Robert Tomes.

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

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and red silk, and mounted on noble gray
horses, richly caparisoned in trappings of
the same colors, entered the lists, attend
ed by their esquires on foot, in suitable
apparel, in the following order: four trum
peters, properly habited, their trumpets
decorated with small pendent banners ; a
herald, in his robe of ceremony, with a
device of his band on it, consisting of two
w r hite roses intertwined, with the motto,
" We drop when separated! Lord Cathcart,
mounted on a superb horse led by grooms,
appeared as chief of these knights. Two
young black slaves, with sashes and draw
ers of blue and white silk, wearing large
silver clasps round their necks and arms,
their breasts and shoulders bare, held his
stirrups. On his right and left walked
his two esquires, one bearing his lance
and the other his shield, upon which was
the device of Cupid riding a lion, with
the motto, " Surmounted />// Love" His lord
ship appeared in honor of Miss Auchmuty.
Then followed his six knights, each splen
didly accoutred and mounted, accompa-

nied by his esquire bearing his shield, and
prepared to d o service for his "lady e love."
ROSE" appeared Andre himself, then hold
ing the rank of captain, with his youth
ful brother, only nineteen years of age, a
lieutenant in the army.

After the knights had rode up and
made the circuit of the square, they sa
luted the ladies as they passed before the
pavilions, and then ranged themselves in
a line with the seat of the dames of the
"Blended Rose," whose pre-eminent beau
ty, wit, and accomplishments, they were
prepared to prove by their arms, as their
herald declared, against all who should
dare to deny them. Three times the chal
lenge was sounded. At the third, a her
ald, with four trumpeters, dressed in black
and orange, galloped into the lists. He
was met by the herald of the " Blended
Rose," and, after a brief parley, he of the
ly sounded his trumpet, and proclaimed
defiance to the challenge, declaring that
the knights of the "Burning Mountain"
came to disprove by deeds, and not by
words, the vainglorious assertions of the
knights of the " Blended Rose."

The knights of the " Burning Mount
ain" now rode in, headed by their chief.
Each had his squire, shield, and device,
and was ready to do service for his espe
cial dame. They, having made the cir
cuit of the lists, and their obeisance to
all the ladies, reined up their horses defi
antly in front of the knights of the "Blend
ed Rose." The chief of the latter then
threw down his gauntlet, which \vas or
dered to be taken up by the esquire of



[PART n.

the chief of the "Burning Mountain."
Each knight now took his lance and shield
from his esquire ; and the two opposing
bands, after making a general salute to
each other by a graceful movement of
their lances, turned to take their career,
and, encountering in full gallop, shivered
their spears. In the second and third en
counters they discharged their pistols. In
the fourth they fought with their swords.
At length the two chiefs, spurring for
ward into the centre, engaged furiously
in single combat, till the marshal of the
field rushed in between the champions,
and declared that the fair damsels of the
"Blended Rose" and "Burning Mount-
were perfectly satisfied with the


proofs of love and the signal feats of val
or given by their respective knights, and
commanded them, as they prized the fu
ture favors of their mistresses, that they
would instantly desist from further com
bat. Obedience being paid to this order,
the chiefs joined their respective array
of knights.

A passage being now opened between
the two pavilions, the knights, preceded
by their squires a.nd the bands of music,
rode through the first triumphal arch,
and arrayed themselves to the right and
left. This arch was erected in honor of
Lord Howe. It presented two fronts, in
the Tuscan order. The pediment was
adorned with various naval trophies, and
at the top was the figure of Neptune, with
a trident in his right hand. In a niche
on each side stood a sailor with a drawn
cutlass. Three plumes of feathers were
placed on the summit of each wing, and
in the entablature was a Latin inscription,

saying that praise was his due, but that
his soul was above praise. From this
arch led an avenue three hundred feet
long and thirty-four broad, lined on each
side with troops; while beyond all the
colors of the army were planted at prop
er intervals, between which the knights
and squires took their stations. The bands
struck up a succession of martial tunes,
and the procession then moved forward.
The ladies, in their Turkish habits, led
the way ; and, as they passed, they were
saluted by the knights, who dismounted
and joined them. Thus the whole com
pany passed through a second triumphal
arch into the garden which fronted the
" Wharton mansion."

