Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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address the meeting, and spoke with a
force of eloquence which, from so juvenile
an orator, surprised very listener. He
now took an active part in the political
movements of the times, both as a speak
er and writer. On the war breaking out
he formed a company of artillery and was
chosen the captain. He was thus serving,
when Graydon seems to have marked
him out as an exceptional officer for his
gentlemanlike air and bearing/"

Irving gives this account of the im
pression the youthful captain made upon
another more acute military observer:
" As General Greene one day, on his way

* At a later period in life he is described by another ob
server as bring " under middle size, thin in person, but re
markably erect and dignified in his deportment. Plis hair
was turned back from his forehead, powdered, and collected
in a club behind. His complexion was exceedingly fair, and
varying from this only by the almost feminine rosiness of
his cheeks. His might be considered, as to figure and color,
a very handsome face. When at rest it had rather a severe
and thoughtful expression ; but when engaged in conversa
tion it easily assumed an attractive smile. He was expected
one day [the writer is speaking of as late a period as 1795]
at dinner, and was the last who came. When he entered the
room it was apparent from the respectful attention of the
company that he was a distinguished individual. He was
dressed in a blue coat with bright buttons; the skirts of his
coat were unusually long. He wore a white waistcoat, black
silk small clothes, white silk stockings. The gentleman who
received him as a guest, introduced him to such of the com
pany as were strangers to him ; to each he made a formal bow,
bending very low, the ceremony of shaking hands not being
observed. The fame of Hamilton had reached every one who
know anything of public men. His appearance and deport
ment accorded with the dignified distinction to which he had
attained in public opinion. At dinner, whenever he engaged
in the conversation, every one listened attentivelv. His
mode of speaking was deliberate and serious ; and his voice
engagingly pleasant. In the evening of the same, he was in
a mixed assembly of both sexes ; and the tranquil reserve,
noticed at the dinner table, had given place to a social and
playful manner, as though in this alone he was ambitious to
excel." Familiar Letters on Public Characters and Public
Events, from the Peace of 1783 to the Peace of 1815. Bos
ton. 1834.



to Washington s headquarters, was pas
sing through a field then on the out
skirts of the city, now in the heart of its
busiest quarter, and known as " the park"
he paused to notice a provincial com
pany of artillery, and was struck with
its able performances, and with the tact
and talent of its commander. He was a
mere youth, apparently about twenty
years of age ; small in person and stature,
but remarkable for his alert and manly
bearing. It was Alexander Hamilton.

" Greene was an able tactician and
quick to appreciate any display of mili
tary science; a little conversation sufficed
to convince him that the youth before
him had a mind of no ordinary grasp and
quickness. He invited him to his quar
ters, and from that time cultivated his

Washington followed the army to New
York, where he arrived on Saturday, the
thirteenth of April, having passed through
Providence, Norwich, and New London.
While at the latter place, Commodore
Hopkins put into the harbor after a cruise
which was not supposed to redound much
to the fame of the embryo provincial
navy. It will be recollected that Con
gress had in December established the
basis, however humble, of a naval force.
The following were the resolutions passed
at that time (December 22d, 1775.)

"Resolved that the following naval offi
cers be appointed: Ezek Hopkins, Esquire,
commander-in-chicf; Dudley Salterstall,
captain of the Alfred; Abraham Whip-
pie, captain of the Columbus ; Nicholas
Biddle, captain of the Andrea Dora; John
B. Hopkins, captain of the Cabot. First




Lieutenants, John Paul Jones, Rhodes
Arnold, Stansbury, Heysted Hacker,
and Jonathan Pitcher. Second lieuten
ants, Benjamin Seabury, Joseph Olney,
Elisha Warner, Thomas Weaver, and

