MILITARY JOURNAL - 1781
January 1st, 1781.-On this, the first day of the new year, an arrangement of our army takes place, according to a late resolve of Congress. The supernumerary regiments are to be incorporated with those which continue on the new establishment, and the supernumerary officers are to retire from service on the establishment fixed by Congress, and are to be entitled to the same privileges and emoluments which are to be allowed to those who continue to the end of the war. It being optional with me either to retire or to continue in service, I shall retain my commission as surgeon to Colonel H. Jackson's regiment. We are encouraged to anticipate more favorable circumstances and more liberal compensation - Congress having at length passed several resolves, entitling all officers who shall continue in service till the end of the war, or shall be reduced before that time, as supernumeraries, to receive half-pay during life, and a certain number of acres of land, in proportion to their rank. Besides these pecuniary considerations, we are actuated by the purest principles of patriotism; having engaged in the mighty struggle, we are ambitious to persevere to the end. To be instrumental in the achievement of a glorious independence for our country and posterity, will be a source of infinite satisfaction, and of most grateful recollection, during the remainder of our days. Notwithstanding the unparalleled sufferings and hardships which have hitherto attended our military career, scarcely an officer retires without the deepest regret and reluctance. So strong is the attachment, and so fascinating the idea of participating with our illustrious commander in military glory, that a separation is like a relinquishment of principle, and abandonment of the great interest of our native country.
3d.-Our brigade took possession of our huts for the winter, in the woods about two miles in the rear of the works at West Point. Our situation is singularly romantic, on a highly-elevated spot, surrounded by mountains and craggy rocks of a prodigious size, lofty broken clefts, and the banks of the beautifully meandering Hudson, affording a view of the country for many miles in all directions. We have now no longer reason to complain of our accommodations; the huts are warm and comfortable, wood in abundance at our doors, and a tolerable supply of provisions. Our only complaint is want of money.
4th.-Reports of a very serious and alarming nature have this day reached us from the Jerseys. The Pennsylvania line of troops, consisting of about two thousand men, in winter-quarters in the vicinity of Morristown, have come to the desperate resolution of revolting from their officers. Though the Pennsylvania troops have been subjected to all the discouragements and difficulties felt by the rest of the army, some particular circumstances peculiar to themselves have contributed to produce the revolt. When the soldiers first enlisted, the recruiting officers were provided with enlisting-rolls for the term of three years, or during the continuance of the war, and as the officers indulged the opinion that the war would not continue more than three years, they were perhaps indifferent in which column the soldier's name was inserted, leaving it liable to an ambiguity of construction. It Is clear, however, that a part enlisted for three years, and others for the more indefinite term "during the war." The soldiers now contend that they enlisted for three years at furthest, and were to have been discharged sooner, in case the war terminated before the expiration of this term. The war being protracted beyond the time expected, and the officers, knowing the value of soldiers who have been trained by three years' service, are accused of putting a different construction on the original agreement, and claiming their services during the war. The soldiers, even those who actually enlisted for the war, having received very small bounties, complain of imposition and deception, and their case is extremely aggravated by the fact, that three half-joes have now been offered as a bounty to others who will enlist for the remainder of the war, when these veteran soldiers have served three years for a mere shadow of compensation! It was scarcely necessary to add to their trying circumstances a total want of pay for twelve months, and a state of nakedness and famine, to excite in a soldier the spirit of insurrection. The officers themselves, also feeling aggrieved, and in a destitute, condition, relaxed in their system of camp-discipline, and the soldiers occasionally overheard their murmurs and complaints. Having appointed a sergeant-major for their commander, styling him major-general, and having concerted their arrangements, on the first day of the new year they put their mutinous scheme into execution. On a preconcerted signal, the whole line, except a part of three regiments, paraded under arms without their officers, marched to the magazines, and supplied themselves with provisions and ammunition, and, seizing six field-pieces, took horses from General Wayne's stable to transport them. The officers of the line collected those who had not yet joined the insurgents, and endeavored to restore order; but the revolters fired, and killed a Captain Billing, and wounded several other officers, and a few men were killed on each side. The mutineers commanded the party who opposed them, to come over to them instantly, or they should be bayoneted, and the order was obeyed. General Wayne, who commanded the Pennsylvania troops, endeavored to interpose his influence and authority, urging them to return to their duty till their grievances could be inquired into and redressed. But all was to no purpose, and on cocking his pistol, they instantly presented their bayonets to his breast, saying, "We respect and love you; often have you led us into the field of battle, but we are no longer under your command; we warn you to be on your guard; if you fire your pistols, or attempt to enforce your commands, we shall put you instantly to death.'' General Wayne next expostulated with them, expressing his apprehension that they were about to sacrifice the glorious cause of their country, and that the enemy would avail themselves of the opportunity to advance and improve so favorable an occasion. They assured him that they still retained an attachment and respect for the cause which they had embraced, and that, so far from a disposition to abandon it, if the enemy should dare to come out of New York, they would, under his and his officers' orders, face them in the field, and oppose them to the utmost in their power. They complained that they had been imposed on and deceived respecting the term of their enlistment; that they had received no wages for more than a year; and that they were destitute of clothing, and had often been deprived of their rations. These were their grlevances, and they were determined to march to Philadelphia, and demand of Congress that justice which had so long been denied them. They commenced their march in regular military order, and when encamped at night, they posted out piquets, guards, and sentinels. General Wayne, to prevent their depredations on private property, supplied them with provisions, and he, with Colonels Stewart and Butler, officers whom the soldiers respected and loved, followed and mixed with them, to watch their motions and views, and they received from them respectful and civil treatment. On the third day, the insurgent troops reached Princeton, and, by request of General Wayne, they deputed a committee of sergeants, who stated to him formally in writing their claims, as follows: 1st, A discharge for all those, without exception, who had served three years under their original engagements, and had not received the increased bounty and reenlisted for the war. 2d, An immediate payment of all their arrears of pay and clothing, both to those who should be discharged and those who should be retained. 3d, The residue of their bounty, to put them on an equal footing with those recently enlisted, and future substantial pay to those who should remain in the service. To these demands, in their full extent, General Wayne could not feel himself authorized to answer in the affirmative, and a further negotiation was referred to the civil authority of the state of Pennsylvania. General Washington, whose head-quarters are at New Windsor, on the West side of the Hudson, received the intelligence on the 3d instant, and summoned a council of war, consisting of the general and field officers, to devise the most proper measures to be pursued on this alarming occasion. Great apprehension was entertained that other troops, who have equal cause of discontent, would be excited to adopt a similar course. It is ordered that five battalions be formed by detachments from the several lines, to be held in perfect readiness to march on the shortest notice, with four days' provision cooked; and measures, it is understood, are taken to bring the militia into immediate service, if required. Intelligence of the revolt having reached Sir Henry Clinton, he cherished the hope that, by encouraging a rebellion, and turning the swords of our own soldiers against their country and brethren, he should have it in his power to effect an object, which by his own arms he could not accomplish. He immediately despatched. two emissaries - a British sergeant, and one Ogden, of New Jersey - to the dissatisfied troops, with written instructions that, by laying down their arms and marching to New York, they should receive their arrearages and depreciation in hard cash, and should be well clothed, have a free pardon for all past offences, and be taken under the protection of the British government, and no military service should be required of them, unless voluntarily offered. They were requested to send persons to meet agents, who would be appointed by Sir Henry, to adjust the terms of a treaty, and the British general himself passed over to Staten Island, having a large body of troops in readiness to act as circumstances might require. The proposals from the enemy were rejected with disdain, and the mutineers delivered the papers to General Wayne, but refused to give up the emissaries, preferring to keep them in durance till their difficulties could be discussed and settled. A committee of Congress was appointed, who conferred with the executive council of the state of Pennsylvania, and by the latter authority an accommodation of the affairs with the revolters has been effected, by giving an interpretation favorable to the soldiers of the enlistments which were for three years or during the war, declaring them to expire at the end of three years. The insurgents now surrendered the two emissaries into the hands of General Wayne, on the stipulated condition that they should not be executed till their affairs should be compromised; or, in case of failure, the prisoners should be redelivered when demanded. They were eventually, however, tried as spies, convicted, and immediately executed. A board of commissioners was now appointed, of whom three were deputed from the revolters, authorized to determine what description of soldiers should be discharged. The result is, that the soldiers have accomplished their views, the committee, from prudential motives, without waiting for the enlisting papers, complied with their demands, and discharged from service a majority of the line, on their making oath, that they enlisted for three years only. The enlisting rolls having since been produced, it is found that by far the largest number of those liberated had actually enlisted for the whole war. Thus has terminated a most unfortunate transaction, which might have been prevented, had the just complaints of the army received proper attention in due season. General Wayne is a native of Pennsylvania, and has acquired the affection of the soldiery of that state. He possesses a commanding presence, genteel and pleasing address, a daring bravery, is excellent in discipline, aspiring and unrivalled in enterprise, and is held in high respect by his compatriots in arms.
A detachment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hull, has returned from a successful expedition, having attacked by surprise the royal refugee corps, under the command of the noted Colonel Delancy, posted at Morrisania. Colonel Hull has for several months past sustained the command of a detachment of our troops posted in advance of our army, a situation requiring the most active vigilance and precaution, to guard against surprise and stratagem. In this station, as in many others, this officer has evinced his military skill and judgment. He has executed an enterprise with such address and gallantry, as to merit for himself and his detachment the highest honor. He bravely forced a narrow passage to the enemy, and besides a number being killed, he took upwards of fifty prisoners, cut away the bridge, burned their huts and a considerable quantity of forage, and brought off a number of horses and cattle. Colonel Hull possesses in a high degree the confidence of the commander-in-chief, and for his judicious arrangements in the plan, and intrepidity and valor in the execution of the enterprise, he received the thanks of his excellency, and afterwards of Congress. The enemy pursued our troops, and fell in with a covering party, under command of Colonel Hazen, and in a skirmish which ensued, they suffered an additional loss of about thirty-five men. Of Colonel Hull's detachment, one ensign and twenty-five rank and file were killed and wounded. This successful exploit is calculated to raise the spirits of our troops, and to divert their minds from the unhappy occurrence which has recently taken place in camp, and at the same time it may convince the enemy that the affairs of our army are not altogether desperate.
We are again afflicted with alarming intelligence. That part of the Jersey line of troops, which are cantoned at Pompton, in the state of New Jersey, have followed the example of the Pennsylvanians having revolted, and abandoned their officers. General Washington is resolutely determined that this instance of mutiny shall not pass with impunity. Instead of temporzing, he has ordered a detachment of five hundred men, properly officered, to march for the purpose of reducing them to a proper sense of duty.
It falls to my lot to accompany the detachment. Major-General Robert Howe commands on this expedition; and Lieutenant-Colonel Sprout is second in command, and the other field-officers are Lieutenant-Colonel Mellen and Major Oliver. We marched on the 23d as far as the forest of Dean, and at night crowded into houses and barns. A body of snow, about two feet deep, without any track, rendered the march extremely difficult. Having no horse, I experienced inexpressible fatigue, and was obliged several times to sit down on the snow. 24th, Marched over the mountains, and reached Carle's tavern, in Smith's Clove; halted for two hours, then proceeded thirteen miles, and quartered our men in the scattering houses and barns. 25th, Marched nine miles, and reached Ringwood. General Howe and all the field-officers took lodgings at the house of Mrs. Erskine, the amiable widow of the late respectable geographer of our army. We were entertained with an elegant supper and excellent wine. Mrs. Erskine is a sensible and accomplished woman, lives in a style of affluence and fashion; every thing indicates wealth, taste and splendor; and she takes pleasure in entertaining the friends of her late husband with generous hospitality.
Marched on the 27th, at one o'clock A. M. eight miles, which brought us in view of the huts of the insurgent soldiers by dawn of day. Here we halted for an hour, to make the necessary preparations. Some of our officers suffered much anxiety, lest the soldiers would not prove faithful on this trying occasion. Orders were given to load their arms: it was obeyed with alacrity and indications were given that they were to be relied on. Being paraded in a line, General Howe harangued them, representing the heinousness of the crime of mutiny, and the absolute necessity of military subordination; adding that the mutineers must be brought to an unconditional submission: no temporizing, no listening to terms of compromise, while in a state of resistance. Two field-pieces were now ordered to be placed in view of the insurgents, and the troops were directed to surround the huts on all sides. General Howe next ordered his aid-de-camp to command the mutineers to appear on parade in front of their huts unarmed, within five minutes; observing them to hesitate, a second messenger was sent, and they instantly obeyed the command, and paraded in a line without arms, being in number between two and three hundred. Finding themselves closely encircled and unable to resist , they quietly submitted to the fate which awaited them. General Howe ordered that three of the ringleaders should be selected as victims for condign punishment. These unfortunate culprits were tried on the spot, Colonel Sprout being president of the court-martial, standing on the snow, and they were sentenced to be immediately shot. Twelve of the most guilty mutineers were next selected to be their executioners. This was a most painful task; being themselves guilty, they were greatly distressed with the duty imposed on them, and when ordered to load, some of them shed tears. The wretched victims, overwhelmed by the terrors of death, had neither time nor power to implore the mercy and forgiveness of their God, and such was their agonizing condition, that no heart could refrain from emotions of sympathy and compassion. The first that suffered was a sergeant, and an old offender; he was led a few yards' distance, and placed on his knees; six of the executioners, at the signal given by an officer, fired, three aiming at the head and three at the breast, the other six reserving their fire in order to despatch the victim, should the first fire fail; it so happened in this instance; the remaining six then fired, and life was instantly extinguished. The second criminal was, by the first fire, sent into eternity in an instant. The third being less criminal, by the recommendation of his officers, to his unspeakable joy, received a pardon. This tragical scene produced a dreadful shock, and a salutary effect on the minds of the guilty soldiers. Never were men more completely humbled and penitent; tears of sorrow and of joy rushed from their eyes, and each one appeared to congratulate himself that his forfeited life had been spared. The executions being finished, General Howe ordered the former officers to take their stations, and resume their respective commands; he then, in a very pathetic and affecting manner, addressed the whole line by platoons, endeavoring to impress their minds with a sense of the enormity of their crime, and the dreadful consequences that might have resulted. He then commanded them to ask pardon of their officers, and promise to devote themselves to the faithful discharge of their duty as soldiers in future. It is most painful to reflect, that circumstances should imperiously demand the infliction of capital punishment on soldiers who have more than a shadow of plea to extenuate their crime. These unfortunate men have long suffered many serious grievances, which they have sustained with commendable patience; but have at length lost their confidence in public justice. The success of the Pennsylvania insurgents undoubtedly encouraged them to hope for exemption from punishment. But the very existence of an army depends on proper discipline and subordination. The arm of authority must be exerted, and public examples be exhibited, to deter from the commission of crimes. The spirit of revolt must be effectually repressed, or a total annihilation of the army is inevitable. Sir Henry Clinton on this occasion had his hopes again excited; ever ready to profit by treachery or revolt, he despatched an emissary to encourage the insurrection, and to make the most tempting offers to induce the mutineers to desert, and join the British standard; but the messenger himself frustrated his hopes by delivering the papers to our own officers.
