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made to maintain New York were as judicious as the retreat
afterwards. While yoo, in the interim, let slip the very
opportunity, which seemed to put conquest in your power.

Through the whole of that campaign you had nearly
double the forces which General Washington immediately
commanded. The principal plan, at that time, on our
part, was to wear away the season vith as little loss as
possible, and to raise the army for the next year. Long
Island, New York, Forts Washington and Lee, were not
defended, after your superior force was known, under any
expectation of their being finally maintained, but as a range
^of out-works, in the attacking of which, your time might
.be wasted, your numbers reduced, and your vanity amused
by possessing them on our retreat. It was intended to have
withdrawn the garrisom from Fort Washington, after it had
answered the former of those purposes ; but the fate of that
day put a prize into your hands without much honour to

Your progress through the Jerseys was accidental ; you
}iad it not even in contemplation, or you would not have


sent so principal apart of your force to Rhode Island before
hand. The utmost hope of America in the year seventy-
six reached no higher than that she might not then be con-
quered. She had no expectation of defeating you in that
campaign. Even the most cowardly Tory allowed, that,
could she withstand the shock of that summer, her indepen-
dence would be past a doubt. You had then greatly the
advantage of her. You were formidable. Your military
knowledge was supposed to be complete. Your fleets and
forces arrived without an accident. You had neither expe-
rience nor reinforcements to wait for. You had nothing to
do but to begin, and your chance lay in the first vigorous

America was youiig and unskilled. She was obliged to
trust her defence to time and practice; and hath, by mere
dint of perseverance, maintained her cause, and brought
her enemy to a condition, in which she is now capable of
meeting him on any ground.

It is remarkable that in the campaign of seventy-six, you
gained no more, notwithstanding your great force, than
what was given you by consent of evacuation, except Fort
Washington ; while every advantage obtained by us was
by fair and hard fighting. The defeat of Sir Peter Parker
was complete. The conquest of the Hessians at Trenton,
by the remains of a retreating army, which but a few days
before you affected to despise, is an instance of heroic per-
severance, very seldom to be met with : and the victory over
the British troops at Prince-town, by a harrassed and wearied
party, who had been engaged the day before, and marched
all night without refreshment, is attended with such a scene
of circumstances and superiority of generalship, as will
ever give it a place on the first line in the history of great

When I look back on the gloomy days of last winter,
and see America suspended by a thread, I feel a triumph of
joy at the recollection of her delivery, and a reverence for
the characters which snatched her "from destruction. To
doubt now, would be a species of infidelity, and to forget
the instruments which saved us then, would be ingra-

The close of that campaign left us with the spirits of
conquerors. The northern districts were relieved by the
retreat of General Carleton over the lakes. The army
under your command was hunted back, and had its
bounds- prescribed. Thp Continent began to feel its mili-


tary importance, and the winter passed pleasantly away in
preparations for the next campaign.

However confident you might be on your first arrival, the
course of the year seventy -six gave you some idea of the
difficulty, if not of the impossibility of conquest. To this
reason I ascribe your delay in opening the campaign in
seventy-seven. The face of matters on the close of the for-
mer year, gave you no encouragement to pursue a discre-
tionary war as soon as the spring admitted the taking of the
field: for, though conquest in that case would have given
you a double portion of fame, yet the experiment was too
hazardous. The Ministry, had you ffailed, would have
shifted the whole blame upon you, charged you with having
acted without orders, and condemned, at once, both your
plan and execution.

To avoid those misfortunes, which might have involved
you, and your money accounts in perplexity, and suspicion,
you prudently waited the arrival of a plan of operations
from England, which was, that you should proceed to Phi-
ladelphia by the way of Chesapeake, and that Burgoyne,
after reducing Ticonderago, should take his route by Albany,
and, if necessary, join you.

