Robert Tomes.

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

. (page 88 of 126)
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large portion of them moved to Canada (from which coun
try they appear to have been forced southward at a remote
period by the great confederacy of the Algonquins). The
warlike Senccas and others of the Six Nations, or Iroqiiois,
as the French called them, in their migrations spread their
deadly hostility to the American whites throughout all the
tribes of the Northwest.




rations to meet them. They concentrated
their forces, selected a good position, and
fortified it with considerable skill. For
two hours they stood their ground man
fully against the whole of Sullivan s force,
but were finally compelled to give way j
before his artillery. The savages, once
driven from their stronghold, made not ;
an effort to rally, but fled in despair. |
Sullivan s avenging troops pursued them
closely, and, penetrating into the heart of
their country, spread desolation every

" Many settlements," says Bamsay, " in
the form of towns, were destroyed. All j
their fields of corn, and whatever was in
a state of cultivation, underwent the same
fate. Scarcely anything in the form of a |
house was left standing, nor was an In
dian to be seen. To the surprise of the
Americans, they found the lands about
the Indian towns well cultivated, and their
houses both large and commodious. The
quantity of corn destroyed was immense.^
Orchards, in which were several hundred
fruit-trees, were cut down ; and of them
many appeared to have been planted for
a long series of years. Their gardens,
replenished with a variety of useful ve
getables, were laid waste. J

* Tliis region of country, then known as Tryon countv,
hut now comprising Chemung and other counties, received,
from the cruel devastations and massacres of the savages,
the appellation of The Dark and Blood;/ Ground.

\ It was estimated that not less than a hundred and sixty
thousand hushels of corn in the granaries and fields were
thus destroyed. In one fortnight tin s beautiful country was
cast hack a century in its progress toward civilization.

J Washington, who had conceived amV planned this most
righteous expedition, and ordered its rigid execution in the
manner in which it was performed, received from the sav-
nges the name of An-nn-ta-kau-lcs, wtiich signifies, in the
Seneca language, trwn-drst.roi/i r. At a council held in Phil
adelphia, iw 1702, Corn-Planter, the distinguished Seneca

" The Americans were so full of resent
ment against the Indians for the many out
rages they had suffered from them, and so
bent on making the expedition decisive,
that the officers and soldiers cheerfully
agreed to remain till they had fully com
pleted the destruction of the settlement.
The supplies obtained in the country les
sened the inconvenience of short rations.
The ears of corn were so remarkably
large, that many of them measured twen
ty-two inches in length." Necessity suo;-

*/ o / o

gested a novel method of grinding the
grains. The soldiers thrust their bayo
nets through the camp-kettles, and thus
produced a rough surface upon which
they rubbed the corn into a coarse meal.
This severe lesson had its effect upon
the Indians, who became thenceforward
less bold in their cruelties and depreda
tions. The frontiers now enjoyed com
parative security from the incursions of
the savages. Brant and his tory confed
erates still fostered their wolfish propen
sities in their lair at Niagara, and would
occasionally find an opportunity to glut
them in the blood and spoils of the un
guarded settlers. These occasions, how
ever, after General Sullivan s successful
raid became known, were availed of with

chief, thus addressed President Washington: "FATHER
The voice of the Seneca nation speaks to yon, the great
counsellor, in whose heart the wise men of all the thirteen
fires have placed their wisdom. It may be very small in
vour ears, and therefore we entreat you to hearken with at
tention, for we arc about to speak to yon of things which to
us arc very great. When your army entered the country of
the Six Nations, we called you Tlic. Town- Destroy er ; and to
this dav, when that name is heard, our look behind
them and turn pale, and our children cling close tc the necks
of their mothers. Our counsellors and warriors are men,
and can not be afraid ; but their hearts are grieved with the
fears of our women and children, and desire that it may ho
buried so deep that it may be heard no more,."



less frequency and more timid caution.
Nevertheless, Brant, with sixty of his sav
ages and twenty-seven white men attack
ed the Mininsink settlement du-
July 23, . /i^n\

ring the same summer (1779),

and burnt ten houses, twelve barns, a fort,
and two mills. He moreover carried off
several prisoners and a large quantity of
plunder. The neighboring militia gath
ered together and went in pursuit, but
were driven back by the Indians.

