« ForrigeFortsett »
among their best and warmest friends, beside spreading disaffettion among the people. He ever regrets being forced upon such a measure, and considers it among his worst misfortunes ; as it not only occasions a dreadful alarm, but never fails, eveu in wetern armies, under the most rigid and exact disciplince, to raise in the soldiery a disposition of licentiousness, plunder and robbery. The relief obtained was of no long continuance. He thus described the distresses of the army on the 16th of February—“For some days past there has been little less then a famine in camp. Naked and starving as they are, we cannot enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soidiery, that they have not, ere this, been excited by their suffering to a general mutiny and dispersion. This is the second time in the present year, that we have been upon the verge of a dissolution for want of provision.” As to clothing, “ he was continually tantalized with accounts from all quarters, of the prodigious-quantity that was purchased and forwarded for the use of the army, while none reached them, or so badly sorted as to be totally useless. The poor soldier had a pair *:::::g. given him without shoes, or a waistcoat without a coat or blanket to his back; and thus he derived little benefit from what he received. Perhaps by mid-summer he may receive thick stockings, shoes and blankets, which he will contrive to get rid of in the most expeditious manner. In this way, by an eternal round of the most stupid management, the public treasure is expended to no kind of purpose, while the men have been left to perish by inches with could and nakedness.” Upon a full conviction that the salvation of the cause depended on making provision for the half-pay of the officers, the general communicated his thoughts to some of the congress in the following words—“With far une greatest part of mankind, interest is the governing principle. Almost every man is more or less under its influence. Motives of public virtue may for a time, or in particular instances, actuate men to the observance of a conduct purely disinterested ; but they are not of themselves sufficient to produce a persevering conformity, to the refined dictates and obligations of social duty. We find it exemplified in the American officers as well as in all other men. At the commencement of the dispute, in the first effusions of their zeal, and looking upon that service to be only temporary, they entered into it without paying any regard to pecuniary or selfish considerations; but finding its duration to be much longer than they at first suspected, that instead of deriving any advantage from the hardships and dangers to which they were exposed, they on the contrary were losers by their patriotism, and fell far short of a competency
competency to supply their wants, they have gradually abated in their ardor; and with many an entire disinclination to the service under its present circumstances has taken place. When an officer's commission is valuable to him, and he fears to lose it, you may then exact obedience from him. It is not indeed consistent with reason or justice, to expect that one set of men should make a sacrifice of property, domestic ease and happiness, and encounter the rigors of the field, the perils'and vicissitudes of war, to obtain those blessings which every citizen will enjoy in common with them, without some adequate compensation. It must also be a comfortless reflection to any man, that after he may have contributed to securing the rights of his country, by the risk of his life, and the ruin of his fortune, there will be no provision made for preventing himself and family from sinking into indigence and wretchedness. Nothing would serve more fully to re-animate their languishing 2eal and interest them thoroughly in the service, than a half-pay and pensionary establishment." The general supported his interposition in behalf of the officers, by a second letter of Aprii 21st—" Men may speculate as they will; •they may talk of patriotism; they may draw a few examples from ancient story of great atchicvements performed by its influence, but whoever builds upon it, as a sufficient basis for conducting along and bloody war, will find himself deceived in the end. We must take the passions of men as nature has given them, and those principles as a guide which are generally the rule of action. I do not mean to exclude altogether the idea of patriotism. 1 know it exists, and I know it has done much in the present contest: but I will venture to assert, that a great-a:id lasting war can never be supported on this principle alone. It must be aided by a prospector interest or some reward. For a time it may of itself push men to action, to bear much, to encounter difficulties, but it-will not endure cmnssi*tcd by interest. Without arrogance, or the smallest deviation from truth, it may be said, that no history now extant, can furnish an instance of an army's suffering such uncommon hardships as ours has done, and bearing them with the same patience and fortitude. To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie on, without shoes, (so that their marches might be traced by the blood from their feet) and almost as often without provision as with, marching through frost and snow, and atClwlstmas ■taking up their winter quarters within a day's march of the ene*my, without a house or hut to cover them, till they could be built, and submitting to it without a murmur, is a mark of patience and obedience, which, in my opinion, can scarce be paralleled." Within a week after, congress resolved that theie * •■:' should
should be a provision of half-pay for the life of the officers; but then they further resolved, that nothing contained in the foregoing resolution shall be construed to extend to prevent the UInited States from redeeming, at any time, the half-pay of such officers as they judge proper, by paying them a sum equal to six years half-pay.” But before these resolves were passed, between two and three hundred officers had resigned their commissions, reckoning from last August. - -- * . Gen. Washington being desirous of effecting an exchange of prisoners, wrote to congress, on the 7th of March—“It may be thought contrary to our interest to go into an exchange, as the enemy would derive more immediate advantage from it than we should : but on principles of genuine extensive policy, independent of the consideration of compassion and justice, we are under an obligation not to elude it. An event of this kind is the general wish of the country. . I know it to be the wish of the army, and it mustbe the ardent wish of the unhappy sufferers themselves. Should the exchange be deferred, till the terms of the last resolve of congress on the subject are fulfilled, it will be difficult to prevent our being generally accused with a breach of good faith. §. minds may consider all our professions as mere pro..fessions, or at best, that interest and policy are to be the only arbiters of their validity. , I cannot doubt that congress, in preservation of the public faith and my personal honor, will remove all impediments, that now oppose themselves to my engagements, and will authorise me, through commissioners, to settie as ex...tensive and competent a cartel as may appear advantageous and necessary, any resolutions heretofore to the contrary notwithstanding.” Congress in a few days removed the impediment, by resolving that he might proceed in the exchange of prisoners ... without waiting for the settlement and the discharge of their accounts : but no cartel has been agreed upon. Commissioners were appointed on both sides, and held several meetings, without effecting the business. This led congress to resolve, on the 21st of April—" That congress are sincerely desirous of settling a cartel for the exchange of prisoners, on principles of justice, humanity, and mutual advantage, and agreeable to the customary rules and practice of war among civilized nations, and that they lament the obstacies raised by gen. Howe and his commissioners during the negociations held for this desirable purpose.” . However, partial exchanges of individuals have taken place, : and will be continued. . When major Otho Williams was exchanged, he sent a letter to American head-quarters, relating ... how the prisoners had been treated at New-York, and then said-‘‘Before I conslude, permit me to acknowledge to you - - - and
and the world, that I am, much obliged to Daniel Chamier, esq, auerkorgeneral, for lending me money; to doctor Richard Huddieston of the seventh British regiment, for several offices of kindness to myself and other prisoners, and that I was treated in a veTy courteous genteel manner by major Ackland of the: twentieth, for whom I was exchanged."
