« ForrigeFortsett »
gainst them. The general's whole force, including militia, at Morristown and the several out-posts, amounted often to not more than 1500 men; and it has been asserted, upon apparently, good authority, that he repeatedly could not muster more at Morristown than between three and four hundred. In writing. officially upon the subject to the governorand council of Connec– ticut the representation he gave of affairs drew tears from the eyes of those who heard the letter read. While gen. Washington was at this low ebb with his army, gentlemen of five thousand pounds fortune or more, and many others who were meaof substance, though not equal to that, did duty as centinels at his doors and elsewhere. , - Though gen. Howe made no capital stroke at the commander in chief of the Americans; yet he concerted an operation against the post which gen. M’Dougall occupied, and where a considerable quantity of provisions and stores was deposited. A detachment of 500 men under col. Bird was convoyed by the Brune frigate to Peek's-kill, near fifty miles from New-York. They landed on the 23d of March. As the general had but 250 men fit for duty, insted of 600 to guard the place, which lay in a bots: tom and was not tenable, he fired the principal store-houses, and then quitted the town in order to occupy the important pass: through the highlands, on the east side of the river, about twomiles and a half distant. The fire rendered useless the only wharf where it was practicable to embark the remaining stores in convenient time, which made it expedient to destroy the greater part. Col. Bird having done it, and hearing a reinforcement was expected by the Americans, re-embarked the same day. The loss of rum, molasses, flour, biscuit, pork, beef, wheat, oats, hay, tallow, iron pots, camp kettles, canteens, bowls, nails, waggons and earts, barracks, store-houses, sloops and pettiaugers laden with provisions, was very considerable, far beyond what was’ given out by the Americans, though not of that importance and magnitude, as to answer the expectations of gen. Howe. Gen. Washington had repeatedly guarded the commissary against suf. fering any large quantities of provisions to lie near the water, in such places as were accessable to the enemy’s shipping ; but he had not been properly attended to. - The want of muskets occasioned a delay in forwarding the new troops from the Massachusetts: but many of the militia from that state were persuaded to remain at Morristown for some weeks longer than the fixed time of service. Fiftgen hundred of the new troops would have been upon their niżrch, but the general court could not supply them with arms. The perplexity occa
sioned by this circumstance was however of short continuance. - - On
Çn the day of its commencement or the following, a vessel of fourteen guns from France arrived at Portsmouth with 364 cases, containing 1 1,987 stand : she had also on board a thousand-barrels of powder, 11,009 gun-flints, 48 bales of woollens, and a &mall quantity of handkerchiefs, cottons, linens, and other articles. Congress were under a similar distress with the Massachusetts general court, as to the procuring of arms for gen, Washington’s army; but obtained a similar relief, by the arrival of a. vessel, [March 24.] with 10,000 stand, beside a great number of gun-locks. These seasonable arrivals will furnish an ample supply of arms: the main difficulty will now be to get men to. use them. Dr. Franklin arrived at Nantz, the 13th of Deoembers. - - - * The brilliancy of the successes, which have attended the American army since lastChristmas, and their most happy consequences in changing the complexion of the times, must raise the character of gen. Washington as highly in Europe as it had done in America; and may lead sanguine, spirits, who are strangers to: the real circumstances of the country, to imagine that he will soon be able to drive, all before him ; but it will require his utmost abilities to act in so defensive a manner, as to secure himscif from injury, and at the same time frustrate the offensive plans of the enemy. He is indeed to have the assistance of a body of cavalry, which will be of considerable advantage. . . - You will scarce think it beneath remarking, that when the royal army had possessed themselves of the Jerseys, and the Ame-rican affairs were at the lowest ebb, there was not a single state, or capital town or city (if not wholly in the power.of the eney that made advances toward submission. But in the month January, the tories rose to a great head, in the counties of Somerset and Worcester, in the state of Maryland ; so that in the beginning of February, the congress were obliged to employ several battalions (before they could march forward to join gen. Washington) in suppressing the insurgents. - Committees, from the four. New-England states, had a meeting ; since which their proceedings were laid before, congress; and, the last have resolved, [Feb. 15.]. “That the plan for regulating the price of labor; of manufactures, and internal produce within those states, and of goods imported from foreign parts, except military stores, be referred to the consideration of the other United States; and that it be recommended to them to adopt such measures, as they shall think most expedient to remedy the evils occasioned by the present fluctuating and exorbitant Prices of the articles aforesaid:—That for this purpose it be recommended to the legislatures, or in their recess, to the execu- iiW &
tive powers of the states of New-York, New-jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, to appoint commissioners to meet at Yorktown in Pennsylvania, on the third Monday, in March next, to consider of and form a system of regulations adapted to those states, to be laid before the respective legislatures of each states, for their approbation —That for the like, purpose it be recommended to the legislatures, or executive powers in the recess of the legislatures of the states of North-Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia, to appoint commissioners: to meet at Charleston in South-Carolina on the first Monday, in May next.” Some of the New-England states had passed acts: for regulating prices, before these resolutions. - - - On the 27th, congress adjourned to meet at Philadelphia. the following Wednesday. Before adjourning they recommended to the several states, the passing of laws to put a stop td. the distilling of grain. Congress having dismissed doctor Samuel Stringer, director of the hospital in the northern department of the army, (at the same day they dismissed Dr. Morgan) gen. Scuyler took of— fence at it, and expressed himself unguardedly in some of his official letters: upon that it was “Resolved, [Mar. 15.] That as congress proceeded to the dismission of Dr. Stringer, upon. reasons satisfactory to themselves, gen. Scuyler ought to have known it to be his duty to have acquiesced therein – that the suggestion in gen. Scuyler's letter to congress, that it was a compliment due to him to have been advised of the reasons of Dr. Stringer's dismission, is highly derogatory to the honor of congress; and that the president be desired to acquaint gen. Scuyier, that it is expected his letters for the future, be written in a tyle more suitable to the dignity of the representative body of these free and independent states, and to his own character of their officer:—Resolved, That it is altogether improper and inconsistent with the dignity of this congress, to interfere in disputes subsisting among the officers of the army, which ought to be settled, unless they can be otherwise accommodated, in a court. martial, agreeable to the rules of the army; and that the expres– sion in gen. Scuyler’s letter of the fourth of February—“That he confidently expected congress would have done him that justice, which it was in their power to give, and which he humbly conceives they ought to have done”—were to say the least, illadvised and highly indecent.” - [Jan. 24.] “Resolved, That gen. Washington be informed. that it never was the intention of congress that he should be bound by the majority of voices in a council of war contrary to his own judgment:—That the commander in chief in every de- partment
partmcnt be made acquainted, that though he may consult the general, officers under him, yet he is not bound by their opinion; imt ought finally to direct every measure according to his own judgment."
