« ZurückWeiter »
noyance, and refused to continue with him in Canada, soon began to arrive at Ticonderoga. Schuyler, in a letter to Congress, gives a half-querulous, half-humorous account of their conduct. "About three hundred of the troops raised in Connecticut, passed here within a few days. An unhappy home-sickness prevails. These all came down as invalids, not one willing to re-engage for the winter's service; and, unable +o get any work done by them, I discharged them en groupe. Of all the specifics ever invented for any, there is none so efficacious as a discharge for this prevailing disorder. No sooner was it administered but it perfected the cure of nine out of ten; who, refusing to wait for boats to go by the way of Lake George, slung their heavy packs, crossed the lake at this place, and undertook a march of two hundred miles with the greatest goodwill and alacrity."
This home-sickness in rustic soldiers, after a rough campaign, was natural enough, and seems only to have provoked the testy and subacid humour of Schuyler; but other instances of conduct roused his indignation.
A schooner and tow-galley arrived at Crown Point, with upwards of a hundred persons. They were destitute of provisions; none were to be had at the Point, and the ice prevented them from penetrating to Ticonderoga. In starving condition they sent an express to General Schuyler, imploring relief. He immediately ordered three captains of General Wooster's regiment, with a considerable body of men in bateaux, to "attempt a relief for the unhappy sufferers." To his surprise and disgust, they manifested the most unwillingness to comply, and made a variety of excuses, which he spurned at as frivolous, and as evincing the greatest want of humanity. He expressed himself to that effect the next day, in a general order, adding the following stinging words:—" The general, therefore, not daring to trust a matter of so much importance to men of so little feeling, has ordered Lieutenant Riker, of Colonel Holmes's regiment, to make the attempt. He received the order with the alacrity becoming a gentleman, an officer, and a Christian."
This high-minded rebuke, given in so public a manner, rankled in the breasts of those whose conduct had merited it, and insured to Schuyler that persevering hostility with which mean minds revenge the exposure of their meanness.
Washington's anticipations of Success at Quebec—His Eulogium of Arnold—Schuyler and Montgomery talk of resigning—Expostulations of Washington—Their effect—Schuyler's Conduct to a Captive Foe.
We have endeavoured to compress into a succinct account various events of the invasion of Canada, furnished to Washington by letters from Schuyler and Arnold. The tidings of the capture of Montreal had given him the liveliest satisfaction. He now looked forward to equal success in the expedition against Quebec. In a letter to Schuyler, he passed a high eulogium on Arnold. "The merit of this gentleman is certainly great," writes he, "and I heartily wish that fortune may distinguish him as one of her favourites. I am convinced that he will do everything that prudence and valour shall suggest to add to the success of our arms, and for reducing Quebec to our possession. Should he not be able to accomplish so desirable a work with the forces he has, I flatter myself that it will be effected when General Montgomery joins him, and our conquest of Canada will be complete."
Certain passages of Schuyler's letters, however, gave him deep concern, wherein that general complained of the embarrassments and annoyances he had experienced from the insubordination of the army. "Habituated to order," said he, "I cannot without pain see that disregard of discipline, confusion, and inattention, which reign so generally in this quarter, and I am determined to retire. Of this resolution I have advised Congress."
He had indeed done so. In communicating to the President of Congress the complaints of General Montgomery and his intention to retire, "my sentiments," said he, "exactly coincide with his. I shall, with him, do everything in my power to put a finishing stroke to the campaign, and make the-best arrangement in my power, in 1775.] WASHINGTON EXPOSTULATES WITH SCHUYLER. 421
order to insure success to the next. This done, I must beg leave to retire."
Congress, however, was too well aware of his value readily to dispense with his services. His letter produced a prompt resolution expressive of their high sense of his attention and perseverance, "which merited the thanks of the United Colonies." He had alleged his impaired health —they regretted the injuries it had sustained in the service, but begged he would not insist on a measure " which would deprive America of the benefits of his zeal and abilities, and rob him of the honour of completing the work he had so happily begun."