The second arch, like the first, was of
the Tuscan order, and was dedicated to
Sir William Howe. On the interior part
of the pediment was painted a plume of
feathers, and various military trophies.
At the top stood the figure of Fame, and
in the entablature was this Latin inscrip
tion : "_Z, boiio, quo virtus tua te vocat ; I pcde


THY STEPS !" On the right-hand pillar was
placed a bomb, and on the left a flaming
heart. The front of the arch next to the
house Avas covered with fireworks, ar
ranged in ornamental forms, ready to be
fired in the course of the night.

From the garden a flight of steps cov
ered with carpet led to a spacious hall,
which was adorned with panelling paint
ed in imitation of Sienna marble, cleverly
executed by Captain Andre himself, who
had transferred his brush from the canvas
of the theatre to the walls of the Whar-




ton house for this grand occasion. In the
hall and in the adjoining apartments were
prepared ten, lemonade, and other cooling
drinks, to which the company seated them
selves according to the comfortable prac
tice of those good old-fashioned times.
While they were thus regaling them
selves, the knights came in, and on bend
ed knees received their favors from their
respective ladies.

There was one apartment of the man
sion especially devoted to the most ab
sorbing interest of that time. Here was
the faro-table ; and, as if mocking at their
own vice, these reckless debauchees had
painted on a panel over the chimney, so
that it might be the first object seen on
entering the room, a cornucopia, filled to
overflowing with flowers of the richest
colors, while over the door of exit was
represented another, which was shrunk,
reversed, and emptied ! Thus was sym
bolized the doom of the gamester, who, en
tering; with abundance, was destined to

O ^

go away empty from that fatal hall.

Above these lower apartments were
ball and refreshment rooms, illuminated
with hundreds of wax-lights, hung with
rose-colored dmpery, painted with grace
ful forms and rich devices, festooned with
wreaths of natural flowers, and all reflect
ed brilliantly from the numerous mirrors
on the walls. The ball was opened by
the knights and their ladies, and the dance
was kept up until ten o clock, when the
windows were thrown open on that warm
spring night, and a magnificent bouquet
of rockets began the display of fireworks,
which had been prepared under the su-
pei vision of Cap tain Montressor, the chief-

May 18,

engineer. As the rockets shot into the
air, and the fire-balloons burst into a blaze
of light, the interior of the triumphal arch
was illuminated. The military trophies
shone out resplendently in variegated col
ors ; and Fame appeared at the summit,
spangled with stars, and blowing from her
trumpet in letters of light, " Lcs lauricrs
sont immortels : His LAURELS ARE IMMORTAL."

At twelve o clock at night, sup
per was announced ; and large
folding-doors, until this moment artfully
hidden, were suddenly thrown open, dis
covering a magnificent saloon of two hun
dred and ten feet by forty, and twenty-
two feet in height, with three alcoves on
each side, which served as sideboards. The
ceiling was the segment of a circle ; and
the sides were painted of a light straw-
color, with vine-leaves and festoons of
flowers, some in a bright, some in a dark
ish green. Fifty-six large pier-glasses, or
namented with green-silk artificial flow
ers and ribbons ; one hundred branches,
with three lights in each, trimmed in the
same manner as the mirrors ; eighteen
lustres, each with twenty-four lights, sus
pended from the ceiling, and ornamented
as the branches; three hundred wax-ta
pers, disposed along the supper-tables;
four hundred and thirty covers; twelve
hundred dishes ; twenty-four black slaves
in oriental dresses, with silver collars and
bracelets, ranged in two lines, and bend
ing to the ground as the general and the
admiral approached the saloon, formed
together " the most brilliant assemblage
of gay objects, and appearing at once as
we entered by an easy descent," wrote
Captain Andre, in his glowing account of




the scene, " exhibited a coup d adl beyond
description magnificent."

Toward the close of the ban
quet, the herald of the " Blended
Rose," habited in his robes of ceremony,
and attended by his trumpeters, entered
the saloon, and proclaimed the health of
the king, the queen, and the royal fami
ly ; the army and the navy, with their re
spective commanders ; the knights and
their ladies; and the ladies in general
each of the toasts being followed by a
flourish of music. After supper ; the dan
cing was resumed, and was kept up until
four o clock the next morning.