The splendid laurels of last campaign have flourished in
the north. In that quarter, America hath surprised the
world, and laid the foundation of her this year's glory. The
conquest of Ticonderago (if it may be called a conquest)
has, like all your other victories, led on to ruin. Even the
provisions taken in that fortress, (which by General Bur-
goyne's return w^ere sufficient in bread and flour for nearly
five thousand men, for ten weeks, and in beef and pork, for
the same number of men for one month) served only to
hasten his overthrow, by enabling him to proceed for Sara-
toga, the place of his destruction. A short review of the
operations of the last campaign will shew the condition of
affairs on both sides.

You have taken Ticonderago, and marched into Phila-
delphia. These are all the events which the year hath pro-
duced on your part. A trifling campaign indeed, compared
with the expences of England, and the Continent. On the
other side, a considerable part of your northern force has
been routed by the New York militia, under General Her-
kemer. Fort Stanwix hath bravely survived a compounded
attack of soldiers and savages, and the besiegers have fled.
The battle of Rennington has put a thousand prisoners into


our hands, with all their arms, stores, artillery and baggage.
General Burgoyne in two engagements has been defeated;
himself, his army, and all that were his, and theirs, are now
ours. Ticonderago and Independence are retaken, and not
the shadow of an enemy remains in all the northern districts.
At this instant we have upwards of eleven thousand priso-
ners, between sixty and seventy pieces of brass ordnance,
besides small arms, tents, stores, &c. &c.

Iii order to know the real value of those advantages, we
must reverse the scene, and suppose General Gates and the
force he commanded, to be at your mercy as prisoners, and
General Burgoyne with his army of soldiers and savages to
be already joined to you in Pennsylvania. So dismal a pic-
ture can scarcely be looked at. It hath all the traces and
colourings of horror and despair, and excites the most swell-
ing emotions of gratitude, by exhibiting the miseries we are
so graciously preserved from.

I admire this distribution of laurels around the Continent,
It is the earnest of future union. South Carolina has had
her day of suffering and of fame; and the other southern
States have exerted themselves in proportion to the force
that invaded or insulted them. Towards the close of the
campaign in seventy-six, these middle States were called
upon, and did their duty nobly. They were witnesses to the
almost expiring flame of human freedom. It was the close
struggle of life and death; the line of invisible division,
and on which the unabated fortitude of a Washington pre-
vailed, aud saved the spark, that has since blazed in the
north with unrivalled lustre.

Let me ask, Sir, what great exploits have you performed ?
Through all the variety of changes and opportunities which
this war hath produced, I know no one action of yours that
can be styled masterly. You have moved in and out,
backward and forward, round and round, as if valour con-
sisted in a military jig. The history and figure of your
movements would be truly ridiculous, could they be justly
delineated. They resemble the labours of a puppy pursuing
his tail; the end is still at the same distance, and all the
turnings round must be done over again.

The first appearance of affairs at Ticonderago wore such
an unpromising aspect, that it was necessary, in July, to
detach a part of the forces to the support of that quarter,
which were otherwise destined or intended to act against
you, and this, perhap?, has been (he means of postponing


your downfal to another campaign. The destruction of one
army at a time is work enough. We know, Sir, what we
are about, what we have to do, and how to do it.

Your progress from Chesapeake was marked by no capital
stroke of policy or heroism. Your principal aim was to
get General Washington between the Delaware and Schuyl-
kill, and between Philadelphia and your army. In that
situation, with a river on each of his flanks, which united
about five miles below the city, and your army above him,
you could have intercepted his reinforcements and supplies,
cut off alt his communication with the country, and, if
necessary, have dispatched assistance to open a passage for
General Burgoyne. This scheme was too \ 7 isibleto succeed,
for had General Washington suffered you to command the
open country above him, I think it a very reasonable con-
jecture that the conquest of Burgoyne would not have taken
place, because you could, in that case, have relieved him.
It was therefore necessary, while that important victory was
in suspense, to trepan you into a situation, in which you
could only be on the defensive, without the power of afford-
ing him assistance. The manreuvre had its effect, and Bur-
goyne was conquered.

There has been something unmilitarily passive in you
from the time of your passing the Schuylkill, and getting
possession of Philadelphia, to the close of the campaign.
You mistook a trap for a conquest, the probability of which
had been made known to Europe, and the edge of your
triumph taken off by our own information long before.

