Robert Tomes.

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

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able to over-nice appearances for, as oui
authority acknowledges, it gave them all
the look of "scavengers." He tells us how
Colonel Putnam carried home from mar-

* Graydon.



ket his own meat, by the way of showing
a good example to his officers, and re
marks : " But if any aristocratic tenden
cies had been really discovered by the
colonel among his countrymen, requiring
this wholesome example, they must have
been of recent origin, and the effect of
southern contamination." This fastidious
gentleman is especially shocked by the
want of nice social discrimination on the
part of the New-England officers, and, al
though rather unnecessarily delicate in
his genteel sensibility, he seems justified
in his sneers when colonels were known
to make drummers and fifers of their
sons, in order to put their pittance of
pay into the family purse, and when oth
er New-England officers turned their chil
dren into waiters.*

The ridicule of our fine gentleman was
greatly moved by the arrival in camp of a
body of Connecticut lighkhorse : " These
consisted of a considerable number of old-
fashioned men probably farmers and
heads of families, as they were generally
middle-aged, and many of them appa
rently beyond the meridian of life. They
were truly irregulars ; and whether their
clothing, their equipments, or caparisons,
were regarded, it would have been diffi
cult to have discovered any circumstance
of uniformity ; though in the features de
rived from local habitation they were
one and the same.

" Instead of carbines and sabres, they
generally carried fowling-pieces ; some
of them very long, and such as in Penn
sylvania are used for shooting ducks.
Here and there one, his youthful gar-

* Thacher.

ments well saved, appeared in a dingy
regimental of scarlet, with a triangular,
tarnished, laced hat. In short, so little
were they like modern soldiers, in air or
costume, that, dropping the necessary
number of years, they might have been
supposed the identical men who had in
part composed Pepperell s army at the
taking of Louisburg."

These men were volunteers, and might
have proved fair soldiers, notwithstand
ing their " dingy regimentals" and " sorry
jades," had they been a little more trac
table. Washington discharged them
not, however, because they did not look
like regular soldiers, but because they
were not very ready to submit to become
such. "The Connecticut light- horse,"
says Washington, in his despatch to Con
gress, "mentioned in my letter of
the llth, notwithstanding their
then promise to continue here for the de
fence of this place, are now discharged,
and about to return home, having per
emptorily refused all kind of fatigue-du
ty, or even to mount guard, claiming an
exemption as troopers. Though their
assistance is much needed, and might be
of essential service in case of an attack,
yet I judged it advisable, on their appli
cation and claim of such indulgences, to
discharge them ; as granting them would
set an example to others, and might pro
duce many ill consequences."

A more sober authority is no less free
in his revelations of the manners and con
duct of the New-England officers than the
fine gentleman we have already quoted.
" It was the case," says Gordon, " in di
vers instances, that, when a company was

Jnly 17.




forming, the men would choose those for
officers who consented to throw their pay
into a joint stock with the privates, from
which captains, lieutenants, ensigns, ser
geants, corporals, with drummers and pri
vates, drew equal shares. Can it then be
wondered at, however mortifying it may
prove, that a captain should be tried and
broken for stealing his soldiers blankets,
or that another officer should be found
shaving his men in the face of distin
guished characters ?"

There is a single exception " to these
miserably -constituted bands from New
England" made in favor of the regiment
of Glover, from Marblehead "There
was," says our fastidious military critic,
"an appearance of discipline in this corps;
the officers seemed to have mixed with
the world, and to understand what be
longed to their stations. Though defi
cient, perhaps, in polish, it possessed an
apparent aptitude for the purpose of its
institution, and gave a confidence that
myriads of its meek and lowly brethren
were incompetent to inspire." But even
Glover s seems, in the nice eyes of Gray-
don, to have a blot ; for in his regiment
" there were a number of negroes, which,
to persons unaccustomed to such associa
tions, had a disagreeable, degrading ef

Even aristocratic Virginia failed to come
up to the high standard of our genteel
annalist.* " Neither," he says, " did the
fighting department appear to be fash
ionable among the gentry of Virginia.
It must be admitted that she furnished
some gentlemen aids-de-camp and volun-

* Gray don.

teers, and afterward corps of cavalry, re
spectably officered ; but the serious, drudg
ing business of war devolves on the in
fantry ; and, in this description of force,
she evinced but little brilliancy." He
then tells us of a Virginian commander
whom he knew, who had " the appearance
of a reputable planter," and concedes
that "he might have been both patri
otic and brave," but adds, " neither him
self nor his officers were of the kind that
bespoke the elite of their country."