In South Carolina, Generals William
son and Pickens carried out an expedi
tion like that of Sullivan, and with simi
lar success. The villages and harvests of
the savages were destroyed, and they
themselves forced to fly beyond the fron
tiers. Colonel Broadhead, too, was equal
ly successful in Pennsylvania. The In
dians from this time became much less
formidable, although we shall yet have
an occasional atrocity to record.


Lafayette in a " Cul de Sac." A Brilliant Flight. Cheeked by Washington. Return of Lafayette to France. Tlio
Ship Alliance. The Voyage. A Conspiracy. Its Terrible Objects. The Disclosure. The Conspiracy put down.
An Enemy avoided. Arrival at Brest. Lafayette in High Favor. A Formal and Royal Rebuke. His Reception
by Queen Marie Antoinette. Commander of the King s Guard. Washington s Winter-Quarters. Disposition of tho
Troops. Hutting. Washington visits Philadelphia. General Putnam in Trouble with his Troops. A Rebellion
quelled. Jollity in the Camp. A Christmas Dinner. A Holyday. A " Splendid Entertainment." Hospitality at
Headquarters. Colonel Hamilton at the Dinner-Table. Visit of Monsieur Gerard. A Grand Review. Native Gen
tlemen. General Gayetv. An Occasional Duel. Affection under the Gallows.


LAFAVETTE, while shut up in a cul
de sac, as he termed it, at Bristol, on
a neck of land, with a bay on the one side
arid a river on the other (where General
Sullivan had placed him, after the retreat
from Rhode island, to watch the motions
of the British), plumed his wings for a
broader flight. He had conceived a bril
liant plan for an expedition against Can
ada. He would obtain from his sovereign,
Louis XVI., a large army and a powerful
ileet, to reduce Halifax and Quebec, while
the Americans should co-operate by the
lakes, and thus wrest every spot of earth
in North America from British possession.
Congress seemed to sanction the scheme ;

but Washington, who, with every trust in
the disinterestedness of the ardent young
marquis, placed little faith in that of his
country, defeated the wild and dangerous
enterprise by his cautious counsels.

Lafayette proposed to return to France,
but had postponed his voyage for the pur
pose of furthering his Canadian project.
"If you have entertained thoughts, my
dear marquis," quietly remarks Washing
ton, - of paying a, visit to your court, to
your lady, and to your friends, this win
ter, but waver on account of an expedi
tion into Canada, friendship induces me
to tell you that I do not conceive that
the prospect of such an operation is so



favorable at this time as to cause you to
change your views." Lafayette now pre
pared to go home, and would have imme
diately set sail, but was detained by a se
vere illness.

The finest frigate in the embryo navy
of the United States, the Alliance, was or
dered to convey the young marquis to
France. On his recovery, he proceeded
to Boston to embark, but found the ship
not yet manned. The government of
Massachusetts went so far in its courtesy
to its distinguished visiter as to offer to
obtain a crew by impressment. This was,
however, an encroachment upon the rights
of man to which the young French disci
ple of freedom most positively objected.
Recourse was therefore had, in manning
the Alliance, to a number of British sail
ors, some prisoners, and a few Frenchmen,
who were taken indiscriminately from the
docks of Boston.

The captain of the Alliance was Lan-
dais, a Frenchman and a gallant officer,
to whom the command had been given
as a compliment to France, whose friend
ship every effort was at that time made to
strengthen, and to which the very name
of the ship was a tribute. The prejudice
against serving under a Frenchman was,
however, one of the chief difficulties in
manning the Alliance with American sail
ors, and forced Landais to content him
self with a motley crew, of all countries
and characters.

With this difficulty about a crew, the
Alliance did not finally get^to sea until

Jan II tlie Beginning oi> tne J ear 1779.

The passage was boisterous, and

the frigate lost a topmast and sprang a

leak ; and, when she had got within two
days sail of the English coast, a conspi
racy was discovered among the crew by
one of the sailors, who was an American
by birth, but, having lived a long time in
Ireland, was supposed by his English ship
mates to be an Irishman, and therefore
taken by them into their confidence. It
was not, however, until the morning of
the very day for carrying their plans into
execution, that the conspirators disclosed
them to the American sailor. He pre
tended to enter into (heir views with his
whole heart, and thus got from them ev
ery detail. He watched his opportunity
to convey the intelligence to the captain,
but was not able to do so until some time
after three in the afternoon, although the
hour appointed for carrying out the plot
was four o clock.