The ladies present on the occasion were
all Americans, with the exception of Miss
Auchmuty, the subsequent bride of Cap
tain Montressor. They became memora
ble ever after as the " Mischianza ladies"
and a rigid patriotism frowned awhile up
on them, but it soon yielded to the smiles
of beauty ; and Americans, in their pro
verbial gallantry toward the other sex,
forgot all distinctions between "tory" and
" whig." Miss Shippen, one of the fairest
damsels of the Miwhianza, became after
ward the dashing bride of General Ar
nold. Miss Franks, rendered famous by
General Charles Lee s witty letter ad
dressed to her, was the reigning belle on
the occasion. She attracted all by the

blaze of her beauty, only to wither them
in the fire of her wit. " Give us Britons,
strike home / " shouted Sir Henry Clinton
to the musicians. "The commander-in-
chief has made a mistake," exclaimed Miss
Franks; he meant to say, Britons go
home!" 1 She is acknowledged to have
been beaten only once in those martial
days, in the war of words, which she was
ever ready to wage with whig or tory,
general or subaltern, and then by that
old campaigner, in the letter to which al
lusion has been made, and which she re
ceived with anger, a sure sign of defeat.
"Paine," observes Lossing, "in one of
the numbers of his paper called The Cri-
s/s, gfwe a laughable account of this farce"
(of the Mischianza). "Alluding to Gen
eral Howe, he says, t He bounces off, with
his bombs and burning hearts set upon
the pillars of his triumphant arch, which,
at the proper time of the show, burst out
with a shower of squibs and crackers, and
other fireworks, to the delight and amaze
ment of Miss Craig, Miss Chew, Miss Red
man, and all the other misses, dressed out
as the fair damsels of the Blended Rose,
and of the Burning Mountain, for this
farce of knight-errantry. * How strange
that such sensible men as these two com
manders were, should have consented to
receive such gross adulation !"



Washington and his Slanderers. General Gates in Opposition. General Conway. Letter from Washington. Conway
made Inspector-General. The Anti-Washington Faction in the Ascendant. The Cabal. Intrigue. Exposure.
General Wilkinson. His Account of the Affair. Lord Stirling in his Cups. A Challenge. No Blood shed. Con-
way detected and exposed. His Resignation. His Duel with General Cadwallader. Atonement of a Dying Man.
An Immortality of Dishonor. Improvement at Valley Forge. Supplies. Arrival of Mrs. Washington. Visitors.
General Charles Lee exchanged. His Arrival in the American Camp. Ethan Allen. Lafayette appointed to com
mand an Expedition to Canada. The Marquis remains faithful to Washington. He is flattered in vain by the " Ca
bal." To Albany and back again. Baron Steuben. His Life and Character. He is appointed Inspector-General.
Anecdotes. The Baron s Services.


THERE were not only the trials of
the command of an army of fam
ishing soldiers, constantly on the verge
of mutiny, to which their crying wants
provoked and almost justified them in
yielding, to perplex the head and wound
the heart of Washington; he was now
tormented by the stings of scandal, and
harassed by the opposition of the factions
in the army and in Congress. The com-
mander-in-chief had long been conscious
that there were some who were disposed
to depreciate his military character, and
elevate their own at his expense. He
saw that General Gates, forgetful of his
old friendship, and though bound to him
by every tie of gratitude, had become dis
affected, and neglected no opportunity of
wounding his sensibilities and thwarting !
his purposes. Gates was a vain man, and
his triumph at Saratoga, and the flatte
ries which followed, seem to have raised
him to such a giddy height in his own
esteem, that his head turned. After the
surrender of Burgoyne, ordinary courtesy
should have impelled General Gates to
write to Washington, but he was guilty

of the indignity of neglecting this obvi
ous duty. The commander-in-chief, with
conscious dignity, either left these marks
of disrespect and indications of opposition
unnoticed, or remarked upon them as the
usual accompaniments of high trust and
position. When, however, he discovered
that his enemies were seriously organi
zing into a party to overthrow him, and
to take the lead in the conduct of affairs,
he was resolved to check them, if not for
his own sake, yet for the sake of the cause
which he loved too much to expose to the
mercy of such guides.

