Fort Washington was built in a seemingly impregnable position. The Borough of Bronx, extending eastward to the Sound, is low and flat on the coast, but contains irregular ridges inland, is cut up by small streams, and was, in 1776, thickly wooded. Going northward twelve miles through this rather difficult country, White Plains is reached on high ground. West of White Plains about six miles is Dobb's Ferry on the Hudson. Throgg's Neck is a tongue of land entering the Sound at the .latitude of the mouth of the Harlem, but six or seven miles east of it.
The region here indicated could have been stubbornly defended by an adequate army, with guns and good fortifications; but Washington had neither, and was also hampered by impossible orders from Congress, and by disagreements among his own generals. For a while he intrenched himself on Harlem Heights, on the southern side of the Harlem; but when Howe moved to Throgg's Neck, to get in his rear, he abandoned these positions and withdrew to Fordham, at the same time sending a force to the landward end of Throgg's Neck, to remove the bridge. Howe went further east, and landed at Pelham. His objective point was now White Plains. Washington, while keeping the district round Fort Washington, marched parallel with Howe toward White Plains, skirmishing by the way; and getting there first, fortified himself and awaited an attack. The two armies faced each other on October 27. On the same day, that part of the British force which was south of Fort Washington was worsted, in an attempt against it, by Greene and Magaw, who were in command there.
At White Plains the American center was the weak West point; but Howe would not attack there, but sent four thousand men to dislodge an American force of fourteen hundred on Chatterton Hill, a mile to the southwest. The Americans under Macdougall resisted the Hessians until they were attacked by a flanking party, when they withdrew with a loss of a hundred, the enemy sustaining a loss two and a half times as great. On October 31 Washington was strongly entrenched above White Plains, and Howe had accomplished practically nothing. Meanwhile Greene had been strengthening the force at Fort Washington and its environs, against Washington's judgment, for he saw that Howe could surround it. In fact, on the 5th of November, Howe suddenly moved across to Dobb's Ferry, from which position he could both threaten the fort and also , invade New Jersey and march on Philadelphia.
The proper course, as Washington saw, was to abandon Fort Washington, and throw the entire army into New Jersey at once. But Greene, and Congress, thought Fort Washington should be held "to the last extremity." Washington therefore sent five thousand troops across the Hudson with Putnam; Lee was to remain behind until it became certain what Howe intended to do, while Greene and Magaw, with three thousand men, remained within the Fort Washington lines. On November 15, Howe, from his batteries on Fordham Heights, demanded the surrender of Fort Washington; Putnam and Greene assured Washington they could defend it. The region which they had to man had a circuit of six miles or more. A spy within their lines carried plans of the works to Howe before the attack, which was made on the 16th. The Hessian troops under Rall and Knyphausen advanced with great courage and pertinacity, pulling themselves up the steep hillsides by projecting roots and branches; Cornwallis climbed up on the north; Lord Percy, who was to have moved from the south, hid himself in the woods till the danger was over. The Americans were everywhere beaten; they lost a hundred and fifty men, most of them bayoneted by the Hessians while asking quarter; the enemy lost five hundred: but when Knyp-hausen, surrounding the fort itself, demanded its surrender, the fugitives crowded within it refused to man the ramparts, and Magaw was forced to surrender with all his material, and twenty-six hundred troops. The enemy greatly outnumbered them; but the affair reflects no credit, to say the least of it, upon our soldiers. Washington, instead of laying the blame on Greene, where it belonged, upbraided himself for not having insisted upon the abandonment of the position. His energies were now directed to delaying the enemy in New Jersey until the snows rendered advance on Philadelphia impossible. He had but three thousand men; Lee, still on the east side of the Hudson, refused repeated offers to bring his force across. Reenforcements were being sent down from Schuyler in the north, but meantime there teas nothing for it but to retreat. Cornwallis and the Hessians were close on the trail, the latter exercising their usual brutality upon the inhabitants, and thereby unwittingly hardening the people against England. Greene, delaying too long at Fort Lee, on the west side of the Hudson, was surprised, and only escaped by a headlong flight, leaving all his camp equipage, while Washington covered his retreat. To avoid being caught between the Hackensack and Passaic rivers, Washington crossed the latter, and on the 22d of November reached Newark, whence he again sent summonses to Lee. He resumed his retreat on the 28th, just as Cornwallis came up. The war might have ended here, had not Howe sent a large force under Lord Percy, Clinton, and Prescott, to occupy Rhode Island, where they remained uselessly three years. Washington continued his march through Brunswick to Princeton; leaving twelve hundred men