According to this American sailor s ac
count, the conspirators were mainly com
posed of Englishmen, and their purpose
was bloody and determined. By the ori
ginal plan, the cry of " Sail ho !" was to
be raised about daylight, which it was
supposed would bring all the officers and
passengers (of whom there were several
besides Lafayette) on deck, when it was
intended to seize them. The mutineers
had divided themselves into four parties,
of which one was to get possession of the
magazine, the second of the wardroom,
the third of the cabin, and the fourth of
the upper deck aft. In case the officers
should resist, the four nine-pound guns
on the forecastle (which one of the muti
neers, a gunner s mate, had secretly load
ed with canister) were to be pointed aft,
and thus sweep the quarter-deck. A ser-




geant of marines, who was also one of the
party, had privately distributed firearms
and side-weapons among his associates.

The officers, passengers, and those who
were in the interest of the ship, were sev
erally to be dealt with as follows : Cap
tain Landais, who was particularly odious,
was to be heavily ironed, and sent adrift
on the sea, in a boat, without food, water,
oars, sails, or compass. The marine offi
cer and the surgeon were to be hanged
and quartered. The gunner, carpenter,
and boatswain, were to be killed on the
spot. The sailing-master was to be seized,
hanged up to the niizzen-mast, scarified,
cut into morsels, and thrown overboard.
To each of the two lieutenants was to be
offered the choice of either navigating the
ship into the nearest British port or of
* walking the plank." The passengers
were to be more humanely treated, as it
was intended only to iron them and de
liver them up in England as prisoners.
This diabolical conspiracy was, however,
thwarted by the disclosure of the Ameri
can sailor.

Not a moment was to be lost; and ac
cordingly, Captain Landais, having armed
his officers and passengers, rushed up with
them in a body on deck just in time to
seize the ringleaders of the mutiny before
the signal was given for the beginning
of operations. Thirty or forty English
sailors were put in irons; but, as at this
moment a twenty-gun ship of the enemy
hove in sight, it was thought imprudent
to arrest any more. Landais, with most
of his crew in a state of mutiny, did riot
care to show fight, and therefore so ma
noeuvred as to avoid an engagement, and,

Feb. 6.

crowding on sail, made his way
with all haste to the harbor of
Brest, where the Alliance arrived after a
short passage.*

The young marquis was greeted on his
arrival with great applause. "I had the
honor," he wrote, " of being consulted by
all the ministers, and, what was far better,
embraced by all the ladies. Those em
braces lasted but one day ; but I retained
for a greater length of time the confidence
of the cabinet, and I enjoyed both favor
at the court of Versailles and popularity
at Paris. I was the theme of conversa
tion in every circle."

Louis XVI. deemed it necessary to vin
dicate his authority by the formality of a
rebuke to the young marquis for his for
mer disobedience in leaving the country
contrary to orders ; but, with wonderful
French tact, his majesty contrived to
sweeten his censure with a compliment.
Lafayette was forbidden to quit Paris for
some days, and told to avoid those places
in which the public "might consecrate
his disobedience by their loud applause."
Queen Marie Antoinette, then in all the
pride of her youthful beauty, and with no
dread of days of terror, received the rev
olutionary hero with every mark of favor.
Through her intercession, Lafayette was
given the command of the dragoons of
the king s guard; and this young enthu
siast of liberty was warmed in the very
bosom of despotism.

In the beginning of December, Wash
ington disposed his army in its winter
quarters. The troops under Gen
eral Putnam were stationed at Dan-


* c




[PART n.

bury, in Connecticut; those under Gen
eral M Dougall, in the Highlands of the
Hudson ; and the main body, under the
commander-in-chief, in the neighborhood
of Middlebrook, in New Jersey. Here
the old expedient of hutting was resort
ed to ; but, as the soldiers were better
clothed, and as it was hoped that they
would be better provisioned, the prospect
was more promising at Middlebrook than
during the previous year at Valley Forge.

