« ZurückWeiter »
and the character of those who have persevered through every extremity of hardship, suffering, and danger, being immortalized by the illustrious appellation of the patriot army; nothing now remains but for the actors of this mighty scene to preserve a perfect unvarying consistency of character through the very last act, to close the drama with applause; and to retire from the military theatre with the same approbation of angels and men, which have crowned all their former virtuous actions. For this purpose no disorder or licentiousness must be toler'ated. Every considerate and well disposed soldier must remember, it will be absolutely necessary to wait with patience until peace shall be declared, or Congress shall be enabled to take proper measures for the security of the public stores, &c. As soon as these arrangements shall be made, the general is confident, there will be no delay in discharging, with every mark of distinction and honour, all the men enlisted for the war, who will then have faithfully performed their engagements with the public. The general has already interested himself in their behalf; and he thinks he need not repeat the assurance of his disposition, to be useful to them on the present, and every other proper occasion. In the mean time, he is determined that no military neglects or excesses shall go unpunished, while he retains the command of the army.
The adjutant-general will have such working parties detached, to assist in making the preparations for a general rejoicing, as the chief engineer of the army shall call for; and the quarter-mastergeneral will, without delay, procure such a number of discharges to be printed as will be sufficient for all the men inlisted for the war. He will please to apply to head quarters for the form. An extra ration of liquor to be issued to every man to-morrow to drink, “ Perpetual peace and happiness to the United States of America."
· FAREWELL ADDRESS OF GENERAL WASHINGTON, TO THE ARMIES OF
THE UNITED STATES.
; Rocky-Hill, near Princeton, November 2, 1783.
The United States in Congress assembled, after giving the most honourable testimony to the merits of the federal armies, and presenting them with the thanks of their country, for their long, eminent, and faithful services, having thought proper, by their proclamation, bearing date the 18th of October last, to discharge such part of the troops as were engaged for the war, and to permit the officers on furlough to retire from service, from and after to-morrow; which proclamation having been communicated in the public papers, for the information and government of all concerned, it only remains for the commander in chief to address himself once more, and that for the last time, to the ar. mies of the United States, (however widely dispersed individuals who compose them may be) and to bid them an affectionate, a long farewell.
But before the commander in chief takes his final leave of those he holds most dear, he wishes to indulge himself a few moments in calling to mind a slight view of the past. He will then take the liberty of exploring, with his military friends, their future prospects ; of advising the general line of conduct, which, in his opinion, ought to be pur: sued ; and he will conclude the address, by expreg.: sing the obligations he feels himself under for the spirited and able assistance he has experienced from them, in the performance of an arduous office.
A contemplation of the complete attainment, (at a period earlier than could have been expected,) of the object, for which we contended, against so for
midable a power, cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The signal interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition, were such as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparralleled perseverance of the armies of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement, for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.
It is not in the meaning, nor within the compass of this address, to detail the hardships peculiarly incident to our service, or to describe the distresses, which, in several instances, have resulted from the extremes of hunger and nakedness, combined with the rigours of an inclement season; nor is it necessary to dwell on the dark side of our past affairs.
Every American officer and soldier must now console himself for any unpleasant circumstance which may have occurred, by a recollection of the uncommon scenes in which he has been called to act no inglorious part, and the astonishing events of which he has been a witness-events which have seldom, if ever before, taken place on the stage of human action; nor can they probably ever happen again. For who has before seen a disciplined army formed at once from such raw materials? Who that was not a witness, could imagine that the most violent local prejudices would cease so soon, and that men who came from the different parts of the continent, strongly disposed by the habits of education, to despise and quarrel with each other, would instantly become but one patriotic band of brothers? Or who that was not on the spot, can trace the steps by which such a wonderful revolution has been effected, and such a glorious period put to all our warlike toils?
· It is universally acknowledged that the enlarg. ed prospects of happiness, opened by the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, almost exceeds the power of description : And shall not the brave men who have contributed so essentially to these inestimable acquisitions, retiring victorious from the field of war to the field of agriculture, participate in all the blessings which have been obtained? In such a republic, who will exclude them from the rights of citizens, and the fruits of their labours? In such a country, so happily circumstanced, the pursuits of commerce and the cul tivation of the soil, will unfold to industry the certain road to competence. To those hardy soldiers, who are actuated by the spirit of adventure, the fisheries will afford ample and profitable employment; and the extensive and fertile regions of the west will yield a most happy asylum to those, who, fond of domestic enjoyment, are seeking for personal independence. Nor is it possible to conceive that any one of the United States will prefer a national bankruptcy, and the dissolution of the union, to a compliance with the requisitions of Congress, and the payment of its just debts, so that the officers and soldiers may expect considerable assistance, in recommencing their civil occupations, from the sums due to them from the public, which must and will most inevitably be paid.
In order to effect this desirable purpose, and to remove the prejudices which may have taken possession of the minds of any of the good people of the states, it is earnestly recommended to all the troops, that, with strong attachments to the union, they should carry with them into civil society the most conciliating dispositions; and that they should prove themselves not less virtuous and useful citizens, than they have been persevering and victorious soldiers. What though there should be some envious individuals, who are unwilling to
pay the debt the public has contracted, or to yield the tribute due to merit; yet let such unworthy treatment produce no invective, or any instance of intemperate conduct; let it be remembered, that the unbiassed voice of the free citizens of the United States has promised the just reward, and given the merited applause; let it be known and remembered, that the reputation of the federal armies is established beyond the reach of malevolence, and let a consciousness of their achievements and fame still incite the men who composed them to honourable actions, under the persuasion, that the private virtues of economy, prudence, and industry, will not be less amiable in civil life, than the more splendid qualities of valor, perseverance and enterprise, were in the field. Every one may rest assured that much, very much, of the future happiness of the officers and men, will depend upon the wise and manly conduct which shall be adopt-': ed by them, when they are mingled with the great body of the community. And although the general has so frequently given it as his opinion, in the most public and explicit manner, that unless the principles of the federal government were proper. ly supported, and the powers of the union increas,
ed, the honour, dignity, and justice of the nation · would be lost forever : yet he cannot help repeat
ing; on this occasion, so interesting a sentiment, and leaving it, as his last injunction, to every officer and every soldier, who may view the subject in the same serious point of light, to add his best endeavours, to those of his worthy fellow-citizens to wards effecting these great and valuable purposes, on which our very existence, as a nation, so materially depends.
The commander in chief conceives little is now wanting to enable the soldier to change his military character into that of the citizen, but that steady and decent tenor of behaviour, which has general.