Having got you into this situation, a scheme for a general
attack upon you at German-town was carried into execu-
tion on the 4th of October, and though the success was not
equal to the excellence of the plan, yet the attempting it
proved the genius of America to be on the rise, and her
power approaching to superiority. The obscurity of the
morning was your best friend, for a fog is always favourable
to an hunted enemy. Some weeks after this, you, likewise,
planned an attack on General Washington while at White-
marsh. You marched out with infinite parade, but on
finding him preparing to attack you the next morning, you
prudently cut about, and retreated to Philadelphia, with all
the precipitation of a man conquered in imagination.

Immediately after the battle of German-town, the proba-
bility of Burgoyne's defeat gave a new policy to affairs in
Pennsylvania, and it was judged most consistent with the
general safety of America, to wait the issue of the northern


campaign. Slow and sure is sound work. The news of
that victory arrived in our camp on the 18th of October,
and no sooner did the shout of joy, and the report of the
thirteen cannon reach your ears, than you resolved upon a
retreat, and the next day, that is, on the 19th, withdrew
your drooping army into Philadelphia. This movement was
evidently dictated by fear; and carried with it a positive
confession that you dreaded a second attack. It was hiding
yourself among women and children, and sleeping away the
choicest part of a campaign in expensive inactivity. An
army in a city can never be a conquering army. The situa-
tion only admits of defence. It is a mere shelter; and
every military power in Europe will conclude you to be
eventually defeated.

The time when you made this retreat, was the very time
you ought to have fought a battle, in order to put yourself
in a condition of recovering in Pennsylvania, what you had
lost at Saratoga. And the reason why you did not, must
be either prudence or cowardice; the former supposes
your inability, and the latter needs no explanation. I draw
no conclusions, Sir, but such as are naturally deduced
from known and visible facts, and such as will always have
a being while the facts which produced them remain un-

After this retreat, a new difficulty arose, which exhi-
bited the power of Britain in a very contemptible light, that
was the attack and defence of Mud Island. For several
weeks did that little unfinished fortress stand out against
all the attempts of Admiral and General Howe. It was the
fable of Bendar, realized on the Delaware. Scheme after
scheme, and force upon force, were tried and defeated.
The garrison, with scarce any thing to cover them but their
bravery, survived in the midst of mud, shot, and shells, and
were at last obliged to give it up, more to the powers of
time and gunpowder, than to the military superiority of the

It is my sincere opinion, that matters are in a much worse
condition with you, than what is generally known. Your
master's speech at the opening of Parliament is like a soli-
loquy on ill-luck. It shews him to be corning a little to
his reason, for sense of pain is the first symptom of recovery,
in profound stupefactions. His condition is deplorable.
He is obliged to submit to all the insults of France and
Spain, without daring to know, or resent them, and thankful
for the most trivial evasion*, to the most humble remon-


straives. The time was when he could not deign an an-
t>wer to a petition from America, and the time now is when
he dare not give an answer to an affront from France. The
capture of Burgoyne's army will sink his consequence as
much in Europe as in America. In his speech, he expresses
his suspicious at the warlike preparations of France and
Spain, and he has only the one army which you command
to support his character in the world with ; it remains very
uncertain when, or in what quarter it will be most wanted,
or can be best employed ; and this will partly account for
the great care you take to keep it from action and attacks,
for should Burgoyne's fate be yours, which it probably will,
England may take her endless farewell, not only of all
America, but of all the West Indies.

