Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

dence were equal to the occasion. Silence in him would have encouraged the desperate to the prosecution of the most rash design; and strong and violent measures would have enkindled the smothered spark into a destructive flame. Noticing in general orders the anonymous publication, he expressed his confidence that the judgment and patriotism of the army would forbid their “ attention to such an irregular invitation, but his own duty,” he added, “ as well as the reputation and the true interest of the army required his disapprobation of such disorderly proceedings. At the same time, he requested the general and field officers, with one officer from each company, and a proper representation from the staff of the army, to assemble at twelve on Saturday the 15th, at the new building, to hear the report of the committee deputed by the army to Congress. After mature deliberation, they will devise what further measures ought to be adopted as most rational and best calculated to obtain the just and important object in view.” The senior officer in rank was directed to preside, and to report the result of their deliberations to the Commander in Chief.

The next day a second anonymous address was published. The writer affected to consider the orders of "the General as countenancing the convention, recommended in the first publication.

On the 15th the officers met agreeably to orders, and General Gates took the chair. The Commander in Chief then addressed them.

6 GENTLEMEN, “ By an anonymous summons an attempt has been made to convene you together. How inconsistent with the rules of propriety, how unmilitary, and how subversive of all order and discipline, let the good sense of the army decide.

" In the moment of this summons, another anonymous production was sent into circulation, addressed more to the feelings and passions than to the judg

ment of the army. The author of the piece is entitled to much credit for the goodness of his pen; and I could wish he had as much credit for the rectitude of his heart; for, as men see through different opticks, and are induced by the reflecting faculties of the mind, to use different means to attain the same end, the an. thor of the address should have had more charity than to mark for suspicion the man who should recommend moderation and longer forbearance ; or in other words, who should not think as he thinks, and act as he advises. But he had another plan in view, in which candour and liberality of sentiment, regard to justice and love of country, have no part; and he was right to insinuate the darkest suspicion to effect the blackest design. That the address was drawn with great art, and is designed to answer the most insidious purposes; that it is calculated to impress the mind with an idea of premeditated injustice in the sovereign power of the United States, and rouse all those resentments which must unavoidably flow from such a belief; that the secret mover of this heme, whoever he may be, intended to take advantage of the passions, while they were warmed by the recollection of past distresses, without giving time for cool, deliberative thinking, and that composure of mind which is so necessary to give dignity and stability to measures, is rendered too obvious, by the mode of conducting the business, to need other proof than a reference to the proceedings.

“ Thus much, gentlemen, I have thought it incumbent on me to observe to you, to show upon what principles I opposed the irregular and hasty meeting which was proposed to have been held on Tuesday last, and not because I wanted a disposition to give you every opportunity, consistent with your own honour, and the dignity of the army, to make known your grievances. If my conduct heretofore has not evinced to you, that I have been a faithful friend to the army, my declaration of it at this time would be equally unavailing and

[ocr errors]

improper. But as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common country; as I have never left your side one moment, but when called from

you on publick duty; as I have been the constant comEi panion and witness of your distresses, and not among

the last to feel and acknowledge your merits; as I have ever considered my own military reputation as inseparably connected with that of the army ; as my heart has ever expanded with joy when I have heard its praises, and my indignation has arisen when the mouth of detraction has been opened against it ; it can scarcely be supposed at this last stage of the war, that I am indifferent to its interests. But how are they to be promoted ? The way is plain, says the

anonymous addresser ! If war continue, remove into the unsettled country; there establish yourselves, and leave an ungrateful country to defend itself;—but who are they to defend ? Our wives, our children, our farms and other property which we leave behind us ? Or in this state of hostile separation, are we to take the two first, (the latter cannot be removed) to perish in a wilderness with hunger, cold, and nakedness ?

“ If peace takes place, never sheath your swords,”

says he,“ until you have obtained full and ample jus- tice.” This dreadful alternative of either deserting

our country in the extremest hour of her distress, or turning our arms against it, which is the apparent object, unless Congress can be compelled into instant compliance, has something so shocking in it, that humanity revolts at the idea. My God! What can this writer have in view, by recommending such measures ? Can he be a friend to the army? Can he be a friend to this country ? Rather is he not an insidious foe; some emissary, perhaps, from New York, plotting the ruin of both, by sowing the seeds of discord and separation between the civil and military powers of the continent ? And what a compliment does he pay to our understandings, when he recommends measures, in ei.

VOL. II.

[ocr errors]

4

A mo

ther alternative, impracticable in their nature ? But here, gentlemen, I will drop the curtain, because it would be as imprudent in me to assign my reasons for this opinion, as it would be insulting to your conception to suppose you stood in need of them. ment's reflection will convince every dispassionate mind of the physical impossibility of carrying either proposal into execution. There might, gentlemen, be an impropriety in my taking notice, in this address to you, of an anonymous production ;-but the manner in which that performance has been introduced to the army; the effect it was intended to have, together with some other circumstances, will amply justify my observation on the tendency of that writing.

“With respect to the advice given by the author, to suspect the man who shall recommend moderate measures and longer forbearance, I spurn it, as every man who regards that liberty and reveres that justice for which we contend, undoubtedly must; for, if men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us. The freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. I cannot in justice to my own belief, and what I have great reason to conceive is the intention of Congress, conclude this address, without giving it as my decided opinion, . that that honourable body entertain exalted sentiments of the services of the army, and from a full conviction of its merits and sufferings, will do it complete justice. That their endeavours to discover and establish funds for this purpose have been unwearied, and will not cease until they have succeeded, I have not a doubt.

“ But like all other large bodies, where there is a vas riety of different interests to reconcile, their determinations are slow. Why then should we distrust them? And in consequence of that distrust, adopt measures

which may cast a shade over that glory which has been so justly acquired, and tarnish the reputation of an army which is celebrated through all Europe for its fortitude and patriotism ? And for what is this done ? To bring the object we seek nearer ? No; most certainly, in my opinion, it will cast it at a greater distance. For myself, (and I take no merit in giving the assurance, being induced to it from principles of gratitude, veracity, and justice, and a grateful sense of the confidence you have ever placed in me) a recollection of the cheerful assistance and prompt obedience I have experienced from you, under every vicissitude of fortune, and the sincere affection I feel for an army I have so long had the honour to command, will oblige me to declare in this publick and solemn manner, that in the attainment of complete justice for all your toils and dangers, and in the gratification of every wish, so far as may be done consistently with the great duty I owe my country, and those powers we are bound to respect, you may freely command my services to the utmost extent of my abilities.

“ While I give you these assurances, and pledge myself in the most unequivocal manner, to exert whatever abilities I am possessed of in your favour, let me entreat you, gentlemen, on your part, not to take any measures, which viewed in the calm light of reason, will lessen the dignity, and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained :-let me request you to rely on the plighted faith of your country, and place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress; that previous to your dissolution as an army, they will cause all your accounts to be fairly liquidated, as directed in the resolutions which were published to you two days ago ; and that they will adopt the most effectual measures in their power to render ample justice to you for your faithful and meritorious services. And let me conjure you, in the name of our common coun. try, as you value your own sacred honour : as you

« ForrigeFortsett »