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Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United

States, by HENRY LEE, Lieutenant Colonel Commandant of the

Partizan Legion during the war. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1812. As soon as we had gone through the volumes of these Me. moirs, we felt eager to congratulate the public, on the valuable accession which they furnish, to the stock of materials for a complete history of our revolutionary war. We were also, disposed to lose no time, in expressing our gratitude to the author, for the amusement he had afforded us, and for the very creditable manner, in which he has executed a task of great in. terest and importance. The annals of the American Revolution as they are found in Marshall's life of Washington, have a character of perfect authenticity; a merit to which, those of no other country, perhaps, can justly lay claim. They are also copious and minute in a remarkable degree. The addition made to them in this instance, is of equal authenticity, while it greatly improves the qualities just mentioned. Lieutenant Colonel (now General) Lee, was an actor, and a very conspicuous actor, in the scenes he so faithfully describes. In adopting as his motto the lines of Virgil,

- Quæque ipse miserrima vidi

Et quorum pars magna fui. the same modesty which is visible throughout the whole of his work, has induced him to omit the epithet in the second line; VOL. IV.

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but every reader familiar with the history of the American war in general, and with the poet whom he quotes, will supply the omission, as an act of justice. This distinguished soldicr engaged, at an early period of life, in the military service of his country, and was most actively and unremittingly employed in fighting its battles, from the outset, until the close of the revolutionary struggle. Chief Justice Marshall, in his life of Washington, after narrating a very gallant little exploit of Lee in the campaign of 1778, holds the following language.

« The event of the skirmish gave great pleasure to the commander in chief. Throughout the late campaign, Lee had been eminently useful to him, and had given proof of talents as a partizan, from which he had formed sanguine expectations for the future. He mentioned this affair in his orders with strong marks of approbation, and in a private letter to the captain, testified the satisfaction he felt, at the honourable escape that officer had inade, from a stratagem which had so seriously threatened him."

“ For his merit through the preceding campaign, Congress promoted him to the rank of major, and gave him an independent partizan corps, to consist of three troops of horse."

It is stated by the same writer, that when the war in the South assumed a character of importance, in the eyes of the commander in chief, Lee was despatched thither with his legion, on account of his peculiar fitness, for the kind of hostilities waged in that quarter. Indefatigable activity, daring courage, alacrity of mind under personal suffering, ardent patriotism, circumspection and sagacity in an eminent degree, were the qualities required in a partizan leader, and these had been uniformly, and were throughout, strikingly displayed by our author. We find him, to speak from the authority, not of his own narrative alone, but of the other prominent annalists of the war,-constantly on the alert, until the fall of the curtain in this strange drama; haraşsing the enemy in all directions, busied in the most hazardous enterprises, and contributing materially, to results of essential efficacy, in the achievement of the great end of our national independence. In the course of his Memoirs, where the scene is active, he is rarely out of sight, and still more rarely is his presence other than indispensable, for the purposes of fidelity and justice. There are no instances of egotistical or officious intrusion upon

the reader, nor are we made sensible, on more than one or two occasions, * of too liberal an indulgence to personal feelings or views, which, if they did exist, or were gratified to a greater extent, would be every way pardonable.

* The history of the abortive scheme to dislodge the British Colonel Craig from St. John's Island, seems to us to be one of these. Vol. 2. p. 383.

These Memoirs bear intrinsic evidence, of the competency of the writer, for the task he has undertaken. They shew him to have been a vigilant observer, and demonstrate no ordinary share of discernment, and knowledge, in his profession. He seems, moreover, to have written in that disposition of mind, towards the enemy whom he fought, which alone could satisfy the reader, as to the truth of the colouring, in his history. We find no indication of the continuance of those sharp resentments and angry passions, which naturally grew out of the contest, and which too many much less entitled, --if we may be allowed the expression,--to indulge them, still suffer to rankle in their bosoms. The merits of the British are extolled, their mistakes exposed, their escapes narrated, in such a manner, as to prove a steady desire to do justice in all instances. The impartiality of these Memoirs is, indeed, remarkable, and must be felt by every reader, to whichsoever party or nation he may belong.