McDougal. Third lieutenants, John

Fanning, Ezekiel Burroughs, and Daniel

Most of the vessels were purchased,
and ill adapted for the purpose intended.
There was not a tolerable sailer in the
whole fleet. The Alfred was the largest
of them all, and she had only a main-deck
battery of twenty, and quarter-deck and
forecastle guns, varying from two to ten.
It was on board this vessel that the first
American man-of-war ensign was ever
hoisted, and it Avas done by John Paul
Jones, then a lieutenant, of some of whose
future more important deeds w r e shall
have occasion to speak. The device of
that flag is supposed to have been the
Massachusetts one of a pine tree, w T ith
the addition borrowed from Virginia of
a coiled rattlesnake about to strike, and
the motto, "Don t tread on me." The
squadron, consisting of the Alfred twenty-
four guns, Columbus twenty, Dora four
teen, and Cabot fourteen, having been
got ready for sea, rendezvoused under
Cape Henlopen early in February. Soon
after they were joined by the Hornet ten,
Wasp eight, and Fly, three small vessels
which had been equipped at Baltimore.
Hopkins, who had received from Congress
the title of commander-in-chief, was gen
erally spoken of by the sailors as commo
dore, although not seldom styled admiral.
The commodore, as we shall call him,
having received orders to cruise to the

southward, in order to try to fall in with
Lord Dunmore s fleet, and stop its ravages
on the coast, sailed in that direction on
the seventeenth of February. He was
on the third night out, going before the
wind with a stiff breeze, when the Hornet
and Fly parted company and were not
again seen during the cruise.

Abaco, in the Bahamas, was the place
of rendezvous appointed, which was
reached in fifteen days, without any oc
currence of moment. The island of New
Providence being but a short distance and
known to contain a supply of military
stores, Hopkins determined to make a
descent upon *it. Accordingly, setting
sail one night, he landed on the island ear
ly the next morning some" three hundred
marines, who met with no resistance
until a fort was reached at some distance
from the place where they had debarked.
Here, as they approached, the garrison
fired a volley at them, and then spiking
the guns retired. The Americans taking
possession of the fort tarried there until
next day, when they marched into the
town without interruption. The of
ficer in command w r ent straightway to
the governor and demanding the keys,
which were given up at once, entered the
fort within the town, where was found a
good supply of cannon and mortars.
There was, however, no powder, for the
governor, having taken the alarm, had
sent it all off the night before. After
having shipped their plunder, and taken
on board the governor, his lieutenant,
and a counsellor, the squadron put to sea
again on a cruise.

Hopkins course was now to the north,




April I.

and on reaching the east end of Long
island he captured a British
schooner, and on the day after a
bomb brig of eight guns in command of
a son of the Wallace who had rendered
himself so notorious on the New England
coast by his brutal violence. As the
American squadron, somewhat scattered,
was moving on during the night-watch,
with a light breeze and smooth sea, an
enemy s ship was observed bearing down
apparently for the Alfred. Shortly, how
ever, she went on another track, which
brought her in the direction of the Cabot,
when the younger Hopkins, who com
manded the latter, closed in with his lit
tle vessel and fired a broadside though
with not much effect, as his metal was
too light to do much damage to his for
midable opponent. The enemy returned
the fire with much greater force, and can
nonaded the Cabot so heavily that she
was obliged to haul off, with her captain
severely wounded, her master and several
of the crew killed, and her hull and rig
ging badly damaged. The Alfred now
bore up and ranged alongside of the Brit
ish ship, which proved to be the Glasgow
of twenty guns, Captain Tyringham
Howe. The two were at once engaged
as hot as possible, broadside to broadside,
and both were delivering their fires with
great spirit when the Providence came
up under the stern of the enemy, and the
Dora approached near enough to give
some effect to her guns. For nearly an
hour they were thus briskly keeping up
the fight, when a shot from the Glasgow
unfortunately carried away the block and
wheel rope of the Alfred, which made

her unmanageable, and she broached to.
This gave the British ship an opportuni
ty to rake her effectually. The day was
now beginning to dawn, and Howe could
see, as the several vessels of the Ameri
can squadron bore up, the strength of
his antagonist. He accordingly found it
prudent to give up the battle, and making
all sail he could crowd upon his ship stood
in for Newport.

The squadron did its best to overtake
him, and kept up a. running fire in pur
suit, but the Glasgow proved the better
sailer and distanced the American vessels
which were so deep with the stores with
which they had been laden at New Prov
idence, and not very fast goers at their
best, that they could not keep up. Hop
kins, as they approached Newport, fear
ing that the British fleet off that harbor
might come out, gave up the chase, and,
contenting himself with the capture of
the Glasgow s tender, took his vessels into
New London.