there to watch the enemy, he went on to Trenton, got his baggage across the Delaware, and returning, met Stirling in full retreat before a. much larger force; he. accompanied him to Trenton, and they crossed the river; Howe, delaying, was too late to intercept them. But Philadelphia was in danger, unless Lee would come to Washington's assistance. The former was spending his time railing against his superior and Congress, and declaring that with such incompetents at the head of affairs, the only proper thing to do was to save the country at the cost of an act of "brave, virtuous treason." He finally crossed the Hudson on the 2d and 3d of December, and marched to Morristown, where he announced that he would not join Washington, but intended to reconquer the Jerseys on a plan of his own. At this time he was actually plotting to betray the Americans to the British. On the night of the 12th he slept at an inn in Baskingridge, a few miles in advance of his main force; while delaying over his breakfast the next morning, he was captured by Lieutenant Harcourt, with a squad of cavalry. "Come out," was the order, "or the house will be fired"; and out he came, pallid with terror, in dressing-gown and slippers, with a shirt "very much soiled," and bareheaded. He was promptly put astride a horse and carried off to be tried as a deserter; while Sullivan, his second in command, brought his army safely to Washington. He was, however, exchanged by Washington's efforts the next year, and his further adventures will be recounted in their place.
The approach of the British, which nothing seemed able to arrest, frightened Congress, and, after ordering a day of fasting and prayer, they fled to Baltimore, amid the jeers of torries and the curses of patriots, and in spite of the passionate protests of stout John Adams, who was certain America would finally be victorious, whether or not Philadelphia fell. Putnam held the city after Congress had gone. Washington, after being reenforced from New England and by Lee's division, had forty-eight hundred effective men. The Hessian Rall, who had proved his courage at Fort Washington, occupied Trenton on the east side of the Delaware; and he so little dreaded an attack from the barefooted, half-starved, and defeated Americans on the other side, that be would not protect his flanks by intrenchments. He and his men had loaded themselves with plunder, and abandoned themselves to enjoyment. Rall was fond of martial music, and the town, from morning till night, and from night till the small hours, roared with the strains of the first German bands domiciled in America, with the jolly choruses of the soldiers, their laughter and drunken shouts; and for twelve days, the happiest of Rall's life, he imitated as nearly as he knew how the state of an Oriental despot. Why should he not? The Hessians, as an English officer observed in excusing himself for not restraining their robbery and worse outrages, had come to America on the understanding that their propensities were to be given free rein. They had beaten the wretched colonists; now let .them have their reward. The war was over. So Rall and his men thought; so Cornwallis believed, as he packed up his traps and started for England. So Howe imagined, as he returned to New York in triumphal progress, hailed as a new Cesar, courted and flattered, and not a little pleased with himself. The spirit of the country was broken; there was nothing more to be done except to receive the submission of the misguided colonies, hang the ringleaders, and allow the rest such terms as they deserved. Lord Germain, Lord North, and their royal master in London, were happy also, and the latter prepared to honor his General by the Order of the Knight of the Bath. It bade fair to be a merry Christmas for everybody-except Washington and his meager regiments of tatter demalions.
Between the camp of the American leader on the west bank of the Delaware and the headquarters of the English General in New York there was a dramatic contrast. In the latter part of December, western New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania were subjected to the worse rigors of an inclement climate. There were ice and snow, sleet and keen winds; there were no roads fit to be so called, and the country was still largely covered with ragged and inhospitable forests. The inhabitants were terrorized; thousands of them had given up their hopes of freedom and had submitted to the doubtful mercy of the conquerors; others had abandoned their homes and fled; there was no food or shelter to be had. The majority of the men saw the end of their term of enlistment but a week or two distant, and rejoiced at the prospect of leaving the intolerable hardships they were confronting for the only less gloomy environment of their own homes; and many sought opportunities to hasten the date of their liberation. They were partly naked, and the trail of their marches was marked by blood upon the snow. They lacked tents to lie under at night, and blankets to cover them. With a gloomy sky above them, a frozen and barren earth below, the memory of defeat in their minds, and no hope in their hearts, they huddled about their forlorn fires in spiritless dejection. At night their outposts along the ice-burdened river might have heard the music and yelling of the mercenaries, making merry with the substance which the industry of their robbed and slaughtered fellow countrymen had earned.