Having completed the object of our expedition, we returned to our cantonments on the 31st instant.
February. - Major-General Greene has transmitted. to Congress an account of a brilliant action of General Sumpter, of the southern army, a few weeks since. General Sumpter engaged with a body of three hundred cavalry, of Tarleton's legion, and about two hundred and fifty British infantry. The conflict was warm and close, in which the enemy were repulsed. They rallied, and on the second charge were repulsed again. They made a third effort, but a fire from an eminence, occupied by the continentals, gave them an effectual check; they quitted the field and retired, leaving ninety dead and one hundred wounded. Only three were killed and four wounded on the part of the Americans; among the latter is General Sumpter. A party of tories from the outposts of the British, advanced to intercept the wagons, and avail themselves of the supplies. General Smallwood despatched Brigadier-General Morgan and Lieutenant-Colonel Washington to attack them. Lieutenant-Colonel Washington, being destitute of artillery, made use of the following stratagem: He mounted on a carriage a pine log, cut into the form of a cannon, , and holding out the appearance of an attack with field-pieces, gained his point by sending a flag, and demanding the immediate surrender of Colonel Rugely and his party, consisting of one hundred and twelve men, who, on the approach of Lieutenant-Colonel Washington, had retired to a log barn on Rugely's plantation. They surrendered without firing a gun.
10th. - Accounts have been received that an action has been fought at a place called the Cowpens, in Carolina, between a body of the enemy, under the celebrated Colonel Tarleton, with one thousand one hundred men, and a party of about eight hundred Americans, under the command of the equally celebrated General Morgan; the enemy were totally routed, and pursued upwards of twenty miles. Of Tarleton's party, ten officers and one hundred rank and file were killed, and, two hundred wounded, twenty-nine officers and five hundred rank and file were taken prisoners, with two field-pieces, two standards, eight hundred muskets, thirty-five wagons, seventy negroes, one hundred dragoon horses, one travelling forge, and all their music. The loss on Morgan's side was not more than twelve killed and sixty wounded. Morgan and his party have acquired immortal honor, and in this action Lieutenant-Colonel Washington and Lieutenant-Colonel Howard were most highly distinguished for their brave and gallant conduct.
14th.-General Warner and Colonel Ashley, of Massachusetts, have arrived at West Point, to distribute to the soldiers of the Massachusetts line, engaged for a small bounty to serve during the war, twenty-four dollars in specie each, as a gratuity from the state. This very generous act serves to dissipate the gloom on the countenances of our brave soldiers; it enlivens their dejected spirits, and convinces them that they are yet the objects of` a friendly recollection.
The advance-guard of our army, consisting of about two hundred men, is posted at Crompond, about twenty miles below West Point, and is relieved every two or three weeks. A surgeon constantly attends, and I am now ordered to repair to that post to relieve Dr.Thomas.
March. - I have taken my quarters at Crompond, in a house with Major Trescott, who commands at this post. This vicinity is constantly harrassed by small parties of volunteers on our side, and parties of royalists and tories on the other, who are making every effort to effect mutual destruction; seeking every opportunity to beat up each others' quarters, and to kill or capture all who are found in arms. This is to be considered as a very hazardous situation; it requires the utmost vigilance to guard against a surprise. Major Trescott is an excellent disciplinarian, an active, vigilant officer, and well acquainted with his duty. A party of volunteers collected here on horseback, for a secret expedition, and by their earnest request Major Trescott marched in the night with a party to cover their retreat, and to take any advantage which might offer. The party returned the next day with six tory prisoners, three of whom were wounded by the broad-sword. One of our volunteers, named Hunt, received a dangerous wound through his shoulder and lungs, the air escaped from the wound at every breath. Dr. Eustis came to the lines, and dilated the wound in the breast, and as the patient is athletic and has not sustained a very copious loss of blood, he recommended repeated and liberal blood letting, observing that, in order to cure a wound through the lungs, you must bleed your patient to death. He eventually recovered, which is to be ascribed, principally. to the free use of the lancet and such abstemious living as to reduce him to the greatest extremity. A considerable number of wounded prisoners receive my daily attention.
A gentleman volunteer, by name Requaw, received a dangerous wound, and was carried into the British lines; I was requested by his brother to visit him, under the sanction of a flag of truce, in company with Dr. White, who resides in this vicinity. This invitation I cheerfully accepted, and Mr. Requaw having obtained a flag from the proper authority, and procured horses, we set off in the morning, arrived at West Chester before evening and dressed the wounded man. We passed the night at Mrs. Barstow's, mother-in-law of Dr. W. She has remained at her farm between the lines during the war, and being friendly to our interest, has received much abusive treatment from the royalists. We are treated in the most friendly manner, and her daughter, a sensible, well-educated girl, entertained us in conversation till one o'clock in the morning, relating numerous occurrences and incidents of an interesting nature respecting the royal party. The next day we visited our patient again, paid the necessary attention, and repaired to a tavern, where I was gratified with an interview with the much-famed Colonel Delancy, who commands the refugee corps. He conducted with much civility, and, having a public dinner prepared at the tavern, he invited us to dine with him and his officers. After dinner, Colonel Delaney furnished us with a permit to return with our flag; we rode ten miles, and took lodgings in a private house. Here we were informed that six of our men, having taken from the refugees thirty head of cattle, were overtaken by forty of Delaney's corps, and were all killed but one, and the cattle retaken. In the morning, breakfasted with a friendly Quaker family, in whose house was one of our men, who had been wounded when four others were killed; we dressed his wounds, which were numerous and dangerous. In another house, we saw four dead bodies, mangled in a most inhuman manner by the refugees, and among them one groaning under five wounds on his head, two of them quite through his skull-bone with a broadsword. This man was capable of giving us an account of the murderer of his four companions. They surrendered, and begged for life; but their entreaties were disregarded, and the swords of their cruel foes were plunged into their bodies so long as signs of life remained. We found many friends to our cause, who reside on their farms between the lines of the two armies, whose situation is truly deplorable, being continually, exposed to the ravages of the tories, horse-thieves, and Cowboys, who rob and plunder them without mercy, and the personal abuse and punishments which they inflict, is almost incredible - the particulars of which have been already noticed on a previous page.
On the 4th of this month, the grand confederation and perpetual union of the Thirteen American States, from New Hampshire to Georgia, inclusive, was signed and ratified by all the delegates in Congress. This instrument has long been a subject of discussion and consideration by the several states; and by some, considerable opposition has been maintained against it, which has impeded its ratification. It consists of thirteen articles, entitled "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the Thirteen American States." By this instrument, each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and the states severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other for their common defence, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, &c., &c.
April. - I received orders to return to the highlands near West Point, to inoculate the troops with the smallpox. Dined with Colonel Scammel, on my route, with a number of gentlemen.
12th.-Crossed the Hudson, to the hospital at Robinson's house, and passed the night with Dr. Eustis; the next day accompanied him to Peekskill to visit the family of Colonel Laurence, who are under inoculation with the small-pox, thence to the quarters of Colonel Scammel and Dr. Findlay, returned to the hospital at night, and the next day crossed with Dr. Eustis to West Point, and dined at General Heath's quarters.
20th.-A soldier was hanged to-day for desertion, and another was pardoned under the gallows with a rope round his neck.
All the soldiers, with the women, and children, who have not had the small-pox, are now under inoculation. Of our regiment one hundred and eighty-seven were subjects of the disease. The old practice of previous preparation by a course of mercury and low diet, has not been adopted on this occasion; a single dose of jalap, and calomel, or of the extract of butternut, juglans cinerea, is in general administered previous to the appearance of the symptoms. As to diet, we are so unfortunate as to be destitute of the necessary comfortable articles of food, and they subsist principally on their common rations of beef, bread and salt pork. A small quantity of rice, sugar, or molasses, and tea are procured for those who are dangerously sick. Some instances have occurred of putrid fever supervening, either at the first onset or at the approach of the secondary stage, and a few cases have terminated fatally. Many of our patients were improper subjects for the disease, but we were under the necessity of inoculating all, without exception, whatever might be their condition as to health. Of five hundred who have been inoculated, four only have died, but in other instances the proportion of deaths is much more considerable. The extract of butternut is made by boiling down the inner bark of the tree; the discovery of this article is highly important, and it may be considered as a valuable acquisition to our materia medica. The country people have for some time been in the practice of using it, and Dr. Rush, who was for a short period at the head of our hospital department, has recommended the employment of it among our patients, as a mild yet sufficiently active cathartic, and a valuable and economical substitute for jalap. It operates without creating heat or irritation, and is found to be efficacious in cases of dysentery and bilious complaints. As the butternut-tree abounds in our country, we may obtain at a very little expense a valuable domestic article of medicine. Though there is much reason to suppose that our own soil is prolific in remedies adapted to the diseases of our country, the butternut is the only cathartic deserving of confidence which we have yet discovered.
30th.-Dined at West Point with Dr. Thomas, and accompanied him to General Patterson's quarters: the general humorously apologized, that he could afford us nothing better than a miserable glass of whiskey grog. Passed the river to the hospital. Dr. Eustis being indisposed, he requested me to bleed him, and I passed the night at the Point.
Intelligence has reached us that Brigadier-General Peleg Wadsworth, who commanded a detachment of militia at a place called Camden, in the province of Maine, has been surprised and taken prisoner, in the night, by a party of British soldiers, sent for this purpose from their post at Penobscot. It is added, that the general defended himself in the most daring and spirited manner till he received a wound, and was entirely overpowered. See particulars of this extraordinary affair in the Appendix.
I accompanied Dr. John Hart to New Windsor, to pay our respects to Dr. John Cochran, who is lately promoted to the office of director-general of the hospitals of the United States, as successor to Dr. Shippen, resigned. We dined with Dr. Cochran, in company with Drs. Eustis and S. Adams. Dr. Cochran is a native of Pennsylvania. He served in the office of surgeon's-mate in the hospital department during the war between the English and French, which commenced in America in 1759, and left the service with the reputation of an able and experienced practitioner. From that time to this, he has devoted himself to his professional pursuits in New Jersey, and has been eminently distinguished as a practitioner in medicine and surgery. Finding his native country involved in a war with Great Britain, his zeal and attachment to her interest impelled him to the theatre of action, and he proffered his services as a volunteer in the hospital department. General Washington, justly appreciating his merit and character, recommended him to Congress, by whom he was in April, 1777, appointed physician and surgeon-general in the middle department. He is now promoted to the office of director-general of the hospitals of the United States.
Not long after the close of the war, Dr. Cochran removed with his family to New York, where he attended to the duties of his profession, till the adoption of the new constitution, when his friend, President Washington, retaining, to use his own words, "a cheerful recollection of his past services," nominated him to the office of commissioner of loans for the state of New York. This office he held till a paralytic stroke disabled him in some measure from the discharge of its duties, on which he gave in his resignation, and retired to Palatine, in the county of Montgomery, where he terminated a long and useful life, on the 6th of April, 1807, in the 77th year of his age. "He united a vigorous mind and correct judgment with Information derived and improved from long experience, and faithful habits of attention to the duties of his profession." He possessed the pure and inflexible principles of patriotism, and his integrity was unimpeachable. It is gratifying to have the opportunity of expressing a respectful recollection of his urbanity and civilities, and of affording this small tribute to his cherished memory.
Dr James Craig, who now succeeds Dr. Cochran, as surgeon and physician-general, was also employed in the French war of 1759, with General Washington, who held the office of major, and when a mutual attachment was formed between them.
By intelligence from our army of the south, under command of Major-General Greene, affairs in that quarter are exceedingly unpropitious and discouraging. The troops are so destitute of clothing, that their footsteps are marked with blood for want of shoes; their food consists, part of the time, of rice, with frogs from ponds and ditches, and sometimes of peaches and berries. When they obtain a small supply of beef, it is so miserably poor as scarcely to be eatable. The army is continually harassed in marching through the country, sometimes executing successful and honorable exploits, and again compelled to retreat before a victorious enemy with hair-breadth escapes. Never perhaps were opposing commanders more equally matched than General Greene and Lord Cornwallis, though the former is almost constantly laboring under the disadvantage of inferiority of numbers and of physical force. General Greene communicates to Congress an account of a very obstinate and bloody battle fought by the two armies at Guilford court-house, North Carolina, a few weeks since. Our commander was compelled to yield to his adversary, but it is a victory purchased at a ruinous price. Seven days after the action, General Greene writes that Cornwallis' troops were too much galled to improve their success, that he had been preparing for another action, expecting the enemy to advance, but of a sudden they took their departure, and left behind them evident marks of distress. All the wounded at Guilford who had fallen into their hands, and seventy of their own, too ill to be moved, were left behind. Most of their officers suffered; Lord Cornwallis had his horse shot under him. Colonel Stuart, of the guards, was killed. General O'Hara and Colonels Tarleton and Webster wounded. Their whole loss is reported to be six hundred and sixty-three, exclusive of officers. General Greene returned three hundred and twenty-nine killed, wounded and missing; many of the latter went to their homes after the action. General Stevens and Huger were wounded.
A large detachment of British troops and refugees embarked at New York some time since, bound on an expedition to Virginia, under the command of the infamous traitor Arnold. He took possession of Portsmouth, on James river, where they are employed in ravaging and rifling the plantations, and destroying public and private property. Another body of royalists has lately been sent from New York, under Major-General Phillips, who, now having the chief command of the British in Virginia, united with Arnold in a predatory warfare. General Phillips died soon after, and Arnold again resumed the command. The Marquis de la Fayette, with a command of about one thousand five hundred light-infantry, detached from our main army, is on his march to Virginia, where he is to join a body of continentals and militia under Baron Steuben and General Muhlenburg, for the purpose of protecting that country from the depredations of the enemy.