The enemy was a ship of twenty guns,
with a crew of a hundred and twenty
souls, and was well appointed in every
respect, as she was well handled by her
commander. Her loss was slight, how
ever, having had only one man killed and
three wounded. The Alfred had six men
killed and six wounded. The Cabot had
four killed and seven wounded, and one
man on board the Columbus lost his arm
from a shot from the enemy during the
chase. The hull and rigging on both
sides were well cut up, and showed the
severity of the encounter.

Hopkins conduct was so much disap
proved that he was summoned to answer



May 15,

for it before Congress. He was charged
with disobedience of orders for having
returned northward after his descent up
on New Providence, as that action was
deemed a poor compensation for the ex
pense of fitting out a fleet, and by no
means an heroic beginning to the history
of the American navy. Hopkins,
on reaching Philadelphia, did not
succeed in satisfying Congress as to the
propriety of his conduct, and he conse
quently received the censure of the house.

Washington preceded the arrival of
some of his troops, which had set out on
the same day with him from Cambridge.
Although on his journey he had done
everything in his power to expedite the
march, he found, from the badness of the
roads and the difficulty of procuring teams
for bringing the stores and baggage, that
his army would be still delayed for a
week or more in reaching New York.

Washington, being now, after the tri
umph of Boston, relieved from the duties
of conducting aspecial military operation,
began to be more conscious of the scope
of the cause of which he had been chosen
leader. He had given up all hopes of
reconciliation with the mother-country,
and confessed freely his conviction that
he was engaged in a struggle not only
for freedom but independence. He gave
but little heed to what he heard of the
plans of the British for negotiation with
the view to bring back the colonies to
their loyalty. He was told that the Eng
lish government was about to send over
a large number of commissioners to Amer
ica, and that they were to make advances
to the colonies separately. Mark how

[rAirr n.

he scouts the idea ! " The account given
of the business of the commissioners from
England seems to be of a piece with
Lord North s conciliatory motion last
year, built upon the same foundation, and.
if true, that they are to be divided among
the colonies to offer terms of pardon, it
is as insulting as that nation ; and only
designed, after stopping all intercourse
with us, to set us up to view in Great
Britain as a people that will not hearken
! to any propositions of peace. Was there
; ever anything more absurd than to repeal
| the very acts which have introduced all
this confusion and bloodshed, and at the
same enact a law to restrain all intercourse
with the colonies for opposing them ?
The drift and designs are obvious; but
is it possible that any sensible nation upon
earth can be imposed upon by such a cob
web scheme or gauze covering? But
1 enough."

This was written while he was at Cam-
I bridge, and although emphatic in denun
ciation of British policy, it still shows
from the very fact of arguing the ques
tion, that there was in Washington s heart
a lurking hope of accommodation. Again,
still in Cambridge, he writes : " If the
commissioners do not conic over with
full and ample powers to treat with Con
gress, I sincerely wish they may never
put their feet on American ground, as it
must be self-evident, in the other case,
that they will come over with iusiduous
intentions, to distract, divide, and create
as much confusion as possible. How, then,
can any man, let his passion for reconcil
iation be ever so strong, be so blinded
and misled as to embrace a measure evi-

Apr. 15.


dently designed for his destruction ? No
man does, no man can wish the restora
tion of peace more fervently than I do ;
but I hope, whenever made, it will be on
such terms as will reflect honor upon the
councils and wisdom of America." This,
too, is emphatic language, but it does not
express such a decided hopelessness of
England as that which, only a fortnight
later, he uses in writing to John Adams.
It is true Washington begins, " I
have ever thought," but he has
not before given such a definite form to
his views. "I have ever thought," he
says, " and am still of opinion, that no
terms of accommodation will be offered
by the British ministry, but such as can
not be accepted by America. We have
nothing, my dear sir, to depend upon but
the protection of a kind Providence, and
unanimity among ourselves."