The general officers even did not es
cape the tailor-like scrutiny of Graydon,
who says, " The celebrated General Put
nam, riding with a hanger belted across
his brawny shoulders, over a waistcoat
without sleeves (his summer costume),
was deemed much fitter to head a band of
sicklemen or ditchers than musketeers."
General Greene, too, did not " shine with
all the eclat" that might have been de
sired by the army coxcombs. He also
doubtless stripped his " brawny shoul
ders" to the work along with " Old Put."

The " city-bred Marylander," however,
seems to have been faultless, for " he was
distinguished by the most fashionably-
cut coat, the most macaroni cocked hat,
and hottest blood in the Union." One
battalion," that of Smallwood, appears to
have been particularly worthy of admi
ration, for " its officers exhibited a mar
tial appearance, by a uniform of scarlet
and buff."

There was something, however, more
serious than these small distinctions of
dress and manners between the various
officers and men. Provincial jealousies
often arose, and, although starting from



[PART n.

the most trifling causes, led to the most
serious results. " A singular kind of riot,"
says Thacher, " took place in our bar
racks last evening, attended by some un
pleasant consequences. Colonel A

W , of Massachusetts, made choice of

his two sons, who were soldiers in his
regiment, to discharge the menial duties
of waiters ; and one of them, having been
brought up a shoemaker, the colonel was
so inconsiderate as to allow to work on
his bench in the same room with himself.
The ridiculous conduct has for some time
drawn on the good old man the contempt
uous sneers of the gentlemen-officers, es
pecially those from Pennsylvania. Lieu
tenant-Colonel C , of Wayne s regi
ment, being warmed with wine, took on
himself the task of reprehending the
* Yankee colonel for thus degrading his
rank. With this view, he rushed into the
room in the evening, and soon despatched
the shoemaker s bench; after which he
made an assault on the colonel s person,
and bruised him severely. The noise and
confusion soon collected a number of offi
cers and soldiers, and it was a consider
able time before the rioters could be
quelled. Some of the soldiers actually
took to their arms and dared the Yankees,
and then proceeded to the extremity of
firing their guns. About thirty or forty
rounds were aimed at the soldiers of our
regiment, who were driven from their
huts and barracks, and several of them
were seriously wounded." A reconcilia
tion ensued, but it only added to the dis-
reputableness of the affair.

" It was in the power of Colonel W ,"

adds Thacher, " and in fact it was his du

ty, to bring the audacious offenders to
exemplary punishment ; but, as if to com
plete the disgrace of the transaction, Colo
nel C sent some soldiers into the

woods to shoot a fat bear, with which he
made an entertainment, and invited Colo
nel W- - and his officers to partake of
it ; this effected a reconciliation, and Colo
nel W - was induced to overlook the
high-handed assault on his own person
and on the lives of his soldiers." At the
close, Thacher puts in a good word for
his commander and fellow-provincial, say
ing, " Our colonel is a serious, good man,
but is more conversant with the econo
my of domestic life than the etiquette
practised in camp." This occurred in
Gates s army, at the North.

In New York, the troops seem to have
been no less jealous of, and quarrelsome
with, each other; for Washington finds
it necessary to issue this order :
" It is with great concern that
the general understands that jealousies
have arisen among the troops from the
different provinces, and reflections are
frequently thrown out, which can only
tend to irritate each other, and injure the
noble cause in which we are engaged, and
which we ought to support with one hand
and one heart.