In January congress concluded upon a winter's irruption into Canada, and appointed the marquis de la Fayette, generals Conway and Stark to conduct it. The two former repaired to Albany, and were afterward joined by baron de Kalb. Butin a while, the expedition was dropt, for want of men, money, clothing, sleighs, provisions and forage; and on the 22d of. April, Conway requested leave to resign his commission, which was granted. Baron de Steuben, who arrived the beginning of December, with sundry letters of recommendation to congress, and was desired by them to repair to gen. Washington's quarters, soon succeeded him as inspector general. The same day Conway's resignation was accepted, on the 2&th of April, Washington wrote to congress—■" I can be no longer silent as to the merits of baron de Steuben. I consider him as an acquisition to the service, and . recommend him to the atten'.ion of congress." May the 5th, k was resolved, "The congress approve gen. Washington's plan tor the institution of a well organized inspectorship: That baron de Steuben be appointed to the office of inspector-general, with the rank and pay of major-general ; his pay to commence from the time he joined the army and entered into the service of the United States; That there be two ranks of inspectors, under the direction of the inspector-general, the first to superintend two or more brigades, and the other to be charged with the inspection of one brigade : That general Washington be authorized to appoint such persons to be inspectors and brigade-inspectors for the main army, as he shall think best qualified to execute the several duties of those offices." The commander in chief and the baron being in perfect unison, the discipline of the army has been mightily improved, and the exercise of the battalions has become uniform. In order to establish these points, the officers were formed into a body, and when completely exercised and instructed, were put upon doing the like by their men. When the baron manoeuvred the battalions, the brigades, the divisions, or the army, he explained matters to the respective commanding officers, and taught them to understand the meaning and intention of the various movements. The office of inspector-general was one of the regulations in view for the reform of the army, some time before Conways appointment ; and the foreign officers who had no commissions, and no commands, Vui* II. R r and.
and who were of ability, were to have been recommended, and particularly baron D’Arendt, with whom the idea originated. 4. The sufferings of the army for want of provision, led cons gress to think at length of changing the commissary-general; they therefore directed the president to write to col. Jeremiah Wads. worth of Connecticut, requesting his attendence on matters of consequence. When informed of his arrival, they appointed a committee of four to confer with him, and inquire whether he would undertake the office of commissary-general of purchases. The colonel was not a stranger to the nature of the business, nor the way in which it was necessary to conduct it, for the service of the army. He considered the matter thoroughly ; - laid his own plan ; and informed the committee upon what terms he would undertake the conducting of that department; from these he would not recede. He would not be tied up by any regulating acts, but would be left at liberty to purchase as he was able: After repeated conferences, “Congress proceeded to the electi. enofa commissary-general of purchases, and the ballots being taken Jeremiah Wadsworth, esq. was unanimously elected,” on the 9th of April. In five days more, upon the resumption of the consideration of the report of the committee appointed to confer with him, they resolved, “That the commissary-general of purchases have full power to appoint and remove every officer in his department:” which was follewed by various other resolutions, and closed with one declaring, “That all former regulations of congress, relative to the department of the commissary-general of purchases, which interfere with the foregoing resolutions, be repealed.” Thus they abandoned that plan, which induced their first commissary-general, coł. Joseph Trumbull, to quit the department: and in its operation, had nearly destroyed their army. -- - - . . . . . . . * r *.*. Congress began the year with authorising a committee to take every necessary measures for the immediate relief of the sick soldiers, and to report whether alteration in the medical department might be requisite. They soon after recommended it to the clergy of all denominations in the middle destrict, to solicitcharitable donations of woolens and linens, made and unmade, for the service of the sick; many of whom were lost for want of these articles. They also ordered doctor Shippen, the director-general of the hospitals, and doctor Rush, physician-general of the middie district, to attend them on the 26th of January. A committee of five upon their arrival was chosen to send for, and to bear them and to report specially. The afternoon of the 27th, aud the next morning, were spent in that service. A gentlemaniwho could not but know what passed, wrote on the 28th—“ Doctor - - --- o R-e-w