While Washington became thus con
vinced of the greatness and probable
length of the struggle in which he was
engaged, he found himself plunged deeper
and deeper, from day to day, in the per
plexities, troubles, dissensions, and com
plications of business, his military leader
ship of the patriot cause necessarily in
volved him. The recruiting went on
slowly, and when troops were got it was
hard to find equipments for them. There
was equal difficulty in obtaining arms
and men. Provision was not only to be
made for the defence of New York and
Long island, but reinforcements were to
be sent to Canada. Officers were com
plaining for want of pay, and militia-men
were insisting upon returning home. The
tories of New York were exciting anxiety



by their relations with Governor Tryon
and the enemy s ships in the harbor, and
news had arrived of the great prepara
tions made by the British ministers to
crush, as they believed, the " rebels."

With these cares and labors we can
well understand how Washington should
be so devoted to business as to declare,
" I give in to no kind of amusement my
self; and consequently those about me
can have none, but are confined from
morning till evening, hearing and answer
ing the applications and letters of one
and another." To his brother Augustine,
too, he gives " the hurry and multiplicity
of business in which I am constantly en
gaged from the time I rise out of my bed
until I go into it again" as the true cause
for not writing oftener.

Washington, however, struggled brave
ly with all these cares and embarrassments.
He sent as many troops as he could spare
to Canada. He checked the tories by
putting a stop to their correspondence
with the enemy, by his own decided meas
ures, and a firm and dignified appeal to
the New York committee of safety. He
only succeeded after much difficulty in
gathering together an army of ten thou
sand men, and while disciplining them and
keeping them busy at the works of de
fence, strove, by every effort, to prepare
himself for the enemy.

Washington was perplexed about the
intentions of Howe, who, with his army
strongly reinforced by troops from Great
Britain, might be daily expected to arrive
and begin the campaign. The whole
American army was so small as yet that
to make it effective it was necessary to




concentrate the forces. When Congress,
therefore, requested the opinion of Wash
ington as to whether it was necessary to
send more troops to Canada, he answer
ed them in these dubious words: "With
respect to sending more troops
to that country, I am really at
a loss what to advise, as it is impossible
at present to know the designs of the
enemy. Should they send the whole force
under General Howe up the river St.

April 26.

Lawrence to relieve Quebec and recover
Canada, the troops gone and now going
will be insufficient to stop their progress ;
and should they think proper to send
that or an equal force this way from Great
Britain, for the purpose of possessing this
city and securing the navigation of Hud
son s river, the troops left here will not
be sufficient to oppose them ; and yet for
anything w r e know, I think it not improb
able they may attempt both."


Arnold at Montreal. The Disaster at the " Cedars." Arnold sends forward a Deputation of Caghnawaga Indians. Ar
nold arrives at St. Annes. Perplexed. Takes a View of the Enemy. Retires. Comes to Terms with the Enemv
though unwillingly. General Sullivan. His Life. Affairs in Canada. Sullivan sanguine. Washington gives him
some Discreet Advice Washington s Opinion of Sullivan. Thompson sent by Sullivan to attack the Enemy at Three
Rivers. The unfortunate Result. Sanguine Sullivan triumphing in an imaginary Victory. His bright Anticipations
clouded. His Retreat. The Enemy strengthened by fresh Troops. Burgoyne leading the Advance. Sullivan pur
sued. Arnold abandons Montreal, and retreats with the Enemy close at his Heels. Junction with Sullivan at St.
Johns. Arnold s Energy and Courage. The last Man to leave the Enemy s Shores. Sullivan reaches Crown Point.
The end of the Northern Campaign. Adams s Survey of its Misfortunes.


AFTER Arnold had, in consequence
of his accident and his dissatisfaction
Avith the bearing of General Wooster, his
superior in command, retired to Montreal,
he remained there for several weeks with
little inclination, in consequence of illness,
for service, and without any especial work
to do. He was now, however, aroused
to activity by the disaster at the " Cedars,"
which he determined to make an effort
to repair. Before tracing Arnold s move
ments, however, let us describe the affair
which prompted them.

Early in May three hundred and ninety
Americans were posted, under Colonel
Beadle, in a small fort at a place called

the Cedars, situated on the St. Lawrence
about forty miles above Montreal. Cap
tain Forster, a British officer with forty
regulars, a hundred Canadians, and five
hundred Indians, descended from the
mouth of the Oswegatchie, and approach
ed the fort. The American colonel in
command, as soon as he became aware
of this approach, cowardly hurried off to
Montreal, under the plea of seeking re
inforcements, and left the command of
the garrison to Major Butterfield, who,
emulating the faintheartedness of his su
perior, surrendered the fort to Forster
without a blow.

