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giment, was despatched with three frigates and some light vessels to Egg Harbour, but the Americans having received intelligence of their approach, had sent most of their large vessels to sea, and had removed the others to a considerable distance up the river. When Captain Ferguson arrived, therefore, he found little or nothing to destroy. But learning that the vessels had been sent up the river, he proceeded with the light armed vessels to a place called Chesnut Neck, where they found ten vessels, chiefly British prizes, which were destroyed. A small militia force were stationed here for the protection of the vessels, but they made only a show of resistance, and dispersed as soon as the British troops landed. After burning the ships, they proceeded, as at Bedford and New Haven, to destroy the habitations and store houses; and making several excursions into the neighbouring country, they wantonly fired private dwellings, destroyed several considerable salt works, and committed every species of depredation that could disgrace the soldier.
On their return to Egg Harbour, they received intelligence of some deserters from Pulaski's legion, which induced them to attempt a surprise of the light infantry belonging to that corps. For this purpose, Captain Ferguson embarked with two hundred and fifty men in barges in the night, and landed within a short distance of the place where a party of the light infantry were quartered and asleep-in this situation he fell upon them, and slaughtered about fifty men, among whom were several officers of distinction. Some of Pulaski's horse made an attempt to cut off the retreat of this party, but were unsuccessful,
In the meantime a similar scene of savage warfare had been carried on by a part of Lord Cornwallis's division, under the command of Major General Grey. This " no flint General" as he had been called, from his attachment to the use of the bayonet, was despatched by Lord Cornwallis to surprise and cut off Baylor's regiment of light horse, which had been detached to watch the movements of the British foraging parties. The regiment lay at the village of Old Taapan, to which place Major General Grey moved with such secresy and expedition, that the village was completely surrounded by his troops without being discovered, and a sergeant's patrole of twelve men cut off, before a man of the regiment knew that he was in danger. It was night, and the whole regiment were naked and asleep in the barns. Resistance in such a situation was impossible they did not even attempt to take up their arms, but sued for quarters and for mercy to the defenceless. The mercy which they received was the bayonet ; and a scene of slaughter and of havock ensued, which vied in barbarity with the enormities of Wyoming. Here there were no Indians, upon whom to throw the odium of savage cruelty, no tories, whose private resentments and ungovernable passions might be some apology for wanton acts of inhumanity.-- They were British troops, under the command of a British Major General, and a part of the army of a British nobleman. The laws of war can never go further than to authorise a retaliation of treatment upon an enemy -whatever conduct they pursue in war, may be perhaps justifiably pursued against them. Among civi. lized nations, the instances of refusing quarter to an unresisting enemy, are rare. Examples of it, indeed,
re scarcely to be found, until the period of the Ameican revolution, when the nation against whom the evolted colonies had to contend, seem to have lost all ense of national honour, to have forgotten the glory f their ancestors, and to have assumed the nature of those savages with whom they had entered into leagues of amity.
Towards the latter end of April, Congress resolved to grant half pay for life to the officers in their army, reserving to themselves the privilege of redeeming, at any time they might think proper, this annual stipend by the payment of a sum equivalent to the half pay for six years. General Washington had repeatedly urged the necessity of adopting some measure of this sort, that men might find it their interest to enter into the service. No man was better acquainted with human nature than Washington. He knew that “ with far the greatest part of mankind, interest is the governing principle,” and motives of publick virtue were not of themselves sufficient to keep the Amerioan army together for any extended period. His letters to Congress on this subject are master strokes of policy, and evince a profoundness of wisdom, which shows how well he knew how to profit by the lessons of experience. The letter which seems to have been the immediate cause of the resolution of Congress, was that of the 21st April, in which he thus writes : “Men may speculate as they will; they may talk of patriotism; they may draw a few examples from ancient story of great achieve. ments performed by its influence; but whoever builds upon it as a sufficient basis for conducting a long and bloody war, will find himself deceived in the end. We must take the passions of men as na
ture 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. I know it exists, and I know it has done much in the present contest; but I will venture to assert, that a great and lasting war can never be supported on this principle alone. It must be aided by a prospect of 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 unassisted 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 bardships 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 of their feet, and almost as often without as with provisions, marching through frost and snow, and at Christmas taking up their winter quarters, within a day's march of the enemy, without a house or hut to cover them till they could be built, and submitting to all without a metmur, is a mark of patience and obedience, which in my opinion can scarcely be parallelled.”
Down to the date of this letter, no cartel had been settled for the exchange of prisoners. A few instances of exchange only had taken place, among which were those of Lee for General Prescott, and Major Otho Williams for Major Ackland ; but Congress seemed unwilling to agree to any terms, until their former resolution on the subject should be complied with, throwing the blame, however, upon Sir William Howe and his commissioners. Washington, on
the contrary, thought the publick faith and bis own honour pledged, as will be seen by his letter which follows. “It may be thought, (says be) 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 must be 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. Speculative minds may consider all our professions as mere professions, or at least, that interest and policy are to be the only arbiters of their validity. I cannot doubt that Congress, in preservation of the publick faith and my personal honour, will remove all impediments, that now oppose themselves to my engagements, and will authorise me, through commissioners, to settle as extensive and competent a cartel as may appear advantageous and necessary, any resolutions heretofore to the contrary, notwithstanding."
anding." This letter produced the effect of relieving Washington in some measure from his unpleasant embarrassment, as Congress soon after resolved that he might proceed in his arrangements for an exchange without excluding those prisoners whose accounts remained unsettled. Commissioners were consequently appointed on both sides; but mutual objections