Washington was urged to pass the win
ter, with his wife, at Philadelphia, where
General Arnold was in command, and
where Joseph Reed, now president of
Pennsylvania, dwelt. " Were I to give
in to private conveniency and amuse
ment," he wrote in answer, " I should not
be able to resist the invitation of my
friends to make Philadelphia, instead of
a squeezed-up room or two, my quarters
for the winter. But the affairs of the
army require my constant attention and
presence, and, circumstanced as matters
are at this time, call for some degree of
care and address to keep it from crum

The commander-in-chief, however, vis
ited Philadelphia during the winter, where
Congress had been in session since the
evacuation of the city by the British in
the previous May. His object was to con
fer with the members of the government
in regard to the coming campaign (1779).
The result was, a determination to pursue
at the North a defensive polioy, with the
exception of the expedition against the
Indians, which we have already related.
Washington s patriotism was greatly
shocked by the selfish intrigues and par

tisanship of the public men by whom he
found himself surrounded at the capital.
" If I were called upon," he wrote, " to
draw a picture of the times and of men,
from what I have seen, heard, and in part
know, I should in one word say that idle
ness, dissipation, and extravagance, seem to
have laid fast hold of most of them ; that spec
ulation, peculation, and an insatiable thirst for
riches, seem to have got the belter of every other
consideration, and almost of every order of
men ; that part?/ disputes and personal quarrels
are the great business of the day ; ivhile the


and accumulating debt, ruined finances, depre
ciated money, and ivant of credit (ivhich in its
consequences is the want of ever //thing), are
but secondary considerations, and postponed
from day to day, from iveeJc to week, as if oi:r
affairs wore the most promising aspect."

By his personal efforts and tact in the
control of others, Washington succeeded
in securing unusual comfort and good dis
cipline among his troops. By timely in-
terposition,he prevented what threatened
to prove a serious mutiny on the part of
the officers attached to the New-Jersey
brigade of General Maxwell, who were
ordered to join Sullivan in the expedition
against the tribes of the Six Nations. The
officers were induced to withdraw a me
morial which they had drawn up and sent
to the legislature, in which they declared
that they would not march until their ar
rears of pay were settled ; and, by the dis
creet management of Washington, they
were prevailed upon to proceed to their

General Putnam was not so successful
with his division at Dauby The men did




not get under cover in their huts until
some time in January; and while
obliged to remain in their tents in
the height of winter, they suffered greatly
from the exposure to cold. Provisions,
too, became so scanty, that for six or nine
days together the soldier was in want of
his ration of bread. A revolt took place
in consequence in the brigade under Gen
eral Huntington. Four hundred men got
under arms and marched out of the camp
to an advantageous ground in the neigh
borhood, where they took post, and ex
pected to be joined by others. General
Putnam, however, finally succeeded in dis
persing the mutineers and quelling the

Though for awhile there seemed an
end to active campaigning, the dull rou
tine of camp-life was enlivened by various
distractions. "Military duty not being
very urgent," says a contemporary annal
ist, " our officers appear disposed to relax
in their discipline, and contract a habit
approaching to dissipation." Late sup
pers, with music and dancing continued
" through half the night," became the fa
vorite amusements, particularly of those
hot bloods the Virginian and Maryland
officers. Brigadier-General Muhlenberg,
who had doffed the surplice for the con
tinental uniform, and preached his fare
well sermon in sword and cockade, was
among the most hospitable of the military
Amphytrions. We re-ad of his table being
loaded with "fourteen different dishes,"
and surrounded by "forty-one respecta
ble officers" as guests. The wine circu
lated freely, toasts passed, and " humor
ous and rnerry songs" were sung; while

the conviviality and gayety were length
ened out to a late hour in the night with
military music, dancing, and punch.