" The general most earnestly entreats
the officers and soldiers to consider the
consequences ; that they can no way as
sist our enemies more effectually, than
by making divisions among ourselves ;
that the honor and success of the army,
and the safety of our bleeding country,
depend upon harmony and good agree
ment with each other ; that the provinces

August 1.




are all united to oppose the common
enemy, and all distinctions sunk in the
name of an American. To make this
name honorable, and to preserve the lib
erty of our country, ought to be our only
emulation ; and he will be the best sol
dier and the best patriot who contributes
most to this glorious work, whatever his
station or from whatever part of the con
tinent he may come.

"Let all distinctions of nations, coun
tries, and provinces, therefore be lost in
the generous contest who shall behave
with the most courage against the ene
my, and the most kindness and good hu
mor to each other.

" If there be any officers or soldiers so
lost to virtue and love of their country
as to continue in such practices after this
order, the general assures them, and is
authorized by Congress to declare to the
whole army, that such persons shall be
severely punished and dismissed from the
service with disgrace."

Washington was naturally anxious,with
his army as yet only reinforced by a small
portion of the militia levied by Congress,
and with considerable distrust of the good
conduct of some of his troops, whose oc
casional disorderly behavior may be in
ferred from the facts which we have al
ready stated. Although we have some
what anticipated events for the sake of
illustration, whatever we have said, in re
gard to the conduct of both officers and
men, will apply to the earlier as well as
the later period.

When, therefore, Washington learns, on
the 28th of June, that General Howe had,
on the 9th, left Halifax with a fleet of

one hundred and thirty sail, bound to
Sandy Hook, it is not surprising that he
should write : " I could wish General
Howe and his armament not to arrive
yet, as no more than a thousand militia
have come in, and our whole force, inclu
ding the troops at all the detached posts,
and on board the armed vessels, which
are comprehended in our returns, is but
small and inconsiderable, when compared
with the extensive lines they are to de
fend, and most probably the army that
he brings."

Washington, seldom perturbed, and
never more calm than in danger, was
still fully conscious of the difficulties of
his position. " We expect a bloody sum
mer in New York," he wrote to his broth
er, " and I am sorry to say that we are
not, either in men or arms, prepared for
it. However, it is to be hoped that, if
our cause is just, as I most religiously
believe it, the same Providence which has
in many instances appeared for us, will
still go on to afford its aid." Again Wash
ington writes to Schuyler : " Our ,

... , June 28,
most vigorous exertions will be

required in every instance. I am con
vinced our enemies will strain every
nerve against us this campaign, and try
to injure us wherever we may be unpro

On that day (28th of June) four Brit-
ish ships on one of which, the Grey
hound, was General Howe came to an
chor in the bay of New York. On the
29th, the officer appointed to keep a look
out on Staten island sent an express to
Washington, with the word that forty-
five more vessels had arrived off Sandy



[PART n.

Hook. " I am hopeful," writes Washing
ton on the occasion, "before they are
prepared to attack, that I shall get some

reinforcements Be that as it may," he

resolutely adds, " I shall attempt to make
the best disposition I can of our troops,
in order to give them a proper reception,
and prevent the ruin and destruction
they are meditating against us."

It was supposed that Howe would im
mediately begin an attack. Washington
accordingly was active in preparation,
and strenuously urged on the arrival of
the expected militia from the neighbor
ing provinces. His old Virginia friend,
Doctor (now General) Mercer, was ap
pointed to the command of the "flying
camp," and kept busy at Amboy, in con
junction with General Livingston, of New
Jersey, in recruiting and keeping a watch
upon the enemy. As it was thought
probable that the British would force
their way up the Hudson, with the view
of opening a communication with Carle-
ton s victorious forces at the North, Wash
ington directed his attention especially
to the strengthening of his posts along
the banks of that river.

Great vigilance was urged upon the
commanders of all the forts, and Mifflin
" the bustler" was especially on the alert
at Kingsbridge and Fort Washington.
His lines were manned every morning
before daylight, and his ranks formed for
action. The men were led to believe, by
the confident assertions of their com
mander, that the enemy had already
landed in the neighborhood. One of the
officers, harassed by these early risings
and frequent calls to duty, finally came

to the conclusion that the general was
merely crying " Wolf !" and that it was
a contrivance of that "bustler" Mifflin
to inure his troops to alarms and render
them alert.