The continental army in Carolina were successful after the action of Guilford, and gained the ascendency in that quarter over the British. On the 10th of May, Lord Rawdon evacuated Camden with precipitation, leaving behind three of his officers and fifty privates, who had been dangerously wounded, and were unable to be removed. He burned the stores, baggage &c. and left the town a heap of ruins. The next day the strong post of Orangeburg surrendered to General Sumpter. One colonel, several other officers, and eighty rank and file were made prisoners. Next followed, on the 12th, Fort Motte, the garrison consisting of nineteen officers and one hundred and sixty men, who surrendered to General Marion, as did also Fort Granby, on the 14th, to Lieutenant-Colonel Lee, when one lieutenant-colonel, two majors, six captains, six lieutenants, three ensigns, one surgeon, and three hundred and thirty-three rank and file, became his prisoners. Large quantities of provisions and some military stores were found in several of the forts, and in the baggage belonging to the nineteenth regiment were found seven hundred guineas, which it is said General Greene distributted among his troops, as a reward for their bravery and sufferings.
May - The spirit of desertion appears to prevail to a considerable degree among both the British and Hessians at New York. Instances have been frequent for several months past of two or three coming out together. Some of them offer to engage in our service, but they are rejected and sent into the country, where they cannot effect any mischievous purpose. Deserters are always to be suspected, as they are not unfrequently employed as spies, who desert back again with intelligence for the enemy. Not long since, a Captain Simmons, of Delaney's corps, came over to our lines, and was sent up to West Point. He asserted that, being disaffected with the enemy on some pretences, he had resigned his commission and deserted from them; he was delivered over to the governor of the state. A few days since a groom belonging to an officer in the British service deserted with a valuable horse from his master, which he sold for one hundred dollars in specie.
A party of continental troops, commanded by Colonel Christopher Greene, of Rhode Island, being stationed on our lines, near Croton river, were surprised by a party of the enemy, about sunrise on the 13th instant. They first attacked Colonel Greene's and Major Flagg's quarters, and killed the major while in bed. The colonel being badly wounded in the house, was carried into the woods and barbarously murdered. Two subalterns and twenty-seven privates were also killed, and a lieutenant and surgeon, with about twenty men, taken prisoners. This melancholy event is most deeply regretted; Colonel Greene bravely distinguished himself in defence of Fort Mercer, at Red Bank, in October, 1777, and has ever been considered as a valiant and vigilant officer. He had taken post in a situation to guard a certain fording-place at Croton river, and had practised the greatest vigilance in the night time, calling off his guards at sunrise, on the idea that the enemy would not presume to cross in the day-time; but the enemy having learned his mode of performing duty, effected their purpose by crossing the ford immediately after the guard had been withdrawn, and the surprise was so complete that no practicable defence could avail them. It will not be denied that an enemy may be justified in availing himself of every opportunity of gaining an advantage over his antagonist, or that in some instances slaughter is unavoidable; but a wanton and unnecessary sacrifice of life is on all occasions to be deprecated as a disgraceful violation of the dictates of humanity.
General Washington has performed a journey to Connecticut, for the purpose of an interview with the Count de Rochambeau, chief commander of the French troops, now at Rhode Island. The object of this interview is supposed to be the concerting of a system of measures to be pursued by the allied army in the ensuing campaign.
Private intelligence from a confidential source we understand has been received at head-quarters, that a plan has been concerted in New York, to send out four parties - one to assassinate or take General Washington; another, Governor Livingston, of New Jersey; a third, Governor Clinton, of the state of New York; and the object of the fourth is unknown. Measures will undoubtedly be adopted to guard against and defeat this singular enterprise.
It has several times happened that an artful and enterprising fellow, by the name of Moody, employed by the British in New York, has succeeded in taking our mail from the post-rider on the road, though he has had some very remarkable escapes. After the interview of General Washington and Count Rochambeau, the British were particularly desirous of obtaining intelligence relative to the result. Accordingly Moody was again despatched to effect the object. Being perfectly well acquainted with the roads and passes, he waylaid the mail for some days in the Jerseys, till at length it was his good fortune to possess himself of that very mail which contained General Washington's despatches to Congress, communicating the information which was the object of their desires. This valuable prize he had the address to bear off to New York in safety.
June 20th. - It is directed in general orders that the whole army at this place march and encamp at Peekskill, leaving the invalids and a small party to garrison West Point. One of the three divisions of the army is to pass the Hudson each day, till all have crossed.
22d.-Our division of the army crossed the Hudson at West Point-landing yesterday, and reached Peekskill at night. We have left our cantonments in a woody mountain, affording a romantic and picturesque scenery of nature clothed in her wild and winter attire, having scarcely the appearance of vegetation. A splendid world is now open to our view, all nature is in animation - the fields and meadows display the beauties of spring, a pleasing variety of vegetables and flowers perfume the air, and the charming music of the feathered tribe delights our ears. Butthere is a contrast in music. What can compare with that martial band, the drum and fife, bugle-horn and shrill trumpet, which set the war-horse in motion, thrill through every fibre of the human frame, still the groans of the dying soldier, and stimulate the living to the noblest deeds of glory? The full roll of the drum, which salutes the commander-in-chief, the animating beat, which calls to arms for the battle, the reveille, which breaks our slumbers at dawn of day, with "come, strike your tents, and march away," and the evening tattoo, which commands to retirement and repose; these form incomparably the most enchanting music that has ever vibrated on my ear.
23d,-The army is now concentrated to a point in this place, and encamped in two lines, and in the same regular order that the troops usually form in a line of battle, occupying a very large extent of ground and covering fields of corn, grain and meadows. Our brigade is stationed on the left of the second line. The campaign is now about to be opened, and we expect in a few days that the French army will form a junction with us to cooperate with our troops.
July 1st.-A division of our French allies are on their march from Rhode Island, to unite with us in the service of the campaign. Great preparations are continually making for some important operation, and it is in general conjectured that the object of the campaign is to besiege New York. We are ordered to have four days' provisions cooked, and to march at three o'clock in the morning, leaving all our baggage behind, except a single blanket to each man. It is remarkable that we have so much as four days' provisions on hand.
5th.-The reveille beat at three o'clock on the 2d instant, when we marched, and reached Tarrytown in the evening; the weather being extremely hot, the troops were much fatigued. Halted at Tarrytown about two hours, and then proceeded; marched all night, and at sunrise arrived within two miles of the enemy's works at King's-bridge. Having halted about two hours, a firing of cannon and musketry was heard in front, and we were informed that a party of our troops had engaged the enemy, and we were ordered to advance rapidly to their assistance; but before we could reach the scene of action, the enemy had retired within their strong works. A detachment of continental troops, under command of Major-General Lincoln, went down the North river in boats in the night, to attack the enemy by surprise, or to draw them out to a distance from their works, to afford an opportunity to the commander- in-chief to engage them in the field; but this object could not be accomplished, and a skirmish only ensued, in which both parties suffered some loss, and General Lincoln brought off ten prisoners. We took our repose for the night in the open field, and our tents and baggage having arrived the next day, we pitched our encampment in two lines, on the most advantageous ground, within a few miles of the outposts of the enemy. The French army, under General Rochambeau, have arrived and encamped at a small distance on the left of the Americans.The French legion of dragoons and infantry, under command of the Duke de Luzerne, arrived, and took their station near our encampment, and appear in true military style; they are a fine looking corps, full of military ardor, and, in conjunction with Colonel Sheldon's dragoons, much important service is expected.
7th.-Our army was drawn up in a line, and reviewed by General Rochambeau, commander-in-chief of the French army, with his Excellency General Washington and other general officers.
10th.-Another review took place in presence of the French ambassador, from Philadelphia; after which, the French army passed a review in presence of the general officers of both armies.
13th.-Notwithstanding the active bustle which attends our present situation, I received an invitation, with a number of officers of our regiment, to dine with a party of French officers in their camp. We were politely received under an elegant marquee: our entertainment consisted of excellent soup, roast-beef &c., served in French style. The gentlemen appear desirous of cultivating an acquaintance with our officers, but being ignorant of each others' language, we can enjoy but little conversation. The French army exhibit their martial array to the greatest advantage. In the officers we recognize the accomplished gentlemen, free and affable in their manners. Their military dress and side-arms are elegant; the troops are under the strictest discipline, and are amply provided with arms and accoutrements, which are kept in the neatest order; they are in complete uniform, coats of white broadcloth, trimmed with green, and white under-dress, and on their heads they wear a singular kind of hat or chapeau. It is unlike our cocked hats in having but two corners instead of three, which gives them a very novel appearance. It has been remarked, to their honor, that during their march from Newport to join our army, their course has been marked with the most exemplary order and regularity, committing no depredations, but conducting towards the inhabitants on their route with great civility and propriety. We now greet them as friends and allies, and they manifest a zealous determination to act in unison with us against the common enemy. This conduct must have a happy tendency to eradicate from the minds of the Americans their ancient prejudices against the French people. They punctually paid their expenses in hard money, which made them acceptable guests wherever they passed; and, in fact, the large quantity of solid coin which they brought into the United States, is to be considered as of infinite importance at the present period of our affairs.
15th.-Two of the British frigates and several smaller vessels passed up the North river as far as Tarrytown, in defiance of our cannon, which were continually playing on them. Their object appears to be, to seize some of our small vessels which are passing down the river with supplies for our army. One small sloop, loaded with bread for the French army, has fallen into their hands.
17th.-A fine corps of light-infantry, selected from the several New England regiments, is now formed, and put under the immediate command of Colonel Alexander Scammel, formerly our adjutant-general. This select corps, consisting of the most active and soldierly young men and officers, is intended to march in advance of the main army, constantly prepared for active and hazardous service. Colonel Scammel was indulged the liberty of choosing his own officers, rejecting those whom be deemed unfit for his enterprising purpose. According to regular detail, it fell to the lot of Dr. C. to act as surgeon to this corps; but it was the doctor's misfortune to have one blink eye, and not being perfectly active, Colonel Scammel objected to him, and desired that he might be exchanged for one more competent to the duties of the service. In consequence of this I received a billet from Dr. James Craig, chief physician and surgeon to the army, requesting me to repair to the detachment immediately, and take the place of Dr. C. Colonel Jackson, unwilling to have his regiment left destitute of a surgeon, strongly protested against it; but Colonel Scammel was strenuous, and finally prevailed, and I now enjoy the honor of officiating as surgeon to a fine corps of infantry, commanded by an officer of the first military reputation. Dr. Munson, of the Connecticut line, is my mate; and the medical duties of Colonel Jackson's regiment devolve on Dr. Francis le Baron Goodwin, surgeon's mate, during my absence.
19th.-The British frigates that passed up the North river a few days since, took the advantage of wind and tide to return to New York. A severe cannonade commenced from our battery at Dobbs' ferry, where the river is about three miles wide, and they were compelled to run the gauntlet. They returned the fire as they passed, but without effect. On board the Savage ship-of-war a box of powder took fire, and such was their consternation, that twenty people jumped into the river; among whom was a prisoner on board, who informs us that he was the only man who got on shore, all the others being drowned. He reports also that the Savage was several times hulled by our shot, and was very near sinking. In the evening of the 21st, our army and the French were put in motion, marching with great rapidity through a thick, unfrequented wood and swamps, and through fields of corn and wheat. Passing through a swamp in the night, our rear-guard, with myself and Dr. Munson, lost sight of the main body of the army for more than an hour, and I got a severe fall from my horse. In the morning, we arrived near the enemy's post at Morrissania, but they had taken the alarm and escaped to New York. Having continued there during the day, we retired in the evening about five or six miles, and lay on the hills near King's-bridge, where we remained unmolested till the night of the 23d, When we returned to our encampment. While near the enemy's lines, the army was drawn up in a line of battle, and General Washington, General Rochambeau, and all the general officers and engineers, were employed in reconnoitering the different positions of the enemy's works in all directions. The position which we now occupy is the neutral ground between the lines, a beautiful fertile country, and the roads and commons as well as the inclosures are loaded with grass, while the deserted houses in ruins, and the prostrate fences, exhibit the melancholy devastation of war.
31st.-Our detachment, under Colonel Scammel, marched last evening down to Phillips' house, near the enemy's works, on a foraging expedition. After our wagons were loaded, we retired into the woods, and lay in ambush, with the hope that the enemy would give us an opportunity to engage them, but they did not make their appearance.
August 13th.-A most tremendous storm of rain came on last night, and continued almost incessantly; about two o'clock in the morning, a sudden gust rent our tents asunder, and whirled them about our ears, leaving us destitute of shelter, and most thoroughly drenched.
15th.-A French soldier, who deserted, and was taken on his way to the enemy, was shot in the French camp.
General orders are now issued for the army to prepare for a movement at a moment's notice, The real object of the allied armies the present campaign has become a subject of much speculation. Ostensibly an investment of the city of New York is in contemplation - preparations in all quarters for some months past indicate this to be the object of our combined operations. The capture of this place would be a decisive stroke, and from the moment such event takes place, the English must renounce all hopes of subjugating the United States. But New York is well fortified both by land and water, and garrisoned by the best troops of Great Britain. The success of a siege must depend entirely on the arrival and cooperation of a superior French fleet, The enemy have a garrison on Staten Island, which is separated from Long Island only by a strait of two miles wide. The capture of this garrison would be a brilliant affair, and would essentially facilitate our operations against New York. General Washington and Count Rochambeau have crossed the North river, and it is supposed for the purpose of reconnoitering the enemy's posts from the Jersey shore. A field for an extensive encampment has been marked out on the Jersey side, and a number of ovens have been erected and fuel provided, for the purpose of baking bread for the army. From these combined circumstances we are led to conclude that a part of our besieging force is to occupy that ground. But General Washington possesses a capacious mind, full of resources, and he resolves and matures his great plans and designs under an impenetrable veil of secrecy, and while we repose the fullest confidence in our chief, our own opinions must be founded only on doubtful conjectures. The royal army at New York, have received a reinforcement of three thousand Germans from Europe.
20th.-According to orders, we commenced our line of march yesterday, a party of pioneers being sent forward to clear the road towards King's-bridge, and we expected immediately to follow in that direction; but an army is a machine, whose motions are directed by its chief. When the troops were paraded for the march, they were ordered to the right about, and, making a retrograde movement up the side of the North river, we have reached King's-ferry, and are preparing to cross the Hudson at this ferry. Our allies are in our rear, and it is probable we are destined to occupy the ground on the Jersey side.