Washington, 'in his Spartan headquarters, wrote letters to Congress to provide a new army to take the place of that which was dwindling away from him;, and planned some scheme of a flank attack on Trenton. The English General Grant had examined the situation, and did not believe that it was possible to cross the river. The ice would make the return too dangerous. But Washington felt that the time had come when everything must be risked; the more appalling the obstacles, the better. the chance of taking Rall by surprise. Revolving his plans, he rode from post to post, a tall figure in a dark cloak, recognized by all, but hardly able to raise a cheer. He passed to and fro amid the troops, as they squatted under the lee of their sodden piles of baggage, or tried to find shelter from the storm under a piece of ragged canvas stretched on two stakes. He marked their shivering bodies, their hungry looks; here and there lay the body of one who had perished of cold and starvation. His heart ached for them; but in his countenance none could see anything but a composed cheerfulness, as of one who counted the past reverses as but the preliminary to some glorious victory. He seemed all confidence, hope and resolution. It was impossible to look upon him without a feeling that, so long as he lived, all could not be lost. But could he create a conquering army out of frost and famine, disaffection and despair, and with it perform a feat which the flower of the regular troops of Europe deemed impracticable even for themselves? Did he keep that composed expression when he was alone?
But there was nothing dismal or hopeless about New York, as Christmas Day drew near. The town was large and prosperous for those days, with handsome houses and wealthy inhabitants. It was clustered down on the southern end of the peninsula, with only a few country dwellings in the upper part; it had suffered little or nothing from the shells and bullets of the late battle, though a fire had burned a tenth part of the houses a few days afterward. But the blackened remnants of this fire had been cleared away, and the town seemed dressed for a holiday. The victorious flag of England waved on all sides; the streets were brilliant with the uniforms of the English army and navy, with scarlet and blue and gold; the tory citizens were stately with their three-cornered hats, their wide skirted coats and lace ruffles, their shining buckles and silk stockings; the ladies drove about in queer coaches with heavy wheels, and big-wigged coachmen on the high boxes; they had paint and powder on their faces, and beauty spots on their cheeks and chins, and they smiled at the officers as they went by. Into what wonderful towers of powdered art was their hair built, and how high were the red heels of their little shoes, as they went clacking along the pavement. In front of the houses where, the high officers live, and before the public buildings, pace the sentinels, and present arms; and here tramps by a company of British grenadiers, fifty marching as one. How stimulating are the fife and drum, and how brightly the winter sunlight glances along the sloped barrels of their muskets as they shift them, at the word, from one shoulder to the other. But what is the cause of this shouting, and why is every body pressing in one direction? It must be the great Sir William Howe himself!-yes, it is he; he reclines indolently in his broad-bottomed carriage, his swarthy face, with its heavy lines and sluggish expression impassively acknowledging the greetings and compliments that are showered upon him; he was up all last night at play, and the stakes were high, for his share of the prize money this year amounts to many thousand
pounds, and there is more to come. To-night we shall see him at the banquet, and at the theater, and toward midnight he will attend the great ball; and that hand some woman, who smiles so often and with such a voluptuous air, who lolls beside him in the carriage, and meets the gaze of the people so unconcernedly-she will be there also, with a very low corsage, and a marvelous flashing of jewels; for a great deal of Sir William's prize money goes into her pockets, and she is not afraid to spend it. The modern Alexander the Great and his Thais! Many a haughty Briton will be carried drunk to bed to-night; but Christmas comes but once a year, and, as the war is over, we cannot look for such another a twelvemonth hence. Huzza for King George, and for his heroic representative! But who is this sorry-looking fellow being hurried down a side street with a soldier at each side of him and another following behind, giving him a sly prick with his bayonet now and then? A spy, probably, on his way to the guardhouse; he will be hanged to-morrow. These pestilent rebels continue to crop up every now and then, although their cause is lost; there are a good many of them living here among us in New York, though they keep out of sight as a rule. But time brings strange revenges; and the child is now born who shall see a handsome monument erected to the memory of these fellows, in Trinity churchyard. But will there be none there in honor of Sir William Howe, and of this handsome lady with the jewels? No, not there. In one little century he and she will have been forgotten, except in the pages of dry-as-dust histories. 'Tis a mad world!