The first notice which the general-in-
chief deigned to take of the intrigues of
his enemies, was this note from him to
General Conway :

" CAMI>, Nov. 16, 1777.

" SIR : A letter which I received last
night contained the following paragraph :

" In a letter from General Conway to
General Gates, he says, "Heaven has deter
mined to save your country, or a wca/c general
and bad counsellors ivould have ruined it."
" I am, sir, your humble servant,





Dec. 16.

General Conway, on the receipt of this,
without denying the words which were
attributed to him, strove immediately, by
letter, or an interview with the command-
er-in-chief, to explain them away 5 but the
result was so unsatisfactory, that, appa
rently in conscious guilt, he offered his
resignation. This was not accepted, and
in the course of a month, and near the
close of the year 1777, Conway
was appointed inspector-general
of the army, with the rank of major-gen
eral. The bitterest opponent of Wash
ington was thus elevated by Congress to
this high position even after his intrigues
against the commander-in-chief had be-


come known, and when Washington had
already (before he was aware of Conway s
personal attacks upon him) written these
words while the question was being agi
tated months before about such an ap
pointment: "It will be as unfortunate a
measure as ever was adopted ; I may add,
and I think with truth, that it will give a
fatal blow to the existence of the army."
The faction opposed to Washington,
however, was now in the ascendant in
Congress. A board of war was appoint
ed, in which those suspected of intrigues
against the commander-in-chief formed
the majority, and were the most promi
nent members. General Gates became
president ; General Mifflin, supposed to
be leagued with Gates and Conway in an
effort to supplant Washington, and place
one of the three in the chief command,
was a member; Timothy Pickering, late
adjutant-general, Joseph Trumbull, the
former commissary, and Richard Peters,
composed the rest of the new board. Si

multaneously with the creation of this
board, Conway received his appointment
as inspector-general, with the rank of
major-general, and was thus promoted
above all the brigadiers of older date !
The army, by whom Washington was be
loved above all, became indignant, and the
officers and soldiers freely denounced the
faction which they did not hesitate to de
clare controlled the action of Congress,
to the injury of the great interests of the
country. But faction continued awhile
to govern that body, and some of its mem
bers strove by secret as w r ell as by open
means to accomplish their partisan ends.
Anonymous letters were written to the
governors of the states and to the officials
of Congress, to sound them and to gain
them over, by attacks upon the military
conduct of Washington and his favorite
officers, by laudatory accounts of the tri
umphs of Gates, and of the ability of that
general and his friends.

The letter of Washington to Conway,
however, brought the whole intrigue to
an issue ; and when the army and the
country showed their indignation at this
attempt to destroy the character of the
commander-in-chief, there was not one of
those suspected who was not anxious to
clear himself of all suspicion of being a
participator in the disreputable scheme.
On hearing of Washington s letter to Con-
way, General Gates at first seemed only
eager to discover the person who had be
trayed his confidence ; but when popular
indignation was excited, his subsequent
efforts, in the course of which he wrote
several prevaricating and contradictory
letters to Washington, were directed tow-




ard explaining the offensive passage quo
ted, winch, having been repeated in the
course of conversation, may not have been
literally given, though it is now general
ly believed to have presented the spirit
of the original words.

Wilkinson, who was a heedless, loqua
cious youth, at that time, and much given
to vaunting his intimacy with the then
"great man" of the day (General Gates),
was the one to whom was traced the
abuse of confidence of which Gates so
strongly complained. It will be recollect
ed that Wilkinson was sent to Congress,
to present Gates s report of his triumph
at Saratoga. In the course of his jour
ney, his progress was so slow (whether
from a desire of prolonging the glory re
flected upon him by his message, or from
the mere distractions of pleasure natural
to youth), that when it was proposed in
Congress, upon his arrival, that a sword
should be voted him as the bearer of such
good news, Doctor Witherspoon, then a
member, shrewdly observed in his native
Scotch, " I think yc ll better gie the lad a pair
spurs /" While Wilkinson was leisurely
pursuing his way, big with the importance
of his commission, he put up at Reading,
in Pennsylvania. But we shall let him
tell his own story :

" I arrived," says Wilkinson, " the even
ing of the 27th [of October], and was vis
ited by General Mifflin, with whom I had
been acquainted at the siege of Boston.
He wished me to take tea with him, and
I found two eastern members of Congress
at his house. I was minutely questioned
by them respecting the military opera
tions in the North; General Washington s

misfortunes were strictured severely by
them, and General Conway s criticisms
again mentioned. General Mifflin ap
peared exceedingly despondent, and ob
served that he considered the insurance
of buildings at Eeading against the dep
redations of the enemy worthy reflection.