31st.-Colonel Laurens has arrived at head-quarters on his way from Boston to Philadelphia. This gentleman is the son of Mr. Henry Laurens, our ambassador to Holland, who is now conflned in the tower of London. We have the pleasing information that he has brought with him from France a large sum of specie for the United States. He reports that the different powers of continental Europe are friendly to the cause in which we are engaged.
Our situation reminds me of some theatrical exhibition, where the interest and expectations of the spectators are continually increasing, and where curiosity is wrought to the highest, point. Our destination has been for some time matter of perplexing doubt and uncertainty; bets have run high on one side that we were to occupy the ground marked out on the Jersey shore, to aid in the siege of New York, and on the other, that we are stealing a march on the enemy, and are actually destined to Virginia, in pursuit of the army under Lord Cornwallis. We crossed at King's-ferry, 21st instant, and encamped at Haverstraw. A number of batteaux, mounted on carriages, have followed in our train, supposed for the purpose of conveying the troops over to Staten Island. 22d, Resumed our line of march, passing rapidly through Paramus, Acquackanack, Springfield and Princeton. We have now passed all the enemy's posts, and are pursuing our route with increased rapidity towards Philadelphia; wagons have been prepared to carry the soldiers' packs, that they may press forward with greater facility. Our destination can no longer be a secret. The British army, under Lord Cornwallis, is unquestionably the object of our present expedition. It is now rumored that a French fleet may soon be expected to arrive in Chesapeake bay, to cooperate with the allied army in that quarter. The great secret respecting our late preparations and movements can now be explained. It was a judiciously concerted stratagem, calculated to menace and alarm Sir Henry Clinton for the safety of the garrison of New York, and induce him to recall a part of his troops from Virginia, for his own defence; or, perhaps, keeping an eye on the city, to attempt its capture, provided that by the arrival of a French fleet, favorable circumstances should present. The deception has proved completely successful; a part of Cornwallis' troops are reported to have returned to New York. His Excellency General Washington, having succeeded in a masterly piece of generalship, has now the satisfaction of leaving his adversary to ruminate on his own mortifying situation, and to anticipate the perilous fate which awaits his friend, Lord Cornwallis, in a different quarter. Major General Heath is left commander-in-chief of our army in the vicinity of New York and the highlands, and the menacing aspect of an attack on New York will be continued till time and circumstances shall remove the delusive veil from the eyes of Sir Henry Clinton, when it will probably be too late to afford succour to Lord Cornwallis. To our officers, the inactivity of the royal army in New York is truly unaccountable: they might, without risking a great deal, harass our army on its march, and subject us to irreparable injury; but the royalists are more dexterous in availing themselves of treachery and insurrection, than in effecting valorous achievements. In passing through Princeton, but little time was allowed me to visit the college. This once celebrated seminary is now destitute of students, and the business of education is entirely suspended in consequence of the constant bustle and vicissitudes of war. The little village of Princeton is beautifully situated, and the college edifice is of stone, four stories high, and lighted by twenty-five windows in front in each story. It has suffered considerable injury in being occupied alternately by the soldiers of the two contending armies. Trenton, where we are now encamped for the night, is a much more considerable village, and more advantageously situated, on the north-eastern bank of the Delaware, twenty-seven miles above Philadelphia. This is the town which General Washington has rendered famous to the latest times, by a victory in which be so happily displayed the resources of his genius, in the severe winter of 1776. Great indeed must be the resources of that man who can render himself the most formidable to an enemy, when apparently he is the most destitute of power. General Washington and Count Rochambeau having proceeded to Virginia by land, Major-General Lincoln takes the command of our troops, and the Baron de Viomenil those of the French.
-We crossed the Delaware river at Trenton ferry on the 1st instant, and in the afternoon crossed a small river at Shammany's rope ferry. Our boats were pulled across with facility by a rope made fast at each shore.
We marched nineteen miles, and encamped at a place called Lower Dublin. 2d, In the afternoon, marched through the city of Philadelphia. The streets being extremely dirty, and the weather warm and dry, we raised a dust like a smothering snow-storm, blinding our eyes and covering our bodies with it;
this was not a little mortifying, as the ladies were viewing us from the open windows of every house as we passed through this splendid city.
The scene must have been exceedingly interesting to the inhabitants; and, contemplating the noble cause in which we are engaged, they must have experienced in their hearts a glow of patriotism, it not emotions of military ardor. Our line of march, including appendages and attendants, extended nearly two miles.
The general officers and their aids, in rich military uniform, mounted on noble steeds elegantly caparisoned, Were followed by their servants and baggage. In the rear of every brigade were several field-pieces, accompanied by ammunition carriages. The soldiers marched in slow and solemn step, regulated by the drum and fife.
In the rear followed a great number of wagons, loaded with tents, provisions and other baggage, such as a few soldiers' wives and children; though a very small number of these are allowed to encumber us on this occasion.
The day following, the French troops marched through the city, dressed in complete uniform of white broadcloth, faced with green, and besides the drum and fife, they were furnished with a complete band of music, which operates like enchantnent.
The following is extracted from letters published by a French clergyman, in Count Rochambeau's army:
"The arrival of the French army at Philadelphia was more like a triumph, than simply passing through the place; the troops made a halt about a quarter of a league from the city, and in an instant were dressed as elegantly as ever the soldiers of a garrison were on a day of review;
they then marched through the town, with the military music playing before them, which is always particularly pleasing to the Americans; the streets were crowded with people, and the ladies appeared at the windows in their most brilliant attire.
All Philadelphia was astonished to see people who had endured the fatigues of a long journey, so ruddy and handsome, and even wondered that there could possibly be Frenchmen of so genteel an appearance.
"The troops next marched in single file before the Congress and M. le Chevalier de la Luzerne, minister from the court of France, and afterwards encamped in a large plain contiguous to the river Schuylkill.
The next day after our arrival, the regiment of Soissonnais went through the exercise of fire-arms; at least twenty thousand persons, and a vast number of carriages, remarkable for their lightness and elegance, added to the lustre of this exhibition, which was still heightened by the pleasantness of the situation and the remarkable serenity of the day.
The rapidity of the military evolutions, the soldierly appearance of the troops in general, and the exactness of their motions, surprised and enraptured the beholders.
"We were a good deal amused with a mistake of some of the common people, who took for a general one of those alert fellows whom our commanding officers commonly have in their retinue to run up and down to carry their written orders.
His short, tight-bodied coat, his rich waistcoat, with a silver fringe, his rose-colored shoes, his cap, adorned with a coat-of-arms, and his cane, with an enormous head - all appeared to them so many tokens of extraordinary dignity.
Though he approached his master, the colonel-commandant, merely to receive and publish his orders, they imagined that he gave them of his own accord, and directed the movements of the troops, independently of any superior.
"The President of Congress, the Honorable Thomas McKean, Esquire, in a suit of black velvet, honored this review with his presence.
These honest Pennsylvanians differ very considerably from us in the ceremonies of dress, as we differ from them again in our modes of legislation.
"The manoeuvres of our troops raised the most flattering expectations in the minds of the spectators; and they did not hesitate to declare that such soldiers were invincible.
"This day was destined for favorable omens.
M. le Chevalier de Ia Luzerne, who on this occasion received his countrymen with the dignity and generosity of the representative of a great monarch, and the frankness and cordiality of an individual, after the review, invited all the officers to dine with him.
Hardly were we seated at the table, when an express arrived; a disquieting silence immediately seized every guest - our eyes were fixed on the Chevalier de la Luzerne, every one endeavoring to guess what the message would turn out to be -
'Thirty-six ships of the line,' said he, 'commanded by Monsieur le Comte de Grasse, are arrived in Chesapeake bay, and three thousand men have landed, and opened a communication with the Marquis de la Fayette.'
Joy and good-humor immediately resumed their place on every countenance. Our impatient leaders began to count the days, and reckon how long it would be before they could have it in their power to face the enemy, and their heated imaginations made the time much shorter than it afterwards proved to be.
Healths were next drank; and that of the minister of the marine of France was not forgotten, whose activity and great abilities have paved the way to the most brilliant successes of our fleet; the presence of his son, M. le Comte de Chartre, second colonel of the regiment of Saintonge, added still more to our pleasure and satisfaction.
"Among others, Charles Thomson, the Secretary of Congress, the soul of that political body, came also to receive and present his compliments.
His meagre figure, furrowed countenance, his hollow, sparkling eyes, his white strait hair, that did not hang quite so low as his ears, fixed our thorough attention, and filled us with surprise and admiration.
"The important news of the arrival of Count de Grasse was soon spread throughout the city, and echoes of joy were heard from every quarter; some merry fellows, mounted on scaffolds and stages, pronounced funeral orations for Cornwallis, and uttered lamentations on the grief and distress of the tories.
The people ran in crowds to the residence of the minister of France; and 'Long live Louis the Sixteenth!' was the general cry.
"Thus you see the people universally persuaded of the success of this expedition. Could these flattering hopes be realized, they would hasten a peace, which in our situation, and under the wise and benevolent prince that governs us, would place France in a point of view that has been wholly unknown since the existence of her monarchy."
3d - We crossed the river Schuylkill, over a floating bridge, and encamped four miles from Philadelphia, where we continued through the day, to give the men time to rest and wash their clothes.,
4th, Marched through Wilmington, eighteen miles. This is a handsome, flourishing village, situated on the Delaware river, on a small branch of which is erected eight very large and valuable stone mills, where an immense quantity of wheat is ground and bolted. The wheat is brought in vessels to the very door, and the flour taken off in return.
The Rev. Mr. Smith, minister of this place, and Dr. Smith, his brother, politely introduced themselves to me, and I took tea and spent the evening at Dr. Smith's, in social friendship.
Marched again on the 5th,
and on the 6th arrived at the head of Elk river, Maryland, in the morning, having completed a march of two hundred miles in fifteen days.
An express has now arrived from Virginia, with the pleasing intelligence that Count de Grasse has actually arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake bay, with a fleet of thirty-six ships of the line, and three thousand land forces, which are landed, and have joined our troops under the Marquis de la Fayette, in Virginia.
The royal army, under Lord Cornwallis, has taken post in Yorktown, situated on York river, in Virginia, where he has constructed strong fortifications for his defence; but his communication by water is now entirely cut off by several French ships stationed at the mouth of the river.
Preparation is constantly making for our troops and our allies who have arrived here, to embark at the head of Elk river, whence we shall proceed down the Chesapeake bay to Yorktown, in pursuit of the object of our expedition.
About eighty vessels are in readiness, great activity prevails, embarkation has commenced, and our horses are sent round to Virginia by land.
It falls to my lot to take passage on board a small schooner, with four other officers and sixty men. She is so deeply laden with cannon, mortars and other ordnance, that our situation will be attended with considerable danger, if rough weather should overtake us.
-Sailed at four o'clock P.M. on board the schooner Glasco, beat against contrary wind down the Elk river, and at sun-rise next morning entered the head of the great Chesapeake bay, eighteen miles from the place of embarkation. The bay at its entrance is six or seven miles wide, and has two rivers which empty into it on the west side - the North-east river and the great Susquehanna, which takes its origin at Lake Otsego, six hundred miles from this bay.
Another river, called Sassafras, which empties into the, bay on the east side, is navigable to Georgetown, twelve miles. Pool's Island affords a romantic prospect, being about two miles long, and three-quarters of a mile wide, supporting two families.
About twelve miles further down, the bay widens to about ten miles, and on the west side is the river Patapsco; at the head of which, twelve miles from its mouth, stands the town of Baltimore, which admits large ships into its capacious and convenient harbor.
Nearly opposite to this, Chester river empties into the bay on the eastern shore, and is navigable fifty miles.
The town of Annapolis, the metropolis of Maryland, is situated on the western shore at the mouth of the river Severn, where it falls into the bay. We came to anchor in the harbor at sun-setting, and I accompanied several officers to the coffee-house, and partook of a handsome supper.
A very severe shower of rain, with high winds and extreme darkness, obliged us to spend the night on shore. On the 13th, we returned on board at seven o'clock, and proceeded on our voyage before a fresh gale, but had not sailed more than four miles, when we were recalled by express to the harbor of Annapolis.
This is in consequence of intelligence of a naval action between the British and French fleets near the mouth of the Chesapeake bay. Our safety requires that we should remain in port till the event of the battle is known. Should the British have obtained the victory, and should they get possession of the Chesapeake bay, we shall be unable to proceed on our voyage, and our expedition will be entirely defeated.
Annapolis is a very inconsiderable city, but the buildings are chiefly of brick, and many of them are in a style of elegance and grandeur. The state-house, in the centre of the city, is a most splendid and magnificent piece of architecture; it is topped with a handsome dome; the several apartments are finished in a style surpassing every thing which I have before witnessed. The archives for the security of the public records are fire-proof.
It is remarkable that there is not a church in the city, though they have an ordinary building which they occupy for a theatre.
We were treated with much politeness and hospitality, and received an invitation to dine at the house of a respectable gentleman.
In the evening we attended the theatre, and were entertained by a Mr. Wall, who exhibited Stephens' Lecture on Heads, greatly to the amusement of the audience; after which, Mrs. Wall exhibited a variety of amusing scenes, and her little daughter, of seven years of age, spoke an epilogue, and sung several songs to the admiration of all present.
Information has just reached us that after General Arnold had returned from his depredating expedition to Virginia, he was despatched on a new incursion to Connecticut, his native state. His force consisted of two thousand infantry and three hundred cavalry, accompanied by forty sail of ships and tranports.
He landed his troops at the mouth of New London harbor, and proceeded to the town. Fort Trumbull not being tenable, was soon evacuated by our people, but Fort Griswold on the other side of the river was courageously defended by Colonel Ledyard and a few militia-men hastily collected.
The assault on this fort was made by Colonel Eyre, who was three or four times repulsed, and finally received himself a mortal wound; and Major Montgomery being killed, the command devolved on Major Bromfield, who, by a superior force and much resolution, carried the place at the point of the bayonet.
On entering the fort, the British officer inquiring who commanded, Colonel Ledyard answered, "I did, sir, but you do now," and presented him his sword as a prisoner, when the British officer plunged his sword into the body of Colonel Ledyard, and several soldiers assisted with their bayonets in despatching him.
An indiscriminate slaughter by the bayonet of those who had surrendered immediately ensued, and seventy-three men were left dead in the fort, about forty wounded, and the same number taken prisoners.
Arnold continued on the New London side, suffering the town to be plundered; and by a conflagration, sixty dwelling-houses and eighty-four stores were entirely destroyed.