The British posts along the Delaware extended for many miles; it was Washington's plan to make a simultaneous attack on them. But, at the last moment, Gates deserted him and went to Baltimore to plot against him. Reed got his own horse over, but left his men on the other shore, and sought dishonorable refuge within the enemy's lines. Ewing, after a look at the weather, gave up all idea of the adventure forthwith. Cadwalader with his men stood for several hours by the river's bank in the icy gale, with the great blocks of ice roaring and crashing down the stream before them, waiting for a living chance to get across; but none came, and at last they retired, convinced that if they could not do it, no one else could. Putnam, who was to have marched from Philadelphia, thought it best to forego the attempt. So, of them all, there was none left but Washington. Would he dare what all the rest had shrunk from?
He had started on his march of fifteen miles about an hour before sunset. With him were twenty-four hundred men; but none in the army were worthier to be led by him; they were Virginians, Pennsylvanians and New Englanders; they knew what war was, and they were ready to act up to the motto that had been chosen for them-"Victory or Death." Among their officers, were Alexander Hamilton, Stirling, Greene, Knox, and Stark. The indomitable fishermen of Marblehead were there. Whatever could be asked of men, the men who marched that day would do. But as each soldier's bare foot left its imprint in the snow, it was marked with blood; and the wind blew through their ragged clothing as if it were gossamer.
By the time they had reached the river, it was within an hour of midnight, and the worst night of that winter. The frost was intense; it had begun to snow; the stream ran dark and swift, hurling along its load of whitened ice. Out stepped the iron mariners of Marblehead to man the boats; for, by Washington's foresight, every boat up and down the river was there. Eighteen fieldpieces were to be ferried over, as well as the troops; it will be three in the morning before they are all across. And just then messengers ride up and inform the General that all his other officers have failed him. But Washington's great spirit is kindled into flame, and nothing can stop him now. "If yon can do nothing real, create a diversion," is the word he sends to Cadwalader; "I am determined to cross the river and attack Trenton in the morning." Captain Anderson's reconnoitering party has fallen in with a post of Hessians and fired on them, an alarm is sounded, and three or four hundred men turn out and blunder through the snow for a while, but can see nothing, and return, reporting it is "of no importance" ; and tipsy Rall, on this his last night on earth, opens another bottle and calls for another stave, while Washington is pressing through the icy turmoil of the river nine miles away, and Howe and his mistress are leading the revels in distant New York. Upon the stage of the world each one acts his appointed part.
The troops are all on the Jersey shore at last, with not a cannon missing; but Sullivan sends word that his men's guns are wet. "Then use the bayonet, and penetrate into the town," is Washington's reply; and the bayonets are fixed before Sullivan can give the word. In the teeth of a northeast gale of sleet and hail the march to Trenton begins; they have been marching and toiling for more than eighteen hours continuously; yet, as the stronghold of the enemy comes in sight, every man feels his strength renewed. The force divides for a double attack, one under Sullivan and Stark, Washington with the other. There is no longer any possibility of concealment; daylight has come; but the storm is still as fierce as ever. The night watch at Trenton has turned in; only the sentries are out, muffling their faces as best they can from the gale, and envying their companions, sunk deep in stertorous sleep after their Christmas night's debauch. Rall is sleeping soundest of all; yet the time is at hand when he shall sleep sounder yet, and awake no more.