Never did a nation invite destruction upon itself with the
eagerness and ignorance with which Britain has done. Bent
upon the ruin of a young and unoffending country, she
hath drawn the sword that hath wounded herself to the
heart, and, in the agony of her resentment, bath applied a
poison for a cure. Her conduct towards America is a com-
pound of rage and lunacy ; she aims at the Government of
it, yet preserves neither dignity nor character in her me-
thods to obtain it. Were Government a mere manufacture,
or article of commerce, immaterial by whom it should be
made or sold, we might as well employ her, as another ; but
when we consider it as the fountain from whence the general
manners and morality of a country take their rise, that the
persons entrusted with the execution thereof are by their
serious example and authority to support those principles,
how abominably absurd is the idea of being hereafter go-
verned by a set of men who have been guilty of forgery,
perjury, treachery, theft, and every species of villainy, which
the lowest wretches on earth could practice or invent. What
greater public curse can befal any country, than to be under
such authority, and what greater blessing, than to be deli-
vered therefrom ? The soul of any man of sentiment would
rise in brave rebellion against them, and spurn them from
the earth.

The malignant, and venomous tempered General Vaughan,
has amused his savage fancy in burning the whole town of
Kingston, in York Government, and the late governor of
that state, Mr. Tryon, in his letter to General Parsons, has
endeavoured to justify it, and declared his wish to burn the
houses of every committee-man in the country. Such a
declaration from one who was once entrusted with the


powers of civil Government, is a reproach to the charac-
ter. But it is the wish and the declaration of a man whom
anguish and disappointment have driven to despair, and
who is daily decaying into the grave with constitutional

There is not, in the compass of language, a sufficiency of
words to express the baseness of your King, his ministry,
and his army. They have refined upon villainy till it wants
a name. To the fiercer vices of former ages, they have
added the dregs and scummings of the most finished rascal-
ity, and are so completely sunk in serpentine deceit, that
there is not left among them one generous enemy.

From such men, and such masters, may the gracious hand
of Heaven preserve America! And though her sufferings
are heavy and severe, they are like straws in the wind, com-
pared to the weight of evils she would feel under the Go-
vernment of your King, and his pensioned Parliament.

There is something in meanness which excites a species of
resentment that never subsides, and something in cruelty
which stirs up the heart to the highest agony of human
hatred. Britain has filled up both these characters till no
addition can be made, and hath not reputation left with us
to obtain credit for the slightest promise. The will of God
hath parted us, and the deed is registered for eternity.
When she shall be a spot scarcely visible among nations,
America shall flourish, the favourite of Heaven, and the
friend of mankind.

For the domestic happiness of Britain, and the peace of
the world, I wish she had not a foot of land, but what is
circumscribed within her own island. Extent of dominion
hath been her ruin, and instead of civilizing others, hath
brutalized herself. Her late reduction of India, under Clive
and his successors, was not so properly a conquest, as an
extermination of mankind. She is the only power who
could practice the prodigal barbarity of tying men to the
mouths of loaded cannon and blowing them away. It hap-
pens that General Burgoyne, who made the report of that
horrid transaction in the House of Commons, is now a pri-
soner with us, and, though an enemy, I can appeal to him for
the truth of it, being confident that he neither can nor will
deny it. Yet Clive received the approbation of the last

When we take a survey of mankind, we cannot help
cursing the wretch who, to the unavoidable misfortunes of
nature, shall wilfully add the calamities of war. One would


think there were evils enough in the world without studying
to increase them, and that life is sufficiently short, without
shaking the sand that measures it. The histories of Alex-
ander, and Charles of Sweden, are the histories of human
devils ; a good man cannot think of their actions without
abhorrence, nor of their deaths without rejoicing. To see
the bounties of Heaven destroyed, the beautiful face of na-
ture laid waste, and the choicest works of creation and
art tumbled into ruin, would fetch a curse from the soul
of piety itself. But in this country the aggravation is
heightened by a new combination of affecting circumstances,
America was young, and, compared with other countries,
was virtuous. None, but an Herod of uncommon malice,
would have made war upon infancy and innocence ; and
none but a people of the most finished fortitude, dared, un-
der those circumstances, to have resisted the tyranny. The
natives, or their ancestors, had fled from the former op-
pressions of England, and with the industry of bees, had
changed a wilderness into an habitable world. To Britain
they were indebted for nothing. The country was the gift
of Heaven, and God alone is their Lord and Sovereign.