The loss which we sustained was very considerable, consisting of vessels, naval-stores, European goods, provisions, &c., and not less than one hundred inhabitants were deprived of their habitations and all their property.
The militia collected, and conducted with great spirit and alacrity in avenging the murder of their friends, and they hastened the retreat of the enemy, after the loss of two officers and forty-six rank and file killed, and eight officers and one hundred and thirty-five rank and file wounded.
It is reported that a wagon, loaded with their wounded soldiers, was put in motion from the top of a long and steep hill, which in its rapid course struck an apple-tree with such force that the faint and bleeding men received a shock which killed a part of them instantly.
It is highly probable that Sir Henry Clinton projected this expedition to Connecticut, in the hope of diverting General Washington from his enterprise against Earl Cornwallis; but this manoeuvre will not effect his object.
-The gratifying intelligence is announced, that the naval engagement between the two fleets has resulted in the defeat of the British with considerable loss, and the French have now the sole command of the Chesapeake bay. This event is of infinite importance, and fills our hearts with joy, as we can now proceed on our expedition.
-We obeyed the signal for sailing, and passed Sharp's island, which is situated in the middle of the bay, two miles long and one wide; it supports four families. Sent one boat on shore, and procured some poultry and fruit.
18th, Passed the great Potomac, which divides the states of Maryland and Virginia. At its mouth it is about fifteen miles wide; it is navigable for large ships, up to Georgetown, which is one hundred and seventy miles distant, on the Maryland shore, while the city of Alexandria is situated a few miles below it on the Virginia shore.
The bay at this place is about thirty miles wide. The wind this afternoon has blown with all the violence of a gale; the bow of our vessel, in ploughing through the billows, is frequently brought under water, which keeps us in perpetual alarm.
We passed York river on the western or Virginia shore, fifteen miles from the mouth of which stands Yorktown, where the royal army under Lord Cornwallis is posted, and which it is the object of our expedition to capture.
He is completely blockaded by three French ships of the line and several smaller armed vessels lying at the mouth of York river.
Passed Hampton road, and entered James river, which is at its entrance about five miles wide. We enjoyed a distant view of the grand French fleet, riding at anchor at the mouth of the Chesapeake, consisting of thirty-six ships of war, besides frigates and other armed vessels.
This was the most noble and majestic spectacle I ever witnessed, and we viewed it with inexpressible pleasure, and the warmest gratitude was excited in every breast towards our great ally.
-Reached the harbor between Jamestown and Williamsburg, where the greater part of our transports, arrived in the course of the day, and the troops disembarked and encamped on the banks of the river, within twelve miles of Yorktown.
We now congratulated ourselves on having completed our voyage of three hundred and fifty miles, which, on account of contrary winds and detention at Annapolis, has occupied twelve days; vessels with troops are arriving every day.
Jamestown is the place where the English first established themselves in Virginia, in 1607. Though the most ancient settlement in America, it cannot now be called a town, there being but two houses standing on the banks of the river.
25th, Marched from the landing-place through the city of Williamsburg. This is the capital of Virginia, but in other respects is of little importance. It is situated on a level piece of land, at an equal distance between two small rivers, one of which falls into York, the other into James river.
The city is one mile and a quarter in length, and contains about two hundred and fifty houses. The main street is more than one hundred feet in width, and exactly one mile in length: at one of the extremities, and fronting the street, is the capitol, or state-house, a handsome edifice, and at the other end is the college, capable of accommodating three hundred students, but the tumult of war has broken up the institution.
The college is about one hundred and thirty feet in length and forty in breadth, with two handsome wings, fifty by thirty. Their library is said to consist of about three thousand volumes. Near the centre of the city is a large church, and not far from it the palace, the usual residence of the governor, which is a splendid building.
The water in this vicinity is extremely brackish and disagreeable. This part of the state of Virginia is celebrated for the excellent tobacco which it produces and this is their principal staple commodity, though the culture of cotton receives some attention.
Indian corn, hemp and flax, are also among the productions of this state. The population of Virginia is computed at one hundred and fifty thousand whites, and, five hundred thousand negro slaves.
The labor, therefore, on the Virginia plantations, is performed altogether by a species of the human race who have been cruelly wrested from their native country, and doomed to perpetual bondage, while their masters are manfully contending for freedom and the natural rights of man.
Such is the inconsistency of human nature.
GREAT WASHINGTON QUOTE:
Should Providence ordain that the Americans shall be emancipated from thraldom, it should in gratitude be our prayer that the African slave may be permitted to participate in the blessings of freedom.
-We arrived at Yorktown yesterday from James-town, and have encamped within one mile of the enemy's line of redoubts.
-The French troops have arrived and encamped on our left. Yorktown is situated on the south bank of the river, about fifteen miles from its entrance into Chesapeake bay.
In this little village, Lord Cornwallis, with about seven thousand troops, has taken his station, and is endeavoring to fortify himself against the impending danger of our combined operations. His communication by water is entirely cut off by the French ships of war stationed at the mouth of the river, preventing both his escape and receiving succor from Sir Henry Clinton at New York.
The allied army is about twelve thousand strong, exclusive of the militia, under Governor Nelson.
The Americans form the right and the French the left wing of the combined forces, each extending to the borders of the river, by which the besiegers form a half-circle round the town.
His Excellency General Washington commands in person, and is assisted by Major-General Lincoln, Baron Steuben, the Marquis de la Fayette, General Knox, &c.
The French troops are commanded by General the Count Rochambeau, a brave and experienced officer, having under him a number of officers of distinguished character. Unbounded confidence is reposed in our illustrious commanders, the spirit of emulation and military ardor universally prevail, and we are sanguine in our expectations that a surrender of the royal army must be his lordship's fate.
A cannonade commenced yesterday from the town, by which one man was wounded, and I assisted in amputating his leg.
We are agreeably surprised this morning, to find that the enemy had, during the preceding night, abandoned three or four of their redoubts, and retired within the town, leaving a considerable extent of commanding ground, which might have cost us much labor and many lives to obtain by force.
Our light infantry and a party of French were ordered to advance and take possession of the abandoned ground, and to serve as a covering party to our troops who are employed in throwing up breastworks.
Considerable cannonading from the besieged in the course of the day, and four militia-men were wounded by a single shot, one of whom died soon after. An occurrence has just been announced which fills our hearts with grief and sorrow.
Colonel Alexander Scammel being officer of the day, while reconnoitering the ground which the enemy had abandoned, was surprised by a party of their horse, and after having surrendered, they had the baseness to inflict a wound which we fear will prove mortal; they have carried him into Yorktown.
October 1st and 2d. -
Our troops have been engaged in throwing up two redoubts in the night time; on discovery, the enemy commenced a furious cannonade, but it does not deter our men from going on vigorously with their work. Heavy cannon and mortars are continually arriving, and the greatest preparations are made to prosecute the siege in the most effectual manner.
3d and 4th.-A considerable cannonading from the enemy; one shot killed three men, and mortally wounded another. While the Rev. Mr. Evans, our chaplain, was standing near the commander-in-chief, a shot struck the ground so near as to cover his hat with sand. Being much agitated, he took off his hat, and said, "See here, general." "Mr. Evans," replied his excellency, with his usual composure, "you had better carry that home, and show it to your wife and children."
Two soldiers from the French, and one from us, deserted to the enemy, and two British soldiers deserted to our camp the same night. The enemy from the want of forage are killing off their horses in great numbers; six or seven hundred of these valuable animals have been killed and their carcases are almost continually floating down the river.
The British are in possession of a place called Gloucester, on the north side of the river, nearly opposite Yorktown; their force consists of one British regiment, and Colonel Tarleton's legion of horse and infantry. In opposition to this force the French legion, under the command of the Duke de Luzerne, and a detachment of French infantry and militia, are posted in that vicinity.
Tarleton is a bold and impetuous leader, and has spread terror through the Carolinas and Virginia for some time past. In making a sally from Gloucester yesterday, they were attacked by the French, and defeated with the loss of the commanding officer of their infantry, and about fifty men killed and wounded; among the latter is Tarleton himself.
The duke lost three men killed, and two officers and eleven men wounded. It is with much concern we learn that Colonel Scammel died at Williamsburg, of the wound which be received a few days since, when he was taken prisoner; the wound was inflicted after he had surrendered.
At the request of General Washington, Lord Cornwallis allowed him to be carried to Williamsburg, where he died this day, universally lamented, as he was while living universally respected and esteemed. The commander-in-chief was well apprised of his merit, and bestowed on him marks of his friendly regard and confidence.
For some time he sustained the office of adjutant-general to our army, but preferring a more active command and the post of danger, he was put at the head of a regiment of light-infantry for this enterprising campaign.
The British have sent from Yorktown a large number of negroes, sick with the small-pox, probably for the purpose of communicating the infection to our army.
Thus our inhuman enemies resort to every method in their power, however, barbarous or cruel, to injure and distress, and thus to gain an advantage over their opposers.
7th.-A large detachment of the allied army, under command of Major-General Lincoln, were ordered out last evening for the purpose of opening intrenchments near the enemy's lines.
This business was conducted with great silence and secrecy, and we were favored by Providence with a night of extreme darkness, and were not discovered before day-light.
The working party carried on their shoulders fascines and intrenching tools, while a large part of the detachment was armed with the implements of death. Horses, drawing cannon and ordnance, and wagons loaded with bags filled with sand for constructing breastworks, followed in, the rear.
Thus arranged, every officer And soldier knowing his particular station, orders were given to advance in perfect silence, the distance about one mile. My station on this occasion was with Dr. Munson, my mate, in the rear of the troops; and as the music was not to be employed, about twenty drummers and fifers were put under my charge to assist me in case of having wounded men to attend.
I put into the hands of a drummer, a mulatto fellow, my instruments, bandages, &c., with a positive order to keep at my elbow, and not lose sight of me a moment; it was not long, however, before I found to my astonishment that he had left me, and gone in pursuit of some rum, carrying off the articles which are indispensable in time of action.
In this very unpleasant predicament, unwilling to trust another, I hastened with all speed to the hospital, about one mile, to procure another supply from Dr. Craik; and he desired that if the Marquis de la Fayette should be wounded, I would devote to him my first attention.
On my return, I found Dr. Munson and my party waiting, but the troops had marched on and we knew not their route. We were obliged to follow at random, and in the darkness of night, hazarding our approach to the enemy.
Having advanced about half a mile, of a sudden a party of armed men in white uniform rose from the ground, and ordered us to stop; they proved to be the rear-guard of the French.
The officer demanded the countersign, which I was unable to give, and as we could not understand each others language, I was detained under considerable embarrassment till an officer who could speak English was called, when producing my instruments and bandages, and assuring the French officer that I was surgeon to the infantry, he politely conducted me to my station.
Our troops were indefatigable in their labors during the night, and before day-light they had nearly completed the first parallel line of nearly two miles in extent, besides laying a foundation for two redoubts, within about six hundred yards of the enemy's lines.
At day-light the enemy, having discovered our works, commenced a severe cannonade, but our men being under cover, received no injury. A French soldier deserted to the enemy; after which, there was a constant firing against the French lines, and one officer was killed, and fifteen men were killed or wounded.
In the latter part of the night it rained severely, and being in the open field cold and uncomfortable, I entered a small hut made of brush, which the enemy had abandoned. Soon after, a man came to the door, and, seeing me, standing in the centre, instantly drew his sword, and put himself in an attitude to plunge it into me.
I called out friend, friend, And he as speedily, to my great joy, responded, " Ah, Monsieur, friend," and returning his sword to its place, he departed. I think he was a French soldier, and it is doubtful whether he or myself was the most frightened.
8th and 9th
- The duty of our troops has been for several days extremely severe: our regiment labors in the trenches every other day and night, where I find it difficult to avoid suffering by the cold, having no other covering than a single blanket in the open field.
We erected a battery last night in front of our first parallel, without any annoyance from the enemy. Two or three of our batteries being now prepared to open on the town, his Excellency General Washington put the match to the first gun, and a furious discharge of cannon and mortars immediately followed, and Earl Cornwallis has received his first salutation.
From the 10th to the 15th, a tremendous and incessant firing from the American and French batteries is kept up, and the enemy return the fire, but with little effect. A red-hot shell from the French battery set fire to the Charon, a British 44-gun ship, and two or three smaller vessels at anchor in the river, which were consumed in the night.
From the bank of the river I had a fine view of this splendid conflagration. The ships were enwrapped in a torrent of fire, which spreading with vivid brightness among the combustible rigging, and running with amazing rapidity to the tops of the several masts, while all around was thunder and lightning from our numerous cannon and mortars, and in the darkness of night, presented one of the most sublime and magnificent spectacles which can be imagined.
Some of our shells, overreaching the town, are seen to fall into the river, and bursting, throw up columns of water like the spouting of the monsters of the deep. We have now made further approaches to the town by throwing up a second parallel line, and batteries within about three hundred yards; this was effected in the night,
And at day-light the enemy were roused to the greatest exertions; the engines of war have raged with redoubled fury and destruction on both sides, no cessation day or night. The French had two officers wounded, and fifteen men killed or wounded, and among the Americans, two or three were wounded. I assisted in amputating a man's thigh.
The siege is daily becoming more and more formidable and alarming, and his lordship must view his situation as extremely critical, if not desperate. Being in the trenches every other night and day, I have a fine opportunity of witnessing the sublime and stupendous scene which is continually exhibiting. The bomb-shells from the besiegers and the besieged are incessantly crossing each others path in the air.
They are clearly visible in the form of a black ball in the day, but in the night, they appear like a fiery meteor with a blazing tail, most beautifully brilliant, ascending majestically from the mortar to a certain altitude, and gradually descending to the spot where they are destined to execute their work of destruction.
It is astonishing with what accuracy an experienced gunner will make his calculations, that a shell shall fall within a few feet of a given point, and burst at the precise time, though at a great distance. When a shell falls, it whirls round, burrows, and excavates the earth to a considerable extent, and bursting, makes dreadful havoc around.
I have more than once witnessed fragments of the mangled bodies and limbs of the British soldiers thrown into the air by the bursting of our shells; and by one from the enemy, Captain White, of the seventh Massachusetts regiment, and one soldier were killed, and another wounded near where I was standing.
About twelve or fourteen men have been killed or wounded within twenty-four hours; I attended at the hospital, amputated a man's arm, and assisted in dressing a number of wounds. The enemy having two redoubts, about three hundred yards in front of their principal works, which enfiladed our intrenchment and impeded our approaches, it was resolved to take possession of them both by assault.