In the month of January gen. Howe discharged all the privates wba were prisoners in New-York. Great complaint* ■were made of the horrid usage the Americans met with after they ■were captured. The garrison of Fort Washington surrendered by capitulation to gen. Howe the ]6th of November. The terms were, that the fort should be surrendered, the troops be considered prisoners of war, and that the American officers should keep their baggage and side arms. These articles were signed, and afterward published in the New-York, papers. Major Otho Holland Williams, of Rawlings's rifle regiment, in doing hisduty that day, unfortunately fell into the hands of the enemy." The haughty, imperious deportment of the oflicers, and the insolent scurrility of the soldiers of the British army soon dispelled his hopes of being treated with lenity. Many of the American officers- were plundered of their baggage and robbed of their side arms, hats, cockades, &c. and otherwise grossly illtreated. He andthtee companions were (on the third day) put on board thq Baltic Merchant, an hospital ship, then lying ire the Sound. The. wretchedness of his.situation was in some degree alleviated by asmail pittance of pork and parsnip, which at goad- natured sailor spared him from hrs own mess. The fourthday of their captivity, Rawlings, Hanson, M'Intire, and himscif, all wounded officers, -were put into one common dirt cart* and dragged through the city of New-York, as objects of derision, reviled as rebels, and treated with the utmost contempt.' Vrom the cart they were- set down at the door of an old wastehouse (the remains of Hamdcn-hall) near Bridewell',which because of the openness and filthinessof the place, he had a few months before refused as barracks for his privates; but now was willing to accept for himself and friends, in hopes of finding an intermission of the fatigue and persecution tiiey had perpetually suffered. Some provisions were issued to the prisoners in the afternoon of that day; what quantity he cculd not declare; but ft was of the worst quality he evei, titl then, saw made use of. He was informed the allowance consisted of six ounces of pork, one pound of biscuit and some peas per day for each man, and two bushels and a half of sea-coal per week for the officers, to each, iire-piace. ■ These were admitted on parole, and lived generally in waste houses. The privates, in the coldest season of the year,; were close confined jn churches, sugar-houses and otht'r open buildings (which admitted all kinds-of weather and consequenty: ly
Iy were sabjected to the severest kind of persecution that ever onfortunate captives suffered. Officers were insulted, and often. struck for attepting to afford, some of the miserable privates as small relief. In about three weeks he was able to walk, and was; himself a witness of the extreme wretchedness his countrymensuffered. He could not describe their misery. Their constitutions were not equal to the rigor of the treatment they received, and the conscquence was the death of many hundreds. Theofficers were not allowed to take muster-rolls, nor even to visit: their men, so that it was impossible to ascertain the numbers that: perished; but from, frequent reports and his own observations,” be verily believed, as well as had heard many officers give it as: their opinion, that not less than fifteen hundred prisoners perished in the course of a few weeks in the city of New-York, and, that this dreadful mortality was principally owing to the want of provisions and extreme cold. If they computed.too largely, it must be ascribed to the shocking, brutal manner of treating thea dead bodies, and not to any desire of exaggerating the accounts ‘Of their sufferings. When the king's commissary of prisoners, intimated to some of the American officers, gen. Howe's intention of sending the privates bome on parole, they all earnestly, desired it; a paper was signed cypressing that desire; the reasons. for signing was, they well knew the effects of a longer confinemcnt; and the great numbers that died when on parole, justified; their pretensions to that knowledge. In January almost all the: officers were sent to Long-Island on parole, and, there billeted: on the inhabitants at two dollars per week.” . • * : * * * * The filth in the churches (in consequence of fluxes) was bed. yond description. Seven-dead have been seen in one of them, at the same time, lying among the excrements of their bodies. The British soldiers were full of their low and insulting jokes onthose occasions, but less malignant than the tories. The provi-'. sion dealt out to the prisoners was not sufficient for the support. of life; and was deficient in quantity, more so in quality. The bread was loathsome and not fit to be eaten, and was thought too have been condemned. The allowance of meat was trifling, and," of the baser sort. The consequence was, a suspicion of a pre-: meditated and systematical plan to destroy the youths of the land, thereby to deter the country. The integrity of these sufferingprisoners was hardly credible. Hundreds submitted to death. rather than enlist in the British service, which they were most generally pressed to do. It was the opinion of the Ameaican. efficers that gen. Howe perfectly understood the condition of . * The major's letter to col. Harrison, one of gen. Washington's secretaries, i. after being exchanged for major Acland. . . . . . a *. -: * - the