The time, Sir, will come, when you, in a melancholy
hour, shall reckon up your miseries by your murders in
America. Life, with you, begins to wear a clouded as-
pect. The vision of pleasurable delusion is wearing away,
and changing to the barren wild of age and sorrow. The
poor reflection of having served your King, will yield
you no consolation in your parting moments. He will crum-
ble to the same undistinguishable ashes with yourself, and
have sins enough of his own to answer for. It is not the
farcical benedictions of a bishop, nor the cringing hypocrisy
of a court of chaplains, nor the formality of an Act of Par-
liament, that can change guilt into innocence, or make the
punishment of one pang the less. You may, perhaps, be
unwilling to be serious, but this destruction of the goods of
Providence, this havock of the human race, and this sowing
the world with mischief, must be accounted for to him who
made and governs it. To us they are only present sufferings,
but to him they are deep rebellions.

If there be a sin superior to every other, it is that of wilful
and offensive war. Most other sins are circumscribed within
other limits, that is, the power of one man cannot give them
a very general extension, and many kind of sins have only
a mental existence, from which no infection arises ; but he


who is the author of a war, lets loose the whole contagion
of hell, and opens a veiu that bleeds a nation to death.

We leave it to England, and Indians, to boast of these
honours ; we feel no thirst for such savage glory ; a nobler
flame, a purer spirit animates America. She hath taken up
the sword of virtuous defence ; she hath bravely put herself
between tyranny and freedom, between a curse and a bless-
ing, determined to expel the one, and protect the other.

It is the object only of war that makes it honourable.
And if ever there were a just war, since the world began, it
is this which America is now engaged in. She invaded no
land of yours. She hired no mercenaries to burn your
towns, nor Indians to massacre their inhabitants. She want-
ed nothing from you, and was indebted for nothing to you ;
and thus circumstanced, her defence is honourable, and her
prosperity is certain,

Yet it is not on the justice only, but likewise on the im-
portance of this cause, that I ground my seeming enthusias-
tical confidence of our success. The vast extension of Ame-
rica, makes her of too much value in the scale of Provi-
dence, to be cast like a pearl before swine, at the feet of an
European island ; and of much less consequence would it
be, that Britain were sunk in the sea, than that America
should miscarry. There has been such a chain of extraor-
dinary events in the discovery of this country at first, in the
peopling and planting it afterwards, in the rearing and nurs-
ing it to its present state, and in the protection of it through
the present war, that no man can doubt, but Providence hath
some nobler end to accomplish than the gratification of the
petty Elector of Hanover, or the ignorant and insignificant
King of Britain.

As the blood of the martyrs hath been t*he seed of the
Christian church, so the political persecutions of England
will, and hath already, enriched America with industry,
experience, union, and importance. Before the present aera
she was a mere chaos of uncemented colonies, individually
exposed to the ravages of the Indians, and the invasion of
any power that Britain should be at war with. She had no-
thing she could call her own. Her felicity depended upon
accident. The convulsions of Europe might have thrown
her from one conqueror to another, till she had been the
slave of all, and ruined by every one ; for until she had spirit
enough to become her own master, their was no knowing
to which master she should belong. That period, thank God,
is past, and she is no longer the dependent, disunited co-


lonies of Britain, but the Independent, and United States of
America, knowing no master but Heaven, and herself.

You, or your King, may call this " Delusion," " Rebel-
lion," or what name you please. To us it is perfectly
indifferent. The issue will determine the character, and
time will give it a name as lasting as his own.

You have now, Sir, tried the fate of three campaigns, and
can fully declare to England, that nothing is to be got on
your part, but blows and broken bones ; and nothing on
hers, but waste of trade and credit, and an increase of pover-
ty and taxes. You are now only where you might have
been two years ago without the loss of a single ship, and yet
not a step the forwarder towards the conquest of the Con-
tinent; because, as I have already hinted, " An army in a
city can never be a conquering army." The full amount of
your losses since the beginning of the war exceeds twenty

Online LibraryThomas PaineThe political and miscellaneous works of Thomas Paine .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 15 of 65)