The one on the left of the British garrison, bordering on the banks of the river, was assigned to our brigade of light-infantry, under the command of the Marquis de la Fayette. The advanced corps was led on by the intrepid Colonel Hamilton, who had commanded a regiment of light-infantry during the campaign, and assisted by Colonel Gimat.
The assault commenced at eight o'clock in the evening, and the assailants bravely entered the fort with the point of the bayonet without firing a single gun. We suffered the loss of eight men killed, and about thirty wounded, among whom Colonel Gimat received a slight wound in his foot, and Major Gibbs, of his excellency's guard, and two other officers, were slightly wounded.
Major Campbell, who commanded in the fort, was wounded and taken prisoner, with about thirty soldiers, the remainder made their escape. I was desired to visit the wounded in the fort, even before the balls had ceased whistling about my ears, and saw a sergeant and eight men dead in the ditch.
A captain of our infantry, belonging to New Hampshire, threatened to take the life of Major Campbell, to avenge the death of his favorite, Colonel Scammel; but Colonel Hamilton interposed, and not a man was killed after he ceased to resist. During the assault, the British kept up an incessant firing of cannon and musketry from their whole line.
His Excellency General Washington, Generals Lincoln and Knox, with their aids, having dismounted, were standing in an exposed situation waiting the result. Colonel Cobb, one of General Washington's aids, solicitous for his safety, said to his excellency,
"Sir, you are too much exposed here. Had you not better step a little back?
"Colonel Cobb," replied his excellency, "if you are afraid, you have liberty to step back."
The other redoubt on the right of the British lines was assaulted at the same time by a detachment of the French, commanded by the gallant Baron de Viomenil.
Such was the ardor displayed by the assailants, that all resistance was soon overcome, though at the expense of nearly one hundred men killed and wounded. Of the defenders of the redoubt, eighteen were killed, and one captain and two subaltern officers, and forty-two rank and file captured.
The cause of the great loss sustained by the French troops in comparison with that of the Americans, in storming their respective redoubts, was that the American troops when they came to the abatis, removed a part of it with their hands and leaped over the remainder.
The French troops on coming up to theirs, waited till their pioneers had cut away the abatis secundum artem, which exposed them longer to the galling fire of the enemy. To this cause also is to be ascribed the circumstance, that the redoubt assailed by the Americans, was carried before that attacked by the French troops.
The Marquis de Ia Fayette sent his aid, Major Barbour, through the tremendous fire of the whole line of the British, to inform the Baron Viomenil, that "he was in his redoubt and to ask the baron where he was."
The major found the baron waiting the clearing away the abatis, but sent this answer: "Tell the marquis I am not in mine, but will be in five minutes." He instantly advanced, and was, or nearly so, within his time.
Our second parallel line was immediately connected with the two redoubts now taken from the enemy, and some new batteries were thrown up in front of our second parallel line, with a covert way, and angling work approaching to less than three hundred yards of their principal forts. These will soon be mantled with cannon and mortars, and when their horrid thundering commences, it must convince his lordship that his post is not invincible, and that submission must soon be his only alternative. Our artillery-men, by the exactness of their aim, make every discharge take effect, so that many of the enemy's guns are entirely silenced, and their works are almost in ruins.
16th.-A party of the enemy, consisting of about four hundred men, commanded by Colonel Abercrombie, about four in the morning, made a vigorous sortie against two unfinished redoubt, occupied by the French; they spiked up seven or eight pieces of cannon and killed several soldiers, but the French advanced and drove them from the redoubts, leaving several killed and wounded. Our New England troops have now become very sickly; the prevalent diseases are intermittent and remittent fevers, which are very prevalent in this climate during the autumnal months.
17th.-The whole of our works are now mounted with cannon and mortars; not less than one hundred pieces of heavy ordnance have been in continual operation during the last twenty-four hours. The whole peninsula trembles under the incessant thunderings of our infernal machines; we have leveled some of their works in ruins, and silenced their guns; they have almost ceased firing. We are so near as to have a distinct view of the dreadful havoc and destruction of their works, and even see the men in their lines tore to pieces by the bursting of our shells. But the scene is drawing to a close. Lord Cornwallis, at length realizing the extreme hazard of his deplorable situation, and finding it in vain any longer to resist, has this fore-noon come to the humiliating expedient of sending out a flag, requesting a cessation of hostilities for twenty-four hours, that commissioners may be appointed to prepare and adjust the terms of capitulation. Two or three flags passed in the course of the day, and General Washington consented to a cessation of hostilities for two hours only, that his lordship may suggest his proposals as a basis for a treaty, which being in part accepted, a suspension of hostilities will be continued till to-morrow.
18th.-It is now ascertained that Lord Cornwallis, to avoid the necessity of a surrender, had determined on the bold attempt to make his escape in the night of the 16th, with a part of his army into the country. His plan was to leave sick and baggage behind, and to cross with his effective force over to Gloucester Point, there to destroy the French legion and other troops, and to mount his infantry on their horses and such others as might be procured, and thus push their way to New York by land. A more preposterous and desperate attempt can scarcely be imagined. Boats were secretly prepared, arrangements made, and a large proportion of his troops actually embarked and landed on Glouster Point, when, from a moderate and calm evening, a most violent storm of wind and rain ensued. The boats with the remaining troops were all driven down the river, and it was not till the next day that his troops could be returned to the garrison at York. At an early hour this forenoon General Washington communicated to Lord Cornwallis the general basis of the terms of capitulation, which he deemed admissible, and allowed two hours for his reply. Commissioners were soon after appointed to prepare the particular terms of agreement. The gentlemen appointed by General Washington are Colonel Laurens, one of his aid-de-camps, and Viscount Noaille of the French army. They have this day held an interview with the two British officers on the part of Lord Cornwallis, the terms of capitulation are settled, and being confirmed by the commanders of both armies, the royal troops are to march out to-morrow and surrender their arms. It is a circumstance deserving of remark, that Colonel Laurens, who is stipulating for the surrender of a British nobleman, at the head or a royal army, is the son of Mr. Henry Laurens, our ambassador to Holland, who, being captured on his voyage, is now in close confinement in the tower of London.
Connected with this transaction there is a concurrence of circumstances so peculiarly remarkable, that I cannot omit to notice them in this place. Mr. Henry Laurens, who was deputed by Congress as our ambassador to Holland, was captured and carried into England, and closely and most rigorously confined in the tower of London. Lord Cornwallis sustains the office of constable to the tower; of course Mr. Laurens is his prisoner. The son, Colonel John Laurens, stipulates the conditions of the surrender of the constable, who becomes our prisoner, while Mr. Laurens, the father, remains confined in the tower as a prisoner to the captured constable. Congress had proposed that Mr. Laurens should be received in exchange for General Burgoyne, but the proposal was rejected by the British government. After Cornwallis was captured, however, he was readily received in exchange for Mr. Laurens.
19th.-This is to us a most glorious day; but to the English, one of bitter chagrin and disappointment. Preparations are now making to receive as captives that vindictive, haughty commander, and that victorious army, who, by their robberies and murders, have so long been a scourge to our brethren of the Southern states. Being on horseback, I anticipate a full share of satisfaction in viewing the various movements in the interesting scene. The stipulated terms of capitulation are similar to those granted to General Lincoln at Charleston the last year. The captive troops are to march out with shouldered arms, colors cased, and drums beating a British or German march, and to ground their arms at a place assigned for the purpose. The officers are allowed their side-arms and private property, and the generals and such officers as desire it are to go on parole to England or New York. The marines and seamen of the king's ships are prisoners of war to the navy of France; And the land forces to the United States. All military and artillery stores to be delivered up unimpaired. The royal prisoners to be sent into the interior of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania in regiments, to have rations allowed them equal to the American soldiers, and to have their officers near them. Lord Cornwallis to man and despatch the Bonetta sloop-of-war with despatches to Sir Henry Clinton at New York without being searched, the vessel to be returned and the hands accounted for. At about twelve o'clock, the combined army was arranged and drawn up in two lines extending more than a mile in length. The Americans were drawn up in a line on the right side of the road, and the French occupied the left. At the head of the former, the great American commander, mounted on his noble courser, took his station; attended by his aids. At the head of the latter was posted the excellent Count Rochambeau and his suite. The French troops, in complete uniform, displayed a martial and noble appearance, their band of music, of which the timbrel formed a part, is a delightful novelty, and produced while marching to the ground a most enchanting effect. The Americans, though not all in uniform, nor their dress so neat, yet exhibited an erect, soldierly air, and every countenance beamed with satisfaction and joy. The concourse of spectators from the country was prodigious, in point of numbers was probably equal to the military, but universal silence and order prevailed. It was about two o'clock when the captive army advanced through the line formed for their reception. Every eye was prepared to gaze on Lord Cornwallis, the object of peculiar interest and solicitude; but he disappointed our anxious expectations; pretending indisposition, he made General O'Hara his substitute as the leader of his army. This officer was followed by the conquered troops in a slow and solemn step, with shouldered arms, colors cased, and drums beating a British march. Having arrived at the head of the line, General O'Hara, elegantly mounted, advanced to his excellency the commander-in-chief, taking off his hat, and apologized for the non-appearance of Earl Cornwallis. With his usual dignity and politeness, his excellency pointed to Major-General Lincoln for directions, by whom the British army was conducted into a spacious field, where it was intended they should ground their arms. The royal troops, while marching through the line formed by the allied army, exhibited a decent and neat appearance, as respects arms and clothing, for their commander opened his store, and directed every soldier to be furnished with a new suit complete, prior to the capitulation. But in their line of march we remarked a disorderly and unsoldierly conduct, their step was irregular, and their ranks frequently broken. But it was in the field, when they came to the last act of the drama, that the spirit and pride of the British soldier was but to the severest test: here their mortification could not be concealed. Some of the platoon officers appeared to be exceedingly chagrined when giving the word "ground arms," and I am a witness that they performed this duty in a very unofficer-like manner; and that many of the soldiers manifested a sullen temper, throwing their arms on the pile with violence, as if determined to render them useless. This irregularity, however, was checked by the authority of General Lincoln. After having grounded their arms and divested themselves of their accoutrements, the captive troops were conducted back to Yorktown, and guarded by our troops till they could be removed to the place of their destination. The British troops that were stationed at Gloucester, surrendered at the same time and in the same manner, to the command of the Duke de Luzerne. This must be a very interesting and gratifying transaction to General Lincoln, who, having himself been obliged to surrender an army to a haughty foe the last year, has now assigned him the pleasing duty of giving laws to a conquered army in return, and of reflecting that the terms which were imposed on him are adopted as a basis of the surrender in the present instance. It is a very gratifying circumstance that every degree of harmony, confidence and friendly intercourse subsisted between the American and French troops during the campaign - no contest, except an emulous spirit to excel in exploits and enterprise against the common enemy, and a desire to be celebrated in the annals of history for an ardent love of great and heroic actions. We are not to be surprised that the pride of the British officers is humbled on this occasion, as they have always entertained an exalted opinion of their own military prowess, and affected to view the Americans as a contemptible, undisciplined rabble. But there is no display of magnanimity when a great commander shrinks from the inevitable misfortunes of war; and when it is considered that Lord Cornwallis has frequently appeared in splendid triumph at the head of his army, by which he is almost adored, we conceive it incumbent on him cheerfully to participate in their misfortunes and degradations, however humiliating; but it is said he gives himself up entirely to vexation and despair.
20th-In the general orders of this day our commander-in-chief expresses his entire approbation, and his warmest thanks to the French and American officers and soldiers of all descriptions, for the brave and honorable part which they have acted during the siege. He congratulates the combined army on the momentous event which closes the campaign, and which crowns their heads with unfading laurels, and entitles them to the applause and gratitude of their country. Among the general officers whom his excellency particularly noticed, for the important services which they rendered during the siege, are, Generals Lincoln, De la Fayette, Steuben, Knox, and Du Portail, his Excellency Count Rochambeau, and several other distinguished French officers. To Governor Nelson, of Virginia, he returned his grateful and sincere acknowledgments for the essential succors afforded by him and the militia under his command. The commander-in-chief, wishing that every heart should participate in the joy of this memorable day, ordered that all those who are under arrest or confinement should be immediately pardoned and set at liberty, a circumstance which I believe has never before occurred in our army. He closed by ordering that divine service shall be performed in the several brigades to-morrow, and recommends that the troops attend with a serious deportment, and with that sensibility of heart which the recollection of the surprising and particular interposition of Providence in our favor claims.
22d.-Yesterday being Sunday, our brigade of infantry and the York brigade were drawn up in the field to attend divine service, performed by Mr. Evans. After offering to the Lord of hosts, the God of battles, our grateful homage for the preservation of our lives through the dangers of the siege, and for the important event with which Divine Providence has seen fit to crown our efforts, he preached an excellent and appropriate sermon. Generals Lincoln and Clinton were present. In the design and execution of this successful expedition, our commander-in-chief fairly out-generaled Sir Henry Clinton, and the whole movement was marked by consummate military address, which reduced the royal general to a mortifying dilemma that no skill or enterprise could retrieve. A siege of thirteen days, prosecuted with unexampled rapidity, has terminated in the capture of one of the greatest generals of which the English can boast, and a veteran and victorious army which has for several months past spread terror and desolation throughout the Southern states. The joy on this momentous occasion is universally diffused, and the hope entertained that it will arrest the career of a cruel warfare, and advance the establishment of American Independence. In the progress of the royal army through the state of Virginia the preceding summer, they practised the most abominable enormities, plundering negroes and horses from almost every plantation, and reducing the country to ruin. Among the prodigious assemblage of spectators at the time of surrender, were a number of planters, searching for the property which had been thus purloined from their estates. The famous Colonel Tarleton, mounted on a horse remarkable for elegance and noble appearance, while riding in company with several French officers with whom he was to dine, was met by a gentleman, who instantly recognized the animal as his own property. Tarleton was stopped, and the horse peremptorily demanded; observing a little hesitation, the British General O'Harra, who was present, said, "You had better give him his horse, Tarleton; on which the colonel dismounted, and delivered the horse to the original proprietor; after which, being remounted on a very miserable animal, he rejoined his company, and the French officers were greatly surprised that he should be so humbly mounted. The British prisoners were all sent off yesterday, conducted by a party of militia on their way to the interior of Virginia and Maryland. I have this day visited the town of York, to witness the destructive effects of the siege. It contains about sixty houses; some of them are elegant, many of them are greatly damaged and some totally ruined, being shot through in a thousand places and honey-combed ready to crumble to pieces. Rich furniture and books were scattered over the ground, and the carcases of men and horses half-covered with earth, exhibited a scene of ruin and horror beyond description. The earth in many places is thrown up into mounds by the force of our shells, and it is difficult to point to a spot where a man could have resorted for safety.
