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1774.] GENERAL CHARLES LEE. 289
ations. It was enough for a man to be supposed of the governmental party to incur popular illwill.
Among other portentous signs, war-hawks began to appear above the horizon. Mrs. Cushing, wife to a member of Congress, writes to her husband, "Two of the greatest military characters of the day are visiting this distressed town. General Charles Lee, who has served in Poland, and Colonel Israel Putnam, whose bravery and character need no description." As these two men will take a prominent part in coming events, we pause to give a word or two concerning them.
Israel Putnam was a soldier of native growth. One of the military productions of the French war; seasoned and proved in frontier campaigning. He had served at Louisburg, Fort Duquesne, and Crown Point; had signalized himself in Indian warfare; been captured by the savages, tied to a stake to be tortured and burnt, and had only been rescued by the interference, at the eleventh hour, of a French partisan of the Indians.
Since the peace, he had returned to agricultural life, and was now a farmer at Pomfret, in Connecticut, where the scars of his wounds and the tales of his exploits rendered him a hero in popular estimation. The war spirit yet burned within him. He was now chairman of a committee of vigilance, and had come to Boston in discharge of his political and semi-belligerent functions.
General Charles Lee was a military man of a different stamp; an Englishman by birth, and a highly-cultivated production of European warfare. He was the son of a British officer, lieutenant-colonel John Lee, of the dragoons, who married the daughter of Sir Henry Bunbury, Bart., and afterwards rose to be a general. Lee was born in 1731, and may almost be said to have been cradled in the arny, for he received a commission by the time he was eleven years of age. He had an irregular education; part of the time in England, part on the continent, and must have scrambled his way into knowledge; yet by aptness, diligence, and ambition, he had acquired a considerable portion, being a Greek and Latin scholar, and acquainted with modern languages. The art of war was his especial study from his boyhood, and he had early opportunities ol practical experience. At the age of twenty-four, he commanded a company of grenadiers in the 44th regiment, and served in the French war in America, where he was brought into military companionship with Sir William Johnson's Mohawk warriors, whom he used to extol for their manly beauty, their dress, their graceful carriage and good breeding. In fact, he rendered himself so much of a favourite among them, that they admitted him to smoke in their councils, and adopted him into the tribe of the Bear, giving him an Indian name, sygnifying " Boiling Water."
At the battle of Ticonderoga, where Abercrombie was defeated, he was shot through the body, while leading his mon against the French breastworks. In the next campaign, he was present at the siege of Fort Niagara, where General Prideaux fell, and where Sir William Johnson, with his British troops and Mohawk warriors, eventually won the fortress. Lee had, probably, an opportunity on this occasion of fighting side by side with some of his adopted brethren of the Bear tribe, as we are told he was much exposed during the engagement with the French and Indians, and that two balls grazed his hair. A military errand, afterwards, took him across Lake Erie, and down the western branch of the Ohio to Fort Duquesne, and thence by a long march of seven hundred miles to Crown Point, where he joined General Amherst. In 1760 he was among the forces which followed that general from Lake Ontario down the St. Lawrence; and was present at the surrender of Montreal, which completed the conquest of Canada.
In 1762 he bore a colonel's commission, and served under Brigadier-general Burgoyne in Portugal, where he was intrusted with an enterprise against a Spanish post at the old Moorish castle of Villa Velha, on the banks of the Tagus. He forded the river in the night, pushed his way through mountain passes, and at two o'clock in the morning, rushed with his grenadiers into the enemy's camp before daylight, where every thing was carried at the point of the bayonet, assisted by a charge of dragoons. The war over, he returned to England, bearing testimonials of bravery and good conduct from his commander
in-chief, the Count de la Lippe, and from the king of Portugal.8
Wielding the pen as well as the sword, Lee undertook to write on questions of colonial policy relative to Pontiac's war, in which he took the opposition side. This lost him the favour of the ministry, and with it all hope of further promotion.