But he has been awakened now; those shots are at the picket on Pennington Road; those cheers are from the direction of the picket on the river-but they do not sound like the cheers of Hessians. Are those the yaegers who are flying pell-mell across the Assanpink, with what wild avengers behind them! Who is this tall officer in the dark cloak who rides down King Street with the crowd of desperate-looking cutthroats at his heels? Can that be the rebel rascal, Washington?-Yes, Rall, this is he; so get astride that horse of yours, though you reel in the saddle, like the drunken man you are; you must die, therefore die as a soldier should, cheering on his men. But with what a fury these ragged scarecrows come on: there is no standing against them; the two cannon which have been planted before your door are dismounted, and yonder is a battery of six guns opening on you but three hundred yards off; and here come the bullets too, sent by men who know how to aim. Ali, there is one through your body, Rall ; and down you go! This is a sorry sequel to last night's jollification; but such is the fortune of war. Yet even now, many of your men could escape, if they could but forget that plunder of theirs, which was to make them all rich when they got back to Hesse-Cassel. Both your regiments are hurled hither and thither in helpless confusion; and here comes that charge again; how those New England devils do ply the bayonet! others besides Hessians can use that weapon, it seems. Knyphausen's regiment strives to hold the Assanpink Bridge, but their cannon are stuck in the marsh, and Stirling is upon them like a Comanche; there is nothing for it but to surrender. The others have capitulated already. Hardly half an hour since we were all peacefully asleep, and now we are dead, wounded, and prisoners, all except those who succeeded in running away; nearly a thousand of us; and all our arms and provisions, and our beloved plunder. Is it for this that we left our fatherland? And can it be true what they are saying-that of these tattered savages that have overcome us not one has been killed-not one?-That is what one gets for going to make war in an uncivilized country'.
Here, then, was Washington and his army in Trenton, with no enemy in sight; but he must not stay there, for the fugitives would spread the alarm, and ere long he would have to face the whole British force in New Jersey. But in these houses where last night the Hessians caroused, there is still food and drink to be had; and some hours pass while the famished patriots regale themselves, and heap fuel on the hearthstones to enjoy the unfamiliar sensation of warmth. Then, with the twelve hundred captured arms and other paraphernalia, the return across the Delaware must be accomplished; the storm still continues, and still the ice drifts down the angry stream; Stirling is disabled by exhaustion, and one man at least is frozen to heath, in spite of the flush of victory. The next morning all are safe, however weary; and the consciousness of having performed a great exploit takes the place to some extent of food and lodging and sleep. On this day, though he does not know it yet, Congress has bestowed on Washington powers to raise regiments and officer them, to arrest the disaffected, and to appropriate necessaries for his army at an ap praised value. They should not regret their action when they hear of Trenton. Money too is voted a million dollars in paper on the credit of the States, and two million pounds to be borrowed, if possible, by Franklin and the other American commissioners in Paris. Meanwhile, till the bills be printed, Washington has nothing; but he pledges his own fortune; so does Stark; and Robert Morris, being appealed to, routs the staid inhabitants of Philadelphia out of bed at sunrise on New Year's morning; they must lend money: he himself has sent what be had, and by noon he has collected fifty thousand dollars, with more to come if needed. The term of enlistment of the New Englanders expired the night before; but, by a unanimous vote, they have agreed to stay six weeks longer; and heavy reenforcements are on their way; so that on January 2, Washington, once more at Trenton, is met by five thousand troops, though three thousand of them are making their first acquaintance with camps, to say nothing of war. But there are "veterans" among them to teach them the way and keep them steady. Where is Dunop, the colleague of Rall, deceased? Fled to Princeton, leaving not only his stores, but his sick and wounded behind; and Cadwalader has occupied Bordentown and Burlington. But Cornwall's, indefinitely postponing that trip to England, is coming up with over five thousand British and Hessians, the "flower" of the invading army, once more, smelling of powder and thirsting for blood. His stores and magazines he leaves at Brunswick; he has reached Princeton, and is off for Trenton; but Hand and Greene are already disputing the way with him; at every step he must form and fight; it is exhausting work, for the weather has turned warm, and the roads are deep in Jersey mud. Onward, however, or all that has been gained since Fort Washington is lost, and more. But it is four in the short winter afternoon before Trenton is sighted; and there is the American army drawn up in battle array on the further side of the little Assanpink -a rivulet only, but swollen by melting snow, and not to be crossed without a battle; possibly (for generals must think of these things) there might be a battle with no crossing to follow. Shall Cornwallis attack? -Simcoe says he should; and so does Erskine, who fears Washington may vanish in the night. But the sun has set, a fog is rising, the men are tired with that long march with their nerves on the stretch, and the rebel army looks as big as their own. No: Cornwallis will put out pickets to guard against a surprise, and give his men some sleep; time enough to finish the rebels in the morning, after a rasher of bacon and a cup of coffee. So down he lies with his five thousand, and the drowsy pickets, forcing their eyelids apart, see the fires of the Americans shining in a long row along the banks of the Assanpink. All is well: no harm if they, too, nap a little.