The loss on the part of the French during the siege was fifty killed and one hundred and twenty-seven wounded. Americans twenty-seven killed and seventy-three wounded, officers included. Cornwallis' account of his loss during the siege is one hundred and fifty-six, three hundred and twenty-six wounded, and seventy missing, probably deserted, total five hundred and fifty-two. The whole number surrendered by capitulation, seven thousand two hundred and forty-seven (Another list, which has been published, makes their total loss by death and capture to be eleven thousand eight hundred, including two thousand sailors, one thousand eight hundred negroes, one thousand five hundred tories, eighty vessels, large and small.) The amount of artillery and military stores, provisions, &c., is very considerable, seventy-five brass and one hundred and sixty-nine iron cannon, seven thousand seven hundred ninety-four muskets; regimental standards, German eighteen, British ten. From the military chest we received two thousand one hundred and thirteen pounds six shillings sterling.
Lord Cornwallis is a very distinguished warrior; he possesses an exalted spirit, is brave and intrepid, and never was there a more zealous champion of his tyrannical master; austere and rigorous in his temper, nothing could be more foreign from his heart than the sympathies of benevolence or generous compassion. Had all the rebels in the states but one neck, his lordship would glory in nothing more than an opportunity of severing the jugular vein. But Cornwallis has fallen I and our country is not subjugated (It is asserted in Gordon's History of the War, that wherever the army of Lord Cornwallis marched, the dwelling-houses were plundered of every thing that could be carried off. Hundreds of eye-witnesses can prove that his lordship's table was served with plate thus pillaged from private families. By an estimate made at the time, on the best information that could be collected, the state of Virginia lost during Cornwallis' attempts to reduce it, thirty thousand slaves. And it has been computed that one thousand four hundred widows were made by the ravaging hand of war in the single district of Ninety-Six. The whole devastations occasioned by the British army, during the six months previous to their surrender at Yorktown, are supposed to amount to about three millions sterling.)
It is proper I should take a retrospect of some events which have marked the conduct of the war of extermination in the Southern states. A singular kind of ferocious animosity has subsisted between the two contending parties, as may be seen by letters from General Greene on the subject. "The animosity," says this amiable man, "between the whigs and tories of this state renders their situation truly deplorable. Not a day passes but there are more or less who fall a sacrifice to this savage disposition. The whigs seem determined to extirpate the tories, and the tories the whigs. Some thousands have fallen in this way in this quarter, and the evil rages with more violence than ever. If a stop cannot be soon put to these massacres, the country will be depopulated in a few months more, as neither whig nor tory can live." Speaking of a certain party on our side, he says: "This party plunders without mercy, and murders the defenceless people just as private pique, prejudice or personal resentments dictate. Principles of humanity, as well as, policy, require that proper measures should be immediately taken to restrain these abuses, heal differences, and unite the people as much as possible. No violence should be offered to any of the inhabitants unless found in arms. The idea of exterminating the tories is no less barbarous than impolitic." Such is the infernal spirit of revenge and bitterness which has caused mutual destruction and wretchedness among the people. But, however atrocious may have been the conduct of some unauthorized partizans on the part of the Americans, the following instance of inhumanity, in the sacrifice of one of the victims of their malicious resentment, is sufficient to stigmatize the British character with eternal infamy. Lord Rawdon and Lieutenant-Colonel Balfour have perpetrated an act which, in all its distressing circumstances, surpasses in enormity and wickedness all others which have come to our knowledge, and which has roused the indignant spirit of every true American to a pitch of desperation. "Colonel Isaac Hayne, during the siege of Charleston, served his country as an officer of militia. After the capitulation, no alternative was left but to abandon his family and property, or to surrender to the conquerors. The small-pox was near his plantation, and he had a wife, six small children, and more than one hundred negroes, all liable to the disease. He concluded that, instead of waiting to be captured, it would be both more safe and more honorable to go within the British lines, and surrender himself a voluntary prisoner. He therefore repaired to Charleston, and offered to bind himself by the honor of an American officer to do nothing prejudicial to the British interest till he should be exchanged. Reports made of his superior abilities and influence, uniformly exerted in the American cause, operated with the conquerors to refuse him, a parole, though they were daily accustomed to grant this indulgence to other inhabitants. He was told that he must either become a British subject, or submit to close confinement. To be arrested and detained in the capital, was not to himself an intolerable evil; but to abandon his family, both to the ravages of the small pox then raging in their neighborhood, and to the insults and depredations of the royalists, was too much for the tender husband and fond parent. To acknowledge himself the subject of a government which he had from principle renounced, was repugnant to his feelings; but, without this, he was cut off from every prospect of a return to his family. In this embarrassing situation, he waited on Dr. Ramsay, with a declaration to the following effect: "If the British would grant me the indulgence which we in the day of our power gave to their adherents, of removing my family and property, I would seek an asylum in the remotest corner of the United States, rather than submit to their government; but, as they allow no other alternative than submission or confinement in the capital, at a distance from my wife and family, at a time when they are in the most pressing need of my presence and support, I must for the present yield to the demands of the conquerors. I request you to bear in mind, that previous to my taking this step, I declare that it is contrary to my inclination, and forced on me by hard necessity. I never will bear arms against my country. My new masters can require no service of me but what is enjoined by the old militia law of the province, which substitutes a fine in lieu of personal service. This I will pay as the price of my protection. If my conduct should be censured by my countrymen, I beg that you would remember this conversation, and bear witness for me, that I do not mean to desert the cause of America."
In this state of perplexity, Colonel Hayne subscribed a declaration of his allegiance to the King of Great Britain; but not without expressly objecting to the clause which required him with his arms to support the royal government. The commandant Of the garrison, Brigadier-General Patterson, and James Simpson, Esquire, intendant of the British police, assured him that this would never be required; and added, further, that when the regular forces could not defend the country without the aid of its inhabitants, it would be high time for the royal army to quit it. Having submitted to the royal government, he was permitted to return to his family. Notwithstanding what had passed at the time of his submission, he was repeatedly called on to take arms against his countrymen, and finally threatened with close confinement in case of a further refusal. This he considered as a breach of contract, and it being no longer in the power of the British to give him that protection which was to be the compensation of his allegiance, he viewed himself as released from all engagements to their commanders. The inhabitants of his neighborhood, who had also revolted, petitioned General Pickens to appoint him to the command of their regiment, which was done, and the appointment accepted. Hayne fell into their hands. He was carried to the capital, and confined in the provost prison, for having resumed his arms after accepting British protection. At first he was promised a trial, and had counsel prepared to justify his conduct by the laws of nations and usages of war; but this was finally refused, and he was ordered for execution by Lord Rawdon and Lieutenant-Colonel Balfour. The royal Lieutenant-Governor Bull, and a great number of inhabitants, both royalists and Americans, interceded for his life. The ladies of Charleston generally signed a petition in his behalf in which was introduced every delicate sentiment that was likely to operate on the gallantry of officers or the humanity of men. His children, accompanied by some near relations, (the mother had died of the small-pox,) were presented on their bended knees as humble suitors for their father's life. Such powerful intercessions were made in his favor, as touched many an unfeeling heart, and drew tears from many a hard eye; but Lord Rawdon and Balfour continued firm in their determination.
The colonel was repeatedly visited by his friends, and conversed on various subjects with a becoming fortitude. He particularly lamented that, on principles of retaliation, his execution would probably be an introduction to the shedding of much innocent blood. He requested those in whom the supreme power was vested, to accommodate the mode of his death to his feelings as an officer; but this was refused. On the last evening of his life he told a friend that he was no more alarmed at the thoughts of death, than at any other occurrence which was necessary and unavoidable.
On receiving his summons, on the morning of August the 4th, to proceed to the place of execution, he delivered to his eldest son, a youth of about thirteen years of age, several papers relative to his case, and said: "Present these papers to Mrs. Edwards, with my request that she should forward them to her brother in Congress. You will next repair to the place of execution, receive my body, and see it decently interred among my forefathers." They took a final leave. The colonel's arms were pinioned, and a guard placed round his person. The procession began from the Exchange in the forenoon. The streets were crowded with thousands of anxious spectators. He walked to the place of execution with such decent firmness, composure and dignity, as to awaken the compassion of many, and command respect from all. When the city barrier was passed, and the instrument of his catastrophe appeared in full view, a faithful friend by his side observed to him, that he hoped he would exhibit an example of the manner in which an American can die. He answered, with the utmost tranquillity, "I will endeavor to do so." He ascended the cart with a firm step and serene aspect. He inquired of the executioner, who was making an attempt to get up to pull the cap over his eyes, what he wanted. On being informed, the colonel replied, "I will save you the trouble," and pulled the cap over himself, He was afterwards asked whether he wished to say any thing, to which be answered, "I will only take leave of my friends, and be ready." He then affectionately shook hands with three gentlemen, recommending his children to their care, and gave the signal for the cart to move.
Thus fell Colonel Isaac Hayne in the bloom of life, furnishing that example in death, which extorted a confession from his enemies, that though he did not die in a good cause, he must at least have acted from a persuasion of its being so.*
*The tragical story of Colonel Hayne is not complete without adding, from a recent publication b Alexander Garden, Esq., the following particulars: "Irregularities in the mode of conducting the war, in the highest degree disgraceful to the American cause, had frequently occurred. No man lamented them with greater sincerity than Colonel Hayne, for none more anxiously wished the American character to be free from reproach. Soon, then, as solicited by his neighbors, and the inhabitants generally of the district, to resume a hostile position, to become their leader, and direct their operations against the enemy, he made in honorable and open declaration: 'that he could only be induced to comply with their wishes, by obtaining a solemn promise from all who were to serve under him, that an immediate stop should be put to every unnecessary severity: a desideratum the more to be insisted on, as he was resolved that exemplary punishment should be inflicted on every individual who should indulge in pillage, or in committing any act of inhumanity against the foe.' A copy of the address made to his soldiers on this occasion was found on him at the period of his captivity; but though it forcibly expressed his abhorrence of crime, and was replete with sentiments that did honor to his humanity, it availed not to soften the rigor of persecution, nor in the slightest degree to mitigate the severity of the punishment denounced against him. When the paper which contained this honorable testimony of generous feeling was presented to Major McKenzie, who sat as president of the tribunal before which Colonel Hayne was arraigned, he, with great expression of sensibility, requested the prisoner 'to retain it till he should be brought before the court-martial that was to determine his fate,' assuring him that the present court were only directed to inquire whether or not he acknowledged himself to be the individual who had taken protection.' It is unnecessary to add, that this trial was never granted. Lord Rawdon reached the city from the interior country, and at his command an order for immediate execution was issued. Little did the sympathy that melted every heart to tenderness - little did the pathetic address or the lovely daughters of the soil, calculated to move even the bosom of obduracy - avail. Heedless of the prayers and solicitations of the afflicted friends and relatives, deaf to the cries of his children, who, even with bended knees interceded for mercy, insensible to the dictates of humanity, his resolution was fixed as adamant, and a hero was sacrificed."
The execution of the worthy Colonel Hayne is universally reprobated as an act of barbarity, justified neither by civil nor military law, and as an unexampled outrage on the principles of morality and Christian benevolence; but in the view of the British commanders, the application of their hackneyed term, rebel, sanctions a departure from all laws, both human and divine. In August, 1780, Lord Cornwallis, in addressing one of his officers, says: "I have given orders that all the inhabitants of this province who had submitted, and who have taken part in its revolt, shall be punished with the greatest rigor; that they shall be imprisoned, and their whole property taken from them or destroyed. I have ordered, in the most positive manner, that every militia-man who had borne arms with us, and afterwards joined the enemy, shall be immediately hanged; and have now, sir, only to desire that you will take the most vigorous measures to extinguish the rebellion, and that you will obey, in the strictest manner, the directions given in this letter." It is on the authority of the order just quoted that Lord Rawdon and Colonel Balfour justify their cruel execution of Colonel Hayne, and it will be difficult to calculate the number of miserable wretches who have fallen sacrifices to the same relentless spirit; nor are the mandates of Lord Rawdon. less sanguinary, as will appear by the following specimen:
Extract of a letter to Colonel Rugely commanding the British militia, near Camden.
"If attachment to their sovereign will not move the country people to check a crime so disastrous to the service, desertion, it must be my care to urge them to their duty, as good subjects, by using invariable severity against every one who shall show so criminal a neglect of the public interest. If any person meet a soldier, straggling without a written pass beyond the piquets, and shall not do his utmost to secure him, or shall not spread an alarm for this purpose, or if any person shall give shelter to soldiers straggling as above mentioned, or shall serve them as a guide, or shall furnish them with passes, or any other assistance, the persons so offending may assure themselves of rigorous punishment, as by whipping, imprisonment, or by being sent to serve in the West Indies, according as I shall think the degree of criminality may require; for I have ordered that every soldier who passes the piquet, shall submit, himself to be examined, by any militia-man who has a suspicion of him. If a soldier, therefore, attempts to escape, when ordered by a militia-man to stop, he is immediately to be fired on as a deserter. I will give ten guineas for the head of any deserter belonging to the volunteers of Ireland, and fire guineas only if he be brought alive."
But the strong measures which they pursued to crush the rebellion has produced a contrary effect, and lighted a flame which rages with tenfold violence, and which will eventually afford an essential aid in the establishment of our Independence.
