Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

very polite answer, and furnished a guard of continental 1779, troops to escort the baggage to Sussex court-house in the Jerseys. ; Mr. Gerard presented memorials to congress, the sub- Feb. ject of which they determined to take into immediate so confideration, at the same time informing him, that if he wished to communicate any thing further, they would receive the same from him in a private audience. He having a wish to make further communication, attended on the 15th, when congress was resolved into a committee of the whole. The committee reported, on the 23d, “ That upon the consideration of all the matters referred, they are of opinion, that his Catholic majesty is disposed to enter into an alliance with the United States of America; that he hath manifested this disposition in a decisive declaration lately made to the court of Great Britain ; that in consequence of such declaration, the independence of these United States must be finally acknowledged by Great Britain, and immediately thereon a negotiation for peace will be set on foot between the powers of France, Great Britain, and these United States, under the mediation of his Catholic ma. jesty; or that Spain will take part in the war, and his Catholic majesty will unite his force with the most Chrifțian king and the United States :--That in order to be in readiness for a negotiation, the ministers of the United States ought to be instructed by congress on the several following particulars, viz. 1. What to insist upon as the ultimatum of these states : 2. What to yield or require on terms of mutual exchange and compensation.” The committee reported their opinion upon these points, · VOL. III. .

which

1779. which were afterward the subjects of confideration in

. congress. . .

Mr. Gerard manifested a desire, that the war might not be prolonged by too high and unreasonable demands ; and that the United States would bring their ultimatum as low as possible. He strongly recommended moderacion. The fate of war was uncertain ; and he hinted that a decisive naval engagement in favor of the British, might give a great turn to their affairs. Mr. S. Adams

was for insisting upon the cession of Canada and Nova. M Scotia ; and some were for adding Florida. Congress 19. agreed, ist, What should be the bounds of the Thir

teen United States in the ultimatum: 2d, That every port and place within the United States, and every island, harbour and road to them, or any of them belonging, fhould be absolutely evacuated by the land and sea forces of his Britannic majesty, and yielded to the powers of the state to which they respectively belong. The fishery is a point which the New Englanders are much set upon having secured, and which will occasion repeated debates, and be long before it is fully and finally determined.

The Parisian minister, Monsieur Vergennes, does not confine his policy to the establishment of American independence; it aims at securing to the French the Newfoundland fishery to the exclusion of the United States, and to the Spaniards the fole navigation of the Missi. ssippi, and the lands on the eastern side of it, at the back of the present settlements of the United States, and therefore called the Western lands. You must use this information as a clew to guide you through the labyrinth of Mr. Gerard's negotiation. Nine days after he had

[ocr errors]

his audience of congress, they received the account of 779*
the king of Naples having opened his ports to the flag
of the United States of America.

The stroke aimed at gen. Mifflin by the congress re-
folve of June 11, 1778, (see p. 12.) having answered its
intention, all further proceedings ceased ; on which the
general, on the 17th of August, fent a letter to congress
enclofing his commission, which for reafons therein set
forth, he begged leave to resign. That and two more
letters of an earlier date were referred to a committee
of three, who reported on the 23d of January 1779,
that it did not appear to them that any proceedings had
taken place since the resolve ef June the 11th, and that
if the faid resolution was to be carried into execution, it
fhould be done in the usual inanner, and that gen. Washo
ington should have directions accordingly. Still the
matter rested, fo that MiMin on the 25th of February,
informed congress that he had not heard what was their
pleasure as to his resignation, and requested of them afresh
to accept it, which they then resolved to do. Thus he
has been impelled to lay aside his military character,
which for the liberties of his country he had assumed,
though of the quaker denomination : but lie retains his
patriotism, and will continue a volunteer in the service
of the public. He resumed the quarter master general's
department in September 1776 (then vacant through a
resignation) by the desire and order of congress, and not
for any private view or emoluments of his own, so that
he did not consider himself as responsible for the cala-
mitous effects of any delay, which depended not on
himself or his associates, but on congress.
Let us resume our account of military operations.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

HISTORY OF THE 3778. The South Carolina delegates, rather with a view to

conquest, than from any special apprehension of danger to their own or neighbouring state, from the troops under Sir Henry Clinton, requested the congress to appoint gen. Lincoln (on whose character they justly reposed great confidence to the command of all their forces to the southward: accordingly they made the appointment on the 25th of September, and ordered him to repair immediately to Charlestown. When he took his leave of them in October, they had in contemplation the reduction of East Florida, and put into his hands a scheme for effecting it, with the observations of two gentlemen on the strength of St. Augustine. The first hint of a destination of British troops for Georgia appears to have been given to the commander in chief by a letter of the 9th of October, from a confidential correspondent at New York. It was the 4th of December before the general arrived at Charlestown. The North Carolina state, on the first intelligence of an intended embarkation from New York for the southward, generously raised about 2000 militia to serve for five months; put them under the command of gens, Ashe and Rutherford, and sent them forward without delay. They came on with such dispatch, that had they not been detained ten days near Charlestown, to be furnished with arms, they would have been in time to have joined gen. Howe before the reduction of Savannah. South Carolina had not a sufficient stock of public arms for the militia of both states, and suspended the distribution of them, till it became certain whether South Carolina or Georgia was the objeet of the British armament, which could not be determined while it was in the offing. On the morning

of

of the 26th, two regiments of 150 men each from 1779. Charlestown, with the levies and militia from North Carolina, amounting to about 950, marched for Georgia : they made their first junction with the American army after their retreat over the Savannah. .

January the 3d, gen. Lincoln established his head Jan. quarters at Purysburgh, about 30 miles from the mouth 30 of the Savannah. He met with a sore disappointment. He had been encouraged to expect a force consisting of 7000 men, beside the militia of South Carolina and Georgia, whereas he had only 1400 in the whole. He was also led to believe, that he should meet with great plenty of supplies and military stores, instead of which there were no field pieces, arms, tents, i camp utensils or lead, and but very little powder ; in short, hardly any article in the arsenal or quarter-master's store, all occafioned by the want of a military chest. A large proportion of the South Carolina militia was draughted, and marched under gen. Richardson for head quarters. But they behaved very badly, refused to submit to the articles of war for the government of the continentals, and left the camp and even their posts at pleasure with impunity; as gen. Lincoln had no hold of them, their own state law only imposing a fine, instead of putting them upon the same footing congress had ordered for all the militia when in pay of the continent and acting with the regular troops. When ordered on command, and implicit obedience was expected, they would aik at times " Whither are we going? And how long are we to stay ?” By the 24th of January most of them had left the camp. Their defection however was in some measure repaired by the arrival at length of gen. Alhe R. 3

near

ce

« ForrigeFortsett »