Christmas was not allowed to pass with
out its appropriate banqueting ; and on
the opening of the year, " Colonel Gibson
made an entertainment, and invited all the
officers of his regiment to dine at his quar
ters in the country, a short distance from,
camp." The guests did not leave the
"amply-furnished" table until evening,
when they were invited to the hospitable
quarters of the ci-devant parson, Muhlen
berg. "Here we were introduced," says
the writer before quoted, " to a number
of ladies assembled to unite with the gen
tlemen in the ballroom; a very elegant
supper was provided, and not one of the
company was permitted to retire till three
o clock in the morning. Thus have the
gallant Virginians commenced the new

The anniversary of the alliance with
France affords the camp an occasion for
a holyday, and it is celebrated in " prop
er style" near headquarters. A "splen
did entertainment" was given by General
Knox and the officers of the artillery.
General and Mrs. Washington, the prin
cipal officers of the army and their wives,
and a number of the leading gentry of
the neighborhood, formed " the brilliant
assembly." About four o clock, sixteen
cannon were discharged, and the guests
collected in a large public building to
partake of the banquet prepared for the
occasion. In the evening fireworks were
let off, and the celebration was concluded
" by a splendid ball, opened by his excel-

* Thachcr.




lency General Washington, having for his
partner the lady of General Knox."

The commander-in-chief gives an ex
ample of hospitality by " inviting a cer
tain, number of officers to dine at his ta
ble every day." As his excellency can
not possibly be acquainted with every
officer by name, his invitations are given
through the medium of general orders,
in which is mentioned the brigade from
which the officer is expected. At these
dinners the table is " elegantly furnished
and the provisions ample, but not abound
ing in superfluities." Colonel Hamilton,
the aid-de-camp and secretary, does the
honors at the head, while General and
Mrs. Washington sit at the side of the
table. " In conversation, his excellency s
expressive countenance is peculiarly in
teresting and pleasing ; a placid smile is
frequently observed on his lips, but a
loud laugh, it is said, seldom if ever es
capes him. He is polite and attentive to
each individual at table, and retires after
the compliments of a few glasses. Mrs.
Washington combines in an uncommon
degree great dignity of manner with the
most pleasing affability, but possesses no
striking marks of beauty."

The visit to the camp of Monsieur Ge
rard, the French minister, and Don Juan
de Mirilliars, a secret Spanish agent
whose arrival is announced by the firing
of thirteen cannon was the occasion for
a grand review of the army, when Baron
Steuben s good offices as a disciplinarian
were made manifest. ,

The whole of the army was paraded in
martial array in a spacious field, and a
stage was erected for the accommodation

of the spectators. " At the signal of thir
teen cannon, the great and splendid cav
alcade approached in martial pomp and
style. A very beautiful troop of light-
horse, commanded by Major Lee, a Vir
ginian, marched in front; then followed
his excellency the commander-in-chief
and his aids-de-camp ; next the foreign
ministers and their retinue ; while the
general officers and their aids closed the
procession. Having arrived on the field
of parade, the commander-in-chief, with
the foreign ministers and general officers ;
passed in front of the line of the army,
from right to left, in review, and received
the military honors due to their rank;
after which the gentlemen -dismounted
and retired to the stage, and took seats
with Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Greene, Mrs
Knox, and a number of other ladies, who
had arrived in their carriages.

"The army then performed the field
manoeuvres and evolutions, with firing of
cannon arid musketry. The business of
the day was closed by the troops deploy
ing: and marching in front of the stage,

O o tj /

and paying the marching salute to their

Washington s tall figure and command-


ing air made him conspicuous above all
others. "While mounted on his noble
bay charger," continues our annalist, " his
stature appears remarkable ; and, being
a good horseman, he displays a lofty car
riage and benign dignity of demeanor."*
In a few days more, some native gen
tlemen present themselves in the camp,
when Washington treats them to a re
view. "His excellency," says Thacher,

* Thacher.




" with his usual dignity, followed by his
mulatto-servant Bill, riding a beautiful
gray steed, passed in front of the line and
received the salute. He was accompa
nied by a singular group of savages, whose
appearance was beyond description ludi
crous. Their horses were of the mean
est kind, some of them destitute of sad
dles, and old lines were used for bridles.
Their personal decorations were equally
farcical, having their faces painted of va
rious colors, jewels suspended from their
ears and noses, their heads without cov
ering except tufts of hair on the crown,
and some of them wore dirty blankets
over their shoulders waving in the wind."
Thus passed the winter and early spring
of 1779, in a current of cheerfulness, only
disturbed by an occasional duel or an ex
ecution. Captain E gives offence to

Captain H , and is challenged to mor

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 88 of 126)