Although at the head of ten thousand
men, General Howe was not yet prepared
to make a demonstration. He was await
ing the arrival of his brother, Admiral
Lord Howe, with a formidable fleet, hav
ing on board a large reinforcement of
those hated Hessians. Washington be
came aware of Howe s purpose, and, as
the admiral was hourly expected, strove
to prepare his army for the formidable en
counter which awaited them. He issued
the following order, which, in earnestness
of patriotic feeling and force of expres
sion has never been surpassed by the
most ardent appeals to men to fight for
their freedom:

" The time is now near at hand, which
must probably determine whether Amer
icans are to be freemen or slaves ; wheth
er they are to have any prop
erty they can call their own?
whether their houses and farms are to
be pillaged and destroyed, and they con
signed to a state of wretchedness, from
which no human efforts will probably de
liver them.

" The fate of unborn millions will now
depend, under God, on the courage and
conduct of this army. Our cruel and un
relenting enemy leaves us no choice but
a brave resistance or the most abject sub
mission. This is all that we can expect.
We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer
or die. Our own country s honor calls
upon us for a vigorous and manly exer-

July 2,




tion ; and if we now shamefully fail, we
shall become infamous to the whole world.
" Let us rely upon the goodness of the
cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being,
in whose hands victory is, to animate and
encourage us to great and noble actions.
The eyes of all our countrymen are now
upon us, and we shall have their blessings
and praises, if happily we are the instru
ments of saving them from the tyranny
meditated against them. Let us animate
and encourage each other, and show the
whole world that a freeman contending
for liberty on his own ground is superior
to any slavish mercenary on earth.

" The general recommends to the offi
cers great coolness in time of action, and
to the soldiers a strict attention and obe
dience, with a becoming firmness and
spirit. Any officer or soldier, or any par
ticular corps, distinguishing itself by any
acts of bravery and courage, will assu
redly meet with notice and rewards ; and
on the other hand, those who behave ill
will as certainly be exposed and punished ;
the general being resolved, as well for
the honor and safety of the country as
of the army, to show no favor to such as
refuse or neglect to do their duty at so
important a crisis."


Declaration of Independence. The Sentiment of the Country. "Common Sense." Thomas Paine. His Life, Charac
ter, and Services. The Reception of the " Declaration" at Philadelphia. In the Army. By the Citizens of New
York. Destruction of the Statue of George III. Washington rebukes the Riotous Inhabitants of New York. Gen
eral Howe in High Spirits. The Rose and Phoenix again up the Hudson. Arrival of Lord Howe. His Life and
Character. Commissioners to treat. Proclamation. Franklin and Lord Howe. Proof against Seduction. A Flag.
" George Washington, Esquire, &c., &c., &c." The Superscription not acknowledged. The British General, taught
better, writes " General Washington."


" THE greatest question ever de
bated in America, and as great as
ever was or ever will be debated among
men," as John Adams called it, was de
cided by this resolution of Congress on
the 2d day of July, 1776: "THAT THESE

The Declaration of Independence was
not, however, adopted until the 4th of
July, an event which is now so wrought
into the heart of every American, that it
is superfluous for the historian to record
the day or the year of its occurrence.

This is an historical fact which requires
no book for its record ; it is so early
learned by every child of America, that
his knowledge of it seems an instinct of
his nature.

When this momentous act was passed,
the people were not unprepared for it.
Many of the provinces had already, by
vote in their assemblies, resolved upon
independence from Great Britain; and
North Carolina, we believe, claims not
only to have anticipated the act, but even
the words of the declaration.