" This evening it began to rain, and the
next day it fell in torrents. Lord Stir
ling was confined at this village [Read
ing], in consequence of a fall from his
horse ; and being myself detained by the
weather, for I dared not ride in the rain,
I consented at his earnest request to take
a pot-luck dinner with him, and was hap
py to meet my friend Major Monroe (af
terward president), in capacity of aid-de
camp to his lordship. With a noble de
portment and dignified manners, Lord
Stirling combined sound education and
respectable talents. I speak of his foibles
with reluctance, for he was an officer of
conspicuous gallantry. His addictions
were notorious, and his fondness for a
long set not the least remarkable, for no
man could be more strongly disposed to
fight his battles over again. The earl
had another aid-de-camp, by the name of
M Williams, whom I had never seen be

" We dined agreeably, and I did not
get away from his lordship before mid
night, the rain continuing to pour down
without intermission. In the course of
the day, his lordship fought over the bat
tle of Long island in detail, and favored
me with recitals of all the affairs in which
he had subsequently performed a part;
and I reciprocated information of such
transactions in the North as could inter-



[PART n.

est or amuse him. The conversation was
too copious and diffuse for me to have
charged my memory with particulars, and
from the circumstances of it was confi

His lordship, notwithstanding his "ad
dictions," did not seem on that occasion
to have poured down wine of sufficient
potency to steal away his brains ; for his
memory remained in such full possession,
that he distinctly recollected that Wilkin
son had said that General Gates had re
ceived a letter in which were these words,
Avritten by Gonway : " Heaven has deter
mined to save your country, or a weak
general and bad counsellors would have
ruined it," The earl immediately wrote
the words down, and sent them to Wash
ington, with his authority ; and the coin-
mander-in-chief, as we have seen, sent
them back to Conwa}^ and thus brought
the " Conway cabal" (as it has been called)
to light, and subsequent dishonor.

Wilkinson was provoked at being dis
covered as the cause of the excitement
which ensued, and being made the object
of the indignation of his patron, General
Gates. In the fretting of his youthful
spirit, he declared, " My lord shall bleed
for his conduct!" but he first determined
that the blood of Gates should flow, the
general having denounced him in strong
terms for his abuse of confidence. A chal
lenge was given and accepted, and the
preliminaries for the duello were all ar
ranged, when Wilkinson, according to his
own report of the occurrence, being fully
armed and accompanied by his seconds,
on proceeding to the ground, was called
aside by Captain Stoddert, and informed

that General Gates desired to speak with

"I expressed my astonishment," says
Wilkinson, " and observed it was impos
sible. He replied, with much agitation :
1 For God s sake, be not always a fool !
Come along, and see him ! Struck with
the manner of my friend,! inquired where
the general was. He answered, In the
street,near the door. The surprise robbed
me of circumspection. I requested Colo
nel Ball [his second] to halt, and followed
Captain Stoddert. I found General Gates
unarmed and alone, and was received with
tenderness but manifest embarrassment.
He asked me to walk, turned into a back
street, and we proceeded in silence till
we passed the buildings, when he burst
into tears, took me by the hand, and
asked me how I could think he wished
to injure me. I was too deeply affected
to speak, and he relieved my embarrass
ment by continuing : /injure you? It
is impossible ! I should as soon think of
injuring my own child. This language
not only disarmed me, but awakened all
my confidence and all my tenderness."
Wilkinson went away satisfied, but still
bent upon carrying out his bloody de
signs against Lord Stirling.

Wilkinson wrote a letter to his lord
ship, in which he did not pretend to deny
having quoted the words sent to Wash
ington, although in his explanations with
Gates he appeared to be entirely uncon
scious of having done so, but merely re
quired from Stirling a statement that the
conversation he had published "passed
in a private company during a convivial

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 79 of 126)