But when dawn breaks, all does not seem so well. Where are the Americans? The ashes of their fires are there, but they have long ceased to warm the bodies of their tenders. Have they retreated across the Delaware? It is probable:-but hark'. was not that the sound of cannonading?-and did it not come from the north-from Princeton? Cornwallis sees it all in a moment: Princeton is guarded but by two or three regiments who can hardly resist a surprise in force; and, Princeton won, there is nothing between the Americans and those magazines at Brunswick, to lose which is to lose all. Northward therefore on the double quick, and the coffee and bacon must wait a while.
Yes, there is no time to lose. It is already seven or eight hours since Washington set out on the unguarded southern road, past Cornwallis's left flank, after having sent his baggage to Burlington. It was a good night for a march, for the temperature had fallen, and those miry ways which had made Cornwallis's men leaden-footed were now ringing hard and offered no hindrance to the heavy wheels of the artillery. At sunrise they were on Princeton's outskirts, to find two British regiments already on their march to join Cornwallis at Trenton; there was a mile between the two, and Stony Brook separated them. Mawhood, commanding the leading regiment, was suddenly aware of a force of Americans in his rear, and hastened back to effect a junction with the other; in a short action, the Americans under Mercer gave way before a bayonet charge, and Mercer was stabbed to death. But the British knew not what might be in store for them, and in their hesitation, up rode Washington with his raw Pennsylvanians, dividing the enemy into two parties. But Mawhood formed his veterans to charge; and those young farmers, who had never till now seen a gun fired in anger, and who had been up and marching all night, began to glance this way and that, as if thinking the matter had gone far enough, or even too far. But Washington was behind them; and when he saw that faltering glance, he knew what ailed them; and out he rode in front, and on, till but thirty yards parted him from the ranks of the enemy, who at the same moment leveled their muskets to fire. So, too, did the now heartened Pennsylvanians; and the two volleys crashed simultaneously, with Washington in the middle, erect on his horse, just where every bullet from both sides must, as it seemed, be bound to pass. They passed, how close we know not, but through the smoke be could be seen, sitting untouched; and from behind up came Hitchcock's men, while Hand and his sharpshooters were making themselves felt on the left of the British position. The latter were fain to break and run, and over the fences they went like deer, dropping every now and then to a shot from their pursuers. At the same time, Stark and others were crumpling up the British Fifty-fifth; and altogether. after twenty minutes, between four and five hundred redcoats were killed, wounded or prisoners, and the remainder were dotted over the country in a race for Brunswick. Should they be pursued? Undoubtedly, a board of war sitting two hundred miles away would have said, Yes; but Washington's men had been marching and fighting with little to eat, and, as usual, with less to wear, for two days and a night; and even their endurance had its limits. To chase those Britishers eighteen miles, with Cornwallis storming in their rear, was asking too much; and Washington, pausing only to overthrow a bridge, turned to the bills and camped his men among the woods near Somerset Court House. But the whole country was now up, and on all sides the British were getting the worst of it. At Springfield, at Hackensack, at Newark, and at Elizabethtown they were shot down, driven and captured; Washington made his new headquarters at Morristown; there was a large encampment at Spring Valley, and the lines were extended to Amboy, which, with Brunswick and Paulus Hook, were the only posts still held by the enemy. All the -people, all the army, and even the British, praised Washington; there was but one body of men who belittled and criticized him, and that was the American Congress, led by John Adams. "I have been distressed," declared this incorrigible gentleman, "to see some of our members disposed to idolize an image which their own hands have molten. I speak of the superstitious veneration paid to General Washington. I honor him for his good qualities; but, in this House, I shall always feel myself his superior." So Congress voted that Washington should immediately "totally subdue the enemy before they could be reenforced"-with three thousand men! Yet this was the Congress that had declared Independence.
