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pointed a committee forthwith to repair to the army, and in a private confidential consultation with general Washington to consider of the best and most practicable means for carrying on a winter's campaign with vigour and success—"an object which congress has much at heart, and on such consultation with concurrence of general Washington, to direct every measure which circumstances may require for promoting the public service.”

Before the arrival of this committee the opinion of the general officers had been taken in a council of war and a resolution adopted, which the weakness, rather than the inclination of the parties rendered expedient, to leave Philadelphia without further effort in possession of the enemy.

The written opinion of the council and the statement of the general were submitted to the revision of this committee. Whether the facts it disclosed or the argument supporting it would have made a like impression on the minds of the deputation from congress was not ascertained, for during their discussion general Howe marched out of Philadelphia with a view of attacking the American lines. A series of marches and countermarches ended in retirement to winter quarters, the English in Philadelphia and the Americans at Valley Forge. During these movements the committee continued in the field, adding to the influence of their civil station the services of military volunteers.

“ We were anxiously desirous,” says Mr. Gerry in a letter of 12th December, " of an attack on the city, that as our troops were superiour in point of numbers one vigorous exertion might have caused general Howe to share the fate of his brother Burgoyne, and should not have hesitated to have called in militia from Virginia to Massachusetts Bay, but the general had before our arrival consulted his officers and found them averse to it with their

present force.

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6 I am sometimes induced to wish that the two armies were in the eastern states, that the militia like a cloud might rise and overwhelm the enemy, but after many instances of most happy events from what we supposed unfavourable circumstances, I cannot but apply to the present contest the general principle of Mr. Pope, - Whatever is, is right.'

The committee of congress made their report on the 16th, and after discussion a resolution was adopted which implied some dissatisfaction in that body, and conveyed an intimation that more vigorous exertion of the military power of the continent ought to be used for the preservation of that part of Pennsylvania which lies east of the Schuylkill, and of the state of New-Jersey.

CHAPTER XVI.

Intrigues against the Commander in Chief........Massachusetts Dele

gation vindicated from any share in these Intrigues........ Correspondence with General Knox........ Letter from Francis Dana.

To the perils and embarrassment which on every side beset the illustrious commander of the American arms was added, in that dark and gloomy period of the war, a diminution in some degree of the confidence of some individuals in congress.

The intrigues of general Conway, the good fortune if not the ambition of general Gates, and the melancholy depression of the forces under the immediate direction of the commander in chief, conspired to throw round him a gloomy atmosphere of dissatisfaction, which congress could not escape.

It was the darkness and distrust only of a moment. The unshaken firmness, the cool, collected self-possession, the disinterested virtue of Washington, dispelled the delusion. Men saw the greatness of his mind, the integrity of his principles, the unsullied purity of his motives; they realized that reverential feeling with which he inspired those, whose fortune brought them with him into any of the relations of military life.

The dissatisfaction, which was circumscribed, though it undoubtedly existed in congress, a for

eign writer has unjustly charged on the Massachusetts delegation.

“ It was believed at the time,” says Botta in his history of the war of independence, “ that the members of congress from Massachusetts, and particularly Samuel Adams, had never been able to brook that the supreme command of all the armies should have been conferred on a Virginian to the exclusion of the generals of their province, who then enjoyed a reputation not inferiour and perhaps superiour to that of Washington. It appeared also, that these delegates being the most zealous partizans of the revolution, were far from approving the moderation of the commander in chief. They would have preferred placing at the head of affairs a more ardent and decided republican ; and it is asserted, that they were on the point of demanding an enquiry into the causes of the unsuccessful issue of the campaigns of the years 1776, 1777."

There is great incorrectness in this statement, and great injustice also to the character of the Massachusetts delegation.

The appointment of general Washington to be commander in chief of the armies of congress, was made on the nomination of Mr. John Adams; and had been first recommended in a letter to the Massachusetts delegation written by Mr. Gerry with the approbation of general Joseph Warren.*

* See

page 79.

It was received with cordiality by the leaders of the opposition in the colony of Massachusetts Bay on account of his preeminent qualifications. No man at that period had acquired higher military reputation. In other not less necessary qualifications for a commander of such an army, in prudence, judgment, high moral worth, weight of personal character, and in the stake of private property which he had in the contest, no individual in the nation had at the time of his appointment a claim to this dangerous distinction over the eminent officer on whom it was conferred.

Policy would have reconciled the patriots of New-England to the appointment. It was important to enlist the feelings and the interest of their southern brethren in a controversy, which then but remotely involved them in its consequences; and this could not better be done than by giving to their most distinguished citizen the command of the national force. It drew to the standard of the country those whom the personal character of the general could not fail to attract to any cause in which he was engaged, and it was the evidence of a generous confidence in common exertions for a common cause.

The imputation of less worthy motives than can be derived from an honourable attachment to the great cause of the people is disingenuous and unfair. It is supported by no proof, and is refuted by that personal devotion to the public service,

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