[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]



Roxbury, June. 1, 1778. THE hint you have received of a design to remove

gen. Washington from the command of the American army, will have made you desirous of know

ing more of that business : let it then be first related. 1778. The general, being applied to by one of his correspon23. dents, answered from Valley-forge January the 23

“ Whether a serious design of placing gen. Lee (before
captivation) at the head of the army, had ever entered
into the head of a member of congress or not, I never
was at the trouble of inquiring. I am told a scheme of
that kind is now on foot by some, in behalf of another
gentleman--whether true or false--ferious or merely to
try the pulse I neither know nor care. Neither inter-
efted, por ambitious views, led me into the service. I
did not solicit the command; but accepted it after much
entreaty, with all that diffidence, which a conscious want
of ability and experience, equal to the discharge of fo
important a truit, mult naturally excite in a mind not
quite devoid of thought: and after I did engage, pur-
sued the great line of my duty, and the object in view
(as far as my judgment could direct) as pointedly as
the needle to the pole. So soon as the public gets dif-
satisfied with my services, or a person is found better
qualified to answer her expectation, I shall quit the helm
with as much pleasure, and retire to a private station



with as much content, as ever the wearied pilgrim felt 1778. upon his fafe arrival at the holy land, or haven of hope; and shall wish most devoutly, that those who come after may meet with more prosperous gales than I have done, and less difficulty. If the expeëtation of the public has not been answered by my endeavours, I have more reafons than one to regret it'; but at present I shall only add, that a day may come, when the public cause is no longer to be benefitted by a concealment of our circumstances, and till this period arrives, I shall not be among the first to disclose such truths as may injure it, howa ever my character in the mean while may suffer.” On the 15th of February he had occasion for writing. "I can assure you, that no person ever heard me drop an expression that had a tendency to resignation. The same principles that led me to embark in the opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain, operate with additional force aţ this day; nor is it my desire to withdraw my services, while they are considered of importance in the present contest. But to report a design of this kind, is among the arts which those, who are endeavouring to effect a change, are practising to bring it to pass. There is not an officer in the service of the United States, that would return to the sweets of domestic life with more heartfelt joy than I should, but I mean not to shrink in the caụse. The design is not only seen through but reprobated.” On the 20th, Patrick Henry esq; governor of Virginia, forwarded an anonymous letter which had been sent him, to the general, and added— " There may be fome scheme or party forming to your prejudice. The enclosed leads to a suspicion. Believe me, Sir, I have too high a sense of

E 4

- the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1778. the obligations America has to you, to abet or counte

nance so unworthy a proceeding. I really think your personal welfare, and the happiness of America are inti, mately connected.” The anonymous letter was dated York Town, Jan. 12, 1478. It begins with highly complimenting Mr. Henry, and then proceeds to sketch out a dismal pi&ture, and to hint at the remedy-"America can be only undone by herself. Her representation in congress is dwindled to only twenty-one membersher Adams--her Wilson-her Henry, are no more among them. Her counsels, weak—and partial remedies applied constantly for universal diseases. Her army, what is it? a mcb. Discipline unknown or wholly neglected :The quarter-masters and commissioners departments filled with idleness, ignorance and peculation :--Our hofpitals crowded with six thousand sick, and more dying in one month than perished in the field during the whole of the last campaign:-The country distracted with the Don Quixotte attempts to regulate the price of provisions :-An artificial famine created by it, and a real one dreaded from it. The northern army has shown what Americans are capable of with a general at their head. The southern army is no ways inferior.--A Gates, a Lee, or a Conway would in a few weeks render them an irresistible body of men. The last in one of his letters to a friend says, " A great and good God hath decreed America to be freeor the---and weak counsellors would have ruined her long ago. You may rest assured of each of the facts related in this letter.” When Conway had recovered his original letter, which was written in October, he said to gen. Washington, in one of Janu:ry the 27th,.-" I find, with great satisfaction,


that the paragraph so much spoken of does not exist in 1778. said letter, nor any thing like it. I must depend upon your justice, candor and generosity, for putting a stop to this forgery.” Had he sent the lettes itself, the conviction of the forgery might have been deemed much stronger ; whereas many will doubt whether there was a forgery, upon being told that one of his warmest friends quoted the paragraph as authentic so early as October the 21st. Periodical letters were published and circulated in the continental newspapers, under the signature of De Lisle, and the pretence of being translations from the French, artfully calculated to promote the design against Washington, by insinuating into the mind of the reader, ideas tending to lessen him in the eyes of the public. The writer of the preceding anonymous letter is supposed to be the author of them. The design has not succeeded. The general has had too great a share of the people's confidence and affection, to admit of an open attempt to remove him. Several members of congress were engaged in the business some of the Malsachusetts delegates- particularly Mr. Samuel Adams. The army was so confident of it, and so enraged, that persons were stationed to watch him, as he approached the camp on his return home. But he is commonly possessed of good intelligence, and was careful to keep at a safe distance. Had he fallen into the hands of the officers, when in that paroxism of resentment, they would probably have handled him so as to have endangered his life, and tarnished their own honor,

The plan seems to have been this-To engage the -Massachusetts assembly and the Virginia house of burgesses, to give instructions to their delegates in congress,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

1778. to move for an inquiry into the causes of the ill fuc

cess attending the campaign of 1776; and then to contrive that such resolves should be given into, as would either remove the general or produce his resignation. Mean while the names of Gates and Mifflin were held up, and played off to ripen the measure. But the anonymous attempt upon the governor of Virginia was reprobated by him ; and the Maffachusetts assembly was not in a temper to admit of the trial to infnare them. As to gens. Gates and Miffin, they have cleared themfelves from having any design of removing the com

mander in chief. The former has written to an intimate April correspondent“ York Town, 4th April, 1778. Dear

Sir, Last night I received your affectionate letter of the 16th last, that of the 25th of February came to hand a few days before. Your remarks upon the works and defences of your capital city, are just; and I am convinced the town is lost in a very few hours after they are attacked. I have daily and weekly been telling your, and the other eastern delegates, that not only the metropolis, but the whole coasts of New England were, in my opinion, the grand object of the enemy's resentment, for the ensuing campaign : they were a parcel of blundering blockheads, not to make that their object the last year. I think they might then have united their whole force, and have made a much more honorable end of their summer's work than it pleased heaven to give them. I find by your letters, that Boston, as well as this part of the continent, is infected by incendiaries who endeavour, by every villainous art, to impress a belief-That gen. Mifflin and myself, are in a league, with other designing and ambitious spirits, to supersede


« ForrigeFortsett »