But it had already become evident that this war was to be fought, not by Congress, but by Washington and the people; and the ceremony of investing General Howe with the Order of the Bath, which took place in New York on the 18th of January, 1777, passed off without disturbing the equanimity of the country. The modern Alexander, at the end of his campaign, held New York City, Brunswick, Fort Niagara and Rhode Island; everything else was in possession of the persons whom he was supposed to have defeated. And they were every day growing stronger, more confident, and better equipped. Thirty five thousand of the "flower" of European warrior was not sufficient to reduce a continent; and Six: William asked for more. But Lord Germain, who had already begun to apprehend that a time might comp when he would be blamed for these proceedings, was preparing to shift the odium on the Howes. The desired reenforcements were not forthcoming; and hi; lordship intimated that there were quite enough soldiers in the country for the successful conduct a any operations that could be called for. We see therefore, that Congress was not the only governing body which could pick flaws in a commander who was hampered by its own stupidity and slackness.
While England was trying to help herself out fog the next campaign by buying unwilling recruits from the German principalities, and meeting with very poop success, the American commissioners in Paris, who had arrived there in December, were making overture: for French support. Louis XVI had prejudices and hatreds, but no strength of will; the former were ar rayed against the cause of the Americans, but the latter was overborne by his minister, Vergennes, and by the singular enthusiasm which the war arouse among many of his subjects. But much of the success of the mission must be ascribed to the personal influence of Franklin, who was received in Paris with an affection and glorification which would have turner the head of anyone else. There is a great deal of contemporary testimony regarding his experiences artists painted his portrait, his sayings were remembered and repeated, he was crowned by the ladies, and one of them, presumably the fairest, kissed his cheek The fact that he wore, at great receptions, an old suit of clothes which had already done service in England was noted with rapture by the most fastidiously at tired nation in the world; and we are not to be de terred from our pleasure in the episode by the suggestion that he would have worn a better one had it been sent him in season by the tailor. The old man of the world caught the hint quickly enough, and submitted, within reason, to conform to the part which the imagination of his hosts assigned him. His object was exclusively the welfare of his country, and whatever he did or said was shaped with that end in view. He would admit no suggestion that the struggle with England could issue otherwise than in the victory of America; not twenty campaigns, he affirmed, could exhaust her resources or daunt her determination. Then he painted in glowing colors the enormous prosperity which the States were certain to attain, as soon as they should be enabled to enjoy free and full development; and the consequent value which their commerce must possess for that nation which should be accorded special privileges. The desire of. the States to enter into the most friendly relations with France was expressed, and though America must for the present be in the attitude of a recipient of friendly offices, yet when her time of trial was over, France should have no reason to regret having extended them. The need now was for arms and money; and Franklin and Arthur Lee submitted a specified request for battleships, cannon, and muskets. Vergennes gave cordial attention to all this, and then went to see what could be done with the King.
Outside of the sentimental interest which an influential part of France felt in the Revolution, caused by the philosophic speculation as to the rights of man which Voltaire and others ha& stimulated, and by admiration for the character of Franklin, there was the political and practical craving to be quits with England for injuries sustained in the past. Never, probably, would so good an opportunity again be offered to humiliate her great rival; and though it was true that France had large possessions in America, yet these could never be developed should England succeed in overcoming the resistance of her colonies; whereas if the colonies, by France's help, threw off the English yoke, they might reasonably be trusted to fulfill their promises of friendly consideration. But against these strong arguments for an alliance were to be set two things: first, the personal desire of the King for peace and his dislike of the principle of free institutions and secondly, the comparative weakness of France for active and open war with England. She was heavily in debt, and prudence demanded that she shoal; incur no expenses and exertions that could be postponed or avoided. When motives conflict, a compromise results; and France (always trying to associate Spain with her) answered America's proposals in the following phrases: "The commercial facilities accorded in the ports of France and Spain, and the tacit di version of the two powers whose expensive armament oblige England to divide her efforts, manifest the interest of the two crowns in the success of the Americans. The King will not incommode them in deriving resources from the commerce of his kingdom, confident that they will conform to the rules prescribed by the precise and rigorous meaning of existing treaties, o which the two monarchs are exact observers. Unable to enter into the details of their supplies, he will marl to them his benevolence and good will by destining t4 them secret succors, which will extend their credit and their purchases."