By the thoughtful men of the country




the possibility and even the necessity and
desirableness of separation from Great
Britain, had long been considered. As
early as November, 1774, Josiah Quincy
wrote : " Doctor Franklin is an American
in heart and soul. His ideas are not con
tracted within the narrow limits of ex
emption from taxes, but are extended on
the broad scale of total emancipation.
He is explicit and bold on the subject."
Others capable of comprehensive views
of national policy had undoubtedly seen
at an early period, in common with Ben
jamin Franklin, the ultimate result of the
difficulties between the colonies and the

It was long, however, before the sen
timent of the country was fully moulded
to the definite idea of independence.
This was a result which might have
crowned with honor the noble endeavors
of the highest : it was, however, reserved
as a triumph for the humble stayrnaker
of Thetford. All agree in attributing to
Thomas Paine the preparation of the pop
ular mind for independent government.
" Common Sense," as its title promised,
was a direct appeal to the general intelli
gence of the people. Clear, forcible, and
familiar in style, straightforward in ar
gument, and free from all theoretical
abstractions and subtleties, this famous
work was read and understood by all.
"That celebrated pamphlet," Burke called
it, " which prepared the minds of the peo
ple for independence."

"Common Sense" circulated every
where throughout the provinces. It was
read by the Virginian planter while loun
ging beneath his portico on the banks of

the Potomac, and by the New-England
farmer at his fireside during the long
nights of winter. The soldier fired anew
with martial spirit as, amid the stir and
noise of war, he glanced at its pages of
stirring eloquence ; and the statesman
learned w T isdom from its clear exposition
of political rights and principles.

THOMAS PAINE was born at Thetford, in
the county of Norfolk, England, in the
year 1737. His parents, who were Qua
kers, were reputable townspeople, and
brought up their son in accordance with
their own position. He was apprenticed
to a staymaker in his own town, but, with
a fondness for books, and some early suc
cess as a writer, he tired of his trade, and
became subsequently a schoolmaster. By
means of some small patronage, Paine
succeeded in getting the appointment of
an exciseman, and while thus occupied
wrote a pamphlet upon a subject con
nected with his business. It was this
early effort which is said to have first at
tracted the notice of Franklin, then in
London, to the author. Paine was poor,
and desirous of bettering his condition ;
and was thus induced by Franklin to try
his fortune in America. He settled, on
his arrival, in Philadelphia, where he be
came the editor of a journal, and soon
attracted notice by the vigor of his politi
cal articles. In January, 1776, he pub
lished his " Common Sense ;" and its in
fluence was so great, that it almost justi
fied the remark that " Paine did as much
for the American cause by his pen as
Washington by his sword."

The announcement of the DECLARATION
OF INDEPENDENCE was received everywhere




by the patriots with exulting joy. In
Philadelphia, thousands of the citizens,
expectant of the event, gathered in the
streets, and thronged about the entrance
of the Hall of Independence. The bell
man was posted in the tower above, and
a messenger at the doors of the hall with
in which the representatives of America
were assembled. The vote passed ; the
result was declared ; a shout of enthusi
asm followed ; the bell rang vigorously ;
and the crowds without caught up the
joyful sounds, and re-echoed them with
loud hurrahs. That bell, which first pro
claimed the news to the people of Phila
delphia, had been wrought in London
twenty-three years before, and upon it
prophetically inscribed these words from
the Bible : " Proclaim liberty throughout
all the land, unto all the inhabitants there

Washington, on receiving from Con
gress the " Declaration," ordered it to be
proclaimed before all the army,
accompanying his order with the
expression of the hope " that this impor
tant event will serve as a fresh incentive
to every officer and soldier to act with
fidelity and courage, as knowing that now
the peace and safety of his country de
pend, under God, solely on the success
of our arms; and that he is now in the
service of a state possessed of sufficient
power to reward his merit and advance
him to the highest honors of a free coun-

Washington, accompanied by his staff,

was present himself at the reading of the

declaration to the brigade encamped on

the common, or the park, as it is now


July 9.

called, in New York. The ranks w r ere
formed into a hollow square, and Wash
ington placed himself in the centre on
horseback, while one of his aids read out
with a full voice each word of the famous
document. The soldiers, and people gath
ered about, shouted at the conclusion
with great spirit.

Graydon, who added to his other arti
ficial accomplishments that of showing a
genteel contempt for a sensation, acknowl
edges that, " If it [the declaration] was
not embraced w r ith all the enthusiasm
that has been ascribed to the event, it
was at least hailed with acclamations, as
no doubt any other act of Congress, not
flagrantly improper, would at that time
have been The propriety of the meas

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 39 of 126)