Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

His force consisted of about 250 men, with whom he undertook to traverse a distance of 1200 miles, through an uninhabited wilderness. The provision which they were able to take with them, held out only until their arrival at the great falls of the Ohio, from which they had a march of two days before them to the town of Kaskaskias. This town consisted of about two hundred and fifty houses, protected by a small fort, which with proper precaution would have been sufficient to have kept off a much larger force than that which was now brought against it. But the Americans, who had fasted for two days, were determined here to end their sufferings in victory or death. They had arrived at night, when the inhabitants of the town, unsuspicious of any hostile approach, were buried in sleep; so that the town and fort fell into the hands of Colonel Clarke, without a struggle. He had so well planned his attack that not a man escaped, The Governour was sent to Virginia, and the inhabitants were required to take an oath of allegiance to the United States, Colonel Clarke took up his head quarters at the fort, and from thence planned several expeditions into the neighbouring settlements, which proved equally successful—having taken three French towns, and brought them under allegiance to the United States,

CHAPTER VIII.

Events of 1778 continued.-Recognizance of M. Gerard as Min

ister from the French King-Dr. Franklin appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to France--Marquis de la Fayette returns to France.-Count D'Estaing sails from Boston.- Unsuccessful attempt of Admiral Byron-General Gates arrives to take command at Boston.-Movements of Sir Henry Clinton-his expedition against Bedford-against Egg Harbour-Slaughter of Pulaski's Light Infantry of Baylor's regiment of Horse Congress grant half pay to the American officers.-Exchange of prisoners.-Expeditions against East Florida.Sir Henry Clinton sends an expedition against Georgia.Defeat of General Robert Howe, and capture of Savannah, by Colonel Campbell.-Marauding incursions into Georgia from East Florida General Prevost arrives-takes Sunbury, and the whole of Georgia falls.-Expedition from Scoharie-Gallant exploit of Major Talbot.Conduct of the enemy at Cherry Valley. Mr. Silas Deane makes an appeal to the people. Is answered by Common Sense."--Monsieur Gerard presents a memorial to Congress- The French and British fleets meet in the West Indies.-Generals Schuyler and St. Clair honourably acquitted by their Courts Martial.-Sentence against General Lee confirmed. Reflections on the state of the Country.

The honourable Sieur Gerard, who had been for some time resident in the United States as a publick agent of the Crown of France, was very soon after the conclusion of the Treaties, appointed by his master Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States. This was an epoch in tlie history of our infant nation; and his presentation to Congress was attended with much ceremony. The 6th of August had been fixed upon for his introduction; the government of Penn

; sylvania were invited to attend, and each member of Congress was authorized to give two tickets of ad

mission to his friends. The new Minister was introduced by two members of Congress appointed for that duty, and being led to a seat, his Secretary delivered to the President of Congress, the credentials of his Excellency in a letter from his most Christian Majesty, which being read, the President formally announced to the Congress M. Gerard as Minister Plenipotentiary. His Excellency then addressed them in his native tongue; the President replied with suitable compliments; and a publick entertainment, given by Congress, closed the transaction.

A few weeks after this, Congress appointed, by ballot, Dr. Franklin to be Minister Plenipotentiary to France. One of the most important points of his instructions, was to lay before the Court of France a plan which had been formed in conjunction with the Marquis de la Fayette and M. Gerard, for the conquest of Canada ; and the young Marquis soon after obtained leave from Congress to return to France. He took with him a letter of strong recommendation to the French King; and our new Minister was directed to cause an elegant sword to be made and presented to him in the name of the United States. The plan of an expedition to Canada, which had been first suggested by Mr. Gerard, had manifestly other objects in view than to aid the cause of the United States. It has been hinted, in the early part of this work, that France saw the struggles of the Colonies with the Mother Country, with secret satisfaction, and that she looked forward to the time when a cooperation with us might be the means of regaining her own conquered possessions in America. That this was the present object of the French Minister and of France, there is no reason to doabt; and it certainly relieves

the United States from the obligation of gratitude to France for disinterested aid in the accomplishment of their independence. The character of the Marquis de la Fayette, his high sense of honour, his chivalrous spirit, (evinced in his challenging the Earl of Carlisle to single combat, to answer for some of his expressions in his publick capacity of Commissioner,) and his ardent love of glory, forbid any suspicion that he was acquainted with the ultimate views of France ; his having entered into the arrangement, therefore, may be attributed solely to his hope of acquiring military fame, and his attachment to the cause of liberty and indedendence.

It has been observed that the Count D'Estaing left Rhode Island and sailed to Boston, in direct opposition to the wishes and remonstrances of General Sullivan and all the American officers. This circumstance, the causes and incidents of which had been considerably exaggerated in the relation, produced rather a cool reception for him at Boston : but his explanation of the affair, and the great urbanity and strict propriety of his subsequent deportment at Boston, completely satisfied the reflecting part of the community of the purity of his intentions. To his good sense and sound discretion it was owing, that an affray which commenced with a party of captive British sailors and the French bakers, did not end in a serious and general riot. Two of his officer's were wounded in endeavouring to put a stop to the quarrel, . one of whom died of his wound a few days afterwards; but the conduct of the Count on this occasion showed that he knew how to distinguish between the lawless outrage of a few individuals, and the disposition of the publick. Every facility in the power of the pea

а

ple of Boston was afforded to the Count for the repair of his fleet; so that when Admiral Byron arrived off the harbour from New York, with a fleet well appointed aud prepared for attack, the Count was in a situation to defend himself with every prospect of success. His security was still further increased by a battery of near a hundred guns, which he had erected on George's Island. Whether Admiral Byron would have had the boldness to make an attack under such circumstances, was left altogether to conjecture, as another severe storm soon compelled him to change his position, and seek shelter at Rhode Is. land. The Count, whose force was considerably inferiour to that of the English, and who was of course desirous of avoiding an engagement, seized the opportunity of a change of weather to depart for the West Indies, whither he sailed on the 3d of November. Previous to his departure from Boston, the Count, as a part of the contemplated plan against Canada, addressed a letter to its French inhabitants, in the name of their former master, in which he endeavoured to prepare them for the intended expedition, and for a probable change in their political situation. Two days after his departure, General Gates arrived at Boston, to take command of that portion of the Ame

rican army.

We have seen that Sir Henry Clinton arrived at Rhode Island with bis reinforcements of 4,000 men, too late to accomplish his purpose of cutting off the masterly retreat of General Sullivan, who notwithstanding his abandonment by the French fleet and the whole corps of New England volunteers, forced his way through the British and Hessian troops to the main land. Frustrated in this design, Sir Hen

« ForrigeFortsett »