It is worth while to refresh our memory as to just how far France was willing to go for us, and just what her reasons were for going as far as she dial. She wished to use us as a means of injuring England; but she desired to do this in such a way as to disable Eng land from convicting her of any technical act of hostility. She would supply America with the means o fighting their common adversary; but in such a wad that America alone should bear the brunt of England'; attack. What further steps France might take would be determined by the issue of the contest; the more America gained on England, the more undisguised would be France's assistance; until, when England should obviously be on her last legs, a thoroughgoing: offensive and defensive alliance might be granted. But if England gained the upper hand, then France would cease her secret succors, and deny that she had ever given any. It was an entirely selfish and cold-blooded policy; and yet it was as near an approach to friendship as one nation is apt to manifest for another; and accompanied as it was with the Americomania which had become the fad with fashionable Paris at that moment, and with the enlistment in the American army of persons of quality like Lafayette and De Kalb (who were actuated by genuine and generous enthusiasm for the cause), we can understand how, in the historical perspective, it appears as if France and America had been very sweetly disposed toward each other. And because impressions of this kind, however ill-founded, tend to make themselves realities, it follows that France and America have uniformly been friendly. But it is all based on the slenderest possible grounds; and the feeling created by the Maximilian episode in Mexico, and later, by the expressions of sympathy for Germany in the Franco German War, show how readily it may be destroyed. There is nothing really in common between us and France, any more than there is between us and Russia-or Spain.
The negotiations with Spain were carried on with the new minister, Florida Blanca, Grimaldi having been dismissed. He was a cold, intellectual, double-dealing Spaniard, of low origin. He hated the Americans, and he hated England; it would have given him pleasure could he have destroyed them both, and perhaps France into the bargain. But he was hampered by the bankruptcy and physical impotence of his country, making peace imperative. Of the three nations concerned in this affair, Spain feared England most, and saw the advantage of a friendly understanding with France. If England could be brought down, then it would be possible to act more effectively against America; and if Spain could become predominant in the Western Continent, she could make her own terms with France. Meanwhile Spain advanced sums of money to the States, carefully concealing the transaction by making France her almoner; she admitted American ships and privateers to enter her ports, but when England remonstrated, assured her that it had been done inadvertently. To France, Florida Blanca proposed that they should let America and England fight each other to a standstill, and then, like the fox in the fable, make off with the plunder for which the lion and the bear had been contending. In short, his policy was characteristically Spanish-the policy of treachery, falsehood and dishonor. It was declined by Vergennes, who named the early months of 1778 as the period when open war with England would have to be either finally accepted or rejected. Franklin allowed the two high contracting powers to perplex themselves as much as they pleased in the mazes of "enlightened selfishness"; indifferent so long as he secured for his country some strengthening of the sinews of war. He was a remarkably clear-sighted and far-sighted man, and perhaps he believed that the time would come when little America would grow so large that she should dictate the policy of the rest of the world.
About three thousand German mercenaries were sent to the States in 1777; but so many of the original supply had been killed or had died of a putrid fever which seized upon them, that the actual number in the country was not substantially increased. The English Ministry had great hopes of its Indian allies, who were to keel? open the line between Canada and Albany, and ply their murderous industry all along the borders of the colonies. Privateering by Englishmen was authorized, and at the same time American privateers were condemned as pirates, and their crews, when captured, were to be treated accordingly. The plan of campaign decided on by Germain, in disregard of the advice and wishes of the Howes, was to make an invasion by way of Canada; ten thousand men were to be put under the command of Carleton and Burgoyne, and make a triumphal progress down to Albany. A triumphal progress through the wilderness of northern New York and New England would be a remarkable phenomenon, even without the incalculable factor of an aroused population hanging upon its advance like a swarm of hornets upon the rash disturbers of their nest. The Howes were offended, and informed Germain that Burgoyne would have no assistance from them; and they gave up the attempt to reach Philadelphia through New Jersey with what they deemed their inadequate force, and transferred the seat of their operations to the Chesapeake.
But it is upon Burgoyne that our attention must now be concentrated. His career was brief, but it was occasionally brilliant and uniformly interesting.