Major Henry Sherbourne was immedi




ately, on the arrival of Beadle at Montre
al, although that discreet colonel refused
himself to return, despatched with one
hundred and forty men to reinforce the
garrison at the Cedars. Sherbourne, how
ever, was too late, for the garrison had
surrendered the day before he had got
across Lake St. Louis. He, however, was
not aware of the fact, and leaving forty
of his men as a rear guard, pushed on
with the hundred others, and had reached
within five miles of the fort, when he
was set upon by five hundred Canadians
and Indians from under the cover of a
thick wood. The Americans defended
themselves as best they could for more
than an hour and a half against the fire
of the enemy, but were finally completely
overwhelmed by the Indians, who rushed
upon and disarmed them. They had al
ready lost in action twenty-eight killed
and wounded, when many more were
massacred in cold blood by the savages,
and the rest, being stripped almost naked,
were driven to the fort and delivered up
to Captain Forster, from whom the Amer
icans now learned, for the first time, that
Butterfield had surrendered himself and
garrison. The enemy had but some
twenty-two killed, among whom was a
chief of the Senecas, whose death greatly
excited the ferocity of the savages.

This was the affair at the Cedars which
had stirred Arnold to revenge, and he
hastened with about eight hundred men
to inflict it. On setting out, he sent for
ward some Caghnawaga Indians in his
interest, to demand of the hostile savages
to deliver up the American prisoners at
once, or in case they refused, to declare

May 26.

to them that he would sacrifice every In
dian who should fall into his hands, and
burn their villages.

On reaching St. Annes, at the
western extremity of the island
upon which Montreal is built, Arnold and
his men could see the American prisoners,
as they were being taken off by the ene
my in their batteaux from an island about
a league distant, and conveyed to the op
posite shore of the St. Lawrence. Arnold
was now impatient for the arrival of his
batteaux which were coming down the riv
er, but which he and most of his men, hav
ing reached by land, had preceded. The
batteaux were delayed until sunset, and
in the meantime Arnold s Caghnewagas


came back with an answer to his demand
and a threat from the hostile Indians, who
sent word that they had five hundred
American prisoners in their power, whom
they would put to death if any attempt
was made to rescue them, and give no
quarter to any others they might capture.
Arnold was perplexed. "Torn," he
says, " by the conflicting passions of re
venge and humanity; a sufficient force
to take ample revenge, raging for action,
urged me on one hand : and humanity
for five hundred unhappy wretches, who
were on the point of being sacrificed if
our vengeance was not delayed, pleaded
equally strong on the other." He, how
ever, decided not to turn back, and crowd
ing his men into the batteaux, rowed
to the island whence he had seen the
prisoners taken off He found there five
Americans still left, who were almost
bare of clothes and nearly famished.
From these he learned that all the others




had been carried off to Quinze Chiens,
with the exception of two who, being
too ill to move, had been killed. Arnold
now crossed with his boats toward Quinze
Chiens, which was about four miles below
on the opposite shore. When within less
than a mile of the shore, the enemy be
gan firing at him with their field-pieces
and musketry. As the day was closing,
and Arnold, not knowing the ground,
feared to expose his men to the risks of
a night attack, he returned.

On reaching St. Annes in the evening,
a council-of-war was immediately called,
when it was determined by all the offi
cers that an attack should be made on
the next morning. The whole force was
astir with busy preparations until past
midnight, when a flag of truce was ob
served coming from the enemy. It was
borne by Lieutenant Park, who came to
submit to Arnold a copy of the articles
which had been agreed to between Major
Sherbourne and Captain Forster for the
exchange of prisoners Sherbourne hav
ing been informed by Forster that the
prisoners who were crowded together in
the church at Quinze Chiens would cer
tainly fall a prey to the savages, whose
ferocity that British officer professed to
be unable to control, unless the Ameri
cans submitted to the terms proposed.
Sherbourne, under these circumstances,
was forced to sign them, and Arnold was

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 35 of 126)