He now determined to offer his services to Poland, supposed to be on the verge of a war. Eecommendations from his old commander, the Count de la Lippe, procured him access to some of the continental courts. He was well received by Frederick the Great, and had several conversations with him, chiefly on American affairs. At Warsaw, his military reputation secured him the favour of Poniatowsky, recently elected king of Poland, with the name of Stanislaus Augustus, who admitted him to his table, and made him one of his aides-de-camp. Lee was disappointed in his hope of active service. There was agitation in the country, but the power of the king was not adequate to raise forces sufficient for its suppresion. He had few troops, and those not trustworthy; and the town was full of the disaffected. "We have frequent alarms," said Lee, "and the pleasure of sleeping every night with our pistols on our pillows,,"
By way of relieving his restlessness, Lee, at the suggestion of" the king, set off to accompany the Polish ambassador to Constantinople. The latter travelled too slow for him; so he dashed ahead when on the frontiers of Turkey, with an escort of the grand seignor's treasure; came near perishing with cold and hunger among the Bulgarian moimtains, and after his arrival at the Turkish capital, ran a risk of being buried under the ruins of his house in an earthquake.
Late in the same year (1766), he was again in England, an applicant for military appointment, bearing a letter from king Stanislaus to king George. His meddling pen is supposed again to have marred his fortunes, having indulged in sarcastic comments on the military character of General Townshend and Lord George Sackville. "I
8 Life of Charles Lee, by Jared Sparks. Also, Memoirs of Charles Lee, published in London, 1792.
am not at all surprised," said a friend to him, "that you find the door shut against you by a person who has such unbounded credit, as you have ever too freely indulged in a liberty of declaiming, which many invidious persons have not failed to inform him of. The principle on which you thus freely speak your mind is honest and patriotic, but not politic."
The disappointments which Lee met with during a residence of two years in England, and a protracted attendance on people in power, rankled in his bosom, and embittered his subsequent resentment against the king and his ministers.
In 1768 he was again on his way to Poland, with the design of performing a campaign in the Eussian service. "I flatter myself," said he, "that a little more practice will make me a good soldier. If not, it will serve to talk over my kitchen fire in my old age, which will soon come upon us all."
He now looked forward to spirited service. "I am to have a command of Cossacks and Wallacks," writes he, "a Kind of people I have a good opinion of. I am determined not to serve in the line. One might as well be a churchwarden."
The friendship of king Stanislaus continued. "He treats me more like a brother than a patron," said Lee. In 1769 the latter was raised to the rank of major-general in the Polish army, and left Warsaw to join the Eussian force, which was crossing the Dniester and advancing into Moldavia. He arrived in time to take part in a severe action between the Eussiaus and Turks, in which the Cossacks and hussars were terribly cut up by the Turkish cavalry, in a ravine near the city of Chotzim. It was a long and doubtful conflict, with various changes; but the rumoured approach of the grand vizier, with a hundred and seventy thousand men, compelled the Eussians to abandon the enterprise and recross the Dniester.
Lee never returned to Poland, though he ever retained a devoted attachment to Stanislaus. He for some time led a restless life about Europe—visiting Italy, Sicily, Malta, and the south of Spain; troubled with attacks of rheumatism, gout, and the effects of a "Hungarian fever." He
had become more and more cynical and irascible, and had more than one " affair of honour," in one of which he killed his antagonist. His splenetic feelings, as well as his political sentiments, were occasionally vented in severe attacks upon the ministry, full of irony and sarcasm. They appeared in the public journals, and gained him such reputation, that even the papers of Junius were by some attributed to him.
In the questions which had risen between England and her colonies, he had strongly advocated the cause of the latter; and it was the feelings thus excited, and the recollections, perhaps of his early campaigns, that had recently brought him to America. Here he had arrived in the latter part of 1773, had visited various parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, taking au active part in the political agitations of the country. His caustic attacks upon the ministry; his conversational powers and his poignant sallies, had gained him great reputation; but his military renown rendered him especially interesting at the present juncture. A general, who had served in the famous campaigns of Europe, commanded Cossacks, fought with Turks, talked with Frederick the Great, and been aide-decamp to the king of Poland, was a prodigious acquisition to the patriot cause! On the other hand, his visit to Boston was looked upon with uneasiness by the British officers, who knew his adventurous character. It was surmised that he was exciting a spirit of revolt, with a view to putting himself at its head. These suspicions found their way into the London papers, and alarmed the British cabinet. "Have an attention to his conduct," writes Lord Dartmouth to Gage, "and take every legal method to prevent his effecting any of those dangerous purposes he is said to have in view."
Lee when subsequently informed of these suspicions, scoffed at them in a letter to his friend, Edmund Burke, and declared that he had not the "temerity and vanity" to aspire to the aims imputed to him.
"To think myself qualified for the most important charge that ever was committed to mortal man," writes he, " is the last stage of presumption; nor do I think the Americans would or ought to confide in a man, let his qualifications be