For some months previous to the capture of Cornwallis, and while his army was traversing the states of the Carolinas and Virginia, he was opposed by the Marquis de la Fayette with an inferior force. His lordship having received a reinforcement, was so confident of success against his opponent, that he unguardedly wrote, in a letter which was afterwards intercepted, "the boy cannot escape me," but he was disappointed in his sanguine expectations. Cornwallis at one time formed a plan to surprise the marquis while on the same side of James river with himself but the attempt was prevented by the following incident: The marquis, unapprised of the particular situation of his opponent, contrived to send into his camp a spy to obtain intelligence. A soldier belonging to New Jersey, by the name of Charles Morgan, generally called Charley, agreed to undertake this hazardous service; but insisted that, in case he should be discovered and hanged, the marquis, to secure his reputation, should have it inserted in the New Jersey paper, that he was employed in the service of his commander. Having reached the royal camp, he was soon introduced into his lordship's presence, who inquired the reason of his deserting. Charley replied, "that he had been in the continental service from the beginning, and while under Washington he was well satisfied; but being now commanded by a Frenchman, he was displeased with it, and had quitted the service." His lordship commended and rewarded him for his conduct, and Charley soon commenced the double duty of soldier under the English commander, and a spy in the employment of the marquis, without suspicion. Lord Cornwallis, while in conversation with several of his officers, inquired of Charley how long a time it would take for the marquis to cross James river? Pausing a moment, he replied, "Three hours, my lord." His lordship exclaimed," Three hours! it will take three days." "No, my lord," said Charley; "the marquis has such a number of boats, and each boat will carry so many men; if you will please to calculate, you will find he can pass in three hours." His lordship, turning to the officers, said, "The scheme will not do." After having obtained the information required, Morgan began to prepare for a return to the marquis, and he prevailed with several British soldiers to desert with him. When challenged by the sentinels, he artfully tampered with them by giving them rum; and, while drinking, he seized their arms, and then compelled them to go; and this brave fellow actually brought off seven deserters to our camp. On his return to head-quarters, the marquis accosted him with, "Well, Charley, have you got back?" "Yes, please your excellency, and have brought seven men with me." Having communicated his information, the marquis offered to reward him, but he declined receiving money; and when it was proposed to promote him to a corporal or sergeant, he replied, "I have ability to discharge the duties of a common soldier, and my character stands fair; but should I be promoted, I may fail, and lose my reputation." He, however, requested that his destitute comrades, who came with him, might be furnished with shoes and clothing, which was readily granted.
A warm action took place early in September, between General Greene and the main body of the royal army, under Colonel Stuart, at Eutaw springs. Though inferior in force, General Greene sought the enemy, and made a furious attack; the battle became general, and continued four hours; it was the hottest and the most bloody, for the numbers engaged, that General Greene ever witnessed; many of the officers combated sword to sword, and the soldiers, rushing together, with the point of the bayonet contended with increased rage and effort for life, for blood, and carnage. A party of the enemy possessed themselves of a three-story brick house and a picketed garden, which gave them considerable advantage, and saved their army from a total rout. In a charge, which decided the fate of the day in our favor, Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, of the Virginia line, who with undaunted firmness was leading on his brigade, received a mortal wound; and, on being informed that the enemy were flying in all quarters, said, "I die contented." Lieutenant-Colonel Washington had his horse killed under him, was wounded and taken prisoner. The American loss is not less than sixty commissioned officers killed and wounded, one hundred and thirty rank and file killed, and three hundred and forty wounded and missing. The loss on the side of the British is supposed to be fully equal in point of numbers, excepting in officers, and five hundred men, including seventy wounded, which were left, were the next day made prisoners by our army. Victory is claimed by both commanders, but the consequences have proved most disastrous to the enemy; for the next day Colonel Stuart destroyed a large quantity of stores, abandoned his position, and leaving one thousand stand of arms and seventy wounded men, retired in haste towards Charleston.
31st.-Our troops are now employed in embarking the artillery and stores on board of transports, and we are soon to proceed by water to the head of Elk river, on our way to the North river. Dined with General Hazen, in company with a number of officers, both American and French. Here we enjoyed a profusion of mutual congratulations on our late glorious success, and this was the chief topic of conversation. Lord Cornwallis and his officers, since their capitulation, have received all the civilities and hospitality which it is in the power of their conquerors to bestow. General Washington, Count Rochambeau, and other general officers, have frequently invited them to entertainments, and they have expressed their grateful acknowledgments in return. They cannot avoid feeling the striking contrast between the treatment which they now experience and that which they have bestowed on our prisoners who have unfortunately fallen into their hands. It is a dictate of humanity and benevolence, after sheathing the sword, to relieve and meliorate the condition of the vanquished prisoner.
On one occasion, while in the presence of General Washington, Lord Cornwallis was standing with his head uncovered, his excellency said to him, politely, "My lord, you had better be covered from the cold;" his lordship, applying his hand to his head, replied, "It matters not, sir, what becomes of this head now."
November 3d.-While our soldiers were loading a quantity of bombs and shot on board of transports, a shell burst, by which one man was unfortunately killed and two dangerously wounded. It is much to be lamented that these brave men, whose lives have been preserved through the dangers of the siege, should meet their adverse fate in such a manner. Orders are now received for our regiment of infantry to embark on board the Diligence, a French frigate of thirty-two guns, commanded by Captain Cleoughnaugh, bound up the Chesapeake, to the head of Elk river. Major Nathan Rice commands our regiment.
December.-We sailed from York river on the 4th of November, and in consequence of severe storms and contrary winds, our voyage was very unpleasant, and protracted to sixteen days, which has often been performed in three. Captain Cleoughnaugh and his officers were very polite and accommodating; we dined constantly at the table of the captain, and shared with him in his store of wine, &c. It happened unfortunately that, a few days after we left York, four of our soldiers were seized with the small-pox, and having on board about eighty men who were liable to receive the infection, they were with several officers put on the Virginia shore, to march round by land. We disembarked at the head a Elk, on the 20th of November, where we met with our horses, and on the 24th we commenced our march to the highlands, near West Point. Passed through Philadelphia, Trenton, Princeton, Bonbrook and Morristown, and on the 7th instant crossed the Hudson at King's ferry. On account of the inclemency of the season we have suffered exceedingly from cold, wet and fatigue, during our long march. But we return in triumph to rejoin our respective regiments, and enjoy a constant interchange of congratulations with our friends, on the glorious and brilliant success of our expedition, which closes the campaign. This event reflects the highest honor on our combined arms; it will adorn the pages of our history, and we fondly hope it will be attended with the most favorable consequences, in bringing this long-protracted and distressing war to a happy termination. It will be to me a source of inexpressible satisfaction that I have had an opportunity of participating in the siege and capture of a British army. It is among the blessed privileges and richest incidents of my life. I have for several days been afflicted with inflammatory rheumatism, attended with excruciating pains. Having no other covering than canvas tents, and the weather being extremely cold, my sufferings have been almost insupportable; but I have much less reason to complain than to be grateful to a kind Providence, that I have enjoyed uninterrupted health during my seven years of military service.
Since my return, I am happy to learn that my friend Major Trescott, of our regiment, with a detachment of one hundred men, crossed the Sound to Long Island on the 3d of October, and completely surprised the enemy's fort Slonge, making two captains, one lieutenant, and eighteen rank and file prisoners; of the enemy two were killed and two wounded; of the Americans one only was wounded. Two double fortified four-pounders were damaged, one brass three-pounder, with a number of small-arms, ammunition, clothing, English goods, &c., were brought off. This enterprise was conducted with much address and gallantry, reflecting great honor on the commander and his little party.
By report from the northern department, the British having projected an attack on the frontiers of New York state, were advancing towards Albany through the settlements on the Mohawk river, and committing great depredations among the inhabitants. The party was commanded by Major Ross, and consisted of six hundred regular rangers and Indians. Having, on the 25th of October, advanced as far as Johnstown, they were met by Lieutenant-Colonel Willet, at the head of a regiment of New York levies, and some militia, with about sixty Oneida Indians. This officer has frequently given evidence of his valor and gallantry, and on this occasion he was no less fortunate in his enterprise. Having directed Major Rowly, with a body of militia, by a circuitous movement, to get into the rear of the enemy, he made a vigorous attack in front, and they were soon totally defeated and driven into the wilderness. The next day a party of our people and Indians followed in pursuit till they were worn down by fatigue. It was impossible to ascertain the number of the enemy's slain, but their loss must have been very considerable. Fifty-two prisoners were taken and brought in, and Major Ross, with the remainder of his party, escaped into the barren wilderness, where they must have suffered extremely for want of provisions. The loss on the side of Colonel Willet is one lieutenant and twelve rank and file killed; one captain, two lieutenants, and twenty rank and file wounded. Colonel Willet's victory is rendered more important by the fall of the notorious Major Butler, who has long, as a partizan officer with the savages, been a scourge to the frontier inhabitants. He was wounded by one of our Indians, and on asking for quarters, "Yes, Cherry- Valley quarter," said the Indian and immediately despatched him. He alluded to Butler's having refused quarter to our people at Cherry-Valley, in November, 1778.
When Congress received General Washington's letter, announcing the surrender of the British army, they resolved, that they would at two o'clock go in procession to the Dutch Lutheran Church, and return thanks to Almighty God, for crowning the allied arms with success, by the surrender of the whole British army, under the command of Earl Cornwallis.
They also issued a proclamation for religiously observing throughout the United. States the 13th of December, as a day of thanksgiving and prayer.
They resolved, that thanks should be given to General Washington, Count Rochambeau, Count de Grasse, and the officers of the different corps, and the men under their command, for their services in the reduction of Lord Cornwallis. Also, resolved, to erect in Yorktown a marble column, adorned with emblems of the alliance between the United States and his Most Christian Majesty, and inscribed with a succinct narrative of the surrender of the British army.
Two stands of colors, taken from the royal troops under the capitulation, were presented to General Washington in the name of the United States in Congress assembled; and two pieces of field ordnance, so taken, were by a resolve of Congress to be presented by General Washington to Count Rochambeau, with a short memorandum engraved thereon, that
"Congress were induced to present them from considerations of the illustrious part which he bore in effecting the surrender."
The Congress of the United States, the assembly and council of the state of Pennsylvania, and a number of principal gentlemen of various orders, having been invited by the minister of France to be present at the praises offered to Heaven in the Catholic Church, on occasion of the late glorious success of the allied arms, the Abbe Bandole, Almoner to the Embassy of His Most Christian Majesty, ascended the pulpit, and addressed this august assembly in the following discourse; after which a Te Deum was sung
The occasion was in this hemisphere singular and affecting; and the discourse itself is so elegant and animated in the French, so warm with those sentiments of piety and gratitude to our Divine Benefactor, in which good men of all countries accord, and so evidently dictated by the spirit of that new friendship and alliance from which such important advantages have been derived to the rights of America, as must give pleasure to every serious and candid friend to our glorious cause.
"GENTLEMEN: A numerous people assembled to render thanks to the Almighty for his mercies, is one of the most affecting objects, and worthy the attention of the Supreme Being.
While camps resound with triumphal acclamations, while nations rejoice in victory and glory, the most honorable office a minister of the altar can fill, is to be the organ by which public gratitude is conveyed to the Omnipotent.
"Those miracles which he once wrought for his chosen people, are renewed in our favor; and it would be equally ungrateful and impious not to acknowledge, that the event which lately confounded our enemies, and frustrated their designs, was the wonderful work of that GOD who guards your liberties.
"And who but he could so combine the circumstances which led to success?
We have seen our enemies push forward amid perils almost innumerable - amid obstacles almost insurmountable - to the spot which was designed to witness their disgrace; yet they eagerly sought it, as their theatre of triumph!
Blind as they were, they bore hunger, thirst, and inclement skies, poured their blood in battle against brave republicans, and crossed immense regions to confine themselves in another Jericho, whose walls were fated to fall before another Joshua.
It is he, whose voice commands the winds, the seas, and the seasons, who formed a junction on the same day, in the same hour, between a formidable fleet from the south, and an army rushing from the north, like an impetuous torrent.
Who but he, in whose hands are the hearts of men, could inspire the allied troops with the friendship, the confidence, the tenderness of brothers! How is it that two nations, once divided, jealous, inimical, and nursed in reciprocal prejudices, are now become so closely united as to form but one?
Worldlings would say, it is the wisdom, the virtue, and moderation of their chiefs - it is a great national interest which has performed this prodigy.
They wilt say, that to the skill of the generals, to the courage of the troops, to the activity of the whole army, we must attribute this splendid success.
Ah! they are ignorant that the combining of so many fortunate circumstances is an emanation from the All-perfect Mind; that courage, that skill, that activity bear the sacred impression of him who is divine.
"For how many favors have we not to thank him during the course of the present year? Your union, which was at first supported by justice alone, has been consolidated by your courage, and the knot which ties you together is become indissoluble by the accession of all the states, and the unanimous voice of all the confederates.
You present to the universe the noble sight of a society which, founded in equality and justice, secure to the individuals who compose it the utmost happiness which can be derived from human institutions.
This advantage, which no many other nations have been unable to procure, even after ages of efforts and misery, is granted by Divine Providence to the United States; and his adorable decrees have marked the present moment for the completion of that memorable, happy revolution which has taken place in this extensive continent.
While your councils were thus acquiring new energy, rapid and multiplied successes have browned your arms in the Southern states.
"We have seen the unfortunate citizens of these states forced from their peaceful abodes; after a long and cruel captivity, old men, women and children thrown, without mercy, into a foreign country. Master of their lands and their slaves, amid his temporary affluence, a superb victor rejoiced in their distresses.
But Philadelphia has witnessed their patience and fortitude; they have found here another home, and, though driven from their native soil, they have blessed God that he has delivered them from the presence of their enemy, and conducted them to a country where every just and feeling man has stretched out the helping hand of benevolence. Heaven rewards their virtues.
These large states are at once wrested from the foe. The rapacious soldier has been compelled to take refuge behind his ramparts, and oppression has vanished like those phantoms which are dissipated by the morning ray.
"On this solemn occasion, we might renew our thanks to the God of battles for the success he has granted to the arms of your allies and your friends, by land and by sea, through the other parts of the globe. But let us not recall those events, which too clearly prove how much the hearts of our enemies have been hardened.
Let us prostrate ourselves at the altar, and implore the God of mercy to suspend his vengeance, to spare them in his wrath, to inspire them with sentiments of justice and moderation, to terminate their obstinacy and error, and to ordain that your victories be followed by peace and tranquillity.
Let us beseech him to continue to shed on the councils of the king, your ally, that spirit of wisdom, of justice, and of courage, which has rendered his reign so glorious. -
Let us entreat him to maintain in each of the states that intelligence by which the United States are inspired.
Let us return him thanks that a faction, whose rebellion he has corrected, now deprived of support, is annihilated. Let us offer him pure hearts, unsoiled by private hatred or public dissension; and let us, with one will and one voice, pour forth to the Lord that hymn of praise, by which Christians celebrate their gratitude and his glory."
[SOURCE: General George Washington, MILITARY JOURNAL - 1781AMERICANREVOLUTION.ORG, WEBSOURCE: http://www.americanrevolution.org/t1781.html ].
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