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original profession was a soldier, and disabled him from acquiring the capacity suitable to the mere magistrate and senator. During twenty-three years, he was only for a short time in a public body. In the year 1800, he was elected to the New York legislature, in consequence of a critical balance of the parties in that state, and withdrew again into private life, as soon as the purpose for which he was elected was gained.
General Gates was a whig in England and a republican in America. His political opinions did not separate him from many respectable citizens, whose views differed widely from his own.
He had a handsome person, tending to corpulence, in the middle of life; remarkably courteous to all; and carrying good humour sometimes beyond the limits of dignity. He is said to have received a classical education, and not to have entirely neglected that advantage in after life. To science, literature, or erudition, however, he made no pretensions; but gave indisputable marks of a social, amiable and benevolent disposition.
He died, without posterity, at his customary abode, near New York, on the 10th of April, 1806, after having counted a long series of 78 years.
GREENE, NATHANIEL, a major general in the army of the United States, and one of the most distinguished officers in the revolutionary war, was born in the town of Warwick, in Rhode Island, in the
His parents were Quakers. His father was a respectable anchor-smith. Being intended for the business which his father pursued, young Greene received nothing but a common English education. But, to himself, an acquisition so humble and limited, was unsatisfactory and mortifying. While he was a boy he learned the Latin language chiefly by his own industry. Having procured, in part by his own economy, a small library, he spent his evenings, and all the time ho could redeem from business, in regular study. He read with a view to general improvement: but military history occupied a considerable share of his attention, and constituted his delight.
He embarked in his father's line of business, and in the regular pursuit of it employed a considerable portion of his time, until he was elevated, at an unusually early age, to a seat in the legislature of his native colony. In this situation, the commencement of the revolutionary war found him; and, the undisguised part which he took in promoting an appeal to arms, caused him to be dismissed from the society of friends, of which he had antecedently been a member.
He began his military career as a private in a military association, of which he was the principal promoter, and which was chartered under the name of the Kentish Guards, and commanded by general James M. Varnum. But in the year 1775, Rhode Island having raised three regiments of militia, amounting in the whole to about 1600, and officered by some of her most distinguished inhabitants, she placed them under the command of Mr. Greene, with the rank of brigadier general, who, without loss of time, conducted them to head-quarters, in the village of Cambridge.
Here, having by a single act of promotion, after a noviciate of about seven months, exchanged the rank of a private, for that of a general officer, he soon distinguished himself, in his present station, and offered to others, a most salutary example. This he did in a very special manner, and, with the happiest effect, by his prompt obedience to the commands of his superiors, at a time, when that subordination, which alone can render an army efficient and powerful, was not yet established; by habits of strict and laborious attention, in the regular study of the military science; and by the excellent discipline, which he caused to be introduced into his own brigade.
General Greene's merit and abilities, as well in the council as in the field, were not long unnoticed by general Washington, who reposed in him the utmost confidence, and paid a particular deference to his advice and opinion, on all occasions of doubt and difficulty.
He was appointed major general by congress, the 26th of August, 1776. Towards the close of that year, he was at the Trenton surprise; and, at the beginning of the next, was at the battle of Princeton, two enterprises not more happily planned than judiciously and bravely executed, in both of which he highly distinguished himself, serving his noviciate under the American Fabius.
At the battle of Germantown, he commanded the left wing of the American army; and his utmost endeavours were exerted to retrieve the fortune of that day, in which his conduct met with the approbation of the commander in chief.
In March, 1778, he was appointed quarter-master-general, which office he accepted under a stipulation, that his rank in the army should not be affected by it, and that he should retain his right to command, in time of action, according to his rank and seniority. This he exercised at the battle of Monmouth, where he commanded the right wing of the army
About the middle of the same year, an attack being planned by the Americans, in conjunction with the French fleet, on the British garrison at Newport, Rhode Island, general Sullivan was appointed to the command, under whom general Greene served. This attempt was unsuccessful; the French fleet having sailed out of harbour, to engage lord Howe's fleet, they were dispersed by a storm, and the Americans were obliged to raise the siege of Newport, in doing which, general Greene displayed a great degree of skill, in drawing off the army in safety.
After the hopes of the British generals, to execute some decisive stroke to the northward were frustrated, they turned their attention to the southern states, as less capable of defence, and more likely to reward the invaders with ample plunder. A grand expedition was, in consequence, planned at New York, where the army embarked on the 26th of December, 1779: they landed on the 11th of February, 1780, within about thirty miles of Charleston, which, after a brave defence, was surrendered to sir Henry Clinton, on the 12th of May.
A series of ill success followed this unfortunate event. The American arms in South Carolina, were, in general, unsuccessful; and the inhabitants were obliged to submit to the invaders, whose impolitic severity was extremely ill calculated to answer any of the objects for which the war had been commenced.
Affairs were thus circumstanced, when general Washington appointed general Greene to the command of the American forces in the southern district. He arrived at Charlotte on the 2d day of December, 1780, accompanied by general Morgan, a brave officer, who had distinguished himself to the northward, in the expedition against Burgoyne. He found the forces he was to command, reduced to a very small number, by defeat and by desertion. The returns were nine hundred and seventy continentals, and one thousand and thirteen militia. Military stores, provisions, forage, and all things necessary, were, if possible, in a more reduced state than his army. His men were without pay, and almost without clothing: and supplies of the latter were not to be bad, but from a distance of two hundred miles. In this perilous and embarrassed situation, he had to oppose a respectable and victorious army. Fortunately for him, the conduct of some of the friends of royalty
obliged numbers, otherwise disposed to remain neuter, to take up arms in their own defence. This, and the prudent measures the general took for removing the innumerable difficulties and disadvantages he was surrounded with, and for conciliating the affections of the inhabitants, soon brought together a considerable force; far inferior, however, to that of the British, who deemed the country perfectly subjugated.
After he had recruited his forces with all the friends to the revolution that he could assemble, he sent a considerable detachment, under general Morgan, to the western extremities of the state, to protect the well-disposed inbabitants from the ravages
of the tories. This force, which was the first that had for a considerable time appeared there, on the side of the Americans, inspired the friends of liberty with new courage, so that numbers of them crowded to the standard of general Morgan, who, at length, became so formidable, that Iord Cornwallis thought proper to send colonel Tarleton, to dislodge him from the station he had taken. This oilicer was at the head of a thousand regular troops, and had two field pieces. He came up, on the seventeenth of January, 1781, at a place called Cowpens, with general Morgan, whose force was much inferior, and was composed of two-thirds militia, and one-third continentals. An engagement was the immediate consequence.
Morgan gained a complete victory over an oflicer, the rapidity and success of whose attacks, until that time, might have entitled him to make use of the declaration of Cæsar, “veni, vidi, vici." Upwards of five hundred of the British laid down their arms, and were made prisoners; a very considerable number were killed. Eight hundred stand of arms, two field pieces, and thirty-five baggage-waggons fell to the victors, who had only twelve killed and sixty wounded.