What, however. produced a greater effect upon Schuyler than any encomium or entreaty on the part of Congress, were the expostulations of Washington, inspired by strong friendship and kindred sympathies. "I am exceedingly sorry," writes the latter, "to find you so much embarrassed by the disregard of discipline, confusion, and want of order among the troops, as to have occasioned you to mention to Congress an inclination to retire. I know that your complaints are too well founded, but would willingly hope that nothing will induce you to quit the service. * # * * I have met with difficulties of the same sort, and such as I never expected, but they must be borne with. The cause we are engaged in is so just and righteous, that we must try to rise superior to every obstacle in its support; and, therefore, I beg that you will not think of resigning, unless you have carried your application to Congress too far to recede."
And in another letter he makes a still stronger appeal to his patriotism. "I am sorry that you and General Montgomery incline to quit the service. Let me ask you, sir, when is the time for brave men to exert themselves in the cause of liberty and their country, if this is not? Should any difficulties that they may have to encounter at this important crisis deter them? God knows there is not a difficulty that you both very justly complain of that I have not in an eminent degree experienced, that I am not every day experiencing; but we must bear up against them, and make the best of mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish. Let me, therefore, conjure you, and Mr. Montgomery, to lay aside such thoughts— as thoughts injurious to yourselves, and extremely so to your country, which calls aloud for gentlemen of your ability."
This noble appeal went straight to the heart of Schuyler, and brought out a magnanimous reply. "I do not hesitate," writes he, "to answer my dear general's question in the affirmative, by declaring that now or never is the time for every virtuous American to exert himself in the cause of liberty and his country; and that it is become a duty cheerfully to sacrifice the sweets of domestic felicity to attain the honest and glorious end America has in view."
In the same letter he reveals in confidence the true cause of his wish to retire from an official station; it was the annoyance he had suffered throughout the campaign from sectional prejudice and jealousy. "I could point out particular persons of rank in the army," writes he, "who have frequently declared that the general commanding in this quarter ought to be of the colony from whence the majority of the troops came. But it is not from opinions or principles of individuals that I have drawn the following conclusion, that troops from the colony of Connecticut will not bear with a general from another colony; it is from the daily and common conversation of all rants of people from that colony, both in and out of the army, and I assure you that I sincerely lament that people of so much public virtue should be actuated by such an unbecoming jealousy founded on such a narrow principle." Having made this declaration, he adds, "Although I frankly own that I feel a resentment, yet I shall continue to sacrifice it to a nobler object, the weal of that country in which I have drawn the breath of life, resolved ever to seek, with unwearied assiduity, for opportunities to fulfil my duty to it."
It is with pride we have quoted so frequently the correspondence of these two champions of our Eevolution, as it lays open their hearts, and shows the lofty patriotism by which they were animated.
A letter from John Adams to General Thomas alleges, as one cause of Schuyler's unpopularity with the eastern troops, the "politeness" shown by him to Canadian and
British prisoners; which "enabled them and their ministerial friends to impose upon him."1
The "politeness," in fact, was that noble courtesy which a high-minded soldier extends towards a captive foe. If his courtesy was imposed upon, it only proved that, incapable of double-dealing himself, he suspected it not in others. All generous natures are liable to imposition, their warm impulses being too quick for selfish caution. It is the cold, the calculating, and the mean, whose distrustful wariness is never taken in.
Difficulties in filling up the Army—The Connecticut Troops persist in going home—Their reception there—Timely arrival of spoils in the Camp—Putnam and the Prize Mortar—A Maraud by Americans— Rebuked by Washington—Correspondence of Washington with General Howe about the treatment of Ethan Allen—Fraternal zeal of Levi Allen—Treatment of General Prescott—Preparations to bombard Boston—Battery at Lechmere's Point—Prayer of Putnam for Powder.
The forming even of the skeleton of an army under the new regulations had been a work of infinite difficulty—to fill it up was still more difficult. The first burst of revolutionary zeal had passed away; enthusiasm had been chilled by the inaction and monotony of a long encampment; an encampment, moreover, destitute of those comforts which, in experienced warfare, are provided by a well-regulated commissariat. The troops had suffered privations of every kind, want of fuel, clothing, provisions. They looked forward with dismay to the rigours of winter, and longed for their rustic homes and their family fire-sides.
Apprehending that some of them would incline to go home when the time of their enlistment expired, Washington summoned the general officers at head-quarters, and invited a delegation of the General Court to be present, tc adopt measures for the defence and support of the lines. The result of their deliberations was an order that three thousand of the minute men and militia of Massachusetts,
1 Letter-Book of Gen. Thomas. MS.