It is stated by the author, that some of his military comrades co-operated with him in his work; a circumstance which is to be considered, as an additional pledge of its accuracy. His original intention, as represented in his first chapter, was, to connect the life of General Greene with the narrative of the Southern operations. It is to be lamented that this design was not execu. ted, but we would receive with much more satisfaction from his hand, a body of Memoirs, like the present, of the operations in the northern department of the United States, so as to complete in the same spirit and form, the entire history of the Revolutionary War. The Life of Washington by Chief Justice Marshall, furnishes, indeed, all that can be desired on this head, within the scope prescribed to the work. In addition, however, we want those minute details, the familiar and personal anecdotes, the light traits of character and the critical illustrations, which our author has embraced in his plan. They are of importance in developing the true genius, and sequence of the war, and give a particular, and for most palates, a very keen relish, to the narrative. It is suggested by General Lee, and justly, as a matter of regret, that not one of the chief actors in our camp or cabinet, has attempted to unfold the rise, or to elucidate the


The affair occupies by far too much space, and is dwelt upon with fatiguing emphasis,

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gress and termination of our revolution. The public owes him much gratitude for the example alone, which he has set, putting out of view the intrinsic value of his labours. Those who have it in their power to render a similar service to their country, do not, perhaps, any more than the world at large, feel with due force, the confirmed justice of the remark made by our author, that “ in usefulness to society, the degree is inconsiderable, be“tween the conduct of him who performs great achievements, 66 and of him who records them.”

Although we would not hesitate to recommend these Me. moirs, to those who may be disposed to follow in the same laudable career, as a model in many respects--in plan, and in the spirit and style of execution, ---yet we have exceptions to take, not, indeed, of much moment, but which should, nevertheless be mentioned. The features of his work, which we have intimated as distinguishing it from that of Marshall, and as, in themselves, both important and highly attractive, are, somewhat too broad and salient. The minuteness of the details borders occasionally on tediousness; the anecdotes told are not always of sufficient importance or interest, to warrant the introduction of them at all, * nor the military movements, to justify the space allotted to them, or the solemnity with which they are described. Chief Justice Marshall, in speaking of the battles fought in the South, represents them as what “ in European wars, would be deemed skirmishes almost too inconsiderable for the notice of history.” The scale and character of the military operations of Europe, since the period at which Mr. Marshall wrote, might well authorize a repetion of this remark, or something yet stronger, in reference to the relative insignificance of those battles.

We are satisfied that the military annals of no country or age, present more brilliant instances of personal intrepidity, or more deplorable cases of individual suffering, or more adroitness within the same sphere of action, than we find record. ed in the Memoirs before us. But in speaking of events or characters, our language and tone are, if we choose to adhere to the established rules, and general notions of congruity, to be adjusted to the concomitant circumstances. Thus the lofty epithets, and the general pomp of phraseology, which the historian of the present campaigns, on the continent of Europe, might appropriately use, are misplaced in the pages of one, who narrates a partizan war, which however impor

* That concerning the surgeon Skinner, for example.

tant in its consequences, was not even the most considerable in that secondary class of hostilities. There seems to us something outré in the application of such epithets as “ illustrious," 6 immortal” “ hero" &c. to the commander of a small fort, or a company, as well as in the use of such phrases as “a grand display of military science," " the acquisition of universal and never fading renown &c," in cases, where but a few hundred men are employed, and that on a theatre and under circumstances, of no great dignity in the estimation of the world at large. It was natural, and is excusable, in the author of these Memoirs, to indulge in the loftiest language when speaking of his meritorious comrades, and of the interesting scenes in which he was himself engaged; as it is natural and may be pardoned in us his countrymen, who had so much at stake in the war, to receive them with as much complacency, as they were written. Yet we could wish, that he had been more sparing and reserved in this point, because what he has published is, we trust, to be read abroad as well as at home, and the objects presented are likely to be seen in another light there, than here. It is but too much the fashion in our country to move on stilts; to lay the highest stress, and to bestow unbounded panygeric, on exploits and personal merits, that shrink into slender dimensions, when measured by the European standard. This practice exposes us to the derision of foreigners; and we, therefore, particularly regret, that it should derive the smallest sanction from such an authority as General Lee.

The diction of these Memoirs is easy, clear, and for the most part correct: the narrative perspicuous, and sufficiently regular. Although the author, generally, is simple and unaffected in his language, he now and then introduces an ambitious phrase, and makes

attempts at fine writing, in which, we must confess, we do not think him as happy, as when indulging his natural vein. In drawing characters, as he has done in several instances, apparently with much elaboration, he has, in our opinion, pitched his tone rather too high; but of this our readers

may judge for themselves, as we mean to begin our extracts from the work, with some of the most prominent. We shall, in making extracts, transcribe, without adhering to any particular arrangement of matter, whatever seems to us calculated to af: ford a just idea of its character, and to be read with most interest by the public.

Lord North and the Earl of Chatham. 66 Lord North was then premier and first lord of the treasu. ry. Heavy in mind as in body, dexterous in the management

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