Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

disembarrass the public of the inconvenience of maintaining them there.

The moment I received your letter, I wrote to Mr. Skinner, countermanding his instructions. I believe the countermand will arrive before he has done any thing in the matter; but if it does not, I am persuaded the enemy will again reject the proposal. As soon as I hear from him, if things are situated as I expect, I will execute immediately the order for the recall of General Burgoyne. To the best of my recollection, all the officers in Europe on parole have been exchanged. I have the honor to be, &c.

TO MAJOR-GENERAL GREENE.

New Windsor, 18 April, 1781. MY DEAR SIR,

Your private letter of the 18th ultimo came safe to hand.* Although the honors of the field did not fall

* From General Greene's Letter. —“Our force, as you will see by the returns, was respectable, and the probability of not being able to keep it long in the field, and the difficulty of subsisting men in this exhausted country, together with the great advantages which would result from the action, if we were victorious, and the little injury if otherwise, determined me to bring on an action as soon as possible. When both parties are agreed in a matter, all obstacles are soon removed. I thought the determination warranted by the soundest principles of good policy, and I hope the event will prove it so, though we were unfortunate. I regret nothing so much as the loss of my artillery, though it was of little use to us, nor can it be, in this great wilderness. However, as the enemy have it, we must also.

“I am happy to hear the Marquis de Lafayette is coming to Virginia; though I am afraid from a hint in one of Baron Steuben's letters, that he will think himself injured in being superseded in the command. Could the Marquis join us at this moment, we should have a glorious campaign. It would put Lord Cornwallis and his whole army into our hands.

"I am also happy to hear that the Pennsylvania line is coming to the southward. The mutiny in that line was a very extraordinary one. It

to your lot, I am convinced you deserved them. The chances of war are various, and the best concerted measures, and the most flattering prospects, may and often do deceive us; especially while we are in the power of militia. The motives which induced you to seek an action with Lord Cornwallis, are supported upon the best military principles; and the consequences, if you can prevent the dissipation of your troops, will no doubt be fortunate. Every support, that it is in my power to give you from this army, shall cheerfully be afforded; but if I part with any more troops, I must accompany them, or have none to command, as there is not at this moment more than a garrison for West Point, nor can I tell when there will be.

I am much pleased to find by your letter, that the State of Virginia exerts itself to your satisfaction. My public and private letters strongly inculcate the necessity of this; and I have again urged Congress to use every means in their power to facilitate the march of the Pennsylvania line; as also to recruit, equip, and forward Moylan's dragoons to you with despatch.

I should be very sorry on any occasion to hurt the feelings of Baron Steuben, whom I esteem as a very valuable officer. But in the instance you have mentioned, there is no cause of complaint ; for, if he will advert to his own letters to me, he will find that there was a great probability of his having marched with a detachment to reinforce you. Besides which there was a necessity for sending a general officer with the detachment from hence, and political considerations, as it was to be a combined operation depending upon critical circumstances with a French land and sea force, pointed to the Marquis de Lafayette. These are the facts, the knowledge of which must, I am persuaded, satisfy the Baron.

is reported here to have proceeded from the great cruelty of the officers. A member of Congress writes this; but I believe it to be so far from the truth, that I am persuaded it originated rather through indulgence, than in any other cause.” — MS. Letter, Camp, ten Miles from Guilford Court-House, March 18th.

VOL. VIII.

I am truly sensible of the merit and fortitude of the veteran bands under your command, and wish the sentiments I entertain of their worth could be communicated with the warmth I feel them. It was my full intention to request you to thank Morgan and the gallant troops under his command for their brilliant victory; but the hurry, in which my letters are too often written, occasioned the omission at the time I acknowledged the official account of that action.

Your conjecture respecting the cause of the mutiny in the Pennsylvania line has more substantial ground for its support, than the letter of the member of Congress; and I am mistaken if the licentious conduct of that line was not more the effect of an overcharge of spirits, on the 1st of January, than of premeditated design.

I have the pleasure to tell you, that, as far as I am acquainted with the opinion of Congress with respect to your conduct, it is much in your favor. That this is the sentiment of all the southern delegates I have great reason to believe, because I have it declared to me in explicit terms by some of them. I have received a letter from Mr. Custis, dated the 29th ultimo, in which are these words. “ General Greene has by his conduct gained universal esteem, and possesses in the fullest degree the confidence of all ranks of people.” He had then just returned from the Assembly at Richmond. I hope the disorder, of which you complained, was no other ihan the effect of over fatigue, and that you are now perfectly well. That successes equal to your merits and wishes may attend you, is the ardent desire of, dear Sir, &c.

TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.

Head-Quarters, 21 April, 1781. MY DEAR MARQUIS, Though the situation of southern affairs would not permit me to recall your corps to this army, yet it was with great reluctance I could resolve upon seeing you separated from head-quarters. My friendship for you makes me desirous of having you near me, and there will occur frequent occasions in coöperative measures, in which it would be of the greatest utility I should have it in my power to consult you. These motives would have induced me to propose to you to return personally to head-quarters, had I not believed you would not choose to quit your corps, and had I not foreseen a difficulty in giving you a command in the remaining troops. A select corps you could not have, and there are so many major-generals, who conceive themselves in a manner wedded to the different lines, and who are to be provided for, that it would not be easy at present to accommodate matters to your having a command in the line. But this difficulty might be overcome, and I cannot forbear, late as it is, leaving it at your option to proceed with your corps or return personally to head-quarters. If the last should be your choice, you will give orders to the officer you leave in command to march with all the necessary precaution, and take the orders of Baron Steuben. You will at the same time write to the Baron, communicating to him your instructions, and to General Greene informing him of your return.

If you resolve to proceed forward, I shall have one consolation, which is, that from the present aspect of things it is perhaps most probable the weight of the war this campaign will be in the southern States, and it will become my duty to go there in person, where I shall have the pleasure of seeing you again. Of this I would not have you say any thing.

April 22d. — The reasons assigned in some of your letters, and others which have occurred to me, chiefly of a political nature, assure me that great advantages will be derived from your being wherever the French army and the American head-quarters are. I therefore not only repeat the offer contained in the enclosed letter, but accompany it with a wish, that you may return, if you can consistently with your own inclination relinquish your present command for the prospects I have mentioned; not else, as it always has been and ever will be my wish to make things as agreeable to you as the nature of the service will admit. I cannot recall the detachment for reasons, which in my judgment are conclusive. The accidents to which letters are liable forbid me, unless I could write to you in cipher, to go into a full explanation of some matters, of which you seem not to be well informed, and in which I wish to set you right; but I dare not attempt it in a common letter, nor will there be any necessity for it if you return.*

* Lafayette to Washington. — “A letter from you, relating to the delays of the French, makes a great noise at Philadelphia. Indeed, it gives me pain on many political accounts. There are many confidential communications, which you once requested from me, and which my peculiar situation with both sides of the alliance would enable me to make ; but having been ordered from you, and many things I had to say not being of a nature, which would render it prudent to commit them to paper, these personal services must be out of the question, so long as the war continues in Carolina." - Susquehanna Ferry, April 15th.

« ZurückWeiter »